For the past year I’ve lived in a valley at 6,500 feet, in a small community of homes tucked in the mountains of northern Colorado, surrounded by national forest. It’s just a fifteen-minute drive down the mountain to Lyons, a surprisingly vibrant town of twenty-five hundred or so that’s now drowning in water and sewage and pieces of people’s homes, and has been since the early hours of Friday, September 13.
I was with some friends at the Distillery in Lyons the night of the floods, but made it back up the mountain before the water tore through town in the middle of the night. It’s now several days later and entire neighborhoods are gone, the water is contaminated with E. coli, the infrastructure is destroyed, the St. Vrain river is now somehow a few hundred yards south of where it was, and most everybody in town is displaced for several months, or permanently.
Meanwhile, back at the homestead on that fateful night, we quickly lost power, water, phones, etc. By morning the bridges connecting various parts of the community were destroyed, and the highway connecting us to the global supply chain had succumbed to falling boulders & mudslides, the more precarious parts of the winding mountain road collapsing into the valley below. Unlike in Lyons, the houses, for the most part, were spared, but the community was completely cut off.
This was our situation for a few days, until somebody somewhere ordered an evacuation. My girlfriend Maggie and our friend Bernie visiting from NYC took the first helicopter out with our dogs – the only helicopter that day as it turned out, since the storms kept rolling in. I stayed behind for a couple of days until the storms finally passed, locking down the house and acclimating to a new reality, one in which I’m abandoning my home in the deafening roar of a Chinook helicopter, clutching my cats in a duffle bag.
This was literally a thousand year event. Only 1% of Colorado homes are even covered by flood insurance. People are displaced up and down the front range. I’m writing this from a hotel room in Boulder. I have shelter and kind people looking out for me, and a computer to share my lessons learned, en medias res, from this very wet, dry run for the apocalypse.
I watched Oblivion a couple of days ago. Haters won’t be able to get past its shortcomings or acknowledge its topical relevance beyond superficial references to drones and the surveillance state. Good thing I’m not a hater. Complete and total spoilers below.
This is the story of life as Tom Cruise knows it at the beginning of Oblivion: aliens from outer space destroyed the moon in an unprovoked attack on humankind, humans won the subsequent war but Earth was left mostly uninhabitable, and humans are now siphoning off the planet’s water resources (giant floating fortresses circle the globe, sucking up the ocean) and migrating to a new settlement on the Saturn moon Titan. Earth’s remaining inhabitants, at this point, are alien scavengers, the drones that hunt them, and the human tandems left behind to provide drone maintenance and manage the planetary system of water extraction. Tom Cruise is one-half of such a tandem, performing his duty with a sense of pride and adventure and no sense of history, his memory and that of his partner wiped clean every five years to ensure optimal team performance and facilitate their eventual reunion with the rest of their species on their new home planet/moon. This is the story of life that defines Tom Cruise as we join him in Oblivion.
But the story is bullshit, and deep down Tom knows it, and so do we, but access to knowledge in space-time — and movies — is necessarily chronological. Things happen, and Tom eventually learns the alien scavengers are really humans, his human bosses are really aliens, and he is neither, functioning instead as the biological technology that mediates human/alien. Cloned a thousand times over and deployed across the planet with a minor armada of human-hunting drones at his disposal, Tom Cruise is the figurative and literal end of humankind. But as Morgan Freeman, in his capacity as leader of a rebellious band of human survivors, understands, he is also its liberation. In the role of our onscreen proxy, and with the help of Freeman, Tom Cruise comes to an ontological and empirical understanding of himself as not special, not unique, and not even human per se, but as an operator of life. This is why he tells the first clone of himself he meets “It’s ok, it’s ok,” as he chokes the life out of him. He is not bound by the parameters of life and death, but exists as a localized operator of a nonlocal consciousness and a standardized piece of biological machinery. He exists across time and space, but in the form of right here and now.
I’ve got a short piece up at the City Lights Blog on SF poet Elaine Kahn:
There’s a thread of disfiguring throughout that’s benign enough to be ominous — “I am cutting myself / out of a piece of paper”, “when I am cutting your hair in my mind” — but all of it comes back to time, which in Kahn’s work becomes the material and subject of human life: “Time is a mouth.” “It happens on you”, she says, referring to puberty and her indoctrination into the global system of lascivious, gendered control (“& the whole world stares / how the world does stare”), but she’s also referring to time as a condition from which we all suffer. As she sardonically puts it elsewhere, “You think beauty / is a good thing / to forgive,” with beauty reduced here to a cruel reminder (remainder) of what time does to it. But it’s also a reminder that human beings are defined on Earth by their intrinsic timeness — not just in their mortality but in their technology of language, which above all else is a means of communicating with the future. No other creature has access to history as a kind of virtual genetic code on which to build empires.
If the Greeks taught us that the gods are human, and Christianity teaches us that a human is god, what does the third trailer for Man of Steel teach us?
That the gods are alien, and that an alien is a god in human form.
We can look to the specific orientation of any god-alien-human nexus to tell us how the collective, conscious “we” self-identifies. In other words, our mortal narratives tell us where we are in the cyclic process of dimensional loss and renewal. Are we material subjects or are we gods, or are we gods trapped here as material subjects, with no recollection of having been anything else?
A straightforward linear god->alien->human orientation suggests a narrative of spiritual degradation, or dimensional loss, dropping us off in a reality in which we’re denied direct access to extradimensional input and must struggle to infer a larger context and make meaning out of sensory stimulation and our sense of time. This is the dominant orientation of systems like “science” and “government”, where knowledge is limited to a portion of the data field and subject to control by those invested in false consensus.
In the third Man of Steel trailer, divinity is posited as alien to this planet, and a god’s failure to convincingly identify itself as human is translated, or dimensionally reduced, into human terms: we are to take this failure as proof that we are not “alone in the universe” and that an alien form of life is something for us all to aspire toward.
In other words, to be human is to be alone, to be alien is to be not alone. This is “the god condition” here on Earth. In order to be together, we must not belong.
Isaac Newton writing on alchemy is like Jon Leon writing on the female image. I discovered this after reading James’ post yesterday and then paging through The Alchemy Reader from Cambridge University a few hours later. I’ve read Newton’s boringly fascinating work on Biblical prophecy but don’t remember him hitting the same kind of tonal impossibility he hits here, though I probably just missed it. I haven’t read his more well-known science writing. Regardless, in his writing on alchemy, at least, he creates a web of artfully banal tropes & action in order to pierce it with the crystal blue image of infinity. And he does it with a gesture that is both kidding and completely serious. This is perhaps the prototypical alchemical operation, or philosopher’s stone, and it’s also Leon’s modus operandi: somewhere beyond irony.
From The Commentary on the Emerald Tablet, Newton’s thoughts on the best known work attributed to Hermes Trismegistus:
This is the source of all the perfection of the whole world. The force and efficacy of it is entire and perfect if, through decoction to redness and multiplication and fermentation, it be turned into fixed earth. Thus it ought first to be cleansed by separating the elements sweetly and gradually, without violence, and by making the whole material ascend into heaven through sublimation and then through a reiteration of the sublimation making it descent into earth: by that method it acquires the penetrating force of spirit and the fixed force of body. Thus will you have the glory of the whole world and all obscurities and all need and grief will flee from you.
From Leon’s collection Right Now the Music & the Life Rule: (continue reading…)
Just wanted to drop a quick note:
The next (first) installment of Blood Work: The Apocalypse of Dan Hoy is now available in a limited edition of 33 from Solar Luxuriance: CENTURIES & PROPHECIES: Blood Work, Book I.
For the completists among us, REVELATIONS & CONFESSIONS: Blood Work, Book II (the second installment but the first to be printed) might still be available from Slim Princess Holdings.
Save your mysteries
for the mysterious
After those days the eternal knowledge of the God of truth withdrew from me and your mother Eve. Since that time we learned about dead things, like men. Then we recognized the god who had created us. For we were not strangers to his powers. And we served him in fear and slavery.
- The Apocalypse of Adam
As we slouch ever closer to the Great Conjunction of December 21, 2012, let us turn our attention to the Corbières mountains, where Eric Freysselinard, Prefect of the Aude department in south-central France, has banned access to the famous Pic de Bugarach.
Freysselinard’s stated concern is public safety, given the mountain’s reputation as one of the few sacred places on Earth that will survive the coming Apocalypse. Although he has yet to be called out on it in the mainstream press, this is the secular equivalent of locking all the animals out of the ark just as the rain is starting to fall.
I’ve been working on a multi-volume set of occult writings called BLOOD WORK. The second volume, Revelations & Confessions, is getting a limited, early release via Slim Princess Holdings as of today. You can purchase one of 33 copies at Slim Princess Holdings.
The dominant tropes of this volume are pulled from what Heinrich Agrippa would call the Celestial Realm, a system of control which manifests these days as the alien abduction phenomenon. In other words:
The best technology
if you want
to rule Earth
have the best technology.
It’s been awhile since I posted on Montevidayo. Since then I’ve left Brooklyn for the mountains and fires of Colorado. Most of my critical and poetic faculties are applied these days to the materials of sustainability (water, fire, sorcery) and inter-species communication (pets, wildlife, aliens). The Earth rules. The Universe blows my mind.
Not that I have forgotten our old nemesis: the World that ruins everything.
Here, for example, are the latest (last?) words of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who plays the role of a kind of sound-biting court jester within the media apparatus:
[from his address to the U.N. General Assembly earlier today:]
I have talked in the past seven years about the current challenges, solutions and prospects of the future world. Today I want to raise and discuss such issues from a different perspective.
Thousands of years has passed since children of Adam (peace be upon Him) started to settle down in various parts of Earth.
Peoples of different colors, tastes, languages, customs and traditions pursued persistently to fulfill their aspirations to build a noble society for a more beautiful life blessed with lasting peace, security and happiness.
Despite all efforts made by righteous people and justice seekers, and the sufferings and pains endured by masses of people in the quest to achieve happiness and victory, the history of mankind, except in rare cases, is marked with unfulfilled dreams and failures.