A Donut's date with destiny
#1 of 20 from the Yaldabaoth's Witnesses postcard set During the tense blockade crisis of West Berlin, John F. Kennedy gave a now famous speech in which he used the phrase "Ich bin ein Berliner" to demonstrate solidarity with the people of the beleaguered city. He meant to say "Ich bin Berliner"; "ein berliner" is slang for a local variety of pastry. Perhaps his misguided attempt at stirring rhetoric boomeranged later when, not unlike a donut, he squirted jelly all over the streets of Dallas. This piece asks questions about symbols. Kennedy tried to use symbolic speech in Berlin and failed to humorous effect. Oliver Stone used Kennedy's assassination as a symbol of corruption and made a lot of money for himself in the process. Gay groups protested the depiction of gay conspirators in the film as too effeminate, etc. Kennedy is, to many people, a Christ-like symbol of everything good about the Presidency, despite his numerous affairs, the Bay of Pigs and his role in our involvement in Vietnam. The entire event has passed from history into myth; apparently no speculation is now off limits as too far-fetched or unlikely. As a corollary to this mystification of the Kennedy assassination, one notes also the degree to which art about "ordinary" assassination has lost much of its taboo status: witness the relative mildness with which Washington art critics greeted Jesse Helms' recent spoken-word piece "Bodyguards," in which the Foreign Relations Committee's venerable chairman warned that Bill Clinton would "need a bodyguard" in North Carolina. Disclaimer: Even if the sexagenarian Senator's provocative prose had been well received (it wasn't), common sense would still seem to dictate that a sitting president makes an extremely poor choice of subject for this brand of political parody.
The Alien God contains everything else
"Since, then, there was nothing - no matter... nothing simple, nothing complex.. no man, no angel, no god, not anything that is named or perceived...the nonexistent God wished, without intelligence, without sense, without will... to make... the seed of the universe. The seed of the universe contained everything within it... Everything... of which one can speak, and even of which one cannot speak because it does not exist; everything which was necessarily going to adapt itself to the universe which was to come... all these beings existed, deposited in the seed." ”Basilide's System.” The Other Bible. Ed. Willis Barnstone. Harper San Francisco, 1984. 620-630.
Sophia Gives Birth to Life
"The power which overflowed from the Woman...fell from above [and] came down directly upon the waters, when they were motionless, and set them in motion, moving boldly as far as the abysses; and it took a body for itself from them." "The Sethian Ophites." The Other Bible. Ed. Willis Barnstone. Harper San Francisco, 1984. 661.
"They say that the soul is the food of the Rulers and powers without which they cannot live, because she is of the dew from above and gives them strength. When she has become imbued with knowledge... she ascends to heaven and gives a defence before each power and thus mounts beyond them to the upper Mother and Father of the All whence she came down into this world." Jonas, Hans. The Gnostic Religion. Beacon Press, 1991. 169. An archetypal image that came to me in a dream: a young woman's journey into the mysterious lands of fertility and adult sexuality. Dazed by toxic shock syndrome and lost in a hallucination, she rides a magic-carpet tampon off into an ethereal repesentation of Primal Woman while all-seeing eggs drift lazily by. According to gnostic mythology, the goddess Barbelo created the universe of time, space and matter through a similar act of primordial cosmic menstruation - such ideas are also reflected in language: mother=matter=matrix=meses, etc.
In the gnostic cosmology, darkness can produce only darkness, while ignorance inevitably gives rise to yet more ignorance. In like fashion, I have here depicted Pat Robertson, noted televangelist and longtime luminary of the American Religious Right, playing with his ideological "newborn," infamous Oklahoma Federal building bomber Timothy McVeigh. Bill Clinton looks on in befuddled dismay at this curious scene, while the Waco compound burns in the background. Robertson, and those like him, delighted in describing Clinton administration officials as "jackbooted thugs" - was it really so surprising when someone finally took their rhetoric seriously?
Yaldabaoth Blasphemes and Declares himself God
"Opening his eyes he saw a vast quantity of Matter without limit; and he became arrogant, saying, "It is I who am God, and there is none other apart from me!" When he said this, he sinned against the Entirety. And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power saying, "You are mistaken, Samael."" And he said, "If any other thing exists before me, let it become visible to me!" And immediately Sophia stretched forth her finger and introduced Light into Matter; and she pursued it down to the region of Chaos. And she returned up to her light; once again Darkness returned to Matter." ”Hypostasis of the Archons.” The Other Bible. Ed. Willis Barnstone. Harper San Francisco, 1984. 79.
#7 of 20 in the Yaldabaoth's Witnesses postcard set
"Because of this deed... [the Chief Ruler] was afraid lest perhaps the man come into his molded body and rule over it. Because of this, he left his molded body forty days without soul. And he withdrew and left him." ”On the Origin of the World.” The Other Bible. Ed. Willis Barnstone. Harper San Francisco, 1984. 69.
Reverse Psychology of the Gods
"Then the seven took counsel. They came to Adam and Eve timidly. They said to him… "Every tree which is in Paradise, whose fruit may be eaten, was created for you. But beware! Don't eat from the Tree of Knowledge. If you do eat, you will die." After they gave them a great fright, they withdrew up to their Authorities." ”On the Origin of the World.” The Other Bible. Ed. Willis Barnstone. Harper San Francisco, 1984. 71.
The Phony Fall
"Then the rulers came to the instructor. Their eyes were blinded by him so that they were not able to do anything to him. They merely cursed him since they were impotent. Afterward they came to the woman, and they cursed her and her sons. After the woman they cursed Adam and the earth and the fruit because of him. And everything which they created they cursed…" ”On the Origin of the World.” The Other Bible. Ed. Willis Barnstone. Harper San Francisco, 1984. 71.
Adam the Golem
"The body moved, and became powerful. And it was enlightened. At once the rest of the powers became jealous. Although Adam had come into being through all of them, and they had given their power to this human, yet Adam was more intelligent than the creators and the first Ruler…" “The Secret Book of John.” The Secret Teachings of Jesus. Trans. Marvin W. Meyer. Vintage, 1984. 75.
#14 of 20 from the Yaldabaoth's Witnesses postcard set During the 1980 Republican primaries, then-candidate George Bush accused front-runner Ronald Reagan of using "voodoo economics," a statement he later retracted so that he could become Vice President. One wonders in what obscure way this statement may have reverberated in the brain of a man so obviously captivated by symbol and myth. Did this rhetorical attack somehow contribute to Reagan's later health problems? Or was Reagan's shadow-play presidency itself a sort of voodoo, a curse which backfired? Metaphorical speech figured heavily in the Reagan persona. As an actor, Reagan was skilled at presenting policy in terms of anecdote and archetype, easing the passage of otherwise unpalatable proposals by referencing such popular motifs as Star Wars, the evil empire and the welfare queen. Using symbols to magical effect, he helped fill the stomachs of needy children by turning ketchup into a vegetable, reminding one of Jesus turning water into wine. "A big lie will be more easily believed than a small one," Hitler said; Reagan applied this principle with a vengeance. As Reagan relied on symbols and myths, he also fell prey to them. He agreed with Jerry Falwell that nuclear weapons would probably herald the second coming of Jesus. He scheduled his meetings based on astrological omens. He claimed at one point that the Sandanistas were but a few days march from Texas. Though most people polled disagreed with Reagan's actual policies, the public and press were so awed by the personality of this lovable grandfather that he was, in the end, seemingly accountable to nothing but his own fantasies. "Let Reagan be Reagan," the pundits said; was this some sort of profession of faith, like "there is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet?" Perhaps the public wanted nothing more from Reagan in the first place than pleasing myths, the myth of Reagan foremost among them. A chronic fibber known to nap in meetings, Reagan "forgot" more than sixty times what had been going on during his presidency while testifying before the Congress. Unsurprisingly, he was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Crappy Meal for Kids
#15 of 20 from the Yaldabaoth's Witnesses postcard set Millions of people starve all over the world, and yet we in the industrialized west remain hypnotized by a clown who dances around in that candy-coated parallel universe called television enticing children to eat more ground beef. Of course this is due largely to the course of human evolution - we crave salt, fat and sugar because they were essential to our survival as primitive hunter gatherers. Today, however, this diet contributes only to heart disease and deforestation. Ironically, the clown at right and the children at left both have bloated stomachs, though for entirely different reasons. The puffed-up bellies of starving children mystified me as a child, but apparently it's due to some sort of gas generated by tissue breakdown. This picture can also be seen as a representation of the haves vs. the have-nots in its most basic form. The gap between them is also a gap in understanding.
Beware of God
"God is a man-eater. For this reason men are sacrificed to him. Before men were sacrificed animals were being sacrificed, since those to whom they were sacrificed were not gods." "The Gospel of Philip." The Other Bible. Ed. Willis Barnstone. Harper San Francisco, 1984. 92.
The Curse of Work
"... [the Rulers] threw Mankind into great distraction and into a life of toil, so that their Mankind might be occupied by worldly affairs, and might not have the opportunity of being devoted to the Holy Spirit." ”Hypostasis of the Archons.” The Other Bible. Ed. Willis Barnstone. Harper San Francisco, 1984. 77.
Interview Hint #3
#18 of 20 from the Yaldabaoth's Witnesses postcard set Created in the early 1990s, during the first Bush recession. "I haven't even found a job yet, and I hate my new boss already!"
Advertising is Poison Gas
#19 of 20 from the Yaldabaoth's Witnesses postcard set "Advertising," wrote 60s era ad-man George Lois, "is poison gas. It should bring tears to your eyes. It should unhinge your nervous system. It should knock you out!" This image depicts the founder of the Japanese cult "Aum Supreme Truth," who tried numerous times to release poison gas into the Tokyo subway system, flanked by two beautiful fetish-babes as an infomercial for poison gas runs on the corporate AV system beneath him. The sad thing is, Madison Avenue probably would take a homocidal Japanese cult as a client if the money was good enough!
Newt World Order?
#20 of 20 from the Yaldabaoth's Witnesses postcard set I have here depicted Newt Gingrich, one-time spokesman for the American Right, wearing an "empathy simulator," a device used to scare teenage boys into abstinence. Mr. Gingrich, a proponent of "family values" who divorced his wife (hospitalized with cancer at the time) so that he could pursue an affair with a female staffer, is unmoved by the "empathy simulator" - indeed, he is shown laughing at the antics of Tupac Shakur, a former gang member and ghetto poet who was alive at the time of this postcard's creation. In the picture, Tupac pleads with Mr. Gingrich to empathize with his own "Thug Life" as WWII-era American concentration camp detainees (shown here in a camp in Japan) loom ominously in the background. At the time Mr. Gingrich was elected, by the way, a full 61% of the electorate stayed home and chose not vote - thus ushering in a (mercifully brief) "Newt World Order."