Sunday, December 30, 2012

Memento Mori: Filip Coppens

 Sadly, the Archons claim another bright spark...

Filip Coppens passed away in Los Angeles after fighting a rare form of cancer that was only merciful in that it did not prolong his suffering for too long. Some of you may now Filip from his appearances on Ancient Aliens but his work goes much deeper than that extremely reductionist presentation of AAT.

In fact, Filip recently wrote The Ancient Alien Question, that delved into the topic in a balanced, open-ended and dare I say skeptical fashion. His work on the topic- and all things weird and wonderful- is far more rewarding and challenging than the series itself. It was certainly a welcome corrective to the "flesh 'n' blood extra-treshtruls" mantra that has reduced the show to a laughingstock for so many.*

If you aren't familiar with Filip's work, please take this opportunity to delve into his website, which is a gemstone in the Reality-Based High Weirdness crown. Knee-jerking was anathema to Filip, who always erred on the side of open-minded caution.

Filip always realized that habeas corpus wasn't just a legal formality, it was vital that alt.researchers end each sentence with a question mark until you can deliver the goods. Even if the Establishment never has to play by those rules (nor do hysterical Creationist shills, for that matter).

Filip, like Mac Tonnies, left us far too soon. But his (and Mac's) work remains and if his way-too-early passing brings it to your attention for the first time, then take the opportunity to enrich your life with it. The bulk of Filip's work deals with the secret history of ancient Europe and South America, and he spent a lot of time actually visiting the sites he wrote about.

The alt.research world is most certainly faced with some major challenges and there's no sign on the horizon that it's going to weather the coming storm front. There are a lot of dark forces with a lot of dark money who see it as a rich mission field for the gospel of fear, and it seems that their investment is really starting to pay off. In that, Filip's passing seems like an omen.

I have never been more pessimistic as to where the field is going, particularly with the rise of Conspiricianity, which has the terrible gravity of a black hole and is sucking the feeble-minded into it like so much space-dust. Of course, all the fear-worship repels the same people Filip was trying to reach, turning them off to unconventional POVs, perhaps forever. Which is almost certainly the idea.

But perhaps the question becomes one of delivery. As I wrote recently, I was gobsmacked to see how dominant the high and the weird has become in Geekdom, even if it has to sneak through the back door, unannounced. But maybe the truly revolutionary thought contagions always do.

Either way, Filip Coppens left this Samsara but not before leaving behind a few cheat-codes for those who truly want to hack the reality mainframe. Take advantage of them.

* Even still, Filip didn't shrink from rebutting the deliberately-misleading, crypto-Creationist disinfo recently released by two longtime apparatchiks for the totalitarian Dominionist-Reconstructionist syndicate (which Sun readers realize was spawned by doctrinaire fascists like Jerry Falwell and Sun Myung Moon). Their "work" is explicitly produced as part of their ridiculous "ministries"; they won't tell you but they'll tell their "brethren" that their agitprop is about proselytizing not scholarship. The dictionary definition of shilling, in other words.

Filip didn't shrink away (like too many others, out of ignorance or something else) from pointing that inconvenient truth out. I don't know if the disease took hold before or after that confrontation- and I certainly hope that one has nothing to do with the other- but Filip's energy and attention to detail is always second to none.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Tenth Planet rises on the Solar Satellite.

There's no business like fearporn business. But the industry might suffer a serious setback if December 21, 2012 is just another dreary day under the yoke of the New World Odor.

You've all heard the predictions over the years that Nibiru aka Planet X would come crashing into the Earth on that dreaded day, but you may not realize that such a scenario was the stuff of vintage sci-fi long before bored suburbanites were transformed into apocalyptic seers by our Reticulan space brothers. Or that a fly-by of the tenth (or ninth, if you go along with the Pluto downgrading) planet was the plot of a classic British sci-fi film of the early 1950s.

The Man from Planet X is barely over an hour long and yet it packs a more resonant punch than most of the garbage being dumped on our heads by Hollywood these days. Yet another sci-fi film that veers into the netherworld of the occult, it has all the mood and mystery of a classic Gothic thriller.

I can't quite explain why but these ostensible science-based narratives feel downright magickal to me, and reach into deep and strange reaches of my brain in a way that so much of the paranormal huffing and puffing out there can't begin to equal. It feels as if there's a parallel communication going on just beneath the surface here, a phenomenon I've been attempting to understand since 2001: A Space Odyssey blew my brains out.

Sunday, December 09, 2012

The Walking Dead and the New Nihilism

That is your purpose in the Culture of Surrender...

Pop culture is in the grip of an epidemic of Nihilism and the zombie craze shows just how deep the rot goes. The new suicide culture is explored in the context of The Walking Dead, the runaway hit TV show engineered to inject its audience with the virus of surrender. Whose agenda does all of this serve?

Find out on the Solar Satellite.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Return of the Irrational on The Solar Satellite

Continuing the exploration of classic occult cinema and the deeper societal and symbolic strains therein, "The Delicious Subversion of Burn, Witch Burn!" looks at the return of the Irrational at the very moment when it seemed that the Enlightenment's triumph was complete.

Because the 60s Counterculture acts as a kind of distorting lens, we tend to overlook at how rationalist materialism was by far the dominant point of view of the Western establishment in the post-War years. We forget that even such human impulses as passion and enthusiasm were seen as dangerously subversive, never mind such domains of the irrational such as witchcraft or UFOlogy, both of which were essentially invisible outside the realm of the drive-in movie.

Fly over to the Solar Satellite for an in-depth review of a must-see film, as well as a streaming embed of the film itself.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Exploring the Cinema of the Weird with Mike Clelland

Mike Clelland and I got down to it for a marathon, three-hour podcast on some of the mind-bending movies we've been digging into lately. From there the discussion travels down some very strange roads and covers some very weird ground.

Many people recognize the 1970s as the Golden Age of American Movies, but fewer realize that it was also a golden age for the cinema of the strange. The Internet has unearthed some long buried gems and Mike and I are there with our treasure map to help you discover some of these resonant, rewarding and downright magickal movies.

From Hidden Experience:
There is an almost forgotten genre of film-making that emerged in a narrow chapter of the early 1970's. Within this sub-set is a messy blending of creepy occult, ancient aliens and UFO abduction, and many of these were made for TV movies. Something weird emerged that seems quite evocative looking back on it now. 

We talk about The Stranger Within, The Cage (and lots of other Star Trek episodes), The Crimson Cult, Hangar 18, Night Slaves, Stephen King's Tommyknockers, Simon King of the Witches, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, In Search Of, the evangelical documentary Ancient Aliens De-Bunked, a series of 70's UFO documentaries with Rod Serling, the Stargate series, Mission from Mars, author Bruce Rux, the complicity of NASA in this weird mess, The Outer Limits, Night Slaves, Jeff Kripal, Jacques Vallee, remote viewing, Russel Targ, The Norrlis Tapes, The Invaders, Quinn Martin, The Mephisto Waltz, God Told Me To, Bedeviled with Louis Jourdan, Bill Cooper, Jack Webb's Project UFO and the genesis of the X-Files. (Whew!) 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Dark Doings on the Solar Satellite

A look at the 1966 Hammer Film The Witches leads to the question- who are the real Satanists? We hear all the hysteria and bedwetting from all the usual Conspiratainment shills, but who are the real mind controllers, the real Social Darwinists, the real human sacrificers?

The answer awaits you here....

Monday, November 26, 2012

Manson, the Process and a Ritual of Evil on the Satellite

Did an obscure TV movie released months after the Tate/LoBianco murders reveal then-hidden truths about Charles Manson, the Process Church and the kinky scene on Cielo Drive? You don't want to miss this one; a dark mystery surrounding a true American horror story. Click here for more.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Crimson Cult rises on the Satellite....

Come join us for an immersion into classic British occult horror. Click here to explore the strange netherworld where witchcraft and UFOlogy meet, mate and bear mutant offspring.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Unravel the Mysteries on the 17th...

I'll be appearing on the podcast Unraveling the Secrets this Saturday the 17th (when else?). Come on by and join us; new mysteries will be unveiled...

Yes, we admit it.  The hosts of UtS are comic-book geeks and rock-and-roll fanatics from way back.  We’ve seen a scifi movie and t.v. show or two, and yeah, we dug the Avengers movie, big-time.  We’ve even seen more than a few episodes of the X-Files.   So we are honored to be joined this week by award-winning pop-culture researcher, writer and commentator Christopher Knowles.

Christopher Knowles is the author of The Secret History of Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Mysterious Roots of Modern Music, the Eagle Award-winning Our Gods Wear Spandex: The Secret History of Comic Book Heroes and the critically-acclaimed Clash City Showdown: The Music, The Meaning and The Legacy of The Clash. He’s also co-author of The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths, and the Movies (Insight Editions), the authorized companion to the long-running TV series.

Christopher was a longtime associate editor and contributing writer for the five-time Eisner Award-winning magazine Comic Book Artist. Christopher has also written features, columns and reviews for Classic Rock, one of the top music magazines from the UK. His Jimmy Page cover-story was featured in the best-selling issue in that magazine’s history. He’s appeared on several podcasts, radio programs and documentaries as well as ABC News 20/20 and VH1.
For the past five years he wrote on pop culture and the paranormal for the popular blog The Secret Sun. His podcast The Secret Sun Radio Mystery Hour is coming shortly to iTunes. Christopher is currently working on new book projects for publication in 2013.

Please join us on November 17, 2012
Midnight EST / 9 pm PST
Call-in number: 786-245-8127
 Twitter: unravelingscrts
Go to to chat live in our chatroom during the show.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Secret Sun Radio Mystery Hour: Comics, Creativity and Credit with Arlen Schumer

Left: Steve Ditko - Right: Jack Kirby

In this episode, artist and pop culture historian Arlen Schumer comes aboard to share his thoughts on Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and the creation of Marvel superheroes like Spider-Man, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four. To most civilians, Stan Lee created all these legendary characters himself, but is that the real story? What role does the artist play in shaping comic book narrative? Arlen argues that the artist is actually more like a film director- the auteur of a comic book, creating the magic in what is essentially a visual medium.

But Kirby and Ditko were more than artists, they were writers themselves, responsible for the lion's share of the plotting on the most memorable Marvel Comics adventures. Was Stan himself a writer or was he in fact a true editor, generating germs of stories and polishing dialogue in much the same way a TV producer works with his creators? Arlen delves into these mysteries with the depth of a scholar and the passion of a lifelong fan.

With comics and superheroes playing an ever more central role in our culture, these are issues that can't be swept under the rug of history. This is one you're not going to want to miss.

Arlen Schumer is a member of The Society of Illustrators, creating comic book-style illustrations for advertising and editorial usage, and one of the foremost historians of comic book art—his book The Silver Age of Comic Book Art won the Independent Publishers Award for Best Popular Culture Book of 2003. He lectures on these and other pop culture subjects he is a recognized expert in, Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone and the music of Bruce Springsteen, at universities and cultural institutions nationwide.
To find Arlen and his work online check out these links.

For an interview with Arlen on his own work, click here.

To support the Kirby Museum and get The Auteur Theory of Comics 16-pager & the Kirby Silver Edition 32-pager, click here

To get Arlen's Superman/Weisinger 16-pg verbal/visual essay in Alter Ego #112, click here.

To get his "ComiColumn" essays on Auteur, Weisinger/Superman and Joe Kubert, click here.

For more info on the AIGA-Los Angeles lecture on Wednesday 11/7, "The Graphic Design of Comic Book Art", click here.

For the Art Center College of Design (LA) lecture on Thursday, 11/8, "Illustration & Comic Art", click here.

And of course...

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pop Culture and the Desert of the Real

Longtime TV fixture Gary Collins pierced the veil and left this mortal coil at the age of 74. Collins' career is too long and twisting to detail here, but he entered the Secret Sun Hall of Fame when he starred (with Darren McGavin, no less) in the Solar foundational text Hangar 18 (which you read about in depth here), and was no stranger to other genre roles as well.

By far the most notable of these was The Sixth Sense, which by some dint of chance was not a Dan Curtis production. This show- about a parapsychological researcher- actually ran for two seasons in the early 70s, when such things were all the rage in pop culture.

It's hard for young people-- who've been so relentlessly mediated and catered to for the past three decades-- to understand how much of a relief shows like The Night Stalker or The Six Million Dollar Man or movies like Planet of the Apes or even Logan's Run were back in the 70s.

It's like this;  lukewarm water isn't appealing to most people in normal circumstances, but to a man trapped in a bleak wasteland, dying of thirst, it's a revelation from the gods.

And so it was for the occasional half-hearted stab that Hollywood took at sci-fi or superheroes in the 70s. After Star Wars it would all change forever, but for those of us trapped in that no man's land of oppressive blandness, any break from the routine was cause for celebration.

 "Mod Styled Hair"- is that the best they can do?
The latchkey generation of the 70s were keenly aware that everything was better for kids in the 50s and 60s, and the Internet has done a great job in preserving the crappy cartoons, TV shows and toys that aging schlockmeisters forced down our throats. Shows like The Sixth Sense or Night Gallery were designed for adults, which made them all the more appealing, even if they don't hold up in any objective way today.

It's very hard for me to nostalgic about a lot of things from the 70s. It was a lot like today-- an era marked by decline and diminished expectations. But there were glimmers of resistance, seeds that would sprout with punk rock and alt.comix and independent film.

My fear is that the avalanche of sheer product today makes such a second Renaissance unlikely. But no one expected any of it the first time around, so keep your ears to the ground. And support those people whose work you value; don't expect them to be around if you don't.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Weekend Matinee: The Norliss Tapes

A Secret Sun board member recently asked me what I thought was Chris Carter's primary inspiration and the answer was simple: Dan Curtis. You see, the seeds of Ten Thirteen Productions can all be found in Curtis' legendary made-for-TV classics, everything from Dark Shadows to the The Night Stalker to Trilogy of Terror to Intruders.

And then there's The Norliss Tapes, featuring pivotal X-Files guest star (and Invaders legend) Roy Thinnes. This was made the year after The Night Stalker and almost seems like a sequel (complete with Claude Akins!) patched together with Thinnes because Darren McGavin was already booked. For my money Thinnes suits the material better; his moody, brooding demeanor adds a sombre realism to the proceedings that McGavin's wiseguy act could either embellish or undermine, depending on which way the wind was blowing.

This being a Dan Curtis production there are some fine Hollywood goddesses on hand, particularly the ubiquitous Angie Dickinson, the voluptuous Michele Carey and the doe-eyed Vonetta McGee. There's also some popcult resonance at work both with the setting (especially given the time period) and the Maguffin.

Poke around a bit- you'll find a full version of The Norliss Tapes online in short order.

Geekery: The original story was written by Fred Mustard Stewart, author of The Mephisto Waltz, a Secret Sun touchstone if ever there was one. The screenplay was written by William F. Nolan, author of Logan's Run.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Why I Hate Saturn

A few years back I came to a decision; I would only pay attention to the major transits in Astrology. These seem to be the only things astrologers will agree on, and even then it's a crapshoot. I'll read columns by a small handful of astrologers I find interesting, and often times I do so at the end of the day to see how well they did describing what happened already. But I always keep several grains of salt in a handy travel pouch in my journeys among the stars.

Since I look as astrology as a kind of synchronistic timekeeping system, charting the cyclical and rhythmic nature of time and being, I usually have a bias for the meat and potatoes writers who look at the various movements and their "effects" (which I interpret as the movements and their correspondences). Give me at least the veneer of science- something I can wrap my head around.

You see, back in the 90s Rob Breszny kicked off a kind of New Age, touchy-feely Astrology in which the columnist would serve up a blend of Stewart Smalley-type self-affirmation sermon and neuvo-hippie tone poem (with generous dollops of PC bromide thrown in), necessitating the reader to parse the hidden meaning allegedly embedded within. Sometimes it worked, usually you cringed. And it all got reduced to the point of self-parody; you need look no further than the current atrocity in TV Guide (which once ran horoscopes by heavyweights like Patric Walker and Sally Brompton) to see how low that particular blend can go.

Whatever the skeptics may say, I've found the astrologers I pay attention to to be as least as credible as the weather services, at least when it comes to these major transits and these effects. This recent Saturn transit is a perfect example. I've written about this before, but my mind is still boggling over it. After Saturn's transit through Cancer I was assured that it would be 29 years before I had to deal with that kind of misery again, and lo and behold it was less than five.

Saturn is transiting through Libra and apparently was doing so through my 4th house? Something like that. My eyes tend to glaze over with all the charts and graphs and the rest of it. As I said, I just tend to look at the big picture. Apparently Cancerians are more vulnerable to Saturn's malign influence since the planet rules Capricorn (my mother's sign, which explains everything), which is on the opposite end of the Zodiac. Whatever the exact mechanics of all this are, I'll leave to the experts. All I know is that the effects were brutal.

And believe me; I realize that to some this all sounds like madness. And I realize that a lot of people like to chalk all of this up to the power of suggestion and all the rest of it. The problem is that the power of suggestion can't influence outside events beyond your control (at least according to the skeptical POV), nor does it influence events that occurred during previous transits when you were totally oblivious to all of this. It just doesn't work that way.

Either way, when Saturn was transiting through Cancer it was kind of like living with a physically-abusive alcoholic; you never knew what kind of nightmare was going to pop up next. I ended up in the hospital quite a few times and things just generally went to hell. This recent Saturn in Libra thing was more like walking around with fifty pound sacks of wet sand on my back. Everything just ground down, like driving a car with four flat tires. Of course, the daily burden of managing a severe chronic pain condition doesn't make any of this any easier.

I wish I could say it was all a blessing in disguise but I just don't see it at the moment. Certainly the Saturn in Cancer transit presaged a major reinvention, leading to the books and this blog and all the rest of it. But then Saturn shows up again and basically shits all over it. So what's the point? I'm trying to make sense of it all but the jury is still good and out.

Maybe this is the point where I peddle a bunch of rehashed Nietzschean twaddle about the glory of struggle and overcoming the odds, but on one hand Nietzsche was a genius and the other he was just another shut-in and momma's boy with a brain was rotted out by syphilis. So maybe that doesn't do much in the way of applications.

Because we've been sold this bill of goods about the glory of hardship and redemptive qualities of struggle, predominantly by an over-privileged class of parasites, who've never experienced a single day of hardship in their lives. But the fact is that these narratives are all deeply subjective and highly mythologized (being charitable), and the sooner we dispense with the new ubermenschen archetype the better. It's all fine and good to overcome the odds and all the rest, but it's no way to write policy.

So maybe if there is a lesson in all of this is that suffering isn't some political issue that can be resolved or some question of ideology that can all be wished away by some magical force like the gold standard or the hidden hand of the markets. Sometimes shit just happens. Sometimes it's written in the stars.

I realize this all wades into thorny territory, and I realize how much of this mythos is primarily- if not exclusively- informed by long-standing racial resentments in my own country. But the fact remains that the people who seem to buy into this bootstrap delusion the most these days- meaning the white working class- also have the most to lose if in fact it were to be enacted. I can't help but wonder if that's been the idea all along.

In the meantime, everyone keep an eye on Saturn. It doesn't matter how you think you have, he'll take it all away from you if you don't watch out...

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Comics are Magick: Horoscope Phenomenon

I mentioned my first encounter with Jack Kirby via a DC house ad for The New Gods and The Forever People in The Witching Hour #12 (contrary to current misconception, no one really referred to those books as the "Fourth World" until much, much later, and the term itself - most likely actually coined by DC editorial and adopted by Kirby after the fact - didn't show up until several issues into the project's run). 

It all seemed like a really cool party I wasn't invited to, like the Bohemian and showbiz parties my parents went to. I remember there was one group of friends of my parents who were into Astrology and the rest of the pop occultism that was circulating in suburbia at the time. Their apartment seemed like a pagan temple to me, with a lava lamp and beaded curtains in the doorways. I can only imagine the effect this story would have had had I read it at the time.

In it, people experience dreams and visions relating to their astrological signs; Pisces, Cancer and Virgo in this case. In each case the sign manifests in the form of a goddess. And not just any goddess- tripped-out Kirby super-goddesses in all their glory.  In each case, the rather startling appearance of these figures come to save the witness or bestow on them treasures or discoveries.

This is the kind of story Kirby would probably write had you left him in a room without any prompting as to deadlines or sales. This isn't his most coherent plot ever, and I wonder if this was part of a larger project involving characters based on the Zodiac. That's certainly a project I'd love to read.

Here we also see the catalog of Kirby's obsessions- trauma-induced madness, extranormal or spiritual communication, hidden treasure, lost civilizations and on and on and on. The man was nothing if not consistent.

This isn't my favorite period for his art, however - Kirby quit Marvel for DC thinking he'd be able to leave the grind and create concepts for other writers and artists to execute only to have the rug pulled out from under him once the ink was dry, and the rushed quality of the art reflects his disillusionment--as well as the crushing 60 page a month (!) quota he had to fill under his contract. And his finishing man at DC, Mike Royer, was only ever as good as Kirby's pencils were.

I wasn't the only one who was hypnotized by Pisces, apparently. Batman: The Animated Series producers Bruce Timm and Glen Murakami illustrated a comic based on the series and used her in a dream sequence in which the goddess appears to Batman in a dream, only to morph into Talia Al' Ghul.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Comics are Magick: Double Edge

 Strangely enough, this installment is kind of a sequel to "Daddy and the Pie," only it was published 5 years before by a different company (in The Witching Hour #12) and was written by a different writer. It was illustrated by Alex Toth though, and concerned the fate of a young man who once had an all-powerful magical talisman when he was a boy.

This story is as loud and violent as "Daddy" was quiet and pastoral. But it too is a meditation on morality and the choices we make in our lives. It's also one of the earliest comic book stories I remember reading- my uncle picked it up at Marvin's Pharmacy after church and left it in a box in my grandmother's house thereafter. I re-read a number of times over the years, along with any number of classic Silver Age comics.

The Witching Hour #12 was important for another reason, however- it was where I first encountered the work of Jack Kirby, in the form of this DC house ad. Having read the bloodless funny animal comics my mother bought for me, this was like a revelation from the gods. It all seemed so cosmic, so exotic, so cool.

It would be ages before I actually read those particular comics, and not a single one lived up to what I imagined they'd be like (or the other Kirby books I read in the interim) but it certainly hit me exactly at the right time and set me on a path that I'd follow forever after.

But "Double Edge" had an impact too. It was one of those stories that tuned into the pervasive occult ambiance of the early 70s that so many of my favorite popcult artifacts do, at the same time it obviously pays tribute to Doctor Strange. And in a strange way it anticipates Harry Potter.

I couldn't say it better myself, so I let Alan do so...

Alan Moore didn't introduce magic and occultism to comics- he merely re-introduced them. I cut my teeth on that stuff back in the 70s, all in color for two dimes, or a quarter. Not to mention UFOs, conspiracy theory, the paranormal, psychedelia and all the rest, all down at my local newsstand. What I wouldn't give for a time machine...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Comics are Magick: Daddy and the Pie

While I try to smack some sense into my life I thought it would be a good time to return to The Source, the initiation place of my younger days. Over the years I've written about the late, lamented Valles' News and the great Mysteries of the paranormal that I encountered there, but I realized that I haven't shared those Mysteries with you as much. What better time than now to do so?

I can't think of a better story to begin with than "Daddy and the Pie," an alien encounter story from 1975 written by the late Bill DuBay (himself a student of the Kabbalah) and drawn by the late Alex Toth (himself an art god). This story is sublime in so many ways but is remarkable in that it serves as a classic initiation narrative and leaves off at a point before the narrator reaches his ascension to occult mastery, which is obliquely- and ominously- referred to in the final paragraph.

Toth's art is beyond cinematic- beneath his trademark ruthless economy, you know that this drama exists fully formed within his mind. If you don't see the reality of his vision at first, just give it a bit of time. Once your eyes adjust you will be stunned by the poetic reality of it all. Note that Toth depicted the alien as a classic Grey type years before they became cliche.

Both DuBay and Toth would have influence far beyond the cloistered walls of comicdom- DuBay was a top figure for Marvel Animation in the 80s and Toth was the main designer for Hanna-Barbera's superhero cartoons, including Space Ghost, Jonny Quest, The Herculoids, Super Friends and many, many more.

Click images to enlarge.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Holding Pattern

2012 has been a banner year for The Secret Sun and a surprising one. My original plan was to kick launch the Radio Mystery Hour in full force and have that be the backbone of the blog but other topics snuck up on me, quite by surprise.

Unfortunately, some considerably less pleasant surprises have befallen me out here in Meatspace, taking my attention away from The Sun for the time being. And as I wrote previously, scheduling snafus have complicated the Radio Mystery Hour relaunch as well. This is to be expected, seeing that a lot of people I want to speak with are involved in academia in one way or another.

But there's a time to reap and a time to sow and a time to let the fields lie fallow. The Sun has been on fire this year (every month has set an all-time hit record, with August the biggest-ever month in our history) and there's also a 24/7 discussion taking place on the Facebook page. I'll be continuing to post scintillating links there while I get my ducks in order on the homefront. And I will get The Secret Sun Radio Mystery Hour up and running as soon as I have a few episodes in the can.

Strangely enough, some of those topics I mentioned before are bleeding over from Ideaspace over into Meatspace. I wish that was as fun as it sounded, but I can't deny that I've been dragged, kicking and screaming, onto a path set out for me before I was born. More on all of that in the days to come.

In the meantime, please note that I've revamped the topic index in order to make your Secret Sun browsing experience more efficient. So don't hestitate to dig into the massive archives. One thing I've notice on the FB group is that new readers don't realize that if they're interested in a particular topic, chances are pretty good I've written about it here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Programming Note

I've been working on getting new episodes of The Secret Sun Radio Mystery Hour produced, but it's been a bit more of a slog than I expected, with people's schedules and technical considerations and so on. My plan was to get a nice backlog of episodes in the can and get them up twice a week for the next several weeks. But as the song once said, "plans are just dreams, anyhow..."

Of course, this is to be expected and hopefully I'll get the kinks worked out as I go along. This is still a new ballgame for me, but a very exciting one as well. I'm going to be spending the next several days contacting people and making arrangements for new shows, and working on writing questions that will hopefully shed new light on the wonderful worlds of Weirdness.

I hope to be talking to some people some of you may not be familiar with but who've had a major influence on pop culture, weird culture and all the rest of it nonetheless. I've done a lot of interviews in my previous incarnation as a popcult journalist, so you're in good hands. Rest assured.

Stay tuned- once the kinks are worked out, there's plenty more to come.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Punk Alchemy: Burning Away Impurity (Calcination)

My recent posting on the alchemical symbolism of The Fifth Element was anything but arbitrary. Alchemy- the symbolism and psychology of which, rather- has intruded into my life in fascinating ways recently.

It's been more than a lifeline; this has been a challenging  year for me in many ways, and without the context of the Alchemical process, it might be rather bewildering as well. Bear in mind that I'm referring not only to the Jungian interpretation of said process but a distinctly punk rock reinterpretation thereof.

Punk Rock was a reaction to the post-Beatles school of thinking that argued that the old, pre-Rock rules must be reasserted. Technology, virtuosity, and intellectualism were the watchwords of the post-Psychedelic progressive rock movement, which reached its first flower with King Crimson, led by my guitar god, Robert Fripp.

But even Fripp came to rebel against the claustrophobic strictures of prog, which had become a cliche once the drugs and egotism had stolen away the muse from his class of players. Fripp found liberation in working with self-described "non-musician" Brian Eno, who was more punk than the punks themselves in the mid-70s.

And that's the strain of punk (there are hundreds of them, many of them totally useless) that we'll take inspiration from. The school which learns the rules before throwing them out and starting again.

The first stage of the Alchemical Great Work was Calcination, in which impurities were burnt away and only the purest essence remained. Jung saw the allegory of Calcination in the analytic process where the various untruths and disguises that the patient hid his or her true self behind were exposed and discarded, or burned away. This was usually the most difficult and fraught stage of analysis, since these impurities had many years to accumulate, and to become part of the patient's identity.

Many of us don't have the discipline to undergo this process ourselves. Many of us are clever enough to create new masks to replace the old ones. Perhaps a Jung would be wise enough to recognize when the purification process was truly complete, but many lesser clinicians would not.

For many of us, external realities are taking care of this for us. I've always said that you only know a person's true character under pressure, and we're seeing a lot of people who once hid behind masks of respectability be exposed as anything but once the heat is turned up. It's been ugly in some cases. But perhaps clinging to the impurity of Ego is the father of all monsters.

I'd written earlier how The Alchemical Tarot seemed to be a particularly useful tool for me lately. It remains so, and I can't help but wonder if the surreal, almost comic book-like imagery of Alchemy plays some role in this. Truly powerful images are themselves pregnant with psychic power, and I can't help but wonder if Robert Place's well-studied imagery is part of the magic there.

But the Tarot--which is not something I'm usually given to working with-- seems to be particularly effective given this Saturn transit I've been dealing with. I had a Saturn-in Cancer transit from 2002 to 2005- which literally nearly killed me- but at the same time it was a time when these symbol systems spoke more clearly to me.

And now this other transit (don't ask me how I won the jackpot and got myself a second go-round) seems to be similar, in that not only have I been forced into this Calcinatio process, but these extraordinary ways of knowing seem to be accessible.

The first transit took a lot of things away from me, things that I valued, but it also led directly to Our Gods Wear Spandex and The Secret Sun and all of the rest of it. In many ways, I get the feeling that this second transit is putting me on another path- or perhaps back on the path I was before- removing valued distractions that I may look back on and see rather as obstacles.

Of course, when you're dealing with all of this you tend to focus more on the stress and unpleasantry, but the first go-round helped give me a greater perspective, leading me to take action before action is forced upon me.

Unless you're one of the richer-than-ever 1%, things are probably pretty rough sledding for you as well. But you're probably discovering how much impurity there was in your life, how much non-essence you've been convinced was somehow important. To my way of thinking, only the life of the Mind is real, everything else is a trap, meant to imprison us in the material world.

The very imagery- the language- of Alchemy defies the material world, just as the Dadaists and the Surrealists did. Looking back it's almost impossible to imagine these guys were really trying to literally turn lead into gold. It's hard to imagine they were trying to do anything literally. Their riches were their art and their understanding of transformation.

So a challenging time can become literally that in the context of Punk Alchemy- a challenge to burn away everything that's been holding you down or keeping you enslaved. In this context, the Calcinatio is a process of liberation from the traps of the past.