Category Archives: conspiracy

David Weigel: The Show That Never Ends

Most commonly referred to by fans and detractors alike with the shorthand term “prog”, progressive rock is arguably the one branch of the pop music family tree most likely to elicit sharply divided opinions. Boasting a fanbase that has a borderline religious devotion, prog has been long overdue for a book length canonization. I don’t know if David Weigel’s latest book, The Show That Never Ends, will be the definitive statement on the history of progressive rock, but it’s a solid contender despite being in an uncrowded field. Writing a chronicle of prog’s trajectory through the pop culture sphere which begins with its early pioneers and brings us to the present is no small feat. Much like his subjects, Weigel has staked out an ambitious mandate for a 278 page book. Nevertheless, The Show That Never Ends is eminently readable and, for my money, is as satisfying an overview as one would hope for given its length and scope.

King Crimson

Yes

Genesis

ELP

As one might expect, The Show That Never Ends focuses on the biggest movers of the progressive genre. The career arcs of Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull, ELP and King Crimson are given a generous space while the also-rans, second stringers, side projects, one-off supergroups and fan favorites are also given a hearing. The leading lights of the Canterbury scene are also given a fairly robust treatment. Fans of Soft Machine, Gong, Caravan, Daevid Allen, Kevin Ayers, and Robert Wyatt will doubtless enjoy Weigel’s respectful recognition of the significance these players made to the movement.

Rush

Weigel’s focus remains primarily centered around the genre’s British origins. When he finally turns his attention North America, it’s limited to Rush and Kansas. Any book that covers this much territory is bound to leave some people dissatisfied. One can easily imagine the indignant proclamations of outraged prog fans everywhere as they debate the exclusion of [fill in the blank]. I’ll add my indignation to the bonfire by stating that I was disappointed by the short shrift Magma received and I was absolutely gobsmacked by the twin omissions of Henry Cow and Saga.

Even at the most superficial level, Weigel’s account poses worthwhile questions. Is there a subgenre of rock more maligned than progressive rock? Was this hatred manufactured? Was punk the natural course correction rock historians have long claimed? Should rock even be “progressive” in the first place? Is prog elitist pomp or is it populist high culture? Are the pioneers of progressive rock geniuses or charlatans? Was the emergence of progressive rock an organic phenomenon or was it simply the product of upper crust Brits with too much idle time? Does prog even matter anymore?

Prog was and is ambitious music. By and large, rock’s calling card was its libidinous energy, hedonistic lyrics and its primal simplicity. It was mostly designed to piss off your parents and priests. It was also mostly a soundtrack for getting wasted, defying authority and getting laid. In the wake of the release of Sergeant Pepper’s and Pet Sounds, proggers sought new horizons. The progressive rocker wanted to liberate rock from the rigid confines of blues based harmony and the pedestrian grind of 4/4 time. The characteristics of “high art” music suddenly became raw materials for an alchemical transformation in the incantatory fires of rock’s furnace. Anglican church hymns, classical harmonies and structures, jazz improvisation, and English folk were all fair game. Lyrics no longer fixated on banalities like romance. Instead, proggers took to themes that drew from fantasy, sci-fi, history, religion and the occult. From the ferment of Britain’s rock scene in the mid and late sixties, the progressive rock genre took shape. Prog became the soundtrack to late nights, black lights, and bong hits for a mostly educated, upwardly mobile middle class in Europe and America.

There’s something about hymns, they’re simple and they’re direct but they have a kind of connection. – Tony Banks, Genesis (p. 12)

Weigel is clearly a fan and his treatment of the subject matter is very sympathetic overall. However, he is an establishment writer, and he is attempting to play the role of neutral arbitrator of events. While this approach serves to make this an entertaining and reasonably informative synthesis of a significant slice of rock subculture, it also feels painfully banal and aggressively anodyne in places. Particularly when it comes to the musicians’ proximity to the military-intelligence community, the Tavistock Institute, the Royal Society, the British aristocracy, the Labour Party or the occult.

I was so involved, I didn’t know what to think

This is very apparent when recounting Robert Fripp’s time at Sherborne House in the mid-70’s after the demise of the first iteration of King Crimson. It’s especially curious given that Fripp’s exploits within and without King Crimson comprise a fairly significant portion of the book. Along with Keith Jarrett, Kate Bush and George Russell, Fripp had developed an interest in the cultish teachings of George Gurdjieff. He had befriended Daryl Hall of Hall and Oates and had done so during a time of pure isolation from the outside world. According to Fripp, it was a time that was “both physically painful and spiritually terrifying” (p. 180) Weigel cites a quote from a 1978 interview in which Fripp confesses that “Sherborne filled its residents with the “the kind of cold that freezes the soul” (p. 180). I found myself wanting to understand more fully what Fripp might have meant by that, but Weigel drops it on the floor and explores no further. Instead, he goes on to recount the Hall and Fripp collaboration which resulted in the Hall solo record, Sacred Songs. It’s not a secret that Sacred Songs was inspired by Hall’s fascination with Aleister Crowley. Surely, Weigel knew that this was the common ground between Hall and Fripp’s interest in Gurdjieff’s esoteric teachings. Furthermore, he ignores the vast influence of John G. Bennett, the founder of the International Academy of Continuous Education, on the various strands of New Age thought we find today. Weigel abandons a juicy lead which links this artistic movement with the proliferation of what now passes for “spirituality”.

I think that whoever is listening to it should feel the same thing, that they are in tune and in time with God. – Jon Anderson, Yes (p. 72)

Sinfield reached into his notebook and pulled out “King Crimson,” a term he had come up with to fill in when “Satan” didn’t fit a rhyme. (p. 43)

Choice, choice, freedom? I have no choice, I can only do the will of God, this is freedom. – Robert Fripp (p. 197)

Fohat digs holes in space, man!

What’s gone is gone and I do not give a damn

The same superficial gloss is given to his casual mention of Jon Anderson’s spiritual beliefs, the deeper inspiration for Christian Vander’s vision, the Roches’ fascination with Wilhelm Reich, the gnostic overtones to Peter Gabriel’s focus on Carl Jung, ELP’s knowledge (or lack thereof) of Giger’s occult inspirations as well as Daevid Allen’s fairly well publicized fascination with ritual magick. This may seem like pointless muckraking, but it gets to the essence of what proggers were actually saying as artists. Weigel obviously thinks this is an unfairly maligned genre and that it should be accorded more respect. Prog is a cool soundtrack for smoking weed and most of them were first rate virtuosos, but all the proggers had something to say at some level. The messages seemed to run the gamut from an attempt to create meaning from nothing to messianic zeal. To selectively emphasize these things seems like journalistic malpractice.

The only reason I’ve been able to come up with as to why we became musicians was because there wasn’t anything to rebel or fight against. We weren’t doing it with another agenda as a means to escape. If we were seeking to escape, then it would have been from a kingdom of nothingness. Michael Giles, King Crimson (p. 10)

This tendency is especially egregious in his treatment of Rush. Weigel exposes himself as yet another progressive partisan hack when discussing Neil Peart’s affinity for Ayn Rand’s Objectivist philosophy. As usual, he appears to think the British Labour Party has nothing for which to apologize, and Neil Peart’s critics were completely justified. He ensures that the critical scorn heaped on Rush was clearly spelled out in case there’s any mystery about what the woke intelligentsia thinks of you dumbass LOLbertarians. Not only does he fail to mention that Neil Peart went on record with a softened stance on libertarianism in 2012, but he openly aligned himself with the Democratic Party in a RS interview from 2015! Weigel had ready access to this information while writing this book. Why else would you place so much emphasis on his former libertarian convictions if not to feed the already overheated Ayn Rand hate mill? He even goes out of his way to score easy ideological points by mentioning Rush’s refusal to allow Rand Paul to continue using their music on the campaign trail. See? Even Rush shut down Rand Paul. LMAO! Ooh. Sticking it to the Randian Objectivists. How #EDGY, Weigel.

Maybe his mind is for rent after all.

A casual glimpse of Weigel’s Twitter feed reveals him as a typical leftist stooge who fancies himself some kind of brave dissident embedded on the front lines of the Trump #RESISTANCE. In other words, the embodiment of kind of the anti-authoritarianism that formed the basis of the album he lionized, 2112. If Weigel had an ounce of intellectual honesty, he would cast a skeptical glance toward the Corbynistas and the Eurocrats. Ayn Rand wasn’t right about everything, but if he actually allowed himself to examine the grievances of #Brexiters without his ideological blinders, he’d recognize that Peart apprehended the harm Labour has visited on the UK with greater clarity than his fellow media lackeys. Progressives are contemptuous of libertarianism except when it’s convenient for their agenda.

His partisan allegiance is significant because it may explain his seeming unwillingness to examine the extent to which prog’s demise was driven by the very media establishment to which he belongs. It’s true that plenty of bands built careers defying the establishment consensus, but Weigel’s refusal to investigate his own people speaks volumes.

The downfall of progressive rock happened quickly, with an entire critical establishment [emphasis mine] seemingly rooting for its demise. (p. 200)

This is especially significant given that the media’s pretense of neutrality has been revealed as a contemptible lie in the Trump era. If we take the case that the media are handmaidens of the deep state who are merely taking orders from an elite class more invested in cultural engineering than journalism, Weigel’s observation suggests much, much more.

You can force people to go into trances, and tell them what to do; it’s mass hypnotism, and you’re really setting yourself up as God. – Dave Brock, Hawkwind (p. 96)

Speaking of establishment elites, his ideological blinders also stunted his ability to investigate the extent to which prog was being encouraged by the social engineers of the Tavistock Institute and Royal Society or the extent to which they were under the influence of MI6 assets. Curiously, he included a quote by Crimson alum, Gordon Haskell, which speaks directly to all of these possibilities. My suspicion is that Weigel’s decision to include this quote was to hold him up as a conspiracy obsessed lunatic with an axe to grind against Robert Fripp. Of course, Weigel doesn’t explore any of these allegations, and allows the quote to go unexamined.

“The King Crimson weapon is musical fascism, made by fascists, designed by fascists to dehumanize, to strip mankind of his dignity and soul,” he said later. “It’s pure Tavistock Institute material, financed by the Rothschild Zionists and promoted by two poncy public school boys with connections to the city of London.” Gordon Haskell, King Crimson (p. 62)

Weigel concludes with a brief overview of prog’s unlikely resurgence in the midst of the nihilistic howling that defined the 90s grunge aesthetic. Led by neo-prog revivalists like Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, The Mars Volta, Opeth and Spock’s Beard, prog had absorbed a more muscular and metallic edge from its stylistic progeny, but it seemed even more anachronistic than in its previous generation. Despite what is implied in the term “progressive” in contemporary parlance, I contend that there’s something reactionary about playing or enjoying prog in 2019.

We’ve become accustomed to the idea of the pop culture sphere being a quintessentially Darwinian ecosystem. It is the epitome of a dominance hierarchy in which the lowest common denominator generally captures the biggest market share while those who swim against the tide get bulldozed. It cannibalizes itself, but only to reflect and refract the most fashionable aesthetic trends and sensibilities of the moment. Prog’s sonic and compositional innovations were eventually flattened and absorbed into blueprints for virtually every style that comprised the 80s once the punk template had been firmly established as the new artistic orthodoxy.

While there’s usually enough bandwidth for a mass market Serious Artist or two who reaches an arena sized audience, you generally find the contemporary progger playing a 1000-seat venue or at a niche festival like ProgDay. The idea that a multibillion dollar rock industry which extends into every corner of culture is in any way rebellious or transgressive is a pathetic joke. Even if it’s loaded with odd metered rhythms, dense harmonies and extended psychedelic jams. Subsequently, the very idea of playing a form of rock music, the ultimate anti-tradition tradition, which adheres to a set of bygone ideals however loosely defined can only be seen as…well….conservative.

Prog was a byproduct of the 60s counterculture, and embodied the utopian idealism of the Flower Power generation which originally coronated it. As subsequent generations of rockers turned increasingly hedonistic and cynical, the Holy Mountain of progressive rock continues to attract acolytes precisely because it at least stood for something. Even if proggers had disparate goals, the fundamental message of the pursuit of a transcendent ideal seemed to be the binding force. I suggest that for today’s musicians, progressive rock is seen as something akin to a sacred calling. A spiritual cosmic journey that will always beckon mystics, dreamers, and charlatans along with the hardiest and most dedicated souls.

The existence of David Weigel’s history of progressive rock is a laudable achievement all by itself, but it also happens to be a fun read. Perhaps it is churlish to nitpick and we should simply enjoy the fact that it is here in the first place. If nothing else, we proggers are an opinionated bunch. You develop high standards when you’re an idealist.

By the time John Wetton’s Asia had sold millions of copies of its bland radio-friendly pop in the 80s, the post-hippie counterculture that was progressive rock, based on the idealistic impulses of the 60s, had finally run its course. The dream, or illusion, of individual and global enlightenment was over. Progressive rock, like the period that gave rise to it, was essentially optimistic. The whole underlying goal – to draw together rock, classical and folk into a surreal metastyle – was inherently an optimistic ideal. At its best, the genre engaged listeners in a quest for spiritual authenticity. We took ourselves too seriously, of course, and its po-faced earnestness could lapse into a moronic naivete, but it never gave way to bitterness, cynicism or self-pity. – Bill Bruford (p. 250)

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Die Another Day (2002)

James Bond: I’m looking for a North Korean.
Raul: Tourist?
James Bond: Terrorist.
Raul: One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Trash it if you must, but it has its charms. Not the least of which is Halle Berry’s homage to Ursula Andress. Beyond the fact that the action sequences approach Marvelesque levels of absurdity, there are some interesting pieces of geopolitical subtext to note.

It’s easy to dismiss Bond films as pure escapism, but just about anyone who pays real attention to geopolitics can plainly observe that the real movements of world events take place behind the veil of NGOs, military black operations, shell companies, intelligence fronts, and vast networks of deep state assets. In short, a Bond film offers a window of insight into the true nature of power politics. Of course there’s eye candy. Of course there are going to be hot chicks, gun fights, car chases and high tech razzle dazzle. We expect these things in a 007 film, and Die Another Day delivers these in heaping portions. But this franchise wouldn’t be this big if there wasn’t an agenda behind it.

Die Another Day is most accurately seen as a piece of post-Cold War/post-9/11 propaganda. Specifically, it’s a piece of anti-North Korean propaganda. Released a year after 9/11 and the initiation of the invasion of Afghanistan, the longest war in US history, Die Another Day offers more than a few eyebrow raising propositions to ponder. Especially in light of current events. This film wants us to buy into the idea of North Korea as a military powerhouse which has a net surplus of armaments to hock in the arms trade black market in exchange for African blood diamonds. So not only are these repressive Juchebags exacerbating the conflicts in the mineral rich African countries, they’re exporting arms to innumerable baddies throughout the world. Even worse, they have imperial ambitions to reclaim the Southern half of the country lost to the capitalist running dogs of the decadent West.

Isn’t that something? When George W. Bush and the woke overlords of the Western world were mobilizing all of our collective military might into fighting the Taliban and eventually, Saddam Hussein, Die Another Day wants us to see North Korea as the font of Pure Evil.

But why? Maybe to divert your attention from the fact that the very phenomenon the filmmakers are pinning on North Korea was being underwritten by the West to prop up the War on Terror. In fact, the 2002 story of Sanjivan Ruprah’s arms trafficking to the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone bears a striking resemblance to the storyline in Die Another Day. Isn’t it interesting that this nefarious arms dealer managed to secure a gig as Liberia’s deputy commissioner for maritime affairs? And isn’t it even more interesting that he just happened to be in contact with the CIA with information pertaining to arms smuggling to the Taliban?

[Here be spoilers and shit]

And it gets better. Our chief nemesis in Die Another Day, Colonel Tan-Sun Moon, is the heir to the seat of power in North Korea occupied by his father, General Moon. It’s a mirror image of the real life hereditary dictatorship of Kims Jong Il and Un. Also mirroring his real world analogue, Tan-San Moon is portrayed as the recipient of a Western education. When it’s revealed that he has transformed himself into aerospace/geotech mogul, Gustav Graves, through gene replacement therapy, the presumption is that his acquisition of Western scientific knowledge allowed him to build a solar geoengineering weapon. So our dastardly North Korean dictator who presides over an impoverished communist country in real life threatens the world through access to Western education, capitalism, technology, and gene therapy.

Right.

Above all else, these films are about acclimating you to technological innovation that has far reaching implications. Back in 2002, geoengineering wasn’t even discussed publicly, and 17 years later, it’s out in the open. The idea of a satellite that can replicate or block sunlight and can be weaponized to manipulate weather seems outlandish to most people, but we’re already starting to see this idea being discussed openly as well.

The most disturbing element is the human trafficking implications of the gene therapy subplot. The Avengers franchise eventually used this as a plot device for both Captain America and Black Widow. It’s being used in a similar way here because both Zao and Moon become genetically engineered super soldiers through the process. Halle Berry’s Jinx discusses the therapy with the Cuban physician who administers the treatment, he says that the blood plasma comes from “orphans, refugees and people who will not be missed.” What a pleasant thought. The movie wants you to be repelled because it’s being used by the bad guys, but in real life, this is being touted as a kind of all purpose miracle cure and fountain of youth.

What’s the more plausible thesis about this film? That the organization behind the Bond series just pulled this story out of their asses? Or that it’s a useful distraction and a mental palliative to alleviate the necessity of thinking about things too deeply? Hey. Credit where credit is due. Halle Berry AND Rosamund Pike in one 007 movie are pretty decent distractions.

Anthony Sutton: America’s Secret Establishment

Understanding how the cultural climate got to its current place has been a central preoccupation on this platform, and I suggest that Anthony Sutton’s analysis of the influence of Skull and Bones on global politics and social consensus, America’s Secret Establishment, provides a plausible thesis. You don’t need an advanced degree to know that the range of acceptable opinion narrows with each passing day. While libertarians hold to the premise that this is still a free marketplace of ideas and all that one needs is libertarian historical revisionism and a dogmatic adherence to the Non-Aggression Principle in order to win the day, Sutton’s analysis of American history is far more credible. Sutton holds a right leaning libertarian view of both American republicanism and the primacy of the individual which locates his own thinking within the spectrum of conventional thought. This should not preclude a serious engagement with his analysis of the evolution of American institutions under the hidden hand of the shadow elite he refers to as The Order.

Christian monarchists hold that this socio-political order is upheld as an ideal because it corresponds to the metaphysic of the family outlined in the Bible. In other words, the patriarch is the head of the family. By having a hereditary monarchy, you have an institution at the center of the sociopolitical order which mirrors the family itself. By contrast, the democratic order places a network of institutions and representatives who have no connection to one another and no hereditary connection to their successors to bind them to the larger extended family of the nation state. Despite the founders’ best efforts at creating an organic aristocracy, the executive ends up being a de facto monarch surrounded by an impossibly byzantine bureaucracy which is captured by corporate interests. In short, it’s a sociopolitical order which lends itself to shadow government and secret societies. This is the core idea behind Sutton’s thesis and his book walks you through the formation of all of America’s institutions.

The irony is that the collection of elites to whom Sutton refers as The Order are in fact a sort of hidden aristocracy. Hidden in plain sight that is. Sutton asks at the outset something that I believe is a perfectly reasonable and rational question. “If there can be conspiracy in the market place, then why not in the political arena?” (pg. 3) Of course, nowadays, there is acceptable conspiracy theory (i.e. Russiagate) and there is unacceptable conspiracy theory (e.g. 9/11, moon landing, JFK assassination, Sandy Hook, etc). Espousing belief in the former will never draw a word of reproach whereas any inkling of sympathy towards the latter conspiracies will get you drummed out of the public square.

The entire collection of presumptions that comprise the bedrock of classical liberalism is stunningly effective because you grow up accepting that these ideas represent the pinnacle of human thought and the end of history. All that remains is the continued perfection of the institutions and the process. If we just continue to accord unquestioned deference to the continued expansion of “human rights” and “democracy”, a glorious future of human cooperation, prosperity and equality surely awaits. Sutton’s book suggests that every sphere of American thought from economics to medicine to the arts has been intentionally colonized and molded to conform to a narrow range of acceptable ideas. More specifically, he posits that the Left-Right dialectic was an idea appropriated from Hegel in order to engender servitude to the State and shepherd a process of perpetual change. Contrary to popular belief, capitalism and communism are not the diametric opposites we’ve been trained to believe.

Libertarians and conservatives are correct to oppose socialism and communism, but the error of both positions is the belief that the pure advocacy of free markets represents a view that stands in opposition to global progressivism. Russell Kirk makes a similar case in The Conservative Mind, but Sutton makes a compelling case that it is in fact the shadow aristocracy comprised of capitalists that have financed global communism. Not only have the mustach twirling Randian übermenschen historically aided and abetted leftist and communist regimes and social movements, but they continue to fund these groups in media, academia and the arts. The obvious #NotAll caveat certainly applies here, but the larger point is that the framework of the debate creates the illusion of two irreconcilable ideological poles. I’ve often found myself perplexed that the institutions and individuals I believed to be ideologically opposed to leftist political collectivism are the very people sounding the loudest bullhorns for these ideas. I found myself repeatedly playing defense when presented with the idea that wealthy capitalist donors and foundations were the ones so generously underwriting PBS, NPR and all the other media companies who openly promulgate progressive politics. Sutton argues that by funding and promoting two sides of seemingly opposed sides of a Hegelian dialectic, the shadow elites are able to manufacture crises, purchase the levers of cultural consensus and weaponize culture to ensure that the populations are debased, atomized and subservient only to the proliferation of the gospel of global liberalism.

America’s Secret Establishment focuses on the one secret society whose members bear the largest footprint of influence on American life: Yale’s Skull and Bones. For my money, the most revelatory claims pertain to The Order’s funding of both National Socialism and Bolshevism. Oh, but these are polar opposites! How can this be? That’s exactly the point. It’s a managed dialectic. After you’ve divorced concepts like “nation”, “liberty”, and “social welfare” from any larger theological or metaphysical context, they can be politicized and set in opposition to one another. The entire system is designed to produce conflict and opposition. The politicians are the self-appointed saviors who are charged with bringing people together under the banner of “human rights” and “democracy”.

Discussion of Skull and Bones and the influence of secret societies has long been regarded as the province of conspiracy theories. While I’m certain these ideas will continue to draw derision from the gatekeepers of GoodThink, that’s exactly the response I expect. In 2006, Robert De Niro made a film called The Good Shepherd which portrays the life of a Bonesman and his journey through the creation of the OSS and eventually, the CIA. Not only does it confirm the descriptions of Bones rituals and initiations Sutton describes, it basically says that these people are the true Masters of the Universe. So if all this is just a bunch of idle conspiracy theory, why would De Niro put these words in his script?

Richard Hayes: This whole wing will be your part of the world: Counterintelligence. Take a look around. I’ve got an oversight meeting. Can you imagine? They think they can look into our closet, as if we’d let them. I remember a senator once asked me. When we talk about “CIA” why we never use the word “the” in front of it. And I asked him, do you put the word “the” in front of “God”?

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

I saw Close Encounters at least twice when it was initially released, and on one of those occasions I was reduced to a weeping mess by the film’s conclusion. After rewatching it all these years later, it’s clearer to me why it hit me so hard back then. Yes, it’s an alien visitation movie and it’s got all the UFO porn you could ask for. But if we take the case that the mythology of extraterrestrial intelligence has been inserted into the culture in order to mainstream various forms of esoteric and Eastern religious beliefs, the film reads as an allegory of the Boomer generation’s nihilistic and narcissistic pursuit of Enlightenment. Roy Neary’s final decision to join the aliens is meant to be the triumphant fulfillment of his messianic vision quest, but he ends up jettisoning his family in the process. Whether it’s the chase for hedonistic thrills or the desire for institutional power and stature, Neary’s departure feels like a large scale symbolic removal of the father figure from the pop culture consciousness. It’s an act of cinematic demolition that has proceeded unabated since then.

Above all else, Close Encounters is a study in the power of visual and aural symbols. If you think this is a reach, consider the scene when François Truffaut’s Lacombe and Bob Balaban’s David Laughlin travel to Northern India to record the ecstatic song of the villagers. When the translator asks the villagers to identify the source of the song, they simultaneously point to the sky. The crowd is singing the 5-note melodic motif that will eventually be used to communicate with the aliens. Good luck getting that out of your brain. Jay Dyer has suggested that this tone sequence resembles the Tetragrammaton, and I think this is plausible. However, I also it’s a variation on the Gayatri Mantra, a devotional hymn to the sun deity, Savitr. Spielberg himself has said that it’s “When You Wish Upon a Star” meets science fiction’. A filmmaker as skillful as Spielberg doesn’t divulge something like that arbitrarily so it’s not unreasonable to surmise that a chant used to communicate with beings from the stars carries all the esoteric meaning connected to stars within the occult and Eastern traditions. Even the imagery on the poster suggests the same idea. An open stretch of highway with a glowing light emanating from beyond the horizon.

Roy’s vision of Devil’s Tower is similar. He is smitten with what amounts to a divine revelation of an Axis Mundi or a Holy Mountain. He is so consumed by the vision that he is compelled to fill an entire room in his home building a replica using everything from garbage pails to uprooted shrubbery. His wife played by Teri Garr is understandably frustrated and disturbed by his obsession and eventually leaves Roy with the children. Roy is initially upset, but his distress evaporates when he receives visual confirmation of his vision on the television newscast. He defies federal orders to stay clear of the area and begins his pilgrimage. But what kind of quest is this if Roy’s Mount Sinai is called Devil’s Tower?

There is a conspiracy component to this film as well. While it’s undoubtedly meant to stoke the longstanding theory of a government coverup of UFOs, it’s very subtly telling you that the military-intelligence complex is capable of manufacturing a public panic. Right down to the deployment of nerve gas agents that correspond to the the fake threat promulgated in the news media. I also couldn’t help but think of the ghetto liquidation scene from Schindler’s List when I saw the panicked townspeople feverishly scrambling to board the train. Obviously, Close Encounters wasn’t nearly as harrowing as Schindler’s List, but the essential idea that was put across felt the same. A frightened citizenry being herded onto a train by military forces. If we take the case that the coordinates featured in the film point to some hidden military dictatorship ensconced beneath or around the Denver Airport, then maybe this film is a nightmarish piece of predictive programming I certainly never previously imagined.

Roy’s ascension to the alien spacecraft reads as an initiation rite and an ode to Boomerseque self-absorption and narcissism. In the absence of any larger sense of purpose or meaning, an opportunity to join either a secret society, fraternal order or an “alien species” seems like a more important quest than being a devoted father. As it turns out, Richard Dreyfuss was declared a Mason at sight in 2011, so Spielberg’s casting choice was a window of insight into how he is perceived to the establishment elite.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind belongs to a well established tradition of films which explore the idea of a visitation from an advanced and benign intelligence. Picking up from the globalist message of The Day The Earth Stood Still, Close Encounters arguably jump started the UFO mythology for the modern era of mass entertainment and internet culture. As shows like the X-Files and the recently released Project Blue Book attest, the appetite for UFOs is bigger than ever. Coincidentally, the stories appearing in the mainstream media which tease the prospect of an actual sign of extraterrestrial life are also multiplying. But is it a coincidence? Maybe after all of our hubristic posturing of scientific rationalism, people are ultimately drawn to one idea that provides a sense of something greater than our seemingly empty and insignificant existence.

WE ARE NOT ALONE.

Interstellar (2014)

Updated 12/29/2018

Recommended, but with caveats.

Let’s get the science stuff out of the way first because this aspect of the film relates to all the underlying editorial. I’ve been watching sci-fi films for most of my life. I’m cool with suspension of disbelief. I do not expect any science fiction to present textbook scientific realism. I like movies with dimension hopping spacecraft, AI robots, transporter machines, alien beings and laser weapons just as much as anyone. I’m not interested in “fact checking” this film. However, Interstellar is presenting itself as a next level science fiction film which supposedly extrapolates from the cutting edge of relativistic physics. Similar to other highbrow sci-fi films like Contact, this is a movie that wants you to learn something and contemplate deep shit while you enjoy mind bending special effects and gazing upon Matthew McConaughey’s dreamy visage. It wants you to feel especially smart and virtuous when you retweet Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

The simple truth is that there isn’t a single Hollywood science fiction film which features interstellar space travel that deals in pure scientific fact. In fact, some of the most realistic science fiction films like Looker or Altered States involve no space travel at all and suggest actual scientific phenomena that are much closer to reality such as hallucinogenic mind control and media induced mass hypnosis. This should be self-evident, but it needs to be said in this case especially because Interstellar wants to claim a mantle of scientific legitimacy. Underneath all the CGI whizbang, nearly every sci-fi film is smuggling in some combination of scientism, occult metaphysics or eschatology. That’s especially true of this film. Subsequently, I believe that it’s important to delineate the boundary between speculative leaps of imagination and observed scientific knowledge in order to parse out the underlying agenda. When Interstellar takes its speculative leaps, it’s patently obvious that it’s trying to fill the gap once occupied by traditional theology.

Interstellar is using speculative cosmological phenomena like wormholes, time dilation and black holes because it wants to supplant the traditional notion of a Creator with the gnostic idea that we are our own gods. Much like the hero of the film, it’s using the unresolved clash between macrocosmic gravity and quantum mechanics to transport the idea that gravity, and ultimately love, are physical properties that can traverse the fabric of spacetime. And that if we continue to believe in #SCIENCE, we will transcend the higher dimensions of spacetime and learn to hack the eternal wheel of time in order to send Morse Code messages back to our progeny and save humanity. Like its predecessor 2001: A Space Odyssey, Interstellar wants to dispense with the idea of metaphysics and locate all seemingly transcendent phenomena within the physical world and under the purview of “science” and “space travel”.

Cooper: Love, TARS, love. It’s just like Brand said. My connection with Murph, it is quantifiable. It’s the key!

The irony is of course that this film is deeply spiritual, but like just about everything else in cinematic sci-fi, its metaphysics are Hermetic and gnostic. And these are revealed in the film’s symbolism. It’s not an accident that the wormhole through which our heroes travel is located near Saturn, the Lord of Time and Death. It’s not an accident that Cooper’s passage into the tesseract is a hypercube, a four-dimensional analogue of the cube and itself a symbolic reference to Saturn. It’s not an accident that the secret space program is called Lazarus as a gnostic signifier of the conquest of death and an inversion of the traditional reading. It’s not an accident that 12 ships with 12 astronauts were deployed mirroring the 12 Tribes of Israel. Nor is it an accident that the black hole through which McConaughey’s Cooper travels is called Gargantua named after Rabelais’ character of the same name. In Rabelais’ book, Gargantua builds the anti-church, the Abbey of Thélème and its parishioners adhere to one rule: DO WHAT YOU WANT. Needless to say, it’s a dictum which was refined to “DO WHAT THOU WILT” by the individual who actually built the Abbey of Thelema, Aleister Crowley.

Similar to its thematic predecessor and companion film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, the ideas presented in Interstellar are deeply intertwined in what is now simply being called transhumanism. It is the idea that through scientific gnosis, we will transcend our profane existence and achieve the immortality and godhood that is our one true divine purpose. This is what I believe is the central theme in Interstellar, and it is being disingenuously smuggled into the film under the banner of “science”. Where 2001 presented HAL hastening Dave Bowman’s transformation into the Star Child, Interstellar also features an AI called TARS, an anagram of STAR, which facilitates Cooper’s transition through the cosmic abyss. As Cooper’s wisecracking Alexa assistant, TARS is both physically analogous to the monolith of 2001 and another symbolic black cube of Saturn.

All of my other beefs with the film are byproducts of these basic premises.

Besides all the space travel and highbrow relativity stuff, Interstellar is also a work of dystopian science fiction. The film is set in the 2060’s and humanity is beset by famine, technological retreat, technocratic micromanagement and state enforced agrarianism. Just as we’ve seen in numerous dystopian films, Interstellar is conceding climate change as a forgone conclusion and using that premise as the reason that half the population has been decimated. Whether it’s the Terminator series or the Avengers, mass depopulation is a prominent theme in sci-fi films of every stripe. If we take the case that movies are a form of social engineering, it’s not unreasonable to conclude that this is what the global elites intend.

Also worth noting is that the film is set in eastern Colorado. Besides the numerous conspiracies surrounding the Denver Airport, Colorado was where the survivors of the biological agent made their defense in The Stand. Colorado is also featured prominently in the similarly themed dystopian science fiction novel, The Passage. With this additional reference, there can be little doubt that Colorado is very significant to the cryptocracy.

There is no visible animal life and people are forced to farm wheat and corn. This suggests that the vegan agenda has been taken to its fullest conclusion. The government has imposed proficiency test mandates through the public schools which require that the majority of the population enter into agriculture in order to meet the global demand for food. When the very idea of “achievement” or “potential” is the province of bureaucrats, the standards can be manipulated to serve those in power.

History books have been rewritten to exclude space flight because humanity simply cannot afford such extravagance. This is another eyebrow raising moment because the reason spaceflight was purged from the historical record is because it was declared to be hoax. How about them apples? Along with Diamonds Are Forever and Capricorn One, this marks another cinematic reference to the idea of a fake moon landing. This is very clever because Nolan is presenting a dystopian future, so we’re automatically to assume that the world has been overrun by right wing conspiratards who hate science, read the Bible and watch Fox News. But it’s not all bad. When the school administrators deliver the news of Cooper’s children’s test results, we learn that his luddite son is best suited for farming and….wait for it….his DAUGHTER IS A FUCKING SCIENTIFIC GENIUS WHO’S TEST SCORES ARE THROUGH THE ROOF!

Wow. Amazing. Another scientifically adept female heroine who is going to save the world with math and science. How novel. Hollywood just doesn’t write enough strong womyn characters, amirite? It’s not like THIS IS HOW EVERY CONTEMPORARY FEMALE CHARACTER IS WRITTEN NOWADAYS OR ANYTHING. I guess mass depopulation hastened the demolition of the patriarchy. Or something.

Adult Murph is played by Jessica Chastain and she’s passable in the role. With the notable exception of the loathsome Miss Sloane, I’ve found her performances in the various films in which she’s appeared enjoyable, but I’m getting a little tired of seeing her play the Strong, Empowered, Intelligent, Heroic Womyn in every goddamn film.

Played very sympathetically by Matthew McConaughey, Cooper is a former NASA pilot and engineer. Except for his Roy Neary-esque decision to fly into the depths of space, he is a positive father figure who teaches his kids to be independent thinkers, function well in the physical world, appreciate the scientific method and be self-sufficient individuals. He’s the kind of father who insists that they know how to change a car tire, but has a healthy enough irreverence for government property that he would remotely down a drone and dismantle it for parts. Of course, he’s just not meant for the farming life. His destiny is among the stars, man! Mirroring the journey of farm boy to star hero that we witnessed in Luke Skywalker and Clark Kent, Cooper is the gnostic Jesus who sacrifices himself so that his Sophia-like daughter can deliver the final salvation.

Roughly analogous to the encoded ciphers presented in Contact and Close Encounters, Cooper finds structure in the perfectly arranged piles of dust that accumulate in their library after a duststorm. As it turns out, they’re coordinates which lead them to a secret NASA installation filled with scientists and engineers hard at work planning humanity’s extinction interstellar salvation.

The government has imposed dystopian mandates around employment, the food supply and education, yet they are still funneling billions of dollars into NASA programs which are somehow completely secret. This is yet another eyebrow raising moment because it suggests the possibility that there is presently a secret space program. Also, this band of enlightened government scientists aren’t militarized, experience no budget overruns or shortfalls, are rational and pleasant people, and are quietly working on spacecraft which can traverse interstellar distances completely beyond the view of the press and the public. The NASA crew are astonished that Cooper found them and William Devane presses him on how he sussed out their location. Apparently, everyone has been banned from the internet, and since smartphones have been confiscated, no one knows how to read maps anymore.

Michael Caine’s Dr. Brand informs Cooper that there are two plans for saving humanity. Plan A involves cracking the mysteries of gravity which allows the underground centrifuge to get into orbit. Plan B involves sending a crew of astronauts through the wormhole to be an interstellar Noah’s Ark and repopulate the species on a new planet. Because Cooper’s daughter is a scientific genius, she warns Cooper not to go because she can decode the mysterious “ghost” sending Morse Code signals through the bookshelf. Since she’s kicking the asses of her teachers, Brand takes Murphy under his wing so that she may fulfill her intellectual potential and solve the mysteries of gravity.

Depending on how you want to read it, the dystopian future of Interstellar can also be considered super #WOKE. It’s evidence that depopulation finally hastened the intersectional utopia progressives have long sought. The intrepid crew includes token white male Cooper, a smart black dude, another white guy who gets killed really quickly, and Dr. Brand’s smart, capable daughter, Amelia Brand played by an annoying and generally unlikable Anne Hathaway. Cuz the future is female and shit.

The film also broaches the age old question of reconciling individual interest with collective interests. This is one of the great dilemmas ushered in by the Age of Darwinian Scientific Materialism. If all that exists is a material universe full of deracinated, atomized individuals seeking only economic gain, how do you extend a larger concern for group welfare beyond immediate blood relations? I’ll give you a hint. It may involve the threat of impending global catastrophe.

Brand: Maybe we’ve spent too long trying to figure all this out with theory.

Cooper: You’re a scientist, Brand.

Brand: So listen to me, when I say that love is not something we invented. It’s observable, powerful. It has to mean something.

Cooper: Love has meaning, yes. Social utility, social bonding, child rearing…

Brand: We love people who’ve died. Where’s the “social utility” in that?

Cooper: None.

The film ultimately reconciles this and its wilder scientific speculations by positing that love is the unifying force which transcends the barriers of knowledge and science. Sounds a little like faith, people!

Brand: Maybe it means something more, something we can’t… yet, understand. Maybe it’s some evidence, some… artifact of a higher dimension that we can’t consciously perceive. I’m drawn across the universe to someone I haven’t seen in a decade… who I know is probably dead. Love is the one thing we’re capable of perceiving… that transcends dimensions of time and space. Maybe we should trust that, even if we can’t understand it yet. All right, Cooper… yes… the tiniest possibility of seeing Wolf again excites me. That doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

Apparently, Crowley felt the same way.

“Love is the law, love under will.” The Book of the Law, Aleister Crowley

Not to get too pedantic, but the film’s economics are about on par with Star Trek. Wildly speculative to put it mildly. The film presents not just one, but multiple manned flights through a wormhole which is located near Saturn. This is not a cheap endeavor nor is it one with an economic payoff on the other side. Hard to imagine when half your tax base has been wiped out and people are being conscripted into compulsory agriculture.

Don’t get me wrong. None of these gripes destroy the film. Christopher Nolan is among the most gifted directors working today and his films are so convincing because he works so hard at grounding his films in physical reality.

The visual, musical and thematic allusions to 2001: A Space Odyssey are myriad and the comparison is fully warranted. The two films are companions and Interstellar updates the ideas 2001 introduced.

Interstellar is unquestionably a Big Ideas sci-fi film that poses big questions. Some of which it wants you to notice, others less so. It claims to be a movie about Big Scientific Theories, but I suggest that the first question should be “What is the scope of the scientific method?” Sure, it’s has a beautiful rendering of a black hole and the idea of a wormhole is super cool, but have these phenomena ever been observed? Has time dilation ever been observed? Is the scientific method about building mathematical models that fit the theory irrespective of observation? Or is it the other way around? We’ve been getting black holes and wormholes in film for decades now. Part of me thinks Interstellar is just a more grown up version of Disney’s The Black Hole from 1979.

Beyond the “scientific” speculations, Interstellar is also asking big questions about Humanity’s Future. But I don’t think it really wants you to think too hard about what it’s saying. I suspect Nolan simply wants to confirm the fears and concerns that are being amplified in the mediasphere 24/7. According to Interstellar, you should freak the fuck out over climate change and accord unquestioned deference to the space program. Like, DUH. Do you even follow Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter, bro? It’s #SCIENCE, man!

Dr. Brand: Then get out there and save them. We must reach far beyond our own lifespans. We must think not as individuals but as a species. We must confront the reality of interstellar travel.

Contact (1997)

Generally speaking, cinematic science fiction goes one of two ways. Either it goes after big ideas and weighty philosophical questions or it goes after CGI mayhem and hot chicks in body suits. Sometimes it succeeds at both, but more often than not, a science fiction film falls into one of these two camps. Robert Zemeckis’ 1997 adaptation of the famous Carl Sagan novel, Contact, is unequivocally a Big Ideas sci-fi film which manages to pack a lot of meaty content into a popcorn blockbuster presentation. Though it does boast its own spin on the legendary Stargate scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey in the final act, the film is propelled almost exclusively by solid performances and a fairly robust dramatic clash between the forces of scientific materialism and religious belief. No Hollywood sci-fi film comes without an agenda or esoteric symbolism and the various ways it smuggles in its messaging is especially sly. Contact is somewhat more charitable about theism and the entire realm of metaphysics than you’ll find in just about anything secular these days, but ultimately, it is itself a work of scientistic hermetic theology. More specifically, Contact is a very clever piece of propaganda which promotes the theosophical ideas of HP Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, UNESCO, and the Lucis Trust. Virtually every component of the NWO global agenda can be found in this movie.

Since the dawn of the Enlightenment, we’ve been taught that there is an irreconcilable schism between science and faith. In both the cinematic and literary form, the modern science fiction tradition is replete with stories which dramatize this conflict. With very few exceptions, the forces of scientific progress are in perpetual struggle against the forces of religious belief. The scientists are always portrayed as infinitely resourceful master technicians who are likeable, quick witted and can kick your ass if the story demands it. By contrast, the faithful are authoritarian dolts and mean spirited tight asses. Or as The Omega Man and The Chronicles of Riddick demonstrate, they are embodied as fanatical, vampiric cultists whose sole motivations are enslavement, conversion or conquest. In Contact’s case, the religious characters include a suicide bomber, a status seeking bureaucrat, a vacuous Catholic priest, and a cross between Jeff Spicoli and Joel Osteen. In other words, yet another mostly uncharitable Hollywood portrait of religious people. Since many of the prime movers of the sci-fi genre were themselves globalist technocrats, it makes sense that we’d eventually get a film which reconciles these seemingly opposing forces into an alchemical union to grease the wheels for the dystopian hellscape glorious global techno-utopia that awaits us.

On the surface, Contact presents itself as a sophisticated science fiction story which believably posits the possibility of contact with a higher extraterrestrial intelligence. Though Steven Spielberg has given us two different versions of the benign alien visitation in E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Contact is following in the footsteps of the loftier speculations of Arthur C. Clarke. Instead of a kid friendly vision of Crowleyan entities you find in Spielberg, you get to watch the whole world build a dimensional portal which does real science-y shit like “folding spacetime” but is really just the most expensive VR machine ever built.

Every character represents an archetypal ideal, and the heroine of the film, Ellie Arroway, is modeled after Hypatia, the Alexandrian martyr for science. For those who remember Cosmos, Sagan lavished mountains of praise on Hypatia in the series despite having no substantial record of achievement in the history of scientific thought. This choice makes sense when viewed through a gnostic lens because she represents the illuminated Sophia. Eleanor is Greek for “shining light” and Arroway is a play on Voltaire’s last name, Arouet. Her nickname is “Sparks” to signify the fact that she possesses Luciferian flame. Right away, Sagan is signaling a connection to gnosticism, Freemasonry, and by extension, the Hermetic roots of modern science. Played with heartfelt vigor by Jodie Foster, Ellie is a paragon of determination, grit, tenderness and the passionate thirst for discovery. She is the fearless seeker who is willing to persist in her quest for extraterrestrial life despite constant rejection and doubt from all corners. She remains steadfast in her convictions when facing the ridicule of the vapid, self-aggrandizing and conniving David Drumlin. She is also the radical empiricist who demands proof of God’s existence when probing the faith of Matthew McConaughey’s Palmer Joss.

This brings us to one of the film’s clever sleights of hand. Ellie is essentially a female version of David Hume or John Locke. In the wake of her second greatest tragedy, all her Catholic priest could offer was a few perfunctory words about how it was “God’s plan”. Pfft. Piss off, religion! She doesn’t believe in God because she needs empirical proof! Not mealy mouthed platitudes! Checkmate, conservatards! Bet you never heard THAT ONE before! Of course, this is by now an insufferably tiresome cliché. Materialism and empiricism is the bread and butter of the entire New Atheist community. For them, there is no valid knowledge outside the peer reviewed science or what can be observed in the realm of sense perception. But what the film doesn’t want you to notice is that this premise is in and of itself an article of faith! To Zemeckis’ credit, he makes this point explicit when Ellie is called upon to provide evidence that she actually did traverse the galaxy. There is no empirical evidence for the claim that all knowledge claims must be subject to empirical evidence. Furthermore, Ellie embodies a set of virtues. She is a heroic archetype. She’s tough. She’s conscientious. She’s honest. She’s principled. She’s loyal. She spends the bulk of the film asking people to believe in her quest for extraterrestrial life. The natural world has nothing to say about prescriptive ethics, duty, honor, integrity or morality. To ground an entire worldview in nothing more than a posture of skepticism and an unquestioned belief in the scientific method leads to either to nihilism or the substitution of politics for religious faith. Humans build and strengthen the architecture of morality through storytelling. We must ultimately subordinate ourselves to a hierarchy of authority which starts with the family and reaches its pinnacle in the nation state. Because we’re imperfect, we crave stories which simultaneously speak to our flawed nature yet appeal to our highest aspirations. The progressive worldview mostly rejects metaphysics. Subsequently, virtue must be smuggled through occult archetypes and esoteric metaphysics and Sagan has very skillfully achieved that in Ellie.

It is also noteworthy that Ellie is initially presented as a child with a dead mother. She eventually loses her father too, and this marks her as yet another Hollywood portrait of a child without parents whose life choices are informed in part to fulfill a longing borne of a prematurely severed connection and in part to insulate herself from the emotional vacuum at the core of her being. It’s little surprise that when she has her encounter with the “alien” species, it appears to her in the form that she would find most comforting: her father. Her life quest is wrapped in the rhetoric of scientific inquiry, but it reads as a sort of spiritual calling. The liberal democratic imperium needs atomized individuals pursuing life ambitions that advance scientific or material progress in one way or another. Preferably, it’s a pursuit untethered from family ties and religious tradition. This is entirely consistent with the professed agenda behind the mythology of extraterrestrial life as Arthur C. Clarke is on record stating in Brenda Denzler’s book, The Lure of the Edge.

Her counterpart, Palmer Joss, presents a clever subversion of expectations. Just as we saw in the relationship between Mulder and Scully in the X-Files, Contact reverses standard male and female attributes. Despite the numerous studies which demonstrate a higher degree of empathy and social skills in women, Sagan wrote Ellie as the hard bitten scientific realist consumed with a need for evidence. By contrast, Matthew McConaughey’s Palmer Joss is the believer. Granted, he’s an earthy crunchy academic theologian who’s influential enough to be anointed the spiritual advisor to the POTUS. His real world analogues are establishment cucks like Rick Warren and Tony Campolo. He represents a form of toothless Christianity that’s been opportunistically coopted by the establishment to help politicize the churches and lend moral authority to political agendas. Once again to Zemeckis’ credit, Joss lands a solid blow against the edifice of Ellie’s scientific materialism when he asks for proof that she loved her father. It’s the only cinematic moment of which I’m aware when a secular rationalist is left speechless by a theist.

Contact isn’t just an apologia for scientific materialism, but a work of occult theology. When Ellie presents the decryption primer to the Security Council, she insists that the civilization who sent the message had benign intentions because it was presented in the language of science and mathematics. Unlike the dumb religious retards who follow divine revelation, the machine plans were proof of a species who had harnessed the power of science to evolve beyond their primitive tendencies toward self-destruction. Here, Sagan and Zemeckis presume that unchecked technological progress all by itself is a virtue that will elevate and unite humanity. It’s exactly the kind of belief that’s promoted by UNESCO, the UN and their theological subsidiary, the Lucis Trust. They are trafficking occult teleology. As Palmer Joss rightfully pointed out as she made her pitch, what she received was a message emanating from a “booming voice from the sky”. Sagan substitutes three dimensional engineering schematics embedded in a digital black cube of Saturn for the Ten Commandments. She wants people to believe that the construction of the machine will only edify the human race. What atheists like Sagan conveniently ignore is the simple fact that fetishizing the scientific method doesn’t capture the imagination. What does animate human spirit is the possibility that our man made ambitions might unite the world and eventually bring us into contact with a higher intelligence.

Of course, this also means that we must also deify the corporate aristocracy behind the democratic imperium. As industrial mogul, S.R. Hadden, John Hurt is the Randian übermensch who funds Ellie’s ambitions, decrypts the extraterrestrial blueprints, and subcontracts with Japanese company to build a second machine. Without rich industrialists to bankroll these moonshot ideas, we will never achieve our globalist utopia, proles. Though he is portrayed as a sympathetic character, he is another spin on a Nimrod archetype. Zemeckis wants you to see him as a benevolent old coot but as his name suggests, he is a representation of the Assyrian despot, Esarhaddon. He is more accurately seen as a David Rockefeller or George Soros. He is among the wealthy capitalists who fund NGOs, populate academia with cultural Marxists, finance every conceivable fifth column organization and function as a de facto shadow government. Throughout the film, Hadden communicates to Ellie using the most sophisticated technology and possesses more intelligence about her than you would think a private citizen can access. When James Woods’ hardass conservative proposes the possibility that Hadden has perpetrated a hoax on the entire globe, your sympathies are already with Ellie, and by extension, Hadden. Tough shit, you dumb Alex Jones loving conspiratards. George Soros did nothing wrong. So shut it.

What’s most stunning about Contact is the degree to which it blurs the line between fiction and reality. Actual footage of Bill Clinton commenting on the Mars meteorite discovery in which he stresses the importance of ascertaining “facts” has been seamlessly inserted. Actual CNN anchors are “acting” as CNN anchors throughout the film commenting on a fictitious machine which opens wormholes. A news highlight discusses a fake group of religious fanatics committing mass suicide, and it just happens to mirror the actual mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult just a few months before the film’s release. I guess it’s just a lucky coincidence that all these things happened in time for Contact’s release. All of which begs a key question. If “real” news outlets like CNN and real politicians who present themselves as the arbiters of truth are willingly inserting themselves into a fake story about a contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence, why shouldn’t we assume that the “reality” they’re presenting isn’t every bit as synthetic as Contact itself?

While I disagree with his interpretation, Germain Lussier points out the ubiquity of telecommunications devices in the film. The fact that our contact with one another is now being heavily mediated, refracted and distorted through electronic media suggests this was subtle predictive programming. The internet may have brought the whole world together in ways that were unimaginable to previous generations, but the degree to which it has been a salutary force is debatable at best and detrimental at worst. I suggest that this film is tipping us to the possibility that the space program is ultimately about building and enhancing global panopticism.

Speaking of fictitious machines, Contact is basing its technological speculations on special relativity, but if we actually think about how the machine was supposed to work, it doesn’t add up. Resembling the classical model of the atom we learned in grade school, the machine was comprised of several interlocking steel rings. Presumably, with enough acceleration, the rings would convert to mass and tear the fabric of spacetime. Not to get all Neil deGrasse Tyson, but there is no known material that could withstand that kind of energy let alone an energy source to power it. But this came from the mind of Carl Sagan. A scientific mind, right? I don’t mind leaps of imagination, but when you’re presenting a speculative machine that’s linked to a very specific theoretical model that is itself unproven and unobserved, how is this different from theistic belief? Isn’t it interesting that the IMDB trivia page indicates that Carl Sagan wanted to ensure the “science” was correct and the word is bracketed in quotation marks? Isn’t it interesting that this very same visual idea was recycled in Event Horizon and instead of uniting us with benign entities, the machine in that film opened a portal to hell? Why should we presume that a dimensional portal will bring us into contact with benevolent beings as Ellie so fervently insists?

After recovering from her VR journey to the center of the galaxy, Ellie finds herself in the position of having to defend the veracity of her experience before an incredulous government oversight committee lead by a relentless James Woods. Without evidence, Ellie is forced to ask the country to believe that she traversed light years and encountered a simulacrum of her father. You should also believe that an Einstein-Rosen Bridge is legitimate science despite the complete absence of empirical evidence. Is it any wonder that Anita Sarkeesian and Christine Blasey Ford were able to weaponize #BelieveWomen so easily? The cool and dispassionate pursuit of the facts doesn’t hold when religious icons are being violated.

Ellie’s vision amounts to her burning bush moment. In that brief encounter, she was filled with a revelation of the preciousness of life that was so profound, she felt compelled to spread the Gospel of Intergalactic Gnosis with the world. As she descends the Capitol building stairs/Mt. Sinai, she passes through the pillars of Boaz and Jachin, and we behold the throngs of New World Israelites gathered together to pay homage to our gnostic savior. Having crossed the abyss on the Kabbalistic tree of life, she has reconciled the sky and the earth and attained Enlightenment. Joss’ profession of solidarity with Ellie doesn’t just signify a romantic happy ending, it’s the alchemical synthesis of science with divinity just as HP Blavatsky taught in her writings. No longer do we have to cling to the divisive notion that science is at war with faith. Scientism is an article of faith, but now, we can make common cause with religious people as long as they’re promoting a One World State God and don’t get carried away with any of that Jesus shit.

As shows like Netflix’s Maniac demonstrate, Hollywood is pushing the public closer to the idea that pharmacologically enhanced VR is going to provide people with the transcendent experience unavailable in our mundane existence. Even pop culture figures like Tom Delonge are going to great lengths to mainstream the existence of UFOs. Burning Man already has a cosmic temple to prep us for the new Cosmic AI God. Grimes has already written the first transhuman cyberpunk pop anthem. Science fiction films which posit the possibility of alien intelligence are a key component of this agenda. And Ellie Arroway was certainly among the most indelible characters of the modern era to illuminate the path.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season 1 (2018)

Hollywood has been presenting witchcraft in a breezy packaging with an attractive female lead at least since Elizabeth Montgomery famously portrayed Samantha Stephens in Bewitched. It’s a great way to sanitize a concept that has long been stigmatized in folklore and history. You know it’s an idea in which Hollywood is deeply invested because they keep repackaging it and selling it to you over and over as though it’s something totally new. Whether it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Upon a Time or Charmed, Hollywood serves up variations on the theme every few years. While Samantha Stephens’ nose twinkle cast a spell on the American public for a respectable eight seasons, America’s most beloved teenage thaumaturge is arguably Sabrina Spellman. Beginning as a spinoff character from the Archie comics world of Riverdale High, Sabrina is a half-witch with dead parents who simultaneously tries to harness her power for good while keeping her necromantic pedigree on the down low. It’s an idea that would eventually make JK Rowling mountains of cash, but like most pop culture phenomena, the soil had already been tilled by some other archetype. In this case, it is quite likely Ms. Spellman. Never allowing a good property to go to waste, Hollywood’s deep state coterie over at Netflix have brought Sabrina back for a second time in the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

Though I am unfamiliar with the Melissa Joan Hart version of the show which ran from 1996 to 2002, it’s pretty obvious that this is a much darker take on the character and story. Like way, way darker. Honestly, if I had a daughter who was at the age for whom this show is presumably targeted, I’d feel a bit reticent to allow her to watch.

The series portrays the days leading up to Sabrina’s 16th birthday which also happens to be her Dark Baptism. This ceremony would officially initiate her into the Church of the Night and allow her to begin her studies at the Academy of Unseen Arts. The problem is that she’d be required to forsake her life as a normal teenager and follow the path of witchcraft for eternity. This includes ditching beta retard boyfriend, Harvey Kinkle, her annoying black SJW friend, Rosalind Sinclair, and her equally annoying non-binary friend, Susie Putnam. If this already sounds like the makings of another Hollywood SJW shit sandwich, you’d be correct. It’s not pure cringe, but when it goes there, it’s pretty bad.

Did you put something in my soymilk, Brina?

Read The Bluest Eye and get #WOKE, bigots.

Use my correct pronouns or get hexed, bigots.

Oh, it’s just ritualistic cannibalism, Sabrina.

Rounding out the Spellman family are Miranda Otto’s aristocratic Aunt Zelda. She is offset by fat and quirky Aunt Hilda played by Lucy Davis. The Spellman clan also includes the warlock mortician cousin, Ambrose. Because it’s the Current Year, he’s been reinvented as a black pansexual. Other than providing a reason to craft storylines that involve racism, an excuse to throw in some gratuitous Crowleyan butt sex scenes, and make a veiled reference to Pan in every news story, this reinvention makes no sense. Granted, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is himself gay, but it doesn’t make me any less cynical about the character rewrite.

Sabrina is also tracked by the formerly dowdy and bookish, Miss Wardwell. She’s possessed by an entity in the first episode and transforms into a vampy Elvira knockoff who’s initially presented as a Church of the Night excommunicate charged with guiding Sabrina towards the coven life. We’ve also got a trio of bitchy Mean Girl witches who exist to taunt and torment Sabrina at the Academy of Unseen Arts. Tati Gabrielle plays the alpha queen and she’s accompanied by her subservient drones, Agatha and Dorcas.

Naturally, Sabrina rebels against her witch aunts, Hilda and Zelda, because she feels that Father Blackwood was disingenuous when he assured her that she’d be able to exercise her free will after swearing allegiance to the Dark Lord and signing the Book of the Beast. Essentially, the show is presenting a bizarre inversion of the standard coming of age morality tale. Instead of the stifling strictures of conventional Christianity and Western traditionalism, you are presented with a plucky teenager bucking the conventions of Satanic Orthodoxy. Sabrina’s “rebellion” consists of taking up her dead father’s mantle of Satanic Protestantism and finding a Third Way that will eventually culminate in a confrontation with Satan himself. She is allowed to continue her dual citizenship in the world of witchcraft and mortality on the condition that she attend the Academy of Unseen Arts. With her allegiances pulled in opposite directions, which way will our brave heroine turn?

Needless to say, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is very heavy on the occultism. Very heavy. Admittedly, it is nearly impossible to find anything in the fantasy, horror or sci-fi realm which doesn’t feature occult themes and symbolism, but this one piles it on pretty thick. There’s nothing particularly occulted or hidden about it either. It’s as plain as it can be. Cannibalism, necromancy, blood sacrifice, sex magick, demonic possession, ritual abuse, Crowleyanism. The show’s acronym is itself a reference to chaos magick. You name it, this show has it. In terms of imagery, you’ve got the now ubiquitous Baphomet statue, tons of inverted crosses and pentagrams galore. Even the Latin incantations are 100% authentic. And remember, Marina Abramović said that occult magic wasn’t art when it was portrayed on television. So basically, you’re exposing yourself to true blue occultic invocations when watching CAOS. Fun for the whole family!

What’s especially insidious about CAOS is the manner in which it plays the wholesome source material against the dark themes and subject matter. As the titular character, Kiernan Shipka is likeable and attractive. Her affections for her boyfriend Harvey and her annoying SJW friends are convincing and endearing. She displays the requisite level of smarts and independence that make her a sympathetic lead for a youth oriented series. Conversely, the occultism is played with a comparably breezy tone while being pretty depraved.

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blueberry eyes…12 days until #caos

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There is, of course, the predictable bevy of progressive SJW clichés. The main difference between this and your standard issue Hollywood bullshit is that CAOS gives you a clear window into the hidden metaphysics of the SJW worldview. This may seem like a political agenda arbitrarily grafted onto an occult themed teenage drama, but these ideas are, in fact, tightly interwoven. The show is replete with what’s now a standard hostility toward men. The majority of the male characters are either beta retards like Harvey, abusive, insecure bullies or lecherous dolts. The seemingly rote anti-male bigotry makes more sense when it’s linked to colonial era witchhunters who were Harvey’s ancestors. Subsequently, Sabrina’s romance with him is even more heretical because she’s consorting with the progeny of witch killers. Bloodlines matter in the occult worldview, and the weight of genetic determinism weighs just as heavily on Harvey’s fate as it does Sabrina. Even the current push for veganism and animal rights is tied back to a pagan veneration of animals as familiars and spirit guides.

Susie Putnam’s presence in the story feels at first like another checkbox ticked on the #DIVERSITY list, but her androgyny makes more sense when seen through the lens of hermetic metaphysics. Susie is a living Baphomet. As Eliphas Lévi points out in Transcendental Magic, the Baphomet is the alchemical union of the male and female divine principle.

Moreover, the sign of occultism is made with both hands, pointing upward to the white moon of Chesed, and downward to the black moon of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect concord between mercy and justice. One of the arms is feminine and other masculine, as in the Androgyne of Khunrath, whose attributes we have combined with those of our goat, since they are one and the same symbol.

All of this pales in comparison to the epic cringe of the social justice club formed by Sabrina and her friends early in the series, WICCA. Formed as a group whose ostensible goal is fighting the omnipresent scourge of bullying, WICCA stands for Women’s Intersectional Cultural and Creative Association. You don’t have to look very hard to find all the standard SJW pet issues championed by pagan organizations. You’d think the #WOKE intelligentsia would be happy that this show was merging paganism with social justice, but NOPE. It’s just not good enough. Never is, really. Mass media MUST ALWAYS redouble its efforts to push culture towards the singularity of mass wokegnosis.

The conclusion of the series was every bit as nonsensical and incoherent as the staged row between The Satanic Temple and the producers of the show over their usage of the Baphomet statue. In other words, there’s no real conflict at all. The reason you’re sympathetic to Sabrina is because she refuses to sell her soul to Satan by signing the Book of the Beast. Her devotion to her friends and her apparent instincts for a set of supposedly higher virtues created a necessary tension to propel the story. But if you think about it for two seconds, there’s no real growth arc at all. Despite her initial refusal of the Dark Baptism, she attends the Academy of Unseen Arts and deploys the most powerful magical incantations in witchcraft as an expression of her devotion to Harvey. After it all backfires, she ends up capitulating to the Dark Lord, but only so she can summon even more powerful magic to ward off the threat to Harvey and the citizens of Riverdale. So she becomes a sort of Satanic Savior, but she ends up ditching the life she initially wanted to keep. While we surely haven’t seen the last of Sabrina’s mortal friends, the writers have set up a future confrontation between her and Madam Satan and Father Blackwood’s antichrist progeny. As she does her triumphant slo-mo march through the lobby of the Academy of Unseen Arts with her Mean Girl witches at her side, we’re supposed to cheer the fulfillment of her Satanic destiny. After all, she’s decked out in her Rosemary’s Baby miniskirt and she looks soooo cute in her new platinum blonde bob. YYYAAASSSSS. SLAY KWEEN.

Do you even Left Hand Path, bro?

Whatever.

All of which brings us to a couple of key questions. For whom was this show intended and what did its writers intend to convey? It’s seemingly targeted at the 10 to 25 year old set. Sure, you could argue that the 18+ crowd will regard it as just another confection in the endless digital feeding tube of Hollywood degeneracy. But what about the ongoing coverage of witches in the media? If this is just harmless entertainment, why are we seeing witchcraft being covered so sympathetically in the media with increasing frequency? And what about the younger set that will surely gravitate towards it? Satanism and witchcraft is cool as long as you “do the right thing” and avoid the Crowleyan sex orgies and ritual cannibalism? Be super careful when engaging in necromancy? Being a Wiccan is totes #WOKE if you believe in #SocialJustice?

I’d be disingenuous if I claimed that I didn’t find the Satanic posturing and iconography of Slayer, Mötley Crüe and Venom wildly transgressive when I was a youth. I perceived it as an act though. I didn’t think they were really serious about any of it. It was an affectation meant to rankle the Tipper Gores and Pat Robertsons of the world. CAOS feels different. This is a bildungsroman. This is the story of a teenager forming the value system she’ll carry into adulthood. The message seems to be that Satanism and witchcraft is cool because it helps you to #RESIST and smash the patriarchy. Listen, I enjoyed my delusions of teenage rebellion when I listened to Dio, too. I get it. I’d like to think there’s room for that kind of thing in the adolescent pop culture diet. But there’s a reason conservatives and progressives have struggled for cultural supremacy. Politics are downstream from culture, and you need a set of metaphysics to make sense of the progressive civic religion. So you smuggle them into the arts and pass it off as cultural transgression despite the fact that there are no real standards or barriers that remain to be broken. The culture is already sufficiently debased so any bubbles of outrage can be played up as evidence of the stranglehold of the demiurge over the minds of the population. And CAOS is here to tear it all down! The problem with the orthodoxy of progressivism is that the transgression threshold must be routinely demolished in order to even register on anyone’s outrage meter. Subsequently, the inverted cross on Ozzy Osbourne’s Diary of a Madman album cover is just a quaint memory that dads like to bring up when they romanticize their youthful rebellion. Call me old fashioned, but I see a difference between a metal song about Aleister Crowley and a vivid portrait of ritualistic cannibalism that’s linked to Thelemic scripture. Since that’s the new threshold for transgression, can we really be certain that everyone watching will empathize with Sabrina’s revulsion? Especially since outlets like Vice are promoting the idea that cannibalism is edgy and cool. If this represents the the new standard for teenage rebellion, I’m not sure I want to see where this leads.

Help! I can’t keep track of my MK alters!

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

Considering the fact that Marvel is a multibillion dollar engine of deep state psychological warfare, I am astonished by how much enjoyment I’ve received from the various cinematic installments of the Avengers franchise. Despite repeatedly obliterating the bounds of physical reality with generous helpings of a somewhat formulaic brand of snark, the MCU remains a surprisingly vital blockbuster series. When you have an entertainment property with that much cultural cachet, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some deep social engineering behind the cosmic mayhem and Thor: Ragnarok is no exception. Ragnarok is the third installment in the Thor series and the seventeenth MCU film overall. Besides advancing Thor’s arc and teeing up Infinity War, Ragnarok also gives us a very clear window of insight into the agenda of the elites. Specifically with respect to the people of Northern European countries.

Ragnarok opens with Thor in a seemingly dire situation facing off against the fire demon, Surtur. Surtur believes that it is his destiny to fulfill prophecy of Ragnarok and destroy Asgard. He confides that Odin is not really in Asgard and that’s enough for Thor to summon his Mjolnir and start kicking some demonic ass to a choice bit of Led Zeppelin. The decision to use “The Immigrant Song” to accompany Thor’s ass kicking is an inspired and appropriate soundtrack choice, but it also connects to the larger themes of the film as I’ll elaborate below. Thinking he has forestalled Ragnarok by claiming Surtur’s horn/skull helmet, he returns to Asgard to place the object in the vault along with other artifacts of mass destruction. Upon returning to Asgard, he discovers that things have gone awry. Not only has Heimdall been replaced at the Bifrost Bridge, but while disguised as Odin, Loki has rewritten Asgardian propaganda to emphasize his heroism in the battle against the Dark Elves. Thor forces Loki out of his charade and insists to be led back to their father. Being the self-centered twat that he can be, Loki has the geriatric Odin committed to a nursing home in New York City. The Asgardian brothers are dismayed to discover that the facility to which their father’s care was charged had been completely bulldozed. Apparently, if you commit your elderly parent to a NYC nursing home, it’s going to get paved over to make room for parking lots and smart condos. Just remember that, folks.

After discovering that the nursing home has been demolished, Loki is sucked through a dimensional portal, and Thor is led to Dr. Strange’s Sanctum on 177a Bleecker Street. Picking up where Dr. Strange ended, Strange reveals that Odin is chilling out on an empty field in Norway. Hoping to avoid the impending catastrophe of Ragnarok, Strange sends both of them through another portal to join him in the fjords. Odin confesses that not only will Ragnarok proceed as prophesied, but Loki and Thor aren’t his only progeny. They have an elder sister, Hela, who happens to be a goddess of death and he no longer possesses the strength to keep her contained in her extra-dimensional prison. Sorry about that, boys. You’ll have to deal with Asgardian armageddon and your bitchy genocidal sister after all. With great power comes great responsibility. Just then, a gothed up Cate Blanchett shows up in the requisite Marvel bodysuit wearing way too much eye makeup ready to start some shit. Thor hurls his Mjolnir at her and she’s able to crush it likely a plastic toy. Sensing that the things have taken a turn for the worse, Loki and Thor jump through the Bifrost Bridge portal with Hela hot on their heels. She casts them out at different points and arrives at Asgard to begin her reclamation of the throne.

She’s just having a bad hair day.

Thor is deposited on a garbage dump planet called Sakaar inhabited by a multicultural population of slaves who are kept perpetually distracted by a gladiatorial contest. I propose that not only is Sakaar a proxy for the EU, it is a representation of the New World Order envisioned by the elites. Sakaar is a synthetic hellscape of artificial stimuli, and its inhabitants are dispossessed of their culture, history and people. It’s little more than a techno-prison whose sole purpose is to keep the population occupied with the neverending indulgence of pleasure. In other words, it’s an extrapolation of the present. The fact that the Grandmaster of Sakaar is played by Jeff Goldblum, a Jew, is not an inconsequential casting choice. As the Grandmaster, Goldblum’s character is roughly analogous to the oily, soulless showboat played by Stanley Tucci in The Hunger Games, Caesar Flickerman. A name that also has a bit of a Semitic ring to it I might add. The fact that the Grandmasters of the MCU pleasuredome itself were mostly Jews is also noteworthy. In fact, you don’t have to look very hard to find Jews who inhabit every conceivable sphere of influence pushing a multicultural agenda with near unanimity.

Thor is at first attacked by scavengers, but is soon taken into captivity by an alcoholic former Valkyrie of Asgard. She is able to subdue Thor by placing an electronic device on his neck which allows her to administer crippling electrical shocks to his system. I suggest this is yet another piece of predictive programming which reveals the agenda of mass microchipping the technocrats wish to administer to the lowly proles. Excited by his latest acquisition, the Grandmaster forces Thor to compete in the gladiator games against a fellow Avenger, genetically engineered MK Ultra super mutant, the Incredible Hulk. The fact that we’ve seen this same kind of mass media gladiatorial contest in so many films suggests that this is a key component of the NWO agenda. Whether it’s Rollerball, The Running Man, Death Race, Battle Royale or The Hunger Games, an idea that gets repeated that many times is deployed in order to warm people up. The envelope is already being pushed in that direction.

Don’t tase me, bro.

You just said MK Ultra trigger word! Hulk SMASH!

Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Hela has dispatched Volstagg and Fendral. Of course, we’re not allowed any strong, heroic white men anymore, so naturally, they must die at the hands of Hela/Kali the goddess of death. Not only does she wipe out the entire Praetorian guard, she knocks off Hogun, the last remaining man of the Warriors Three. With her main opposition vanquished, she recruits beta cuck, Skurge, to her cause by appointing him executioner. Upon entering the throne room, Hela is disgusted by the quasi-Orthodox iconography in the frescoes which emphasize Odin’s triumphs of multilateral, transdimensional diplomacy within the Nine Realms. Hurling a spear at the ceiling, the facade crumbles to reveal Asgard’s hidden history of unrepentant bloodshed and conquest. With Hela and Fenris at his side, the hidden icons of Asgard reveal an occulted history which casts the ascendancy of Asgard in a much more warfaring light. Extrapolate this into the real world, and that gives us the theological foundations for the entire narrative of the European white man as being irredeemably tainted by the stains of colonialism. Of course Asgard must endure the cataclysm of Ragnarok in order to atone for the sin of existence. And for the unspeakable crime of being home to white Europeans.

Wakanda forever! Wait..no. For Asgard!

As order breaks down, Asgardian loyalists led by Heimdall have sequestered themselves in a Helm’s Deep-like stronghold presumably safe from Hela and her demonic legions. While I don’t have any issue with Idris Elba as an actor, the decision to cast him as Heimdall is one of the dumber moves of this film and the Thor series. Just as the decision to cast him as Roland Deschain in the recent adaptation of The Dark Tower recast the dramatic arc of that story, this decision has similar consequences. Everyone knows that the Thor mythology, both within and without Marvel, is fucking NORDIC. As in the North Germanic peoples. Yet on film, the Asgardian population is also portrayed as being mildly multicultural. Why was Wakanda a racial monoculture whereas Asgard is multicultural? Why did they cast a black man as Guardian of the Bifrost Bridge when he was originally written and drawn as a white Asgardian just like everyone else in the Thor mythology? The answer is obvious to anyone who isn’t a rabid anti-white SJW. The MCU is a vehicle for transmitting the #WOKE racial pieties of the moment, and Asgard cannot possibly be portrayed as a white monoculture because it’s #RACIST or some shit.

The same goes for the casting of a Latinx Valkyrie. Tessa Thompson carries off the role adequately, but why was she cast other than to check off a box on the PC checklist? Why can’t they just be faithful to the way the Valkyries were drawn in the comic canon? How else can this decision be explained other than it’s a subtle form of social engineering? Making this decision even more dubious is the now predictable parade of media lackeys divulging the scuttled plans to make the characters even MOAR LGBTQ/Non-binary/#WOKE. You know exactly what I’m talking about. The stories of the #BRAVE actors and directors fighting back against the bootheel of cisnormative oppression crushing the dreams of LGBTQ #EQUALITY. Yawn.

And why the fuck did Valkyrie need to be bisexual? How would that have advanced the story in a meaningful way? OH, THAT’S RIGHT. IT DOESN’T. But Marvel will continue to plant these stories because they want people to want them. And it gets worse. The Hollywood Politburo will begin to apply a new metric on Hollywood scripts to ensure they meet the new mandates around LGBTQ #EQUALITY. That’s right. It’s not enough to pass a Bechdel Test anymore, bigots. You gotta up your #DIVERSITY game to the next level and pass the Vito Russo test, too. It’s like the Hays Code, but new and improved for the Aeon of #SocialJustice.

This media strategy seems every bit as calculated as the casting decision itself since the exact pattern repeated itself when it was “revealed” that the Dora Milaje in Black Panther were almost lesbian! Way to keep the outrage mob perpetually exasperated by your lack of #WOKENESS, Marvel. I’m sure they’ll finally be placated when you ditch Brie Larson and make Captain Marvel the genderfluid, body positive, trans-racial superhero xe was meant to be.

I know! Let’s make her Latinx!

Ah yes. Much better.

Does the ADL know about that Valknut?

From a symbolism perspective, Ragnarok contains a few noteworthy occult references. As our heroes escape Sakaar, they must steer the spacecraft they stole from the Grandmaster through the Devil’s Anus. It may seem like more juvenile yuks, but I suggest that there’s more to it. The spacecraft is acknowledged to be a party ship on which the Grandmaster hosts orgies. It plausibly sounds like the exploits of a decadent ruler, but given that there are real world stories involving power elites being shuttled to secluded locations to engage in all manners of sexual deviancy, Marvel is probably tipping its hand with this reference. Add in the Crowleyan sex magick connection to the anus, and this strongly suggests something much darker than a cheap laugh.

As expected, an apocalyptic showdown between Hela and the Asgardian loyalists led by Thor ensues. Ironically, the remaining Asgardian civilians are herded onto an ark-like spacecraft by Loki, the Luciferian trickster icon. Thor also suffers the loss of his right eye during combat with Hela. From an occult perspective, the left eye symbolizes the moon, rebirth and magical illumination. From a biblical perspective, the left eye symbolizes a blindness to the good. Not only does this symbolism occur repeatedly in the MCU franchise, it’s nearly omnipresent throughout Hollywood iconography.

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#cateblanchett #blackandwhite

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The All Seeing Eye of Agamotto

Ultimately, Thor realizes it’s not about stopping Ragnarok, but causing it. He realizes that Surtur must be summoned in order to defeat Hela. As he sends Loki to the vault, he proclaims that “Asgard is not a place, it’s a people”. Got that, proles? There’s no such thing as a homeland, really. Forget what Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz. Asgard is wherever you are. Whether your home is decimated by a war, destroyed by a fire demon or your entire population is replaced by immigrants from other countries, it doesn’t matter. Anyone can be Asgardian and Asgard can be anywhere! You should feel no compunction about summoning fire demons who will destroy your land nor should you heed any calls to preserve your “country”. It’s all in your heart. Or something. And we know it’s true because not a single Asgardian shed a tear as they watched Surtur lay waste to their former home. Asgard is toast, but it’s no biggie.

Does all of this mean Thor: Ragnarok is a shitty movie? Of course not. On the contrary, it’s solidly entertaining. They wouldn’t have gotten this far if they weren’t very good at what they did. It’s serving its larger goal. Can they keep this up? Can they continue to make entertaining films while intentionally inserting so much misanthropic programming and heavily politicized content? I guess we’ll have to wait for Captain Marvel and Avengers 4 to know for sure. But even if they tank financially, I don’t expect them to ease up on the agenda.

Marina Abramović: The Cleaner – Palazzo Strozzi, Firenze

Self-portrait

If you know who Marina Abramović is, you probably already have an opinion about her. Chances are you aren’t neutral or lukewarm about her either. This is understandable because Abramović has actively courted controversy throughout her career, and the controversy certainly isn’t limited to her artistic output. Though I’m someone who’s spent his artistic career on the modern and avant garde end of the spectrum, my own familiarity with Ms. Abramović prior to this exhibit was limited to the controversy surrounding her secretive exploits with ruling elites rather than her public artistic output. While I realize that making a distinction between her public art and the darker clandestine activities may be a dubious proposition, I initially hoped I could set aside all allegations pertaining to the dark underbelly of her work for the purpose of this review. After seeing this exhibition, I’m not sure that distinction can be made between these two spheres of activity.

The Cleaner is a career retrospective running at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, Italy. Her appearance at the Palazzo Strozzi is partially due to the fact that the early years of her career were spent in Italy. I must confess that after taking in so much classical beauty in Florence, the content and fanfare surrounding this exhibit was jarring when stacked up against the city’s numerous treasures.

The exhibit features her earliest visual works and performance pieces up to her present works which invite participation from the audience. At the most superficial level, Abramović belongs to a well established “tradition” of provocative performance artists that runs the gamut from Annie Sprinkle to Chris Burden up to rock agitators like GG Allin and Marilyn Manson. The notoriety she’s received as a performance artist provocateur is noteworthy because her visual works reveal no deep artistic skill whatsoever. This is, of course, a critique that has been leveled at avant garde artists since the beginning of the modern era. Since she doesn’t aspire to classical standards, it’s unrealistic to expect them. Like all of her predecessors, Abramović is not aiming for any kind of classical conception of beauty or objectivity. In the text that accompanies her piece Art Must Be Beautiful/Artist Must Be Beautiful she openly confesses her intention to “destroy the image of beauty”.

Fuck beauty, man!

Abramović aims to provoke, upset, shock and challenge the audience. This urge to negate, agitate, disrupt, invert and dismantle is the quintessentially Luciferian/Gnostic impulse that animates the modern age. This is precisely why I believe Abramović performances are correctly viewed as rather explicit occultic invocations and ritualistic workings despite her contention that it is art.

The most obvious examples are three of her most notorious performance pieces, Rhythm 10, Rhythm 5 and Rhythm 0. Whether the text was written beforehand or afterwards is not clear, but they sound very much like the rituals one would find in Thelemic scripture or the Babalon workings of Jack Parsons. I suggest that even the numbers and performance durations contain occulted meaning. All involve self-inflicted injury or the possibility of extreme harm. Whether ingesting prescription drugs to induce seizures or subjecting herself to various forms of self-mutilation, Abramović repeatedly tests the limits of her own physical stamina and the boundaries of the audience’s patience. Because she is able to affect (channel?) an air of detachment, she invites a ghoulish and sadistic fascination. In the case of Rhythm 0, she seems to be actively encouraging the audience to drop their inhibitions and violate her. Apparently, that’s exactly what happened when it was performed in Naples in 1974. It’s difficult to imagine Rhythm 5, a piece in which she lies in the center of a burning 5-point star, as anything other than a magickal invocation of some kind. It was supposedly a “challenge” to her parents and her communistic upbringing, but if that’s what she really wanted, she’d have converted back to Orthodoxy like her grandfather. That would have been genuinely transgressive. The notion that this piece is a challenge to any state or religious institution is laughable.

On a side note, I couldn’t help but think that the knife trick scene performed by the replicant Bishop on Bill Paxton’s character in the 1986 film, Aliens, bore a similarity to both Rhythm 10 and the Ulay/Abramović collaboration AAA AAA. This may seem like a leap on the surface, but given the Crowleyan overtones of the Alien series, I suggest it’s not as far off as it may seem. In Rhythm 10, Abramović lays out 20 knives and proceeds to stab the knife between her fingers as fast as she is able. Through the course of the performance, she records the rhythms of the knife impact while ignoring the bloody cuts to her fingers. A similar ritual involving the blood of goslings and cats is outlined in The Key of Solomon, an ancient grimoire designed for the conjuration of 72 demons. Abramović performed this piece at age 27 which is an inverse reference to the number of entities summoned.

The Lips of Thomas

The piece that perhaps best embodies this combination of lurid allure, occultic invocation and pretentious twaddle is the Lips of Thomas. Inspired by the androgyny of Swiss artist, Thomas Lips, this is a piece which begins with Abramović consuming a kilo of honey and then a liter of wine. She proceeds to carve a 5-pointed star on her abdomen just above her pubic area. Naturally, she carves the shape in such a manner that her navel appears as the All Seeing Eye atop the bloody flesh pyramid. She lies down on a crucifix of ice blocks with a heating lamp placed above her body sigil. After some time, she then proceeds to flog her numbed backside with whips until the audience cannot stand it any longer. The piece is meant to last seven hours, but I simply can’t imagine that people would actually submit themselves to that kind of experience. This reinforces the proposition that Abramović is making the audience unwitting participants in a ritual. She is actively seeking the obliteration of the self and to bind herself with the audience in an alchemical union.

It was like an electric current flowing through my body, as if the audience and I had become one. A single organism. The sense of danger in the room had united the audience and me at that moment: we were here and now and nowhere else. – Marina Abramović : Autobiography (2016)

The merging of opposites into a transcendent unity is not just a recurring theme in her work, but it’s the animating principle behind most of the Western esoteric tradition. This was a very explicit theme in her numerous collaborations with artist and former lover, Ulay. In addition to the video screens projecting vintage performances of the various pieces from their peak period, there were two naked performers recreating Imponderabilia. In this piece, the two performers form doorposts between which the audience members are asked to pass while choosing one subject on which to gaze. The relentless ululations of Abramović and Ulay leant an air of ritualistic ardor that was somewhat disquieting. Is this a reinvention of the Masonic symbolism of the pillars of Boaz and Jachin with Abramović and Ulay standing in as living manifestations of the male and female divine principle? I suggest it is. The ideas of duality and symbiosis fusing into an alchemical whole is the recurring theme throughout her work. Many of the textual explanations of the pieces make aggrandizing references to the authorities shutting down the performances. Ironically, I was instructed not to video anything while I was exploring the exhibit. Obviously, she’s proprietary about her work, but I find it funny that she affects a pretense of flaunting authority but expects her audience to respect the authority of the museum staff and follow the rules. You’re such a rebel, Marina.

Transcendence and portals into the world of the spirit seem to be the themes unifying most of the installations and performance pieces from the recent decades. The usage of crystals and stones has a longstanding association with followers of New Agey hokum, Wiccans and practitioners of witchcraft, but Abramović takes the idea to a whole new level. The Cleaner featured several installations involving crystals that people were invited to use. If crystals are meant to either channel energies from higher realms or invite entities from other dimensions, Abramović left no doubt that this was the purpose of these installations. Video footage from her 1997 spirit cooking “performance” indicate that these stones were a critical component of this “exhibit”.

While I’m glad I had the opportunity to see this exhibit and judge her work for myself, I also left having the distinct impression that Abramović had achieved her purpose. In other words, her ideas already permeate the culture. Maybe I’ve become so inured to the omnipresence of these ideas that none of it felt transgressive or shocking. In fact, much of it felt juvenile, pointless and stupid. Whether it’s the Crowleyan grotesqueries of Fecal Matter, the sadomasochism of the Genitorturers, or the overt references to Satanism and witchcraft that fill the mediasphere, Abramović’s work feels hackneyed and redundant even if she played a seminal role in mainstreaming the ideas. Given the fawning adoration she receives from the celebrity class, the fact that her work is regarded as a method for spiritual development, and her close proximity to the highest echelons of the power elite, there is little doubt that Abramović was given a sanction to blur the line between ritual and performance art. But the truth is that Abramović’s work should be shocking because she’s dead serious about this shit. This isn’t some pimply faced adolescent goth buying a votive candle from the occult bookstore to light while reading HP Blavatsky. This is someone who gets celebrities to eat cakes shaped like humans. And given that this is someone who paints the walls with pig blood for the public, who the fuck knows what’s in that cake? You wouldn’t have charismatic Youtubers like Jaclyn Glenn happily chirping about the benign virtues of crystals and witchcraft without Marina Abramović blazing the trail first. Occult ideas are so commonplace, very few think twice about them. It’s increasingly bound together with the gauzy platitudes of contemporary SJW piety. And for that reason alone, Abramović and her work should be regarded with skepticism and contempt.

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The joke’s on you, proles.

The Post (2017)

Most of Steven Spielberg’s directorial output falls into two broad categories. Big budget popcorn blockbusters like Back to the Future and Ready Player One in one group, and quasi-historical agitprop like Schindler’s List and Amistad in the other. While they both serve the same political goals, the films in the latter category are easier to dissect because they aren’t veiled in fantasy or sci-fi symbolism. Released a mere year into the Trump presidency, anyone who isn’t already on board with Spielberg’s politics can smell the agenda behind the film a mile away. Simultaneously a softball primer on the Post’s role in exposing the Pentagon Papers and a love letter to the movie’s namesake, The Post amply demonstrates Spielberg’s mastery of the medium. Though one gets the impression that Spielberg more or less phoned this film in, it is a surprisingly satisfying drama on its own terms. It is also a cunningly deceptive work of progressive propaganda. If we take the case that even when making historical dramas Spielberg is revealing occulted truths underneath the exoteric editorial, The Post reveals a lot about the true nature of the DC power structure.

The film traces the events that occurred between Daniel Ellsberg’s theft of the Pentagon Papers from the Rand Corporation archives up to the Post’s coverage of the report and subsequent Supreme Court exoneration. The drama of the film centers around the tensions that arise when a sedate establishment paper like the Post exercises editorial courage and actually lives up to its assumed mandate to hold the powerful accountable for their actions. As WaPo heiress, Kay Graham, Meryl Streep is the tentative-but-determined publisher and widower trying to negotiate a path forward for the paper. While trying to reconcile the competing aims and advice of Post chairman, Fritz Beebe (Tracy Letts), editor-in-chief, Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks), and board member, Arthur Parsons (Bradley Whitford), Streep is plying yet another tiresome spin on the Beleaguered Womyn Standing Up to The Patriarchy.

As the film opens, we are plunged into the war torn hellscape of South Vietnam in 1965 as it’s seen through the eyes of high level Pentagon bureaucrat and assistant to Secretary of Defense, Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg knows the war effort is a failure and all their attempts at technocratic administration have had no effect. Disaffected with the lies being spewed by Robert McNamara, Ellsberg returns to the employment of the Rand Corporation and uncovers reams of research performed by his employers that reveal just how much had been hidden from the public over several administrations.

In 1971, New York Times reporter Neil Sheehan ran the first article exposing the leaked papers and was subsequently throttled by the Nixon administration in court. Cowed by the iron fisted tactics of the White House, the leadership of the Post were at first reticent to pursue what was obviously an explosive story. Driven by a sense of journalistic duty, Post reporter, Ben Bagdikian (Bob Odenkirk), goes on a tireless search for Ellsberg in a world without internet connectivity or cell phones. After communicating through presumably untapped phone booths, the two meet in a secluded hotel room and Ellsberg hands him the 7000 page trove. As he flies back to DC, the stewardess innocently asks about the giant box occupying the adjoining seat. “Just government secrets”, he quips.

As a viewer, you already know how things will resolve, but Spielberg masterfully crafts the dramatic beats. It remains engrossing throughout. However, just like Bagdikian’s quip, Spielberg is also putting a lot in plain sight that goes beyond what he wants you to see. For one thing, he is very clever about how he frames the moral conflict. When Bradlee presses Graham about the importance of maintaining the integrity of their role as members of the fourth estate regardless of whose feathers might get ruffled, Graham initially balks because of her close social ties with McNamara. To his credit, Spielberg is revealing the longstanding symbiosis between the progressive political establishment and their media lapdogs. At a crucial juncture in the film, Bradlee openly acknowledges the Grahams’ proximity to the highest echelons of the Democratic power elite.

Ben Bradlee: [to Kay] You know, the only couple I knew that both Kennedy and LBJ wanted to socialize with was you and your husband.

It’s a refreshing moment of honesty, but this is also a cinematic parlor trick. Just as Lincoln portrayed the Democrats as the villains, Spielberg again wants you to see this film as a fundamentally apolitical work upholding timeless truths and sacred American ideals irrespective of his obvious partisanship. After all, this is simply a quasi-historical account of an event which was damaging to Democratic presidents. Spielberg wants to show you how pained and tortured Bradlee and Graham were in weighing the decision to release the information that would be damaging to people in their social circles who also happened to be on the same political team as they were. He really wants you to believe that the WaPo of 2018 and all other establishment media outlets are just these selfless, intrepid truth seekers who would fearlessly pursue the truth even if it was damaging to a Democratic regime. Spielberg really wants you to think that all of these pampered elites are going to put everything on the line and hold the political class to account even if it disrupts their cushy lives, their exclusive access and their career fortunes. Ergo, you should trust the media to be just as fearless about holding both parties accountable regardless of which party occupies the White House or controls Congress. Right.

The central deception of the film is that it tries to paint WaPo and establishment media as independent actors. Who really thinks that the Washington Post under Jeff Bezos is really a completely neutral paper without an unspoken ideological bias? Who really thinks that the millions donated to Democrats and the prospect of a fat Pentagon contract aren’t tilting the coverage in one direction? Who really takes Jennifer Rubin and George Will seriously as honest conservatives?

And what about the Rand Corporation? Ellsberg gets painted as a hero for stealing the report and leaking it to the media, but is anyone asking what they’re up to in the first place? If you read the official line, it’s just a cutting edge think tank which just happens to attract the brightest minds from the military, intelligence and academic communities who are applying themselves to the world’s thorniest issues. If you scratch just below the surface, you find a collection of shadow technocrats and neocons who are agitating for expanding surveillance, global military intervention, weather manipulation and various forms of social engineering. When anyone discusses the “deep state” or the “shadow government”, it includes quasi-private, para-intelligence organizations like Rand. Who’s to say that the release of the Pentagon Papers wasn’t quietly authorized by Rand as a large scale psychological operation in the first place?

What’s really galling about The Post is just how predictably tone deaf Spielberg is to the cultural moment. Like his imperious cohorts and their servile, feckless sycophants, Spielberg is painfully oblivious to the media landscape of 2018. Since Trump announced his candidacy for POTUS, there has been an incessant and increasingly unhinged howl of fauxtrage from the ruling elites that someone who hasn’t been properly anointed has claimed the reins of power. He hasn’t hidden the fact that this film was meant as another broadside against Trump, but who’s going to come away from this film with a changed mind? Progressives will congratulate themselves for watching another movie which confirms their biases and conservatives will either ignore it or vent over Hollywood’s liberal agenda.

What’s perhaps most odious about The Post is that Spielberg has the audacity to continue to present progressives as the champions of press freedom and civil liberties. The media and political landscape of The Post is ancient history. Like everyone in Hollywood establishment, Steven Spielberg seems to hold the belief that there are people outside his echo chamber who need a history lesson on the importance of a free press and the dangers of executive overreach. The stupid rubes just don’t get it. Pay attention, you MAGA hat wearing degenerates. Steven Spielberg wants all you stupid peasants to just ignore the absolute monopoly progressives hold in media, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and academia and get really worried about the despotic overreach of Donald Trump. Just ignore the aggressive and punitive clampdowns of the Obama administration. Pay no attention to the fact that during the era in which this was set, the entire liberal counterculture predicated their movement on free speech First Amendment rights, but now cheerleads the multibillion dollar tech giants who openly censor and deplatform any opinion to the right of Bernie Sanders. Just disregard the fact that WaPo Executive Editor, Marty Baron, openly admitted that Trump was more accessible than Obama at the recent Poynter Ethics Summit. Just close your mind off to these inconvenient facts and focus all your attention on that ominous final scene and pretend that Trump is just a carbon copy of Nixon. Just luxuriate in this romanticized portrait of a bygone era where liberal virtue was a metaphysical certitude. Kind of like the way Wade Watts donned his VR goggles as he entered the Oasis in Ready Player One.

The Post takes its place alongside All The President’s Men and Spotlight as a subgenre of films in which Hollywood consecrates its fellow media brethren as eternal champions of truth and guardians of the American republic. It’s not that these media victories were inconsequential or untrue, it’s just that the one-sided agenda they serve is so blatantly obvious at this point. Will Spielberg ever make a film chronicling the years the media spiked or ignored Hollywood’s abuses? Will the cinematic adaptation of the Harvey Weinstein media story ever get made? Will Spielberg ever make a film which paints the sexual revolution in a bad light? Where’s the media’s aggressive investigation of the allegations contained in An Open Secret? Oh, that’s right. None of these exist because this would be damaging to the progressive establishment.

On the positive side, The Post’s historical details are outstanding and a shocking reminder even to me of how distant the technological world of 1971 seems. Telephones were devices plugged into walls and had rotary dials which required a small amount of physical exertion to operate. Newspaper print had to be laid out in typesetting machines and then put into production with giant presses. After the paper is printed, the bundles are loaded on to trucks through human chains of men. Sure, it still goes on to this day, but for how much longer? Shortly after Graham authorizes the printing of the story, the film cuts to Bagdikian cracking a wry smile as the rumble of his desk signifies the impending arrival of a historic journalistic scoop. And when the paper arrives, the whole world stops to read it. Maybe there’s something to learn from the analog world after all.

The Post is an enjoyable enough 2 hours of viewing, but I doubt anyone will look back on it as one of Spielberg’s best films. The fact that this film was fast tracked into production so quickly after Trump entered the White House says quite a bit about how deeply he’s agitated the ruling elites. In the film, Parsons excoriates Graham for putting the future of the paper at risk by publishing stolen top secret government documents. His concern that everything was on the line rang true. I suggest that Parsons’ anxiety offers a window of insight into the panic that has gripped the progressive establishment. Not because he’s the tyrant they continuously portray him as, but because he’s not in their Club. Sure, he’s a billionaire and everyone loved him before he went into politics, but since he entered the arena, he joined the Wrong Team. Making things worse is that he’s openly adversarial and calling out WaPo and all the other media lackeys for being the water carrying propagandists they are. Anyone who isn’t inside the progressive bubble knows this. And we certainly don’t need a patronizing cinematic lecture from Steven Spielberg in order to understand the virtues of a free press.

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