"It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" - Aristotle

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ego and Revelations in Pop Synchronicity

Four months ago I made my last real contribution to MK Culture which was the entry titled The Dimension of Dance. What followed was a period of disillusionment with what has been referred to as the truth seeker or conspiracy theorists "community" and a disappointment in the way my blog was being perceived. I was not the least bit surprised when the syncs continued to occur despite the fact that I was no longer sharing them via the internet.

One of the first syncs happened while viewing the film Vanilla Sky for what has to be the tenth time by now. This time I had noticed that Sophia, played by Penelope Cruz, was a professional dancer. Of course this fact caught my attention considering my last blog entry centered around the theme of dance and it's connection to spiritual experience in the pop culture iconography of everyone from Michael Jackson to Fall Out Boy. Of course the symbolic name Sophia didn't help matters as the name Sophia means wisdom in Greek and represents many Goddesses including her manifestation as the wisdom of God in Gnosticism and her roles in Platonism and both Orthodox and Esoteric Christianity.
In Vanilla Sky, Sophia is a muse to David Aames; she's there every morning whispering "open your eyes" and inspiring him to dream, create, and accept himself. She is the one aspect of his life that isn't stimulating his preoccupation with money, business, and sex. In the end though, she is just as much apart of the dream as everyone else.
As time went by I started listening to a lot of old Funk records including many of the albums made by Funkadelic. Their song "Electric Spanking of War Babies" in particular caught my attention.

Electric Spanking of War Babies

Hi there (hi, are you talking to me? What is that?)
You probably don't remember me, right? (no, I don't remember you)
Ah-ha, but I remember you (what's that? I don't???)
You probably won't believe this, but, uh
I, at the early age of seventeen
Was adopted by aliens hahahah (hahahaha)
Was adopted by aliens hahahah (hahahaha, oh god)
That's right, I said aliens (ahh)
They have long since programmed me
To return with this message

When you learn to dance
You won't forget it
Ooh, if you learn to dance
You won't forget it

When you learn to dance
You won't forget it

As I immersed myself deeper into their back catalogue I discovered that dancing was a very common theme in their funk meets psychedelic (psych = soul, delein = to manifest) music. In fact one of their most popular songs "One Nation Under A Groove" features the lyrics "Nows our chance to dance our way out of our constrictions".

Musically, I've also been interested in electronic band Glass Candy. The introduction to their 2007 album Beat Box features some interesting lyrics.

Our world, our lives, our bodies
They are constantly changing
But there's a rhythm that runs through it all
And that's where we'll find our true selves
We live in a universe of transformations
But the heavenly beat is a constant
So keep on dancing!

The next track on their album is "Beatific" in which they sing about the Beatific Vision of Christian theology which is said to be the direct visual perception of God.

Lights and shadows keep us dancing round and round
The cover of Glass Candy's album Deep Gems; do these colors look familiar?

The short documentary above confirmed my belief of the spiritual elements of their work. In the clip they discuss the inspiration taken from Africa tribal dances which relates to Shamanism, another interest of mine lately.

After watching the Glass Candy clip, an ad popped up urging me to step through the looking glass and purchase Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Don't you hate how those ads are always ten times louder than the video you're viewing?
The mushrooms featured in Alice in Wonderland were another sync to Shamanism and the mushrooms used to bring the Shaman to a state of trance.

Another concept I explored in Dimensions of Dance was the consistent appearance of the colors red/orange, green, yellow, and blue in popular culture and I found connections to those very same colors used in various spiritual and religious systems and myths.
This connection hit me again while watching the Jim Carry film Evan Almighty.
Check out the colors on his hat and the symbolic 7 on his mic.

Madonna, who has become somewhat of a constant muse for the blog, was referenced heavily in Dimensions of Dance. The recent tribute episode of Glee has reignited public interest in her cultural impact. The episode focused on her role as a popular symbol for empowerment. The episode caught my interest as Dimension of Dance focused on dance references in religion and pop culture representing spiritual power and experience.

Dance as a form of expression and empowerment, it seems, has been the most common theme throughout her career.
Now I'm dancing...

Madonna's 2000 hit single "Music" once again references dancing as well as infinity with the lyrics "Don't think of yesterday and I don't look at the clock, I like to boogie woogie". If you don't think of the past or the future you're in the moment and the possibilities are infinite. Infinity was, of course, another common theme in Dimensions of Dance.
There's no beginning and no ending...

When looking back at Dimensions of Dance I was disappointed that I missed the most obvious example of dance and spirituality in Madonna's career, the Whirling Dervish imagery featured in "Bedtime Story".The inevitable influence of Madonna led me back to an earlier exploration of MK Culture, Magic Mirrors.

Recently fellow pop star Beyonce re-released her single Halo with an alternative version of the music video. As I watched the video I remembered the original video and the fact that she was dancing in a leotard in front of a mirror. Of course other bloggers/researchers have caught onto the mirror references and have come to the conclusion that the video propagates the idea of demonic possession. This theory centers around the symbolic lyrics and the fact that magic mirrors were used to both contact the dead and reveal the future - similar, but not the same, as a crystal ball.

In my recent exploration of Shamanism I had to correct myself when I made a connection between Shamanism and Haitian Vodou. The Shamans were quick to correct this comparison stating that their practices do not center around possession - although they do allow themselves to be vessels for spirits. So all communication with spirits are not "satanic" and possession itself isn't even evil. Actually it is quit offensive to call it demonic when this is something that the Haitians believe so strongly in. So, while Beyonce's song and video may reference communication with a spirit that does not necessarily mean the video is demonic.
I've got my angel now.

The use of the word "angel" in "Halo" made me think of Madonna's recent Sticky & Sweet Tour DVD. In the song "Devil Wouldn't Recognize You" she sings "they angels they surround my heart". The lyric didn't catch my attention until I noticed that during her interviews in the special features she talks about angels directing her to people and situations. This is not a surprise considering an integral part of Kabbalah is summoning and communicating with spirits (not demons). So some of these themes are very common and can be traced through Kabbalah and Shamanism. There's no need to demonize everything...

Donnie Darko first communicates with Frank the giant bunny in a dream and the second time through a mirror. The fact that Frank is a bunny draws similarities to Alice in Wonderland and the name Frank made me think of another controlling character from another film, Frank from Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Not to get too off topic here but the connection to Frank and the fact that he is a transsexual made me recall another earlier exploration of mine which was the masculine and feminine duality of the colors red and blue and their relation to spirituality. I recently came across a couple of photos that relate to that concepts.
This first photo is representative of Kundalini awakening. Notice that the intertwining energies are blue and red and the crown becomes purple. I explored this while writing about Madonna's use of the colors red and blue in the Confessions Tour and how she ended the show in a purple leotard.
This photo kind of caught me off guard. The colors red and blue associated with the ultimate symbol of spirituality. Strangely enough this photo made me think of both Kabbalah and Freemasonry.
If you look at the painting of Jesus you'll see the blue and red lights are close to his heart. Now if you look at Kabbalah's Tree of Life you'll see Severity and Mercy, the masculine and feminine pillars, are close to the heart. Those pillars, of course, became Joachim and Boaz in Freemasonry as of course Freemasonry is inspired by Kabbalah.

Speaking of Kabbalah, something I've been thinking about lately is the ego - particularly mine. I don't mean ego in the sense that the media has changed it into, I mean aspects of myself that I lack control in that block spirituality and causes problems for myself and others. To me it's basically self examination and taking responsibility for your life which gives you power. Not saying I'm fully into Kabbalah but I'm curious about everything and apply things that make sense to my life and this makes sense.

During Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour she has a video playing on the screen projection while performing "She's Not Me". On the surface the performance is about a woman who is stealing Madonna's style in order to gain her power and position in the world.

The part that I find interesting starts at 3:23 and continues until the video ends. The video seems to be more about Madonna's belief in Kabbalah and their views on the ego. While it's easy to assume that they just incorporated a bunch of random videos into this new video, when given a closer look every video deals with identity and ego.

The first clip is from "Take a Bow". The male character in the video is a famous bullfighter who is struggling with his public image and the fact that he's having an affair with an average lower class woman.
Dita, Madonna's alter-ego from "Erotica". No explanation necessary.
The identity struggle in "Like a Virgin" is evident as there are two opposing Madonna's, one the pure virgin in white who is waiting and the other in black who opening embraces her male lover. The old Madonna/Whore complex.
"Open Your Heart". The black wig over the blond hair symbolizing duality and her struggle with her occupation as an exotic dancer.
In "Power of Goodbye" Madonna plays chess with a male opponent. In the video she fights for control over the male's sway he has over her with his sexuality.
"Bad Girl" - 1992. No explanation necessary.
Die Another Day. Probably her most blatant use of Kabbalah's outlook on the ego.
You get the point, right?

Express yourself, don't repress yourself.

The ego and the shadow are always in conflict (Henderson, 1978, p110). If we choose to
repress some aspects of our personality, whether it is anger or joy for example, we will
inevitably cast this shadow onto others. This is projection. If someone does something that you
detest; a particular way they laugh, cry, or throw a ball, or they earn more money than you, this
is the projection of your shadow onto them. It is not their stuff but your own that annoys the
hell out of you.


The ego concept is pushed further in another performance. In "Human Nature" Britney Spears is featured in the video projection. Madonna revealed that the video was inspired by a scene in Revolver, a film directed by her ex husband Guy Ritchie (who also directed the recent hit Sherlock Holmes). The scene is a very powerful scene where lead character Jake faces his ego and gains control over his life.

You ain't me.
She's Not Me.

The elevator has been used numerous times as a symbol for life. One of my favorite songs, "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince uses the elevator as a metaphor.

Bringing it back to where we started, David finds out the truth about his artificial perception of life while inside an elevator in Vanilla Sky.

Artificial, computer generated worlds have been a common theme in films since the dawn of the new millennium. What I found interesting while watching Vanilla Sky is how much the film resonates with our current state of existence. In a way, we are already living in a computer generated world run by technology. You are reading this article because of technology. You have no connection with me beyond technology. With televisions, computers, cell phones, and what ever else is out there, we spend more time with technology than we do in the real world, and what is real world anymore?
A common thread in these films is knowledge or revelation freeing us from the constrains of our artificial existences, whether they be technology or our own ego. Another concept of the search for knowledge of Self and the universe is Astrology. As above, so below is another conspiracy favorite but it's true meaning point to Astrology or Macrocosm and Microcosm. Believe it or not there are very clear references to these concepts in popular culture. One clear example is electronic band Depeche Mode's song "Macro". Another band, Goldfrapp, seem to reference this knowledge on the cover for their album Supernature.
The Peacock is a symbol for knowledge as she stands in front of the stars -- as above, so below.

Even pop princess Kylie Minogue, who most just look at as pop fluff, has a song titled "Stars" that points to this same concept.

The song is on her album X which is a very symbolic title.
She comes in colors...

In a way, that ties in both Magic Mirrors with Dimensions of Dance with this post. Madonna called on her audience to "connect to the sky" while the muses of Xandu came from the sky. Frank was a transvestite from outer space who's last message was "Don't dream it, be it". Once again, the syncs connect and paint a clear picture but confuses us enough to keep us hanging on for more. After all, we wouldn't be exploring this synchronicity if it all made perfect sense. Maybe David had it right when he left Sophia behind in Vanilla Sky, or maybe not, who really knows.

"And crawling on the planet's face,
some insects called the human race,
lost in time, lost in space, and meaning" - Rocky Horror Picture Show

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