Tag Archives: Wotan

Lawless Love: New Orleans Mardi Gras and Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Niebelungen….Can Civilization survive a merger? On Lundi Gras, the Ancient Krewe of Proteus tested the waters….

In 2017, Mardi Gras in New Orleans yields gigantic piles of trash, poisons thousands with excessive alcohol, and fosters a welfare oriented and sometimes criminal mentality, yet it is a uniquely community affirming ritual that nearly shuts down this medium-sized city and draws the attention of the rest of the world.  Mardi Gras allows (especially a lot of black) people an escape from the humdrum of poverty and ordinary life.  Like the Saturnalia of Ancient Rome, Mardi Gras is a time of reversal, an inversion of all the rules. 

In the years 1843-1883, Richard Wagner broke all the rules of music and theatre and made new ones, many of which we still follow in playhouses and cinemas and opera houses today (such as “dimming the lights” before and during a performance, which was a brand new idea in Wagner’s day).  Wagner equated hatred of Jews with love of art and civilization, especially music, and in so doing (and writing prolifically about it) he served as an inspiration for the German National Socialist movement, especially one Iron-Cross winning corporal who survived “the Great War”: Adolf Hitler.  

This year the Krewe of Proteus (founded 1881) brought Mardi Gras madness and Wagnerian passion together in a torchlight parade…. and the result was stunning and extremely impressive, if not quite terribly loyal to the plot or typical imagery of the operas.  But Proteus gave us an amazingly intellectual interlude in the utter squalor and depravity of most Mardi Gras events…. and one which surely went over the head of (I would estimate, unscientifically) more than 95% of the people assembled along Magazine Street and St. Charles Avenue Monday Night.

The parade received SOME local attention, e.g.: http://www.theadvocate.com/new_orleans/entertainment_life/festivals/article_be5d1948-d9bb-11e6-ad6b-4faaff249cf7.html, but well-over half of this town speaks a dialectical variety of English which cannot be called “educated”…. and the rest of the population isn’t overly steeped in European culture—the original Opera House (the first in the United States) at the corner of Toulouse and Bourbon Street, burned down in 1919 and is now the site of a modern hotel in the absolutely most depraved and degenerate blocks of Bourbon Street…. several blocks of which constitute one of the most depraved and degenerate (and dirty) “micro-neighborhoods” anywhere in the United States… I have written before on these pages about the destruction and degradation of beautiful New Orleans after 1865, and especially in the 20th century.  The City had reached its pinnacle in 1860…..and then a very destructive war happened….

But if one is the pinnacle or Zenith of all things Elite and Erudite in Western Civilization and the other marks the Nadir or even polar opposite of high civilization, what do “Der Ring des Niebelungen” and New Orleans Mardi Gras have in common?

Actually quite a bit: both exalt what can only be called “Lawlessness”, especially in the realm of love and sex…

To start off with, Wotan, in Wagner’s Ring, like his Ancient Greek Counterpart Zeus, can only be called a “philandering cad”…. I know this would be considered an insult in many quarters, but it is, statistically speaking, quite a “Godlike” or “Kingly” trait… and I confess I’ve lived that way myself for most of my existence…. although I can claim neither Divinity nor Royalty….  Wagner’s Wotan is a tragic character…. he is adventurous, generally idealistic, and seeks to build a beautiful new world (Valhalla).  And yet dies as he watches his world destroyed around him….by a fire set by his daughter….well, actually a fire set by ONE of his many daughters (Brunhilde) by Erda, ONE of Wotan’s many girlfriends/paramours/liasons… whatever it is proper for the King of the Gods to call his mistresses…. (Sidebar: in the original Icelandic and Norse sagas and tales, Erda (aka “Jörð” was the mother of the thunder and hammer God THOR with Wotan, not the Valkyrie Brunhilde….)

Aside from Wotan and Erde, Wotan also fathers the lineage which ultimately overthrows him—the Walsunga….first a male-female pair of twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde, who are separated in early childhood and meet once Sieglinde is married to a very beastly, babbitty, bourgeois bore by the name of Hunding….  “Naturally” or unnaturally, Siegmund and Sieglinde rapidly become an item one Spring AFTER (not in spite of, but because of) recognizing each other as long-lost siblings, and they have a child.  (Wotan’s wife Fricka, the goddess of Marriage [NOT love, but marriage] compels Wotan to kill Siegmund to avenge Hunding’s loss of his wife…. and Wotan’s daughter….to Wotan’s son…. talk about conflicts of interest, you know…. NO modern lawyer would ever know what to do with the Walsung estate…. IF Brunhilde’s immolation had left anything, which it didn’t….

Siegmund and Sieglinde’s lovechild….(Sieglinde dies in childbirth)….is SIEGFRIED… destined to become the boy who knew no fear… the Dragonslayer… and, not coincidentally, Brunhilde’s “POSSLQ”…. at least for a while….

Now any competent sociologist will tell you that families JUST LIKE WOTAN’s typify the underclasses everywhere, as well as the extreme upper classes (e.g. the British monarchy). But especially dysfunctional families are well-known as characteristic of the black community….in Chicago, South Central Los Angeles, Miami, New York, and New Orleans, and these are the families who most enjoy watching and trashing the Mardi Gras parades.

A substantial number of middle-class to upper class and truly, traditionally, elite Uptown New Orleans White Families and a lot of middle class white tourists from Peoria, Princeton (Illinois), Paris (Texas), Portland, Poughkeepsie, Punksetawny, and every other real or imagined “Pottersville” (cf. “It’s a Wonderful Life”)…. create some illusion of “racial balance,” or at least “diversity.”  But the overwhelming majority of the parade viewers on the street, “throw collectors” and Mardi Gras celebrants generally are mulatto (mixed race) and black African-Americans….and their culture clearly does not have any credal element that dictates “Cleanliness is Godliness.”

So the Krewe of Proteus has done something amazing…. they have made a brilliant parade out of the operatic tetralogy that inspired the Third Reich, and all its dreams of a thousand years of racial purity and Aryan supremacy…. and brought it to New Orleans where almost nobody understands it or “gets” anything about it.

Why did they (the Krewe of Proteus) do it and what does it mean?  “The Advocate” states that Proteus has a long tradition of operatic support….but this just isn’t enough.  Proteus was founded when Richard Wagner was still alive (albeit near the end of his life… within a year of the date that Wagner’s last opera Parsifal premiered on July 26, 1882, at the Festspielhaus in beloved Bayreuth….)…

All I can promise you is that I intend to find out…. And write more about this when I have more to report…. I confess I have a suspicion, a hope perhaps, that Krewe of Proteus is sending a highly concealed “Alt-Right” message that the same kind of elite which formerly ruled the West is still alive, and well, and hiding in New Orleans, biding its time for an opportunity to seize power once again…. in the land of pioneering “Third Way” Americans like Huey Long and Gerald L.K. Smith…..

Has the Winter of our Discontent given way to the Flowers that bloom in the Spring, tra la?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/march-20-first-day-of-spring_n_2906921.html#slide=2225685

I for one don’t really care whether the vernal equinox happens on March 20, 21, or 22, I always celebrate it on March 21, just as I always celebrate the solstices on December 21 and June 21.  What’s more, I treat all the seasons as having exactly 91.25 days except during leap year because that way four seasons make a year.  However, the exposition of facts suggesting the contrary in the above article forwarded to me by Barbartzin Cihuacuamomohtli in the former CSA capital of Montgomery is quite erudite and interesting and attributed to someone from the Hayden Planetarium who ought to know.

Although I do celebrate the Spring Equinox and the Solstices, I find the Autumnal Equinox less stirring, although I don’t go as far as my former House Elf Antonio Rodriguez who once opined that “Otoño es la epoca del año más triste.”  Still, from a historical standpoint, it’s hard to celebrate the Fall Equinox unless you’re a descendent of Robespierre and really long for the good old days when the original French “Department of Homeland Security” (aka “Committee on Public Safety”) instituted and promulgated the original Reign of Terror starting with the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.  As an aside, Queen Marie Antoinette has risen considerably in my estimation since I read that she apologized to her executioner for stepping on his foot on the way to the guillotine on a crowded executioner’s platform.  I anticipate that the Reign of Terror over which the Department of Homeland Security has been designed to preside will make the French episode of the 1790s look like the amateur small time affair or rehearsal which it really was….

Yes, by contrast and without doubt, Spring is traditionally the happiest time of year, when new growth and flowers and the birds and the bees all seem to conspire to compose a poetic statement of the natural order which…. sometimes just make a 53rd year old curmudgeon with a serious toothache want to regurgitate all over someone’s beautiful flower bed.  And there are indeed an abundance of beautiful flower beds in New Orleans 70130, 70115, and 70118 (which is the extent of my wanderings most days—the French Quarter 70112, except for Place St. Louis aka Jackson Square, is not known for its flowers).

Ah, Springtime: Young lovers, even brothers and sisters like Siegmund and Sieglinde, notice that wintersturme wichen dem wonnemonde, and for once I find myself in a bad enough mood to sympathize with Fricka’s anger over the whole business: “Who’s ever heard of such a thing, a brother and sister as lovers?” She asks her husband Wotan in Richard Wagner’s Die Walküre.  Sympathetic with his wife’s concerns always and so the model of a good husband, Wotan responds, “Well, as of today, you have heard of it.”  I have spent my life changing the characters with whom I most identify in Wagner’s Ring.  When I was young I wanted to be Siegried, but then I kind of realized that Siegfried was a bit of an idiot who would take a drink from anybody and really never did anything right or substantial after he killed that rather harmless house- (or cave-) bound Dragon Fafnir who never really bothered anybody but just liked sleeping aid all his treasure.   Then I started identifying with Siegmund, slightly more mature but no luckier.  Finally I have come to identify with Wotan “the saddest of all”.  What I’m worried about is that I may yet live long enough to identify with Alberich the Dwarf, the final survivor of the epic of the Ring….. and that just wouldn’t be very poetic at all…. but the danger is there….

I came of age as a teenager in New Orleans, first felt the pangs of (post-secondary) young love here and all that rot.  And now as a (soon to be) 53 year old curmudgeon I am back in this wonderful town, reflecting on the essential lack of difference and distinction between the institutions of marriage and prostitution, despite my lifelong fondness for the Sumerian and Akkadian love poetry of Inanna and Dumuzi (which of course was all about Dumuzi rising from the dead in the Spring—after Inanna killed him, but let’s not quibble here, she mourned and cried copious tears AFTER she killed him—just as Brunnhilde did after she arranged Siegfried’s Death in Gtterdaemerung…).  New Orleans has forced me to come to grips with the notion that, as doggedly libertarian as I sometimes try to be, I really don’t like prostitution or prostitutes.  But (even worse) I like women who pretend to be something else when they’re even less honest and (hence) less moral by virtue of their pretense to be something else.  (Only tangentially, see footnote* regarding one rather New Orlenean girl by the name of Lila H.—this particular epistle was most unequivocally NOT written by me, but I came upon it as part of a collection of similar letters).  

Two years ago I was obsessed with another rather extraordinary “courtesan” I had met in New Orleans at the same time as Lila H. and Sylvia F. named Tiffany H. (TCH moved to ABQ where she became “La Bruja de Algodones” in a beautiful desert corner  of New Mexico off I-25).  Now Tiffany was indeed quite beautiful, not at all “cheap” and certainly not tawdry.  She was talented in several musical instruments, song, song painting, weaving, astrology, magic, and deadlier arts as well, but had that strange kiss of the spider woman which made for short-lived relationships…. And what really bothers me is that prostitutes are “cheap” girls….and wives like Elena, the mother of my son Charlie, who at her sole behest no longer speaks to me are just really really really expensive…. And so in general, there are times I wish I had been born gay so that I wouldn’t have had to deal with the whole situation…. But as Happy as I have been for most of my life, I have never been gay…..

And the reality is, right now, that the Winter of our Discontent (about the Islamic Communist Party Chairman Barack Hussein Obama’s second anti-constitutional inauguration as de facto President and Dictator, the acknowledgment by his simply appalling Attorney General Holder that Drone’s deadly force may be [and that means certainly will be—if they haven’t already been] used to eliminate undesirable American citizens someday, and all the other developments of the past 91 days really just don’t inspire one to think happy thoughts.

Re-elected California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer continue with their crusade to disarm ordinary Americans while buying otherwise illegal hollow-point bullets to arm the domestic police as minions of the Department of Homeland Security.  It’s all enough to make one sing, with Lord High Executioner Koko from G & S’ Mikado, “The flowers that bloom in the spring “tra la” have nothing to do with the case.”

In general, it seems to me that Western civilization, American Political Society as it once existed, and the magnificent American economy are all going to hell in a hand basket, so why and how can we celebrate Spring—“Winter kept us warm covering earth in forgetful snow”  or in the case of New Orleans and most of the deep South, forgetful brown (dead) leaves…. Wintersturme wichen dem wonnemonde — my ass!

Speaking of asses, now that Barack Obama has turned the Democratic Party so radically against America and the American dream, I think that all Patriotic Americans who, with me, might like to either call themselves Jeffersonian and/or Jacksonian Democrats ought to work with me to resurrect the Crowing Red Rooster as the Symbol of the Democratic Party—if anyone has examples of old Southern Democratic Posters or political advertisements of any kind with Red Rooster symbols—please get in touch with me…. I would like to start a large collection…. I suppose that will be my Spring 2013 Project to Dishonor Obama and all that he stands for….

*I swear under penalty of perjury that I did not write the following text nor was it written about anything I personally experienced, but I have  seen and experienced a sufficient number of similar events with one of the parties involved that I believe that this does pretty well summarize the life of a certain New Orleans “Failed Debutante” well-on her way at age 23, soon to be 24, to becoming  a “Delta Dawn” of the next generation:

Lila: I just don’t ever want to see you drunk again.
I can’t recall exactly how many times you’ve completely fucked me over. Of course, none of this was your fault. It’s not your fault that you’re a sloppy drunk incapable of taking credit for your actions. I mean, trying to kill a guy on the back of his motorcycle, pissing yourself on the sidewalk and cursing the man who kept you alive. That’s not your fault. No, that’s perfectly acceptable behavior.

If you still do have my phone number, if by some miracle it hasn’t fallen into the vodka and bourbon fueld vortex that is your mind, and you give it to some man and he calls me and says that you’re passed out in his hotel room I am going to tell him that I’m your psychiatrist and that you need to be restrained, gagged, and to call the police immediately. Don’t trust a word you say, you’ve escaped from the mental hospital, you’re a homicidal nymphomaniac. Or maybe I’ll say that I am your pimp and that he can have [edited: you anyway] he wants, free.

What I’m trying to say, Lila, is that you are possibly the worst friend a man could have. A user, an abusive drunk that no one should ever have to tolerate. I know you won’t even accept this judment, and yeah, I’m judging you, I feel I have the right after watching you screaming cuntcuntcunt, tears streaming down your face, because I wouldn’t let you go and fight a girl. I know you can’t accept this judgement. And I do feel bad for you. I really do. But this is the last time you treat me this way. Not that you give a fuck, there are plenty of other men to use, aren’t there? Plenty of other guys.

Anyway, enjoy. This time tomorrow you’ll probably be ass-up in an alleyway getting train-fucked by the boyfriend of some girl you picked a fight with and his friends, or blowing some guy in a suit in a bathroom because he was nice enough to give you a shiny piece of plastic.

Remember this, if nothing else: You had a horrible time last night. I know you don’t care that you ruined my evening, but you ruined your own. Your insistence on trying to assault that girl had you crying and screaming for around a half hour, then angry all night. You stupid bitch. And, by the way, it was PURE paranoia. I noticed you had lost one of the wings off that stupid headband that made you ‘feel special and pretty’ at least ten or twenty minutes before you were anywhere near that girl. I didn’t say anything in order to avoid a scene.

So yeah. You’re paranoid. Have you been diagnosed?

Because of that you missed out on a great night. I treat.. excuse me, treatED you well. That’s done with. And I genuinely feel like a load has been taken off my back. I gave you the benefit of the doubt three times now. That’s twice too many. We’re done, bitch. If you want my friendship and you decide to beg for it back and I can understand what you’re saying you’re doing it wrong [edited for younger audience…]

A New Saint John the Baptist? Or is she doomed to the fate of Cassandra? Thoughts for June 23-24, Johannisnacht und Johannistag

I am sure that some readers are already weary of my Hunger Games obsession with this latest experiment in Science Fiction as Mythic Reality/Historical and Prophetic Allegory.  Rather like Saul of Tarsus blinded on the road to Damascus, I am a late convert, and have that same “recent convert’s fanaticism” that Paul had, which my grandmother always used to make fun of in people of our time. Having only discovered the series on March 23, 2012, when the movie came out, today, June 23, is my 90 day “anniversary” as a Hunger Games Fanatic—and to think I went to see it at midnight on that day merely out of a long-standing habit of trying to see movies on the early morning premier.  At that time I knew absolutely nothing about the series.  

But since then, I have not only seen the movie countless times and read all three books, but become convinced that Suzanne Collins is a voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way for—the future of North America.  My question today is whether she is the new Saint John, making straight in the desert a highway for our savior, or doomed to the fate of Cassandra of Troy—granted by Apollo the gift of prophecy but cursed never to be believed (until it’s quite too late).  

A close friend is facing an appeal of a major constitutional case in Florida that has already dragged on for seven years.  She is trying to decide whether to quit or go on forward.  I have told her there’s no purpose in proceeding unless she runs the race as if to win.  So I wrote her:

You have faced an unjust judge for a very long time, maybe even several.  (See Luke 18: 1-8, below).  Are you ready to faint?  If you want peace at last, I don’t want to sell you on anything.  I for my part do not fear fighting nearly so much as I fear the day when I might stop fighting.  The constant striving and the eternal journey, the quest, those are the most important parts of being alive, to me at least.  And I always quote what Victor Laszlo said to Rick in the movie Casablanca“You ask why do we keep on fighting?  You might as well ask why do we keep on breathing.  If we stop breathing, we die.  If we stop fighting, the world will die.”  I personally have lost more than most people in the world ever came near to having; I confess I was born into something like the top of the top 1%, certainly more than about 99% of the people in the world, outside of America and Western Europe, anyhow, could ever even have dreamt of having. While was growing up and, really, for a large part of my adult life, I had everything without working for it.  I don’t anymore, pure and simple.  That was a loss, but none of that deters me.  And none of that makes me feel anything but admiration for those who had had the strength and courage to work hard and achieve great things through dull hard work throughout their lives.
If it scares you to think of losing everything because you fight, then you really need to stop fighting.  Jesus died so that we might have a chance to be saved, that we might have a chance to live free—but He never once told us that freedom or salvation were easy—Look at Matthew 10:34-39, below my signature at the bottom of all of my letters…. do you want to take your cross and follow after him to Calvary (the “hill of the skull”?).  I do, but I don’t want to drag you if you don’t want to go.
From a different historical angle, but way similarly, from my new favorite books, the Hunger Games Trilogy, there is a song called “The Hanging Tree” (you know, the Cross is sometimes called a “Tree” and we know that crucified victims are always “hung” on the cross–albeit by nails in their arms rather than ropes….)
Here is the “Hanging Tree” that Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen learned from her father.  One of the beautiful parts of Suzanne Collins’ art, in my mind, is how she uses words to create and describe a heroine who is not at all skilled in verbal communication but whose emotional power and commitment always lead her to do the right thing. The intuitive truth in music and singing is a recurring motif in the books.  Katniss Everdeen, like C&W’s Loretta Lynn, was born a coal miner’s daughter, in a cabin on a hill in very poor corner Appalachia.  At one point, by a mountain lake cabin, Katniss spontaneously sings this song, which her father had taught her, primarily for the benefit of a mute and voiceless person whose voice box and tongue were cut out by the cruel NDAA-worthy “Capitol” government of Katniss’ highly centralized future North American Home called “Panem” (Panem is, I think a rather elaborate Classical Greek-Latin pun, I think, on the word “Bread” on the one hand and a previously decentralized confederation E Pluribus Unum (out of many, one) subjected to a an all powerful “Pantocracy”—oppressive supreme government):
Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where they strung up a man they say murdered three.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where the dead man called out for his love to flee.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Where I told you to run so we’d both be free.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.

Are you, are you
Coming to the tree
Wear a necklace of rope, side by side with me.
Strange things did happen here
No stranger would it be
If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.
Aside from being an eerily old-fashioned, even ancient-sounding piece created by Collins in the first decade of the 3rd Millennium, this song is a metaphoric foundation of a rebel dirge—a cross between Irish & Scots that is, in fact, somewhat characteristic of Appalachia.   The “man who murdered three” who was hanged on the tree, the man on the tree singing for his love to join him, was no ordinary criminal but a rebel, a revolutionary against the strong centralized government of Panem.
In the Germanic/Celtic tradition, hanging was the form of human sacrifice preferred. Even to commit suicide by rope was to identify with the God Odin/Wotan, who once, for nine nights hanged himself on a windy tree, “a sacrifice of myself to myself” as the Skaldic texts recited—the tree in question, the Linden Baum, was for a long time associated with hanging, suicide, and sacrifice, even into the 19th century where it figures in Franz Schubert’s song cycle “The Winter’s Journey” (Die Winterreise), never more ably performed than by the just recently departed Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.  The identity of the Hanged Man, even in Tarot card readings, with Christian sacrifice and prophecy seems inescapable.
In Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games (Vol. 3) the Hanged Man’s murders were not homicides committed in passion, then, nor for mere material/commercial gain, but were almost certainly acts of revolutionary defiance: SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS, probably the shooting of Capitol officials, Capitol Peacemakers, Coal Mining Company, or possibly even organizers of the sacrificial Hunger Games themselves.
I think Suzanne Collins is clearly commenting on the present for thousand different reasons, not the least of which is that, in the world of the Hunger Games, private ownership of guns and even bows and arrows is strictly forbidden, punishable by death…..GUN CONTROL by the Experts like Mao Tse Tung, Stalin, and Pol Pot, but being implemented today by the Senate, by the Department of State under Hillary Clinton, and by your favorite President and mine, Barack Hussein Obama, aka Barry Soetoro, the child of a Kenyan Communist who grew up in Indonesia to become the first truly African (by his origin more than his race) President of the United States, and the first completely and overly anti-Constitutional, and anti-Capitalist, Dictator of the Proletariat.
In any event, in the song above, the Hanged Man’s public execution was punishment, but, as more importantly, the song itself, above, that Katniss sang to the mute victim of oppression, was banned an effective way to deter anyone thinking of joining the freedom fighter/terrorist’s cause.  Capital punishment, the death penalty, here became employed as Capitol punishment, a means to ingrain and inculcate fear in the districts of Panem, fear of the consequences of resistance and rebellion even stronger than the common people’s hatred of their masters.
In essence, then the song, ‘The Hanging Tree’ calls on the living who love freedom to join the martyred freedom fighter in putting their holy cause above concerns for their individual lives.  Every bit as much as “La Marseillaise,” the Hanging Tree is an invitation to revolution, i.e., to risk death in the hope of a greater life—even recognizing that it will not JUST be impure blood that stains the ploughed furrows of the fields.  I hope that someone will put the Hanging Tree to a tune where it can become a national hit, so that Suzanne Collins’ brilliant insights, first published in 2008, the year of Barak Hussein Obama’s ominous election as the American Mao, will not simply recede into popular culture history, but will actually motivate the creation of….dare I say it, a NEW BIRTH OF FREEDOM in this country—and that her warnings against the evils of absolute centralization, totalitarian dictatorship (an all Powerful President limited by neither the power of Congress nor a viable Supreme Court), will be heard by many and will herald the arrival of one who will live (or live and die, as may be necessary) to overthrow this menace and restore the American Republic to the real and authentic American people.
As summer begins, I would wish everyone a Happy Johannisnacht, Johannistag, Saint John’s Day this June 23-24, and to remember the Voice of Him that Cryeth in the Wilderness, Prepare ye the Way of the Lord—Make straight in the Desert a Highway, for our God.  It might not be a bad time to read the opening chapter of the Gospel of Mark…. even though it is always good to remember also what the prince of peace once said in Matthew 10: 34-39
Think not that I am come to send peace on earth:
I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father,
and the daughter against her mother,
and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 
And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me:
and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 
And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
or else what I consider a closely parallel text in John 12: 23-27:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.

And above all,  never stop praying for justice—even when the Judges won’t listen, or even when they try to shut you up, as they do, with increasing frequency, in the early stages of the establishment of PANEM in North America….:

Luke 18:1-8

18 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

Somewhere over the Rainbow….

A is for Asgard, B is for Branagh, C is for Completely Cool Multipurpose Modern Myth-remaking Movie!

[and WS is for “Warning—this essay may contain mild-to-serious Spoilers for those who have not yet seen the movie….read at your own risk!”]

Kenneth Branagh, Natalie Portman, and Anthony Hopkins are names I have frankly never associated with Richard Wagner, Dorothy Gale, and James Morris, much less with Snorri Sturluson, Isolde, and Wotan or Odin, but the movie “Thor” brings them all together in my mind and life experience at least.  I confess I had read some bad pre-release critiques of “Thor” based on charges of infidelity to myth, but they were all wrong, ALL totally wrong, and I haven’t been so completely taken by any other movie this year.  In fact, this may well be the best myth-recasting movie in a very long time, although I was a great fan of Tim Burton’s “Alice” last year.   I can hardly express my enthusiasm, having just returned from the 10:10 AMC showing on Third & Arizona in Santa Monica, 90401, except to say that I was just as pleased, satisfied, and generally exhilerated by this production as I was maddened and infuriated by “Red Riding Hood” when it was released on March 11 of this year.  THAT movie was a poorly acted, poorly scripted modernistic pseudo-psychobabbling disgrace and insult to Die Bruder Grimm and Charles Perrault as anything could possibly be.

It is actually just possible that Kenneth Branagh’s movie will in fact endure alongside Sturluson and Wagner in preserving the eternal memory of the Old Norse and High Germanic Pagan religious iconic traditions, ihrer Gotter und Gesetz, but there are many more comparisons to be made.

Natalie Portman’s character (Jane Foster) is quite a unique young lady: a brave sexy scientist who really does get it all pretty much right, but doesn’t get her man. (Reviewers have already compared “Thor” to “Spiderman“.)   Perhaps Jane’s a bit of projection of Natalie’s own self-image—crossed with her Dad maybe?—but I see a much more important comparison to be made between Jane Foster and Dorothy Gale—in that they both dreamt of crossing over the rainbow.  Dorothy Gale made the trip for the first time by accident in The Wizard of Oz though in later books by L. Frank Baum she managed to make the trip pretty directly and intentionally.  Jane Foster doesn’t make the trip at all although the man of her dreams does, in the form of Thor (Chris Hemsworth—whose character is comparable to no other superhero so much as Superman—especially since he can magically fly without gadgetry of any kind—and the Asgard scenes all have a certain Planet Krypton feel to them).   But Jane Foster, like Dorothy Gale, is brave, honorable, loyal and unafraid, and her job is to bridge worlds which otherwise have but scant awareness of each other’s existence.

Dorothy Gale herself was not, of course, the first heroic female transdimensional traveler—appearing for her first edition in 1900, she came 35 years after her British Counterpart Alice made her debut in London on July 4, 1865, otherwise for the most part a sad ex-Colonial Independence day for British sympathizers of the Confederacy including HM Queen Victoria and the then Lord Chancellor & Later PM Benjamin Disraeli.

The degree to which science fiction presaged physics in speculations about inter-dimensional travel is to me one of the extraordinary features of 19th century writing and imagination.   Even in Richard Wagner’s “Der Ring des Niebelungen” the portrayal of jouneys between the middle of the Rhein and Niebelheim, Valhalla and Niebelheim in Das Rheingold and Brunhilde’s appearance to Siegmund in Die Walkure are eerily like wormholes in the space-time continuum of 20th century (and current) science fiction.  In fact, once in Seattle and on another occasion in Bayreuth, stage construction provided that Brunhilde actually peered at Siegmund through a portal and obviously shimmers from another dimension as she grimly but solemnly announces to him, “Nur Todgeweihten taugt mein angblick. Wer mich erchaut scheidet von Lebens-Licht. ”  The use of the Rainbow Bridge as Thor’s primary means of interdimensional travel is celebrated in Wagner’s Das Rheingold when Donner (“Thunder”—the Old High Germanic name for Norse Thor/Anglo-Saxon Thur) calls forth the Rainbow Bridge so that the Gods can enter Valhalla at last.  This in turn rests largely on the description of the Bifrost/Rainbow Bridge in Sturluson (12th-13th Century Lawspeaker and historian of the Icelandic Althing/Parliament), but the connection with Donner/Thor appears to be Wagner’s invention and Branagh’s conscious continuation, because the only ancient connection between the Bridge and the God of Thunder appears in the Grimnismal (Poetic Edda), where it is specified that Thor specifically wades through the river waters because he cannot take the dryer path.  (One of the historical quibbles widely circulated pre-release was that Heimdall in the movie is played by an elegant British-born fellow of African descent, Idris Elba, while in all Norse and Germanic illustrations Heimdall or Heidallr is pictured as typical blonde of identical ethnicity to Thor in the movie—while I thought it sounded like amusing modernist “affirmative action” type tokenism before I saw Branagh’s production—in the context of this movie it works out perfectly, because Heimdall, as a guardian, belongs neither to the race of the Gods nor to the Frost Giants, but is a gatekeepr between worlds—I can only applaud the dramatic effect of “Schwarz Heimdall”.  Truthfully—black and white color symbolism play a major role in Norse Sagas—“black”, “swarz” or “kol” all being slave names—reminding me always of the inverse irony that the Gods of Subsaharan Africa are always White-skinned—possibly more like “Ghostly White” than Caucasian White, but the parallel structural use of terms is nonetheless significant in comparative mythological terms—and, quite as a legal and jurisprudential side-bar, totally discredits and disproves the Kenneth B. & Mamie Clark “black-white” doll preferences ignorantly cited by Supreme Court Justices in Brown v. Board of Education  (1954) as a reason for forcing school desegregation—a policy which arguably did more to destroy the legitimate ways, means, and purposes of education in the United States than any other single policy in history, and in the process probably destroyed the self-esteem of millions of children, black-and-white, as schools used for a quarter century as political footballs and little else rather than, well, for example, education.*

But to return to Thor, the plainest reason Heimdall can be dramatically effective because rather than in spite of the fact that he is played by a stern and very well-spoken Anglo-African actor is because Branagh has taken Ancient Myth and recast it—and done so brilliantly, even down to the level of selecting Galisteo New Mexico as the site for some of the wonderful desert scenes—just a half an hour south of Santa Fe and an hour east of Algodones where I had some fairly mystical experiences of my own just month before last as noted elsewhere on this blog.  New Mexico, “Land of Enchantment”, U.S. home address for D.H. Lawrence, legends of Roswell, the birthplace of the Atom Bomb, home of the Spanish Penitentes as well as large populations of Pueblo, Apache, and Navaho nations of Native Americans, and many of the finest Ancient Ruins north of Mexico, is just an inherently magical, mystical place, which just naturally attracts women like Jane Foster.  These**** are people who, as much as Aldous Huxley (New Mexico was a “Savage Preserve” in Brave New World where people still worshipped both Jesus and Buddha and read both the Bible and Shakespeare) Fox William Mulder, Dana Katherine Scully, and myself are intrigued by the borderlines and gradations between science, religion, science-fiction, and mythology.   There is in fact no setting in the United States better for such cross-fertilization—New Orleans may be great for primitive culture, religion, magic, and romance, while Berkeley, Cambridge, and Chicago may be better for the science-magic interface, but nowhere in the world combines all three together with multiculturalism with a 400-1000 year pedigree (a thousand years ago the “Athabaskan Bastards caused the Great Pueblo Fall” introducing New Mexico’s first level of multicultural complexity with the arrival of the Apache and Navaho, then came the Spanish, isolated even from Mexico by distance, then the Americans from St. Louis on the Santa Fe Trail, John C. Fremont, Stephen W. Kearny, then Jean-Baptiste Lamy, Willa Cather, Mabel Dodge, D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keefe….and now pretty much everybody from everywhere….there is even a school in Las Vegas, New Mexico, with the [to me quite totally horrifying] name “Armand Hammar-Global World College, USA” which my son Charlie visited in 2008 and narrowly avoided attending—it had posters of communist heroes all over the walls of every room and I got the feeling school song was the Internationale).

I keep digressing, but to return again to Thor, as a recasting, restatement of myth, I have come to think that such recasting in modern culture is the principal importance of my own education in Anthropology—Anthropology is a large part of modern mythology and religion—and oddly enough it has been ever since the mid-19th century.  Evolution and Darwinism started reshaping socio-cultrual thinking even before evolution or Darwinism were common words, because Jean Jacques Rousseau wrote of the moral superiority of Noble Savages (nearly two hundred years before Margaret Meade even visited Samoa) and Thomas Hobbes of Malmsbury wrote about the “state of nature” and other stages of what we would now call cultural or political evolution over a hundred and twenty years before Thomas Malthus wrote his Essay on Population in 1798 (although the “State of Nature” as a phrase relating to legal evolution can be traced even another five hundred years back to St. Thomas Aquinas De Veritate in 1256-59).

I first became fascinated with the modern process of recasting ancient mythology in connection with the Disney movie The Lion King and then with several Television series the X-Files and Buffy-the-Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly/Serenity and Charmed, all of which were 1990s phenemona spilling over past Y2K…and now the direct antecedents and ancestors of Lost, True Blood among other TV series and now, I think it is safe to say, Thor.  The X-Files had several episodes which drew on recent archaeological discoveries about cannibalism at Chaco Canyon, and others which drew on Nazi-racial “scientific” mythology***, but there was little if any plot continuity between the paranormal phenomena covered in the X-Files, whereas Thor really only drew on two strands: Ancient Norse/Germanic Myth and Modern Science (with a few marvelous hat tips to “Men-in-Black” and other partly comical sci-fi movies).

In 2004 I gave a paper at the First Slayage Conference on Buffy-the-Vampire Slayer in Nashville entitled, “Buffy’s Golden Bough.”  In that lecture/essay I focused on the use of anthropological sources in each series, Buffy, Angel and the X-Files.  At later Slayage and related conferences I compared Whedon’s use, rearrangement, and restructuring of mythological elements and motifs with Richard Wagner’s.   The tradition of reinventing Classical or Ancient mythology with quasi-modern mystery and musical theatre really develops in a continuous line from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte to Wagnerian operas to the (movie) Wizard of Oz  on to Buffy and especially “Once More with Feeling” (the musical episode from BtVS season six).  In common with Oz and Buffy, The Magic Flute has a “lite” storyline and script with fairly hilarious and unique characters—I played Papageno, Der Vogelfänger, more than once in College—mixed with some pop-culture appreciation of mystery in the service of a good and ethically wholesome life—wonderfully memorable music.  By mere coincidence I have been relistening to Mozart’s Zauberflöte on my card CD recently, and at each first appearance of Die Königin der Nacht, I picture Glenda the Good Witch of the North, played by Mary William “Billie” Burke in the 1939 production.  Glenda and the Queen of the Night are in fact almost entirely interchangeable, structurally identical roles and parts—they are essentially free radicals or “catalysts” for other action on the part of the main characters.   Thor’s Goddess Fricka (or Frigga) is quite as beautiful as Bille Burke, but nowhere nearly as well developed as Wagner’s Fricka in Rheingold and Die Walkure, nor is her relationship with the King of the Gods anywhere nearly so complex or important in the story line—this is too bad… but

Wagnerian operas are by no means “lite” by storyline or mood, and the “moral” or ethical points are sufficiently complex as to have been the subject of continuous popular and academic debate and scholarly writings from W. Friedrich Nietzsche to George Bernard Shaw to Houston Stewart Chamberlain and Adolph Hitler to the dozens of modern authors including dilettantes and university specialists up through present time.  Wagnerian Opera and the movie Thor have in common focus on Wotan/Odin and those deities most closely associated with him in the Nordic/Germanic Pagan oikumene—“uns ist in alten mären, wunders viel gezeit….“.  Thor lacks any memorable or particularly unique music, but as a journey of exploration and discovery by moderns in a mysterious world, it is much closer to Magic Flute, the Wizard of Oz, and Buffy/Angel than it is to Wagner.  Oddly enough—the Wagnerian Ring des Niebelungen, Buffy/Angel, and the Lion King can be grouped together as creating entirely new mythological universes, as could Clive Staples’ Narnia.  But the Oz story underwent one major and radical transformation between Frank Baum’s 1900 book and the 1939 movie with Judy Garland: In the book, and all of Frank Baum’s later Oz books—the reader was demanded to suspend disbelief completely and enter into the Magical Land of Oz as a real universe parallel to our own—but in the movie—fearing (in 1939) the cultural threat and geopolitical consequences of  “sermons from mystical Germans who preach from ten til four”, all mystery was cut out by the Kansas framing story: Dorothy Gale just dreamt it all owing to a head injury based on her own life.   Joss Whedon experimented with this “world of illusion” trope in one episode only, Buffy sixth season “Normal Again.”  The movie Thor handles the problem by allowing Thor himself to sever the ties between earth and Asgard when he destroys the Rainbow Bridge to prevent Loki from initiating Ragnarok, but Jane Foster keeps on with her research, searching for her man….

But unlike Richard Wagner and Kenneth Branagh in Thor, Joss Whedon was culturally ecclectic.  Much in the manner of Sir James G. Frazer’s original 12 volume Golden Bough, Joss Whedon, the creator/director/producer/ sometime writer of Buffy, Angel, and Firefly/Serenity goes around the world collecting stories which fit into a single pattern.  For Frazer, it was the pattern of the dying king, murdered in his full youthful vigor to preserve or “save” the life of the whole world.  In other words, Frazer set out to show, and he fairly effectively showed, that the story of Jesus of Nazareth was just the most developed and successfully “marketed” story of its kind in the world, and by no means a unique revelation.  (Whether universal recurrence in different guises makes a religion more or less valid is a different story).

As weekly settings for his universe filled with “AntiChrist” Vampires, Joss Whedon was a master of incorporating and restating whole traditions of myth and religious symbolism/ethical thought into his work.   Almost totally contrary to Frazer’s somewhat anti-Christian emphasis on ritual and mythic elements of narrative, however, Whedon’s effort is to compare ancient or “non-Western” religions to Christianity favorably on grounds of ethics and morality.

The nature of the “Vampire” mythology as a kind of inverse Christianity has been apparent since the 18th century—Vampires are inverse Christians (a Los Angeles Jewish Monthly Magazine for December of 2009 included a cover article “Why Jews aren’t Vampires” even though they shun the cross and have been libeled as child-murderers and practitioners of sacrifice generally).  The core “Maundy Thursday” ritual of Christianity is the Great Thanksgiving, the Holy Eucharist by which Christians drink the blood and eat the flesh of Jesus Christ—albeit most modern believers would say this is a memorial, rather than an actual magical transubstantiation.  According to Christ’s words at the last supper, this ritual is part of keeping Jesus himself alive in all his followers.  Vampirism is exactly the opposite—Vampire suck on human blood and flesh to destroy human life and make themselves (the vampires) more Godlike—they are “antiChrists” in the truest senses of the word—they do the opposite of give their own life and flesh to save the rest of the world.   Some writers, such as Elizabeth Miller, have posited that Vampiristic mythology became popular contemporaneously with Darwinism in the 19th century.   The feasting in Thor is all quite normal (lol!) if the Gods are sometimes portrayed as rather voracious and insatiable.   But there are no direct traces of Christian ritual in Thor, while there were many in both Buffy and Angel.  (Not so much in Firefly/Serenity where salvation is mostly a matter of self-help, preferably with guns and knives skillfully used by both men and women—which is another common theme with Thor to be sure).

Whedon’s works focus on the importance of the clear-thinking conscience, redemption generally, the redemptive power of family and love in particular, the salvation of sinners, the need for forgiveness of all sins and crimes, no matter how grave, and the definition of the soul as the key to all life and immortality, and he does all this despite his self-proclaimed status as an atheist.  There are many strong sub-themes including the soul-endangering evils of mind-altering drugs and social engineering, the importance of individual freedom, and the oppressive corruption of government and the complicity of the all-but-blind middle class in its maintenance.**

Whedon has through all these themes made his productions among the most deeply Christian/spiritual productions ever to appear on television—albeit his Christianity was about as orthodox as Richard Wagner’s, and similarly mixed with Buddhism and Pagan animism.  Like the Golden Bough, to learn and dissect Whedon’s corpus of sources is to learn comparative mythology from specific references to the Prophecies of Isaiah concerning the coming of Christ (“the annointed one”) as a child to lead to the peaceable kingdom, this starting in BtVS Season One along with a multifaceted and series-long treatment of modern and ancient witchcraft, to Grimms’ Hansel & Gretel, back to the Biblical Demon Moloch, and then to the Egyptian resurrection cult of Osiris and even then to Temple Prostitution in Mesopotamia (Inanna = Inara Serra, a beautiful companion/courtesan played by Morena Bacarin in the Firefly Serenity Series—Inara is portrayed as significantly more honorable, educated, and dignified than ALMOST anyone else in the series), and even then to the more recent mythology of Dracula and Vampires (Vrykolakia) in Eastern Europe.  While earlier series such as Dr. Who made occasional use of mythology, Whedon’s series used more anthropological sources than any other single corpus except the X-Files.  What unites Whedon’s work with, for example, The Lion King more than the X-Files is the internal continuity of the storyline and the presence of very strong structural organizing principles (e.g. Dumezilian trifunctionalism and Levi-Straussian dualism).  X-Files was more ecclectic, much less focused on developing season-long story lines, and utterly untroubled by structural consistency between episodes and series (except that Mulder always “wanted to believe”, more mystical, and basically right, while Scully was always skeptical, more cautiously scientific, and more often than not, dead wrong—but she never learned her lessons from episode to episode…some sort of short or long term memory loss or stubborn willfulness was utterly inconsistent with her vast store of medical and scientific knowledge….).  Jane Foster in Thor is more of an “I want to believe” fusion of Mulder and Scully, pretty much unparalleled in the Buffyverse or “Whedonian World.”

Much like the Whedonian World, especially as analyzed Rhonda Wilcox’ masterful treatment of Whedon’s productions in her book Why Buffy Matters: the art of BtVS  (October 13, 2005), Thor has a strong undertone of Christian values—self-sacrifice and forgiveness, fatherly redemption, even as it revitalizes the Gods of the Norse who, frankly, had few or none of these values (at least Thor didn’t—Wotan/Odin in fact once “hanged himself for nine days on a windy tree, a sacrifice of himself to himself”…..but it’s not clear that he did so to save the rest of the world from sin or anything like that).   Anthony Hopkins was in fact utterly unrecognizable as Anthony Hopkins with his beard and eye patch—he looked more like the Metropolitan Opera’s perennial Wotan James Morris than anyone else, but his performance and delivery were flawless (no actual Wagnerian music was used in the movie—I think this is slightly unfortunate, but possibly essential to sell to a mass culture audience, sadly, these days).

When discussing the interface between Christianity and science-fiction, especially interdimensional travel, it is necessary at least to mention C.S. Lewis’ Seven Book Narnia collection—“doors to the world of men, I have heard of such things”, said Jadis, the White Queen of Narnia, on hearing about the Pevensie boys and girls coming in through the wardrobe made of the tree that grew from the Sorcerers’ rings that led once Molly and Digory past the world between worlds through one particularly ill-fated puddle to the dead world of Charn…..from which Jadis came with Digory to Narnia….in the beginning.  The Christian metaphors in Lewis’ Narnia seem clunky and heavy-handed to me, not that they aren’t sometimes wonderful—like Aslan’s self-sacrifice to save Edmund and his subsequent resurrection by way of “a deeper magic than even the White witch knows”—but in Whedon, and in Thor, the subtlety and personal connections inherent in the various self-sacrificial decisions make the episodes of redemption or forgiveness and reconciliation meaningful—Thor is about a prodigal son who comes back to his father (cf. Gospel of Luke)…..and loses the mortal love of his life in the process…. but there is nothing forced or strained about it—it’s woven deftly into the plot and seems only right and good—except for the treatment of the Thunder God’s darker brother Loki….. and in fact

If I were to have any gripe with the movie at all it would be the character and treatment of Loki—never ever before identified as one of Wotan’s children in any source, adoptive or otherwise (but generally known as the son of the Giant Farbauti and Giantess Laufe, even to the point of being called Loki Laufeyarson in some sources).   Wagner portrayed Loki/Loge as a close and necessary companion and ally of Odin/Wotan and the Old English three-part incantation about offerings recorded in rural East Anglia as late as the early 19th century, “One for God and One for Wod’ and One for Lok‘” (quoted by Sir James G. Frazer, Georges Dumezil, Alfred Hocart, and so many others) also shows a special association between these divine names.  The movie shows nothing of Loki’s identity as Altdeutsche Feuergott Agnisbruder (the German Fire God and brother of [Hindu] Agni = [Italic/Latin] Ignis), and only very briefly makes reference to his identity as a master of magic.

In suggesting that there is something odd about Loki’s “giant” ancestry, the movie ignores the direct parallel between the heritage of the Germanic Gods as children of Giants and the Greek God’s status as children of the Titans.  This makes the racially significant emphasis of Loki’s identity in the movie Thor all the more critical to analyze.  Because Thor is Odin’s blonde true son—and boy do they EVER look alike (right down to their beards and hair style), while Loki turns out to be an “adopted” brown haired son.  It is not that the Frost Giants are uniformly portrayed as brunette so much as Green*****.  No, it is more because the two “children” of Odin are paired and opposed both as children and adults on the basis of their hair color and complexion—Light and Dark.  The movie’s pairing of “Fair Haired” Jane Foster and Dark Darcy (my longest-term college girlfriend was a “Black Irish” brunette named D’Arcy)  in New Mexico cannot be coincidental to the opposed pairing of Dark Loki and Blond Thor.  Joss Whedon’s series Buffy the Vampire Slayer also featured a “light dark” pair of slayers in the form of Buffy Summers, the eponymous heroine, who first (in a couple of episodes in Season II) faces a Creole Jamaican slayer named Kendra (called a “Tragic Mulatta” by at least one reviewer, namely Lynne Edwards, who also presented this concept at the First Slayage Conference in Nashville, 2004).   After Kendra’s truly tragic and untimely death, Whedon brought forth the unforgettable character Faith Lahane, a simply smolderingly sexy brunette who was “bad girl” to all of Buffy’s somewhat priggish/prudish traits of inherited “Middle Class Morality.”  Faith hailed from (one assumes) some lower class Irish sector of South Boston—but the correlation between class and color is utterly unmistakable in both Thor and BtVS: Blondes don’t just have more fun (Jane Foster and Thor fell in love—Darcy and Loki remain single), they are actually better, indeed substantially people or Gods—I should not that so much of my hair as has neither fallen out nor turned grey, which isn’t all that much—is and has been since I was 7- or 8 moderate mousy brown—neither distinctively light nor dark)….

If there were ever any objections to the character of Heimdall because he was a black and Anglo-African of subsaharan negroid origins, there could be even more serious objections to the character-identity and story of Loki as a warning about the failure of interracial adoptions.  Loki is the only character in this movie with self-esteem problems and they all relate to his origins, and relatively dark complexion compared to the majority of the Asgard deities.  He is maladjusted and insecure but not nearly so sympathetic as, for example, Othello the Moor.  It doesn’t ruin the plot by a long shot, but it’s the weakest link in the whole scheme I would say.  The original Norse God Loki, and even Richard Wagner’s Loki, as God of Fire, was a trickster, a shape-shifter, a transexual (no, not a trannie, just a shape shifter who could even give birth to eight legged horses while shape-shifting as a mare) and on the whole much more interesting than Thor‘s Loki—who’s a bit one dimensional—or at least I didn’t pick up more than one dimension, but I’ve already determined I’ll go see the movie several times.

I think it was a marvelous touch that several Norse Icons like the World Tree Yigdrassil and I believe even (originally) Loki’s offspring the eight legged horse Sleipnir who was to bring on Ragnarok (Armageddon, the last battle, aka Gotterdaemerung), as well as Thor’s hammar and Wotan/Odin’s law spear, were all very subtly slipped in.

Overall, like Buffy, Angel, Firefly/Serenity and Charmed (and even like Dr. Who, the Wizard of Oz and Alice), Thor mixes fairly outstanding verbal humor with intense and fast-paced action and a well-edited script (unlike this totally unedited stream-of-consciousness review essay).

*Black Children, White Preference: Brown v. Board, the Doll Tests, and the Politics of Self-Esteem American Quarterly – Volume 61, Number 2, June 2009, pp. 299-332  The Johns Hopkins University Press ABSTRACT: In Brown v. Board of Education the Supreme Court cited psychologist Kenneth B. Clark for evidence that segregation damaged black children’s self-esteem and hampered their ability to learn. Clark and his wife Mamie had tested black children’s “racial preference” by asking them to choose between black dolls and white dolls, interpreting the choice of white dolls as evidence of damaged self-esteem. After Brown, the Clarks’ studies set the parameters for research on racial identity, self-esteem, and child development—even though they were discredited on methodological and statistical grounds in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Subsequent research showed that the doll tests do not measure self-esteem and, further, that African American children do not have low self-esteem. Nonetheless, social science remains invested in the conception of proper racial identification. The doll tests’ contested history suggests that we need to replace this conception with a model of adaptive, negotiated, and hybrid racial identification.

**: Interestingly, in ancient Norse Mythology, as an aside—Heimdall was said to be the creator of social classes—but in Whedon, it is all a matter of freedom of thought and the dangers of selling one’s soul in exchange therefor)

***: Despite several potential racial themes, there were no overt or even covert or indirect references to Naziism in Thor at all, except for possibly two “twisted crosses”—these were soft-s-shaped serpents crossing and so perhaps not even intended as such, but the architectural layout of the SHIELD (SHIELD = “Men in Black”) field laboratory built around Thor’s hammer (misidentified by SHIELD scientists as a satellite but sent to earth by All Father Odin/Wotan as an afterthought to banishing his son Thor Odinsson).  The compound looked to me from a brief side aerial view to have the elements of a two intertwined s-shaped snakes, possibly a circumscribed twisted cross.  But then at the very end, in a plug for some of Thor’s coming reappearance in the Avengers, there was a box which contained what was described as a place of confluence of myth, legend, and history—an great power source—in fact a source of “UNLIMITED POWER”, and it clearly appears to be electricity charging in a very distinctly double interlocking S-shaped hackenkreuz.  I really don’t think there’s any mistaking the serpentine Swastika as this source of “Unlimited Power”—and apparently Loki is going to play a major role in the next movie in trying to exploit this source.  Infinite, unlimited power described by or emanating from a Twisted Cross—what a concept!  I had had doubts when I first saw this last scene on opening night but sure to my prediction/threat in the first edition of this review essay, I did in fact follow up on all of this by seeing this movie four times on its first four days in Santa Monica.

**** exemplum gratia: Shelley Sue Thomson (see e.g. elsewhere on this blog: https://charleslincoln3.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/for-jon-roland-you-hypocrite-lecteur-mon-semblable-mon-frere-and-for-shelley-sue-thomson-for-whom-i-won-a-fast-and-speedy-victory-taking-her-from-near-homeless-slums-to-a-nearly-palatial/#comments.   But this is just to name a one out of thousands of New Age/NeoPagan types, who congregate all over North Central New Mexico especially around Albuquerque, Los Alamos, Galisteo, Roswell, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, and Pecos).

{*****For whatever mysterious reason, the Frost Giants in fact look rather like Greenskinned Lorne/Krevlornswath of the Deathwok Clan in Joss Whedon’s “Angel” (Loki’s Green-skinned “Father” Laufe (a purposeful sexual misidentification?) even resembles the late Andy Hallett (1975-2009) in facial features and speech.}