That helmet looks vaguely Kirbyesque
1983 hovers like a wraith over all of my work and I've never been quite sure why. All I know is that I sensed something definitively change in the spring and summer of that year, even if those changes have only become apparent in the past few years.
But all I can say for sure is that something somehow seemed to have entered our world from somewhere else.
I've never been able to define it and I can only try to track it by what you might call a process of elimination. It's harder than it sounds.
So, I hear you asking: what exactly happened in 1983 that was so earth-shaking?
Well, how about the birth of an obscure little venture called the Internet?
That "earth-shaking" enough for you?
No? Well, how about the dawn of the Cellphone Age?
Or the premiere of a plucky little upstart of a software package called Microsoft Word?
Or a little something called the Macintosh computer, which put a spectrumy whiz-kid from the Bay Area on the wider world's radar?
Starting to get the picture yet? Weird, right?
Note prismatic motif in Us
Rock music was the absolute epicenter of youth culture in 1983 so it's only natural that the Us Festivals-- held on a sun-seared hellscape in California's godforsaken Inland Empire -- were conjured up as an aborted attempt to wed rock music to the emerging les technologies de Lucipher.
To that end, Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak 33º set up air-conditioned tents where heatstroke-dodging young GenXers could browse the latest in digital devilry, not realizing the abuse and/or overuse of which would ultimately atrophy the minds, bodies and souls of much of their progeny. Not to mention their own future earning potential.
Feudal lords and barons would bankroll major festivals and carnivals to keep their serfs and sharecroppers pacified, so it's only natural that the moguls and khagans of the nascent Horned Caliphate would do the same.
'Caliphate' in the Thelemic rendering of the word, of course.
Cold War v1.0 nearly got hot on a number of occasions in 1983, what with the downing of Flight 007 on the first of September, the Soviet Nuclear False Alarm that same month and the provocation of the Able Archer war-games in November.
Note that all three of those potential armageddons were caused by malfunctioning computers. Something to bear in mind as Cold War v3.0 starts to heat up.
The New Age Movement, which has since become so ubiquitous and totalizing no one even notices it anymore, first came to the mainstream's attention in 1983 with the publication of proto-manic pixie dreamgirl Shirley MacLaine's confession of crystal-clutching faith, Out on a Limb.
The New Age would inspire a firestorm of reaction from conservative Christians throughout the 80s, cut-and-pasted vestiges of which are still floating around the Internet. But by the end of the next decade all but the most traditionalist denominations would be re-cast in the New Age's image, particularly the megachurch and Prosperity Gospel movements.
And in an irony so delicious it could only arise from a broken reality paradigm, the Christophobic corporate media are now the ones squirting out kittens over the New Age. Specifically, the growing overlap between it and the QAnon movements, both of which are disproportionately peopled by middle-aged/late middle-aged women.
As was Theosophy (AKA New Age v1.0), incidentally.
Note: the character of Chris McNeil in The Exorcist was based on MacLaine.
HIV was reportedly isolated in 1983 and AIDS went from a loose constellation of symptoms grimly-nicknamed "the gay cancer" to an officially-diagnosed syndrome.
The fact that AIDS first raged amongst an isolated population that participated in the CDC's Hepatitis B immunization trials seems to have been forgotten. As has the widespread use of toxic party drugs like amyl nitrates and fuck-knows-what-the-hell cocaine and heroin and ketamine etc etc were being cut with. Not to mention the dangerously immuno-suppressive effects of zinc deficiency brought about by excessive ejaculation.
I'm sure it's all an oversight. You forget things, I forget things. It's part of being human.
This Weird History featurette will give you a primer on the Year That Broke Reality if you weren't there and a refresher if you weren't. It comes off a bit too glib but is a great place to start all the same.
The seeds for 1983 were planted a very long time ago, and the process that flowered that year first began to bloom in 1979. So it's no surprise that two pictures that best encapsulated the elusive energies and forces that emerged in 1983 were actually produced in 1981.
Liquid Sky and Wavelength look at the same phenomena, but from Manhattan and Hollywood POV's, respectively. The former was largely shot in a five-block radius between Danceteria and the Koreatown brownstone penthouse the film's lead lives in. The latter is largely set in Laurel Canyon and the mysterious Lookout Mountain complex familiar to Dave McGowan readers.
The energies emanating from both locations would start to spread all over the world in 1983.
How weird was 1983? It was so weird that David Cronenberg released two movies. The only other time that happened?
1979, of course.
Videodrome might seem more than a bit dated today, but only if you don't transpose the basic themes Cronenberg was exploring from the cable TV age to the social media age. It's actually more timely now than it was in 1983, if examined in that context.
The Dead Zone is an excellent film on its own, but has become all the more important in light of what we now know about the remote viewing programs running at the time under the aegis of INSCOM, or the US Army Intelligence and Security Command.
That connection isn't explicit, but hovers over the film all the same.
Consider the fact that both The Dead Zone and Brainstorm were released within weeks of each other and that both starred Christopher Walken, even though Brainstorm had also been made in 1981 and was shelved after the drowning death of co-star Natalie Wood.
Then consider that Brainstorm was directed by Douglas Trumbull, who was responsible for many of the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey and Close Encounters, and was based on a premise written by Bruce Joel Rubin of Jacob's Ladder and Deep Impact fame.
Then consider that the Esalen Institute played a major role in the making of Brainstorm, and looms over many other films that year.
Then remember that Esalen was being run by the Council of Nine channeling cult at the time.
WarGames came out in March and anticipated the aforementioned apocalyptic near-misses a few months later. It's also the first major exposure the early hacking underground got, at least that I can recall.
Ally Sheedy first grabbed me by the attention when she guest-starred as a very naughty schoolgirl on Hill Street Blues, also in 1983. Later she'd star in a very 1983-worthy -- and microbe-themed -- episode of The Outer Limits along with Peter Proud himself.
The Hunger, based on a Whitley Streiber novel, was released shortly after AIDS had been declared to be an identifiable syndrome but has since been seen to be a prophetic allegory of such. But it also coincided with the rise of Goth as an identifiable subculture (as opposed to just a subgenus of post-punk).
Bauhaus, who perform the film's opening theme, didn't stick around to capitalize on first-wave Goth, having split after underwhelming 1983 LP Burning from the Inside, recorded while Peter Murphy was stricken with pneumonia.
A disease, incidentally, that would come to grim prominence in 1983.
1983 would have an impact both on Whitley Streiber and the world with the start of the Hudson Valley UFO wave, which lasted for several years. Streiber would document his own UFO wave in his Hudson Valley vacation home in the 1987 blockbuster Communion.
That book would make alien abduction a household world and later be adapted into a film starring -- you guessed it -- Christopher Walken.
The links between 1983 and today are only fortified by the TV film The Demon Murder Case, based on a story that was adapted into The Conjuring 3: The Devil Made Me Do It, released this past June. The film is notable for featuring a young Kevin Bacon, offering grist for the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (AKA "the poor man's Fraserology") crowd.
Speaking of which...
...the family at the center of the case are 'the Fraziers' and the first to be possessed is one 'Brian Frazier'.
You see, any film or TV series about possession, angels, demons, interdimensional entities, non-corporeal entities, ESP, NDEs etc etc will likely be ripe with high-density Fraserology. The more resonant or significant the example, the more potent the Sibylistic synchery you're likely to uncover. Just the way the world works now.
Last but not least there's the 1983 film to end all 1983 films, even if it was released in early 1984. Or as I like to call early 1984, "1983's spillway." The zeitgeist had shifted rather decisively by springtime, which is why it was pointless to do any Stranger Things sequels in the first place.
My friends and I vibed heavily on this film even if we had a Bostonian aversion to mohawks, which were strictly for poseurs. But Harry Dean is at his Harry Deaniest, Emilio Estevez's flat-top deserved its own onscreen credit and Olivia Barash radiates so much high-frequency Ally Sheedy energy that I thought she was Ally Sheedy.
Either way, Repo Man effectively depicts how something else had entered our reality in 1983, even if it does so in the context of farce.
And that's really the point of all this: something from outside our reality entered into our reality and began the slow and deliberate process of rewriting it. I have no idea what it is or where it came from-- or if it even came from anywhere. I just know it's kind of a 'Call of Cthulhu' deal where the artists and the sensitives had been dreaming it and documented those dreams in songs or stories or whatever.
In a historical sense, this is all happening with frightening speed. Even the most clueless normies can sense that something is very, very off, even if they haven't a clue how or why.
1983 IS A PLACE YOU CAN GO
It's no accident that three of the most highly-charged filmic presentations of the past decade are based in 1983.
First of which is Beyond the Black Rainbow, written and directed by Panos Cosmatos ("the Cosmic Pan"). The specter of Esalen looms over the proceedings as you'd naturally come to expect.
A lot of people have told me they have trouble with this film to which I can only say put on your big-girl panties and fully enter into its dark, labyrinthine mysteries. It's required viewing here.
Stranger Things-- meaning the first series and not the dumpster-fire/clown-orgy sequels -- obviously lifts a lot from Beyond the Black Rainbow, on account of lifts a lot from everything. But that is precisely its genius.
If you want to know what 1983 was really all about, Stranger Things a good a place to go as any. I've done a number of rewatches and it still blows my mind how a couple of dopey Millennials can capture that ephemeral essence so well. Of course, there are at least a dozen writers and producers listed in the credits, and my gut tells me that first-wave GenXer Shawn Levy was probably the man behind most of the Stranger Things magic.
Dunno what happened with the second and third seasons, which give you less an Eighties vibe than a hobo-throwing-up-in-your-mouth vibe. But like I said, they were surplus to requirements anyhow.
Either way, the poet-laureate of 1983ology stepped back up to the plate with Mandy, which brilliantly captures how the spiritual milk of the Aquarian Age had gone rancid by that time. Maybe that played a part in whatever happened in 1983, I don't know. But it's definitely something I think we should find out for sure.
In the meantime, come check out the 1983 themed posts at The Secret History of Rock n Roll blog. I'm just at the very beginning of this journey, so please share any clues or theories in the comments.
Let's also try to stick to the topic too: save any off-topic comments for another thread.
UPDATE: How could I have forgotten Planet X?
Come enroll at the Secret Sun Institute of Advanced Synchromysticism. We'll be doing some primo '83-diving there in the coming weeks.
Don't forget: the legendary Secret Sun Facebook group is back in action, after a three year hiatus.