Thursday, February 25, 2016

Outfoxed: X-Files Season Finale Decoded on the Satellite

UFO appears over a bridge in 'My Struggle II'

Everything Mulder was told in 'My Struggle, Part I' was a lie. Colonization has begun. Tad O'Malley is a Syndicate Agent. The Old Man is a fraud. Cancer Man is an impostor. Scully is the new Cassandra Spender and everything was orchestrated to get her to create a vaccine using her alien DNA. William is the final key to creating the hybrid slave race, just as was prophesied. Scully will use his stem cells to perfect the vaccine. Everything is proceeding exactly as was first laid out in Season One with 'The Erlenmeyer Flask'. 

Do I have your attention yet?

Monday, February 22, 2016

Stolen History, and the Mystery of Gold

I used to be a big fan of The History Channel, back when they used to actually show documentaries on history. The Learning Channel (now TLC) and Discovery Channel, too. My primary interest has always been in early civilizations, up to and including Greco-Roman; Sumer, Babylon, Egypt, Phoenicia and so on, but I'd pretty much watch whatever was on. 

But after a while I came to realize how fragmentary the historical record of these cultures actually is, how so much of what is taught and believed is based on hypothesis and conjecture. And these are cultures who kept pretty good written records.

With cultures who did not, the level of speculation masquerading as established fact is even more egregious. If you look for it, the sheer amount of it on offer from people with rather impressive credentials can actually throw you for a loop.

Which brings me to the Sumerians, often cited as the first great civilization in the historical record.

I'm sure most of you know about the Sumerians, but what you may not know is that they were lost to history as a unique people for millennia, and that Sumerian civilization as a distinct enterprise (as opposed to the Akkadians or Babylonians, the Semitic peoples that essentially adopted Sumerian culture as their own) has only been known of for less than 150 years.
Before the mid-19th century AD, the existence of the Sumerian people and language was not suspected. The first major excavations leading to the discovery of Sumer were conducted (1842-1854) at Assyrian sites such as Nineveh, Dur Sharrukin, and Calah by the French archaeologists Paul Émile Botta and Victor Place...
In 1869 the French archaeologist Jules Oppert suggested that the name Sumerian, from the royal title King of Sumer and Akkad appearing in numerous inscriptions, be applied to the language. 
In the late 19th century, a series of excavations was undertaken at Lagash by French archaeologists working under the direction of the Louvre and at Nippur by Americans under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania. The French excavations at Lagash were conducted from 1877 to 1900 by Ernest de Sarzec...
In fact, the Akkadians so closely adopted Sumerian culture that most scholars see the two as essentially contiguous. But that's academia and mainstream history. I think there's a parallel history at work, one which we're not privy to, one which is in fact being hidden away from us.

I mean, literally taken away and hidden from us.

Many of you might know about the looting of the Baghdad museum during the Iraq War. There's been a major PR push to gloss over the losses to the collectiona, with headlines about how the museum "recovered" the lost artifacts. But read further. From last year:
Iraq's national museum has officially reopened in Baghdad, 12 years after it was closed in the aftermath of the US-led invasion. Many of the antiquities looted during the war have now been recovered and restored. 
The Iraq Museum estimates that some 15,000 items were taken in the chaos that followed the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Almost one-third have been recovered.
"One-third." That means two-thirds of the lost artifacts are still missing. 66%. That percentage would be an overwhelming majority in an election. Why is this important?
Take, for instance, the famous "Baghdad Batteries", which historians still can't account for or explain. But some have a theory that seems supportable by the evidence:
In any war, there is a chance that priceless treasures will be lost forever, articles such as the "ancient battery" that resides defenceless in the museum of Baghdad. 
For this object suggests that the region, whose civilizations gave us writing and the wheel, may also have invented electric cells - two thousand years before such devices were well known. 
Other scientists believe the batteries were used for electroplating - transferring a thin layer of metal on to another metal surface - a technique still used today and a common classroom experiment.  
In the making of jewellery, for example, a layer of gold or silver is often applied to enhance its beauty in a process called gilding.
However, the electroplating explanation has been disputed by historians because examples of this technique have not been found. 
One serious flaw with the electroplating hypothesis is the lack of items from this place and time that have been treated in this way. 
"The examples we see from this region and era are conventional gild plating and mercury gilding," says Dr Craddock. "There's never been any untouchable evidence to support the electroplating theory."
Well, there may in fact be an incredibly sound, reasonable and very well documented reason for that lack of evidence... 
Iraq became a smuggler's paradise in the late 19th Century.  In fact, looting Iraq's treasures had been such a problem that it warranted its own Wikipedia page.
Looting of ancient artifacts has a long tradition. As early as 1884, laws passed in Mesopotamia about moving and destroying antiquities. By the end of WW1, British-occupied Mesopotamia had created protections for archeological sites where looting was beginning to become a problem. They established an absolute prohibition on exporting antiquities. 
By the mid 1920s the black market for antiquities was growing and looting began in all sites where antiquities could be found. After Iraq was independent of Britain the absolute ban on antiquity exports was lifted. Until the mid 1970s Iraq was one of very few countries to not prohibit external trade in antiquities. This made Iraq attractive to looters and black market collectors from around the globe.
Pay attention to the timeline here. There'd been archaeological digs in Iraq going on for some time but it wasn't until the discovery of Sumer that the problem got so bad that laws had to be passed. And even those laws did little to stop the pillage. It wasn't until the mid 1970s that the black marketeers were stopped. 

It's probably a complete coincidence that that was the period when Saddam Hussein rose to power as de facto leader of IraqOr that the looting that resumed shortly after Hussein being overthrown.

The same Hussein who believed himself to be the reincarnation of Nebuchadnezzar II, the legendary King of Babylon, heir to Sumer.

Despite the lack of apparent evidence, there is another excellent reason to believe that electroplating was indeed the purpose for the Baghdad Batteries and that is the Sumerian reverence for gold. If they are indeed our earliest recorded civilization than they are the first to pay special attention to gold. The trade in gold to Ur held special significance:
Textual evidence indicates that gold was reserved for prestige and religious functions. It was gathered in royal treasuries, temples and used for adornment of elite peoples as well as funerary offerings (such as the graves at Ur). 
Another of the 'firsts' with the Sumerians seems to be burying huge amounts of treasure with their dead royals. This would be a practice more associated with the Egyptians, who went to almost unimaginable lengths to accompany their dead kings and queens with the finest treasures in the land.

Probably the most famous artifacts discovered from this period are from the Royal Tombs at Ur, circa 2500 BC, where kings and queens were buried with magnificent gold, sliver, lapis and carnelian jewelry, vessels, musical instruments and weaponry, as well as attendants who were presumably sacrificed with them. 
The Sumerians believed it was necessary to bring gifts (bribes) for the gods and goddesses of the underworld to insure the deceased had a comfortable stay in the afterlife. 
This seems a waste of resources, putting it mildly. And these were not simple people; they were far advanced in mathematics, astronomy, architecture, and so on and so forth. Surely someone at some point would have noticed that the bodies or the treasure weren't going anywhere. Where did this practice come from?
The practice at Ur remains a great mystery, with no parallels (yet) discovered at any other sites, except for some scant evidence at Kish and only occasional hints in surviving cuneiform texts. 
The Egyptians not only adopted the custom of burying the dead from the Sumerians they also adopted the reverence for gold, calling it "the flesh of the gods." Some believe it was associated with immortality in the ancient world since it doesn't rust or corrode (which explains an association or symbolism, but nothing more) Gold's chemical symbol Au, comes from the Latin Aurum, meaning "Shining Dawn."

As in Aurora. Now there's something I didn't know before. Huh.  

Now, I'm sure many of you have seen stories about the price of gold going through the roof. In fact, there's a move now to hoard gold. But what happens if the fundamentals change and gold crashes again? Gold is not like oil or even copper- it can be used for useful purposes (aerospace, significantly) but the overwhelming majority of it is not used for anything at all.

What you may not know is that gold's price was not only remarkably stable for decades, it was also rather low. It's only been in the past three decades that gold has skyrocketed.

You also may not know that gold is essentially valuable for one reason: because people want it. But why do they want it? What is its value? Gold is useful but other metals are more useful as commodities. And only 10% of the world's gold is used in industrial applications. Over half of it is used for nothing at all:
It’s a bit puzzling why gold’s chemical properties are seen as superior to other metals. After all, when compared to gold: 
 Silver has far more industrial uses  Copper is much more plentiful and has superior electrical conductivity  Platinum and palladium are both more rare and the best known metals to reduce harmful auto emissions
From 'Why do we value gold?', BBC News:
First off, it doesn't have to have any intrinsic value. A currency only has value because we, as a society, decide that it does. As we've seen, it also needs to be stable, portable and non-toxic. And it needs to be fairly rare - you might be surprised just how little gold there is in the world. 
If you were to collect together every earring, every gold sovereign, the tiny traces gold in every computer chip, every pre-Columbian statuette, every wedding ring and melt it down, it's guesstimated that you'd be left with just one 20-metre cube, or thereabouts.
But this brings us back to our looting narrative. Gold was said to be "as common as dust" in ancient Egypt yet it still had value. And it was silver- the first loser- that was the basis of ancient currencies, most significantly that of Rome. And silver is every bit as useful as gold and in its purest form has only a slight tendency to tarnish.

Given the relatively common objects we see made of gold from Egypt we can only assume there is a lot more out there that is either still buried, destroyed or is in private hands (what I'm thinking). But even scarcity doesn't account with this obsession with gold. BBC again:
But scarcity and stability aren't the whole story. Gold has one other quality that makes it the stand-out contender for currency in the periodic table. Gold is... golden..."That's the other secret of gold's success as a currency," says Sella. "Gold is unbelievably beautiful."  
It's pretty? I guess to some. But so are gems. And many of those are far more rare than gold, but we don't see the universal obsession we see with this metal.

And come to think of it, bronze is an amazingly beautiful alloy, boasting a rich varieties of tones and shades, and was so damn useful we named an entire Age after it. But that's for the second runners up.

I think if you asked people why they are so obsessed with gold, or why they think it's so valuable, they really couldn't answer. They want it because they want it, or because other people want it. Its rarity limits its usefulness (in contrast to silver and copper) so it's essentially a luxury item and not a genuine commodity. 

But again, its price was stable- and low- for a very long time. The price collapsed to the point that the US dollar went off the gold standard.

But I can't help but notice that gold spike in price at the same time the antiquities black market in Iraq was being choked off in the mid 1970s, that it climbed again in 2011 as US troops were being pulled from Iraq and it's on the rebound again as radical Islamists are destroying archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria.

Coincidence? Probably. But in the context of history, I wouldn't bet the farm on it. 

But it comes down to this: I can't help but think our obsession with gold is something we don't even understand, something hardwired into our psyches thousands of years ago for reasons we can only guess at. Think about it- most of the gold in the world is essentially hoarded. People want to have it just to have it. And yet we take it for granted.

Think about this; in times of crisis people are driven to put their faith in shiny metal. Oil, which the entire world needs, crashes, yet shiny metal that gets locked in a vault, skyrockets. And yet, no one thinks that's strange.

I can understand the premodern identification with a metal that seems immortal, but I can name any number of similar beliefs we've definitely outgrown. And platinum is every bit like gold only more so, but we don't see the same obsession with it, do we?

I'm not willing to go the full Sitchin route here but I will note that it's long been identified with the gods- sky gods, significantly- since well, Ancient Sumer. At least. And many people seem to cling to gold in times of crisis the same way religious people cling to their gods.

An inert metal of limited intrinsic value.

I'm not sure what all that means. But I do know it means more than it appears to mean.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Enki's Playground, or the Domed City of Dubai

The city-state of Dubai, part of the United Arab Emirates, is one of the great puzzles of our time. Why did a sprawling metropolis that looks like like it stepped out of a Star Wars movie spring out of an obscure strip of sand in the Persian Gulf, practically overnight? Given that Dubai itself has little in the way of oil wealth, who paid for it all?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Secret Sun Picture Parade: It's Not What It Looks Like

You know we're in a ride when this year when there's an "Osiris Expo" in Paris. The Expo actually opened in September and is moving to London (where else?) next. But the name, it's so odd; I mean, it's not actually a display of all things Osiris, it's simply a variation on the "Cleopatra" show I saw in Philadelphia a few years back:
Much like the mystery of the lost city of Atlantis, the Egyptian Thonis-Heracleion had been lost somewhere between myth, history, legend and reality until its discovery in 2000. Now sunken underwater, the city which occupied the land that is now known as Alexandria was home to some of the most phenomenal ancient Egyptian temples and religious rites. 
On September 8, French President Francois Holland is scheduled to inaugurate Institut du Monde Arabe’s exposition ‘Osiris, Egypt’s Sunken Mysteries’, which takes the visitors through the “nautical procession of Osiris from Thonis-Heracleion to Canopus that accompanied the god each year on his passage to the hereafter,” as described on the expo’s official website.
Yeah. That doesn't sound remotely ritualistic.

If I didn't know better I'd almost think it all had something to do with the OSIRIS-REX mission being launched this September (a year after the Osiris Expo opened in Paris). I mean, I totally believe that story that some 9 year-old came up with the name for the mission's target; Bennu, or the Egyptian name for Phoenix. All by himself, even!

Meanwhile, NASA is holding open auditions for astronauts for a planned Mars mission (the Moon is somehow off the menu, which makes zero sense). I'm sure they'll be studying all those resumes in great detail. 
It's surely a coincidence that the graphic for the Mars mission is basically the same layout (note the spacecraft behind the text in the Mars graphic) as the movie poster for the 1978 film Capricorn One.

About a faked Mars mission.

Don't ask me what's going on there. I gave up trying to make sense of NASA a long time ago.

1978 was also the year of Damien: Omen II, the disappointing follow-up to the 1976 thriller about a pint-sized Antichrist. As to this tweet of a private school billboard retweeted by horror/SF director Guillermo Del Toro, I'm sure it's not what it looks like.

The same can't be said about this creepy tweet by former counterculture site, Disinformation. A lot of people have complained to me about the radical turn Disinfo has taken, I guess maybe now we know why.

I responded "Yes, call 1-900-YEW-TREE. Ask for Mr. Savile."

On the other side of the ledger there's this raging display of premodern psychedelia, from the Church of the Savior on Spilt Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia. Whatever those guys were smoking, I want some.

Speaking of premodern, here's a story for you.

In 2000, Luciano Faggiano faced plumbing and sewage issues on the property he had purchased in order to start a trattoria, a casual eating establishment, in Lecce, Italy. Figuring it would be a quick fix, he opted to find and repair the trouble himself, with the help of his two older sons. 
Digging beneath the building, the family soon discovered a subterranean world, “tracing back before the birth of Jesus: a Messapian tomb, a Roman granary, a Franciscan chapel and even etchings from the Knights Templar. His trattoria instead became a museum, where relics still turn up today,” writes an article in The New York Times .
This is like something out of a particularly outlandish Dan Brown novel. Or a really cool dream. I'm not sure yet.

Then there's Turkey, which seems to be the go-to location for elaborate tunnel cities. Check out the latest on this excavation, which was also discovered by accident:
In 2013, construction crews in the city of Nevşehir, in the Cappadocia region of Turkey, were demolishing low-income housing ringing a Byzantine castle when they unearthed something astonishing: entrances to a massive underground city. 
Dating to at least Byzantine times, the vast network of tunnels and rooms had been carved into volcanic ash rock called tuff that gives Cappadocia—famed for its otherworldly “fairy houses,” cave churches, and evocative geologic formations—its singular terrain.
'Fairy houses', eh? Maybe Turkish underground cities ring a bell, maybe to viewers of a certain History Channel show:
It’s not the first underground city to be discovered in the region; there are some 250 known subterranean dwellings of various sizes hidden within the fantastical landscape. The two biggest are Kaymakli and Derinkuyu; the latter is estimated to have been able to house up to 20,000 people.  

Speaking of underground lairs, the British Earth and Aerial Mysteries Society released a report, claiming that defense contractor Qinetiq has a secret underground base at its installation in Farnborough, England being used for researching alien technology.
They note that there's a building resembling a flying saucer (there's a lot of those, including the UK's GCHQ)) and that landscaping and pavement has been designed to resemble a famous rock art depiction of an alien Grey.

Can't see it?

Have another look.

The head of the Grey strongly resembles that of another, similar firm; Bigelow Aerospace, the underwriter of MUFON.

There's also a strange bit of symbolism: the Grey has a disk atop his forehead (or at his crown chakra, if you prefer) and the building above looks very much like one of the stealth aircraft many researchers believe were engineered using alien technology. But only from the air.

It's almost like from Grey come flying saucers come advanced aircraft. Or something. Who knows, it's all zany and nutty, right? Wacka-zacka-zing-hey! Pew! Pew!

But do note also that this "Grey" can also only be made out from the air- you'd have no idea what you were looking at at ground level. Bonus factoid: Qinetiq was originally a firm located in Waltham, Ma, my very own backyard.

And this? It's not what it looks like.

Nor is this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.

Or this.  

Or this.

I know they all look like a giant circular object burned their way through clouds, often leaving edges so clean they look like they drawn with a compass.
I know this is one of those phenomena that no one saw or even heard of until fairly recently (like "fireball season"). That as recently as 2011 the National Geographic couldn't explain them.

Never mind that we've heard divergent, unsupported explanations such as ice crystals in the atmosphere or jets. It doesn't even matter this precise phenomenon was reported at O'Hare Airport during a mass UFO sighting.

It's not what it looks like.

I mean, do you think a flying saucer would have something like cloaking technology or something?
 What are you, a wacky, zany, off-the-wall "conspiracy theorist"? 

Pow-zim-zam-zang, Charlie Brown! Lay off the wacky weed already! Ha-cha-cha!

Friday, February 12, 2016

The Supernatural Power That is Fame

Sometimes the strangest revelations can come from the most unlikely quarters.

Dave Stewart was one half of the 80s Synthpop hit machine Eurythmics, and has also done a lot of work as a producer and soundtrack artist, working with a number of high-profile artists and on various films and TV shows. He's not exactly a button-down kind of guy but he's not Marilyn Manson either. So you can imagine I was a bit surprised to read this the other day:
Dave Stewart — one-half of ’80s duo Eurythmics with Annie Lennox, who’s gone on to collaborate with Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and Katy Perry — says that since 1979 his body’s been inhabited by another being, who’s written all his songs. 
“I had a huge car crash in Germany ... I had many different [operations],” Stewart told a gobsmacked Rosanna Scotto and Greg Kelly on “Good Day New York.” 
“I died on the operating table, I flatlined, in about 1979, and somebody else slipped into my body, which is called a walk-in ... That’s the name when that happens,” Stewart matter-of-factly told the hosts. “From then on, I’ve been somebody else. I am completely not me. I’m speaking on behalf of Dave, but I am somebody else who has written hundreds and thousands of songs.”
Now I've seen everything. Dave Stewart is claiming to be a Walk-In.

Oddly enough I watched The X-Files Walk-In bonanza, "Sein Und Zeit" the night before I read this article. There's nothing particularly synchronistic about that; me watching "Sein Und Zeit" just means it's Tuesday.

I thought the story was particularly interesting in the wake of the Super Bowl when Beyonce Knowles performed in "Sasha Fierce" mode, the alter ego she claimed to have created, or claims created her.

Beyonce introduced the world to Sasha Fierce with the album named in her alter ego's honor, but it appears that her imaginary friend was not actually created for the occasion and had in fact been lurking in the shadows all along, or at least since 2003. 

What she described sounded very much like possession. Did she create this character or summon her?

“When I see a video of myself on stage or TV I’m like, ‘Who is that girl?’.  That’s not me, I wouldn’t dare do that.” – Beyoncé Interview, September 2003. 
“I created my stage persona to protect myself, so that when I go home, I don’t have to think about what it is I do. Sasha isn’t me.” – Beyoncé, Parade Magazine, December 2006 
“I wouldn’t like Sasha if I met her offstage.”– Beyoncé, Parade Magazine, 2006. 
“I have someone else that takes over when it’s time for me to work and when I’m on stage, this alter ego that I’ve created that kind of protects me and who I really am”.– Beyoncé Press Statement, October 2008. 
“I have created an alter ego: things I do when performing I would never do normally. I reveal things about myself that I wouldn’t do in an interview.” – Beyoncé, Marie Claire interview, October 2008. 
“I have out-of-body experiences [on stage]. If I cut my leg, if I fall I don’t even feel it. I’m so fearless, I’m not aware of my face or my body.” – Beyoncé, Marie Claire interview, October 2008.
But again, we saw the allegedly-dead Sasha Fierce character alive and well, in her trademark black leather and gold, at the Super Bowl (Beyonce previously claimed to have "killed" her), whatever you might think of the mash that was unleashed during that poorly-conceived halftime spectacle.*

But as fate would have it, Beyonce wasn't the only performer who claims to be hosting another entity performing at the SuperBowl.

Chris Martin of Coldplay claims to be gloriously possessed by the demonic shade of legendary serial killer Gilles de Rais, and upon every full moon he bathes in the blood, wait.

Sorry. Working off some incorrect information there.

Oh, I feel so, so... mind-controlled! 

Lady Gaga claims to be possessed by the spirit of her dead aunt, a spirit-transference that allegedly occurred in the womb:
"Poker Face’ singer Lady Gaga thinks she’s the reincarnated spirit of her dead aunt. The 24-year-old star thinks that her creativity comes from her late aunt Joanne, who transferred her spirit into her mother Cynthia’s womb. 'My father’s sister Joanne died when she was 19 and he was 16. And when my mother was engaged to marry my father, they were staying in his house, where he grew up, and a light came into the room and touched her stomach and went away,'  
So there's that. And as we read about way back when a woman claimed that Gaga was keeping the spirit of her dead daughter captive. Hyperbole? Metaphor? Read this:
"A still-grieving mom says her late daughter inspired Lady Gaga on her path to superstardom, and wants the 'Poker Face' pop icon to give the tragic teen her due. 
"Yana Morgana is seeking the rights to release the dozen or so songs her daughter, Lina, recorded with Gaga -- then Stefani Germanotta -- before Lina committed suicide at age 19.

"And she wants the 'Paparazzi' princess to acknowledge it was Lina Morgana's dark, edgy style that helped create Lady Gaga. 'I'm doing this because I want to keep her spirit alive,' Yana, 41, told The Post. "Lady Gaga is holding Lina's soul, and I want her soul to be free."

"'Lina had that style. Gaga had a different style. She changed dramatically overnight,' Yana said. "Within a year of their collaboration, Lina jumped to her death from the roof of a 10-story hotel on Staten Island. About a month after the October 2008 suicide, Germanotta became Lady Gaga, took the music industry by storm and spawned an army of fans she dubbed her 'little monsters.'

'Tyler Schwab, Lina's ex-boyfriend, said he was stunned the first time he saw a Gaga video. It was the same style, the same look, the same music, the same voice, the same jaw line -- the way they expressed themselves,' said Schwab. 'And I was like, "Is that Lina?" It was so, so shocking. It was like looking at a ghost."
As crazy as this may all sound, it's not without precedent in the pop music world. Doors singer Jim Morrison famously claimed to be possessed by the spirit of a Native American shaman. From a interview with Doors co-founder Ray Manzarek:
What was that fateful meeting with Morrison on the beach like? 
We had graduated from film school, and there we were, with no prospects, whatsoever. ...So anyway, Jim was originally going to New York, but for some reason he didn’t. And we ended up running into one another on the beach. Talk about being guided by the better angels of your selves–or, even more so, being guided by the spirit of the dead Indian that was in Jim’s body. It was as if he was saying, “The two of you–psychedelic warriors–have to get together.” 
And of course when you're talking about the transmigration of souls and what-not, you have the famous example of Aleister Crowley, who claimed to be the reincarnation of French occultist Eliphas Levi, going so far as to catalog the reasons why he in fact was so in the 1911 release Book Four:
1. The date of Eliphas Levi's death was about six months previous to that of Aleister Crowley's birth. The reincarnating ego is supposed to take possession of the foetus at about this stage of development. 
2. Eliphas Levi had a striking personal resemblance to Aleister Crowley's father...
3. Aleister Crowley wrote a play called "The Fatal Force" at a time when he had not read any of Eliphas Levi's works. The motive of this play is a Magical Operation of a very peculiar kind. The formula which Aleister Crowley supposed to be his original idea is mentioned by Levi. We have not been able to trace it anywhere else with such exact correspondence in every detail. 
4. Aleister Crowley found a certain quarter of Paris incomprehensibly familiar and attractive to him. This was not the ordinary phenomenon of the "deja vu", it was chiefly a sense of being at home again. He discovered long after that Levi had lived in the neighbourhood for many years. 
And so on. 

So what, just crazy artist-types being crazy, right? If it's not this it's alien abduction or poltergeists or whatever. Just put them all on some pills and forget about it.

Well, as difficult as it might be for some of us to accept these are exceptional people, who just aren't like you and me. We're talking about people who distinguished themselves in a cut-throat business where 99,999 out of 100,000 people meet with total and complete failure and obscurity. They've displayed a remarkable degree of staying power, which is even more unlikely than getting your name out there in the first place. Millions of people have bought their records and been influenced by their music.

And these are just four artists here; I have no idea how many have very similar experiences who aren't open about them. I suspect there are a quite a few.

I know it's tempting for some to claim they're just "alters" or MONARCH subjects or Illuminati puppets but what that really ends up sounding like is simple sour grapes. I'm certainly no fan of either Beyonce or Lady Gaga, but I also wouldn't try to deny their extraordinary talent or diminish the fact that they've exerted an almost-unprecedented amount of control over their own careers.

Is there a spiritual dimension to their success? Is that indeed that elusive X-factor that separates the superstar from the second-string? Fame does seem to be a magical power all its own. I've seen what happens when it leaves the host. It does make you wonder.
What I can say with absolute certainty that what we are witnessing is the power of the irrational, the supernatural, and yes, the occult in the arts. The degraded occult symbolism we've seen in pop music over the past several years feels not only like intentional provocation but also very much like a counterpoint to the dominance of the hyper-rational everywhere else.

We wouldn't see so much of it were it not resonating in the culture. It moves product and it gets much sought-after clicks. And that includes all the people who claim to abhor yet can't seem to get enough of it.

In comes down to this: The more we try to push the irrational, the supernatural to the far fringes, the more we try to deny its place in our culture, the greater influence they actually have.

Why? Because they have real power.

And the irrational expresses itself best in art, which ultimately moves the human soul more than math or science will ever dare dream of. And fame itself is a power that seemingly defies the rational.

The term charisma comes from the Greek meaning "a gift from the gods," from the root word kharizesthai, meaning "to show favor to." Once again, those benighted ancients were several steps ahead of us.

So no, it's not too much of a stretch to call fame a super-natural power. It's a gift that seems to be bestowed on so very few of us and of those very few can maintain it. No one can quite figure out how or it would surely have been mass-produced by now. And attempts to do so have always fallen short.

It's certainly no accident then that so many stars have some hint of magic or the supernatural about them, if you just care to look.

*I've read a lot of interpretations of the show but I'm still going with the "militarization of women" theme we seem to be seeing, especially given the fact that the stories about the female militias formed to fight the Islamic State suddenly popped up in the media again this past week.