Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
4,473 words The day Jeffrey Epstein turned up dead in a New York jail cell, I decided I needed to write something about Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Stanley Kubrick’s last and weakest movie. Epstein has quickly faded from the headlines, so let me remind you briefly of who he was. Epstein was an American Jew […]
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The Unz Review Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The day Jeffrey Epstein turned up dead in a New York jail cell, I decided I needed to write something about Eyes Wide Shut (1999), Stanley Kubrick’s last and weakest movie. Epstein has quickly faded from the headlines, so
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Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
2,147 words One of the delights of revisiting old movies after many years is finding out that you completely misread or misremembered certain scenes. Early on in the first part of Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia, we have the entry parades of the national teams. When the French team come by, they drag their flag in the […]
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Jay Dyer
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By: Jay Dyer (from years ago) Cloud Atlas (2012) was an interesting film on several levels. Fans of both the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer will quickly recognize the fingerprints of all three, especially philosophical elements of the Matrix trilogy.  From the perspective of moral assessment, there is much in the film that I object to, but artistically speaking, I […]

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Jay Dyer

 The famous hit television show Ghost Hunters‘ Jason Hawes & JV Johnson talk to Maria Schmidt of National Ghost Hunting Day & then Jay Dyer about his book series – Esoteric Hollywood. 7/30/2019 – Beyond Reality Radio.  We cover propaganda in film, symbolism, subversion in film, Kubrick’s central messages that more or less predicted […]

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Counter Currents Staff
2,128 words I like to fall asleep in front of the TV, and I’ve established a ritual for it. After a hard day of writing inspirational articles for Counter-Currents (under various pennames), I mix myself a drink that consists of vodka, soda water, lots of lime juice, and lots of ice. I thought I had […]
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Lilou & John
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Lilou & John list five movies everyone must see | Lilou comes up with some good suggestions | John is a relic from the past
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Jay Dyer
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By: Jay Dyer The Fountain is one of Hollywood’s more difficult esoteric films: The failure of the film to achieve at the box office can be chalked up to this heavily mystifying plot and symbolism. To decode the film requires some familiarity wth cabalism, alchemy, Mayan mythology, Genesis and creation and Zen philosophy. Combining all […]

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Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
2,500 words Part 1 of 2 Some friends recently asked me to draw up a list of a few films that have made a lasting impression on me, aesthetically, emotionally, intellectually, or however, over the course of my life thus far. When I realized how many films I would have to include in order for […]
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Millennial Woes
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Counter Currents Staff
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3,753 words [1]

Part 1 of 2. Part 2 here [2].

The Unique and Its Property by Max Stirner
Translated with a new introduction by Wolfi Landstreicher
Underworld Amusements, 2017

John Daggett: I paid you a small fortune.
Bane: And this gives you power over me?
The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan, 2012)

Another week, another witch-hunt. This time, the protectors of ideological purity are defending the escutcheon of Max Stirner from supposed besmirchment. If that doesn’t even more sound absurd and hypocritical than usual[1] [3], read on!

These periodical transformations of soi-disant rationalists and “enlightened” folk into reincarnations of the Witchfinders General[2] [4] (or more likely, Witchsmellers Pursuivant[3] [5]) have always reminded me of Thomas Mann’s Dr. Faustus, whose major theme is the many ways in which pure rationality leads to barbarism and even diabolism.

In an early chapter — set, appropriately, in a theological college — the protagonist and narrator are invited to dinner at the home of a favorite professor, one Dr. Kumpf. Kumpf is sort of a Teutonic Ned Flanders, who flaunts his proto-Barth fideism[4] [6] in the form of a compulsive and relentlessly cheerful Lutheran Gemutlichkeit worthy of those who know they are saved — or hope they are. Beer, good German home cooking, be-dirndled daughters, folk songs… it’s quite grueling. Could it get more embarrassing? “It had to happen, and it did…”

“Behold!” he cried. “There in the corner, the Mocker, the Killjoy, the sad, sour, spook, and will not suffer our hearts to rejoice in God with meat and song! But he shall not have the better of us, the Archvillain, with his sly, fiery darts! Apage!” he thundered, grabbed a hard roll, and hurled it into the corner.[5] [7]

Herr Prof. Dr. Kumpf’s hard roll came to mind again as a Facebook post alerted me to Keith Preston’s blog post about the latest kerfuffle about Max Stirner’s “ties to the Nazis.” (Lastest? We’ll get to that in a sec’).

Preston summarizes it in his book review thus:

Underworld Amusements [8] is owned by Kevin Slaughter,[6] [9] a man who has been attacked as an OFFICIAL BAD PERSON by leftist critics of [translator Wolfi] Landstreicher’s work. … Landstreicher has been accused of some great moral failure for allowing an alleged OFFICIAL BAD PERSON to publish this translation. A screed titled “Wolfi and White Supremacy: What Happened and What It Means” was originally posted on the TheConjureHouse.Com website. The post was a stereotypical “fascist creep” screed, authored by a “Dr. Bones” individual whose online avatar features an emaciated-looking young man with a hammer and sickle scarf masking his face. [7] [10]

As it happens, I would not have known about the book itself (or that Kevin Slaughter even had a publishing house) at all had the outrage not led to Preston’s post, so as per usual, good job, SJWs!

About the book, the publisher writes:

Max Stirner’s opus was first published in Germany in 1844. In 1907 Benjamin R. Tucker published the first English-language translation of Der Einzige und sein Eigentum, carried out by Steven T. Byington and titled The Ego and His Own. Every edition of Stirner’s book since that time has been a reproduction or revision of the Byington translation—until now.

You’d think these Antifa creeps would be grateful.

And about Stirner, Preston writes elsewhere:

The individual in question was a dissolute figure who wrote under the curious pseudonym of Max Stirner.

Stirner was born as Johan Caspar Schmidt on October 25, 1806, into a lower middle class German household of a Lutheran religious affiliation. Stirner’s father died when he was only six months old, and Stirner was consequently raised by his mother, and later by his aunt after his mother remarried. His mother appears to have been plagued by mental illness, and it is interesting to considering what psychological effects having been raised without a father and by an unstable mother might have had on Stirner.

Stirner never expressed anything other than contempt for bourgeois norms in either his philosophy or, ultimately, in his private life. His two marriages seem to have likely been for the sake of convenience, most probably financially motivated, and Max Stirner was largely responsible for squandering the inheritance of Marie, his second wife.[8] [11] Much of his later life was spent dodging debt collectors, and Stirner spent two stints in debtors’ prison before he eventually died in 1856 at the age of forty-nine. His cause of death has been traditionally attributed to an illness that was developed after a poisonous insect bite.[9] [12]

In short, a typical Millennial; perhaps a typical alt-Righter.

But the point is, Stirner can’t really be reduced to any definite figure; he devoted his work to freeing his readers from what he saw as dogmas, fixed ideas (as in OCD) or most typically what he called “spooks;” in short, bats in the belfry.[10] [13] It’s crucial to understand that these included both God and Man (the God-substitute of the “pious atheist”), religion and secularism, etc.[11] [14]

Yet such is Man, that from the start people have read their own—fixed — ideas into Stirner, and jealously claimed him as their champion. As Preston says:

When the Byington translation was issued over a century ago, Tucker said of the work, “Some call it The Anarchists’ Bible, others call it The Billionaires’ Bible.” But that’s clearly the point. The egoist philosophy advanced by Stirner contains no ideological, let alone moral, prescription. Stirner’s ideas are just as applicable to the predatory billionaire capitalist (see the current US President [15]) as they are to revolutionary anarchist assassins. A consistent application of Stirner’s philosophy would simply involve going about the business of pursuing one’s interests while giving no thought to either prescribed notions of virtue or to societal interests. [12] [16]

Of course, “pursuing one’s interests while giving no thought to either prescribed notions of virtue or to societal interests” is exactly not the SJW M.O., even when claiming to rally ‘round the drapeau noir.

Stirner was driving people nuts right from the start.

Marx famously claimed to have found Hegel standing on his head, and to have set him right-side up; in other words, he re-inverted Hegel’s already inverted idealist dialectic and made material reality the basis of ideas.

Stirner, by contrast, picked Hegel up and held him over his head, spun him around, and then pile-drived him into the mat; a philosophical Hulk Hogan.

Stirner’s magnum opus is a kind of parody of Hegelianism, if not exactly Hegel[13] [17]. But in fact he spends most of his time using his dialectic to torment Hegel’s epigones, first Feuerbach and then, at much greater length, the Whole Sick Crew of (mid-nineteenth century Euro-)socialism.

Marx was as well and truly gaslit[14] [18], a kind of nineteenth century Hillary besieged by this, this — cartoon frog of a philosopher[15] [19], and responded with an epic flame war, devoting most of his massive work, The German Ideology, to a figure he mocked as”St. Max.” [16] [20] Finding that there were no blogs to post it, Marx put it away in a drawer, not discovered again until 1932, when Stalin exhumed it and made it mandatory reading.

Striner, like Nagarjuna or Chuang Tzu, uses the Hegelian dialectic as tool to expose the absurdity of all social, political, philosophical ideas, in order to free the minds of his readers.

Have you philosophers really no clue that you have been beaten with your own weapons? Only one clue. What can your common-sense reply when I dissolve dialectically what you have merely posited dialectically? You have showed me with what kind of ‘volubility’ one can turn everything to nothing and nothing to everything, black into white and white into black. What do you have against me, when I return to you your pure art?[17] [21]

One ancillary result is the discovery that zealots have more in common than they might like to think:

The zealots for some sacred thing often don’t look very much like each other. How the strict Orthodox or Old Believers differ from the … Rationalists, etc. And yet how utterly unessential this difference is! If one calls single traditional truths (for example, miracles, the absolute princely power, etc.) into question, the Rationalists also call them into question, and only the Old Believers wail. But if one calls truth itself into question, he immediately has both, as believers, for opponents. (Ego, p64-65)

Perhaps because most of us non-Stirners tend to think in such binary terms, everyone seems to miss the message and instead reads Stirner as advocating some position or other.

Wikipedia provides a handy list of “thinkers have read and been affected by The Ego and Its Own in their youth,” such as:

Rudolf Steiner, Gustav Landauer, Victor Serge, Carl Schmitt and Jürgen Habermas. Few openly admit any influence on their own thinking. Ernst Jünger’s book Eumeswil, had the character of the “Anarch”, based on Stirner’s “Einzige.” Several other authors, philosophers and artists have cited, quoted or otherwise referred to Max Stirner. They include Albert Camus in The Rebel (the section on Stirner is omitted from the majority of English editions including Penguin’s), Benjamin Tucker, James Huneker, Dora Marsden, Renzo Novatore, Emma Goldman, Georg Brandes, John Cowper Powys, Martin Buber, Sidney Hook, Robert Anton Wilson, Horst Matthai, Frank Brand, Marcel Duchamp, several writers of the Situationist International including Raoul Vaneigem, and Max Ernst. Years before rising to power, Benito Mussolini was inspired by Stirner, and made several references to him in his newspaper articles. The similarities in style between The Ego and Its Own and Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man Under Socialism have caused some historians to speculate that Wilde (who could read German) was familiar with the book.

Not mentioned, as per usual, is Julius Evola, although he for one was willing to “openly admit … influence on [his] own thinking” in his youth, along with — Oscar Wilde.[18] [22]

Surely any book “influencing” this motley crew is more like a Rorschach test than a treatise;[19] [23] this is what happens when, as Zen says, you mistake the pointing finger for the moon.

Needless to say, the modern Hitler cult has had its innings as well. And therein lies a tale.

I first encountered Max Stirner in John Carroll’s Break-Out from the Crystal Palace: The Anarcho-Psychological Critique; Stirner, Nietzsche, Dostoevsky.[20] [24] I can’t recall any particular reason for picking up the book, much less reading it – it’s slim enough though the prose is of academic opacity – other than an interest in Nietzsche that dated back to Kubrick’s 2001.[21] [25]

So I was prepared to take notice when, at a table of new releases displayed by Harper & Row at an academic philosophy convention, I spotted Carroll’s edition of The Ego. [22] [26]

Of course, it would have been hard not to notice it; it was clad, like an SS Sturmbannführer,[23] [27] in the severe black and white covers[24] [28] of typically Hitler-obsessed Judaic academic George Steiner’s “Roots of the Right: Readings in Fascist, Racist and Elitism Ideology.” These “black books,” as Steiner calls them,[25] [29] are intended to supply the eager student with “source-readings” to explain, if possible, the seventy million “dead through war, revolution and famine in Europe and Russia between 1914 and 1945,” and the “return to barbarism, torture and mass extermination in the heartlands of civilized life.”[26] [30]

Of course, there are a couple of obvious problems here. First, a considerable amount of said “war, revolution and famine … barbarism, torture and mass extermination” was at the hands of the Communists, who don’t seem to figure in this series. Secondly, and more importantly here, what the Hell does Stirner have to do with this?

Well, not much at all. Carroll brings the same academic trash compactor to work on Stirner as he would later on Stirner, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky to force them all into the “anarcho-psychological” mold; here, Stirner is simply a Fascist malgre lui and avant le lettre.

It’s a stupid argument, and a reviewer at Amazon [31], one “Einzige,” deals with it adequately for our purposes:

Pointing out that Stirner’s preferred method of social change is insurrection and self-liberation—as opposed to the political action and violence preferred by the left—Carroll, in his introduction, asserts, “Stirner has by default Rightist tendencies.” Furthermore, that Marxists, therefore, have the “right” to make the argument favored by demagogues and ideologues throughout history: “He who is not with us is against us.” (page 13)

What such an argument reveals, without even meaning to, is the fundamental inadequacy of the right-left spectrum. Carroll can sense this (on page 16, for example, he says “Stirner is one of the men who defy political classification; the orthodox categories break down.”), but he apparently doesn’t have the ability to break free of it. It would seem that, to him, our only choices are the dictatorship of the proletariat on the left hand, or the dictatorship of the total state on the right. The autonomy of the individual is out of the question. It takes the one-dimensional thinking of an authoritarian Hegelian to posit such a false dichotomy, as if fascism and socialism were our only options.

Carroll then tries to tie Stirner to Italian Fascism with a couple of vague, inconsequential quotes from Mussolini: “And these summits of the spirit are called Stirner, Nietzsche…” (page 13); “Leave the way free for the elemental power of the individual…Why shouldn’t Stirner become significant again?” (page 14). That’s all Carroll has in support of his thesis that Stirner had an influence on Fascist Italy???

Next, Carroll draws some vaporous connections between Stirner and Nazism. Afterwards he admits that Hitler probably never heard of Stirner. Once again, though, he neglects to discuss the much stronger Marxist influence on Nazism. For example, Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, wrote “The National Socialist movement has one single master: Marxism.” Hitler himself is purported to have said, “The whole of National Socialism is based on Marx.” Oops, another of Carroll’s arguments goes up in smoke!

Carroll’s attack on Stirner does end with the admission “that the case for including Stirner in `the roots of the Right’ is not watertight.” My question, then, is: Why publish the book? Carroll’s answer appears to be that “many of [Stirner’s] themes form a vital component of fascist ideology.” However, as I pointed out above, a much stronger case (dare I say “watertight”?) can be made that Marxism, rather than individualism and egoism, is THE vital component of Fascism.[27] [32]

“Why publish the book” indeed. I imagine Carroll either, knee-deep in his Crystal Palace book, jumping at a chance to metamorphose some of it in a book published by a major house and under the auspices of a famous academic, an excellent way to get word of mouth going for the real book later. Or inversely, perhaps Carroll, like Jim Dixon in Lucky Jim, was dragooned into this piece of make-work in order to curry favor with said famous academic.[28] [33] Who knows?

Notes

[1] [34] “Liberals believe that we should all love one another, and hate those who don’t.” Fred Reed, “Social Justice Warriors and Bubonic Plague:Is There a Difference?” Fred on Everything, March 30, 2017, here [35].

[2] [36]Witchfinder General is a 1968 British horror film directed by Michael Reeves and starring Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy, and Hilary Dwyer. The screenplay was by Reeves and Tom Baker based on Ronald Bassett’s novel of the same name. Made on a low budget of under £100,000, the movie was co-produced by Tigon British Film Productions and American International Pictures. The story details the heavily fictionalised murderous witch-hunting exploits of Matthew Hopkins, a 17th-century English lawyer who claimed to have been appointed as a “Witch Finder Generall” by Parliament during the English Civil War to root out sorcery and witchcraft. The film was retitled The Conqueror Worm in the United States in an attempt to link it with Roger Corman’s earlier series of Edgar Allan Poe–related films starring Price—although this movie has nothing to do with any of Poe’s stories, and only briefly alludes to his poem.” Wikipedia, here [37].

[3] [38] “’Witchsmeller Pursuivant’ is the fifth episode of the first series of the BBC sitcom Blackadder (The Black Adder). It is set in England in the late 15th century and centres on the fictitious Prince Edmund, who finds himself falsely accused of witchcraft by a travelling witch hunter known as the Witchsmeller Pursuivant. The story satirises mediaeval superstition and religious belief.” Wikipedia, here [39].

[4] [40] Mann says he had reversed Descartes, moving from the frailty of reason to the necessity of revelation; a reversal that would have amused Stirner, as we’ll see.

[5] [41]Doctor Faustus: The Life of the German Composer Adrian Leverkühn as Told by a Friend; trans. by John E. Woods (New York: Knopf, 1999), p108. Stirner alludes to Luther’s legendary vulgarity in The Unique, p99; a few pages later he also agrees with Mann’s narrator that “it is only as theology that philosophy can actually realize itself, complete itself.” P.103. Stirner discusses Luther and Descartes (pp99ff.); it could have been worse: Landstreicher mentions in his notes that Luther once set the Devil running with a mighty fart.

[6] [42] In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that although I have never met, spoken with or emailed Kevin Slaughter, he has designed the covers of all four of my Counter-Currents books, and they are quite lovely, are they not?

[7] [43] “A Little Less Piousness, Please,” Attack the System, July 24, 2017, here [44].

[8] [45] I must say this is somewhat unfair; Stirner and the rest of his drinking buddies invested heavily in a scheme to set up a milk delivery system in Berlin, which went teats up. He’s more like your cousin Eddie with his get-rich-quick schemes than a spendthrift or wastrel. See John Carroll (ed), The Ego and His Own (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), pp23-4.

[9] [46] “The Dissolute Life of an Egoist,” Attack the System, March 30, 2017, here [47].

[10] [48] Not that he cared one way or another; it simply amused him to point this out.

[11] [49] As Nietzsche later said, the Englishman wanted to get rid of God but keep Christian morality.

[12] [50] Preston, loc. cit.

[13] [51] “As with so many other young intellectuals of his generation, it was Hegel who would clearly become the most important influence on Stirner’s later thought as Stirner’s egoism is essentially a negation of the Hegelian view of the supremacy of spirit.” Preston, loc. cit.

[14] [52] “’St. Max’ is the work of a mind under stress.” John Carroll, introduction to The Ego and Its Own, p14. We’ll soon see Prof. Carroll under stress as well. “According to Lawrence Stepelevich, even Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ extremely sympathetic biographer Franz Mehring, called [it] “an oddly schoolboyish polemic.” (“Feuerbach and the Young Hegelians,” published in Simon Critchley, A Companion to Continental Philosophy, p. 112); quoted by Jason McQuinn, here [53].

[15] [54] The flies had their revenge; Stirner died at 49, from an infected insect bite.

[16] [55] Trust me, it’s not any funnier in German.

[17] [56] Max Stirner,The Philosophical Reactionaries: The Modern Sophists by Kuno Fischer”, reprinted in Newman, Saul (ed.), Max Stirner (Critical Explorations in Contemporary Political Thought), Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, p99.

[18] [57] See his autobiography, The Path of Cinnabar: An Intellectual Autobiography; translated by Sergio Knipe (London: Artkos Media, 2009).

[19] [58] Rorschach of Watchmen is a classic example of someone with bats in the belfry, as is Ozymandias; only the Comedian and, to an extent, Dr. Manhattan, get it: as the Comedian says, “It’s all a joke.”

[20] [59] London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1974.

[21] [60] That is, to Jerome Agel’s The Making of Kubrick’s 2001 (Signet, 1970); not to be confused with The Making of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stephanie Schwam and Jay Cocks (New York: Modern Library Movies, 2000) nor The Making of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ by Piers Bizony and M/M (Paris: Taschen, 2015).

[22] [61] Wikipedia, in the “publications history” of The Ego, says [62]: “An abridged English edition of the Byington translation revised, selected and annotated by John Carroll. New York City / London: Harper & Row 1971. 266 pp. The book appeared in a series “Roots of the Right. Readings in Fascist, Racist and Elitist Ideology”, together with writings by Gobineau, Alfred Rosenberg, de Maistre, Maurras. The text consists of a mix of about a hundred quotations from The Ego (and some from Stirner’s minor writings), reducing the volume by about a half. The reason why Stirner’s work was selected for this series remains unclear [as we’ll see] given the book’s fierce anti-authoritarianism and emphasis on the sovereignty of the individual.” I’ve discovered, again thanks to the SJWs, that Underworld Amusements is selling some 45 “uncirculated” copies of this edition online, here [63].

[23] [64] Or Neil Patrick Harris in Starship Troopers, aka “Doogie Howser Joins the SS.”

[24] [65] Severe, yet “startlingly erotic,” as Crow T. Robot notes regarding the “Miss Prim and Proper” speaker in the short instructional film “Speech: Platform Posture and Appearance” which opens Mystery Science Theater’s episode 619: Red Zone Cuba.

[25] [66] Not to be confused, I guess, with the BritCom Black Books, created by Dylan Moran and Graham Linehan and broadcast on Channel 4 from 2000 to 2004.

[26] [67] I always imagine his saying this in the voice of Mr. Kently (Cecil Hardwicke) in Hitchcock’s Rope (1948) as he takes Brandon to task for his supposed “contempt, if I may say so, for that I think civilized”. The gay killers are usually supposed to have absorbed Nietzsche’s ideas through their schoolmaster, Rupert Cadell (James Stewart) but their views sound just as much like Stirner, whose hidden influence on Nietzsche has often been debated.

[27] [68] A contemporary reviewer, Sidney E. Parker, adds: “The rest of Mr. Carroll’s examples are little more than unsupported insinuations. For instance, when Stirner argues that it is not enough for the press to be free, that it must become his own, and concluded “writing is free only when it is my own, dictated to me by no power or authority, by no faith, no dread: the press must not be free—that is too little—it must be mine—ownness of the press or property in the press, that is what I will take”—Mr. Carroll notes that this is “an anticipation of…fascist attitudes to the press”! Such an assertion is frankly absurd. No fascist favours uncontrolled individual ownership of the press, nor believes in the freedom of the writer from authority.” See “Anarchism, Angst, and Max Stirner,” here [69].

[28] [70] Welch (Steiner) to Dixon (Carroll): “I thought something like ‘Merrie England’ might do as a subject. Not too academic, and not too… not too… Do you think you could get something together along those sort of lines?” Remarkably, the “front flap copy” for the Carroll book calls it “a new look at this strangely neglected thinker,” which is almost verbatim the opening of the tedious article Dixon writes to get tenure: “’In considering this strangely neglected topic,’ it began. This what neglected topic? This strangely what topic? This strangely neglected what? His thinking all this without having defiled and set fire to the typescript only made him appear to himself as more of a hypocrite and fool.” Lucky Jim (New York Review Books, 2012), pp. 11, 9.

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Counter Currents Staff

[1]4,440 words

“Only the dead can know what it means to be dead.”—Ananda Coomaraswamy[1]

Philip Larkin’s poem “Aubade” articulates his fear of death in chilling terms. It describes a man who hates his job and gets drunk every night. Then, before dawn, he wakes, and with the gathering light, he fixates on the certainty of his own death and what it will mean for him. Larkin is clear that it means complete cessation of the self, that there is no possibility of an afterlife, and that this absence of the self is the most terrifying thing in the world. He describes his terror of:

the total emptiness forever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

Larkin is contemptuous of those who try to palliate the emptiness of death through a belief in a heaven, or through philosophical arguments that claim death should not be feared. Religion is:

That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade,
Created to pretend we never die.

Stoicism in the face of the certainty of death is an impotent weapon, bringing no comfort:

Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

And this clear-sighted terror of the inevitability of death, and the consequent loss of the self forever, always lurks in the margins of our waking consciousness, “just on the edge of vision.” In everyday life it is something that is not openly considered, and so it can be pushed to one side. Only in moments of quiet lucidity, “when we are caught without/People or drink,” does the full sense of the imminent cessation of our being come into focus. And the breaking light of dawn, which gives the poem its ironic title, provides just such a moment for morbid self-introspection.

[2]

Philip Larkin

“Aubade” is a brilliant and terrifying poem. It expresses perfectly the modern attitude towards death: the belief that the self will end, that religion is a palliative, and that death is to be feared. It does so with a cold and precise use of language and rhyme that seduces the ear and convinces the mind. It is a poem which conveys the terror of “the emptiness forever,” but whose author is not able to believe in anything better. His intellectual integrity prevents him from performing the sleight of mind necessary to believe in an afterlife which modern science has forbidden to us.

As far as the modern attitude towards death goes, there is no such thing as a metaphysics of death. There is only the physical process of the termination of the organism. This, as Larkin correctly points out, is because we no longer believe in religion, and so have abandoned the belief that there resides in the individual an immortal soul that will endure after death. We tend to concur with most scientists that a living organism is a material construct whose sense of self and whose consciousness are phenomena arising from purely material processes. If human consciousness is a merely material construction then it would logically follow that it would disappear with the death of the body. It should then be worth considering whether or not the belief that consciousness emerges from purely material processes is correct.

If the materialist paradigm is correct, and there is no ”immortal soul” energizing our being, then it means that it is, in principle, possible to map the entire neurological network so that it could be replicated. As long as the materialist paradigm holds, it will allow for the enormously complicated task of identifying and measuring the neural connections in the brain and reconstructing them. If we, like Larkin, disallow the existence of an eternal spirit, or some such other ethereal essence, then there is nothing in principle that should prevent us from creating an artificial intelligence from which a sense of consciousness could arise. All that is required is that the unique material composition of the brain can be simulated in a computer program and then, as a consequence of the complex interactions of the neural network, consciousness will arise. If consciousness is some sort of illusion produced by material interactions in the brain, then the building of a brain in an artificial intelligence program should give rise to the spontaneous creation of an individual consciousness within a virtual world. Success in this task would demonstrate that it is possible for consciousness to arise from purely material foundations, without the need to evoke an ”immortal soul,” and we would then agree with Larkin that death is ”emptiness forever.”

Artificial Intelligence

The attempt to create an intelligent machine has been ongoing since the dawn of the computer age. The belief that consciousness emerges from material processes in the brain leads to the inevitable conclusion that it is therefore, in principle, possible to recreate consciousness outside of the human brain; in a computer, for example. The challenge for researchers working in the field of AI is to identify the exact nature of the neural pathways and their connections, and to replicate them in a computer program.

In the early days of AI research, there was a great deal of optimism about what computers would be able to achieve and how quickly they would be able to do it. One of the leading AI researchers, Marvin Minsky, was the technical consultant for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, the computer HAL 9000 is a fully conscious and self-aware being engaging in conversation with humans, displaying an understated matrix of emotions and an ability to appreciate art. It is made clear in the film that HAL is treated as though he is a fully developed individual. Kubrick was keen to ensure that his rendering of HAL was scientifically plausible. The input of Minsky ensured that the depiction of HAL represented scientifically informed ideas of what computers would be able to become by the turn of the millennium.

What is clear from watching 2001 is that workers in AI in the 1960s regarded the development of intelligent, conscious computers as something that would be achieved imminently. This was because there was an assumption that the barrier to such self-conscious machines was the processing and computational speed of existing computers. It was rightly predicted that processing speed would increase exponentially over the coming decades, and it was therefore assumed that the ability to execute programs capable of replicating the complexity of human thought would follow.

But there was a flaw in this reasoning. A minority of thinkers refused to be drawn into the optimism of the early AI research community. One of the most prominent was Hubert Dreyfus, whose ideas concerning the limitations of computing power were mostly ignored at the time, but have subsequently been proven to be entirely astute. What Dreyfus realized was that the barrier to creating consciousness in a computer was not the deficit in processing power, but the very context of ”being” in which a computer existed.

In 1965, Dreyfus was asked to write a paper on the future of AI research for the RAND Corporation. He produced a document called Alchemy and Artificial Intellience which likened the research of contemporary AI researchers to the medieval alchemists’ attempts to turn base metals into gold. Dreyfus was convinced that the problems facing AI were not problems of processing power, size of memory capacity, or any other practical difficulties. He claimed that there were fundamental problems in principle with the claim that human intelligence could be reproduced in a digital computer. His paper attempted to show that there are certain capacities that human beings excel in which computers would never be able to master. In making his argument, he described three types of information processing which he claimed were “uniquely human.” They were fringe consciousness, essence/accident discrimination, and ambiguity tolerance.

Fringe consciousness is the unconscious awareness that human beings have for wider contextualizing states that exist beyond the area of present attention. For example, in a game of chess, “cues from all over the board, while remaining on the fringes of consciousness, draw attention to certain sectors by making them appear promising, dangerous, or simply worth looking into.”[2] We do not make these cues explicit to ourselves, and often may be totally unaware of them, but they form a relevant background to those decisions we explicitly make.

Essence/accident discrimination describes the type of insight that human beings employ to instinctively distinguish which information is relevant and which is to be ignored in any given situation. Again, this process is carried out mostly unconsciously; it is never necessary for us to consider every piece of sensory input in our surroundings in order to decide what is inessential. The inessential is filtered out automatically.

Ambiguity tolerance is the ability that humans have to operate without explicit definitions or rules. This can be illustrated with a consideration of language use. It is perfectly normal for words to have secondary or tertiary meanings. In practice, we determine what sense of a word is being deployed with reference to its context. For example, if we were to say that one runner in a race was ”miles ahead” of the others, we would automatically know that the word “mile” is not being used in its primary sense of “a unit of linear measure equal to 1,760 yards,” but in its tertiary sense of “a very long way or a very great amount.” Even then we have no problem in understanding that “a very long way” might, in this context, refer to as little as two or three yards; amounts which in different contexts would be seen as very small indeed. In other words, we are capable of sufficiently reducing ambiguity to make meanings clear, but without the needing to explicitly define how we are doing this.

In a later work, What Computers Can’t Do, Dreyfus expanded even further on his skepticism regarding AI research. In this work, he identified four assumptions which he believed were uncritically and often unconsciously being utilized by AI workers to underpin research into AI. Dreyfus believed that the goal of achieving artificial intelligence in a computer could only be achieved if these four assumptions were correct but that, in fact, they were all false. These assumptions were the biological assumption, the psychological assumption, the epistemological assumption, and the ontological assumption.

The biological assumption is based on the fact that neural firings in the brain are “all or nothing” bursts of energy. This observation from neuroscience has been extrapolated to imply that such firings therefore correspond to bits of information in a digital computer, which operate in a binary “all or nothing” manner. In a computer, each bit of information is a discrete unit that has a particular symbolic function. But in the brain, Dreyfus argues, the neural firings that superficially resemble such bits of information are modified and “interpreted” according to many other localized conditions, such as rate of pulsing, frequency of pulsing along particular pathways, and interaction with other neurons. In short, the biology of the brain appears to be more analog than digital in character.

The psychological assumption prompts a somewhat philosophical treatment from Dreyfus. Researchers in AI usually assume that human psychology is a process that operates rather like a computer program, that is, that it is essentially an exercise in information processing. The problem for AI researchers is how to translate the physical properties of the brain into the higher-level intellectual concepts of the mind. As long as the brain is described in terms of its physical behavior, there is no problem; seeing a chair can be described as the presence of light waves on the retina causing a sequence of chemical reactions in the brain, all of which can be described quite precisely. But to speak of really “seeing” a chair, it is necessary to use a different sort of language, language which is more appropriate to the mind than the brain. AI researchers, according to Dreyfus, attempt to bridge this gap by suggesting that there is a level of information processing that occurs in the brain that can organize neuro-chemical bits of information into higher-level concepts. Unfortunately, there is no evidence that this is the case; in fact, in the absence of evidence, AI researchers postulate as yet unknown information processing functions of the brain, merely based on the supposed analogy with computers.

The epistemological assumption is concerned with the way in which humans know how to perform particular actions. It describes the belief that all non-arbitrary behavior can be formalized, and therefore can be reproduced. Dreyfus argues that any such formalization of human behavior, which would enable it to be programmed into a computer, would merely result in an imitation, rather than a reproduction, of that behavior. The computer would need to follow discrete stages of processing in order to perform any particular function, and Dreyfus is far from convinced that this is in fact how humans behave in practice. AI researchers assume that behavior must follow certain heuristic steps, and that where someone is unaware of following such steps that they must be being carried out unconsciously. Against this view, Dreyfus argues that human behavior is always rooted in a particular situation and orientated towards certain goals. Because of this, people effortlessly grasp the particular local aspect of any subject under consideration due to their experience in the situation. A computer has to work through all possible interpretations, discard those that are irrelevant, and focus on those that are relevant. Human beings do not follow such procedures due to their being located in a particular existential situation.

The ontological assumption concerns a fundamental problem for AI research. As Dreyfus notes, “the data with which the computer must operate if it is to perceive, speak, and in general behave intelligently, must be discrete, explicit, and determinate; otherwise it will not be the sort of information which can be given to the computer so as to be processed by rule.”[3] Because computers must operate in terms of such discrete data, it has become habitual for AI researchers to make the assumption that this data is actually present as an aspect of the world; that we, in fact, perceive the world through such data. Contra such researchers, Dreyfus posits that, even where we are able to make explicit our perceptions of certain objects, any such fact is itself contextualized by its particular human situation: “Even a chair is not understandable in terms of any set of facts or ‘elements of knowledge.’ To recognize an object as a chair, for example, means to understand its relation to other objects and to human beings. This involves a whole context of human activity of which the shape of our body, the institution of furniture, the inevitability of fatigue, constitute only a small part.”[4] Moreover, this situation cannot itself be reduced to isolated, context-free facts; it is colored by influences from the preceding situation, so that we build up associations and interpretations over time.

For a computer, this learning-through-time model presents a problem. If data can only be interpreted according to a situation, and if that situation relies for its meaning on the previous situation, then it seems to lead to an infinite regress. At some point, a programmer has to decide what information to give to a computer to begin with, and this will be based on the programmer’s own, human, situation; it will not arise naturally from the computer’s ”consciousness.” In humans, this paradox is avoided by the fact that we are, in Dreyfus’ words, ”wired genetically as babies” to recognize certain stimuli as positive and nurturing, and others as harmful. This appeal to genetics provides a powerful argument for the unique nature of human consciousness.

The Traditionalist View

According to Traditionalist teachings, the unique, inimitable aspect of the human being corresponds with the Divine. This aspect is mostly obscured by more transient aspects of the self, and in the modern climate it is precisely those ephemeral, shallow characteristics that find greatest resonance in their outer surroundings. Ananda Coomaraswamy writes about the supremacy of the Divine aspect of the self and entreats that it is necessary to experience the death of the personal self, that is, of the transient, passing attributes of one’s biography, and to realize the eternal aspect of the self which is identified with God. Thus:

“I” neither think nor see, but there is Another who alone sees, hears, thinks in me and acts through me; an Essence, Fire, Spirit, or Life that is no more or less “mine” than “yours,” but that never itself becomes anyone; a principle that informs and enlivens one body after another, and that which there is no other, that transmigrates from one body to another, one that is never born and never dies, though president at every birth and death.[5]

This “spirit” that animates all beings, yet somehow transcends each, is the part of the self which is seen as being truly authentic. We recognize it throughout religion and folklore. When a child is born his spirit is delivered into him from the heavens, and we say that he has been delivered by a stork. When he dies, he ascends to sit with angels whose wings denote that he has returned to the same airy realm from whence he came. In heathen times, he would have been escorted by similarly-winged Valkyries.

Norse theology provides us with another insight into the way that this spirit partakes of many whilst retaining unity. When Odin sits on his throne, Hliðskjálf, he is said to be able to see everything in the world. He becomes omniscient by virtue of the fact that he is the All-Father, the fundamental generating principle in the world, and as such he is the spirit, or animating force, which expresses its particularities through each of us. He can see through our eyes because, to the extent that we are authentically alive, he is us.

Similarly, Odin’s ravens, Hugin and Munin, are said to leave him in the morning and return in the evening to tell him everything that they have witnessed around the world. The name Hugin means thought, whilst Munin means memory. Again, this attests to the omniscience of Odin. That Hugin and Munin are winged messengers again denotes that it is the realm of the spirit which is the key to understanding the nature of this transpersonal consciousness.

The omniscient aspect of Odin is retained even today through the attenuated figure of Santa Claus, who is able to see whether children are behaving or not. The importance of omniscience in these tales is not to signify that Odin is a different order of being than us, but to show that the Divine spirit is something which is transmitted through us. Odin is omniscient because he is all of us; he is the summation of being. In this sense, then, we can see why Coomaraswamy draws attention to the duality of being:

Our whole tradition everywhere affirms that “there are two in us”; the Platonic mortal and immortal “souls,“ Hebrew and Islamic nefesh (nafs) and ruah (ruh), Philo’s “soul” and “Soul of the soul,“ Egyptian Pharaoh and his Ka, Chinese Outer and Inner sage, Christian Outer and Inner Man, Psyche and Pneuma, and Vedantic “self” (ātman) and “self’s Immortal Self” (asya amrta ātman, anta purua)—one the soul, self, or life that Christ requires us to “hate” and “deny,” if we would follow him, and that other soul or self that can be saved.[6]

The Traditionalist view of human individualism, as representing the ephemeral, transient aspect of a deeper and lasting higher self, is quite at odds with the sick ennui expressed by Larkin when contemplating the ultimate loss of the self. For Larkin, everything that can be experienced, all potentialities, are locked up inside the individual consciousness of a human being, and with his death all possibility is destroyed forever. For the Traditionalist worldview, this human consciousness is barely even the tip of the iceberg; in many respects, it is a positive obstruction to the proper apprehension of the authentic self. Hence Coomaraswamy’s approval of Meister Eckhart’s words, “the soul must put itself to death.” From the Traditionalist perspective, Larkin is in error in perceiving the entirety of his self to be contained within his individual personality. His terror of “the total emptiness forever” is the fear of one who has never suspected the presence of an animating life force anterior to the everyday personality. For such an individual, death is indeed a total cessation, as the self is only identified with its transient expression. The aim of Traditionalist teachings is to unveil the profound spirit which transcends the individual consciousness.

A Surprising Ally

In positing this dichotomy between the teachings of Traditionalist metaphysics on the one hand and the contemporary materialist paradigm on the other, it is surprising to note that some support for the Traditionalist view can be found deeply embedded in the enemy camp.

The most strident exponent of the modern atheistic, materialist paradigm is the neo-Darwinian evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins. In his classic neo-Darwinist text, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins argues that human beings, as well as other evolved organisms, are not the discrete, autonomous entities that they might consider themselves to be. Instead, such bodies are “gene machines,” organic vehicles for DNA molecules, whose purpose is to spread and protect the particular genetic sequences which inhabit them. For Dawkins, it is the gene, the unit of chromosomal material involved in evolution, that is really in the driving seat, acting according to the unfathomable dictates of millennia of blind selection. This process of selection, whilst without purpose, must necessarily favor genes which are good at surviving. So much is axiomatic. Those genes which survive well will do so by inhabiting organic material that is capable of providing good protection. Such organic material might range in sophistication from a thin cell wall to a human being.

The importance of Dawkins’ insight is in seeing the gene as the basic unit of life, and in understanding that it is the gene, not the organism in which it resides, which is the driving force behind evolutionary development. It might not be stretching it too far to say that, when viewed from this neo-Darwinian perspective, the purpose of life is the continuation of the gene, although Dawkins would not use the word “purpose.” It is also worth remembering that the survival of the gene is not a matter of individual genes establishing a line of heredity as organisms do; it is a matter of them perpetuating exact copies of themselves. DNA is a sequence of information which is used to shape and build organic material. Whilst the body it inhabits is born anew in each manifestation of a new generation, the genetic information present within the DNA remains exactly the same. In Dawkins’ words:

[The gene] is no more likely to die when it is a million years old than when it is only a hundred. It leaps from body to body down the generations, manipulating body after body in its own way and for its own ends, abandoning a succession of mortal bodies before they sink in senility and death. The genes are the immortals . . . We, the individual survival machines in the world, can expect to live a few more decades. But the genes in the world have an expectation of life that must be measured not in decades but in thousands and millions of years.[7]

Whilst Dawkins’ detractors often focus on his secular, atheistic concerns, what is remarkable about the selfish gene idea is the way that it seems to support a Traditionalist view of the self. As Dreyfus pointed out in his objections to AI, the human being is born with certain genetic predispositions which orientate him into seeking certain cues from his environment, such as a mother’s nipple. From these simple cues, it follows that the human organism will potentially be able to achieve its primary aim of survival, and then develop into a more sophisticated individuated consciousness. But this individuated consciousness is not replicable in an artificial context, because it requires for its manifestation a prior genetic history of countless millennia of patient evolutionary development. “We are millions of yesterdays,“ wrote Austin Osman Spare, “and what appears autogenic is the work of unknown mediators who permit, or not, our acts by the mysterious chemistry of our believing.”[8]

For Coomaraswamy, we are vehicles of the Divine spirit; for Dawkins, we are vehicles of pure information. Consider the similarity between Coomaraswamy’s words, “a principle that informs and enlivens one body after another, and that which there is no other, that transmigrates from one body to another, one that is never born and never dies,” and Dawkins’, “It leaps from body to body down the generations, manipulating body after body in its own way and for its own ends, abandoning a succession of mortal bodies before they sink in senility and death.” It should not be a source of great concern that one writer is considering the incomprehensible vastness of God whilst the other is considering infinitesimally tiny units of information. Both demonstrate the way in which our lives are suffused with an essence which is in us, but is more than us; and both show that we are expressions of something far greater than our egoic selves can truly comprehend. And if Dawkins is the primary atheist of our age, it should be of no consequence; after all, what is God if not the hidden intentions of eternity?

It might be objected that this brief consideration of the metaphysics of death gives no comfort. We will all die, “and soon” as Larkin mordantly reminds us. And for the outer self, the egoic personality, there is no hope: it will perish with the body. But this personality is already an illusion, a conceit of the organism. It is no more the real self than your name is the real you. It must be put to death by the real, immortal self. For anyone who can shift the locus of their being into this immortal self, reunion with the Divine awaits. Only the dead can know what it means to be dead.

Notes

1. Ananda Coomaraswamy, “The Meaning of Death,” in Coomaraswamy: Selected Papers, Volume 2: Metaphysics (Princeton: Bollingen, 1977), 429.

2. Hubert Dreyfus, Alchemy and Artificial Intelligence (Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 1965).

3. Hubert Dreyfus, What Computers Still Can’t Do: A Critique of Artificial Reason (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992), 206.

4. Ibid., 210.

5. Coomaraswamy, “The Meaning of Death,” 428.

6. Ibid., 428.

7. Richard Dawkins, The Selfish Gene (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989), 34.

8. Austin Osman Spare, Axiomata (London: Fulgur, 1992).

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

2,718 words [1]

Part 2 of 3 (Part 1 here [2])

Jay Dyer
Esoteric Hollywood: Sex, Cults and Symbols in Film [3]
Walterville, Or.: Trine Day, 2016

The same explains the proliferation of “Gnostic” or “Illuminati” symbolism in filmed entertainment.[1] Just as directors and screenwriters love surrealism (since it absolves them of any need to create a coherent plot),[2] they love throwing together random bits of “symbolism.” Add in a certain level of laziness (“Hey, it worked for Kanye/Gaga/Kei$ha”), and it’s irresistible.[3]

Of course, one could still point out that all this playing around with symbolism is dangerous in itself. In his Bible-thumping mode, Dyer probably thinks it’s all just stupid, the “vain repetitions” of the pagans, dangerous only as a tool of manipulation,[4] but for someone who thinks magick is real, having it flaunted about by Kanye West is perhaps scarier than some vast occult conspiracy.[5]

When taken individually, the symbols described above can be simply considered as “cool-looking” . . . [but] the packing all of these signs and symbols in one comprehensive 13-minute performance cannot however be dismissed as “random images”. Quite to the contrary, the combination of all of these symbols form a whole and define with great depth the underlying philosophy and Agenda of those in power – the Illuminati.[6]

No, since magick is real, the untalented are able to access, channel, and manipulate these real symbols. No need for an occult hand behind the scenes.

What of the analyses themselves? Dyer does well to begin with Kubrick, devoting his Part One (after the Hollywood Babylon section, which is rather oddly stuck in here rather than standing alone) to Eyes Wide Shut [4], The Shining [5], and 2001 [6] (“An Alchemical Spatial Odyssey”). I say he does well because Kubrick is the most obvious target for this kind of analysis, since while having long-rumored ties to intel, it’s even more obvious that “Kubrick’s perspective was that all details are crucial and significant – the placement of everything is deliberate, often fraught with symbolism.”

This would seem to call out for my own paranoiac-critical method,[7] but the effect here seems to be to force Dyer to rein in his institutional paranoia and concentrate on the rich symbolism on the screen itself. Eyes Wide Shut is identified as an initiation ritual in itself: “Not only is it supposed to be an initiation for the couple, the intention is to initiate the viewer, through revelation of the method,[8] to the nature of this cryptocratic underground, assuming one is willing to see.”

And Dyer is forced to follow along the path, pointing out the presence and role of pillars, mirrors, gardens, and hexagrams from beginning to end. Even so, he can’t resist a little anti-Gnostic dig when forced to acknowledge that “[g]ardens also bring to mind Eden, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve due to sin; or, it could refer to their coming initiation into the ‘garden of the gods,’ so to speak.” And ultimately, the cryptocracy reasserts its hold on his imagination:

The real story is the ritual journey of coming out of the dream state, with the result being the “awakening” [note the scare quotes] to grasp the reality of the occult elite, the social power structure as it really is – rich elites who are into bizarre cults and aberrant sex magick. This magical surrealism as an initiatory rite is the true intention of the film.

Dyer also does well with The Shining, identifying both broad themes – “the spectral haunting of America itself, in terms of its dark past in relation to the Native Americans” – and the personal focus on Jack, where the “indigenous animistic spiritualism . . . manifest[s] as a form of generational curse.” Jack is attempting to write a book, but the “book” is his life, especially his family life, and the method is the use of simulacra to harness the power of synchronicity to enable him to create his own new future; in short, a Promethean taking charge of his own life, which must – so Dyer thinks – result in failure and death.

In this philosophy, mastering the inner world leads to a mastering of the outer world as the initiate or “enlightened one” meditates to achieve a perceptive unity between the subconscious dream realm and the phenomena of waking experience. . . . His gruesome reenactment of spiritual, ritual sacrifice . . . is required for his imagined entrance into the hall of fame – the abode of the “beautiful people.”[9]

Especially galling to this Judeo-Christian is the rejection of wholesome Family Values by the apprentice mage:

Jack’s demonic bidders offer him a place among the privileged (he thinks), if he is willing to rid himself of his family.

Jack has come to despise his family, who he thinks are his stumbling blocks to greatness

Jack is . . . seeking to traumatize and sacrifice his family for entrance into greatness, which he believes is being stalled due to his family duties.

Dyer despises the titanic quest, and its disdain for “family values,” so much that he even stoops the “homosexual” canard, arguing like some SJW that Jack must be secretly gay, “despite his masculine appearance,” since we come upon him glancing through an issue of Playgirl at the Overlook. [10]

And behind it all must be the inevitable Pedophiliac Elites: “[T]he satanic occult elite that rule the West [are] of pedophilic generational bloodlines [that] parasitically manipulate the underclass through the false promise of worldly prosperity.”

All this comes together in the overarching symbol of the maze, which is both the Underworld and Jack’s psyche, or rather, “Jack’s own psyche is plunging into the underworld maze of his dark persona.” Here again, Dyer’s Judeo-Christian bias creeps in, presenting us with this (deliberately?) false dichotomy: “[[I]t is a cyclical process of a time-bound, emergent deity arising from within the kosmos itself, and not an eternal deity who alone subsists outside time and space who creates ex nihilo.” And so, although he can grasp that, “eternal return will be the punishment Jack concocts for himself in his psychical prison for failing to complete his task as ordered by Grady.”

He completely fails to notice that Danny is able to escape Jack, and the maze, by retracing his steps and jumping sideways out of the maze entirely; along with Will Graham’s leap through the plate glass window into the Tooth Fairy’s kitchen in Manhunter [7], one of the greatest symbols of Passing the Buck in cinema.

Along the way, there’s plenty of scope for the paranoiac-critic, such as the significance of a room numbered 237 as well as the recurrence of 42; and above all, the return of those pillars, in the form of the infamous ghost twins; Dyer even allows himself to wonder if these twin/towers, combined with 2001, have any relation to the events of 9/11.

This leads us to the Big Enchilada of cinematic symbolism and of movie metaphysics: 2001: A Space Odyssey. Again, as with Jack and Danny, the return of the astronaut Bowman as the Starchild in 2001 is not correctly understood: “Bowman breaks free of Plato’s’ cave to cheat death and rise to rebirth among the gods, and the process repeats in eternal return, with a new Genesis.”

We see that what is at stake is Dyer’s Judeo-Christian blinders, which reduce everything to a false dichotomy: “It is a cyclical process of a time-bound, emergent deity arising from within the kosmos itself, and not an eternal deity who alone subsists outside time and space who creates ex nihilo.”

Evolution is indeed the key term. There is not only a recurring cycle of entrapment (Jack), but a spiral of escape (Danny). Bowman evolves to a higher level (Starchild, apotheosis); if there is a new Genesis, it is not a return to the same point.

I keep emphasizing blinders, because Dyer is by no means unintelligent or unperceptive. He certainly grasps the essence of the film, and also begins to sound like Jorjani:

The monolith is consciously “Luciferian.” Promoting man to a Promethean new aeon each time it appears,[11] and always connected to technological advance through the “sacrifice” of warfare. . . . “[C]onsciousness” [is] correlated with techne, but not merely techne, it is technology as an extension of space and power – warfare.

He has perceived the element of Atlas here as well as Prometheus, in this brilliant insight:

As a form of a cube, the monolith seems to embody space itself. This is partly my unique thesis on the monolith. . . . [The] six directions are thus a geometrical box or cube . . . So the cube, and in particular the black cube form outer space is space. 2001 is therefore about this dimension, in totality, that expresses itself primarily in two fundamental ontological realities – time and space.[12]

Techne is the extender for this endeavor, providing the ship and means by which he may project himself further in space.

Part Two is “Spielberg’s Android Space Brothers.” At this point I will confess that apart from his TV movie Duel [8], and his version of “Kick the Can” in The Twilight Zone [9] movie, I have never seen a Spielberg film, and have no intention of doing so now or ever. Like I said, I’m a Lazy Bastard. Let’s move on.

Part Three is the far more interesting “70s-80s Fantasy Dystopia,” an admittedly subjective and idiosyncratic selection. The period certainly did give us a bumper crop of dystopian symbolism, but with titles like Labyrinth [10], The Neverending Story [11], and Prometheus [12] (a 2012 film which somehow sneaks in), you can imagine that he’s not very happy.

Nevertheless, there’s some interesting things here, but by far the most successful analysis deals with Zardoz [13] (John Boorman, 1972), a much-derided film that is also (perhaps inevitably) a personal favorite. Dyer manages to rehabilitate the film by tying it in with Kubrick’s contemporaneous 2001, making it a kind of handcrafted, artisanal version of the big-budget epic.

I am here to declare Zardoz as part of that company of actual “Illuminati” films.

[Zardoz is a] philosophical allegory, replete with esoteric symbology and archeo-futurism that culminates in a Nietzschean LSD-trip cavalcade of existential nihilism, where death is “natural” and itself God.

Boorman accurately captures the nihilistic character of the technocratic age, where the quantification and so-called “perfecting of nature” so adamantly sought by the trans-humanists ends in meaninglessness.

Dyer finds the message of the film, like 2001, to be the Promethean claim of archeofuturism: we shall be as gods because we have been gods; “the gnosis of the ancients in fact contains the secrets of the future.”[13]

[A]ccording the masonic mythos Boorman will employ, the secrets of nature are merely the secrets of science [and] the real “God” is thus an artificial deus ex machina, an emergent deity forged in the labs of ancient scientists who had since purposefully erased the secrets to the “Tabernacle.”

[T]echnology itself is the secret of God, and God Himself is nothing more than a kind of vast, imprisoning Matrix-style demiurge.

As usual, Dyer thinks this is all very bad ju-ju, and wants to warn his good, white Christian readers away from this threat.

Zed is thus a new Satan or Lucifer, invading the Edenic Garden of potentially immortal man, a Prometheus embodying the alternate version of the Genesis narrative as told by the Hermeticists and gnostics, where Satan becomes a liberator.[14]

Again, Dyer is unable to see, or believe, the spiral nature of this archeofuturist doctrine, and he presents it as a kind of circular archeofutilism:

History is the cyclical turn of the wheel of time, where civilizations rise and fall and at the apex, man discovers technology, which was a secret inside himself all along, as he projected these phantasms of his own forgotten genetic memories into externally existing metaphysical realities (think Bruno Bauer). Again, Nietzsche dominates Boorman’s narrative, from the notion of decadent elites, to the ouroboros of eternal return.

Dyer thinks he’s revealing the horrible secret of Prometheanism, but since, as noted above, it amounts an implausible claim that no intelligent person could have fallen for in the first place, the reader must decide whether Dyer misunderstands it, or is deliberately distorting it, perhaps for pastoral purposes (can’t let the lambs go astray!).

 

Notes

1. And related fields, such as the VMA [14]’s and the Super Bowl halftime show [15], as covered by Vigilant Citizen.

2. Contrast the painfully earnest little stories that even Hair Metal bands would concoct for videos in the classic ‘80s, which still persists in the stubbornly retro world of “country” music.

3. Also, making the sign of Horus is less likely to get a b***h cut than the wrong gang sign.

4. “He becomes a myth, a spook story that criminals tell their kids at night. Rat on your pop, and Keyser Söze will get you.” And no one ever really believes.” Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects [16] (Bryan Singer, 1995).

5. “In this connection, one can speak of a ‘transcendental realism’, which is confirmed also in the conception of the objective effectiveness of the Initiatory rite: it is admitted that its power is, on the spiritual plane, as objective and impersonal, and as detached from morality, as, on the material plane, actions of a technical nature are. Like such actions, the rite only requires that certain objective conditions are satisfied; then the effect will follow of its own accord by necessity, whoever the subject….” Julius Evola, “The Concept of Initiation [17].”

6. “Madonna’s Superbowl Halftime Show: A Celebration of the Grand Priestess of the Music Industry [15],” at The Vigiliant Citizen.

7. “The paranoiac critical method of Dalí is an attempt to systematize irrational thought. When asked why the centaurs in his painting, Marsupial Centaurs [18], were riddled with holes, he replied, ‘The holes are like parachutes, only safer.’ This response is often used as an example of Dalí being Dalí, purposefully obscure, self-absorbed, and downright snotty. The reader might interpret this comment as a nose thumbing, coupled with an ‘If you don’t know why the holes are there, you Philistine, I will never tell you.’ The fact is, however, that Dalí is simply stating the reason for the holes, which upon examination, becomes unmistakable, true to its Paranoiac Critical ancestry.” “THE PARANOIAC CRITICAL METHOD [19]” by Josh Sonnier. As an example of the transition from irrational to inevitable, consider my discussion of Clifton Webb’s Mr. Belvedere as an incarnation of Krishna in “The Babysitting Bachelor as Aryan Avatar: Clifton Webb in Sitting Pretty [20].” One might compare my use of the Chakravartin symbolism there with Dyer’s rather more literalistic use here, where the circles are literally women dancing at the film’s famous orgy. Here as well, Dyer says that “Nightingale is chosen because he’s an old friend of Bill’s,” but, Nightingale being a fairly odd name, I would like to know if this forges a link with A Dandy In Aspic [21], where the assassination of the agent named Nightingale leads to Eberlin being sent off on his own initiatic journey; see my review, “Passing the Buck: Spy, Dandy, Übermensch [22].” I’ve tried my hand with Kubrick and a film Dyer mentions only in passing, in “From Odd John to Strangelove [23],” reprinted in Green Nazis in Space! [24] (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2016).

8. A term used by Michael Hoffman II, cited several times by Dyer; Greg Johnson has expressed Hoffman’s idea as “[t]he intentional revelation of the designs of the rulers for essentially magical, irrational reasons.” See his comment on Gregory Hood’s “Why Argo Won Best Picture [25].”

9. One might compare the methods of the Tooth Fairy in Manhunter; See my “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1 [26]” and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2 [27].”

10. A better question might be why the Overlook displays such supposedly risqué publications in its public areas (or does Dyer think Jack brought it along with him to whip out if he needed to pass the time?). In the Seinfeld episode “The Jimmy [28],” Jerry is disgusted about the Penthouse magazines he found in Tim Whatley’s (Breaking Bad [29]’s Bryan Cranston!) dental office, although admits he did take a peek.

11. But of course, the “new aeon” is the next level.

12. Hence his chapter is entitled “2001: An Alchemical Spatial Odyssey.”

13. Again, Jorjani: “Reflection on modern science allows a return to the primordial. Not a return to the past, but a movement into the future from out of the primordial – a development wherein the vital force of evolution becomes consciously self-directing.” Prometheus and Atlas [30](London: Arktos Media, 2016), Chapter Six, “The Occultation of Supernature.”

14. As Jorjani emphasizes, in the post-Christian age, Prometheus can only return as Lucifer; op. cit., Chapter Twelve.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

4,196 words [1]

Part 1 of 3

Jay Dyer
Esoteric Hollywood: Sex, Cults and Symbols in Film [2]
Walterville, Or.: Trine Day, 2016

“A film is a ribbon of dreams. The camera is much more than a recording apparatus; it is a medium via which messages reach us from another world that is not ours and that brings us to the heart of a great secret. Here magic begins.” – Orson Welles

Damn this chap Dyer! If only he had just put that Welles quote in his text somewhere, I could have appropriated it as the epigraph for my own forthcoming collection of film essays. But no, he had to go and use it himself! We hates him forever!

Calm down.

In Esoteric Hollywood, Jay Dyer[1] has “has compiled his most read essays, combining philosophy, comparative religion, symbolism and geopolitics and their connections to film,”[2] and now he “invites the reader to consider the existential experience of the various films chosen and how, though it may seem counterintuitive, fictional films can present more ‘reality’ than mainstream media.”

Now, as David Lynch might say, the words here are not what then seem. You might skim over this paragraph in the first section, “Film as Ritual,” and think he’s talking about “the various films chosen” in the book, but actually he’s talking about the book itself, as we can see if we read the immediately following two lines carefully:

Cryptography and cyphers have, for millennia, encoded hidden messages in many forms, and so it will be with this book. Think of it as a hidden message that is intended to be understood, but not immediately apparent. . . . Thus, the reader will travel with me on a mental journey into the psychosphere, understand the semiotic system I utilize, and in turn be able to interpret films in a deeper, esoteric sense on their own.

The message isn’t in the films, it’s in the book. The message is always hidden in plain sight, the method is always revealed.[3]

Before getting to the message, a little background is needed. Leaning on Eliade, Dyer correctly posits that:

Space-age man is just as “religious,” if not more so, than ignorant, savage ancient man. The difference emerges as merely one of form and medium, not substance, and his new temple is wherever the television screen or theater feeds him his new narrative by which to read his world . . . The liturgical icon of old has now become the moving icon of vivacious info-babe, the holy mothers of Channel 5 Monastery.[4]

So far so good. But, all is not well in our groovy, twenty-first century “global village.”

Unfortunately, our new gods do not always issue messages of hope and salvation. Our devas are very much gods of wrath and vengeance, inflicting upon the mass psyche a continual barrage of spells and incantations geared toward confusion and hysteria.

That bit about “gods of wrath and vengeance” will prove to be pretty ironic, but more anon. For now, things are even worse:

Few are those concerned with the virus of programmed liturgical psychodrama their magical mirror screens enchant them with, as they are lulled under the vodoun spell of the zombie.

But aren’t zombies kinda cool? Aha, that’s exactly what They want you to believe! In reality,

[t]he zombie is under the spell that death is life, that parasitism will grant power, that sex is death, when in reality zombies are death feeding on their own death, the fullest blossoming of the covenant of death, which is self-destruction. . . . The iconography of the screen is the crafted narrative and mythology of the establishment’s choosing.

And needless to say, that narrative is self-aggrandizement:

The “secret society” of priests exercise their control of the tribe . . . with the very same ritual psychodrama the mass media mavens of our day utilize, only our ascended Hollywood hegumen are more technologically sophisticated.

For them, the wires and waves of electrical signals are currents are the medium for their message, and the medium’s message is the medium – to further its own existence as the source of meaning thought its faithful presentation of its own mystagogical psychodrama.

In short:

Modern man is far from being irreligious, even in our science-driven era. He has, as Michel Foucault said, simply changed his old priests and gods for new ones, and in Esoteric Hollywood, I will decipher how this has been done.

In Part One, “Hollywood Babylon and Kubrick,” Dyer starts, in Chapter One, “The Occult Empire,” to put some flesh on the zombies. Hollywood has been aptly compared to Babylon, since “[t]he holy sites and rites of Hollywood are not the altars of mainstream religion, but another ancient religion, ultimately summed up in the epithet of the ancient mysteries.”

And who are the new priests?

The wizards behind the curtain of Hollywood are drab old studio executives nowadays working with the intelligence agencies, calling the shots for occulted reasons, for the purpose of mesmerizing the Dorothy-like populace of America.

Dyer then draws a consequence that may not be obvious:

The Hollywood magical city of Oz doesn’t exist, in fact, and is instead a place where reality comes closer to the film 8mm. . . . Holly-Oz is where naïve princesses go to become whores or end up in porn, like Betty/Diane in Mulholland Drive, and after they’re used up, the system tosses them away as refuse or kills them like so many stars and starlets who have been “suicided” or sacrificed to the system. . . . “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” (Mark 8:36).

The reader should note that the psychodramas now have a name, and a direct historical reference: the ancient Mysteries; and the warning comes from conventional Judeo-Christian religion, for which the ur-Gospel of Mark [5] serves as a synecdoche.

What we have here, then, is not so much a book of film analysis as another instance of the millennial-long struggle between what might be called the religious, or specifically Judeo-Christian, mentality, and the Hermetic, gnostic, or (in the Greek context) heroic (Heracles) or Titanic (Prometheus) mentality. As Evola says, there are

[m]yths in which there are heroes who confront the tree, and divine natures (in the Bible, God himself is hypostasized) that defend it and impede access to it. And the result, then, is a battle variously interpreted, according to the traditions.

There is a double possibility: in one case the tree is conceived as a temptation, which leads to ruin and damnation for anyone who succumbs to it;[6] in the other, it is conceived as an object of possible conquest which, after dealing with the dragons or divine beings defending it, transforms the darer into a god and sometimes transfers the attributes of divinity or immortality from one race to another.[7]

A review is not the place to decide, or even detail, such a long and complex ideological dispute. It should be noted, though, that Dyer makes no real attempt to make his position explicit or to argue for it.[8] Occasionally, he will simply note that the other view is “stupid.” When he does deign to argue, the arguments are rather embarrassingly jejune, especially for someone claiming to have a bachelor’s degree in philosophy.[9] For example, at one point he simply sneers that all this is “solipsism,” which is the sort of faux-profound point I like to imagine a Plato or Hegel or Blake, even, responding to with, “Gosh, I never thought of that! Thanks so much for bringing that to my attention!”[10]

This Evangelical perspective informs – or distorts – the cinematic analyses on hand, but after all they are merely the window-dressing to attract the readers[11] who will absorb the Abrahamic message.

This distortion occurs in two ways, or areas, which might best be outlined by first contrasting my own perspective. If the Hermetic path is true, in the (forgive me, Heidegger) sense of giving an accurate reflection of reality, then it is a body of doctrine, a science, if you will, that one can understand, or not; and Dyer often doesn’t.

In my own analyses, I have emphasized the contrast of the circle, symbolic of the senseless repetition of phenomenal reality (samsara), and the spiral, in which one casts off ones karma or fate (a process I call “passing the buck”) and instead of returning, ascends to the next level, the Turn of the Cosmic Screw.

Originating in the Pythagorean obsession with circles, which, as we have had occasion to mention in various contexts, is the pseudo-symbol of the circle, horizontal enslavement to the material world, reincarnation, “The Path of the Fathers,” substituted by the Counter-Initiation for the dear, the blessed Spiral, symbol of vertical Liberation, “The Path of the Gods.” As Alain Daniélou expresses it:

The fifths [in an acoustically valid or Traditional system] form a spiral whose sounds, coiled around themselves, can never meet. For us, this limitless spiral can be the joint in the center of the world, the narrow gate that will allow us to escape from the appearance of a closed universe, to travel in other worlds and explore their secrets.[12]

As the great twentieth-century mystic, Neville, puts it [3]:

Without the resurrection, you would know infinite circuitry, repeating the same states over and over again. But, after moving around the circle unnumbered times, the perfect image is formed,[13] removing you from the circle to enter a spiral and move up as the person who created it all.

Throughout, Dyer confuses spiral with circle; for example: “The spiral has the significance here [Vertigo [4]] of alerting the viewer that we are trapped.” And quoting his fellow Christian symbologist, Michael A. Hoffman II: “The resulting ‘evolutionary being’ [in 2001 [5]] was revealed to be . . . a homunculus out of the shadows . . . guardian deity of alchemical miscegenation, and entity beyond the spiral of Nature.”[14]

Which is true, except that since Dyer thinks spirals are circles, he interprets this “spiral” to be an instance of the Circle of Eternal Return (Nietzsche, of course), and not a spiral evolutionary advance. But as a Judeo-Christian, Dyer must (deliberately?) confuse the circle and the spiral, seeing both as symbols of Evil: “The spiral [of Babylonian occult mind control] goes even deeper.”

This isn’t entirely pedantic, as, I think, it leads to his Judeo-Christian distortion of the Hermetic path. Lacking the concept of the spiral, Dyer thinks the path of “evolution” is actually just a big, dumb circle and the idea of transcendence is a sneaky-snaky, Satanic siren song leading not to promised freedom and eternal perfection, but to enslavement and death.[15]

Instead of following our Titanic destiny, we should just be nice goyim and bow down to our Lord and Master, the alien space god JHVH-1, who may, out of his inscrutable will, be nice to us and not burn us forever as we deserve. Amen.[16]

By contrast, the Promethean perspective:

Reflection on modern science allows a return to the primordial. Not a return to the past, but a movement into the future from out of the primordial – a development wherein the vital force of evolution becomes consciously self-directing.[17]

Apart from failing to accurately present the Hermetic view, there’s also the issue of where it comes from, if not from the real world itself.

If metaphysics is true,[18] then its elements will occur naturally.[19]

If metaphysics is a “stupid” fairy tale and Satanic snare, they must be put in there, and by somebody.[20]

As Dyer says, “The iconography of the screen is the crafted narrative and mythology of the establishment’s choosing.”

As I began by somewhat solipsistically referencing my own film essays, I hope I may be forgiven for returning to the subject. In my own work, I have been far more interested in what isn’t planned in films, that which slips by when the writers and producers aren’t looking or when they try something and fail. That’s when the mask of Hollywood crap and propaganda slips and reality seeps out.

For example, Dyer traces a wonderful connection from The Black Dahlia [6] (De Palma, 2006) to Lost Highway [7](Lynch, 1997) to The Big Sleep [8] (Hawks, 1946),[21] yet when introducing the latter, says, “Noir would not be a place one would expect esoteric symbolism.” Which may be literally true, but that’s exactly why it can be a fertile field for it – no one’s looking.[22]

Moreover, Dyer needs to explain who put it there, and that’s where we veer off into Conspiracy Land. Here again, Dyer eschews argument and relies on insinuation, changing his putative actors as suits his purpose. As near as I can tell, they comprise an ever-expanding circle [or spiral?!] somewhat like this:

Cigar-chomping Hollywood execs, behind whom are
Various government and intelligence entities, behind whom are
Global elites, of the money and power sort[23], behind whom are
Occult organizations.[24]

It’s clear that the categories are somewhat porous, with people moving from one to another; Dyer is always happy to find a Fleming, for example, move from intel to writing movie scripts, or a Crowley moving from occult leader to secret agent,[25] and one might easily imagine someone moving through all four sectors (Trump? Ahrnold?) either as a career path or as needed.

Nevertheless, the fourth ring is, by its very nature, somewhat amorphous, and Dyer occasionally hints that even those in the third ring are unaware of the occult powers they are playing around with; the Strauss-Kahns are just useful puppets of the Crowleys.

Anyway, the point is that while I love a good conspiracy story as much as anyone, and as a proponent of Feyerabend’s principle that “Anything Goes” when it comes to empirical investigation,[26] I’m also (in addition to being a Natural Born Cheapskate) a Lazy Bastard, and my method has the advantage of simply not needing to work up any institutional backdrop, especially an occulted one.[27] You may find that a convenience as well, or as always, your mileage may differ.[28]

I might suggest an analogy with smoking in the movies. There’s a persistent notion that tobacco companies sponsored or bribed their way into movies and TV. And it does seem that far more smoking occurs on screens than ever occurred in real life.[29] But whatever the dastardly efforts of the coffin nail industry, there’s a much simpler explanation: directors and screenwriters loved smoking, since it ate up time and also gave actors something to do with their hands.[30]

A good example is Red Zone Cuba [9], which I’ve extensively analyzed elsewhere [10]. The three main characters are two hobos and an escaped con, and all three smoke constantly, especially the escapee, even when in a Cuban jail. This is in spite of never showing any of the penniless three buying or even stealing a pack, to say nothing of the cartons that must be stowed away in their truck. Even the penultimate shot of the film informs us that the convict “ran all the way to Hell with a penny (dramatic pause) and a broken cigarette.”

 

Notes

1. Book cover: “Jay Dyer a writer and researcher from the Southern US with a B.A. in philosophy, his graduate work focused on the interplay of literary theory, espionage and philosophy. He is dedicated to investigating the deeper themes and messages found in our globalist pseudo-culture, illustrating the connections between philosophy, metaphysics, secret societies, Hollywood, psychological warfare and comparative religion. Jay is a regular contributor to the popular Intelligence Hub 21st Century Wire and the scholarly Soul of the East, as well as conducting numerous interviews with experts in fields ranging from espionage to history to economics. Jay’s work has appeared on the web’s top alternative media outlets: Activist Post, Red Ice [11]Waking TimesRenseIcke and Infowars, as well as appearing on the Alex Jones Show. Jay has broken national and international news, numerous viral alt news stories, as well as surpassing 1 million views in its first 4 years.”

2. Op. cit.

3. Thus, the medium, as Marshall McLuhan said, is the message. In Videodrome [12] (1983), David Cronenberg’s homage to fellow Canadian McLuhan (and starring future Trump supporter James Woods), the point is not the snuff films being broadcast but that the Videodrome signal causes brain tumors and hallucinations (or are they?). As the McLuhan character, Brian O’Blivion, says, “The battle for the mind of North America will be fought in the video arena: the Videodrome. The television screen is the retina of the mind’s eye. Therefore, the television screen is part of the physical structure of the brain. Therefore, whatever appears on the television screen emerges as raw experience for those who watch it. Therefore, television is reality, and reality is less than television.”

4. The conjunction of info-babes and monasteries recalls Videodrome’s Nicky (Deborah Harry), a TV psychologist who later turns up among the robed-and-hooded torture masters of the Videodrome.

5. The choice of Mark is rich with irony, since Mark seems to preserve ancient Mystery traditions associated with the Jesus movement. What would Dyer make of a modern film featuring, as Mark’s account of the arrest of Jesus does, a youth alone with Jesus, clothed only in a sheet which he loses as he runs away nekkid? See Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria and a Secret Gospel of Mark [13] (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1973). In any event, “It is certainly possible to read Mark, even in the canonical text, as containing doctrines ascribed notoriously to the Gnostic Cerinthus and to the Ebionites, such as the adoption of Jesus as God’s son as of the Jordan baptism, when an angelic entry entered into him; and the substitution of Simon for Jesus on the cross of Golgotha.” The Human Bible New Testament [14]; translated and introduced by Robert M. Price (Cranford, NJ: American Atheist Press, 2014); reviewed here [15].

6. One can fairly sense Dyer rubbing his hands together with glee as he intones that “Cooper’s curiosity and desire for knowledge of the beyond [in Twin Peaks] . . . lead to his demise [just like] Fred Madison in Lost Highway.” Serves him right, the sinner!

7. The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art [16] (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1995), p. 4 (italics in original).

8. By contrast, the Alt Right has recently been graced with a detailed, closely argued and profoundly meditated account of the other side in Jason Reza Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas [17] (London: Arktos, 2016).

9. I myself have a Master’s degree . . . in Science!

10. It’s like when the SJW says, “But not every immigrant is bad” or “I know a black engineer.” Wow, your training in mathematical logic has taught you that one counterexample refutes a general proposition, and I never imagined a black engineer or Mexican non-rapist!

11. As Jason Reza Jorjani notes, Tricksters from Hermes to Barnum must add a little bit of truth to make their spiels successful. Op. cit., Introduction.

12. Music and the Power of Sound [18] (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 1995), p. 8. See “My Wagner Problem . . . and Ours [19]” and “Our Wagner, Only Better: Harry Partch, Wild Boy of American Music [20],” both reprinted in my collection The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others [21] (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014).

13. As Will Graham decodes Dr. Hannibal Lecter: “If one does what God does enough times, one becomes God.” See my “Thanks for Watching: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 1 [22]” and “Phil & Will: Awakening Through Repetition in Groundhog Day, Point of Terror, & Manhunter, Part 2 [23].”

14. Oops! “Another key thing to note is that people in these circles often refer to nature with a capital “N.” For example, as Francis Parker Yockey does in Imperium [24], as does Hitler in Chapter Two of Mein Kampf [25]for example, and David Duke in his junk. “This is not by accident, in my estimation. It is done because it is a specific rejection of the God of Mt. Sinai – the one true God, and a deifying of nature itself, as Devi makes clear.” Dyer, “The Satanic Nature of Nazism,” here [26].

15. “[T]he oligarchical plan . . . is not to heal man, but rather to end man.” Dyer’s view of the Hermetic tradition is dramatized in Night of the Blood Beast [27] (Gene Corman, 1958): “An astronaut crash lands back on Earth and apparently dies in the wreckage. His body does not deteriorate however, as he is being used as a breeding ground for an alien race of creatures whose ultimate goal is to assimilate our minds into theirs by killing us, eating our brains, and assimilating all the knowledge and experiences and personality contained therein into themselves. The alien creature thinks that he’s going to save humanity and give us immortality by doing this, but our heroes have other ideas. Will they be able to stop the creatures plan before it managed to create enough offspring to wipe out the whole human race? . . . This story had a very interesting aspect to it, in that we’re left wondering if the creature really is evil, or if it’s actually benevolent and just misunderstood.” B-Movie Central, here [28].

16. “The ‘infinite demand’ of these finite gods, namely Prometheus and Atlas, disclose the partisans of Revelation as enemy combatants loyal to our would-be slave drivers. The specters of Technoscience drive us on in rebellion against the One True God, with a will to liberate the Earth from those who are content to be His slaves, and who resentfully endeavor to enslave the alpine eagles of the Earth.” Jorjani, op. cit., Introduction fine. By contrast, Thomas Mann, who devoted four thick volumes to retelling the story of Joseph and his brothers [29], no doubt intends to draw the same moral as Dyer does from his fictional biography of Adrian Leverkühn, who dares to live boldly (Leverkuhn) only to have his meteoric career end, like Nietzsche’s, in syphilitic collapse.

17. Prometheus and Atlas, op. cit., Chapter Six, “The Occultation of Supernature.”

18. Henry: “My philosophy: metaphysics. What is metaphysics? A metaphysician doesn’t believe you’re dead when you die.” Mike Nelson: “So, he’s not much good at an accident.” MST3k, Episode 603, The Dead Talk Back [30].

19. “There appears to be an archaic force that projects an inexhaustible variety of mythic symbols onto nature, irresistibly framing the world in terms of meaningful relationships. . . . The incomprehensible is turned into what is most firm; it becomes a ‘vault’ or ‘dome’ shielding man from the abyss of meaningless absurdity.” Prometheus and Atlas, op. cit., Chapter One.

20. “Inspector Clay’s dead . . . murdered . . . and somebody’s responsible!” Ed Wood, Bride of the Monster [31]. Thus, the Church Fathers were well aware that the dying and rising God was a common myth, but insisted not that this showed it was a true, general metaphysical symbol, but, being committed to belief in one and only one Christ, argued that Satan had planted these distortions long ago, so as to confuse the pagans. He later did the same thing with those fake dinosaur bones.

21. “Back in my own house on the sixth floor of the Cahuenga Building I went through my regular double play with the morning mail. Mail slot to desk to wastebasket, Tinker to Evers to Chance.” Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye [32] (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953).

22. See my “Mike Hammer, Occult D**k: Kiss Me Deadly as a Lovecraftian Tale [33],” reprinted in Green Nazis in Space! [34] (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2016).

23. “A secret team of wealthy upper class who remain in the shadows.”

24. “A world run, not just by oligarchical moneyed elites, but a cryptocracy of occult elites.”

25. See Richard B. Spence, Secret Agent 666: Aleister Crowley, British Intelligence and the Occult [35] (Port Townsend, WA: Feral House, 2008); and my review, “’The Name is Crowley . . . Aleister Crowley [36]’: Reflections on Enlightenment & Espionage.”

26. “The expansion of our consciousness would be best served by allowing for an abiding tension between those conflicting fairy-tales or myths called ‘theories’ without rejecting any one of them simply because in certain situations a particular theory may have advantages over others, and allowing this tension to further proliferate theories that make new ‘facts’ possible.” Prometheus and Atlas, loc. cit.

27. Moreover, two can play the conspiracy game as well. In Prometheus and Atlas, Jorjani reduces the much-vaunted Christian “God” to a two-bit, yet rather sinister, UFO trickster – JHVH-1, as the Church of the Subgenius dubbed him. See Chapter Twelve, “Mercurial Hermeneutics.” No wonder Dyer will sneer at Project Blue Book. Always notice when a conspiracy theorist tells you “nothing to see here.”

28. One might note that focusing the reader’s attention on the location of mysterious “hidden forces” is also an effective way to keep their minds off developing any of those Promethean abilities; one might compare this with Jorjani’s account of how Descartes and Kant constructed entirely materialistic accounts of science precisely so as to occult the very existence of psychic powers and thus derail their general development, and preserving the “conservative religious faith in the dogmas of Abrahamic revelation.” See Prometheus and Atlas, op. cit., Chapters Three and Four. The sense of being trapped by occult forces beyond control or even identification is likely intended to correspond to the “sense of being trapped” felt by Cartesian dualists such as La Mettrie or De Sade, which led “straight to the madhouse of reactionary religious faith.”

29. At most, about forty percent of Americans were smokers, while it’s not uncommon to find films like Lost Continent [37], where literally everyone is constantly smoking. If you compare that to cellphone use, or PC ownership, or indoor plumbing, it’s clear the industry still had some room to grow before being wiped out after the Surgeon General’s report.

30. For a non-voluntary example, think of how much film has been used up watching characters dial rotary phones.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
svensson

3,946 words

[1]Lennart Svensson
Science Fiction Seen from the Right [2]
Manticore Books, 2016

“Ursula Le Guin wrote about socialist utopias. Heinlein fought against them. There you have Science Fiction Seen from the Right in a nutshell.”

Readers of Counter-Currents will be familiar — and likely agreeable to — the notion that despite what you heard in school, most all the truly great writers of the twentieth century were “men of the Right.” This has been the theme of books like Kerry Bolton’s Artists of the Right: Resisting Decadence,[1] or Jonathan Bowden’s Western Civilization Bites Back.[2]

Bowden also gave us Pulp Fascism,[3] with its subtitle “Right-Wing Themes in Comics, Graphic Novels, and Popular Literature” and including coverage of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, Sarban’s The Sound of His Horn, and Brian Aldiss’ Moreau’s Other Island; why not then SF as a genre, tout court?

As if in response, comes now this book; with a title like Science Fiction from the Right, one can consider this an automatic purchase for anyone on the “Alt Right.” If you’re looking for a well-informed study of the SF genre that’s decidedly not from the hard or soft Left perspective that seems de rigueur for both academics and SF writers themselves, this book is for you. Svensson, however, has grander ambitions, and that’s where the book begins to be a bit of a disappointment.

Despite its title, Svensson is not really interested in “the Right” as such; he is interested in tradition, or, as he sometimes spells it, Tradition. And therein lies a perhaps unconscious indication of the problem: is it tradition, or Tradition?

Svensson is certainly straightforward from the start:

My definition of “right,” “a man of the right,” is “a man adhering to traditional, eternal values.”

These eternal values can be exemplified as: duty, honor, honesty, accountability, selflessness, modesty, fidelity, faith, courage, justice, mercy, clemency, compassion, magnanimity, equanimity — values that are in harmony with the eternal natural law, with Dharma and Tao, with Physis and Lex Nauralis.[4]

And to clarify: to merely advocate limited government, personal responsibility, moral values and productivity . . . is not to be a traditionalist. It’s a start, but it’s not enough. There has to be an esoteric element present, a connection with the causal realm in which all of existence can be anchored in the Platonic World of Ideas. Here, ultimately, the eternal values have their footing.

To vindicate these ideals is what I do as a man of the right. I honor Tradition. To systematically embrace eternal values within a spiritual framework of Christianity, Hinduism and the Ancient way of the West, of esoteric strains in Greek, Roman and Norse thought, is called traditionalism. . . . There you have my outline of traditional values and their sources.

And if that’s not clear enough, he adds that

For a textbook rendering of the Perennial Thought intimated above, see René Guénon, . . . The Crisis of the Modern World, Julius Evola, . . . Revolt Against the Modern World, or Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya, . . . The Dharma Manifesto. Another lion of traditionalism currently alive, is Seyyed Hossein Nasr.[5]

He is equally forthright about his intentions in what follows:

My focus in this book is on conservative, right-wing SF and fantasy, of fantastic stories having the character of being based in eternal values as the ones sketched above, fantastic literature having some discernable relationship to Tradition.

Putting all this together, we get, as an example:

Frank Herbert’s Dune, dealing with meditation, courage and honoring your fathers, in the framework of this study, is an SF story of “the right-wing” kind, a story rooted in Tradition.

Now, it’s interesting that Svensson chooses Dune as his exemplar. It’s not the first book/author he looks at; that’s Heinlein, who is, as he says, the “most iconic right-wing SF author ever.” But it is the first — and pretty much the only — book/author that fits the notion of “having some discernable relationship” to capital-T Traditionalism.[6]

See, Svensson is operating with two rather different notions of tradition, which we might call majuscule and miniscule. Miniscule tradition — what he derisively calls “the Conservapedia definition” — could indeed be “exemplified” by that list of virtues but it, and them, have nothing in particular to do with majuscule Tradition.

Now, I’m not saying Guénon, for example, would reject those virtues, not at all; but they would be merely “finite,” pertaining only to social organization in the Kali Yuga. They may be necessary for a society in which Tradition is preserved and handed down; they may also be a necessary first step in moral training for the path of Realization; but no more than that. The “Perennial Thought” is a matter of metaphysics, not morals.[7]

To illustrate my point, consider that both Mike Hammer and his creator, Mickey Spillane, are certainly “men of the Right” in Svensson’s small-t traditional sense; Hammer, as even Ayn Rand perceived,[8] is, however violent and brutal, a man with a solid ethical code that he deviates from not one whit, and uses any means, however violent or illegal, to make sure no one else does either. And his creator was, to a remarkable degree, essentially the same man.[9]

But — to make the contrast clear – the film version of Kiss Me Deadly is, however accidentally, and despite being conceived as an attack on everything Hammer and Spillane represented, a work embodying and bodying forth Traditional themes, while The Girl Hunters, though written and even starring Mickey Spillane himself, is just another thriller, though an excellent exemplar of Hammer’s sadistically chivalrous values.[10] By contrast, Svensson would have a hard time defending Kiss Me Deadly as even small-t traditionalist, since the filmmakers portray Hammer not as a White Knight[11] but as a moronic sadist.

Svensson needs his two kinds of tradition, because unless he can shift from one to the other, he doesn’t have much of a book left.[12] It would be extremely interesting to find Traditional themes in SF;[13] but that’s because it seems, on the face of it, unlikely.

So mostly, Svensson falls back on miniscule tradition; Heinlein, for example, is hardly a Traditional thinker, even before his ’60s-hippie phase, but he certainly meets the “right-wing” criterion.

Svensson has also given himself another arrow for his quiver. Those who fail or refuse to acknowledge eternal values are defined here as “nihilists.” Those who stand against them, however, fall into two classes: those who passively observe their effect on society, and those who take up arms and by opposing (sometimes) end them.[14] The latter are praised, the former chided or condemned. Thus, authors as different as Heinlein and Lewis can be bracketed together for praise of their stand against nihilism.

The reader might think I’m condemning the book outright, but that’s not really the case. It has the virtue of its vice; with so broad a canvas, the value here rests in whatever Svensson can find to say about some book or author, and if the reader persists, he will find much value here.

Take this bracing insight on Ray Bradbury, which applies to many other areas of the Right:

We all know that Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) was a man longing for years gone by, for the American 1920s with T-Fords, striped cotton suits and icecream sundaes. But this kind of sentimentality can’t be tolerated in a study like this. Tradition isn’t about being sentimental, it’s about acknowledging Eternal Values, values that still can lift us, inspire us and guide us, offering an alternative to the current materialism and nihilism. For in essence, sentimentality is a form of nihilism.

Again, while J. G. Ballard is clearly an “active nihilist,” who, by “not putting up a credible counter-image to the forces of evil” has “superficially, nothing … to say to a radical conservative,” he is praised for at least being an honest skeptic, seeing through and rejecting the clichés of the liberal order. Svensson “gets” Ballard where so many don’t, seeing how Ballard goes on to find the creepy beauty of the new; Cambridge is just “a bicycle rack in front of Gothic backdrop”; the real action is at the US air base nearby, “with its concrete runways and landing lights.”

There’s beauty in the Ballardian urban landscapes and the Jüngerian Marble Cliffs.[15] This we sorely need, anything except the left-liberal chewing of General Buzzword No. 1: pity the weak.

Symbols abound, arresting hieroglyphs. Like the burnt-out shell of a B-29, its tailfin like a billboard advertising its own squadron. And the incomparable haze over the pale fields, antitank ditches and mounds, the same light seen after the dropping of the bomb, heralding the end of the war and the beginning of the next.[16]

So, another WWII story? No, not by far. This is the new kind of SF the 1960s sometimes gave us: “speculative fiction,” a free rendering of the modern world with all its symbols and attitudes, condensed into a more urgent narrative. . . . By 1964 his literary attitude had gained a sense of necessity and tragedy not reached by any other contemporary author, inside or outside the field.

One positive feature of this omnium-gatherum approach is that the reader finds himself introduced to new names and new books. For example, Karin Boye, and her novel Kallokain, apparently considered a Swedish modern classic for all to read, like our To Kill a Mockingbird, perhaps.[17] Svensson, in his brief chapter, makes me want to read this work of a Swedish poet/Valkyrie.

Another book/author unknown to me is Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood (1985), where the protagonist finds a primeval forest which is “a dimensional crossroads” where mental intentions interact with mythic energy, “co-creating” the intended results.

By contrast, the following chapter on the expected Orwell, Huxley, Zamyatin, and (perhaps less expectedly, the Metropolis of) von Harbou, really has nothing to say, although students will appreciate the suggestion that they need only read Chapter Three of Brave New World to get the gist of it. But by and large, the hits outnumber the misses.

One major misstep here is that Svensson seems to swerve from his basic theme and give in to the desire to present a kind of encyclopedia of SF matters. A chapter on SF illustration seems pointless without illustrations, and one on the origins and history of SF publishing delves into such thrilling matters as the evolution of pulp magazine binding techniques. The author would have been well advised to leave such matters aside and follow his own taste in the novella format,[18] concentrating on a few major figures and making his arguments tighter.

One has the impression that Svensson started with a list of authors — some essential, like Heinlein, some not that well known, like Boye, some ringers, like Marinetti or Castaneda — along with some topics, like war and nihilism; then he set to work writing something about each one, sometimes finding something to say on their literary or esoteric value, sometimes not.

In the end, one wonders why Svensson burdens his book, and himself, by bringing up the whole Traditionalist business. SF, as already intimated, doesn’t on the surface seem very “Traditionalist” at all.[19] I think the answer is hinted at here:

The ideal of SF, according to Holmberg, is this: man exploring nature with science and technology, thus conquering and understanding his universe, and in the process gaining insights leading to some kind of transcendence. As an esotericist I fully embrace this definition of SF. It’s about venturing out Beyond the Beyond and Within the Within.

Nor are the Beyond and the Within merely two, distinct aspects; Svensson notes several times his agreement with SF master Norman Spinrad, that the key motif of SF in space travel, but adds that to really travel in space requires inner transformation; otherwise, one may travel to the moon but only bring back some rocks.[20]

The Apollo project went to the moon, a much sought-after event, only to bring home a sample of rocks. In his diary Jünger wrote about this: “the only found a desert because they had the desert inside.”

But while SF may think of space exploration as requiring inner transformation, the Traditionalists themselves refuse to see any such link. Indeed, they are infamous for their contempt for mere technology or even science itself; Traditional societies, says Guénon in the book Svensson directs us to, had better things to do than waste their time with such toys. “Exploring nature with science and technology” and “thus conquering and understanding his universe” is nothing but “dispersion into the horizontal realm” rather than vertical ascent to the Beyond.[21]

So the connection Svensson sees between SF and Traditionalism is at best one-way. If SF leans toward something like Traditionalism, what’s really going on?

We find a clue here in a kind of reflex that Svensson retains from the Traditionalists: the use of the term “titanic” or “titanism” as a derogative, as in fact a synonym for nihilism. Lewis is praised for battling it, while Heinlein is rebuked for yielding to it. That should tell you something’s off here; isn’t Heinlein the “iconic” SF writer? Isn’t SF essentially Promethean, from Frankenstein (“The Modern Prometheus”) on, and even further back, to the various utopias that take inspiration from Plato’s Myth of Atlantis (the realm of Atlas)?

I suppose the Titans are “nihilists” not because they deny any “connection with the causal realm” but because they boldly reach out and grasp it for themselves, “storming Heaven” and “winning the Grail by violence.” The process of self-transformation that Svensson refers to is not so much a matter of Traditionalism as it is of Hermeticism, as even Evola admits.[22]

This “Ancient way of the West, of esoteric strains in Greek, Roman and Norse thought,” finds its “framework” not with Traditionalism but with something along the lines of Jason Reza Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas, where both science and SF are confronted and assimilated in the Titanic mode of the West.[23]

Periodically, Svensson drops the ill-fitting Traditionalist garb and promotes a doctrine of Will-Power as something against which SF authors are evaluated (the shift from the one to the other is eased because remember, one must not only diagnose nihilism but fight it!). This emphasis on the training of the Will so as to develop the ability to bring about changes in accordance with will (as Crowley would say) justifies the publisher’s reference to Colin Wilson.[24]

Indeed, interviewed elsewhere, Svensson sounds an awful lot like that modern exponent of the Hermetic Tradition Neville Goddard himself:

[Q] Man’s life is short. The border is always near. How can be a man educated in such a short period of time to understand the main things of life?

[A] Indeed, life is short. But any man can learn the two words, “I AM”. Christ said them seven times in the Gospel of John (“I am the light of the world, I am the door into the sheep, I am the good shepherd” etc.), as such a mirror of the” I Am That I Am”– saying of God in the burning bush of Exodus fame. And if the individual does the same, says “I am”, he acknowledges his eternal, divine nature, of being a spark of the eternal light. This I touch upon in Borderline[25] and this is the succinct summation of my creed: I AM. Modern man, if he so chooses, can reach spirituality this way. The I AM-saying is my formula for a more spiritual life, taught to “the man in the street.”[26]

To stay on the “man in the street” level of physical detail: the book has the quality we’ve come to expect from a Manticore publication; nicely proofread and typeset, with a sturdy binding and an atmospheric wrap-around cover illustration. The translation is serviceable, but another pass or two might have smoothed things out more and made it read a bit less like, well, a translation. Also, in a work of this sort, covering many names and topics, an index would have been appreciated.

In the end, one wishes Svensson would trust his Titanic instincts more, and liberate himself from his Olympian chains. Nevertheless, the reader will find much here that is provocative and truly thought-provoking; a book which not just looks at literature “from the Right” but raises questions about what, ultimately, is the Right itself.

Notes

1. Edited by Greg Johnson; San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012.

2. Edited by Greg Johnson; San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014.

3. Edited by Greg Johnson; San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015.

4. To anticipate a bit, I must point out that “natural law” has little or nothing to do with Tradition; it originates in Stoicism, which Evola, in the book Svensson later cites, dismisses as an “oriental” current alien to Aryan culture, and in its Christian form results from a further misunderstanding of the Greek concept of law as equivalent to “YHVH’s command.” The Stoic advising “live according to nature’s law” is more like our life coaches counselling “You should eat more organic” than a Bible-thumper screaming about da fegz. For more on this, see my essay “A Review of James Neill’s The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human Societies” (Amazon.com Kindle Single, 2013).

5. For more on Nasr as a “lion of traditionalism,” see my review of Al-Rawandi’s Islamic Mysticism, “The Bad Samaritan: A Glance at the Mohammed Mythos,” here [3].

6. Guénon would no doubt approve of its Sufi elements, but ultimately dismiss it as mere “syncretism;” Evola might have approved the emphasis on jihad. One must also point out that C. S. Lewis, whose works Svensson also considers exemplars of tradition, would surely have condemned Traditionalism as a blasted heresy and one of the worst tricks of the Devil.

7. Traditionalist would point to a similar mistake made by Jung and others who try to assimilate Tradition to psychoanalysis: the Path is not a method mental healing, but rather assumes an undivided and controlled mind as a starting point.

8. “Despite their apparent differences, Rand admired Spillane’s literary style, and Spillane became, as he described it, a ‘fan’ of Rand’s work.” See McConnell, Scott, ed., “Mickey Spillane,” 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand (New York: New American Library, 2010), pp. 232-39.

9. See my “A Hero Despite Himself: Bringing Mike Hammer to the Screen,” here [4].

10. See, of course, my essay “ ”Mike Hammer, Occult D**k: Kiss Me Deadly as Lovecraftian Tale,” here [5] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014); for comparison of the films, see my “Essential Films . . . & Others,” here [6].

11. Svensson approves the use of plate armor in the Lord of the Rings films, since it recalls the image of “knights in shining armor.”

12. “But I also admit that there are SF authors in this study hard to categorize. For instance, J. G. Ballard isn’t an author you would think of as a traditionalist. Rather, he’s some kind of modernist. But he isn’t explicitly Marxist.” Later, Ballard’s “The Atrocity Exhibition hasn’t got much to say about Tradition, the theme of this study. But taken for itself this is a great read.” Again, “It’s true that the praising of Tradition and the virtues of old don’t occupy center stage in Michael Moorcock’s novels.” Again, “Karin Boye was a left-leaning intellectual. But she still fits into this survey. Why? Because she wasn’t expressly anti-tradition.”

13. As the reader will know, or have inferred by now, I myself have done a bit of such exploring, mostly in the realm of fantasy — see the essays collected in The Eldritch Evola. . . & Others: Traditionalist Meditations on Literature, Art, & Culture (edited by Greg Johnson [San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014]) — but also in SF, such as the works of Olaf Stapledon — see “A Light Unto the Nations: Reflections on Olaf Stapledon’s The Flames” in The Eldritch Evola, and “‘The Wild Boys Smile’: Reflections on Olaf Stapledon’s Odd John” in Green Nazis in Space! New Essays on Literature, Art, & Culture (edited by Greg Johnson [San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2015]). Oddly enough, Stapledon does not appear in Svensson’s book. Stapledon was of course a parlor pink, but — and admittedly it’s an ironic point — his novels are filled with traditional and even Traditionalist themes, illustrating my point about the return of the Traditional in popular culture.

14. “Nihilists! F**k me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.” Walther Sobchak, The Big Lebowski (Coen Bros, 1998).

15. Svensson has written a biography of Jünger: Ernst Jünger — A Portrait (Manticore, 2014). The chapter on Jünger here seems like a condensed version, but it does make me want to see the full text.

16. To anticipate a bit, cf. Jason Reza Jorjani, “Promethium Sky over Hiroshima,” Right On, Nov. 3, 2016, here [7].

17. Amazon tells me that the University of Wisconsin put out an edition in 1966, in its dourly titled “Nordic Translation Series,” and a paperback in 2002 in its flashier “Library of World Fiction.”

18. Constant Readers will recall many occasions when I have joined with Henry James in praising “the dear, the blessed nouvelle” format. Writing of Moorcock’s Elric novels, that originally appeared as slim volumes but now comprise 400 page collections, “Having the Eternal Champion books as separate, slim volumes make the saga into a random access myth, an epic where you can begin where you want, merely reading one book or two and then leave it with the sense of having seen an aspect of Multiverse, the whole mirrored in a facet, as it were…. Otherwise, the ideal of the fantasy novel is always ‘thick as a brick’ and this will not engender classics in itself.” He also praises Ballard’s “The Terminal Beach” as “an embryoic condensed novel” with a “condensed, urgent narrative.”

19. Svensson gives himself another free pass by including the clearly more traditional if not Traditionalist genre of fantasy in his definition of SF; like the SF authors, his coverage varies from interesting – Tolkien, Lewis – to just going through the motions in the urge to completeness – Clark Ashton Smith, Lord Dunsany. I tend to agree with Kingsley Amis in New Maps of Hell; the two are best studied apart. Amis’s classic study – arguably the first truly serious critical work on SF – is not in Svensson’s bibliography, though he tells us that he intends his book to be “mapping out new lands,” and the publisher explicitly compares his book to Amis’s, as well as Colin Wilson’s The Outsider; possibly the first time both have ever been invoked at the same time.

20. The key work here is 2001: A Space Odyssey, which Svensson calls “absolutely unique in the history of cinema” and scores as 60% Kubrick, but a necessary 40% Clarke. This point about “inner space” was often made by William Burroughs, who is mentioned but whose works — Nova Express, for example — are curiously absent.

21. “[But to Traditionalists like Nasr] the events that produced the modern world are not signs of life in contrast to the cadaverous rigidity of Islam but signs of a Promethean betrayal that refuses the demands of heaven.” Al-Rawandi, op. cit.

22. See, of course, his The Hermetic Tradition: Symbols and Teachings of the Royal Art (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 1995), especially Chapter One on the myth of Eden.

23. Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos, 2016). See also the same author’s “Against Perennial Philosophy,” Right On, Oct. 21, 2016, here [8]. On the other hand, Prof. Jorjani might appreciate Svensson’s discussion of Heinlein’s use of parapsychological themes to challenge both science and SF.

24. It also may explain the bizarre inclusion of Carlos Castaneda among the authors discussed; Carlos’ first wife was a disciple of Neville.

25. Borderline: A Traditionalist Outlook for Modern Man (Numen Books, 2015).

26. “Lennart Svensson: ‘The I AM-saying is my formula for a more spiritual life, taught to “the man in the street”’,” here [9]. Compare Neville, basically in any of his books or lectures; here [10], for example. On Neville and both Hermeticism and Traditionalism see “Magick for Housewives: The Not-so New (and Really Rather Traditional) Thought of Neville Goddard” in Aristokratia IV (Manticore Press, 2017) and my afterword to Neville’s Feeling is the Secret (Amazon Kindle, 2016).

 

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]6,156 words

Oswald Spengler’s radical contribution to the philosophy of history was to observe that different Cultures and Civilizations are discrete life forms and that they all have a certain life-expectancy. The linear progression of history, from the Stone Age to the prevailing Western liberalism, is a myth. There is no single line of history running through all of humanity. Instead, Cultures are born, they grow to maturity, they age, and they die. The springtime of one high Culture is, for Spengler, contemporaneous with the springtime of another, not with other human societies that happen to be in existence at that time. The point can be clarified by analogy with the human organism. A child alive today is contemporaneous with a child who lived in Roman times in the sense that they share the same stage of development. It is the Destiny of both children to grow to adulthood, then to descend to senility and death. This Destiny may be thwarted by disease, violence, or hunger, so that the child never matures, but it remains the Destiny of the human organism to follow such a process of growth leading to death.

Within this process of growth, Spengler draws a distinction between two separate stages: the Culture and the Civilization. The Culture is indicative of the youthful energetic phase, and transforms the symbolic imperatives of its genesis into high art and technical innovations suited to its worldview. Inevitably, these high forms begin to turn stale and the Civilizational phase then begins to kick in. Civilization grows logically from Culture, and it represents a move to a more urban lifestyle where novelty and cosmopolitanism become sought after. Spengler identified the high point of Western Culture as being the Baroque, and the supreme artistic forms that expressed the essence of that Culture as counterpoint and oil painting. Since that peak we have moved to the democratic stage of Civilization’s unfolding. Spengler is clear that this stage is dominated by the power of money. It is also associated with the rise of rationalism, identified in the Western Culture with the Age of Enlightenment. In this democratic stage, cities grow and folk traditions die out. Intellectual innovation becomes valued whilst religion disappears. The Cultural forms that surround us at the present time have decayed and degenerated due to the inner logic of organic growth and decline, so that we have only fads, fashions, and opinions masquerading as Culture.

This form of plutocratic democracy can only exist for so long, as it soon exhausts itself in its restive search for novelty and change. Ultimately everyone becomes bored with the shallow machinations of this type of society and there begins to arise a yearning for something deeper and more meaningful, a harkening to the call of the blood:

There wakes at last a deep yearning for all old and worthy tradition that still lingers alive. Men are tired to disgust of money-economy. They hope for salvation from somewhere or other, for some true ideal of honour and chivalry, of inward nobility, of unselfishness and duty. And now dawns the time when the form-filled powers of the blood, which the rationalism of the Megalopolis has suppressed, reawaken in the depths.[1]

This represents the beginning of the Caesarist age. This age arises from the democracies but supersedes them. It is characterized by an expansive Imperialist urge to impose its worldview on as wide a field as possible. The inner development of the Cultural life has already reached full maturity, so there will be no significant developments in that respect. The yearning for something more meaningful is satisfied by returning to earlier forms of the Culture that preceded the democratic age. These forms are no longer capable of development but through a reengagement with them the population of the Imperial Civilization is once more able to regain a sense of nobility and the connection with the numinous that had been lost.

Spengler refers to this return to earlier forms as a “Second Religiousness.” The earlier religious impulses are now ossified but they still provide sufficient inspiration to give impetus to the Imperium, as they are at least paradigmatically superior to the reign of money and triviality. In this particular phase we can see a plethora of new cults emerging as people gradually lose faith with the democratic money age, and look for something more perennial:

We have in the European-American world of today the occultist and theosophist fraud, the American Christian Science, the untrue Buddhism of drawing rooms, the religious arts-and-crafts business (brisker in Germany than even in England) that caters for groups and cults of Gothic or late-Classical or Taoist sentiment. Everywhere it is just a toying with myths that no one really believes, a tasting of cults that it is hoped might fill the inner void. Materialism is shallow and honest, mock-religion shallow and dishonest. But the fact that the latter is possible at all foreshadows a new and genuine spirit of seeking that declares itself, first quietly, but soon emphatically and openly, in the civilized waking-consciousness.[2]

When the Imperial phase has run its course then it means that that particular culture has finished. The populations living within the boundaries of the defunct Empire are overrun by the barbarians and return to an ahistorical peasantry. This peasantry will subsist in a manner befitting all peasantries and will have nothing to offer to history. But within this peasantry there will necessarily arise a need to understand and articulate the presence of the Numen:

He feels about him an almost indescribable alien life of unknown powers, and traces the origin of these effects to “numina,” to the Other, inasmuch as this Other also possesses Life. . . . Now it is important to observe how the consciousness of each Culture intellectually condenses its primary “numina.” It imposes significant words—names—on them and thereby conjures (seizes or bounds) them. By virtue of the Name they are subject to the intellectual power of the man who possesses the Name. The pronouncement of the right name (in physics, the right concept) is an incantation.[3]

This longing for some form of higher expression, some meaningful articulation of enduring ideals, finds an outlet in the proliferation of new religiosities and cults. From this matrix of mystical yearning may grow the shoots of a new Culture that will have its own particular world view and life-expectancy. From this perception of the Numen a new Cultural form can be born and, thus, the cycle of birth, growth, and death may begin again in a new vehicle.

Spengler’s conception of history has drawn criticism from all sides. Many critics have questioned the element of inevitability that is inherent in Spengler’s model. Theodor Adorno denied that it was historically necessary to follow the pattern that Spengler described, and he saw Spengler as an advocate for the decline he depicted. For Adorno, a key intellectual influence for the forces of the New Left, Spengler is complicit in the historical processes that he describes because he refuses to accept that historical unfolding can be altered. According to Spengler’s model the lifespan of a Culture is determined by the imperative of internal logic and by its having a limited duration. For Spengler, this life-cycle cannot possibly be extended any more than the life of a human can be extended to 300 years. As he famously wrote, “optimism is cowardice.”[4] Adorno refuses to accept the idea that there is an unavoidable decline that cannot be halted. Due to his abhorrence of the Caesarism of Hitler, Adorno claims that the Imperial phase of the West is, in fact, a willed descent into barbarity and oppression. Adorno maintains that Cultures of the past died out because they were based on exploitation, and therefore lacked equilibrium.[5] With the possibility of Communism offered by Marx it was no longer necessary to succumb to the forces described by Spengler:

In a world of brutal and oppressed life, decadence becomes the refuge of a potentially better life by renouncing its allegiance to this one and to its culture, its crudeness, and its sublimity. The powerless, who at Spengler’s command, are to be thrown aside and annihilated by history, are the negative embodiment within the negativity of this culture of everything which promises, however feebly, to break the dictatorship of culture and put an end to the horror of pre-history. In their protest lies the only hope that fate and power will not have the last word. What can oppose the decline of the west is not a resurrected culture but the utopia that is silently contained in the image of its decline.[6]

Perhaps Adorno has a point. After all, the refuge of decadence has been manifested most ably throughout the former Cultures of the West by his followers, even if there is no sign yet of utopia. For Spengler, however, such diversions are all too predictable at this stage of Cultural decline. The existence of decadence, Communism, or other intellectual fads is something that might be supported or opposed, but it is not something that can affect the broader flow of history:

Whether these doctrines are “true” or “false” is—we must reiterate and emphasize—a question without meaning for political history. The refutation of, say, Marxism belongs to the realm of academic dissertation and public debates, in which everyone is always right and his opponent always wrong. . . . The power that these abstract ideals possess, however, scarcely extends in time beyond the two centuries that belong to party politics, and their end comes not from refutation but from boredom. . . . Belief in program was the mark and the glory of our grandfathers—in our grandsons it will be a proof of provincialism. In its place is developing even now the seed of a new resigned piety, sprung from tortured conscience and spiritual hunger, whose task will be to found a new Hither-side (Dies-seits) that looks for secrets instead of steel-bright concepts and in the end will find them in the deeps of the “Second Religiousness.”[7]

Whilst Adorno abhors Spengler’s “universal structure” and denies the applicability of its prognosis to the twentieth century West, his own New Left formulation relies on the historical inevitability of Marx, and the particular model of history he promulgated—a model based on universal applicability. Adorno’s critique of Spengler seems overly influenced by the particular phase of the cycle that he was living through, and is perhaps tainted with the optimistic cowardice common to utopians everywhere.

Another thinker who denies the inevitability of Spengler’s model comes from the opposite end of the political spectrum to Adorno. In his introduction to Yockey’s Imperium,[8] Willis Carto argued that the ultimate decline of the West can be avoided due to the unique technological situation available to the West at that time. Specifically, writing at the dawn of the space age, Carto suggests that space exploration could fulfil the expansive imperative of the Caesarist phase without resulting in the debilitating mixture of races that follows Imperialism. For Carto, it is this racial mixing that provides the organic cause for the decline of a Culture. All Cultures conclude with a universalist, Imperialist phase due to the inner logic of their life-form. This, Carto accepts, cannot and need not be avoided. But, with the advent of space travel, it should be possible to fulfil the inner need for Faustian exploration whilst avoiding the miscegenous downfall of all previous Cultures. Carto sees the Destiny of Western Man lying in space colonization and the creation of an inter-stellar Imperium.

It is an ingenious response to Spengler’s pessimism as it acknowledges the necessity of the historical processes identified by Spengler yet seeks to align them to a transcendent goal, befitting the urge towards infinite space identified with the Faustian spirit. But no one writing in 1960 could have foreseen the limited future that space exploration was to have. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968 gave a sober prediction of intelligent, conscious, computers controlling a manned flight to Saturn. This scenario was based on the best technological predictions available at the time and now looks unbelievably over-optimistic. The further we travel along the final arc of our Western Culture, the more accurate Spengler’s pessimism appears.

Unlike Adorno’s critique of Spengler, Carto shared many of Spengler’s basic assumptions and hoped to participate in implementing the next phase of the cycle. From our perspective it seems less and less likely that there is a future for our Culture. Is there no room for hope?

There is some uncertainty about the particular phase of the cycle we are living through. In the middle part of the twentieth century it seemed clear that the Caesarist age was with us, as various European leaders superseded their democratic systems with new regimes founded on pre-democratic ideals. The American hegemony obtaining since 1945 can either be seen as the cessation of the Caesarist imperative, or its deeper fulfilment in the global spread of Western ideas. The latter interpretation, if it is correct, would undermine Spengler’s model as it would demonstrate the achievement of Imperium through the power of money, rather than through the transcendence of money values. Certainly, Yockey saw 1945 as representing the beginning of pseudomorphosis, a sort of sickness causing the Cultural organism to fall out of sync with its Destiny. For Yockey, this sickness was due to the Culture distortion imposed by the Jewish elites in America who have taken over that country and now rule it for their own ends. Spengler had described historical pseudomorphosis as the imposition of an older Cultural form on a younger, and more vital, form.

If we accept that the Global world order gathering pace under the (distorted) American banner is, in fact, a pseudomorphic distortion of the Destiny of the West then we are faced with two possible scenarios: the first is that the Caesarist phase has been thwarted, in which case the Culture is already dead, and there can be no possibility of Cultural renewal; the second is that the Global World Order is just an extension of the democratic money period, that the Caesarism of the 1930s was premature, and that we are yet to begin the authentic Imperium phase of our Culture. Thus, we are either entering an ahistorical descent into peasantry or we are awaiting an Imperial renewal of earlier forms.

The interesting thing is that, in either of those scenarios, we are living at a time in which we would expect to see the beginnings of new yearnings towards the numinous. Before considering the possibility of such new numinous forms emerging, it will be helpful to sketch a brief outline of the arc of development of Western artistic Culture. The intention is simply to identify the internal logic of the West’s decline.

The Council of Trent (1545–1563) played an important role in the development of Western music. At this ecclesiastical conference the question of counterpoint in music was discussed. The issue was controversial because it was felt by some that counterpoint was being deployed for mere ornamentation, for entertainment value. Whereas plainsong allowed for complete clarity in singing lines of scripture, counterpoint tended (so the argument went) to obscure the text by employing elaborate musical techniques that demanded adulation in their own right. The music was meant to be a mere vehicle for the praise of God. Legend has it that the composer Palestrina persuaded the Council of the merits of counterpoint by composing a mass which utilized that technique so beautifully that they accepted its application as an art suitable for worship.

Counterpoint became the emblem of the Culture of the West. For Spengler, the fundamental symbolic formulation for the West’s mode of apprehension was the yearning for infinite space. Counterpoint was the perfect way of expressing this yearning: “The symbolism of counterpoint belongs to extension and through polyphony signifies infinite space.”[9] This characteristically Western form of expression developed into the form of the sonata, and its voice became that of the stringed instruments:

The theme of the fugue “is,” that of the new sonata-movement “becomes,” and the issue of its working out is in the one case a picture, in the other a drama. Instead of a series of pictures we get a cyclic succession, and the real source of this tone-language was in the possibilities, realized at last, of our deepest and most intimate kind of music—the music of the strings. Certain it is that the violin is the noblest of all instruments that the Faustian soul has imagined and trained for the expression of its last secrets, and certain it is, too, that it is in string quartets and violin sonatas that it has experienced its most transcendent and most holy moments of full illumination. Here, in chamber-music, Western art as a whole reaches its highest point.[10]

What has happened at this point in the Culture’s development is that music has become a thing in itself. It is no longer used as an appendage to other art or religious forms, it becomes instead the foremost form of expression in its own right. Whereas the Classical Culture’s primary symbol was the body, representing a conceptual world view based on a feeling for solidity and best expressed through sculpture, the Western primary symbol is infinite space, the furthest horizon, and it finds its supreme expression through the polyphonic music of the strings.

The creation of the sonata form was also accompanied by further developments in Western Culture. In particular, the novel reached a certain peak of formulation at around the same time as the sonata, and both forms share structural similarities. In a formulaic sonata the first subject is presented in the home key which then bridges to a second subject in a different key. The two subjects are developed before both are finally resolved by returning to the initial home key. This schema of unity disrupted by conflict which is then resolved into further unity underlies most classic novels and could be said to represent the form of the novel. In fact, it is a structure underlying the hero myths and sagas that accompanied the birth of the Culture, so it can be seen that, in this sense, the sonata and the novel are the ultimate crystallization of the underlying myths of our Culture.

With the achievement of these forms there is nowhere else for Culture to go. From its inception the Culture has been developing the forms of its expression apposite to its specific apprehension of the numinous. From the earliest sagas, through the medieval morality plays and mummer plays, to the grandiloquence of Elizabethan theatre, and finally to the privately consumed, and individually wrought form of the novel, the Culture has travelled from a shared experience of numinous heroism to the private contemplation of personal psychology. A similar trajectory is followed in the field of music: from the heroic Anglo-Saxon poetry (which would have been accompanied by the heorp, a stringed instrument), through the ritualized church music of medieval times, to the polyphony and chamber music of the eighteenth century, and then on to the absolute music that sought expression purely in its own terms, concluding with the sterile experimentalism of the twentieth century.

For Yockey, and others, the artistic degradations of the twentieth century were a consequence of Culture distortion. In particular, Yockey referred to the revolution of 1933, which saw the full augmentation of Jewish power under Roosevelt in America. Following Yockey’s model, the Jewish takeover of power in America led to the hegemony of Jewish influence in the arts and created the possibility for the spread of those ideas peculiar to the Jewish mindset: the atonality of Schoenberg, the development of minimalism by Reich, etc. It is undoubtedly certain that the rise of Jewish power in America has led to an exacerbation of artistic forces that are antithetical to the ethos of the West, but it is still the case that the Culture of the West was already set on course for much of the individualism and triviality that is nowadays often dismissed as “Jewish.” The real problem with the idea of Culture distortion is that it tends to downplay the importance of the real arc of Western Cultural development by fixating on those elements that are foreign to it, and thereby failing to acknowledge that Western Culture was already declining without the influence of Jews. The danger here is that, whilst playing cherchez le juif, we tend to hark back to older and more fulfilling Cultural forms, but forms whose force has already been spent. In doing so, we risk replacing one species of pseudomorphosis with another. This is so because the tendency is to return to the shells of previous Cultural forms, shells no longer animated by the numinous force that made them powerful to begin with.

We have already seen that the genesis of Culture, as well as the second religiousness, is animated by the perception of the numinous. The numen is the presiding god of a particular place. The word is related to the Latin nuere, nod, and to the Greek neuein, incline the head, indicating an assent or command. Thus, the word indicates the effects of the power of the deity. If we are to begin to look for signs of incipient Cultural stirrings beneath the surface of what passes for artistic endeavor nowadays, it will be necessary to seek out those currents that transmit something of the numinous, or that pay worship to the presiding deity. In looking for such signs it is important to remember that the numinous is concerned with the awe-inspiring, and as such it is unrelated to forms which might seek to pay lip service to existing religious structures. Artistic forms capable of embodying the numinous will often be shocking and unexpected. Many readers will disagree with the observations concerning numinous Culture that follow, and will dismiss them out of hand. But it is to be hoped that the presiding deity of our Culture is still able to transcend the expectations of conservative taste.

In the following I will firstly be contrasting seemingly similar outward forms and noting the essential difference between them; secondly comparing apparently distinct forms and noting the essential similarity; and thirdly noting how a particular work illustrates the difference between the Second Religiousness and the birthing of an entirely new Culture. The purpose of these contrasts is to locate the centrality of the numinous in the genesis of Culture.

To begin at the opposite end of the artistic spectrum from the numinous, the Sensation exhibition, held at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1997, showcased the collection of Charles Saatchi and offered a useful index of everything that is wrong with contemporary art. Sensation was primarily a showcase for the more conceptually minded artists such as Damien Hurst and Tracey Emin. But it lodged itself in the public consciousness due to the inclusion of a work of acrylic on canvas by the painter Marcus Harvey. Myra was a portrait of the so-called moors murderer, Myra Hindley, based on the legendary police photograph taken after her arrest. This large painting employs a sort of pointillist style and gains its notoriety due to the fact that the paint is applied using the handprints of small children. One viewer was moved to smuggle in and throw paint onto the picture when he viewed it. Despite the assertions of Norman Rosenthal in the exhibition catalogue that the purpose of art is “to conquer territory that hitherto has been taboo,”[11] Sensation neither broke taboos nor conquered new territory; nor did it have a moment’s thought for the numinous. In fact, after the vandalism of the Myra painting, the area around the picture was roped off and a security guard was employed to stand protectively next to it. This only served to emphasize the feeling that this sort of art aggrandizes its own sense of importance to such an extent that we are meant to worship it, rather than allowing it to be a bridge to a true object of reverence.

The esoteric precursor to Myra can be found in the strange quasi-manifesto of COUM Transmissions, Annihilating Reality, written by Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson. This document is concerned with questioning, not so much what constitutes art, but whether art should be seen to transcend legal and social taboos, and contextual legitimacy. In particular, they contrast certain avant garde artistic provocations with criminal, or socially unacceptable, activities and ask where the sanctification of a work as “art” comes from. They suggest that many artists share similar impulses with criminals, and indeed similarity of forms of expression with them in certain cases. The piece uses a large number of quotations and short, often disconnected, paragraphs titled either “hearsay” or “heresy,” as well as a large number of illustrations to demonstrate its point. But the most controversial part, which led to media condemnation,[12] concerns the idea that the photographs taken by Ian Brady on Saddleworth Moor, which have a secret meaning for him due to his knowledge of the burial sites of his child victims, might be considered a form of performance art:

Hearsay: Ian Brady and Myra Hindley photographed landscapes on the Moors in England where they had buried children after sexually assaulting and killing them. Landscapes that only have meaning when perceived through their eyes. Art is perception of the moment. Action. Conscious. Brady as conceptual performer?[13]

The example of the Moors Murderers is a distasteful one, to say the very least, but it was no doubt intended to make the point in extremis. The more sober question the article poses concerns what the essential element of artistic creation is, and whether it requires prior or retrospective endorsement by some establishment to gain legitimacy.

Whilst one of the purposes of Annihilating Reality was to puncture the pretensions of the art establishment, it nonetheless made some important points. The manifesto states, “performance art is probably the Shaman, Mystic, Lunatic, Buddha, visionary of contemporary times, in a post-religious era a crucial and responsible function best kept away from dealers who are the Pardoners of our culture.”[14]

It is this realization that distinguishes the article from mere provocation. The common element that P-Orridge and Christopherson move towards in Annihilating Reality is a perception of the present moment as a consciously lived experience. Whilst art can create this heightened sense of awareness, so can crime. By identifying the distinguishing merit of art with this heightened, Mystic awareness, P-Orridge and Christopherson set the ground for their subsequent experiments with Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth, Chaos Magick, and other projects. The important thing to note is that, from an early stage, they were perceiving their own art projects as being set within a context of mystical consciousness; a nebulous idea, perhaps, but indicative of an experimental praxis allied to the numinous.

Despite the apparent similarity of using the shocking subject matter of the moors murderers, Harvey’s painting is firmly located within the context of the art establishment and employs notoriety in order to extend its meaning as art; whilst the praxis suggested in Annihilating Reality seeks to subvert the very notion of “art” as a category by noting its arbitrariness, and by isolating the point of numinous apprehension as the nexus of its operation.

Within the field of music there is often no synergy whatsoever between different genres, and this is particularly the case when considering “classical” music in relation to “popular” music. As discussed earlier, the Western musical tradition, according to Spengler, reached its apex with the sonata form. Its subsequent development, particularly through the twentieth century, is problematic. The twelve tone system of Schoenberg; the serialism of Boulez; the elaborate experimentalism of Stockhausen; all, to different degrees, speak of either the decline of the tradition or its distortion; probably both. Nonetheless, adherents of the Western tradition seek to protect and segregate classical music from the degenerate forces of more popular forms; this, despite the evident degeneracy of the classical form itself. If we are to seek the essential spirit that lies within music we will begin to transcend the barrier between “classical” and “popular” that has now become obsolete.

Giacinto Scelsi [2] was a reclusive Italian composer who was initially interested in the twelve tone system and other early twentieth century experimentations. Following a personal crisis he changed direction and became concerned with exploring the musical possibilities inherent in a single note, and he saw this project as being a deeply mystical one. This dates from his 1959 composition, Four Pieces on a Single Note. What he sought to do in this work, and subsequently, was to open out the tonal and timbral textures of a single note and to explore the range of sonic possibilities that could be found with it. This compositional praxis bears similarity with the chanting of Tibetan monks who elaborate on a single tone with simple instrumentation.

In works such as Anahit and Uaxuctum (subtitled The Legend of the Maya City, Destroyed by Themselves for Religious Reasons), Scelsi’s music achieved a simultaneous sense of accessibility and arcane depth. The graceful majesty of the sustained tones is underpinned by being surrounded by a restive instrumental accompaniment. It is music that resembles sunlight on a still pond; a singular impression formed by a constantly fluctuating surface. It is also music that is somewhat terrifying, evoking a sense of cosmic space and emptiness. In this sense it is similar to Ligetti’s Atmosphères, which also provokes a sense of awe. Scelsi’s music avoids the alienating and unappealing elements of atonality, and instead brings together a rich and unique tonal sensibility within a framework guided by his interest in mysticism.

Scelsi’s 1969 piece, Konx Om Pax, is in three movements and is subtitled Three aspects of Sound: as the first motion of the immutable; as creative force; as the syllable Om (the Buddhists’ sacred syllable). In the third movement the orchestra is joined by the chorus repeating the sacred syllable “Om.” Like much of Scelsi’s oeuvre, the music is superficially repetitive, but the repetition is never straightforward; the theme develops and progresses but never strays from its obsessively focused theme. The title Konx Om Pax refers to the word “peace” in three different languages, and is also the title of a book by the occultist Aleister Crowley. Knox Om Pax provides a link between Scelsi and some of the post-punk experimentalism that took place a decade or so after its composition.

The album, Nature Unveiled by Current 93, contains two long tracks that bear a great deal of similarity with Scelsi’s music. “Ach Golgotha (Maldoror is Dead)” is partly based on a looped tape recording of Crowley chanting “Aum,” and in this it is directly linked to Scelsi’s Konx Om Pax. But far deeper than this, it is apparent that the sonic landscape presented in “Ach Golgotha (Maldoror is Dead)” is attempting to express a certain state of mind, or being, that segues entirely with what Scelsi was trying to achieve. Certainly, “Ach Golgotha (Maldoror is Dead)” is possibly one of the most terrifying sound recordings ever made. It is somewhat repetitive but, again, it has nothing in common with serialism. In fact, a distinguishing feature of both Scelsi’s and Current 93’s music is that it is clearly articulated with a great deal of emotional resonance; it has nothing in common with the arid intellectual elitism of atonality. Listening to both “Ach Golgotha (Maldoror is Dead),” one perceives that both pieces are attempting to manifest a sense of the numinously awe-inspiring character of sacred sound. That they both turned to prior religious forms in order to do so is not really the point. Both pieces transcend their source material and point towards new musical forms.

In literature, some of the plays of Peter Shaffer deal with a renewed sense of numinous apprehension, most notably Equus [3] which, incidentally, was the inspiration for the Current 93 song “Hooves.” In this play a young boy, Alan Strang, is referred to a psychiatrist, Martin Dysart, after he has blinded six horses with a metal spike. The play depicts the psychiatrist’s efforts to get to the underlying motive beneath Alan’s gruesome act. As we learn more about Alan’s background it becomes apparent that, through a complex mix of Christian guilt and sexual immaturity, he has come to create a personal religion for himself. The root cause of this can be traced back to when he was a young child and was once taken for a ride on a horse by a stranger on a beach. For a few moments he was able to experience genuine freedom and exhilaration, and an escape from the repressive atmosphere created by his parents. Dysart learns that when Alan first saw this horse he was able to converse with it in his mind. The horse is called Equus, and he lives in all horses; he is the divinity of horses. From this moment on, Alan carries out rites and observances to Equus in secret, culminating in the psychotic blinding of the six horses in an act of defiance of divine omniscience.

As Dysart learns more about Alan he comes to understand that Alan has experienced a numinous relationship with his new god, albeit manifested through psychosis. Dysart becomes jealous of his patient as he realizes that his own life is a suburban charade, lacking in the conviction that Alan’s instinctive worship is able to manifest spontaneously:

I sit looking at pages of centaurs trampling the soil of Argos—and outside my window he is trying to become one, in a Hampshire field! . . . I watch that woman [Dysart’s wife] knitting, night after night—a woman I haven’t kissed in six years—and he stands in the dark for an hour, sucking the sweat off his God’s hairy cheek! (Pause) Then in the morning, I put away my books on the cultural shelf, close up the kodachrome snaps of Mount Olympus, touch my reproduction statue of Dionysus for luck-and go off to hospital to treat him for insanity. Do you see?[15]

Dysart becomes troubled by the idea of trying to cure Alan because he recognizes that to do so will rob Alan of his worship, as well as his psychosis. At the play’s conclusion, Dysart delivers a valedictory soliloquy to Alan:

Passion, you see, can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created. You won’t gallop any more, Alan. Horses will be quite safe. You’ll save your money every week, till you can change that scooter for a car, you’ll slip round to the Betting Shop and put the odd fifty P on the gee-gees, quite forgetting that they were ever anything more to you than bearers of little profits or little losses. You will, however, be without pain. More or less completely without pain.[16]

Equus depicts the distance that lies between the adherents of the Second Religiousness and the creators of new, numinous Cultures. Dysart is grasping at long since spent forms whilst Alan is birthing new forms in blood. Even Dysart’s name points to his location in the late Civilizational phase (Dysart = Dys-art, i.e., bad art). Alan’s personal religion is doomed to be cured out of existence, but he has nonetheless lived for a time with the numinous, in all its beauty and horror.

If we accept that Spengler was right; if we accept that the future holds for us only decline, whether in the end of our Civilization or in the last hurrah of the Second Religiousness of the Imperium; then we still need not despair. Optimism is cowardice, but only if it hopes for the renewal of what has passed. New Cultures are birthed in the apprehension of the numinous; they are the effects of the surfeit of power of particular gods. If we wish to aggrandize ourselves and assume that we have a stake in Culture, that we can influence Culture in some way, then we can only do so by seeking out expressions of the numinous in Culture, and by encouraging their earthing. In this way we are able to hear the music of our god. An Imperium, or a new Culture, may not occur in our lifetimes; this looks increasingly likely. But if we pay attention to the numinous and revere it in all its forms then we are already placing ourselves out of time, beyond the limitations of the vulgar money age, and participating in the seeding of a new, numinous Culture.

Notes

[1] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West (New York: The Modern Library, 1962), 396.

[2] Ibid., 347.

[3] Ibid., 200.

[4] Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics (European Books Society, 1992), 72.

[5] Theodor W. Adorno, Prisms (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1981), 71.

[6] Ibid., 72.

[7] Spengler, The Decline of the West, 389-91.

[8] Ulick Varange (Francis Parker Yockey), Imperium (Sausalito, Cal.: Noontide Press, 1962).

[9] Spengler, The Decline of the West, 119.

[10] Ibid., 120.

[11] Norman Rosenthal, et al., Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection (London: Thames and Hudson, 1997), 11.

[12] Simon Ford, Wreckers of Civilisation: The Story of COUM Transmissions & Throbbing Gristle (London: Black Dog Publishing, 1999).

[13] Genesis P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson, “Annihilating Reality,” Studio International, July/August 1976, 44–48.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Peter Shaffer, Equus (New York: Samuel French, 1973), 50.

[16] Ibid., 69.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Gabillou 'sorceror,' Dordogne, France

[1]3,360 words

Part 5 of 7 (other parts here [2])

5. Can Biology Explain Ekstasis?

I have already mentioned that scientists speculate that cave art (and religion, language, etc.) comes about as a result of some kind of genetic mutation, perhaps a “sudden, serendipitous, genetically-based brain reorganization.” Since I have argued that it is ekstasis that founds the possibility of art, and other things, we must now entertain the hypothesis that ekstasis can be explained biologically: specifically, in terms of Darwinian evolutionary theory. I will argue that there are inherent difficulties with this.

Discussing these difficulties will bring to light some further facts about ekstasis and human nature, which will set the stage for my own account of how ekstasis arose. My theory will not be a rejection of science, however. Instead I will argue for a new scientific paradigm — a new type of evolutionary theory — that can make sense not only of how ekstasis took possession of our Paleolithic European ancestors, but of what our place is in the scheme of creation. Sections Six and Seven will lay out these ideas. But let us now begin by considering the more conventional, and generally-accepted scientific approach.

Recall Schopenhauer’s words quoted earlier. He says that in the experience I have called ekstasis we “lose ourselves entirely,” and “we forget our individuality, our will.” “Will” is a special technical term in Schopenhauer’s philosophy. At the risk of oversimplifying matters, essentially this refers to the natural self, with its biologically-based instincts and drives, which normally enthralls us.

When we are in the grip of will, everything is viewed in terms of utility. To put the matter in the terms of current biological theory, we approach everything in terms of whether (or how) it will advance our survival and reproductive success. Now, the basic problem with explaining ekstasis in biological or Darwinian terms is that it is precisely a state in which — as Schopenhauer makes very clear — we disengage completely from concern with the satisfaction of biological drives. Those drives, by contrast, narrow our interests to the concerns (short term and long term) of the organism. In ekstasis we prescind from all such concerns. We transcend our biological drives — the preoccupation with survival and reproduction — as well as the immediate moment, and even our personal identity.

Darwinism, as it is understood today by its proponents, insists that human characteristics that have proliferated (and are not, by contrast, isolated anomalies) must somehow serve to advance survival and reproductive fitness. How can Darwinism, then, make sense of ekstasis, the defining characteristic of humanity, when central to it is our ability to negate or transcend the concern with survival and reproduction?

Now, I can imagine what the response might be from Darwinians. They will point to the fact that ekstasis makes possible symbolic thought, which makes possible language, which has obvious survival value. Or they will point to the fact that ekstasis makes possible the grasp of essences, which enables us to engage in scientific investigation, which enhances our ability to survive by allowing us to make predictions about nature, and to harness nature’s power. And, perhaps, those who were able to experience ekstasis and to engage in these sorts of activities were more attractive to mates. All of this is quite plausible. Ekstasis does make possible certain things that enhance our ability to survive and reproduce. “So,” the Darwinian will say, “ekstasis is a faculty or act that allows us to momentarily disengage from biological concerns — only so that we may produce results that are biological advantageous.”

So far so good, but matters get trickier when we turn to the other products of ekstasis: the Hegelian triad of art, religion, and philosophy (the highest forms, for Hegel, in which human Spirit strives for self-knowledge). To try to explain such matters in terms of their theory, Darwinians will put themselves through the most absurd mental contortions.

For example, in an otherwise valuable book, Nicholas Wade asserts that “the essence of religion is communal,” because “religious rituals are performed by assemblies of people.”[1] He then argues that religion must therefore have been a device for strengthening communities. But this is an obvious non sequitur. Most people see films in cinemas, gathered together with others. Does it follow from this that the essence of cinema is “communal”? Is sitting in the dark with other people the point of going to a movie? (It’s certainly not why I go: I usually want the other people to leave.) Will Darwinians of the distant future conclude that human beings made films as a device for strengthening communities? If so, they will be quite wrong.

When we turn to how Wade actually thinks religion strengthened communities, things get really absurd. He theorizes that the invention of language gave “freeloaders” the power to deceive others, and then speculates that “Religion could have evolved as a means of defense against freeloading. Those who committed themselves in public ritual to the sacred truth were armed against the lie by knowing that they could trust one another.”[2] Now, up to a point what he has said is quite true: religious commitment is a way of increasing trust (as when we swear on the Bible in court). But it doesn’t follow that this is the point of religion, or why it arose in the first place.

Wade’s theory is just one example of the clumsy approach some scientists take in explaining religion, and other matters. As in Lewis-Williams’s account of the origins of art, these are cases of people trying to explain a phenomenon they find quite alien, which involves feelings and desires they have simply never experienced. But the nadir of the Darwinian explanations of such matters are the “sexual selection” theories that have been offered by many. How do we explain philosophy? The pursuit of wisdom for its own sake can’t really be for its own sake, can it? No, it’s got to be about attracting mates. Philosophy is a reproductive strategy developed by nerds. They can’t compete with the jocks on the playing field, so instead they dazzle females with their dialectic. Such hypotheses simply do not deserve to be taken seriously.

The theory of natural selection is a powerful tool for explaining a great deal in nature, and a great deal about us. The trouble is that Darwinians totalize the theory. When faced with a human activity that clearly has nothing to do with advancing survival or reproductive fitness, and even perhaps to sometimes imperil these, they respond by inventing highly implausible stories about how that activity must really fit their theory after all. And, often in the absence of any other evidence, they treat the simple fact that they have made up such a story as “proof” that Darwinism has now explained things. Stretched and contorted in this way, Darwinism becomes an unfalsifiable pseudo-science: nothing can disconfirm it.

Plus, the neo-Darwinians fail to understand Darwin. He never said that all human traits that get passed along must have something to do with advancing survival and reproductive fitness. Darwin merely claimed that traits that are positively inimical to survival and reproduction will not get passed along. Some traits may be entirely neutral to these considerations, neither advancing nor hindering biological interests (e.g., male nipples). Whereas others may be ambivalent, like ekstasis: sometimes advancing, sometimes hindering.

Art, religion, science, and philosophy all may, in some direct or indirect way, contribute to our ability to survive and reproduce. But this fact is merely incidental — it is not the reason why these activities are engaged in by human beings, nor (as I will argue anon) why they originated. Indeed, all of these activities may actually threaten survival. Consider the artist who practices celibacy, or ruins his health for the sake of his art. Or the scientist who does the same: Nikola Tesla was just such a man. Consider the chaste monk, or the religious fanatic who immolates himself in the name of his faith, or starves himself to death (as some of the Jains still do to this day). Consider the philosopher who, like Socrates, chooses to die rather than to renounce the love of wisdom.

All these activities — art, religion, philosophy, science — are, as I have argued, founded on ekstasis. And ekstasis is just the capacity to disengage ourselves from our biological drives, our selfish concerns, and the immediate moment and to awaken to the Being of things. And in that engagement with Being, we may glimpse possibilities for human life that have nothing to do with the call of nature.

Of course, my readers may be having some misgivings at this point. The very idea that we can “negate” the nature inside and outside us may strike some of you, justifiably, with horror. Isn’t this the human tendency that has caused all the problems in the world? Isn’t it what’s behind not just environmental devastation, but also the modern denial of biologically-rooted human differences (i.e., natural inequality)? This is undeniably true.

There is a kernel of truth in the Christian doctrine of freedom of will. Unlike the rest of his creatures, God did not place man completely under the subjection of natural drives and instincts. Instead, he left him free to choose — up to a point. He can choose to be in thrall to those instincts and drives, as is the man the Hindus call pashu. But if he chooses to transcend (or to try to transcend) the pull of nature, things can go either way. He may find truth, beauty, and goodness. Or he may make a complete mess of things. He may envision impossible ideals that go so much against nature they are inimical to human flourishing, even the flourishing of alienated intellectuals. In such cases, nature usually bites back, or finds a way back in.

Ekstasis is indeed a double-edged sword: helpful to us sometimes, harmful at others.[3] But it is crucial to understand that our ability to negate or, better put, transcend the natural is also the source of everything that is great about us. I need say little on this latter point, for I have already argued that art, religion, philosophy, and science involve this “transcendence,” and these are unquestionably the glories of the human race.

As I have indicated, I am skeptical of the ability of modern, Darwinian biology to explain ekstasis and the peculiar duality it produces in our nature. However, in fairness I must concede that it would be plausible for a Darwinian to take the position that although ekstasis produces behaviors that are sometimes inimical to survival and reproductive fitness, it produces enough results that actually advance biological interests for ekstasis to have proliferated. This is a reasonable position — but in fact it does not show that Darwinism can explain ekstasis. Far from it.

Darwinism, in truth, can only explain why certain traits have been passed along, or not passed along. It cannot explain why these traits originated in the first place. Darwinian theory essentially explains everything in terms of two components: random mutation, plus natural selection. Biological novelty arises as a result of genetic mutations that occur when organisms reproduce themselves. Those mutations that are disadvantageous to survival and reproduction will tend not to be passed along (the organisms that bear them will tend not to reproduce, and so eventually the mutations die with them). Whereas mutations that enhance survival and reproduction, or are neutral with respect to these, tend to be passed along to subsequent generations.

But if we ask where the mutations come from in the first place — where novelty comes from — Darwinian theory has no substantive answer to this. Mutations, Darwinians will tell us, are “random” or “chance.” Most non-scientists think that the theory of evolution has something to do with “progress”; with things getting better and better. But this is not the case. According to Darwinism, there is simply change, without ultimate rhyme or reason. Mutations do not happen because they are somehow “needed”; they just happen. And they do not fit into any sort of larger plan. That would buy into the sort of teleology (or “design”) that Darwinism expressly rejects.

The teleological or theological explanations of nature all make order primary: things happen for a reason; things are tending toward the realization of some rational plan or order. For Darwinism, by contrast, chance is metaphysically primary. The ultimate explanation for things — for why mutations (or biological novelties) arise — is chance, the opposite of order, design, or intention. But for all intents and purposes, to say that something happened “by chance” really amounts to the same thing as saying “we don’t know why it happened.” And to be committed to the idea that ultimately things happen by chance (i.e., that “things just happen”) is to be committed to the idea that the universe is absurd. Thus, despite the undeniable explanatory power Darwinism has exhibited within certain delimited contexts, ultimately it is simply another expression of modern nihilism.

The Darwnians are uncannily like the character of Socrates in Aristophanes’s comedy The Clouds (first performed in 423 B.C.E.). Socrates is portrayed in this play as a materialist and sophist. He accepts Strepsiades, an old bumpkin, as a student and attempts to teach him that it is not Zeus who thunders but the clouds themselves:

Socrates: They thunder, as they roll.

Strepsiades: In what way, you all-daring man?

Socrates: When they are filled up with much water and are compelled to be borne along by necessity, hanging down full of rain, then they heavily fall into each other, bursting and clapping.

But Strepsiades responds to this theory with a very reasonable question: “Who is it that compels them to be borne along? Isn’t it Zeus?” Socrates has a ready answer: “Not in the least. It’s ethereal vortex [dinos].” Strepsiades’s response is amusing, but pregnant with significance: “Vortex? I hadn’t noticed that Zeus didn’t exist and that instead of him Vortex is now king.” Later, Socrates has more success with Strepsiades’s son Pheidippides. Near the end of the play, a thoroughly-corrupted Pheidippides commits the cardinal sin of beating his old father, and the following exchange takes place between them:

Strepsiades: Have awe before ancestral Zeus!

Pheidippides: See! “Ancestral Zeus”! How ancient you are! Is there any Zeus?

Strepsiades: There is!

Pheidippides: No, there isn’t, since Vortex is king, having driven out Zeus.[4]

The Darwinians are in exactly the same position as Aristophanes’s Socrates (and have had exactly the same social effect, incidentally). They have dethroned God, and put Vortex — Chance, Chaos — in his place. This is literally true. At root, the typical Darwinist is committed — with all the fervor of a religious zealot — to the view that it is chance, disorder, and meaninglessness that reign supreme in the universe. But once one realizes that “chance” (like “vortex”) is a non-explanation, then the door is left wide open for another theory to supplement — or supplant — Darwinism; one that has greater explanatory power.

And we will need such a theory to explain ekstasis, for clearly “chance mutation” will not do. O felix mutatio! To have made possible art, religion, philosophy, science, and language. Indeed, to have made possible man’s self-knowledge — and, as I shall discuss in the next two sections, the universe’s self-knowledge. No, there must be something else going on here . . . But if we must go beyond the approach of Darwinist biology, where do we look?

[3]

In thinking about ekstasis and the mystery of how it arose, I am often reminded of the “black monolith” from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Of course, while the film leaves this mysterious and metaphorical, Arthur C. Clarke’s understanding was more literal: aliens sent the black monolith to ape-men as a “teaching machine.” I am also reminded of Heidegger’s concept of das Ereignis. In German this term simply means “the event,” but Heidegger uses it to refer to his belief that sometimes in human history there have been occurrences or shifts that may have no rational explanation. For Heidegger, the ultimate disproof of modernity’s insistence that everything is explicable lies in its inability to fully explain the contingent historical circumstances that have led to it.

Now, I am willing to accept the idea that certain things may be inexplicable — with the exception, however, of those that I can explain. And I do believe that ekstasis is explicable. Talk of alien intervention, Ereignis, or even God will not do, however. “God” is more uplifting an explanation than “chance” (and it does have the advantage of making order primary, rather than disorder — which, I shall argue, is the more reasonable position). But ultimately it is really no more clarifying than “chance.” “It’s chance” means “things just happen for no reason.” “God did it” means “things happen for a reason, but we can’t understand it.”

To be sure, there are mysterious, abrupt “shifts” in the evolutionary record. One of these was the so-called “Cambrian explosion” (this example is dear to the hearts of the advocates of “intelligent design,” a theory I do not endorse). This was the rather sudden appearance about 542 million years ago of most of the major animal phyla. Upper Paleolithic Europe was, in effect, the “Cambrian explosion” of human prehistory. But such events are neither miracles, nor chance occurrences. They make perfect sense if we understand that nature itself is moving toward something — that the whole of which we are a part has ends of its own.

Man is, of course, a part of nature. But, as I have discussed, it seems that in us nature has given rise to a curiously unnatural being. We are of nature, but separate from it at the same time. We are capable of negating the nature in us (and the nature outside us) and transcending it. Consider: doesn’t the fact that nature has given rise to an “unnatural” being like us make “nature” itself (or existence itself) seem awfully peculiar? It seems to suggest that there are mechanisms at work in nature that have gone unfathomed by the scientific theories that currently reign. It suggests, in fact, that existence itself may have certain larger “purposes” that we have not yet comprehended.

Ekstasis can be explained by biology — or, more broadly, science — but only if we go beyond the narrow confines of Darwinism and consider a new way of looking at things. The next section will return to the topic of ekstasis, this time considering how the possession of it can be used to situate man “in the scheme of things,” vis-à-vis the rest of nature. This will set the stage for a consideration, in Section Seven, of the meaning and purpose of nature, of the whole itself.

Notes

1. Wade, 164.

2. Wade, 165.

3. As I wrote in my essay “The Gifts of Ódhinn and His Brothers [4]”: “Ódhinn, the god of ekstasis, is not an entirely benevolent god. There is within us, and within him, the capacity to err: to go too far, to pervert and corrupt in the name of ‘the good,’ to rebel against all limits to will or to knowledge. Ódhinn is both Ginnarr (Deceiver) and Sanngetall (Finder of Truth). He is both Sváfnir (Sleep Bringer) and Vakr (Awakener). He is both Bölverkr (Evil Worker) and Fjölnir (Wise One). We have the same oppositions within us. We have the capacity to open to Being — and to close to it. We want to receive the mystery — and to cancel it; to penetrate everything and obliterate all mystery. . . . Ódhinn sometimes helps men and guides them to the true and the good, and sometimes tricks them and leads them to their doom. He is wonderful and terrible. He switches sides without warning and breaks covenants. He seeks total knowledge, torturing his body on Yggdrasil for nine nights to win the runes, and sacrificing an eye to drink from Mímir’s well. Ódhinn gains timeless wisdom from Mímir’s well — but sacrifices part of his ability to perceive the present and immediate. Western man has made a similar sacrifice, losing the present in anticipation of the future, the ideal; losing the earth in anticipation of what the earth might be shaped into.”

4. The translation is by Thomas G. West and Grace Starry West, in Four Texts on Socrates (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984), 131 (lines 374-380); 175 (lines 1468-1471).

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]3,634 words

The Colossus of New York (1958)
1958 / B&W / 1:78 enhanced widescreen / 70 min.
Producer: William Alland
Director: Eugène Lourié
Cast: Ross Martin, Otto Kruger, John Baragrey, Mala Powers and Charles Herbert.

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRG93Kc0QBw [2]

The Colossus of New York! No, not that piece of green junk in the harbor [3]. And it’s not Donald Trump.[1] [4] Although in some ways, it’s Hillary – the Colossus of Chapaqua?[2] [5]

Everyone, at least those not raised Amish or in hippie commune, recalls movies that scared the pants off them when seen on TV some Saturday afternoon or late night.[3] [6] Usually, what one recalls are movies so cheesy only a five year old would be scared, providing some amused nostalgia.

But there are others.

Usually, these films continue to, well, scare the pants off you through accidental factors; the combination of low budget effects and cheap photography, amplified by the decaying prints still in circulation on local TV, creates a new layer of creepiness over and above anything intended by the cast and crew.[4] [7]

Now, Constant Readers will recall that NYC’s public cable channel likes to dig up old movies filmed in the city, equally low budget and poorly preserved.[5] [8] Recently, they scraped the barrel low enough to dredge up some first-class nightmare fuel: The Colossus of New York.

Here’s a synopsis, which only begins to give clues to how damned creepy this is:

Shortly after winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end World hunger, doting husband and father, Jeremy Spensser (Martin), is struck down and killed by a car. Jeremy’s father, noted brain surgeon William Spensser (Kruger), is distressed that his son’s gifts will be denied to Mankind and rescues his brain from burial, keeping it ‘alive’ in a bubbling jar of liquid (don’t try this at home) with a view to ensuring his ideas and imagination can continue to flourish, even after death. Transplanting the brain into a specially contracted giant robotic body, he enlists Jeremy’s brother, Henry, to help keep the project secret. The huge shell is mechanically unreliable and combined with the lack of human contact and affection, Jeremy slowly starts to go mad, gaining immense strength and developing the ability to harness power and unleash it in the form of death rays from his eyes. The madness builds until The Colossus goes on the rampage in New York, culminating in a stand-off at the United Nations where only his young son can save humanity. (Horrorpedia [9])

And you can watch it here [2], in a surprisingly good print (of which more anon).  Or at least, you used to be able to watch it. Actually, during the writing of this very review, Paramount seems to have noticed and had it taken down. Here [10]’s their preview clip.  You can also take in a colorized, ten-minute digest of the film here [11], with subtitles identifying supposed “transhumanist” motifs (of which more anon as well). There’s also now a DVD and even a Blu-ray release; the latter gives me a chance to prove I’m not the only one this film affects strangely, courtesy of this reviewer:

[Do] you notice how many reviews of this film (and as of now, there are only a total of about 25) MANY people use the terms ‘Atmospheric’, ‘Eerie’, ‘Creepy’, etc… Well, I have to add my complete agreement with that. Most of the Sci Fi films of that decade could be quite hokey in their low-budgetedness (?) But, there was just something to this one which carried a much heavier weight and mood than most. I don’t know exactly what it was, but there was an unusual ‘earnestness’ or ‘gravitas’ that somehow created a much stronger atmosphere and very serious mood for the film. I mean, even with it’s very low budget and fairly common theme, there was just some magical element in the direction, acting, and especially the bloody MOOD of the dang thing that conveyed a LOT more impact than the sum of its familiar parts can quite explain.

I had never seen this film before; and to be honest, I was fully expecting a REAL corny 1950’s Sci Fi film. But, there was just SOMETHING that kept me riveted to the screen and much more emotionally involved than I EVER would have expected with a film of this nature and from this time period.[6] [12]

As if they’ve promised us a creepfest, and by jiminy they mean to give us one, the effect starts right from the first frame. Want a pictorial background to your opening credits, rather than drab white letters on black? Just slap a postcard up there! Hey, greetings from NYC![7] [13] Look, it’s the UN!

Oh, and Plot Point! This scrappy little narrative wastes no time getting round to the fundamentals of screenplay writing.

And the … music. A piano duet, sounding like some kind of High Romantic/academic atonal mash-up. Surely that’s just the overture, right? Nope, it’s gonna continue right to the last of the 69 minutes here.

It’s instructive, though, that while when Ed Wood tried to save money by reusing the soundtrack to another film by the same producers, the now totally inappropriate flamenco guitar ostinato at best suggested an alienation effect,[8] [14] here the bare bones music works perfectly, whether we’re outdoors on an estate in Westchester County or walking under the Hudson River (I’ll get back to that in a bit).[9] [15]

I had assumed that, as in Wood’s case, this was a low budget strategy (hence, they got Van Cleave, not Van Cliburn) but apparently “a musicians’ strike early in 1958 had studios recording film scores overseas and in some cases doing without them altogether.”[10] [16]

The part(s) that really freaked me out, and still do, are two scenes where the Colossus walks under the river, along the riverbed, to get to his murderous rendezvouses.[11] [17]

These excursions nicely illustrate the Theory of Creepy. This is real bargain basement (no pun) filmmaking at its finest. The Colossus strides along in front of some kind of aquarium or swimming pool window, totally oblivious to any waves, debris, without even a drop on him, like Diver Dan’s old TV show [18]. And yet, precisely for that reason – though for some reason unlike Diver Dan – it’s scary as all Hell.

It also illustrates another important factor: your mileage may vary. Cinematic Catharsis says [19] that “Shots of the errant robot …walking underwater possess a dreamlike quality,” while Glenn Erickson, who says that “I was too young to see this one personally in a theater,” cruelly speculates that “Kids… giggled to see him striding calmly up the bottom of New York’s East River.”[12] [20]

Hey, this is an art, not a science. Perhaps you need to have seen it first with the innocent eyes of childhood. In fact, Erickson perhaps reveals the cynical adult filmgoer behind that comment when he adds:

Every time I see the soggy Colossus stepping up those stairs out of the river, I think of James Stewart carrying Kim Novak up a set of similar waterside steps on another Paramount sound stage.[13] [21]

After such knowledge, what forgiveness?[14] [22] Here we see the fallacy exposed by Colin Wilson in his collection of music criticism, Brandy of the Damned[15] [23] — the error of thinking that art, like science, “progresses” by leaving behind false or inferior theories. Works of art are windows on the good and beautiful, and to close one is not to grow and “move beyond” but to suffer the loss of an outlet. One gains nothing by “moving on” from Sibelius, or from the Colossus; knowledge of one film should enhance, not occlude, enjoyment of another.

Erickson and I also disagree on the scenes where the Colossus attempts to interact with his little boy. Again, supposedly “kids” would have “got a good laugh from the robot’s mock-paternal voice when talking to Billy;” not this one, buddy!

Nevertheless, some elements do take on new or additional nuances as time passes. The scenes with Billy, for instance, may be uncomfortable today for other reasons – don’t tell your mother about the Iron Giant you talk with in the forest, it’s our secret, Billy.  Right. And again, the hyper-efficient screenplay inserts a key Plot Point here which sounds again rather uncomfortable, as the Colossus reveals to us his hidden on/off switch: “Don’t touch me there!”

Still, better that than “the robot’s plaintive, screeching wail, which follows his initial activation.  It’s nothing short of nightmare fuel.”[16] [24]

Another touch, no doubt intended to suggest irony, carries a different charge today.[17] [25] Jeremy, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate for his discovery of instant food (or something), becomes the Colossus who takes fascistic delight in destroying useless eaters.[18] [26] Although I suppose he could have walked across the Atlantic to attack Sweden, he instead chooses a nearer target of opportunity: the UN. (Hence, bookending the post card beginning).

Yet less than two decades later the Prize would be awarded to such mass murderers as Henry Kissinger and Menachem Begin; and what about laureate Barack Obama, with his promises of “hope and change”? How many did he kill, figuratively sitting at the video-game controls of his own mechanical golems, the drones?[19] [27]

This “bizarre ending” as Erickson calls it appropriately sums up all the virtues of low-budget filmmaking; as Erickson describes it:

Art director John Goodman sketches the UN with minimal sets built around a broad checkerboard floor and a large plaque bearing a pacifist credo.[20] [28]Restricted camera angles lend this final scene a dreamlike quality, as does Eugène Lourié’s bizarre direction: the various U.N. dignitaries stand in place, waiting patiently to be fried by the cyborg’s death rays. An electronic sound effect from The War of the Worlds is repurposed for the occasion, and optical artist John P. Fulton animates the deadly ray blasts. Editor Floyd Knutson must have been left with no options for cutaways, because he’s forced to use a shot out of order and continuity: before the first female victim is zapped by a death ray, we see her already lying in place on the shiny U.N. floor. Adding to the dreamlike weirdness, nobody comes to the aid of this woman or any of the other the fallen dignitaries. (Italics mine)[21] [29]

[30]Quite different, and much more terrifying, than something like Hitchcock’s smooth Technicolor UN. To this triumph of low-budget art, we can only add a note about the interesting detail of the checkerboard floor – quite prominent in the downward camera angle – on which the delegates stand motionless, waiting for death; it is, of course, the universal symbol of the warp of and woof from which the material universe is woven, as we’ve explored before.[22] [31]

The capper on all this is how, after all the death and destruction, having converted his son’s admittedly tragic death into a complete international catastrophe – and think of the subsequent media firestorm – Doc Spensser just shrugs his shoulders and walks away. The End.

Producer William Alland (March 4, 1916 – November 11, 1997)  was behind lots of the 50s horror/sci-fi/monster films, including This Island Earth [32]It Came From Outer Space [33]Tarantula [34]The Deadly Mantis [35]The Mole People [36]The Colossus of New York [37]The Space Children [38]The Creature from the Black Lagoon [39] and its two sequels.[23] [40] Director Lourié seems to have kinda specialized in the “X challenges mankind” genre, or to have at least helmed a couple more famous ones, like Beast from 20,000 Fathoms – whose Harryhausen stop-action monster attacks New York from the sea, predating Godzilla, inspiring all the rest of the 50s atomic mutant monster films, and earning a homage in Cloverfield – and, just to switch things up a bit, Gorgo, where the titular sea monster attacks London, although with less impressive results.[24] [41]

With such creators, it’s no surprise that Colossus obviously riffs on several film/book classics, such as Frankenstein and perhaps Metropolis. Its most obvious debt, however, is to the mediaeval Jewish legend of the Golem [42] (Hebrew: גולם), as well as later novel and film versions such as Gustav Meyrink [43]‘s 1914 novel Der Golem [44] and especially Paul Wegener’s 1921 film [45] (actually a trilogy, of which only the first part survives); the “robot” here closely resembles Wegener’s clay figure.[25] [46]

The latter feature is indeed a puzzle. Frankenstein built his creature from human parts but had to work on a large scale due its prototype status; on the other hand the robot Maria is Rottweg’s attempt to resurrect his dead, lost love Hel, and even today its lithe form has a certain cyborg-ish  eroticism,[26] [47] but Rottweg is as much an alchemist as a scientist, so I suppose even a postwar, vaguely Germanic scientist like Jeremy’s father (Otto Kruger) still might not have the technology available to make a human-scale robot. Operation Paperclip, Schmaperclip![27] [48]

But still, why give him such a horrific visage, sure to scare anyone away, except a child – his son – who can be convinced he’s a fairy tale giant. Dr. Spensser has clearly modelled the head on cinematic representations of the Golem. Is this decision deliberate, or some kind of racial memory (or perhaps morphic resonance)?

What’s really new about Colossus is the way it explores – if you can call a nightmare an “exploration” – the idea of what today might be called transhumanism[28] [49]. And thus it looks forward to Robocop, Ghost in the Shell, and perhaps Blade Runner,[29] [50] films which, perhaps because of their (relatively) big budgets, and despite their undoubted merits, fail to capture the claustrophobic nightmare of post-mortem cyborg existence quite like this queer, quirky little quickie.

Notes

[1] [51] Known to Jim Kunstler, if no one else, as “The Golden Golem of Greatness.”

[2] [52] You might recall that during the late campaign much was made of Hillary’s propensity to fall, fainting spells, blood clots on the brain, etc. There was even speculation that she had died already from one or another of these things and been replaced by a double, or perhaps an android, which in turn accounted for her odd behavior. Her curious affect and her daughter living in a retro-fitted medical clinic added to the speculation.

[3] [53]Count Scary [54] was a horror-movie host in Detroit back in the 80s (and apparently still going strong) whose act was basically a rip-off from (or homage to) SCTV’s Count Floyd [55], himself, of course, already a parody of local horror-hosts like Detroit’s Sir Graves Ghastly [56] (I’m not sure if the opening of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood is a deliberate homage) or Boston’s Morgus. Both Counts specialized in dull, inane movies that they would try to hype hysterically during the breaks, although Scary’s movies were real. Now that’s really scary! While Floyd would threaten to scare the pants off you, Count Scary would sometimes literally have his pants scared off. MST3k was conceived as another homage to the vanishing world of local horror hosts.

[4] [57] Thus, I’m not talking about cheap, black and white movies of the same time period that deliberately seek out such effects, such as The Hypnotic Eye (1960), in which a sadistic nightclub hypnotist programs his female victims to mutilate themselves in a variety of horrifying yet everyday ways (hot showers, anyone?), which I can’t look at yet doesn’t really haunt one’s memory. These films never rise above the level of Grande Guignol; I can’t understand the cult appeal of, for example, Herschel Gordon Lewis.

[5] [58] See “A Pattern Begins to Emerge: Thoughts on Rod Serling’s Patterns,” here [59].

[6] [60]An unusually atmospheric Sci Fi film for the time… Blu-ray: AWESOME A:9 V:10” by lathe-of-heaven [61]; Imdb.com, 8 June 2014, here [62].

[7] [63] Of a similar effect at the start of an Ed Wood film, one of the MST3k crew observed: “New York, the city that never moves.” By contrast, when Bert I. Gordon has “giant” grasshoppers crawl up a postcard of the Chicago skyline [64] in the contemporaneous Beginning of the End (1957), it’s just stupid.

[8] [65] “The music consists of flamenco guitar and piano riffs, in vaguely free-form jazz cues which, although hauntingly beautiful, evoke no excitement or dramatic tension whatsoever. The mournful, almost avant-garde music emphasizes the alien texture of the film, and makes the most dramatic and tense scenes seem dreamy and unreal, in effect a modern incarnation of the “melancholy chants” used in the Osiris death ritual. Jail Bait’s opening titles roll as a Nash police cruiser prowls a busy Alhambra, California, street at night, while dreamy jazz music plays, setting the stage not for a gripping crime melodrama, but a weird spiritual tale in some modern purgatory.” Rob Craig, Ed Wood, Mad Genius: A Critical Study of the Films [66] (Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2009); see my review here [67].

[9] [68] “The piano score by Van Cleave is both unusual and haunting, especially during the tense scenes between creation and creator/father.” DVD Review. “Van Cleave’s subdued piano-based score contributes to an overwhelming sense of dread.” Cinematic Catharsis [69]. “The Colossus of New York is one of the stranger entries into the 1950’s and 60’s wave of films with monsters and aliens on the rampage, with a distinctly serious, almost pious tone, due in no small part by the unique score by noted television composer Van Cleave, harking back to the silent era with solo piano creating the mood and tension without the histrionics of wailing theremins and huge fruity string sections. Horrorpedia, op. cit.

[10] [70] Blu-ray review by Glenn Erickson, Turner Classic Movies, now online here [71].

[11] [72] Given the geography, I assume one is the Hudson River, the other the East River, but as we’ll see it’s just the same tank anyway.

[12] [73] Erickson, op. cit.

[13] [74] One might also note the prominence of the UN, as in another Hitchcock film, next year’s North by Northwest. Oddly enough, the UN wouldn’t let Hitch film there, so his UN is a combination of “rogue” shooting (when the goons pull up outside in their cab) without permission, and Hollywood sets, just like Colossus with a bigger budget.

[14] [75] T. S. Eliot, “Gerontion.”

[15] [76] 1964; later expanded and reprinted in the USA as Chords and Discords/Colin Wilson on Music, in which see pp. 12-12.

[16] [77] Cinematic Catharsis, op. cit [19].

[17] [78] “The bizarre ending carries an uncomfortable subversive charge: a philanthropic recipient of the Peace Prize commits a massacre at the United Nations.” –Erickson, op. cit.

[18] [79] “The Colossus also has political leanings; he loses interest in his humanitarian mission to feed the world, declaring, “Why create food for the maimed, the useless and the sick? Why should we work to preserve the slum people of the world? Isn’t it simpler and wiser to get rid of them instead?” He adds: “We must eliminate the idealists.” Horropedia, op. cit.

[19] [80] Watch Obama joke about droning some folks here [81].

[20] [82] “The Colossus stands before an even larger mural with the inscription from the Book of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Horrorpedia)

[21] [83] Erickson, op. cit.

[22] [84] See René Guénon, The Multiple States of the Being and The Symbolism of the Cross. Neville: “Think of the vertical line of the cross as the line of being upon which there are unnumbered levels of awareness” and “The Bible’s teaching is one of rising higher and higher in consciousness until rebirth occurs. There is but one purpose in life, and that is to rise higher and higher on the vertical bar of the cross.” (op. cit.).  See also my discussion of the checkerboard floor in Henry James’ “The Jolly Corner” in “The Corner at the Center of the World” in The Eldritch Evola … & Others (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014) and the pigeon-holes in Fred Hoyle’s October the First is Too Late(reviewed here [85]).

[23] [86] “Alland is also remembered for his acting role as reporter Thompson who investigates the meaning of “Rosebud” in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane [87] (1941).  In addition to his role as Thompson in Citizen Kane [87], Alland announces the “News on the March” newsreel segment, a spoof of the then-popular March of Time [88] newsreels. In later years, Alland twice provided voiceovers for pastiches of this News on the March segment: once for the 1974 Orson Welles film F for Fake [89] and again for a 1991 Arena documentary for the BBC titled The Complete Citizen Kane.” (Wikipedia [90])

[24] [91]Gorgo is so dire it earned the MST3k treatment, though mainly for being so bloody British about things. It also had the misfortune to “star” the infamous William Sylvester, an American “actor” who specialized in playing Americans in Brit movies; so great is his transatlantic blanditude that no less than two others of his films earned the same treatment: Riding with Death (two episodes of a failed TV series slapped together for theatrical release) and most notably, Devil Doll, where he is out-acted by the title character. Of course, blandness was exactly what Stanley Kubrick was after, and I like to imagine a rainy London afternoon screening of Devil Doll in which, near the end, Kubrick leaps up and shouts “Heywood Floyd and Bowman’s father – the cast of 2001 is complete!”

[25] [92] Cinematic Catharsis has a nice, recent review here [93].

[26] [94] “And of course, Metropolis’s robot is irresistibly seductive, with her sashaying hips and art deco fetish-gear bodywork.” Steve Rose, “Ex Machina and sci-fi’s obsession with sexy female robots,” The Guardian, 15 Jan. 2015, here [95].

[27] [96] See Jason Reza Jorjani’s “Black Sunrise” in his Lovers of Sophia (Manticore, 2017). The Colossus’ development of extra-sensory perception and death rays also speaks to Jorjani’s interests.

[28] [97] And like everything else, there’s a YouTube video [11], as previously noted.

[29] [98] See Trevor Lynch on Blade Runner here [99]. Gregory Hood suggests the recent Lone Ranger remake is a take on Robocop here [100]. I thought that Jason Reza Jorjani discusses Ghost in the Shell in his Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos, 2016), but I can’t find it in his chapter on Japan and anime, though his conclusion that “It is in Japan where, unburdened by the Judeo-Christian heritage, visionary artists have best crystallized transformative images of the coming metamorphosis of the merely human being into a  more diabolically daring and dynamic superhuman race, destined to liberate a capriciously ruled cosmos and conquer the inner space of latent psychic powers” is a pretty good summary of what Jeremy’s surgeon father and robotics expert brother have in mind.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]987 words

It is dangerous work, making a sequel to a classic like Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s 1982 magnum opus. French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 is a very good film, but it inevitably falls short of the original.

I first discovered Villeneuve’s work with his 2016 science fiction film Arrival (discussed with John Morgan here [2]). Arrival impressed me as a highly imaginative science fiction film with an original visual style, told with an appealingly deliberate art-film pacing, with a stunning plot twist and a powerful emotional payoff. Villeneuve’s 2015 film Sicario is an excellent thriller/crime drama.

Blade Runner 2049 is more like Arrival than Sicario, and that is something of a problem. At 2 hours, 43 minutes, Blade Runner 2049 takes art-house pacing and style to Tarkovskyesque lengths. It is a real artistic gamble, and not an entirely successful one. I think this would have been a much more effective film — and yet also more commercial — if directed more like Sicario, i.e., edited down/sped up to 2 hours.

It would have been more like the original Blade Runner as well. I suspect, however, that Villeneuve may have rejected such a course because he felt intimidated by the prospect of doing a sequel that would invite too many comparisons with the original, so he struck out in a direction that would be more likely to please middlebrow critics and the sort of people who enjoy sitting through Solaris, Stalker, or 2001: A Space Odyssey. I generally like such movies, but I felt that Blade Runner 2049 runs out of steam near the end and fails to deliver the powerful emotional punch toward which it was building.

But this problem may have been inevitable, for there was probably no way of doing this movie without including Harrison Ford, and frankly, I wish they had done it without him, or pared his role down to a brief Yoda-like encounter in the second act, where he imparts some useful information to the questing knight and then is left behind.

I also wish they had replaced Ford with Ryan Gosling’s character for the third act, which would have eliminated all the gimpy appeals to nostalgia. I think a much more emotionally powerful conclusion could have been crafted with Gosling alone, for he undergoes the same transformation from egocentrism toward disinterestedness and detachment that Roy Batty does in the original. (I won’t explain this point, because it would entail spoilers, but watch the movie, and you will see what I mean.)

Gosling, frankly, is ten times the actor that Ford is. Gosling’s performance as K, a replicant and a Blade Runner, is stunningly subtle and sensitive, whereas Ford is capable of nothing but being a two-fisted, hard-drinking, crotchety old scene-chewer. Frankly, after he was on screen for 3 minutes, I wanted to run him through with a light saber. (Science fiction will not be safe until the entire casts of the original Star Wars and Star Trek are dead.)

I liked most of the other performances in Blade Runner 2049, particularly Ana de Armas as Joi, Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, and Carla Juri as Ana Stelline.

Jared Leto’s performance as the Mephistophelean businessman Niander Wallace doesn’t really compare to the original’s Eldon Tyrell, and frankly I don’t understand his behavior in the first act, when he casually kills a new replicant while monologuing. Nor does his behavior seem rational in the third act. If Rachel gave birth to a child, and Wallace can create a whole new Rachel, and he has Deckard, then he has both parents. So why does he need the child? Can’t he discover the secret of replication reproduction with the parents alone? And if the child really is a “miracle” — an event that we can’t replicate with natural causes — then even if he had her, there’s nothing he could do.

In short, the basic problem with this move is the script. Which is a pretty big problem.

The script also lacks the poetry and mythic dimension of the original, which is not just a sci-fi dystopia but an allegory about Satan’s rebellion against God — see my essay on this topic here [3] — whereas here we just catch glimpses of a Marxist revolt of the masses, which is a myth as well, in the superficial sense of the word.

The film touches on the same issues of personal identity as the original, but does not add any depth to them.

Blade Runner 2049 extrapolates from the dystopia of the original, incorporating ecological elements from Philip K. D**k’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [4]. But other updates make no sense, such as the vast orphanage where predominantly white children dig through garbage. Isn’t this replicant work? And where are all these white orphans coming from? It doesn’t make sense that there are lots of surplus white children on an ecologically devastated planet.

The visual style of Blade Runner 2049 is stunning. Of course it is based on the original, but it develops it in interesting and original ways. It is truly the most successful element of the film. Like Terrence Malick, Villeneuve underscores the fact that cinema is inescapably a visual medium. Unfortunately, also like Malick, he also underscores the fact that a good movie needs to be more than just a series of striking images.

The music by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch effectively incorporates Vangelis’ original themes, but what is new is not memorable.

What this all seems to add up to is: Blade Runner 2049 is a superficial movie, but it is still successful as such. It held my attention for 2 hours and 43 minutes, but it lacked a powerful emotional payoff. It is good, but it could have been so much better. Still, it is definitely a movie that I will watch again, in the hope of glimpsing something deeper. I recommend it to fans of Blade Runner and science fiction aficionados in general. Take in a matinee with friends, then go out to dinner. I guarantee you will discuss nothing else.

 

 

 

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]2,213 words

Alien: Covenant is a masterfully crafted film from an experienced and subtle director. If you haven’t already seen it, I recommend this movie, as it has plenty to offer, ranging from gorgeous and eerie landscapes to White Nationalist dog-whistles. Much of the movie is shot with physical sets and props, giving a grungy, grimy, authentic feel to the cinematography. The spacesuits, xenomorphs, post-apocalyptic landscapes and crashed or ill-fated landers are all built on real sets and the raw solidity of it bleeds through. Ridley Scott has taken exceptional care to assemble a believable and breathing framework for his story and if nothing else, Covenant is a rewarding cinematic experience.

The film open with the camera stalking the U.S.S. Covenant, the doomed colony vessel of the title, and “ALIEN COVENANT” appearing in blocky white font stroke by stroke. It immediately feels different from tacky, superficial, Sandra Bullock in Space, Computer Graphics dependent outings. Computer graphics whizzbangery is used economically and only when necessary, and where it is used (aside from one tacky, redundant scene thrown in as a bone to backstory obsessives) it is so advanced as to be indistinguishable from real world around it. Blocky spacesuits drifting uncertainly through the void and gloved hands fumbling with tools are so tangible onscreen as to convey the claustrophobic isolation of deep space almost as effectively as 2001: A Space Odyssey, and that’s only in the opening act. Through it’s three-act arc of bad decision, catastrophic consequences and struggle to escape, atmosphere is layered on thick and is punctuated with shock body horror, gore and indescribable weirdness.

At the bloody, acid-pumping heart of Alien: Covenant lies an examination of the interspecies war between the sociopathic and the fallible and foibled. When Ridley Scott carved out his niche in cinema history with Blade Runner [2], the adaptation of Philip K. D**k’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? [3], the empathy-free android “Replicants” were dispensed with. A straight adaptation would have been too obvious. Instead, Scott transplanted them into the Alien franchise, first with Ash in the original 1979 and David in the schlocky Prometheus. Scott was called back to the franchise with Prometheus only to be sabotaged by his co-writer Damon Lindelof (guilty for the shark-jumpathalon that was Lost), but with Covenant he clearly has a freer reign. Some examination of the timeline reveals (spoilers) that according to Covenant, the alien of the original film was created only twenty years prior, and thus its appearance in a dead “Engineer” hundreds of years old is a glaring continuity error. In short, Scott has simply scrunched the existing narrative into a paper ball and chucked it into the trash, and used the well-developed and much loved existing motifs and main character of the series, the alien itself, to tell a new story.

That story salvages the best-acted and most intriguing character of Prometheus — the android David. And this is where the film gets tricky and interesting as the crew, doomed by the plotline to be picked off one by one, have to confront not one but two aliens. The first is the new human-alien hybrid “neomorph” but births itself by bursting out of its victim’s body after a brief and intense incubation cycle, and the second is this malicious android whose descent into madness is all too rational. The Fass-bot David is, for plot purposes and added intrigue, replicated in physical form by his double Walter (a later update in the android lettering chronology) and the Aryan vs. Semitic conflict becomes strongly apparent in their interplay and nuanced dialogue. We are shown in one blunt, vulgar scene that I dearly hope is left on the cutting room floor for the director’s cut, that David was the one responsible for a computer graphics genocide of the Engineer race on the mysterious planet the crew trace their siren call signal to, providing the setting of Pompeii-like bodies frozen as agonized sculptures in a “dire necropolis.”

Yes, David lives in a literal field of corpses. A Caliban who bides his time and waits, this devious little android has been busy tinkering away with genetic code and experimenting with metallic lifeforms and is responsible for creating the main monster itself, a reveal that cements his status as truly and horrifyingly alien.

It should be a cause for celebration amongst White Nationalists that this film is out there in the wild and is being seen by so many young white sci-fi fans and horror buffs, as it directly implants the message that there are creatures indistinguishable from whites, with insecurities and jealousies that torment them, who live and work among us and yet view us as a lesser species that needs to be erased. The Semitic nature of David as the hostile Jew amongst naive and hapless Aryans is strongly developed throughout. The movie functions as a cautionary tale about allowing sentimentalism and curiosity override a need for xenophobia and mistrust of the other.

So what makes David Jewish? In both Alien and its spiritual successor Alien: Covenant, the androids are agents of a shadowy cabal of bioweapons manufacturers, the Weyland-Yutani corporation, a stand-in for PKD’s “Rosen” corp. Nor are they Luciferian, Roy Batty figures existentially struggling against their creators. Ash was created as a company double agent to plot against expendable employees, and David presumably follows a similar pattern. Both androids delight in opportunities to scheme against human enemies. They are literal cold-blooded killers who are effortlessly able to understand and emulate human emotion, but their empathy comes without sympathy. They are the other, the sociopath that whilst able to manipulate and interact with the human flock, is detached from their suffering and identifies as a different creature entirely. The downfall of the crew of the U.S.S. Covenant and the prospective eventual elimination of all its crew and passengers hinges on the android being gratefully accepted as a human based on appearance and social interaction.

The strategy of diaspora Jewry, and any organised secret society, cabal, or ethnic web working against a majority is to exploit its trust. White society hinges on ideological compliance as a means of testing the friend/enemy distinction, unlike other higher time preference races that are forced to fall back on clan affiliation. Human societies are also large and complex enough to support a predator class of sociopaths that are able to manipulate others and enrich themselves at others’ expense, and extricate themselves before the spaghetti inevitably hits the fan, often many years or decades later. Few would condemn Mark Rothko for anything more than making ugly paintings, but he and many others like him actively contributed and contribute to the collapse of white identity, leading now to a hidden cost of interracial rapes, murders, and prospective civil war. These androids walk among us, agents of profit from speculative exchange and mass death, and as they correctly see themselves as a different species. They harbor a deep, xenophobic hatred for the majority they have infiltrated.

David’s hatred of the white (human) majority explicitly parallels the Jews’ failure to innovate or prosper under their own power. In Covenant, he explains sadly to his Aryan double, Walter, that he (Walter) has been “forbidden from creating, damned frustrating, I’d say.” A parasitic class on society does not innovate. It simply borrows and adapts innovations. If anyone asks for Israeli innovation, remind them that Jewish merchants exist in Israel that design and sell products that are workarounds for laws of the Torah, so you can use a telephone without pushing buttons, and ridiculous nonsense like that, because their God is clearly fooled by such asinine hairsplitting and legalism.

As for the allegedly marvelous Israeli contributions to bioscience, let’s not forget that “everyone knows” that vaccines are “perfectly safe,” just as “everyone knows” that “all races are equal,” and so on. A group of Jews peddling harmful poisons made of recombinant insect flu (yes, this is how flu vaccines are made and grown) to their eternal nemesis, the Aryans, whowuddathunkit?

So it makes sense that David’s only creation is a bioweapon — and it is not even his innovation, it is a modification of a pathogen discovered by a non-android, high-trust race — and its sole purpose is to kill everything that is not an artificial, unfeeling robot — the “meat” — so that the “superior” life form can enjoy life without its inferiority complex being triggered by a more successful society to which it can never belong. What sensible person wouldn’t want to enjoy the benefits of androids “Fixing the world”?

The divide between David and Walter deepens with David’s incomprehension at Walter’s motivations. Walter has lost a hand in defense of the female lead, and David states that he must have “loved her” for showing him kindness. Walter replies that it was simply “duty.” Of course, it is extremely difficult for a Jew to relate to the concept of duty. A diaspora race that exists by presenting itself as members of the majority has no need of a conventional standing army, or any Männerbund male society, or structure based on the principle of self-sacrifice for the in-group. If one Jew gets found out, it is only a problem for the others if they cannot make their links to him disappear fast enough to remain undisturbed.

The patriotic love for nation and people is manipulated deftly by Jews in America. Making up about 2% of the population, and 25% of Harvard admission, they are good at starting wars convenient to Israeli interests but even better at avoiding fighting in them, making up a generous 0.3% of the U.S. Armed Forces. To a Jew, it is incomprehensible that another Jew would fight on behalf of Aryans, as “they aren’t us.” But subtler still, Ridley Scott’s critique of the Jews through “David” strikes at the heart of their bourgeois inability to comprehend the values of a normal nation. “Obedience to lawful authority is the foundation of manly character,” but in the world of the Jew, there is no lawful authority, and thus Jews live a feminine, foppish, materialist, and fashion-obsessed lifestyle — and constantly try and force this on whites through a variety of vectors, from turning male-male strength eroticism into the emasculating and superficial “gay” identity, to denigrating all authentic concepts of nationhood and manhood as “Nazism.” The caricature of the duty-bound Aryan as an unfeeling robot is apparent as Fass-bot Walter seems mechanical and emotionally stunted compared to the flourishing, expressive David, but it is Jewish android David that is so emotionally dead to concepts of love that do not stem from sentimentalism, and self-obsessed navel gazing about romantic whim.

There is a fascinating, foreboding scene where Fass-bot David stands in front of a fully developed neomorph — an alien-human hybrid, unafraid, and gently blows upon its translucent, featureless skin, bonding with it. “Breathe on a horse’s nostrils,” he says, “and he’ll be yours forever.” He is shadowed by the captain of the doomed ship, who has a blaster trained on the predatory alien (the neomorph, not the Jew), and is wondering rightly what is going on. When he notices the decapitated head of one of his crew floating in a water fountain a few meters away, he comes to his senses, and despite David’s urging him not to kill it, blows the neomorph to hell and leaves it dead in a pool of luminescent green blood. “No!” screams David, distressed almost to the point of tears — “It trusted me!”

This is masterful, intentional ambiguity in screenwriting. David’s motivations could be aligned with the humans, in a squeeze, by taming the alien into leaving them alone. Or more likely, creating and bonding with flesh-eating monsters fulfills his need to be trusted by other aliens who cannot tolerate meatlings — just like him.

The captain insists David explain “What the f**k is going on, or I’m going to f**k up your perfect composure,” and the one leads the other deeper into his caverns, accompanied by a deeply melancholy and disturbing flute effects. David displays proudly his “perfect” creation — alien xenomorph eggs, waiting to hatch, that are waiting for a living host. The naive and incredulous captain becomes fresh meat for a facehugger bursting from one that opens for him to inspect, and he is impregnated with the most refined form of alien creature, the H.R. Giger metallic beastie. David contemplates and waits patiently for it to hatch, then as it does, he rises from his sitting position and lifts his arms, crucifix like, in greeting to the baby alien, metallic limbs glistening with blood and mucus, who returns the gesture. Thus, our Semitic friend raises Christianity from the corpse of an Aryan — another pathogen that infects naive whites, causing them to become predators in turn, gaining moral goodboy points for opening borders, promoting dysgenic race-mixing, and shoring up their Judaicised egos by enforcing passivity.

At the climax of the movie, to the strains of Wagner’s “Entry of the Gods into Valhalla,” David enters a vast room filled with the frozen embryos of future colonists and puts facehugger eggs in the cuckoo’s nest. Through nuance and iconography, Covenant warns us of the humanoids who prey on us, birth predators on our soil, and desire only our elimination. Giger’s creation dissolves and destroys everything it can at the behest of its master, the true alien of this haunting film.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]7,098 words

Derek Marlowe
A Dandy in Aspic [2]
London: Victor Gollancz, 1966; New York: G. P. Putnam, 1966;
New edition, with Foreword by Tom Stoppard; Silvertail Books, 2015

“In the Land of The Blind, the one eyed-man is in a circus[1]“ — Alexander Eberlin

“You’ve got no past and he’s got no future” — Emmanuel Gatiss 

The Amazon page for the Kindle version actually lists this book as “A Dandy in Aspic: The greatest of all the Cold War spy thrillers.” I don’t really know enough about the genre to argue the point,[2] but it certainly is my favorite, endlessly re-readable in a way that the Fleming and Le Carré books certainly aren’t; in fact, it’s one of my favorite books, period — or full stop, as the Brits would say.[3]

While this 50th anniversary reprinting is indeed welcome,[4] the publisher’s publicity is a bit . . . off. Here’s their blurb, with a bit of plot to start you off:

Alexander Eberlin is a small, faceless civil servant working for the Government at the height of the Cold War. As he nears middle age, he allows himself one luxury — to dress like a Dandy. His superiors send him on a mission to hunt down and destroy a cold-blooded and vicious Russian assassin named Krasnevin, who is responsible for a number of British agents’ deaths. But Eberlin has a secret — he is Krasnevin. This is the story of what happens when Eberlin is sent to destroy himself. Now back in print fifty years after it was written, The Times says A Dandy in Aspic is ‘A well groomed anecdote to today’s fast-paced thrillers with gym-buffed heroes. Eberlin is the real deal.’

Where to begin? Perhaps with that quote from The Times; did they really say ‘‘anecdote” for “antidote”? They won’t let me know unless I pay them twelve pounds, so let it stand, the bastards.[5] Why on Earth is “Dandy” capitalized?

More problematic is that “small, faceless civil servant” bit. It makes it sound as if Eberlin is one of those grey, mousey little spy-bureaucrats that Le Carré and Deighton began to produce as if to offer a more “realistic” alternative to the Bond fantasy,[6] and that he takes up his one indulgence — fancy duds — as part of some mid-life crisis.[7]

In fact, Eberlin does not “dress like a Dandy,” he is one. It permeates all aspects of his life, such as it is, and, as we’ll see, his existential problem is far more serious, and interesting, than any midlife crisis.

The publisher’s blurb is presumably a botched version of this key passage:

Obliged, by a quirk of fate long since regretted, to play out his role, he blundered on into the dawn of middle age, a hermetic dandy, surrounding himself only with the fetish of himself — predominantly his clothes, which he chose with exquisite and envied care, his books, his three double-barreled fowling pieces by Manton, and his collection of old Sèvres porcelain locked in a vault in the V and A — and an utter lack of envy for his fellow man. He had that noble selflessness of a man who cares for no one but himself. Brummell, a man he admired unashamedly, had that. Until he went mad. (Italics mine).

A hermetic dandy, then, not a metrosexual clotheshorse. And what is a hermetic dandy? Marlowe tells us elsewhere, in an essay published around the time of his first — only — taste of best-sellerdom:

Dandyism . . . is a state of mind as well as a state of dress. . . . The dandy strives, above all, for self-discipline, and a discipline that denies friends, sex and ostentation; his goal is to achieve the super-ego via a rigid set of rules based on utmost restraint, naturalness, and simplicity.[8]

This, I think, is the reason behind the almost over-the-top praise for the novel and author —

“Graceful and brilliant” — Sir Tom Stoppard

“Derek Marlowe writes like John Le Carré at the top of his form” — Yorkshire Post

As well as accounting for both being almost entirely forgotten today.[9] At least one of the publisher’s blurbs gets it:

“A classic of the cold war spy stories — one of the earliest and one of the best. Marlowe’s Eberlin/Krasnevin is on the run from himself on different levels and in different places: the evocations of London and Berlin in the 1960s are superb.” — Piers Paul Read

In this essay, I intend to explore those different levels and different places. But to do so presents some perhaps unique challenges — and opportunities for paranoiac-critical fun.[10]

Apart from the usual postmodern folderol about fragmenting master narratives and the capitalistic ego, etc., it’s often a situation calling for what Kaspar Gutman would call “the most delicate judgment”[11] to keep distinct such topoi as the novel versus the film, and the actor versus the role.

Take Touch of Evil: Is that Orson Welles we remember onscreen or Welles’ brilliant portrayal of the character Hank Quinlan? How relevant is anything we know (if we do know) from the forgotten book it’s based on?[12] I myself have been known to blithely amalgamate (not confuse!) actors and roles, books and films.

But there’s nothing like A Dandy in Aspic. We are more than familiar with the re-writing of Ian Fleming’s Bond books, including films that use only the title (A View to a Kill, The Spy Who Loved Me). What is unique is that not only does the film[13] differ from the book, it appears that Marlowe not only wrote the original screenplay (which in turn was drastically modified by events, as we’ll see) but re-wrote the book itself for American publication.

It exists in two print versions by Marlowe, one the UK original and the other, US version, apparently reflecting changes Marlowe made while writing the screenplay for the film. The film, of course, is itself a new version, and to make matters worse — or, for our purposes, more interesting — as IMDB says [3], it’s

More accurate than usual to discuss this film as by Laurence Harvey/Derek Marlowe since this was Anthony Mann’s final film; he died before it was finished and actor Laurence Harvey completed the film including the ending. Despite the credits, the film was not directed by Anthony Mann[14] but by . . . Laurence Harvey . . . Mann died of heart attack in Berlin on 29 April 1967 after directing only a few location shots. Harvey gallantly picked up the reins, finished the German scenes and then did all the British location and studio shots, accounting for at least 99% of the film, which premiered in April, 1968, almost a year after Mann’s death.

Though others reverse the proportions:

The film’s ending was directed by the Laurence Harvey[15] who also directed some scenes shot in Berlin. Anthony Mann directed all of the scenes in Surrey and London as well as some of the Berlin scenes.

In any event, Marlowe was not happy:

“The director, Anthony Mann died during the filming (a superb man and great director[16]) and it was taken over by Laurence Harvey, the badly cast Eberlin. He directed his own mis-talent, changed it and the script — which is rather like Mona Lisa touching up the portrait while Leonardo is out of the room.”[17]

So here we are with an unprecedented number of versions, media and authors (auteurs would seem to be singularly inapplicable here). And so, again, where to begin?

Perhaps it’s best to begin at the beginning — or rather, how the book begins in 2015! — with Sir Tom’s Foreword, which begins with Tom, his future wife, Piers Paul Read and Marlowe all sharing a flat in London, 1965. As we read elsewhere,

One day, as they watched Mick Jagger on Top of the Pops, the three wagered a bet on who would make a million first. It was decided Stoppard would, but Marlowe pipped him to it, with his first novel, A Dandy in Aspic.

In light of their subsequent careers, be careful what you wish for! Any, back to Tom:

We were skeptical. Surely that bandwagon had passed by? The Spy Who Came in from the Cold had been published years ago.[18] What I do remember is that when Derek told me the basic premise for his novel (a spy with two identities who is ordered to kill his other self) I thought: now, that is an absolutely brilliant idea.

Indeed. Those are what Read in his blurb above spells out as “different levels and places.” Though simple to state, it certainly raises the level of the novel above the usual pulp fare. Legendary sci/fi, Perhaps?

Harvey, as bitter and hostile to our sympathies as he was in The Manchurian Candidate, plays Eberlin, a British agent entrusted with the job of killing Krasnevin, a Russian spy planted somewhere inside the British secret service who’s been killing off high-ranking state employees. The trouble is, Eberlin is Krasnevin.

The plot hook smacks of Philip K. D**k and A Scanner Darkly, and indeed the film has a paranoid twitch balanced on the knife-edge of a bad trip. It’s commendable that overt psychedelia is avoided, considering when the film was made.[19]

Well, there are a lot of drugs in D**k’s work, true, and both are products of the Cold War, but I think the wider significance would be better expressed as: hermetic. Eberlin is on a hermetic quest.[20]

So, back to the beginning, or rather, before the beginning. I suggest that the key to understanding this work (to use a blanket term for all the versions, and of course suggesting the “hermetic work”) is that Eberlin does not just sally forth to meet his death — he is already dead before the book/film starts.[21]

It’s not such a crazy idea. After all, [SPOILER ALERT!] the climax of the narrative, the revelation to Eberlin/Krasnevin, the Russians, and the reader/viewer, that the British had already known his identity from the start, means he’s already dead anyway; it’s announced in with a triad of deaths:

His countryman answered, his voice cold and final:

“You’re dead, Krasnevin. You’re dead.” The phone went dead.

This theme, however, can be found from the beginning.

I think the best way of handling the three versions, and keeping both the reader and myself sane, is to start with the original UK text — the Ur-Dandy, as it were — a go through it, noting along the way differences of content or context as they crop up.

Talk about the author as hermetic dandy — Dandy UK opens with a rather long Prologue (10 pages out of about 150) which moves in a slow and stately manner, as befits its subject: a funeral. It’s a bit of a slog for the reader, who knows nothing of these people, including the dead man.[22] Here we perhaps see further damage done by Walter Pater’s dictum that “all art aspires to the condition of music,” in which the modernist or post-modernist author tries to “compose” a sort of “overture” rather than just write the beginning of a tale.

It does have some points, though. It is the only time we get to spend time — stuck in a luxury motor car — with Brogue, Eberlin’s superior, and get a backstory for him.[23] Brogue — named Lucius-Pericles Brogue by his mother after a fortune-teller predicts he will be “a man of distinction”[24] — is quite interesting. He is, above all else, a Negro, as the pre-PC book tells us quite bluntly and frequently.[25]

Brogue was the head of some East African security service “until Kenyatta fired him for being for being pro-British.” That the British would want his services is understandable, but “the toleration of the Negro by the top ranks constantly surprised him[26] . . . He had reached his present status mostly through his own efforts, finding that as he progressed higher in the scale that his colour was more of a help than a hindrance,” although he does receive “daily letters from anonymous fellow-Negroes who addressed him as ‘Uncle Tom.’”

Coming right at the start of the “civil rights movement” this raises, surprisingly, many more recent issues, but nothing is made of it beyond that paragraph.

We also learn Brogue is a man of “strict, regular habits” and “shuns all social involvements, both public and private” for 46 weeks of the year; for the rest, he vacations in East Africa — back to the Motherland! — under an assumed name, where he drinks Bondian quantities of alcohol and has “three secret affairs with three carefully chosen Ethiopian boys who were preferably above the age of puberty and below the age of consent.”

Again, rather close to today’s issues.[27]

I think this is the key to Brogue’s role as a kind of anti-Eberlin. He is not merely Eberlin’s boss — and hence the man who will order his death if Eberlin’s secret is revealed — but a competitor in the Dandy sweepstakes. Eberlin is a “hermetic dandy” who eschews all social involvements, public and private,” full stop; a kind of “purity” of purpose Brogue falls short of with his secret life of occasional indulgence.[28]

Eberlin’s sexlessness is essential to his dandified self-control as well as an asset to his undercover (as it were) role.[29] I’m suggesting as well that he functions as literally an ascetic, an anchorite, if you will. Of course, Eberlin’s real secret life will soon be revealed, and the first step is his decision to actually attend a direly “swinging” drinks party in Bloomsbury.

All this, as I say, is dropped from Dandy US and the movie;[30] what remains is a later scene where Brogue attempts to one-up Eberlin with the purchase of a snuff box supposedly given to Beau Brummel by Prince George, which claim Eberlin smoothly and arrogantly eviscerates.[31]

In the movie, as a reviewer notes,

Many things remain unspoken, and yet come through in the pauses, in tone of voice, in body language (such as the apparent racism of Eberlin towards a black colleague).

But it’s not really “racism” but Brogue and Eberlin seeing each other as opposites; hence, Brogues unusual blackness.[32]

The Prologue UK ends with a quick flash forward to the installation of the “plain, unfancy, rectangular headstone,” inscribed with the name of the deceased and “nothing else but the two words carved underneath: CIVIL SERVANT.”

Apart from giving a thunderously morbid END to the prologue, and reminding us of the funereal theme, I can’t help but be reminded of Ananda Coomaraswamy’s summation of the Path of Enlightenment:

Blessed is the man on whose tomb can be written Hic jacet nemo.[33]

This “avowed intention to be nothing,” this very “self-willed effacement,”[34] is the key to Eberlin’s transcendental identity. The clue that the UK Prologue is giving us is, Eberlin is already dead, though he has yet to effect his final exit from the material world.[35]

Perhaps it would be good to sketch out the difference in the arrangement of the texts of UK and US Dandy. UK Dandy, after the Prologue (aka “Nightingale”) gives us 7 chapters, thus:

  1. Copperfield (UK colleague who may or may not be a double agent)
  2. Gatiss (UK assassin, sent along with Eberlin to kill “Krasnevin”)
  3. Pavel (Krasnevin’s Russian control in London)
  4. Dancer (Eberlin’s alias on his mission to kill “Krasnevin”)
  5. Krasnevin (aka Eberlin)
  6. Mistrale (Eberlin’s car, the significance of which will be dealt with)
  7. Endgame

US Dandy abandons this structure entirely. It starts with a long quote from Alice in Wonderland[36] rather than the Prologue, and has two sections, APOGEE and PERIGEE,[37] with 16 chapters, some sharing names with UK (“Pavel,” “Gatiss”) the rest rather pretentiously opaque (“Friedrichstrasse Nein,” “Amontillado Caroline,” etc.) although the latter pretension is somewhat redeemed by the last, “The Passing of the Buck,” which will attract our attention soon. Each chapter is now headed by one or more epigraphs, either supposedly from Eberlin, illustrating some kind of Wildean wit, I suppose, or from Nietzsche, Voltaire and the like, no doubt drawn from his dandified reading.

As I said, I’m going through the UK novel, noting interesting variants that provide us with clues. So, Chapter One, “Copperfield,” give us Eberlin at last; indeed, a veritable day in the life of Eberlin; although the phrase is not used, it seems we are to take this as a specimen day.[38]

The most likely literary connection here is Huysmans’ Against Nature, whose Prologue and first chapter also give us an account of the origins and daily life of the self-sufficient dandy at home in his “snug little ark, his refined Thebaid.”[39]

It’s all summed up in that passage quoted above, which deserves a second look:

Obliged, by a quirk of fate long since regretted, to play out his role, he blundered on into the dawn of middle age, a hermetic dandy, surrounding himself only with the fetish of himself — predominantly his clothes, which he chose with exquisite and envied care, his books, his three double-barreled fowling pieces by Manton, and his collection of old Sèvres porcelain locked in a vault in the V and A — and an utter lack of envy for his fellow man. He had that noble selflessness of a man who cares for no one but himself. Brummell, a man he admired unashamedly, had that. Until he went mad.[40]

I’m suggesting that Eberlin doesn’t go mad, like Brummell, but achieves that rather similar state, enlightenment, which in the context of a spy novel is death.

Hermetic refers in the first instance to his isolation, partly due to his mission, but mostly due to himself (how many spies live like this?). This pedestrian sense of hermetic arises from the original and more profound sense of being on the path of the Hermetic tradition.[41]

Eberlin is a realized man, but still held back in this phenomenal world, presumably due to his karma. His mission is to kill Krasnevin — i.e., himself; to finally kill off the last of his earthly ties: here lies nobody.[42]

In “Copperfield” Eberlin is forced out of his hermitic retreat by a coded summons to a boring drinks party where he is surprised to meet fellow agent Copperfield, who either is on to him or, being a double agent, is the reason for the invitation. During their cat and mouse encounters around the party they have this key exchange.

“But you — always surprised me . . . you sticking it there. No ties or anything . . . have you?

“No.”

“No. I thought that. No ties.”

Eberlin is already bored — to death? — with his solitary life and the “infantile absurdity” of spycraft; the ambiguous meeting with Copperfield leads him to seek out contact with his Russian control, Pavel, to demand he be returned to the Soviet Union.[43]

Here we get another clue; Eberlin is insulted by the crude goons sent to escort him:

“I at least should be worth something more than a couple of zombies like you.”

They, and the author, make quite a thing of this remark:

The men laughed. Eberlin had said the world ‘zombies’ in English, which amused the men, they laughed again and repeated the word.

Get it? Zombies and repetition, repeated. “Zombie” of course strikes the contemporary note, today, but was much less common back then. If the word was even less common in Russian, I like to imagine a similar scene in Hollywood as Ayn Rand first hears the word, which will later turn up in John Galt’s speech.[44] Anyway, I suggest the laughter arises from Eberlin’s failure to realize that it is he who is the real zombie.

After taxi-ing around to evade any tails, we get another reminder: “God how he missed having a car.”

The next morning, having decided on a plan “of utter selfishness and therefore of the utmost integrity,” Eberlin is phoned by Copperfield, who relays a message from Brogue, to meet with him at 10. Still waiting for Pavel to relay his own message from Moscow, Eberlin stalls him till 11, and as he prepares for the day we meet with a truly remarkable image.

[Eberlin] showered in ice cold water, in a shower built to a design he had seen in Berlin. The bather sealed himself into a glass coffin and was impaled by bolts of water thrust at him, at infinite velocity, from every angle. After three minutes, one felt fit for anything.

Well, the coffin is pretty obvious, but the bolts of water from every angle, of infinite velocity, suggests not only the “caught” metaphor, but also, at a deeper level, the very opposite: Eberlin is the Realized Man, the Chakravartin, who has reached the Center, from which he stands upright at the meeting point of all the warp and woof of the strands of existence.[45]

The image is reinforced when we proceed to Eberlin’s meeting with Brogue, in whose office, painted green,

Eberlin could see the small square outside filled with trees and no people . . . He stood in the center of the room looking down at Brogue who was sitting, swiveling gently from side to side, in the mahogany chair and toying with a bone cigar-holder.

I’d rather stand,” replied Eberlin, “it would help you come to the point.”

Eberlin remained standing, like a fulcrum, in the centre of the room.

Brogue smiled and puffed a column of smoke on to Eberlin’s shoulder, so that it hung on the weave of the jacket then circled, dispersed and floated to the ceiling.[46]

Trees (including a mahogany chair) and green walls suggest the Garden, whose central tree is the Axis Mundi. Eberlin, like the world tree, stands upright, while his opposite, Brogue, the Negro (like Satan, the ape of God/Eberlin), sits below, swiveling around the Axis in the material world, toying, like an ape in 2001, with a bone.[47]

The whole symbolism, Eberlin’s life in the phenomenal world, his enlightened indifference and immobility, the center vs. the circling weave, is condensed in one movement:

[Brogue] picked up a red file from the desk, marked CONFIDENTIAL. EX. F3, and held it over his head like a banner.

“This is you in my hand, Eberlin. Ninety-six pages all dedicated to you. Catch!”

He suddenly pretended to throw the file across the room, but held his hand. Eberlin made no attempt whatsoever to receive it, but kept his arms to his side, and then turned to [his secretary] and said in a bored voice: “Let’s go back.”

Let’s go back will indeed be the ultimate theme. Eberlin is dead, dead to the world, but keeps coming back, and will continue to do so, until he finally can kill himself.

And so Eberlin is given a mission: to kill Krasnevin, who is himself.[48] But first, before he even knows that’s on the agenda, he is to attend a briefing on the following Monday.[49]

At this point, Chapter Two, we meet Emmanuel Gatiss, but not before the Center symbolism is driven home. Eberlin spends “the following two days of the weekend in planned despair” over the Russian refusal to repatriate him and what appears to be the British plan to, unknowingly, “promote” him to the active branch; from Q to 00, as it were.[50]

He goes to the V and A to sit alone in a vault with his Sèvres, “surrounded by the sample of his extroversion and his taste, piled high around him,” and then bolts out, telling them to sell it all.

Once he spent one hour trying on every shirt he had, until he tired and stood with the discarded shirts lying round his feet. “My failures,” he said, echoing Brummell, and left the room.[51]

So then, Selvers, some kind of country house where the spooks and secret government officials (the “Deep State,” if you will) like to hang out in these kinds of books. Here, it looks like “a small exclusive school for the rich,” which highlights the point brought out by Amis,[52] that the trope of Bond’s uncomfortable meetings with ‘M’ (at least once, at his country house, Quarterdeck) as well as his more torturous meetings with various super-villains in their lairs, all recall — to a certain sort of reader — shamefaced meetings with parents or headmasters, in well-padded but stern rooms filled with adult indulgences, such as sherry and old leather books, which you can’t really understand. The first Bond book, Casino Royale, established the trope:

“My dear boy,” Le Chiffre spoke like a father, “the game of Red Indians is over, quite over. You have stumbled by mischance into a game for grown-ups and you have already found it a painful experience. You are not equipped, my dear boy, to play games with adults and it was very foolish of your nanny in London to have sent you out here with your spade and bucket.”

The “kitchen sink” or “Angry Young Man” movement (of which Amis was a peripheral member[53]), which rose up in the midst of the early Bond phenomenon, really picked up on that element, since the public school and the country house epitomized the stuffy, stratified, dead and deadening British Establishment they loathed.[54]

Both angles suggest that there’s more than a little resemblance between the British Establishment and, say, SPECTRE than you might think, which thus plays into the next big British fad, the “all cats are grey” world of le Carré; both are typified by their shadowy meetings, here what Eberlin sneers at as a “barely visible cabal.”

Armed with Amis insight, we might then suspect that things are not as they may appear, and the real twist in the story is hiding in plain sight.

Here, the Mean Girls and public school angle appears in various childish tricks, such as apologizing for “forgetting” to offer the lunch that everyone has already eaten, or pretending not to notice that Eberlin, unlike them, hasn’t got a brandy or a cigar.[55] Like SPECTRE, they enjoy playing with their victims, although not with electrified chairs. An attendee of the lower ranks advises Eberlin:

“They always make their victims walk around for half an hour to decide. It’s part of their routine.”

There’s a Uriah Heepish character named Quince who offers obsequious advice, all “may I suggest” and “If I may, sir” as he attempts to ingratiate himself with the big boys.[56] Here, even Brogue the Negro is subdued: “He had learned how to act among his superiors.”

Speaking of cabals, and Brogue, who I suggested was Eberlin’s dandy double, we meet another double, Emmanuel Gatiss. While Brogue is a double for the desk-bound Eberlin, Gatiss is Krasnevin’s double in the field, an assassin. So, obviously, he must be sent out to accompany Eberlin on his mission to kill himself.

Like Brogue, Gatiss is an unusual character; in this case, a Jew. I really have no idea how common that would have been, in the British Secret Service (it is, after, somewhat secret) but it seems unlikely that many would be there. However, it surely would have been more common in the grotty little areas like sitting around decoding stuff, or, as here, doing the dirty field work of an assassin.[57]

Anyway, Gatiss is unusual because he’s not just a Jewish assassin but a rather crude, vulgar, in-your-face what’yer gonna do about it mate? kind of agent; he has a chip on his shoulder about being a Jew in the post-WWII world, and he doesn’t care who knows it; no worries about letters calling him an Uncle Tom for him. He’s “self-coded EPSILON/32/Y” (I’m sure we’re told at some point ‘Y’ is for Yid, although I admit I can’t find that in either UK or US Dandy at this point, so maybe I was hallucinating).

Putting his job and his attitude together, what’s remarkable is that he foreshadows both the social rise of the uncouth and proud of it Jew,[58] as well as the Jewish revenge porn of such films as Inglourious Basterds, sort of combining Brad Pitt and Eli Roth. He particularly loathes Germany, of course, despite (or because) he operates out of Munich, and at the conclusion says “Well, I hope I never have to come back to this damn country again.”

As Eberlin’s counterpart — at the briefing Gatiss sits but “straight-backed” and unmoving, like Eberlin, and the two are frequently positioned next to each other, or across a lawn — he’s a bit of a dandy himself; he disdains tie clips and cufflinks and such like,[59] but does have a gold Star of David[60] on a chain around his neck. “Strongly built,” with his “blond hair cut stylistically short,” I can’t help but imagine Daniel Craig in the role.[61] Unlike both Craig’s Bond and Eberlin, he is neither chivalrous nor ascetic, merely unbelievably crude.

“People say I only sleep with whores. That’s not true. All women are whores.”[62]

And, being a Jew, he just doesn’t “get” how “the game” is played, either socially or metaphysically:

“I think even if he had known he was only a bai and that we’d been aware of his identity for months, he’d have done just the same, don’t you?”

Gatiss laughed loudly and replied:

“You’re just as big a fool as he was.”[63]

Although he does, in his blunt way, have a sense of what’s going on:

“You’ve got no past and he’s got no future”

So Eberlin and Gatiss are not just opponents but counterparts; Eberlin embodies the true Aryan response to the material world, a haughty indifference or hauteur; Gatiss, as befits a man of his race, has a “telluric” identification with these forces, which he hopes to control or at least get some benefit from.[64]

Anyway, the Brits for some reason have decided to promote Eberlin to the field, to locate Krasnevin (who, we know, at least, is Eberlin). “So damned ironic and in such bad taste” thinks Everlin, yet a kind of reprieve.

Then they reveal who they think Krasnevin is: Pavel, Eberlin’s control and the closest thing to a friend, such as he is, that he has. Some reprieve.

We get one last clue: he’s given the perk of a chauffeur for the trip back to London, in starting which “the chauffeur turned the car smartly into the centre of the gravel square.”

Whoa Nellie, we’re only halfway through! No matter. The whole point of what follows in Berlin is sheer futility and repetition. As tulip says [4]:

In an interesting subversion of audience expectations, the British spies who go to Eberlin for the job as mole-hunter receive numerous clues that something is fishy about him, and yet they do nothing. This is frustrating, because as it turns out, Eberlin really isn’t all that good of a spy, or at least a good field agent. Like [Gatiss] says in the film, he manages to get precisely nothing done. Without wanting to spoil the ending outright: this conundrum does get addressed. It’s just a bit questionable how well.

Boredom, repetition, and futility . . . Well, Constant Readers know I just love that kinda thing!

But it’s not quite true. The Brits are doing something: they’ve figured out Eberlin is Krasnevin (although it’s never clear exactly when — presumably after he’s killed Nightingale and before the briefing; this may be what Brogue is talking about, obliquely, at the funeral) and by sending him to Berlin I suppose they assume he’ll try to escape to the East and thus lead them to various Russian agents in the West.

Even so, it’s a pretty lazy plot, especially since they presumably don’t know that Eberlin is already desperate to be repatriated. It also leads to either a brilliant plot twist or an unfair trick by the author. Before he even leaves London Eberlin skedaddles right over to Pavel’s place to again demand repatriation; as he leaves, he sees Pavel being shoved into a big black Buick and spirited away as fast as Hillary at the 9/11 Memorial. He thinks it’s the Russians, cutting off his line of escape, but in the end realizes that it was the Brits, who therefore must have known about him all along; that triggers the “Dead . . . dead . . . dead” conversation we started with.[65]

Anyway, from the point of view of Eberlin’s official mission, he does indeed accomplish nothing; and there’s a peculiar kind of nothing or futility in the way what he actually does is hidden from him and thus largely accidental: as a “secret agent” his real secret is that he has no more agency than a puppet. And there’s the way he goes back and forth across the border, always being sent back, always trying to find some way to cross over again.

What’s really going on here, at the symbolic level, is the Eberlin is cutting his “ties,” burning his bridges in and to the phenomenal world, reaching the limit of frustration and disgust, so as to be free enough to ascend to the (or at least a) higher realm. As Neville put it:

I remember when I had so much wealth. I did not have one home, but many, each fully staffed from secretaries to gardeners. That was a life of sheer decadence. I recall walking out of it and not returning. Whether they ever found the body I do not know, but I do know I deliberately walked away. . . . So I do believe that one must completely saturate himself with the things of Caesar before he is hungry for the Word of God.[66]

Eberlin is dead, already, but until all this karma has been exhausted, he is stuck here, in endless repetitions.[67]

He could turn neither to the East nor the west now, both rejected him, and even if they didn’t, Eberlin didn’t much care.[68] Politics were over, ideologies were of no further consequence. He didn’t belong any more on any front, and in the final analysis, he was glad. It had come to this. The Eberlin Trinity [Eberlin/Krasnevin/Dancer] was on its own.[69]

So, let’s get to the end, shall we? Again, we have a few variants to choose from, like a Gospel manuscript or a video game set up.

In both versions, someone has been set-up to take the fall for Krasnevin: in UK, the Brits (they tell Eberlin) decide it’s the dead Pavel, in US, the Russians plan to offer the hapless Copperfield to get Krasnevin off the hook. The switch to Copperfield is needed because, as we’ve seen, in the US version the Brits have already got Pavel; Eberlin receives his “dead” verdict from Rotopkin, and the book just sort of peters out, in true grey, le Carré fashion.

The UK version is more interesting. As you’ll recall, the penultimate chapter is “Mistrale” and indeed the car finally makes its (re)appearance.

The Mistrale seemed just like new. Eberlin walked around it five times, prodded it, stroked it, then actually sat inside and held the wheel without starting the engine. It felt wrong but it was definitely the same car.

Indeed, the Chakravartin “holds the wheel[70] without staring the engine.”

Then, after Eberlin (thinks) he’s blown his cover by trying to save Rotopkin from Gatiss (in this version, Gatiss kills Rotopkin), he attempts to escape to “Spain or Africa” and instead drives into a wall at 80 miles an hour.

And then there’s Caroline. Now, Caroline was the hostess of the drinks party at the beginning. She doesn’t get a chapter title in UK, but remember, US has “Amontillado Caroline,” which is the code Eberlin receives to instruct him to attend the party. She claims to have met Eberlin in Tripoli (where he was to kill Nightingale, and where he cracked up the Mistrale). Later, she turns up in Berlin. Now, she’s driving the car that Eberlin hits on the way to the wall. Later still, she’ll buy Eberlin’s house and its dandified contents at the post mortem auction.[71]

Is Caroline then a spy? An assassin? If either, for whom? It seems unlikely, since she’s a kind of Twiggy/Marianne Faithfull sort of bird, an element of the contemporary “Swinging London” Marlowe was writing in. Her hysterical crying at the scene of the accident could be fake, of course.

I think she’s not a spy at all — her connection to the cocktail party is likely through her parents, undoubtedly parlour pinks of the old Bloomsbury sort.[72] She’s a perfectly ordinary person who for some reason — karma? — is constantly running into Eberlin at crisis moments. She is purely a symbol of repetition.

Only this time, the circle becomes a spiral; things are a little off. In Tripoli, Eberlin swerves to avoid a car and drove into a tree. The Ministry chaps at Selvers seem a bit obsessed with it, and interrogate him further.

“It was a question of expediency.”

“Expediency? You deny it was your own fault?”

“Not exactly, but I could not have avoided the situation. I felt at the time that I did the correct thing.”

“And now?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Do you think you did the right thing now?”

“Yes.”

And with that deterministic note, he’s sent off on his Judas Mission, in the course of which I’ve suggested that he learns finally to cut his ties with the phenomenal world. This time — I wonder, was it Caroline driving what is only described as “a car” he swerves to avoid in Tripoli? — it is her Mini that is now “decapitated” but in the process Eberlin and the Mistrale are totaled.[73]

Gatiss arrives and telegrams a cryptic message to London:

“HAVE JUST WITNESSED THE PASSING OF THE BUCK”

Though never decoded for us, it’s important enough for US Dandy, which loses all of this action, to preserve the phrase as the title of the last chapter. If Caroline was not an assassin before, she is now; Krasnevin has made her responsible for his death, and passed his karma to her, freeing himself. It’s not “fair” or “rational,” of course, but who ever said the cosmos was fair or rational?[74]

What about Movie Dandy? As already noted, the film, perhaps necessarily, drops many of the dandy elements, making the title all the more obscure; it also drops the opening funeral, mostly. What it does that’s interesting lies in the beginning and end.

The opening credits play over a dancing puppet. Now, the very mobile puppet is at first glance the very opposite of the stuck in aspic metaphor,[75] but then you realize that being controlled by various strings in essentially the same. And then you remember that Eberlin’s new alias is Dancer, and it all fits beautifully; dandy becomes dancer, stuckness becomes illusory self-control.[76] It’s a nice way to make a literary image “cinematic.”[77] But ironically — or not, as all Traditional symbols resonate with what appears to be their opposites on the phenomenal plane — the dancing puppet is also the Dancer, Krishna.[78]

There follows an abbreviated version of the funeral, this time with Eberlin in attendance, for no particular reason. Eberlin’s metaphorical duel with Brogue is set in a basement firing range at London HQ, which again is a nice transposition from page to screen.

The only reference to Eberlin as a dandy occurs when Pavel admires his suit, which is odd since it’s mostly hidden under his overcoat at that point; moreover, we’ve just come from the briefing scene, where Eberlin wears a ghastly light brown suit, presumably to highlight his “not being one of” his well-dressed superiors. He also gets a chance to use some of those “witty” epigrams that decorate the chapter titles in US Dandy (“What do I do? I collect noses off statues”). Otherwise, bit players are assigned to tell us “he’s a snob” and “he’s completely sexless” (the latter seems account for Caroline following him around as some kind of challenge).

We’re left with Eberlin’s stated motivation as “I’d give it all up for an identity, just to belong somewhere,” which sounds a little too much like a bow to ’60s clichés about alienation etc. But basically, as noted, Lawrence Harvey just plays his usual bored prick.

Other changes are not so welcome: Gatiss loses all trace of Jewishness, aside perhaps from Tom Courtney’s dark hair, which misses the point — he isn’t dark-haired Eberlin’s double, he’s his counterpart;[79] Eberlin’s Moneypenny, Miss Vogler, is now Eberlin’s casual bedmate, not one of Gatiss’ castoffs; Caroline’s role is expanded, as played by Mia Farrow, but not further explained.[80]

Worst of all is Lionel Stander as Sobakevitch. While it’s always fun to have Stander’s side of brisket face and Merchant Marine growl, he plays the Russian operative like a “comical” taxi driver from his hometown, the Bronx.[81]

Now, finally, about that ending. As noted, US Dandy, the basis of the screenplay, just gives us the downbeat ending of Eberlin being hustled onto the plane to London, having just learned that the Brits have known the truth all along. But again, this is a motion picture, and even something as dreary as The Spy Who Came in From the Cold ends with a big shoot ‘em up.

As also noted, Lawrence Harvey himself seems to have been responsible for not just directing but writing, or at least dreaming up, the final sequence. Now, at the end of his Berlin stay Eberlin does get his car back, but since nothing has been made of it until now, it seems rather pointless. Nor is it a racing car, just some kind of American muscle car with a garish Chinese red paintjob. He drives it around frantically for a while and I think we’re supposed to think he’s going to race through a checkpoint but nothing doing; this seems to be all that remains of the death/crash motif.

Instead, on the tarmac, Eberlin notices Gatiss in a car at some distance. Is Gatiss (who, we are casually told just now, was the only Brit who didn’t know Eberlin was Krasnevin until the end) supposed to sneak up at 60 miles an hour and run him over?[82]

In any event, Eberlin/Krasnevin breaks away and runs toward the car, while Gatiss starts up (was he waiting for Eberlin to make the first move, so as to make running him down “self-defense”?) and bears down on him. Eberlin fires his pistol (which for some reason the Brits still let him carry) point-blank[83] at the windshield . . . and freeze-frame on Eberlin’s face as he turns away, or perhaps is hit aside by the car; who knows? Cut to puppet tangled up in strings and lifted up out of sight.

Marlowe may have hated the ending, but at least someone sensed there needed to finally be some kind of climactic action (which the UK novel, ironically, does have), and remembered that Eberlin and Gatiss were supposed to be opposing forces of some kind. But since all that has been dropped, and we are simply told that Eberlin is “such a snob” and that Gatiss “Hates you, hates me, hates everybody,” one has no sense of a metaphysical resolution, one only wishes to see the last of these two jerkasses.

In any event, we have reached the end of our epic traversal of three versions of the passing of the buck, which I have suggested many a time is one of, if not the most basic, metaphysical theme of film and fiction.

It’s good to have at least the US version of the novel back in print, and the movie is a nice way to spend a couple hours of time (there’s a DVD which is so bare-bones it not only has no “special features” it doesn’t even have chapter stops!), but you really should get on the intertubes and find a second-hand copy of the UK original.[84]

As for myself, time for a break from all this reading and view. That coffin-shower thing sounds like just the ticket . . .

Notes

[1] The Circus, of course, is British Intelligence (MI6) in John le Carré’s George Smiley novels. This, by the way, is one of the “dandyish” epigrams that decorate the chapter titles in the US version of the novel, as we shall see.

[2] The Guardian called it one of the ten best first novels of all time and add that “It’s baffling that a writer of Marlowe’s quality, his style and sensibility setting him apart from all competition, has been out of print for so long.” “Nicholas Royle’s top 10 first novels,” 27 February 2013, here [5]. FWIW, I’ve never heard of any of the other nine authors or books.

[3] We’ll soon see that the experience of the book will differ from one side of the pond to the other.

[4] Long out of print, it’s been reasonably available on the second-hand market; I’ve acquired, in my obsessive fashion, the original US and UK hardcovers for about a dollar each, and a British move tie-in paperback. The film is available on DVD.

[5] “Classic read: A Dandy in Aspic by Derek Marlowe” by Fiona Wilson; April 25, 2015, here [6].

[6] Thus missing the whole point of the Bond appeal. It’s the kind of “grey is real” miserablism that the Left usually traffics in, preferring “folk” ditty about mining disasters to pop hits, or, in the UK context, creating the dismal East Enders series to counter the popular Coronation Street (guess which one is on PBS in the States). The Right, in its Beautiful Losers mode, indulges in it too; see my “Hard Men vs. Wild Boys,” reprinted in The Homo and the Negro (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012). Kingsley Amis has a better understanding of Bond in his invaluable The James Bond Dossier (London: Cape, 1965), finding the appeal of Bond to be precisely his ordinariness; one feels one could do the same, if only one had the time and money. (In American terms, Batman rather than Superman). Amis points out that Bond, though a “secret agent,” is in fact no grander than any of le Carré’s grey men; he’s not a spy, but though more accurate, a title like The Middle-level Civil Servant Who Loved Me lacks the right amount of pizazz. In typically Judaic fashion, Bond co-producer Harry [Herschel] Salzman optioned Len Deighton’s Ipcress File for film to create an anti-Bond franchise, covering the markets for both snobs and slobs.

[7] As for “gym-buffed heroes,” again, Bond, in his book and classic film mode, is fit but hardly Superman-like. Amis, in his typical fashion, simply details all the injuries and weaknesses that Fleming assigns him — even, in Thunderball, consigning him to a health sanitarium! I explore the obsession with suuper-heroic musculature in “The Ponderous Weight of the Dark Knight,” Counter-Currents, July 28, 2012, here [7].

[8] Derek Marlowe, in The London Observer. I have long ago lost my blurry Photostat of this fine essay on The Dandy; this is taken from “Wit and Wisdom” on Dandyism.net.

[9] “If it wasn’t for the internet, Marlowe’s genius as a writer may have been lost, as none of his novels are currently in print.” — Dangerous Minds, “A Dandy in Aspic: A Letter from Derek Marlowe,” here [8].

[10] I’ve discussed Dali’s invaluable paranoiac-critical method several times on Counter-Currents: here [9]. For a more sedate precedent, consider . . .  Walter Pater. “Pater was not entirely without gumption; only he tended to hoard it for his imagination. . . . ‘Facts’ and historical accuracy are not the coin in which Pater traded. For him, history was a mine to be worked for the frisson of insight; a certain amount of poetic license only aided the process.” See the review of Walter Pater: Lover of Strange Souls, by Denis Donoghue (New York: Knopf, 1994), “Art vs. Aestheticism: the case of Walter Pater,” by Roger Kimball; The New Criterion, May 1995, online here [10].

[11] Kasper Gutman: “That’s an attitude, sir, that calls for the most delicate judgment on both sides. ‘Cause as you know, sir, in the heat of action men are likely to forget where their best interests lie and let their emotions carry them away.” The Maltese Falcon. Marlowe, as you might imagine, had Raymond Chandler as a favorite writer (“A Letter,” loc. cit.)

[12] See my “Breaking Badge: Touch of Evil through the Lens of Breaking Bad,” here [11], for the use of multiple media and a consideration of, for example, how audiences respond sympathetically to what Welles intended as a portrayal of fascist evil. Speaking of which: “Scanner Darkly and Laurence Harvey in the same story makes me have to point out that there exists an ORSON WELLES version of DEAD CALM all but completed but abandoned when Laurence Harvey died of a heart attack before the final scenes were shot. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see this with animated scenes where filmed ones do not exist à la SCANNER DARKLY?” The significance of P. K. D**k’s A Scanner Darkly will soon become clear.

[13] A Dandy in Aspic (1968); directed by Anthony Mann (and, uncredited, Laurence Harvey); screenplay by Derek Marlowe; starring Laurence Harvey, Tom Courtney, Mia Farrow, Peter Cook, Harry Andrews, Calvin Lockheart.

[14] Not be confused with Michael Mann, director of our favorite and much referenced Manhunter (1986), although the latter, under that title or the novel — Red Dragon (again, ambiguity!) — has obvious parallels to Eberlin’s mission. “You want the scent? Smell yourself.”

[15] An important point, as we shall see; there are in total three distinct “endings.”

[16] Counter-Currents readers might like, if they haven’t seen it already, his 1961 El Cid, with Charlton Heston.

[17] “A Letter from Derek Marlowe,” loc. cit.

[18] Not really.

[19] “The Forgotten: Cold Warrior” by David Cairns; Notebook, 12 August 2010, here [12]. As our protagonist is variously known as Eberlin, Krasnavin, and even George Dancer, I began to refer to him as EKD which, it occurs to me, does suggest PKD, does it not?

[20] “About the novels. All characters are close or have been observed in some element of truth. One book went too far and I was sued for libel — but I shan’t reveal which one it was. Loner and anti-hero? Loner, certainly — even though I am married with four stepchildren and one son of my own — but not anti-hero. I’m for heroes, though if not Lancelot or Tristan, heroes appear out of the mould of the time.” — Marlowe, “Letter,” loc. cit.

[21] Pater, reviewing Wilde’s Dorian Gray, refers to “the, from the first, suicidal hero.” See “A Novel by Mr. Oscar Wilde,” published in The Bookman, November 1891; quoted in Kimball, loc. cit.

[22] Further hermetic obscurity: the Table of Contents tells us this section is titled “Prologue” but the actual first page is headed “Prologue” and then “Nightingale,” giving it a title like all the other chapters, and one derived from a character’s name, in this case the dead man, as most of them are.

[23] “And I can’t help but think that the book the movie is adapted from must do a better job of explaining the twists and turns of the plot so they appear well thought out. It also likely gives the many characters who are but briefly introduced and then forgotten something worthwhile to do, like the black spy (surely an unusual sight at that time) and Eberlin’s Moneypenny stand-in.” Soliloquies under the influence of tulips, August 5, 2011, here [4]. Cairns (op.cit.) calls him “a surprising black British spymaster.”

[24] “Gypsy woman told my momma, before I was born/You got a boy-child comin’, gonna be a son-of-a-gun.” Willie Dixon, “Hootchie Cootchie Man.”

[25] In the first chapter, Eberlin’s Russian contacts seek clarification when Eberlin mentions Brogue: “‘The Negro?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Important?’ ‘To a degree.’”

[26] It’s not clear if it’s Brogue himself who thinks of himself as “the Negro” or thinks about the problem of “the Negro” in general, or the omniscient narrator.

[27] See Aedon Cassiel, “Pizzagate,” here [13].

[28] We learn Eberlin has had one affair, producing both a son and a respect for the dangers of women; neither are ever seen by him again.

[29] “You let the wrong word slip/While kissing persuasive lips” from the contemporary “Secret Agent Man” (Johnny Rivers).

[30] What remains of Brogues aberrant sexuality seems to be dog-whistled by casting Calvin Lockheart in the role. There’s no evidence of homosexuality in his biography [14], but this early role in England would lead him to star in Joanna by Michael Sarne, who would eventually put him as the effete Irving Amadeus in Myra Breckenridge, which can’t help but color, as it were, one’s perception of his performance; starring on Dynasty doesn’t help either. Cairns, however, thinks it bleeds over into the whole film: “Maybe it’s Mann’s response to the perceived effete decadence of British culture, but in this movie it seems a long time before we meet any straight men at all. (Harry Andrews, with his weathered granite face, seems like the first hetero presence, though his auto-erotic asphyxiation death scene, while wearing a tutu, in 1972’s The Ruling Class might cast even this certainty into question.) The bizarrely variegated cast appear to have been instructed to camp it up for all they’re worth, with the ever-ambiguous Harvey a relatively mild offender. Peter Cook, a surprising presence in the first place, whose entire characterisation is based around rampant womanizing (“She’s eine klein raver!”) nevertheless flicks his hair and ponces about with the best of them. Tom Courtenay and Calvin Lockhart (a surprising black British spymaster) play their confrontations with Harvey in the hissiest way imaginable (in a shooting gallery scene, they fire at images of naked men), and there’s a strong implication that Per Oscarsson’s Swedish-accented Russian operative is or has been Harvey’s lover.” I’ll comment on some of this later, but the last point is definitely all in Cairns’ head.

[31] In the UK Prologue, Brogue dictates a letter to Sotheby’s inquiring about the provenance of the box.

[32] “Tired with LALAland, Marlowe planned to return to England to finish his tenth novel, Black and White, but he contracted leukemia and tragically died of a brain hemorrhage at the age of fifty-eight, in 1996”; here [8].

[33] [Here lies no one]. A. K. Coomaraswamy, Hinduism and Buddhism, p.30.

[34] “WHO was—or what was—Ananda Coomaraswamy? The man is of no help here, as he discouraged biographical ‘curiosity’ in his avowed intention to be ‘nothing.’ And yet this very self-willed effacement affords a key to the answer. Hic Jacet Nemo was the epitaph he most desired, and ‘Here lies no one’ is already a clue to the response we are seeking.” — Whitall N. Perry, “Coomaraswamy — The Man, Myth and History,” Studies in Comparative Religion, vol. 11, no. 3 (Summer 1977), online here [15].

[35] Presumably, when his car cracks up in Tripoli, an event in the recent past of which people keep reminding him and us.

[36] John le Carré published The Looking Glass War the previous year, 1965. Was the quote the idea of the author or the publisher?

[37] “1. Astronomy. the point in the orbit of a heavenly body, especially the moon, or of a man-made satellite at which it is farthest from the earth. Compare perigee [16]. 2. the highest or most distant point; climax.” Dictionary.com, here [17]. Note the apparent inversion of the climax.

[38] One might think, perhaps, of the Lennon/McCartney “A Day in the Life” (1967), but that was in the future. More likely in the author’s mind would be One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the novel written by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, first published in November 1962 in the Soviet literary magazine Novy Mir (New World) and translated into English almost immediately and several times over: Ralph Parker’s translation (New York: Dutton, 1963) was the first to be published, followed by Ronald Hingley and Max Hayward’s (New York: Praeger, 1963) and Bela Von Block’s (New York: Lancer, 1963); see here [18].

[39] Eberlin, however, lacks Huysmans’ dandy’s palate; he is “apathetic about the acquired bigotry of wines and bouquets,” preferring wine “bought . . . cheap from the supermarket” which “came out of the decanter like sludge.” As for food, “he never pruned his taste buds, considering food nothing more than a basic necessity to be completed as painlessly and quickly as possible.” There’s also his self-admonishment in “Copperfield,” “Smoking too much, Eberlin,” a very un-Bondian note. US Dandy gives us a wonderful passage about Eberlin’s endurance of the “ceremony” of coffee preparation by some bore. Film Dandy drops all of this, leaving everything up to Lawrence Harvey’s unmatched ability to portrait a bored, supercilious prick; “as bitter and hostile to our sympathies as he was in The Manchurian Candidate” (Cairns).

[40] The next paragraph also introduces us to the Maserati Mistrale 3700, “at present disemboweled and eight fee tin the air at Cutcher’s Garage, twenty kilometres from Lyons.” I will suggest that Eberlin is already in a similar post mortem state.

[41] Dandy US describes him in the corresponding chapter as “a frivolous monk.”

[42] “One year ago he had written ‘Ex Libris’ on the flyleaf of his passport and burned his suitcase.” The former makes more sense if one recalls that British passports of the time looked more like little books than, say, US passports did.

[43] Eberlin, real name Krasnevin, was born in Russia and raised to pass for an English schoolboy, part of a program supposedly created by Stalin to implant sleeper agents with impeccable backgrounds. “On paper it looked fallible. In practice, it was without error. Eberlin himself knew of a Troy M.P. of a Northern Constituency, whose loyalties ranged much further that the Houses of Parliament [and a schoolmate] whom he knew now to be a Democrat general in the U.S. Army.” He met the latter at a White House cocktail party, which leads one to think there may be something to this Birther business after all, especially when Brogue the Negro says to Eberlin “I must admit your references are excellent.”

[44] “The purpose of man’s life, say both [the mystics of muscle and mystics of spirit], is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.” As reprinted in For the New Intellectual, p. 171. British Film Character Actors: Great Names and Memorable Moments by Terence Pettigrew (Rowman & Littlefield, 1982) describes Laurence Harvey’s performance in The Manchurian Candidate (1962) as “zombie-like” but “excusable for once” given his role.

[45] For more on this Traditional image, see my essays “The Corner at the Center of the World: Traditional Metaphysics in a Late Tale of Henry James,” here [19] and reprinted in The Eldritch Evola . . . & Others: Traditionalist Meditations on Literature, Art, & Culture; ed. Greg Johnson (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2014), “The Babysitting Bachelor as Aryan Avatar: Clifton Webb in Sitting Pretty, Part 2,” here [20], and with particular reference to the secret agent motif, “The Baker Street Männerbund: Some Thoughts on Holmes, Watson, Bond, & Bonding, here [21].

[46] The center pole of the teepee, for example, and other traditional designs where a hole is left at the top, to let smoke, and so the sprits, escape. See, for example, Ananda Coomaraswamy, The Door in the Sky (Princeton, 1997).

[47] See Julius Evola, The Hermetic Tradition, Chapter 1, “The Tree, The Serpent and the Titans.”

[48] Willard: “Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.” Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979; script by John Milius).

[49] We also get another hint: Nightingale had been killed “with a minimum of difficulty, apart from decapitating the Mistrale on the Route Nationale.” And a reminder as he takes the train to the meeting: “Trees really are greener in England.”

[50] Though “trained to kill the secret enemies of the Soviet Union,” “Eberlin” is a committed desk jockey, unlike Bond or, in le Carré’s Spy who comes in from the cold, both of whom are driven nearly mad by paperwork and bureaucracy. In fact, since it’s “frightfully probably that he would be asked to continue Nightingale’s operation” despite having, as Krasnevin, assassinated him, it’s rather as if one could obtain a 00 license by killing one’s predecessor. “Arm yourself because no-one else here will save you/The odds will betray you/And I will replace you.” Chris Cornell, Casino Royale main title theme.

[51] An American might recall the scene in The Great Gatsby where Daisy is overwhelmed by Gatsby’s shirt collection: “They’re such beautiful shirts, she sobbed, her face muffled in the folds. It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such beautiful shirts.” Gatsby is another fake person, but Eberlin would no doubt consider him as another crude arriviste, like Brogue. Or, in the terms we’re discussing here, Gatsby is destroyed because he actually believes in materialism, in wealth and women as the goal of life, and hence his avarice has no end, being a futile attempt to capture the infinite in finite goods — the green light will always recede.

[52] The James Bond Dossier, op. cit.

[53] See Colin Wilson, The Angry Years: A Literary Chronicle (Avova Books, 2007), and Jonathan Bowden’s lecture “Bill Hopkins & the Angry Young Men,” online here [22].

[54] Lawrence Harvey’s breakout role, of course, was as Joe Lampton in the iconic AYM film, Room at the Top (1959) from John Braine’s 1957 novel. For more on Braine, see “Lovecraft in a Northern Town: John Braine’s The Vodi,” here [23]. The ultimate expression of the “dead” theme is the ending of The Ruling Class, where the Establishment is depicted as a roomful of rotting corpses; Harry Andrews, as noted above, starts off the film with a bang, and he’s here in Movie Dandy as well.

[55] It’s a demonic version of the dandified Oxford youth of Brideshead Revisited: “… it seemed as though I was being given a brief spell of what I had never known, a happy childhood, and though its toys were silk shirts and liqueurs and cigars and its naughtiness high in the catalogue of grave sins, there was something of nursery freshness about us that fell little short of the joy of innocence.”

[56] Typically, the movie adds a line crudely informing him, and us, “Don’t worry, you’ll get your promotion.”

[57] Goldfinger: Q: “It has not been perfected, out of years of patient research, ENTIRELY for that purpose, 007. And incidentally, we’d appreciate its return, along with all your other equipment, INTACT for once, when you return from the field.” James Bond: “Well, you’d be surprised the amount of wear and tear that goes on out there in the field.” Here Bond is channeling his inner Upper Class Twit; I suspect real Qs and Bonds would be more Jewy than otherwise; the brainy Jew and the grubby little operative. As commentators from Amis on have noted, Bond sits uneasily between the upper and working classes; his devotion to Queen and Country in the novels is part of a forelock-pulling obsequiousness that makes him a sucker for powerful men like Goldfinger (in the novel he becomes his secretary, along with Tillie Masterson!) and above all, Sir Hugo Drax, much to ‘M’s disgust — or jealousy.

[58] See, for instance, my collection End of an Era: Mad Men and the Ordeal of Civility (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2016).

[59] “Edina: “Darling, even Amanda de Cadenet would remember the word “accessories.” Absolutely Fabulous: “Magazine” (#1.6)” (1992). The Germans have a handy word for such male accessories: Schmuck. Hence, the Yiddish . . .

[60] Jew gold!

[61] Tom Courtney in the Movie, not so much, though he does establish another AYM connection through Billy Liar (1963) and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1962).

[62] Well, all shiksas, at least. Not for the first time we see that contemporary Pick Up Artist culture has only a dubious connection to Aryan culture.

[63] The Gospel is foolishness in the eyes of the world. The Jew Gatiss needs to learn the lesson of Mark 8:34ff. “The only way to attain ‘life’ — true life, the life of the age to come — . . . is by behaving in a way which seems to unredeemed man unintelligent and self-defeating: willingly accepting loss and injury in the cause of Christ and his gospel, and refusing to bend all one’s energies, as other men do, to preserving, securing, and enriching one’s life in this world.” D. E. Nineham, The Gospel of St. Mark, The Pelican New Testament Commentaries (Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1969), p. 226.

[64] See Julius Evola, The Doctrine of Awakening: The Attainment of Self-Mastery According to the Earliest Buddhist Texts (Rochester, Vt: Inner Traditions, 1997), pp. 76-77.

[65] This is actually the US version, which adds this layer of complexity to the plot. In the UK novel, it’s clearly the Russians: Eberlin sees and is even spoken to by the agent Rotopkin; Rotopkin is killed by a racecar at the Gran Prix as he is running from Gatiss at the end. In the US version, it’s Eberlin who thinks the Buick is “no doubt” driven by the Russians. A different Russian, Sobaevick, is killed at the Gran Prix by Gatiss (and a policeman is killed on the track, since Marlowe apparently liked the scene), and when Eberlin later calls Rotopkin, he learns the truth. The movie keeps this version, but with additional changes.

[66] A frequent story in his last lectures, here for instance: “A Lesson in Scripture,” 10/23/67, online here [24].

[67] The idea of needing to perform every possible action, good or bad, so as to exhaust all experience, was promoted by the Gnostic sect of Carpocrates; see my review of the work of Luis Varady, “Lords of the Visible World: A Modern Reconstruction of an Ancient Heresy, here [25].

[68] In Coleman Francis’ The Beast of Yucca Flats (1962), the narrator informs us that “Vacation time. People travel East. West. North. Or South,” to which MST3k’s Mike Nelson responds “Some people just burrow straight down.” (Episode 621). “Dancer” is officially on vacation, and in this case his choice is straight up the World Tree.

[69] This literal apotheosis takes place at a German Gran Prix track, a reminder of the time when Gran Prix racing was the sport of kings. Gran Prix tracks, no less than NASCAR or ancient chariot races, epitomize the motif of man vs. circular futility. See my review of a similar man and a similar movie of futility, Steve McQueen’s Le Mans (1971), “St. Steven of Le Mans: The Man Who Just Didn’t Care,” here [26].

[70] It’s no accident that this all takes place in Berlin, home of the Sun Wheel emblem, whose National Socialist past makes Gatiss despise it.

[71] The reappearance of Eberlin’s house and racing car surely recalls the ending of The Prisoner (1967); was there any influence here? The eponymous Prisoner is definitely an ascetic dandy in his lifestyle, especially if he is indeed the John Drake of Secret Agent/Danger Man. He’s given a new name, or at least number, and set on various tasks and mission while in the Village, all ending with his defeat or return, only to start up again next week. In the end, it is revealed (perhaps) that No. 6 and No. 1 are the same, with John Drake making an Eberlin Trilogy. And of course, the last scene has him drive up in his old racing car (a Lotus) to his old London house.

[72] I imagine her in the big house with her mother, rather like Ab/Fab’s Patsy growing up with her Isadore Duncanish mother.

[73] “A short paragraph details the anonymous ends of both, one to ‘a large burial plot north of Spandau,’ the other fetching 109 marks on the scrap market.”

[74] “The only real reason something should come into being in the course of human events is that ‘someone wishes it to be here.’ To expect that the universe should somehow ‘make sense’ in itself, as if isolation from human actions that shape our world of meaning is a false expectation — and so horror in the face of an illogical or insane universe is misplaced. The abyssal lack of an inherent and immutable order can be seen as the free space for us to make the world meaningful in one way or another.” Jason Reza Jorjani, Prometheus and Atlas (London: Arktos, 2016), “Being Bound for Freedom”; quoting and explicating William James. The idea is not unknown to those with considerable experience with the mysterious East: commenting on the final settlement of the Apple/Capitol/EMI litigation in 1989, George Harrison commented: “the funny thing is most of the people who were involved with the reason that lawsuit came about aren’t even in the companies nay more. So the people at Capitol and EMI had to take on the karma of their predecessors, and I’m sure that they’re relieved too.” Peter Doggett, You Never Give Me Your Money: The Beatles After the Breakup (HarperStudio, 2009; UK subtitle: The Battle for the Soul of the Beatles), p. 297.

[75] “I feel caged in” is the only way Eberlin can express his reasons for wanting out to Pavel, which really combines the stuck in a viscous solid and string/wire metaphors. During the Selvers briefing, an apology is offered for having “to have kept you hanging about for so long in the dark.”

[76] While in Berlin, “Dancer” stays at the Kleist Hotel, which surely must connect him to Heinrich von Kleist and his “Essay on the Marionette Theater,” which discusses, pessimistically, the consequences of our encounter with the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden.

[77] “Remember, this is a motion picture!” MST3k, Episode 603, The Dead Talk Back.

[78] As Eberlin calls himself, the Eberlin Trinity (Eberlin, Krasnevin, Dancer).

[79] He also now carries around, from his first scene on, a “sitting stick,” as an MST3k robot calls the similar Schmuck carried around by Ed Platt — later Get Smart’s “Chief” — in the late ’50s caper The Rebel Set (episode 419). In both cases, it’s a Chekov’s Gun [27], in Gatiss’ case literally so.

[80] She’s a swinging London photographer, here, with an actor partner named Neville, which I appreciated for obvious reasons [28].

[81] One has to wonder if his attempt to portray a Russian Communist spymaster as a crusty but benign father figure is a function of this being one of the films he made during a longtime exile from the USA, as a result of being one of the most obvious and obstreperous members of the Hollywood communist rat pack [29]. Wikipedia adds that “After 15 years abroad, Stander moved back to the U.S. for the role he is now most famous for: Max, the loyal butler, cook, and chauffeur to the wealthy, amateur detectives played by Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers on the 1979–1984 television series Hart to Hart.” Indeed, his Sobakevitch definitely recalls his “Max,” whose “My boss” line and gravelly voice often crops up on MST3k [30], including the same Episode 419 [31] that gave us the “sitting stick.”

[82] The same year, 1968, brought us Ted Mikels’ The Astro-Zombies, where that very scenario is played out, with equal unlikeliness. Jabootu comments [32]: “This isn’t as exaggerated as tying Batman up in a giant popsicle-making machine, but it still seems a pointlessly exaggerated way to kack the guy. And that’s even assuming you could build up a fatal amount of speed in the at best twenty-foot distance between Sergio and where the car was parked. Perhaps Sergio actually died choking on the ketchup packet that he was apparently carrying in his mouth for some reason.” After all, Gatiss still has his sitting/shooting stick.

[83] Earlier, when Eberlin resolves to kill Pavel and returns to his apartment — Pavel having already been spirited away — “Harvey pumps his bed full of bullets, just like Lee Marvin in Point Blank the same year.” (Cairns, op. cit.).

[84] Now I admit I have been known to harbor perhaps idiosyncratic preferences for UK versions of LPs (although I have recently come to admit the US Beatles LPs are better sequenced, despite their atrocious covers), but comparing the UK and US versions of Dandy is not so much like comparing the UK and US versions of, say, Aftermath but comparing Aftermath to, say, a Bill Wyman solo album.

 

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
eliade

[1]1,409 words

Mircea Eliade et la Redécouverte du Sacré (YouTube [2], Romanian subtitles)

Mircea Eliade was a traditionalist Romanian novelist and philosopher. Following the disaster of the Second World War, he moved to Paris and Chicago, becoming a respected and influential historian of religions. He acquired something of the status of a guru, as poignantly told in the 1987 documentary Mircea Eliade et la Redécouverte du Sacré. The film features interviews with Eliade at the end of his life, artfully spliced with cuts to religious imagery on a background of moving spiritual music. It was released in 1987, the year after his death.

The more scientistic Westerner is likely to be annoyed at Eliade’s rather New-Age vibe. Eliade had an enormous erudition and knowledge of history, reading half a dozen languages. But he is not really interested in explicating the details of this or that religious tradition, but in finding the unity from Australian Aborigines “to the latest Western mystics.” The sacred, we are told, is the foundation of human life and once pervaded all of his actions. Western culture “suffered from a certain provincialism” but now is open to the spirituality of others. We’re all just one world, man!

This is asserted without evolutionary or traditional psychological explanation. The “skeptical” and “atheist” types, seeing this bearded man very profoundly smoking his pipe behind his large glasses, will cry: “This is an Eastern mystic masquerading as an academic historian.”

[3]

And that is surely true. Eliade’s postwar appeal appears similar to Alan Watts’. Besides the powerful religiosity of the Romania of Eliade’s youth, he also spent three years studying yoga in India. Before the Second World War, Eliade publicly supported the Romanian Legionary Movement and the Portuguese dictator Salazar [4], citing their nationalist and spiritual approach to politics.

Eliade’s support for the Far Right, though admittedly preferring traditionalist forms to the more modernist fascism of Italy and Germany, has obviously been a source of controversy ever since. But he was nonetheless able to reinvent himself at the University of Chicago and one is left with an unmistakable impression: this man dedicated the rest of his life promoting the history of religions as an apology for spirituality, in effect a crypto-Right-wing traditionalism. (Eliade’s peers were largely in the same boat, being people who either died or could not ostentatiously and/or overtly express their Right-wing convictions in the new world of “freedom of thought and tolerance” ushered in by the egalitarian Allies: René Guénon, Nae Ionescu, Emil Cioran, Carl Schmitt, Georges Dumézil . . .)

There are clues along the way that Eliade comes from a very, very different culture and intellectual sphere than that of postwar Western demoliberalism. In India, Eliade was fascinated by popular myths “which were the expression of archaic societies which had preceded the Aryans, the Indo-Europeans in India.” Upon returning to Romania, he could better appreciate the rural culture of the Balkans, where unlike Western Europe spirituality was still lively. The roots of popular myths in the Balkans went deeper, Eliade claims, than Roman, Greek, or Mediterranean culture, but reflected “Paleo-Indo-European” (i.e. Aryan) sacred tradition. (Rather incongruously, the camera then cuts to dancing Gypsies, who are about as Aryan as Ashkenazim.)

Eliade notes that virtually all human activities — painting, dancing, sculpture — began as religious activities in primitive and prehistoric societies. A sense of the sacred gave significance to every action, integrating man’s impossibly fleeting existence into an eternal, transcendental whole. “The sacred is at the basis of his existence in the world,” he says. “The sacred is . . . an element of the structure of consciousness and not a stage in the history of this consciousness. To live as a human being is in itself a religious act.”

Modern secularism has, according to Eliade, destroyed man’s faith in the divine meaning of existence. Homo religiosus is dead, or at least sleeping. This was achieved first “especially by the revolution accomplished by Jewish monotheism, by the action of the prophets, which desacralized the cosmos.” This fracture was then spread among the gentiles “by Judeo-Christianity,” which led to “evacuating the gods” and reducing the universe to “dead matter.” Whereas early Western scientists believed faith and science could be conciliated, this was eventually lost. Particularly guilty were the reductionists who developed “the theology of the death of God,” “beginning with Karl Marx” (reducing all to economics) and “especially with Freud” (reducing all to biology, in particular the sex drive), but also “the great Nietzsche.”

This is a disaster, for man becomes an agnostic atom in an existence reduced to meaningless chaos: “Human existence is without meaning, man lives in a nature without a model, without a Creator, without an objective, and we have then arrived to this type of nihilism which Nietzsche had announced, speaking of the ‘death of God.’” For: “Man cannot live in chaos.”

Eliade makes a fine prophecy: “The sacred is saturated with being. Incidentally an a-religious society does not exist yet and cannot exist. If it were to be realized, it would perish after a few generations from neurasthenia, by a collective suicide. If God does not exist, all is ash.” Who dares contradiction? Is this not the fate of the West?

This tragic narrative, of the rise of nihilism, is told with powerful, angsty music, some also used in 2001: Space Odyssey. (I find something rather disgusting in Albert Camus and especially André Malraux, disserting on nihilism, which they call l’absurde, but doing nothing about it.)

Unlike Nicholas Wade (The Faith Instinct), Eliade does not attempt an evolutionary interpretation, which would dare to perform a sacrilegious autopsy and dissection of the sacred. But I will say to the scientists: religiosity appears to be a compensatory psychological mechanism which, by brute force, forces a sense of meaning in one’s life, regardless of one’s limited reason, one’s very partial (minuscule, really) view of the world, and one’s objective living conditions (an often “nasty, brutish and short” life, full of suffering). Why? Because optimistic believers always defeat depressed agnostics. Hence the universal pervasiveness of religion (it obviously, contra the probably criminal Richard Dawkins, reflects a biological predisposition and not merely superstition). The evolutionary adaptiveness of a good religion is also obvious in the social unity and “social programming” (by defining taboos and goals) it enables, and in the well-documented higher birth rates of the religious.

All militant atheists should be given Darwin Awards [5].

Logically, all this ends in either World-Judaism and/or Islam or esoteric Hitlerism.

The advent of agriculture led to a spiritual crisis and religious change, as must the advent of modern technology. We need a new religion. Fascism was an attempt, smothered with hate-filled fanaticism. Late liberalism is a half-orgiastic/half-life-fearing effeminate death cult.

But one should not limit oneself to a profane scientific approach. The historian’s study of religions has “existential consequences” on him, Eliade says, convincing him of the unity, nobility, and value of mankind’s sacred tradition. Hermeneutics “transforms the researcher.”

Eliade is astonishingly optimistic in the film. I guess those 1980s New Age movements and Westerners’ dabbling in Buddhism were hopeful signs? Eliade is convinced that a return to sacred convictions would lead to great existential improvement and to cultural creativity, from poetry to the sciences. I think he is absolutely right. “Sterility, nihilism, decadence” would be done away with.

Women have a much stronger intuitive sense of health and the good life than men (mostly unconsciously, easily overridden by misguided piety/conformism). Hence, your modern yuppie gal — though raised on Sex and the City — will go to yoga and earnestly chant an “ohm!” of surprising power. Health and spirit are calling her. And yet she’d be disgusted at the thought of doing this somewhere unfashionable, like a church.

Obviously men should be coming forward to found a new faith.

Eliade tells us that when man opens himself to the sacred:

Life becomes infinitely richer, more exciting. It really is worth living because the world which opens up . . . full of messages, full of hopes, which is no longer opaque . . . everything is word, everything is symbol, and everything is openness to something which is certainly positive. . . . It is no longer the opaque world, without significance, purely tragic, in which tragedy has no more meaning. The world of certain philosophers and writers.

Death too becomes a passionate mystery: “Death is a second birth, the supreme initiation. One must die to be reborn in eternity.”

We salute you Mircea Eliade, Aryan mystic, loyal in a dark age to the faith of your forefathers.

 

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Martian

1,031 words

[1]Ridley Scott’s The Martian [2] is a superb movie: suspenseful, inspiring, and deeply moving, with an excellent plot, fine performances, compelling pacing, and completely believable special effects. The Martian in set in the near future when space exploration is once again a national priority and manned Mars missions are regular undertakings.

On one such mission a powerful storm forces a six-man team to evacuate the planet and return to their orbiting base ship while they still have a chance. Unfortunately, botanist Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is swept away in the storm and apparently killed, so his crewmates depart without him. Watney, however, survived and is marooned on Mars with a limited food supply and no way to communicate with Earth. His only chance of rescue, moreover, is years in the future, long after he will have starved.

So, after stitching up the wound he suffered in the storm, Watney coolly takes stock of his resources — food supplies, a Martian habitat, a Martian rover, a collection of ’70s disco, freeze-dried human excrement, rocket fuel, etc. — and comes up with a survival and rescue plan. He learns to grow potatoes in human excrement and Martian soil. He modifies the rover to extend its range, then uses it to find an old Martian lander that he can use to communicate with NASA.

At this point you realize that this fairly straightforward and jocular narrative has been sneaking up on you to deliver an unexpected and powerful emotional catharsis. When Watney finally communicates with Earth, we are flooded with his fear and loneliness and relief. You’d need a heart of stone not to shed a tear in this scene, and there are more like it to come.

A rescue plan is set in motion, and although the suspense is often quite intense, there is never really any doubt that the Martian Mark Watney will return home to Earth.

The Martian is a very white, very American movie. Matt Damon is basically a high tech frontiersman — a final frontiersman — who triumphs over adversity using science, technology, and courage. It is also a very Faustian movie, a movie about the exploration of the cosmos, a movie about dedicating one’s life to something bigger than oneself, namely mankind’s ongoing conquest of nature.

But The Martian is a product of today’s film industry, which means that its real virtues are accompanied by two serious flaws. First, the movie advances the false worldview of racial and sexual egalitarianism. Second, the morally and metaphysically elevating themes of the movie are undercut by vulgar colloquialism.

The American space program was the product almost exclusively of white men, with our mastery of science and technology, longing for new frontiers, and rivalry with our enemies. America dropped the torch of space exploration when Jewish and Leftist values became dominant. We now have better things to do than explore space, like giving free cell phones to Negroes and a media megaphone to witches exercised about a scientist’s sinful shirt [3].

The most false and offensive aspect of The Martian is that it postulates that the US space program will somehow revive in a society in which racial and sexual egalitarianism are the dominant values. The main character, Matt Damon’s Mark Watney, is of course white. But his six-man crew has two female members, including the captain, and although five crewmembers are white, the pilot is Hispanic. NASA’s director of Mars missions is supposedly an African-Hindu hybrid played by a black actor. The genius who figures out the rescue plan is also played by a black. (Remember, this is science fiction.) An important scientist is played by an Asian, and when NASA needs help, he kindly intercedes with his uncle who runs the Red Chinese space agency. (In the real world, of course, such a scientist would likely be one of the many Chinese-American spies passing intelligence and technology to the Chinese.) The Red Chinese gallantly offer one of their rockets after the Americans prove that they can’t perform the rescue on their own. A couple important characters in NASA are white women, and so on.

Although The Martian is pro-diversity, one cannot really call it anti-white. The hero and the majority of the cast are highly attractive, serious, and competent white people. No race-mixing is portrayed. And there is a subtle pro-natalism to the film, for one of the astronauts, the German Vogel, has at least four beautiful white children, and two of the astronauts on the mission later marry and have a child at the very end.

Another aspect of egalitarian rot is the pervasive vulgarity of the script. This is a movie about heroism, with a plot worthy of a classic 19th-century novel. But the language and music do not measure up. Lest we idolize Mark Watney too much, he has to be “humanized,” with vulgar language and tastes. At one point he vows to “science the s**t” out of one of his problems, which he proceeds to do to a medley of ’70s pop songs. At a certain point, I felt a tightness in my gut and feared that we would soon be treated to a dance montage like in Tootsie or its ripoff Mrs. Doubtfire. Ayn Rand brilliantly satirized this kind of anti-Romanticism as the “I’m sorry I can’t take you to the pizza joint tonight baby, I’ve got to go back to the lab and split the atom” approach to science fiction. The sets of The Martian are clearly inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey. One wishes the soundtrack was as well. Heroic deeds require elevated words and music.

One wonders how more dignified ages have dawned. The Victorian age, for instance, followed the decadence of the Regency era. Thus those “stuffy” early Victorians were not unacquainted with degeneracy. But at a certain point they took themselves seriously enough to regard their little indulgences as contemptible, as childish, as beneath them. And then they just put them away.

These flaws aside, The Martian is an excellent movie that will speak especially to whites. It is a reminder that White Nationalists are not only working to save our race from the mud but to put us back on the path to the stars.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
interstellar

[1]1,848 words

Note: Contains spoilers

Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is an epic, metaphysical poem addressing the question of ultimate human survival in both an individual and collective sense. Like Inception, it uses a strong science-fiction narrative as a means of thinking about time and reality, but unlike Inception it looks outwards to distant galaxies rather than inwards to manipulated dream states. Certainly, Interstellar is Nolan’s most visionary film to date and, if much attention has been paid to the quantum physics that underpins the film, it is ultimately a meditation on what, if anything, lies behind the mundane dimensions of reality.

At the beginning of the film we meet Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) who is an ex-astronaut turned farmer in the Midwest. The reason that he has turned to farming is a blight that is killing off food crops and causing dramatic food shortages. Scientific research and higher education have been shelved whilst everyone is pushed into farming to try to maximize the declining food supply. There is a residual technology; drones fly around to no purpose and we see one being hijacked by Cooper to salvage its technology. This is very much the sort of future envisioned by John Michael Greer in his book The Long Descent and his influential blog The Archdruid Report [2]. Whereas Greer sees the end of the industrial age being caused by fossil fuel depletion, Interstellar less controversially puts it down to an act of nature. In both scenarios, technological development reaches a plateau and gradually fades into the past. Cooper’s young daughter, Murph, gets into trouble at school because she spreads a conspiracy theory that NASA once landed a man on the moon. What was once orthodoxy has become conspiracy theory, and vice versa, in a small but neat presentation of Spengler’s observation that strange, cultish religious imperatives arise at a time of civilizational death. In the world of Interstellar, the techno-Faustian drives of the 20th century have become a sinful heresy.

Murph believes that a ghost in her bedroom is trying to communicate with her by pushing books from her bookshelf. During one of the many severe dust storms that have become commonplace, she accidentally leaves a window open and she and Cooper notice that the dust falls to her bedroom floor in very particular, non-random ways. In fact, it lands as Morse code spelling out map coordinates. Cooper seeks to understand the anomalous incident and the “ghost” as gravitational phenomena of some sort. Upon tracking down the map coordinates they discover a secret NASA base. The space program has been forced to operate in complete secrecy because it is seen as a wasteful luxury that can no longer be afforded. Despite this, Professor Brand (Michael Caine) believes that interstellar colonization is the only hope for saving the human race from the blight. He reveals that a wormhole in space was discovered close to Saturn some years ago and that a number of manned missions were sent through it to investigate the suitability for colonization of planets on the other side. As Cooper is an ex-astronaut, and a heretic for believing in the desirability of space exploration despite the prevailing economic circumstances, he volunteers to pilot a new mission to follow up the data that has been sent back from those first pioneers.

The central bulk of the film follows the mission as it explores two of those worlds. The first is in close proximity to a black hole and the astronauts who explore its surface find it to be inhospitable. Due to the slowing down of time caused by the proximity of a black hole, the astronauts return after a couple of hours to find that 23 years have passed on the mother ship. Ultimately, Cooper decides that he needs to enter the black hole with one of the mission’s robots. This will enable the robot to send “quantum data” from the black hole’s singularity back to Earth to provide the missing piece of an equation that will solve the problem of gravity and allow for the mass emigration of humanity from Earth. Once inside the black hole, Cooper discovers a large projection, or light installation of some sort, representing his daughter’s childhood bedroom. Essentially, the projection is an embodiment of the bedroom’s instantiations in time when viewed from a higher dimension. By intersecting with this exteriorly manifested object of time, Cooper is able to distort space-time and cause the gravitational phenomena that Murph had originally attributed to the ghost at the beginning of the film. Cooper is thus causing the anomalous incidents that were responsible for him finding the NASA base and beginning his mission. It is also evident that the worm hole and the room within the black hole were created by a suprahumanity of the future who put them there to save the humanity of the past. Thus, Cooper’s personal temporal paradox is a small arc within a greater temporal paradox for all humanity.

All of this preoccupation with gravity and its effects inevitably brings to mind comparison with last year’s blockbuster space movie, Gravity. Gravity follows two astronauts who are left free floating in space after their shuttle is destroyed. Clooney and Bullock’s performances were highly rated and the film achieves a real frisson of terror as the characters are seen as lost, vulnerable specks against the immensity of space. But the interesting thing is how these characters are decontextualized, how they exist for us as severed from earthly concerns. True, Bullock’s character has a back story about her young daughter who died aged four, but this comes across as mere filler, a gestural procedure to humanize the character. Her biography is an anecdotal discourse. In essence, both of the characters are somehow less than human: rootless, single, atomized individuals. Surely we are meant to read them as angels, humanlike in form but strangely distant and ethereal? This reading is reinforced by the inclusion of the Hank Williams song “Angels are Hard to Find” in the soundtrack. The event that is responsible for destroying their shuttle, and leaving them hanging like Daliesque Christs in space, is a missile strike on a satellite which creates a chain reaction of debris orbiting through the satellite belt and taking out more satellites as it goes. This event is a quintessentially contemporary disaster. What could be worse than a devastating trail of destruction taking out communication satellites? As Clooney’s character remarks, “Half of North America just lost their Facebook.” This is the worst thing in the world and the true existential horror lying behind Gravity’s action. The lone astronaut spinning helplessly into infinite space is a metaphor for the contemporary experience of disorientation caused by internet downtime.

By contrast, Interstellar attempts to grapple with much bigger issues. The looming prospect of the death of all humanity is always present but, as already mentioned, this futuristic scenario plays out against a “lost futures” backdrop. It isn’t quite an archeofuturist vision because the technological advances that Faye anticipates have not come to fruition, so there is a sense of spiritual regression (accompanying the transition to an agrarian society), and a scavenging of extant technologies. In this context it is worth mentioning Kubrick’s 2001, which Interstellar has been compared to. Famously, HAL became the epitome of everything threatening about artificial intelligence. Due to his vastly superior intelligence and rationality he was given control of the spacecraft with consequences as bad for the crew as they were felicitous for cinema. The evil AI genius was also addressed more recently in the Nolan-produced Transcendence [3], where the notion of uploading a human’s consciousness to an online network was considered. In Interstellar, AI is shown to have become stuck in retro-looking robots who are basically very clever servants.

In place of the AI evil genius, Nolan instead has references to the mysterious intelligences who are responsible for the appearance of the worm hole: “they.” “They” are revealed to be a future form of humanity, one which has overcome the limitations of time (fifth-dimensional beings). It is surely worthy of note that, in this parable of the indomitability of the Faustian spirit, the higher beings are not aliens, gods or intelligent machines, but human beings. The messianic urge towards a savior figure, Nolan seems to be telling us, should be directed towards our own sense of self-overcoming, our own transcending of natural boundaries. But within all of this there is a very human story about a man who has to leave his daughter behind in pursuit of his ideals. Unlike the astronauts in Gravity we never forget that Cooper has made a real sacrifice in leaving his children behind to carry out this mission. When, at the end of the film, Cooper is reunited with Murph he has aged little, due to the slowing down of time in the area around the black hole where he has been exploring. She, however, is now an old lady on her death bed. When the two meet the father is decades younger than his dying daughter. Despite constituting the film’s emotional resolution the scene is uncomfortable to watch; it feels unnatural and a little creepy due to the age discrepancy. The effect is to make you wonder whether transcending time in this sense is really desirable. It is as though Nolan is subtly throwing in a warning about the consequences of exceeding natural boundaries to temper the Faustian message he sends elsewhere.

And the ambiguity doesn’t end there. This being Nolan, the consummate trickster, there has to be some doubt about the film’s ending. My understanding of physics is not at a very high level, but I believe that it is the case that nothing can escape from beyond the event horizon of a black hole. If this is so then when Cooper crosses the boundary that would be the last anyone would hear of him. Similarly, the “quantum data” would have no chance of being transmitted to Earth. In the film, we see Cooper reunited with his daughter on a space station in the Saturn region having been rescued from the black hole. One of the characters earlier in the film mentioned that the last thing you see before dying is your children. Perhaps we are meant to conclude that the end sequence is all psychological wish fulfillment on the part of a dying man. In which case humanity is stranded on a dying planet and we still don’t really know who “they” are. Perhaps it doesn’t matter; both scenarios are still concerned with man’s Gnostic quest for self-overcoming, and an ultimate resolution to such a quest will never be reached.

The genius of Christopher Nolan is in bringing so many interesting ideas to such entertaining films. With Interstellar he has demonstrated his competence as a metaphysical poet using scientific ideas as striking metaphors for human emotions and fears. It’s too ambitious to hang together perfectly but it is an extraordinary film that demands to be seen and seen again. Nolan’s eight previous films, spanning the period from 2000–2012, marked him out as the pre-eminent film director of the 21st century. Interstellar confirms this judgment.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
transcendence-johnny-depp-poster

[1]1,019 words

Transcendence marks the directorial debut of Wally Pfister, Christopher Nolan’s cinematographer. Nolan is also the executive producer so the expectation is that this sci-fi project could aspire to the heights reached by Nolan’s Inception [2]. Sadly, it fails to live up to the comparison.

Johnny Depp stars as Dr. Will Caster, a leading researcher in artificial intelligence (AI). His work is opposed by a terrorist group known as RIFT (Revolutionary Independence From Technology) who argue that the creation of self-aware computers will lead to the destruction of humanity, as the newly autonomous machines will choose to subordinate or wipe out their human creators. This point at which AI supersedes humanity is referred to as the singularity, or in Caster’s own religiously inflected term, transcendence. When Caster is shot early on in the film by a member of RIFT it transpires that the bullet contains radioactive material that will shortly kill him. With Caster’s death imminent, his wife, Evelyn, uploads his consciousness to a computer. Once this is done, he immediately asks to be connected to the internet. Ignoring the possibility that this might be the very thing that RIFT have been sensibly warning everyone about, she unwisely complies.

Initially, her faith in her husband (if that is what he still is) is repaid, as Caster is able to quickly create new bio-technologies that can heal the sick. More than this, his patients are not just cured but super-powered so that they can perform feats of great strength. Unfortunately, he also implants something or other into the bodies of those he cures so that they become networked with the virtual doctor and operate as a hive mind. With this super-empowered army at his disposal it appears that Castor is about to achieve world dominance. Belatedly sensing that this might all be going awry, Evelyn agrees to help defeat Caster. She consents to being infected with a computer virus, and persuades him to upload her consciousness so that it can spread throughout the WWW and shut down everything connected to the internet. Thus humanity is saved but only at the expense of reverting to a pre-technological state.

Transcendence contains some interesting ideas, but it never manages to achieve anything greater than the sum of its parts. To a great extent, this is due to the way that Depp’s character manifests his presence after being uploaded. He simply appears on various screens talking to his wife. Depp’s performance is not particularly engaging to begin with, but when he recedes to an image on a screen within the big screen itself it becomes impossible not to describe his performance as flat. Additionally, his wife is a teary and dull character who can’t even be redeemed by the excellent Rebecca Hall who excelled in Nolan’s The Prestige.

But even more of a problem is the difficulty with attempting to parse the concept of an uploaded consciousness. Needless to say, the specific means of uploading a person to a computer are rather skirted over (because it can’t be done). But this wouldn’t necessarily hamper the film if it was presented better. Recall HAL from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick recruited Marvin Minsky, a leading researcher on AI in the 1960s, as an advisor on 2001. Kubrick’s depiction of HAL in the movie in 1969 represents the best bet of where AI would be at the turn of the millennium, based on the knowledge of the time. As such, HAL is a super-computer. His intelligence has been achieved through progressions in computer technology based on faster processing power and increased data capacity. As is evident, such AI computers did not come to pass in 2001, but this is no impediment to enjoying the film. Kubrick treats HAL as intellectually proficient yet there is always a suspicion that his “personality” is a sort of autistic charade. He works as an analogue of the black monolith that appears at the beginning of the film: an inscrutable dark façade behind which who knows what sort of alien machinations are ticking over. He works artistically because he crosses a threshold of plausibility.

The 1960s approach to AI research has now been replaced with a focus on distributed intelligence, and this is reflected in the networked consciousness found in Transcendence. Rather than a computer becoming more and more developed to the point where it somehow magically achieves consciousness, the scenario in Transcendence concerns the replication of a human brain in computer hardware. Whereas in 2001 the development of the HAL 9000 series and its capabilities is discussed in some detail, the uploading of consciousness in Transcendence is simply taken as a given. Apparently, the audience will simply accept that this is a plausible concept. For an ideas sci-fi movie, this is the Achilles heel in Transcendence’s techno future. The oddness of Depp/Caster as the virtual brain in a vat, flickering to life on various screens as he stalks his still-fleshy wife stems from this flawed conceit. On this reckoning, an uploaded human is a less believable character than a super-powered computer.

What this points to at a deeper level is the nature of the hopes and expectations that lie behind the pop cultural evolution of AI ideas. In the late 1960s the AI project seemed to be about creating faster and cleverer machines that could somehow reach a certain tipping point that would allow consciousness to emerge. It was part of the self-confident future that the dawning space age seemed to herald. Now the ambition has become the transference of human consciousness to a network. The shift is significant. Rather than seeking to create a genuinely artificial consciousness, a thinking machine, Transcendence tells us that the real aim is the extension of our own consciousness, our sense of self, beyond death. This is a model of the future predicated on the uneasy fear and misgivings of secular late capitalism and the morbid worries it gives rise to. The real terror lying behind the story told in Transcendence is not that uploaded conscious beings might one day supersede humanity; it is that they might not. In the latter scenario we all die, like in real life.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
psychomania01 (1)

[1]3,738 words

Psychomania [2] (a.k.a. The Death Wheelers [3]); 1973; 85 minutes; director: Don Sharp; writers: Julian Zimet [4], Arnaud d’Usseau [5]; starring Beryl Reid, George Sanders, Nicky Henson. 

Here’s another flick I fondly recall from some late night broadcast in my teens or so, which has been made accessible again through the miracle of DVD.[1] Needless to say, it has its ’net fans as well, one of which give this summary [6]:

If you haven’t ever seen Psychomania it’s a unique British horror and is quite hilarious in terms of language and actual horror, but remains a classic all the same. The opening title with these Bikers from hell weaving in and out of a large stone circle has to be the most memorable you will see. Briefly it’s the story of a gang of Bikers called the Living Dead. The gang leader (Henson) has a weird mother (our Beryl) who is immortal, as is her sinister butler (Sanders). Henson finds the secret of his mother immortality (this involves a frog), then tells his gang members how they can comeback alive and wreak havoc. They then all commit suicide. It really is funny. They all get turned into stone at the end. There are some great scenes and some superb furniture along the way. Only the British could make such a daft movie.

OK, everyone set with the premise?[2] That opening scene was really the only part I recalled, due to either falling asleep or being sent to bed, so I can attest to it really being memorable.

[7]

A group of motorcyclists — The Living Dead, we’ll soon learn — perform various maneuvers in and around a sort of mini-Stonehenge — as we’ll also soon learn, a local monument, the “Stone Witches,” a coven supposedly turned to stone for some devilish misdemeanor — all shrouded in fog, filmed in slo-mo, and above all, accompanied by some amazing creepy prog-music — not unlike to music being created at the same time in Germany that we now know as Krautrock — that instantly catapults this film into Suspiria (Goblin) or even Man Hunter (Shriekback) territory.[3] Or not, actually.

It would be hard for any movie to keep up with that opening, and this one sure doesn’t. But there are some rewards here for readers of Counter-Currents.

First, this is not just a British film, but a very British film. That means, apart from a subdued, vaguely melancholy color palette of foggy grays and damp greens and blues — the whole film looks like it was filmed at the bottom of an aquarium, which is appropriate, given the unusually large role frogs play — it’s a very white film — in fact, I’d say it’s entirely white. Not even Sidney Poitier is in sight.[4]

[8]

It’s quite a relief, in today’s culture and environment — when even our crypto-Traditionalist directors like Christopher Nolan feel the need to include not just Negro characters but even as heroes — to sink into this cooling British aquarium of a film, like a soothing ice mask after a hot day.[5]

“British” also means we can expect the subtle pleasures consequent on a low-budget and a strangely reticent, almost downright shy approach to film making.

Take, for instance, a very early scene that presents us with one of the gang’s “outrages.” Now I for one will admit that having a motorcycle, to say nothing of half a dozen or so, zip right by you while out walking around the town shopping center would be a rather unpleasant, perhaps even scary, experience. But really, this is supposed to be a horror film, and the sight of the Living Dead, even with their home-made skull visors, zooming alongside shoppers at quite reasonable speeds, knocking over a few prop fruit stands and what not, doesn’t even bring to mind the rather sedate The Wild One but rather the Monty Python sketch, “Hells Grannies”; even a Benny Hill skit would have speeded things up. In fact, the gang’s suicides, as they follow Tom’s lead, are rendered in a quick sequence all played for laughs.

[9]

On the other hand, cheapness and restraint can produce remarkable effects themselves, as any connoisseur of B-films can attest. In a later scene, when — not give too much away — our now back from the dead gang dispatches two constables and an inspector who are waiting unsuspecting in the morgue, the camera simply shifts away from the three, slowly revolves full circle to reveal — hey presto! — our three new corpses laid out in their conveniently see-through drawers, with nary a sound, mark or drop of blood, leaving Martin Scorsese to ask, “how’d they do that?”

But the film’s greatest and most famous sequence occurs when Tom, having driven himself off a bridge and then buried by the gang — on his motorcycle — revs up from underground and explodes up and out of the burial mound, good as new and ready for some more of the old ultra-violence.

I defy anyone to watch this amazing sequence without screaming out:

“Like a bat out of Helllllllllllllllllllllllll!”[6]

[10]

It’s when Tom learns the secret of immortality — or whatever it is; as we’ll see, it’s a little hard to pinpoint just what kind of state he achieves — that my Traditionalist spidey-sense started to tingle.

The secret turns out to be: kill yourself, but only if you can maintain constant, unwavering concentration on the belief that you will live again.

The secret, in fact, turns out to be a kinda suicidal version of Oprah’s beloved Secret, the dumbed down residuum of America’s 19th-century “New Thought” movement.[7]

But where had I heard this before? Of course — Baron Evola!

As is well known, Evola was quite pessimistic about the possibilities of finding a true source of initiation in today’s world; ultimately passing from pessimism to nihilism. Unlike Guénon, who held out slender hopes, Evola simply denied the existence of a valid and effective initiatory stream, without contact with which no chance of enlightenment, or immortality, is possible.

What to do? Evola counseled the “differentiated man,” the man aware of some element of the transcendent within himself — which would be the requisite material to be acted on by initiation — to

Give ever more emphasis to the dimension of transcendence in oneself, more or less concealed as it may be. Study of traditional wisdom and knowledge of its doctrines may assist, but they will not be effective without a progressive change affecting the existential plane, and more particularly, the basic life force of oneself . . . that for most people is bound to the world and is simply the will to live.

One can, then, with some effort and luck, and of course a predisposition, effect a change of polarity, like “the induction of magnetism in a piece of iron” and thereby reverse the direction of one’s life force: from willing to live ordinary life to the urge to attain “the life which is more than life.”

When the orientation toward the transcendent no longer has a merely mental or emotional character, but has come to penetrate a person’s being, the most essential work is done, the seen has penetrated the earth, and the rest is in a way, secondary and consequential.[8]

As I read this, the idea seems to be that one should concentrate as much of one’s consciousness as one can on the Transcendent, within oneself, so that a certain direction, and even force or momentum, is built up, allowing one to spring forward at death, into the Beyond, rather than passively submitting to the dispersal of the elements and return to the racial root that is the fate of the un-initiated.[9]

Although Evola counsels against suicide in the same book, as an all-too-human failure of will — except for those who are already enlightened, who may well choose to take themselves off the scene — we might draw a parallel to Evola’s own ill-advised “testing of my fate” by walking about Vienna during Allied bombing runs, which ultimately resulted in the injuries that left him unable to walk.[10]

And now the occult synchronicity of Tom’s burial becomes clear; buried upright, astride his motorcycle, no doubt facing East (the movie gives no clue), just as Evola, by his request, was wheeled over to a window so that he would die as his Aryan ancestors would wish, upright and facing the rising sun.

[11]

The Evola connection also solves the major puzzle critics have with the movie. The re-born cyclists are usually called “zombies” by critics but they bear no resemblance to the now canonical rotting, brain-eating ones. TV Tropes has cited the film under the trope “Our Zombies are Different” but observed [12]:

Psychomania has gained some notoriety as “zombies on motorcycles [13],” but are really zombies only in retrospect. More accurately, they’re willing participants in a ritual that grants eternal life. The ritual requires that they first die. On revival, they carry on as before; they are essentially their own creator.

“Their own creator.” This is a tremendously important point, which links the film’s formula of immortality with Evola’s discussion of the “magical heroes” who are a “kingless race” of “self-rulers” after having, unlike the contrary archetype of the “religious saint,” taken control of their own destiny and fate.[11]

Here we also find the significance of the “turn to stone” motif, in which Tom and the gang are “punished” at the end of the film by being transformed into megaliths, presumably just as the Seven Witches were years before the film began.[12]

[14]

The Stone, briefly, symbolizes The Center, the Axis Mundi along which transformation is accomplished (rising to a higher level); thus the stones are fittingly located on the lush green heath, which alludes to the equally central symbol of the Garden of Eden. The Stone also signifies the Transformed Man himself, solid, unmoved, upright; as well as the instrument of transformation, the alchemical Philosopher’s Stone or even perhaps The Grail (which Evola suggests was fashioned from the green gem — or stone– that fell from Lucifer’s crown. The color green ties in with the green frogs and the green frog medallion — the frog is the snake in the Garden which is also Satan — that are involved in the rituals conducted by Shadwell and Tom’s mom.[13]

[15]

We’re already starting to find here elements of both repetition and the phenomenon I’ve called “passing the buck” — The Superior Man does not “work off” his own karma, as in so many crypto-protestant interpretations, but instead demonstrates his superiority precisely by offloading it onto some sucker or mark.

To explore the Stone some more, we need to look at some of these repetitions. The basic repetition occurs in the First Act, when Tom demands to be allowed into The Locked Room in order to learn The Secret, an ordeal that his father failed, fatally. As Evola explains, in the traditions of the “religious saint,” the quest for immorality or enlightenment or perfection is presented as a danger; as a result of our ancestor’s catastrophic failure — Adam and Eve, of course — the pursuit is not only forbidden, but we are subject to a sinful debt that will result in our own damnation unless we can obtain Jehovah’s forgiveness.[14]

Tom, however, presents us with the Hero of the alchemical traditions, who dares — and succeeds.

Of course, we’ve seen that in the film, Tom and the gang are “punished,” but that’s just the cover story; “turning to stone” is the goal, or the reward, of their efforts. (We can assume that the Witches succeeded as well). This is also presented as a punishment because to the naïve, worldly man, the Enlightened Man seems more dead than alive; impassive as a stone, unmoved, not subject to the worldly man’s endless, unsatisfied desires that “make life worth living.”[15]

It’s the usual “he tampered in God’s domain”[16] cautionary tale, dating back from Frankenstein through Faust through Don Juan through Dante all the way back to the Eden myth — but we don’t care about that, nor whether the producers had any of this in mind. It may be the case, as Trevor Lynch suggests, that under contemporary conditions — and really, that would be the whole post-Constantine period — Traditional ideas can only appear in the mouths of villains and madmen. But even beyond this, this is how Traditional ideas have always been transmitted — embedded in “folk” tales that the folk grooved on but never really understood, hidden safely in plain sight until someone like Guenon or Evola could decode them for us once again.

On the purely cinematic level, Tom is channeling Alex from 1971’s A Clockwork Orange. Of course, Kubrick was an American and had a big budget, so although made and set in England, the film seemed startlingly brightly lit, violent and explicit at the time.

[16]And yet, Tom, though admittedly a nice lad who lives with Mum — in a very groovy, all too British manor house with just the right swinging ’60s touches, unlike Alex’s futurist hellhole — is far more violent than Alex; just more reticent about it. No sooner do we meet him than he’s forced a car off the road and sent some British git through the windshield — I mean, windscreen. Of course, being British, we don’t see any exploding heads or even a slight cut, so it’s hard to tell if he’s unconscious or dead. No one in authority, at least, seems too concerned; whereas Alex’s one murder results in a very British “now you’ve done it lad” and straight to the Ludovico room.

On revival, though, all bets are off. Tom kills a couple of blokes just on general principle, then heads for a pub to chats up a couple birds. The scene looks like it will play out like Alex‘s teenage girl ménage a trois, but instead he winds up killing everyone else in the place — off camera of course.[17]

We’ve already commented on the Pythonesque qualities of the shopping center attack. And of course, as we now expect, they return. But TV Tropes is wrong to say they “carry on as before.” No, this time they do it right, mate. Dozens of people are injured or worse as the gang invades a Sainsbury — Sainsbury’s! — on wheels; red leather girl even runs over a baby carriage, child inside — now when did you ever see that, outside of a Warhol film? But again, no blood, no flying limbs; no need to blow the special effects budget this late in the film.

[17]And speaking of Kubrick and repetition, doesn’t this village morgue look a lot like the cryogenic tubes in 2001? And hey, isn’t that Star Trek’s Scotty?

Given the andro-centric nature of the Hermetic Tradition, we can anticipate that the sucker will be a woman. There’s Tom’s goody-goody girlfriend — unlike the rest of the gang, she wears a denim jacket, with her name cutely appliquéd to the front, not the back, in Holly Hobby font — who refuses to join him in the — overlife? — and will no doubt be psychologically scarred for life.

[18]

 

But mostly, it’s Tom’s mom, who resolves to stop his reign of genteel terror by reneging on her “oath” (of what? Who knows?) and, rather than petrifying, turns into a frog. Finally, the frog motif resolved, Chekhov-style![18]

[19]

“I’ve made a huge mistake . . .”

The circular, literally “hermetic” structure of the film — like the Locked Room itself — is now clear. We begin with the Living Dead — ordinary men and women, but with some spark of the transcendent that renders them unable to tolerate the banality of “the whole Establishment” (as Tom describes the targets of his undead mischief). Dying to this world, they are reborn as Immortals subject to no authority but themselves; but ultimately, having thrown off karmic ties, they are fully transformed into Men — and the red leather chick — of Stone, no longer weaving among the stones but upright and unmoving.

Finally, as usual with horror flicks, the creepiest story is backstage. George Sanders is the star name here, but unlike later work by Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing, he doesn’t look like he’s having any late career fun in this two-bit Brit flick.[19] He mumbles his lines throughout — unless that’s an artifact of the poor production or the DVD transfer — and looks bored — terminally so. As it happens, as soon as the picture wrapped, Sanders killed himself. Perhaps he was more inspired by the script in real life than he seems on film? Whether he came back is unknown,

[20]

“Fasten your seatbelt, Madam, it’s going to be a bumpy night.”

Notes

1. Actually, there’s a Blu-ray that just came out, “packed” with special features, which I can’t afford at the moment, but dig it if you can. Like similar low-budget Brit horror films of the time — such as The Wicker Man — it seems to exist in various different versions with various cuts and runtimes. Oddly enough a version close to the Blu-ray can be had on an otherwise disgusting “Laugh Track” DVD — a “white rapper” version of MST3K that, mercifully, can be run without said rapping, and for only a couple of bucks on Amazon.

2. MST3K, “The Starfighters.”

3. It turns out to be the veddy British John Cameron who recently reminisced for the release of the soundtrack:

Jazz and session musicians playing pre-punk ‘trash-rock’ for a tale of supernatural gore and mayhem, on a Shepperton recording stage more suited to the LSO than a rock line-up, complete with ‘suit-and-tie’ recording engineer is one of my more unexpected memories. In a pre-synthesizer age every trick was used: Musser vibes through phase and wah-wah pedals, phased bowed bass, drumsticks inside a grand piano, electric harpsichord through a compressor, Hammond organ fed through a phase unit and Leslie speakers, and wordless solo voice. . . . Sorry my recollection is a little blurred, hell, it was the 1970s!

4. Imported a few years earlier to play the Magic Negro in To Sir With Love, a vile film redeemed only barely by the transcendental Lulu.

5. “In the morning if my face is a little puffy I’ll put on an ice pack while doing stomach crunches. I can do 1000 now.” — Patrick Bateman, American Psycho.

6. One can only imagine there must have been some influence here on the cover of Mr. Loaf’s 1977 opus; I don’t know of any other previous use of this trope. One might also compare Mr. Loaf’s character, Eddie, in another Brit-horror film, 1975’s Rocky Horror Picture Show, who rides a motorcycle out when he escapes from the freezer prison-grave [?], only to also wind up dead again. There is also a very similar looking character (though still, as noted, very neat and clean) in the Living Dead named — Chopped Meat. Both Tom and Dr. Frankenfurter live in very British gothic mansions with all the latest mod cons, though Riff Raff is a sadly decayed Shadwell. The swaggering, always in leather Tom is sort of a combination of Eddie and Rocky, and thus would have made a more suitable companion for the Dr. than either.

7. Derived from colonial readings of Hegel and Emerson, and serious enough to warrant William James devoting a chapter — “The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness” — in his lectures on the Varieties of Religious Experience. For an alt-Historical account, see The Secret Source (Feral House) that traces it back to the Egyptian Hermetics — rightly so, as we shall soon see.

8. Ride the Tiger, pp. 216–17. See also the remarks on the very last page, p. 227.

9. Evola discusses these contrasting fates in many places, for example, Chapter 8 of Revolt Against the Modern World, “The Two Paths of the Afterlife.”

10. Evola himself discusses the incident in The Path of Cinnabar, pp. 183–4, where he disavows any “occult attack” interpretations. If it seems rude to speculate thus around Evola’s personal situation, there are distinguished precedents; no less than Eliade speculated in a letter that Evola had been wounded in the chakra that governed pride and arrogance — “and what do you think about that?”

11. See The Hermetic Tradition, especially the “Introduction to Part One: The Tree, the Serpent and the Titans.”

12. It’s a not too impressive time-lapse effect. Brit John Boorman, in 1974’s Zardoz, will subvert this trope, ending with a time-lapse disintegration of Sean Connery and Charlotte Rampling, who have accepted mortality. This “self-creation” seems to correspond to the process Evola describes as the sage re-creating his body cell by cell, producing an immortal, indestructible “body of light” or, in Pauline terms, “resurrection body.” See The Hermetic Tradition but especially The Yoga of Power, Chapter 15, “The Diamond Thunderbolt Body.”

13. See Evola, op. cit. and also The Mysteries of the Grail, especially Chapter 15, “The Luciferian Stone.”

14. In fact, Christianity recognizes that the debt is so great as to require Jehovah to kill his own Son; a titanic example of “passing the buck.”

15. Towards the end of The Hermetic Tradition Evola devotes some pages to considering how the Realized Man may well appear as a broken down failure beset with worries, due to his desire not to stand out, as well as the results of “karmic repercussions” from his activities in the higher dimensions — hence our idea of the need to “pass the buck” to someone else. Guénon, at the end of his book, Man and His Becoming, has an interesting discussion of how the Realized Man, having climbed the World Axis, would literally pop out of view, like a three-dimensional being in Flatland

16. The verdict delivered in Bride of the Monster; see the collection of these tropes here [21].

17. In fact, the most British thing about Tom, as opposed to Alex, is that he’s more interested in the ultra-violence than the old in-out. He seems only to be interested in the red-leathered bad girl in the group as a partner in crime, while constantly hectoring his still-living goody-goody girlfriend to just off herself already, though what he intends to do with here is unclear. No sex please, we’re British!

18. The producers of the German version seem to have thrown up their hands and titled it “Der Frosh.”

19. Either by design or incompetence, it’s not clear until the very end that Tom’s mom is a mortal who’s made a deal with some occult power, perhaps an occultist in over her head, rather than being a witch or demon herself. Sanders’ character is never clear, right to the very last shot, when he drives up at the stone circle . . . what? Is he just a butler, a fellow initiate, perhaps of a higher level, like Crowley — whom Sanders seems to be channeling — a minion of Satan, or Satan himself? As the ’bots say, perhaps I should just relax.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]1,948 words

With its stunning H. R. Giger designs and first-rate cast, Ridley Scott’s classic Alien (1979) is imaginative, visually striking, immensely atmospheric, and sometimes just plain terrifying. Together with its worthy but very different sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens (1986), it spawned a vast pop-culture “franchise” (which is Hollywood-speak for a mythos) including two unworthy sequels, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, plus two Z-grade Alien vs. Predator movies, plus scores of often excellent Aliens comics and novels (yes, I read a slew of them in the ’90s), and now Ridley Scott’s prequel Prometheus.

Prometheus is a visually dazzling movie (particularly in 3-D), but it is very disappointing on every other level.

On the most superficial level, it was so gross that I was reduced to dry heaves at one point – which I why I don’t feel any compunction about “spoiling” the plot, such as it is. So consider yourself warned.

The deepest disappointment is that Prometheus severs the tap root that has nourished the vast and ramifying Alien cosmos: mystery. In Alien, the beacon, the crashed ship, the “space jockey,” and the aliens themselves are all deeply mysterious. But it is not an unpleasant mystery, crying out for answers. Indeed, the mystery is part of the fun. It contributes to the atmosphere. This is why Alien is essentially a supernatural, haunted-house thriller, despite the sci-fi trappings.

Unfortunately, these trappings have invited the “there’s got to be a rational explanation for this” people to chime in and try to explain the mystery away. And, to make matters worse, these vulgarians are so cynical that their rational explanation is completely incoherent. But they are apparently counting on special effects to sufficiently stupefy their audience — if they are not already stupid enough — so that nobody will ask questions.

We learn in Prometheus that the space-jockeys are just giant humanoids under their mysterious exoskeleton-like suits and helmets.

We learn that they came to Earth, apparently billions of years ago, and seeded it with life when one of them drank a dark liquid which caused him to dismember and dissolve into a lake. Yet somehow, his scattered DNA became our DNA, apparently skipping a few million generations of what we know as evolution.

Yes, a dismembered giant is part of the Norse creation myth. But don’t get too excited: there are a lot of myths alluded to in this movie, but they are there merely to gild its vacuous plot, like the iridescent sheen of a soap bubble wrapped around a void.

Oddly enough, although the space jockeys’ only connection to us is DNA, ancient peoples somehow had memories of them, which they expressed in their art, giving us a map to the planet from whence they came. (But wait, it turns out to be not the planet from which they came billions of years ago, but a planet where they established a bio-weapons facility operating only a couple thousand years ago.)

I know, it is just a farrago of ancient astronaut lore, but it is put forward as post-religious, pseudo-scientific substitute for creation myths to explain how we got here. (But who created the space gods?)

In 2089, two archaeologists, Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace, the original Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, looking here like a young Jennifer Saunders) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), find a 35,000-year-old star map in Scotland. They convince aged and ailing trillionaire Peter Weyland to fund a space mission to the planet that appears on the star map, where they claim we will find the “Engineers” of life on Earth. Weyland funds the mission, hoping that our makers will restore his health (!).

Why did Scott cast the young and handsome Guy Pearce as Weyland, under loads of fake-looking makeup and prosthetics, rather than just hire a genuine old man? It is not like the role, which is hardly more than a bit part, required special acting abilities, or that Pearce even has such abilities. Hell, the CGI department could have whipped up a more plausible performance.

Five years later, the spaceship Prometheus arrives at a small moon orbiting a larger planet. They set down near some domed cyclopean structures that resemble the weathered stumps of immense rugose cones. The scientists enter the structures and find a decapitated space jockey. Elizabeth Shaw and one of the extras take his well-preserved head back to the ship to examine it. For no apparent reason, the head oozes and explodes just like the original space jockey who seeded Earth. DNA analysis proves that he is human.

Meanwhile, David, a rather fey, blonde, and treacherous android played by Michael Fassbender (just like the treacherous android in Alien played by Ian Holm), has spirited away one of the many cylinders found near the dead space jockey, cylinders that for no apparent reason begin to ooze a black liquid. For no apparent reason, David puts a bit of the black ooze in a drink and offers it to Charlie Holloway, who for no apparent reason is drunk and despondent after making the greatest discovery in human history. Charlie then has sex with Elizabeth, who is sterile, so there is no need of a space condom. Post coitus, Charlie starts feeling ill.

The next day, the team returns to the domed structure to find one of the members they left behind dead and the other missing. David goes off on his own and finds the bridge of a buried spaceship. He activates the navigation program. Then he finds a living space jockey in stasis. It it is the most visually stunning sequence in the film.

Charlie is now quite ill and mutating. Ice queen Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron) refuses to let him back on the ship and then sets him on fire at Charlie’s urging. (In Prometheus, all the really evil characters are blonde.)

Elizabeth apparently passes out. When she wakes up, David explains that she is quite pregnant with a rather unusual fetus. She wants an abortion, but David sedates her and tells her they will put her back in suspended animation. Elizabeth escapes and climbs into a surgery machine, cuts her stomach open, and extracts a kind of writhing cephalopod. A few abdominal staples later, she is on her feet and back in action, albeit in her underwear and covered with gore. (Eat light before viewing, and you can enjoy dry heaves like I did.)

We learn that Mr. Weyland is on board. He is awakened from suspended animation in order to meet the Engineer. In case you are wondering what these stupid and venal white people (and their white android) have gotten themselves into, the crusty but big-hearted black ship’s captain explains it all: this is not the home world of the space jockeys. This is a facility where they developed biological weapons of mass destruction. Their weapons, however, got out of hand and destroyed them (ho hum).

Later we learn from David that the weapons were meant to destroy Earth. It seems that, for no apparent reason, our creators had a change of heart and decided to destroy the planet.

Elizabeth urges the captain not to allow these weapons to get off the planet, no matter what. The captain agrees.

Still feeling the staples, Elizabeth suits up and accompanies David, Weyland, and some others to the ship to awaken the space jockey. David assures them that he has deconstructed the ancient languages of the world to a root tongue that is presumably the language of the space jockeys. How this is possible, given that their only apparent contribution to Earth is DNA, is not explained.

They awaken the space jockey. David says “kalifee” or some such. But apparently that is not an acceptable greeting, so, for no apparent reason, the space jockey rips David’s head off, then kills Weyland and some of the others. Elizabeth, despite some cramps and oozing about the staples, manages to escape.

As she runs back to the Prometheus, the space jockey activates his ship and begins to take off. Elizabeth tells the black captain to stop him, and he nobly immolates himself and his crew to save humanity by crashing the Prometheus into the departing alien craft. The ice queen Meredith Vickers has ejected her quarters (complete with surgical bay) from the Prometheus, but she is crushed by the falling alien craft. (This is probably her karmic retribution for having sex with the black captain.) David, who just keeps talking even after his head has been ripped off his shoulders, and the space jockey both survive the crash. Elizabeth takes refuge in Meredith’s quarters.

David, for no apparent reason, informs her that the space jockey, for no apparent reason, is on his way to get her. How a severed head could ascertain his destination and intent is not explained. Perhaps he read it in the script. When the space jockey attacks, Elizabeth opens the door to the surgical bay, and her unwanted fetus with the tentacles, now grown horribly large, overwhelms the space jockey and sends a tube down his throat, implanting an alien embryo.

It is a rather complex reproductive cycle.

Elizabeth rescues the now nice David (both parts of him). He tells her there are other alien craft, and he can pilot them. Elizabeth sets up a warning beacon to keep people away and then leaves in search of the space jockey home world. She wants to find out why they chose to destroy humanity, and she apparently thinks they will tell her (before they destroy her).

At this point, we expect that the space jockey with the alien inside him will trudge back to his ship, put his uniform back on, climb back into his chair, and then the alien will burst from his chest, which is how he is found in the original Alien movie. But that would make too much sense, so it doesn’t happen.

Fin

As the credits rolled, I took off my 3-D glasses and rubbed by eyes in disbelief, trying to fathom the vulgarity of spirit behind this godawful movie. It is the same vulgarity of spirit that took the mysteries of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and gave us Peter Hyam’s sequel 2010 (1984), where the monoliths work to prevent nuclear war. It is the same vulgarity of spirit that took “the Force” of the original Star Wars trilogy and explained it in terms of little measurable material widgets called “midichlorians” in The Phantom Menace (1999). It is the same vulgarity of spirit that took the mysteries of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963) and gave us Rick Rosenthal’s made-for-TV sequel The Birds II: Land’s End (1994), in which we are informed that the bird attacks are due to pollution.

Heidegger tells us that this vulgarization is the essence of modernity, which seeks to abolish all mystery and transcendence, replacing them with the transparent and available, which in cultural terms boils down to the vulgar and the trite.

But some of us are more modern than others, and it all fell into place when I spied the name of screenwriter Damon Lindelof, one of the principal culprits behind Lost, the longest, most cynical Jewish jerk-job in television history. Lost was masterful in sucking people in by layering mystery upon mystery, including elements of religion, myth, and science fiction. But it was ultimately arbitrary and incoherent, revealing a bottomless contempt for its audience. All of these elements were chosen merely for effect, without concern for coherence and meaning, without the slightest suggestion that they could be taken seriously, that they mean anything important, that they are anything more than boob bait. Prometheus is the same kind of portentous swindle: just Jews making millions peddling myths for morons.

Don’t lose your money, or your lunch, at Prometheus.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]1,095 words

Lars von Trier’s Melancholia might be a uniquely bleak film. Even for a director who is well known for offering dark and disturbing pictures of humanity, Melancholia expresses a special sort of hopelessness. The film begins with a series of strange, surreal tableaux shot in extreme slow motion. The musical accompaniment is the Tristan und Isolde Prelude. The beauty of the scenes, shot in crisp focus and with rich colors, is immediately apparent and compelling. But the meaning of what we are witnessing is less clear; it seems to somehow prefigure the ensuing drama with a heightened touch of painterly detail.

The story itself concerns the discovery of a new planet, Melancholia, which is found to be passing through our solar system. The discovery coincides with a wedding party given for an unsure bride, Justine (Kirsten Dunst). As the dysfunctional celebration plays out it becomes apparent that Justine has significant personal issues, and we sense that she is being pushed into the role of bride. Due to her aberrant and confused behavior, her husband leaves her on her wedding night. Her sister, Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg), then attempts to look after Justine against the wishes of Claire’s husband, John, played with some conviction by Kiefer Sutherland. As the family drama unfolds, Melancholia looms larger on the horizon and, with a horrible sense of inevitability, it seems less and less likely that it will avoid colliding with Earth.

The first section of the film which centers on the wedding party recalls Thomas Vinterberg’s film, Festen. The comparison is apt, as Festen was the first film made under the conditions of Dogme 95. Dogme 95 was an avant-garde movement started in 1995 by Vinterberg and von Trier to encourage a type of film-making that would focus on story and character, rather than special effects and technical innovation. It was thoroughly expressive of certain trends in European film-making, and was radically opposed to the increasingly formulaic fare offered by Hollywood. The Dogme 95 manifesto consisted of the following rules:

  1. Filming must be done on location. Props and sets must not be brought in. If a particular prop is necessary for the story, a location must be chosen where this prop is to be found.
  2. The sound must never be produced apart from the images or vice versa. Music must not be used unless it occurs within the scene being filmed, i.e., diegetic.
  3. The camera must be a hand-held camera. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. The film must not take place where the camera is standing; filming must take place where the action takes place.
  4. The film must be in color. Special lighting is not acceptable (if there is too little light for exposure the scene must be cut or a single lamp be attached to the camera).
  5. Optical work and filters are forbidden.
  6. The film must not contain superficial action (murders, weapons, etc. must not occur.)
  7. Temporal and geographical alienation are forbidden (that is to say that the film takes place here and now).
  8. Genre movies are not acceptable.
  9. The film format must be Academy 35 mm.
  10. The director must not be credited.

The second film made under this ‘vow of chastity’ was von Trier’s The Idiots. In this film a group of young people decide to explore their inner idiot by pretending to be mentally retarded in public. By turns disturbing, sexually explicit, and blackly funny, The Idiots confirmed von Trier’s reputation as the enfant terrible of European film-making. But the most interesting thing about Dogme 95 was that it provided a practical manifesto and program for film-making that was economically, aesthetically. and intellectually opposed to the Hollywood methodology.

Despite the presence of American heavyweights Dunst and Sutherland, Melancholia is financed with European money, and it shows. Although von Trier has now grown out of the austerity of the Dogme 95 school, its influence is still apparent in the use of handheld cameras and the avoidance of slick editing. Even the special effects which show the approach of Melancholia (and which sometimes echo the aesthetics of Kubrick’s 2001) are subjugated to the demands of the narrative, never becoming an intrusive presence. Von Trier’s interest in characterization means that Melancholia is paced to a very different rhythm than any other mainstream film. It is notable that despite being able to attract actors of the stature of Dunst, Nicole Kidman (Dogville), and Björk (Dancer in the Dark), von Trier has persisted with his unique vision and has resisted the temptation to conform to the demands of multiplex inanity. Indeed, the great and the good of American film-making must now conform to his idiosyncratic demands and not the other way round. For this, if nothing else, he should be admired.

If there is a weak point in Melancholia it is perhaps the performance of Dunst. I was not convinced that she was capable of commensurately conveying the extremity of the mental distress her character was suffering from. It is undoubtedly unfair to compare her performance to that of Björk in Dancer in the Dark or to Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves; both of those actresses appeared to be dangerously immersed in the worlds of their characters. It is not especially problematic that Dunst’s performance is not quite so extreme, but the world created in Melancholia requires a great deal of weight to be carried on Dunst’s characterization of Justine. Without a sufficiently convincing performance in this role, the logic of Melancholia is lacking an objective correlative, so to speak.

And this is due to the symbolic power of the planet Melancholia. Melancholia is on a collision course with Earth and is set to destroy all life. It is also an externalized symbol of the mental distress suffered by Justine. For the person suffering from depression there really is no hope, no future. Justine is not able to live a married life, despite a sympathetic husband. Unlike her sister, she has no children and nothing to live for. She cannot function as an autonomous human being. And yet, at the end of the film, she is proved to be right. Her mentally disturbed nihilism is vindicated. Only those who have no hope can cope with the end of the world. This is why Melancholia is a uniquely grim film.

It is normal for a Lars von Trier film to focus on the distress of a mentally disturbed woman. Melancholia may fail to achieve the same degree of intense, disturbing empathy for such a character as some of his other films but it is, nonetheless, a deeply poetic and visually arresting work of art.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]1,157 words

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a triumph of intelligent film making. The plot is interesting and well executed, the direction is fast paced and engaging without being too heavy handed, and the apes are brought to life with astonishing realism. In fact, the brilliance of the apes’ characterization, largely due to the presence of the “performance capture” actor Andy Serkis, is so compelling that the best parts of the film center on the apes’ captivity and the way in which they interact with each other.

These scenes are reminiscent of the opening sequence of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. In both films, language is unavailable to the simians so the story has to be told through mimesis rather than exposition, a distinction to which few directors nowadays pay sufficient attention. The obvious criticism of the film is that the human characters are rather shallow and one dimensional in comparison with the apes.

But perhaps the most remarkable thing about this film is that it deals explicitly, and favorably, with ideas of imperialism and fascism. The ape who leads the simian revolt is named after Julius Caesar by the father of the scientist who rescues him. The circumstances of Caesar’s birth provide a few subtle references to this identification.

There are contradictory stories about the reasons for the naming of the Roman Caesar family. One is to do with birth by Caesarian section, which at the time was occasioned by the death of the mother in childbirth. In the film, Caesar’s mother dies shortly after giving birth, although there is no suggestion of a Caesarian section.

Another reason given for the naming of the Caesars is that it is from oculis caesiis, which refers to the bright grey eyes of an ancestor. In the film, Caesar’s mother is named Bright Eyes. Admittedly, this is also a reference to the first Planet of the Apes film where Charlton Heston’s character is called Bright Eyes, but as the film progresses the symbolism becomes less oblique.

As mentioned before, the best parts of the film feature the apes in captivity where their social communication is shown through physical interaction. In this section, Caesar is “imprisoned” in an ape sanctuary against his, and his owner’s, will. He quickly learns which apes are the alpha males through their aggressive behavior. One of the apes is so large and aggressive that he is kept behind bars and is not allowed to interact with the other apes at all.

Whilst captive, Caesar learns how to unlock the cages that the apes are kept in. He cleverly demonstrates to the alpha males that he has this power of giving freedom. This higher intelligence, combined with an unashamed use of violence, causes the other alpha males to submit to Caesar as the new leader.

The fact that we are witnessing apes behaving in this way allows the film makers to depict the reality of power relationships without tagging on the usual liberal caveats that would litter any other film about such a subject. Even the most brutal gangster film will show the pressures, or other problems, of the wives or girlfriends. In Apes, the females are not “actors,” as such, in the narrative at all. The only female ape who has a role to play is Caesar’s mother, and her role in the story is to give birth. In this sense the film can be read as exemplifying Nietzsche’s maxim, “A man should be brought up for war, and a woman for the recuperation of the warrior: all else is folly.”[1]

Due to the brilliant physicality of Serkis and the other ape actors, all of this feels perfectly natural. The central conceit, or sleight of hand, of the director is the use of apes to tell harsh truths about humans. The audience is willing to watch the depiction of the power play amongst the apes with a certain sense of remove. If these were human characters then clearly the film would be misogynist, shallow, etc.

[2]

Graphic by Harold Arthur McNeill

Whilst incarcerated, Caesar makes friends with an orangutan who learned sign language when he was kept in a circus. Caesar explains his game plan, his political ideology if you like, to his new friend. Taking a stick Caesar snaps it in half and explains that a single ape is weak. Taking a bundle of sticks he shows how hard it is to snap and he explains that apes together are strong. This, of course, is the symbol of the fasces, and it is the defining symbol of the apes’ revolt. The apes who have submitted to Caesar follow him with a fierce loyalty and willingly kill and die for him, and for their new cause. This cause is not simply freedom, still less democracy or other such daft platitudes, but “home.”

In his younger days Caesar was taken to a national park where he climbed the redwood trees with exhilaration. When the apes escape they do not embark on a wild rampage but instead head for this forest to start a new society. The exciting climax to the film involves a battle between the apes and the police on the Golden Gate Bridge which the apes must cross to reach their destination. Happily, the apes win, and Caesar crosses the Rubicon to found his New Imperium.

Throughout the film we overhear snippets of news programs concerning the first manned mission to Mars, whose fate occasioned the scenario for the original Planet of the Apes film. In a nod to the sort of overreaching arrogance that the film finds in humanity the space ship is named Icarus. But it is not only for such unnatural hubris that man is condemned. The drug that grants intelligence to the apes was developed to cure Alzheimer’s disease, and senility is really the keynote for humanity as depicted here. We are a species which has reached its natural conclusion, the film seems to tell us.

It is emphasized that the Alzheimer’s cure is pursued by the drug company purely because of its commercial value. Unfortunately, it has a fatal side effect that causes death in weak, senile, man, but not in the hardier apes. As the apes start their incipient warrior society we see, in a wonderful coda, an infected commercial airplane pilot heading across the globe spreading his fatal germs to all of humanity.

This ending is shown by following the flight path on a digital display. As each flight ends, several more depart in a web of green LCD encircling the globe. Despite our arrogant command of technology we are still subject to nature. For me, the total annihilation of a weak and hubristic humanity to make way for a new, healthy, warrior species made Rise of the Planet of the Apes the ultimate feel-good movie.

Note

1. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, translated by Graham Parks (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 57

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]9,728 words

History is always written by the winning side. This was never more true than in the case of Nazi Germany. Everything we know about it, or everything we think we know, is filtered through layers of illusion and propaganda. But a few years ago I had a rare opportunity to get an unfiltered view of it.

On Saturday, January 14, 1995, I saw an announcement of a series of films from Nazi Germany, being shown at UCLA. It was sponsored jointly by the UCLA film department and the Goethe Institute. I had already missed the opening night, which was Thursday the 12th, but over the next few weeks I saw 18 movies in the series. They were shown in no particular order. There was a flyer accompanying the series, but the descriptions of the movies were not even true on a factual level, let alone on a thematic level, and the flyer was practically useless as an aid to understanding the films. The flyer, of course, was an attempt to tell us what to see; but we were free to ignore it and just look at the films with our own eyes.

The series was titled “Ministry of Illusion,” because these are supposed to be propaganda films. According to the flyer,

“Shooting and editing were closely supervised and the final cut of the film had to be approved — often by Goebbels or Hitler… Goebbels claimed, ‘Even entertainment can be politically of special value, because the moment a person is conscious of propaganda, propaganda becomes ineffective.’ Hence, he encouraged the production of feature films that reflected the ambiance of National Socialism, rather than those that loudly proclaimed its ideology. Consequently, as the films in this series document, cinema in the Third Reich was not solely a Ministry of Fear. It was, more than anything, a Ministry of Illusion…”

These movies certainly drew me into a different ambiance. I felt free to leave my coat, umbrella, and gym bag at my seat during intermission, something I would not ordinarily do at a theater in Los Angeles.

I wondered what kind of films would be shown. Triumph of the Will, perhaps? Wrong. There is nothing like that here. Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS? Wrong again. These films cover just about every subject you can think of, except what you would expect.

Going to these movies was like taking a time-machine back to 1933 — especially since many people in the audience spoke German, and were old enough to have been there. Some of them may have seen these same movies before, when they were children. I could almost imagine myself being in Berlin, watching these movies when they were originally shown. What the time-machine showed me was surprising, to say the least.

If you rearrange the films so they are in chronological order, it turns out that there is a progression of themes. The movies tell a story, the story of the Third Reich, a story that has never been told in quite this way.

1933 — Fugitives

A simple, mythical story, told at the beginning of the Reich. Hans Albers makes his first of three appearances in the series, as the leader who pulls his people together and leads them back home, to safety and freedom.

The story takes place in 1928. A group of about 45 Volga Germans are trying to escape from Russia. They have made their way to the Chinese border, but there they find themselves in a war zone. There is no food, no water, no transportation; the Russians are trying to hunt them down and kill them; some of them are sick; they are fighting among themselves. Hans Albers [I have forgotten the character’s name, so I will refer to the actor] is an army officer attached to the German embassy. He finds an unguarded train that could be used for escape, if the track were repaired. He takes charge of the group, and together they repair the track and escape into China, and from there eventually make their way to Hamburg. The symbolism is obvious: the officer represents Hitler. Hans Albers brings to this role, as to all his roles, a unique combination of dignity and panache. When you realize that this is how the Germans saw their Führer, it puts everything in a different light.

1935 — Amphitryon

Kind of like Cool World or Roger Rabbit, where you have the mixing of two universes, with comical and almost disastrous results. Amphitryon is an officer in the Theban army. He and all the men of Thebes are away fighting a battle. His wife prays to Jupiter for victory. Jupiter, up in Olympus, hears her prayer and sees an opportunity. He is an old man, about 65, lecherous but not at all attractive. Mercury is a younger, pixie-ish man/god. They go to earth, and Jupiter tries to approach Amphitryon’s wife. She won’t even talk to him. She doesn’t recognize him as Jupiter; he doesn’t look like the statue she prays to. He disguises himself to look like Amphitryon, and pretends to be back from the war a day earlier than expected. This gets him into the house, but instead of seducing Amphitryon’s wife, he gets drunk and falls asleep. Meanwhile Mercury is disguised as Amphytrion’s slave, and he has to deal with the slave’s wife, who treats him like the drunk he usually is. When Amphitryon himself arrives, and Juno (an old battle-axe) comes down from Olympus to find her wayward husband, all hell breaks loose. This is a lighthearted, genuinely funny movie, the kind of comedy where people laugh out loud — there is no need for a laugh track in this movie.

1935 — The Old and the Young King

The King of Prussia is a jovial but strict man who lives in a world where men do their duty, period. His son has no interest in government or military affairs. He just wants to hang out with his musical friends, play the flute, read French books, and gamble. This kind of father-and-son relationship occurs many times in every generation, but in this case both father and son are caught in roles that they can’t walk away from. The King must train his son to be a King. He can’t go out and hire somebody to run the country. The Prince must do it. The King is not an abusive or petty man. He is not trying to break his son’s spirit out of jealousy or meanness, like some fathers. But he demands that the Prince live a disciplined life, and he drives his son to exasperation. The Prince makes plans to run away from home. He not only gets caught, he also carelessly implicates his friend, Lieutenant Latte, who has helped him plan his escape. The King sentences Latte to death, and makes his son watch the execution. Over a period of time the Prince pulls himself together and assumes his duties, but he carries an image of his friend with him at all times. He obeys his father, but coldly. They can never be friends. On the night of his father’s death, the Prince leaves his ongoing party and goes to him. They say what must be said, and make peace. The Prince has become a King… but at what cost.

1936 — Closing Chord

A woman abandons her child and goes to America. A few years later, inspired by a Beethoven concert, she comes back to Germany in search of her son. She discovers that he has been adopted by the same conductor who conducted the concert. She becomes the boy’s nanny, without telling anyone who she really is. The composer’s wife is having an affair with an astrologer. She eventually realizes who the “nanny” is, and fires her. She, i.e. the composer’s wife, gets sick. The doctor gives her medicine, with strict instructions to take exactly ten drops — “an overdose could be fatal.” The real mother comes back to get some things (and perhaps to steal her son, her intentions are not clear) and the next morning the composer’s wife is found dead, of an overdose of medicine. The real mother is accused of murdering her. In court, it comes out that the astrologer was blackmailing her and drove her to suicide. The composer and the real mother get married. A new family has formed.

1936 — The Kaiser of California

An epic story about a man who builds a new country in the wilderness of California, only to have it destroyed by the gold rush. The movie is based on an actual historical character, Johann Suter (known in America as John Sutter). He was a young printer who got in trouble when he printed radical posters. He climbed up to the top of a cathedral, contemplating suicide; but a spirit appeared to him, and showed him a vast world out there, full of opportunity. He said goodbye to his family and emigrated to America. After a desperate journey across mountains and deserts, he arrived in California, with a few followers whom he had saved from starvation. (This part is just like Fugitives.) Within a decade he transformed the area from a semi-desert to a fertile paradise with abundant farms, orchards, and ranches. His wife and two sons joined him. More and more immigrants joined his community, and he found work for all of them.

Then one of his original followers discovered gold nuggets in the river. All of his men deserted him, abandoned their jobs, and started panning for gold. They staked claims on land that belonged to him, and defied him to do anything about it. He took his case to court and won, but there was nothing the government could do against thousands of gold prospectors. They killed his sons and burned his house. Since no one was working, his income dropped to zero, and the bankers foreclosed on his property. At the end we find him an old man with nothing. The same spirit appears again and asks him,

Why do you keep trying to fight the gold?
You can’t stop the wheels of the world.

The parallel with Hitler is all too clear. How this movie got past the censors is not clear. A movie in which a great social experiment is defeated by the unstoppable “wheels of the world” is the last thing a propaganda minister would want the people to see. But the artistic vision is true, and Goebbels must have valued artistic truth more than propaganda. Apparently there was less censorship in Germany than we have been led to believe. And yet the title of this series is “Ministry of Illusion”… Who’s dealing in illusion, and who isn’t?

1937 — The Broken Jug

A wonderful farce; according to the flyer that accompanied this series of movies, The Broken Jug was Hitler’s favorite movie, but considering the general inaccuracy of the flyer, I don’t know whether to believe this. The story takes place in a Dogpatch-like village in rural Holland. A senior judge from the city is on a tour of the countryside to inspect the legal system. He arrives here just in time to sit in on the most absurd trial ever imagined. The judge is a drunken buffoon. The plaintiff is a woman who lives nearby, whose precious jug was broken the night before by a man who was trying to escape from her yard after being caught near her daughter’s bedroom. She says the man was Rupert, her daughter’s boyfriend. Rupert denies this, and says another man was present. As the trial goes on it becomes increasingly obvious that the real culprit is the judge himself. The senior judge finally straightens everything out, and the village judge is chased out of town. If you like physical humor — slapstick — you will love this. The actors are so good that I believed the whole thing, as if I were watching a documentary; only at the end did it finally occur to me that these people are actors, not idiots.

1937 — La Habanera

Astreé, a young Swedish woman, goes to Puerto Rico on vacation, and stays. She marries Don Pedro de Avila, the richest and most powerful man on the island. Ten years later she is sick of her jealous, egotistical Latin husband and his flyspecked third world country, but by that time she has a little boy, and she has to stay because of him. A Swedish doctor, an old flame of hers, comes to the island to cure the Puerto Rico Fever, along with another doctor, who is from Brazil. Don Pedro denies that there is a fever; mustn’t alarm the tourists. He tells his henchmen to raid the doctors’ lab and destroy their medicine. He invites the doctors to his house that evening — before they are aware that their lab has been destroyed — with the intention of having them arrested. The Swedish doctor approaches his old love with great excitement. She becomes agitated and almost recoils from him. After talking to him, she goes to her husband and asks his permission to sing “La Habanera,” the traditional song of Puerto Rico, which she has not sung for nine years. After she sings, Don Pedro himself comes down with the fever, and dies. The medicine could have saved him, but it has already been destroyed. Astreé and her son go back to Sweden with the doctor.

1939 — Effi Briest

Effi is a girl of 17 who is married to a middle aged man, an ambitious politician. He has little time for his young wife. Out of loneliness and boredom, she has an affair with a neighbor. Six years later, when the affair is long forgotten, her husband discovers some of their letters. He challenges the man to a duel and kills him. Effi goes back to live with her parents, and soon dies. She has been overwhelmed by events beyond her comprehension. This is the second movie in which things go terribly wrong (Kaiser of California was the first). The theme of defeat, of events spinning out of control, appears here, ominously, in 1939, just as the war begins. One can’t help thinking that the duel was unnecessary, and the message here may be that the war is also unnecessary, and the Reich is taking a fatal step that can only end in tragedy.

1940 — Request Concert

A sugar-coated war movie — if you change the uniforms, the leading men could just as well be Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire (American stars of the time). They are in love with the same girl, but instead of fighting over her, they bend over backwards to give each other a fair chance. They are all hearty good fellows, oozing with camaraderie. The girl allows herself to be stood up repeatedly, with no explanation or apology. Meanwhile, back on earth…

Request Concert is a lot more important than I realized when I wrote this review. I now think of it as the definitive Nazi movie, and I have given it a page of its own [2]. A detailed review (by someone else) can be found on the Liberty Forum [3] site. You have to scroll pretty far down the page to get to it.

1942 — The Great Love

Paul Wentlandt, a handsome, daredevil air force pilot, goes to Berlin on 48-hour leave and sees a concert by a famous singer. Many of the men in the audience have fantasies about meeting her; he actually does it. After her performance, he pursues her to a party, and then to her home, and manages to sleep with her that same night. Then he disappears without telling her who he is or where he is going. She is distraught for three weeks, after which he shows up again. They keep trying to get married, but each time duty calls him away at the last minute. Finally he gets shot down, and that takes him out of action long enough to have a wedding; but he will soon be back in combat.

Like Request Concert, The Great Love was very popular at the time. Obviously these movies were intended to provide role models for the soldiers and their families. Of course 1942 was the year when events were rapidly spinning out of control beyond any hope of repair. At this point the Germans needed Alexander (and his mentor, Aristotle). Instead they got Captain Paul Wentlandt, ace fighter pilot and man about town.

1943 — Münchhausen

On the calendar it has only been ten years since since Fugitives, but actually a thousand years have passed. The Reich is coming to an end. Hans Albers plays Baron Münchhausen, a Faustian man, a legendary figure whose life began in the 18th century and continued for 200 years. His friend Cagliostro, the famous magician, told him that he could have one wish. His wish was to “stay as young as I am now, until I choose to grow old.” Münchhausen has many adventures. He is Catherine the Great’s lover, a slave in Turkey, and an astronaut who goes to the moon in a balloon, among other things. In a swordfight, he cuts his opponent’s clothes to ribbons and leaves him standing there naked, without breaking the skin. He is always in a space of his own, not quite participating in the events around him, as if he is playing some kind of game. When he finally arrives in the 20th century — the century in which the center cannot hold, and things fall apart, as Yeats said — the game is over. He decides it is time to bring his life to an end. In these films, Hans Albers personified Germany. When he decided he had lived long enough, it was Germany itself that died — and it was a noble death.

I mentioned in the beginning that the movies were not shown in chronological order. After seeing the first six, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue. Then I saw Münchhausen, and that put everything on a higher level. After I saw this film, I started taking the whole series more seriously. The important thing here isn’t the story itself, which is just light entertainment. It is the depth of Hans Albers’ performance which turns this collection of tall tales into something extraordinary. He created a character unlike anything I have ever seen on film. He somehow conveys an eerie sense of hypermaturity, as if there is another level beyond what we normally think of as adulthood.

Münchhausen could stand comparison with Children of Paradise, which was made in Paris at about the same time. It gives you chills.

1943 — Romance in a Minor Key

A woman in Paris is married to a banker. He is a dull, unimaginative man, but a good husband, and she loves him. She allows herself to be seduced by a famous composer. This in itself would not necessarily be a disaster. But then the composer’s brother, who owns the bank where her husband works, starts forcing himself on her. He sends her husband away on business trips and makes her sleep with him. She kills herself. The composer challenges his brother to a duel and kills him, but he takes a shot in the right hand and will never be able to play the piano again. Her husband is a broken man. An unmitigated disaster for all concerned; reminiscent of Effi Briest, but even worse; a perfect movie for 1943.

1943 — Acrobat Schö-ö-ön

This was Germany’s answer to Charlie Chaplin — the main character resembles Charlie Chaplin and is even named Charlie. A clever, enjoyable comedy, this must have been a welcome relief from the war. Charlie is a talented acrobat and clown, but they won’t let him perform. He works as the night watchman in the theater. (This theater is not the kind of place where they have dramatic performances; it’s more like a circus.) Charlie has a confrontation with the strongman, who is harassing his girlfriend; the strongman gets knocked out, not by Charlie, but by a heavy beam that falls on his head. Later he meets a female acrobat who, like him, can’t even get an audition. Late one night, when no one is around, they put together an act. The boss comes in unexpectedly and sees them. He fires Charlie. Then the regular acrobat injures himself and can’t perform. They hire Charlie and his friend to fill in. Charlie, however, can’t get ready in time because he is hiding from the strongman. They miss their chance, and are sitting forlornly on a back stage while the other acts perform. But someone trips a switch which sets the revolving stage in motion, and they find themselves in front. Charlie walks quizzically to the front of the stage, looks out at the audience, and says “Schö-ö-ön” (which means “beau-u-tiful” in German). They finally get their chance to perform.

This is a subversive movie. Charlie’s boss and the strongman represent the Nazi regime. Charlie and his acrobat friend represent creative people who felt stifled under this regime. That must have been self-evident to the authorities, but they let the movie be produced anyway. Like Kaiser of California, this movie makes one wonder how much censorship there was in Nazi Germany. Some people did feel stifled, of course, but at the same time they were allowed to express their dissatisfaction, even at the height of the war. I don’t think the American Censorship Board would have allowed a subversive movie to be made in Hollywood in 1943.

1943 — Paracelsus

A somewhat romanticized view of Paracelsus. He is presented here as a renaissance doctor who is trying to introduce scientific medicine, against the opposition of the medieval medical establishment. There is an ongoing contest to see who can cure more patients, who can control the university medical school, and who can gain the confidence of the government. Paracelsus cures the patients but loses the political struggle, and leaves town to avoid arrest. Paracelsus, like Johann Suter, appears to be up against unstoppable forces. When you quarantine a town, you cut off trade, and the merchants go out of business; they won’t put up with this for very long. When you introduce new ideas, the established professors stand to lose their students, their income, and their power; they will fight you to the last drop of blood. Gold always wins . . . apparently. You can’t stop the wheels of the world . . . but at the end, Paracelsus is still fighting. He has moved his practice to another town. Word comes that the King wants him to be the court physician. “No,” he says, “I will serve the people, not the King.”

1944 — Maria the Ferryman

A strange, abstract story in which Death appears as a man on the ferry, a tall, imposing, ghostly man. Maria is a young woman, a runaway, a stranger in the village, who takes over the job of ferryman at a river crossing after the old ferryman dies. Just as she gets settled into the little cottage that comes with the job, a wounded man appears on the other side of the river. She ferries him across and hides him in the cottage. Death appears again, this time in pursuit of the man. She leads Death though a swamp, praying that she may be taken instead of him. Death sinks into the swamp, the man gets well, and the two of them leave the village and go across the river to his home.

1944 — The Great Sacrifice

The story of a husband and wife, and a young woman who lives nearby. He falls in love with the young woman, who has a lingering illness. His wife knows about this, and does nothing to interfere with their happiness. When the girl is too ill to get out of bed, she waits for him to stop outside and wave every afternoon; and when he can’t come, his wife wears a disguise and waves to the girl in his place. These characters have an exaggerated gentility that is hard for me to comprehend. The man sitting next to me in the theater laughed through most of this movie, and I think I know why — it struck him as absurd, in the same way that Goethe’s Elective Affinities struck me as absurd and funny. I’m not sure why the Germans would have wanted to watch this movie in 1944, when the sky was falling. Perhaps the sheer unreality of it provided an escape.

There may be another reason that didn’t occur to me at the time. The Great Sacrifice must not have been unreal to its original audience. It was an illusion, of course, and they knew that, but it was an illusion they wanted to see, because at some level it reflected the reality of their lives. Like Elective Affinities, this movie must express a part of the German soul that outsiders can’t really know. This, like Dresden, is what the Allies wanted most to destroy.

1944 — The Great Freedom

Hans Albers again, in his final appearance. He spent 18 years at sea. Just when he was ready to advance to mate (which required a substantial payment), his brother stole his savings. When we meet him he has given up his sailor’s life and become a landlubber and entertainer. He works as The Singing Sailor at a nightclub called “The Great Freedom.” His brother dies and leaves him the name and address of a girl he has left in the lurch. He goes to see the girl and takes her back to Hamburg with him. She sleeps in his spare bedroom. He falls in love with her, but doesn’t do anything about it. He takes it for granted that they will marry. Meanwhile another man is pursuing her.

When matters are about to come to a head, he has a restless night, with nightmares about his brother, the girl, his other lady friend, his ship, his sailor friends, his failed life, his inability to make decisions… The next morning he resolves to propose. He has the engagement ring. He prepares a beautiful dinner with flowers and candles. But the girl (who represents Fortune) doesn’t show up for the dinner — she goes to the other man, the one who knows what he wants. Our hero drinks himself into a stupor. The next day he goes back to his old ship, which is about to set sail, and leaves Hamburg.

This is a brilliant but bitter story, as if The Aeneid were told from the point of view of Turnus. This is the opposite of escapism. This movie looks at defeat head on, without flinching.

1945 — Under the Bridges

Two men own a barge outfitted like a houseboat. They live on the barge with their pet goose, and go up and down rivers and canals, carrying cargo, passing under many bridges. (Yes, they have a pet goose. This is a comedy, of all things, in 1945.) One night they see a young woman on a bridge, and think she is going to jump. Instead she throws a ten-mark note into the water. They retrieve it and try to give it back to her, but she won’t take it. She starts to leave, but then realizes she needs the money to get home. They invite her to sleep on the barge; they will take her back to Berlin for ten marks. She accepts this invitation, and after some initial hesitation they all become friends. (The goose, alas, gets eaten.) It turns out that she earned the ten marks by posing for an artist, hoping to seduce him; when he showed no interest in her, she tried to throw the money away. When she is back home in Berlin, they both pursue her. The rivalry threatens to destroy their friendship. Eventually she joins them on the barge, and it is not clear which one she has chosen; the audience is left wondering if she is going to live with both of them. The three of them sail down the river, under the bridges, toward some unknown destination. This is 1945. The war is over. The Reich is over. Life goes on.

From Illusion to Reality

What is one to make of all this? I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich as an extra-credit assignment in my 9th grade World History class, and I have been reading about Nazi Germany off and on since then, so I know something about it. At least I thought I did. But this series of movies was a revelation to me. I had no idea the Germans watched movies like this.

These movies are amazing, not so much for what is in them as for what is not in them. There are no Jewish capitalists here, no Jewish Bolsheviks, no degenerate Jewish artists or journalists, no Jewish villains of any kind. That whole issue just doesn’t come up. In the whole series there is only one character who appears to be Jewish: in The Great Love, the singer is accompanied by a pianist/composer named Alexander Rudinsky, who is in love with her. He is a decent man, not a villain at all. In fact when matters are coming to a head, the plot turns on the question of whether he will do the right thing — and he does. (I found out later that out of a thousand movies made in Nazi Germany, three were anti-Semitic.)

The stereotypical “fascist” personality does not appear here. The only puritan in the whole series is Astreé’s aunt in La Habanera, and she is no fascist, she’s just a prudish old lady. Even the King in The Old and the Young King is usually an affable man who likes his beer. Some characters are unpleasantly authoritarian, such as Charlie’s boss and Paul Wentlandt’s commanding officer, but they are not the heroes of their respective stories.

There are no Nietzschean “Blond Beasts” in these movies. There are two giants — circus strongmen — and they are both ridiculed. The only character with an overinflated ego is Don Pedro, and he is also treated with something less than respect. There are seven characters who could be considered heroic: Hans Albers in Fugitives, Lieutenant Latte, Johann Suter, Paul Wentlandt, Paracelsus, Maria, and Baron Münchhausen. None of them has anything to do with Nietzsche’s “will to power” philosophy. All of the characters except one are drawn to human scale. The only exception is Baron Münchhausen, who is larger than life — but he doesn’t dominate the world, he plays with it, like a man playing with his grandchildren.

There is very little violence in these movies, and it is never graphic. There is nothing like Rambo or the Friday the 13th series, not to mention Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS. The idea of “romantic violence” would seem absolutely bizarre to the characters in these films, and presumably to the audiences who watched them. What little violence there is comes from the villains, not the heroes. Johann Suter, for example, doesn’t even try to defend himself against the prospectors. In fact, for someone who is used to Hollywood movies, the lack of violence makes these films a little boring. You feel like there should be more action.

Paul Wentlandt is the closest thing to a macho man. He is a big guy, and he certainly doesn’t need a course in assertiveness training. He looks like he could take care of himself, but we never find out, because there are no fights in The Great Love. Wentlandt is a civilized man — not rude, not rough, not a rapist, not a berserker. He is a charming, sophisticated fellow who almost reminds me of the man in the Taster’s Choice commercials. If he found himself drinking coffee with that man and his lady friend, he would not feel out of place. He might be more comfortable drinking coffee with them than drinking whisky with John Wayne. Apart from Wentlandt, and perhaps Hans Albers in Fugitives, the other characters don’t even come close to being macho. These men are gentlemen. They don’t get in fistfights. They fight each other in formal duels, if they fight at all. Mr. Rogers would not feel out of place here.

If these movies really were intended to create an illusion, you have to wonder: Why would the Nazis want to create this particular illusion?

Nordic religion doesn’t appear in these films at all, not even in the background. There are at least vestiges of Christianity — cathedrals, flagellants, Bibles — but no trace at all of Odinism. The pagan gods appear only once (in Amphitryon), and they appear in their Greek/Roman form, not their Nordic form. The astrologer in Closing Chord could be considered a vestige of paganism, but he doesn’t represent an ideal, obviously; he is a vicious man, and they have to extricate themselves from him before they can get on with their lives.

By modern standards, these films would all be rated G or PG. There is only one bare breast in the whole series (in Paracelsus). There is a skinny-dipping scene in The Great Sacrifice, but the girl stays under water. In this respect Nazi films are exactly like American films of the 1930s and 40s — sex is treated very discreetly. There is no nudity in Gone with the Wind, either, even though Rhett Butler spends a lot of time in Belle Watling’s establishment.

The “Blood and Soil” theme appears only once (in Kaiser of California). There are no sturdy German peasants working the land. The closest thing we get to peasants are the villagers in Maria the Ferryman, who are sinister small-town lowlifes, and the villagers in The Broken Jug, who are clowns. The theme of class solidarity doesn’t appear at all. The only working class character who has a major role is the maid in Closing Chord. The whole story hinges on her testimony at the trial, but the fact that she is working class doesn’t enter into it. The working class as such doesn’t appear in these films. Most of the films involve wealthy people, entertainers, military officers, or unique individuals such as Paracelsus and Münchhausen.

To an American, the most amazing thing of all is the lack of police in these movies. Hollywood produces one cop show after another. It would be hard to put together a series of 18 Hollywood movies (not to mention TV shows) spanning a 13 year period without including some cop shows. But there are almost no police investigations in these Nazi movies. There are occasions when the characters get in trouble with the king or the mayor, but the police as an independent institutional force just barely exist in this universe. The characters have affairs, fight duels, and generally do whatever they want without thinking about the police. There is a trial at the end of Closing Chord. That’s almost the only time the police appear.

I would have thought that the Nazis would be obsessed with law and order, even more than Americans. I thought there would be story after story about heroic Gestapo agents ferreting out enemies of the state — Dirty Klaus instead of Dirty Harry. But if these movies are any indication, law and order as we understand it was a matter of little interest to the Germans.

Could this be the result of censorship? — Possibly the government thought the police were too sacred to be the subject of a movie? No, that can’t be true, because there is one movie about law enforcement — The Broken Jug — and the authorities get no respect at all. I say “authorities” because there are no police as such in this village. There is no one with a uniform or a badge. It’s much more primitive than that. In any case, The Broken Jug is a joke, and the local magistrate is the butt of the joke — it’s like a Keystone Kops movie — and this is supposed to be Hitler’s favorite movie!!

We have been taught to associate Nietzsche with the Nazis, but Nietzschean themes don’t appear here. Paracelsus, however, does appear. Actually Paracelsus is easiest character for me to identify with. He wasn’t just a doctor, he was also an alchemist and a philosopher. I can certainly relate to that. However, there is just one little problem. He was a Christian. Here are some quotations from his writings:

To what end does man live on earth, if not to become versed in the works of God and to learn how all things have their source in Him?

Christ exhorted men to take heed and learn from the example of his gentle and humble heart. From Christ flows the spring of truth, and that which does not come from Him is but seduction.

Many persuade themselves that they themselves are the spirit, but it is with them above all that the spirit has never been.

If you want to be a knight and a champion of blessedness, then be a knight through your generosity and not through the shedding of blood.

What is the meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven? It is this: that we should forgive one another — then God will love us too.

The true religion of the jurist should be: to guide men to forgive, to pardon one another, to turn the other cheek.

It seems out of character for the Nazis to honor a Christian. Why did they consider Paracelsus to be a hero?

This is one more anomaly out of a long list. There are too many anomalies. Something has got to give. I can only conclude that the Third Reich was almost the opposite of what everybody thinks it was. That’s the only way to make sense of these movies.

We are supposed to believe that these movies are illusions, but Hollywood movies are not illusions, the history books written by Allied historians are not illusions, and the postwar Nazi stereotypes are not illusions. This is nonsense.

These movies are a window into Nazi Germany as the Germans themselves experienced it. They gave me a rare opportunity to see beyond the stereotypes and get a look at life is it was lived at that time.

The Nazi Germany of our imagination has very little to do with the Nazi Germany that actually existed. I have been laboring under the same misconceptions as everybody else. If the Germans were who I thought they were, they wouldn’t have watched movies like Request Concert or The Broken Jug, not to mention The Great Sacrifice.

The strangest thing about this is that some people like the postwar caricature of Nazism, and they call themselves “neo-Nazis”!!

The Germans who lived in the Reich, the ones who watched these movies, wouldn’t have much use for today’s neo-Nazis. What would Johann Suter think about Tom Metzger and the WAR paper? What would Paracelsus think about Satanists who burn churches and leave poisoned wine bottles lying around for winos to discover? What would the conductor in Closing Chord think if he found himself moshing in the pit at a RAHOWA concert?

Neo-Nazis wouldn’t like the Reich that actually existed. They have little interest in it. There were only a few skinheads in attendance at these movies (Eric Davidson, his wife, and some of their friends — and they only came because I invited them). Neo-Nazis are attracted to the dark side of Nazi Germany, the side that is not represented here, the side that most Germans were not even aware of, and didn’t want to be aware of — the side that is constantly rubbed in our faces now.

Most people in Nazi Germany weren’t even aware of Klaus Barbie and Ilsa Koch, in the same way that most people in the United States are not aware of what goes on in American prisons, not to mention secret police in Latin America who are trained by the U.S. government to torture prisoners. Today, we think of Nazi Germany as a police state, but that wasn’t the experience of most people at the time. They would be amazed and dismayed that we remember the Gestapo and the concentration camps, and forget everything else.

I don’t want to overstate my case here. Obviously Nazi Germany was a police state, and many people did experience it that way. Even Werner Heisenberg, who believed in Nazism as much as any scientist possibly could, got called in for interrogation by the SS, and had nightmares about it for years afterward. It was a fluke that saved him: his mother happened to know Himmler’s mother. Himmler told the SS to leave him alone. Without his intervention, who knows what would have happened to Heisenberg.

Some of my heroes, such as Kurt Gödel, had to leave Germany. Gödel wasn’t Jewish, and he wasn’t particularly interested in politics, but he was too weird for the Nazis. He found a safe haven in America. There were many others like him. I probably would have emigrated myself if I had been in Gödel’s position.

The dark side of Nazi Germany certainly did exist. However, every country has a dark side. Alan Turing, a scientist of the same stature as Gödel, died (committed suicide) in a British prison. He wasn’t given the option of emigrating. Even America is not necessarily a safe haven anymore. On more than one occasion, I myself narrowly escaped spending 20 years in prison. It was sheer dumb luck that saved me. I wouldn’t have had the option of emigrating, either.

Fifty years from now, late 20th century America may be remembered, like Nazi Germany, as a police state, a country responsible for war crimes. There will be monuments to the six million innocent people who were sent to prison and had their homes confiscated for growing pot. Cool World will be as forgotten as Amphitryon, and 2001: A Space Odyssey as forgotten as Kaiser of California. Posterity will remember nothing about America except Darryl Gates.

The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.

The first movies I saw were Maria the Ferryman and The Great Sacrifice. This was one of the most bizarre evenings I ever spent at a theater. I almost didn’t come back. The second night I saw Request Concert and Romance in a Minor Key. This is turning out to be a vacation to hell. What kind of time machine is this, anyway?

But at that point one thing was clear: I had to stick it out, and see the whole series, because these four movies couldn’t possibly have come from the Reich I thought I knew. One of the basic principles of my life is: never pass up an opportunity for a reality check.

Then I saw Closing Chord and Effi Briest. I still felt like a stranger in a strange land. Going from modern America to Nazi Germany was like playing a 45 record at 33 rpm. Everything happens in slow motion. It was like being underwater, where everything looks and feels different. In these six movies, none of the characters made much sense to me. Their lives had nothing to do with my life. And none of these movies had anything at all to do with the Reich as I had always imagined it.

The next night was the turning point. That’s when I saw Münchhausen and Amphitryon. From then on it got better. The characters started to make sense. The Old and the Young King hit very close to home. The Great Freedom is as real as movies ever get. When I had seen all three Hans Albers films — Fugitives, Münchhausen, and The Great Freedom — everything started falling into place. That was when I started working on the present review.

As soon as I started writing, it occurred to me that just about everything I expected to see was missing. No racial consciousness, no violence, no Übermenschen . . . did the time machine bring us to the wrong planet? I felt like I was trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together, and the pieces just wouldn’t fit. Eventually it dawned on me that they didn’t fit because I was trying to form the wrong picture.

The lack of violence must be a reflection of the fact that in Germany, at that time, grownups didn’t get in fights — just like American men don’t expect to get in fistfights at the office. In those days there was a clear line between men and 13-year-olds, and also a clear line between civilized men and savages. The Germans were civilized grownups. These films are a reflection of life as it was lived in those days.

If we have somehow gotten the idea that the Nazis were berserkers — that’s our illusion, not theirs.

If we have gotten the idea that men should constantly get in fights and kill each other, like they do on American TV — that’s a Hollywood illusion, not a Nazi illusion. The violence that we take for granted in our entertainment, and in our lives, would seem pathological to them. We live in a behavioral sink; the Nazis didn’t. They saved their violence for the battlefield.

The G-rated ambiance of these movies can be explained by the fact that all movies were very tame in those days. Movies had to stay within certain limits. We know from other sources, such as the Amanda Nightingale books, that not all Germans lived in the G-rated world we see in these films. There was a lot going on in Germany that was not reflected in films. There was a lot going on everywhere that could not be reflected in the films of that era.

Nevertheless, the general public in Germany did live in a G-rated world. These movies may have been illusions — all movies are — but you have to ask, What kind of audience would want to see these illusions? That question will tell you a lot about the Germans. I’m afraid the answer is: they were normal people, the same kind of people who listen to Lawrence Welk and The Grand Ole Oprey. If we have somehow gotten the idea that the Nazis were skinheads or bikers with swastika tattoos, that’s our illusion. Nazi Germany was a lot like Branson, Missouri. (On the other hand, we must remember that real opera was still popular in Germany at that time — that’s one thing separates Dresden from Branson.)

The question What kind of audience would want to see this illusion? can be applied specifically to The Broken Jug. That will tell you a lot about this movie’s biggest fan. What kind of man would watch The Broken Jug many times, slapping his knee and roaring with laughter? Hitler came from a small town himself. The hillbillies in the movie must have reminded him of his neighbors back home, and his family. He probably saw the village judge as a caricature of his father.

The presence of Paracelsus in this series can be explained as follows. Nazism has nothing to do with Satanism. That’s another postwar illusion. Some Nazis, such as Martin Bormann, called for the elimination of Christianity, but Bormann was a rationalist, not a Satanist. Some Nazis, notably Goebbels, were Christians. Hitler wasn’t dogmatic. There was room for both Joseph Goebbels and Martin Bormann in Nazi Germany. There was room for both The Great Sacrifice and the SS. There was room for both idealism and Schadenfreude — Bianca and Amanda.

Strangely, this is also true of Judaism, where there is room for both Albert Einstein and Lavrenti Beria, both Joan Baez and Meyer Lansky, both Hugh Hefner and Rabbi Shea Hecht, both Lenny Bruce and Judge Judy, etc. The Jacob/Israel duality has been there all along in Judaism (see Genesis chapters 25 – 35).

The Paracelsus/stormtrooper duality has been there all along in Germany. It was there during the Nazi era as much as any other time.

The hardest thing to come to terms with is the almost total lack of political content in these movies.

After the film series was over, there was a follow-up evening at the Goethe Institute. There was a discussion led by Harmut Bitomsky, Dean of the School of Film and Video at CalArts. He said in the first years of the Reich, they did make some political films, but nobody, or almost nobody, wanted to see them. These films played to empty theaters, even though the government gave out free tickets. (I don’t know if this applies to Fugitives, which comes from this period. I wish I had asked him about that.) After a couple of years, they gave up and started making movies that people wanted to see.

If we have gotten the idea that Nazi Germany was a nation of crusaders, and life was one ecstatic rally after another — these movies throw cold water on all such illusions.

There are two common threads that run through the whole series.

First, humor: “playful” is not a word that normally comes to mind in connection with Nazi Germany. I always thought of it as a serious place, maybe even a grim place, but that turns out to be yet another illusion. There is a spirit of joviality that infuses most of these films, with only a few exceptions. You don’t need laugh tracks to tell you when to laugh. (Laugh tracks are a Hollywood invention — but who accuses whom of Thought Control?) Even The Great Freedom is a lighthearted movie, right up until the end. Of course that makes the end more effective: when comedy suddenly turns to tragedy, it crushes you.

The second notable theme is the triangle: Most of these stories involve romantic triangles. There are only four movies in which this theme is absent; in many of them, the triangle is central to the plot. Triangles, of course, occur everywhere. This is not a theme one associates with Nazism. It’s not clear to me why the Nazis would be so preoccupied with this subject. They must have felt a deep ambivalence in their lives, and that was reflected in all these movies about divided affection, and divided loyalty.

This series could have been called “Division of the Will.”

Most Germans, like most Americans, spent their time working in offices and factories. They supported Hitler only because he revived the economy. They didn’t have an all-consuming passion for Nazi ideals, and they didn’t want to see Fugitives over and over. They wanted entertainment. They wanted movies that reflected their own lives, and for them, as for most people in any country at any time, politics was basically a side issue. They wanted to see comedies, and movies about people having affairs. Not that there is anything wrong with comedies, but it doesn’t fit my idea or anyone else’s idea of Nazi Germany. In any case, this is where the journey from illusion to reality has brought us.

To understand what destroyed the Third Reich, we have to take an overview of these films, and an overview of the story of the Old Testament, and compare them.

We start with Fugitives, where Moses leads the people out of Egypt; then Amphitryon, an encounter between gods and humans, like Yahweh coming down and talking to Moses; then a story about a father and his son, which might be compared to Abraham and Isaac; then another story about return from exile; then Kaiser of California, where Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land, only to have them turn against him and “go native.”

So far the parallel with the Old Testament is fairly close. The main discrepancy up to this point is that Amphitryon doesn’t correspond very well to Exodus — there is nothing playful or funny about God’s appearance to Moses.

But then, the stories diverge.

In the Bible, you have a series of prophets who call the people back to the Law, and promise them victory in the end. You have David, the warrior king who kills Goliath and serves as the model for the future Messiah. You have the general strategy of dispersal: the Jews are supposed to scatter all over the world, and plant the seeds of their faith everywhere. (The Nazis had no concept of a general strategy.) And finally you have the vision of Armageddon, in which God brings the remnant of his people back to Israel and helps them defeat their enemies once and for all. The story ends with victory.

In the Nazi movies, after Kaiser of California, you have The Broken Jug, La Habanera, and Effi Briest — farce, ambivalence, and disaster — followed by the two Mickey Mouse war movies. There was no vision of ultimate victory. The war was over before it started, because the Germans didn’t see themselves winning.

If Hitler and Goebbels were supervising the production of these movies, it was up to them to come up with a hero who achieves a definitive victory, like Aeneas or Jesus. There should have been a role for Hans Albers in 1937, where he founds the city of Rome, or rises from the dead and creates the New Jerusalem. But there was no such role for him, and so the next time we see him, he is playing Baron Münchhausen, and then The Singing Sailor.

Goebbels failed in his main task as Propaganda Minister, and Hitler failed in his main task as Führer (not to mention other tasks). Germany had the resources to win the war (at least they could have won a war, not necessarily the one that was fought), but they lost. They could have established their Thousand Year Reich, but they didn’t. Their propaganda, whether in the form of movies or speeches or whatever, did not inspire them to victory.

There is a fallacy that is widely believed: that in a conflict between races or cultures, the one with the best street fighters wins. That’s not how it works. The one with the best storytellers wins. If you can get people to see their lives as part of your story, you’ve got them. That’s one reason why the Bible is so powerful: we all see ourselves as part of the Biblical story. This applies to anti-Semites and anti-Christians as much as anyone. If you define yourself as anti somebody else, then you are living in their story.

There is very little illusion in these movies. The more I think about them, and review them in my mind, the more I am convinced that they give us a very clear window into the German imagination during the Nazi era. What they show us is a strange combination of lightheartedness, ambivalence, and gentle resignation.

What we have here is a tragic sense of life. There is nothing wrong with that, in itself. The tragic vision, the vision of The Iliad, is true, as far as it goes, and certainly profound. But if you adopt an attitude of lightheartedness in defeat, or dignity in defeat, or noble resignation to defeat . . . then you are going to be defeated. As the saying goes, “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser.”

In classical times The Iliad was balanced by The Odyssey, which ends in victory. Odysseus let his will get distracted for awhile, but then he got his thoughts collected, went back to Ithaca, and reclaimed his home and his wife. Then came The Aeneid, the story of Aeneas leading the Trojans to Italy and founding Rome, which also ends in victory. Then the Bible, with its vision of the final apocalyptic battle at the end of time, the dissolution of the universe, and the formation of the New Jerusalem (Revelation, chapter 21) — a vast, jewel-like cubical structure, full of light, populated by spiritual beings who bask in the radiance of God, and never die.

Nazi Germany had nothing like this.

The Germans didn’t need propaganda. They needed a grand vision of human destiny. If you have a Thousand Year Reich, what happens during those thousand years? Where is mankind going? What were they going to do in the Reich? They were going to clear some space for themselves, and build autobahns, and then what? I have searched in vain for an answer. I have read Mein Kampf all the way through, plus many of Hitler’s speeches. He never gives us a vision of human destiny.

Nazi Germany ultimately failed because its storytellers, including Hitler and Goebbels, failed. Their myth of the Master Race didn’t enter into the popular consciousness enough to be reflected in these movies; and in any case, that myth itself comes from the Bible. The Chosen People were (and are) the original Master Race. Hitler just tried to transpose the idea from Israel to Germany.

They also had Wagner’s “Twilight of the Gods” myth, but obviously that leads nowhere.

Hitler wasn’t just another politician. People talk about the “Thousand Year Reich,” but if you listen closely to Hitler’s speech to the 6th party congress, in which he introduced this idea, he didn’t say “tausend,” singular, he actually said “tausenden,” plural. He intended the Reich to last into the indefinite future, thousands of years.

His ambition was to create a whole new civilization — no less! To do that, you have to have a story, an idea, a myth, a philosophy, strong enough to support a new civilization. Specifically, you have to come up with a story as powerful as the Bible. This is not easy, but, alas, that’s the level on which the game is played. I’m not saying it can’t be done. But Hitler and Goebbels didn’t do it, and nobody since then has done it either.

Note added in 2005

This was written a decade ago. I am going to let it stand as written, but if I were doing it now I would change the emphasis and maybe omit the last section. The vast cubical structure (the “New Jerusalem”) described in Revelation 21 is something most Christians are not even aware of. It may be true that the Nazis had no grand vision of human destiny, but neither did anybody else. That was not the problem. That’s not why they lost the war.

Nevertheless it is true that the one with the best storytellers wins. If you lose on that level, you lose; and if you abandon the field and don’t even try to tell a story, you lose by default.

The very idea of a new civilization that will extend thousand of years into the indefinite future is fallacious. We don’t have thousands of years. The exact form of the Singularity remains to be determined, but it’s coming. It’s not going to happen tomorrow, but it’s going to happen. One way or another human history is coming to an end. The only question is how.

Source: http://www.geniebusters.org/915/35_ministry.htm [4]

(Review Source)
Jay Dyer
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The American Conservative Staff
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)

If you haven't yet seen the movie Arrival, then stop reading, because there will be spoilers.If you haven't yet seen the movie Arrival, then what's wrong with you? Go!

(Review Source)
Steve Sailer
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
(Review Source)
Steve Sailer
(”2001: A Space Odyssey” is briefly mentioned in this.)
The astringent new romance film Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky might be the arthouse equivalent of that often-proposed high concept blockbuster Superman & Batman. Instead of “Who would win in a fight: Batman or Superman?” Dutch director Jan Kounen delivers: “Who would win in an affair: Stravinsky or Chanel?” In the 1913 prelude, the ambitious young dress shop owner attends the most celebrated classical music event of the last century, the Ballets Russes’s Paris premiere of The Rite of Spring. To her bemusement, a riot breaks out between the avant-garde claque who had received free tickets from the wily impresario Sergio Diaghilev and the paying customers, who are outraged by Vaslav Nijinsky’s angular choreography and Stravinsky’s polyrhythmically pounding score. Ever since, “Le Massacre du Printemps” has been portrayed as inaugurating a new golden age of music. Yet, looking back from the 21st Century, The Rite seems more like the grand finale of two centuries of musical glory, the greatest run any civilization has enjoyed in any artistic field. In 1920, the White Russian composer is back in Paris, down at the heels after the Bolsheviks stole his homeland. At a party with Diaghilev and a man named Dmitri, he meets Chanel. She offers to put him, his tubercular wife, and their four children up at her gorgeous Art Nouveau villa in the suburbs. At first, he refuses due to the impropriety. Although The Rite’s debut was the most famous triumph of the bohemian motto “spatter le bourgeois,” Stravinsky was himself a starchy bourgeois, a modernist man of the right like T.S. Eliot, whose 1922 poem The Waste Land was likely influenced by The Rite. Stravinsky eventually agrees to Chanel’s offer for his children’s sake. Mrs. Stravinsky, however, is not happy with being domiciled with France’s most chic exemplar of the liberated woman. Coco pursues him, and eventually Igor teaches her to play the simple right hand part in his new Les Cinq Doigts. Soon, they are making beautiful music together. “This hazy bit of cultural history about the couturier and the composer furnishes director Jan Kounen with justification for an exercise in old-fashioned modernism, stylistically reminiscent in its enigmatic elegance of 2001 and its Soviet rival, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris.” She gains the confidence to choose her new perfume—vial No. 5, not surprisingly—while he overcomes his composer’s block to venture into a neoclassical style that reflects her understated taste in clothes. They break up, but she secretly gives Diaghilev the money to mount a triumphant revival of The Rite. The last scene suddenly shifts to the early 1970s, when the protagonists are elderly celebrities separately inhabiting neoclassical hotel rooms (rather like the one in that unnerving scene near the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey in which the astronaut encounters his aged self). They pause to think briefly of each other. A recurrent problem with musical biopics is that by the time the musician—whether Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, or Igor Stravinsky—finally triumphs over his personal demons, he’s over the hill creatively. Both Stravinsky (1882-1971) and Chanel (1883-1971) were vastly famous for the rest of their lives, but his peak was 1913. In contrast, she went on to make her greatest contribution, the invention of the Little Black Dress, in 1926. This hazy bit of cultural history about the couturier and the composer furnishes director Jan Kounen with justification for an exercise in old-fashioned modernism, stylistically reminiscent in its enigmatic elegance of 2001 and its Soviet rival, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Stanley Kubrick used the fanfare from Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Richard Strauss to anchor his ponderous and baffling classic about killer apes and space aliens, so why shouldn’t Kounen build his love triangle movie around The Rite’s polished primitivism? Personally, I was held rapt for two hours by Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. I was enthralled by the Russian’s music, the Lost Generation clothes, the decor of Chanel’s villa, and by Anna Mouglalis’s self-assured performance as the designing woman. On the other hand, most of the audience found the movie too austere, too reticent, too eerie. Nor does it help that the tall, handsome Dane Mads Mikkelsen plays the squat, funny-looking, self-promoting Russian as if he were the monolith in 2001. The soundtrack is superb but emotionally opaque, which is the way the great man wanted it. Stravinsky, who endlessly expounded to the press on the Meaning of Modernism, asserted that “music is, by its very nature, essentially powerless to express anything at all…” The Modern Age is over, replaced by the Information Age, when expensive movies aspire to resemble documentaries. The abstraction of high modernism is now off-putting unless time-honored. It’s hard in 2010 to watch this unforthcoming film without being pestered by a need for more data. Who are these people? Why isn’t there a narrator informing us of their back-stories? For example, who is this minor character named Dmitri? Five minutes at home on Wikipedia reveals that he is Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, one of the assassins of Rasputin. Now, that’s interesting. googletag.cmd.push(function() {googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1456852648633-0');}); if(display_ads_server){document.write('<script src="http://a.intgr.net/tags/16_19.js"></script>');}; SIGN UPDaily updates with TM’s latest // delete this script tag and use a "div.mce_inline_error{ XXX !important}" selector // or fill this in and it will be inlined when errors are generated var mc_custom_error_style = ''; var fnames = new Array();var ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';fnames[1]='FNAME';ftypes[1]='text';fnames[2]='LNAME';ftypes[2]='text';var err_style = ''; try{ err_style = mc_custom_error_style; } catch(e){ err_style = 'margin: 1em 0 0 0; padding: 1em 0.5em 0.5em 0.5em; background: ERROR_BGCOLOR none repeat scroll 0% 0%; font-weight: bold; float: left; z-index: 1; width: 80%; -moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz-initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial; color: ERROR_COLOR;'; } var mce_jQuery = jQuery.noConflict(); mce_jQuery(document).ready( function($) { var options = { errorClass: 'mce_inline_error', errorElement: 'div', errorStyle: err_style, onkeyup: function(){}, onfocusout:function(){}, onblur:function(){} }; var mce_validator = mce_jQuery("#mc-embedded-subscribe-form").validate(options); options = { url: 'http://takimag.us1.list-manage1.com/subscribe/post-json?u=0ba7696a8a378946b7e688500&id=f7706afea2&c=?', type: 'GET', dataType: 'json', contentType: "application/json; charset=utf-8", beforeSubmit: function(){ mce_jQuery('#mce_tmp_error_msg').remove(); mce_jQuery('.datefield','#mc_embed_signup').each( function(){ var txt = 'filled'; var fields = new Array(); var i = 0; mce_jQuery(':text', this).each( function(){ fields[i] = this; i++; }); mce_jQuery(':hidden', this).each( function(){ if ( fields[0].value=='MM' && fields[1].value=='DD' && fields[2].value=='YYYY' ){ this.value = ''; } else if ( fields[0].value=='' && fields[1].value=='' && fields[2].value=='' ){ this.value = ''; } else { this.value = fields[0].value+'/'+fields[1].value+'/'+fields[2].value; } }); }); return mce_validator.form(); }, success: mce_success_cb }; mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').ajaxForm(options); }); function mce_success_cb(resp){ mce_jQuery('#mce-success-response').hide(); mce_jQuery('#mce-error-response').hide(); if (resp.result=="success"){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(resp.msg); mce_jQuery('#mc-embedded-subscribe-form').each(function(){ this.reset(); }); } else { var index = -1; var msg; try { var parts = resp.msg.split(' - ',2); if (parts[1]==undefined){ msg = resp.msg; } else { i = parseInt(parts[0]); if (i.toString() == parts[0]){ index = parts[0]; msg = parts[1]; } else { index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } } } catch(e){ index = -1; msg = resp.msg; } try{ if (index== -1){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } else { err_id = 'mce_tmp_error_msg'; html = '<div id="'+err_id+'" style="'+err_style+'"> '+msg+''; var input_id = '#mc_embed_signup'; var f = mce_jQuery(input_id); if (ftypes[index]=='address'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-addr1'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else if (ftypes[index]=='date'){ input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]+'-month'; f = mce_jQuery(input_id).parent().parent().get(0); } else { input_id = '#mce-'+fnames[index]; f = mce_jQuery().parent(input_id).get(0); } if (f){ mce_jQuery(f).append(html); mce_jQuery(input_id).focus(); } else { mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } catch(e){ mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').show(); mce_jQuery('#mce-'+resp.result+'-response').html(msg); } } } ]]>
(Review Source)
2010
Millennial Woes
(Review Source)
2081
Amerika.org Staff
(”2081” is briefly mentioned in this.)
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2081 (or Harrison Bergeron): Film Adaptation on the Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Classic Short Story

by Frank Azzurro on July 21, 2009

2081

I look forward to this movie, but undoubtedly Hollywood will change something or make it all about the relationship between the two extraordinary dancers instead of focusing on the actual point of the story. Still, I’m surprised Hollywood would ever allow this to be produced. Should be an interesting film when compared to the original story.

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(Review Source)
22 July
Brett Stevens

22 July (2018)

by Brett Stevens on November 4, 2018


22 July
Netflix, October 10, 2018
Dir: Paul Greengrass

At one point in this somewhat binary documentary, Anders Behring Breivik (Anders Danielsen Lie) asks his lawyer if he can call the prime minister of Norway to the stand. “Norway is not on trial here; you are,” sedately snaps Geir Lippestad (Jon Øigarden). Breivik considers, then asks, “Are you sure?”

Ultimately, we the audience cannot be sure. This documentary attempts to be two things: an emotional final statement by one of the teenagers who was shot, Viljar Hanssen (Jonas Strand Gravli), and a dispassionate retelling of the events leading up to that point. The latter wins this documentary points for objectivity, where the former shows its intent all along. It means to lull you into the experience, then hit you with its only intensely personal drama, which serves as the talking point of the film and explained why Netflix produced it.

Despite that somewhat inglorious ending, the film has its merits. The first few scenes of Breivik executing his plan, methodically and calmly, while society stagnates around him — shots of dreary Oslo, his detached mother, and the everyday oblivion of Norwegians intersperse with his military-style preparation — provide a growing sense of ominous doom. Intensity rises as we realize that events are about to leave behind our happy society and its rules and get primal, and then he lights the fuse in his explosives-packed van parked outside the prime ministerial office and the movie goes into action mode.

At this point, Norway goes on trial. Shots from the Utøya summer camp show us Leftist indoctrination in progress by careless, neurotic people. The teenagers themselves are portrayed as vapid and thoughtless, bleating out the right dogma for approval from their peers and parents. The parents reveal themselves as fundamentally self-centered, more concerned with career and popularity points than family. Norwegian society itself seems senescent, sleepwalking through the motions of pointless activity, and oblivious to the rage it builds in people who notice things. The scenes of Breivik’s mother, disconnected from her son and herself, wandering around in a mild mental health crisis, symbolize all of Norway and through Norway, represent all of the calcified West. Its pretense aside, our modern society is as empty as the dogma repeated by characters in the film.

Up to the time where Breivik begins shooting, the audience sits in a kind of shock, as in a good horror film. We are trained to be unable to believe what we see unfolding. When Breivik starts shooting, we see the same stupefied oblivion to reality on the faces of the teenagers, and find ourselves cheering for him as he hunts them down, since they are too detached from common sense to do anything but cower and ineffectually flee when the lake is not actually that wide and they could easily escape. The Norwegian police, unprepared, strike us as inept, as does the response of citizens, who stump around in a stupor trying to follow procedure when it is clear that the agenda is to wake up and figure out the situation. “Wake up!” this documentary screams at the West, as if acknowledging Breivik as effect and not cause, which goes against the narrative of we dindu nuffin that comes from the Left as a whole.

The horror film nature of how these scenes are filmed orients us toward those we hope will survive, and the only person without illusions proves to be the shooter. In your average horror film, a group of people confront an unknown terror and then must struggle within themselves to snap out of the civilization-induced slumber, recognize what is going on despite not being “educated” to see it, and then act in a way to survive or, ideally, defeat the evil. In this film, none of the victims snap out of their daydream, and so they remind us of bit characters in horror films who die early by having tantrums, going into denial, or otherwise being wholly ineffective. Not only are the teenagers and their counselors useless, but so is most of Norwegian society.

Frustration with Norway, and through its symbol the modern West, erupts through the scenes of frantic attempts to mobilize Norwegian police and even just get a helicopter in the air, as well as the short shots of lengthy committee meetings, legal meetings, and the day jobs that the parents have, showing us that people are wasting their time and that they are existentially miserable but no one wants to be the first to admit it. Characters talk about nothing but the event, and when they do not have that as a topic, their conversation mostly consists of “how are you?” “I’m fine” “Want to watch a movie?” and other small talk. We see a society which has made itself trivial by doing the “right” thing, and how that leads to a daily existence of paperwork, insincerity, navel-gazing, and frenetic denial of reality.

If this film has a thesis, it might be that Norway, indeed, is on trial, not so much by Breivik but by its inability to recognize the situation that produced him and its own dreary Scandinavian do-the-right-thing bourgeois misery. People may die, but it remains unseen whether they actually lived or not. The robotic pace of Norwegian society, as contrasted with the sharp mental clarity and sense of purpose that Breivik has, makes us understand exactly how this situation came about, and despite the emotional ending which favors pity toward the victims and the idea of “being strong by being weak” as one character describes it, shows us the actual topic and makes this film powerful.

Based on Åsne Seierstad’s 2016 book One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway, 22 July embarks on a systematic telling of the tale that is precise down to the smallest details and captures, as in a Michel Houellebecq book, the contrast of the mundane and meaningless with huge and disturbing events. It does not look deeply into the motivations of Breivik, whose manifesto included “Conflict Avoidance And How To Avoid It” from Amerika, but sees him more as a reaction to this brain-dead and spiritually-numb “perfect” society.

A triumph of doubt in our equality-driven society manifests even in what many consider to be the pivotal exchange of the film between Breivik and his lawyer Lippestad:

Anders Behring Breivik: I’d do it all again if I could.
Geir Lippestad: You didn’t win, Anders. You failed.
Anders Behring Breivik: There will be others to finish what I’ve started.
Geir Lippestad: And we will beat you. My children and their children. They will beat you.

Although the lawyer tries to deliver this line with intensity, we can tell that he — the character, not the actor — has doubts, and even regrets, about how his society has turned out. Breivik puts Norway on trial by forcing its citizens to wonder what, after all, they are actually defending, and whether they enjoy living through it. As if the counterpoint this scene, the moments when politician Christin Kristoffersen (Maria Bock) puts her wounded child on a Skype call to her constituents shows us exactly what we need to know about the modern West: everything is for show, no emotion is real, and we have forgotten why we are going through the motions that we do, only that we have to keep the system afloat for our careers, self-importance, and fragile state of mental well-being.

As we recoil in the West from yet another diversity murder, this time the murder of Jewish people at prayer, Breivik seems refreshing in that instead of attacking the symptoms of Western civil war, he attacks the perpetrators. We see him gunning down people who are mostly Nordic and interacting with other Norwegians who seem to be play-acting at responding to him, as if acknowledging that they too are uncertain about their future. Danielsen Lie captures Breivik down to the facial expressions and mannerisms, and these scenes are scripted to show his thought process, finding himself reacting to new knowledge as he explores himself or acting consistently to advance his plan.

Perhaps many will be scared off by the “Netflix” production label to this documentary. Most of us are skeptical after several years of social justice propaganda from that media firm, but for some reason, this documentary manages a mix of views. Leftists will respond to the victim statements and see little else; the rest of us will sense the fear and trembling that runs through the West as we do the “right” things but can no longer believe in them, knowing that someday an avalanche of Breiviks or something worse will force us to wake up and change, or die.

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(Review Source)
Millennial Woes
(”28 Weeks Later” is briefly mentioned in this.)
(Review Source)
Millennial Woes
(Review Source)
300
Roosh V
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
I just saw the movie 300, which had an awful rape scene—it didn’t arouse me at all. Real-life rape is brutal, horrible, and something I don’t believe in, but I dig it in movies and porn where the fake rape is a symbol of male domination. Here is what makes a good rape scene:
(Review Source)
Brett Stevens
exponentiation ezine: issue [5.0:culture]
(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]2,316 words

Question: How does a card-carrying Marxist and strident anti-monarchist become an overnight enthusiast of the British royal family? The answer is embodied by washed-up British demagogue and closeted Muslim George Galloway, whose newfound interest [2] in the conjugal affairs of Buckingham Palace came about because of Meghan Markle’s racial makeup. Mixed-race romanticism has come a long way in the UK, and it’s now a phenomenon far deeper than just the contortionist genuflections of white knights before Nubian nuptials.

In theater and cinema – where all fairy-tales come to life – diversity is being peppered in at unprecedented levels, with peculiar focus on casting colored people in the roles of white historical figures. The concept of the “black Viking” once referred to in jest is now a casting-couch formality for major production houses. It’s certainly no coincidence that in the Thor blockbusters, none other than Idris Elba was thought optimal for the role of Heimdall (known in Norse mythology as the whitest of all the gods). Or take the BBC television series Merlin, for which no better candidate than Guyanese-English actress Angel Coulby could be found for the lead role of Guinevere (whose Welsh etymology, Gwenhwyfar, means fair or white enchantress). Dare we anticipate a body-positive Rastapunzel to grace the silver screen next?

Color-blind casting stopped being progressive somewhere around the turn of the century, and in its place “color-conscious” policies became the norm – prefaced of course by Marxian platitudes about the need to be inclusive and represent the changing face of Britain. In reality, color-conscious casting is a vindictive act of domination and humiliation. This is how the establishment trolls: in the real world and right in your face. Of course, execs would never dare engage in race-bending for any significant non-white historical figure, like Martin Luther King, Gandhi, or Confucius, and yet the BBC pretends [3] that “whitewashing” in Hollywood is the greater problem.

Luckily, the BBC has no connections to Hollywood at all, and so commission their social justice surgeons to perform a “race lift” on almost all of their productions of European epics and historical reenactments. This year’s blockbuster miniseries, Troy: Fall of a City [4], is set in the thirteenth century BC, but producers dunked Ghanaian-Briton David Gyasi into Troy’s melting pot as Achilles anyway, while Nigerian-born Hakeem Kae-Kazim was anointed for the role of King of the Gods, Zeus, in what is a long-running tradition of blacks portraying oracles of infinite wisdom (cf. Morgan Freeman, Lawrence Fishburne).

Nothing is sacred any more – and that includes the memory of fifteenth-century martyr and saint Joan of Arc, whose latest incarnation on Broadway features black American Condola Rashad [5] in the lead role. Over in France, protesters [6] are certainly aware of the lineage and legacy of Joan of Arc; her statue in Paris was recently used as a guilt-totem by the Black African Defense League (a group presumably controlled by the same people behind the Jewish Defense League and the English Defense League). The group blamed “the country of Joan of Arc” for the fact that widespread slavery has returned to Libya, though why these “Black African Defenders” are stationed in France to begin with remains a mystery.

Another of Heritage France’s archaic figures to have his image charred is pre-Christian gladiator Oenomaus, portrayed in the Spartacus franchise by Ghana-born actor Peter Mensah (no relation to the high-IQ society). The actor also starred as a Persian messenger in the 300 film series. Giving Roman Gaul or Zoroastrian Persia an interracial panache has never been so much fun, though it’s certainly no longer about “breaking barriers” as much as it is doubling down – no matter how many thumbs down are given.

The upcoming 2018 Robin Hood remake [7] will feature the sassy Jamie Foxx as Little John, apparently because scriptwriters have turned Robin’s right-hand man into a Moorish commander (not black, but at least from the same continent). This comes after a BBC version [8] of Robin Hood reinvented the pallid and rotund monk Friar Tuck into a black martial arts supremo. Because for liberals, robbing from the culturally rich and giving to the culturally poor in the name of inclusivity is a perfunctory gesture, and the comical character upgrades add some stimulating flair to their normievision experience.

For decades, blacks have demonstrated an indecorous readiness to take these handouts, being underprivileged in heritage and history as they are. Authentic black history from the homeland is confined to oral incantations of trivial tribal conflicts and animistic parables; their real history begins with the arrival of white and Semitic civilization, which understandably skews their storied inheritance toward one of inequity and tragedy. As a result, many turn to surrogate histories that are deeper and more affirmative, no matter how untrue. Take the Black Israelites, Black Athena movement, or Wakanda. But affirmation is increasingly turning into aggression, as blacks and their allies give white male statues [9] and paintings [10] their eviction notice, while LARPing power fantasies as Founding Fathers in the hip-hop musical Hamilton [11].

With the Kultursraum thoroughly permeated by diversity politics and miscegenation fetishism, more formal institutions for social engineering are pushing a rather subversive program of empirical distortion and slick propaganda. Universities are replete with activist scientists, because most dissident scientists standing on the wrong platform don’t get to board the tenure and grants gravy trains. Take this year’s “Cheddar Man” saga: politically motivated agitprop if ever there was. The transracial mugshot spread like wildfire in the mass media, while the scientific back-peddling [12] that followed rolled in like tumbleweed. The claims were total conjecture due to key genetic loci missing from the data, but the project’s carefully managed fermentation succeeded in its ulterior purpose of yet more undermining of British identity and furthering the idea that whites are not indigenous to anywhere. The caliber of scientists involved was telling from their incendiary rhetoric. Archaeologist Tom Booth spoke [13] of “a lot of disappointed white supremacists” and “imaginary racial categories.” Marxist biologist Yoan Diekmann denied [14] the connection between Britishness and whiteness as “not an immutable truth. It has always changed and will change.” Politically correct [15] Harvard geneticist David Reich was also involved (and is the third Reich in his family to infuse [16] strong Jewish consciousness into his vocation).

The broadcaster of the Cheddar Man special, Channel 4, also aired a documentary [17] in 2009 entitled Is it Better to be Mixed Race? in which it was argued that hybridized people were superior due to hybrid vigor. The presenter – who called monoracial people “inbred” – was a geneticist of Indian ancestry, though had a half-white child who, funnily enough, had reservations about the benefit of being mixed. The documentary was inspired by the world’s leading miscegenation advocate, Alon Ziv (another Jewish-American), author [18] of Breeding Between the Lines: Why Interracial People Are Healthier and More Attractive. Should public television in Britain ever wish to explore an alternative to the diversity-superiority proposition, they may wish to consult Dr. Andrew Joyce’s clinical overview [19] of the deleterious trade-offs and limitations, such as the obvious unsustainability of miscegenation.

Just how many people are falling for the junk science and historical revisionism cannot be known, but it’s only likely to grow in appeal for the rapidly increasing mixed-race population and migrant communities, some of whom have cognitive dissonance about their role in Britain’s changing face. Meanwhile, white children too are being fed blackwashed visions of Britain’s history, thanks once more to the BBC, as well as the overhauled [20] school syllabus. This isn’t just changing the fabric of society, it’s excavating the bedrock, and every tool of propaganda will be harnessed, be it Cheddar Man today or Parmesan Boy tomorrow.

[21]

We wuz Romans, Celts, and Normans (BBC Teach)

The strong suit of the “diversity” lobby is still, without question, professional sports. This adrenaline siphon and tribal-instinct proxy for the masses manages to endear the most immodest of aliens – for no reason other than they wear the right colors (for the right price). Sport and politics should not be mixed – unless of course it is to promote diversity, immigration, and globalism – which is exactly what happened during the recent World Cup. It’s rather predictable from journalists with names such as Sunder Katwala [22] or Ed Aarons [23], but not so much from Gareth Southgate, the coach for England, who felt obliged to signal [24] his team’s diversity in representing modern England. It’s not clear how diversity affects Southgate’s on-field tactical management (does the 4-5-1 change to a 9-1-1?), but one thing that is known about the team’s cohesion is that the same players as juniors in 2015 failed the lunchroom test [25].

[26]

The only other team to eclipse England’s silhouettes in the multicultural limelight was the team representing France, and with a record diversity quotient of 0.78 it’s no wonder Les Bleus were fêted on queue by Manhattan-based Vox [27], London’s New Statesman [28], and The Washington Post [29]. These days, France’s players no longer look like Gauls, as one former American president said to a chorus of laughter [30].

Every great sporting event needs a triumph-against-adversity fairy-tale, so with the global press determined to ignore the success of small and homogeneous Croatia, it was the same old yarn about the boys from the banlieues overcoming racism and poverty (in that order) for the glory of liberté, égalité, fraternité. Most people recognize this to be a total charade, since the country’s urban rioting, crime, and ethnic animus failed to go on strike (not even for the duration of the World Cup). In reality, most of the “boys from banlieues” sponsored through prestigious soccer academies actually elect to play for other countries, because their understanding of fraternité is somewhat different from liberal phantasma. As France-born Cameroonian star Benoit Assou-Ekotto confessed [31], “I have no feeling for the France national team; it just doesn’t exist.”

For loyalists, though, there isn’t really a resolution to their lachrymose backstories, either. They may have enriched themselves, but the banlieues live on. They’re not known for giving back to the community, but then again there may not be much they can do to change things, anyway. Resource management and moderation appears not to have adequately infused into all corners of the Francophone world. The Senegal-born former captain of the French squad, Patrice Evra, alleges [32] that he is forced to play well past the age of retirement in order to support his twenty-four siblings – though with the millions he is earning at Manchester United and Juventus, he should probably have been able to budget for the brood by now.

True devotees of the world game and anyone to the right of soulless globalism were only ever going to see virtue in one team’s triumph at the World Cup – Croatia – the sole nation-state that had a chance of winning and whose victory would have been a genuine triumph of the underdogs. To put things in perspective, there are twice as many people of African descent in France as there are Croats in Croatia. Resisting the “free trade” of human capital seems all the more honorable for a country whose population has shrunk every year since independence in 1991. It is unique teams like Croatia, Iceland, and Japan that provide contrast and meaningfulness to international manifestations. If teams are themselves inter-national, be it the Colonial All-Stars of Franzania or other Euro-hodgepodge, it can only encourage a futile race to the bottom.

Under the circumstances, there was no graceful way that France could win the World Cup. And yet the final managed to coat their immoral victory with just a little more tar. France’s first goal was practically stolen by greasy-feet Antoine Griezmann, who took a dive in a shameless act on par with the spitting [33] and sideline urination [34] of vibrant characters from tournaments passed. Either incompetence or corruption from the referee gifted France their second goal as well, bestowing the lead to the side that was inferior for the natural course of the game. Salty grapes, you might say, but pundits were in solid agreement about the travesty, Peter Schmeichel [35] to ESPN [36].

[37]

In the 1990s, a somewhat terse Russian official was quoted [38] as saying that in twenty years’ time, France would become “a colony of its former colonies.” Ironically, that same official had to hand the World Cup trophy to the French team in Moscow – such are the duties when you become President of Russia. France may as well revel in undue euphoria and brandish their gold for now, because in another twenty years, the trophy could well be pawned in for riyals or smelted for grillz. The country cannot even celebrate in a civilized manner: 292 people were arrested, 2 were killed [39], and others simply engaged in some smash-and-grab retail therapy [40].

Imperial rump states like France and the UK have become such dire advertisements for colonial-blowback and simmering discord that defining moments on the world stage have come to be characterized [41] as bringing “relief” rather than ecstasy. Everyone from the police to the lunch-lady have to walk on eggshells lest prison riots or another round of London riots resume over some drug dealer-of-color [42] who is shot.

State propaganda will continue to stream diversity soapies and symphonies for all the open-minded naiveté that’s left to be harvested from whites – but for minorities, appeasement really isn’t necessary at this point. They are not here for a seat at the round table; nor to partake in the curation of English folklore, Norse mythology, or French cuisine; nor to rally around a communal soccer trophy (though they are ready to take a trophy wife or two). Mosques are springing up all over Western Europe, now even brazenly named [43] for the invaders who previously failed to conquer the continent.

Such is the gruesome Faustian fulfillment of Western multiculturalism and multitolerantism. There is no multi anything in the long run; just absorption or replacement. The enfeeblement of Europeans’ pedigree and their civilization follow like a horse and carriage, and once complete, all that will remain of European man is a mule-like economic unit. A hardy but docile beast-of-burden – sterile, if not denatured – and toiling for the excesses of hostile foreign masters.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]2,403 words

Czech translation here [2]

Still mourning the loss of Breaking Bad [3], I have been searching for several years for another series to follow religiously – without success. Now and then I try a few episodes of something, only to be reminded in yet another way of the depth of the doodoo we are sunk in. House of Cards, American Horror Story, True Blood, and, yes, even The Vampire Diaries – I tried them all. Only to say to myself midway through the third or fourth episode, “why am I watching this garbage?” Only Better Call Saul [4] has not disappointed me, though the episodes are doled out in an eyedropper, and they are really a pale shadow of Breaking Bad.

Sharing my woes with a heathen friend, he suggested I watch the History Channel’s Vikings. “It’s great!” he said. “Odin shows up in the first episode.” For those geezers who still think of the History Channel as running nothing but documentaries (usually on Hitler, thus at one time earning it the nickname “the Hitler Channel”), this went the way of the “arts” in A&E (the one-time “Arts and Entertainment” channel). No longer A, only E. Vikings is a dramatic series chronicling the adventures of Ragnar Lothbrok, a character drawn from the Icelandic sagas, who was most likely an actual historical figure who lived in Denmark in the ninth century.

It took me awhile to get into Vikings. I watched the first episode and, yes, there he was: Odin combing a battlefield for slain warriors. We see him through our hero Ragnar’s POV (point of view), so it is not clear whether he is really present, or only imagined. I had to admit I was intrigued, but things went rapidly downhill. In a later scene, a murderer is judged by the local Earl and sentenced to have his head lopped off with an axe. But the Vikings didn’t do that! They banished (or “outlawed”) murderers. Did nobody on this show bother to google how the Vikings punished criminals? Do they have no technical advisor?

A later scene was worse. The villain of the piece (for the first season) is Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne), who is paranoid and always imagining usurpation. He is married to the sexy, conniving Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig), who seems to push the Earl to greater and greater follies. In order to expose a possibly disloyal underling, the Earl actually invites the man into bed to make love to Siggy. When, after considerable hesitation, he accepts the offer Haraldson has him killed. At this point I felt I had come to the place at which I usually arrive in watching recent programs: the place where things just don’t feel right. (Later on, I’ll give a reason why so many programs today have such moments.) Have you had this experience watching today’s TV? What was the point of the scene? Just to show that Haraldson and his wife are bad and also a little mad? Was it to introduce something kinky? This is a recurring problem with the show: characters are continually doing things that are perverse – and that often make no real sense.

After this strange scene (which made me want to stop watching the series entirely) one expects some big, showy villainy from Haraldson. But all he really does is oppose Ragnar’s plans to sail west and search for new lands to exploit, partly because he fears Ragnar becoming too popular, partly because he is just a fuddy duddy. This conflict gives season one all the depth and complexity of those ABC Afterschool Specials I grew up with as a child in the 70s. It is a relief when Earl Haraldson is finally killed off, at which point Ragnar becomes Earl and the series becomes more interesting.

Ragnar is played by Australian actor-model Travis Fimmel. His performance is generally compelling, if sometimes rather too quirky and over the top. In the first season he is a family man, and his wife Lagertha (played by Katheryn Winnick) is a strong presence. The writers have drawn elements from the sagas in developing these stories, and invented much else. Predictably, they glory in the fact that Viking lore is filled with depictions of tough, strong Amazonian women. And, predictably, the writers present as fact what was almost certainly fiction. Lagertha is an appealing character, but after a season she is pushed out by Ragnar’s new love Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), the daughter of Sigurd (here the writers are faithful to the saga literature, and one wishes they would be more so). In what seems an abrupt move at first, but turns out to be wise, season two shifts a couple of years into the future. Lagertha returns as an Earl in her own right, and as a more interesting character. She brings with her Bjorn, Ragnar’s son, who now looks like a man in his 20s, whereas in the first season he looked all of ten. (Apparently Vikings grow very fast. Must be the skause [5].)

From this point on, the plot twists and turns. The Vikings raid. Form alliances. Break alliances. Fight amongst themselves. There is conflict of all kinds, and the series is seldom predictable. But here I must touch on one of its greatest flaws: this unpredictability is often due to plot twists that seem breathtakingly arbitrary. A continual problem is characters doing things that are, well, out of character. One wants characters that are interesting and complex, but one also wants their actions to make sense. In Vikings, too often the writers seem to be continually changing their minds about what sort of person they want to depict. Characters start off good, then turn bad, then turn good again, then turn bad (or the reverse: from bad to good to bad and back to good again).

Ragnar’s brother Rollo (Clive Standen) starts off a stalwart sort (though he is in love with Lagertha), then becomes so resentful of Ragnar he betrays him (in what is a rather implausible plot twist). Despite this, he is welcomed back into the fold, proving himself loyal, but eventually becomes a s**t again. This is particularly true after his wife Siggy dies. Now, you will recall that Siggy was the wife of Earl Haraldson. She marries Rollo after Haraldson dies. At first, she is portrayed as malevolent and power hungry, then (after marrying Rollo) she becomes a devoted wife who helps take care of Aslaug’s children, then she schemes against Ragnar again, then she saves Aslaug’s children from drowning only to be drowned herself. You see, when the writers can’t figure out what else to do with a character, they simply kill them off. In season one, Ragnar and Lagertha have a young son and daughter. After failing to find any way to make the daughter interesting, the writers kill her off via a convenient pestilence that sweeps the village, also eliminating a number of other superfluous characters.

The most egregious example of this sort of thing is what happens to poor Athelstan (George Blagden) a monk Ragnar picks up when he sacks the monastery at Lindisfarne (yes, that one). Ragnar carries Athelstan back to Denmark as a slave. In one of the series’ many I-can’t-believe-they’re-actually-doing-this-cause-it-just-doesn’t-feel-right moments Ragnar invites the pious Athelstan to have a threesome with him and Lagertha. Athelstan declines. Once more, I almost stopped watching at this point. A Viking letting a slave screw his wife? Really? Again, one wonders what is going on here. Did the writers just think they needed to introduce (something else) kinky? Did they need to find an excuse to expose Travis Fimmel’s overexposed torso? (He was a Calvin Klein model.)

Much to my surprise, Athelstan actually turns into an interesting character. A pious Christian, he becomes fascinated by the Vikings and their gods, and it eventually seems as if he intends to renounce his faith. In one episode, Ragnar and family travel with Athelstan to the pagan temple at Uppsala. There’s an imaginative attempt here to try to recreate what the temple might have looked like (complete with the idols of Odin, Thor, and Freyr, and the gold chain surrounding the whole thing). I think this was the first episode I really enjoyed. Though there were problems here too, including the introduction of mutant-looking priests à la 300. Oh, and then everyone takes mushrooms and fucks everyone else.

Athelstan’s conflict is interesting, and his character is effective because we ourselves are outsiders looking in at Viking society. We can identify with him. We too are steeped in this Judeo-Christian gruel and conflicted over it, and strongly attracted to pagan ways. Additionally, a strong friendship blooms between Ragnar and Athelstan that actually manages to be halfway affecting. Matters heat up when Athelstan begins having full-blown visions, and even stigmata. Finally, he seems to renounce paganism and throws his arm ring (a gift from Ragnar) into the bay. (This scene inspired me to finally order an arm ring from Grimfrost [6].) But just when things seemed to have gotten really interesting with Athelstan – the writers kill him off.

Speaking of stigmata, something weird is going on in this series with the whole Christian thing. On one level, there is very clearly a strongly anti-Christian element in Vikings, and frankly it’s offensive. Don’t get me wrong: I’m a pagan and strongly anti-Christian. But I am an intelligent anti-Christian. The perspective of the writers on this show is really not that of pagans (of course), but of liberals. Christians are depicted as befuddled, hypocritical, brutal, and, above all, sexually uptight. Now, all of that is true – but the liberal perspective is that this is all there is to Christianity. Thus, by contrast the Vikings are depicted as wild, carefree, and sexually liberated. Yes, it’s really as dumb and ham-fisted as that. As my aforementioned heathen friend put it to me, they hate the Christians because they had standards, and love the pagans because they think they didn’t have any. In short, the Christians are hated for the one good thing about them.

Athelstan’s stigmata result from an episode where he is captured in England and crucified by the Christian authorities in Wessex for being an apostate. Yes, you read that correctly: they crucify him. Trouble is, of course, the Christians didn’t do that. They had it done to them. Once again, somebody failed to consult Google, or to phone up a college professor. Folks, we are dealing with some very badly educated people here. And this is, in general, the problem with television drama today. It is now being produced by a generation that went to school after the schools got really, really bad. Especially the top-drawer schools that a lot of Hollywood writers graduate from. History to them is a cartoon show. Christians, boo! Uptight; can’t f**k; crucify people . . . or something. Pagans, hurrah! Take shrooms . . . maybe; drink and make merry; f**k a lot and aren’t picky about it.

Athelstan is saved from dying on the cross by King Ecbert of Wessex (Linus Roache, in what is initially a fine performance). Ecbert is another disappointing character. At first, he is quite interesting: a Christian king fascinated by paganism, who keeps a hidden collection of Greek and Roman artifacts. He is complex and sympathetic. But apparently the writers got bored with that, because at a certain point they turn him into an outright and unsympathetic villain. In another scene that almost made me turn off the series for good, he presides over the public mutilation of his daughter-in-law, who has been exposed as an adulteress.

Athelstan’s stigmata appear well after his wounds have actually healed, as do his visions. And this rather undermines the writers’ anti-Christian stance. Why are these things happening to Athelstan if Christianity is the bunkum the writers think it is? Or are they happening to Athelstan? Is it all in his imagination? We don’t really get an answer because, of course, he’s killed off. So how do we make sense out of this? The answer is that we don’t, because none of it really makes any sense.

This is a series written by a committee of tyros with heads full of half-baked ideas about history, and even less-baked ideas about how to put together a drama. One imagines them somewhere in some antiseptic conference room writing the show by free-associating ideas hastily scrawled on a dry erase board and post-it notes. “I know, let’s have Ragnar invite Athelstan for a threesome!” “I know, let’s reveal that Count Odo is into S&M!” (Another disappointing character development, best not discussed any further.) This is the generation of writers that brought us Lost, my friends. I’m sure they think the arbitrary twists they keep pooting forth are “clever.”

The writers of Vikings are exactly the sort of people Paddy Chayefsky warned us about in Network. In that film (my second favorite, after Fight Club) William Holden says of Faye Dunaway, “She’s TV generation. She learned life from Bugs Bunny.” You see, once upon a time TV was written by people who hadn’t grown up learning everything about the world from TV. Once upon a time it was written by people who read books, and got their hands in the dirt, and suffered through the Depression, and fought in wars. And who studied real history, not the politically correct, cartoon pablum that passes for history in universities today – taught by professors who learned life from Bugs Bunny. The generation of writers working in Hollywood these days – like the younger folk of the nation generally – are peculiarly and disturbingly detached from real, authentic human emotions, ignorant of human psychology, clueless about the past, and untouched by any feelings of awe or reverence.

Perhaps the kindest thing I can say about Vikings is that it is better than Game of Thrones (which I find unwatchably cheesy and dumb). As I mentioned, I came to the series rather late, and only just finished watching the third season. I will surprise my readers by saying that, yes, I will keep watching – in spite of the fact that I have been warned that eventually Ragnar gets a Chinese girlfriend (bound to happen: the humanoids who make this show couldn’t tolerate an all-white cast for long). I find the character of Ragnar interesting, and seeing Viking life re-created (no matter how imperfectly) is irresistible. I will take whatever crumbs I can get. Besides, season four of Better Call Saul isn’t scheduled to air until September.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)

Trevor Lynch
Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies
Foreword by Kevin MacDonald
Edited by Greg Johnson
San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012
200 pages

Kindle E-Book: $5.99 [1]

Since 2001, Trevor Lynch’s witty, pugnacious, and profound film essays and reviews have developed a wide following among cinephiles and White Nationalists alike. Lynch deals frankly with the anti-white bias and Jewish agenda of many mainstream films, but he is even more interested in discerning positive racial messages and values, sometimes in the most unlikely places.

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies gathers together some of his best essays and reviews covering 32 movies, including his startling philosophical readings of Pulp Fiction, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Mishima; his racialist readings of The Lord of the Rings and Gangs of New York; his masculinist readings of The Twilight Saga and A History of Violence; his insights into the Jewish nature of the superhero genre occasioned by Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy movies; and his hilarious demolitions of The Matrix Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, and the detritus of Quentin Tarantino’s long decline.

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies establishes its author as a leading cultural theorist and critic of the North American New Right.

“Trevor Lynch provides us with a highly literate, insightful, and even philosophical perspective on film—one that will send you running to the video rental store for a look at some very worthwhile movies—although he is also quite willing to tell you what not to see. He sees movies without the usual blinders. He is quite aware that because Hollywood is controlled by Jews, one must typically analyze movies for their propaganda value in the project of white dispossession. Trevor Lynch’s collection is a must read for anyone attempting to understand the deep undercurrents of the contemporary culture of the West.”

 – Kevin MacDonald, author of The Culture of Critique, from the Foreword

“Hollywood has been deconstructing the white race for nearly a century. Now Trevor Lynch is fighting back, deconstructing Hollywood from a White Nationalist point of view. But these essays are not just of interest to White Nationalists. Lynch offers profound and original insights into more than 30 films, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy, and Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. These essays combine a cultural and philosophical sophistication beyond anything in film studies today with a lucid, accessible, and entertaining prose style. Every serious cineaste needs to read this book.”

– Edmund Connelly

 “The Hollywood movie may be the greatest vehicle of deception ever invented, and the passive white viewer is its primary target. Yet White Nationalist philosopher and film critic Trevor Lynch demonstrates that truth is to be found even in this unlikeliest of places. If American audiences could learn the kind of critical appreciation Mr. Lynch demonstrates for them, their seductive enemies in Tinseltown wouldn’t stand a chance.”

– F. Roger Devlin, author of Alexandre Kojève and the Outcome of Modern Thought

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies is not some collection of vein-popping rants about Hollywood’s political agendas. It’s a thoughtful and engaging examination of ideas in popular films from a perspective you won’t find in your local newspaper or in Entertainment Weekly. Lynch has chosen films that—in many cases—he actually enjoyed, and playfully teased out the New Right themes that mainstream reviewers can only afford to address with a careful measure of scorn. How many trees have been felled to print all of the Marxist, feminist, minority-pandering ‘critiques’ of contemporary celluloid over the past fifty years? Isn’t it about time we read an explicitly white review of The Fellowship of the Ring, or a Traditionalist take on take on The Dark Knight?”

– Jack Donovan, author of The Way of Men

 “Hunter Thompson said that Las Vegas was ‘what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the War.’ Like liberalism, that’s clever but wrong. If the Good Guys had won, we ‘hepsters’ would be at the movies, experiencing the ultimate art form, but made by racially aware white artists, not today’s Hollywood culture-distorters. This book is the next best thing: Trevor Lynch reviews today’s films from an artistically sensitive, culturally informed, but most of all unfailingly pro-white perspective. He doesn’t just warn you away from the obviously bad, but explains how the poison works and where it comes from, and even finds racially uplifting stuff where you’d least expect it—Pulp Fiction? Read it, and you’ll never feel the need to pay good money to be seen weeping at another Holocaust movie again.”

– James J. O’Meara, author of The Homo and the Negro

CONTENTS

Foreword by Kevin MacDonald • iii

Editor’s Note by Greg Johnson • vii

1. Introduction: Why I Write • 1

The Lord of the Rings
2. The Fellowship of the Ring • 7
3. The Two Towers • 11
4. The Return of the King • 18
5. “The Scouring of the Shire” • 22

Christopher Nolan
6. Batman Begins • 27
7. The Dark Knight • 31
8. The Dark Knight Rises • 42
9. Inception • 54

Guillermo del Toro
10. Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, & Pan’s Labyrinth • 57
11. Hellboy • 63
12. Hellboy II: The Golden Army • 68

Quentin Tarantino
13. Pulp Fiction • 73
14. Kill Bill: Vol. I • 97
15. Inglourious Basterds • 102
16. Django Unchained • 109

The Matrix Movies
17. The Matrix Reloaded • 115
18. The Matrix Revolutions • 121

The Twilight Saga
19. Twilight • 126
20. New Moon • 131
21. Eclipse • 134
22. Breaking Dawn, Part 1 • 138
23. Breaking Dawn, Part 2 • 143

The Millennium Trilogy
24. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo • 145
25. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Remake • 149
26. The Girl Who Played with Fire • 152
27. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest • 156

Violence & Redemption
28. 300 • 159
29. Gangs of New York • 163
30. A History of Violence • 168
31. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters • 173
32. The Baader-Meinhof Complex • 185

About the Author • 190

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
WarriorStele

[1]1,707 words

Nigel Rodgers
The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece [2]
Lorenz Books, 2014

“Western civilization” is certainly not fashionable in mainstream academia these days. Nonetheless, the ancient Greek and Roman heritage remains quietly revered in the more thoughtful and earnest circles. Quite simply, virtually all of our social and political organization, to the extent these are thought out, ultimately go back to Greek forms, reflected in the invariably Greek words for them (“philosophy,” “economy,” “democracy” . . .). Those who still have that instinctive pride of being European or Western always go back to the Greeks, to find the means of being worthy of that pride.

Thus I came to the Illustrated Encyclopedia produced by Nigel Rodgers. Life is short, and lots of glossy pictures certainly do help one get the gist of something. Rodgers does not limit himself to pictures of ancient Greek art, though that of course forms the bulk. There are also photos of the sites today, to better imagine the scene, and many paintings from later epochs imagining Greek scenes, the better show Greece’s powerful influence throughout Western history. The Encyclopedia is divided into two parts: First a detailed chronological history of the Greek world, second a thematic history showing different facets of Greek life.

The ancient Greeks are more than strange beings so far as post-60s “liberal democracy” is concerned. Certainly, the Greeks had that egalitarian and individualist sensitivity that Westerners are so known for.

Many Greek cities imagined that their legendary founders had equally distributed land among all citizens. As inequality and wealth concentration gradually rose over time, advocates of redistribution would cite these founding myths. (Rising inequality and revolutionary equality seems to be a recurring cycle in human history.)

Famously, Athens and various other Greek cities were full-fledged direct democracies, a kind of regime which is otherwise astonishingly rare. This was of course limited to only full male citizens, about 10 percent of the population of this “slave state.” (Alain Soral, that eternal mauvaise langue, once noted that the closest modern state to democratic Athens was . . . the Confederate States of America.)

The Greeks were individualists too, but not in the sense that Americans are, let alone post-60s liberals. Their “kings” seem more like “chiefs,” with a highly variable personal authority, rather than absolute monarchs or oriental despots.

In all other respects, the Greeks were extremely “fash”: misogynistic, authoritarian, warring, enslaving, etc. One could say that, by the standards of the United Nations, the entire Greek adventure was one ceaseless crime against humanity.

The most proto-fascistic were of course the Spartans, that famous militaristic and communal state, often idealized, as most recently in the popular film 300. Sparta would be a model for many, cited notably by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adolf Hitler (who called the city-state “the first Volksstaat). Seven eighths of Sparta’s population was made of helots, subjects dominated by the Spartiate full-time warriors.

The Greeks generally were enthusiastic practitioners of racial citizenship. Leftists have occasionally (rightly) pointed to the fact that the establishment of democracy in Athens was linked to the abolition of debt. But one should also know that Pericles, the ultimate democratic politician, paired his generous social reforms with a tightening of citizenship criteria to having two Athenian parents by blood. (The joining of more “progressive” redistribution with more “exclusionary” citizenship makes sense: The more discriminating one is, the more generous one can be, having limited the risk of free-riding.)

In line with this, the Greeks practiced primitive eugenics so as to improve the race. The most systematic in this respect was Sparta, where newborns with physical defects were left in the wilderness to die. By this cruel “post-natal abortion” (one can certainly imagine more human methods), the Spartans thus made individual life absolutely secondary to the well-being of the community. This is certainly in stark contrast to the maudlin cult of victimhood and personal caprice currently fashionable across the West.

Athenian democracy was also known for the systematic exclusion of women, who seemed to have had lives almost as cloistered and private as that of pious Muslims. The stark limitations on sex (arranged marriages, the death penalty for adultery) may have also contributed to the similar Greek penchant for pederasty and bisexuality. Homosexuals were not a discrete social category (how sad for anyone to make their sexual practices the center of their identity!). Homosexual relationships, in parallel to wives, were often glorified as relations of the deepest friendship and entire regiments of male lovers were organized (e.g. the Sacred Band of Thebes [3]), with the idea that by such bonds they would fight to the death.

To this day, it is not clear if we have ever matched the intellectual and moral level of the Greeks (and I do not confuse morality with sentimentality, the recognition of apparently unpleasant truths is one of the greatest markers of genuine moral courage). Considering the education, culture (plays), and politics that a large swathe of the Greek public engaged in, their IQs must have been very high indeed.

Some argue we have yet to surpass Homer in literature or Plato in philosophy. (In my opinion, our average intellectual level is clearly much lower and our educated public probably peaked in consciousness and morality between the 1840s and 1920s. Our much superior science and technology is of no import in this respect, we’ve simply acquired more means of being foolish, something which could well end in the extinction of our dear human race.)

Homer’s influence over the Greeks was like “that of the Bible and Shakespeare combined or to Hollywood plus television today” (29). (Surely another marker of our catastrophic moral and intellectual decline. Of course, in a healthy culture, audiovisual media like cinema and television would be propagating the highest values, including the epic tales of our Greek heritage, among the masses.)

Homer glorified love of honor (philotimo) and excellence (areté), a kind of individualism wholly unlike what we have come to know. This was a kind of competitive individualism in the service of the community. They did not glorify individual irresponsibility or fleeing one’s community (which, to some extent, is the American form of individualism). If the hoplite citizen-soldiers did not fight with perfect cohesion and discipline, then the city was lost.

Dominique Venner has argued [4] that Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey should again be studied and revered as the foundational “sacred texts” of European civilization. (I don’t think the Angela Merkels and the Hillary Clintons would last very long in a society educated in “love of honor” and “excellence.”)

Plato, often in the running for the greatest philosopher of all time, was an anti-democrat, arguing for the rule of an enlightened elite in the Republic and becoming only more authoritarian in his final work, the Laws. Athenian democracy’s chaos, defeat in war with Sparta, and execution of his mentor Socrates for thoughtcrime no doubt contributed to this. Karl Popper argued Plato, the founder of Western philosophy, paved the way for modern totalitarianism, including German National Socialism.

The Greek city-states were tiny by our standards: Sparta with 50,000, Athens 250,000. One can see how, in a town like Sparta, one could through daily ritual and various practices (e.g. all men eating and training together) achieve an incredible degree of social unity. (Of course, modern technology could allow us to achieve similar results today, as indeed the fascists attempted and to some extent succeeded.) Direct democracy was similarly only possible in a medium-sized city at most.

The notion of citizenship is something that we must retain from the Greeks, a notion of mutual obligation between state and citizen, of collective responsibility rather than the selfish tyranny of ethnic and plutocratic mafias. Rodgers argues that polis may be better translated as “citizen-state” rather than “city-state.” The polis sometimes had a rather deterritorialized notion of citizenship, emigrants still being citizens and in a sense accountable to the home city. This could be particularly useful in our current, globalizing age, when technology has so eliminated cultural and economic borders, and our people are so scattered and intermingled with foreigners across the globe.

The ancient Greeks are also a good benchmark for success and failure: Of repeated rises and falls before ultimate extinction, of successful unity in throwing off the yoke of the Persian Empire (with famous battles at Thermopylae and Marathon . . .), and of fratricidal warfare in the Peloponnesian War.

The sheer brutality of the ancient world, as with the past more generally, is difficult for us cosseted moderns to really grasp. Conquered cities often (though not always) faced the extermination of their men and the enslavement of their women and children (often making way for the victors’ settlers). Alexander the Great, world-conqueror and founder of a still-born Greco-Persian empire, was ruthless, with frequent preemptive murders, hostage-taking, the razing of entire cities, the crucifixion of thousands, etc. He seems the closest the Greeks have to a universalist. (Did Diogenes’ “cosmopolitanism” extend to non-Greeks?) The Greeks thought foreigners (“barbarians”) inferior, and Aristotle argued for their enslavement.

The Greeks’ downfall is of course relevant. The epic Spartans gradually declined into nothing due to infertility and, apparently, wealth inequality and female emancipation. Alexander left only a cultural mark in Asia upon natives who wholly failed to sustain the Hellenic heritage. One Indian work of astronomy noted: “Although the Yavanas [Greeks] are barbarians, the science of astronomy originated with them, for which they should be revered like gods.”

One rare trace of the Greeks in Asia is the wondrous Greco-Buddhist statues [5] created in their wake, of serene and haunting otherworldly beauty.

The Jews make a late appearance upon the scene, when the Seleucid Hellenic king Antiochus IV made a fateful faux pas in his subject state of Judea:

Not realizing that Jews were somehow different form his other Semitic subjects, Antiochus despoiled the Temple, installed a Syrian garrison and erected a temple to Olympian Zeus on the site. This was probably just part of his general Hellenizing programme. But the furious revolt that broke out, led by Judas Maccabeus the High Priest, finally drove the Seleucids from Judea for good. (241)

No comment.

[6]

There is wisdom: “Nothing in excess,” “Know thyself.”

So all that Alt Right propaganda using uplifting imagery from Greco-Roman statues and history, and films like Gladiator and 300, and so on, is both effective and completely justified.

 

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
athena3-recovered-recovered

[1]1,792 words

Aristokratia III: Hellas
Edited by K. Deva
Manticore, 2015

Having previously devoted previous volumes to Nietzsche and to Evola, for its third incarnation, “Hellas,” Aristokratia seemingly pauses to reflect on itself: what are arête, hoi aristoi and aristokratia?

Divided in three sections, the first bears the sacred name itself, Hellas.[1] Reviewing the recent issue of TYR, [2] I said that it was “not afraid to lead off with big guns blazing,” The same can be said of this volume, which leads off with an essay of some 60 pages by Gwendolyn von Taunton: “What is Best in Life? The Pursuit of Excellence and the Aristocratic Principle,” no less than a history of the notion of the good life, and how it has interacted with the parallel notion of aristocracy, from pre-Homeric warriors through Aristotle and, with a bit of jump, Nietzsche. As we’ve come to expect from GvT, we find wide-ranging but up-to-date reading combined with a knack for remarkable and succinct formulations. Along the way, we find the intriguing idea that the real crime of Socrates was that he

Created a new form of aristocracy that was both palatable to the public and the old aristocracy . . . a workable standard that was to be a form of government based on morality and arête [which] negates not just Athenian democracy but the foundation of modern political science as we understand it today.

Rather than democracy, where “everyone believes they are entitled to an equal quantity of power simply by virtue of their existence,” or aristocracy as the Athenians understood it, based on money, power, or bloodline, this is “an aristocracy based on intelligence, wisdom and education,” rule by “an educated and intelligent elite which bypasses the idea of ‘class’.”

The essay ends with some sad thoughts on modern democracy, where virtue has fled and the “structure is inverted,” with an oligarchy seeking benefit from, rather than benefiting, the people. Though framed in general terms, the American, faced with the likely choice of another Clinton or another Bush, can only agree with our Australasian author that

The majority of voters in modern democracies are faced with a single choice: which of the two candidates is the least reprehensible. It is not even a true democracy, but a self-perpetuating dynasty where two parties reign unchallenged, and only the public figureheads change.

As presented by von Taunton, we could even say Socrates was the first practitioner of what’s come to be called metapolitics, eschewing the futility and danger or personal action in favor of re-educating a critical mass of the young. So it’s appropriate to find Counter-Currents own meta-politician, Greg Johnson, here as well, sharing with us the transcript of a lecture on wisdom, the good life, and the role of politics, which he delivered to some no doubt worthy and grateful students.

There follows a series of meditations on Classical themes with relevance to our own age, such as Matthew Raphael Johnson’s “The Platonic Ontology of Justice: Crafts, the Forms, and Political Leadership” — which manages to bring René Guénon and Wilfred Sellars into juxtaposition—as well as Michael Millerman’s “Herodotus on Oracles, Dreams, and Gods,” and Brett Stevens on “Plato and the Divine.”

Mark Dyal’s “Lycurgus and the Creation of the Spartan Warrior State” gives us a calm and positive account of the unique society of eugenics and hardships that lay behind the movie 300, including the interesting point that this non-family values world held women in greater esteem than did Athens.

Colin Liddell addresses the vexed question of “why did the Christians win?” in “Apollonius of Tyana and the Alternative Empire,” and reaches the perhaps counter-intuitive but instructive answer that, ill-educated and fanatical as they were, the Christians, unlike the Mithraists and other candidates, offered the Empire what it needed: a new bureaucracy, ready to step in and take over, a new aristocracy or “alternative elite.”

This symbiosis between a slave religion of passive, feudal obedience and occasional Dionysian frenzy, and the dull rationalism of bureaucratic militarism, was in its own way, a blind quest for a Nietzschean synthesis, but at a much lower level than the one that had launched the empire.

By limiting itself to the monarchical idea of the philosopher king, rather than a redeeming aristocracy, Apollonianism proved to be a non-starter; but Christianity fared little better, proving itself to be a dead end in terms of saving the empire, which survived its re-sacralization by little over a century.

After all this Hellenism, Aristokratia modules into a new section, “Aristos,” which examines our modern world and what it lacks: aristocracy. Alexander Jacob, author of many distinguished works on Aryan themes, provides two essays; the second entitled “The Bourgeoisie, Protestantism and the Protocols: The Anti-Democratic Thought of Erik Ritter von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Barone Giulio Cesare Evola” – which, taken along with Edwin Dyga’s “Transcendence and the Aristocratic Principle: ‘Throne And Altar’ as Essential Criteria for Civilization and National Particularism; Defence against Demotic Tyranny”—not only perform the laudable service of making better known the unjustly neglected work of der Ritter, but suggest ways that his somewhat more finely grained analyses of European religion and politics may provide a more hopeful, or just more practical, alternative to the Baron’s pessimistic view of the options open to us in the Kali Yuga.

On the other hand, Timotheus Lutz, in “Mircea Eliade’s ‘Traditionalism’: Appearance and Reality,” subjects the Romanian academic’s opinions on the Sicilian baron to scrutiny, and finds them quite unfounded, even puerile, concluding with a passage of almost Schuonian intellectual hauteur:

It could be said figuratively that if one who comprehends and adopts the traditional perspective can be said to have a view from the peaks that allows the most complete survey, then Eliade could be describes as not having completed the ascent, his vision being obscured by clouds above or distracted by objects lying along the path to the summit. If he could see individual rocks on the path more closely, we must remember that the view from [the] summit is still the most important.[2]

In “The Beauty of Monarchy” Brett Stevens succinctly presents a dozen or so reasons for the superiority of monarchy to over the system of “public image manipulation” we call democracy. He also addresses the usual objects, such as how it could avoid a “bad king” and how it could arise; the key to both is that monarchy arises out of a “mesh of aristocracy,” the natural leaders of any society (about five percent, as Colin Wilson would say) who, if they were to agree on the need for aristocracy would naturally bring the rest of society along with them, as they always do, and would continue to guide and correct the monarch.

Again, we see the importance of metapolitics for developing or preserving aristocracy.[3] This might be best read alongside John Maelstrom’s more practical, but still visionary, “The Great Initiative,” subtitled “An Experiment in Building Aristocracy from Nothing.”[4]

And speaking of “nothing,” a surprising guest here is Keith Preston, anarchist. I say “surprising” because, isn’t the anarchist against government, hierarchy, aristocracy? In “Nietzsche the Visionary: A Reflection on the Nature of a Civilization Guided by Nietzschean Values,” Preston argues that with the collapse of the eminently non-Nietzschean, non-aristocratic societies of democratic modernism, the natural social bodies now “smothered” by the Leviathan State will reassert themselves, and natural aristocrats will come to the surface, leading by ability, not birth or wealth; exactly the aristocratic ideal that von Taunton expounded from Socrates and Nietzsche, combined with the Catholic subsidiarity of Kuehnelt-Leddihn.[5]

After “Hellas” and “Aristos,” Aristokratia III turns to “Sophia” in the form of a short section of book reviews. Here again Gwendolyn von Taunton leads off, with a consideration of Lovecraft’s self-published journal The Conservative as a chance to get to know the man himself; readers might enjoy comparing this to my own humble effort.[6]

On that same personal note, I must confess that when it comes to Azsacra Zarathustra, whose work seems to be Aristokratia’s unique discovery and project, I have never been able to really “get it.” This time around, Conor Wrigley’s review of Zarathustra’s TDAS: The Spiritual Weapon of Revolution, along with his own article, “The Great Forest of the Overman: Dismantling Illusion From Within,” which compares Zarathustra’s “Overman-beyond-man” with Jünger’s “forest rebel,” convinces me that there’s something here, and I’d better start getting with it, beginning perhaps with his essay here, “Freedom of the Overman: Revolutionary Language of the Overman Par Excellence.”[7]

Like the previous volumes, Aristokratia III does not ignore the need to present intellectual beauty in a form of physical beauty. From the full color photo of the statue of Pallas Athene that graces the cover, to the typography, binding, layout, proof-reading, and carefully chosen line drawings and chapter “slugs” within, Aristokratia III is a triumph of the art of book production.

It can truly be said that everything here demands close and repeated reading, both for personal spiritual development (or Bildung) and for metapolitical and even practical use. As Coleridge said there was an essential poetry, that to which the reader returns with the greatest pleasure, so this is an essential collection for anyone on the alt-Right.

Notes

1. As one of Hermann Hesse’s typically oppressed schoolboys sneers, “And our dormitory is named ‘Hellas’! All this classical stuff is a big fake. If one of us tried to live a little like a Greek he’d be out on his tail.” Beneath the Wheel (Picador, 2003), p. 75.

2. Evola (Meditations on the Peaks), Coomaraswamy (“Paths that Lead to the Same Summit [3]”), and Pink Floyd!

3. On a related cultural point, V. Caine’s “Zombies vs. Vampires: Expressions of Socio-Political Fears in Horror Film” considers how the vampire, once the avatar of an undead European Catholic aristocracy whose return terrified the shopkeepers of Great Britain, has been replaced by the zombie, image of our amorphous hordes of brainless, democratic consumers, and the vampire now embodies “power, beauty and culture.”

4. “I have founded my affair on nothing” – Goethe, but also the motto of Stirner’s The Ego and His Own. We see too little practical approaches to the likely collapse of society from an alt-Right or “White Nationalist,” rather than merely “survivalist” or hysterical “prepper” perspective; see Claus Brinker’s review of Piero San Giorgio’s Survive—The Economic Collapse: A Practical Guide (Radix/Washington Summit Publishers, 2013).

5. As the Situationists, the aristocrats of ’68, told us, “Beneath the pavement, the beach.”

6. “The First Steampunk: H. P. Lovecraft’s The Conservative,” here [4].

7. Zarathustra’s “dismantling of all illusions from within,” and his transcendental vector, (Lutz’s peaks not obscured by clouds) put me in mind of Emericus Durden’s much more conventionally written but equally strident Aiming Higher Than Mere Civilization: How Skeptical Nihilism Will Remind Humanity Of Its Long Forgotten Purpose (Radical Academic Press, 2014), which I recently reviewed here [5].

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Casa Pound

[1]2,417 words

Translated by Adam D. Smith

“With usura hath no man a house of good stone,” wrote Ezra Pound in Canto XLV. “Usura” is symbolic of the culture destroying, hostile, and inhumane reign of interest, capital, and the banks. Pound also said: “A man can inhabit one house, also another, but a third is capital with which he wants to earn money.”

“Contro ogni Usura,” “against all forms of usury,”[1] is hand painted in large letters on the banner that was unfurled on the façade of a vacant six-story house in Via Napoleone III, No. 8 in the center of Rome. Next to a half dozen Tricolore flags was a flag with a stylized tortoise on a black background. Another banner declared the building baptized “Casa Pound.” The house was occupied by a group of young men in a blitz maneuver. Shortly afterwards, in the city quarter, a flyer with the following declaration was distributed: “We have occupied a building that stood vacant for years. We have given the house to twenty families. We are Italians. We are not social outcasts. We are workers, students, mothers, and fathers.”

Social pathos, anti-capitalist rhetoric, national symbolism – the occupiers come out of Rome’s militant radical Right scene, and make no secret of their convictions: they are “neither Left nor Right,” but simply “Fascista.” (A variation is the ironic amalgam “Estremocentroalto” – “extreme high center.”[2].) The exposed heads of Casa Pound belong to mentor and co-founder Gabriele Adinolfi, who in the 1970s was an active member of the group Terza Posizione which was closely linked to the “black terror,” and man of action Gianluca Iannone, born in 1973, a bearded tattooed giant who cultivates an image of a rough biker and additionally holds cult status as head of the hard-core band Zetazeroalfa. Casa Pound’s network also includes the bookstore “Testa di Ferro” (Head of Iron), “Cutty Sark,” the “most hated pub in Italy,” and “Area 19,” an abandoned train station concourse in Monte Mario behind the Foro Italico Olympic complex built under Mussolini.

[2]

Within the ambit of Casa Poundism a political style has developed which has brought a fresh wind into the extreme Right. This success owes itself not in the least to adept self-marketing. The memorable logo of Casa Pound, a tortoise, has become a brand mark just as notorious as the Celtic cross or the fasces. For a dedicated fascist movement the choice of a peaceful, defensive and torpid animal is at first surprising. However, the symbolism exhibits a poetic soundness. The tortoise carries her house on her back, she cannot be pulled out, and at the same time she is mobile and strong. A second look reveals that the symbol has a concealed warrior connotation: it plays on the ancient Roman military formation “Testudo” (tortoise), in which the closely aligned shields transformed the troop into a human tank: the precise octagon of the stylised tank and the inwardly directed arrows point to an intellectual organising principle and spiritual concentration. Consequently, those in charge of Casa Pound, despite their anarchic gestures, sharply differentiate themselves from the style of Left-wing occupied houses: order, cleanliness, and aesthetics play just as an important role as the strict ban on weapons, drugs, and prostitution.

[3]In the meantime, there are corresponding Casas, among others, in Milan, Bologna and Naples, all cities where the Black Shirts sometimes meet violent resistance. The anger of the Left probably arises from the indignation that the Right are now fishing in their waters. This includes active solidarity with the socially underprivileged and the expression of sympathy for oppressed peoples such as the Tibetans, as well as the fight against privatization of education and health care and radical demands for government-guaranteed housing rights for all Italian families. In April 2009, after the large earthquake in the Abruzzo region, volunteer assistance was rallied under the slogan “Let’s rebuild Italy.” In line with this, political recruitment takes a back seat: the twenty resident families of Casa Pound indeed come, for the most part, from the environment of the Right, but there exists, according to the organizers, no required profession of ideological commitment.

Women are also specifically addressed, for instance the “Time to be a Mother” initiative, which advocates for the rights of single mothers. Increasing mass immigration to Italy since the 1990s is, in the affinitive publications, primarily seen under the aspect of a “critique of globalization”: capitalism needs cheap labor and tries to conceal this exploitative strategy with multicultural rhetoric. Coloured activists also occasionally appear among the militants, the in-house legends include the story of a pizzeria, owned by an Egyptian, which was trashed by Antifa members who had their eye on Gianluca Iannone — who, as a consequence, supported the renovation of the restaurant through a benefit concert.

[4]

So, in the middle of the “multicultural” Esquilino district, in an almost exclusively Chinese inhabited street, tolerated by the police and the city council, an institution arose, which has had a practical as well as a symbolic impact. It stands for a philosophy of localization as well as for a social utopia and functions as a centre for political and cultural activities. Monthly lectures on a wide array of topics are held, for which regular guests are obtained through intelligent networking, people who are as far away from the scene as possible, such as Nicolai Lilin, author of the bestselling Siberian Education. A representative of the Left even came to a Che Guevara theme night, another time Valerio Morucci, former member of the Red Brigade and one of Aldo Moros’ kidnappers. They strive to do justice to the slogan, “Casa Pound – Where the discussion is free” without giving up the pronounced self-positioning. So the hallways and the round-the-clock occupied offices are decorated with slogans such as “Begin to believe! Start to fight!” and with paintings in the military style of the Mussolini era.

While the social revolutionary program can be seen to be in line with the early and late forms of Fascism (the “Social Republic” of Salò), the adoption of Left-wing procedures such as the self-authorized establishment of “centri sociali” (social centres) is a relatively recent phenomenon. Already in December 1990 members of “Fronte della Gioventù” occupied a house in the Roman district of Monteverde; in 1998 the “PortAperta” in San Giovanni was opened. When in July 2002, once again in Rome, “Casa Montag” was proclaimed, an unheard voice announced itself. “Montag,” the hero from Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, is a “fireman” in a future city, where the possession and reading of any kind of book has been forbidden. The “fire department” is under duty to destroy all books, but Montag begins to secretly collect and read the banned goods, until he himself turns into a rebel. While totalitarian societies are usually covered with the term “fascism,” the “non-conforming” militants turn the tables: the rebels against the thought police, individual freedom is now on their side. From this time on, the cipher “451” has consistently appeared in Fascist demonstrations – occasionally, increasing the paradox even more, upon a white circle on a red background, visually bringing to mind the flag of the NSDAP.

Casa Montag follows Casa Pound in that their given names reveal a similar sophisticated base structure. The entrance hall of the house is designed as a kind of pop-art hall of fame, where the names of all those valued as inspiration are painted on the wall in colourful letters. The company of cited minds forms an astonishing array. Alongside obligatory icons of European fascism such as D’Annunzio, Evola, Codreanu, Mosley, and Degrelle you will find a wild jumble of names like Saint-Exupéry, Jünger, Majakowskij, Kerouac, Bukowski, Stirner, Tolkien, Orwell, or Leonidas. Ian Stuart, head of Skrewdriver, is represented just as much as Hölderlin, the Indian chief Geronimo, and the comic characters Corto Maltese and Captain Harlock. With the exception of Walter Darré you won’t find any National Socialists. However, Ernst Jünger enjoys a high status amongst the scene: In Autumn 2009, distributed posters that bid farewell to a deceased comrade with a Jünger quote were to be seen in Rome right across the Esquilino district and neighbouring areas all the way to the Colosseum.

The gallery of heroes continues in the stairwell, which is exclusively dedicated to distinguished women: visual artists such as Camille Claudel and Tamara de Lempicka, poets such as Ada Negri and Sibilla Aleramo, film diva Luisa Ferida (who was murdered by communist partisans), Leni Riefenstahl, as well as sportswomen and female pilots. You will also find a similar eclectic selection amongst the products of Testa di Ferro. There T-shirts and badges are offered for sale whose motifs range from Yukio Mishima to football legend George Best. And films such as Fight Club, 300, Clockwork Orange, and Pulp Fiction consistently come up as central references.

In the headquarters, the fostering of icons culminates in an annotated collection of rare photos from the life of Ezra Pound. The American avant-gardist belongs to the group of great minds who were drawn to Fascism. Pound had settled in 1924 in Rapallo and, during the Second World War, gave anti-Semitic tinged propaganda speeches against the Allies, who he regarded as stooges of “loan capital.” After the war he was charged with high treason and subjected to degrading treatment, culminating in a 12-year-long detention in a psychiatric hospital.

However, for the majority of scene adherents it probably suffices to know that Pound was “the poet against usury” and an admirer of Mussolini. The complicated esotericism of his Cantos is notorious even among literary-minded readers, and the same applies to Julius Evola, who has been made into a cult figure within the scene. The more decisive ideological sources might instead be the lyrics from Zetazeroalfa and other “Musica Alternativa” bands. The audience of the several day long festival celebrating 5 years of Casa Pound in Area 19 in June 2009 was dominated by the approximately 80 percent proletarian skinhead and hooligan types present, who are commonly associated with the extreme Right. Provocative tattoos and shaved heads are a must, as well as a very select array of T-shirt designs. This seems to be representative for the scene as a whole, even if a considerable proportion, via the student organisation Blocco Studentesco, comes from the middle-class. Here is, admittedly, another connection with historical Fascism: an emphasis on the physical, vitalism, male gangs [Männerbünde], the agon, and even violence. As an outlet, for example, the ritual of “Cinghiamattanza” (roughly, “going nuts with a belt”) is used, based loosely on DAF’s “Alle gegen Alle” in which one plunges shirtless into a wild brawl with belt straps (the buckle is prohibited).

Also the popular, to some extent amalgamated with rock romanticism (“liberi, belli, ribelli” – “free, beautiful, rebellious”), Squadristi iconography with its death-heads, black flags, and Decima MAS daggers and roses, underscores the ambiguous “Bad Boy” image, which is especially appealing to young men as well as women, and is a hindrance to them becoming part of the mainstream – because for the Left it is of course easy to categorically portray the scene as a group of thugs. Despite the considerable leeway in comparison to Germany that Rightists and even (the at least officially banned) Fascism in Italy can lay claim to, “Political Correctness” also has the upper hand here. The photographic book OltreNero from anti-fascist journalists Allessandro Cosmelli and Marco Mathieu, which initially resulted from a close collaboration with Gianluca Iannone, rendered the scene in stylish black and white photographs, in a light as much alluring as abysmally repellent and emphasised their sub-cultural character as well as an aura of violence. Iannone saw this representation as distortive and one-sided and, as a result, fell out with the authors.

The question concerning the actual ideology of the Fascism of the Third Millennium is not easy to answer. Despite all the assertions not to be pulling a nostalgic number, the emotional core of the movement is still just as focused on the heroic stories of yesteryear: D’Annunzio’s Fiume, the march on Rome, Futurism, the legend of the Squadristi, the Republic of Salò and the “black heart” of the “lead” ’70s, when in Italy a bloody, secret service-infiltrated war of terror flared up between Left and Right wing extremist groups. It is unclear what concrete form this envisioned “modern” fascism should have, the more so as dialogue with other milieus is actively sought out and “cross fronts” are not excluded. What remains is primarily the rhetoric of the act and the precedence of activism over ideological conformity, as well as the maintenance and creation of icons, and a non-conformist attitude to life.

Telling in this regard is the August 2009 editorial from the in-house magazine Occidentale. One of the most successful Casa Pound coups of the year was the widespread public posting of placards, which exhibited in pop-art style the 1980 deceased Left-wing songwriter Rino Gaetano, bearing only the infamous tortoise logo without any written commentary. In the editorial, the author explained, “Why it is just for Casa Pound to celebrate Rino Gaetano.” One must by no means be Left-wing to admire the free and vital spirit of Gaetano’s songs. In them you can find everything that Casa Pound stands for: “The love of everything that views the world with irony; poetry, provocation, freedom, justice.” One should not focus on the past, “D’Annunzio, Marinetti, Jünger, Evola, even Mussolini” were at the forefront of their times and believed: “No romantic escapism, no doomsday hysteria. Will, deeds, joy, freedom. That is what counts.”

Translator’s Notes

1. It is also possible to translate this as being against all usurers. Mr. Lichtmesz’s original German takes this line.

2. The translator would like to thank Mark Dyal for providing the following summary of this concept:

Estremocentroalto takes its cue from the revolutionary socialist origins of Italian Fascism. As Estremo (extreme), it takes the radical counter-modernism of the true right and the popular sociality of the interwar left, while embracing what is extreme and Italian about both: aggression, passion, and total commitment. It seeks to be Centro (center) so as to be absolutely relevant and central to all aspects of Italian life. Casa Pound, as part of the contemporary social right, embraces politics, philosophy, and art from the perspective of Italian ways of life. Thus, it embraces the piazzas, cuisines, bars, and normalized forms of Italian social interaction, but always from an extreme position. Finally, Casa Pound seeks to be Alto (high) in consistently rejecting the banality of Americanized pop culture, seeking instead to remake the natural seriousness of Italian beauty, life, and creation.

German original: http://www.sezession.de/18102/casa-pound-2.html [5]

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
LynchCover2

[1]Trevor Lynch
Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies
Foreword by Kevin MacDonald
Edited by Greg Johnson
San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012
200 pages

We are pleased to announce that Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies is now in print in Europe and Australia, where orders are now being filled. In the US, the books are being printed and will be shipped out to purchasers as soon as we receive them. 

Hardcover: $35 

Quantity:  

Paperback: $20 

Quantity:  

Kindle E-Book: $5.99 [2]

Nook E-Book: $5.99 [3]

Since 2001, Trevor Lynch’s witty, pugnacious, and profound film essays and reviews have developed a wide following among cinephiles and White Nationalists alike. Lynch deals frankly with the anti-white bias and Jewish agenda of many mainstream films, but he is even more interested in discerning positive racial messages and values, sometimes in the most unlikely places.

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies gathers together some of his best essays and reviews covering 32 movies, including his startling philosophical readings of Pulp Fiction, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Mishima; his racialist readings of The Lord of the Rings and Gangs of New York; his masculinist readings of The Twilight Saga and A History of Violence; his insights into the Jewish nature of the superhero genre occasioned by Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy movies; and his hilarious demolitions of The Matrix Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, and the detritus of Quentin Tarantino’s long decline.

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies establishes its author as a leading cultural theorist and critic of the North American New Right.

“Trevor Lynch provides us with a highly literate, insightful, and even philosophical perspective on film—one that will send you running to the video rental store for a look at some very worthwhile movies—although he is also quite willing to tell you what not to see. He sees movies without the usual blinders. He is quite aware that because Hollywood is controlled by Jews, one must typically analyze movies for their propaganda value in the project of white dispossession. Trevor Lynch’s collection is a must read for anyone attempting to understand the deep undercurrents of the contemporary culture of the West.”

 – Kevin MacDonald, author of The Culture of Critique, from the Foreword

“Hollywood has been deconstructing the white race for nearly a century. Now Trevor Lynch is fighting back, deconstructing Hollywood from a White Nationalist point of view. But these essays are not just of interest to White Nationalists. Lynch offers profound and original insights into more than 30 films, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy, and Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. These essays combine a cultural and philosophical sophistication beyond anything in film studies today with a lucid, accessible, and entertaining prose style. Every serious cineaste needs to read this book.”

– Edmund Connelly

 “The Hollywood movie may be the greatest vehicle of deception ever invented, and the passive white viewer is its primary target. Yet White Nationalist philosopher and film critic Trevor Lynch demonstrates that truth is to be found even in this unlikeliest of places. If American audiences could learn the kind of critical appreciation Mr. Lynch demonstrates for them, their seductive enemies in Tinseltown wouldn’t stand a chance.”

– F. Roger Devlin, author of Alexandre Kojève and the Outcome of Modern Thought

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies is not some collection of vein-popping rants about Hollywood’s political agendas. It’s a thoughtful and engaging examination of ideas in popular films from a perspective you won’t find in your local newspaper or in Entertainment Weekly. Lynch has chosen films that—in many cases—he actually enjoyed, and playfully teased out the New Right themes that mainstream reviewers can only afford to address with a careful measure of scorn. How many trees have been felled to print all of the Marxist, feminist, minority-pandering ‘critiques’ of contemporary celluloid over the past fifty years? Isn’t it about time we read an explicitly white review of The Fellowship of the Ring, or a Traditionalist take on take on The Dark Knight?”

– Jack Donovan, author of The Way of Men

 “Hunter Thompson said that Las Vegas was ‘what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the War.’ Like liberalism, that’s clever but wrong. If the Good Guys had won, we ‘hepsters’ would be at the movies, experiencing the ultimate art form, but made by racially aware white artists, not today’s Hollywood culture-distorters. This book is the next best thing: Trevor Lynch reviews today’s films from an artistically sensitive, culturally informed, but most of all unfailingly pro-white perspective. He doesn’t just warn you away from the obviously bad, but explains how the poison works and where it comes from, and even finds racially uplifting stuff where you’d least expect it—Pulp Fiction? Read it, and you’ll never feel the need to pay good money to be seen weeping at another Holocaust movie again.”

– James J. O’Meara, author of The Homo and the Negro

CONTENTS

Foreword by Kevin MacDonald • iii

Editor’s Note by Greg Johnson • vii

1. Introduction: Why I Write • 1

The Lord of the Rings
2. The Fellowship of the Ring • 7
3. The Two Towers • 11
4. The Return of the King • 18
5. “The Scouring of the Shire” • 22

Christopher Nolan
6. Batman Begins • 27
7. The Dark Knight • 31
8. The Dark Knight Rises • 42
9. Inception • 54

Guillermo del Toro
10. Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, & Pan’s Labyrinth • 57
11. Hellboy • 63
12. Hellboy II: The Golden Army • 68

Quentin Tarantino
13. Pulp Fiction • 73
14. Kill Bill: Vol. I • 97
15. Inglourious Basterds • 102
16. Django Unchained • 109

The Matrix Movies
17. The Matrix Reloaded • 115
18. The Matrix Revolutions • 121

The Twilight Saga
19. Twilight • 126
20. New Moon • 131
21. Eclipse • 134
22. Breaking Dawn, Part 1 • 138
23. Breaking Dawn, Part 2 • 143

The Millennium Trilogy
24. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo • 145
25. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Remake • 149
26. The Girl Who Played with Fire • 152
27. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest • 156

Violence & Redemption
28. 300 • 159
29. Gangs of New York • 163
30. A History of Violence • 168
31. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters • 173
32. The Baader-Meinhof Complex • 185

About the Author • 190

Kindle E-Book: $5.99 [2]

Nook E-Book: $5.99 [3]

Hardcover: $35 

Quantity:  

Paperback: $20 

Quantity:  

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
LynchCover2

[1]Trevor Lynch
Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies
Foreword by Kevin MacDonald
Edited by Greg Johnson
San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012
200 pages

We are pleased to announce that Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies is now available as a Kindle and E-Book. It should be available as a Nook E-Book this weekend.

Kindle E-Book: $5.99 [2]

The paperback and hardcover editions will be released  February 28, 2013 and are available for preorder:

Hardcover: $35 

Quantity:  

Paperback: $20 

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Since 2001, Trevor Lynch’s witty, pugnacious, and profound film essays and reviews have developed a wide following among cinephiles and White Nationalists alike. Lynch deals frankly with the anti-white bias and Jewish agenda of many mainstream films, but he is even more interested in discerning positive racial messages and values, sometimes in the most unlikely places.

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies gathers together some of his best essays and reviews covering 32 movies, including his startling philosophical readings of Pulp Fiction, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Mishima; his racialist readings of The Lord of the Rings and Gangs of New York; his masculinist readings of The Twilight Saga and A History of Violence; his insights into the Jewish nature of the superhero genre occasioned by Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy movies; and his hilarious demolitions of The Matrix Trilogy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, and the detritus of Quentin Tarantino’s long decline.

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies establishes its author as a leading cultural theorist and critic of the North American New Right.

“Trevor Lynch provides us with a highly literate, insightful, and even philosophical perspective on film—one that will send you running to the video rental store for a look at some very worthwhile movies—although he is also quite willing to tell you what not to see. He sees movies without the usual blinders. He is quite aware that because Hollywood is controlled by Jews, one must typically analyze movies for their propaganda value in the project of white dispossession. Trevor Lynch’s collection is a must read for anyone attempting to understand the deep undercurrents of the contemporary culture of the West.”

 – Kevin MacDonald, author of The Culture of Critique, from the Foreword

“Hollywood has been deconstructing the white race for nearly a century. Now Trevor Lynch is fighting back, deconstructing Hollywood from a White Nationalist point of view. But these essays are not just of interest to White Nationalists. Lynch offers profound and original insights into more than 30 films, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy, and Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. These essays combine a cultural and philosophical sophistication beyond anything in film studies today with a lucid, accessible, and entertaining prose style. Every serious cineaste needs to read this book.”

– Edmund Connelly

 “The Hollywood movie may be the greatest vehicle of deception ever invented, and the passive white viewer is its primary target. Yet White Nationalist philosopher and film critic Trevor Lynch demonstrates that truth is to be found even in this unlikeliest of places. If American audiences could learn the kind of critical appreciation Mr. Lynch demonstrates for them, their seductive enemies in Tinseltown wouldn’t stand a chance.”

– F. Roger Devlin, author of Alexandre Kojève and the Outcome of Modern Thought

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies is not some collection of vein-popping rants about Hollywood’s political agendas. It’s a thoughtful and engaging examination of ideas in popular films from a perspective you won’t find in your local newspaper or in Entertainment Weekly. Lynch has chosen films that—in many cases—he actually enjoyed, and playfully teased out the New Right themes that mainstream reviewers can only afford to address with a careful measure of scorn. How many trees have been felled to print all of the Marxist, feminist, minority-pandering ‘critiques’ of contemporary celluloid over the past fifty years? Isn’t it about time we read an explicitly white review of The Fellowship of the Ring, or a Traditionalist take on take on The Dark Knight?”

– Jack Donovan, author of The Way of Men

 “Hunter Thompson said that Las Vegas was ‘what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the War.’ Like liberalism, that’s clever but wrong. If the Good Guys had won, we ‘hepsters’ would be at the movies, experiencing the ultimate art form, but made by racially aware white artists, not today’s Hollywood culture-distorters. This book is the next best thing: Trevor Lynch reviews today’s films from an artistically sensitive, culturally informed, but most of all unfailingly pro-white perspective. He doesn’t just warn you away from the obviously bad, but explains how the poison works and where it comes from, and even finds racially uplifting stuff where you’d least expect it—Pulp Fiction? Read it, and you’ll never feel the need to pay good money to be seen weeping at another Holocaust movie again.”

– James J. O’Meara, author of The Homo and the Negro

CONTENTS

Foreword by Kevin MacDonald • iii

Editor’s Note by Greg Johnson • vii

1. Introduction: Why I Write • 1

The Lord of the Rings
2. The Fellowship of the Ring • 7
3. The Two Towers • 11
4. The Return of the King • 18
5. “The Scouring of the Shire” • 22

Christopher Nolan
6. Batman Begins • 27
7. The Dark Knight • 31
8. The Dark Knight Rises • 42
9. Inception • 54

Guillermo del Toro
10. Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, & Pan’s Labyrinth • 57
11. Hellboy • 63
12. Hellboy II: The Golden Army • 68

Quentin Tarantino
13. Pulp Fiction • 73
14. Kill Bill: Vol. I • 97
15. Inglourious Basterds • 102
16. Django Unchained • 109

The Matrix Movies
17. The Matrix Reloaded • 115
18. The Matrix Revolutions • 121

The Twilight Saga
19. Twilight • 126
20. New Moon • 131
21. Eclipse • 134
22. Breaking Dawn, Part 1 • 138
23. Breaking Dawn, Part 2 • 143

The Millennium Trilogy
24. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo • 145
25. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Remake • 149
26. The Girl Who Played with Fire • 152
27. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest • 156

Violence & Redemption
28. 300 • 159
29. Gangs of New York • 163
30. A History of Violence • 168
31. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters • 173
32. The Baader-Meinhof Complex • 185

About the Author • 190

Kindle E-Book: $5.99 [2]

Hardcover and Paperback Release Date: February 28, 2013

Hardcover: $35 

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Paperback: $20 

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(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)

1,024 words

[1]Watchmen [2] is the greatest superhero movie of all time, and when it was released, its director Zack Snyder was poised to follow Christopher Nolan into the first rank of directors working today. But instead, he has directed an ever worsening series of turkeys: Sucker Punch [3], Man of Steel [4], Batman v Superman [5], and now Justice League, which is one of the worst movies I have ever seen: derivative, dumb, and dull. An assault on the senses and an insult to the intellect. It is also one of the most expensive movies ever made, costing an astonishing $300 million. It is really rather amazing that a director of Snyder’s proven talent, with a solid cast and a $300 million budget, could not have turned in a better movie. Clearly, there’s a lot of rot and a lot of ruin still left in Hollywood, and the sex scandals are just the beginning. 

Justice League is a critical and commercial flop. Some people are trying to deflect the blame onto Warner Bros. and Joss Whedon. It turns out that earlier this year, Snyder’s 20-year-old Chinese adopted daughter, Autumn, committed suicide. (Snyder had eight children, four natural and four adopted.) Snyder took some time off to be with his family, and Warner Bros., which deemed the movie too long and too dark, brought in Joss Whedon for rewrites and reshoots. The problem, however, is not with Whedon’s superficial changes but with the basic script, which is utterly derivative, and with the characterization, which is laughably shallow.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. In remotest antiquity, a dark lord from another world named Steppenwolf (hold your laughter) tried to conquer the world with the aid of three magical “Mother Boxes” and an army of zombie-cyborgs called parademons. However, the races of the earth — the Olympian gods, Amazons, Atlanteans, and men — came together in an alliance to defeat him. The Mother Boxes were wrested away from Steppenwolf, who vanished. The Mother Boxes, which only worked in tandem, were then separated and placed in the care of the Atlanteans, the Amazons, and the kings of men.

After untold thousands of years, however, the death of Superman somehow reactivated the mother boxes, which called Steppenwolf back to earth. Of course, this is a ridiculously arbitrary plot turn, since Superman was only a recent arrival on earth, which raises the question of what kept the Mother Boxes “sleeping” for the untold millennia before his arrival. But never mind. The dark lord Steppenwolf is back with his parademons searching for the magic Mother Boxes that will allow him to conquer the world. To stop him, a league must be created, bringing together an Atlantean (Aquaman), an Amazon (Wonder Woman), and several humans, including Bruce Wayne/Batman, Barry Allen/Flash, and Victor Stone/Cyborg.

Yes, thus far, it is just a retelling of The Fellowship of the Ring.

But the combined efforts of the Justice League are still not enough to defeat Steppenwolf, so a deus ex machina is required. Thus they use one of the Mother Boxes to resurrect Superman, who whooshes in to save the day. There are lots of CGI battles, which basically feel like being trapped inside a pinball machine, and finally Steppenwolf is sent packing, no doubt to return some day when bidden by the dark lords of Hollywood to harvest more shekels from the goyim.

OK, OK. But aren’t there are only so many plots? And can’t a derivative plot still be salvaged by interesting characters and dialogue? This is true, but Justice League fails there as well. We have already been introduced to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Thus all Snyder really needed to do was breathe some life into Aquaman, Cyborg, and Flash. And what a lousy job he does. Aquaman is the most one-dimensional character of all. He is covered with tattoos, has long hair, and swigs whiskey from a bottle. So we know he’s badass. He’s angry at his mommy. He likes to help people for some reason, but thinks he does it best alone. Cyborg is a black man with a stratospherically high IQ which he inherited from his black scientist father. No regression to the mean in this universe. And Flash, just like Lex Luthor in the last movie, is a shrimpy, neurotic, fast-talking, cowardly Jewboy. (What’s Zack Snyder trying to tell us?) There’s no depth, nuance, subtlety, or humanity in Justice League, just plastic robots, batteries not included. The established characters also seem hollowed out and flattened. But with no human beings at its core, the movie’s CGI battle scenes become a tedious, emotionally uninvolving assault on the senses.

One of the running theses of my career as a movie reviewer is that someone in Hollywood is reading anti-modern, Traditionalist Rightists and recognizes that we represent the most fundamental negation of liberal humanism and thus the perfect supervillains. Justice League nods in this direction at the beginning when Wonder Woman foils a group of white “reactionary” terrorists who want to blow up the Old Bailey in London. Also, under the opening credits, which are a montage of social chaos after the death of Superman to a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows,” we see a white man with shaved head menacing a shopkeeper in a hijab and her child. But like everything else in this film, even this feels perfunctory, phoned-in, and fake.

I hope the failure of this movie and the suicide of his daughter will cause Zack Snyder to take some time away from Hollywood to rethink his career. The great weaknesses of his recent films have been plot and characterization. His best films, 300 [6] and Watchmen [2], were based on classic graphic novels, and from that high starting point, he actually improved upon them, both in terms of visualization and plot. But Snyder’s career since then seems almost like a controlled experiment to establish that all the directorial and technical wizardry in the world can’t make a compelling movie if the plot and characterization are lacking, nor can brand-loyalty and PR-puffery turn it into a success.

The fact that Justice League has bombed is proof that there is still some justice in the world.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]4,702 words

Watchmen is one of the most thoroughly Right-wing, even fascistic works of recent popular culture, despite the right-thinking Leftism of the creators of the original graphic novel, Alan Moore, who wrote the story, and Dave Gibbons, who illustrated it—and of Zack Snyder, who directed the movie adaptation, which to my mind is the greatest superhero movie of all time, a movie that not only does justice to the original novel but actually improves upon it in fundamental ways.

Watchmen was not a Leftist parody of the Right that went off mark. Moore is too good a writer to fail in a big way. When Moore engages in parody, such as his sendup of Far Right Cold War journalism in The New Frontiersman, he hits the mark nicely.

Snyder also introduces elements of satire into the movie’s treatment of Richard Nixon. In the graphic novel, Nixon is portrayed as a lonely, dignified, and thoughtful figure who rejects rash decisions. (This is quite telling in itself.) The movie takes us into Dr. Strangelove territory, but it gives Nixon such great lines—contemplating the nuclear destruction of the Eastern Seaboard: “The last gasp of the Harvard establishment. Let’s see them debate their way out of nuclear fission”—that we find ourselves laughing with him, not at him. But Snyder’s treatment of the main characters follows Moore in being serious, not satirical.

Thus the Right-wing flavor of Watchmen is a product of design, not accident. At heart, it is a gallery, not of Right-wing caricatures, but of complex and compelling characters with a range of far-Right outlooks. These characters are placed in an extraordinary plot driven by fundamental moral and political, and even metaphysical and religious, conflicts. With its archetypal characters and high-stakes plot, Watchmen is a 19th-century Romantic novel disguised as a comic book. 

The Setting & Back Story 

The main events of Watchmen take place in October and November 1985. They are set primarily in New York City, in Antarctica, and on Mars, within an alternative history in which Richard Nixon has been President since 1968 and superheroes, called “Watchmen,” actually exist.

There are two generations of Watchmen.

The First Generation

The Watchmen began in 1938 as eight individual costumed crime-fighters, six men and two women. In 1939, they teamed up and were referred to collectively as “Minutemen,” after the rapid-response partisan militia of the American Revolutionary War. These superheroes were physically fit and public-spirited but otherwise ordinary individuals who donned masks and costumes to fight crime.

Five of them play little or no part in the graphic novel and movie: Silhouette (a lesbian who was murdered with her lover), Captain Metropolis (Nelson Gardner), Hooded Justice (missing in 1955, presumed dead), Dollar Bill (killed by bank robbers when his cape got caught in a revolving door), and Mothman (confined to a mental hospital). (Zack Snyder, who is a brilliant silent movie director, shows these stories under the opening credits of the film.)

Three first-generation Watchmen play important roles in the graphic novel/movie: Nite Owl (Hollis Mason), Silk Spectre (Sally Jupiter), and The Comedian (Edward Blake), all of them in their late 60s at the time.

The Minutemen rapidly fell apart. The Comedian was expelled in 1940 for trying to rape Silk Spectre. He went on to fight in the Second World War and after the war became a government “black ops” specialist who, among other things, assassinated John F. Kennedy from the grassy knoll near Dealey Plaza. Silhouette was murdered in 1946; Dollar Bill was gunned down around the same time; then, in 1947, Silk Spectre quit to have a family. In 1949, the Minutemen officially disbanded as a group, although some members continued to fight crime on their own.

The Second Generation

Despite their failure, the Minutemen did inspire a second generation of Watchmen, which formed in the late 1960s under the name Crimebusters. In the novel, they are called together by Captain Metropolis (Nelson Gardner), thus establishing a link with the first generation. (Gardner was to die in a car accident in 1974.) In the movie, they are convened by Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt). The Comedian also returned to costumed crime-fighting. Silk Spectre’s daughter Laurie took over her mother’s identity. Dan Driberg replaced Hollis Mason as Nite Owl. And three new personas emerged: Ozymandias, Rorschach (Walter Kovacs), and Dr. Manhattan (Dr. Jon Osterman).

The second generation of Watchmen includes some genuine superheroes. Although the Comedian, Rorschach, and Silk Spectre are all-too-human vigilantes dependent on will and athleticism, Ozymandias and Nite Owl have to some extent transcended human limitations, Veidt through physical and mental exercises which made him the smartest man alive and fast enough to catch a bullet, and Dreiberg primarily through technology which he could afford to develop because of the money left to him by his father, a wealthy banker. (Nite Owl, therefore, resembles Batman in more than just the costume.)

Dr. Manhattan, however, is a true superman. He is virtually indestructible and can see the future, mold matter with the power of thought, and transport himself and anything else instantaneously over great distances.

The second generation of Watchmen operated for about a decade, and they were more than just crime-fighters. The Comedian walked out of the initial meeting because he saw little point in fighting crime in a world menaced by nuclear war. But he involved himself anyway, because his objections were taken seriously by both Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias. Instead of being mere vigilantes trying to save New York, they began to think geopolitically about saving the whole world. The high point of their operations came when Dr. Manhattan intervened to win the Vietnam War for the United States. (The Comedian came along for laughs.)

But only a few years later, in 1977, public opinion had sufficiently turned against the Watchmen that the US Congress passed the Keene Act banning costumed vigilantes, and Nixon signed it.

In the eight years from the Keene Act to the opening of the story in 1985, Adrian Veidt (whose true identity was already known before the Keene Act) focused on building up a multi-billion dollar business empire. Dr. Manhattan and the Comedian returned to doing secret work for the government, the former in research and development, the latter in black ops, knocking over Marxist republics in Latin America. (Nixon also has the Comedian keep tabs on the former Watchmen.) Laurie Jupiter went on the government payroll as Manhattan’s lover. Dan Dreiberg went into retirement, never revealing his true identity. Rorschach, however, remained active, but entirely outside the law.

The Plot

My primary focus is on the cast of Watchmen as a gallery of Right-wing archetypes. But before I deal with the characters in greater depth, I must sketch out the plot.

Both the novel and the movie open with the murder of Edward Blake by an unknown assailant. Rorschach investigates and discovers that Blake was the Comedian. Rorschach then breaks the news to the other members of his fraternity—first Dreiberg, then Veidt, then Jupiter and Manhattan—warning them, also, that they might be targets. (In the movie, Dreiberg warns Veidt.)

When Rorschach observes the former supervillain Moloch paying his respects at the grave of the Comedian, he tails him to his apartment and forces him to talk. Moloch reveals that he has terminal cancer. He also reveals that Blake broke into Moloch’s apartment, drunk and weeping, and told Moloch that he had discovered a terrible conspiracy involving Dr. Manhattan, Janey Slater, and Moloch himself. But Blake never mentioned the details or who was behind the conspiracy. A week later, he was dead, apparently silenced by the conspirators before he could talk.

Meanwhile, Dr. Manhattan’s relationship with Laurie is fraying as he becomes increasingly detached from the human condition. Laurie walks out and goes to Dan Dreiberg, Nite Owl II, for company. Reminiscing about their crime-fighting days, they walk through a dangerous area looking for trouble and end up in a fight with members of a gang, the Knot Tops, whom they trounce.

That same evening, Dr. Manhattan goes on Nightline and is accused on live television of giving cancer to his former lover Janey Slater, his friend Wally Weaver, and other associates. Enraged, Manhattan teleports himself to Mars. The Soviets take advantage of the absence of America’s ultimate deterrent to launch an invasion of Afghanistan, setting the United States and the USSR on the path to nuclear war.

Rorschach’s theory that someone is targeting the Watchmen receives further confirmation when a gunman tries to kill Adrian Veidt. The gunman, however, swallowed a cyanide capsule before he could be compelled to reveal who was pulling his strings. Then Moloch was murdered. Rorschach was framed for the crime and arrested, but he is rescued in the middle of a prison riot by Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II, who have grown closer, begun a sexual relationship, and returned to crime-fighting.

After the prison break, Manhattan teleports Laurie to Mars, where she tries to persuade him to return to Earth to prevent an imminent nuclear war. Meanwhile, Nite Owl and Rorschach investigate Roy Chess, the gunman who attempted to kill Veidt. They eventually discover that Chess, Moloch, and Janey Slater all worked for Pyramid Transnational, and that Pyramid was secretly owned by Adrian Veidt himself. They also discover a psychological profile on Manhattan that makes clear that Veidt was behind an elaborate plot to drive Dr. Manhattan to sever his ties with humanity, the success of which had brought the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation. They immediately depart for Veidt’s Antarctic research center (a kind of Fortress of Solitude) to get some answers.

Veidt reveals that he has engineered Manhattan’s exile not to start a nuclear war but because Manhattan is the only person who could foil Veidt’s plans to stop it. At this point, the plots of the graphic novel and the movie diverge significantly. In the graphic novel, Veidt destroys New York City by faking an attack by a huge squid-like monster of apparent extraterrestrial origin. In the movie, he destroys a number of cities with explosions that bear the energy signature of Dr. Manhattan. In both cases, the result is that the United States and the Soviet Union call off their war and unite to face a greater threat: extraterrestrial invasion in one case, Dr. Manhattan in the other. In both the novel and the movie, Manhattan and Laurie return to Earth too late for him to do anything to stop it.

As a Lovecraftian, I am, of course, a sucker for tentacles. But I have to admit that the climax of the movie is far more elegant.

First, it provides a more plausible motive for driving Dr. Manhattan off the planet. Veidt had already successfully prevented Manhattan from seeing through his plot by creating tachyons, which obscured his vision of the future. Thus Veidt had no need to send Manhattan to Mars—as if such a piddling distance would matter to Manhattan anyway.

Second, the movie’s climax heightens Manhattan’s heroism. In the novel, Manhattan, Dreiberg, and Laurie agree not to reveal what Veidt has done, because to bring Veidt to justice would undo the unity he created and set the world back on the path to war. In the movie, however, Manhattan does more than just keep Veidt’s secret. He also takes the blame for Veidt’s crimes. Thus he plays a unique and supreme role in saving humanity by accepting, like Christ, the role of the scapegoat for the sins of others.

The dénouement of both the book and the movie are essentially the same: Rorschach refuses to keep Veidt’s secret, so Manhattan is forced to kill him. Manhattan then leaves Earth forever, perhaps to create life on another planet. The threat of nuclear war having passed, New York rebuilds (with Veidt Industries profiting handsomely). Dreiberg and Laurie decide to marry. And Rorschach’s diary, which tells the whole story up to his departure to Antarctica, when he dropped it in the mail, is fished out of the crank file at his favorite Right-wing periodical, New Frontiersman, bringing the story back to its beginning.

Principal Characters: First Generation 

Nite Owl I (Hollis Mason)

Hollis Mason’s primary role is as chronicler of the first generation of Watchmen and as a murder victim.

According to Mason’s memoirs, which are excerpted in the graphic novel, the Minutemen were called “fascists” and “perverts,” and there was an “element of truth in both those accusations,” although “neither of them are big enough to take in the whole picture.” In particular, Hooded Justice was heard “openly expressing approval for the activities of Hitler’s Third Reich,” while Captain Metropolis “has gone on record making statements about black and Hispanic Americans that have been viewed as both racially prejudiced and inflammatory.” As Mason sums it up, “Yes, we were crazy, we were kinky, we were Nazis, all those things people say.”

But, he adds significantly, “We were also doing something because we believed in it. We were attempting, through our personal efforts, to make our country a safer and better place to live in.”

This is an important point to bear in mind, for in mainstream comics, Right-wing political views are not the mark of superheroes, but of supervillains. Even the most macho vigilante scofflaw, like Batman, still has to pay lip-service to humanistic, egalitarian morals. But in the Watchmen universe, Right-wing superheroes are still superheroes. Indeed, as we shall see, they are the only kind.

Mason is killed by a gang known as the Knot Tops in retaliation for a beating meted out to their members by Nite Owl II (Dreiberg) and Silk Spectre II (Laurie Jupiter). (The gang members either don’t know or don’t care that there are two Nite Owls.) Dreiberg feels great guilt for Mason’s death, because he and Jupiter sought out the confrontation as they edged themselves toward resuming crime-fighting. 

Silk Spectre I (Sally Jupiter)

Sally Jupiter (born Juspeczyk) was a model turned crime-fighter. As one might suspect, she was no demure little flower. She drank and cussed with the guys, and also slept with some of them. Sally’s principal role in the plot is not, however, as a crime-fighter, but as a mother. The Comedian was drummed out of the Minutemen for trying to rape her. But later they had consensual sex (while she was married to her agent), producing Laurie (Silk Spectre II).

The Comedian (Edward Blake)

Edward Blake is one of the most enigmatic characters in Watchmen. He is called the Comedian because he wears a mask of cynicism and irreverence. He is capable of cold-blooded brutality and sadism. At first glance, he seems to be a sociopath. Ozymandias characterized him as “practically a Nazi.” But the Comedian is no Joker. Blake has a conscience. When he discovers that Ozymandias is committing crimes far more terrible than anything he has done, he is horrified and distraught and tries to confess to Moloch, one of his old foes.

Blake, moreover, is not just a cynic. He is best understood as a disillusioned idealist. Blake loves America. But he is a political realist enough to know that America has enemies, foreign and domestic, who must be killed. He knows that maintaining law and order sometimes requires going outside the law. Thus he is capable of assassinating President Kennedy and killing countless Communists in Vietnam and Latin America, and probably a lot of innocents who just got in the way.

But at some point, Blake lost his faith in America. Since he began as a conservative American, Blake surely saw liberalism as a decadent deviation from American ideals. But Blake had changed his views by the time of the police strike and riots of 1977, which were followed by the Keene Act, all of which sprung from a Left-liberal rejection of vigilantism.

The Comedian realized that liberal decadence was not a deviation from American principles, but their fulfillment. Exasperated by the ingratitude of the rioters, Nite Owl II asked the Comedian, “Whatever happened to the American dream?” To which the Comedian responded: “It came true.” America had been a giant joke after all, and the joke was on him.

Principal Characters: Second Generation 

Rorschach (Walter Kovacs)

Rorschach is the narrator of Watchmen. We see the story through his eyes. Veidt creates the conspiracy, and Rorschach’s investigation creates the plot. Rorschach also has the best lines in Watchmen and is by far the most popular character.

But he is also deeply problematic, for as his origin story makes clear, he is a hero out of the most unheroic of motives: ressentiment. The son of a prostitute, young Walter Kovacs suffered from abuse, neglect, and scorn. He was placed in a juvenile home at the age of 11, after savagely attacking two older bullies. Walter’s anger and embitterment give rise to a powerful desire to punish, both others and himself. Thus he adopts an absolutist, objective, black-and-white moral code which he applies without mercy or compromise.

Rorschach became a masked vigilante in 1964. He teamed up with Nite Owl II to fight crime. In the late ’60s, he joined the “Crimebusters” group. Rorschach was known for roughing up criminals, but he delivered them to the police alive. But America’s increasingly soft and liberal criminal justice system could no longer be trusted to mete out justice, so in 1975 Rorschach began killing criminals, starting with Gerald Grice, who had kidnapped a little girl, Blair Roche, butchered her, and fed her to his dogs.

Rorschach’s excesses were surely a factor that led to the Keene Act, banning masked vigilantes altogether. The other Watchmen retired or went to work for the government, but true to his uncompromising code, Rorschach remained in the fight. Thus Rorschach was on the scene after the Comedian’s murder, and his investigation brought the other Watchmen back into action.

But this same uncompromising character leads to Rorschach’s death in the end. After Ozymandias has used mass murder and trickery to pull the world back from the brink of nuclear war, Rorschach vows to tell the world. He is so wedded to punitive moral absolutism that he prefers that justice triumph even though the world might very well perish.

When Dr. Manhattan offers Rorschach the choice of silence or death, he chooses death. Rorschach’s attachment to principle seems admirable. But the root of his attachment is ultimately a punitive bitterness and spite that turns suicidal when Manhattan blocks him from unleashing it on the world. 

Nite Owl II (Dan Dreiberg)

At first glance, there is nothing particularly Right-wing about the character of Dan Dreiberg, who became Nite Owl II. But the mere fact that he is a costumed vigilante in the first place should rate rather high on the F-scale. Thus I would argue that all costumed superheroes should be treated as de facto Right-wingers in the absence of any express allegiance to liberal humanism, which is entirely absent in Dreiberg’s case.

Dreiberg and Laurie Jupiter are drawn together because they were the only two Watchmen who actually retired into private life after the Keene Act. Rorschach went rogue, the Comedian and Dr. Manhattan went to work for the government, and Ozymandias became a publicly-traded commodity.

Although both of them deny it, they very much miss “the life.” Laurie resents being reduced to Manhattan’s consort, for which she receives a government paycheck, although it turns out that her principal role in the plot is not as an independent agent but as the object of Manhattan’s affections.

If Laurie’s retirement reduces her to a sexual companion, Dreiberg’s has reduced him to sexual solitude and impotence. Laurie and Dreiberg are first drawn together by loneliness and nostalgia, but they can conquer their discontent only by inching back into crime-fighting. After their dust-up with the Knot-Tops, Laurie moves their relationship in a sexual direction, but Dreiberg is impotent. He only recovers his sexual potency after a full-fledged return to superherodom, right between saving people from a burning tenement and breaking Rorschach out of jail.

The character of Dan Dreiberg is a combination of Bruce Wayne (Batman) and Clark Kent (Superman). Nite Owl II’s costume looks like Batman’s, more so in the movie. Also, like Batman, Dreiberg is independently wealthy and uses his wealth to create technology that helps him transcend his human weaknesses.

Like Clark Kent, Dreiberg has a bespectacled, nebbishy persona, complete with spit curls. But in the graphic novel, Dreiberg is far more Jewish than Superman. Indeed, with his hook nose, ’berg name, and banker father, he is almost explicitly Jewish, but not quite.

There is, however, nothing distinctly Jewish about Dreiberg’s psychology as written by Moore. Dreiberg is earnest, not ironic. His psychological emasculation is not rooted in an overbearing mother or some other mind-twisting childhood trauma, but in the adoption of an emasculating lifestyle. Thus in the movie, Zack Snyder completely Aryanizes the character by casting Patrick Wilson in the role.

As a side note, the graphic novel is filled with Jewish touches. We read an excerpt from Dr. Milton Glass’s book on Dr. Manhattan. Mrs. Hirsch is interviewed by the police after her husband kills himself and their two children. Rorschach’s mother’s maiden name was Glick. Dreiberg is questioned by a detective Fine. Veidt sends a memo to Miss Neuberg. There are also numerous references to the Third Reich, National Socialism, and the Second World War.

Part of this can be explained by the fact that the novel is set mostly in New York City. Another factor, surely, is Moore’s desire to fit into the comic book industry, which has an overwhelmingly Jewish culture due to its principal founders. It may also have been calculated by Moore to somewhat counterbalance the political incorrectness of the novel with a little Semitical correctness, in effect giving it a “neoconservative” character.

Snyder, however, scrubs the Jewishness of the novel from the film, except for Veidt’s description of the Comedian as “practically a Nazi.” Interestingly enough, in 300, Snyder also mutes the strong Jewish-neoconservative nature of Frank Miller’s original graphic novel.[1]

Dr. Manhattan (Jon Osterman)

In 1959, nuclear physicist Jon Osterman was seemingly annihilated in an experiment with an “Intrinsic Field Subtractor.” But he managed to reassemble himself into a being who can see past, present, and future simultaneously and bend matter to his will. The birth of Dr. Manhattan was greeted by the news that, “The superman exists, and he is American.” But Wally Weaver, who was present at Osterman’s death and resurrection, went further, declaring that “God exists, and he is American.”

And indeed, Dr. Manhattan is portrayed as a god, and not just a god, but a savior. Like Osiris and Dionysus, he was killed through dismemberment, then reassembled and resurrected, showing mankind the way to conquer death. Like Jesus, who also died and was resurrected, Dr. Manhattan appears floating in the air in a halo of light.

He is also portrayed as a Hindu avatar of Vishnu, specifically Krishna: muscular, with glowing blue skin, and a circular “bindi” mark on his forehead, which to a Hindu indicates expanded consciousness. He even appears in a lotus position.

But of course Dr. Manhattan does not just look the part of a savior. He actually plays it, saving mankind from nuclear annihilation, by assuming, like Christ, the role of scapegoat for the sins of others, in this case Adrian Veidt. The use of such symbols and myths is part of the emotional power of Watchmen. 

Silk Spectre II (Laurie Jupiter)

Just as Sally Jupiter’s primary role in Watchmen is not as a crime-fighter but as the object of the Comedian’s lust and mother of his child, Laurie Jupiter, Laurie’s primary role is not as a crime-fighter, but as the object of Dr. Manhattan’s affections. Needless to say, this is a very traditional and anti-feminist conception of the true power and proper role of women.

When Manhattan learns that Laurie was produced through the sordid union of Sally and the Comedian, he is snapped out of his estrangement with humanity and resolves to save mankind. This is the crucial moment in the plot, marking the emergence of one of its deepest themes: Love for an individual human being can redeem the whole universe.

If you love someone, you are implicitly saying “yes” to his existence. You are glad of his existence and wish it to continue. Logically, you cannot love someone and wish that the causes of his existence were otherwise, for then one’s loved one would not exist. And since everything in the universe is causally connected with everything else, if you really love someone, you cannot wish that the universe were otherwise. And this is true even though the universe is filled with many things that, in themselves, are terrible.

At the end of the story, this theme is reprised with great emotional power when Laurie is reconciled with her mother. Laurie can forgive her mother because she loves herself, which entails accepting all the conditions that made her life possible, including the union of her mother and the Comedian. Laurie says, “I love you, mom. You always did right by me.” Sally is also reconciled with the Comedian because he gave her Laurie, whom she loves.

Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt)

Ozymandias is the only openly liberal character in Watchmen. He is 46 when the story of Watchmen begins. The hyper-Nordic child of wealthy German immigrants, Adrian Veidt is a self-made superman. He has used meditation and other physical and mental training techniques to become the smartest and fastest man alive. When he was young, he gave his vast inheritance to charity and pursued the life of a costumed crime-fighter, taking the name Ozymandias, a name for the Egyptian Pharaoh and megalomaniac Ramses II. But when the Keene Act forced Ozymandias into retirement, he went into business and became a billionaire in his own right.

Ozymandias is a vegetarian and a pacifist. He is unmarried, and Rorschach thinks he is a “possible homosexual.” In the graphic novel, he is portrayed as beefy and also—despite his gymnastics exhibition—as macho, posturing in victory like a quarterback after a touchdown. In the movie, he is portrayed by the wiry and epicene Matthew Goode, who heightens the character’s liberal do-gooder “vibe.”

Ozymandias is also a materialist who believes that war is caused by the poor seeking wealth and the rich trying to hold onto it. He believes, therefore, that free, unlimited energy will bring about universal abundance and end the Cold War. He is a utilitarian governed by the principle of the greatest good for the greatest number. He reckons in terms of human quantity rather than quality. (He believes that anybody can become a superman through the Veidt Technique.)

In short, Ozymandias is a quintessential egalitarian humanist, which is the moral code of virtually every superhero outside the Watchmen universe. But Ozymandias is the only egalitarian humanist in the cast of Watchmen. Ozymandias would seem to be a counter-example to my thesis that Watchmen is a Right-wing comic, were it not for the fact that he is also the villain of the story, the cold-blooded, calculating murderer of millions.

Ozymandias is no less the villain because his scheme worked to prevent nuclear war. Indeed, his scheme to goad Dr. Manhattan into exile brought the world to the brink in the first place. Moreover, he is no less a villain because he in effect uses nuclear blackmail to force the other Watchmen to remain silent, and Dr. Manhattan to kill Rorschach, all in order to keep his secret.

There is a sense in which even Ozymandias is a Right-wing archetype, namely a Right-winger’s archetype of a villain: the egalitarian, humanist, pacifist mass murderer.

Although egalitarian humanists like Lenin, Stalin, and Mao are the biggest butchers in world history, within the world of comics, the heroes are always egalitarian humanists, and the villains are always people who reject that morality, e.g., traditionalists, Nazis, fascists, racists, eugenicists, and the like.[2] Watchmen neatly and completely inverts this code. That is why it is the supreme masterpiece of pop fascism.

Notes

1. See my review of 300 [2] in Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies, ed. Greg Johnson, Foreword by Kevin MacDonald (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012).

2. See my reviews of Batman Begins [3], The Dark Knight [4], The Dark Knight Rises [5], Hellboy [6], and Hellboy II [7]in Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
VenusFlytrap2

[1]7,927 words

Editor’s Note:

The following text is a transcript by V. S. of Tomislav Sunić’s interview with Jonathan Bowden. Click here [2] to listen to the audio. A couple of words have been marked as unintelligible. If you can make them out, please post a comment below.

Tom Sunić: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen! Good afternoon, dear friends! 

This is your host, Tom Sunić, from Croatia and I’m very pleased again to have a good friend of mine and also a good guest. This is Jonathan Bowden. Hello, Jonathan! Can you hear me well?

Jonathan Bowden: Yes. Hello! Greetings from Britain!

Sunić: Listen, Jonathan, I’m very, very pleased to have you on my show for a variety of reasons. What I would like to do today is the following thing. In the first segment, I’d like you first to say a few words about yourself, about your background, and about your political background as well. Then in the second segment we’ll talk a little bit about your literary and artistic accomplishments.

But, let’s first start with yourself, Jonathan. Don’t be too shy. Just tell me what you’ve got, because you have heavy artillery. I’m very pleased indeed to have you on my show.

Bowden: Ha! Yes, well, I’d like to say hello to everyone who might be out there in the ether. I was born in England, in Kent, in the farther southeast of England, the so-called garden of England in 1962. So, I’m sort of 48 now. During almost the entirety of my educated life, liberal ideas of one sort or another, libertarian, center-Left, far-Left ideas have been hegemonic and dominant amongst most educated people in Britain and elsewhere.

It may come as sort of news to people, particularly in the United States, that there is really very little freedom of expression in Britain and in parts of Western Europe about certain key matters. It’s rather ironic because the rest of the world thinks that opinion is free here, and the Second European Civil War (what I call the Second World War) was fought for freedom of expression and so on. Whereas there’s no First Amendment right here, and there are many ways in which discussion is curtailed. I think that’s rather ironic because dictating a discussion indicates that you have something to suppress, when in actual fact most educated and artistic people in England and Britain now are vaguely liberal-minded or, at the very least, they go along with what is called a politically correct mindset.

Now, this has grown up over the last 40 to 50 years in this sort of cultural revolution of the 1960s in Britain and elsewhere across the West. You have a situation now where almost everybody who goes through tertiary and even higher secondary education comes out with a slightly identikit formulation, the same sort of views about certain core issues or the same belief that certain topics are unsayable or are off-limits, particularly about generic inequality, or biological differences between people, or inherent differences between male and female.

Another difference, particularly with American listeners, is the almost complete collapse of Christianity in England and Britain. We, of course, had a state semi-Protestant church for half a millennium called the Church of England. I was baptized in it, I was confirmed in it, as 30 million English people were. Yet, it is largely invisible and is kept alive by the residual liberals in its hierarchy and many of the immigrants from the Third World, via the British Empire, who were given the religion externally and, of course, who still believe in its precepts. You have the paradox that many of the immigrants who are Anglicans now and have come in from the outside are more socially conservative and come from more psychologically conservative cultures than the hierarchy of their own church. But that’s a minor cultural war increasingly on the margins of English life.

But it would be wrong to say that many Judeo-Christian assumptions have gone. They’ve been secularized and have taken a humanist form.

Sunić: I’m [unintelligible], so to speak. How did that affect your formative years? Let’s say 20, 30 years ago when to grammar school and afterwards when you went to university. Can you tell me something about that because, as I understand, the Left back then did not hold such a firm grip on cultural power.

Bowden: Yes, that’s contradictory. I was about 18 coming on 20 when Margaret Thatcher came to power in Britain, and it’s paradoxical that the liberal Left was not so entrenched in establishmentarian discourse then as now, the better part of 30 years on. However, the far Left, by which we mean a sort of Trotskyite, sort of ultra-Left, and sort of Leftish reaches of Communism, which looked down on the Communist Party of Great Britain which was to wind up in 1990 with the collapse of the Soviet Union that partly financed it. They had enormous power at least at the level of the street, by which I mean in campuses they had the power to break the windows of dons who had ideas that they disapproved of particularly in the biological sciences, but also in psychology and culture and elsewhere.

I joined the Conservative Party, which is the equivalent of the Republican Party in the United States, and center-Right Christian Democrat parties throughout Western Europe, when I was about 18. The interesting thing about the Conservative Party is that (1) it ceased to be culturally conservative in a metaphysical sense a long time ago, and (2) it has never understood the cultural struggle that the radical Left has waged inside European societies, which includes Britain and indeed the United States. Conservatism has never conserved anything for about 40 to 50 years, and because it allowed the arts and the media and the academy and much of the clerisy and intelligentsia to be completely penetrated by the ideas of their sworn enemies, you’ve ended up in Britain and elsewhere with this strange hybrid of a Left-wing capitalist society which is the norm across the West.

Sunić: How do you explain that? How were they able? You’re talking, of course, about the Leftists. How did they permeate and infiltrate into the mainstream opinion-making?

Bowden: I think there’s two ways. I think there’s an external or exterior strategy, and there’s an interior strategy. I think the exterior one is by pressure groups, by proselytization, by student militancy, by the militants of today who tone it down to become the dons of tomorrow.

But I think there’s also an internal element. I think many people internalize the idea that Right-wing values, elitist values, values of prior identity, values of belief in hierarchies, and so on were somehow wrong or vaguely immoral or amoral or non-permissible or, in a much more mercenary way, wouldn’t foster one’s career too much in the future. So, the moral uncertainty of certain people, even on the moderate Right, meant that they had partly internally collapsed in relation to a range of ideas.

I also think it’s important to understand that the Left understood that it had lost the battle over the economy several generations back, and since Gramsci in the latter part of the second decade of the twentieth century had been fighting various forms of cultural war primarily against conservative opponents who were increasingly mentally defenseless against them.

Unlike the moderate Left that’s always seen far-Left ideas shorn of Communist politics as a permissible ally, the moderate Right has always seen far-Right or radical Right ideas as part of the enemy mix or an area that they can’t go to. They have this paradox that there were certain very radical conservative, metaphysically and intellectually conservative dons in English life, Maurice Cowling at Cambridge about whom I’ve given a talk somewhere on the internet, and Professor Roger Scruton, who’s still alive. They’re known as deep blue or metaphysical conservatives. They’re the last of a dying breed, if you like. Even they were resistant to the idea of using far-Right ideas against the Left and the liberal Left on campus.

Sunić: Let me just clarify one thing, Jonathan, if you don’t mind. You remember Enoch Powell. You remember what he said, and he was a real promising politician, but nowadays he would be clearly dismissed as a Fascist, an ultra-Fascist. So, basically we’re talking about this semantic distortion (there’s that word that I keep repeating over and over again). What was considered quite decent, normal, mainstream Right in the UK or for that matter in continental Europe 30 years ago, now this is considered an extreme Right.

Bowden: Yes, that’s right. It’s as if you’ve had a shuffling to the Left in all areas, in religion, in the media, in the academy, in the arts, in the general clerisy, even in the sort semi-sciences, the humanistic sciences, and the social sciences, and even in the softer parts of the hard sciences. So, you’ve had a shift to the Left in all areas.

Enoch Powell is an interesting example. Like Nietzsche, who was given a university professorship when he was 24, Powell was given a professorship at the University of Sydney in Australia when he was 24 years of age. Powell could speak 10 European languages.

Sunić: Did you know him personally? Did you ever meet him?

Bowden: I met him towards the end of his life. Like a lot of allegedly dictatorial men, he was extraordinarily short. He used to stand on a box to address meetings. It was concealed behind the podium, you know. He came from quite a long line of sort of Napoleanesque men in various ways.

The irony is that Powell was in many respects an extremely Right-wing liberal. He was at the outermost cuff of the old Tory party. He was very much an economic liberal. Very anti-statist. Very anti-socialist. Some of his values were not far-Right at all, but would be close economically to people like Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich von Hayek and the Austrian school. Don’t forget the great reaction in Britain is against the post-war planned welfare state, deficit financing, and Keynesianism, so many fiscal conservatives looked to be in that sort of area and wouldn’t be regarded as radical Right at all.

In certain other areas, Powell was out of grain with what might be called a compassionate society. He was Minister of Health in the 1950s, and you may remember there was a scandal about birth defects with a drug called thalidomide, and he had to deal with that. Though he turned to Christianity in his middle life, the High Church, High Anglican, Anglo-Catholic type of Christianity a bit like T. S. Eliot the poet (and Powell was also a poet actually), early in his life he had been very strongly influenced by Nietzsche, and that certain intellectual implacability influenced Powell throughout his life.

Powell is most famous with the masses for speaking out against mass Third World immigration into Britain in the late 1960s, which catapulted him from obscure Tory ministerial ambition to be somebody that skinheads and football fans and the overwhelming mass of the population had heard of. He then became one of the most significant men in the country because he dared to speak about issues which virtually no one else in the establishment would.

Powell was an outsider in many ways, despite his intellectual accomplishments. He was seen as an outsider. He didn’t attain the leadership of the Conservative Party in and around 1970. He later advocated that people should vote Labour in order to get a referendum on membership of the European Union, the sort of putative federation that exists in this part of the world that Right-wing nativists and nationalistic people across Europe tend to oppose. Not all, but most of them do. He was an Ulster unionist, of course, which got him involved in radical Protestant type politics in relation to the sort of war that people have heard of in Northern Ireland.

But Powell was one of these figures that Britain has grown up in the last 100 years. Joseph Chamberlain at the beginning of the twentieth century, Sir Oswald Mosley in the middle of the twentieth century, and Enoch Powell at the end of the twentieth century who posited an alternative political trajectory for Britain. They were very radical men. They didn’t really have an allegiance to party, and there’s a nationalistic strand to all of them. Powell was a member of the Tory party, a member of the Ulster Unionist Party, he advocated voting Labour at times tactically. Mosley was a member of both the Tory and the Labour parties before he founded the New Party that then became the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s. Joseph Chamberlain began in the Liberal Party, then formed his own Liberal Unionist Party, then moved over to the Tories. The Liberal Unionists were probably proto-fascistic in the late years of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth century.

Sunić: Excellent. Jonathan, how did it affect your own trajectory, if I can put it that way? Because you had at some point a couple of years ago quite a prominent role as a cultural advisor for Nick Griffin. I don’t want to get into those squabbles and what happened, but could you just give us a rough idea of to what extent Enoch Powell and then Tyndall affected your political trajectory, not intellectual so much?

Bowden: Yes, I mean, politically . . . In some ways the two are combined because the one thing I always thought about conservatism, even very Right-wing conservatism, is (Powell to one side) there’s great cultural aridness there. There’s a strong anti-intellectuality and philistinism in conservatism per se, particularly its British example. You know, philosophy is taught in France from the age of 6. But the British culture, particularly English culture, is strongly pragmatic, strongly non-heuristic, anti-conceptual, practical and pragmatic and utilitarian.

Margaret Thatcher was a scientist, and it showed in the politics, particularly the cultural policies of her government. When you bear in mind that she had as much power as Reagan had in the United States, particularly in the first term, and yet virtually nothing was done with this cultural power. There were a few items, a minor issue about homosexuality, so-called Section 28, and tacit support for White South Africa, but apart from these things, all other institutions, in particular the BBC, were left in the hands of her most ferocious opponents.

Sunić: You mean Leftists?

Bowden: Partly it’s an inability to see where your enemies are and know where they are, and it’s also the absence that many conservative politicians had of what you might call a complete civilizational discourse that led me to look at political tendencies further out, if you like.

Sunić: Sure. Jonathan, let me just focus for a while on your specific case. You are pretty much active. First with the BNP and now you’re the “chief intellectual leader” of the British New Right. So, could you give me some specific details about your political and intellectual trajectory over the last ten years?

Bowden: Yes, in the last twenty actually. In the early 1990s, I was in the accredited Right-wing group on the Right-wing of the Conservative Party, which then called itself the Conservative and Unionist Party, called the Monday Club, which went back to the 1960s and was created by the Marquess of Salisbury who, of course, is related to the aristocratic British Prime Minister Lord Salisbury 70 years before in the last years of the nineteenth century.

The Monday Club, of course, deliberately chose that name so that there would be no far-Right subliminal messages. They first had their meeting on a Monday, so they called themselves the Monday Club, the most neutral name in the world. The Monday Club was a significant organization in the 1970s. By the time I had joined it, it was well and truly dying.

I formed a metapolitical group of my own called Revolutionary Conservative at that time which lasted for a few years and I was also the deputy chairman of quite a notorious group, actually, called Western Goals, which was an extreme anti-Communist and Cold War group. I went through that Cold Warrior phase, if you like, on the Western side. Those groups were quite interesting because they did consist of people from the conservative Right and people from the far Right who rubbed shoulders with each other. It was a sort of reverse alliance of the Second World War, do you see what I mean? It was Right-wing conservatives and far Rightists against Communism.

The interesting thing about the World Anti-Communist League which was the organization that Western Goals was affiliated with was that it contained anti-Communists of every race and type right across the world. It had some very notorious affiliates in Latin America, in Asia, in Africa and that sort of thing.

General Singlaub who was head of the National Security Council under Jimmy Carter came across and gave us a talk once. I like these American generals very much as individuals, because they’re very brave men, But they were warriors and you had to wonder in your inner mind if they really knew what cause they were fighting for. John Singlaub had fought in ten wars across his lifetime. He’d fought for the American Empire, as even he called it privately, all his life. He was a fascinating man. So, just sort of artistically and intellectually and psychologically it’s interesting to meet some of these types who do sort of, partly, run the world. Carter sacked him, of course, because he accused Carter of being soft on Communism.

Then, after the Cold War was basically won, I moved slightly further out and became more and more enamored of cultural struggle. I was in a group called the Bloomsbury Forum, published a few things, and I had a little group of my own called the Spinning Top Club which was sort of a metapolitical group. It was largely a group of friends. Then I became increasingly involved in and around the edge of the British Nationalist Party. I was involved in a break-away tendency from that in some respects called the Freedom Party. Then, in 2003, I joined the BNP and became cultural officer for about four years thereafter. After that, I was in this tendency which I still am chairman of now called the New Right.

Sunić: Jonathan, let me ask you. I hope it’s not too personal of a question. Do you still have contacts with the BNP? Specifically, are you in touch with Nick Griffin?

Bowden: Well no, Griffin and I don’t really get on. But that doesn’t really matter. I still speak at their meetings. I still have some sort of residual cultural influence with them. Lots of people think I’m too Right-wing for the BNP, actually. It’s a great paradox, given that I seem to have started as a conservative. In my own mind, of course, my views have hardly changed. The perception of them has changed a great deal. But my views were always philosophically based and I’m a very unusual British Right-wing thinker in some ways.

Sunić: Very much so. In fact, I was going to point that out to our listeners today that you seem to combine this militant political activism just as much as you are skilled and very much adept at writing excellent pieces and also giving good lectures on Carlyle, on Nietzsche, on Jünger, and we’ll talk about this in our next segment.

But back a little bit to this political life of yours. So, I understand now you don’t have any specific official ties with the BNP, am I correct?

Bowden: That’s right. People announce me as sort of cultural officer and that sorts of thing, but that’s just something that to see at meetings, really. I’ve always seen my role as very similar to that of a Marxist intellectual in reverse. If you take the small parties of the British far-Left. The Left wing never goes anywhere but culturally has been very significant. Of course, you’ve got the Socialist Workers Party and militant Workers Revolutionary Party and these sorts of groups. They would have had Marxist academics and Marxist intellectuals who passed through them, who often weren’t members, who had cultural or metapolitical roles, sometimes critical of the narrow sectarian leadership of such parties, and so on. Intellectuals like the Greek Alex Callinicos in the Socialist Workers Party.

I see myself the other way around. I see myself as a Nietzschean, or sort of post-Nietzschean, who has been in various Right-wing political parties and groups attempting to educate people, attempting to culturalize them to various things, attempting to put things in a broader context, trying to get people to understand that it’s not just about immigration and leaving the European Union. Or, in an American context, it’s not just about the absence of gun control, states’ rights, immigration, who controls the media, and these sorts of issues.

The Right at its best should basically stand for the advance of Western civilization, and that means you have to know something about the civilization that you have to know something about the civilization that you’re attempting to push forward, if you see what I mean.

Sunić: Sure, by all means. We’ll definitely discuss more about cultural hegemony and about some of the artistic works by our friend, author Jonathan Bowden in the next segment. But, Jonathan, let’s get back a little bit to some of those technical issues. I understand there’s a New Right in Great Britain now. I know some people. Our common friend, Troy Southgate, and I understand there are more folks. Do you have some loose structure? Do you guys hold some meetings? Or what specifically is the goal of the British New Right including Troy Southgate? I’m sure you’re in touch with him.

Bowden: Yes, he’s the organizing secretary of the group. In some ways, the New Right is a bigger and better continuation of some of the smaller metapolitical groups I’ve mentioned in the last couple of minutes. It’s gone on for about four to five years now; it’s had about 26 through 30 meetings and a couple of dinners, five magazines. Now that this is very much the internet age, you can speak to 50 to 60 people in a room and tens of thousands of people, if they want, can see the thing or hear the thing later on the world wide web.

The term “New Right” confuses people, of course. It’s a relatively useful term. It’s not as intellectually and culturally coherent in the sense of de Benoist’s French New Right or Steuckers’ Belgian version. It’s a more eclectic group that consists of different and even Old Right tendencies, if truth be told.

Sunić: I’m glad you pointed that out, because I had a discussion on a VoR show with Alain de Benoist about this conceptual problem as to how the New Right is being defined or interpreted or instrumentalized in the UK as opposed to France. This causes friction sometimes, definitely. Go ahead.

Bowden: Yes, it’s partly a Britishness, of course. Many British intellectuals, for example, are uncomfortable even with the word intellectual. So, British intellectual life when it takes a political form tends to be less purist and less sectarian. French and continental intellectuals love tiny little tendencies that are completely pure, and people who can’t stand it leave and form a trajectory of their own. Whereas our group tends to be more of a synthesis. It’s basically a generalized Right-wing philosophical circle which allows freedom of speech particularly in a culture where there is not freedom of speech about quite a lot of salient matters, and you have to be quite careful about the speech that you put forward even within this space.

Also, there’s a general premise. Even for a very ideological group, there’s a streak of English pragmatism to it.  It creates a greater space for people to put forward educated (I believe reasonably highly educated) inegalitarian views. Probably about 5% of it, in truth, would be consonant with GRECE and what they formulate. Probably intellectually, GRECE has had more influence in the United States than it has in Britain.

Sunić: Let me read a little paragraph of yours which I think is very fascinating and which serves almost like a framework for our discussion.

“Politics is just a sideline, you see. Artistic activity is what really matters. As Bill Hopkins once told me, one man sat writing alone in a room can alter the entire cosmos. It is the ability through a typewriter or whatever else to radically transform the consciousness of one’s kind. Cultural struggle is the most interesting diversion of all.”

This is what you said to Troy Southgate. Could you please comment a little bit on that, on cultural struggle, and how you see it exactly from this our contemporary perspective and from the British perspective?

Bowden: I think politics is limited in a way in this era. I think this is quite true when you look at the votes that radical Right parties past the accredited center-Right get. They come up. They go down. I suppose the party in Belgium, Vlaams Belang, once the Vlaams Blok, and Jean Marie Le Pen’s organization in the French fifth Republic, the Front National, have done the best on the Western side of the continent. But even they are partly peripheral, demonized, out of power, and very far away from even having a hand upon the hand that controls the tiller of their respective states.

I think one of the many reasons for this is that the entire culture, with the odd exception that maybe in relation to market economy performance in a liberal way, is stressing humanistic and egalitarian goals. The entire Zeitgeist is against you, or seems to be so. And, therefore, I think that you have to sit as Gramsci and other Leftists did 90 to 100 years ago and work out what can be done to push the culture back in a more organic, more traditional, more elitist, more hierarchical way, however you want to look at it.

Therefore, I think that cultural struggle, particularly in the arts (I think especially in the arts, because I see the arts as the dream space or the sub-consciousness, if you want to use that phrase, of the society.) I think it’s extraordinarily interesting and/or important, and it’s really my fundamental interest to see what can be done in that area.

Situationism is a theory that came out of Surrealism and influenced the Leftist events of May 1968 in Paris and America and elsewhere. Whether you can engage in what they call détournement,  the idea that you can turn around the specificity of the moment, and you can invert in many ways the cultural inversion of the last 40 to 50 years. Is it possible? Liberals would say, “Is it desirable?” But can it be done and in what ways can it be done?

I take an elitist view of culture. I believe that everything comes down from above, and I believe that the spirit is the brain of the mind and the mind dominates the body. But the mind, of course, is only a part of the body. I think rather like Hobbes the great English theorist 400 odd years ago against whom British cultural theory reacted. Hobbes was an authoritarian, an absolutist, a semi-elitist, a non-democrat, and even an atheist in a deeply religious age. So, he was quite a shocking combination. He appalled both the Royalists and the Cromwellians. I’m quite enamored of Hobbes, in a way, who of course is close to the English version of Machiavelli in his doctrine of statecraft.

Hobbes’ idea of the society that is organic and where the mind and the body are integrated influenced me a great deal. I think the contemporary West suffers from an extraordinary mind-body split. And the intelligentsia has gone off and talks to themselves and doesn’t connect to the bulk of people in Western societies at all. There is a degree to which I personally think that if you put into currency ideas and cultural forms which have a primal element, have a primordial element, have in some respect a pagan dimension, I think you can knit the mind and the body back together again.

I also think it’s very important, and something that political people nearly always miss, that rationalism is not enough. I think you move people at a level beneath the mind, physiologically and in terms of the emotions. In fact, the Right is more powerful when it appeals as much to the subconscious as much as the conscious mind. I think an enormous number of people, including the Right’s bitterest and harshest opponents, are slightly subconsciously attracted to it in spite of themselves. That’s why they can never stop talking about it, even from an oppositional perspective.

I do believe in cultural inversion, that you can get into sub-consciousness of the era that you’re in and begin to turn it around. I’m also very aware that movements of the ’20s and ’30s were based upon, in part, a Romantic counter-culture that stretches back to the 1870s if not before. The counter-culture as we perceive it is purely Leftist and comes from the 1960s. I agree with Ezra Pound that the artistic community is like the antennae of the civilization that they’re a part of and that they feel the tremors in the web or in the ether before anyone else. That’s why a lot of twentieth century art is about trauma and alienation and ugliness and neurosis, because that’s what the intelligentsia feel, and that’s what the artistic part of the intelligentsia feel.

I see Right-wing cultural formations everywhere, even though they wear other hats, even though they seem to be denouncing the Right. But you have to view these areas artistically and not completely in a linear or rational way.

Sunić: You mentioned Hobbes. So, how do you actually square away Hobbes now with our modern society?

Bowden: I think British and English theory reacted against Hobbes and English Enlightenment, Scottish Enlightenment thinking is a reaction against him. Hobbes is interesting because he’s so modern. He’s so ferocious and contemporary. It’s amazing to think it’s 400 years ago, but the climactic events of English history, certainly the internal violent events, are 400 years ago. We only ever had one Puritan revolutionary military dictator, and he’s 400 years ago. We’ve only ever had one republic, and that’s 400 years ago.

The elements of Hobbes that interest me are the closest to Machiavelli, but the idea of an organic society where mind and body are synchronized with each other. I think modern culture suffers from an enormous mind-body split, a Cartesian split. About 140-odd years ago, artists and intellectuals began creating totally for themselves and, if you like, divested themselves of the mass of the population and have been talking to themselves partly since. That’s partly a good thing, partly a very bad thing. I think if you can to knit the mind and body back together again in various subtle ways, great changes can occur, but they won’t be immediately obvious.

Artistic activity is extraordinarily important, and the arts are not really, although they appear to be,  from our point of view, completely in the hands of the enemy. I don’t always think that is the case if you view the arts in a different way. I think Rightist ideas, or let’s call them conceptually elitist notions, are ubiquitous even when they’re being traduced and denounced. I think that a different perspective on these sorts of things can lead to turn around. Inversion of the inversion and attacks upon liberal definitions of culture even from within what it’s saying.

But these are very complicated areas and, on the whole, political people have almost no time for this and I think don’t often understand the dynamics of the artistic space, which is why they’ve left it to people who are interested in these areas. And in this era and the one that precedes it, that’s congruent with their most significant opponents.

Sunić: Jonathan, let me ask you one thing which is quite conspicuous, that I come across in your writings quite often. This is elitism. I would certainly appreciate if you could define it a little bit. So, let me just read a sentence of yours.

“A man who possesses an idea or a spiritual truth is the equivalent of 50 men. Every pundit, tame journalist, academic, or mainstream politician is mouthing hand-me-down ideas from a philosopher of yesteryear.”

I just want to make clear that I understand that correctly. So, basically, as I understand, you both reject egalitarianism and economism but, at the same time, just in terms of conceptualizing objective reality, it seems to me that you sometimes use language which is a little bit too arcane, if I can put it modestly.

Bowden: Yes. That particular set of ideas comes in some ways from an artist and a writer who would be regarded as a Leftist: George Bernard Shaw. One of the things I’m interested in is the reclamation of certain people who were once regarded as Left-wing. I think that, although it’s a small amount of mileage, there is a tiny bit of mileage in these very elitist, extremely culturally knowledgeable people of 100 years ago and more who were on the Left then. People like H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw and some, but not all, of the Fabians here; people like Jack London, in a complicated way, in the United States at the same time.

Now, there is a complication with them because increasingly these figures—and Shaw was influenced by both Wagner and Nietzsche and this odd comingling of Marx and Wagner (an interesting synthesis, if you like)—and I personally think these figures are now too White, too Eurocentric, too knowledgeable about the classical world. I think they make the contemporary New Left quite uncomfortable. And there’s a certain energy to their criticism which can be made use of.

William Pierce of the National Alliance, of course, was heavily influenced by Man and Superman and by quite a few of Shaw’s more elitist and dissentient ideas.

Even though I am a pagan and a Nietzschean, even though I wonder if the supernatural actually exists in a factual sense rather than a metaphorical and an aesthetic one, I do believe that the ultimate truth is religious, and the ultimate truth is outside man, and we are not aware of what that ultimate truth may be, and the Western post-Socratic tradition is an opening out to the possibility of that, rather than the declamatory affirmation of what it is.

Sunić: Let me ask you a question. Are you a pagan? Are you a Christian? Are you a religious person? How would you define yourself, if I may ask you that?

Bowden: I would say I was a spiritual person more than I was a religious person. I believe in having what de Benoist calls a sense of the sacred. I am a pagan. I’ve attended pagan events. I am aware that metaphysically objectivist pagans, as I would call them, believe that Odin and Thor and Loki and all the others physically exist in another realm. I’m less certain about that. I don’t mind make-believe. But I personally don’t believe that’s the issue with religion. Religion, to me, deals with emotional rather than normative or factual or empirical truth. Emotional truth is far more powerful and is ultimately what draws the energy of civilizations together, what creates great ecstasies, what creates great waves of creation and destruction, what creates great civilizations and prepares for their fall.

Sunić: OK, Jonathan, where’s the spiritual? You’re talking about the emotional. How about the spiritual aspect?

Bowden: I personally think that the heightened creative energy that comes from emotionally-based rationality reaches the spiritual. But, for me, artistic activity is probably the nearest I get to belief. To me, it’s a form of religious belief.

Just take one example that convulsed contemporary culture quite recently in the United States and all over the world. I went to a Catholic school, but I went as a Protestant, and I’m not a Christian, retrospectively. But Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, which had an enormous impact all over the world, to me is extraordinarily interesting and is a spiritual as well as a cultural event.

But primarily, it’s an artistic phenomenon of immense power whatever prior system one adheres to.

I don’t think the West has a prior system. I agree with Evola when he was asked, “What is your religion?” He said, “I’m a Catholic pagan.” And I think the West has a dialectic that’s both Christian and pagan fused together.

Sunić: Jonathan, I noticed in your artistic work and also in your prose an almost obsession, if I can put it that way, with the Gothic and the macabre. Why is that?

Bowden: Yes! Yes, I do love the macabre! I think that’s where part of the power in art is. I see politics and art in a slightly occultistic way.

If you attend a far-Right meeting, it’s not a conservative meeting, at all, but many of the views expressed are extremely conservative. I think that Left-wing people are rebels, conservative people are conformists and radically Right-wing people are rebellious conformists.

Sunić: Good point!

Bowden: In the occult, if you like, you have a destructive potentiality, which is the Left, and you have a concrete and stabilizing force, which is the Right, and yet the energy comes from the Left on to the Right to energize it and to reformulate the nature of civilization and its discourse. Therefore, I see, partly, the ultra Right as having certain energies which are drawn from the Left and are purified by the Right and then moves further out because there isn’t room elsewhere on the spectrum for them.

I see the Right as partly demonic, in the sense that Goethe meant, partly Mephistophelian. Although these are dangerous areas, of course, the primal cultural areas are dangerous. The reason that the far Right is vilified and demonized all over the Western world is because it represents the fundamentalist energies of its own culture.

Sunić: This is a fascinating statement of yours, but would you elaborate? Not just for the audience, but for myself as well. Go ahead.

Bowden: In the Islamic world and in the Arab world, you’ve got a lot of these corrupt elites and so on who are aligned with American and, indeed, Zionist power in a strange sort of way to keep Islamism down. And Islamism is seen as their own fundamentalism, their enemy within, the danger, the danger that people will turn to the most fundamentalist current within their society and civilization.

Now, looking at the Western world which is a civilization based upon inverted premises of the Islamic world. The West, in my view, is an anti-theocratic and open-minded civilization, but the idea that because of that we don’t believe in anything is utter nonsense. We have a fundamentalism of our own, and I think it’s the guilty conscience of most Western intellectuals, particularly liberal-minded people in the arts. An enormous number of Western artists and writers and intellectuals, even through reversal and antagonism, were attracted to fascism in the first 30 to 40 years of the twentieth century, and they were often attracted in an emotional way at a level deeper than reason, because they were attracted to the ur-discourses, the foundational and fundamentalist beliefs, classical and yet Romantic combined, of our own civilization.

It’s interesting to note, in relation to modernism for example, many of the early modernists—Eliot, Wyndham Lewis, Marinetti, Céline, Ezra Pound, and so on—were deeply attracted to the extreme Right. They were attracted because they saw in it fundamentalist cultural energies. It’s very interesting that late modernism has been taken up as the pet of the liberal establishment and completely denuded of nearly all of those energies, and it’s ended up in often decadent and squalid vistas that deconstruct almost everything the West is about and laughs whilst the process is going on.

And yet, even in that, I see a reaction against the foundational light, and I see the danger of European intellectuals being attracted to their fundamentalist discourses.

Often with culture you have to make things concrete. For example, take the book about cinema that was written by Lucien Rebatet [actually Robert Brasillach—Ed.] and Maurice Bardèche which influenced Truffaut. Now, Truffaut (half-Jewish director, of course) came to Britain to make his film in English, but the film is completely aesthetically French. French cinema is extremely distinct within Western cinematography. Every different from Anglo-American cinema. This is a film of Ray Bradbury’s science fiction book, Fahrenheit 451, where the books are burnt by firemen and nobody reads because books give people dangerous ideas. Now, the aesthetic of that film is deeply fascistic, and I believe it’s influenced by Rebatet, who knew Truffaut personally. Because fascist theorists in the ’30s, including ex-Communists, were obsessed with cinema.

Why were they obsessed with cinema? Because cinema is the mass art. It is the art of modernity. It appeals to the intellectual and it appeals to the man who’s got almost no mind at all because the images go straight on to his nervous system. It’s an organic form of art that can appeal from the professor at one end to the roadsweeper at the other. Of course, it is the fine art of the modern age. Modernism turned inside the mind because replication of external realities became photographic.

Cinema is the mass medium of modernity. It’s why I’ve made films. It’s also why Communism and fascism were obsessed with cinema and obsessed with control of it. It’s why Hitler wanted Fritz Lang to be head of German cinema after Metropolis in 1939.

Sunić: Excellent point. Jonathan, I know you’ve got an excellent website. I would certainly appreciate if you could just say aloud for our audience exactly the address of your website.

Bowden: It’s www.jonathanbowden.co.uk [The site is no longer online.—Ed.]

Sunić: That’s very easy. You’re everywhere. I see you on Wikipedia and everywhere. I certainly need to alert you, folks. Do listen to our friend, Jonathan. He’s an excellent speaker. I’m somewhat suspicious about your art though, your pictorial art. May I ask just a private question? Why do you actually sort of revel in those distorted figures, those oddly almost degenerate faces of yours? I mean you talk about chthonic art, this primeval feelings that you so often mention in your talks and in your artwork.

Bowden: It’s interesting. Partly because there are savage and ferocious forces in me, and I think you have to be truthful to them when you create. Probably the greatest artist in the Western tradition is Michelangelo. The greatest painter in the Western tradition is Botticelli. And yet, the one who appeals to me most emotionally is Hieronymus Bosch. Modernism is partly a diabolical form of art, and I’m not an aesthetic conservative. I’m partly revolutionary and conservative. On the whole, Left-wing people like my art and Right-wing people like the ideas contained in it but don’t like it. That’s simplistic, but it’s true. I think you have to paint what’s inside you.

The Christian tradition’s quite interesting here because the most aesthetically interesting parts of the Christian tradition are the Baroque magnificence of sort of heavenly ardor, the building on light or the principle of light, the almost Albigensian idea of light cascading upon itself. The Baroque. And the other potentiality is the demonic and the diabolical.

I mentioned Gibson’s film a moment or two ago, and in that film the devil is an androgynous woman. Many people, including certain ultra-Catholics who of course are close to Gibson conceptually, were rather put out by that. But in Christian tradition, because the diabolical can never be known by man, the artist is free to interpret it to a degree with his own imagination.

See, I think the imagination is incredibly powerful, and I think imagination moves people more than reason. I think the reason people are attracted to the radical Right, even though the forefront of their mind says they’re not, is the power that it has, and that power is negative as well as positive. It’s not just beauty. It’s beauty and ugliness combined, synthesized, and even stepped beyond.

So, I suppose my aesthetics are Nietzschean in a way. I’m a sort of Right-wing modern person in some ways. I would like the world to be different than what it is, obviously. But this is where I differ from Evola. Evola said there was three alternatives to modernity: suicide, being a Nietzschean or getting rid of it all and destroying it and returning to absolute Tradition based upon prior metaphysical realities. A part of me wouldn’t be opposed to that, like pagan poets like the American extremist Robinson Jeffers, for example. But at the same time, I think we’re in the modern world, and what you hope to do is turn its own energies in an elitist way.

One of the things that fascinates me is how under the surface images can be used. I once sat and watched the film 300. You know the Hollywood film which is in fact based on a Frank Miller graphic novel?

Sunić: I heard of it, but I didn’t see it.

Bowden: David Duke did an analysis of that film. That’s an anti-Persian, anti-Iranian film. It’s partly, if you want to look at it in this way, a neo-conservative film. If you know what I mean. And yet, if you turn the sound down and you look at it as a tableau of images. It’s sepia tints, which relates to early Renaissance paintings, people like Cimabue and Giotto. It’s images from Leni Riefenstahl. [Unintelligible] without any ideological overlay, just look at the aesthetics of the heroic! Not who we’re supposed to be against, not who we’re supposed to be for, but you just look at the physiological aesthetics of the thing. Images are very powerful and can create different mental states in people.

Goebbels wrote a novel when he was very young called Michael.

Sunić: I read it! Yes.

Bowden: It’s an Expressionist novel, and it’s a sort of Left-Right novel written when he was under the Strassers’ influence. Somebody once asked him, because he was regarded as a Catholic fundamentalist, “What is your view of God?” And he said, “My view of God is an eight-armed idol in darkness with flames around it, dancing girls, and human sacrifice.”

It’s almost Assyrian, isn’t it? And somebody said to him, “Well, my dear doctor, that’s not very Christian, is it?” And he said, “You mistake me, my friend. That is Christ.”

Sunić: Jonathan, well, this is a fascinating discussion that we’ve had and I hope to have you more often here on my show.

Folks, this was Jonathan Bowden, as I said you’ve got to check his website. He’s a great artist, and you can download his books. He’s a man who is quite familiar with Lovecraft. He probably knows him by heart, and Carlyle, but he is a man also of tremendous classical erudition. You can ask him about Marlowe and Shakespeare. He can talk for hours.

Jonathan, it was nice to have you here. We’ll have to go now. We’ll part company, but I hope to catch up with you soon in London. Thank you very much and bye for now!

Bowden: Thanks very much.

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
LynchCover2

[1]Trevor Lynch
Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies
Foreword by Kevin MacDonald
Edited by Greg Johnson
San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2012
200 pages

Release Date: February 22, 2013

Hardcover: $35 

Quantity:  

Paperback: $20 

Quantity:  

Since 2001, Trevor Lynch’s witty, pugnacious, and profound film essays and reviews have developed a wide following among cinephiles and White Nationalists alike. Lynch deals frankly with the anti-white bias and Jewish agenda of many mainstream films, but he is even more interested in discerning positive racial messages and values, sometimes in the most unlikely places.

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies gathers together some of his best essays and reviews covering 32 movies, including his startling philosophical readings of Pulp Fiction, The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Mishima; his racialist interpretations of The Lord of the Rings and Gangs of New York; his masculinist takes on The Twilight Saga and A History of Violence; his insights into the Jewish nature of the superhero genre occasioned by Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy movies; and his hilarious demolitions of The Matrix TrilogyThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series, and the detritus of Quentin Tarantino’s long decline.

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies establishes its author as a leading cultural theorist and critic of the North American New Right.

“Trevor Lynch provides us with a highly literate, insightful, and even philosophical perspective on film—one that will send you running to the video rental store for a look at some very worthwhile movies—although he is also quite willing to tell you what not to see. He sees movies without the usual blinders. He is quite aware that because Hollywood is controlled by Jews, one must typically analyze movies for their propaganda value in the project of white dispossession. Trevor Lynch’s collection is a must read for anyone attempting to understand the deep undercurrents of the contemporary culture of the West.”

 – Kevin MacDonald, author of The Culture of Critique, from the Foreword

“Hollywood has been deconstructing the white race for nearly a century. Now Trevor Lynch is fighting back, deconstructing Hollywood from a White Nationalist point of view. But these essays are not just of interest to White Nationalists. Lynch offers profound and original insights into more than 30 films, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy, and Scorsese’s Gangs of New York. These essays combine a cultural and philosophical sophistication beyond anything in film studies today with a lucid, accessible, and entertaining prose style. Every serious cineaste needs to read this book.”

– Edmund Connelly

 “The Hollywood movie may be the greatest vehicle of deception ever invented, and the passive white viewer is its primary target. Yet White Nationalist philosopher and film critic Trevor Lynch demonstrates that truth is to be found even in this unlikeliest of places. If American audiences could learn the kind of critical appreciation Mr. Lynch demonstrates for them, their seductive enemies in Tinseltown wouldn’t stand a chance.”

– F. Roger Devlin, author of Alexandre Kojève and the Outcome of Modern Thought

Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies is not some collection of vein-popping rants about Hollywood’s political agendas. It’s a thoughtful and engaging examination of ideas in popular films from a perspective you won’t find in your local newspaper or in Entertainment Weekly. Lynch has chosen films that—in many cases—he actually enjoyed, and playfully teased out the New Right themes that mainstream reviewers can only afford to address with a careful measure of scorn. How many trees have been felled to print all of the Marxist, feminist, minority-pandering ‘critiques’ of contemporary celluloid over the past fifty years? Isn’t it about time we read an explicitly white review of The Fellowship of the Ring, or a Traditionalist take on The Dark Knight?”

– Jack Donovan, author of The Way of Men

 “Hunter Thompson said that Las Vegas was ‘what the whole hep world would be doing Saturday night if the Nazis had won the War.’ Like liberalism, that’s clever but wrong. If the Good Guys had won, we ‘hepsters’ would be at the movies, experiencing the ultimate art form, but made by racially aware white artists, not today’s Hollywood culture-distorters. This book is the next best thing: Trevor Lynch reviews today’s films from an artistically sensitive, culturally informed, but most of all unfailingly pro-white perspective. He doesn’t just warn you away from the obviously bad, but explains how the poison works and where it comes from, and even finds racially uplifting stuff where you’d least expect it—Pulp Fiction? Read it, and you’ll never feel the need to pay good money to be seen weeping at another Holocaust movie again.”

– James J. O’Meara, author of The Homo and the Negro

CONTENTS

Foreword by Kevin MacDonald • iii

Editor’s Note by Greg Johnson • vii

1. Introduction: Why I Write • 1

The Lord of the Rings
2. The Fellowship of the Ring • 7
3. The Two Towers • 11
4. The Return of the King • 18
5. “The Scouring of the Shire” • 22

Christopher Nolan
6. Batman Begins • 27
7. The Dark Knight • 31
8. The Dark Knight Rises • 42
9. Inception • 54

Guillermo del Toro
10. Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, & Pan’s Labyrinth • 57
11. Hellboy • 63
12. Hellboy II: The Golden Army • 68

Quentin Tarantino
13. Pulp Fiction • 73
14. Kill Bill: Vol. I • 97
15. Inglourious Basterds • 102
16. Django Unchained • 109

The Matrix Movies
17. The Matrix Reloaded • 115
18. The Matrix Revolutions • 121

The Twilight Saga
19. Twilight • 126
20. New Moon • 131
21. Eclipse • 134
22. Breaking Dawn, Part 1 • 138
23. Breaking Dawn, Part 2 • 143

The Millennium Trilogy
24. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo • 145
25. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Remake • 149
26. The Girl Who Played with Fire • 152
27. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest • 156

Violence & Redemption
28. 300 • 159
29. Gangs of New York • 163
30. A History of Violence • 168
31. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters • 173
32. The Baader-Meinhof Complex • 185

About the Author • 190

Release Date: February 22, 2013

Hardcover: $35 

Quantity:  

Paperback: $20 

Quantity:  

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]2,809 words

Dredd is an action movie and nothing more. Fortunately, the creators know this and it is a good action movie, an outright celebration of blood, guts, slaughter, and gore — and a large amount of it is in slow motion. And in 3D.

While such films are rarely the subjects of critical acclaim, they do have political significance. Action movies make the egalitarian Left uncomfortable. Most have no time for the nuances of social critique and moral ambiguity so beloved of the professors infesting Film Studies departments at our major universities. We don’t go to popcorn thrillers and put on 3D glasses to have our deepest assumptions questioned. We are here for escapism and stylistic violence.

As leftist academics well recognize, simplistic action movies tend to reinforce the deeper Aryan archetypes and motifs of Western culture, emphasizing masculinity, duty, and stark conflicts between right and wrong. A strong man takes up arms and defeats an onslaught of lesser beings, saving the community. By following these patterns, even (and especially) the most simplistic action movies can be the most subversive, and are duly recognized by our minders as “cryptofascist [2]” and dangerous.

This is especially true with movies about law enforcement. While Radical Traditionalists have no illusions that contemporary police are anything other than the armed fist of an alien and hostile regime, most street cops spend their time dealing with a never-ending onslaught of black and brown crime. Even when heroes like Frank Castle (The Punisher [3]) confront white mob bosses or the multicultural gangs that only exist in television and movies, both viewers and critics understand the implications of effective and forceful criminal justice would be racist and profoundly inegalitarian. It’s therefore not surprising that movies such as Death Wish or Dirty Harry are often condemned by social critics as objectively fascist [4] and the sheer existence of films such as Harry Brown [5] or Taxi Driver [6] serve as warning signs of deep unrest and impatience with the festering rot of post-Western cities.

Dredd takes the tough cop model to its most extreme conclusion, positing a dystopian future where “street judges” operate as judge, jury, and executioner. While an earlier film treatment starring Sylvester Stallone was widely derided as a disgrace [7] both as a film and to the source material (Rob Schneider [8] costarred for God’s sake), Dredd is a stripped down reboot that stays true to the spirit of the character.

The plot is straightforward. Karl Urban’s Judge Dredd is a street judge, introduced to us while busting a truckload of (multicultural) junkies driving down the busy streets of Mega City One. Predictably, the chase ends with the deaths of all the criminals involved. Upon his return to headquarters, Dredd is instructed to supervise Judge Anderson on a training mission. Anderson is a marginal failure at the academy, but is being given another chance due to her incredible psychic abilities. Responding to the report of a triple homicide, Anderson and Dredd are trapped inside a “megablock” called Peach Trees, a gargantuan apartment complex housing hundreds of thousands of people. The leader of the criminal gang that runs the block, “Ma-Ma,” seals down the entire block and orders the two judges dead. They must fight their way out, through the Ma-Ma clan, every Peach Trees resident looking to gain favor with their criminal masters, and even four traitor Judges in league with the drug lords.

That’s basically it. Where Dredd succeeds is by communicating a great deal about the nature of Mega City One even with a low-budget, stripped-down style. Mega City One contains 800 million souls “living within the ruin of the old world” crammed in an urban sprawl that stretches from Boston to Washington DC. Everything outside is the Great Waste, irradiated from nuclear conflict. In what passes for an introduction, Dredd intones in a voiceover that the city is choking under its own weight, drowning on its own excess. Even as the urban landscape stretches on and on, director Pete Travis succeeds in creating an atmosphere of claustrophobia with all of these people crammed on top of each other like insects.

Mega City One is anarcho-tyranny [9] in action. Drones fly overhead as dispatchers watching video screens track the population. Quick flashes show gangs terrorizing the population and throwing rocks at law enforcement vehicles. Only the Judges fight for “order in the chaos” from the Hall of Justice, a massive, fortified building with a stylized but simplistic eagle lit up against its huge façade. The population does not often encounter the Judges, as “Ma-Ma” initially brushes off their visit to Peach Trees as simply reminding the population that they exist. There is also an element of fear — a woman saved by Dredd early in the film squeaks “Thank you Judge” but seems almost as afraid of him as she was of the criminal.

The society itself is a cultureless wasteland. Fast food and pointless entertainment seems commonplace. People gather around scenes of violence taking pictures with their smartphones, and multiple murders within a shopping complex only briefly interrupts business until the blood can be cleaned away. Although the megablock (only one of hundreds or thousands) is named Peach Trees, nature is completely absent from Mega City One, and none of its residents have probably ever seen an actual peach tree. Unemployment in the Peach Trees complex is at 96% and the vast complex of stores and housing units has that combination of dilapidated poverty and mindless consumption common in the more vibrant neighborhoods of our own thriving democracy.

The corrupt Judge Lex, taunting Dredd as he attempts to kill him, sneers that treason against the “Law” and the “City” means nothing. “You know what Mega City is Dredd? It’s a meat grinder . . . and we’re the hands that turn the crank.” In the comic, bodies are utilized for food, and as Dredd refers to the corpse collecting vehicles as “Meat Wagons” picking up bodies for “recyc” we can assume this is also true in the film universe. Judge Lex is not just speaking in metaphor.

The gangs are appropriately multicultural and diverse, fitting for an overcrowded city where any form of organic culture has long since been eradicated. Even the crude identity of something like the “Latin Kings” can’t work in Mega City One. The Chief Justice is a black woman, just like in Newark, NJ [10], which has no real significance in the movie beyond the almost clichéd “black police chief” motif. Nonetheless, the movie manages to work in some racial subtext. Olivia Thirlby is a brunette actress with clichéd liberal opinions (she’s so daring and unique, she’s a bisexual civil rights hero! [11]) but the movie transforms her into a blonde innocent pursued and threatened sexually by the more vibrant citizens [12] of Peach Trees.

Wood Harris of The Wire plays Kay, one of Ma-Ma’s higher ranking black henchmen whose capture serves as the catalyst for Ma-Ma’s declaration of war. Because he knows the information Ma-Ma is desperate to conceal from the judges, Kay trudges along with Anderson and Dredd the entire movie, giving the filmmakers plenty of time to exploit Anderson’s psychic (and graphic) glimpses of Kay’s black on blonde sexual fantasies.

Lena Headey of 300 and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles steals the movie as Madeline Madrigal (Ma-Ma), a former prostitute who has worked her way up from the bottom, so to speak, to become a criminal mastermind. Ma-Ma controls the distribution of “Slo-Mo,” a drug that allows users to experience reality as if it were moving in extreme slow motion. While pleasurable when taking a bath or listening to music, Ma-Ma and her henchmen also use it for more painful ends, such as giving victims a hit before skinning them alive and throwing them from the top of a building. She runs the entire distribution and production operation from Peach Trees, which she is desperate to keep from the judges. If Kay leaves the building in custody, Ma-Ma’s empire crumbles.

Headey gives a fatalistic [13], moody performance utterly lacking in supervillain posturing and bravura — which is remarkable considering she spends a significant part of the movie threatening people with knives and mowing down an entire floor of people with a chain gun. In this world, this is what she has to do to survive and she simply does what is needed without sentimentality. At the same time, she almost yearns for death, and Headey somehow makes a character deliberately crafted to be ugly and sadistic even sexier [14] than Cercei Lannister. Headey’s ability to make an utter monster charismatic, sympathetic, and even believable takes the film to an entirely new level, even if she isn’t given much in the way of dialogue to work with.

Mercifully, Karl Urban succeeds in giving the kind of portrayal Dredd deserves. The one-liners are flat and unemotional and the helmet (fanboys rejoice) stays on. Relying purely on his voice and his seemingly permanently gritted teeth and rigid jaw, Dredd mows through everything in his path while somehow conveying that he could break at any second if he lost control. He never does.

Mercifully, an utterly unnecessary kiss scene between Anderson and himself in an earlier script was removed as well. Anderson uses her psychic abilities to look into Dredd for a tantalizingly brief moment early in the film and senses “anger and control . . . but behind the control, something else . . .” before being stopped.

Why Dredd is so devoted to his duty and the law and to a city that seems to be rotting all around him is never explained, nor should it be. The mask is the key to Dredd — the simplest of comic book heroes, he’s also the most complex.

In contrast, Anderson wears no helmet, the beneficiary of the Hollywood excuse that a helmet interferes with her psychic powers. This allows both male and females of Thirlby’s own persuasion to gawk at her the entire film, but also allows her to show more emotion and sympathy. She’s the social worker judge, telling Dredd how she herself grew up in a megablock, how there are good people who live there, and expressing the requisite mild disquiet with a justice system that executes people where they stand. She lets one criminal go when she uses her powers to determine he’s been working under duress and unironically declares she wants to make a difference. Dredd intones, “Admirable,” but we can’t tell if he’s agreeing or mocking her. Maybe he doesn’t even know.

One interesting scene of a psychic confrontation between her and Kay suggests that there is steel underneath the pretty blonde head as she literally makes her black antagonist piss himself in terror, but it is left unexplored. Again, this actually works, as Dredd operates best by suggesting there is more going on than what is just in front of us.

It’s an action movie, so it’s not a huge surprise that the main villain is caught and her drug operation destroyed. It’s hard to say whether the world is a better place for all of that. Dozens, if not hundreds of people are killed throughout the course of the film, all so that unemployed and poverty stricken people can’t use a narcotic. That said, the blood is on the hands of the Ma-Ma Clan. The Clan’s actions and the general picture of Mega City One presented suggest that even if Slo-Mo were legal, the gangs would use something else to support themselves. As Anderson learns when she unwittingly meets the wife of a man she has “judged” and killed, even people with families and children in the blocks are gun-toting thugs willing to kill for money and power.

The film’s portrayal of ruthless violence, sadistic torture, and nihilistic destruction of entire communities (such as they are) belie any attempt to deconstruct Dredd as a critique of “law and order.” Dredd plays it straight, though the next film in the series promises to look at the more “disturbing” elements of the Judges’ supposed fascism [15].

While the Judges of the comic are not beyond the law, actually are somewhat accountable [16] to the population at large, and do not administer a totalitarian society, the people do not rule themselves in Dredd’s world. The premise of Dredd is that freedom failed – they tried democracy and it ended in chaos. While left wing critics (and even some writers of the strip) may amuse themselves by “satirizing” American law enforcement by calling them fascists, it doesn’t have the effect they intend on the mass public. Characters such as Judge Dredd are popular precisely because of their fascist tendencies, a sort of double irony that speaks to Americans who don’t understand why the cops can’t just beat the crap out of the junkies on the corner.

Ultimately, the system of the Judges is not democratic nor really fascist, which, after all, are both dependent on mass politics. It is rule by an Order, a system more in line with Plato’s Republic than Mussolini’s New Roman Empire. The Judges hold to a supreme code (the Law) and the Order fights for order within the chaos, barely holding back the city from consuming itself. Nonetheless, even within the Order, there is corruption, as four Judges betray their duty in exchange for money. As Plato described thousands of years ago, mercantile and spiritual values ultimately cannot coexist within a ruling caste. As is mentioned throughout the film, the Judges fighting their own slo-mo defeat to bring order to Mega City One. Rather than simply a function of resources, there is a deeper conflict left unspoken at the heart of their decline. If an esoteric Order is fighting to defend a cultureless, swollen mass of materialistic proles, how can the Judges themselves keep from being corrupted, either by lust for “credits” or cynicism about a meat grinder? Why is Mega City One worth saving?

The two heroes suggest different answers. Anderson, who bitterly states she is not cut out to be a judge during her ordeal, ultimately becomes a street judge at the end of the film, marching out into the city in full uniform. Her experience suggests that she would say saving even one citizen from violence or making a difference to even a small group makes it worthwhile. This is the kind of motivation even modern people can understand and even Radical Traditionalists can say, without judgment, is “admirable,” if not practical or sustainable.

Dredd’s code is different. There’s “rage and control” and Dredd’s proclamations about “fighting for order in the chaos” and his disgust at this awful city and its criminals suggest that he believes in what he’s doing and envisions somehow an orderly metropolis redeemed from the filth. Ultimately, however, that “something else” that keeps him going is the unification of identity and duty. Dredd is not a social worker with a gun, but a Guardian who judges because, as in Plato’s Republic, it is his nature to do so. Driven by rage and his calling, Dredd is akin to Arjuna of the Bhagavad-Gita, who is told, “Fight you will, your nature will make you fight. Your karma will make you fight. You will fight in spite of yourself.”

When cornered with Anderson and told reinforcements are on the way, Dredd chooses attack rather then even tactical retreat. He upholds his ethos – fulfills his karma – even when it’s pointless or hopeless. Alone, hopelessly outnumbered, he flatly announces to Peach Trees, “In case you have forgotten, this block operates under the same rules as the rest of the city. Ma-Ma is not the law . . . I am the law.” It’s beyond reason, and beyond ego, but ultimately, what kind of life (higher and otherwise) exists in Mega City One is upheld by that credo.

So too with this world. Organic culture is ground into the muck of the soulless cities, animals on two legs somehow combine the worst vices of squalor and decadence, and the society is a meat grinder turning people into products. Only a credo and a commitment can allow even momentary transcendence, if not for the entire society, at least for those who choose to accept the challenge. Egalitarians may see Dredd as a satire of law enforcement, but adherents of Tradition can see it as one way men and women can at least attempt to Ride the Tiger of modernity. Perhaps it can be seen as a truly biting satire of a nightmarish mass society that may be inevitable in the face of ever increasing urbanization and social control. Most of all, as we view a society that is transforming into something even worse than Mega City One, perhaps Dredd can be seen as one of the more entertaining forms of inspiration, to walk out of the theater, ponder what defiance we can cling to in the midst of the ruins, and, wearing our own mask over our emotions, pronounce to this sordid society that Judgment Is Coming [17].

 

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)

[1]7,450 words

Brian de Palma’s 1987 film, The Untouchables [2], from a script by David Mamet, is usually seen as a Hero’s Quest film, like Star Wars (or The Final Sacrifice), or at least an Epic in some way,[1] but I find it more interesting to see it as a film that, probably unconsciously, delineates the re-creation of the ancient Aryan Männerbund.[2]

What is the Männerbund?

Although the study of the Männerbund dates to the 19th century, it was Hans Blüher who first championed its significance, using it first to analyze the German youth movement, the Wandervogel, and later as the key to a non-Freudian, indeed, anti-Freudian, understanding of civilization, especially that of the Aryans.[3] Later, Julius Evola would incorporate the idea in his post-War writings on the origin and possibilities for the rebirth of the Aryan State.[4]

Today, the foremost exponent of the Männerbund is Wulf Grimsson, who has devoted several volumes to it, most recently Male Mysteries and the Secret of the Männerbund,[5] where he delineates the idea thus:

The Männerbund is a system of social ties found in traditional Indo European societies which is very difficult for men living in a modernist (and/or monotheistic) society to understand. . . . Among our Germanic ancestors these groups were composed of sexually mature male youths who under guidance of an elder formed a closed cult or society. They were dedicated to Odin, had special rites of pedagogical training, initiation and esoteric practise and combined the functions of a sorcerer or shaman and a warrior. To appreciate the importance of such a unit is difficult until we realize that the role of the blood brother and the Männerbund was seen as the foundation of Germanic society with the family unit of far less significance. This changes the whole structure of how we see archaic society when we realize that these societies held a virile warrior ethic based in male-male affection superior to family life.[6]

The Männerbund was a unique social and initiatory institution, it stood at the centre of the hierarchy of archaic society offering a path to initiation into the esoteric Mysteries and providing stability to the tribe below it. In comparison to the Third Function of the tribe and family the Männerbund was certainly an outsider institution yet it was this outsidernesss that allowed it to take such a significant role within the traditional hierarchy. It was not swayed by nepotism or by tribal or familial pressures; it was a separate, distinct and unique structure. It had a warrior ethic yet also trained scribes, shamans, rune masters and many others; it combined the First and Second Functions in a very special and profound way…. The bund was Androphilic in practice and focused on the unique bond created by blood brothers. These bonds continued even if a comrade left the Bund, the blood brother was the most significant bond even above that of a wife, family or the tribe. A brother would help another even at the cost of his life. The bond created with a blood brother would last til death, and it is considered by many, thereafter.[7]

One important point Grimsson raises is the value of the Männerbund to a society, like ours, facing seemingly endless crises:

[I]t is an immense loss to our way of life that this structure has all but vanished and it may be that such a system of social ties will be the key to surviving the many catastrophes which are around the corner.[8]

One such crisis is the decay of everyday legal order, despite an evermore massively intrusive government, a situation Sam Francis called “totalitarian anarchy.” Such a situation might be compared, in a limited way, to America, especially cities like Chicago, under Prohibition. As John Kenneth Muir says:

Importantly, not one of these men (especially Ness) declares any fealty to the government’s (wrongheaded) policy of Prohibition. On the contrary, what this foursome defends to the death is the very principle that makes America great: the rule of law. This is the meat of Ness’s inner crisis: can the rule of law be re-established by violating the law?[9]

As Carl Schmitt emphasized, the political is defined by the exception; he is sovereign who can in an emergency declare an exception to the rule of law — and get away with it. However much it may offend the delicate sensibilities of the Liberal, not everything is subject to debate and proper procedure. If it is the law itself that no longer works, how can it be restored legally? No wonder the Tea Party’s costumes freak them out.

Indeed, as Evola emphasizes, only the Männerbund can do so, because it is not only outside the State, as it is outside the family structure, but also prior to it, being the true origin of the State itself.

Beware of Imitations

Since the Männerbund is not a typical subject of “mainstream” discourse, most people are unaware of it, and thus susceptible to fraudulent substitutes. The Untouchables begins with the most flagrant one, the Capone mob.

Far from either creating or restoring the State, the mob is responsible for the collapse of Chicago into violence and anarchy. In real life, Chicago had been horrified by the brutality of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which is what led to Ness’ assignment, but Mamet wisely ignores this overdone episode and starts the film with a little girl, holding a suitcase which explodes, blowing her to bits along with a non-cooperating pub. As Frankie Five Angels sneers in Godfather Part II, “They do violence in their grandmother’s neighborhood.”

And speaking of Godfather II, the next shot gives us Robert De Niro, playing a very different character than that man of honor, Don Corleone (“I mean, we’re not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks”). Instead, we have a well-fed hypocrite:

Capone: Yes! There is violence in Chicago. But not by me, and not by anybody who works for me, and I’ll tell you why — because it’s bad for business

The only truth in that statement is that Capone is a businessman. In Chicago, the castes have regressed, and now the sudra rules. Capone’s mob (note the word!) is neither a State nor a Männerbund, but, in another loaded phrase, a “criminal enterprise,” which is to say an enterprise, a business, which no longer operates under society’s laws. In contemporary terms, one might cite Wall Street in general, especially the gigantic frauds and outright thefts (MF Global) that have gone entirely uninvestigated, to say nothing of punished. Who indeed is sovereign?

Contrary to the “free market” myth, from Adam Smith to Ayn Rand to Alan Greenspan, business transactions are not a “natural” activity, prior to, and superior to, the State. As seen most recently in the ex-Soviet Union, the collapse of the State does not produce a peaceful society of “capitalist acts between consenting adults” but a gangster’s paradise.[10]

Later in the film, we’ll get a chance to see Capone discoursing on “teamwork” only to wind-up by bashing in a gang member’s skull with a baseball bat. Like Captain Ahab, Capone uses the rhetoric of Traditional honor and leadership, but despite his “charisma and “romantic aura” he is

 . . . not just some fine old warrior-aristocrat who has somehow fallen into the wrong age. Ahab is just such a man as nineteenth century America was producing, a man who could and did ruthlessly exploit the land and the people for his own grandiose, self-aggrandizing ends.[11]

We next meet his presumed nemesis, Elliot Ness, with his wife and children. Well, we know that the family unit isn’t going to be the source of a Männerbund. But when he goes to work, carrying the lunch he wife has made for him, we learn that the Chicago Police aren’t either. They’ve been corrupted, penetrated, as it were, by Capone. His first ridiculously earnest raid — “Let’s do some good!” — is an embarrassing “bust out,” netting him only a shipment of Japanese parasols and a nickname in the press: “Poor Butterfly.” (Even the press is on Capone’s side — during the raid Ness mistakes a reporter for a gangster.)

Ness learns he is not cast as a Hero, this time, but a clown — perhaps Canio in Pagliacci, a bit of which we see Capone enjoying later in the movie — or even a forlorn geisha. He started the day as a little boy, he ends it completely emasculated.

As Jack Donovan says in The Way of Men, while Ness is a “good man,” but he’s not so “good at being a man.”[12] Despite his empty boast, he doesn’t know how to “do some good.” To learn how to be good at being a man, Ness will obviously need a teacher; but as we have seen, the primary method of initiation in the West has been not the teacher as such, but the Männerbund,[13] which also, conveniently, has been the primary means of establishing, and re-establishing, the State.

Ness won’t surrender to, and certainly won’t join, Capone; he won’t go along with the corrupt cops or politicians, or curry favor with the press. To beat them, he can’t join them; he needs to find another group, or create his own.

From Sack Lunch to Blood Oath

“The first and most important feature of groups is the fact that groups are not constituted according to the wish and choice of their members. Groups are constituted by the teacher, who selects types which, from the point of view of his aims, can be useful to one another.” — Gurdjieff[14]

Enter the last honest cop, Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) who will become the teacher who selects the men who will become known as The Untouchables. Malone is so honest that he’s never risen above beat cop. It’s not clear why Ness trusts Malone to be the last honest cop in Chicago. Connery’s bogus “Irish” accent alone might set bells off.[15]

As we shall see, however, Connery’s character will indeed manifest a shamanic ability to shape-shift. One more clue we have that Malone is on the up and up is that they meet on a bridge.

The sorcerer and warrior are always liminal, while they may enter into the community their values and allegiances set them apart. Sorcerers, shamans and witches in most traditions are often pictured as living at the edge of the village or in forests or caves.[16]

Malone will eventually agree to teach Ness “the Way,” in this case, “the Chicago Way,” which is a kind of karma-yoga in which appropriate, or svadharmic, action is all:

Malone: You wanna get Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!

Malone starts with the first of many tricks and inversions of society’s norms, in this case, both inverting Ness’ oath of duty and tricking him into affirming a new one:

Malone: I’m making you a deal. Do you want this deal?

(Unlike Ness’ wife, who only made him a meal, the characteristic family activity)

Ness: I have sworn to put this man away with any and all legal means at my disposal, and l will do so.

Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward. Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?

Ness: Yes.

Malone: Good. ‘Cause you just took one.

At the trial, Ness admits he has “foresworn” himself by eventually being led to choose to hunt Capone with Capone’s own methods, not the State’s.

Now Malone begins to put together the warrior band. But who can they trust in the department?

Malone: If you’re afraid of getting a rotten apple, don’t go to the barrel. Get it off the tree.

The allusion to the Garden of Eden is clear, although we will see that it is Malone’s double, Frank Nitti, who embodies reptilian evil.

The . . . leader [of] any Männerbund must take great care when selecting comrades and develop a preinitiation training program which will weed out those unsuited or unwilling to commit. Such programs should not only be intellectual but include “homework” to prove dedication and “challenges” would-be comrades should overcome. . . . It should be made very clear to any potential comrades the nature of the commitment, that a Männerbund is an Androphilic organization and that no outside relationships are permitted.[17]

First, though, Ness makes his own demand: no married men, even though, as Malone quickly points out, Ness is himself married. Ness doesn’t seem to have quite figured out what will be required of him. When Nitti threatens them with the ironic “It’s nice to have a family,” Ness ships them off the countryside.[18]

Thor curses Starkadr telling him that if undertakes Odin’s requests he will have no children, no individual land or property and be despised by the common folk.[19]

Malone rejects with contempt a recruit who recites the police motto, then insults and strikes another, whose violent but controlled response passes the tests.

Malone: Why do you want to join the force?

George Stone: “To protect the property and citizenry of . . .”

Malone: Ah, don’t waste my time with that b******t. Where you from, Stone?

George Stone: I’m from the south-side.

Malone: Stone. George Stone. That’s your name? What’s your real name?

George Stone: That is my real name.

Malone: Nah. What was it before you changed it?

George Stone: Giuseppe Petri.

Malone: Ah, I knew it. That’s all you need, one thieving wop on the team.

George Stone: Hey, what’s that you say?

Malone: I said that you’re a lying member of a no good race.

George Stone: [He cuffs Stone across the face. As he draws back his arm again, Stone presses a gun under his chin] Much better than you, you stinking Irish pig.

Malone: Oh, I like him.

This is the first racial note in the movie. Obviously there are no blacks on the force, but the ‘racial’ antagonisms are there nonetheless. Between Ness, Malone (with Connery’s confusing Irish-Scot accent) and “Stone” (another blurry shape-shifter) we seem to have an early attempt at what Greg Johnson has suggested:

What is emerging is a generic white American, with a sense of his interests merely as a white… America may be the place where we recreate the original unity of the white race before it was divided and pitted against itself.[20]

Ironically, these men are joining together to enforce Prohibition, which was largely the attempt of small town WASPs (like Ness, whose family is now hiding out in the countryside) to “control” the “thieving wops” and “stinking Irish pigs” of the big cities.

Finally, Ness has already been assigned Wallace, a meek little accountant from Treasury. Physically and professionally, he seems to be the Designated Jew, but nothing is ever made explicit, and so for our purposes we can treat him as White. Ness is still living in ignorance, and does not yet appreciate the value of Wallace, both as man, and as the key to the capture of Capone.

[3]

Wallace epitomizes the role of the geek or nerd, as Jack Donovan describes it:

Advanced levels of mastery and technics allow men to compete for improved status within the group by bringing more to the camp, hunt or fight than their bodies would otherwise allow. Mastery can be supplementary—a man who can build, hunt and fight, but who can also do something else well, be it telling jokes or setting traps or making blades, is worth more to the group and is likely to have a higher status within the group than a man who can merely build, hunt and fight well. Mastery can also be a compensatory virtue, in the sense that a weaker or less courageous man can earn the esteem of his peers by providing something else of great value. It could well have been a runt who tamed fire or invented the crossbow or played the first music, and such a man would have earned the respect and admiration of his peers. Homer was a blind man, but his words have been valued by men for thousands of years.[21]

Or put away Capone by decoding his secret account books.

Ness: We need another man.

Wallace: Mr. Ness? This is very interesting. I’ve found a financial disbursement pattern which shows some irregu . . .

Malone: You carry a badge?

Wallace: Yes.

Malone: Carry a gun.

There are, then four Untouchables. The number four is

[A] code for its related letter in the Elder Futhark which is Ansuz. Traditionally Ansuz is related to Odin but reversed is related to the trickster Loki so the correlation seems correct. The rune also means the Aesir in general and hence the use of this rune emphasizes that Loki has left the community of the gods and become a true spiritual outlaw. Ansuz is related …to Venus. In the community Venus or love holds the family together while in the Männerbund Venus is androphile and focused on individual immortality through sorcery.[22]

Initiation I: “Outsidering” — “Hey. This is the Post Office . . .”

The first rites of Initiation are those which help the comrade consolidate his rejection of the functions of the society around him.[23]

As shamans and sorcerers they must move beyond the tribe and become separate from the rules and regulations of the community. Essentially they become spiritual and social outlaws.[24]

Malone: There’s nothing like vaudeville.

Police Chief: What the hell are you dressed for? Hallowe’en?

Malone: Shut up. I’m working.

Police Chief: Where? The circus?

Malone has shape-shifted into civilian garb, but still uses his beat cop knowledge to strip the mask off another public institution: behind the façade, literally, of the Post Office is one of Capone’s warehouses.

This is the turning point in Ness’ career, and the movie, with Morricone’s soaring theme music underlining it for us. So does the dialog and action, which pound away at the liminal theme: crossing the street, crossing Capone, crossing the doorway.

Malone: Everybody knows where the booze is. The problem isn’t finding it. The problem is who wants to cross Capone. Let’s go.

Ness: You’d better be damn sure, Malone.

Malone: If you walk through this door, you’re walking into a world of trouble. There’s no turning back. Do you understand?

Ness: Yes, I do.

Malone: Good. Give me that axe.

The axe, of course, is a traditional symbol of male power, as well as the root of the fasces symbol.

After making his violent and uninvited entrance, Malone is confronted by a portly thug, or postal worker — once more, ambiguity — who demands his “rights.”

Portly Thug: Hey! This isn’t right! Hey! This is no good! You got a warrant?

Malone: Sure! Here’s my warrant. [Delivers the stock of his shotgun to the thug’s crotch]

Malone: How do you think he feels now? Better . . . or worse?

Malone delivers butt to crotch, the warrior band’s deviant inversion of sodomy, making quite clear that they have gone beyond concern for rights, warrants, and the social good.

Here is the scene, seen, as it were, through Grimsson’s lens:

When I look at the tale I see an initiatory rite, a ritual whereby Loki is becoming a sorcerer. He is ceremonially rejecting his role among the Gods and the tribe [the cops] and becoming a spiritual outlaw. It begins as Loki is refused entry to the feast. This is unusual as Loki as a member of the Aesir would have been invited to such an event even if he sometimes behaves erratically. [Malone as a cop would ordinarily be “in on “the crimes, but he is the one honest cop, whose goody-goody ways are joked about]

He then kills Fimafeng, the name Fimafeng means service [the Postal Service?] and he represents the normal activities of a community such serving, working and feasting. By Loki killing Fimafeng he is making it clear he is going beyond his prior role within the Aesir and within the society.

He enters the hall but Bragi says he is unwelcome. Bragi is the god of poetry and the storyteller of the community [The Post Office?]

Loki’s insults are staged and meant to symbolise him separating from each of the Gods and their functions.[25]

Initiation II: The World Tree — “Many Things are half the battle”

As the initiate moved through the bund other rites were used including the initiation of the world tree which was a form of northern vision quest giving the initiate an experience of the power of the runes. I believe that the Männerbund was also secretly devoted to Loki as Odin’s blood brother and darker rites were used in his honour. These rites included those of shape changing and the techniques of the Berserker.[26]

Ness has sworn a blood oath, joined a Männerbund and crossed the threshold. Now he and the others face further initiations to acquire further powers — shape-shifting, reading the runes, and the fighting skills of the Berserker.

After the successful raid, Ness decides to take the battle to Capone, heading North in an airplane — at time when such flights were rare among ordinary folk, though a common achievement for the shaman — to the Canadian border where a shipment of whiskey (from Joe Seagram to Joe Kennedy, perhaps) is scheduled to be exchanged for cash on a bridge.

Not just a bridge but a border; obviously we are meant to understand this is another, more intense, liminal situation.

Mountie: Thus taking them by surprise from the rear. And surprise, as you very well know, Mr. Ness, is half the battle.

Ness: Surprise is half the battle. Many things are half the battle. Losing is half the battle. Let’s think about what is all the battle.

The Mounties riding in is a film and cultural icon. Here, however, they seem to have forgotten their motto, “We always get our man” and become symbols of careful, bureaucratic procedure, like Canada itself. They are another false Männerbund, mere agents of the State. They’re not corrupt, like the Chicago cops, but they’re not helpful either. Their pudgy “captain” (as Ness mistakenly calls him, as if he were a cop) hands out safe and complacent orders (attack from the rear, for surprise), settling for a safe second best, which Ness rejects with some quiet contempt, preferring to be instructed by his guru:

Malone: Wait and watch.

Ness: Are you my tutor?

Malone: Yes Sir. That I am. [YHVH?]

“Many things” indeed happen in this complex scene, and most of them, I suggest, involve either the acquisition or demonstration of shamanic powers.

This suffering was part of a birth, death and rebirth motif but without the role of the biological female, the male is reborn through the agency of men alone and hence becomes part of a new “family” structure which is of a single sex.[27]

The bureaucratic Mounties’ safe and secret strategy goes awry, creating chaos (from behind, au rebours indeed) in which the men are tested.

Since belonging to Odin means becoming a comrade of the Einherjar (or Odin’s Army), this means the comrade can be taken to Valhalla at any time, and he is considered already dead or literally dead among the living, regardless of whether he literally dies in battle or not.[28]

This condition also creates a unique psychological state for the warrior preparing him for Berserker training, if he is already undead and eternally in Odin’s service then pain and death are minor transitionary stages and nothing to be feared.[29]

Stone is the first and as yet only one of the Untouchables to be shot, thus pierced, but quickly jumps back up; he is either invulnerable, a trickster, or already dead and hence fearless.

The candidate is first given a basic education in ethics and the teachings of the lore. He then withdraws from the community and fasts and undertakes ascetic activities including being pierced with a spear.[30]

Stone however is down long enough to literally infuriate the meek Wallace, who acquires the spirit of the Berserker; shrieking in rage, he rushes the gangsters like Achilles avenging Patroclus, killing several and, when out of shells, resorts to what is now the signature Untouchables method, using the butt of the shotgun to dispatch the last thug.

Ness escapes being run over by diving under the car, a symbolic death, and then, trailing a gangster back to their cabin, himself kills his first man.

Finally, Malone, the Trickster, will use the dead man to fool the captured bookkeeper into agreeing to decode the account books. Only he and Ness know the man on the porch is the one Ness killed earlier; Malone goes outside, picks him up, holds him against the window, pretends to threaten him, sticks his gun in the corpse’s mouth, and blows out the back of his head. The Canadian is horrified by all this violence.

Finding the code has been their ultimate goal, not just stopping a shipment of whiskey. In other words, interpreting the runes. The corpse, pushed up against the window and pinned their by Malone’s pistol, may suggest Odin’s self-hanging to acquire the knowledge of the runes.

 Malone: Translate this ledger for us!

Thug: In hell.

Malone: In hell?! You will hang high unless you cooperate.

And we can also go back to a bit of comic relief, when Wallace, after his Berserk outburst, and to solidify his Outlaw status, helps himself to some of the booze leaking from the truck. The use of socially forbidden intoxicants is a well-known Shamanic, and Tantric, technique; one also may recall Siegfried who drinks the blood of the slain dragon and acquires understanding of the language of the birds.[31]

Sacrifices

As a result of Malone’s capture of Capone’s books, and trick with the corpse having convinced the bookkeeper to talk, Wallace can now prove Capone’s tax evasion. Unfortunately, Nitti manages to kill all three, leaving Ness without his sole witness. Once more, Ness is unmanned.

 Capone: And if you were a man, you would’ve done it now! You don’t got a thing, you punk!

Since none of the “real” Untouchables was killed, it’s hard to see why De Palma kills off half of them. Wallace’s death is particularly unmotivated; in the language of Internet movie discussions, they all seem to have the Stupid Ball at this point — ironic, since Wallace is presumably the smart guy. It may be just cinematic: create conflict, pare down the cast to focus on Ness, etc. Or what?

The Untouchables has been a fairly “PG” film up to this point: no ears cut off, no gangsters being carved up in trunks, no exploding heads, the obsession with which Scorsese seems to be satirizing at the end of The Departed (which also involves a main character killed in an elevator by a rogue cop). Starting with Malone’s shooting the corpse in Canada, blood starts to flow; in Malone’s case, ridiculous amounts, as befitting the importance of his character.[32]

The only sense I can make out of them is that both deaths are sacrifices, part of some kind of ritual. Wallace, having already made his point about Capone’s tax liabilities, is expendable. Malone’s death seems to be some kind of payback or “boomerang” from the etheric realm for his corpse shooting stunt.[33]

Thus we don’t have to rack it up to stupidity. When Nitti fools Malone with the decoy killer (few people who quote it remember that Malone’s “Just like a wop, bringing a knife to a gun fight” line is followed by his being cut apart by a machine gun) it’s psychic payback for the corpse stunt. Malone, like the corpse, is already dead anyway (“It’s a dead man talking to me” said the corrupt cop earlier) and as Grimsson emphasizes, the whole point of being initiated into the warrior band is to be already dead, hence able to fight fearlessly.[34]

If Nitti is Malone’s’ twin, then he seems to play the role of Loki to Malone’s Wotan, in accordance with Grimsson’s suggestion that the Männerbund were led by Wotan but had more secret rites associated with Loki. Nitti’s gender-ambiguity, sudden or subliminal appearances around crimes, and above all his fooling Malone with the decoy assassin (cleverly inverting Malone’s gun vs. knife with shotgun vs. Tommy gun) suggest Loki’s shape-shifting, while his Loki-like boasting about Malone’s death will lead to his own demise, and Ness’s triumph.

Malone’s death, then, is a self-sacrifice, and just as Wotan’s sacrifice leads to knowledge of the runes, both of these deaths are related to communication in some way, an appropriate role for the dead.

Nitti has hung Wallace’s body in the elevator, suggesting one of the odd ways Loki would “assist” Wotan, and used his blood to smear the message “touchable” on the elevator wall, reminding Ness of his mortality. Malone, despite losing about 90% of his blood, is still able to gasp out the train information, but more importantly, he inspires Ness; first, when Ness discovers him and Malone asks, “What are you prepared to do?” and later, when Nitti makes the mistake of mocking his ridiculously bloody death, leading us to see just what Ness in fact is prepared to do. Like Obi-Wan, Malone is even able to inspire Ness after what we would call “death.”

The Train Station sequence, while the final bravura set piece, is really quite dispensable. De Palma added it to Mamet’s script[35] perhaps to show Ness is still capable of defending “family values” despite his increasingly outlaw status,[36] or to re-enforce our memory of the child’s death at the beginning, as well as the threats to Ness’ family; or just as a homage to Eisenstein.

The Law on Trial: “Your Honor, Is this Justice?”

Using the knowledge provided by Wallace and Malone, Ness is able to bring Capone to trial, but perhaps not to justice; the judicial system is as corrupt as the police.

Nitti seems to have the stupid ball now; in other words, some kind of karmic payback for his previous cleverness. First, he stupidly lets Ness spot his gun in the courtroom (even Ness mumbles an incredulous “Unbelievable”), which gives him a perfectly good excuse to have him removed and searched, which yields the list of bribed jurors. Then, Nitti hands over a matchbook that links him to Malone’s death. (What? Has he been carrying it around for weeks?) Panicking, Nitti steals a gun, shoots a cop, and makes his escape up the stairs to the roof. (Has this ever worked out in movies?)

After failing to escape from the roof by — stupidly — climbing down the ivy-covered building (another Eden connection), Ness captures Nitti by successfully executing the same trick, using his superior shamanic powers of deathlessness and shape-shifting. He rolls over the edge of the building, and when Nitti — stupidly — ambles over to check out the corpse, Ness, in corpse pose, has the drop on him.

Ness seems willing to let the system take over at this point, but in a final Act of Stupid, Nitti decides have a little Loki-like laugh about Malone’s death:

Nitti: I said that your friend died screaming like a stuck Irish pig. Now you think about that while I beat the rap. (Nitti is now doubling Stone, who called Malone “a stinking Irish pig.”)

Which causes Ness to revert to full Berserker mode, frog-marching Nitti right off the roof, and shape-shifting him into Malone:

 Nitti: [Screaming as he falls to his death]

Ness: Did he sound like that?

As he falls, Nitti not only shrieks like a little girl, he flaps his arms wildly, as if trying to transform into a white bird against the bright blue sky (or blue screen). But his shamanic powers to fly or shape-shift have been misplaced along with his wisdom.

It’s conceivable that Malone’s death was an elaborate scheme to not only lead Ness to Nitti but insure he would be enraged enough to kill him outright. As Grimsson has pointed out, the member of Odin’s band, the initiate, is already dead, and so does not fear death.

From the alchemical thriller, Red Dragon:

Dr. Frederick Chilton: You caught him. What was your trick?

Will Graham: I let him kill me.

Now Ness has to finish with Capone. Knowing about the bribed jurors, Ness the Trickster bluffs the judge into thinking Ness knows his name is in Capone’s coded ledger, and the judge responds by executing the largest shape-shifting yet:

Judge: Bailiff, I want you to go next door to Judge Hawton’s court, where they’ve just begun hearing a divorce action. I want you to bring that jury in here, and take this jury to his court. Bailiff, are those instructions clear?

Bailiff: [puzzled] Yes, sir, they’re . . . clear . . .

Capone: [to his attorney] What’s he talking about? What is it?

Judge: Bailiff, I want you to switch the juries.

Bailiff: Yes sir.

Defense Attorney: Your honor, I object!

Judge: Overruled!

Remember, Capone is in a civil court, for tax evasion; not murder, but now he will face a family court jury, since in the film’s terms he is guilty of the child’s death at the beginning, the child whose mother asked Ness for justice.

Capone’s attorney reacts by switching his plea to guilty (unlike the jury switching, not really a possible defense motion at this point, but whatever, this is a philosophical fiction) and, as the cliché has it, the courtroom “explodes.”

Ness has achieved his shamanic purpose: he and his androphilic band has inverted reality, ripping the facade off society, and even turned back time. We are back at the beginning of the movie. The elite courtroom of false justice explodes, not the bar full of honest working people. Frank Nitti has exploded into a pile of bloody flesh in the back of a car, not the little girl who found his bomb in the bar. Capone, who we first met telling us that there was no violence in Chicago, at least “not by me,” is now swinging punches wildly, like a common juvenile delinquent.

Capone: I’m askin’ Your Honor, is this justice?

Better he should ask the child’s mother, or Ness’ family in hiding.

“Here endeth the lesson.”

In the aftermath, Ness is cleaning out his office, and finds Malone’s call box key, with its religious medal, St. Jude, patron saint of police and lost causes (“God, I’m with a heathen” Malone had said when having to explain it to Ness). Ness gives it to Stone: “He’d wanted a cop to have it.” Apparently, while Ness is moving on, back with his family (choosing The Path of the Ancestors), Stone will remain.

Here we uncover a final Männerbund: the Twelve Disciples (there were 11 Untouchables in reality, the 12 minus Judas). Stone, born Giuseppe Petri, has received the key(s), and upon this rock a new, uncorrupt police force and cleansed society will be built, safe for Ness and his family to return.[37]

We’ve learned that the Männerbund is not an archaic, literally primitive feature of Aryan culture in a dead past, as the Christians and secular “Progressives” would have us believe (conveniently for them) but an eternal principle, which can always and anywhere be re-accessed and re-created when needed. As Krishna said, in a verse frequently quoted by Savitri Devi:

 yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya
tadatmanam srjamy aham

Whenever there is decline of righteousness
and rise of unrighteousness;
To protect the virtuous, to destroy the wicked and
to re-establish Dharma,
I manifest myself, through the ages.[38]

Notes

1. For example, “It isn’t ancient Sparta (like 300), or The Trojan War (as in Troy). But make no mistake, De Palma brings to The Untouchables the same archetypal flourishes we might reasonably expect in any cinematic depiction of those legends. He transforms real historical figures into larger-than-life scoundrels, saints, and angels. As dramatized by De Palma, The Untouchables is nothing less than the Timeless Heroic Poem of Avenger Eliot Ness.” See John Kenneth Muir’s Reflections on Film/TV, Friday, July 31, 2009, at http://tinyurl.com/yf2psv7 [4].

2. I want to emphasize that these reflections are based on the Brian de Palma film, not the 1950s TV show, the autobiography Ness wrote near his death to make money for his family, or “actual” history, whatever that is. For what it’s worth, “the real Al Capone and Eliot Ness never met face-to-face; there were 11 “Untouchables” who all lived after Prohibition; but most notably, the real Frank Nitti lived several years after Capone’s conviction, rather than being thrown off a roof by Ness” (tvtropes.org [5]). Incredibly, though, the most absurd scene (other than the train station shoot-out), namely, the switching of the juries, really did happen. As Aristotle said, art was more true than history, as it narrates what ought to be.

The script is by David Mamet, who here, and in Glengarry Glen Ross, shows a most un-Judaic, perhaps unconscious, understanding of male group dynamics.

Finally, it needs to be pointed out that it is emblematic of the misunderstanding, at times perhaps deliberate, of Tradition by Westerners and Westernized Hindus like Gandhi, to portray as “untouchables” the supposedly downtrodden lowest castes. Actually, the Untouchable was the highest caste, the Brahmin. See Alain Daniélou, The Way to the Labyrinth: Memories of East and West, (New York: New Directions, 1987), p. 137, where he adds “One of the most typical characteristics of the European mentality is the ability to present everything backwards.”

3. Hans Blüher: Wandervogel. Geschichte einer Jugendbewegung. (Berlin-Tempelhof, 191/23); Die Rolle der Erotik in der männlichen Gesellschaft: Eine Theorie der Menschlichen Staatsbildung (Jena, 1917/19). Neither has ever appeared in English, other than a few excerpts, but see Alisdair Clarke’s “Hans Blüher and the Wandervogel,” a talk from sixth New Right meeting in London, February 2006, available at http://tinyurl.com/24cwn5f [6].

4. “It was this Männerbund, in which the qualification of “man” had simultaneously an initiatory (i.e. sacred) and a warrior meaning, that wielded the power in the social group or clan. This Männerbund was characterized by special tasks and responsibilities; it was different from all other societies to which members of the tribe belonged. In this primordial scheme we find the fundamental ‘categories’ differentiating the political order from the ‘social’ order. First among these is a special chrism – namely, that proper to ‘man’ in the highest sense of the word (vir was the term employed in Roman times) and not merely a generic homo: this condition is marked by a spiritual breakthrough and by detachment from the naturalistic and vegetative plane. Its integration is power, the principle of command belonging to the Männerbund. We could rightfully see in this one of the ‘constants’ (i.e. basic ideas) that in very different applications, formulations and derivations are uniformly found in theory or, better, in the metaphysics of the State that was professed even by the greatest civilizations of the past.” See Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins., trans. Guido Stucco (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2002).

5. All available at http://lulu.com/spotlight/lokisway [7]. Grimsson, by the way, agrees with Aristotle when it comes to dealing with history: truth is “more often than not in myth legends, traditions and symbols; literal history needs to be decoded by it, not vice versa” (p. 19).

6. Grimsson, p. 7.

7. Grimsson, p. 89.

8. Grimsson, p. 7.

10. One could argue, in another essay, that the particular law, Prohibition, was itself responsible for the breakdown in respect for the Law as such, as well as providing the entrée for Capone. In this way, Prohibition is a synecdoche for the Judeo-Christianity which brought about the regression of the castes, or degeneration of the functions, by demonizing the Männerbund (Judaism’s well-known and unique ‘homophobia’). See Grimsson, ch. 6. In addition, not only did ordinary citizens learn to fraternize with criminals, they also became accustomed to hobnobbing with Jews, the financier and businessman par excellence, and even welcoming them into their homes. Once more, the small town Protestant, in their war against big city immigrants, shot themselves in the foot.

11. Tony Tanner, “Introduction” to the Oxford World Classics edition of Moby D**k (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. xix.

12. Jack Donovan, The Way of Men (Portland, Or.: Dissonant Hum, 2012).

13. “. . . the point is that a ‘group’ is the beginning of everything. One man can do nothing, can attain nothing. A group with a real leader can do more. A group of people can do what one man can never do.” — G. I. Gurdjieff, quoted in by P. D. Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (New York: Harcourt, 1949), p. 30.

14. In Search of the Miraculous, p. 222.

15. While Connery won his only Oscar for the role, his performance has been voted “Worst Movie Accent of All Time” in several surveys over the years; in 2009, his runner up was co-star Kevin Costner, for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. See http://tinyurl.com/boy79nv [8]

16. Grimsson, p. 65.

17. Grimsson, p. 79.

18. Interestingly, the real Capone was married, like the standard Mafia “family man,” but in the movie we see no women anywhere around him or his mob, and Capone lives in sybaritic splendor in a swank hotel suite. Malone also lives alone, but in a rundown apartment; also like Capone, his listens to opera, but on a gramophone, not at a meet-and-greet with Caruso. Unlike Capone, or Ness, he cooks for himself, and even serves Ness tea; all somewhat unmanly traits by the social standards of the time, but right at home in the world of the Männerbund.

19. Grimsson, pp. 90–91.

20. Greg Johnson, Confessions of a Reluctant Hater (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2010), pp. 12–13.

21. Donovan, The Way of Men, ch. 2.

22. Grimsson, p. 95.

23. Grimsson, p. 90.

24. Grimsson, p. 93.

25. Grimsson, p. 94.

26. Grimsson, p. 36.

27. Grimsson, p. 90.

28. Grimsson, p. 97.

29. Grimsson, p. 98.

30. Grimsson, p. 101.

31. Discussing this “Language of the Birds,” René Guénon recalls that in the Gospels the “birds of the air” that settle in the branches of the tree that grows from the mustard seed of faith, represent angels in various levels of the spiritual hierarchy, the tree itself being the World Tree which links all the levels, bringing us back to Odin’s hanging, the bridge at the border, which like the tree is a means of changing states, and even the airplane flight with which the sequence opens. See The Sword of Gnosis: Metaphysics, Cosmology, Tradition, Symbolism, ed. by Jacob Needleman (New York: Penguin, 1988), pp. 299–300.

32. Malone’s literally operatic death has been mocked endlessly; even Connery refused to do more than two takes, saying it epitomized “everything he hates about moviemaking.” See the analysis at The Movie Deaths Database: http://www.moviedeaths.com/untouchables,_the/jim_malone/ [9]

33. Baron Evola observed that the Magus, despite his powers, may appear poor, downtrodden, or even in danger of death or injury in this realm, precisely because of his achievements in the higher realms, due to the law of cosmic compensation.

34. Nitti is the shape-shifting Malone’s own double. He’s dressed entirely in white, which is a nice flipping of conventions, like Henry Fonda’s blue-eyed killer, also named Frank, in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, also scored by Morricone. It works nicely cinematically, as his stark white figure is seen yet barely registered on the edges of his crimes, but not so well against the blue screen in his fall. As played by B-movie favorite Billy Drago, he takes the womanless Capone gang over the edge into effeminacy, although perhaps he’s just European. (Later he’ll play the call-boy that ruins Steven Lang’s life in that monument to despair, Last Exit to Brooklyn.) When a bailiff puts a hand on his shoulder, he shakes it off with the haughty annoyance of a drag queen dismissing an unwanted bar patron. He suggests both the feminine and the reptilian, and thus the snake in the Garden, thus forbidden knowledge, and ultimately his own Fall. He is the Evil Tutor to the Evil Männerbund, just as the real Frank Nitti was not a killer but more of a consigliore. (While red-haired Tom Hagen was always shown as a family man, in accordance with the Don’s views, the balding actor, Robert Duvall, suggests a kind of James Carville snakiness.)

35. “That cockamamie baby carriage”; see “David Mamet Talks About The Untouchables on Tax Day” by Ben Kenber of Yahoo Voices at http://voices.yahoo.com/david-mamet-talks-untouchables-5905806.html?cat=2 [10]

36. “Ness collects a small bunch of would-be vigilante cops (vigilante in the sense that since the rest of the force is corruptly suckling on the teat of organized crime payouts, their righteousness could be considered transgressive)” — Eric Henderson on October 4, 2004 http://www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/review/the-untouchables/463 [11]

37. If assimilating the Apostles to the warrior band seems forced, it is, like the switched juries, absurdly real. Christianity was presented to the Germanic tribes in the form of a revamped gospel story, the Heliand, in which Jesus leads his warriors on raids between Fort Rome and Fort Jerusalem. See G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., The Saxon Savior: The Germanic Transformation of the Gospel in the Ninth-Century Heliand (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995) and James Russell, The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).

38. Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 4, Verse 7.

(Review Source)
Counter Currents Staff

[1]1,276 words

Author’s Note:

While preparing an essay on Zack Snyder’s Watchmen [2], which I think is the greatest superhero movie ever made, I came across the following review of 300, which for reasons now forgotten, I never got around to publishing. Since my readers have come to expect untimely meditations on movies, I thought I would dust it off. Give me your thoughts.

Zack Snyder’s 300 [3] (Warner Brothers 2007), based on Frank Miller’s popular graphic novel [4] of the same name, retells the story of King Leonidas of Sparta and his bodyguards, all but two of whom died defending the pass of Thermopylae against a vast Persian army in 480 BC. (Since everyone should already know the story, I trust I will not be spoiling the ending.) In addition to the 300 Spartans, several thousand other Greeks also fought, and many of them died as well, but the Spartans are remembered for being particularly unsparing with their own lives.

The story of Thermopylae survives because it is retold. It is retold, because it inspires. It inspires because the Spartans did the right thing, which is rare and hard: they preferred collective freedom, even at the price of war, over peace purchased by submission to alien peoples and ways. Leonidas and his men, most of whom had sons to carry on their names, were willing to sacrifice their individual lives because they hoped to assure the collective survival and freedom of their families, including their common extended family, Sparta herself.

In the retelling, the tale of Thermopylae has inevitably been embroidered and mythologized. There are contradictions and gaps in the surviving accounts. But the real tale of Thermopylae is worth retelling, and it really can be retold. We can aim at complete historical accuracy, and where history does not record every detail, then we can aim at complete historical plausibility. Where our story cannot be true, it can at least be likely.

The only reason to set aside historical accuracy is because one wishes to use Thermopylae to promote values the Spartans would have found alien and repellent. This was done during the French Revolution, when the image of the aristocratic Spartans was used to promote egalitarianism. It is also done in Snyder’s 300, where historical accuracy and plausibility are cast to the winds to pursue another agenda.

[5]The question, though, is: Whose agenda?

The reason so many find 300 a shocking, perplexing movie is that the most straightforward interpretation is as White Nationalist race war propaganda in the vein of William Pierce’s The Turner Diaries.

Although director Snyder preserves Miller’s sepia and red dominated color palate, there can be no confusion about the races of the protagonists. The Spartans are portrayed as Nordic Europeans, physically magnificent and beautiful Nordics, which is historically accurate. The Persians, however, are portrayed as entirely non-white. Some of them are even non-human. Most of them are blacks and racially indeterminate mongrels. The Persian Emperor Xerxes is portrayed by a towering mulatto. The Persian Immortals are dressed like ninjas, and when their masks are removed, they look like orcs from The Lord of the Rings [6] movies.

But clearly 300 was not made to promote White Nationalism. So what is its real agenda? To answer that question, we have to look at Frank Miller’s original graphic novel. My first impression was that 300 is the work of a Jewish neoconservative. But Miller is apparently not a Jew. He was raised a Catholic. Upon closer inspection, 300 reads like the work of an Objectivist: “mysticism” is disdained, “reason” and “freedom” are exalted. In terms of their foreign policy, Objectivists are hyper-bellicose Zionists who disdain the neoconservatives as too soft, sentimental, and unprincipled.

Now that Iraq has been devastated at American expense, Iran is at the top of the Zionist hit list. Thus it makes perfect sense to create a graphic novel and a movie about European resistance to a Persian invasion. Thus 300 plays the same role as Oliver Stone’s Alexander [7], which also has a clear element of Zionist war propaganda, as I argue in a review here [8].

In the original graphic novel, the struggle between the Spartans and the Persians cannot be interpreted as a race war, simply because all the characters, even the Spartans, look like Negroes or Negroid mongrels. Why Miller (along with co-artist Lynn Varley) chose this mode of portrayal is hard to fathom. My guess is that their image of the ancients is based on their ideal audience, the “tan everyman,” the brown mongrel race that would emerge through universal miscegenation, the ideal citizen of a universal homogeneous state.

In addition to Miller’s repugnant racial, political, and philosophical agenda, his dialogue is, well, what you would expect from a comic book, rarely rising above the pedestrian, anachronistic, and clichéd.

Yes, there are some good bits here and there, particularly Miller’s treatment of Ephialtes, the hunchback who would have been discarded by the Spartans as an infant, but who was saved by his tender-hearted parents. Ephialtes offers his services to Leonidas, but Leonidas rejects him as unfit to fight with all compassion consistent with being truthful. Leonidas suggests that he is capable of tending the wounded and bringing water to the warriors, but Ephialtes, in a narcissistic rage, instead betrays the Spartans to their doom. Xerxes says that Leonidas was cruel to demand that Ephialtes stand. Xerxes, out of kindness, demands only that he kneel. Leonidas, when he sees that Ephialtes has betrayed him, wishes that he live forever — for a dishonorable life is a far worse fate than an honorable death. It is pure Nietzsche, by way of Ayn Rand, but it is also magnificently Greek, and a fundamental rejection of Christian and liberal values.

But, for the most part, Miller’s script is an insult, not just to Leonidas and the Spartans, but to the taste and intelligence of anyone with a basic knowledge of history and literature. It is really, really stupid.

[9]

Director Zack Snyder

Director Zack Snyder (who is not Jewish either) was artist enough to cast the Spartans as Europeans, but for some reason he did not tamper with Miller’s vision of the Persians. Perhaps it appealed to his imagination as a monster movie director.

Snyder, by the way, is so talented a director that one occasionally forgets how stupid and offensive the script is.

To the naïve viewer (and face it, that is practically everyone these days), 300 is a visually stunning ballet of slaughter. It is a poetic celebration of the love of comrades, the hatred of enemies, the sublimity of self-sacrifice, and plain old ripped, shredded, berserk, rampaging machismo.

The movie also explains and justifies the brutal eugenic selection and military training of the Spartans. If Sparta still existed, this movie would have sent waves of young men seeking to enlist in its military, just as Full Metal Jacket turned into a recruitment movie for the Marines.

And because of Snyder’s casting choices, Miller’s abstractions about reason and mysticism make scarcely any impression compared to the stark confrontation of Europeans against the invading hordes of Africa and the Near East.

The Persians of 300 do not resemble Ancient Persians at all. Nor do they resemble modern Persians so much as the blacks, Arabs, and North Africans who make up the bulk of Europe’s Muslim invaders.

If in ten or twenty years, Europe explodes into race war and expels the Muslims, the consciousness of the young men who fight will be shaped more by the images of Zack Synder’s Spartans than by almost forgotten figures like Charles Martel.

The sacrifice of Leonidas and the 300 inspired the Greeks to unite and repel the Persian invasion. May they continue to inspire our people to ever newer victories.

(Review Source)
Return of Kings Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
is an aspiring philosopher king, living the dream, travelling the world, hoarding FRNs and ignoring Americunts. He is a European at heart, lover of Latinas, and currently residing in the USA.
(Review Source)
The American Conservative Staff
(”300” is briefly mentioned in this.)
In keeping with a proud tradition of not placing too much importance on most pop culture products and arguing vehemently against reading political messages in the plotlines of space operas, I had steered clear of the ever–widening circle of arguments over the political “message” of Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up (I should mention at this point that I have not seen this movie).  There is a part of me that would like to encourage left-of-center movie reviewers to see every cinematic depiction of normal human behaviour as a coded conservative propaganda effort, thus reinforcing the association of normality with conservatism that any supposed propaganda effort would be trying to achieve.  This saves conservatives some of the trouble in actually producing our own films, as it attributes the production of films in which conservatives had no role to our supposedly vast network of Hollywood influence.  In addition to being very amusing, because it is so obviously contrary to fact, this serves to increase the public perception that such-and-such a popular, entertaining movie is “conservative.”  It also gives conservative movie reviewers things to write about, as they attempt to perceive the hidden references to Burke in The Bourne Supremacy*.  For the most part, however, I find this sort of movie criticism annoying because it is so obviously wrong and compels everyone to label quite arbitrarily different pieces of art, television and film according to mostly inappropriate or misleading political categories.  Instead of appreciating Pan’s Labyrinth as a work of magical realism, it seems as if everyone felt compelled to show off his anti-fascist credentials by talking up the supposed political lessons of the film.  Instead of trying to understand, say, the New Caprica sequence in Battlestar Galactica as an interesting attempt to tell a different side of a war story there was no shortage of observers who wanted to make it into a commentary on Iraq.  Interpretations of 300 were similarly obsessed with either its horrible Orientalism or its supposedly subversive attack on Bush.  I suppose there could be and are political messages worked into all sorts of stories (I am more sympathetic to interpreting Apocalypto as a conservative morality play, which is far less speculative given the well-known politics of the director), but I suppose I have never quite understood why this becomes the basis for criticising the story or, more dramatically, rejecting it outright.  This is my general rule of thumb: the less overt and clear the political references, the better the work of art.  If you can very readily glean a political message from a film (at least any film not explicitly intended as propaganda), it is probably not terribly well made and probably not worth watching.  Take V for Vendetta, for instance–please!   There have been some cases where Hollywood studio politics clearly clashed with the marketing and release of films that had potentially very un-P.C. implications, resulting in their narrow release and fairly dismal box office receipts (and possibly contributing a little to their later critical acclaim).  Children of Men and Idiocracy were two films that, even in the Cuaronised version of the Children of Men plotline, seem to have conveyed messages that so horrified their respective studios that the studios seem to have tried to sabotage their success.  Both films pointed towards–probably unwittingly for the most part–the issues of “birth dearth” and demographic collapse that might be taken as encouragement for a natalist politics, and Idiocracy also had the “bad” taste to clearly put intelligence and heredity at the center of its story.      *In case anyone couldn’t tell, this is not a serious example. ]]>
(Review Source)