Chris Cornell: The Muses Choose Broken Vessels


Jesus Christ Pose

The Alternative Rock explosion of the early 90s was fueled by a wave of great singers. After a lost decade of metallic shriekers and New Wave gurglers-- which some call the 80s-- there was suddenly an embarrassment of strong voices revitalizing rock music, especially hard rock music. 

Most of these had cut their teeth on punk and hardcore and subsequently learned to trim back the fat and excess that torpedoed their 70s forebears. They also learned to step around the wretched excesses that ran the 80s metal explosion into the ground; cookie-cutter sameness, image over substance, half-written songs, cliche piled on cliche.

Alternative rock would itself get watered down and xeroxed into oblivion, especially as careerists figured out a way to counterfeit the formula (I'm looking at you, Candlebox and Seven Mary Three) and record companies signed up every pseudo-grunge band they could find (and strong-armed other acts to hop on the bandwagon). 

By the end of the 90s it all devolved into an obnoxious fratboy rock (I'm looking at you, Limp Bizkit and Creed) that reached its inevitable apotheosis at the disastrous Woodstock '99 (held on a decommissioned military base). 

But before that all went down some of the most vital and exciting rock music of all time was produced.

Alternative Rock, or more accurately GenX Rock, has taken its place in the classic rock canon. Tracks by Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are snuggled in tightly between all the Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd cuts overplayed on FM radio. But five of the most remarkable vocalists of that era- Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley, Jeff Buckley, Scott Weiland and now Chris Cornell--- are lost to us.

And the 9-ton Tyrannosaurus lurking in the back of the concert hall is that modern plague, clinical depression. It's a subject I'm all too familiar with. It's the witches' curse on Generation X.

Chris Cornell was an enigmatic figure among the Grunge pantheon. If Kurt Cobain was the snotty punk, Eddie Vedder the self-serious poet, Layne Staley the tortured howler and Scott Weiland the Joker in the pack, Cornell was an entirely unique presence, as was Soundgarden. Tall, lean but ripped, possessing an odd, androgynous beauty and an enviable black mane, he came across as aloof, Olympian. His piercing, multi-octave voice felt like a weapon,  more like an incarnation of Apollo the Destroyer than Ozzy Osbourne.

Similarly, Soundgarden was perhaps the most effective translator of the power of early Black Sabbath yet, but were brainy, difficult, challenging. 

They were unmistakably Heavy Metal-- in the original, Blue Cheer definition of the term --but didn't shriek the usual ditties about dick size and date rape. It was pretty clear they had no time for that kind of nonsense (See "Big Dumb Sex"). It was clear they took as much inspiration from King Crimson and Black Flag as from Zeppelin and Sabbath. 

Their first major single was an epic environmentalist jeremiad that goofed on Metal's "kill-your-mother-music" reputation by screaming "you're going to kill your mother" in the refrain. The mother here being Mother Earth, of course.

Predictably, Chris Cornell's corpse was literally not cold yet before the modern ambulance chasers of the Internet were declaring it was obviously an Illuminati sacrifice. One hilarious YouTard video went on about how there was no other explanation for Cornell's death, that he'd have no reason to kill himself. 

Obviously someone who never actually listened to a single stitch of Soundgarden.

Like Ian Curtis-- who hung himself 37 years almost to the day before-- many of Cornell's lyrics read like suicide notes. After all, this is a man who kicked off one of his biggest hits with the couplet "Nothing seems to kill me/ No matter how hard I try." Two of his other big hits "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell on Black Days" are practically master classes in the art of expressing the utter hopelessness ("'Neath the black the sky looks dead") that can overtake you when a depressive episode strikes. 

The same goes for Soundgarden's breakout hit, "Outshined," practically a hymn about searching for a crack of sunlight while waiting a dire episode out. "The Day I Tried to Live" is even more astonishing, a documentary retelling of those mornings when depression- aggression turned inwards- becomes aggression turned on the world outside.

Cornell was very candid about his struggles with depression. In an interview with Rolling Stone he discussed the inspiration for "Fell on Black Days":
This reissue includes several versions of "Fell on Black Days," which is pretty dark. What inspired it? 

Well, I had this idea, and I had it for a long time. I'd noticed already in my life where there would be periods where I would feel suddenly, "Things aren't going so well, and I don't feel that great about my life." Not based on any particular thing. I'd sort of noticed that people have this tendency to look up one day and realize that things have changed. There wasn't a catastrophe. There wasn't a relationship split up. Nobody got in a car wreck. Nobody's parents died or anything. The outlook had changed, while everything appears circumstantially the same. That was the song I wanted to write about. 
No matter how happy you are, you can wake up one day without any specific thing occurring to bring you into a darker place, and you'll just be in a darker place anyway. To me, that was always a terrifying thought, because that's something that – as far as I know – we don't necessarily have control over. So that was the song I wanted to write. 
It wasn't just for the gloom-metal gimmick of Soundgarden that Cornell laid bare his struggles. They crept into tracks he recorded with Audioslave- the supergroup made up of Cornell and the musicians of Rage Against the Machine, including their biggest hit "Like a Stone."

Cornell was also candid about his history with clinical depression, which he traced back to a somewhat hardscrabble upbringing. 
Cornell abstained from drug use for a time following an adverse reaction to the hallucinogenic PCP, but the frightening, dissociative experience, coupled with the trauma of his parent’s divorce, plunged him into a severe depression. “I went from being a daily drug user at 13 to having bad drug experiences and quitting drugs by the time I was 14 and then not having any friends until the time I was 16. There was about two years where I was more or less agoraphobic and didn’t deal with anybody, didn’t talk to anybody, didn’t have any friends at all.”
And clearly showing that he also struggled with suicidal ideation, Cornell foreshadowed his own end in an interview with Guitar.com, saying, “You’ll think somebody has run-of-the-mill depression, and then the next thing you know, they’re hanging from a rope." 

Writer Kate Paulk wrote about the black dog of depression recently and offered up an apt metaphor lifted from pop culture:
Let’s start by clearing up one thing. Sadness, grieving in response to a loss… that is not depression. It’s sadness. Grief. It passes with time, and even at its worst there are moments of joy and hope. Depression is not like that. Everything is poisoned. 
J. K. Rowling is describing depression when she describes the Dementors and their impact. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. 
This is precisely what depression does. There is an absence of hope, an inability to believe that there can ever be anything positive in your life again. That isn’t sadness or grief, and it isn’t necessarily expressed by tears.
Cornell was also a substance abuser and dove headlong into an opioid addiction after Soundgarden split in 1997. It may well have come from a chronic pain issue, closely related to chronic depression: 
People with depression show abnormalities in the body’s release of its own, endogenous, opioid chemicals. Depression tends to exacerbate pain—it makes chronic pain last longer and hurts the recovery process after surgery. 
“Depressed people are in a state of alarm,” said Mark Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Washington. “They’re fearful, or frozen in place. There’s a heightened sense of threat.” That increased threat sensitivity might also be what heightens sensations of pain. 
Opioids certainly aren't very effective painkillers in the long term but they are very effective anesthetics when you're struggling with chronic depression. 
Opioids treat pain, but depression and pain are often comorbid, and some antidepressants relieve neuropathic pain even in the absence of depression. Depression involves dysfunction in monoamine systems, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, and hippocampal neurogenesis, but could it also be rooted in a deficit of endorphins, or even an endopharmacological withdrawal state? 
Before the modern antidepressant era, depression was often treated with opiates—with a sometimes heavy price of addiction.  
The real hell of opioids is that they rewire your brain, causing the natural processes that regulate depression and euphoria to atrophy. Depression can skyrocket when you stop taking them, since your brain basically forgot how to produce sufficient amounts of the neurotransmitters that manage your moods.
u-agonists relieve depression-like behavior acutely, but tolerance develops, and depression is worse on withdrawal from long-term administration. Delta-agonists appear to improve mood, while kappa-agonists worsen it. There is evidence that opioid dysfunction accounts for lack of pleasure in depression, while problems with dopamine impair motivation. Opioid systems, then, participate in many mood-related functions. They are examples of evolutionary repurposing of neurotransmitters that originally evolved for one purpose to meet a variety of other needs.


Cornell's family is understandably shocked by his death. His widow blames an elevated dose of the tranquilizer Ativan for the somewhat disturbing performance he put on in Detroit and his resulting suicide. 
Cornell died on the evening May 17th, 2017, shortly after performing a concert with Soundgarden in Detroit, MI. His death was met with shock by many; his representative described it as "sudden and unexpected," adding that the singer's family will be "working closely with the medical examiner to determine the cause." 
Hours after his death was reported, the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office ruled Chris' death a suicide by hanging. According to Us Weekly, a family friend had found Cornell on the bathroom floor of his MGM Grand hotel room. ABC News also reported that two Detroit papers claimed that Cornell was found with "a band around his neck," though Detroit Police spokesman Michael Woody could not confirm that information. 
Cornell's wife, Vicky, released a statement on his death on Friday, May 19th, 2017, in which she cast doubts that his suicide was intentional. In fact, on the day of his death, Vicky claimed they had "discussed plans for a vacation over Memorial Day and other things we wanted to do." "When we spoke after the show, I noticed he was slurring his words; he was different. When he told me he may have taken an extra Ativan or two, I contacted security and asked that they check on him," she said. 
"What happened is inexplicable and I am hopeful that further medical reports will provide additional details," she continued. "I know that he loved our children and he would not hurt them by intentionally taking his own life."
I think the fact that Cornell ad-libbed verses from "In My Time of Dying" over a rendition of "Slaves and Bulldozers" during the closing encore in Detroit  gives a fairly compelling signal that he had resolved himself to a course of action that night. Despite an incredibly shaky performance he seemed in good spirits to some, all too common with depressives resolved to suicide. But others noticed he seemed irritable and unfocused, forgetting the lyrics. He complimented the Detroit audience and then said, "I feel sorry for the next city."

An extra Ativan or two is unlikely to induce suicide. But long-term use of it (it's recommended that lorezepam-- a member of the highly-problematic benzodiazepene family-- be used only a short term basis) might. And it's very possible he took an extra dose of the drug to gird his loins for a decision he had already made:
Suicidality: Benzodiazepines may sometimes unmask suicidal ideation in depressed patients, possibly through disinhibition or fear reduction. The concern is that benzodiazepines may inadvertently become facilitators of suicidal behavior. Therefore, lorazepam should not be prescribed in high doses or as the sole treatment in depression, but only with an appropriate antidepressant.
Depression and suicidal ideation go hand in glove. And there are all kinds of psychiatric drugs that tell you upfront that suicidal ideation is a major side effect. How that doesn't keep them off the market is a mystery to me. 

The other problem is that people who obsess on suicide usually don't talk about it with people close to them since they realize that confessing to it will very likely act to derail what they have been planning. And again, professionals will tell you that very often when a depressive has resolved themselves to suicide they can often seem very cheerful and upbeat, since they believe that their suffering will soon end. 

So the question becomes if a rich, celebrated and handsome rock star can't find a reason to stay alive, what hope is there for the rest of us? Well, it's a lot more complicated than that. Aside from his struggles with clinical depression, Cornell was also beset by tragedy, losing people closest to him to early death. 

The first of these was his roommate Andrew Wood, the flamboyant singer for legendary Seattle band Mother Love Bone who died of a heroin overdose in 1990. Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that he formed a defacto supergroup with members of MLB and recorded the now-legendary Temple of the Dog album as a tribute, which produced the grunge anthem "Hunger Strike" (featuring a duet between Cornell and future Pearl Jam star Eddie Vedder).

Temple of the Dog in fact led to the formation of Pearl Jam, facilitated by the introduction of Vedder to the Seattle scenesters by drummer Jack Irons, a member of the original Red Hot Chili Peppers who also played with Pearl Jam and Joe Strummer, among an army of others. Strangely enough, Irons has his own struggles with depression. As did Joe Strummer, for that matter. 

The Muses choose broken vessels. It's a Secret Sun truism. 

Cornell was so shaken by Wood's death that it would haunt Soundgarden songs as well.
The song you workshopped the most was "Like Suicide." In the liner notes, you say it kind of became a metaphor for how you were feeling at the time about late Mother Love Bone frontman Andy Wood. 
Yeah, the lyrics were actually this simple moment that happened to me. I don't know that I ever directly related it to Andy, though there are a lot of songs that people probably don't know where there were references to him or how I was feeling about what happened with him. I just think that that was something that happened to me that was a traumatic thing and that I had a difficult time resolving it. I still never really have. I still live with it, and that's one of the moments where maybe in some ways it could have shown up, but I'm not really sure specifically where.
Another body blow was the 1994 death of Kurt Cobain, another friend who died in time to cast a pall of existential darkness over Soundgarden's epochal Superunknown album, released a month before Cobain's death. So even as Soundgarden were enjoying their moment, death and tragedy revisited Cornell. (Cobain had his own issues, exacerbated by years of opioid abuse, but there are those of us who don't buy the suicide angle in this particular case).

It had to hurt, especially since Cobain had told Cornell that Soundgarden has inspired him to form Nirvana in the first place. 

Superunknown was an instant classic, easily one of the top 10 Hard Rock albums ever recorded, hammering you with one killer track after another. Along with Stone Temple Pilots' Purple album, Pearl Jam's Vitalogy and several others it established 1994 as the watershed for Alernative Rock, despite Cobain's death and Nirvana's dissolution. 

Soundgarden's 1996 follow-up Down on the Upside, failed to capitalize on its predecessor's momentum, and seem to showcase a band uncertain of direction and sense of purpose. No one was really surprised when Soundgarden broke up the following year. Oddly enough the breakup seemed to go down almost exactly three years after Kurt Cobain's death. 



But Tragedy wasn't finished with Cornell yet. Shortly after Soundgarden broke up Cornell would lose another soulmate.
He lost two friends within the space of a few years. Cobain died in 1994 and, three years later, singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley, practically a brother to Cornell, drowned while swimming in a tributary of the Mississippi in Tennessee.

"Kurt was fairly quiet and introverted most of the time. Jeff was the opposite. He was very much full of life and had a lot to say. He was somebody in love with experiencing everything. Within a very short time, he had all these famous old rock stars coming to his shows. Which put a a lot of pressure on him. People talked about his concerts the way they used to talk about Hendrix: they'd sit there, wide-eyed, telling you stories about him. He definitely had an aura. It's impossible to say what it is exactly a guy like that has, that is so attractive to other people. But he had more of it than anyone I had ever met."
Of course, this brings all this squarely into the Secret Sun wheelhouse. Cornell would be haunted by Buckley's death, writing the aching "Wave Goodbye" (in which he seems to channel Buckley's ghost) for his first solo album and acting as a de facto executor-slash-curator for Buckley's posthumous releases.



This tells us a lot, since the 20th anniversary of Jeff Buckley's death is coming up fast and furious. Cornell showed he was clearly still haunted by Buckley's passing when he brought the late singer's old landline phone onstage with him during his 2011 acoustic solo tour.
KALAMAZOO — I've had several people ask about the red phone that was on stage during Chris Cornell's 130-minute set at the Kalamazoo State Theatre last week. Cornell never addressed it during the show and it never rang, so I didn't think much of it. After another reader asked Monday, I looked into it. 
According to a representative with the New York-based Press Here Publicity, which handled promotion for Cornell's solo tour, the phone belonged to singer/songwriter Jeff Buckley.
As Secret Sun readers will remember, the last song Jeff Buckley sang before his death was "Whole Lotta Love", a blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into what one critic called "a themonuclear rape."

And it would be "In My Time of Dying," another old blues standard that Led Zeppelin turned into a jackhammering stomper that acted as Cornell's own self-elegy. This, along with the timing of Ian Curtis's own death by hanging in 1980 seems a bit too synchronized for Cornell's death to be some kind of mad whim because he took too much Ativan.  As painful as it might be to admit, it seems as if this was probably a very long time coming. After all, this is the man who wrote "Pretty Noose."

So it seems apparent that it wasn't the Illuminati but in fact the demon possession of depression that took Chris Cornell away from his family. With many of his closest friends gone and the glory days of the 90s more and more a fading memory in a world itself gripped by chronic depression, I can't say I'm surprised by the suicide ruling.  

The life of the rock star in 2017 is a galaxy away from the golden age of the rock star in 1977. It's become a grueling job in the age of streaming and piracy, since you need to make all your money on the road now. Spending your life traveling from one brutalist concrete box to another when you're fifty-two is surely a lot less appealing than when you're twenty-two.

If there's any good to come of this tragedy it's to understand that depression isn't some kind of scarlet letter, it's an inevitable result of what one scientist called "the greatest blind experiment in history," the bombardment of our brains and bodies with every manner of stimulus and stress imaginable, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and then some.

Having spend my teenage years in the white-hot cauldron of hardcore punk I can tell you that that kind of hyperstimulation had -- how do I put this? --less than a salutary effect on a lot of people I knew. Seeing that same formula translated into the mainstream culture goes a long way in explaining why depression has become the great mass epidemic of our time. Now it's claimed another trophy and we're all the poorer for it.

But as the Greeks and Romans once said, vita brevis ars longa

French philosophers once said that the invention of motion pictures had conquered death, that people would now live on forever once they were recorded. I guess the same goes for recorded music as well. So I think it's safe to say that after three decades of music, Chris Cornell has earned his place among the immortals. Let's hope someone learns something from his story.

Covenant and the Cargo Cult, Part 2: Hollywood Babylon




Several years ago I blogged on the Oscars and the enigma of the Hollywood and Highland complex they're held in, specifically the very odd presence of the Babylon Gate, recreated from DW Griffith's epic flop, Intolerance. As I wrote back in 2008:
The rear entrance to the theatre is a massive recreation of the Babylon Gate from D.W. Griffiths’s Intolerance (Griffith was yet another Hollywood Freemason)... Near the top rim of the gate is a border design made of 17 keyhole-shaped objects. It seems only appropriate that behind the Babylon Gate stands the Renaissance Hotel, located on the 1700 block of Highland Ave. 
All well and good, right? Now ask yourself- what in Heaven's name is this doing in the courtyard of the venue where the World's most prominent awards ceremony is held every year? What connection is this alleged to have to the Oscars? I mean, the symbolism is obvious but what's the cover story?
Well, apparently the cover story is that the legendary writer Ray Bradbury- the poet laureate of science fiction-- insisted that the Gate be installed at the plaza. Why exactly and exactly how he had such pull with the H&H developers is a real brain-teaser. Bradbury is quoted thusly:
"I told them that somewhere in the city, they had to build the set from the 1916 film Intolerance by D. W. Griffith. The set, with its massive, wonderful pillars and beautiful white elephants on top, now stands at the corner of Hollywood and Highland avenues. People from all over the world come to visit, all because I told them to build it. I hope at some time in the future, they will call it the Bradbury Pavilion." 
Well, that's all well and good but the fact remains that the planners probably wouldn't have gone to the trouble and expense of recreating the Gate simply to humor a writer, no matter how respected he may be. And there's the blindingly obvious symbolism to be unpacked here.

Because what we're talking about here is the literalizing of "Hollywood Babylon," which you have to admit is kind of a ballsy, in-your-face kind of move. Note you don't see any other pseudo-cyclopean artifacts from any other ancient culture there. Of course, what it also does is make a very specific and definitive statement as to what Tinseltown holds most sacred. 

I mean, Babylon. Think about it for a moment. 

Did I mention that they hold the Oscars here, the 800-pound gorilla of all award ceremonies?

As you may already know, Babylon is a Greek rendering of the Akkadian bav-ilim, which means "Gate of the Gods." So the H&H gate is in fact a symbolic representation of a portal to the world of the gods, or a stargate if you prefer.

What's more, Babylon was founded by the great usurper Sargon of Akkad, who we discussed last year not only for his conquest of Sumer-- and all that implies-- but for the possible fingerprints he might have left on several Bible stories as well as the Prometheus mythologies.
Now, pay close attention to what happened next- the devil, as always, is in the details: A Lugal- a giant- bound in chains to appease a sky god: why does that sound so familiar?  
Oh yeah, because that's Prometheus' story as well.
 Lugal-zagesi marched his army from Kish to meet Sargon in battle and was defeated. Sargon then put Zagesi in chains, tied a rope around his neck, and took him to the city of Nippur, sacred to the god Enlil upon whom Lugalzagesi had relied, and forced him to march in humiliation through the Enlil's gate. 
Again with the gates.

So the Babylon Gate doesn't just connect back to Sumer and the foundation of Western civilization and the monotheistic religions (Abraham was actually Sumerian), it also ties into-- you guessed it-- Ancient Astronaut Theory, specifically through the influential work of Zecharia Sitchin. 

For whatever problems Sitchin's work may have, no one did more to identify Sumer with ancient astronauts in the public imagination. 



Did I mention that many of the biggest SF movie/TV franchises coming out of Hollywood have Ancient Astronaut Theory as the basis of their mythology? I did? Good. 

I would argue that the Gate also ties into the Lucifer archetype through the Zagesi-Prometheus link, not to mention through the fascinating constellation of mysterious yet crucially important Sumero-Akkadian fire gods, variously known as Gibil (Gilgamesh is a rendering of Gi-bil-aga-mis, which literally means "Gibil is commander"), Girra (which literally means "Light-Bringer"), Nusku (the guardian of dreams and lord of the night) and others. 

This Babylonian Lucifer was described in language anyone raised Christian would recognize (such as "first-born son of God," for starters) two-thousand years before Jesus walked the Earth. 

This Babylonian Lucifer was also a binary god. He Incarnated the elemental power of fire, so over the years there were both benevolent and malevolent fire gods. The badass fire god was Nergal, god of the underworld (also known as Lugalgirra, Erra, etc). Like Osiris (immortalized in the Oscar statuette itself) Nergal was believed to represent the Sun in the underworld.

This of course re-emerged in the form of the much-later innovation of Satan and Lucifer representing the dark and light natures of the Princes of Hell. How exactly that little arrangement arose in the Middle Ages, when the original Akkadian/Babylonian texts were believed to have been long lost, is another puzzler altogether.

The Babylonian Lucifer not only surfed his way along the waves of cultural displacement,  the Assyrians saw him as a bulwark against black magic and witchcraft, as recorded so famously in the astonishing Maqlu grimoire (which Necromonicon fans should really take the time to read).

So I should probably insert the fact that Gordon referred to Alien: Covenant as a "Space Lucifer" movie, for reasons I get even though I haven't seen the movie yet. Well, I should say that haven't seen the last third of the movie that hasn't been previewed or clipped on YouTube.

PERSISTENCE

I have to admit it blows my mind  how the Sumerian religion-- which existed for millennia before the Sumerians were displaced from the roll of history-- was adopted with only superficial innovations by their conquerors. And their conquerors. And their conqueror's conqueror's conquerors. 

You're looking at a tradition that arose out of Neolithic times-- at the least-- and persisted up until the time of the Muslim conquests (albeit in a relatively-reduced form as "Chaldean Magic"). And of course it had a major influence on the Biblical tradition as well as on Zoroastrianism (which seems to be very heavily informed by Girra/Nusku temple practices brought back to Iran after the Achaemenid conquest of Babylon).

And in a way the Sumerian religion endures to this day. Not only in the influence it had on the Abrahamic religions but also in its Space Age makeover as the backbone of AAT and alien conspiracy theory, which themselves are slowing evolving into (neo-Gnostic) religions of their own. 

Don't believe me? Go to YouTube and run a search on Anunaki. I just did and it coughed up a whopping 399,00o results.

But the Anunaki aren't the only Sumerian gods in town these days. There are also the Igigi, who some have compared to the Greys of UFO lore fame. And more recently, there seems to be a rediscovery of the Seven Sages, aka the Apkallu.

It is noted, “The Apkallu were seven demigods created by Enki, one of the chief Sumerian gods…Enki referred to as ‘Ea,’ which is the name he was later given in Babylonian and Akkadian mythology.” As a styled sidenote, see Seven gods of chaos. Also, you may recall the reference to Enkin in Is the Bible an Anunnaki control mechanism? 
(A)s per the Sumerian mythology “These beings were sent by Enki to teach human beings the arts of civilization: agriculture, writing, building, and so on.” Which correlates to the Book of Enoch noting that various Angels called “Watchers” taught humanity various skills.
Indeed they do. The Apkallu are practically a godsend to any Ancient Astronaut theorist worth his aluminum. Note that Apkallu are usually depicted with wings, being the origin of  the association of angels and wings. Well, the ones that aren't depicted as fish like our old friend Adapa, better known as Oannes.

What's more, the Apkallu are yet another example of what Gordon White calls the "civilizing trickster gods." Maybe one of the first, actually.

Gee, kind of like what's-his-name. You know, Prometheus:

(T)he origin of Watchers derives from the Mesopotamian mythology of the antediluvian sages (apkallus). More precisely, it is proposed that the mythology of Watchers and their sons the giants derived from inverted versions of various Mesopotamian myths and beliefs about apkallus. On some layers of Mesopotamian mythology and ritual practices, the sages were already regarded as dangerous and potentially malicious creatures, upon which the Jewish authors could build their parody.  
Among other associations, the apkallus had strong ties to Mesopotamian demonology, and they were occasionally counted as evil beings, capable of witchcraft. This shows that the wickedness of antediluvian teachers of humankind in Jewish sources was not wholly an inversion of the Mesopotamian traditions by Jewish scholars, but was partly taken from already existing trends in Mesopotamian demonology.

So it's probably here that I should mention that the figures on the Hollywood Babylon Gate are actually Apkallu. Yeah, how about that, huh?

Then I should mention that this very oddly-specific bit of product placement ties back to a very ancient practice indeed:
Figurines of apkallus were buried in boxes as foundationdeposits in Mesopotamian buildings in order to avert evil fromthe house. The term massar, ‘watchers’, is used of these setsof gurines in Akkadian incantations according to ritual texts.This appellation matches the Aramaic term yryn, ‘the wakefulones’, for both good angels and the Watchers.
So the more you look at it, the more significant that gate looks. And the less likely it was put there on Ray Bradbury's suggestion. Unless he too was part of the cult.

Which cult am I referring to here? Well, indulge me for a moment.

Take all the major franchises, minor franchises, movies, cartoons and TV shows (not to mention video games) that center around Ancient Astronaut Theory, then factor the Hollywood & Highland Babylon Gate into the equation. 


Thanks to Reader Brooke

You'll probably see why I strongly suspect there may be a secret cargo cult at the very heart of the entertainment industry. I'm not alone in this. A lot of Christian conspiracy theorists believe AAT is the "Great Deception" the Bible warns of.

I should also remind everyone that AAT made a big, bad splash into the entertainment racket mere weeks after Kenneth Arnold and Roswell, in the form of "Son of the Sun," written by occultist Millen Cooke.

So what you're probably asking yourself is what difference does all this make in the Age of Trump and 'the Resistance' and all the rest of it? Well, Trump will probably be gone soon (my guess at least*) and so too will the endless shitstorm he's kicked up in his wake.  

And all of this Anunaki stuff will still be there, waiting patiently. It's had thousands of years to practice. It's seen quite a few Trumps and 'Resistances' come and go. It all seems to be following a very specific arc and moving towards a very specific destination.




TO BE CONTINUED


* As I wrote in the FB group, "The Praetorians engineered Trump's election precisely because they planned to remove him. They would have done the same with Hillary but figured Trump was a softer target." History teaches us that's the way Praetorians roll.

The Covenant and the Cargo Cult, Part 1




Sir Ridley Scott's long-awaited prequel to Prometheus opened this week in certain countries and is set to open in America next week. For those waiting for a continuation of the storyline from the last movie- when crew member Elizabeth Shaw and the head of android David taking off to invade the Engineer homeworld- well, I hate to say it but you're out of luck. 

The Prometheus story is referenced only as exposition, apparently.  I hope I'm not giving away any spoilers (it feels like half the movie has already been posted to YouTube in the form of trailers and excerpts) but it is what it is.



Of course, the bit with Elizabeth and David's disembodied head from Prometheus is yet another one of those bizarre and inexplicable references to John the Baptist that tentpole sci-fi movies are so fond of. Remember that John's mother was named Elizabeth*, who had her own covenant with an extraterrestrial entity (the Archangel Gabriel, in this case). 

But I digress. If you've been following the previews and the various puff pieces in the media you'll suss out that Alien: Covenant is more like a remake of the first Alien film than a sequel to Prometheus. In much the same way as the JJ Abrams' Star Wars it's meant to act a jumping-on point for the Alien franchise for post-Millennials:
If Star Wars: The Force Awakens led the way in merging fan-service universe-building with fresh heroes, stories and themes for a new generation, Alien: Covenant grabs the reboot ball and runs with it. 
Director Sir Ridley Scott has said himself how much he was impressed by Disney's handling of Star Wars' renaissance, and it's clear to see why this similarly iconic '70s sci-fi world is equally ripe for a life-extending overhaul.
The film apparently references the AAT of Prometheus but also taps into the current anxieties over AI and robots and their potential to do away with the rest of us, kind of like a more ambitious HAL 9000. Scott apparently 86'd the idea of more direct sequel to Prometheus after reading some of the negative reviews dumped on the film, which he called "a mistake":
What changed was the reaction to ‘Prometheus’, which was a pretty good ground zero reaction. It went straight up there, and we discovered from it that [the fans] were really frustrated. They wanted to see more of the original [monster] and I thought he was definitely cooked, with an orange in his mouth. So I thought: ‘Wow, OK, I’m wrong’.
Well, somebody thought Scott was wrong, "somebody" almost certainly being a Fox accountant or three. However, one SF fansite accused Scott of "selling out" by not following up on the Prometheus story and I'm sure a lot of other fans will disappointed the story was dispensed with so easily. Either way, Scott continues to make eyebrow-raising comments about aliens in the press, referring to them recently as "superior beings."
Alien creator Ridley Scott has said that he is convinced that there are extra-terrestrials out there – and one day they will come for us. The veteran director said he believed in higher beings as he prepared to release the sixth episode of the sci-fi horror series, Alien: Covenant, next month. 
“I believe in superior beings. I think it is certainly likely. An expert I was talking to at Nasa said to me, ‘Have you ever looked in the sky at night? You mean to tell me we are it?’ That’s ridiculous.” 
“So when you see a big thing in the sky, run for it,” he joked.“Because they are a lot smarter than we are, and if you are stupid enough to challenge them you will be taken out in three seconds.”
Which makes you wonder about the whole "Covenant" thing, doesn't it? 

The term is essentially religious ('contract' is more commonly used to describe written civil agreements), dating back to the Old Testament.  And seeing how that covenant was made with a god who flew around the sky in a pillar of smoke and light, and needed a special environment built in order to interact with his subjects, you do start to wonder what the implications of all this happen to be. 

Well, start with this. Like Jack Kirby (whose Eternals so inspired the first Alien film),  Scott seems to have been bitten by the ancient astronaut bug and bitten hard. I don't know what the current status is on the project but back in 2014 it was reported that Sir Scott was developing an AAT series for HBO called Pharaoh:
Scott has signed on to serve as the executive producer and director for this project, which was created and sold to the premium cable channel by David Schulner. The Hollywood Reporter explains: 
The drama explores an alternate explanation for the foundation and ascent of the ancient Egyptian empire — one in which greatness was bestowed upon us by beings from another world, calling into question what it means to be a “god.” The project was co-created by Giannina Facio and Colet Abedi, who will exec produce alongside Scott and David Zucker for Scott Free. 
His film Prometheus was partially inspired by the writings of Swiss author Erich von Daniken who is known for his books like Chariots of the Gods? and Gods From Outer Space. Von Daniken is also a regular talking head on History Channel’s Ancient Aliens.
Again, I'm not sure where Pharaoh stands today but according to an October report from Omni the project was still on. It may be why the planned Stargate reboot was reported as being put into turnaround in November. Which, if so, strikes me a bit curious. The mighty Devlin and Emmerich nosed off their turf by Sir Scott? Huh.


But there's an interesting little visual cue in one of the trailers that suggests that Scott takes AAT very seriously. The Covenant crew lands on an alien planet and discovers a familiar sight. From io9:
This alien planet that looks untouched by human hands is growing recognizable wheat, which very much has been touched by human hands. This plays into the Alien mythos that there was a race of “Engineers” that were the progenitors of humans—they’re similar to us, why wouldn’t their food be similar? And if they were traveling around, why wouldn’t they carry seeds like we do?
Why is wheat so significant in the context of the Prometheus teleology? The late Lloyd Pye explains: 
Many have "wild" predecessors that were apparently a starting point for the domesticated variety, but others--like many common vegetables--have no obvious precursors. But for those that do, such as wild grasses, grains and cereals, how they turned into wheat, barley, millet, rice, etc. is a profound mystery. 
No botanist can conclusively explain how wild plants gave rise to domesticated ones. The emphasis here is on "conclusively". Botanists have no trouble hypothesising elaborate scenarios in which Neolithic (New Stone Age) farmers somehow figured out how to hybridise wild grasses, grains and cereals, not unlike Gregor Mendel when he cross-bred pea plants to figure out the mechanics of genetic inheritance. It all sounds so simple and so logical, almost no one outside scientific circles ever examines it closely.
Modern wheat is one of those innovations that scientists revert to ontological arguments to explain. The wheat we know obviously exists so it simply had to have been the product of long-term domestication. How exactly the domestication of an essentially-inedible wild grass was domesticated into a modern foodcrop-- over the span of centuries, mind you, if not millennia-- by illiterate Stone Age farmers is never exactly made clear. Pye again:
 On the other hand, those New Stone Age farmers who were fresh out of their caves and only just beginning to turn soil for the first time (as the ”official” scenario goes), somehow managed to transform the wild grasses, grains and cereals growing around them into their domesticated ”cousins”. Is that possible? Only through a course in miracles! Actually, it requires countless miracles within two large categories of miracles.  
The seeds and grains were maddeningly small, like pepper flakes or salt crystals, which put them beyond the grasping and handling capacity of human fingers. They were also hard, like tiny nutshells, making it impossible to convert them to anything edible. Lastly, their chemistry was suited to nourishing animals, not humans. So wild varieties were entirely too small, entirely too tough and nutritionally inappropriate for humans. 
They needed to be greatly expanded in size, greatly softened in texture and overhauled at the molecular level–which would be an imposing challenge for modern botanists, much less Neolithic farmers.  
Despite the seeming impossibility of meeting those daunting objectives, modern botanists are confident the first sodbusters had all they needed to do it: time and patience. Over hundreds of generations of selective crossbreeding, they consciously directed the genetic transformation of the few dozen that would turn out to be most useful to humans. And how did they do it? By the astounding feat of doubling, tripling and quadrupling the number of chromosomes in the wild varieties! 
Domestic wheat and oats were elevated from an ancestor with seven chromosomes to their current 42–an expansion by a factor of six.”
Remember that the cultivation of wheat brought about the rise of the Sumerians, who had oddly intimate relationships with their gods (the Anunaki, of course). The ancient Greeks were certain that wheat was the gift of a god; Demeter, in this case. It was the final "mystery" in the dramas put on at Eleusis. The Egyptians credited wheat to Osiris, the star-sailor.  So its inclusion in this film hardly seems incidental. On the contrary; it looks as if someone were doing their homework.

Now, longtime readers of The Secret Sun realize that nearly every major SF franchise of the past 50 years (starting with 2001: A Space Odyssey) is centered around ancient astronaut theory in one way or the other. 

Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars (arguably), Battlestar GalacticaAlien (of course), Stargate, The X-Files, Transformers, Indiana Jones and the entire Marvel and DC Universes all established their creation myths, in varying degrees, as the work of advanced extraterrestrial interlopers. Does that seem coincidental to you? It certainly does not to me.

There've also been a ton of less-visible but still-signficant TV shows and movies that have done the same, like Jonny Quest, The Phoenix, The Man from Atlantis as well as Childhood's End, Cocoon, Hangar 18, countless American and Japanese cartoons (even the hugely-popular cardgame/anime property Yu-Gi-Oh). So much so that you can't help but wonder if there's not a very powerful cargo cult at work behind the scenes in Tinseltown.


Bearing all that in mind, as well as the Ancient Aliens cable show (now in its 12th season), researchers might be forgiven for believing this was all part of some long-running conditioning program. You know, kind of like the one suggested by the Brookings Institution report back in 1960. 

Or exactly like it, actually.

Researchers would be especially forgiven in light of this recent blockbuster news story:
Was our solar system once home to an advanced civilization other than our own — perhaps one that predated humanity by hundreds of millions of years before being wiped out by an asteroid impact or some other cataclysm? 
There's no evidence for such a pre-human indigenous technological species, though people have been speculating about one since ancient times. But a respected space scientist points out in a provocative new paper that if the existence of home-grown intelligent space aliens has never been established, it's never been ruled out either. 
And if a race of smart and perhaps spacefaring aliens did make their home in our solar system, traces of their lost civilization might still be out there somewhere in the system just waiting for us to find them.
Quite a "synchronicity," don't you think?

UPDATE: Check out Gordon's review on Alien: Covenant on Rune Soup.



TO BE CONTINUED...

* Elizabeth is often traced to Elisheba but you can also frame it as a contraction of Eloah-Isis-Beth, or "House of Isis, the Goddess."