Tag Archives: Belarus

Oz: Mythic Power in the Power of Mythic Deception

Ok, my not so amazing prediction: “Oz, the Great and Powerful,” will not be nominated for any academy awards next year.  The new Oz comes out just over 11 and under 12 months after The Hunger Games (premiered March 23 2012) which is its ideological opposite: Hunger Games is a movie of the people against the government crowds are shown, but closeups of faces in the crowd are not cartoon snapshots of stereotypes—in the new Oz, all the common people are cartoon snapshots). 

Oz is a movie which not only glorifies but presumes that monarchical government and autocracy, a government of “Archons” is both natural and essential.  In Oz: the Great and Powerful, we see only the cartoonish choice between good dictators/kings and bad dictators/kings (reminiscent of the 1939 Glinda’s question to Dorothy: “are you a good witch or a bad witch?”)

“Oz, the Great and Powerful,” may neither be certainly a great or powerful cinematic event, but it is not a bad movie.  It is more than worth seeing and thinking about.  As a statement of political power mythology, it is closest (but superior both as a movie and as a dramatic contribution to mythic evolution) to “Batman, Dark Knight Rises”.   

As a Disney Production and product of the Magic Kingdom, Oz finds pro-monarchist, elitist ideological common ground with The Lion King (June 15, 1994).  But whereas world of Simba and Mufassa was elegantly pure Dumézilian structuralist mythology in support of the absolute monarchy of the lions, Oz merely celebrates Bush-Cheney-Obama low-brow dictatorship by deceit.  

Fair to say I enjoyed Oz: the Great and Powerful more than I thought I would given the almost universally disappointed/disappointing reviews.  It is true that the three witches are pretty much flat, two dimensional, and on the dull side even if they are more conventionally attractive than even Glinda was in the 1939 Classic and each is more beautiful possessing more sex appeal than Elphaba in “Wicked.”  But Elphaba is a MUCH more interesting character, developed with oh so much more depth and dimensions.

“Wicked” has ten to a hundred times more lasting mythological power as a post-modern statement of relativism than anything in “Oz, the Great and Powerful.”   But on the other hand, James Franco’s Oz is more realistic as a portrayal of conservative, monarchical values than Batman or Bruce Wayne was in the last installment of the Dark Knight Trilogy.  Oscar Diggs is not exactly Scar from the Lion King either.  He is really closest to any of the past four U.S. Presidents Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama.  His personality comes nowhere close to as engaging as Ronald Reagan or as articulate and humble as Carter.

There are really only three ways to portray political power in a story:  (1) as natural and necessary—so that the struggle is between good and bad “rulers”, (2) unnatural and not only unnecessary but oppressive and therefore evil—so that the struggle is between the people and the power structure, and (3) natural or at least “a given” —“always with us” (kind of like “the poor”) but essentially trivial and irrelevant.

Movies of the third type used to be fairly common in the American cinematic repertoire, but they have all but vanished in modern times.  The third type of movie was the “heroes ride off into the sunset” variety of “Western” or “rugged individualist” myth embodied and exemplified seriously as in (1) Casablanca, (2) High Noon, and (3)  The African Queen or comically as in (4) Cat Ballou.  

Recent years have seen Hunger Games and Serenity in the “Government is the Enemy” category pitted against Batman: Dark Knight and now Oz: the Great and Powerful.  Oz and Batman presume the paradoxical necessity of autocratic rule in society, with “Good” Autocrats guaranteeing “Freedom & Justice” while “Bad” Autocrats are just like the Good Autocrats only “Bad.”   Television series such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,”, “Angel”, and “Dexter” tend to vacillate between “Government as the Enemy” and “Government is always there but Irrelevant.”  

In “Oz: the Great and Powerful”, we see a very specific “real world” dramatic retelling of the story of the disembodied leader becoming more powerful after death, as an Icon and a Myth, than he ever could have been as an earthly individual.  The Character of the Wizard Oscar Diggs is not even “intriguingly” Banal and Ordinary.  He is really kind of uninspiringly banal and ordinary—much like the real life Bill Clinton or George W. Bush.   Like George W. Bush, Diggs is a master of illusion and deceit, and that is his primary qualification as a leader.  Like Clinton, Oscar Diggs’ “Oz” is attractive to the ladies and that makes the movie at least somewhat pleasant to watch.  But as with last year’s somewhat deadly dud “Dark Shadows” with Johnny Depp, stories involving beautiful but jealous witches are really so awfully unoriginal as to be boring—and I’ve not only watched too many I’ve lived the story in real life just several too many times….ahem, but I digress…

Unlike the stories of both Dorothy Gale (or her as yet cinematically almost unknown friend and colleague in adventure in most of L. Frank Baum’s later stories, “Ozma”) and Elphaba, there is hardly a hint of feminism or “girl power” in any of the three witches.  (No “Buffy” or “Willow” or even “Anya” on the scenes of this Oz).   Even Glinda (Michelle Williams) is at best a kind of exquisitely delicate, weak, very pretty and attractive but only marginally talented “second rate” witch outshown and outperformed by Oz’ mechanical illusions which ultimately succeed in vanquishing and exiling the evil sisters to the East and West of the Emerald City.  [It made sense to see Oz on St. Patrick’s Day weekend since Oz, like Ireland and Ancient Maya Yucatán, is a magic land divided into four color-coded cardinal direction (NSEW) quarters of the world with Green at the Center—the Emerald City = the Yaxché at the Center of the Maya universe and Tara at the cosmic and ritual center of the Emerald Isle itself].  

[The beautiful witch who turns green and ugly (the future W.W. West, Mila Kunis) reminds me ever so much of my own former wife Elena K….. beautiful and ambitious in the beginning, looked really good in red, but ultimately deadly and green   for all the wrong reasons (Elphaba was green for “good” reasons).]

What are interesting from the standpoint of mythic deconstruction in “Oz, the Great and Powerful” are Oz’ assertions that he is more powerful as a disembodied image than as a man, that illusion is more powerful than reality.  This IS a valid post-modern deconstruction of the American Presidency, and of Institutional “Corporate” government and economy in general.

Does the generalization apply to the life of Julius Caesar, or merely to the post-mortem TITLE of Caesar, which endured for a thousand years as the Supreme Emblem of “Imperial” Authority in the non-Latin monarchs (Kaisers & Tsars) of Germany, Austria, and Russia?  

A certain kind of post-modern deconstructionalist will tell you that Jesus Christ and Julius Caesar both planned their deaths for the purpose of Apotheosis and Institutionalization of Power.  This is exactly what Oscar Diggs does in “Oz: the Great and Powerful.”  

Power by deception and illusion is the political science of Machiavelli’s Il Principe and Cardinal Richelieu’s dictum “to dissemble is to rule” as well as the apparent embodiment of the theory underlying American foreign policy probably since the sinking of the Battleship Maine. Power by deception and illusion is a very anti-democratic theory of the origin and nature of power, totally opposed to the Katniss Everdeen or Buffy Summers schools of “Divine Kingship through Combat and Sacrifice.”  Katniss and Buffy were both pitted against dictatorships built on bloody lies and concealment of the truth, as were the “Wild West” type heroes on the Crew of “Serenity” (paired with Buffy and Angel, also by Joss Whedon).  As I have been writing for more than ten years, Buffy Summers’ death in Season Five of her series was a classic “Golden Bough” moment, though after Buffy’s resurrection in Season Six she was not quite “divine” after all.  Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark in Hunger Games together played the game of the Rex Nemorensis in Diana’s Wood at Aricia very well as a team (a wonderful team unprecedented in history or myth).

Essentially, the lesson we should learn from “Oz: the Great and Powerful” is that all institutional (aka “Corporate” = permanent but impersonal, perpetual) government originates in and works best when founded on lies. In this political theory, lies and falsehood and illusion are sources of strength, and the secrets must be kept by those in the “inner circle” of government, even by China Dolls….(a reference to the “Dainty China Doll” in L. Frank Baum’s original book “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” which did not make it into the 1939 Judy Garland “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” musical movie).

Batman: Dark Knight surely reflects the same ideology, but never states it quite so bluntly.   So Oz now joins with certain deconstructionist interpretations of the lives of Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, Abraham Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy…. in articulation the rule by deception explanation of the origin and nature of political power.  I can only pray for the ultimate triumph of the poor man’s “Divine Kingship” model of weak government, an essentially anarchical theory of government as a model of or metaphor for nature red in tooth and claw…. wherein the King (or Queen) is normally only a symbol of nature rather than an actual wielder of power.  

In which connexion, long live Buffy Summer & Katniss Everdeen.

A Prayer for True Memory and History on the 206th Anniversary of the Birth of Robert Edward Lee, Commanding General of the Army of Northern Virginia, President of Washington & Lee University

Since December 9, 2012, I have been staying in the French Quarter, about a 20 minutes to half an hour leisurely walk to Lee Circle where a high pedestal support’s a statute of one of Virginia’s most famous sons, forever looking north because “you never turn your back on the enemy.”  My grandparents raised me to celebrate Marse’ Robert’s birthday and remember and study his life and heroism, both before, during and after the War Between the States.  I have never had any problem keeping his memory because I think he represents all the good values that were and ever could be called “American”—he was an exceedingly intelligent man of principles including loyalty and devotion, hard work, individual responsibility, skill and excellence.

This year I have not yet visited Confederate Memorial Hall, just south of Lee Circle.  It is probably the longest I have ever been in New Orleans without paying at least a quick visit, and there are many reasons for this but one is that it is no longer officially called “Confederate Memorial Hall” but has been recently rechristened “Louisiana’s Civil War Museum at Confederate Memorial Hall.”

Nothing is more insulting to Lee’s Memory or to the Heritage of the South in general and the Confederate States of America in particular than to refer to the War of 1861-1865 as “the Civil War.”  From the Southern adn Confederate standpoints, that War was as much the “American Civil War” as World Wars I and II were the “European Civil Wars.”   The analogy is fair enough only to the degree that after World War II, first the European Economic Community (E.E.C.) and then the European Union both sought to transform Europe into a new, single Continental Nation.  

The first movie ever filmed to be seen commercially by more than a million people was D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation”, released in 1915, based on a historical novel entitled “the Klansman.”  The new nation born during and after the War Between the States was a centralized Republic with a top-heavy Federal Bureaucracy modeled very generally on the economic controls imposed top down from the Imperial Central in the later Roman Empire in a manner which has come to be known as “Byzantine.”

On this 206th Anniversary of the Birth of Robert Edward Lee, son of  Governor Light Horse “Harry” Lee of Virginia, I pray that the honour and integrity of the South will be properly remembered, along with Lee’s individual, unique and irreplaceable, un-reproducable honour and integrity.  

I pray that people will start learning history more fully and accurately, and above all critically, with the understanding that the victors always write history, but that victory in war is not in fact justice in the eyes of God, despite what many of us, including many of us Southerners, believe about the value of “trial-by-battle” in the Mediaeval sense of “Justice by Duel.”  

Even in Mediaeval legal theory, Duels were ONLY fairly calculated to result in a decision by God when the two parties to the duel are equally equipped, armed, trained and skillful.  The armor and the horses had to be comparable and equivalent, and a weaker person had the right to appoint a “champion” to fight in his or her place, as Ilsa von Brabant famously did in Richard Wagner’s opera “Lohengrin” which even preserved the notion of combat only coming “at high noon” so that the sun would be in neither combatant’s eyes at the outset.   The title of one of the finest Western movies about a duel, Gary Cooper’s “High Noon” (1950) also retains this reference to the equality of the Sun God (Shamash) who presided over such duels (judicially approved and jury-supervised “trials-by-combat”) even in Ancient Akkad, Asshur (Assyria), and Babylon.

I pray that even under the Dark Skies of the Obama Presidency and all the propaganda coming out in this day and age, that a more just and inquiring notion of history will prevail in the collective, cultural memory of America, and that the virtue and dignity of the Southern and Confederate Constitutional position be realized and recognized, and the glory given to the Victorious Yankee North be tempered by the reality that northern industrialism produced the same identical level of misery and deprivation among white workers as was chronicled by Charles Dickens in England and Victor Hugo in France.  

I pray that people will understand that if we weep for Fantine and her plight in Les Miserables (published precisely in 1862, during the first full year of the War Between the States), we must also recognize the condition of “Free” labor in the North and Europe was in a hundred ways worse and more depraved than the plight of black slaves in the South.  If in no other, this is true in one major regard: only an insane slaveholder would really work his slaves to death, without caring for them as human beings, in that slaves were wealth and capital, and senselessly to destroy the life or health of a slave was like throwing gold into the sea or burning paper money backed by real gold (unlike the trash Federal Reserve Notes we use today).

By contrast, as shown in Dickens’ writings and Hugo’s, and as analyzed by Karl Marx and Frederich Engels and their followers, “free” laborers in the mid-19th Century in the North had no life-long security whatsoever.  

As soon as the “free laborer’s” strength or health should start to fail, that free laborer’s productivity declined or perhaps he was eaten up by the very machines he tended due to “assumption of the risk” by accepting employment.  The “Free Labor” capitalist therefore had a strong motivation to dismiss his worn out workers and throw them into the streets, a version of the “hellish life” captured in Les Miserables was worse than death itself. This reality was revisited (1998) by Joss Whedon in an Episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer called “Anne” in which the residents of Hell work in a 19th Century style factory until they are exhausted and old (in just a short time as it turns out) and thrown back out on the streets of modern Los Angeles to live as homeless derelicts.

All these realities need to be weighed against the supposed virtuous abolition of slavery. And accordingly, I pray that people will begin to think and remember and reflect not only about the history of the 19th century, but of the 20th and even our own times.  Were we the victors REALLY the more virtuous parties in World Wars I and II, for example?  In World War I, the answer is a fairly certain absolute NO.  In World War II, the mythology has grown into a reality and even a political constitution and ecumenical social theory so thick that it is almost impenetrable.  

But if we look, again, at the details, and if we dare to compare the early German rockets or “Buzz Bombs” sent by Wernher von Braun against London in 1944-45 with the American A-Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I think we will see that the American weapons were a far more sinister manifestation of technology.  What about the senseless fire-bombing of Dresden in 1945 when the war was almost over?  

Then if we look at the Soviets, whom we supported, and what they did to their own populations (Stalin’s purge of “the Kulaks” for instance, beginning in 1928), was our side as a whole really better than the Germans?

Even if the worst stories are true about German antisemitism, “ethnic cleansing”, and other population reorganizations and purges, no one can state that the Germans actually moved or relocated anywhere nearly as many millions of people as the Soviets and their allies forcibly relocated from the German sectors of East and West Prussia, Silesia, Posen, Danzig, and Eastern Pomerania, even as millions of Poles were uprooted and moved East to replace the Eastern quarter of Germany, after 1945-46.  

The Germans of the Sudetenland were also expelled from their homes of time immemorial.  The thousand year old Eastern boundary of the German people was moved back across Poland and Czechoslovakia to fit Stalin’s plans.  Again, who was guilty of greater genocidal crimes?  Or did Stalin’s relocations of the Poles, the Belarus, the Ukrainians, and the Germans count for nothing?

An since the war, have not the Allied Powers faithfully reenacted the predictions of perpetual war as framed by George Orwell in “1984“?  Have not the Communists become indistinguishable from the Corporate leaders they supposedly fought to overthrow as Orwell similarly predicted in “Animal Farm“?  Is there not evidence that, at least since Pearl Harbor and possibly since the explosion of the Battleship Maine, the United States Government has staged more than a hundred years of False Flag attacks against its own people to make certain that this condition of perpetual warfare exists and that there are more and more justifications (like the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut most recently) to curtail the fundamental freedoms and liberties for which George Washington, and Robert E. Lee, spent their lives fighting?

I pray that Americans will start waking up and thinking about reality, and observe the contradictions inherent in all things, but especially in our official versions of history, and that we will work to examine our past, our present, and our futures to discover and establish deeper and more meaningful truths about the sad story which is the epic of human history.

May everyone in the World in fact look to Robert Edward Lee and the Confederate States of America as emblematic of justice defeated, of liberty lost, and of the dangers of using imbalanced thinking and propaganda as tools of social change. 

As I have written a thousand times if I’ve written it once: Chattel Human Slavery was abolished everywhere in the world (as an openly and officially legal institution, anyhow….) between 1790 and 1930. ONLY in the United States of America did the abolition of legal chattel slavery result in war, and what a coincidence that this happened 13 years after the Communist Manifesto, in a Republican Administration with so many German Communist refugees from Europe in charge, and with Karl Marx’ official blessings and endorsements—none of facts which are EVER taught in American Middle or High School history classes…