Friday, 12 December 2008

At the Mountain of Madness

'The Crimson King jumps from body to body to generation to generation like a kid using stepping stones to cross a brook, Ralph, always looking for the Messiah. He's always missed him, but this time it could be different. Because Derry's different. All lines of force have begun to converge here.'
- Stephen King

In our last post we looked at the Leopold Cafe, another of the ten locations targeted during November's attacks that reveals a keen symbolic strategy underlying the apparently random events. It was in the Leopold that Joey Jeetun, the actor mentioned in our second article in this series, see here, was unfortunate enough to be caught up in the violence. (Mr Jeetun, the reader will recall, was last seen on British TV screens as Shehzad Tanweer, in a Channel 5 drama based on the events of July 7th.) Leopold's is a well-known place for the acting fraternity (and sorority) to meet and schmooze; Mumbai is the centre of the Indian Bollywood industry, and Leopold's is where directors turn to for white-skinned extras needed for crowd scenes.

Considering this, and the fact that (through Slumdog Millionaire- see here) the Mumbai shootings already connect in some way to the business of film, it is noteworthy that a further landmark targeted in the attacks was the Metro BIG Cinema, formerly the Metro Adlabs: formerly the most famous 'red carpet' cinema in India. The details of the events are hard to determine with any accuracy, but from what I can glean the Metro suffered what could be construed as 'friendly fire' during the carjacking of a police vehicle which just happened to be nearby. (This followed shortly after the worst of the killing at the nearby Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus.) Other reports describe 'a blast' going off outside the Art Deco building. The officers whose vehicle the terrorists 'requisitioned' were injured, one fatally; thought it would appear that no 'civilians' were killed at this location. Despite this, I find it significant that the building was flagged up in several subsequent reports, and may even have been peppered with bullets during the attacks themselves; and thus 'marked', as it were, as a clue for investigators by the Secret Commonwealth directing the danse macabre.

The Metro, which opened in 1938, was designed by Thomas W Lamb in the Adamesque Art Deco style which was popular at the time. At BTB we have seen several examples of art movements which might more accurately be regarded as esoteric schools- see here; and it is possible, without too much reaching, to perceive similar influences at work here. The shortlived Art Deco 'craze' was informed by forces too numerous to mention; but three of the most significant, in my opinion, were Modernism, Futurism and Cubism... all of which had substantial 'goetic' (or occult) elements. In essence, Modernism was a revolutionary movement, which encouraged the examination of every aspect of existence as thoroughly and ruthlessly as any path of magical initiation. The Rites of Spring, a Modernist ballet by Igor Stravinsky, fused dissonance and paganism to such disturbing (and innovative) effect that its first performance was 'marred' by a serious riot in Paris in May 1913. 'The wise elders are seated in a circle and are observing the dance before death of the girl whom they are offering as a sacrifice to the god of Spring...' said Stravinsky, of the imagery that prompted the genesis of the work. The original set design and costumes used in this epochal musical text were by Nicholas Roerich, an artist and Theosophist cited by H P Lovecraft in his 1931 novella, At the Mountains of Madness.

Futurism, which surfaced in Italy in the early years of the twentieth century, exemplified this strain of artistic and revolutionary anarchy, preaching a message of radical change, militarism and 'war- the world's only hygiene' (a line from the Futurist Manifesto, published in 1909.) Indeed, the Futurists were one of the first to articulate the gospel of violence- leading to a purified world, helmed by the 'Supermen' of the white race- which has since been adopted not only by fascist organisations, but is implicit within much Theosophical and New Age thought also. Whilst active in all artistic media, Futurism was propogated most passionately by a group of young Milanese painters, in whose works its magical, (lower) astral origins are most apparent. According to Wikipedia:

'The Futurists aimed through their art to enable the viewer to apprehend the inner being of what they depicted... The work attempts to convey feelings and sensations experienced in time, using new means of expression, including 'lines of force'... 'simultaneity', which combined memories, present impressions and anticipation of future events, and 'emotional ambience' in which the artist seeks by intuition to link sympathies between the exterior scene and interior emotion.' (Click here.)

The results were remarkably similar to the intriguing experiment conducted by the Theosophical occultist C W Leadbeater, in a number of locations including London's Parliament Hill. Writes author Charles Walker, in The Atlas of Occult Britain:

'Working towards the end of the nineteenth century, he described in great deatil what he himself saw clairvoyantly on the astral plane... to a small group of artists, so that they might make pictures of the forms and colours which he described, and thereby obtain an approximation to his inner vision. The astral forms he described were later called 'thought forms', an extensive literature developed around them and very many paintings were made of the curious formations which are said to be created... whenever a person thinks or feels about anything... [These] drawings were all abstract, and have been described by the art historian Sixten Ringbom as being indeed the first truly abstract paintings. It is no accident that the book in which the body of this strange artistic work was published should have fallen into the possession of Wassily Kandinsky (an active occultist), who is generally supposed to have painted the first abstract pictures in the first decade of our own century.' [Emphasis mine.]

The influences of these artistic-esoteric schools, both Modernist and Futurist, bled through into Art Deco; and are represented, however subliminally, in Mumbai's Metro Cinema. Yet more provocative, however, is the influence upon Art Deco of Cubism: whose roots in psychic and paranormal phenomena are even more overt.

Founded in Paris, Cubism was the creative synthesis born from the interplay of three principals: Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque; and the catalytic influence of Gertrude Stein, something of a eminence grise behind many contemporary developments and events in the early twentieth century. Before this, Stein attended Radcliffe College (in Cambridge, Massachusetts); and studied under the pioneering psychologist and student of mysticism, William James. It was he, according to Wikipedia, 'who first discovered, and then encouraged, her great capacity for automatic writing, a stream of consciousness technique in which the conscious mind is suspended and the unconscious directly evoked.' [Emphasis mine.] It was Stein, this natural (Jewish) clairvoyant, who first introduced Picasso to Henri Matisse: 'at a time when both artists had recently acquired an interest in African art and African tribal masks'; a fascination inherited by the Art Deco group, who drew inspiration from Africa, Aztec Mexico and Ancient Egypt. How much of this was due to the psychic facilitation of Gertrude Stein?

Most curious of all, however, and connecting most clearly to Mumbai, is the crucible of Cubism at Montmartre, Paris. Now part of the Right Bank, this hill- which lends its name to the surrounding district (of the eighteenth arrondissement)- is one of those very special places where things just seem to pour in. Deriving its name from Mons Martis- 'Mount of Mars'- the area is famous not only for sponsoring such great artists as Dali, van Gogh and Monet, but is also claimed to be the location where the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits, was founded. Through Cubism, the birth of Art Deco can be traced to this omphalos (where now stands the triple-domed Basilique du Sacre-Coeur); and so too can the Society of Jesus, who were also targeted in the Mumbai shootings, according to reports of explosions and gunfire from behind the Jesuit-owned college of St Xavier.

So what, pray, is its significance? Could it be its yet older status as a holy place sacred to the Druids, those magical workers whose influence we have already traced running through the fabric of these attacks? (See here.) The church, under the aegis of Templarism, co-opted many former Druidic shrines, using them to launch their great arches of the thirteenth century, in the style known as 'Gothic'. Gothic, as noted, is derived from goetik- meaning 'magical'- and gothic targets seem to have been selected over and above any others by the Mumbai terror squads, and their friends in the Secret Commonwealth. The Victoria Terminus, the Taj Mahal Hotel, the Gateway of India and St Xavier's College are all examples of the Druidic-Gothic-goetik axis of influence. But the birth of Art Deco at Montmartre strikes me as significant for an even more specific reason, drawn from history of a rather more recent pedigree.

Mons Martis- the 'Mount of Mars'- survived, in name, only until the Merovingian period; during which time it was Christianised as Montmatre, 'mountain of the martyr.' The event which its revised name references is the martyrdom of St Denis, the hill's patron saint, who was martyred there (according to legend) around 250 AD. (Denis was the Bishop of Paris and is a hugely important figure in the French imagination.) Often appearing in headless form, St Denis derives his name from Dionysius- and as a result, is often confused with the legends of Dionysius the Areopagite. He is, moreover, a direct 'steal' from the pre-Christian mystery religions, one of whose most popular gods was Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy, who was known to the Romans as Bacchus. To pagans from time immemorial, Dionysus has been known as Pan, the bringer of madness: the symbol par excellence of the Secret Commonwealth, the Faery Folk; and all who do its bidding. The name of this god is at the root of our modern words panic and pandemonium- precisely what the shooters brought to Mumbai; and tracing the birth of Art Deco to Mons Martis, the (real) mountain of madness, exposes the fingerprints of that same mischevious lord all over those sad and terrible events...

The Empire never ended... More to follow.

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