Posts Tagged ‘Evolution’

Prometheus Carrying Fire, Jan Cossiers

Prometheus Carrying Fire, Jan Cossiers

Thomas Jefferson developed his view that “all men are created equal” from the perception of the infinity within each of us, which he learned from the Scottish philosophers, Reid and Hutcheson. (It was also from Hutcheson that Jefferson got his idea of “unalienable rights,” which Congress in the interest of stylistic elegance altered to “inalienable rights.”) The Scottish Enlightenment, like the French and English Enlightenment, was the beginning of the materialization and manifestation of the Judeo-Christian vision of the Heavenly City.

It was also this 18th Century Illuminati circle which introduced the concept of progress— the conscious formulation of the symbolism of Prometheus. This vision has been under so much attack in recent decades that to defend it all will seem archaic and eccentric to many readers.

Nonetheless, evolution is real: quantum jumps do occur throughout the biosphere and throughout human intellectual history. We are riding a mounting tidal wave of rising consciousness and expanding intelligence which is accelerating whether we like it or not.

By and large, most people– and especially most ruling elites– have not liked this acceleration factor. The migration of capital (i.e., ideas) Westward has been largely a flight from oppression, an escapist movement– as critics today describe Space as “escapist.” Everywhere, everywhen, the rulers of society have tried to put a brake on the third circuit, to decelerate the acceleration function, to establish limits on what was printable, discussable, even thinkable.

The Greek myth of Prometheus Bound– the Titan who brought Light to humanity and is eternally punished for it– is the synecdoche, the perfect symbol, of how the third circuit [reason] has been handled in most human societies.

Robert Anton Wilson,  Prometheus Rising (1983)

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Shane Carruth’s first film Primer cost roughly $47 and might be the most realistic time travel movie one could possibly make, the way it spirals helplessly from banality to chaos. Now with Upstream Color and a slightly higher budget, Carruth’s captured what it must be like to peek inside the four-dimensional blueprints of evolution. Only this time the mood isn’t dominated by Philip K. Dick-ian existential techno-terror, although there’s plenty of that; now there’s also gorgeous strokes of Terrence Malick-ish cosmic awe, and a divine reassurance that, despite whatever frightening unknowns lie ahead (or behind, or above, or below), we’re not alone in this.

Primer was one of the few movies I re-watched immediately after my first watching, and I was tempted to do the same with Upstream Color. I got about 15 minutes into my second viewing, long enough for certain images to re-trigger new ideas and shed light on a few of the myriad mysteries. But I had to stop. I realized I could’ve easily been hypnotized, ending up in a loop constructing Möbius strip paper chains, emptying my bank account, and losing myself in Walden philosophy. And there’s only so much frightening majesty I can handle in one day.

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Flash Fact: Our universe is one of many, grown inside some unimaginable amniotic hypertime.  It may even be a hologram, projected onto a flat mega-membrane, which is, in turn, embedded, along with many others like it, within a higher dimensional space some scientists have dubbed ‘the bulk.’  In the brane model of the multiverse, all history is spread as thin as emulsion on a celestial tissue that floats in some immense, Brahmanic ocean of…meta-stuff.  Got all that?

If cosmologists are right about this (and I’d dearly love to hope they are), the superheroes, as usual, have been here already.

You could certainly argue that Early 21st Century Pop Culture’s Superhero Fixation is little more than a series of risk-averse investments made in response to the billions of dollars grossed by Spider-Man and Batman.  Or, if you’re like Grant Morrison, you could make a pretty compelling argument that our Superhero Fixation is a symptom of something far bigger than box office receipts- as in, the collective, magickal will of humanity sketching the blueprints of the next steps in our own evolution.

That’s the thesis that pops up throughout Morrison’s Supergods, though for the most part the book’s just History Of Superheroes, from the Nazi-Smashing Golden Dawn through the present-day Techno-Terror Renaissance.  A lot of common knowledge for comics geeks more hardcore than myself, maybe, but potentially worthwhile for them too, considering it’s all recounted by one of the best-selling rock star comic-book writers in the medium’s history.  Not only does Morrison offer his inimitable chaos-magick slant on the story of the superhero meme and the role it plays in the human psyche, but he also provides a few illuminating flashes of insider’s perspective on some of the biggest DC & Marvel titles of the past 25 or so years.

Because it’s Grant Morrison, naturally there’s some self-mythologizing that borders on self-indulgence.  Some of the autobiographical passages feel like they’d be better off in an actual autobiography, and he includes several of his own titles in his list of “Essential Collected Editions.”  (I mean I don’t exactly disagree with his choices, but still.)  Nevertheless, it’s hard to stay mad at Morrison’s self-mythologizing, since he spends so much more time mythologizing humanity and our relationship to superheroes, and he does it to an inspiringly optimistic degree.  “We love our superheroes because they refuse to give up on us,” he writes.  “We can analyze them out of existence, kill them, ban them, mock them, and still they return, patiently reminding us of who we are and what we wish we could be.”  Even the most cynical corners of my psyche have a hard time spurning that kind of conviction.

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