Friday, June 29, 2012

The Wisdom of Mystery

German Surrealist dragooned by British hippies, circa 1968

At this point in my life there is no doubt in my mind that human beings are "not alone." I'm not talking about extraterrestrials, mind you, though I believe that logic dictates that the Milky Way galaxy-- and the countless billion other galaxies out there in the Universe-- is teeming with intelligent life.

I'm talking about entities that over the past millennia have been perceived as-- or presented themselves, depending on your point of view-- as gods, spirits, demons, angels, fairies, Djinn, aliens, ghosts, poltergeists and so on and so forth.

I believe that these entities somehow exist outside the normal boundaries of space/time and are usually perceived according to the state of mind of the percipient. In other words, if your head is filled with snakes, you're going to perceive these entities as demonic. If you're a "fluffy bunny" type, you'll perceive them as angels or space brothers. It's kind of like an acid trip in that regard.

I also believe that these entities are part of a greater hierarchy which reflects the greater cosmos. I think this greater hierarchy communicates with human beings through the manipulation of symbol and time, a process more commonly known as Synchronicity. This hierarchy is both an objective and subjective reality, in that it exists within and without the human imagination.

I believe that most people are usually oblivious to these entities and this hierarchy. With certain exceptions, I believe that these entities can only be perceived through a rather dramatic alteration of consciousness, some kind of break in the normal, everyday patterns of living.

And it's a good thing, too. Because we are just way too fucked up to be plugged into that kind of power on a regular basis.

Now, these are all givens in my worldview. They're not issues I feel the need to debate even though I realize a lot of people violently (though not passionately) disagree with these beliefs. I don't care if they do. I do care about finding people who share these beliefs and then disseminating them to the agnostic or curious. I think the best way to do that is to be a level-headed individual who doesn't run around making outrageous claims just to draw attention to themselves.

I also think it's important to ask questions and to learn to distinguish speculation from document. Speculation is a powerful tool. It's vastly under-rated in this day and age, where fundamentalism and the need for certainty rules supreme. Maybe a lot of people might think the first few paragraphs in this piece here break my rules, and cross the speculative line. That's OK. That's their privilege.

I've been studying all of this stuff long enough where I'm confident enough to make those kind of assumptions. What the exact nature or origin of these entities I'm talking about is totally beyond me. I'm only interested in their activities, in the effect they have on the rest of us.

I'm interested in how cultures wither away and die when they cut themselves off from this other world, the way atheist and secular societies simply stop reproducing, or reproducing at a rate sufficient to avoid extinction. It's happened throughout history and it's happening now. The numbers don't lie; a reductionist materialist society is a dying society.

History is filled with the names of dead nations and dead peoples, which is why the atheists and the secularists are so desperate to keep us from studying history (other than their politically correct mythology version thereof).

I also have a pretty good idea that contact with this other realm is actively discouraged to disempower us, to keep us weak and confused and separated. In other words, there's a reason that all of the NGOs and foundations funnel so much money into the skeptic and atheist movements, as well as into their media amen corners.

Hell, I'll go one better and say that a lot of what passes for religion in this country is hardly better than atheism itself. Especially considering most of it is partisan politics in clerical drag.

But the point I'm trying to make is that whereas other writers and other researchers want to grab a theory and own it, I don't. I like mystery. I like speculation. I like to ask questions and juggle possibilities. Take UFOs; I can listen to an Andrew Collins talk about plasma and bubble dimensions and then listen to Richard Dolan talk about nuts and bolts aliens and reverse engineering.

I can listen to a Nick Redfern claim that Bigfoot is an interdimensional entity and then listen to Lloyd Pye claim he's a crafty protohominid who stays aways from human beings. I can read a John Keel claim the ancient astronauts were noncorporeal Ultraterrestrials or read somebody argue they were flesh and blood ET's. Then I can start to mix and match. Recently I've been toying with the idea of the ancient gods being human beings possessed by plasma beings. Why not?

I'm not exactly sure how or why all of it works but I know it does. By it I don't necessarily mean UFOs or Psi or Synchronicity or Alchemy or the Tarot or what have you, and I don't not mean them either. All of these things are symbol systems of a kind, graphic interfaces of an ineffable human consciousness with an ineffable cosmic consciousness. They're signs, not the road, if that makes any sense.

One of the original inspirations behind The Secret Sun was my noticing that art and culture and society becomes more creative, dynamic and exciting when forbidden topics like UFOs and Alchemy and psychedelia and ancient mythology rear their heads.

Why exactly is a mystery to me, but it's something I noticed first in the postpunk era, traced back to the hippies then to the Surrealists then to the Spiritualists and the Rosicrucians and the Renaissance and the High Middle Ages. The pattern is remarkably consistent.

It's as if Mystery- capital M-- is what really kickstarts the human imagination. The greater the mystery-- the more unanswerable the question-- the greater the impulse to evolve and achieve. And it all begins with a question- Why?

Never be afraid to ask why. It's the only thing that will save us from oblivion.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins: The Ultimate Lifeform


My recent Operation Trojan Horse re-read wasn't merely on a whim- it was inspired by a brief passage in Nick Redfern's new book The Pyramids and the Pentagon, almost an afterthought in the context of the book.
But it tied back to research Nick has done on the topic of "sentient ghost lights," which he wrote about on Mysterious Universe last year.
The report says that on rare occasions plasmas can cause responses in the temporal-lobe area of the human brain, leading observers to suffer extended memory retention and repeat experiences. This, the report’s author believes, may be ‘a key factor in influencing the more extreme reports [that] are clearly believed by the victims.’”

Dr. Greg Little, commenting on such unidentified balls of light, says: “Persinger’s primary interest has been in the nearly unbelievable effects the plasma’s magnetic field has on human consciousness…Persinger’s research indicates that people who come into close contact with these charged plasma forms experience altered states of consciousness producing a host of strange visions,” including UFO abductions.
Now I knew this was nothing new, but I'm fascinated by the fact that many skeptics will acknowledge that these fireballs exist and may indeed have a powerful effect on human consciousness.

The difference being is that skeptics believe it's all some kind of fluke-- some big ol' misunderstanding, you understand-- while a considerable body of thinking in the alt.UFOlogy world sees these beings as sentient, perhaps interdimensional life forms of almost unimaginable power and influence. And so I went back to Keel and then Vallee to refresh my memory on this phenomenon.

Now with Keel you have to expect a bit of blarney, a bit of bluster. But few others took the time to catalog UFO reports and interview witnesses first-hand. And after reviewing thousands of reports, Keel came to a definitive conclusion as to what the UFO phenomenon was and what the phenomenon was not. From Trojan Horse:
Most of these were of luminous objects that behaved in peculiar, unnatural ways. The great majority of all sightings throughout history have been of "soft" luminous objects, or objects that were transparent, translucent, changed size and shape, or appeared and disappeared suddenly. Sightings of seemingly solid metallic objects have always been quite rare...The scope, frequency and distribution of the sightings make the popular extraterrestrial (interplanetary) hypothesis completely untenable.
Ufologists have constructed elaborate theories about flying saucer propulsion and antigravity. But we cannot exclude the possibility that these wondrous "machines" are made of the same stuff as our disappear­ing houses, and they don't fly-they levitate. They are merely temporary intrusions into our reality or space-time continuum, momentary manipu­lations of electromagnetic energy.
Jacques Vallee was another heretic to the ETH priesthood. In his 1989 book, Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact Vallee wrote, "To put it bluntly, the UFO phenomenon does not give evidence of being extraterrestrial at all. Instead it appears to be inter-dimensional and to manipulate physical realities outside of our own space-time continuum."

Vallee expanded upon Keel's basic theories on the UFO phenomenon and its effect on human consciousness (much to Keel's consternation, at least in the early days), bringing a greater understanding of science and physics to the table. From an interview with Vallee:
(The UFO Phenomenon) seems to involve a lot of energy in a small space; it seems to involve pulsed microwaves, among other things. There isn't much that is known about the effect of pulsed microwaves on the brain, so it's quite possible that some of the stories that you get from people are essentially induced hallucinations in sincere witnesses--the witnesses are not lying. They really have been exposed to something genuine but there is no way to go back to what that thing was, based on their description, because their brain has been affected by proximity to that energy.

Having said that, I have plenty of colleagues in science and technology I respect who tell me this could be a natural phenomenon--this could be an undiscovered form of energy in the atmosphere. We don't know much about the effect of electromagnetic fields on the nervous system. We're going to be discovering that as we go. So, it's quite possible that there could be a phenomenon like that, a very spontaneous thing. Or it could be artificial. If it's artificial it could come from another form of consciousness, which may or may not be extraterrestrial.
Whatever the ultimate source of the phenomenon, there is one thing that many alt.UFOlogists and even more impartial observers agree on: this phenomenon not only has the ability to interface with human consciousness (reading Keel put my own catalog of weird experiences in a whole new light), it has the ability to disguise itself, to change its shape, to take on a number of forms and identities whether through the control of human perception or through an ability to shape-shift using means we can hardly even speculate upon. Vallee again:
When I went to the Soviet Union, I met a man named Vladimir Azhazha, who is head of the research committee on UFOs in Moscow. He said, "You know, one of the most important aspects of this whole phenomenon is that it’s polymorphic." I wasn’t sure my interpreter was translating accurately, so I had him repeat that. He said, "It’s polymorphic; they change shapes. An object will appear as a disc and as it’s moving through the sky it will change into a cube or into a pyramid or it will vanish on the spot."

If it changes shape, if it can appear out of nowhere and disappear into nowhere, this is not just a bunch of spacecraft. This is a much more interesting technology that manipulates dimensions. It manipulates space-time. And if it can do that, then it can be from anywhere and anytime.
Vallee also touched upon another immutable constant that comes to characterize the pursuit of Alt.UFOlogy, as well as related and tangential fields. Of course, I am talking about the phenomenon of Synchronicity. Vallee, recounting his discussion with the Soviet chum regarding the morphology of UFOs:
I showed him an article where I had said essentially the same thing. He looked at me and he said, "You know, it’s as if you and I had been working together for the last ten years." This shows something rather remarkable about the phenomenon, which is that two people who have been studying it in earnest in completely different parts of the world under completely different conditions will arrive at the same conclusions about it.

Now I bring this up because literally as soon as I was wrapping up my Operation Trojan Horse and supplemental material re-read, Paul Weston emailed me out of the blue about Andrew Collins' new book, Lightquest, which not only seeks to describe these beings but explain how the reader can interact with them.

Jeffrey Pritchett interviewed Collins about the new book.
Collins expands on Keel's and Vallee's work, offering a synthesis of Keel's theory of UFOs as living plasma entities with the ability (and desire) to alter human consciousness and Vallee's theory of UFOs as being essentially an interdimensional phenomenon:
I propose that during UFO close encounters we enter what might be described as isolated bubble universes, or drive-through universes, where the interaction between human consciousness and plasma-based environments come together to create virtual worlds of our own making, based on our present conception of what we expect to experience under such traumatic and otherworldly circumstances.
As with Keel and Vallee, Collins believes that the contactee/abductee experience is essentially a kind of induced virtual reality, though he doesn't necessarily agree on the exact mechanics of these experiences:
(The) good explanation would have to involve a progressive understanding of quantum entanglement, i.e. non-local communication, in which whole systems of twinned particles are able to transfer information back and forth in an instant of time.

Under such conditions a shifted reality that might present itself as the interior of a spacecraft, the realm of faerie or even the heavenly paradise, might come into being, and be very real indeed. Yet in fact it is a mental projection existing temporarily within a higher dimensional reality attached to highly energetic light forms.
Collins argues that plasma is in fact an excellent medium for life and especially intelligence. If his theory is true, it gives new meaning to the Navajo term "Star People," in that these beings would be perceived as coming from the stars and be made of "star stuff" themselves!
Can such light intelligences, if they exist, inhabit balls of light and UFOs of the type so frequently recorded both in the past and since the advent of the flying saucer age? Many UFO researchers have concluded this fact across the years...the greatest pioneer in this field of study is writer Trevor James Constable (who) has proposed that UFOs are amoeba-like animals or “critters” that inhabit the upper atmosphere.

In his opinion, these “plasmatic” “sky-creatures” exist in an invisible form, but very occasionally shift in frequency to become visible as shimmering disks, lights in the sky and glowing balls of energy.
Now you can take the word of your scientists and your researchers and your PhD's and that's all well and good. But this is The Secret Sun (not to mention the "Wizards..." series) and when in doubt we consult the work of the great seer Jacob Kurtzberg (1917-1994), better known to the world as Jack Kirby. Kirby's work is filled to the brim with aliens and ancient astronauts; what did he think of this idea of sentient plasma beings?

The answer-- hiding in plain sight-- was stunningly definitive.

Long before Operation Trojan Horse, long before Dimensions, Kirby was writing about UFOs as the product of sentient light beings. Given Jack's voracious appetite for reading-- especially paranormal and parapolitical literature-- and his lifelong obsession with the UFOs it's tempting to say that this 1957 story- 'Fireballs' from Alarming Tales #2-- was inspired by the work of Trevor James Constable.

However, it was published more than a year before Constable's first book They Live in the Sky.

The mystery deepens: in the foreword to the 1978 collection UFOs and Related Subjects: An Annotated Bibliography, editor Lynn E. Catoe wrote of a phenomenon that wouldn't surprise a first century Alexandrian familiar with The Book of Enoch or The Mithraic Liturgy:
A large part of the available UFO literature is closely linked with mysticism and the metaphysical. It deals with subjects like mental telepathy, automatic writing, and invisible entities, as well as phenomena like poltergeist manifestations and possession . . .

Many of the UFO reports now being published in the popular press recount alleged incidents that are strikingly similar to demoniac possession and psychic phenomena which has long been known to theologians and parapsychologists.
And in 'Fireballs', one of these beings takes possession of (read: walks-in to) a reporter in order to communicate with the meat puppets, claiming that the atomic testing brought the insignificant little water planet to their attention. (Note that Kirby was also writing a number of stories about interdimensional travel at the same time he was processing all of this.)

The experience here is cautionary, educational. But as we saw before the concept of possession is a thorny one, not least because no one wants another entity to take control of their body. Or don't they? Inviting possession was a feature of the ancient Mysteries as it is with their modern descendants such as Santeria and Pentecostalism.

As Jung pointed out about the UFO phenomenon in general, the Walk-In phenomenon hinges entirely on the beliefs and attitudes of the experiencer. Atheists (not to mention Baptists or Presbyterians) are rarely- if ever- possessed by demons whereas adherents of authoritarian religions will use possession as an excuse to break temporarily free of their programming, even if it often ends in their murder at the hands of an "exorcist." Keel again:
This mental (and also emotional) manipu­lation is the key to our mystery. Possession occurs in both good and evil forms. Possession is part of the overall manifestation. Many contactees display the classic symptoms of possession.

Arthur Ford, the medium, was possessed on one level; Dr. Newbrough, author of Oahspe, on another; contactees on still another. All are subjects of the same phenome­non-phenomenon that is not bred in the reaches of outer space but which has always existed with us here in our own immediate environment.
I'm sure I could find a number of stories Kirby did on this theme, but I wanted to revisit the endlessly-unfolding occult grimoire/prophetic codex that men call Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth #30 (published March 1975).

The first Jack Kirby comic I ever bought (At Valles News) is not only ripe to bursting with High Weirdness ('UFO: The Wildest Trip on Earth'- what was Jack trying to tell us there?) it also features a UFO abduction (which begins with the mind-altering ray so familiar to contact stories from the Fifties (not to mention "The Cage"), it also features an alien which is nothing but sentient bio-plasma using a suit to take human form.

If all that weren't enough, the issue ends with the Bio-Plasma alien taking possession of Kamandi's Gus Grissom analog, Ben Boxer. Then of course the American invasion of Iraq, only in funny animal form, drawn in 1975.

And just as Vallee and his Soviet general friend agreed, the alien "can be many things," meaning take many forms. "It's living energy. The ultimate lifeform."

The "energy alien" uses Kamandi's old friend Doctor Anubi... er I mean Canus, to take form using the machinery she built while tooling around in its space suit. Note Kirby conflating the terminology of "fireball" (or foo fighter?) and BIO-PLASMA. Interesting that the alien takes human form after modeling itself after Kamandi, yet another of Jack's idealized, androgynous blond man-children.

Indeed, that same archetype would appear as Ikaris in The Eternals (originally called Return of the Gods), which Kirby began work on shortly after finishing Kamandi #30. And as we saw going back to the 50s, this would be another immersion into Kirby's ancient astronaut obsession (which I guarantee you is as much an influence on Prometheus as Von Daniken, since the first Alien raided Eternals #1 for imagery and the second Aliens film is a virtual rewrite of the first Captain Victory storyline).

But there was something quite interesting about these particular ancient astronauts....

...like Pyra, the Gods were energy beings encased in giant armored suits. As we saw in this story, they also had the ability to create illusions in men's minds, convincing Russian generals that a missile the Soviets had launched at it had reversed course back to its silo.

We also saw the Celestials' true nature in 'The Astronauts', which we looked at in context of the 1986 Challenger disaster.

Now remember, this is a guy who one journalist compared to the assistant foreman in a girdle factory. Who Art Spiegelman (aka Gummo Bubbleman) called "an idiot savant obsessed with orgasm." Who Jim Woodring said was a very strange little man "hermetically sealed" in his own imagination.

A man who didn't have a driver's license because he was unable to focus on consensus reality long enough to avoid driving off the road. A man whose most interesting resonant stories were all commercial flops since he needed guys like Stan Lee to bring his imagination down to Earth long enough to tell an accessible narrative for the mainstream.

So the question raises itself yet again; what the hell got a hold of this guy? What undetectable signal was he tuned into?

More importantly, how do we tune into that signal ourselves?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins Addenda: Ghosts and Rockets


I wanted to keep the latest installment of Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins above the fold because the feedback it inspired was so fantastic I didn't want to stem the flow, but I needed to write an addenda while the information was still fresh.

One of my greatest pleasures in doing this blog is the feedback I get here, all the more remarkable given all of the crap you see out there on the Internet. The 'Net is such a wonderful tool in so many ways but the fact that so many people use it to dump their mental garbage may well destroy it.

Dreaming is a very powerful thing. Andre Breton said that in our dreams each and every one of us is the perfect artist. To the Surrealists-- and indeed to the ancients-- dreams were as important as waking reality. Scientists still don't understand them- and I'm sure a lot of your fundamentalist materialist types would love to eliminate them from the human experience forever, which is one of the reasons they push all kinds of horrific pharmaceuticals down our throats.

My marsh dreams struck a chord out there and there were some fascinating examples and suggestions offered by Secret Sun readers. But I caught myself about to say that I never dream about UFOs when working on a follow-up and realized that was totally untrue. I've had some insane UFO dreams, one recently of a shape-shifting UFO that split in two and partook in this strange machine dance while I stood on the athletic fields of my old high school. And then of course there was this dream, which I blogged about four and a half years ago.
Last night I dreamed that an enormous, mile-wide UFO was trying to phase into this physical plane over the Tappan Zee bridge. The force of this action was destroying the bridge, very much like the Point Pleasant event. I was primarily concerned with how traffic would get across the river, which is 3 miles at that point. The water was littered with construction debris and floating cars.

Then there's another recurring dream of what I can only describe as ghost rockets. The first example of this I remember was in high school and I was standing on the edge of Cohasset Harbor (right near where the exteriors for Cher's house in Witches of Eastwick were shot) and what I can only describe as a hole in the sky opened (remarkably similar to the image up top, actually) and the rockets came out of it.

Of course during the waning years of the Cold War I interpreted them as Soviet missiles. But I'd have a similar dream several times after that. And then of course there was this dream, which was about actual missiles.
While working on the Silver Star series, I had an astonishingly vivid nightmare of being trapped in Manhattan during a 9/11-like scenario. Only this one was a 'dirty' bomb that arrived by way of a cruise missile. My friends and I watched it zoom overhead as we lunched in Bryant Park. People were bursting into radioactive flames all around me.

SWAT teams were on the streets preventing people from leaving the city, because we were all contaminated. I couldn't get a signal on my cell phone so I couldn't call my wife and tell her I was all right. And at one point I was chased by an armored cop down a staircase. It was real as life - I woke up with my heart pounding, drenched in sweat.
I have more dreams of an apocalyptic nature than I'd like to admit. But last night another kind of ghost visited my dreams. Here's what I wrote on the FB page:
Rik Clay came to me in a dream last night. It was a very strange dream- it took place in Grand Central Station. Rik was very small and dressed like an elf- he wanted to work with me on The Secret Sun (we were talking about collaborating on a project before he died). I told him I would like that but first I had to find a way out of the station so I could drop off some artwork with a client but I kept going in circles finding rooms filled with strange people in strange clothes.

There was a dining room filled with old ladies in traditional Lithuanian dress. They were eating paprika rice. They told me I was the Antichrist but I told them it was just a mask. I looked in a mirror- it was indeed a very scary mask.
Did I mention I re-watched Fire Walk With Me last night?

That was very strange indeed but there's another ghost dream, not my own, that I wanted to share with you. Here's what I wrote back in October for a Re-Enchantment Dialogue:
I apologize for not posting the past few days. One of my cats- Ootschka aka Orange Cat- is terminally ill and it's been very stressful and upsetting for me, as are the usual freelancer tax-time follies. Ootschka was a real trouper for a while and her illness allowed us some very deep bonding experience. But now she's suddenly stopped eating, and seems to be looking all of the time at something the rest of us cannot see.

I've been through this a lot-- Mrs. Wibble and I have always had lots of animals (we had 8 cats and 4 dogs at one point). But this seems to be particularly hard. It may be because Ootschka has bonded to me so strongly-- last week she slept with her arms wrapped around my hand like a kitten-- but also because I've been exploring the deeper realms of my unconscious through visualization and meditation (as well as beginning some creative projects which we can discuss later), which has tied into our discussions recently.

So I've been wide open in a way.
I followed that with this:
I'll tell you what- since I've already been crossed off Richard Dawkins' Darwinmas card list, I'll do you one further. I wrote about this here a few years ago, but I'm beginning to suspect that animals at least definitely reincarnate.
Of course, I blogged about this phenomenon way back in the day as well.

Now last week my wife volunteered at a local animal shelter and met an orange kitten- a boy- who she said acted just liked Ootschka. We'd been talking seriously about the Big Noonce coming back to us and both of us has the same thought: could it be true?


What made our minds up for us was something our daughter told my wife over the weekend.
She said recently she's been having a recurring dream of Ootschka appearing to her in a younger form. She said she had the same dream five nights in a row. She doesn't know about the kitten: I'm not even sure she knew about my wife volunteering at the animal shelter.

But reincarnation or no, the synchronicity of it is just hard to ignore. When things like that hit, I pay attention. And I have to say that doing so has produced some pretty impressive results over the years.

And in the end, all that matters to me are results.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins: No New York


I've spoken quite a bit in the past as to the origin of the term "Secret Sun," most recently in this post about my childhood nightmares. What I didn't tell you is where these Secret Sun dreams usually take place...

I believe the first time I explained the origin of the term "Secret Sun" was four years ago this month, in a post called "Their (Green) Sun is Different." I had been trying to decode the solar symbolism which was especially prominent that year and had come to the conclusion that what was being worshiped was not our Sun, but something else altogether.

It was around this time that a scholar had revealed that the famous Egyptian sun god Ra-- who returned to the stars and left Earth in the care of his charge Horus, was actually identified in the ancient texts with a green sun. Which was ringed. And traveled through the sky from West to East.

Yeah, exactly.

But I opened the piece with this:
"Secret Sun" goes back to my childhood. It refers to a recurring dream I've had since I was very young in which the Sun comes out in the middle of the night, but only a select few know about it.
Now one of the great joys of doing this kind of work is when a certain word or phrase catches your ear and in doing so unlocks new doors or puts long-missing pieces of the puzzle into place. I thought of the phrase "only a select few know about" the Secret Sun when reading Jacques Vallee discuss his theories of the other-dimensional realm he believes UFOs and other manifestations of the paranormal spring from.
A second —and equally widespread — theory, is that Elfland constitutes a sort of parallel universe, which coexists with our own. It is made visible and tangible only to selected people, and the ‘doors’ that lead through it are tangential points, known only to the elves.
And there it was: "tangible only to selected people." Different phrasing, but the same idea.

The Magonia that Vallee refers too comes from one of history's most interesting UFO flaps, this one from the reign of Charlemagne in the 10th Century CE. Just as today Medieval France had bitter, acid-tongued skeptics, decrying the rural bumpkins for their ignorance and credulity.

Only the skeptic in question was an Archbishop named Agobard, whose language here is essentially identical to something Randi or Robert Sheaffer might unleash on those goddamned "UFO nuts":
But we have seen and heard of many people overcome with so much foolishness, made crazy by so much stupidity, that they believe and say that there is a certain region, which is called Magonia, from which ships come in the clouds. In these ships the crops that fell because of hail and were lost in storms are carried back into that region; evidently these aerial sailors make a payment to the storm-makers [Tempestariis], and take the grain and other crops.

Among those so blinded with profound stupidity that they believe these things could happen we have seen many people in a kind of meeting, exhibiting four captives, three men and one woman, as if they had fallen from these very ships.
Now just as Ra's sun belongs to another world not our own, so too does the secret sun. These dreams-- and bear in mind that I'm not claiming they're anything but dreams-- usually take place in another Manhattan, unlike our own, filled with vast, seemingly endless suburban neighborhoods encircling the great skyscrapers.

In the marshes.

But there are other clues to this Not New York- I often enter on foot through marshlands and leave through grand, sun-drenched highways with names of probable numerological portent. This is another world with another Sun.

I only remember one person from the real world appearing in these dreams. Back in February of 2006 I wrote to her about it:
"We took a shortcut through a marsh, and you made me carry you through the puddly parts. I explained to you that I still believed in chivalry.

"Anyway, we got lost and ended up in New York. Then it was 1:30. I asked you if the sun was always out in New York at 1:30 in the morning. You said yeah, and it was getting on your nerves. That's the origin of "Secret Sun". It's a dream I've had since I was a kid, where the sun is out in the middle of the night, but only certain people know about it. You're the first real person I remember to appear in a Secret Sun dream, so you should feel highly honored."
And strangely enough, I had another marsh dream which I wrote to Joltin' Joe Linsner about the following month:
"I was walking with my father to his house and we got lost in a church basement that opened into a marsh. Then we went upstairs and found ourselves on the deck of the Next Generation Enterprise. Data was reporting on the bird flu crisis. All I wanted was to do was get to my father's house. So we left the deck and were back in the swamp.

Data and some female officer came with us. I said "Data, I hope to hell you can drive, because we just want to get to my dad's house." I turned around and he was holding a gun to my father's head. I asked what he was doing. He responded, "You are when it's going to happen."
Now bear in mind this was all pre-Esalen, when I was more concerned with secret societies and conspiracies than anything UFOlogical. So I wasn't processing Jacques Vallee, since at that point I hadn't read much of his work at all.

The first dream was important because my friend was in the midst of a cancer scare and since my unconscious mind associated hospitals with mortal danger (which you can also see in the Snow treatment), the dream was a protective wish-fulfillment. In fact, she appeared in another Secret Sun dream not long after.

But what struck me is that, with this Star Trek dream and the recurring Secret Sun dream, the marsh is a gateway, a door to another world. What exactly I'm processing there I'm not sure. But it did remind me of that remarkable Jack Kirby story, where the Human Torch enters into a Magonia-like dimension through a swamp. Wetlands also feature prominently in the Mothman flap of 1966 and another pivotal narrative in the world of Weird also features a marsh:
(Horus) was conceived magically after the death of Osiris and brought up by Isis on a floating island in the marshes of Buto. The child was weak and in constant danger from the scheming of his wicked uncle Seth, who sent serpents and monsters to attack him. But his mother, Isis was great in the magical arts and she warded off this evil by using a spell against creatures biting with their mouths and stinging with their tails, and the young Horus survived and grew.
And then there's Swamp Thing, launching pad for the careers of Alan Moore and Mark Millar (Wanted, Kick Ass). Swampy started his life as a man transformed into a monster following a chemical explosion but Moore retconned the Muckman as an Elemental, able to travel through all kinds of dimensions. But in his first incarnation he underwent a classic abduction (by an alien named Solus, no less), which was maybe a bit too influenced by 'The Menagerie' aka 'The Cage.'

Reading all of this Vallee and Keel I can't help but think about 'The Cage', maybe more than I usually do. Aside from the obvious (Susan Oliver) and the less obvious (Vina) I just can't shake the archetypicality of it all- how it plays like the kinds of alien abduction narratives no one was talking about when it was shot.
In modern fairy-lore this divine branch or wand is the magic wand of fairies; or where messengers like old men guide mortals to an underworld it is a staff or cane with which they strike the rock hiding the secret entrance.- The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries
You had your Contactees and their rides to Venus, sure, but from what I can tell these kinds of stories didn't really come into vogue until 1966. Sure, our modern Agobards can find some comic strip or pulp illustration that probably only a tiny handful of fanboys ever saw, never mind remembered. But it's the fact that all of it is so much older, that Greys and abduction stories predate the printing press only no one thought of them as Venusians or Reticulans that really sticks in my head.

They were from another dimension, not entirely like ours but not entirely unlike it either. And there are those details, like the wand and the doorway and the telepathy and all the rest of it that a hard-drinking flyboy like Roddenberry had no business writing about, just like he had no business drawing from rediscovered Gnostic texts that hadn't been published yet.

Vallee is fine; Vallee you can deal with. Keel is another story. He's the guy who goes all in on every hand. To Keel, the Ultraterrestrials are the answer to all questions, the key to all mysteries. The great prophets, the fairy folk, poltergeists, the old pagan gods, the ancient astronauts? Yep, just more personas from the bottomless steamer trunk of Ultraterrestrial disguises. The problem is that it gets to be contagious.



I'm thinking of another anomalous Trek episode, 'Return to Tomorrow', one of the countless Walk-In stories in Trek's long history. Here we see the old Set-Osiris passion play acted out through the shameless scenery-chewing of Bill Shatner and the somewhat more subdued Leonard Nimoy.

But you start to wonder-- what if there is something to this?

What if the Annunaki made homo sapiens sapiens not merely as gold miners but as hosts for their vital energies?

When trying to puzzle the utter improbability of human evolution you can't rely strictly on biology. You have to start looking at the stories that resonate most strongly over the years. Walk-Ins-- in one form or other-- are one of those narratives that persist but in strange ways. There's demon possession but there's also Pentecost. We seem to be deeply ambivalent about the whole thing.

Obligatory Susan Oliver jpg

And now our friend, Hollywood It Girl Saoirse Ronan (Hanna, Lovely Bones), is set to star in the adaptation of The Host, Stephenie Myers' other million dollar franchise, spraying all kinds of resonance all over the multiplex, Secret Solar and otherwise.

We just can't get away from those Walk-Ins. They always sneak up on you...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Owls Are Not What They've Seen



During my Operation Trojan Horse re-read I kept seeing the year of my birth- 1966- recur throughout the text. It was a busy year for UFOlogists in general but for Keel especially, since it brought him to Point Pleasant, WV to investigate the Mothman drama, with its attendant aftershocks like the saucer flap and the MIB invasion.

1966 was a fascinating year in many ways- absolutely pivotal in a Secret Sun context, really. It saw the first landing of a spacecraft on another planet's surface (the Soviet Venera 3), the maiden flight of Skunkworks' SR-71, the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in China (which eliminationist ideologues like PZ Myers' wretched minions would desperately love to reenact in America) and the first craft to enter lunar orbit (the Soviet Luna 10).

Villas Boas, writ large

1966 also saw the premieres of
Star Trek, Batman, The Monkees, Dark Shadows, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas on TV, the first "new Doctor" (Patrick Troughton), the creation of Anton LaVey's Church of Satan (and the production and subsequent theft of Kenneth Anger's original Lucifer Rising, or so the story goes) and Timothy Leary's League of Spiritual Discovery, the peak of the original Hippie movement in San Francisco (marked by Ken Kesey's Acid Tests at the Fillmore and Grace Slick's recruitment to the Jefferson Airplane) and the rise of The Pink Floyd as "the soundtrack of the counterculture" in London. Not to be outdone, the US Gov't outlawed the use and distribution of LSD in 1966 as well.

The Secret Sun's sizable UK contingent surely remembers 1966 was also the first and last time England won the World Cup. 1966 saw the release of "Good Vibrations," "Eight Miles High" (and "Mr. Spaceman," to boot), Pet Sounds and Revolver, as well as the recording of The Doors and Sgt. Pepper.

Jack Kirby was absolutely on fire in 1966; that year saw the debuts of the Silver Surfer and Galactus in Fantastic Four and Ego the Living Planet and the High Evolutionary in Thor as well as the Thor/Hercules replay of the Eleusinian Mystery and the "Cosmic Cube" Alchemical drama in Captain America (which was later adapted in the 2011 film). It also saw the last Spider-Man and Doctor Strange stories Steve Ditko would ever draw and the last James Bond 007 stories Ian Fleming would ever publish.

You get the picture. Feel free to add your own 1966 milestones in the comments section, but the point is that it seemed to be a peak year in many ways. I'm sorry I was too young to experience it properly.

But there was another bit of high weirdness in 1966 that I wrote about here a while back, and I wanted to revisit it with my Trojan Horse re-read still fresh in my mind:

Here's just a small sampling of the owl imagery I grew up surrounded by. That's me, in a corner of the dining room, probably sometime around 1972 or 1973. Most of the imagery was in the living room- there was a kind of alcove set into the wall that my dad used as a bar and then my mother used as a kind of shrine, with all kinds of owl figurines there. Later we put the TV there.
Now, I have no reason at all to believe that my mother was an alien abductee, but there is one particular story I remember her telling me...

She said that just before I was born she put my sister down for naps and then would often take one herself. But she would have this recurring nightmare that a "witch" was on the porch and was trying to come into the house while my mother was asleep on the sofa.
That was the same exact spot I had the leprechaun hallucination you're all so sick of hearing about.
The typical anxiety of an expectant mother? Probably. But the recurring nature of the nightmare is a bit curious. I also remembered another nightmare my mother told me she had before I was born: she was on a plane with my sister (who was about 2 at the time). But they were standing, not sitting, for some reason. Suddenly a door opened in the floor and my mother watched in horror as my sister was pulled through it and fell through the clouds.

Stressful thing, motherhood.

Also curious is the fact that -- as I mentioned-- this was the same exact spot where I had my own encounter with high weirdness, though not the first-- or the last-- such encounter. It's also the same spot featured in a nightmare that I'm only 99.9% certain was a dream and not a confused memory of a poltergeist encounter (or should I say another encounter):
It's 9 o'clock at night. My mother tells me she has to run down to Weymouth Landing to the store. I ask here to take me with her, because I'm afraid to be home alone. She gets irritated and tells me she won't be long. She leaves and I sit in the kitchen alone.

Then a knock comes at the back door but I don't see anyone there. I'm scared shitless. It comes again. I sit there terrified. Again. And then it stops.

Then all at once all of the doors and drawers in the house begin opening and closing by themselves, violently and rapidly.
That one still gives me chills, most of all because it was so un-dreamlike. But there's another puzzle piece to the story, one that I caught a glimpse of Trojan Horse and then corroborated in Passport to Magonia: There was a major UFO flap in eastern Massachusetts in the Spring of 1966. From the NICAP site:

March 29, 1966; Haverhill-Merrimac, MA
9:15 p.m. EST. About 15-20 miles southwest of Hampton, New Hampshire, several professional people including a deputy sheriff and a teacher saw a pulsating luminous white object moving back and forth.

March 30, 1966; Rehoboth, MA
8:00 p.m. EST. Three separate groups of witnesses had a series of sightings over a period of nearly two hours, including an object with amber body lights that passed over a car and hovered just off the road.

April 12, 1966; Dorchester, MA

7:45 p.m. EST. Witnesses reported a low-flying oval object with dome on top and colored lights around its perimeter, circling over a schoolhouse and bobbing up and down. Coincident power failure (EM effects) in nearby Roxbury.

April 12, 1966; Brockton, MA

1 0:00 p.m. EST. An elongated elliptical (or cigar-like) object with a bright red-orange light at each end was seen hovering off Route 24.

April 16, 1966; Sherborn, MA
7:55 p.m. EST. An elongated elliptical object with bright red light on each end and blue lights along its perimeter was seen hovering off Route 16.

April 17, 1966; Danvers, MA

7:15 p.m. EST. Several groups of witnesses reported an elliptical object with rotating white lights around its perimeter.

April 17, 1966; Peabody, MA

7:30-7:45 p.m. EST. Fifteen minutes later 5 miles south of Danvers, a series of sightings was reported by independent witnesses.

April 17, 1966; Wakefield, MA

8:30 p.m. EST. About 9 miles southwest of Peabody, witnesses reported an oval object making a humming sound.

April 18, 1966; Peabody, MA

7:15 p.m. EST. Several witnesses reported an oval object with blue glow, reddish-green flashing lights on each end. The object hovered, and sped back and forth several times.

April 19, 1966; Sharon, MA

12:15 a.m. EST. Citizens and police called to the scene to investigate saw an oval or egg-shaped object with a glowing rim that looked like lighted windows, and a steady red light on each end. The object hovered, then disappeared when an aircraft approached, reappearing after it left.

April 19, 1966; Peabody, MA

12:00 p.m. EST. On the north-northeast side of the Boston metroplex, witnesses reported an oval object with red, green, and white body lights, oscillating up and down when in motion.

April 19, 1966; Bellingham, MA

10:00 p.m. EST. Two hours later about 80 miles east-northeast of Hartford, an elongated elliptical object with bright red lights on each end flew low, hovered, and made a hissing sound when moving. A separate report was received of a "piercing, humming object" two hours earlier at Stoughton.

April 19, 1966; Quincy, MA

11:45 p.m. EST. Several persons saw a large disc-shaped object accompanied by two smaller discs that flashed red and white lights, hovered and swung back and forth like a pendulum.

April 22, 1966; Halifax, MA
Time not reported. About 60 miles south of Beverly, three women saw a round object with colored blinking body lights pace above and ahead of heir car. A low humming sound was heard. (NICAP report form.)

April 22, 1966; Springfield, MA
Time not reported. About 110 miles west-southwest of Beverly, a teacher and a boy saw a dome-shaped object with three lights on its underside hover, then accelerate away.

April 22, 1966; Beverly, MA
9:00 p.m. EST. Police and citizens saw three oval or elliptical objects flashing blue, green, red, and white lights circling low over the local high school. A humming sound was heard.

April 22, 1966; Beverly, MA
9-9:45 p.m. Witnesses including 2 policemen spread over a distance of saw a platter shaped object the size of a large automobile, with 3 red-green-white lights, no sound, hover over Beverly High School then depart to the SW. A

April 22, 1966; Wenham, MA
9:30 p.m. EST. Several witnesses at a college saw an orange circular object approach to within 600 feet at about 100 feet altitude. The object made a right angle turn and moved out of sight behind trees.

April 23, 1966; Randolph, MA
8:40 p.m. EDT. Police and others in a rural lake area sighted an "elongated egg-shaped" (elliptical) object with white lights around its perimeter, colored flashing lights on its underside.

April 23/24,1966; Dorchester, MA
10:30 p.m. EST. Members of a family about 13 miles north of Randolph, Mass., saw a disc with dome on top and blinking red lights around the edge, and a brilliant yellow light on top of the dome, bobbing up and down as it moved. The yellow light blinked or flashed alternately with the red lights. The object stopped, hovering over a building. After a

April 24, 1966; Dorchester, MA
5:00 a.m. EDT. The same family as in the previous entry saw an identical oval or discoid object with dome and yellow light on top and red lights around the edge. flashing in the same pattern as the night before. The object emitted a humming sound and "weird, whirring, mechanical noises" as it bobbed around apparently close to the building. An explosive sound was heard, the windows rattled and furniture shook, and the lights went out. The family German shepherd dog whined and scratched at the door (animal reaction). The start of a power failure, which affected about 2,500 homes in the area, was officially timed at 4:57 a.m.

April 24, 1966; Ashby, MA (BBU)
6:10 p.m. 2 men saw a silent object with a bright blue light on top dive within 100 ft of their car, then suddenly accelerate, and was lost to sight toward Mt. Watatic.

May 1, 1966; Watertown, MA
10:00 p.m. EDT. Four witnesses saw an oval object with bright rotating red, green, and white lights pass over the Watertown Arsenal.

June 11, 1966; Westport, MA
3:45 a.m. EDT. A disc shaped like two plates one on top of the other, with a dome on top, white, yellow, blue, and green flashing lights around the circumference (body lights), buzzed over a car and hovered ahead over the road.

There may be more but you get the picture. There were scattered sightings later in the year but the bulk of them were concentrated in the Spring. Note the instances of power outages as well as all of the multi-witness sightings. Something was definitely going on in the skies over suburban Boston in 1966.

Now this is all pretty stunning because I never remember hearing about a single UFO sighting when I was growing up there.
There are UFO hotspots to be sure, but I never thought of Massachusetts as one of them. I remember a lot of ghost sightings and other general weirdness, but I can't remember hearing any UFO stories at all. This is particularly curious given that there was a Naval Air Base near my house and you figure just plain mistaken identity would play a part in local lore. But this stuff from 1966 is a total shock to me.

Either way, it can't help but make me wonder about those nightmares, never mind the parade of weirdness I have more tangible files of pertaining to that area. I've told you about Braintree being the Twin Peaks of the South Shore (even if none of the NICAP reports came from Braintree proper) and I meant it. Note that- like school shooter Amy Bishop-- Mark Zuckerberg's new wife herself hails from the 'Tree.

I can't help but think of Braintree native Steven Ivens, better known as the missing FBI agent from the Hollywood field office. They said he went up into the mountains over Burbank and disappeared-- did he find the Black Lodge there? Or had he found it already in his old hometown?

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wizards, Workings and Walk-Ins: Enter Ashtar


I've been re-reading John Keel's Operation Trojan Horse and finding I'm not quite as impressed as I was the first time I read it. Before it seemed like a marvelous corrective to ETH orthodoxy, but on re-reading I was often struck by Keel's lack of discernment (if not outright blarney) and kneejerk tendency to ascribe everything to his "Ultraterrestrials." It actually started to remind me a bit of Ancient Aliens, in the way it offers a one size-fits-all answer to every question.

Too often Keel ascribed an event to the these beings when it was painfully obvious the real culprit was madness or plain, old-fashioned bullshit. There's also more than a bit of irrational paranoia in its pages and a tendency towards Collins Elitism, something we're seeing quite a bit of as the old guard of UFOlogy heads for the barn.

I don't want to paint too negative a picture here-- I wouldn't have stuck with it (I'm on the last chapter of my re-read) had I not found a lot of value in the book. Regular readers know I don't subscribe to the ETH myself but rather what I call the Elusive Companion Hypothesis, which links UFOs and related phenomena to the ancient race of "Watchers," known to the Sumerians as the Igigi.

Aside from people like Tim Beckley, LA Marzulli and the Collins Elite-- who obviously bring their own religious agendas to the table -- I don't see any persuasive evidence that the Watchers do much besides watch, though I do believe they made it their business to mess with our heads when they became concerned about the Cold War and the nuclear arms race.

Indeed, Keel and I are in agreement on the virtual nature of contact and abduction events, something I had intuited back when I started thinking about this stuff again. This paragraph here is one of the nuggets of pure gold this book has to offer:
The well-investigated miracles are proof that the human mind can be exposed to induced hallucinations and that information can somehow be inserted into the mind by some unknown mechanism. In most contactee events, the percipient is alone or with a small group when the UFO contact occurs. Such percipients suffer medical effects which indicate that the "contact" was actually hallucinatory, just as the episodes involving children and religious entities have proven to be wholly or partially hallucinatory.

The event or vision takes place only in the mind, not in reality. The exterior manifestations are merely part of that mechanism, a byproduct rather than a cause. It is likely that an outsider trespassing on the scene of a UFO contact would see the contactee standing in a rigid trance, just as the witnesses to miracles see only the children in a blind trance state.

The contactee's real experience is in his or her mind as some
powerful beam of electromagnetic energy is broadcasting to that mind, bypassing the biological sensory channels.
This brings me back to what Mike Clelland and I discussed about some of 50s contact cases -- and maybe even the Betty and Barney Hill case as well-- a sighting is followed by a witness reporting being struck with some kind of paralyzing beam before undergoing this bizarre, impossible experience, of which the details are always radically different and therefore unbelievable.


Keel repeatedly argues that the Ultraterrestrials have no physical form and take form according to what the observer expects.
I couldn't help but think of my recent encounter with the anomalous, in that the figure I saw (small, as they usually are) seemed formless before taking shape (and as I discussed with Mike, a man in Scotland had an almost identical encounter back in the 70s but took ill with symptoms of radiation exposure afterwards).

Scott Corrales' recent post on UFOs and cemeteries was also on my mind, given that there are no less than six boneyards within walking distance of where I sit, including one bursting with high initiate symbolism.

But what I kept thinking is that how you approach this issue is how it will ultimately present itself to you. We see people who think the UFOnauts are angels, we see people who think they are demons. We see people who think they are extraterrestrials, we see people who think they are energy beings playing dress-up. We see even more people who think it's all a bunch of nonsense. In this, the phenomenon is the tabula rasa that Jung argued it was in Flying Saucers- a blank screen onto which the observers project their own unconscious contents.

And then there's Jack Kirby.

DC recently published an omnibus of Jack's late 50s work, including many of his weirdest UFO stories. I found it a bit irritating the editors credited the writer as "Unknown," when a houseplant could spot Jack's obsessions a light year away. We've looked at some of those stories in this series, but this was another one that synched up with my Trojan Horse re-read. First a bit of background...

If you've poked around the fever-swamps of space brother UFOlogy you've probably heard the name Ashtar here and there, particularly the neo-Theosophist, vaguely authoritarian Ashtar Space Command. Keel writes that Ashtar has been with us for quite some time:
Thousands of mediums, psychics and UFO contactees have been receiving mountains of messages from "Ashtar" in recent years. Mr. Ashtar represents himself as a leader in the great intergalactic councils that hold regular meetings on Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and many planets unknown to us. But Ashtar is not a new arrival. Variations of this name, such as Ashtaroth, Ashar, Asharoth, etc., appear in demonological literature throughout history, both in the Orient and the Occident. Mr. Ashtar has been around a very long time, posing as assorted gods and demons and now, in the modern phase, as another glorious spaceman.
Ashtar also made an appearance during the Contactee craze of the 1950s, when an eccentric doctor (who'd later show up in the story of The Council of Nine) got himself in the papers when he claimed that Ashtar had chosen him as a prophet of doom, naming the time and place of The End:
Dr. Charles A. Laughead, an MD on the staff of Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, started communicating with as­ sorted entities "from outer space" in 1954, largely through trance mediums who served as instruments for Ashtar and his cronies from that great intergalactic council in the sky.

A number of minor prophecies were passed along, and as usual, they all came true on the nose. Then Ashtar tossed in his bombshell. The world was going to end on December 21, 1954, he announced convincingly...A few chosen people would be rescued by spaceships. Naturally, Dr. Laughead and his friends were among that select group. Having been impressed by the validity of the earlier predictions of the entities, Dr. Laughead took this one most seriously, made sober declarations to the press, and on December 21, 1954, he and a group of his fellow believers clustered together in a garden to await rescue.
Needless to say they waited a long time. Either that or got really drunk and laughed the whole thing off. Again, Keel chalked this up to the Ultraterrestrials and their vicious pranks. But when a weirdo like Andrija Puharich thinks you're a flake (I'm looking at you, Dr. Laughead), chances are good you might have a screw or two that needs tightening.

The story seemed to make an impression on Kirby, though. He cast Ashtar as a mysterious figure (wearing a mask, no less) who checks into a hotel. Shades of Keel's Men in Black, he's stymied when presented with a pen.

A detective decides to see what this weirdo is up (he might be a Red, after all) and spies him walking through a door, alien-style.

The detective confronts the stranger and discovers he's a time traveler (shades of Redfern's Men in Black) who's come back in time to help save future earth from a Martian invasion. Longtime readers might remember that Kirby posited a classic Grey as a time traveler in Black Panther, though that character had more familiar Ultraterrestrial psychotronic capabilities. Kirby never let a good obsession go to waste.

And here's where the story gets weird- it's almost as if the pictures and the text are telling two different stories. Ashtar is giving the dick some bullshit song-and-dance about being from the future and needing blueprints and all of the rest of it but at the same time we get the impression Ashtar is hypnotizing the poor slob and telepathically implanting the usual contactee rigmarole about flying through the sky and walking through walls. All well before these kinds of stories became common in abductee reports.

And then we hear more riffs from the abductee hit parade-- the mysterious flash of light, the mysterious figures out of the corner of the eye and the vanishing stranger-- all capped off by the gumshoe suddenly falling into a deep sleep. It all ends with the detective reading Ashtar's name in the register and the date written simply as 2957. In other words, the kind of account Operation Trojan Horse is packed to the gills with.

Here again is that unconscious signal, weaving in and out of Kirby's work, telling a metastory, or even a parastory. And here again are anomalies that don't coincide with the surface text. Kirby was certainly processing Laughead's debacle from three years prior and trying to construct a narrative out of the rubble. But almost in spite of himself another story ends up being told.

More on all of this in the near future- Greg Kaminsky has invited me on to Occult of Personality to chew over this series and much more. Watch this space.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

A True Hollywood Horror Story: The Sequel


In part one of this tragedy, I explained how my friend Steve and I had begun working on a screenplay in 1998 that recast Snow White as an action heroine. Unlike Snow White and the Huntsmen, our story was set in the present.

We were showing it around and getting some good feedback on it...in early September of 2001. And of course I mentioned that Steve lived on South End Ave, directly in the shadow of the World Trade Center.

The story didn't end there, though. Even though Steven initiated the project as a kind of Matrix-type sci-fi mindgame thriller, I suggested we incorporate those mind-control elements into a more conventional action thriller based on films like La Femme Nikita, which we were both fans of at the time. I felt the best way to pursue the project was to do it as a graphic novel and take that to the studios and so started looking for artists.

I finally met one I liked at San Diego in 2003 and started getting things together to pitch. Unfortunately the artist didn't work out and I was back where I had started. I decided to lay the story out myself (meaning do all the basic drawings and panel arrangements) while I looked for another artist.*

Finding a good artist to work on spec is a lot harder than you might think. Given the choice, artists would much rather work on their own projects. But I did write up a pitch for a Snow graphic novel based on the treatment and a major reworking of my first graphic novel, which I was very unhappy with. I thought the best thing to do to find an artist was to get a deal, so I set out to pitch some publishers. And then I did something really god-damned stupid.


I put the Snow treatment online.

Not for long, only long enough to send to a guy named Jamie Rich, who was running Oni Press (later home of Scott Pilgrim). I don't remember why I put it online- it might have been just a courtesy, since clicking on a link was easier than dealing with an attachment. Or maybe he asked me to, I don't remember. I don't even remember exactly why I was pitching him (this was eight years ago**) and I didn't think enough of it to keep track of any of this when I shut down my old email account.


I spent the past couple days trying to track this all down. I emailed Jamie, I called Oni; they were very friendly and helpful but neither keep records going that far back. I seemed to keep records of everything but the email in which I sent Jamie the link to the Snow treatment.

Why should I? It was just a failed pitch to an indie publisher who were hardly on the map back then. I didn't realize that nothing flies under the radar in the Age of Google. Unfortunately, it flew under the radar of the Internet Archive, along with 80% of my old website.

But it was while I was wracking my brains trying to figure out how all of the main plot points from Snow showed up in Hanna then I remembered what I thought at the time was a nonevent. How long it stayed archived on Google after I took it off my server (which I did after Jamie shot me down) is anyone's guess, but maybe it stayed up just long enough.

The timeline here is perfect- Hanna's writer (Seth Lochhead) was in Vancouver Film School apparently working on his script at the same time I was pitching Snow to Oni.

Either way, I read the spec script and the shooting script for Hanna (both of which are easily found online) and rented the movie. The following are the similarities between the Snow treatment (I've posted it online again- read it here) and Hanna- I think you'll agree they're pretty substantial.

Like pretty god-damned, kick-me-in-the-side-of-the-head substantial.

Do I think that this writer stumbled on our treatment and consciously or unconsciously took the basic architecture of the story (Hanna plays like a budgeted-down version of Snow, which we intentionally made as over-the-top as we could), grafted his travel diaries onto it and sold it?

I'll tell you what- I'll keep my own counsel on that matter. In the meantime, you can judge for yourself....

Snow is about a teenaged girl who who was raised from birth to be the perfect intelligence agent and eventually comes into conflict with the woman who made her the supersoldier that she is.

Hanna is about a teenaged girl who was raised from birth to be a master assassin and eventually comes into conflict with the woman who made her the supersoldier that she is.

Snow has a genius IQ and is master in the arts of killing. Her skills are a combination of science and relentless training.

Hanna has a genius IQ and is master in the arts of killing. Her skills are a combination of science and relentless training.

The first scene of Snow pictures the heroine running through the forest in archaic clothes.

The first scene of Hanna pictures the heroine running through the forest in archaic clothes (plus, snow).


Snow is an action thriller that makes extensive use of imagery and themes from Grimm's Fairy Tales, which we learn have personal importance to the heroine.

Hanna is an action thriller that makes extensive use of imagery and themes from Grimm's Fairy Tales, which we learn have personal importance to the heroine.


Snow
draws repeated parallels to fairy tales, arguing that stories like La Femme Nikita and Alias were our modern fairy tales.

Hanna draws repeated parallels to fairy tales, arguing ...?


The original pitch for Snow called for a Techno soundtrack, citing British artists Underworld and Fatboy Slim, who were popular in the late 90s when the script was originally written.

Hanna features a Techno soundtrack by British artists Chemical Brothers, who were popular in the late 90s when Snow was originally written.

Snow is a super-intelligent killing machine who has been engineered to be the perfect human since birth.

Hanna is a super-intelligent killing machine who has been engineered to be the perfect human since birth.

Snow's nemesis, Ubela Konigen was cited as an agent for East German intelligence before launching the supersoldier program.

Hanna's nemesis, Marissa Wiegler (a German name) is an intelligence agent who had extensive links to East Germany before launching the supersoldier program.


In Snow, the supersoldier program operates in a grey area and could get Ubela in serious trouble with Washington.

In Hanna, the supersoldier program operates in a grey area and could get Ubela in serious trouble with Washington.

In Snow, Ubela was married to Snow's father, which we based on the "evil stepmother" trope from fairy tales.

In Hanna, Marissa was Hanna's father's handler, and tells Hanna she's the closest thing the girl has to a mother.


The main plot of Snow deals with the heroine's quest to rendezvous with a intelligence agent of European extraction while being pursued by her Evil Queen/Wicked Witch nemesis.

The main plot of Hanna deals with the heroine's quest to rendezvous with a intelligence agent of European extraction while being pursued by her Evil Queen/Wicked Witch nemesis.


The heroic European agent in Snow is named Harrison ("Prince", roughly).

The heroic European agent in Hanna is named Erik ("Prince", roughly).


Snow is imprisoned in a underground intelligence facility where she is closely monitored and which she escapes by snapping the neck of a captor (following intimate contact) and killing a large number of security personnel.

Hanna is imprisoned in a underground intelligence facility where she is closely monitored and which she escapes by snapping the neck of a captor (following intimate contact) and killing a large number of security personnel.


Snow's escape features a long slide down the side of a dam.

In the spec script, Hanna's escape features a long slide down an air vent.


Following her escape, Snow wanders through the Arizona desert, dodging her pursuers.

Following her escape, Hanna wanders through the Moroccan desert, dodging her pursuers.


Ubela personally assigns Hunter, an unpleasant agent of European extraction, the task of tracking down Snow.

Marissa personally assigns Isaacs, an unpleasant agent of European extraction, the task of tracking down Hanna.


After wandering through the desert, Snow encounters a strange band of fugitive Bohemians living in a beat-up Winnebago camper.

After wandering through the desert, Hanna encounters a strange family of vacationing Bohemians living out of a beat-up Volkswagen camper.

While being pursued by Hunter and his men, Snow stows away in the Winnebago, in a storage compartment beneath the floor.

While being pursued by Issacs and his men, Hanna stows away in the VW bus, in a storage compartment beneath the floor.

Snow eventually befriends the Bohemians and earns their trust.

Hanna eventually befriends the Bohemians and earns their trust.


Just how deadly Snow is is shown when she puts a friendly character in a sophisticated martial arts grapple following a misunderstanding.

Just how deadly Hanna is is shown when she puts a friendly character in a sophisticated martial arts grapple following a misunderstanding.

In Snow, the Winnebago is pulled over to the side of the road by Snow's pursuers. She leaps out and kills two of the pursuers with her bare hands, horrifying her new friends.

In Hanna, the Volkswagen is pulled over to the side of the road by Hanna's pursuers. She leaps out and kills one of the pursuers with her bare hands, horrifying her new friends.


Outnumbered, Snow drives into a river to escape her enemies.

Outnumbered, Hanna dives into a river to escape her enemies.

Even after Snow reaches her objective and reunites with Harrison, her troubles with Ubela are not over.

Even after Hanna reaches her objective and reunites with Erik, her troubles with Marissa are not over.


Snow
ends with a battle between Snow and Ubela.

Hanna ends with a battle between Hanna and Marissa.

Snow, still in recovery from being poisoned by Ubela, runs up the stairs to confront her nemesis on the roof.

Hanna, who's been wounded by Marissa, runs up a ladder and a stairway to confront her nemesis as she tries to escape to the roof.


That's all I could pick out for now. I was going to rewatch
Hanna but I literally felt physically ill when I tried to do so. A shame, it seems like it would be a very nice movie if I didn't feel like I was being ass-raped while watching it.

Allegedly.

More on this as the situation develops.

UPDATE 6/11: Have a lead on the posting of the Snow treatment and some background information. Will keep you guys posted as the situation develops.


* I have most of it laid out in some level of finish, but kept having to abandon the project when freelance work came in. After a while I couldn't hold on. It was heartbreaking, really. I actually put up a sample from Snow here back in 2010, since I kept working on the project even after I gave up trying to find an artist, but couldn't get my style to work with the story.

**
Note: 2005 was when archive CD with file was burned. Treatment was actually posted in 2003, I now realize.

SECRET SUN TOP TEN