Is creativity a form of shamanic communion with forces beyond our ordinary experience? Are there certain individuals who are able to tap into the deepest recesses of consciousness where the gods are waiting? Does visionary experience allow one to see traces of reality unbound by time and space?
There are the questions that lie at the heart of my own work and have led me to obsess further on an already long-standing obsession- the American godfather of the modern superhero, Jack Kirby.
Kirby was obsessed with many of the questions non-traditional thinkers are struggling with today, but may have had access to answers we do not.
In particular, there is a strange episode in his career in which Kirby seemed to foresee events long after his death, events which may well be linked to the Stargate- that portal between our world and the world of otherworldly entities the ancients saw as "gods."
These posts were originally written in January of '08. Some ideas I explore here have been discarded, some have evolved. But it all revolves around the idea of creativity as a shamanistic pursuit and how dreamwork and psychedelic experience are intimately related to this process.
I covered a lot of this material at Esalen, but I think you psychonauts out there might have a more immediate appreciation at the possibilities raised by Kirby's creative encounter with the Gate of the Gods...
Silver Star, part 2: Down the Rabbit Hole
(Note: Read part 1 of this series here)
Kirby's 80's work may be generally overlooked, but that's not to say it isn't influential. I detail the numerous parallels between Captain Victory and James Cameron's Aliens in Spandex. And what is easily the nadir of Kirby's artistry, Super Powers, was in many ways DC's practice run for event books like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Cosmic Odyssey.
But let's look further into this strange, precognitive nexus between Silver Star and Destroyer Duck. So many of the thematic strands that we now see bubbling up from the conspiracy underground seem to hover around these books like a Lovecraftian spectre. It seems that nearly every major theme discussed in the more speculative branches of conspiracy research finds a synchronistic antecedent in three obscure Jack Kirby comic books. Granted, Kirby's work shows that he seemed to be very much immersed in the same themes that you see on conspiracy, UFO and high weirdness websites. But I'm not sure if that explains the...
9/11 was like gasoline on the smoldering coals of internet conspiracy research, which had been whipped up by Behold a Pale Horse, Art Bell and the"Patriot" movement in the 1990's. The image above was taken from Destroyer Duck #5, published by Eclipse Comics in 1983. It's important to note that Kirby didn't write this story, Howard the Duck creator Steve Gerber did. But it may well be what inspired Kirby to completely rewrite the end of Silver Star.
In DD#5, we see the set up for the unsettingly prescient 9/11-like scenario in this story. The CEO of "Godcorp" readies a 'suitcase nuke' (that favorite bugaboo of the neoconservative Right) to celebrate the signing of a oil drilling franchise in Hoqoom, an Mesopotamian theocracy based on Iran. The conflicts and tensions that played themselves on 9/11 are presented here in reverse, with the Islamic radicals suffering what becomes a (inadvertent) suicide attack at the hands of American plutocrats. The satirical "Pahkmani the Devourer" (yes, a Pac-Man parody) and the fundamentalists of Hoqoom find their counterparts in Darius Drumm and the Foundation for Self Denial in Silver Star.
One popular school of thought in the conspiracy underground is derived from a dyspeptic reinterpretation of the theories of writers like Zechariah Sitchin and Erich Von Daniken. It holds that human race is secretly manipulated and unconsciously enslaved by a cabal of evil extraterrestrials, who created homo sapiens as a slave race using their own alien DNA and the DNA of proto-hominids.
Sitchin was inspired by Biblical stories of the Nephilim, which are the offspring of human women and a race of "giants," whom he came to see as extraterrestrials. Kirby himself subscribed to these theories, which formed the basis of his 1976 Marvel series, The Eternals. Best-sellers like The Gods of Eden by William Bramley and Rule By Secrecy by Jim Marrs would later combine Sitchin's ancient astronaut theories with the occult conspiracy interpretation of history put forth by writers like Michael Howard.
Another popular strain in conspiracy research is drawn from James Shelby Downard's symbological interpretation of events like the Kennedy assassination. Downard collated details like place names and other geographical details to concoct an elaborate thesis that Freemasons were manipulating world events as part of a grand ritual to reorder the cosmos itself.
When I first read of Downard's theories I was deeply immersed in Jung and was astonished that this character seemed completely oblivious of the theory of Synchronicity. The types of conjunctions and correspondences Downard wrote about seemed par for the course for any neophyte Jungian. Downard's research isn't even all that impressive- others have come along and done it much better. An entire new school of thought has sprung up around a new synthesis of Jung and some of the post-Downard researchers - it's known as "Synchromysticism."
Concurrently, researchers like former BBC personality David Icke have recombined Bramley's and Downard's interpretations and taken them to the next level, claiming that the ruling elites of the world are devil-worshipping, shape-shifting alien reptiles who use symbolism as form of mind control-cum-witchcraft. In this view, popular media is a minefield of symbolic spells, created to manipulate the primitive human mind (which come to think of it, probably isn't that far from the truth...)
Which brings me to the backup story in Destroyer Duck #5...
Where the main story explored the theocratic and petropolitical motivations behind a 9/11 type event, Destroyer Duck #5's backup feature The Starling (written by Superman creator Jerry Siegel) offers a comic book foreshadowing of Icke's UFO theorizing. In florid, erotically charged language Siegel describes the origin of his character, which are identical to the modern theories of the biblical Nephilim (or The X-Files, for that matter). In turn, this human-alien hybrid who links us symbolically back to Mesopotamia, via the writings of Sitchin.
The story is filled with the brutal emotionalism that made Siegel's Superman so compelling. In this scene, the sweet-faced teenage boy learns from his mother (now a best-selling novelist) that his father was a shape-shifting alien who seduced her to create this new child.
In another foreshadowing of Icke et al, that sweet-faced boy is himself a shape shifting reptilian.
Mind you, this was written by the creator of Superman, modern history's most iconic superhero.
MESOPOTAMIA AND MARDUK
Looking at the Starling in that scene with his mother, I'm struck by how much he resembles Kamandi, another similarly-clad, sweet-faced teenager from Jack Kirby's post-apocalyptic fever-dream from the 1970's.
The mystery deepens. Mirroring the later Destroyer Duck #5, Kirby wrote his own story of a suitcase nuke smuggled aboard in airplane. In Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth# 30, Kamandi and his mutant companion Ben Boxer discover a long-dead terrorist on an airplane that had been commandeered by a UFO. The terrorist is clutching a suitcase nuke, en route to some grim destination before the 'Great Disaster,' the nebulous Apocalypse that is the basis of the Kamandi mythology.
Remarkably, we are symbolically brought back to Sitchin's Mesopotamia by the giant statue of Marduk on the cover of Kamandi #30 (story is titled "UFO: The Wildest Trip Ever"). The desert sands of Mesopotamia (or Hoqoom) were the cradle of civilization and now this alien-made "sand pit" becomes its grave. This cover is not altogether thematically dissimilar to the Sitchin cover above, either. (note: The Angel of Death in Silver Star also reduced the landscape to desert).
This also ties us back to Jerry Siegel, since Marduk was one of Superman's mythological antecedents. Again, was any of this conscious? I can't possibly see how.
As if all of this weren't enough, the terrorist, the suitcase nuke and the airliner are all drawn into a gigantic Stargate, or interdimensional portal, that opens in the sky above the sand dunes.
Kirby writes: "Where do UFO's come from? How do they get here? Maybe they don't travel through the vastness of space, maybe they just come through things like the Door." I'm sure both Freud and Crowley would appreciate the blatant symbolism on that image- a skyscraper entering a Stargate, though for different reasons. Jake Kotzke would appreciate it for another reason altogether from them.
So would Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, whose landmark work The Stargate Conspiracy was published in America exactly one week before...
Since everything always ties back to The X-Files somehow, I am struck by how similar the image of the terrorist clutching the suitcase nuke in Kamandi is to this image of Max Fennig clutching a part of a highly radioactive alien generator to his chest in the episode "Max." Especially since both situations deal with an UFO taking control of a jetliner. I'm even more struck by the parallels between the plane crash in that XF episode and the contested fate of Flight 93. In the episode, the airliner Max is on is commandeered by a UFO and then shot down by a fighter jet. It crash-lands in rural, upstate New York, right next door to Pennsylvania.
I'm even more struck by the gematria encoded in the tail-fin of the Kamandi plane. 'N' and 'C' are the 14th and 3rd letters of the alphabet respectively, adding up to the mystical 17. G is the 7th- add the 2 and you have 9. And we already have the 11.
The two 9/11 airplanes- Flight 11 and Flight 175 struck the twin towers 17 minutes apart.
Kamandi #30 hit the stands in March of 1975.
This story originally started as a short '2007 in Review' post. But everytime I look at it, another link comes to light. Next, we will see Kirby's prophecies of the Iraq War and the Big Brother of all Conspiracy Theories...
Silver Star, part 2: Move Over Nostradamus
Had the attacks in 2001 never happened, September 11 may have been best known as the day George Bush Sr. addressed the US Congress making his case for war against Iraq, who had invaded and occupied the oil duchy known as Kuwait. It was in this speech that the ominous phrase, "New World Order," became part of the common lexicon.
We stand today at a unique and extraordinary moment. The crisis in the Persian Gulf, as grave as it is, also offers a rare opportunity to move toward an historic period of cooperation. Out of these troubled times, our fifth objective -- a new world order -- can emerge: a new era -- freer from the threat of terror, stronger in the pursuit of justice, and more secure in the quest for peace. An era in which the nations of the world, East and West, North and South, can prosper and live in harmony. A hundred generations have searched for this elusive path to peace, while a thousand wars raged across the span of human endeavor. Today that new world is struggling to be born, a world quite different from the one we've known. A world where the rule of law supplants the rule of the jungle. A world in which nations recognize the shared responsibility for freedom and justice.That New World Order, where a centralized global authority keeps the peace, was presented to us by Jack Kirby in living color in his incredibly prescient 1974 series, OMAC. And then some.
OMAC prophesied a technocratic utopia lorded over by a sentient artificial intelligence named Brother Eye, who orbits the planet in satellite form. Keeping things calm were a literally faceless police force known as the Global Peace Agency. In this series, Kirby forecast Real Dolls, virtual reality, non-lethal weaponry, a kind of ramped-up organ harvesting, water wars and genetically engineered Beasts of the Apocalypse that would make DARPA drool.
Any conspiracy researcher or symbology buff worth their salt should be sitting up straight, seeing that blatant All-Seeing Eye imagery upon OMAC's chest. OMAC's mohawk haircut doesn't say "Punk Rock" (which didn't really exist then) so much as it says "New Roman Empire." Again, it's almost certain that Kirby came across the juxtaposition of occult symbolism and world government theorizing while reading conspiracy literature.
Now, scroll back up to the top of the page and look at the image the government of Kuwait used to symbolize the invasion of their country in 1990. And then look at the cover of OMAC#3, that portrays a very similar scenario- a strongman invading a neighboring country in defiance of the 'World Community.' Only in this case, A 'One Man Army' is there to defend the invaded country, not an...
In the next issue, the 'One Man Army' defeats the invading force and goes to arrest the commander of the invading army, Marshall Kafka, who is trapped in his bunker.
The bewildered look on the bearded, presumed-dead warrior's face as he is arrested by the One Man Army had a strange, real-life echo three decades later when the "Army of One" arrested another bearded, presumed-dead warrior in his underground bunker...
Here, take a closer look. Notice the mouth agape on both men...
Later, Kafka is put on trial for assorted crimes against humanity. Here he defiantly reviews the charges against him, which are essentially the same charges brought against Saddam.
Note the last charge is another way of saying "Weapons of Mass Destruction."
The full-page shot below is an uncanny foreshadowing. The hair is different- this is cartooning, not caricature - but the strong features (especially the eyes) are remarkably similar to Saddam. Especially considering Kirby's tendency towards abstraction. Or considering that millions of people predict the looming Apocalypse based on some incredibly vague old French poems...
The name "Kafka" is curious for Kirby, considering the aggressive militarism of the character. But it's worth noting that more than one commentator as referred to the trial, sentencing and execution of Saddam as something out of Kafka or 'Kafkaesque.'
Remembering we are dealing in the realm of symbol, it should be noted that Kafka's confidence during his trial is due to the oncoming attack of his bio-engineered killing machine. Symbolically, this plot-line is eerily similar to the ongoing insurrection the "Army of One" has faced in the days since Saddam's downfall.
Another Kirby cover seems like a political cartoon here, with the outmatched One Man Army facing a multi-pronged chimera appearing out of the ether, raining fire and death. Just write 'intifada' on the monster's chest and put a triangle around OMAC's chest eye and you're set. Note: The battle takes place on Mount Everest, lending an Theosophical tinge to this story.
So we have the very strong thematic links to September 11, 1990 with the New World Order themed OMAC and the synch-links to the Mesopotamian Wars. What ties this all into 9/11 and the Nephilim/Stargate links discussed in the past two installments? Well, in the DC Universe OMAC has a descendant, his name is...
THE MISSING LINKS
What is amazing in the context of Kirby's visionary abilities is that the Saddam story in OMAC and the Stargate/Marduk storyline in Kamandi came out at essentially the same time- OMAC was published in January of 1975 and Kamandi in March.
This means that Kirby was visualizing this Saddam character and the Stargate at the same point in time- which ties into the work of researchers like William Henry, who claim that the Iraq War was a pretext for this struggle over the Sumerian texts that Saddam was hording.
Following the Silver Star series, the Mindbomb series was a freeform meditation on the shamanic nature of the creative process and how dreams and visionary experiences fed into the process as well. The first post tied into Jake Kotze's links between Kirby's first cover upon returning to Captain America and the King Kong movie poster, which featured the Twin Towers. The first installment was titled "Stargate in the Sky"
As I mentioned before, Jake picked up the Kirby ball and took it to the semiotic endzone. Not having read the comics as of yet, he may not have been aware that the Madbomb, that infernal mind control weapon of the Anglophile Elite, was devised by the aptly-named Mason Harding.
Just prior the beginning of the Madbomb Saga, we have "Slaughter in the Sky," drawn by X-Files resonator Frank Robbins. Here we see Doctor Faustus kicking Cap out of a plane that is flying towards New York City.
Given the synchronistic currents surrounding Kirby, the presence of Doctor Faustus is fascinating, given the fact that the mad psychiatrist is obviously Kirby's parody of Carl Jung.
Given Kirby's voracious appetite for anything outre or esoteric, at some point he must have read up on Jung. This is evidenced by the fact that Jung was rumored to Goethe's illegitimate great-grandson and held the figure of Goethe's Faustus close to his heart all of his life, taking the character on as his "second personality."
Who else but Jung himself could initiate such a portentous avalanche of synchronicity and symbolism that marked the last stage of Kirby's career in comics? And his stand-in seems to have a special interest in aircraft and New York City, particularly lower Manhattan there, albeit in non-Kirby comics.
Following the various breadcrumb trails and the bizarre synergy lately between the Kirby-crazed Secret Sun and the Stargate-obsessed Blob, is anyone surprised that Kirby followed up the Madbomb Saga with an incredibly strange story of an interdimensional Stargate opening up in the sky over the Ground Zero resonating "Zero Street?" Or that the the first hero through it would be the Falcon, the 17-resonating Horus stand-in? Or that the story would involve a Texas oilman and yet another reclusive sect of mind-controlled Fundamentalist weirdos?
Through an quirk in scheduling, I've been spending a lot of my time delving back into the symbols. And it is having a powerful effect on my dreams, which have become extremely huge and vivid.
Last night I dreamed that an enormous, mile-wide UFO was trying to phase into this physical plane over the Tappan Zee bridge. The force of this action was destroying the bridge, very much like the Point Pleasant event. I was primarily concerned with how traffic would get across the river, which is 3 miles at that point. The water was littered with construction debris and floating cars. Vladimir Putin was there, witnessing the event and he and I discussed the arrogance of the UFO's inhabitants. But the UFO was phasing in and out of this dimensional reality. Finally, the UFO - still phasing - was brought down telepathically by a small, bald Asian man. It was like watching a building collapse in slow motion- it took forever. But the bridge was still gone.
I can name any number of items in my thoughtstream lately that played into this construction, but the power of the Unconscious mind takes those bits and pieces and creates something unforgettable of them. And in a few short seconds, I could find just the right images to quickly construct a collage of to illustrate the story.
My question is why is so much of popular culture so dead and empty? Because we as a culture are not dreaming anymore. Americulture is a speed freak; unable to sleep and unwilling to dream. As with all speed freaks, our public life is becoming a dreary, ugly, miserable hallucination.
We are the Night People
A pack of gluttonous, raccoon-eyed paranoids drunk on consumerism, Calvinism and overstimulation.
An expert diagnosis of Bush-era America? Well, that's a bit outside of the Secret Sun's province. Here, it's a description of Jack Kirby's "Night People," whom Captain America tangled with following the Madbomb Saga. Christmas is probably still fresh in your memory, so this montage should ring true....
Firmly ensconced in the endless ocean of the Dreaming Mind, Kirby foresaw the future of America and only got a few of the details wrong. The Night People have indeed come, only the Elite wasn't defeated and the Madbombs keep going off all the time.
Foreseeing the Bush Administration's policy of "Shock and Awe" or the constellation of control techniques Naomi Wolf catalogs in her book The Shock Doctrine, the Night People's Inquisitor turns the Horus-resonating Falcon and his lady into one of them using their sacrament, the "blessing" of electroshock treatment. In addition to the Egyptian stand-in superhero, we have Leila, whose name is Arabic for "night."
The Night People have their heaven, only it's not on Earth. It's in another dimension and they use their own homemade Stargate to move back and forth. The only problem is their dimension is the dwelling place of demons- their heaven is actually a Hell. Devising their own interpretation of the Rapture, the Night People concoct a plan to transport all of the demons through the Stargate to Earth, so their dimension can be Heaven once again and Armageddon will befall the fallen world they left behind.
This kind of prophecy must leave a semiotic trail to its fulfillment and here we get hit after hit.
You see, the Night People had their own Mega Ritual, transporting their asylum on Zero Street to another dimension, along with a healthy chunk of Manhattan's bedrock. Zero Street is now a fenced-in Ground Zero, its native soil replaced with alien atoms.
Which brings us to 2001. Two pages before Captain America enters the Stargate, we see this house ad for his adaption of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which draws our attention by using an early, superior cover layout. Drawing our attention even further is the 17-17 hovering above it, drawing our attention back to the Falcon.
No Ground Zero/ Stargate ritual drama would be complete without a Texas oil millionaire with patrician facial features, and here Kirby delivers the goods. Taking the role is Texas Jack Muldoon, a rootin' tootin' hellraiser jes' a-rarin' to jump on through that Stargate to the madman's heaven and kick some Ausländer ass.
Kirby gets the ethnicity a bit off but the semiotics down pat. Muldoon is an Irish name meaning "commander of the fortress." The crotch-hugging straps are a nice, prophetic touch. The twin Roman numerals need no explanation.
Nor does that reverse-Madbomb/Kong pose mirroring Cap as he emerges from the other side of the Stargate.
Ironically, fans were right when they labeled Kirby's 70s work "irrelevant." Kirby was looking through the prism of the Collective Unconscious straight into the 21st Century. The Night People saga is a pitch perfect foreshadowing of the orgy of paranoia, materialism and self-righteousness that befell America circa 2002- 2004. In many precincts, the Night People still reign triumphant.
Ironically, "The Night People" came out smack dab in the middle of America's Bicentennial but had nothing to do with 1976. It was about the next 100 years.
One of my biggest influences is Graham Hancock, the pioneering British journalist and explorer. In my opinion, Hancock is a giant of our times and his influence on popular culture is as huge as it is unacknowledged. I attended his first talk on his latest masterwork, Supernatural, as New York's sublime Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Being a Casteneda fan from way back in the day, I was captivated by the talk. Yet at the same time I was desperately hoping that people wouldn't use the book as motivation to go out and chug some ayahusca for themselves. I see that kind of activity as the equivalent of deep sea diving or Antarctic exploration- best left to the experts.
Many of the details in Hancock's talk struck a chord with me. When I was a kid I would get respiratory infections all of the time. As a result I would get terrifyingly high fevers, often peaking at 106ºF. As a result of that, I would often hallucinate. When I was 12, I got a particularly serious ear infection and was bedridden for over two weeks. Actually I was couch ridden- I was so weakened I couldn't walk up and down the stairs. If I wasn't so incredibly sick it would have been Paradise- nothing to do but lie around and read comics. I was a big Captain America fan at the time and was reading about three years worth of the title during that episode.
One night during this illness, I woke to a most peculiar tableau. A leprechaun was sitting on a rock in the middle of the living room and there was a thunder storm flashing in the adjacent room. I call him a leprechaun only because he was small and bearded and wearing archaic clothes and a rope belt. But he didn't seem cute and charming, he seemed scary as hell. He was shouting over the noise of the storm in a language I didn't understand, maybe Gaelic. And at some point the ceiling opened up and gold coins rained from the ceiling. The noise was unbearable and I passed out.
The thing is, that happened. It wasn't a dream- it all happened when I woke up and stopped when I passed out. I remember it better than yesterday. I was painfully awake at the time. There were no coins on the floor the next morning nor any burn marks on the floor or on the furniture in the dining room. But that doesn't mean the episode didn't have weight and mass and sound and sight and smell. It also doesn't mean that it wasn't extremely unpleasant either.
After Hancock's talk I waited in the receiving line and then told him that story. His face lit up and he nodded knowingly the entire time. He told me that my experience was basically identical to any number of the shamanic experiences he heard about in the field. He said that high fever seemed to throw the same filtering switch in the brain that hallucinogens did. I was gratified by his response, but at the same time I wondered how anyone could put themselves through that kind of thing voluntarily.
Still and all, I was captivated by Hancock's research. And as per usual, the more I heard about shamanism and its by-products the more I was reminded of Jack Kirby....
Jack Kirby may not be a household name, but we all are immersed in his visions. So many of the Hollywood wizards people celebrate today - not to mention video game makers - were raised on his comics. You can essentially separate action and sci-fi cinema at the point before and after Jack Kirby fans poured into Tinseltown and changed the look, tempo and intensity of these films. Somehow Kirby tapped into something so incredibly deep in the Collective Unconscious that it transformed his work and subsequently transformed society. It simply took some time for the technology to put Kirby's visions on the screen.
But Kirby may have been more than a mere visionary cartoonist- as if that's not enough in and of itself. I remember one night I was lying on the couch, flipping through a stack of Kirby's Eternals comics when a documentary on the Discovery Channel was talking about how shamanic art in different cultures had similar features- abstracted human figures, dots, squiggles, and odd geometric designs. What struck me about that was in the mid 1960's Kirby's art underwent a startling transformation and incorporated all of those motifs.
Subsequently, Kirby's Marvel work became popular with acid-dropping college kids. And when I am lost in my musings (which is pretty much all the time) I sometimes wonder if the man didn't drop acid himself. It wouldn't surprise me; in fact, it would explain a lot. Kirby was an artist, not a stockbroker, and had hip baby-boomer kids. But at the same time I don't know if acid or any other mind-altering drugs are necessary to tap into the deep recesses of the dreaming mind. As it is, Kirby's work was already infinitely more mind-bending than the Haight-Asbury artists, as talented as they were.
If anyone in the media was a shaman, it was Jack Kirby. Among tribal societies it's believed that shamans can transcend the limitations of time and space. So could that explain Kirby's bizarre foreshadowings of the Gulf War, 9/11 and the Bush era? Or was some outside intelligence driving his visions? And is there any real difference between the two?
It's important to remember when you see some of the wacked-out stuff Kirby put on paper that he claimed that his stories existed inside his mind, and he simply traced them onto the page. But Kirby's psychedelia wasn't the self-conscious, self-important variety of the Boomer cartoonists who followed in his wake. In fact, Kirby's stories are rife with corny dialog and silly characters. His work came from the same sensibility as 50's drive-in movies and the pulps. And it was only with the guiding hand of super-salesman Stan Lee that Kirby's fever dreams were able to reach the mainstream. He most certainly didn't think of himself as a shaman or a visionary, which may well be what allowed him to really dive into the deepest waters of the subconscious mind.
But using therapeutic terms like "the subconscious" makes all of this too pat, too easily pigeonholed. Kirby was gripped by something powerful and compelling, as are all artists and visionaries like him. Many people like that often teeter on the brink of full-blown schizophrenia. The line between a shaman and a madman is vanishingly small. It's almost always mind-numbingly depressing when the line is crossed. It's even more depressing when it's exploited for profit's sake.
The problem is that trying to write about all of this without sounding like a credulous idiot is a pain in the neck. It's tempting to leave all of the interlocutory jargon behind and speak the language of the Dreaming Mind itself. You see this language in Blake's poetry, the Bible, and the work of writers like Plutarch or Ovid. But there's always the danger that you can follow shipwrecks like Syd Barrett into the abyss. I often wonder how Jaz Coleman is able to function, he can be so terrifyingly unhinged at times. I wondered the same about Philip K. Dick after reading through his Exegesis or Elizabeth Fraser in 1994. Which is why I find the guiding hand of Jungian analysis so incredibly important.
The Convulsive Power of the Dreaming Mind
When I was writing Our Gods Wear Spandex, I hadn't read up on my Jung for some time. But when I was promoting the book it suddenly hit me: my book was pure Jung in its approach. I was analyzing readers' motivations for being drawn towards superhero comics, and broke the myriad characters down into a handful of mythic archetypes. I had integrated Jungian thought to the point it became unconscious.
Not only is it no accident that a Jung stand-in pushed Captain America into the ether just before Kirby's return, it may have even been intentional on the part of the writer, Marv Wolfman. The 70s were a pretty dreary decade, but it didn't lack for pop intellectualism. Marvel was full of writers who came in from the counter-culture, and a smart cookie like Marv Wolfman may well have realized that Kirby's obsession with the gods resonated with Jung's work. Captain America was about to embark on a 22-issue descent in the depths, a Jung-like 'night sea journey' into prophecy, conspiracy and visionary madness. Free-falling over the skies of Manhattan would be the least of Cap's problems.
When you look into how dream-driven artists like Jack Kirby or Chris Carter create fiction that becomes the world's reality, you are smack-dab square in Jung Country, where internal thoughts become external reality. Dont ask me to explain it, but when you delve into this line of thinking and make it your own, sooner or later things start to happen- synchronicity, coincidence, manifestation. And eventually you live in a tangibly numinous world, whether you are awake or not.
Jung and New York are intimately linked in my mind since I immersed myself in his teachings when I was working in the world famous obelisk known as the Empire State Building, doing designs for kiddie togs. The ESB may well be the inspiration for much of the pre-9/11 plane-skyscraper symbolism we see, having been the site of such an event in 1945. I remember being evacuated from the ESB after the first WTC bombing, and having some plainclothes guy give my co-workers and I a 'routine' lecture on 'fire safety' during the Gulf War. I lost touch with Jung when people like Scott Peck and Thomas Moore were watering him down, making his very challenging work safe for middle-aged housewives. Or maybe it was because there were other ideas I wanted to explore. I'm not certain yet.
While working on the Silver Star series, I had an astonishingly vivid nightmare of being trapped in Manhattan during a 9/11-like scenario. Only this one was a 'dirty' bomb that arrived by way of a cruise missile. My friends and I watched it zoom overhead as we lunched in Bryant Park. People were bursting into radioactive flames all around me. SWAT teams were on the streets preventing people from leaving the city, because we were all contaminated. I couldn't get a signal on my cell phone so I couldn't call my wife and tell her I was all right. And at one point I was chased by an armored cop down a staircase. It was real as life - I woke up with my heart pounding, drenched in sweat.
So no one can tell me the dreaming mind is trivial or unimportant. Some of humanity's greatest achievements have been born there. I think in many ways modern society's contempt for the Unconscious is at the root of its malaise. When desires or fears go unanalyzed they metastasize and distort our personalities. A state which some people seem to aspire to.
If there is one thing I am trying to do with the Secret Sun, it is to add my two cents to the cultural conversation. What I would like to ultimately see is artists and writers digging deeper into their inner reality and creating better art as a result. All art is the manifestation of inner reality in one way or another, and our inner reality is a hell of a lot deeper and profound than our present popular culture would have you believe.
Not so long ago, I felt like I was walking into a dream when I stepped into a movie theatre. Good or bad, it had an immersive effect. Nowadays I mostly feel like I wandered into an accounting seminar. My wife and I love to watch movies in bed, but I feel as if anything new we rent from the video store is going to be medicore by definition. We recently watched Superbad- a well-regarded comedy written by an actor I like very much named Seth Rogen- and we couldn't wait for it to end about halfway through. There were so many absurd crowd-pleasing bits in the film I was taken completely out of the narrative. And once you step outside that, you're basically left with a bunch of people running around pretending to be someone else and reciting lines written by someone else. And that was one of the better recent films we've rented.
The magic is totally gone from our cinema -hell, our mass media- and what's left stinks of desperation. Most of today's producers and writers and actors seem to care about nothing but the opening weekend gross. Hollywood has always looked down on the rest of the world, but never before has the contempt felt so overt. And the rest of the world is returning the favor by finding other things to do with their leisure time.
Mark my words- people will continue to lose interest in film or theatre or TV or novels unless someone can figure out how to recapture that dream reality again. And as culture goes, so goes the society. Culture is a barometer of a people, and our culture is telling us that the Bush years have ripped out our collective soul and replaced it with narcissism, cynicism and despair.
Were he alive today, Jung would look at this nation and instantly recognize it was on its own night sea journey.