Friday, March 24, 2023

Stanley and the Sibyl: A Space Odyssey of Sync

Philip K Dick once said that Reality is that which doesn't go away when you stop believing in it. I can't say for sure, but my guess is that ol' Phil was probably referring to the one whose then-imminent coming he had so often been compelled to prophesy.

But first, a message from our sponsors me:

The Farm & The Secret Sun Institute Present: The Secret History of RPGs Part I 
It is with unbelievable pleasure that I'm hear to announce a joint Farm/Secret Sun Institute collaboration. The great Christopher Knowles and I will be taking the deepest dive of them all into the history of role-playing-games (RPGs) and related tropes (LARPing, first-person shooters, etc). 

While long dismissed as harmless, the amount of curious deaths linked to the RPGs, going back to D & D, is staggering. And things only got stranger from there. Over the next 40 + years they've been used to invoke pre-historic warrior cults, Lovecraftian entities and other sinister forces in a proto-hypestition fashion. 

By the '90s, full-blown cults grew out of the games, most notably Vampire: The Masqueradeand a certain cult in Kentucky it spawned. Inevitably, the body count continued to rise. We'll explore this subject with Farm/Secret Sun Institute Patreons over a pair of live streams, starting on 3/25/23 (Saturday). The festivities will start @ 9:23 pm EST. I'm up first and trust me, you don't want to miss this presentation.

Now back to our syncstorm...


I think the late, great Lux Interior put it best when he sang, "If you can't dig the Sibyl, You can't dig nothin', Do you want the real syncs or are you just talkin'?" 

Again, I'm just spitballing here, but it's possible Lux too sensed the imminent arrival of the very embodiment of Synchromysticism herself.

So, I ask you: do you want the real deal - the hardest of the hardcore sync-resonators - or are you just dicking around? 

I'm a betting man, and I'm betting you're hankering for some genuine reality-rending synchro-action. 

So let's get it on.

My Deep Divers and I have recently been delving into the mountain of Sibyl-syncs in The Last of Us, Silent Hill and Call of Duty: Black Ops, just to give you a taste of the never-endingness of it all. But this video popped up on my YouTube feed recently and I felt several new tumblers fall into place as I watched.

The big one was something I'd sensed but never fully realized: the little baby Elizabeth in the "Teardrop" video is a ringer for the Star Child at the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. I mean, sure; it's a giant baby puppet and how many variations of that can there be, right? 

But it's not just that - there's something else at work here, not only of the synchly variety but on a more essential plane.

I was also struck by the elemental symbolism of this this Elizababy floating in waters (presumably amniotic fluid) while the Star Child floats in the waters above the Firmament outer space. It's my cue that bigger game awaits.

In case you're new to all this, here's the Wiki skinny on the tune itself:
"Teardrop" was first developed from a simple harpsichord riff picked out in the studio in April 1997. Andrew Vowles, who was the main songwriter of this song, sent the demo to Madonna, as he wanted her to record the vocals for the song (the band had previously worked with her on their 1995 reworking of the song "I Want You"). 

The two other band members Robert Del Naja and Grantley Marshall wanted Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins to record the vocals, feeling her ethereal style suited the mournful melody and feel of the piece. Madonna was very keen to record the vocals, and was disappointed when the two-to-one vote went in Fraser's favour.

In 2023, Andrew Unterberger of Billboard wrote: "How ['Teardrop'] might've sounded with Madonna instead of Liz Fraser on vocals remains one of '90s pop's great what-ifs." 

While recording the song in 1997, she found out that Jeff Buckley, whom she had formerly had a relationship with, had disappeared—later discovered to have drowned. In 2009, she said, "That was so weird ... I'd got letters out and I was thinking about him. That song's kind of about him—that's how it feels to me anyway". 
So given that the video was produced some time after Buckley's death, it's all the weirder that the band and director Walter Stern chose this particular motif for the video. As far as I know, Elizabeth never commented on the video, but I can't help but wonder if she might have been uncomfortable with it.

I also wonder what Elizabeth thought of Madonna going with the whole "Drowned World" motif after being nixed for "Teardrop." It would be totally on-brand for Madonna to name it so simply to taunt Elizabeth over Buckley's death, seeing as how toxic narcissists - of whom Madge is the unchallenged High Priestess - never forget or forgive those kinds of slights. 

All the more given that Madhatterdonna chose to work with William Orbit on the album, which most at the time saw as a strange choice for her as a collaborator. 

But maybe this was more sniping: the Cocteau Twins had a prior working arrangement with Orbit, having recorded the epochal Tiny Dynamine and Echoes in a Shallow Bay EPs at his Guerrilla Studios. Longtime Cocteau engineer Lincoln Fong also came out of Orbit's, um, orbit.

Bonus factoid: Madge tried to sign the Twins to Maverick and reportedly took it personally when they shot her offer down.

To sum it all up, Madonna is an evil and vindictive psycho-bitch.

Back to the Star Child: leave it to a sicko like Arthur C. Clarke to make his new god a naked baby boy, but perhaps the Koob saw it more as a symbol of rebirth. Then again, there's always Lolita, so maybe some doors are better left closed. 

Hollywood, am I right?

In any event, the thing that caught my attention is that the Sibyl was still in diapers herself while the Koob and Kiddie-Fiddlin' Clarke began work on 2001.

But when you see the Star Child in the flesh (as it were) it looks less an infant (as we see in the "Teardrop" video) and more like a bald three or four year-old, which I'm sure gave ol' Arthur all kinds of wood. But it also has a big honkin' pair of Betty Fraser Eyes, which we can't really say about the Elizababy.

There's also the fact that an approximate Star Child-a-like showed up on the cover of the Twin's last release during their existence, the epic shoegazing anthem, "Violaine."

Then there is the 237 meme, well-familiar to Kubrologists in relation to the alleged distance of the Earth to the Moon (237K miles). This became known when Jay Weidner began circulating his theories that Kubrick made The Shining in order to confess to faking the Apollo footage for Now Adore Satan, Assholes, or "NASA."

I'm skeptical. Say what you will about the Koob, he was a meticulous craftsman. I can't for the life of me see him making something as cut-rate and flimsy as the moronic trash we saw from the bargain-basement "Apollo Missions."

Anyhow, we see 237 encoded- quite inexplicably - on the cover of the Twins' final masterpiece, Milk and Kisses (the album from which "Violaine" is taken, incidentally). 

I don't exactly know when the 237 meme started to circulate, but I can say for certain I never heard anything about it in 1996.

Speaking of The Shining, the sequel (Doctor Sleep) to it took place - inevitably - in the fictional town of Frazier, New Hampshire. Scotsman Ewan MacGregor took the role of Danny Torrence in the adaption of it.

Back to the Star Child...

Dr. Strangelove was finished around the time the Sibyl manifested on this plane, so it's interesting to note that 2001 and The Spangle Maker share a birthday. (Officially, that is- the actual release of the EP was delayed for a week or so after the planned date).

Which then takes us on another detour some of you may be familiar with...

"Spangle Maker" and "Pearly Dewdrops' Drop" were both premiered on television a few weeks before the EPs release. 

What happened three years - to the day - later?

The closest stellar explosion in centuries - Supernova 1987A - was observed in the Large Magellanic Cloud in Dorado. 

This supernova was so intense it could be seen with the naked eye.

Scientists have since nicknamed it the "String of Cosmic Pearls."

To my expert ears, Elizabeth chants "Ruby Star, Dorade, Star, Dorade" in the fade-out on "Pearly Dewdrops' Drops." That interpretation seems to be bolstered by this shot in the video:

Note the camera lingers on a gold fish, roughly the translation of Dorade/Dorado. The word means "golden" and refers specifically to a species of dolphinfish.

As opposed to a dolphin-dolphin. 

Now here's where it gets really interesting...

Harmonic Convergence types were thrilled by the appearance of SN1987A, which they saw as the herald - if not an agent - of the coming New Age. This was in part drawing from scientific theories that the radiation from exploded stars could have a profound effect on human physiology - and consciousness - if they reached Earth.

So how does this relate to 2001: A Space Odyssey?

Well, we've talked about the crypto-Watcher adoration in the film and novel, but more importantly how what we are seeing is alien technology driving human evolution in much the same way some astronomers have speculated that the radiation from nearby supernovae - like SN1987A - can also do.

So the symbolism tying together "Teardrop" and the Star Child starts to make a little bit more sense. It's a crazy kind of sense, but you do realize you're reading The Secret Sun, right?

Let's look at what happened some 34 (17+17) years after "Pearly Dewdrops" premiered and some 31 years after SN1987A was first sighted, almost exactly to the day:

Annihilation presents a bit more Lovecraftian spin on the basic 2001 motif, that being alien radiation or influence having a profound effect on human evolution. It also is roughly similar to the theories scientists have about supernovae having a profound effect on terrestrial life and its development.

In this case, it's a meteor containing an alien virus that begins remaking life on Earth in accordance to some unknowable imperative, and not radioactive particles from an exploding star.

What's the connection between 2001 and Annihilation then? Well, bearing in mind that April 2 birthday for the film and for "Pearly Dewdrops", let's look at a factoid I never, ever get tired of pointing out...

... which is that the exteriors for Annihilation filmed in the same exact location that exteriors for "Pearly Dewdrops' Drop" were filmed. (remember the Dorado, now?)  

Note that Elizabeth is essentially overlapping the location of Annihilation's alien entity known as 'the Shimmer' here

"Shimmer" very, very often used to describe Cocteau Twins music. It's probably the go-to adjective for most critics.

Annihilation itself is rife with all kinds of Fraserological syncs, but do note that Natalie Portfrase - who played a troubled singer in contact with supernatural forces that same year in Vox Lux - tussles with her twin in the film's climax.

And bearing in mind the sync with the film's release and the premiere of "Pearly Dewdrops' Drop" and the appearance of SN1987A, do note that the Annihilation DVD was released on the 21st anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death. 

That's one short of Ian Fleming's enemy action, but eff Ian Fleming. What the hell did he know about Synchronicity?

Given the fact that Alex Garland (!) borrowed a pivotal shot for his film Men (with Irish actress Jess Buckley, of all people), I'm inclined to believe there may be more to all this than just a simple sync.

Oh, quite a lot more. 

Pretty much everything more.


"Teardrop" video director Walter Stern is probably best known for the iconic "Bittersweet Symphony" video, and he also did a lot of work with Massive Attack and The Prodigy, among others. 

But his first music clip was for the Manic Street Preachers' single "Stay Beautiful."

Manics songwriter Richey Edwards famously went missing in 1995, with the general consensus being he swam to the Siren from the Severn Bridge and was washed out to sea.

Do note that the Severn is on the outskirts of Bristol, home to Massive Attack, Portishead (whose Geoff Barrow cowrote the Annihilation soundtrack) and a certain Oracle of the Apocalypse. 

Where else, right?

That reminded me of how Jeff Buckley swam to the Siren beneath the Mud Island monorail bridge, in shooting distance of the DeSoto Bridge and the Memphis Pyramid.

The DeSoto links the metropolitan Memphis area and its suburb, West Memphis. 

Yes, the same West Memphis site of the Druidic sacrifice of three eight year-old boys is almost due west of where the Shepherd Boy met the Siren in muddy depths of the Wolf River some four years later.

The plot thickens.

So next time some bottom-feeding Hollywood suckbag tries to brainwash you into thinking West Memphis is some remote hillbilly haven deep in the piney woods of the Appalachians, just show them this map and tell them to shut their goddamn lying pie-holes. 

Please try not to beat them around the face and neck. I'd hate to see you getting into trouble with the law.


Feeling stuck? Confused? Overwhelmed? Don't blame yourself.

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