|Masters of the Fantasmatic Dimension, from left: Klytus (Flash Gordon), Dwarf from Twin Peaks, MC (Eyes Wide Shut), The Wizard of Oz, Evil Queen|
In the end the paranoia around the Illuminati is "which came first, the chicken or the egg"-style ingenious, ingenious because if you let even a small amount of it in, you find suddenly everything clicks. But what does it explain, aside from why everyone else seems to be having such cool sexy time but you? In the end we should be grateful for the trickle-down, because any other response than to dismiss it with a chuckle is self-defeating. How can you kill a serpent you can't even see? Why live in fear of an idea? And let's boil out all down to basics: the serpent in the garden of Eden, the Obelisk, even the sexual trauma crimes of Humbert, Alex, Quilty, all come with this backhanded baggage. We can only gain wisdom and self-reliance by having some higher intelligence 'blow up our spot,' to force us out the door to get a job. The military training in FULL-METAL JACKET is trying to achieve this same effect, to shape the raw, lazy material of complacent man into something advanced, and unfortunately (as per Nietzsche) nothing is more advanced someone who is able to kill without conscience. Quilty empowers Humbert to kill him, as the drill instructor empowers Pyle, and Alex empowers the old men. They are evolution's bouncers, ever booting us out of any room, second womb or early tomb we linger too long in.
Still I can't imagine the CIA or anyone getting it together enough, or feeling insecure enough, that they feel they need to hypnotize mass armies of hot girls to do their perverse bidding. Just having drugs and money is enough, and a hell of a lot easier. And the first thing you learn in Lacan is that the drive is the circulation as such and therefore more than one orgy is a drag. The sex kills the desire, and the whole round robin of desire becomes just more desolate post-orgasm blues.
But again, that's irrelevant. The Big Other's whole purpose is to remove the chance for the hollowing horror of 'constituent anxiety," to make sure there is no "traversing" the fantasy which would dislocate the subject from its perilous void-circumscribing orbit. In EYES WIDE SHUT, Ziegler's positing Dr. Bill as an outsider who will never be a member of this exclusive shadow society, is doing him a massive favor --this forbidden society exists in order to exclude him, and thus perpetuate constituted (rather than constituent) anxiety. It's a gift, son!
A similar effect occurs with UFO crash sightings wherein the military steps in, harasses and bullies witnesses into silence, and reports it was a weather balloon or crashed satellite, then hauls it away never to be seen again. In doing this they perpetuate the revolution around the desire, they fan the flames of the need to know, and so perpetuate the illusion that they have this thing well in hand. If they announced a spacecraft was found, the world press would swamp them and create panic; by simultaneously threatening witnesses and lying to the press they create a subliminal consolation. Instead of worrying about aliens we're angry at the government for not telling us the truth. We always feel protected when denied knowledge. Once we know about starving kids or genocide, we're bound by the superego injunction to have an emotional reaction. Our first reaction, switch to a different channel, like Bravo or E!
A key aspect of this fantasy-traversing orbit is the desire to 'retrace one's steps' - which Dr. Bill does the next day after his orgy dismissal; the return is always built into any orbit, with the illusion of linear time transcended. Danny retraces his steps in the Overlook maze snow, Dr. Bill retraces his ominous journey through the mask store and into the abyss of the LIE, the star child returns to earth, presumably to drop down into the lap of the very same ape who had tossed the bone up at the start of 2001, and Alex re-encounters all the people he beat up in the first part of the film, the giddy crimewave of gang violence, home invasion, sexual and other assault, and so forth rushing back to haunt him. The old men get to hurl some spit and fists in retaliation, his poor long-suffering mom cries as he's kicked out by his replacement son, and the man who was forced to 'viddy well' his wife's defilement gets revenge by forcing Alex to 'auddy well' his dear Ludwig Van's colossal degradation; Humbert's visit to the pregnant Lolita mirrors his visit to her mother in the beginning, and the shooting of Humbert both opens and closes the film.
This is why the ultimate realization scene for Cruise is when Pollack begins to back up over his 'charade' story and he realizes he's met a man even more of a fake than he is. That's what nails him more than the mask, which is just another reminder both of these rich elite's powerful omnipresence, but that it could be Pollack himself who is the mastermind of all the things, right down to the call girl Mandy's O.D. which may be fake anyway. Is anything real at all? In clouding the issue Ziegler shows Dr. Bill the very painting of his fear, of the refractions created by falseness and the empty cold of a cocksure grin, which its smug wearer presumes sweetens any amount of evasive bullshit.
We won't ever rise from our shackles of sleep until we learn to not judge those who keep us in the cave of Morphius. We simply need to recognize this is once again ourselves. We have to go back to Freud because if we boil it down to some exclusionary cult we're only choosing to exclude ourselves from our own story. We're kissing with a mask on. I'm sure the mask kissing connects to a Monarch MK-ULTRA program, but by now it's time to look inward for relevance rather than this arcane projection, the which came first, the paranoia or the conspiracy, and might conspirators deliberately invoke paranoia in those who try to unravel their secrets, and might the engendered paranoia be the whole point of those secrets.
LOOKING INWARD NOT OUTWARD:
The issue that sets the events of EYES WIDE SHUT in motion is really begun the night before by Nicole's feeling attracted to the Satanist at the party and projecting her desire on the screen of jealousy over Bill's two models. His evasiveness and and inability to admit he was turned on by those beautiful ladies is what drives her insane. The confession of love from the woman whose father just died mirrors this; loving a man she barely knows but marrying a blander version (a Tom Cruise variation with glasses) mirrors the two sides of Alice, who oscillates between wearing glasses and being her darker Mandy self. He's trying to find his own asleep wife, but he can't even find his own sleeping self. The double in the glasses represents the castrated, limited version of Dr. Bill, the one who is known, tamed, outside the realm of murky desire, the party Bill is trying so desperately to crash.
Bill has neglected this darker self, the Mr. Hyde, who could revel in this kind of sexualized madness, and so his nocturnal wandering becomes a sad attempt to find the real corollary, the place where sexual dreams are reality, i.e. Through the Looking Glass, because he has made no peace with his unconscious he grasps onto the white lapels of Nick Nightingale, his unconscious corollary, a blindfolded musician at the ritual, a nocturnal wanderer in between realms (for musicians at rituals can traverse both realms, conduct the orgies of the damned without taking part, i.e. the organist in CARNIVAL OF SOULS).
|From left: Mary Henry (Carnival of Souls); Nick Nightingale (Eyes Wide Shut)|
Personally, anyone who threatens me with rehab just because I pass out at a really dull party after giving a boring blow job for whatever vast sum, I say kill him.
The Cockiness of Impotence
The saving grace of so much Kubrick is that he casts doubt on the truth of events in his films, creating space for them to be read as the deranged clinical sadism of an impotent egghead. Impotence is a recurring theme, from the fluoride in the precious bodily fluids in DR. STRANGELOVE (which as we all know pollutes our third eye reducing our spiritual awareness) to the lack of visible sex in LOLITA. The absence of the phallus, the impossibility of union with the objet petit a creates the desire, while for Dr. Bill the only sex he actually sees or becomes a part of is the sex witnessed at the masked orgy. He's cut off from everything by a cocky smarm that won't even allow him to admit he was nearly lured over the rainbow (just as Alice was nearly lured upstairs to the 'Renaissance sculpture room'). It's cocky boyish persona that is blocking his every attempt to stray from his wife, the internalized mask that cuts him off from all his desires on his magical night, so that the following day, retracing his steps, he finds that all the once open avenues are closed, and that he narrowly missed possibly contracting HIV, being killed, and so on. His wife's phone call saved him from contracting HIV (presumably this was Kubrick's meaning), the same way Mandy's OD kept him from going over the rainbow, and at the orgy Mandy saves him from presumably being killed. In each instance Mandy/Alice are hovering in the ether like a cockblocking guardian angel.
"I'd never belong to any club that would have me as a member." - Groucho Marx
Cruise's insistence on going to this masked orgy is itself cause for his exclusion, in the Kafkaesque double bind of desire. No one in the elite wants this rube wandering around like a freakin' Times Square tourist, maybe calling his frat buddies to come hoot it up, taking credit for its existence via 'finding it' bragging rights When a real nice party doesn't want you, and you know for sure you wouldn't be welcome, have nothing to offer, well, you deserve everything you get for crashing anyway. Maybe you should stay home and work on your attitude, Dr. Bill!
An example of this 'deserved exclusion' occurs in the first season, second episode of the X-FILES ("Deep Throat"): Mulder really wants to see what's at this experimental military airbase that has been causing pilot zombie suicides... he has the suspicion the pilots are going insane from test flying captured alien discs. Mulder is denied entrance to the base of course-- the signs are posted to keep out-- but he's really curious so he sneaks in. Then he's caught and brainwashed to forget everything he's seen. Man, he's so indignant about that. We're clearly supposed to think this treatment is wrong but since when does curiosity alone warrant you to trespass against clearly-posted and authorized keep out signs? Everyone knows the FBI is riddled with Communist spies. Mulder could be one of them. Who the hell knows? I've had parties crashed by loathsome cretins I'd never let in if their masks weren't on, preventing me to know who they are, and if I wasn't tripping so hard I couldn't ask.
The scariest thing was when at one of our last Halloween parties a HUGE guy came in wearing an ugly full head latex monster mask, I mean he just radiated menace, and me in my lysergic funk I could just imagine pulling his mask off and seeing something a hundred times worse... I was afraid to even talk to him let alone kick him out as he lumbered back and forth across our pad, chugging our whiskey and looking around like any minute he was about to get the boot and wanted to make sure he stuck it to us enough first.
I'm still traumatized about that godless night. So no, I have no sympathy for Dr. Bill. He doesn't deserve to crash this soiree for the very same reason that he wants so desperately to. In this instance I think it's because he's gradually realizing his cocky sureness, his rich cutesy youth, is drawing hypnotized gorgeous druggy models to him like flies, and he desperately wants to belong to the last club that won't have him as a member, to keep pushing it until he makes it to the top of the heap he thinks he's already at. By denying him entrance he forces Bill back into his marriage, gives him something better, in the end, than knowledge, gives him fear of knowledge.
All along he didn't want to become Ziegler, the Primal Father, but to connect. The masks in the orgy are at least removable, but his doesn't come off until he finally breaks down and even then he overdoes it, sobbing to Alice, "I'll tell you everything." In other words, he proves he can't keep a secret, he can't compartmentalize. He's a Fox Mulder. If he could, then he might even be invited to join the orgy eventually. Maybe these women, even his wife, are tests of one sort or another, to gauge his strengths in compartmentalizing. But he can only deal in rational facts the way Fox Mulder can't accept the reality of a UFO presence and continually has to see for himself, and even then no amount of evidence is enough for him, he has to convince everyone to believe it too. Scully at least doesn't want to believe, regardless of evidence, while he wants to believe but regardless of evidence can't be satisfied.
Thus unquenchable curiosity is the sure sign you don't deserve to find out. Knowing the whole truth, without restraint or border would certainly be too much for us, unless we're ready to take it all in with a poker-faced calm, ready to watch our conception of a distinction between the real and the fantasmatic to dissolve like the chimera it always was.
As someone whose had a panic attack after being hit on by two spooky models at a 2006 Halloween party, I no longer envy and hate Dr. Bill the way I did when I first saw the film in 1999. I was also kind of arrogant back then and couldn't stand the fact that he let those two hotties go, or even got them in the first place, or was so easily picked up the West Village streetwalker, which in my naivete I didn't know was a streetwalker. But now I'm beaten down, broken on the wheel of time like a scarecrow. If I had another encounter with those two spooky models I would still run away but wouldn't hate myself so much later. Why? Because now I've read up on EYES WIDE conspiracy mind control theorems.
Here's a detail I remember about those girls, one was dressed as a dominatrix, the other wore a black bikini, had a perfect body, AND REPTILE EYES, though they were presumably contacts for the occasion. OR we were meant to assume so, just as we are meant to assume that all of the masks at the orgy hide human faces. Are the existence of reptile contact lenses allowing reptilian-human hybrids to take their human ones off without attracting undue attention?
Now that we're talking about it, I'm remembering another pair of spooky girls, hippie chicks (and one guy) up in Syracuse in 1987. They were gorgeous and way too sexually advancing, to the point I found myself backing up away from them and was not sure why, as I was hardly a virgin, or sober. I can barely remember what any of these girls looks like now. If I did hook up with them, would I even be alive today? And are all my subsequent peccadilloes just my long night of the soul trying to get revenge on womankind for making me feel all itchy and strange and guilty for missing these encounters? Were these girls even human? Was their whole mission just to seduce men and steal their DNA, and/or leave us with a lifetime of sexual anxiety over our cowardice, an anxiety that they could siphon off with their orgone harvesting matrixes? My roommate Eric did sleep with one of those hippie chicks and was super weirded out afterwards. He told me that something about her vagina didn't look right, though he couldn't explain exactly what was so wrong about it.... not a writer.
Another weird metatextual element to EYES is the way Kidman's off behavior mirrors both the aformentioned drugs, mind control and ALSO the breaking down of an actor through trust exercises and the Stanislavsky method. It's very similar to hypnosis, the repetition of phrases and other occult chanting mechanisms; they are all used in shamanistic ritual, hypnotic regression, occult indoctrination, and acting. So the issue is, why aren't these things overlapping more often, along with sleep paralysis and alien abduction, a whole melange of fantasmatic 'other realities' that invite us ever deeper into a magnificent madness maze? Aside from Kubrick, are there any other filmmakers this paranoid?
We get some of these links from David Lynch (are Audrey Van Horn and Laura Palmer both SRA-programmed sex toys?), One Eyed Jacks, the Roadhouse, and the mysterious room with the dancing dwarf could compare to the ritual spaces in EYES, as well as the Emerald City Oz room, the wicked witch's castle in WIZARD OF OZ; the lair of the evil queen in SNOW WHITE, and the leader's mask and hood resemble Klytus' from the 1980 FLASH GORDON (1980), which as we all know is bathed in Illuminati and Masonic symbolism.
|Naval officers as signifiers of the subconscious (sailing the surface of the deep archetypal oceanic unconscious)|
|Staged Programming, from top: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Clockwork Orange, Manchurian Candidate|
I remember the first time I saw A CLOCKWORK ORANGE, my mom rented it for us when I was around 13 years old. it was the first movie I ever got to choose at a video store. I had seen the poster as a child and been intrigued by it, and imagine I'd see, you know, some boobs... which I had never seen outside of a stolen Playboy. You could certainly argue some kind of sick mind programming was underway for me, considering the horrors in that film were just not seen outside of a dirty movie house, I would imagine. I thought it was weird and was certainly shocked by the home invasion scene and the way we're not really supposed to have a clear 'rooting for' character, unusual in the (pre-cable) TV I was used to. But this was art. I had to figure it out.
But in real life, or at least the headlines, of 1980-1983 ritualistic abuse of women, children, people, kept coming. The horrors of Satanic panic coincided so perfectly with the dawn of the VHS that it's impossible to ignore. I still think we've only begun to gauge the effect of sudden availability of all these 'video nasties' (as the Brits called them) had on middle America. There was no ratings mechanism in play at all the first few years of the rental business. Stereo and TV and appliance stores were the only ones who rented out videos at first, and no one thought much about the traumas of TV violence because we hadn't really had any to speak of, a few shoot-outs on the cops shows aside. The home invasion scene in CLOCKWORK was a parallel to the invasion of these disturbing images into our house right at that moment, and we reacted.
I firmly believe that Satanic panic was a response to this new at-home availability of X-rated films and the flood of disturbing slasher movies and sleaze that had formerly been shown only on 42nd street or adult drive-ins. It was an undiscovered country we were gleefully exploring, unaware of the subliminal trauma accruing like waxy resin in our moral cortex.
I don't think these Satanic abduction reports are entirely fantasy. I think these cults do exist, but I don't believe most include seemingly normal families. Still, I am nonetheless fascinated by the phenomenon of recovered memories, the similarity between Satanic and alien abduction recall, and sleep paralysis.
To this of course I propose that there are levels between our ordinary collective reality (objects, spatial relations / time) and unconscious dreaming (Jungian collective unconscious, or the anima mundi) and in between the layers there is no clear line, but a grey area where one level can easily be confused for another.
COLLECTIVE CONSCIOUSNESS: Reality in conventional 3-D space time, i.e. global news, shared opinions, measured distance (You are there, I am here, the stars are light years away, etc.)
CONSCIOUSNESS: Emotions, processed input from the five senses, shaped to correspond to the collective; 'true' memory (We are all in 'this' together, the stars are within our reach)
------in between ------Hypnotic state of 'repressed memory' regression / recovered memory, solidifying the subconscious (lower) into a reality (upper) memory, leading to a revision of one's concept of the collective consciousness as one's repressed desires from childhood are remembered as real.
SUBCONSCIOUS: Repressed desires; Oedipal and Elektra complexes; incestuous or criminal desires; id; sexual dreams (we are all lying about our true natures, the stars shall be dominated by us one day)
COLLECTIVE SUBCONSCIOUS: Satanic orgies, incestuous fantasies / reality, abdusction, sleep paralysis
UNCONSCIOUS: Jungian Archetypes; anima/animus; superego, 'unfinished work from the past' dreams, personal devils, demons, angel projectors. (astrology, archetypal constellations, the stars are no farther than our fingertips)
------in between ------ Hypnotic imagery reflection, here caught between the universal and personal unconscious, dissolving ego into the collective; the oceanic; can recover memories from other people, past lives, channeling spirits.
COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS: Anima Mundi; Collective Unconsciousness; 3rd eye reality (4-9-D nonlocalized intelligence); true hallucinations - i.e. matter appears as energy slowed, every movement or thought triggers myriad possibilities branching off like tentacles, aliens, transpersonal devils, demons (the stars are inside of us, there is no distance or space at all, ghosts, demons, angels are all visible and separate from any one of us, and yet joined to us)
The question of 'is mind control MK Ultra real?' doesn't really make sense when approached pragmatically based on the theoretical layers of consciousness outlined above, because the figures in a subconscious dream (repressed sexual) mirror exactly the allegedly real figures in a repressed memory recovered during hypnosis. If one applies this formula to Salem witch hunts for example, the repression of their Puritan religion created such a hard wall between the subconscious and conscious that the pressure resulted in an autonomous complex, i.e. the subconsicous explodes upwards, flooding the consciousness with memories of seeing or hearing things that happened only in repressed libidinal childhood fantasies, Elektra complexes, collective archtypes, etc. In other words these things all exist, if you widen your notion of what existence is, and you should. It's foolish to think that aliens only come from far away in big ships traveling through 3-D space. Do they ever sleep? Maybe to them our waking life is so narrowed it's like we're asleep, while our dreaming selves are more approachable! Why not?
I'm not attempting to dismiss the claims of SRA survivors, only that hypnotic regression / repressed memories occupy such a slippery slope between the levels of our consciousness that they expose the whole foundation of ordinary reality as a delayed reflection of the deepest level of the collective.
You'll see where this is going. Dr. Bill is harassed by the gang of toughs for being gay (a real life 'accusation' he vehemently denies), which could be said to represent, in one of the few appearances thereof, the non-New Yorkers, a vile underclass, the morlocks, the droogies, the bridge and tunnel marauders, relying on their gang's drunken cheering for constant support. It's as if that shove knocks him into an alternate state of reality for it's shortly afterwards he runs into the girl whose demarked as a prostitute by, apparently, the red door she takes him through, maybe because Kubrick thinks no girl would come onto a man in the West Village who wasn't? When Tom says while in her apartment, "Maybe we should talk about money." I wondered if she would have even expected any. In a way he shows himself to be as much of a boob in this moment as the businessman who leaves a bunch of money for Diane Keaton in LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBAR. But has Kubrick really even been to New York City, ever? Is the red door a signal, as in ye olden times, or Amsterdam, that this is a brothel, of sorts? We know he reads a lot and that's often the surest mark of a man who doesn't party. If he'd done any serious drinking in the Village he wouldn't be so easily labeled as a doofus bridge and tunnel tourist.
Of course that's the problem with filming a NYC movie in a UK studio. Kubrick did not think he needed to come here and absorb the unique flavors that may have opened his eyes shut in under 90 minutes. We're not all rich, Satanic, and successful or MK-Ultraficial sex zombies. Seeing this film in a New York City theater uptown, I could hear the disappointed sighs over moments like this shoving, the random pick-up by the hot model, the lispy hotel manager played by Alan Cumming, the choice of the very Jewish Pollack as the secret society member and hot hooker connoisseur (see here my rant associating his character here with his hooker enthusiast in Woody Allen's HUSBANDS AND WIVES) the bizarre fantasies like that he could get a cab to take him way out on Long Island, no matter how much he paid, and then make it back by dawn, on what is presumably a Saturday night, before Xmas no less. The time incongruity (it would take like two hours each way just to go a few miles and on a night like that, forget about traffic, it's bumper to bumper in and out all the way. Second of all, why the hell does he leave the prostitute in the first place if he's seeking a thrill? it's as if he keeps getting a life line which he's only too quick to grab:
Gayle: Do you know what's so nice about doctors?
Dr. Bill Harford: Usually a lot less than people imagine.
Gayle: They always seem so knowledgeable.
Dr. Bill Harford: Oh, they are very knowledgeable about all sorts of things.
Gayle: But I bet they work too hard. Just think of all they miss.
Dr. Bill Harford: You're probably right.
Here Harford doesn't even know if she's right but naturally he suspects it's true. "Just think of all they miss" applies twofold to the title of the film. How on earth can we think about all we've missed, unless of course we're talking about the associative process of hypnotic recollection of subliminal signals? Are the arcane symbols on the walls triggering an autohypnotic programming response in all these beautiful women? I wouldn't be surprised. All you really need to win the attention of a lot of hot models is cocaine. But a party like Ziegler's that shit is in the wind, and just a few trigger signs, like the star on the wall, indicate that there is something there that they all miss, that trigger signal that brings us into fantasmatic dimension.
"Nothing is ever just a dream, Alice." But then again nothing is ever just reality, and that's where the fantasmatic enters, for if you were to ask me if I believed in all the stuff from those quotes at the top, I would say it depends on what you believe 'belief' is. I don't think that stuff happened in 3-D space time reality, but I don't think it was all a paranoid fantasy either. I think people who believe in it tend to get defensive if you talk about these phenomena in terms of psychology and myth but just because I don't believe this stuff is real I don't trivialize the unreal as being false. The fantasmatic dimension is in some ways even more real than our normal reality. The whole idea behind this being that there is an area of reality where collective experience, one set of sensory inputs grounding the other, works to prevent the supernatural from forming. Kubrick's entire filmography is about weening the human experience from out of this collective miasma, what the Hindu theologians call Maya, the goddess of illusion who spins her web around the eyes of men. In other words, these memories are in some ways 'truer' than reality itself!
And of course this all has bearing on psychoanalysis, which in this case may read Ziegler as the analysand, 'performing' the role of the anal father, the 'one who enjoys' and excludes Tom Cruise from the mother's bed, denying his desire, that of wealth and power at the unholy level of Ziegler himself. Bill's beautiful boy face and confidence have gotten him just so far; girls fall in love with him in a heartbeat, drawn to his flawless 'performance' of a handsome young doctor, a 'normal guy' who misses a lot of things because he's continually called away to the next thing, a mirror perhaps to Kubrick himself who has clearly missed a lot of things by being so reclusive, though this is natural to someone with a high IQ or artistic bent, he reads way too deeply into everything, so his shoots are the longest in history, with 100 takes at a time of someone just walking through a goddamned door.