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A Funny Thing Happened at the Cinema.
One of the most disturbing films in recent times is a film called Jacob’s Ladder written by Bruce Joel Rubin and directed by Adrian Lyne an expert in moral sabotage (4 previous counts of moral corruption: Lolita, Indecent Proposal Fatal Attraction, and Nine and a Half weeks). Lynes’ first film was a short film entitled Mr Smith in which we are rather charmingly allowed to view the last half an hour of Mr Smith’s life before his own suicide. Anyway regardless of Lyne’s dubious artistic merit, back to Jacob’s Ladder. Tim Robbins plays a character called Jacob Singer, a Vietnam veteran who seems to be plagued by frightening hallucinations, it appears to be a case of post traumatic stress syndrome: a form of schizophrenia caused by the terrible emotional stresses suffered in the war zone. There is a clear link between psychotic illness symptoms and PTSD and the connection is clearly made by expert on veteran’s mental health Dr Matthew Tull:[i]
“It has been suggested that the experience of psychotic symptoms in those with PTSD may be connected to the experience of dissociation. Frequent dissociation may increase the risk for the development of psychotic symptoms. And studies have shown that people with PTSD who experience psychotic symptoms, as compared to those who do not, may be at greater risk for a number of problems, such as suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and greater overall distress.”
From early on in the film we are subjected to various types of sudden shock. The name of the film comes from the Biblical story of Jacob, otherwise known as Israel (Yisra’el – he who wrestles with God)[ii]. This passage is particularly significant for the Jewish people because it is in this passage from Genesis that God apparently promises the whole Earth to the Jewish people during a dream Jacob has where he sees God and the angels at the top of a staircase who tells him: “Your descendents will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’[iii]
Jacob had twelve sons, Reuben, Dan, Judah and so on, who in turn became patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jacob’s ladder is also a key symbol of Freemasonry and represents the arduous journey to perfection, or at least what passes for Masonic perfection, which as we have seen , is probably a form of mental illness where morality ceases to exist and they run around abusing children for ‘charidee’. A well known Masonic allegory is ‘To be a star, you must shine your own light, follow your path, and don’t worry about the darkness, for that is when the stars shine brightest’. Obviously, if a Mason is advised not to ‘worry about the darkness’ apparently darkness being indispensible to the condition of a star shining brightly, then we see that due to confusion and misunderstanding, the Masons are encouraged to engage in unpleasant and evil acts and we return to the idea of ‘moral relativism’ which we first encountered in the Eleusinian mysteries.
At the top of Jacob’s ladder we see a star representing the sun, the sun being the Masonic pinnacle of wisdom and they themselves style themselves sons of light or sons of the sun.[iv] According to Masonic writer William Tyler Olcott , the word Freemason may originate in the ancient Egyptian words for Children and Sun: Phre Mas, hence Freemason[v]. There is certainly some truth in the Sun being the source of all good and all light in the solar system, it is quite another to be aware of this ultimate ‘good’ yet continue to enjoy amoral and despicable pleasures because you have become aware that God is an impersonal being who won’t judge you.
And so we have Hollywood stars like Tim Robbins who shine in their own light, without worrying about the darkness they sow in their midst through the nature of the entertainments they produce.
But to return to Jacob’s Ladder, we have a man named Tim Robbins pretending to be a man named Jacob Singer and Tim Robbins is also pretending to be suffering from what appears to be PTSD. How ‘Jake’ apparently has some army buddies, but they are in reality, just more actors pretending to be his army buddies. Tim Robbins who is playing the entirely fictitious and fanciful character of Jacob Singer also talks to another actor who is pretending to be his psychiatrist because if you remember, Tim Robbins is pretending to be a character who appears to have PTSD.
It may seem odd for me to relate the plot synopsis of Jacob’s Ladder in the above very facetious manner, but this is precisely how you yourself should be viewing the film if only you engaged the analytical left hemisphere of your brain while you were watching it. You wouldn’t be sucked in by the illusion of the things happening on the screen because you would always be aware of the fact that none of it was real. However due to the nature of the electromagnet radiation emanating from the screen, you are slightly hypnotised and as a result you end up watching the film with more or less your right brain engaged and your left brain silenced. Therefore you go along with the story, and you believe in the characters and their interrelationships and you start to enjoy the film only because your right brain is taking in the emotional content and telling you it is real.
The effect of watching a glowing screen is somewhat similar to the relaxing and comforting feeling you get from looking at a real fire. Similarly your feel comfortable, secure and your brain starts to release dopamine as part of an ancestral old reward circuit for getting yourself next to a source of light and warmth.
The film Vanilla sky is very similar to Jacob’s ladder as there seems to be a current of malaise throughout the film as to the simple fact of the hero’s existence and just what is happening to him. The BBC television show Ashes to Ashes, written by Ashley Pharaoh bravely exposed Freemasonry in its previous series by reminding viewers of what was common knowledge in the early eighties, namely their connection to organised crime after the perpetrator of the Brinks Matt bullion robbery Kenneth Noye was found to be a Freemason[vi]. The second series of Ashes to Ashes made it clear that the ongoing phenomenon of police corruption has less to do with the odd copper taking a back hander and turning a blind eye, but more to do with the machinations of an international secret society which involves itself equally with the law, with crime, with the sex industry (the legal, the immoral, and the highly illegal sides) and with metaphysics.
It is quite appropriate that a gentlemen named Pharaoh wrote Ashes to Ashes as there is something of the initiation school drama about its content. Indeed, all of the films I have just mentioned: Jacob’s Ladder; Vanilla Sky, and I am going to add Fight Club to the list, are all examples of mystery school initiations which the viewer becomes involved in. If you recall, in a previous chapter I mention that the ancient Greek mystery school religions had the initiate view the re-enactment of a scene from Greek myth and usually involving the Gods in one way or another. Great effort was made by the priests to make the scene appear not only realistic, but utterly convincing, the initiate had to believe they were in the company of the Gods otherwise the initiation would not have the required effect. Indeed, after the ceremonies of the Eleusinian mysteries the initiate was asked if they believed what they had seen to be real, apparently a ‘no’ answer would spell death for the initiate who could not be allowed to remain alive to tell others the mysteries were frauds perpetrated by mere actors.
The purpose of the initiations, was mainly twofold. Firstly the sealing of the initiate in a common bond or mutual understanding (and for this reason the initiations were either shocking, terrifying, blasphemous or indeed all three). A fairly well-known example of bonding men in mutual blasphemy would be the initiations of the Knights Templar who were said to have spat upon the cross and apparently engaged in homosexual acts[vii]. Some modern day Masonic commentators attempt to defend the Templars’ reputation[viii] by imputing these confessions to the manner in which they were extracted, namely through torture sanctioned by the church, but homosexual rites would be perfectly in keeping with the ancient Greek pagan secret societies and are echoed in the rites of more modern societies like the Ordo Templi Orientis.[ix]
A second principal purpose of the initiation was to affect a change in the thought processes and attitudes of the initiate and modify his mind in tune with what the secret society required of him.
Now television and film have a major advantage over the early pagan mystery schools and modern secret societies who attempt to instil the belief in the candidate that what they are seeing is real. All sorts of special effects, illusions, trickery and perhaps even forms of hypnosis, were and are used in the secret rites of the secret societies. But it is hard work and not one detail can be out of place because in a second the spell could be broken when the initiate realises it is all imposture.
By nature of the technology of film and television, the mind is already partially hypnotised and made extremely suggestible by the radiation coming from the screen. Of course, the actors must be good actors, get their lines right, and the sets and scenery must be authentic enough and true to life. But basically by the time the film or TV show starts, the viewer’s mind is ready to suspend his or her disbelief and immerse themselves in the unfolding drama because we are no longer using our analytical left brain when engaging in television content, as Wes Moore’s research in his article Television: Opiate of the Masses:[x]
“The right brain processes information in wholes, leading to emotional rather than intelligent responses. We cannot rationally attend to the content presented on television because that part of our brain is not in operation.’
So we are ready to absorb and digest whatever frightful, disturbing or unpleasant messages they have in store for us, completely without the defence of our left brain which would be able to remind us ‘it’s not real.
The films Vanilla sky, Fight Club, Jacob’s Ladder and the series Ashes to Ashes, all have plots where the main protagonist no longer knows what is real. At the start of these films everything seems pretty much tickety-boo: In Vanilla Sky, Tom Cruise’s character enjoys casual sex with a character played by Cameron Diaz without the apparent need of committing himself to her in any way. Jacob Singer is immediately introduced as a veteran of the Vietnam war, despite the obvious ‘right and wrongs’ of war there is no doubt that there is a certain amount of prestige and respect which comes from being involved in a theatre of war; he also seems to be an eminently likeable person with a ready and charming smile. Edward Norton’s character from Fight-Club is a well heeled yuppie with a fabulous condo with all mod-cons; he is also the narrator of the entire film so we immediately acquiesce to him as the ‘story teller’. To some extent all these characters have a measure of stability which we as viewer can relate to: most of us have achieved a measure of stability because we have striven for it. We know we need a steady income and a pleasant place to live and be around people we like, this is largely a reasonable and achievable goal for most people and it is probably the best definition of ‘normality’ I can think of. So immediately we identify with the characters, or we even slightly envy them and would like to be more like them. This also is a psychological trick for further encouraging us to lower our guard relating to the film’s content and message because not only are the characters played by Tim Robbins and Tom Cruise in these films, attractive and generally good natured, but the persona of the actors themselves is that they are seen as ‘good guys’. So we feel reassured by them, we like them, and we believe that anything Tom Cruise is involved in, must be good to watch. Quite why we should trust people based on the imaginary characters they play or the script that has been written for them should be analysed. Not only that but do any of us really even know if Tom Cruise is a good person? All we even see of him is the carefully stage managed photo opportunities and guest appearances on TV shows, we certainly only ever get to see his ‘good side’ so not only is our perception of Tom Cruise a myth, but our perception of him through the characters is a further myth within a myth.
The esoteric aims of secret societies has always been to help the initiate transcend their present reality. Some call it union with God, Illumination, enlightenment, oneness, transcendence.
Religions have a similar aim, but are content to merely remind their adherents that this world is illusory, they refrain however from trying to prove the fact with an actual first hand experience, this is the domain of the esoteric cults.
In Islam, the world is described as ‘unreal’.
‘The life of this world is nothing but an illusion.’[xiii]
In Sikhism and Buddhism, the term ‘Maya’ refers to the fundamental unreality of this apparent physical existence:
‘You are squandering this life uselessly in the love of Maya’ and also ‘for that which we cannot see, feel, smell, touch, or understand, we do not believe. For this we are merely fool walking in the grounds of great potential with no comprehension of what it is.’[xiv]
Socrates himself considered the world of forms to be an illusion which mankind seems unable to see beyond. In his famous allegory of the cave[xv] Plato records Socrates describing a situation where a group of prisoners are shackled to the ground, unable to move or turn their heads in any direction, and thus reduced to staring at the wall of a cave. Far behind them is a burning fire, and in front of the fire but still behind the prisoners, is the movement of real objects and people parading back and forth continuously. The image of these objects and people is projected onto the wall of the cave, along with the sound produced, which echoes off the wall and reaches the ears of the prisoners.
Socrates’ contention was that someone who had been staring at these images on the wall all of their lives would assume that this was the ultimate reality and would have no suspicion that what they took for reality was merely the shadow, or projection of a much deeper and authentic reality. He also goes on to say that so entranced would the whole society become by the illusions on the wall, that what passed for intelligence among these people, would be the prisoner’s ability to guess which shadow would appear next. This metaphor is particularly apt today with the dominance of dogmatic scientific humanism and its conceited cleverness at being able to predict and analyse the shadows on the wall, but its complete inability to really track down the source of life itself and the deeper significance of our life on earth.
While religion teaches people to seek to be aware of the transitory and illusory nature of our Earthly experience, secret societies go one step further and seek to directly show their initiates this fact. This is what is known as ‘Gnosis’, from the Greek term ‘knowledge’. This Gnosis has been the key of secret society teachings since time began, but the practice of Gnosticism has always been frowned upon by the religious movements of history. Whether it is the semi heretical Islamic mystical movement of the Sufis who seek direct knowledge of God without the intermediary of Mohamed, contrary to the Qur’an’s teaching, or similarly the Gnostic Christians who have strayed so far from the practise of Christianity that Gnosticism is now revered as a key term among pagan and Wiccan groups. One can now be a ‘Gnostic’ without being a Christian and without even believing in Jesus, indeed it is perhaps a decided advantage.
The secret societies teach their chosen initiates ‘gnosis’ or what they consider ‘knowledge of God’. They learned the techniques from Sufi groups such as the Assassins of Prince Hasan ibn-al-Sabbah[xvi] who they encountered in Persia during the early crusades[xvii]. It was from him that Europe relearned the ancient methods of initiation and transcendence which had been extremely common in ancient Greece and Rome, and which had enabled them to perfect a social order based on empire, trade and exploitation. This is why the Islamic empire formed within such a relatively short period of time after the invading Islamic armies swept into North Africa and how the Muslims achieved such astonishing scientific feats and had advanced knowledge of astronomy. Most people today don’t know that many of the stars in the night sky were given names by Arab astronomers. Aldebaran, Altair, Betelgeuse are all Arabic words meaning ‘the follower’, ‘the eagle’ and ‘the giant’s shoulder’ respectively. Many of our English words are words which we have derived from Arabic terms: algebra, chemistry, and even alcohol. The word chemistry shows the extraordinary and convoluted descent of this knowledge. Chemistry comes from alchemy, an Arabic term, which in turn is derived from the ancient Greek ‘Chemia’ which in itself was a version of the ancient Egyptian word ‘Keme’ which meant ‘black earth’. This word alone shows the vital ‘bridge’ that the Arab civilisation formed between our present day civilisation and the ancient knowledge of the past which would otherwise have been lost.
So these techniques of Gnosis were retained by the Arabs, personally I was told while I was living in Egypt that the Arabs learned the ancient secrets from deciphering the murals and hieroglyphs on the walls of the ancient temples. All of this is quite ironic considering the efforts of the present day cabal of Masonic politicians who seem to have their hearts set on demonising Islam and trying to instigate as many wars in Muslim countries as possible. Indeed, we note that it was the Sufis who were instrumental in deciphering the temple hieroglyphs and allowing the Muslim world access to the ancient secrets of science and astrology. Perhaps if those early scholars: Sufis such as Dhu Al-Nun Al-Misri[xviii] and Abu Ja’far Al-Idrisi[xix] (who wrote about the great pyramids and their connection to the celestial bodies) had not been so conscientious in their work then the modern West would not be here today to threaten their countries with war and revolution.
What we are seeing in the stills taken from the early part of Jacob’s ladder is a subliminal suggestion. When a camera focuses on a particular shot in a film it means that it is important to the development of the story, much more so if the shot is prolonged for more than five seconds or so. The shots below are intended to implant in the viewer’s mind the idea that something is not quite right about the environment is which Jacob Singer finds himself. At face value we have an advert for a drug advice hotline and in the second instance we simply have a women who neither speaks nor understands English. However because a series of events arise in quick succession which almost sees Jacob run down by an underground train, we are led into sharing Jacob’s disordered state of mind and a search for coherence and meaning from environmental clues. Clearly Jacob is suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome as a result of his time spent in Vietnam; this condition is similar to schizophrenia in that ordinarily banal events take on a more sinister meaning. To the schizophrenic, the sign below might trigger a delusion that the sufferer is actually in a metaphorical or literal hell, the silent woman also would engender a negative connotation.
Below we see Jacob trying to communicate with the receptionist at the hospital which he visits as part of his Veteran Affairs counselling. It seems that the receptionist does not know the name of the counsellor Jacob is referring to, and it is then that Jacob starts to lose control of his speech and has trouble articulating, this is one of the classic, principal symptoms of schizophrenia, indeed, a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be made by a doctor if this symptom is present along with at least one other. The nurse then bends over her records causing her nurse cap to fall off, exposing some sort of bone tumour, Jacob sees this and appears shocked and loses balance. It is clear that what are fairly commonplace and plausible occurrences, in combination like this and with a man suffering from a psychological condition, are likely to affect a schizophrenic much more profoundly than a normal person, and more worryingly, since he is the protagonist and we are seeing the world through his eyes in many instances, then we as the viewer are sucked into his delusions as well. We the viewer start to share his schizophrenic perception of reality.
Jake then goes to the nightclub where there is a strong strobe light and has hallucinations of a serpent tailed man dancing with and then killing his girlfriend. It is worthwhile pointing out that my experiences with LSD as a student inform me that hallucinations are much more likely to take place in a darkened room where the actual form of objects is indistinct, and particularly if there are strobe lights present, indeed one of the major appeals of the acid house and later ecstasy raves, would be the ‘visuals’ and hallucinations one could expect while tripping. As we have seen previously, schizophrenia involves production by the body of adrenochrome which is a psychoactive hallucinogen and is responsible for many of the distinctively uncomfortable symptoms and feelings of ‘unreality’ which are so distinctive of schizophrenia. He speaks to a fortune teller who looking at his palm jokingly tells him: ‘you’re dead sugar.’
Afterwards, and in a state of some confusion and bewilderment after a heated argument with his girlfriend Jake visits his chiropractor Louis. He is a reassuring presence throughout the film and as he starts massaging him and he tells him to ‘relax, this is going to be a little strong’ at that point Jake has a flashback and ‘I found one, I think he’s still alive’ is heard. It seems that Jake and the viewer draw an association between the chiropractor’s actions and the fact that Jake has had a flashback; the fact that Louis replies ‘I had to get in there: it’s a deep adjustment’. Jake then mentions the weird flashes he’s been having and Louis nods sagely as if he understands. As you can see in the image, the character Louis is bathed in white light, and is intended to represent an angel apparently fighting for Jake’s soul.
He tells Louis he looks like an ‘angel, an overgrown cherub’. At a later point Louis tells him: “If you’re frightened of dying and you’re holding on, you’ll see devils tearing your life away, if you’ve made your peace, then the devils are really angels freeing you from the Earth.” And the film progresses in a similar way with more hallucinations and demonic faces appearing from time to time, more strange nightmares and more feelings of loss and regret from Jake over his dead son and his lost wife. The movie talks an interesting detour via military drug induced experiments involving mind control, and it appears that finally Jake has a solution to what has been happening to him all along. However this seems to be just another fantasy or illusion, and Jake discards it. As the film draws to a close he hears Louis’ words playing in his head, and Jake seems to realise something, perhaps that he misses his son so much that life is meaningless without him. After one of his army buddies is killed in a car bomb it is Jake’s turn to get some attention from the spooks and he is bundled into a car and threatened to keep his mouth shut, however he fights back and falls out of the car and into the street. Due to his back injury he lays paralysed in the street. He then finds himself being wheeled through a hospital, into a strange back room and is told that he is dead by the doctors around him and that his believing himself to be alive is a delusion. He is subsequently rescued by Louis his chiropractor/guardian angel. He is then told the military ‘hippy chemist’ involved in the military drugging experiment that his unit killed each other.
In the denouement of the film he finds himself in a cab with the semiotic key of a crucifix hanging from the ignition. The crucifix is a symbol which represents, on a basic level, virtue and salvation. The presence of this symbol in the cab is clearly intended to represent Jake’s quest for salvation and that he is in a cab indicates that he is going there. At least, this is how the film wishes the viewer to ‘read’ this situation. But why should we? Why, when we watch a film, are we expected to adopt this quasi-schizophrenic attitude of analysing symbols and drawing conclusions from something as mundane as a crucifix swinging from a car ignition? Ordinarily we would think nothing of a crucifix swinging from a car’s ignition but at this point we have been primed to read a deeper meaning into everything which is presented on the screen, in our quest for an explanation to what is happening in the story. We have started to look for things that may not be there. The reason for this, as we have seen, is because when we watch a film we are not engaging our analytical and rational left brain anymore, we are held to ransom by our metaphysical and mystical right brain and so as soon as we sit down to watch a film we are involved in a mystical experience.
Clearly this is trying to suggest to the viewer that he is now on the way to heaven. Jake asks the cabbie to take him home, to which the cabbie replies ‘where’s home?’ Jake finds himself driven to his old family home where he reconciles himself with the idea that he is dead, that he was killed by his own men in Vietnam due to an army experiment using psychoactive drugs to improve the fighting ability of soldiers, and at this point he sees his young son who was killed. The final shot has Jake going upstairs into the light and presumably ‘heaven’.
There are many things which make me deeply uncomfortable about this film Jacob’s Ladder. First and foremost I would say that during my mercifully brief period of what might either be termed Kundalini enlightenment, Luciferian consciousness, or psychosis, I was seeking to understand what was happening to me and why reality itself has suddenly become very very weird indeed and the only references I seemed able to find to explain what was happening to me were Vanilla Sky and Jacobs’ Ladder. I seemed to be suffering from hallucinations, the people I lived with seemed to be acting very strangely and were unaccountable harsh, just like Jake’s and David Aames’ girlfriend from both films, and it seemed that there were messages everywhere around me and somehow there was a deeper hidden meaning to everything I saw. The experience was genuine and was something like a cross between true wisdom and real madness. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference, especially as most of our planet are still stuck in Plato’s cave. The final message of the films was that you are either dead, or that this ‘reality’ is false and that the hallucinations you may be experiencing are the result of a false reality breaking down around you.
Is the intention of this film to disturb people’s minds to such an extent that they take drastic action? We shall see in the next chapter that this may well be the case.
[x] Wes Moore Television is turning us into Zombie Vol. 2, Issue No. 2 pages 59-66 © 2001 CENTER FOR COGNITIVE LIBERTY AND ETHICS http://www.henrymakow.com/opiate-of-the-masses-televis.html#sthash.qg8qy7LO.dpuf
[xii] John 12:31 King James Bible
[xiii] Quran Al-hadid 57:22
[xvi] Développement des abus introduits dans la Franc-maçonnerie, p.56 (1780)
[xvii] The Templars and the Assassins: The Militia of Heaven Paperback – April 1, 2001 by James Wasserman
[xix] Light of the Heavenly Bodies to Explain the Secrets of the Pyramids by Abu Jafar al-Idrisi