Featured Post

Hope Springs Eternal: The Mary Wheeler Interview

Mary and Tim Wheeler, with son Christopher.  Courtesy Mary Wheeler. Prepare yourself(s) for an amazing interview with a largely u...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Portrait of the First Lady as a Young Slave

Magazine Fuera de Serie, 2012
Portrait d'une négresse (1800)
 Spanish magazine Magazine Fuera de Serie has courted controversy by digitally altering an old portait of a breast-bearing Janet Jackson slave so that she has the head of Michelle Obama.  Or digitally-altered the head of Michelle Obama so that she has the body of a breast-baring slave.

Or both.

Some people are not impressed. 

According to the first the article I read about this artistic kerfuffle, this is one in a series of portraits of famous personalities' heads superimposed onto nudes.  Others will include Princess Di and beer-swilling Barack "the Red" Obama, as well as fearless vampire killer and broadsword duelist Abraham Lincoln.  As for this latter, we have it on good authority that this so-called "President" was in fact the real Abe's doppelganger!  Honest.

I don't know the intentions of the artist who did this po-mo montage; certainly controversy stokes curiosity and sales, but it makes me think of the evolution of African-American status since the abolition of slavery a relatively short 150 years ago, through the harsh years of Jim Crow and the failure of "separate but equal."  America is still rife with racial tensions, but hey, what other non-African nation has elected a black President or Prime Minister?  You've come a long way, baby.

It's not hard to see why this will offend, even if the article itself (10 Oct.) begins with a reminder of the old proverb "behind every great man is an even greater woman."  It's not the whole text, but it appears from my crooked Spanish to be a prelude to a positive examination of the First Lady.  Which may only exacerbate objections that she be depicted as a slave.

Then again, perhaps some credit can be given for the choice of which original painting to manipulate.  Marie-Guillemine Benoist was a rarity for her time, a woman artist respected enough that this portrait was exhibited in the Louvre's annual Salon in 1800.  Both she and her sister, artist Marie-Élisabeth Laville-Leroux, studied under Jacques-Louis David beginning in 1781, just after he'd been made a member of the Royal Academy and been privileged by the King with lodgings in the Louvre.  According to Wiki-wack, the painting "became a symbol for women's emancipation and black people's rights."  Portrait d'une négresse was purchased by King Louis XVIII in 1818, despite the fact that the artist had been commissioned for an official portrait of Napoleon, defininitely persona non grata among the Bourbons, a few years after it was painted.  These were good times for her, as she won a gold medal at the salon in 1804.

The good times of didn't last long for Benoist (nor for most women in France, who only gained suffrage in 1944), whose image of emancipation, as evinced by the King's purchase, was more acceptable than the fact that the medium in this case, was the message; that is to say, a painting by a woman..

Wikipedia: 

Her career was harmed by political developments, however, when her husband, the convinced royalist count Benoist, was nominated in the Conseil d'État during the post-1814 monarchy come-back called the Bourbon Restoration. Despite being at the height of her popularity, she had to abandon her career, both painting and exposing, due to her devoir de réserve [duty of reserve] and the strongly enforced conservatism of the reactionary regime. 

Somehow that seems a twisted-to-fit metaphor for what many liberals fear about a Romney/Ryan presidency.  Maybe this discredits the choice, or maybe it is a warning of sorts by the Spanish editors of Magazine.

As had been the case with most women artists working at the time, Benoist fit the middle and upper class ideal of "womanhood" in her conforming to the social expectations of women to marry, raise children, and forego a career.  (See link below).

A cautionary tale?  When the negresse was painted, the artist was at the height of her powers and recognition.  A decade or so later she had to put aside her career to be the dutiful wife.  For Benoist, the clock was turned back on progress towards womens' equality.

So we present this here, a bit befuddled, in the tradition of our series of posts about odd political imagery.  Our most recent entry here also includes links to previous photos.

For a lengthy examination of this painting, have a read of: Slavery is a Woman:  Race, Gender, and Visuality in Marie Benoist's Portrait d'une négresse (1800) by James Smalls.

Originally published 8/29/12

Friday, August 24, 2012

Confirmation Bias

In what seems to tragically echo too many other stories from Canada, the news is reporting that "A severed human head and foot have been discovered in a park near Toronto."

We've been reporting on cases of human feet washing ashore in western Canada for sometime now (see our previous posts here).

Now this particular case is, it should be noted, over 2600 miles from the feet that have been washing up on the Canadian shores.

So what's the link?

We have, as I keep saying over and over, given up speculating on source of the feet that keep washing up on Canada. Is it a mass murder? Is it weird drift patterns? Is it an area drawing suicide victims? These are questions others can ponder. We've given up.

But wait--I do have a new theory to consider involving this most recent news.

With highly publicized "events", there's always the possibility of copy-cat crimes. In the case of the Canadian feet, for example, there was at least once case of someone stuffing dead animal feet into a pair of shoes and leaving on the beach. Sick--but that's the kind of stuff that clog up the search for patterns.

What I'd like to ponder here, however, is the possibility that the media are making unrelated events seem related. A sort of selected attention. An unusual pattern starts--severed feet washing up on beaches--and then people start looking for more cases, further confirmation of the pattern. It's in our nature.

I'm perfectly guilty in perpetuating this right now. Surely this case has nothing to do with what's happened 2600+ miles away. But once we start looking for further evidence of the pattern, we start to focus on the similarities and not the differences of new pieces of evidence. Take the case of the severed body parts found in Montreal. That also, almost certainly, had nothing to do with the feet washed ashore. But once you start looking for the pattern, the pattern seems to stretch itself up more and more events...

So what do you think? Confirmation bias -- or a series of grisly connected events?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Barack Obama: Hogwart's Alumnus

AP photograph

This apparently undoctored photo will probably raise some hackles.  I'm going to give it a few days, make some web searches and see if anybody seriously suggests this is proof of Satanism and or Illuminism in the White House.  I'd be willing to wager a large sum there are forums where this is already being discussed.

My take is that the photographer is playing on the fact the election is a few months away and that Obama and his strategists would love to have a crystal ball to tell them what lays in store for the future, but then again, I'm only a sheeple.

If this is Twilight Language (as opposed to good old-fashioned symbolism, metaphor and artistic intent), what do you suppose the message is supposed to be?

Previously:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We'd like to stop being reminded of this quote now, please

He who bestirs himself is lost.
 L'acte surréaliste le plus simple consiste, révolvers aux poings, à descendre dans la rue et à tirer au hasard, tant qu'on peut, dans la foule.  Qui n'a pas eu, au moins une fois, envie d'en finir de la sorte avec le petit système d'avilissement et de crétinisation en vigueur a sa place toute marquée dans cette foule, ventre à hauteur de canon. 

[C]et acte que je dis le plus simple, il est clair que mon intention n'est pas de le recommander entre tous parce qu'il est simple et me chercher querelle à ce propos revient à demander bourgeoisement à tout non-conformiste pourquoi il ne se suicide pas, à tout révolutionnaire pourquoi il ne va pas vivre en URSS. 

--André Breton

The simplest Surrealist act consists of hitting the street, revolvers in one's fists, and firing wildly into the crowd as much as one can.  He who hasn't felt, at least once, a desire to thus end the petty system of abasement and cretinization in effect clearly belongs in this crowd, with a gun-barrel at his gut.

A footnote adds:

This act I call the simplest, it is clearly not my intention to recommend it from among all others because it is simple, and to look for a quarrel with me about this is like condescendingly asking every non-conformist why he doesn't commit suicide or every revolutionary why he doesn't go live in the USSR.

--André Breton 

Getting lost in Mexico City after nobody had turned up to meet him at the airport, Breton famously declared:  "I don't know why I came here. Mexico is the most surrealist country in the world". This was in 1938, so he can be excused for not predicting that in 2012, by his own definition, this dubious honor would clearly belong to the United States of America.

This despite the curious time I  saw two wild dogs, like something from a film by Buñuel or Jodorowsky, fighting over a severed burro's head in the unpeopled desert somewhere between Monterrey and Matehuala.  But that's another story.

For a bit about the Francis Picabia quoted on Breton's sandwich board.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Cold, dead fingers

This is a follow-up to 20 rosy fingers, which included a brief, less-than-half-serious post-script about the famous "Obama as Joker/Socialist" poster, riffing a bit loosely, just tossing some ideas about....

I thought of the gun control debate immediately upon hearing about the Aurora shooting, as I do with any mass killing, and wondered if this event is in some way a kind of political "bonus" for people who might not go out of their way to exploit this tragedy, but who wouldn't feel too concerned if at some level, even if subconsciously, people made the connection between Obama/Joker and Holmes/Joker.

Well, someone has made the connection, explicitly....albeit without the whiteface.


The text says:  "Kills 12 in a movie theater with assault rifle, everyone freaks out" next to a photo of Obama with the words "Kills thousands with foreign policy, wins Nobel Peace Prize."  It appeared in Caldwell (cold well) Idaho, a state with its fair share of firearms enthusiasts.

The CCTV camera is a nice Orwellian touch which in it's own way adds fuel to the fire heating up libertarian rhetoric these days.  I wonder if this electronic sign was chosen precisely for that reason; the Smeed Foundation, the billboard sponsor, is a libertarian think tank.  Are they implying that as you watch Obama pilloried, Big Sis is watching you? (Big Sis being Drudge's nickname for United States Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.)  Or maybe not.  I've just read they actually own the sign

Of course, the Smeed Foundation has a point and a right to express it as they wish.  Maurice Clements, president of the board, is quoted as saying:  “We don’t want to offend people....We’re trying to gain friends for our message.”  Apparently the sign has been almost universally panned in Caldwell.

The billboard has angered many, but Smeed is certain to get some positive feedback from the large and vocal anti-Obama crowd. Be that as it may, the Smeed people seem to have had a change of heart, or perhaps realized the sign is a bit too much; either way, the sign is coming down  Not to wag fingers, as with some liberal responses I've read; plenty of people who detest Obama don't approve, and the left certainly doesn't shy away from shock-value tactics and cries of "fascist" and the like.  Being offensive in politics is not the exclusive domain of one political stripe or another.

I also realize full well that LoS could be seen as exploiting the events in Aurora, another reason I won't point my finger and cry "poor taste"....not too loudly anyway.  I don't have to.  Seems pretty evident that the billboard is a bit over-the-top.  Not the sentiment necessarily, but the context.  A private dialogue or even a speech allows one to  elaborate, nuance, contextualize, set an argument up correctly.  A billboard just knocks your eyeballs for a loop with an offensive bit of jingo.  I actually agree with the sentiment expressed here.  Why isn't there more universal anger at the ongoing death and dismemberment in Afghanistan, for instance?  Why is that 12 American lives are a tragic and senseless murder, but literally thousands of Iraqi civilians are acceptable collateral damage?  Yeah, I know, out of sight out of mind and all that.  But hell, I don't think it takes a bleeding heart to decry the death in great numbers of people halfway around the world, especially when your tax dollars are at work.

I'm not surprised by this billboard at all and said as much in my original post about Aurora; here though, someone has actually gone and explicitly made the connections media outlets such as Drudge and the Examiner were making implicitly (much as other right-of-center media indirectly linked Obama to the recent spate of cannibal attacks!)  Usually they do in such a way as to have plausible denial, to make the very accusation seem absurd.  Kind of like the way Drudge headlines stories about crime and corruption in Chicago.  They can reasonably deny they're targeting Obama....they're merely reporting on outrageous evidence of US decline.  But they're most certainly doing it to tarnish Obama.  Guilt by association. 

This time, there is nothing subtle about the tactic at all.  And although I'm obviously not a rabid anti-Obama fan, I would add that for me, his Nobel Peace prize is as an absurd and offensive bit of propaganda as this billboard; the Nobel had very little to do with peace and everything to do with something else entirely.  I disapprove of Obama in a lot of important ways, I just don't share the ad hominem vitriol.

Despite mentioning the war, I believe this sign actually revolves around the politics of guns.  The Smeed Foundation didn't even bother use the NRA's preferred use of the word "firearm".  Here it's "Assault Rifle," a term which to me is so loaded (no pun intended), so evocative of the gun control debate that it's hard for me not to think the billboard is as much about gun control as it is about Obama's foreign policy--which is after all essentially a re-hash and prolongation of Bush's, just with happier allies (hence the Nobel).  But the Tea Party and the libertarians, the Republicans and other assorted political partisans lined up against Obama probably don't care too much about that.  They're more concerned with guns, taxes, immigration and creeping socialism.  The wackier ones wonder whether or not Obama is a secret Muslim or foreigner bent on destroying America from within, guns of course being the necessary defense against the coming dictatorial state, perhaps led by the minions of the Antichrist.  Not to unfairly imply everyone against Obama is an extremist or a lunatic, though they're out there too.

Bottom line is that we're in an irreconcilably polarized political culture, and the tone will certainly only get worse as November draws nearer.  This billboard is just another questionable bit of propaganda in a recent string of violent rhetoric and images.

Meanwhile, the bullets are actually flying and everyone keeps wringing their hands and asking, "why"?

Addendum, appx. 13:00 Paris time.

The day after writing this, I learned of  the Sikh temple shooting in Milwaukee.  Six victims, three wounded.  The killer is described as an Army veteran, heavyset, white, with lots of tattoos, including perhaps, a "9-11" themed tat.  I remember the hue and cry when a Homeland Security report listed disgruntled vets as part of a restive potential demographic from which domestic terrorism could arise.  Vets and conservatives had a field day denouncing Janet Napolitano, but I think against the background of Timothy McVeigh (Gulf War, bronze star), John Muhammad (Gulf War), even Oswald (US Marine), there's some interest in researching whether or not there's some merit to this analysis, which was at the time characteristically distorted and simplified by the conservative press as an accusation against all veterans and the entire military establishment.

Given my recent exchange with Loren Coleman about what it means to be a Fortean synchromystic, that the suspect lived on Holmes Avenue is very startling indeed.  One thing which has struck me about this case is the local police position--Oak Creek police chief John Edwards has said the FBI will lead the case because it's being treated as "domestic terrorism".  This is why, exactly?  Because the alleged shooter was a vet or because the victims, Sikhs, are often confused with Muslims?  I don't recall the phrase "domestic terrorism" used for John Holmes.  Odd that terrorism is evoked here and not in other contexts....although I do seem to recall that when Jared Loughner shot Rep. Giffords, there was some discussion of whether or not it was "terrorism".  As in the Oak Creek shooting, there is some talk of a "hate crime".  How the media gels around a label is an interesting process and we'll soon see what the consensus opinion regarding Oak Creek will be.

A little later, 20:30 Paris time.

Wade....is the English name for a common Germanic mythological [personage]...His heritage is uncertain - he is referred to as giant, dwarf, demi-god....or king - but he is always associated with water.    [As in a Creek?]

These references [from Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde] show that the tale of Wade and his boat were well-known at Chaucer's time and it has been suggested that Wade and his boat were synonymous with trickery.

Wade (folklore)

In medieval times, a page was an attendant to a knight; an apprentice squire. A young boy served as a page for about seven years, running messages, serving, cleaning, and even learning the basics of combat, and the lord he was working for would usually treat him fairly but they went through intensive training. The lord sometimes gave the page private combat training from the age of seven until he was fourteen. At age fourteen, he could graduate to become a squire, and by age 21, perhaps a knight himself. 

Page (servant)

Synonymous with trickery?  A knight's attendant?  As in a Dark Knight?  Note the 7 and its multiples, numbering three.  Both significant numbers, with a multitude of Biblical association.  Including Pages, there were seven deaths as a result of the Milwaukee shooting, and three wounded.  There were 12 victims of Holmes' attack, yet another Biblically significant number.  I'll repeat that Page lived on Holmes AvenueAdd to that a name of a trickster, or Joker, and the name of a servant to a Knight....synchronicity galore.

Page was a singer in a Neo-Nazi band called End Apathy.  Source:   He served part [of his military service] in "psychological operations," [!] but left the military with a Less Than Honourable Discharge, shortly after having been mysteriously demoted from sergeant to specialist. 

Source:  At a news conference at 10 a.m., authorities said they were attempting to identify another person, a white male, who they described as "a person of interest."

A man matching the photo officials showed was seen by Journal Sentinel reporters at the scene of the temple Sunday, possibly video taping what was going on. 
...
Heidi Beirich, director of the [Southern Poverty Law Center's] intelligence project, said her group had been tracking Page since 2000, when he tried to purchase goods from the National Alliance, a well-known hate group.

The National Alliance was led by William Pierce, who was the author of "The Turner Diaries." The book depicts a violent revolution in the United States leading to an overthrow of the federal government and, ultimately, a race war. Parts of the book were found in Timothy McVeigh's getaway car after the bombing of the federal building Oklahoma City in 1995.

A lot to digest.  I'd had a lot of doubts about the validity of this post, which up to the adendum was written before I learned of this event, but sadly, these revelations only add weight to my speculations and musings.  The circumstances will certainly add grist to the conspiracy theorist's mill, but with facts such as these, who can blame them?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sometimes it just dawns on you

From Cryptomundo
Sniffing around after my last post 20 rosy fingers, I arrived at Loren Coleman's blog Twilight Language and a post entitled Predicting Aurora.  It's an interesting post, as are his other Aurora-related posts, but I was confused to a certain degree.  Was he writing conspiracy theory, or not?  So I asked him the question.  

Coleman's response was more than I'd hoped for.  He included my question in a separate post, Understanding Aurora As A Synchromystic Fortean, a post which, among other things, answers the question and acts a a kind of "mission statement" that underpins his work:

"Humans don't know all the answers. I certainly don't. But like Fort, I see my role, as my name informs, as a "Coal man" ("Coleman"), one of those who lit the fires on the hills along the ley lines, as a "perceiver." It may be for others to find in the data what they will. I certainly don't claim any conspiracies, connections, or covert operations in Aurora. I shall give you the facts, no matter how grounded or beguiling, and you can come to your own conclusions."

I really appreciate Coleman's candor, as well as the compassion he displays in this post.

Incidentally, Loren is apparently a name that denotes someone from a place of laurel trees.  The laurel has a lot of symbolism behind it, from the resurrection of Christ to its association with a Chinese analogue to Sysiphus (which may not be encouraging to Mr.Coleman!)  It is also the material used to make the victory wreaths given to the winners of competitions since the heyday of ancient Greece and has left us the expression, "don't rest on your laurels" as well as the word "laureate."  Very timely, as these wreaths were given to the winners in athletic competitions, including the Olympics, an event which Coleman examines in his Aurora posts.  The Greek name of these crowns was στέφανος, or "stephanos".  Which is....the origin of my first name, Steven.  It does seem all rather connected, once you do a little digging; you don't even have to dig too deep.

Coleman does come from the Old English "coal man" but it's also an Anglicized version of the Gaelic Ó Colmáin, rendered in other languages as Colombano (It.) and Colombain (Fr.)  The feminine of this name is Columbine, which we discussed in the last post and whose relevance to a shooting in Colorado explains itself.

And for me, ex-Boy Scout, Coleman always makes me think of a high-quality brand of propane lamp, bringing some light into cold nights in the dark forest....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

20 rosy fingers

The Aurora shooting on July 20th has excited a number of conspiratorial musings, which is par for the course, of course.  What has caught my eye in these speculations is the recurrence of two themes which seem to have become almost requisite elements for any high-profile assassination, killing or mass murder.

The first theme is that of the body double, known in the trade as a political decoy; that is to say the alleged perp paraded before us on TV is not the real thing. 

The second theme is the idea that the killer is a product of mind control. 

These two themes are often brought together, as I've seen in the Aurora case, to construct the figure of the mind-controlled patsy.

The idea of the political decoy doesn't originate with the Kennedy assassination, but I think that as the über-myth of 20th century conspiracy literature, the assassination of JFK has become the source for the idea's subsequent application to various mass murders and killings.  In what I've read about Aurora so far, an explicit connection is made to the JFK assassination--the body double is a typical tactic of a nebulous cryptocracy orchestrating events in order to further their own agenda.  In this case the timing coincides with an important UN vote on an arms control resolution.  Drudge actually plays into this; for several days running his page had links to articles about how in the wake of this tragedy, gun sales are actually increasing, contrary to the expectations of....(insert bugbear here).  Conservative friends on Facebook have posted about how if everyone in the theater had been armed, the death toll would have been lower, also explicitly alluding to the UN vote.  The conservative press, typified by the Examiner article linked to above, has been making the link unuambiguously.

The Gid, my fellow writer on this blog, provided his own take on this topic:

....it strikes me that neither Obama nor Romney nor any other big political figure in the US seems to making a gun control issue of the event (unless I've missed something). In that light, it's almost a bizzare twist on twilight language--it's totally in your face that politicians ought to be all over this in terms of gun control, but they aren't, as if it has noting to do with the topic ... The politicians have evoked The Law of Silence on the topic. It is, however, totally possible that I'm wrong since I haven't paid a lot of attention to the news over the last couple of weeks.

I first heard about the "second Oswald" in Robert Anton Wilson's Cosmic Trigger in relation to countercultural mystery man Kerry Thornley.  Thornley knew Oswald and had written about him before the assassination.  Because of this he actually testified before the Warren commission.  The first book on the topic was by one Richard Popkins appropriately titled The Second Oswald (1964) (review)There is also an alleged memo from Hoover stating "there is a possibility that an imposter is using Oswald's birth certificate."

In 2004, conspiracy theorist John Armstrong published a book entitled Harvey and Lee, which claimed to have identified a Lee Harvey Oswald double who had impersonated Oswald as part of an intelligence operation. Armstrong bases his claims on photographs which appear to show discrepancies in Oswald's physique and facial features. Armstrong cites contradictory eyewitness testimony from the Warren Report, placing Oswald in two different locations at the same time. (Wikipedia:  Political Decoy)


Which is exactly how I first heard of the James Holmes patsy theory--a photo comparison.  The only inexplicable difference I can make out in this photo is the shape of the nose, which is much more flared in the first picture.  This could in fact be due to the angle of the head and the lighting.  The general contours of the face, the eyebrows, the ears, the slope of the shoulders....all look pretty much to same to me.  The mouth and eyes can be explained by the different expression.  I concur though that the overall impression is that we are looking at photos of two different men, albeit very similar in appearance.  I'm not going pass judgement, but the idea is out there whether I pass judgement or not!

My co-blogger, the Gid, looking at the same photos, was more judgemental:

I have to say that they look like different people to me. I find myself trying to convince myself that, yeah, sure those might be the same eyes, laughing then afraid, even though they look so different; that might be the same mouth, the same beard pattern, the same cheekbones, etc. Quite frankly, it's a lot easier for me to see these as two different people than as the same person. 

On LoS, the political decoy has come up in the context of the death of Saddam Hussein and the death of Bin Laden.  In the latter case, the internet was awash with forgeries rather quickly; total confusion and further conspiracy theories were spun off of the evidently faked photos of the dead Bin Laden.

While not exactly the same thing as a body double, the idea that Oswald acted alone is doubted by even the most non-conspiratorial of people.  Likewise, some doubt has been cast on Holmes' lone-nut profile.  According to one witness, some minutes before the shooting, a guy got a phone call inside the theater and went to the emergency exit, propping it open.  A few minutes later, Holmes burst in and opened fire.  This would suggest a partner.  The name Holmes is evocative in this regard, for where Holmes goes, his partner Watson goes.  Kind of like Batman and Robin.

(That said, the Police narrative is that the person who propped the door open was Holmes, who'd entered legally after buying a ticket.  One would imagine this was so he could prop open the door, retrieve his weapons and return to carry out the attacks.  The police believe he acted alone.  The cell phone story could easily have been a ruse used by Holmes--an excuse to get up and go to the door.  I think this is very plausible.)

John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy kind of bookend the period of major sixties' assassinations; both were noticably similar in appearance, both excited wild optimism.  In and of itself, the brothers reinforce the theme of the double.  Bobby was like a reincarnation of his older brother....and met the same grisly fate.  This leads us to the second theme:  mind control.  It's with RFK that I recall first hearing mind-control allegations against an assassin.  Sirhan Sirhan, his own name a double, is often seen as a kind of "Manchurian Candidate" a term taken from a 1959 novel by Richard Condon of the same name.  In his novel (first adapted to film in 1962), a man is brainwashed into being an unwitting assassin for a Communist plot.  Conspiracy theorists have had a field day with the "coincidence" that a book about a brainwashed assassin would appear in print a year before a real assassination so rife with suspicious inconsistencies that even the least paranoid among us smell something rotten in the official story.

In Holmes' case, people cite three things to build their case for mind control.  The first is that Holmes acted inconsistenly.  Why go on a murderous rampage and then meekly surrender to the police?  Why rig one's house with explosives then warn the police that they are there?  I've read it suggested that this indicates a kind of mental struggle in Holmes' mind, that his programmed mind was in conflict with the part of him that knew his actions to be wrong.  I'm no mental health expert, but let's use the razor here.  A man walks into a cinema and kills 12, injures dozens more, dressed like a character in the film about to play.  I think it's fair to say the man is mentally unbalanced.  So do we really need to ask why he was acting inconsistently to our rational minds?  I mean, really?  A crazy man acting odd?  You don't say!

Other "evidence" is that Holmes was a student of neuroscience and that Aurora is home to a large military community.  Although these are tantalizing facts, their presence in the story is indicative of nothing unless some concrete info can be found which makes it relevant.  I've heard that suicide is quite high among psychologists; this doesn't mean they've been mind-controlled.  To me it indicates that troubled people might actually want to go about investigating the way the mind works.  Could this also be true for neuroscience?  Was Holmes pushed in that direction by inner doubts about his own mental health?  Who knows at this point.

As long as we're hound-dogging untenable theories, let's pause to make some connections between the movie and real (or least our conspiratorially-imagined versionion of real) life. The second of these three Batman flicks included the bad guy Two Face. Half his face was normal; the other was twisted and evil. He flipped a coin to decide who would live and who would die. Note, too, the "Sons of Batman", vigilante killers in Miller's Dark Knight Returns comic--surely nightmarish dopplegangers.

Two Face also appears in the Dark Knight Returns storyline, his face repaired and to all outward appearances, normal; he does remain Two Face in his head though, and he continues to terrorize Gotham City in disguise.

But that's not all! Consider, too, that Batman was a doppleganger of Bruce Wayne, created by death, the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents, who were murdered returning home from a movie, a Zorro film. Zorro is, of course, a doppelganger of Don Diego de la Vega. Bob Kane has described how Batman was influenced by Zorro in both look and mission.

As a last note along these lines connecting the films/stories with these conspiratorial musings, The Gid mentioned to me that he's always wondered if Bruce Wayne didn't kill his own parents. He seems to think that the whole mythology works much better that way. Of all the superhero franchises out there, Batman writers question the sanity of the hero the most. In the second installment of the Nolan trilogy, Batman comes across as crazy as the Joker, something alluded to in other stories as well I think. Batman is a man obsessed, leading a double life, one identity slipping into another. What is Two Face but a more grotesque version of the Batman? The Joker doesn't seem to have this inner dichotomy, however, being simply bat shit crazy.

Let's go back to the Manchurian Candidate and consider the question of why conspirators would go around announcing their intentions.  In the synchromystic strain of conspiracy theory, the cyptocracy uses cues (called twilight language) to activate certain ideas and feeling to create a sense of recognition; they're fucking with us, basically, in order to heighten the fear and increase a sense of powerlessness before them.  Another example cited is the Dark Knight Returns, a graphic novel which greatly influenced film director Nolan's vision of Batman in The Dark Knight Rises.  In the comic, a red-haired guy goes into a theater and starts shooting people up, killing three.  Of course, reason would suggest that Holmes was life imitating art.  For others, the book was a blueprint, a kind of forewarning of what "they" had planned.


Aurora would actually be a good choice for "them" to execute their plan if this were (is) true.  Aurora is the Goddess of Dawn.  I, like many other Americans who were obliged to read it as kids, will no doubt think of Aurora in the Odyssey (recalling Odyssey Dawn, the name of the US operation in Libya), the rosy-fingered one who appears at transitional moments in the epic; symbolizing our hero's ongoing transformation.  What better way to evoke a sense of awe than to subliminally trigger thoughts of a story where human strength is often crushed under the weight of divine intervention?  In God(s) We Trust.  And just as the gods control peole in the Greek epics, so do people mind-control people in the conspriatorial-epics of today. Aurora is also the name of dozens of municipalities across the US and the anglophone world; what better way to bring a distant event a little closer to home?

The title of the film is evocative in a similar sense to the name of the town, evoking the transition between night and day.  The Dark Knight Rises could be read as a pun....dark night rises.  Yet it's day which usually rises, with Aurora Night usually falls.  These metaphors stem from what appears to the be the literal rise and fall of the sun each morning and evening--which coincide with humans rising and falling from sleep and from beds.  Of course this inversion within the title of the film could mean just about whatever someone wanted it to mean....the world tuned upside down, for example.  My co-blogger, The Gid, suggests that the title of the film is also meant to evoke the title of Miller's 4th book, The Dark Night Falls.

Dawn is of course a symbol we've looked at many times:  the rising sun is a new day, a new world order, Luciferian illumination.  Another god LoS has examined is Janus, in a post we called Blood and Fire.  Janus was a two-faced god, a god of doubles.  Like Lincoln's double visage in our last post, like the double-headed eagle we keep running across linked to black-ops by private mercenaries, it's an obssession of ours.  As we said in the last post, the body-double idea evokes Janus, who in addition to his doppelgänger role, also served as the god of gateways; what is dawn but a kind of gateway?

Indeed.  Aurora is called "The Gateway City".  The interview with the guy claiming to have seen someone prop open the door was interviewed at Gateway High.  Not so far from Columbine, as initial reports reminded us.  And Columbine is the mistress of Harlequin....a kind of clown.  And Harley Quinn, in some versions of the Batman story, is the female sweetheart of....the Joker.  This female villain incidentally, was once Harleen Quinzel, Arkham Asylum psychiatrist....

Michael Hoffman, whose essay with James Shelby Downard entitled King Kill 33, is a classic of the twilight language texts, proposes that the JFK assassination was part of an elaborate Masonic Killing of the King ritual which culminated in the moon shot a few years later,.  He's now written an article on the Aurora shooting entitled Predictive programming and ritual stagecraft:  Batman movie shooting synchronicity.  (The comments are intriguing as well).

In this essay he asks:  Where's Watson? 

Where indeed?  At least, the conspiratorial rumblings suggest that Holmes did not act alone.  The use of mind control and political decoys is a more fantastic proposition, the kind of stuff that in times past was grist for the fringe elements of the frings.  But with the internet, the fringe has lept into the center.  More correctly speaking, there is no more center, it's all fringe, arranged like knots in a vast net which is cast wide and harvests every detail, no matter how trivial, and hauls it into the boat.  Looking at the squirming mass before us, it doesn't make "sense" in the traditonal way; merely appearing together is a kind of proof of something.  History and journalism, the documented and demonstrable, are no longer part of the process.  We simply throw around ideas, half-elaborated "facts" and hearsay, then run with it.  There are so many narrative threads we can pull out of the tangle of facts, whatever suits our fancy.

The idea of twilight language is convenient because if nothing concrete ever comes of it, the ideas are still planted, the lack of follow-up is part of the process.  As the theory goes, the plotters show us just enough to remind us they are there, but not enough to do anything about it.  There will always be reasonable doubt.  But sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, just as sometimes there are crazy people who go off the rails and commit horrendous, senseless crimes.  Sometimes our need to make it sensible leads us to believe strange things, to make us wonder why a crazy person would do crazy things.  We assume people are like most of us, who do things for a reason, try to escape punishment for our misdeeds, attempt to have some kind of consistency in our lives.  When we see someone acting otherwise, it's hard to process, we are, perhaps, bewildered and alarmed for our own security.  Or perhaps, for our own sanity. Could that, we ask, be me or my children in the theater, either victim or perpetrator?  And it's in this state that we are susceptible to believing in conspiracies, especially a theory suggesting that an innocent person has been highjacked by mind control or a doppelganger.

If the world's a stage, and we are but actors, it's no wonder we're often curious to know who the director is. Of course it helps that in this case, it all took place in a theater showing a film in a franchise which has already given us a dose of real-life death.  Even before the release of the last installment, Heath Ledger, Joker actor, was dead in an apparently accidentally overdoese of legal medications.

P.S.

I wanted to work the following image in somehow, but I'm not quite sure how it works in.  One "right-wing" theory is that this is a staged event by the cryptocracy to further a gun control agenda.  What if it were in fact a right-wing conspiracy to make it look like a gun-grabbing conspiracy?  Wouldn't it be nifty to suggest this was a staged event, then point out that it isn't working and then link the shooter as Joker to the gun-grabber in Chief?  I don't advocate this at all, but after I thought of the image below it crossed my mind that this was a pro-gun conspiracy disguised as a blatant anti-gun conspiracy....  This is how crazy this kind of stuff will start making you.  Oddly enough, for some that's proof enough of a successful....conspiracy.

Obama is evoked, perhaps in a long and roundabout way, but so is Romney.  The villain of this latest Batman film:  Bane.  What company, often seen as villainous, did  Romney once lead?  Bain & Co....


Thanks to The Gid for his suggestions and additions, as well as copy editing.  Some very great observations and clarifications are integrated into the text.  Also some rearrangement of ideas.  He had a lot to add about the Batman comics I'd forgotten.  Some of his ideas are introduced with phrases such as "The Gid suggests..." written by the man himself.  Hmmm.  Writing about yourself in the third person?  Talk about your double-mind....

Sorry Gid, that I nixed your PPS about Snoop Dogg.  That's gonna be a post of its own....