Elena Priestley sketch
Cyrille has something reminiscent of our modern world where we go from scene to scene, season to season and there is a semblance of reality (Edmund Cooper in The Overman Culture has this same imagery of a movie flowing past). I did previously opine that Christmas is less of an occasion (see Pictorial 2 X-Men). By that I mean you have to bring-in the psychic nature, the magic of Christmas eve and sleigh-rides, stars whirling overhead, snow-flakes in the heavens.
It is partly sentiment and imagination, and not simply the “fact” that Christmas has yet again got on the calendar. The factual element of Christmas doesn’t supplant the emotional, psychic one, it distorts it. Facts distort reality because many things in our psyche are irresolvable into facts. The psyche you might say reflects the outer world, the universe. I was somewhat startled to read (Tim Satanley) that the value of Christmas, religiously-speaking, starts at the end of Advent. In other words, Christmas Eve, the night before the kid is born in a manger when awe is abroad.
The magic of this night strikes one as emblematic since the child has yet to be born. Birth is the event, and there is clearly a majestic simplicity and rhythmic balance in the event, the birth of a human figure.
HOLY NIGHT (Rimsky-Korsakov)
What “facts” do is replace the actual event – the simple awe – with a verisimilitude which has no interest in the balance that things achieve in reality. This probably takes us back to the dollar - you may have wondered about the significance of the snake sign?
I don't think it's actually accurate since the sign seems to have originated from the Spanish “pieces of 8”; then again, who wants accuracy? The snake or worm you could see as an ancestral symbol since all land animals must have evolved from something like a planarian worm. It's a very simple symbol; it wriggles, it breathes, it eats (swallows) and drinks.
Whatever else you can say about it, the worm is not a human figure. It does things we do such as move, breath, consume but its basic balance is unhuman or wormlike. We have ambidextrous and dynamically balanced athleticism, ambiguous psychological states and so on. The dollar, if it represents the planarian worm of capital, is a “fact” because all things do move and consume and so on. However, the banality of this fact stretches the imagination, and never more so than at Christmas since the only “fact” about Christmas is that it represents the birth of a human figure.
If you don't get that you're missing all the sense of awe and power (ontology) and meaning of figures in a pastoral landscape (epistemology). In that sense, the fact of the dollar distorts the truth of the situation into a reptilian lie. Going back to the film Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, dollar-king cattle-baron landlord Chisum might be said to represent a distorted future that replaces the romantic ballad of the prairie with what is a sign, the $. In the movie, it’s not Chisum himself but the out-of-state money-men, the “Martians”, who get a swift rebuff from Garrett (“stick it up your ass, money-man”).
“They”- the grey, landless ones - are the forces behind the shrinking of a romance based on imponderables. The leverage Chisum has over Garrett; Garret’s sexual peccadillos; the scene with the old-timer on the barge and Garrett facing-off, then backing-down with good grace; the landscape dotted with picturesque senoritas.
There are two realities here, and the dollar is no substitute for ethics, for the romance of the human figure and the prairie. Yes, compromise may be necessary, one of the dark themes of the film, but we cannot allow an unhuman sign to steal our psyches, our physiques, lusts, animal spirits. The dollar, as any currency, is merely a tool. Those who worship it strike one as fools. Trump may be good on the economy but has totally no respect for the land (or sea). The maritime national park in Alaska has hereby opened for oil prospecting; Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments are shrunken for drilling.
Yes, Trump is (or would be) shrinking America because the dollar, the $ does not stand for America, it stands for an unhuman force. In Kirby’s Forever People #3 we have the story of Glorious Godfrey who understands people’s fear and gives them “Anti-Life”, for they fear life in all its ambiguities, its reckless release. Of course, behind Godfrey is the incarnate folly of Darkseid, the Martian, grey trampler on souls.
The dollar may be an idea but it’s not the idea of America which is almost a paradise for trecking, for mountain men, Indians, scouts. Trump is clever with money but he is bad for the idea of America. You can say that cities and towns and country parks are all a sort of compromise; a human compromise not one of unhuman currency. The emblems of old New York, its 19th century art-deco skyscrapers, its brownstone tenements, reflect the human yearnings of its citizenry.
Trump and others like him are Martians who care nothing for such ambiguities of nature and Man. There is no whistling breeze in the treetops, no sloping wolf or hunting man, only the fact of unhuman rule by a sign, the sign of the worm, the $. The dollar sign, being seemingly ubiquitous, might represent this trend to flatten-out proportionate reality into a distorted pseudo-reality that is really a lie.
But the lie becomes truth, so that the forces of “Anti-Life” say they are building America when in actuality America is shrinking. What is shrinking is the basic simplicity of a man, a woman, a horse, a cattle ranch and the great land, sea and lakes. Savage simplicity is the enemy of “Anti-Life” and ties the soul of Man to those higher truths or fables (see CH 5 and Yggdrasil) that are not necessarily facts in the modern sense.
The $ in Pat Garrett resembles a Wild West reward sign; the style of dollar that was just about losing traction - Chisum in many ways is a traditional cattle-baron who rides with his men (in High Chaparral fashion, also Spanish flavoured) who has dealings with the out-of-towners who are opening-up the territory. What makes Trump “Anti-Life” is that he has no interest in the Big Country that is the savage backdrop to the film - romance, not the dollar, of men and women and grit,
But, actually, the dollar can be romantic All the while in the Old West you are dealing with figures in a landscape, and the key image is the landscape; it is the character that makes everything possible. There’s a bordello scene where Garrett is entertained by prostitutes that is picturesque and pleasing to the eye. The intimacy is obviously a dollar-contract and one Garrett has no problem with.
That is life and Trump is “Anti-Life”. America gives the dollar value - not the other way round. Trump and the people behind him are clever but they are anti what America stands for. The competitive struggle for survival is turned on its head so that it’s not the dollar – a symbol – that’s surviving. It’s the idea of America – another symbol, one of human fraternity, the aura of femininity, psychic strength, lustiness. In many situations there is no struggle, only a sense of gaiety, of matriarchal affection – the eaglet in its aerie. What people don’t seem to grasp is that facts are no replacement for rhythm and balance and all the higher aspacts of living that constitute human history.
DNA is another symbol of “Anti-Life” (Pictorial 6) which has become associated with life. It’s because we live in a world of pleasure and reason that we assume facts – the dollar or DNA – are anything more than facts. It’s the old refrain, “birds do it, bees do it – even planarian worms do it” – a fact of life. But it’s nothing more than that. Life is not a fact; it’s actually a type of fortune; a heroic challenge to the psyche and senses.
This actually takes us back to heroic romance, fable and fantasy as a sort of higher truth that is not necessarily factual (CH 5 Yggdrasil). And, of course, in “olden days” facts were much less prevalent and there was a state of vibrant, ambiguous balance.
In a classical sense that is the human figure, since the human figure is not a fact, it’s a state of savage balance. The primitivism and sublimity of Howard’s atavism seem to counter all the modern trends of competitive struggle that are “Anti-Life”; that worship things other than the human figure, birth, the aura of femininity, the lustre of manhood.
I watched Wonder Woman the other day and it’s everything they say it is. Rather than being accurate to fact it is accurate to fable, in this case the ethics of a female society of amazons under queen Hippolyta on Paradise Isle. Gal Gadot has a hard time accepting the endless struggle for dominance she encounters in the WWI situation outside her matriarchal habitat. This makes for great comedy, and the chasing down of the elusive god Ares on the front. But the film (by Patti Jenkins) touches on much more in the accuracy of fable over fact.
The amazon society exists in a state of constant balance, queen Hippolyta presiding over combat rituals that train and prepare citizens for the forthcoming battle with Ares. The grace and majesty of these rituals grabs the eye, and Gadot’s grace and athletic prowess carry it through the film. Now, combat is not war, it’s a duel or a feud between two individuals. In medieval times feudalism was the name given to “warring” city-states, though more frequently they were allied or had a type of ritual conflict. You may have heard of the Sienese Palio, a medieval horserace between the city’s districts?
That is a combat, but is not resolved in a war situation. Essentially, it’s unresolved in a state of perpetual balance, year by year. When Wonder Woman encounters modern war she is completely amazed as she is in a man’s world under the sway of Ares – perpetual war.
Modern war attempts to resolve the state of ritual combat that existed as a type of permanent balance in medieval societies. Things are sometimes the opposite of what you think in that combat is not war, it is a state of balance. The amazons on Paradise Isle may appear warlike, but they are preparing to defend peace from Ares, the god of war. Their bodies and minds are attuned to combat situations; their psyches are strong; they have female aura and lustre of body-armour.
Now, a situation that is not resolvable is in a state of ambiguity. It is not factual, it is fable. The mind of modern Man (usually men) is concerned with resolving facts – it could be DNA, it could be the dollar, it could be war. To them there can be no possibility of a society that has organic spontaneity; it must be ruled with an iron order. As previously touched on (Pictorial 7) Ottoman Jerusalem, as well as Syria, Baghdad and Persia were polyglot with locales of very ancient lineage living side by side completely without any hint of a war mentality. The psyche is strong; the will is balanced; the architecture is proportionate.
This points to the supposition that war is a fact rather than a state of ambiguous balance. The male war mentality must resolve facts – and evade balance, or ephemeral feminine aspects of intuitive grace. The problem with facts is they not only cut us off from the interesting ambiguities that constitute heroic romance; they lead us into a transformative maze that is not proportionate, as the human figure is, that has no psychic strength. Proportion and psychic strength are emblematic of heroic fantasy. It is the fantasy world of mind/physique and male/female romance that is pro-life and true to fable, while our factual world is the sort of parallel falsehood foretold in Judgement Night .
Facts lead to parallel realities (similarities) because they completely evade a balance of different things – that you would see in the ancient world and up to Ottoman times (the start of WWI). This world is run by-and-large by alpha-males who revel in facts. Trump happens to be the most visible, but behind him there must be the grey men, the Martian overlords.
All the while they are attempting to resolve things, constituting a war against balance. Their psyches are imbalanced and take the form of psychotic effusions from the unconscious. The dragon of misrule.
Trump may be clever enough but the more right he thinks he is the more wrong he is from a point of view of balance. I’m not referring to his Jerusalem statement, just his infatuation with the dollar sign, the worm, the dragon. Trump inhabits this modern world that has parallel realities that are factual, not fable, not proportionate (to the human figure).
There is another world of fable that is ambiguous and irresolvable, of feminine allure and heroic lustre. That world is of ancient vintage, and is no less real than the modern. Wonder Woman the movie gives that insight, and of course it is never more evident than in Weird Tales and Howard’s Hyborian Age.
There is quite a lot of evidence that Howard was as affronted by war as is Gal Gadot in the film – and for almost the same reasons.