By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you’ll only destroy yourself.
Akira Kurosawa, & al., Seven Samurai
By protecting others, you save yourself. If you only think of yourself, you’ll only destroy yourself.
Akira Kurosawa, & al., Seven Samurai
When I saw the movie, I didn’t know there was a book. I think the movie just kind of showed up one day and moved into my Netflix queue. All very normal. Who knew? Then, I watched it. I was so amazed by the originality and atmosphere and everything of the movie that when someone mentioned, “The book is better,” I knew I had to read that too. However, it sat on my stack unread. In fact, I almost gave it away as a present since it seemed a shame to waste a brand new book like that if I wasn’t going to read it.
Then, I’m not sure why, but I picked it up. And, devoured it. But, the whole time I kept thinking to myself, “I wish I’d read the book first.” The pacing seemed really slow to me as I was reading it. I felt that had to be because I’d seen the movie and so I wasn’t discovering the story for the first time. It had to be something, because it was a wonderful story to read.
Well, maybe the word “wonderful” isn’t right, is it? It’s a bleak affair, after all. The pacing is part of the atmosphere. Everyone is struggling to find love in spite of their dysfunctions in a world which indifferently exists around them. I’d say hostile, but that’s not really it. Everyone is doing what they can to survive as wounded individuals, and sometimes that means hurting other people. But, it’s not really out of malice, even the bullies are really not so much vicious as much as indifferently cruel because they are living. And, there’s really no good people, per se, as much as everyone being flawed in such a way that it’s all ultimately ambiguous. And, in the cold and wintery dark, isn’t that idea the real horror? To be alone is to die, but to be around others is to get hurt. To live is to decide to continue hurting and being hurt, and to refuse this is to refuse to go on living. And, that struggle is one that strangles the heart in strange ways, unless you can find the right one that balances out that struggle for a while. So, try to let the right one in.
(It’s an odd coincidence, which will only make sense to those having read the book, that I was proofreading Liber Cordis Cincti Serpente as I was reading the book. After you finish the book, go and read through this Liber to see why this stuck me as synchronicity.)
Then I finished with the story and watched the movie again. As I watched the movie, I realized how very different the two were from each other. The pacing of the movie really was strikingly fast, and after the book the movie is almost dizzying. The movie literally zooms from the start to somewhere in the middle of the book across a couple of minutes. I was really shocked at how much wasn’t there from the book that I had to reassure myself that, in fact, the author was also the writer of the screenplay. Now, that makes it very interesting to think about what got left out, by the author’s own hand; in collaboration, to be sure, but still. Re-watching the movie, I realized there were things that couldn’t have made sense the first time, things that must have seemed odd or wrong about the plot. The movie could have been so very much creepier and scarier. But, it also turned the story from one of many individuals trying for survival, trying to live in a indifferently hostile world, into more of a love story.
In fact so much was left out, that, given what was left unexplored on screen the first time, I’m holding out a bit of hope now that the Americanized remake will actually be truer to the book. Faint hope to be sure, if I’m relying on American cinema to outdo a European film for awesome moody dread and willingness to go uncomfortable places, without turning to shlock and satire.
Of course, I’m reminded of anything by Bergman, but that’s too easy. Like in Cyrano de Bergerac, no one really gets what they want in the end. Like the end of The Princess Bride, it’s really not clear how much time there’s left for those riding off into the sunset. And, as I think about this I’m strongly reminded of my experience of The Silence of the Lambs, because of the realization that instead of any of what would normally be the creepiest stuff, the violence and gore and so on, what really was creepy was the psychological, existential horror that went on in the exchange between the main characters.
While reading the book, there were two places where it seemed to me the translator’s choices stuck out in odd ways, and there was one point past the half way point in the story where I had a feeling that the style of storytelling had abruptly changed. But, all in all the writing and translation seemed to carry me along and into the narrative without making themselves obvious, dissolving into a seamless experience. Nothing here like a tour de force of language, but well suited to the story and did well to maintain my immersion and momentum through to the end.
Now I’m flummoxed over whether I’d rather have read the book first or not. I actually like the movie a lot less now than I did before I read the book. The book is a much richer tapestry and much creepier and much more compelling. I can only, in the end, recommend both, and highly, even in spite of my confusion. They’re such different creatures, the movie and the book, that they both almost live unlives of their own. Both manage to survive, to find a way through the dark; both manage to come out in the end. At least, for a while.
Originally posted over on my personal blog at Låt den rätte komma in.
Not only didn’t I mind Simon Callow’s Crowley, I thought Callow did a really good job … but in a crappy movie. Or, at least, I assume so. I really couldn’t watch the 2nd half of Chemical Wedding because it turned super stupid. I suppose it’s possible that the end managed to turn it around, but I gave up; and, when I talked with people that stayed for the whole thing I’m glad I left.
However, the first half really made an impression, which I was disappointed that the rest didn’t live up to. I kept thinking how interesting, as high concept, to ask what would it be like if Crowley were somehow brought back to life today. What would he say and do, and what would his personality and ideas be like, when placed within a current cultural context. What would he applaud and what would he lament and what would surprise and what would shock, anger, confuse? And what insights and breakthroughs could be made given more time in a new time?
For that matter, it’s an interesting idea which you could ask of any historical figure. Any of the historical figure re-enactments is an example of how this can be compelling. I’m thinking primarily of Holbrook’s Twain and Jenkinson’s Jefferson as these seem to be exemplars. Or, I suppose also the Riverworld stories of Farmer are also examples of this idea of moving historical figures into another context. Maybe some more good examples are the alternative history stories that come out every once in a while and even the recent trend of adding zombies or whatnot to historical literature.
Well, anyhow, I was watching the special features on Branagh’s Hamlet, and I was struck by how closely he seemed to me in some of the videos to resemble Crowley in some pictures.
Admittedly the picture of Branagh above is not the most flattering, but he’s so often smiling that it’s the best I could find on short notice to show side-by-side.
Anyhow, leaving aside the high concept of time travel and resurrection, wouldn’t it be something to see a decent period bio-pic of Crowley done with such production values and acting that someone like Branagh could bring to it? There’s certainly enough material to be interesting. Like the life of Sir Richard Francis Burton which really has only ever appeared once, and then only a short bit, in The Mountains of the Moon (which is actually a really well-done movie that I recommend); a decently done movie about Crowley, with warts and all to be sure, of course, please, but not something that is just stupid sensationalism or worse a really crappy B-grade film, would really be something to see.
Originally posted over on my personal blog at As great an actor to enact Crowley as this.
You know the drill. Will Smith in the supposedly truest to the book version of the novel I Am Legend. Made in the 60s as a vehicle for Vincent Price to pine for his dead wife (Last Man on Earth) and in the 70s with Charlton Heston being camp as all get out (Omega Man). In this one, Will Smith is an Army Lt. Col. who worked on the virus that’s turned human beings into zombie / vampire creatures or meat. Riding around in flashy cars with his German shepherd and hunting elk in the streets of New York, Smith is surprisingly convincing. Carrying a picture by oneself is a difficult chore to say the least and for a guy who started out rapping about getting grounded and dressing like Punky Brewster, Smith turns out a far better than workmanlike performance.
The Good: Creepy zombies, good cinematography, killer tracking shots of the deserted city, and more “last man on earth” fantasies than you can shake a stick at.
The Bad: He’s got running water, which is kind of weird but once you go down that route, the nuclear power plants would have exploded. Also, a bit of a downer.
The Bottom Line: Seeing Will Smith being that intense with graying hair is a bit emotionally jarring, but this is a symphony on film. Minimal blood and gore, maximum terror.
Philip Pullman’s screed against organized religion hits the screens in a family-friendly Christmas release. It is, of course, little surprise that the film’s Gnostic message has been entirely purged from the film. However, the core attitudes about the oppressive nature of organized religion shine through. Did I mention polar bears with thumbs fighting in armor that they welded themselves using iron from fucking meteors? Sam Elliot in a hot air balloon as a cowboy?
The Good: Set design and special effects are fairly epic, befitting this film which is supposed to be a sort of follow-up to LOTR for New Line.
The Bad: The story is a little rushed and key elements are changed or left out. But what do you expect?
The Bottom Line: Take your little cousins to see this and give them an education in free thought.
With the 2012 meme hot on the minds of alternative archeologists, occultists, religious fanatics, and the rest of us crazy people, the Mayan civilization has started its steep upward climb back into the minds of modern civilizations. Mel Gibson – fresh off of his Passion of the Christ work, in which he laughed at traditional movie distribution all the way to the bank – decided to try his hand at the ancient civilization equation with his Mayan epic Apocalypto.
As the title suggests, this is a story about the beginning of the end of the Mayan civilization, as told through the narrative of Jaguar Paw. His village invaded, and his people captured, Jaguar Paw is trekked across the Mexican jungle to a great Mayan city to be sacrificed. His only goal: surviving to get back to his wife, whom he left down a shallow cavern to save her.
Jaguar Paw’s ordeal is your traditional action/adventure; but his story allows Mel Gibson to give viewers a glimpse into the world of the declining Mayan civilization during a time of an immense drought, waning resources, and resulting in a large number of human sacrifices.
The movie, for the most part, is historically accurate, with some liberties taken to enhance the awe of the spectacle. Many people have complained about the movie being inherently racist with its portrayal of the Mayan’s as bloodthirsty savages; and though I will admit that the scientific and mathematical accomplishments of the Maya were glossed over in favor of the human sacrifice, we do know that a great deal of human sacrifice did occur during the Mayan decline. Gibson may have portrayed the Maya as overtly savage, but the scenes between Zero Wolf and his son showed compassion, and the city scenes showed a complex society built on more than just bloodshed.
Another complaint that a few had, was that they felt Gibson was portraying the conquistadores at the end as the “saviors with crosses” of these savage people. I disagree. If this were the case, then Jaguar Paw would have been “saved” by the them. Instead, he returns to his wife and seeks a “new beginning” deeper into the forest, away from the Spanish.
The DVD contains a nice documentary about the making of the film. Particularly interesting is the making of the city and costumes. The deleted scenes – or should I say scene – only contains one brief moment where an injured deer passes by.
The film itself is phenomenally entertaining and anyone caught up in the 2012 meme – or anyone who’s an ancient cultures buff – would do themselves a good deed by sitting down and watching it.
An irregular hodgepodge of links gathered together … Omnium Gatherum for July 30th, 2014
“Afterlife With Archie” Issue 6 is a comic every Lovecraft fan will enjoy — Mike Davis, Lovecraft eZine
Here are some top gatherum posts from the BBS this week:
“Lucien Greaves (a.k.a. Doug Mesner), one of the people who commissioned the sculpture, that now sits in a warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn, asked the sculptor — we’ll call him “Jack” — to forgo the breasts. This Baphomet is smooth-chested and muscular, with thin, shapely lips and rectangular pupils. The sculptor based his physique on a blend of Michelangelo’s David and Iggy Pop.”
“Written in the voodoo cultspeak of futurist horror writer H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, ‘The Call of Cthulhu,’ the creepy Cthulhu Offerings may be the most confusing digital currency yet.
‘The time draws near, the return of The Great Old One is upon us,’ writes the developer. ‘Join us in our ritual.'”
“During ongoing excavations in northern Sudan, Polish archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology in Poznań, have discovered the remains of a settlement estimated to 70,000 years old. This find, according to the researchers, seems to contradict the previously held belief that the construction of permanent structures was associated with the so-called Great Exodus from Africa and occupation of the colder regions of Europe and Asia.”
“The academic research on Western esotericism in general and contemporary occultism in particular has been largely neglected in earlier scholarship and has only recently gained serious academic attention. This thesis examines how the contemporary occult group, La Société Voudon Gnostique, headed by David Beth and an organization under the general current Voudon Gnosis, legitimate their claims to knowledge, mainly through three discursive strategies of epistemology offered by Olav Hammer, namely: the appeal to (1) tradition; (2) scientism as a language of faith; and narratives of (3) experience. Since Hammer argues that these strategies can be found in esoteric currents in general, but only examines theosophy, anthroposophy and New Age as well as only examining “esoteric spokespersons” this thesis aims at examine them in relation to contemporary occultism as well as in relation to both the spokesperson and to “ordinary adherents”. In order do this, La Société Voudon Gnostique works as a case study in qualification of being a contemporary occult group that has gained no academic attention before.
The conclusions of this thesis are that the strategies are all prevalent, to a more or less extent, in La Société Voudon Gnostique and they are also used by the adherents. Besides the strategies proposed by Hammer, this thesis argues that the secrecy and elitist approach, which can be found in the texts, also can be seen as a discursive strategy of epistemology.”
“Persecuted, is based on a laughably impossible premise that the audience is supposed to find threatening. In this case, it’s the government attempting to legislate religion, something Poor Oppressed Christians are totally for until they realize that religious freedom also applies to non-Christians. Then they go off the rails about how wrong and unfair it is that they aren’t treated as special and given more privileges than everyone else.”
“Pull up libertarianism’s floorboards, look beneath the surface into the big business PR campaign’s early years, and there you’ll start to get a sense of its purpose, its funders, and the PR hucksters who brought the peculiar political strain of American libertarianism into being — beginning with the libertarian movement’s founding father, Milton Friedman.”
“That is how libertarianism in America started: As an arm of big business lobbying.”
“Certain authors possess the secret of a kind of reversed alchemy; they know how to turn the richest gold into lead. The most interesting subjects become in their hands so tedious that we can hardly bear to read about them.”
“By speaking up, we are not only defending public libraries but the entire notion of public services. Silence is not how we defend ourselves against an ideological battle, it is how we surrender.”
“It’s been a great pleasure in recent years seeing the welling of interest in Cameron’s work. In 2001 when I was compiling notes for an abandoned study of occult cinema, Cameron as artist, witch or mere human being was a shadowy presence about whom nothing substantial seemed to have been written; her art was impossible to see anywhere, all one had were fleeting references in books”
“Love spells are black magic. Love spells to manipulate the body, heart, and soul. Love spells to dominate, to bind, to cause destruction and madness and pain.
Love spells are not about love, they are about the lustful eye and the selfish heart. Be honest with yourself about it and then move on to the work at hand.”
“‘Stick-Gods’ is the culmination of over a dozen years of fascination with Ancient Egypt—particularly, its mythology and deities. Whether you’re studying Egyptology, a practicing Kemetic or just a fan of myths, there should be something in there for you! I’m doing my best to balance informed content with a fair bit of silliness. …And puns. Lots of puns.”
“Reading William Blake one cannot help but realize this is a man who is both religious and spiritually active, especially his poems known as the prophecies. The question is what was the nature of his spiritual life? What inspired Blake to create works that are both heavily Christian and at the same time antagonistic to many Christian ideals? The surprising answer is laid out as Schuchard leads us back into the complex religious web of mystical Christianity of the 17th and 18th century.”
“Aleister Crowley criticized spiritism as ‘a sort of indiscriminate necromancy’ because of a complete lack of formal magical procedures and protections, in which many mediums simply opened themselves up to whatever spiritual force happened to be present. Modern channelers such as Knight still employ essentially the same methods that Crowley was talking about. As such, there’s a real possibility that any channeling attempt could reach just about any spirit, like some sort of metaphysical Chatroulette.”
“The argument between the four disciples seems to be our anonymous writer’s way of exploring the different positions being taken by the men and women of his own day on the question of an alternative tradition being handed down by women. But he is also expressing his concern that the Church is changing, and not for the better. In his eyes, Peter seems to represent the voice of a faction in the community which wants to ‘make rules or lay down laws other than the Saviour gave’ – in other words, a group that wants to develop an institutional structure to replace the more fluid and informal movement of the early decades. This was clearly a topical warning after the death of the disciples who had known Jesus. Levi thinks that the new rules are a way of drawing the community away from fulfilling its task of preaching the gospel. The anonymous writer seems to be using Levi to suggest that too much emphasis on authority from the ‘Peter faction’ is stifling the Church.”
“As the story begins, our heroine Sabrina Spellman is relating one of her eldritch dreams to her psychiatrist, Dr. Lovecraft. Sabrina has apparently been committed to an institution because after her aunts died in a house fire, she had a breakdown and couldn’t deal with the reality of their death.
But is that really what happened?”
If you’d like to participate in the Omnium Gatherum, head on over to the Gatherum discussions at the Hrmtc Underground BBS. You can check out all the other gatherum posts, like posts you enjoy, and even add your own posts with links to other things of interest, related to the subject matter of the library, from elsewhere around the Internet.
Bight of the Twin by Hazel Hill McCarthy III is a crowdfunding effort, with only 4 days left to go and still trying to reach their initial funding goal, for a documentary about Vodun in Benin with Genesis Breyer P-Orridge.
BIGHT OF THE TWIN is a feature-length documentary exploring Vodun (Voodoo, Voudou, Vodoun), one of the world’s oldest and most misunderstood religions. Los Angeles based artist and filmmaker, Hazel Hill McCarthy III, documents Cultural Engineer Genesis Breyer P-Orridge on h/er journey to Ouidah, Benin in search of the truths and origins of Vodun.
SYNOPSIS: Cultural engineer, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is serendipitously initiated into the ‘Twin Fetish’ – a practice within Vodun that honors twins. Through a series of ceremonies, Genesis reaffirms an eternal bond with h/er late wife and Pandrogyne partner, Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge. This is a deeply interdimensional connection of alternative Western culture in tangent with ancient African ritual. In this story we begin to see the link between Pangrogyny and the ‘Twin Fetish’, an activation of a complete state, and in fact the true fundamentals of Vodun religion.
In Benin, which has the highest national average of twins per birth, twins carry a sacred meaning. When one twin passes away, the living twin remembers its spirit by carrying around a small, carved replica of their dead brother or sister. The deceased twin is described as ‘having gone to the forest to look for wood’. This engaged and very public approach to grief and loss is in stark contrast to the closeted Victorian values that Western culture has been saddled with.
Transcending assumptions of what it means to be “gendered”, lead character, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, embodies a re-union and re-solution of male and female, seeking to perfect a hermaphroditic state through Pandrogyny. Genesis and Lady Jaye underwent a series of surgical procedures to become gender-neutral human beings that looked identical to one another. In 2007 Lady Jaye passed away and “dropped h/er body”. Since that time Genesis has continued to represent the amalgam BREYER P-ORRIDGE in the material world while Lady Jaye represents the amalgam BREYER P-ORRIDGE in the immaterial world creating an ongoing inter-dimensional collaboration.
By exploring their non/all-gender we begin to see the link between Pangrogyny and the ‘Twin Fetish’. As the French anthropologist, Michel Cartry, wrote in 1973, “Twins are a reminder and an incarnation of the mythical ideal. It is as though they are representatives of a state of ontological perfection, a state which the non-twins have completely lost. The first living creatures were couples of twins of opposite sexes. The loss of twin hood… is the price that man had to pay for a sin committed by one of the ancestors. But the birth of twins is a reminder of that happy condition, and that is why it is celebrated everywhere with joy”.