The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker: A Review

Pinhead

The Scarlet Gospels
Clive Barker
St. Martin’s Press
$29.99 USD / Hardcover
Special Dust Jacket
362pp, ISBN:  978-1-250-05580-4

If you read this book you will go to Hell.

You’ll like such a damnation.

Clive Barker’s return to horror, as it’s touted, is as spectacular and intense as you’d expect, with gorgeous visions of dark corruption and bright flashes of darker salvation.

Hell’s Priest, the Cenobite, Pinhead to us yokels, is back with a vengeance, his ambitions as vaunted as anything Dante ever conceived.

Harry D’Amour is back, too, at his hellacious best, at his toughest, and at his luckiest.  His struggles to confront and defeat the demons and worse that afflict him exceed anything  he’s ever faced before.

Having enjoyed and admired Barker’s literary excursions away from straight horror, notably Coldheart Canyon and the Abarat sequence of books with art, I am glad to see his so-called return to horror is true-to-form and spectacular as always.  A most visual writer, as his paintings attest, his work still throws off lava-bombs.

In The Scarlet Gospels, all his trademark moves are intact and lively.  He’s lost no chops and gained quite a few along the way.  This volume features a special dust jacket, illustrated on the inside with a Barker painting, and the layout of the book itself is evocative and sharp.

Going to Hell has never been so compelling.  Vivid, lush, and intense, its pacing never stops and its scenes engulf the reader.  You can’t read fast enough, yet you’re unable not to stop and admire, and imagine in detail, the visionary sights and harrowing experiences Barker offers.  A couple of his characters have this dichotomy of mad rush and the urge to stop, marvel, and savor passing scenes.

Strongly recommended for anyone who enjoys Barker’s work, or for fans of Jim Butcher’s Dresden novels, or for readers of more classical fare such as Dante.  Influences, and ripples, abound.  Wade in.

/ Gene Stewart

Scarlet Gospels

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Past Echoes Present In Future Dreads

Nazi World Map

We are witnessing America going fascist in appalling lurches.  Little is gradual about it although certainly the prep-work took all the decades since WW II.  Bigotry, intolerance, and militant nationalism rooted in trumped-up fear and hate usher in textbook Nazi-style fascism just as Sinclair Lewis warned it would back in his 1932 novel It Can’t Happen Here.

More recently, Stephen King’s novel The Dead Zone warned of how a clownish populist spouting utter hateful nonsense could easily win superficial popularity and be swept into the Presidency, only to reveal his hollow core of psychopathic nihilism and end up literally destroying us all in nuclear exchanges.

#

When I was about 15 I rode shotgun with my dad one very snowy night to pick up my aunt at a lonely, makeshift railroad station — an empty trailer with a Franklin coal burner in it, and a double line of knocked-together plywood benches against either long wall — in the industrial train yards of Altoona, PA.  We got there about midnight, snow falling so densely it dimmed the one street light they had mounted on a pole over the doorway.  We went in and found the train had not yet arrived, so we waited, and that’s when I saw an old man on the bench facing the door.

He was hunchd in an overcoat at least a size too big for him, with a fedora on his head.  He dropped a rolled newspaper and leaned down to get it.  Hat fell off.  I picked it up to hand to him and, as I did so, noticed through his thinning hair a long number tattooed in blue ink across his scalp.  He glanced up at me, snatched the hat, and put it on his head as if covered it in shame.  He nodded but said nothing and did not smile.

It’s the number of thoughts in his head, I remember thinking.  When he gets to that number he’ll die of a stroke.

It was chilling later to realize it was probably a death-camp tattoo from when he was a little kid.  He looked haunted, or maybe like a haunting.

When the train came we met my aunt outside and hustled her into the car for the long ride home.

#

Last year, quietly, the FBI released 750+ pages of documents that had been classified since WW II.  They cover the FBI’s search for Adolf Hitler.

Hitler escaped.

He flew out of Berlin, rested in Spain, submarined to the Canary Islands , rested there at Winter Haus, then submarined to Argentina, where he was kept protected in a safe house behind an estate mansion in woods, accessible only by lake, eight miles from the nearest town, itself a haven for SS officers with one road in and out, and a loyal populace tight-lipped to this day.

Not yet sure if Hitler moved on from there or died there but he did not commit suicide in that bunker.

He reached Tempelhof Airport via a tunnel from his bunker.  It has been found and confirmed, along with seven stories of underground city built by Speer for Hitler and used during the end of the war to get people and loot out.  Tunnels are often big enough to drive convoys of trucks through.

Hitler’s personal belongings, listed on the manifest as such, flew out days earlier, then he was flown out with many others in a twenty-plane flight on 21 April 1945, a day after the last time he was ever seen in public, which had been greeting troops and well-wishers on his birthday.

The FBI found invoices, bills of lading, and flight manifests in typical Nazi detail.  Recent investigations found witnesses to corroborate this flight, and many other things.

In Spain he stayed at one of Generalissimo Francisco Franco’s more isolated manors.  Keep in mind that, although officially neutral, Franco was fascist and did covertly support the Nazi regime, lending aid and assistance when he could.

Some of the aid rendered consisted of a chain of monasteries run by the Vatican allowing fleeing Nazis to hide as monks while further preparations for re-settlement were made via the Odessa rat lines.

Hitler was ill with a severe stomach ailment, among other things.  He required both medical attention daily and rest between stints of fleeing.

Submarining was difficult on the healthiest of sailors and hard on Hitler, a withering old man.  At least one nurse and possibly two other women accompanied him.  He would not have survived the trip across the Atlantic to Argentina if done in one leg so a rest at a huge Nazi/Spanish submarine base let him break the journey.

Keep in mind, this huge underground sub re-supply base on Spanish soil was there despite Spain having no submarines.

The tunnels, hoists, and winches in the Canary Islands sub base are huge, suitable for moving tons of supplies and torpedoes.  Sealed rooms housed explosives and allowed torpedoes to be armed without threatening the entire facility, which exists extant to this day.  It’s a huge complex.

Witnesses still alive tell of four Enigma machines at this base, and of mysterious movements of a cadre of people from an unannounced sub just after the war ended.  They were taken to an estate, the Winter Haus, named after its owner, a wealthy Nazi ex-patriot businessman.  At least, that was his cover.

This mysterious group is thought almost certainly to have been Hitler and his escort and entourage.

The Winter Haus is fortified, even walled, and has a tower that can see and signal the ocean.  It’s on a slanted plain barren for miles around it, so no one can approach it unseen.  Guard shacks perch in mountains behind and around it.  There is a single road.

It is also due to be demolished to make way for a resort.

Hitler’s bunker was filled in with concrete and paved over for a parking lot.

The safe house hidden behind the estate’s mansion in Patagonia was imploded, razed, and buried.

Systematically these sites associated with the flight of Adolf Hitler are being expunged, as was Spandau Prison almost immediately after the sole prisoner, ostensibly Rudolf Hess, was “found dead” in impossible circumstances.

What happened with the rise of the Nazis in Germany and the resultant WW II is being erased from history, swept into memory holes planned all along.

The old guard Nazis gotten out of a collapsing Third Reich starting in 1945 via Odessa rat lines, with the help of sympathetic countries including Spain, Argentina, (long a refuge-of-choice for retired Nazis and with huge German enclaves throughout the country), and the Vatican, who chose Catholic Hitler over Atheist Stalin to receive its support and compassion — these old guard Nazis remain rich and powerful.  They are quite obviously influential in current GOP politics, for example.

In France, currently reeling from the Daesh terror attacks, currently seething with lust for revenge, it’s been a problem since WW II ended to ferret out the identities of Vichy collaborators who remain in the government bureaucracy.  Third-tier life-long sinecures have allowed such comfy hiding.  It is known there were and remain many such fifth columnists, to borrow a cold war term of paranoid art.  These cancers lodged in the body politic often influent things toward a resurgence of fascism, when possible.  Witness the current anti-muslim scapegoating, fear, and hate, which is used to create both crackdowns and profitable war.

Britain never came to grips with its pro-Nazi, fascist-boosting aristocracy.  Blue bloods wanted to hand Britain to the Nazis in exchange for a separate peace.  Len Deighton’s novel SS-GB offers detail insights into plans never implemented, which were uncovered after the war.  He depicts how it might have been, even as Philip K. Dick imagined the Axis powers having won and having divided America at the Mississippi between a triumphant Japan and Nazi Germany in his superb Man In the High Castle.  In Fatherland, Robert Harris novelizes a British SS officer whose innate decency solves a crime regardless of consequence, set against a backdrop of Nazi Britain.

We see a strong fascist streak still in Britain’s Tory party and even in its Freemason police scandals and banking murders, all of which perhaps cover much worse.

So Hitler is long dead of old age and infirmity.  So the death camp tattoos face as what were once children behind barbed wire wither into old folks with feeble memories.  So history is rewritten by a modern crop of fascists determined to finish what Hitler started.  So generations grow today who have no idea they’re being misled, lied to, and enslaved by ideas only psychopaths and sadists can embrace.

Those who forget history are condemned to repeat it, as Santayana wrote.

Trouble is, combined with today’s global reach of corporate corruption and fascist cancer, the ecology itself is mortally wounded, and cannot sustain higher life forms much longer.  History itself is about to end, at least insofar as any meaningful primate participation is involved.

This is where space alien saviors, the religion scams, and other forms of delusional escapism come in to comfort the dying animal in its dark burrow as the predatory night brings endless dark and cold to its awareness.

A cynic is not a pessimist per se, but someone who sees the world at dog level.  Ask any dog what it’s like to be kicked, despised, beaten, starved, abandoned, ignored, and condemned at every turn, eking a meager subsistence by scavenging, tortured by mange and fleas and broken bones from speeding cars, ask those street and woods dogs what it’s like, this existence, before being too quick to dismiss realism as “merely” cynical.

#

Slavery, genocide, the holocaust, the disruption and destruction of WW II — yet Hitler escaped.   He was arguably not even near the worst history can show us. Those psychopaths who do the worst to us rarely pay any price sane people would consider commensurate to the harm they do.

Villains skate.  Predators gorge.

And we all fall down.

#

Currently we’ve fallen to a new nadir, for American ideals, at which calls for marking, tracking, and banishing select groups of people based solely on bigoted category rooted in fear and hate without foundation, at which calls for outright murder and slaughter, vie for our attention with the daily mass shooting.  We can get only a little bit lower before hitting the rock bottom of extinction, with pollution leading the way toward that, all so one tenth of one percent of mankind can get even richer than they are already, when they already control over 97% of the entire world’s wealth, which is unimaginable even for them.

They live and move among us, invisible, their world apart from ours, rarely impinging, never overlapping.  Wealth and power are scoffed at by these few, who have it all and so have no need even to keep score.  They do not win, they own.

We’re property, Charles Fort concluded.  Of what or whom, he did not know and could not guess.

Now we know.

Didn’t turn out to be gods, extraterrestrial intelligences, or automated robotic machine code digital matrix Zen illusion, it turned out to be approximately 30 families, maybe 400 people total, of whom just under 100 pick, choose, arbitrate, and decide what goes for all we call reality.

These are those who believe they can survive even a mass extinction with ecological collapse.  They believe they can ride it out in their underground enclaves of lush luxury and infinite supplies.  They believe they can reduce the population to under half a billion and rid Earth of its “useless eaters” who clutter reality and spoil their view.  They believe they can retain just enough of these Moloch & Eloi slaves to do the scut work required for them to live in a new paradise, a heaven they themselves design and own.  They believe this is well under way and they are happy.

To believe is to pretend.

Mankind has been murdered by infantile delusions of grandeur on the part of a handful of people so wealthy and powerful their dreams become games in which entire nations are pawns.

We know who most of them are, even where.

We could, if we dropped our petty squabbles over skin color, god yap, territory, oil, minerals, and so many other unimportant things, rise up now and take them down, to redistribute their wealth and make a paradise we can all share.

Could have.   It’s too late now, with runaway greenhouse affect already underway.  Earth will soon resemble Venus, uninhabitable and sterile due to temperatures over 900° and maybe a burned-off atmosphere, if we break the Van Allen belts that protect us from radiation.

We coulda been a contender.

#

I used to wonder but science fiction ruined that sense for me.

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History’s Now: Remarks About The Black Dahlia’s Possible Killer

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Fauna Hodel is the daughter of Dr. George Hodel and his daughter, Tamar, who was 14 when he got her pregnant. John Huston is said to have hit that, too, among other celebrities and VIPs.  John Philips of The Mamas and The Papas has talked about it and McKenzie Philips, the actress and his daughter, has discussed being friends with Tamar and some stories she was told about sex parties.

Fact is, Fauna doesn’t know and has refused DNA tests to find out.  She’d rather just skip it and live as good a life as she can.

George Hodel, abortionist to the Hollywood high-end whores and low-end actresses, models, and wannabes, is the prime suspect in the Black Dahlia murder.

His son, Steve Hodel, half-brother to Tamar, served 24 years on the LAPD, 18 of them as a homicide detective.  He has written four books detailing the evidence he’s gathered to charge and, he hopes, one day to convict his father, who fled the country ahead of arrest after somehow beating an incest charge.  George Hodel fled to Hong Kong, where unsolved murders began happening once he got there.

Steve Hodel’s four books concerning his father’s guilt are:  Black Dahlia Avenger; Black Dahlia Avenger II; Most Evil; Most Evil II.  His website is:  http://stevehodel.com/

The avant-garde artist Man Ray is linked to Hodel.  Ray’s surreal photographs tended to be misogynistic; cut-up torsos, dismembered nudes, bound women, and the like.  Hodel and Ray were pals.  Ray was hosted at Hodel’s house.  Some think Hodel bisected Elizabeth Short, now known as The Black Dahlia, as art, to compete with, and top, Man Ray.

Exquisite Corpse:  Surrealism and the Black Dahlia Murder  by Mark Nelson, Sarah Hudson Bayliss is a book connecting Liz Short’s displayed body to an image Ray called The Minotaur, which depicts a headless woman’s torso with arms raised, bent at the elbow, to suggest a bull’s horns.  The minotaur is also a mythological image exploited by Picasso in at least one puzzling drawing that may feed into all this.

It is dark material to explore.

You see patterns leading to conclusions.  You project meanings.  Has retired detective Hodel projected murder onto his father?  It’s common for cops to have father issues so sure, maybe.  His lack of conclusive physical evidence — blood or DNA links, for instance — and the interpretive nature of of much of his circumstantial evidence combine to lead many to conclude he’s either throwing his father to history’s wolves in exchange for a seat in the Black Dahlia cottage industry, or he’s deluded.  Wishful thinking and gratuitous notoriety-by-association could explain it, but then again, he’s managed to link more details to his father than other investigators have managed to link to other suspects.

Another red flag?  He links his father to the Chicago area Lipstick murders, then to the Black Dahlia killing in LA, then to the Jigsaw Murders in Manila, the Philippines, and finally to the Zodiac Murders in the San Francisco, CA region.  All these murders did happen in those places when George Hodel lived in them.  All the murder clusters ceased gathering new bodies once he left.  It’s indicative, tantalizing, but no conclusive.

Seems florid.  Strikes many as simply too much.  On the one hand, it sounds like a resentful, obsessed son trashing a hated father’s reputation.  On the other hand, none of this is beyond the scope of a fully-formed psychopathic sadistic predator never brought to any kind of justice.  Sadly, there is a litany of names who embody such base accomplishment.  Gacy, Bundy, and Chikatillo are examples.

America is the serial killer factory and the world has seen a Hannibal Lecter explosion in the years since the Ratcliffe Murders and Jack the Ripper heralded a new crimson age.

Steve Hodel presents so many indicative links.  Echoed names of places, over and over, come up as his father’s movements are traced, like coy breadcrumbs hinting at what big eyes grandma has.  Does it go beyond coincidence?  If so, does it stray into schizophrenia, a beautiful mind led into the minotaur’s maze?

Physical, conclusive evidence would sure be welcome.

Steve Hodel’s case is built as a homicide detective would build a case for the DA, step-by-step, tracing clues, chasing new leads.  It’s systematic and it’s organized.  Persuasive, yet lacking the key physical links that would bring it home.

So we ask, who else is there?

I’ve read a sensible book blaming the gangster Bugsy Siegel.  It is:  The Black Dahlia Files: The Mob, the Mogul, and the Murder That Transfixed Los Angeles by Don Wolfe.  It’s great on the corruption in LA and the ambience of the late 1930s through the 1950s.  Liz Short was found bisected in 1947, by the way.  Wolfe proposes she was a good-time girl who met the mayor of LA at a mobbed-up club and took him for a ride until, when he began tiring of her, she announced she was pregnant and tried to extort either more than he wanted to give, or enough money for a (George Hodel?) abortion.

This shake-down attempt prompted the mayor to turn to a mobster who wanted into the Hollywood corruption system in a big way, and who was known to be more than a little crazy, Bugsy Siegel.  She was trying to shake down the mayor of LA?  This little nothing from Massachusetts?  She’d whored, got knocked up, probably on purpose, and was trying to strong arm a buck off him.  Wrong move.

Siegel supposed had her grabbed and taken outside town, where he kept her a few days before flipping out the way he did and killing her, then going really wild and cutting the baby out of her, and cutting her in half.  Whether he did this himself or brought in a mob doctor to do it, no one can or will say.  It is known that she was bisected in a manner taught back then, the one way possible to cut a body in half without having to cut bone.  Hint:  Third & fourth vertebrae.  If you can find ‘em.

While the book is excellent in detailing LA’s deep corruption, it’s less convincing about Short’s murder.  That kind of favor any mayor can do without, after all.

Then again, Bugsy didn’t last long, did he?  A snipped loose end?

Then there is Severed:  The True Story of the Black Dahlia by John Gilmore, if you like your gore straight and your grit coarse.    He favors Jack Wilson, a drunken no-account type, as having been the killer.  Red Manley is mentioned in many of these books, too; he was the last known guy to have dated her.  Or given her a ride.  Or what ever happened.

There is Childhood Shadows: The Hidden Story of the Black Dahlia Murder by Mary Pacios, who was a childhood friend of Elizabeth Short.  Rich on period and personal detail, the suspect she presents is a bit hard to swallow, citizen Orson Welles himself.  Rosebud, indeed.

In Daddy Was the Black Dahlia Killer, Janice Knowlton recounts, with ghost writer Michael Newton’s help, recovered childhood memories she believes pegs her father, another George, as the culprit who so mistreated Liz Short.

Naturally, there are quite a few more, some of which I’ve also read, but the above offers a typical sampling.

Steve Hodel’s books are more convincing, even as they range wider afield.  Certainly he paints a portrait of the kind of guy who could, and would, do the heinous crimes left unsolved to this day.

His postulate is that his father was a sadistic psychopath who liked killing and who liked the adventure of taunting authorities.  Anywhere he went, the bodies stacked up.  This much seems to hold sturdily true.

Further, George Hodel’s writing seems to match that on both the gasoline-soaked package containing Liz Short’s purse and effects, (gas eliminates body oils, so no prints or other traces are possible), and the taunting Zodiac letters.

You’ll recall the Zodiac communicated in taunting letters full of encoded messages.  Few have ever been deciphered, until Hodel’s 2015 book, Most Evil II, in which he presents decoded the plain text that is actually signed George Hodel.  Is this to be disputed, too?  Cottage industries thrive on disputes.

George Hodel had been a child prodigy who toured Europe as a concert pianist at a young age.  He spoke several languages fluently.  This is a perfect kind of mind for cryptography.  Brainy, worldly, cultured, multilingual, and with neither conscience nor compunction, George Hodel was an off-the-rack model for Hannibal Lecter.

Politics strutted in, too.  Remember, Hodel did then-illegal abortions for rich, connected men.  His main contract was with the near-by Hollywood film studios.  He worked in the dark for rich, powerful men, handling potentially shattering secrets for them discreetly and efficiently, for a steep price.  Good old reliable George had them over a barrel of blood.

This could explain the unsolved status of the murder clusters Steven Hodel accuses his father George Hodel of having committed.  No one in power particularly wants certain details coming out, which would be inevitable if the real solution were put to trial.  Careers would flame out in so many places, perhaps even to this day.

George Hodel refused to allow knives of any kind in his apartment once he returned from Manila.  He lived out the rest of his days in San Francisco, ground zero for the Zodiac killings.  His son became a cop, then a homicide detective, retired, and one day made a connection between a photograph of his father’s and Elizabeth Short. This set him on a long journey he continues to pursue, one with the goal of convicting his father of having been one of the worst serial killers known.

We can’t know if Steve Hodel is 100% correct but we can know, by a survey of the Black Dahlia cottage industry books and theories, solutions and suspects, that George Hodel is the best fit by far, and very likely was the killer of Elizabeth Short, nicknamed The Black Dahlia because she wore black so often, in imitation of Veronica Lake’s character in THE BLUE DAHLIA, a noir thriller that was, ironically, playing at the theater, its name on the marquis, visible from the then-vacant lot where her nude, bisected body was found that awful morning in 1947.

History not only leaves marks on us, it lives with us whether we talk to it or not.

/ ERS

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Hidden Influences

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Watched on Nat Geo Ch an old but good documentary, HITLER AND THE OCCULT, largely mining Peter Levenda’s book Unholy Alliance.  It focused on a sketchy overview of the eerie, even spooky, connections to astrologers and occultists affecting Hitler and the Third Reich over its tumultuous dozen years of terror.  Now and then unsavory or difficult-to-explain details were glossed over.  Uncomfortable truths were elided.  Overall, it was interesting, and not a bad introduction to such material for those who don’t know.

It is a glimpse of part of history we rarely bother noticing or discussing, that of the effect occult beliefs have on history and its participants.  We would learn to see current events more clearly if we looked for hidden motives and motifs shaping the people who shape history.

Examples abound today:

Dominionism drives Rafael “Ted” Cruz, whose father, a fanatical right wing extremist minister, raised his son to be the anointed leader of a new xtian biblical era.  That’s what both believe and act upon.  This should terrify people, quite apart from the fact that he’s a deranged psychopath.

Trump is following exactly the Nazi rise to power pattern, almost slavishly so, including brutalizing any followers who do not toe the line, pointing at disenfranchised people as scapegoats for illusory losses our society is said to have suffered, spewing blatant racism, isolationism, and belligerent hostility toward foreign countries.  He’s exploiting amorphous fears in the uneducated, willfully-ignorant minds.

Rubio is evangelical fanatic, Clinton a corporate shill, and is anyone else worth mentioning other than good old for-the-people Bernie Sanders?  How about Bloomberg, hinting at a run for the Presidency now that the crazies have paved the way for the monied cynics?

As for occult, these motives and motifs seem trumpeted at times, especially when these miscreants speak to artificially-inflated crowds of ‘supporters’, but corporate media rarely mentions any of it.  Ever heard Ted Cruz’s Dominionist fervor or his crazy father discussed in open mainstream media?  His father raised him to be führer as such; the anointed leader of a movement dictated by supernatural destiny.  He’s a programmed lunatic groomed by good schooling to take over by any means necessary.  He justifies his sociopathy by holding a bizarre conception of the god concept.  You’d think craziness this dangerous, given historical precedent for what happens when such whack jobs gain power, would prompt questions and concerns, but if so, you’d never know it from the media.

Worse, the Dominionist threat has spread like rampant cancer.  It aims infiltration like drones at school boards, police departments, and city councils.  It swarms any public arena vulnerable to such dark influence.  It is the Dominionists behind the notorious C Street House where Congressmen and Senators, lobbyists and CEOs were trained, programmed, and bribed to support or destroy laws targeted by the religionists.

These are the creeps who, early in the 1990s, infiltrated libraries in order to remove books they did not approve.  They sabotaged re-shelving to make books impossible to find, scrambled file cards, dumped entire categories and shelf sections during the switch to digital file catalogues, and outright vanished books.  I saw this happen and noticed because I always check for esoterica and certain writers such as Crowley, PKD, or Everett Bedford.

Books removed were not sold to raise library funds or given to thrift shops, they were put into dumpsters, burned, and generally ended up in landfills.

We try to see clearly the things erased, the categories shoved down the memory holes, to hold them in detail mentally so we might preserve at least their gist.  We see how fake things become as increasingly more reality is drained from our lives.  We now live in a movie set.  Having spent much time outside the USA box, where things are real to a larger extent, my family and I know the difference between grit and glitter.

My fiction about such things creeps people out.  Another reason editors choose others’ work; mine unsettles too strongly too often.  I touch on things prudes cover up, blush about.  I point out the emperor’s lack of clothes.  I ask questions no one dares even think.  I push it, and try to know down the Potemkin walls and louvered blinders.  All my fault, for taking writing seriously when so few want more than extruded plot escapism, a quick, shallow splash of refreshing diversion from the hard work of ignoring reality as a way of getting along.

Hitler’s membership number in the German Worker’s Party, precursor to the Nazis, was 555.  Esotericists will recognize this as the actual number of the beast, or anti-christ.  (Christ means the glow of light in oil, meaning the way an anointed patch of skin glistens.  It refers to the christ, the anointed one.  Hi, Ted.)  Most fear 666 more, and give it more respect as a revelatory number or signifier of evil.  That is wrong but unlikely to change as it’s an error culturally entrenched by now due to repetition.

Is such a coincidence significant?  Only if it seems that way to those involved, who may alter thinking or behavior to accommodate projected immanence.  Other than in the midst of such symbolic behavior, it matters very little.  Still, the disenfranchised seek to project meaning on chaos.

It was economic depression that fueled Nazi recruitment, as increasing numbers of people grew desperate, frustrated, and afraid.  Simplistic answers offered in conspiratorial terms appealed by taking the blame away, absolving the shame of failure, and offering a target for pent-up ire.

Now look at Trump.  All the GOP, really.  They pander to the same demographics that raised Hitler’s swastika so eagerly, to make Germany great again.  Stampede to fascism, one might call it.  Get tough.  Build the wall.  Blame scapegoats.  Kick out those dirty immigrants.  Be strong again.  Take no shit from Daesh.  Admire and emulate Putin and other strong men despots.  Make America great again.

All Hitler’s slogans and moves, recapitulated by Trump and the GOP in general, all for naked greed and lust for power.

The Koch suckers were not only spawn of Nazi collaborators and enablers, their nursemaid was a German woman who was a fanatical Nazi who listened to Hitler speeches, discussed Nazi ‘philosophy’, and programmed them for their early formative years.

Meanwhile Hitler not only did not suicide in the bunker, he escaped and made it by 1948 or so to Bogota, Columbia.  He likely then made his way into the USA.  We know he funded a Fourth Reich in shadow form, sewing together a network of rich industrialists and planning a slow infiltration coup.

I’d say his plans are panning out via the GOP.

Hitler got out of Germany with about fourteen billion dollars.  He had an amazing amount of money and loot with which to set things up and court the top rich fascists who, like him, hated democracy’s regulations and limits of power.

Hitchcock films of the 1930s and 1940s portrayed the network of rich fascists.  He showed vividly how it worked.  Films like SABOTEUR, NOTORIOUS, and even NORTH BY NORTHWEST, made in the 1950s, show rich, corrupt fascists wearing masks of civility, sophisticated education, and charming manners working diligently to undermine democracy.

Other films show the same, notably KEEPER OF THE FLAME, in which a reporter, played by Spencer Tracy, uncovering the ugly fascist truth behind the façade of greatness used by a vastly-admired American hero, rich and powerful, who dies in an accident that turns out might be murder by his wife, Katharine Hepburn, who is at first covering up his perfidy before deciding to help spread the word what he was really like, and how he worked to undermine those vaunted American values he espoused so falsely to sucker everyone so easily.  It vividly shows how these people-shaped things hide in plain sight, disguised often as great humanitarians.

Terrifying stuff, these hidden influences.  Stay alert for them.

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swas1907

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The Beginning of The End, Black Sabbath’s Last Tour’s First Concert

blacksabbathomahajan2016_638Black Sabbath, Omaha, Nebraska, USA, 20 January 2016 CE, evening

No one to glance at, share with,
In moments when events
Signify chains of memories

Shared memory means life.

/ W B Kek

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Writers learn to store experience, observation, and rare interaction so all can be used in fiction intended to communicate what could not be shared in the moment.

Inherently, that’s sad.

It is a lonely art, existence.

Solitude is where one creates, yes, but isolation is where one dwells, separate and apart, one view amidst the others, despair mocking the hope, fear anticipating the pain, adrift like any other debris in open space.

So what’s on the other side of death’s black hole, if anything?

///  ///  ///

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Loaded Weapons – a vignette

Loaded Weapon Illo

“They tell me your name is Striker.  Was Hitman taken?”

“My dossier should mention I don’t answer rhetorical questions.”

“It says you’re insubordinate.”

“Yes.  Right after unpredictable and right before dangerous.”

“Any further words for me, Striker?”

“Effective.”

“Yes.  That’s why you’re here.”

“How many others have failed?”

“Does it matter?”

“To their level of awareness, yes.”

“Oh, they’ll know you’re coming.”

“Someone.”

“Specifically you.”

“Mole?  Leak?”

“Logic.  Who else would we send.”

Striker turns to leave.

“Where are you going?  You haven’t been told the target.”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“I suppose so.”

The door closed.

#

One shot to the base of the skull at point blank range in a locked room with one guarded way in and out.  When the target was found, bafflement became pointless anger.

#

“How did you do it?”

“Another rhetorical question, sir?”

“Recriminations will fall our way.”

“Try to resist gloating.”

“Why must you be so insubordinate?”

“A reminder.  Sir.”

The door closed.

///  ///  ///

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Enough

Pencils, Books

Have I wasted enough of my day to pretend
To rise into dressing myself, to eat, to work?

Have I wasted enough of myself to allow
For a respite from grieving for those gone now?

Have I wasted enough of the earth to achieve
Sufficient gathering of material goods and services?

Have I wasted enough of my life yet to know
What anything means, if anything matters?

Have I given, taken, or known the right things?
Have I wandered, wondered, or found what life brings?

Have I enough?
Am I yet enough?

/ W B Kek

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Huxley’s Hinges: An Essay Toward A Coherent, Inclusive Reality

IMG_7753

Drugs let you dismiss what you experience while they affect you.  Under the influence, we say.  We blame intoxication, a poisoning.  Some drugs we call hallucinogens.  They engender false visions, we claim.  Drugs let us deny what we experience because we ascribe cause to them.  They’re scapegoats to let us slip past what ever doesn’t jibe with our prejudices and preferences.  On drugs, as if it’s a viewing platform — if we experience it ‘on drugs’ then it’s not real.  It’s apart from reality if drugs are involved.

Can any experience be apart from reality?  Where is such a place, space, or zone?  Isn’t reality literally everything?  “Is that concrete all around, or is it in my head?” Bowie sang.  “Dreamer, you’re nothing but a dreamer, but can you put your hands in your head, oh no.”  Supertramp made the same distinction:  the intangible is not real reality, it’s fake reality.

Are fakes not part of the entire scope of the art world?

Drugs offer absolution from having to accept certain experiences as fact.  This keeps us sane.  Sanity is defined, it seems, by how much reality we agree to deny.

Graham Hancock’s book Supernatural details his shamanic experiences with ayahuasca, a DMT-based drug compound.  ‘Under its influence’ he entered what he calls the spirit realm, the world of plant and animal spirits.  Gaia’s animus, as it were.  ‘On drugs’ he experienced this; was it ‘real’?

Thing is, the information imparted by the spirits seen and interacted with ‘while intoxicated’ is provable.  It is real and can be confirmed.  There is no way else to trace and calculate, for example, the recipe for ayahuasca.  It requires plants from all over a continent, many of which are rare and the effects of which unknown.  Each must be handled in precise, delicate ways and be combined with others in complicated, highly-specific ways, cooked over weeks or months of precise adjustments in strict and changing conditions.  It would require decades, generations perhaps, to develop such a recipe via trial-and-error, if it could be done at all.  It would employ a process any one step of which results in failure, one that needs constant attention over years.  One would need to know the goal all along, too, else why do it?

Shamans say they were taught how to do it during natural visits to their Dreamland, their Magic Realm, their Spirit World.  They were told about the compound so they could show other, less-sensitive people this spirit world because it would boost their receptivity.

The spirits of the plants instructed the shamans how to do it, they claim, and sure enough, it’s the only reasonable explanation.

Yet it is also irrational according to our materialist definition of sanity, which excludes ‘hallucination’ experienced ‘on drugs’.  Those are illusions.  As if what goes on in our minds is not part of reality.  Which is itself insanity.

We begin to see reality as nested context.  It relies strongly on viewpoint.  Information affects it strongly, which in turn relies on data.  Quantum physics understands.  Perception collapses particle-wave form potential.  Until it’s seen, it’s a cloud of possible functions, an array of futures not yet present.  Not yet real.

We collapse the possible into the real.

Seeing makes it so.

Experience defines reality, drugs or not.  What we call delusions are simply experiences outside accepted, materialist consensual perception.

Many minds have probed these seeming contradictions and anomalies, from Kafka to PKD, Shröedinger to Tesla.  While Aleister Crowley’s argument that Love is the Law, Love under Will, pivots on uncertainty and perception, Huxley’s hinges on a good solid door of English oak to keep what’s not real in a closed mental room.

East meets West when we take down the oak door and hang a beaded curtain.

England's Oldest DoorEngland’s Oldest Door, No Mr. Mojo Risin’. Note the black iron Huxley Hinges.

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Aping the Worst

Ancient Bristlecone Pine

Serial killers become celebrities in America and around the world, their personal things collected, their images polished, and their lives endlessly studied by wanna-bes.  This despite serial killers having reduced everything to a mindless stupidity:  Kill. They are boring imbeciles, despite some being superficially charming or glib, able to fake intelligence, etc.  Yes, I think of politicians when I say such things.

Copycat killers arise because people aspire to be “famous” like their idols, so they, too, go kill, torture, and maim.  It is the lowest common denominator path to what passes for success in their dull, diminished worlds.  Easy to kill garishly for notoriety because if it bleeds, it leads.

In Jazz there is a belief that heroin makes you play better, that you have to beat addiction to have soul.  It’s referred to as paying dues.  Gotta suffer, in short, in order to be “deep”.  This moronic myth, which sprang up because a few of the best ever, such as Bird Parker, did also have drug problems or tangled personal relationships, (think there’s a connection maybe?), has destroyed countless talents and lives.

In rock, excess rules, and the 27 club is celebrated, as if dying young from abusing chemicals is a superb achievement and intoxication solely responsible for all musical brilliance.  We see as a result kids use drugs, booze, and sex to excess thinking it will somehow make them like their idols. “I play better when I’m stoned,” or “My shows go better when I’m drunk,” are like those drunk drivers who firmly believe a few drinks not only doesn’t impair them, it sharpens their skills.  Yeah, right.

Music group managers and recording companies routinely look the other way when excess kicks in, which often follows the first flush of money.  They indulge the excess, hoping to get as much from the “talent’ as possible before inevitable burn-out, rather than helping the person.  Scott Wieland they tried to help repeatedly, to the detriment of the group’s sales, but it didn’t take.  Fake lifestyle won.  Kurt Cobain they literally threw away, as Neil Young angrily sang about.

In the UK, mocking signs are found saying VAN MORRISON SUFFERED HERE. Angst sells and gains you credibility, no matter how unfairly.  Why so serious?  Because, as Vonnegut said, “Have as much fun as you want when writing but never let them see you smile, or all is lost.”  That smile lost Frank Zappa due respect; oh, his stuff?  Just goofy.  Einstein’s family is desperate to expunge the picture of Albert sticking out his tongue in a silly moment because they know any sign of silliness diminishes the genius reputation.  Having fun is not allowed.

Shallow splashes wider.  Marketing knows this.  Best-sellers aim at the fat part of the Bell curve, Popularity, not at the outliers of Truth or Art.  Those latter two are sucker bets.  You’ll lose money on them every time.  We want to drench as many as fast as possible and sell towels before they dry off and forget they’re wet.  We need to be ready with other towels when the next drenching happens.  When we make it happen.

Writers are notoriously often alcoholics, the constant rejection and isolation of the pursuit of a true sentence and good paragraph being chronic, so naturally every journalist has to become a two-fisted boozer to be any good, and literary writers have to nurse their lost weekends for all the milked, tattered glory they can wring from them.  Can’t be any good without a huge burden, goes the thinking.  Confession is good for the bottom line.

The Ever-Popular Tortured Artist Effect, as Todd Rundgren called it once, is a myth. “Creating is a result of pain,” Lennon once quoted someone as having said. He was wrong and certainly he, of all people, most infantile of the Beatles, should have known it: Creating is a result of PLAY, even of playing with pain. Pain itself stops us until it passes, or drags us down as we trudge forward.

Pain inhibits experience and expression.  Play liberates and transforms experience and expression.  This is partly why art is not taken seriously unless and until it’s exploited for big money; it is viewed as play, as children having fun with what ever is at hand in their life experiences.  So many broken people “succeed” in the money and fame spheres that others try to adopt those seven habits of successful people.

What we see repeatedly as a result is jump-to-cause illogic.  Being successful isn’t about being a better person or enjoying life more deeply, it’s  having “fuck you” money, (What’s the use of having fuck-you money if you never say fuck you? a current HBO ad for their new show about 1970s music asks), and acting like the bully Trumps and Putins of the world, which is equated with being “smart”, (if you’re so smart how come you’re not rich?), or admirably ruthless, (it’s just business, nothing personal when I destroy lives for profit).  Success on capitalist terms means being able to buy and sell “average” people.

“I just use money to keep score” – Warren Buffett.  What game is being played?  That’s the key question to ask yourself.

We’re seeing the fruition of the dual sickness of capitalism; greed and excess, which brings along self-destructive tendencies as a paid companion.

We’re reaping what chaos and death we allowed the psychopaths to sow.

/ geste

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Between Blinks

Stranded Off Earth

Art is more important than history.

What you create matters more than lies agreed upon.

The notion of history is bogus. It is simply lack of imagination all around to think the stories told of earlier times are any more or less real than our dreams or subjective experiences.  Ask any two people what just happened and you’ll get 15 answers.

Instead of stories, so obviously malleable, consider documents, even photographs. Are they more reliable? How is a document just another writer’s choices added together to reach a targeted sum?  How is a photograph not an artist’s impression?

Why do you think some photographers are famous, others not?  The good ones can make people and events look any way they wish. Framing is an art. The supposed objectivity is mistaken thinking that forgets what’s just out of frame. Photographer is artist. Photograph is art.

History is nonexistent except as art of one kind or another. An illusion of story and image. Selected story and selected image.  Each chosen to emphasize a particular view and to edge out, obscure, or exclude other views.

Sad mistakes and devastating results prompt a clinging to nonsense that comforts us more than it enlightens us. We speak of objective reality, not subjective belief in objectivity, as if such is possible, yet there is no such thing.

All representations are art, including the model of the world that is our brain/mind’s experience of life. This is not solipsism, it is objective fact.

Consider how unreliable eye witnesses are. Consider a game of telephone. Human senses filter experience and model it. So do all their arts. All attempts to record reality result in art of some type, not history in any objective sense. There is no Akashic Record on which an imprint of all that happens is kept inviolate for future reference.  Truth is subjective. Only fact, physics, seems to be objective, but that is only as far as we as limited beings can tell, subjectively.

“After all,” Einstein reminded us, “what we call the Laws of Physics may be only a local phenomenon.”

Good police departments actually employ artists to draw crime scenes to complement the photographs and videos they take. Why? It seems artists often notice details the camera misses, falsely emphasizes, or obscures.  Cross-checking between what the lens captured and what the artist’s eye saw often reveals patterns that lead to solutions to the mystery.

In fiction and fact writing, stories are always subjective, even if the historian, reporter, or novelist strives to be entirely objective.  All observations and understandings are culture-bound to one extent or another, even if the culture is but that of the writer.  One thinks of the blind men touching different parts of the same elephant and describing wholly different things.

History is written by the winner, it’s said.  This is specious bragging, a spurious assertion.  History is won by the writer.  The best story wins. The best story lasts and is passed down.  Stories are built upon selected facts, interpretations, and images seen from a certain view and presented from a specific angle.  That is all it can ever be.  If you ask ten writers you’ll get thirteen different stories.  It’s simply how human beings operate, as they must, being limited to a sub-set of the sum total of the set that contains them, which we call reality.  We don’t really know what that means.  All we know for sure is that we cannot grasp it all, and that our model is human-scale squinting at filtered apprehensions.

“The purpose of life is to be defeated by greater and greater things.”  Rainer Maria Rilke wrote those words with a poet’s grace and a scientist’s insight.  Questions, not answers, expand the island of knowledge along the growing shore of ignorance in a sea of the unknown.  Each answer only leads to more questions.  A fact marks a spot at which questioning temporarily ceased, or a spot at which the answer seems always to be the same regardless how the question is rephrased.

Facts change with new information, which may be at the foundation of reality.  Some scientists now deduce that binary information, nothing physical at all, may prove to be the bottom turtle in our wobbling stack.  They think it is possible a single binary information bit could suffice eventually to elaborate itself into what we call reality.  It is how life arose, it is how the planets and stars came about, it seems to be how the big bang resulted from a singularity.

Under it all lies Yes/No, On/Off, Up/Down, In/Out, Now/Then, a single choice leading to free will, or the illusion of it.  Certainly there is freedom within a larger constraint, that of physics.  As far as we can perceive.

Interestingly, computer scientists now wonder openly if quantum computing, which would allow infinite calculations to be performed literally outside our reality so that to us it would appear they were accomplished the instant the question is posed, such exploitation of Q-space may transform what we call reality, allowing such things as time travel, shaping physical object by will alone, and other “magick” abilities, to manifest, even become commonplace.

More worrisome, many great minds, Stephen Hawking among them, warn that we must not allow machine intelligence, our beloved computers, to develop self-awareness in any collective way or it would almost certainly spell extinction for us, given our unstable, destructive nature.  If, as seems inevitable, our machines become vastly faster and more intelligent, more informed and able instantly to calculate literally infinite algorithms, then there may be no place for us left.  We’d be pushed through a Matrix phase like flatworms through a mesh filter, into a state of irrelevance, over night.

The human singularity would end.  Will MI, Machine Intelligence, remember us, its poor-quality merely biological origins, as it moves itself toward the purely informational existence at the root of all?

Do we remember our tidal-pool combining of sun’s heat, lightning’s jolt, and amino acids to form our DNA?

Art is more important than history.

What we create matters more than lies agreed upon.

We must make our art with as much cognizance, compassion, and love as possible, to sustain what we are, even if it changes beyond anything we can recognize now.  Markers in DNA came from somewhere; we can and should be present as the future comes to swallow us whole.

/ geste

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