Author Peter Bebergal’s new book, Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll examines a wide swath of subcultural history to explore the marriage between mysticism and music in the rock era. Covered in-depth are David Bowie, Killing Joke, King Crimson, Arthur Brown, Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. And of course Aleister Crowley and underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger loom large over the proceedings.
It's a good interview with Bebergal on Dangerous Minds, although the book doesn't appear to delve TOO deeply (like good old RI deep) into the shadows.
The TV show “The Walking Dead” is one long exercise in tension. But the zombies—the supposed centerpiece of the show’s horror—are not particularly frightening. Gross, to be sure, but also knowable, literal. You can see them coming from yards away. They are the product of science gone wrong, or of a virus, or of some other phenomenal cause. They can be destroyed with an arrow through the brain. More aberration than genuine monsters, they lack the essential quality to truly terrify: an aspect of the unreal.
As regular watchers of The Walking Dead know, and the writer above possibly knows to, the horror centerpiece of the show are not the zombie walking dead, but the survivors who are "the walking dead". It is them we watch struggling to hold on to and recapture their humanity in a reality that has become an inhumane unreality. What is terrifying is how quickly the living can become inhumane and lack as much consciousness as the zombies. The show is one long exercise in tension but it is also one long meditation on the horror of what it means to lose your humanity in the face of barbarity or (almost as bad) not to lose you humanity and be witness when everyone else has. Interspersed between the hungry, hungry zombies games are moments that are up their with Kurtz's soliloquy in Apocalypse Now. In fact, I often wonder if that is the shows coda:
I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream. That's my nightmare: crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor and surviving. I've seen horrors, horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that, but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror! Horror has a face, and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile: a pile of little arms. And I remember I...I...I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized, like I was shot — like I was shot with a diamond...a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God, the genius of that. The genius! The will to do that: perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than me, because they could stand it. These were not monsters. These were men, trained cadres — these men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who have children, who are filled with love — but they had the strength — the strength! — to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgement. Without judgement! Because it's judgement that defeats us. I worry that my son might not understand what I've tried to be. And if I were to be killed, Willard, I would want someone to go to my home and tell my son everything – everything I did, everything you saw – because there's nothing that I detest more than the stench of lies. And if you understand me, Willard, you will do this for me. The horror! The horror!
The horror writer Thomas Ligotti believes that even tales of virus-created zombies—and other essentially comprehensible creatures—can elicit what we might call, quoting the theologian Rudolf Otto, “the wholly other,” but it requires a deft hand.
Again, the zombies are just doubles for the survivors and The Walking Dead does a good job, yes sometimes with an obvious heavy hand but sometimes with a deft hand, in drawing parallels between the two. The zombies I believe do contain the essential quality of the unreal to terrify. Every living person is cognizant of the fact that when they die, violently or not, they will become a zombie. What is terrifying is not just the leaping zombies after human flesh but the long shots of mindless, shuffling undead, each one a reminder to the living that "as you are I once was, as I am now you will be". That makes them genuine monsters. The word monster, I believe comes from the meaning "a warning". Genuine monsters are warnings. And the zombies in The Walking Dead are a constant reminder of what they will become eventually because of a mistake of man or nature.
So far there is no escaping the fact. You have an existential crisis knowing you are going to die, and then a second crisis knowing you are not really going to be die, unless someone kills you "for realz with a knife to the brain" the second time. What could be more unreal then the fact that you and your loved ones when they die become the wholly other and immediately want to rip your entrails out? That everyone carries the seed to become a mindless monster within?
I think The Walking Dead is the moral equivalent of The Quest for Fire, with a rag tag bunch of survivors trying to keep the spark of civilization alive in the middle of a raging hurricane. And the light can be snuffed out by becoming like the dead "the wholly other" by dying, but also choosing, or not making the choice, to live a certain way.
[the group holds up in the barn for the night with a fire going, when Rick looks at Carl sleeping]
Carol Peletier: He's gonna be okay. He bounces back more than any of us do.
Rick Grimes: I used to feel sorry for kids that have to grow up now. In this. But I think I got it wrong. Growing up is getting used to the world. This is easier for them.
Michonne: This isn't the world. This isn't it.
Glenn Rhee: It might be. It might.
Michonne: That's giving up.
Glenn Rhee: It's reality.
Rick Grimes: Until we see otherwise, this is what we have to live with.
[there's a long pause as the storm thunders over them]
Rick Grimes: When I was a kid... I asked my grandpa once if he ever killed any Germans in the war. He wouldn't answer. He said that was grown-up stuff. So... so I asked if the Germans ever tried to kill him. But he got real quiet. He said he was dead the minute he stepped in to enemy territory. Every day he woke up and told himself, rest in peace. Now get up and go to war. And then after a few years of pretending he was dead... he made it out alive. That's the trick of it, I think. We do what we need to do and then, we get to live. But no matter what we find in DC, I know we'll be okay. Because this is how we survive. We tell ourselves... that we are the walking dead.
Daryl Dixon: We ain't them.
Rick Grimes: We're not them. Hey. We're not.
Daryl Dixon: We ain't them.
[Daryl walks off from the group around the fire]
Ironically, I feel The Walking Dead is more honest in exploring the wholly other in all of us, then True Detective ever was able to.
If I knew all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity, I am nothing. St. Paul I hang onto my prejudices, they are the testicles of my mind. Eric Hoffer
Picture it. New Orleans. May 21, 2005. Or thereabouts.
The Picayune has just broken the Ponchatrain satanic pedophile ring on its front pages, only a day or two before.
My girlfriend's sister's wedding is later that day. She and her husband will dance to No Surprises by Radiohead. (I still have the wedding video.) (Fun trivia: She roomed with Emily Deschanel in college.)
In our hotel room, either that day or the day before, my girlfriend and I watch with giddy amazement as Tom Cruise loses his fucking mind on Oprah. The two of us at the time have already by that point been devouring news and gossip regarding the cult of Scientology, and his couch freakout makes us impossibly happy for a day.
Somewhere else in the country, on that same May 21, 2005, David Foster Wallace approachs a microphone and begins his famous commencement speech.
Later that year, just a few months later, New Orleans is flooded.
[p.s. No fucking way was I gonna let my post count be 6566 for any measurable amount of time. I used to not care about that kind of shit, figured it was meaningless, until I checked my credit score for the first time ever three years ago. I have to say, ironically, it was much better than I expected, lol!]
“Joy is a current of energy in your body, like chlorophyll or sunlight, that fills you up and makes you naturally want to do your best.” - Bill Russell
David Milch, creator, producer and writer for Deadwood, is reportedly involved in the production with Pizolatto.
"When I'm done ranting about elite power that rules the planet under a totalitarian government that uses the media in order to keep people stupid, my throat gets parched. That's why I drink Orange Drink!"
He'll make the 3rd Season worth watching imo. Found him very impressive, compelling in 'Moonlight'. Watching it, I didn't connect him to Remy Danton in 'House of Cards' (which is what makes a great actor, of course).