Friday, June 02, 2017

The Covenant and the Cargo Cult: Concluded

Let's get this out of the way first - SPOILERS! Then this: Alien: Covenant is not a very good movie. 

It's not offensively terrible, in fact it goes out of its way to be as inoffensive as possible. Even the gore seems polite. 

I'd give you a synopsis but you can just as easily take all your favorite scenes from the Alien franchise, arrange them however you please, add in a cartoon villain whose motivations are entirely incomprehensible and then go fix yourself up some Jiffy Pop.

Alien: Covenant goes to great lengths to piss away the entire ontology proposed in the film it's meant to act as a sequel to, ostensibly annihilating the god-like Engineer race in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it CGI eruption that has all the heft and drama of a 80s video game. 

But at the same time it seems to tell a story beneath the surface narrative. And a lot of its riffs will be well familiar to anyone versed in Ancient Astronaut Theory. Which, let's face it, was arguably extraneous to the running plot of Prometheus (space mission finds remains of alien race mixed up with the xenomorph progenitors).

As Gordon and I discussed, it also feels like it meant to originally serve as the advance guard for a new AAT media blitz*, a plan that appears to have been scuttled in the wake of Hurricane Trump and the resultant cold (for the time being) civil war the country has been plunged into. 

I've never seen divide-and-rule politics as divisive as what we're seeing today, with the ostensible goal being to atomize the population into impotent, squabbling subsects in order to preempt any potential challenge to oligarchal rule, even if the oligarchy itself is itself carved up into mutually antagonistic camps. (I should mention here that this whole program seems to have fired up in the wake of the Occupy movements).

Of course there's also the fact that the easiest social grouping (tribe, country, empire, etc) to conquer is one that's divided against itself. 

Just saying.

But even this miserable turn of events seems to resonate with the AAT perspective as well, specifically the "gods at war" subplot running through Zecharia Sitchin's bibliography, as well as some of the theorizing emerging on the fringe science circuit.

Now, there's a strand of thinking among those who wrestle with the Fermi Paradox, essentially arguing that high technology is inherently anti-adaptive and inevitably leads to self-destruction. 

What this theory essentially proposes is that we've not had any (acknowledged) contact with extraterrestrial races because they've all been wiped out by their own advanced technology (read: 'weaponry'). This of course is a wildly egocentric assumption ("extraterrestrial races are all as savage and murderous as we are") and automatically presumes that our own high technology is not in fact some kind of alien intrusion, even if it behaves every bit like one.

I bring this up because there are two running themes in Alien: Covenant I do want to unpack, because they do (obliquely) reference some of the basic tenets of AAT (the film seems to keep a lot of its AAT on the DL).

First off is David's genocide of the Engineer planet. This was a fairly ridiculous subplot, essentially chucking everything we were told about these beings in the first film. This is a billions year-old race that seeded all life on Earth and yet they're all defeated by a lone android who had hijacked one of their spacecraft? Huh?

Wouldn't they naturally have some kind of defense infrastructure that would have intercepted this ship before it ever reached orbit? There's no attempt at following the story's own internal logic.

Now there are all kinds of ways you could have made sense of this. The Engineers had degenerated over the millennia and lost their high technology, that they'd become so drunk on their own power that they never expected any exterior challenge, etc etc etc. But the film makes absolutely no attempt to sell any of that.

But by the same token there's a fascinating allegory at work here, even if it's unintentional, and that ties back to the war of the gods theme running through a lot of AAT theorizing. 

Note that the Engineers aren't decked up in their Gigeresque finery in the apocalypse scene but look more like the kind of quasi-Medievals familiar to space fantasy fans. They also look pretty stupid gazing up at the approaching ship like the hapless New Agers in Mars Attacks. 

But were they in fact the Engineers? Some fans don't seem to think so.

A closer look at the (humanoid) aliens in the film may suggest that this in fact was another descendant race, the clue being the skintone (matte and pinkish as opposed to chalky white and moderately reflective). They also don't seem quite as black-eyed. Another clue is their reaction to the ship, arguably suggesting these people were expecting their gods to return.


Is this a fakeout or a reference to another covert subplot altogether? It's possible there was a revelation that this was just a descendant race in the original script but that all got lost in the rewriting process. 

Perhaps David's apparent plan to kill off the human colonists- who are both his progenitors and another descendant race- are the clue here. Either way, the story (mankind's cousins wiped out by a space invader) ties in pretty neatly with the theories put forth by plasma physicist Dr. John Brandenburg:

"Dr. Brandenburg has previously theorized that the red color of Mars and the radioactive substances in its soil are the result of a thermonuclear explosion from natural causes. He now says that the “high concentration” of Xenon-129 in the Martian atmosphere and uranium and thorium on the surface are remnants of two unnatural nuclear explosions, most likely triggered by alien invaders. 
"Who were these aliens invading and eventually wiping out? Brandenburg believes Mars once had a climate like Earth and was inhabited by two civilizations – one in a region called Cydonia Mensa and another at Galaxias Chaos. Why these two regions? 
'Analysis of new images from Odyssey, MRO and Mars Express orbiters now show strong evidence of eroded archeological objects at these sites.'
According to Brandenburg, the Martians maintained a high civilization, albeit a non-technological one:
He says Mars once had an Earth-like climate home to animal and plant life, and any intelligent life would have been about as advanced as the ancient Egyptians on Earth.
There's also David's genetic tinkering with the xenomorph genome. As a self-styled god, David here is playing the part suggested by AATheorists, who postulate that the Anunaki went through a series of experiments in creating the modern human genome and eradicated unwanted models while they did so. 

Strangely enough, this also correlates to the AAT-friendly origin myth put forth by the ancient Greek writer Hesiod in his landmark Works and Days. Hesiod, significantly, was apparently deeply influenced by Babylonian literature, the Enuma Elish in particular

And the war of the gods certainly correlates to the Titanomachy, or the wars between the Olympians and their progenitors, the Titans.

So is there an unspoken inference that David is the titular Prometheus, defying the "gods" and shepherding the engineered development of the xenomorph race? In the context of the film itself it's really hard to care one way or the other but it does suggest that there was in fact a lot more meat on the bone in previous drafts of the script.


But it's worth noting that the Alien franchise is not only another example of a major SF property that revolves around AAT it's also an example of a SF franchise onto which AAT was grafted midstream (at the same time it was grafted onto the Predator franchise). 

Some franchises have AAT baked into their genome at conception (Star Trek (more or less), the Space Odyssey series, Battlestar Galactica) but many more seem to have it implanted sometime into their runs (Quatermass, Doctor Who, X-Files, Indiana Jones, Transformers, Jonny Quest, Godzilla, Doom, Halo, Assassin's Creed). 

When the Olympics came to Hollywood

This raises a very simple question: why? Is there in fact a AAT cargo cult at work in the entertainment industry? I mean that sounds ridiculous, right? 

Well, maybe it seems a bit less so when you look at the influence the Nine had on the Star Trek franchise (relaunching on television this year) or the fact that one of the most powerful cults in Hollywood is explicitly AAT-oriented right down to its very core. There's also the Mormon Church, which is at the very least AAT-compatible.

On the other hand, there's also the Brookings Report. 

The report has become noted for one short section entitled "The implications of a discovery of extraterrestrial life", which examines the potential implications of such a discovery on public attitudes and values. The section briefly considers possible public reactions to some possible scenarios for the discovery of extraterrestrial life, stressing a need for further research in this area. It recommends continuing studies to determine the likely social impact of such a discovery and its effects on public attitudes…" 
One detail that caught the eye of researchers like Richard Hoagland is the mention of possible artifacts discovered on our neighbors, artifacts that might call our entire view of our planet and our very existence into question.
"While face-to-face meetings with it will not occur within the next twenty years (unless its technology is more advanced than ours, qualifying it to visit Earth), artifacts left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the Moon, Mars, or Venus." 
And then there's this passage, which basically explains why so many STEM types are so deeply wounded by AAT:
"It has been speculated that, of all groups, scientists and engineers might be the most devastated by the discovery of relatively superior creatures, since these professions are most clearly associated with the mastery of nature, rather than with the understanding and expression of man. Advanced understanding of nature might vitiate all our theories at the very least, if not also require a culture and perhaps a brain inaccessible to Earth scientists."  

And the money quote: suggestions for how that eventuality- or some kind of alien contact- might be managed by the Managers.

Continuing studies to determine emotional and intellectual understanding and attitudes -- and successive alterations of them if any -- regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life. 
Historical and empirical studies of the behavior of peoples and their leaders when confronted with dramatic and unfamiliar events or social pressures. Such studies might help to provide programs for meeting and adjusting to the implications of such a discovery. Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include: How might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends?  
And lo and behold, 57 years after the Brookings Report we get this:
The solar system that humanity calls home may have once been inhabited by an extinct species of spacefaring aliens, a top scientist has suggested. 
A space scientist has suggested ancient extraterrestrials could have lived on Mars, Venus or even Earth before disappearing without a trace. 
In a fascinating academic paper about “prior indigenous technological species,” Jason T. Wright from Pennsylvania State University raised the fascinating possibility that evidence of these extinct aliens could exist somewhere in the solar system. 
Wright is an astronomer who received global attention after suggesting an “alien megastructure” had been spotted in orbit around a distant star.Now the stargazer has said advanced aliens may have left behind “technosignatures” for us to find — if only we knew where to look for them.
Of course, this is exactly what Richard Hoagland has been talking about- and has been roundly attacked for doing so- for at least the past 40 years. But I suppose it's different when the very same theorizing comes from within the priesthood.

It's funny; last night I was cutting the grass and thinking about stuff. You know, like you do when you're cutting the grass. Then I started mulling over how simplistic and repetitive the Ancient Aliens show is and how quickly Giorgio Tsoukalos transformed himself into a cartoon character. 

But then I realized that's how educational indoctrination works in our culture. 

All kinds of teaching and training materials in public schools use cartoon characters, right? Walt Disney probably made a fortune licensing his characters for educational films. And it's through repetition that people really learn anything. 

So Ancient Aliens might chew over the same gristle year after year but that helps keep its messaging consistent as its audience ebbs and flows (read: enters/graduates high school). Love it or loathe it, you have to acknowledge that there's a cogent methodology at work there. 

Government-conditioning program or cult indoctrination, they all work out of the same toolbox.

Is it all leading up to some major revelation, the way 'Disclosure' advocates expect? Or is all leading up to some massive Project Blue Beam type of hoax? 

Well,  why would anyone expect it to? Why would anyone expect the skies to open- or not- as the climax of all this conditioning? 

The answer, of course, is Hollywood. Because that's the way it works in the movies. Real life doesn't usually work that way. 

However, no matter who or what is behind all this the fact remains that, like it or don't, AAT (and the UFO topic in general) have already dramatically changed our culture, our technology and our society. Certainly our popular culture. 

Being a bit long in the tooth it still boggles my mind how many younger people take the basic assumptions of AAT for granted, even if they haven't read a page of Sitchin or Von Daniken or even watched a single Ancient Aliens. They don't have to. So much of their favorite pop culture is neck deep in it.

*You can toss in the Sekret Machines project here, spearheaded by former Blink 182 guitarist Tom Delonge and Peter Levenda of Necronomicon and Sinister Forces fame, and involving all kinds of Deep State heavies such as John Podesta.


  1. Chris,

    Let's not leave Star Wars out, as it is as Ancient Alien as it gets. "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..."

    As for the Engineers, they can't be wiped out. Their reaction to Shaw and David's ship arriving seemed to me one of perplexity. "What are these guys doing here?" Yet, they seemed to have the facilities to receive them. Odds are this was a colony world local to the Prometheus planet, not the home world. Perhaps the city dwellers were gathering to receive what they thought was an emissary, or an unscheduled cargo (ha!) delivery.

    Finally, "Ozymandias". On hearing it in the movie, my thoughts eventually drifted to Alan Moore's _Watchmen_. There, we have an action hero oligarch of that name, a billionaire, who decides to save the world from itself by staging an alien invasion. Is Ridley Scott a comic book fan? Is he giving us a clue as to the machinations behind the curtain?

    1. Maybe Ozymandias has some hidden meaning the rest of us aren't hep to. As to the Engineers I'm not sure that's who we are actually seeing. There are some interesting discussions about this online.

  2. This series hits at the heart of what I've been perplexed over for years and I appreciate your concise explanation, Chris. You've expanded and given name to the pattern only a lifetime of questioning can produce. It reminded me of the questions I had after my first Sunday School class at a very young age. It went something like, "WHAT?" I've learned since then to explore both sides of theory, often without satisfactory answers, but pattern recognition is the valuable by-product of exploration and can tell us much more about our environment.

    Manipulation is subtle until it becomes the in-your-face variety. We're living amidst the latter, something portrayed well in American Gods, by the way. I think it has been determined that our house divided is ripe for intense social change and manipulation is at the heart of the story. The outcome doesn't look heartening, but I look to people like Raj for a recipe to weathering. Life gets very dark before light pours forth, another pattern.

    1. Manipulation is almost overwhelming these days. It's become so blatant and unapologetic. I don't know where it's headed but if ongoing trends are any indication it's not going anywhere good.

  3. People seem to assume that The Powers That Be are somehow unified and have a plan. Evidence suggests pretty much the opposite. I don't know who runs the world, but I think it's fairly obvious we don't have one world leader, or a cabal of world leaders.

    Therefore, the USA being divided could just mean that, hey, the USA is divided. All the way to the top. And there isn't anyone on top of the USA oligarchs planning this division. It's simply what's happening. Sure, other oligarchs in the world might benefit from this (it looks like Russian oligarchs are rather happy, and I don't get the feeling that Chinese oligarchs are terribly unhappy about this turn of events). But that doesn't mean that they are controlling things, either. Just trying to influence them in their preferred direction, with varying degrees of success.

    1. Oh, I've always said there are a number of different factions vying for control at the top. But they certainly seem to agree on some baseline issues. It's more about who sits at the head of the table that trips them up.

  4. "Of course there's also the fact that the easiest social grouping (tribe, country, empire, etc) to conquer is one that's divided against itself."

    It just occurred to me that we are now in the Bizarro-version of post-Sept 11 America. I've always assumed that the attacks triggered a psychological adaptation to support your leader NO MATTER WHAT when the group is under attack. It's not hard to imagine how selection might favor individuals who acted that way. Remember that ridiculous overnight surge in popularity Bush had?

    After ruthlessly exploiting this behavior, the archons seem to be doing the complete opposite. Either way, we get endless war, capitulation to Wall Street and the Pentagon, healthcare disaster, etc...

    1. It really makes me wonder. The way things are unfolding it's really hard to parse what's coming next. But there's no doubt that there's a plan to split up the country. I think that's been on the boards for a very long time.

  5. I find it fascinating that when I go to pay my rent, my landlord can be counted on to have one of three things on the big screen TV; Fox News (probably 75% of the time), Sports, and Ancient Aliens. I don't know how typical it is for Fox News viewers to watch Ancient Aliens, but I also have a couple of liberal friends that watch it regularly. I first watched it after reading Stichin, and was confused how it seemed to actually be ridiculing the idea while supporting it at the same time. I didn't watch many episodes, as a result. I find myself wondering these days what ISN'T social programming? I guess your blog is one thing, but there don't seem to be many that aren't that these days.

    1. Depressing, isn't it? I've become so adverse to the media because it's like being beaten over the head with agenda anymore. What's even more depressing is how many people seem to want get swept in it all.

  6. If there's one thing I've learned from reading your blog its this: our pop culture is as relevant to our society as mythology was to ancient ones. Perhaps in some ways even more so, given how media-saturated we are. If all religion is pretty much a cargo cult (as per Sekret Machines) then AAT conditioning has been running in the background of our cultural development like a computer program since the end of the neolithic.

    "Government-conditioning program or cult indoctrination, they all work out of the same toolbox." So does advertising, repetition & all. & yeah, definetly Hollywood. Maybe its all about stringing us along as a species, giving us little glimpses & tidbits but never the whole echillada. Like kids at a magic show.

    "However, no matter who or what is behind all this the fact remains that, like it or don't, AAT (and the UFO topic in general) have already dramatically changed our culture, our technology and our society. Certainly our popular culture." But has it changed for the better?

    Two other things stand out for me, regarding all this & extraterrestrial life:

    One, the periodic announcements that Earth-like or at least Earth-size planets have been discovered outside our solar system:

    Two, the release of UFO intelligence by other countries:

    Looking at how the phenomenon is experienced & explained in other (non-Western) cultures, I tend to think that AAT is being put forth as the dominant narrative in our culture regarding extraterrestrials because it so closely aligns with classic mythological descriptions of beings that we cannot comprehend from a limited, rational, linear discourse. It makes for great "drip-drip-drip" conditioning but also helps serve as possibly yet another distraction.

    I tend to lean more towards Jacques Vallee's feelings on the subject:


    "So what do we know for sure about the nature of UFOs?

    Vallee: There is a phenomenon. We don't know where it comes from. It's characterized by its physical [traces]. Eighty percent of all the cases have trivial explanations. But I'm talking about the core phenomena. It 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. It's a big universe out there. Who are we to say where it comes from? We can only speculate on that point."

    Hmmmm...It seems to involve a lot of energy in a small space...there's a clue in there me thinks.

    1. Gordon really put his finger on it when he talked about the use of anti-message. Ancient Aliens is so easy to mock but it's also highly effective in its methodology. There's some very clear use of NLP at work with the constant repetition of certain phrases. At the same time there's this constant drip in the mainstream news that you are referring to. The anti-message and the para-message seem to be more insidious and effective than outright messaging. I do believe this all ties back to the Brookings Report.

  7. Hardly anyone I talk to over here in England remembers the Olympic UFO extravaganza. It was burned into my brain because the same week the Olympics screened ITV premiered V and showed the miniseries and final battle over the course of five days.

    1. It's bizarre. Then of course there's also the use of the Close Encounters call signal at the performance of My Island Home at the Sydney Olympics. I've covered a lot of this in past posts on the games.

  8. I haven't seen Covenant, but after reading and listening a little it occurred that the more perfect-looking, exo-suited Engineers in Prometheus might be biological androids-of-a-sort or clones or a bit of both - analogous to David in fact: Off on their own psychotic-god-complex mission across the cosmos, independent of their unwitting creators.

    This cycle, of created beings becoming creators, begetting other creative beings has been unfolding for aeons. The disillusionment with and subsequent killing of the 'father' if you like, being a constant too. It strikes me as a somewhat impotent and and masculine way of of relating to the universe... Where ever, are the Mothers, apart from being genetically mutated in a hypersleep pod?

    1. Well, unfortunately we'll have to wait for the extras to find out. There's way too much being left out of these movies. Apparently the extras in Prometheus help the story make a lot more sense.

    2. Too much being left out of all the stories in the world! Though clarity might not be the point, exactly the opposite perhaps. Time to imagine some different narratives, this one is getting a little repetitive (after 3 billion years).

  9. The current season of Doctor Who has an interesting take on all this as well. Check it out.

    1. Interesting. I'll have to check it out. Thanks, Christian.

  10. Hi Chris,

    I listened to your podcast with Gordon prior to this post, which is an excellent recap of what was discussed along with your afterthoughts on that discussion. So, anyone that has not listened to this podcast yet, would be encouraged to do so if only to get the full benefit of the thread being woven here.

    I'm wondering also if when we go back far enough to mark the beginning of the psi-ops of indoctrination into the ancient alien extra-terrestrial ideas which have been steadily introduced to our societies in many forms, what are the next steps we should see as a result? Now that we have established this idea of alien life as a real possibility, how best to tailor this into a particular camp? Do we move the idea towards the helpful benefactors of humankind as a savior-creator race of beings or do we emphasize the invading and destroying meme's of planetary slavery and human eradication? Are we planning for a big reveal, a false flag, or an all too human gambit for globalized centralization of the few over the many? Do we trust what is happening or do we rail against it? Is paranoia just another distraction in the long game? Whatever it is I think its been a long time coming if only to ensure its smooth integration into our worldview.

    1. You're right on the money. it certainly feels like it's working towards some desired effect. Will we ever see it in our lifetimes or is this how cultures are forced to evolve? Is there any precedent in history we can study?

    2. Good questions, Chris. As far as a precedent in history that we can model, I would suggest that the usurping of Christianity by the Romans to address the growing problem of a diverse population which if left unchecked, might have threatened the establishment on a level which may be similar to our contemporary social issues and the increasing availability of information threatening to move the population in directions not suitable to those in control.

      Using Christianity as a means of control by creating a government established religion was a long term psi-op, in my opinion, that was successfully implemented as theocratic rule was imposed when the Western civilizations collapsed and the Dark Ages rushed in to fill the cracks and holes left in the wake. Securing the hearts and minds and working hard to create a hierarchy of illiteracy and establishing the priesthood as lower level guardians to the gates of knowledge, they were able to extort human resources through subjugation for a thousand years.

      I think what we are seeing is again the modern version of this tired old game as we experience the old established religions being chipped away as science and pseudo-science take their place as the new superstitions and beliefs slowly take hold in the minds of each new generation. The patterns of seeding these ideas and their growth remain unchanged. The rates in which they grow and the methods of their fertilization have only been enhanced by our technology and innovation as we walk the subtle lines between slavery and our natural desire for freedom both physically and spiritually. These are the sources of the tensions pulling at us. And like high winds in nature, they will either somehow stimulate our growth or break us.