Tag Archives: Joss Whedon

80,000 Pounds Sterling is a Lot of Money: Internet Through the Looking Glass—Lies, Damn Lies, Ripoffs of the Ripoff Report, and what’s on-line—the Web as Liar’s Paradise…..NO REALITY CHECKS REQUIRED!

Posting anonymously on the web—is one of the Web’s great contributions to pro-freedom subversive activity around the world.  “Can’t stop the signal, Mal”—from Joss Whedon’s movie Serenity is one of the glorious mottos of our day-and-age.

I have recently been getting a nasty lesson in the downside of this subversive activity however: On the Web, “anything goes.”  Any lie, no matter how outrageous, will not only go totally censored, it will be copied and sent then thousand times around the world, getting stranger and less real with every traverse.

Rumor Volat, as Vergil wrote in the story of Dido and Aeneas (rumors fly!), it starts off as a small child harmlessly wandering in a meadow, and grows as it moves into giant with a club smashing houses and buildings and tearing up trees.

Since August of 2012 I have been complaining about some vicious lies and publications by people claiming to be clients who never me, much less worked with me or paid me.  A few of these first appeared on the “Ripoff Report”—supposedly a consumer watchdog website. But I am beginning to realize that this “Ripoff Report” is just a free haven for GENUINE scammers and liars seeking to charge fees to erase the defamation left by others with the immunity and impunity that anonymity provides. MySpace is getting to be that way also.  Probably Facebook next. 

How many of you have seen this add or received this e-mail: “We can remove the derogatory information about you from the web” for a fee, more-or-less substantial?

A variant of this is “Your Privacy and Reputation are at Stake!”

OH MY GOD! The Ripoff Report itself specializes in providing a “safe haven” for anonymous slanderers…. I can’t quite figure out how “MySpace” is going to operate, but I doubt it will be good…

I have heard of copying news stories and embellishing them, but I have recently been the victim of a particularly HILARIOUS embellishment, which shows just how disconnected from reality ANY information on the web can be: I now stand not merely of scamming people, but (apparently) of doing so in England (or Ireland, it’s not exactly clear—possibly Israel, I guess, right?) because my assistant Peyton “Freeman” is now accused of putting liens on people’s property FOR SUMS OF MONEY STATED IN POUNDS STERLING—this would be just hilarious, if it hadn’t been pointed out to me by people in BRENTWOOD I had never met and were concerned about it:

As of Sunday October 7, 2012:

on http://www.alivenotdead.com/leesherrill615, the two screenshot show exactly what some lamebrain idiot said (twice, with very telling variations):

80 Thousand Pounds is a LOT OF MONEY!

Lies, Damn lies, and “Free information on the Internet”

Two Posts made within half an hour of each other.....

Showing the synchronic duplication with variations of the lies

“Der Anarch”—Asserting our Sovereign Individuality and Sovereign Citizenship as not only “Anarchen” but also “Ubermenschen” is the only path to resist Totalitarianism in the United States and around the World

You see a lot of insults being heaped these days at the core Constitutional concept of “the sovereign citizen” as a political or philosophical movement these days, as if it were conjured up by a bunch of illiterate hillbillies  who just want to hide their moonshine & pot-liquor from “the feds” and the “revenuers.”  Credible reports from all over the United States suggest that local police are everywhere being taught to watch out for the dangerous “sovereign citizens” who assert their constitutional rights “too often or too loudly” as subversive terrorists.  My perspective on such matters is: MAY THE LORD OUR GOD BLESS, KEEP, AND PROTECT ALL SUBVERSIVE TERRORISTS WHO FIGHT FOR THEIR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS, JUST AS HE KEPT AND PROTECTED PATRICK HENRY, GEORGE WASHINGTON, THOMAS JEFFERSON, JAMES MADISON, BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, and ANDREW JACKSON BEFORE….

And ever since Liza Mundy published my identity as an “Anarchist” (she left out the “Traditional, Jeffersonian, Southern Constitutionalist” modifiers to that label) in the Washington Post on October 6, 2009, I have repeatedly been asked to explain myself—how can I be an “anarchist?”  Doesn’t that mean I just want “chaos?”  Well, up to a point, I will admit that “chaos” to me seems preferable to computer driven and enforced high-tech “order.”  I would rather live in Early Anglo-Saxon or Norse Viking Society or at the edge of the Western Frontier in 18th Century Virginia than in any of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984, or Jerry Brown’s Barbara Boxer’s & Dianne Feinstein’s California 2013.

But it happens that living in a “leaderless” society and accepting no man as an arbiter of YOUR OWN DEFINITION of “good and evil” (or going beyond such things) has a very respectable historical pedigree….  Today I just want to celebrate Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and Ernst Jünger— http://www.ernst-juenger.org.  

Ernst Jünger was an anti-Nazi German Conservative and Intellectual of the highest calibre and standing.  He lived until the age of 102, from 1895-1998, beating even my grandmother Helen for longevity (she only made it to 101).  

My political philosophy is fundamentally anti-modern and therefore truly “conservative” whereas Naziism, like George H.W. Bush’s & George W. Bush’s Socialist-Corporatism (which includes Obama and the Clintons, by the way), is fundamentally modernist—embracing technology as a means of oppression and control by monitoring.  

No  “Traditional, Jeffersonian, Southern Constitutionalist” could possibly tolerate the Department of Homeland Security, the National Defense Authorization Act, or any of the now thousands of related executive orders.  GHW Bush, GW Bush, WJ Clinton, HR Clinton, and BH Obama are all fundamentally students and followers of Stalin, Mao, and perhaps even Hitler. (1) 

I am much more a student and follower of Ernst Jünger.

Jünger was among the forerunners of magical realism—a very broad topic into which I think you could integrate everything from Joss Whedon’s Buffy-the-Vampire Slayer TV Series to Terrance Malick’s films (include “To the Wonder” and “Tree of Life”).  A friend of mine from the Ukraine recently commented that Jünger’s view of life and the current historical trajectory involves the “re-mythologization of the world,” the protection, preservation, and restoration of individual imagination, instinct, intuition as major factors in world politics and society.  

My supplement to this is that all historical interpretations and political philosophies are essentially mythologies informed by more-or-less gross reorderings of the events of individual, local, regional, national, continental, and global existence.  The mythology of American Constitutional Law depends entirely (these days) on the so-called “Civil War” of 1861-1865, except to the degree that it is supplemented by the post-1945 One World Religion of the Taboo Holocaust and the Credal virtues of the United Nations.

Jünger’s vision in The Glass Bees (1957, German title: Gläserne Bienen), of a future in which an overmechanized world threatens individualism, could be seen as a direct critique of Artificial (robotic) Intelligence and even this “Aryan Traditionalism” you’re looking at (which reminds me so much of “The Santa Fe Plateau and New Age Alchemy” of Yosi Taitz, Daylight Chemical, and similar companies….)

Jünger was an entomologist as well as a soldier and writer, a “manly man” but sensitive poet with training in botany and zoology, as well as a soldier, his works in general are infused with tremendous details of the natural world.

One of Jünger’s most important literary contributions was the metahistoric figure of Der Anarch (“the sovereign person”), which evolved from his earlier conception of the Waldgänger, or “Forest Goer”.  Der anarch is Jünger’s answer to the question of survival of individual freedom in a totalitarian world, and it is ten thousand times more relevant today than it was 57 years ago as he was writing.  It is developed primarily through the character of Martin Venator in his novel Eumeswil.   Der Anarch IS not only the original “Sovereign Citizen”, at least the original “post Hitlerian” sovereign citizen, he is also a Nietzschean Ubermensch, with the capacity to retake his sovereignty from tyrants and maintain it, like the Superman, even in the forest, even in the Mountains, even in the Desert.

I totally believe in the sovereignty of each person and I hate the notion that the sovereign citizen has become the object of such ridicule in our society—a terrorist profile in the target of DHS.  What is clear is that we need to reassert our freedom in more articulate and fluent ways.  Fluency is required and intellectual heritage must be asserted because of the intellectual snobbery bred into us and our by the 20th century.  This snobbery led to such atrocious and fraudulent (incomprehensible) disasters as George W. Bush having degrees from both Harvard and Yale (it’s amazing what money can buy) and Obama attending Columbia, Harvard, and (worst of all) actually teaching at the University of Chicago—teaching constitutional law, no less, at MY alma mater as a successor to Michael W. McConnell—a concept which simply shocks and derails me.

Academic snobbery, which L. Frank Baum once ridiculed as a “Wogglebug Education” even after the Wizard’s dispensation of Brains to the Scarecrow was not a factor in the foundation of America, by men whose minds and mental capacities are simply beyond equal anywhere. No, lack of degrees and academic affiliation quite simply didn’t bother the extremely well-educated under-institutionalized Founding Fathers of the USA such as Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin one little bit….and didn’t actually have much of an impact on intellectual or philosophical careers in the 19th century either—consider that Richard Wagner never went to a music conservatory, Charles Darwin dropped out of Medical School and only grudgingly completed a degree in divinity at Cambridge, which he, oddly enough, never really used….and the lack of formal education completed by such legendary U.S. Presidents as Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln is a part of every schoolboy’s and schoolgirl’s learning—or at least it used to be before modern education norms set in.

In this same spirit, Ernst Jünger rejected all the titles and honors offered him by Hitler’s Third-Reich, and when assigned as a cultural attachee during the occupation of Paris, chose to hang out with subversive and degenerate artists…  This is the true legacy of a genuine Anarchist, and the world would do well to remember how important the “leaderless” spirit can be when “Obama’s going to change things….Obama’s going to make it happen” as some of the children’s school songs now go….

(a)  Unlike so many modern critics of 20th-21st century totalitarianism, I cannot automatically group Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco in the same list as Stalin and his Soviet successors, or Roosevelt and his Keynsian modern American Successors. I think Hitler was in fact much more of an ordinary person than any of these others, but at the same time he had higher and more “humane” [i.e. romantic, not necessarily rational or sensible] ideals than either of the Bushes, the Clintons or Obamas, however grotesquely inept he may have been in achieving, implementing, or realizing those ideals.

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…

Confessions of a Lifelong-Heroine Addict….(oh well, since I was 6 or 8 I guess, probably not so much before that…)…from Dorothy Gale to Katniss Everdeen

The California Secretary of State having quite literally locked the doors to my running for Senate this year (at least in Tulare and Fresno Counties)—and the California Courts not seeming to offer a sufficient or accessible remedy—I now have time to indulge other (if related) obsessions my life, such as my sufferings from a lifetime of heroine addiction….  

Like almost every other aspect of my life, I blame my mother Alice and grandmother Helen almost equally….

It was my mother and father who, when I was very small, used to take me down by the Thames in Westminster near the Houses of Parliament and show me the statue of Boadicea (aka “Budica”), the last independent Iceni Queen of East Anglia who rebelled and died trying to evict the Roman Conquerors, in whose memory it was said and sung that “Britons never shall be slaves.”  We also took one trip out to Norwich to visit one of the woods where the Iceni supposedly worshipped their own goddess of Victory….called “Budika” in the Ancient British language of the Druids….(my parents were both heavily into historical and comparative linguistics).  Budika/Boadicea in A.D. 60-61 apparently burned Roman Londinium to the ground along with several other cities before being defeated and poisoning herself by the long Roman Road called “Watling Street” which we also visited…. She was a heroine and supposedly a great archer….  

Of course my parents also tried, as heart as their own agitated and addled lives would permit them, to make me aware of a very different heroine, regarding whom they required me to memorize “the Magnificat” from a very early age….”My soul doth magnify the Lord….Abraham and his seed forever…” And yes, the Virgin Mary was indeed a rebellious heroine… and she has remained a heroine to hundreds of millions of people up to the present time….  Later on, I learned to sing the Magnificat and other pieces of Anglo-Catholic “Maryolatry” as a choirboy in the junior Choir at the Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, under the tutelage of the late, Great Russell J. Brydon (who died just a few months after this post was originally written, in September 2012 at the age of 88:

http://www.dallasnews.com/obituary-headlines/20120906-russell-j.-brydon-jr.-longtime-dallas-church-and-temple-organist-dies-at-88.ece

But it was my grandmother Helen who was something of a heroine in my young eyes herself, and it was Helen who introduced me to the very first literary  (as distinct from Historical or Biblical) heroines of whose stories I ever learned in detail: namely Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and the Roman Goddess Diana and her Sacred Temple by Lake Nemi  near Ariccia (Diana was also an archer…)

The path of fictional heroines from Dorothy Gale’s grey home in Kansas to Katniss* Everdeen’s equally grey home in District 12 of Panem took 108 years….from the first publication of the Wizard of Oz in 1900 through the appearance of archer Katniss Everdeen  Hunger Games in 2008**….is really the history of the idealistic dreams and ultimate failure of the 20th century (idealist dreams in Baum’s time giving way to a more cynical realism by 1939, passing through the somewhat confused “liberation” of the 1960s, sinking into the dark, pessimistic world of Buffy and Angel and finally coming to rest in the despair of District 12 in Panem in 2008—the year Barack Hussein Obama took over from George W. Bush…two different faces for the heartless, soulless, President Snow….)

But the difference in spirit between those two places traces indeed the tragic story of the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization (and of the American Dream) in the 20th Century. Major stopping points along the way (for me at least) include 1939 with the Dorothy Gale’s transformation in the person of Judy Garland and Scarlett O’Hara’s complete redefinition of the concept of “progress” in the late 19th century, Jane Fonda’s comic Cat Ballou and Barbarella in the 1960s, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in movie and television from 1992-2003.  

At each of these intervals, the world is more cynical and darker, and the heroines more complex.  Many critics have observed that the “head injury/dream sequence” aspects of the 1939 Movie Wizard of Oz and the metathesis of real individuals to “dreamtime” residents of the Land of Oz (which was COMPLETELY absent from L. Frank Baum’s book) resulted directly from Freudian psychoanalysis and the early popularity of psychology.  The general effect is to radically weaken the power of Oz as metaphor or lesson—but the movie was a wonderful hit—a lightly comic Wagnerian gesammtkunstwerk of acting, visual art, and music, so nobody really cared.  

A lot of the verbal banter and humor in the movie likewise showed a certain “worldly” sophistication with which I think Frank Baum would only have been somewhat congenial. E.G. the Cowardly Lion’s song “there’s just no use denyin’, I’m just a DANDYlion…” and the Wizard’s closing comment to the Scarecrow:

Back where I come from we have universities, 
seats of great learning 
-- where men go to become great thinkers. 
And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more brains than you have .... 
But! They have one thing you haven't got! 
A diploma!

As a former denizen of the great academic halls of Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 and Chicago, Illinois 60637 (from various halls of which august institutions I did, for all the good that it’s done me or the world, get diplomas), and a regular visitor to many other such places, I can tell you that the Wizard here is absolutely right: 

And when they come out, they think deep thoughts -- 
and with no more  brains than you have.... 

But such cynicism simply was not part of the original vision of Oz, and although Baum occasionally did occasionally turn such comments to ridicule life back in North America in later books, he did not at all in his first installment in which he remade European folk mythology and archetypes and reshaped them in a very idealized panorama of a world where death was rare if non-existent and even the most evil of men and creatures did not kill for sport or pleasure.

For all of L. Frank Baum’s futuristic visions, I do not think he could have foreseen the transition from the naïve and hardworking life of Kansas to the nightmarish dreamworld of Suzanne Collins’ grim opera—neither a soap opera nor a very lyric, although even in the written version (which I finally got around to reading), music plays an immensely important part in the methathesis of metaphor and character, from Katniss’ Father to Peeta, from Prim to Rue… as between the unnatural National Anthem of the Conquering Capitol and the free world of nature and the poor of the “outlying districts.”

L. Frank Baum’s Oz books in so many was shaped and defined the culture of early-to-mid 20th Century of a predominantly White Christian America, especially after the release of Judy Garland’s movie….***  The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Kansas was stiflingly dull and harsh—the American dream had already, at that point, apparently kind of run aground and needed new life— The spirit of Dorothy Gale’s Oz was half atavistic throwback to the Middle Ages, half filled with futuristic wonders (such as Glinda the Good’s Magic Picture, which permitted her what we would now call “live video access” to whatever was going on in Oz or elsewhere earth she was interested.

Dorothy Gale was a simple, pre-teenage girl (Judy Garland was at least ten years older than the original character was portrayed as being in the First Oz Book, but Dorothy Gale remained essentially a-sexual throughout the series, never had a boyfriend or a beau…. perhaps recapitulating some archaic notion of “the Virgin Goddess”,  e.g. Diana Nemorensis or the Virgin Mary or the “Virgin Queen”, Mary again or Queen Elizabeth I) whose strength derived from common sense, great courage, love, and determination.  Dorothy Gale was a generalist who never specialized in anything or focused on any particular trade, profession, or way of earning a living (all throughout the long series of Oz books, in fact).  She was just flexible, imaginative, and practical—kind of a “Renaissance girl” in a very low tech way.

Being a non-specialized generalist seems to be the primary role of all feminine heroes.  Of the earliest three I knew (Dorothy Gale, Scarlett O’Hara, and Diana Nemorensis), if Dorothy Gale had the purest and most asexual identity, Scarlett O’Hara surely had the most impure and sexual.  

It was perhaps for that reason that I was never really taken with her until I was a teenager, even though with my grandparents I religiously had watched Gone with the Wind at every possible opportunity and my grandmother compared the mythic South with the real South over and over again.   Scarlett O’Hara was beautiful, flirtations, and OWNED men in a way that is both fairly realistic and quite cynical.  But the book and movie Gone with the Wind were brilliantly timed between the First and Second World Wars to show that the American War Between the States of 1861-1865 was the first really and truly modern war of total destruction.  

Throughout history, up until Abraham Lincoln loosed Sherman on Georgia and Grant on Virginia, the goal of Conquest Warfare had been to preserve as much of a conquered land’s wealth as possible—so that it could be stolen and appropriated for the victors.  There might have been a lot of talk in Ancient Rome about how “Carthage must be destroyed” and about Salting the Earth once it was vanquished, but Carthage was not only not burnt to the ground and left to rot by the Roman Conquest, it became one of the Great Cities of the Roman Empire, as 20-30 years of Harvard Archaeological excavations in Tunisia have so clearly shown.  Gone with the Wind showed something else when Sherman’s “wind blew through Georgia.”  The purpose was indeed, as the opening lines of both the movie and the book suggested, to wipe out an entire civilization, a way of life—to replace what Marxists call one “mode of production” with another.   NONE of Baum’s villains in Oz were as bad as that, although the movie version of the Wicked Witch of the West was pretty murderous in her general attitude….

One major innovation of Jane Fonda’s heroines Cat Ballou and especially Barbarella in the 1960s was the advent of “free love”, which never appeared even once in any of Baum’s pre-1920 writings, which was only very obliquely alluded to in Gone with the Wind, but which by the 1960s was all anyone really cared about.  

Like Dorothy Gale and Scarlett O’Hara before her, Cat Ballou and Barbarella were unspecialized generalists who could adapt to almost any situation.  They were strong, intelligent, sexy, deadly in a good cause, and then Jane Fonda went to Hanoi….  In retrospect she may have been right to do it because the Vietnam War was totally wrong, a seriously failed experiment in 1984-type “perpetual war”….but Jane Fonda’s actions did not seem positive at the time.  

In this defiance of the outward semblance of world order sense, Jane Fonda’s characters of both Cat Ballou and Barbarella somehow came to life as defiant outlaws….crossing boundaries that no one else would cross, and doing so with both impunity and (what seemed most shocking at the time) complete immunity from real official sanction.  Like the righteous killer Catherine Ballou who avenged her father’s death in the Wild West—Jane Fonda first enacted herself as a mythic reality and then, by going to Hanoi, remade herself as a historic metaphor—walking through the image of a treacherous act, unscathed, in essence to show that Vietnam was all a staged event….. a dramatic diversion to keep the masses simultaneously afraid, amused and absorbed….  

Fast forward 24 years from Jane Fonda as Barbarella and you arrive the first incarnation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a completely modern LA County San Fernando Valley girl with no hints of modesty or virginity about her…. followed by the much more intriguing evolution of Buffy Summers in the TV Series from virginal high school freshman to intensely sexual college freshman, in a world which is increasingly dark and where reality is increasingly concealed….. Buffy’s Sunnydale was a mythic place, a lot like Los Angeles, while her first boyfriend and lover Angel eventually goes to the real Los Angeles and sets up shop as first as a private detective and then director of a large law firm—two professions which, in Los Angeles at least, possibly in the movies generally, have almost acquired the status of modern Jungian archetypes….  

The increasingly dark and brooding, sad and depressed Buffy Summers never lost her general adaptability—she could never specialize in any profession or line of work any more than Dorothy Gale or Scarlett O’Hara or Catherine Ballou… but the realization that the dark forces of the world were effectively unbeatable and had pre-existed anything good in the world—these were major transformations of the American Dream from the Early 20th Century.  And it was during the 7 televised seasons of Buffy that the 20th Century, which came in with a little girl magically transported by a tornado from dull grey Kansas to a bright and beautiful alternative universe which knew no death, went out during Buffy’s Freshman year at UCLA with a young adult barely out of her teens who was alone in the world, with her small circle of more specialized friends, fighting vampires and the forces of darkness.

And five years after Buffy ended, Katniss Everdeen picked up the bow from her archetypal ancestors the Goddesses Inanna and Diana and Queen Boadicea, and began to hunt for meagre food in the desperately hunger fringes of District 12 (in what was once called Appalachia in what was once called North America).  

The gruesomeness of the Hunger Games apparently shocks some people—I would have thought that Americans had long since forgotten how to be shocked about or by anything.  Children murdering children for sport isn’t the most pleasant of ideas, to be sure. But in that 17-19 year olds have gone off to fight in every war America has ever seen….along with a few 16 year olds here and there, and since the History Channel periodically shows authentic news clips of 15-16 year old resistance “werewolves” in 1945 Post-World War II Germany being shot by firing squads of American Troops, and countless tens of thousands of teenagers have been silently snuffed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Vietnam, it is hard to believe that the idea of children fighting and dying is really such a big deal to our ever hypocritically squeamish population.

The Hunger Games resonate with so much in our history and culture—with the original Victor Hugo version of Les Miserables (hopelessly buried and lost in the Broadway Musical of the same name), and in Suzanne Collins’ own account with the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur.  

But above all the Hunger Games resonates with the year 2012 in which America has taken so many steps towards being a brutal, repressive dictatorship like Panem, already—with idiot fake and fraudulent “Conservatives” like Lindsey Graham and Newt Gingrich competing with idiot truly fraudulent “Liberals” like Carl Levin, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama competing with one another to see who can shred the Constitution fastest.  

Interesting to me, given that I based my own doctoral dissertation at Harvard in large part on revisiting Frazer’s the Golden Bough and with it Diana’s Temple by Lake Nemi near Ariccia, are the parallels between the Hunger Games and the myths and rituals of Divine Kingship.  There is nothing in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, however, about games or about Tributes being well-fed and allowed every luxury leading up to their deaths.  But precisely this treatment is common in the rites of Divine Kingship, where sacrificial victims, like the individual selected for sacrifice during the rites of Toxcatl among the Aztec, are equated with the God Tezcatlipoca (“Smoking Mirror”) during the last year of their lives, given wonderful food and drink, and then sacrificed.  Similar paradigms of sacrifice are found throughout the world—

And the sacrifice of children, likewise, is extremely common: to the rain gods in Mesoamerica, relic traces of this existed even among the modern Yucatec Maya who tie small children to the legs of the altar during the cha-chaac or rain ceremony—although the children have to do nothing more that happily chirp like rainy season frogs (but woe to the boy who croaks like a dry season Toad—he will be beaten, not sacrificed, but beaten).  The Hebrew Bible itself is filled with child sacrifice (all through the Books of Kings and Chronicles, in particular, are Kings who make their children “walk through the fire”—perhaps most famously the daughter of Jeptha…), and by way of archaeological parallel—the excavations at Carthage have revealed hundreds and thousands of child sacrifices…. Among the Natchez of Mississippi, families sacrificed their children in order to rise in social status from commoners (“Stinkards”) to “Honored” Nobility according to the French records by Dupratz and recounted by John R. Swanton….

And in this sense it is perplexing: sacrifice almost always lead either to elevation in status or to outright deification: why the elite of Panem would not have recognized the risk embodied in Golden Bough-Divine Kingship type of analysis: the sacrificial victim—like the Rex Nemorensis at Ariccia who becomes King by killing the old one in combat, will always become the next king.  

At the end of the first book of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy, Katniss Everdeen is poised to become (with Peeta), Queen and King of Panem.  This was not only foreseeable, it was in comparative mythological terms inevitable—and yet Suzanne Collins’ trilogy does not allow this drama to evolve that way.  In part, this may be because technology and traditions of oppression have obliterated the natural succession of Divine Kingship….

But Sir James G. Frazer’s point in writing the Golden Bough was to show that Divine Kingship involving the deification of sacrificial victims and their elevation as Kings is a nearly world-wide phenomenon.  I sit here puzzling at the significance of all the trappings of Divine Kingship and the Golden Bough in the Hunger Games.  

Frank Baum had either borrowed or unconsciously recreated so many motifs from ancient mythology—the Four World Quarters with colors Winkie-yellow Quadlin-red Munchkin-blue and Gillikin-purple with Green for the Center of the Emerald City are like nothing so much as the mythological and symbolic organization of (1) Ancient Mesopotamia, “Land of the Four Quarters” centered on Uruk, (2) Celtic Ireland, Ulster, Munster, Connaught, Leinster, and centered on Midhe (Meath) at Tara, and (3) pre-Hispanic Yucatan which, at several Classic sites, is divided into quarters dominated (as recorded on Stelae A & H at Copan) by Tikal, Calakmul, Palenque, and Copan and which even now is divided into four quarters (Yucatán, Campeche, Quintana Roo, and Petén, with Belize claimed by Guatemala and Geographically appearing to be a southern extension of Quintana Roo).

But in Frank Baum’s Oz, kingship is never strong and is always frowned upon, as are all attempts at centralization or standardization of culture, customs, or laws among the four/five regions of Oz.  For that reason, I would assume, there are no hints or traces of divine kingship in Oz—it is a Federal egalitarian Democracy of sorts (even though no one ever votes).  

But by the time of Buffy, as the 20th century closes, the need for a leader has brought forward the Slayer—“one girl in all the world” who fights the Demons.  Now Joss Whedon optimistically ended his series with a devolution of power and prowess from Buffy through the magic of Willow to Millions of “potential” slayers—-but it didn’t quite ring true, in a Television series where even the most outrageous vampiric and magic witchcraft was somehow made to feel “emotionally authentic.”

In the Hunger Games, Dictatorship is the reality and the two victors of the Hunger Games, Katniss & Peeta, are set to become the Divine Kings and possibly the real sovereigns of their land.  Perhaps the need for leadership, the need for someone to save the population, is not yet great enough, but in terms of the political and emotional significance of our story-telling, I think that the journey from Dorothy Gale’s Grey Kansas to Katniss Everdeen’s Grey District 12 tells us the story of the loss of hope and impending doom and despair which was the 20th Century.

*  Katniss is named after a plant called Sagittaria, and my grandmother was born under the sign of Sagittarius—it could be that Katniss reminds me a great deal of my grandmother Helen—similar complexions and faces…. Actress Jennifer Lawrence certainly fits very precisely the image in Suzanne Collins’ book…. and the younger pictures I’ve seen of my grandmother with long hair as a teenager in the time before the U.S. entered WWI….growing up in a place very much like the defeated districts of Panem in the Southern USA.

** In some New Age texts, 108 years is said to be a Venus Cycle, the more ordinary astrological cycle is one of 104 years.  108 is used, but oddly enough, is four years longer than longest calendrical cycle and planetary identity of the Ancient Goddess of Love, namely Inanna/ Ishtar/Aphrodite/Venus.  The calendrical cycles of Venus and the sun are said to “bind” (i.e coincide) every 2920 days, but the ultimate binding of 5 Heliacal Cycles of Venus with 8 Calendar years …. (365 x 8 = 5 x 584 = 2920 x 13 = 37,960 = 2 x 52 years (my current age) = 104 calendar years/105 “tuns” or 360 day periods—the root of the Maya and Aztec Calendars).  Like her Roman Counterpart Diana, Aphrodite and Inanna were both archers—it seems to be the feminine weapon of choice, possibly for purely sexual Freudian reasons, possibly for some mixture of Freudian sexual and Jungian archetypal causation.

*** In the 1970s, Broadway Musical and 1978 movie “the Wiz” the just recently departed Diana Ross and the late Michael Jackson did their best to reframe and appropriate the Baum story for African-America in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement (or Fraudulent Civil Rights Fiasco) of the 1950s-60s…. I have never been comfortable Easing on Down the Road with them in that direction…. although my grandfather was a great supporter of alternative all black productions (now almost extinct) because they upheld and even developed, really and truly, the old segregationist’s doctrine of Separate but Equal (we actually attended the Wiz at the Majestic Theater on Broadway as well as an all black revival of Guys & Dolls in my one major summer with him (ever in my life) in 1976.

April 13: The Hunger Games, Judicial Immunity, and the Dawn of a New Dark Age

Life in its petty pace from day-to-day (and related notes on why I’m not on the California ballot)

Is it a coincidence that the California Secretary of State refused to approve me for a ballot place as candidate for the United States Senate Seat currently held by Diane Feinstein within 3 days of Facebook Canceling my profile because I was “promoting or organizing violence?”  Since I have never (to the best of my knowledge) advocated (much less “organized”) violence except to praise the spirit of continuing revolution, it was a great shock to me, but that was how my Spring season began.  (My long-time personal assistant and “Man Friday” Peyton assures me that I’ve never organized anything in my life, violent, peaceful, or indifferent)  

The snafu that led to my ballot position not being approved may yet prove the subject of a lawsuit, so I shan’t go into details except to say: California’s “Top Two, Voter Nominated” primary system only makes sense if non-professional political operatives (i.e. “voters”) are actually permitted to nominate candidates, and this requires a certain exercise of common sense on the part of the Registrar of Voters in each county as well as the Secretary of State.  Obviously, my supporters are largely battered down middle class working people who no longer trust the government to begin with.  They are anything BUT government insiders.  If only political insiders can maneuver the system then it is NOT a true “voter nominated” system.

I would guess that, in fact, the “top two” system was designed to protect the best funded insider candidates from even any hypothetical threat from outsiders like me, and that is, of course, a way of stifling change and preventing any real “dynamic” in the democratic process.  “Top two” primaries arguably serve a system well-designed to engender a “thousand year reich”, ironic indeed since one would think that individuals of Barbara Boxer’s, Diane Feinstein’s and Henry Waxman’s background and ethnic origins would not WANT a thousand year reich….but perhaps the quibble was with the identity of the master race destined to rule for a millennium, rather than whether a unitary elite should have such power…. forever.

Remembering V-for-Vendetta and Serenity from 2005-2006

The only redeeming feature of Spring 2012 so far is a new movie, which equals and possibly surpasses in political insight my (obvious, previous) all time favorite: V-for-Vendetta.   V-for-Vendetta was a futuristic science fiction (literally based on cartoon characters based on a four centuries old English school boys’  rhyme about a highly manipulated historical even in 1605) and as such it served as an allegory about 9-11 and the “W” Bush (43rd Presidential) administration in the USA.   The lead characters, the Guy Fawkes’ masked “V” (Hugo Weaving) and Evey Hammond” (Nathalie Portman), were an amazing couple NOT in love (at least not romantically, and not in any way at all, at least not until Evey’s post-mortem eulogy) were, as cartoon characters are, difficult to relate to any ordinary people one might encounter in life.  

The brilliance of V-for-Vendetta was the incisive treatment of 9-11 and all that had happened in and around that date under the Bush 43 administration: barely a stone was left unturned to expose the rotten mould and horrible colony of insect life underneath it.  The sad part about V-for-Vendetta is that it’s message apparently resonated with so few people.  

As a movie, it should have had a national impact on political thought, revealing the ruling government as an oligarchy of hypocrisy, lies and fear through government media manipulation concealing a simple policy of orchestrated terrorism attributed to foreigners, specifically Islamic fundamentalists, in the justification of never-ending war, even though it was in fact the brainchild policy of the government itself.  

Above all, V-for-Vendetta reminded us of Adolf Hitler’s brilliant but evil insight, that the great mass of people will sooner believe a great lie than a small one.  Another movie concerning a “big lie” by the government was Joss Whedon’s beautiful epic Serenity.  The tale of the outer-space “wild-west racially non-discriminatory confederates” was, in so many ways, merely the extra galactic, historically unspecific, parallel to V.  Unlike V, Serenity did not focus on any specific modern event like 9-11, but  very generally shared a focus on governmental experiments in biotechnology and psychological manipulation as the root of transformational events in human history.  Of course, Serenity very unusually and distinctively echoed and memorialized the injustice of the Confederate defeat at the hands of a technologically superior Centralized government (“the Federation”).

Die Hungerspiele von Panem/Die Tribute von Panem (Totliche Spiele) (You’re a Damn Confederate, aren’t you?)

The new movie which in my mind at least now threaten’s V-for-Vendetta’s supremacy as the greatest political movie of our time premiered on Friday March 23, and is of course, the Hunger Games. (I confess I have not read Suzanne Collins’ books—everything I say here is based on the movie and the movie alone, which I found absolutely overwhelming—but I didn’t read Gone with the Wind until I was 26, by which time I had seen the movie at leas 30 times in my life).  The Hunger Games lacks any of the cartoonish elements of V-for-Vendetta and Serenity (as much as I like and appreciate the genuinely artistic value of those elements).  

My suspicions of Collins’ perspectives as those of a not-so-closet Confederate sympathizer gain more than moderate a bolster from the knowledge that, although born in Connecticut, the author was the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and spent her High School (i.e. critical formative identity) years in the heart of Dixie, specifically in Alabama in the 1970s…. where she attended  high school at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, where she was a Theater Arts major.  Oh yea, FWIW, the Alabama School of Fine Arts was founded by George Corley Wallace’s Wife, Governor Lurleen Wallace, in 1968, shortly before she tragically died of Cancer at age 41, and George Corley Wallace was Governor 1971-1979, all through Suzanne’s High School years.

Now, one way of looking at it is that, perhaps, the Hunger Games takes place after the collapse of the United States and Civil War to which the government news commentators in V-for-Vendetta made such frequent allusion.  According to those reports, the USA “the country that had everything” had become a “cesspool” of continental proportions due to its “Godlessness.”  While that’s a legitimate perspective, I think that the overwhelming weight of evidence and frame of reference in the Hunger Games is to the War of Southern Independence/War Between the States/War of 1861-1973, realizing that those dates are not the ones usually used in High School American History texts.

In fact, The Hunger Games in some of its visuals at least, almost approximates a kind of a futuristic Nanook of the North staged realism, focusing on the lives of the common people of the post-War (I mean Post-War Between the States) south, especially of the Appalachian regions of North Carolina (where The Hunger Games was filmed “on site”).  As in Whedon’s Serenity, the strong suggestion of Confederate nostalgia and sympathy is, to my mind at least, absolutely undeniable.  

It is too much to ask that we NOT see parallels to the War of 1861-65 and its aftermath when the “Treaty of the Treason” and “War” movie both recite that 13 Districts of “Panem” (“Panem” to my eyes sounds like a Hellenized partial translation of “E Pluribus Unum“, cf. Pangea) rose up against the Paternalistic “Welfare” Government that “fed them, protected them, cared for them”, that the District 12 setting is so obviously the REAL Southern landscape of coal-mining Appalachia, and that the poor whites of District 12 have a closely parallel lives and culture to at least the partially segregated black-African dominated population of District 11.

Without wanting totally to “spoil” the Hunger Games for anyone who hasn’t seen it, I will just summarize my interpretation of its wild popularity this way (aside from the obvious: a very human love story about two extraordinarily mature for their age teenagers who were unlikely ever to have fallen in love, but end up being “perfect” for each other, played by a genuinely handsome “All American Boy” lead and beautiful soft-spoken and emotional “Tomboy-type-Girl” who is so hot she literally sets her red dress on fire, combined with lots of action): Even though most Americans are not in fact hungry for food (that is the “Nano of the North” element reality of the starving South of 1865-1950, seeing oppressed, hard-working, underdogs whose primary source of protein was from very small game—squirrels, because the deer were almost all hunted out) people are clearly hungry for genuine justice and a fair playing field. (For one alternative, but to my mind, quite beautifully written and  excellent review of the Hunger Games, I recommend “The Feminist Spectator” by Princeton University’s Jill Dolan, published on April 4: http://www.feministspectator.blogspot.com/.  I somehow doubt that Professor Dolan would agree with me on the strong Confederate Sympathies implicit in The Hunger Games but there was once a President of Princeton University, the only Ph.D. ever to become President of the USA in fact, who thought that Birth of a Nation was the greatest historical drama in history, and portrayed the reality of his native south perfectly—unfortunately, that was also the Democratic President who signed into law (1) the 16th Amendment and Federal Income Tax, (2) the Federal Reserve Banking System, and the (3) the 17th Amendment, namely Woodrow Wilson….)

Hunger for Justice and Freedom

Like the residents of the 13 oppressed Districts of Panem, despite all government hypocrisy and lies to the contrary Americans both you and old today know that the odds are NOT in their favor and that, in fact, the odds are fairly hopelessly stacked against them.  And yet the system has this tiny escape valve: that about 1 in every 24 people can make it rich.  That is, one-in-twenty four of the oppressed can make it rich IF they’re willing to “play the government’s game” and basically, kill a lot of their fellow citizens in the process.  As of this April 13, 2012, I have seen the Hunger Games 5 times, and each time I’ve liked it more, seen more details.  I will have to read the books before completely integrating it into my thought processes about modern pop-cultural reaction to the impending doom that this American Life obviously faces, but I submit to you: the American people (on the whole, and certainly as a population compared to many parts of the world at the present and throughout history) may not be starving or hungry for food, but they hunger for justice and an even playing field, and they do not “relish” the very real prospect of a thousand years of subservience to “the government that feeds, them clothes them, takes care of them.”

Of Time and Space and Presidential Succession in the Leap Years…..

The Hunger Games takes place on the 74th anniversary of the institution of these gladiatorial combats.  The significance of that 74 years has bothered me.  On the one hand, it COULD refer to 1860 (the election of Abraham Lincoln and the secession of “District 1, South Carolina…) + 74 = 1934, the year in which Roosevelt’s New Deal started WPA reorganization of the South in earnest, or it could refer to the original publication date of the book, 2008, as the 74th year since 1934—or it could refer to both.  The coincidence, again, is hard to avoid.  1934 was the first full year of (de facto) Socialist Dictatorship in the United States (Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected in 1932, took office in March 1933, and many of his first year legislative proposals only took effect in 1934).  2008, 74 years later, Barack Hussein Obama, the first Communist President of the United States, was elected and took office, “perfecting” or at least completing the process begun by Abraham Lincoln in 1860, a mere 12 years after the publication of the Communist Manifesto in London in 1848.  (See Al Benson, Jr., & Walter Donald Kennedy’s 2011: Lincoln’s Marxists, Pelican Publishing, Gretna Louisiana, a fine historical summary of the connexion between Communism and Central government predominance in the USA, a historical summary which is easy to read although not nearly well-enough documented with footnotes and source citations as professional historians would like and scholars generally would appreciate).

Another aspect of the Hunger Games is the correlation between the oppressive Central government of Panem and Edward Gibbons’ the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, on the one hand, and a heartless, Machiavellian version of the Social Darwinism of the late 19th century on the other.  The capital of Panem is degenerate in a distinctly Roman Imperial Silver Age manner (Rome’s “Silver Age” normally said to run from the death of Augustus in A.D. 14 through the death of Marcus Aurelius in A.D. 180).  Nero and even Caracalla (“Post-Silver Age” Emperor from A.S. 198-217) would have felt quite at home in the Capitol of Panem, I think.  But the “Emperor” himself is a distinctly late 19th century Anglo-American type (President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland), who has a Romano-“Robber-Baron’s” scorn for the “underdog” without any explanation or moral justification, just the political desire to keep himself and his world on top and everyone else underneath.  President Snow appears to share none of the cultural degeneracy of the Capital, but has a great deal in common with aristocratic Victorian gardeners of the late 19th century.  

Snow’s name is English, as are most of the names of the characters known from District 12.  Most of the residents of the Capitol City, however, and apparently of Districts 1-2, have Roman names: “Cato”, “Caesar”, “Seneca”, “Octavia”, and “Claudius” just to name a few…..  

So the Hunger Games follows the pattern of Serenity and V-for-Vendetta in another distinctly modern way (although all these movies do it well, and for good purposes and effect, quite a few others, such as Captain America and [the movie that I dread most]—Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer, do it very poorly and for improper purposes): historical metaphors and mythic realities are conflated, merged, and reorganized.

NOX OCCIDIT (“NIGHT FALLS”)

In any event, there is a Leonard Cohen song that summarizes why the Hunger Games, as a historical-mythological and futuristic allegory of injustice and game rigging, is so wildly popular, and that song is:

Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows that the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows

Everybody knows that it’s me or you
And everybody knows that you live forever
Ah when you’ve done a line or two
Everybody knows the deal is rotten
Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
For your ribbons and bows
And everybody knows

And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
Are just a shining artifact of the past
Everybody knows the scene is dead
But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
That will disclose
What everybody knows

And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
Everybody knows what you’ve been through 
From the bloody cross on top of Calvary 
To the beach of Malibu 
Everybody knows it’s coming apart
Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
Before it blows
And everybody knows

The saddest difference between V-for-Vendetta and Serenity on the one hand and the Hunger Games on the other is the complete transparency of the society of Panem: “Everybody knows that the system’s rotten…. everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows that the good guys lost.”  Everybody knows that the government that feeds the people, clothes them, and cares for them does not like underdogs.  President Snow is a late 19th Century-styled  avatar of George H.W. Bush (41st), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush (43rd), & Barack Hussein Obama all rolled into one.  

At least in V-for-Vendetta and Serenity, there still existed the apparent hope that revelation of truth could lead to revolution and change. 

But now President Obama signs the National Defense Authorization Act allowing indefinite detention of American Citizens on American soil without charges or trial, and he does so unblinkingly and unabashedly.  President Obama jingoistically adopts the dead Trayvon Martin as his own son in an effort to exacerbate racial tensions and divisions to his advantage in an election year at the same time that he tells the AIPAC Conference that he supports Israel’s quest to maintain ethnic homogeneity and integrity.  

There are no secrets in modern America, our Joseph Stalin, aka President Obama, has no need of Hitlerian, Rooseveltian, or “W” Bushian type “Big Lie”—he tells us all that he wants the power to take away all our rights, but asks us to trust him that he won’t really do it—except in the case of real underdogs, like, I guess, for example, George Zimmerman?  And speaking of that, how many of you imagine that George Zimmerman, whether he be called White, Hispanic, or Jewish, or all of the above, will get a fair trial?

So now to celebrate April 13 even further: WHERE WILL WE BE 74 years from now, or from 2008, say in 2082?  I predict we may well be in a New Dark Age, and not just because I’m not on the California Ballot for this year (although that is symptomatic).  

So far as “fixed games” go, what could be worse than a criminal prosecution set by agreement between Judges and prosecutors arranged through bribes?  Is that the American Way?  We wouldn’t like to think so.  In 1980, the year I graduated from the College of Arts & Sciences at Tulane and started graduate school at Harvard, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in California said that “fixing” cases was not a normal judicial function and that no judicial immunity could attach to such activities: Rankin v Howard 633 F2d 844 _9th Circuit December 5 1980.  A short six years later, that same Ninth Circuit reversed itself and found judicial immunity from civil suit for such activities: Ashelman v Pope 793 F2d 1072 *EN BANC* 9th Circuit 1986

But the outrageous history of the suppression of judicial immunity just goes on and on through the subsequent citation history of Ashelman v. Pope to show how official immunity for prosecutors and the executive branch has almost merged with Judicial immunity to the point that the government is just one big immune mass of oppression against the people, and the modern government of E Pluribus Unum, aka “Panem” can prosecute you, jail you, and torture you, with complete immunity.

Somewhere over the Rainbow….

A is for Asgard, B is for Branagh, C is for Completely Cool Multipurpose Modern Myth-remaking Movie!

[and WS is for “Warning—this essay may contain mild-to-serious Spoilers for those who have not yet seen the movie….read at your own risk!”]

Kenneth Branagh, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins are names I have frankly never associated with Richard Wagner, Dorothy Gale, and James Morris, much less with Snorri Sturluson, Isolde, and Wotan or Odin, but the movie “Thor” brings them all together in my mind and life experience at least.  I confess I had read some bad pre-release critiques of “Thor” based on charges of infidelity to myth, but they were all wrong, ALL totally wrong, and I haven’t been so completely taken by any other movie this year.  In fact, this may well be the best myth-recasting movie in a very long time, although I was a great fan of Tim Burton’s “Alice” last year.   I can hardly express my enthusiasm, having just returned from the 10:10 AMC showing on Third & Arizona in Santa Monica, 90401, except to say that I was just as pleased, satisfied, and generally exhilerated by this production as I was maddened and infuriated by “Red Riding Hood” when it was released on March 11 of this year.  THAT movie was a poorly acted, poorly scripted modernistic pseudo-psychobabbling disgrace and insult to Die Bruder Grimm and Charles Perrault as anything could possibly be.

It is actually just possible that Kenneth Branagh’s movie will in fact endure alongside Sturluson and Wagner in preserving the eternal memory of the Old Norse and High Germanic Pagan religious iconic traditions, ihrer Gotter und Gesetz, but there are many more comparisons to be made.

Natalie Portman’s character (Jane Foster) is quite a unique young lady: a brave sexy scientist who really does get it all pretty much right, but doesn’t get her man. (Reviewers have already compared “Thor” to “Spiderman“.)   Perhaps Jane’s a bit of projection of Natalie’s own self-image—crossed with her Dad maybe?—but I see a much more important comparison to be made between Jane Foster and Dorothy Gale—in that they both dreamt of crossing over the rainbow.  Dorothy Gale made the trip for the first time by accident in The Wizard of Oz though in later books by L. Frank Baum she managed to make the trip pretty directly and intentionally.  Jane Foster doesn’t make the trip at all although the man of her dreams does, in the form of Thor (Chris Hemsworth—whose character is comparable to no other superhero so much as Superman—especially since he can magically fly without gadgetry of any kind—and the Asgard scenes all have a certain Planet Krypton feel to them).   But Jane Foster, like Dorothy Gale, is brave, honorable, loyal and unafraid, and her job is to bridge worlds which otherwise have but scant awareness of each other’s existence.

Dorothy Gale herself was not, of course, the first heroic female transdimensional traveler—appearing for her first edition in 1900, she came 35 years after her British Counterpart Alice made her debut in London on July 4, 1865, otherwise for the most part a sad ex-Colonial Independence day for British sympathizers of the Confederacy including HM Queen Victoria and the then Lord Chancellor & Later PM Benjamin Disraeli.

The degree to which science fiction presaged physics in speculations about inter-dimensional travel is to me one of the extraordinary features of 19th century writing and imagination.   Even in Richard Wagner’s “Der Ring des Niebelungen” the portrayal of jouneys between the middle of the Rhein and Niebelheim, Valhalla and Niebelheim in Das Rheingold and Brunhilde’s appearance to Siegmund in Die Walkure are eerily like wormholes in the space-time continuum of 20th century (and current) science fiction.  In fact, once in Seattle and on another occasion in Bayreuth, stage construction provided that Brunhilde actually peered at Siegmund through a portal and obviously shimmers from another dimension as she grimly but solemnly announces to him, “Nur Todgeweihten taugt mein angblick. Wer mich erchaut scheidet von Lebens-Licht. ”  The use of the Rainbow Bridge as Thor’s primary means of interdimensional travel is celebrated in Wagner’s Das Rheingold when Donner (“Thunder”—the Old High Germanic name for Norse Thor/Anglo-Saxon Thur) calls forth the Rainbow Bridge so that the Gods can enter Valhalla at last.  This in turn rests largely on the description of the Bifrost/Rainbow Bridge in Sturluson (12th-13th Century Lawspeaker and historian of the Icelandic Althing/Parliament), but the connection with Donner/Thor appears to be Wagner’s invention and Branagh’s conscious continuation, because the only ancient connection between the Bridge and the God of Thunder appears in the Grimnismal (Poetic Edda), where it is specified that Thor specifically wades through the river waters because he cannot take the dryer path.  (One of the historical quibbles widely circulated pre-release was that Heimdall in the movie is played by an elegant British-born fellow of African descent, Idris Elba, while in all Norse and Germanic illustrations Heimdall or Heidallr is pictured as typical blonde of identical ethnicity to Thor in the movie—while I thought it sounded like amusing modernist “affirmative action” type tokenism before I saw Branagh’s production—in the context of this movie it works out perfectly, because Heimdall, as a guardian, belongs neither to the race of the Gods nor to the Frost Giants, but is a gatekeepr between worlds—I can only applaud the dramatic effect of “Schwarz Heimdall”.  Truthfully—black and white color symbolism play a major role in Norse Sagas—“black”, “swarz” or “kol” all being slave names—reminding me always of the inverse irony that the Gods of Subsaharan Africa are always White-skinned—possibly more like “Ghostly White” than Caucasian White, but the parallel structural use of terms is nonetheless significant in comparative mythological terms—and, quite as a legal and jurisprudential side-bar, totally discredits and disproves the Kenneth B. & Mamie Clark “black-white” doll preferences ignorantly cited by Supreme Court Justices in Brown v. Board of Education  (1954) as a reason for forcing school desegregation—a policy which arguably did more to destroy the legitimate ways, means, and purposes of education in the United States than any other single policy in history, and in the process probably destroyed the self-esteem of millions of children, black-and-white, as schools used for a quarter century as political footballs and little else rather than, well, for example, education.*

But to return to Thor, the plainest reason Heimdall can be dramatically effective because rather than in spite of the fact that he is played by a stern and very well-spoken Anglo-African actor is because Branagh has taken Ancient Myth and recast it—and done so brilliantly, even down to the level of selecting Galisteo New Mexico as the site for some of the wonderful desert scenes—just a half an hour south of Santa Fe and an hour east of Algodones where I had some fairly mystical experiences of my own just month before last as noted elsewhere on this blog.  New Mexico, “Land of Enchantment”, U.S. home address for D.H. Lawrence, legends of Roswell, the birthplace of the Atom Bomb, home of the Spanish Penitentes as well as large populations of Pueblo, Apache, and Navaho nations of Native Americans, and many of the finest Ancient Ruins north of Mexico, is just an inherently magical, mystical place, which just naturally attracts women like Jane Foster.  These**** are people who, as much as Aldous Huxley (New Mexico was a “Savage Preserve” in Brave New World where people still worshipped both Jesus and Buddha and read both the Bible and Shakespeare) Fox William Mulder, Dana Katherine Scully, and myself are intrigued by the borderlines and gradations between science, religion, science-fiction, and mythology.   There is in fact no setting in the United States better for such cross-fertilization—New Orleans may be great for primitive culture, religion, magic, and romance, while Berkeley, Cambridge, and Chicago may be better for the science-magic interface, but nowhere in the world combines all three together with multiculturalism with a 400-1000 year pedigree (a thousand years ago the “Athabaskan Bastards caused the Great Pueblo Fall” introducing New Mexico’s first level of multicultural complexity with the arrival of the Apache and Navaho, then came the Spanish, isolated even from Mexico by distance, then the Americans from St. Louis on the Santa Fe Trail, John C. Fremont, Stephen W. Kearny, then Jean-Baptiste Lamy, Willa Cather, Mabel Dodge, D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe….and now pretty much everybody from everywhere….there is even a school in Las Vegas, New Mexico, with the [to me quite totally horrifying] name “Armand Hammar-Global World College, USA” which my son Charlie visited in 2008 and narrowly avoided attending—it had posters of communist heroes all over the walls of every room and I got the feeling school song was the Internationale).

I keep digressing, but to return again to Thor, as a recasting, restatement of myth, I have come to think that such recasting in modern culture is the principal importance of my own education in Anthropology—Anthropology is a large part of modern mythology and religion—and oddly enough it has been ever since the mid-19th century.  Evolution and Darwinism started reshaping socio-cultrual thinking even before evolution or Darwinism were common words, because Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote of the moral superiority of Noble Savages (nearly two hundred years before Margaret Meade even visited Samoa) and Thomas Hobbes of Malmsbury wrote about the “state of nature” and other stages of what we would now call cultural or political evolution over a hundred and twenty years before Thomas Malthus wrote his Essay on Population in 1798 (although the “State of Nature” as a phrase relating to legal evolution can be traced even another five hundred years back to St. Thomas Aquinas De Veritate in 1256-59).

I first became fascinated with the modern process of recasting ancient mythology in connection with the Disney movie The Lion King and then with several Television series the X-Files and Buffy-the-Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity and Charmed, all of which were 1990s phenemona spilling over past Y2K…and now the direct antecedents and ancestors of Lost, True Blood among other TV series and now, I think it is safe to say, Thor.  The X-Files had several episodes which drew on recent archaeological discoveries about cannibalism at Chaco Canyon, and others which drew on Nazi-racial “scientific” mythology***, but there was little if any plot continuity between the paranormal phenomena covered in the X-Files, whereas Thor really only drew on two strands: Ancient Norse/Germanic Myth and Modern Science (with a few marvelous hat tips to “Men-in-Black” and other partly comical sci-fi movies).

In 2004 I gave a paper at the First Slayage Conference on Buffy-the-Vampire Slayer in Nashville entitled, “Buffy’s Golden Bough.”  In that lecture/essay I focused on the use of anthropological sources in each series, Buffy, Angel and the X-Files.  At later Slayage and related conferences I compared Whedon’s use, rearrangement, and restructuring of mythological elements and motifs with Richard Wagner’s.   The tradition of reinventing Classical or Ancient mythology with quasi-modern mystery and musical theatre really develops in a continuous line from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte to Wagnerian operas to the (movie) Wizard of Oz  on to Buffy and especially “Once More with Feeling” (the musical episode from BtVS season six).  In common with Oz and Buffy, The Magic Flute has a “lite” storyline and script with fairly hilarious and unique characters—I played Papageno, Der Vogelfänger, more than once in College—mixed with some pop-culture appreciation of mystery in the service of a good and ethically wholesome life—wonderfully memorable music.  By mere coincidence I have been relistening to Mozart’s Zauberflöte on my card CD recently, and at each first appearance of Die Königin der Nacht, I picture Glenda the Good Witch of the North, played by Mary William “Billie” Burke in the 1939 production.  Glenda and the Queen of the Night are in fact almost entirely interchangeable, structurally identical roles and parts—they are essentially free radicals or “catalysts” for other action on the part of the main characters.   Thor’s Goddess Fricka (or Frigga) is quite as beautiful as Bille Burke, but nowhere nearly as well developed as Wagner’s Fricka in Rheingold and Die Walkure, nor is her relationship with the King of the Gods anywhere nearly so complex or important in the story line—this is too bad… but

Wagnerian operas are by no means “lite” by storyline or mood, and the “moral” or ethical points are sufficiently complex as to have been the subject of continuous popular and academic debate and scholarly writings from W. Friedrich Nietzsche to George Bernard Shaw to Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler to the dozens of modern authors including dilettantes and university specialists up through present time.  Wagnerian Opera and the movie Thor have in common focus on Wotan/Odin and those deities most closely associated with him in the Nordic/Germanic Pagan oikumene—“uns ist in alten mären, wunders viel gezeit….“.  Thor lacks any memorable or particularly unique music, but as a journey of exploration and discovery by moderns in a mysterious world, it is much closer to Magic Flute, the Wizard of Oz, and Buffy/Angel than it is to Wagner.  Oddly enough—the Wagnerian Ring des Niebelungen, Buffy/Angel, and the Lion King can be grouped together as creating entirely new mythological universes, as could Clive Staples’ Narnia.  But the Oz story underwent one major and radical transformation between Frank Baum’s 1900 book and the 1939 movie with Judy Garland: In the book, and all of Frank Baum’s later Oz books—the reader was demanded to suspend disbelief completely and enter into the Magical Land of Oz as a real universe parallel to our own—but in the movie—fearing (in 1939) the cultural threat and geopolitical consequences of  “sermons from mystical Germans who preach from ten til four”, all mystery was cut out by the Kansas framing story: Dorothy Gale just dreamt it all owing to a head injury based on her own life.   Joss Whedon experimented with this “world of illusion” trope in one episode only, Buffy sixth season “Normal Again.”  The movie Thor handles the problem by allowing Thor himself to sever the ties between earth and Asgard when he destroys the Rainbow Bridge to prevent Loki from initiating Ragnarok, but Jane Foster keeps on with her research, searching for her man….

But unlike Richard Wagner and Kenneth Branagh in Thor, Joss Whedon was culturally ecclectic.  Much in the manner of Sir James G. Frazer’s original 12 volume Golden Bough, Joss Whedon, the creator/director/producer/ sometime writer of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly/Serenity goes around the world collecting stories which fit into a single pattern.  For Frazer, it was the pattern of the dying king, murdered in his full youthful vigor to preserve or “save” the life of the whole world.  In other words, Frazer set out to show, and he fairly effectively showed, that the story of Jesus of Nazareth was just the most developed and successfully “marketed” story of its kind in the world, and by no means a unique revelation.  (Whether universal recurrence in different guises makes a religion more or less valid is a different story).

As weekly settings for his universe filled with “AntiChrist” Vampires, Joss Whedon was a master of incorporating and restating whole traditions of myth and religious symbolism/ethical thought into his work.   Almost totally contrary to Frazer’s somewhat anti-Christian emphasis on ritual and mythic elements of narrative, however, Whedon’s effort is to compare ancient or “non-Western” religions to Christianity favorably on grounds of ethics and morality.

The nature of the “Vampire” mythology as a kind of inverse Christianity has been apparent since the 18th century—Vampires are inverse Christians (a Los Angeles Jewish Monthly Magazine for December of 2009 included a cover article “Why Jews aren’t Vampires” even though they shun the cross and have been libeled as child-murderers and practitioners of sacrifice generally).  The core “Maundy Thursday” ritual of Christianity is the Great Thanksgiving, the Holy Eucharist by which Christians drink the blood and eat the flesh of Jesus Christ—albeit most modern believers would say this is a memorial, rather than an actual magical transubstantiation.  According to Christ’s words at the last supper, this ritual is part of keeping Jesus himself alive in all his followers.  Vampirism is exactly the opposite—Vampire suck on human blood and flesh to destroy human life and make themselves (the vampires) more Godlike—they are “antiChrists” in the truest senses of the word—they do the opposite of give their own life and flesh to save the rest of the world.   Some writers, such as Elizabeth Miller, have posited that Vampiristic mythology became popular contemporaneously with Darwinism in the 19th century.   The feasting in Thor is all quite normal (lol!) if the Gods are sometimes portrayed as rather voracious and insatiable.   But there are no direct traces of Christian ritual in Thor, while there were many in both Buffy and Angel.  (Not so much in Firefly/Serenity where salvation is mostly a matter of self-help, preferably with guns and knives skillfully used by both men and women—which is another common theme with Thor to be sure).

Whedon’s works focus on the importance of the clear-thinking conscience, redemption generally, the redemptive power of family and love in particular, the salvation of sinners, the need for forgiveness of all sins and crimes, no matter how grave, and the definition of the soul as the key to all life and immortality, and he does all this despite his self-proclaimed status as an atheist.  There are many strong sub-themes including the soul-endangering evils of mind-altering drugs and social engineering, the importance of individual freedom, and the oppressive corruption of government and the complicity of the all-but-blind middle class in its maintenance.**

Whedon has through all these themes made his productions among the most deeply Christian/spiritual productions ever to appear on television—albeit his Christianity was about as orthodox as Richard Wagner’s, and similarly mixed with Buddhism and Pagan animism.  Like the Golden Bough, to learn and dissect Whedon’s corpus of sources is to learn comparative mythology from specific references to the Prophecies of Isaiah concerning the coming of Christ (“the annointed one”) as a child to lead to the peaceable kingdom, this starting in BtVS Season One along with a multifaceted and series-long treatment of modern and ancient witchcraft, to Grimms’ Hansel & Gretel, back to the Biblical Demon Moloch, and then to the Egyptian resurrection cult of Osiris and even then to Temple Prostitution in Mesopotamia (Inanna = Inara Serra, a beautiful companion/courtesan played by Morena Bacarin in the Firefly Serenity Series—Inara is portrayed as significantly more honorable, educated, and dignified than ALMOST anyone else in the series), and even then to the more recent mythology of Dracula and Vampires (Vrykolakia) in Eastern Europe.  While earlier series such as Dr. Who made occasional use of mythology, Whedon’s series used more anthropological sources than any other single corpus except the X-Files.  What unites Whedon’s work with, for example, The Lion King more than the X-Files is the internal continuity of the storyline and the presence of very strong structural organizing principles (e.g. Dumezilian trifunctionalism and Levi-Straussian dualism).  X-Files was more ecclectic, much less focused on developing season-long story lines, and utterly untroubled by structural consistency between episodes and series (except that Mulder always “wanted to believe”, more mystical, and basically right, while Scully was always skeptical, more cautiously scientific, and more often than not, dead wrong—but she never learned her lessons from episode to episode…some sort of short or long term memory loss or stubborn willfulness was utterly inconsistent with her vast store of medical and scientific knowledge….).  Jane Foster in Thor is more of an “I want to believe” fusion of Mulder and Scully, pretty much unparalleled in the Buffyverse or “Whedonian World.”

Much like the Whedonian World, especially as analyzed Rhonda Wilcox’ masterful treatment of Whedon’s productions in her book Why Buffy Matters: the art of BtVS  (October 13, 2005), Thor has a strong undertone of Christian values—self-sacrifice and forgiveness, fatherly redemption, even as it revitalizes the Gods of the Norse who, frankly, had few or none of these values (at least Thor didn’t—Wotan/Odin in fact once “hanged himself for nine days on a windy tree, a sacrifice of himself to himself”…..but it’s not clear that he did so to save the rest of the world from sin or anything like that).   Anthony Hopkins was in fact utterly unrecognizable as Anthony Hopkins with his beard and eye patch—he looked more like the Metropolitan Opera’s perennial Wotan James Morris than anyone else, but his performance and delivery were flawless (no actual Wagnerian music was used in the movie—I think this is slightly unfortunate, but possibly essential to sell to a mass culture audience, sadly, these days).

When discussing the interface between Christianity and science-fiction, especially interdimensional travel, it is necessary at least to mention C.S. Lewis’ Seven Book Narnia collection—“doors to the world of men, I have heard of such things”, said Jadis, the White Queen of Narnia, on hearing about the Pevensie boys and girls coming in through the wardrobe made of the tree that grew from the Sorcerers’ rings that led once Molly and Digory past the world between worlds through one particularly ill-fated puddle to the dead world of Charn…..from which Jadis came with Digory to Narnia….in the beginning.  The Christian metaphors in Lewis’ Narnia seem clunky and heavy-handed to me, not that they aren’t sometimes wonderful—like Aslan’s self-sacrifice to save Edmund and his subsequent resurrection by way of “a deeper magic than even the White witch knows”—but in Whedon, and in Thor, the subtlety and personal connections inherent in the various self-sacrificial decisions make the episodes of redemption or forgiveness and reconciliation meaningful—Thor is about a prodigal son who comes back to his father (cf. Gospel of Luke)…..and loses the mortal love of his life in the process…. but there is nothing forced or strained about it—it’s woven deftly into the plot and seems only right and good—except for the treatment of the Thunder God’s darker brother Loki….. and in fact

If I were to have any gripe with the movie at all it would be the character and treatment of Loki—never ever before identified as one of Wotan’s children in any source, adoptive or otherwise (but generally known as the son of the Giant Farbauti and Giantess Laufe, even to the point of being called Loki Laufeyarson in some sources).   Wagner portrayed Loki/Loge as a close and necessary companion and ally of Odin/Wotan and the Old English three-part incantation about offerings recorded in rural East Anglia as late as the early 19th century, “One for God and One for Wod’ and One for Lok‘” (quoted by Sir James G. Frazer, Georges Dumezil, Alfred Hocart, and so many others) also shows a special association between these divine names.  The movie shows nothing of Loki’s identity as Altdeutsche Feuergott Agnisbruder (the German Fire God and brother of [Hindu] Agni = [Italic/Latin] Ignis), and only very briefly makes reference to his identity as a master of magic.

In suggesting that there is something odd about Loki’s “giant” ancestry, the movie ignores the direct parallel between the heritage of the Germanic Gods as children of Giants and the Greek God’s status as children of the Titans.  This makes the racially significant emphasis of Loki’s identity in the movie Thor all the more critical to analyze.  Because Thor is Odin’s blonde true son—and boy do they EVER look alike (right down to their beards and hair style), while Loki turns out to be an “adopted” brown haired son.  It is not that the Frost Giants are uniformly portrayed as brunette so much as Green*****.  No, it is more because the two “children” of Odin are paired and opposed both as children and adults on the basis of their hair color and complexion—Light and Dark.  The movie’s pairing of “Fair Haired” Jane Foster and Dark Darcy (my longest-term college girlfriend was a “Black Irish” brunette named D’Arcy)  in New Mexico cannot be coincidental to the opposed pairing of Dark Loki and Blond Thor.  Joss Whedon’s series Buffy the Vampire Slayer also featured a “light dark” pair of slayers in the form of Buffy Summers, the eponymous heroine, who first (in a couple of episodes in Season II) faces a Creole Jamaican slayer named Kendra (called a “Tragic Mulatta” by at least one reviewer, namely Lynne Edwards, who also presented this concept at the First Slayage Conference in Nashville, 2004).   After Kendra’s truly tragic and untimely death, Whedon brought forth the unforgettable character Faith Lahane, a simply smolderingly sexy brunette who was “bad girl” to all of Buffy’s somewhat priggish/prudish traits of inherited “Middle Class Morality.”  Faith hailed from (one assumes) some lower class Irish sector of South Boston—but the correlation between class and color is utterly unmistakable in both Thor and BtVS: Blondes don’t just have more fun (Jane Foster and Thor fell in love—Darcy and Loki remain single), they are actually better, indeed substantially people or Gods—I should not that so much of my hair as has neither fallen out nor turned grey, which isn’t all that much—is and has been since I was 7- or 8 moderate mousy brown—neither distinctively light nor dark)….

If there were ever any objections to the character of Heimdall because he was a black and Anglo-African of subsaharan negroid origins, there could be even more serious objections to the character-identity and story of Loki as a warning about the failure of interracial adoptions.  Loki is the only character in this movie with self-esteem problems and they all relate to his origins, and relatively dark complexion compared to the majority of the Asgard deities.  He is maladjusted and insecure but not nearly so sympathetic as, for example, Othello the Moor.  It doesn’t ruin the plot by a long shot, but it’s the weakest link in the whole scheme I would say.  The original Norse God Loki, and even Richard Wagner’s Loki, as God of Fire, was a trickster, a shape-shifter, a transexual (no, not a trannie, just a shape shifter who could even give birth to eight legged horses while shape-shifting as a mare) and on the whole much more interesting than Thor‘s Loki—who’s a bit one dimensional—or at least I didn’t pick up more than one dimension, but I’ve already determined I’ll go see the movie several times.

I think it was a marvelous touch that several Norse Icons like the World Tree Yigdrassil and I believe even (originally) Loki’s offspring the eight legged horse Sleipnir who was to bring on Ragnarok (Armageddon, the last battle, aka Gotterdaemerung), as well as Thor’s hammar and Wotan/Odin’s law spear, were all very subtly slipped in.

Overall, like Buffy, Angel, Firefly/Serenity and Charmed (and even like Dr. Who, the Wizard of Oz and Alice), Thor mixes fairly outstanding verbal humor with intense and fast-paced action and a well-edited script (unlike this totally unedited stream-of-consciousness review essay).

*Black Children, White Preference: Brown v. Board, the Doll Tests, and the Politics of Self-Esteem American Quarterly – Volume 61, Number 2, June 2009, pp. 299-332  The Johns Hopkins University Press ABSTRACT: In Brown v. Board of Education the Supreme Court cited psychologist Kenneth B. Clark for evidence that segregation damaged black children’s self-esteem and hampered their ability to learn. Clark and his wife Mamie had tested black children’s “racial preference” by asking them to choose between black dolls and white dolls, interpreting the choice of white dolls as evidence of damaged self-esteem. After Brown, the Clarks’ studies set the parameters for research on racial identity, self-esteem, and child development—even though they were discredited on methodological and statistical grounds in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Subsequent research showed that the doll tests do not measure self-esteem and, further, that African American children do not have low self-esteem. Nonetheless, social science remains invested in the conception of proper racial identification. The doll tests’ contested history suggests that we need to replace this conception with a model of adaptive, negotiated, and hybrid racial identification.

**: Interestingly, in ancient Norse Mythology, as an aside—Heimdall was said to be the creator of social classes—but in Whedon, it is all a matter of freedom of thought and the dangers of selling one’s soul in exchange therefor)

***: Despite several potential racial themes, there were no overt or even covert or indirect references to Naziism in Thor at all, except for possibly two “twisted crosses”—these were soft-s-shaped serpents crossing and so perhaps not even intended as such, but the architectural layout of the SHIELD (SHIELD = “Men in Black”) field laboratory built around Thor’s hammer (misidentified by SHIELD scientists as a satellite but sent to earth by All Father Odin/Wotan as an afterthought to banishing his son Thor Odinsson).  The compound looked to me from a brief side aerial view to have the elements of a two intertwined s-shaped snakes, possibly a circumscribed twisted cross.  But then at the very end, in a plug for some of Thor’s coming reappearance in the Avengers, there was a box which contained what was described as a place of confluence of myth, legend, and history—an great power source—in fact a source of “UNLIMITED POWER”, and it clearly appears to be electricity charging in a very distinctly double interlocking S-shaped hackenkreuz.  I really don’t think there’s any mistaking the serpentine Swastika as this source of “Unlimited Power”—and apparently Loki is going to play a major role in the next movie in trying to exploit this source.  Infinite, unlimited power described by or emanating from a Twisted Cross—what a concept!  I had had doubts when I first saw this last scene on opening night but sure to my prediction/threat in the first edition of this review essay, I did in fact follow up on all of this by seeing this movie four times on its first four days in Santa Monica.

**** exemplum gratia: Shelley Sue Thomson (see e.g. elsewhere on this blog: https://charleslincoln3.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/for-jon-roland-you-hypocrite-lecteur-mon-semblable-mon-frere-and-for-shelley-sue-thomson-for-whom-i-won-a-fast-and-speedy-victory-taking-her-from-near-homeless-slums-to-a-nearly-palatial/#comments.   But this is just to name a one out of thousands of New Age/NeoPagan types, who congregate all over North Central New Mexico especially around Albuquerque, Los Alamos, Galisteo, Roswell, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Pecos).

{*****For whatever mysterious reason, the Frost Giants in fact look rather like Greenskinned Lorne/Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan in Joss Whedon’s “Angel” (Loki’s Green-skinned “Father” Laufe (a purposeful sexual misidentification?) even resembles the late Andy Hallett (1975-2009) in facial features and speech.}