Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cosmogenesis: In a Small Boat, Drifting on the Ocean/ Part 9

By Brian George

On the immanence of the "future world"

Hi Gary (Lachman),

In “Ghosts of futures past,” you wrote, “Tomorrow is yesterday, only a little more expensive. History is littered with the ruins of the future. We step over them every day.”

Much thanks for your cryptic comment. It is a poem really, as slippery as a fish. In trying to get a sense of how your three—apparently simple—sentences fit together, I can empathize with those readers who find the density of my style to be a challenge.

Your comment—let us call it a “cryptogram”—poses questions that do not always or only have one answer. My imagination could take a statement like “History is littered with the ruins of the future” in quite a number of ways, and then pursue each of them in any number of directions, all of them productive. Whereas science moves to one falsifiable end, and, at each step, brings details into sharper and sharper focus, the cryptogram makes a method out of the madness of the wave/ particle duality of the serpent-force, and is content to keep the greater part of its meaning under wraps.

Curiously, it is this very difficulty that may put wings on our ankles. “The mind is a muscle,” as they said in parochial school, which grows stronger by being pushed to its breaking point, and beyond. It is this very difficulty that may be of help in our efforts to break through and out of the eggshell of the psyche, there to access the web of non-local correspondences.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Human Demonology: The Megapocalypse of Kim DotCom

By P. Emerson Williams
An operation planned by a large international team of law enforcement working over the course of years and carried out with helicopters and machine guns in a military style raid. Taking refuge in a safe room, reportedly found "near a semi-automatic shotgun", a larger than life villain is dragged out and taken into custody. No, the target is not a drug kingpin, nor a deposed dictator (hence the safe room - sewage drains are reserved final hiding places for deposed dictators and jihadist masterminds), not a banker responsible for tearing the world economy apart, nor a corrupt Western politician on the leash of said bankers.

Much hay has been made of Kim Dotcom's expansive mansion, expensive toys and cheesy movie villain antics. For those wondering why Megaupload was the target this fact alone should make it clear. They needed someone who would not invoke sympathy, and in this respect, they chose well. A huge congratulations to our owners for selecting and directing a story in a manner that would qualify them to take the raw footage shot for a reality TV show and create a narrative. If spying on citizens and enforcing laws not yet passed loses its luster, they should have no problem getting a job with Wife Swap or Deadliest Catch. (I had to resort to google for show titles...)

Here's a nice, concise way to weave a yarn:
  • One Maserati
  • One Rolls-Royce
  • One Lamborghini
  • Three Samsung 83" Tvs
  • Two Sharp 108" Tvs
  • One "Predator statue" 
  • 60 Dell servers
An unspecified number of:
  • Motor bikes
  • Jet skis
  • Artwork 
The takedown of megaupload is framed in the mold of major drug busts to which we have become used when presented with such a laundry list. More ingeniusly, in a fresh new year following the annum of the birth of the Occupy movement, the preceding list brings to mind the lists of bonuses, net worth and ostentatious belongings of hedge fund managers and bank executives. Our master's meme-schemers had all of us in their thoughts in the planning stages. If this is all a coincidence, why would the presence of a full-size inflatable replica of a Russian T-72 tank on Goldfinger's, uh, I mean Mr. DotCom's property be relevant to the story? What does the widespread discussion of his license plates with "POLICE," "MAFIA," "V," "STONED," "CEO," "HACKER," GOOD," "EVIL," and "GUILTY" tell us about what the law enforcement side of the story wants us to think? Like Joseph Kennedy, DotCom amassed what to the great majority of us is a vast fortune (a $200 million company isn't enough to impress our owners) through insider trading, shady schemes and outright fraud before founding the "Mega Conspiracy".

Friday, January 20, 2012

Heiner Müller's "Hamlet Machine"

I throw open the doors, to let in the wind and the cry of the world. - Ophelia

Ophelia, John Everett Millais
Image by Barnaby Thieme
While not well known to English-speaking audiences, Heiner Müller is considered by many Germans to be a leading dramatist of the twentieth century. Many of his plays rework classical myths or stories in a struggle to make sense of the collision between mythology and ideology in post-war Eastern Europe.

His Hamlet Machine is a postmodern masterpiece and a harrowing portrait of life under totalitarian rule. Much of the complex play consists of dramatic monologs, dense with allusions to Shakespeare's play and other works of European culture.

The Hamlet-actor begins in Brechtian mode, aware of his own role in the ensuing drama, announcing: “I was Hamlet. I stood at the shore and talked with the surf BLAH BLAH, the ruins of Europe in back of me.” (1) These lines echo the Fisher King of T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land," who “sat upon the shore / Fishing, with the arid plain behind me”. (2)

Like Eliot, Müller also presents “a heap of broken images,” where mythological symbols flail like broken engines, gesturing wildly toward inhuman meanings.

In Shakespeare's play, it will be recalled, the hero's father fell victim to murder at his uncle's hands, abetted by Hamlet's complicit mother. Hamlet Machine describes the funeral thus: “The bells tolled the state-funeral, murderer and widow a couple, the councilors goose-stepping behind the highranking carcass' coffin, bawling with badly paid grief”. (3)

Müller's inspiration for Hamlet's father was Traitscho Kostoff, a Bulgarian communist who was executed in a Stalinist purge. (4) Contemporary audiences may sooner think of the bizarre state funeral of Kim Jong-Il, but the subject of the allusion does not matter. Different actors play the parts, arriving on cue for their prescribed roles, but the historical drama does not change. Hamlet reflects:

The set is a monument. It presents a man who made history, enlarged a hundred times. The petrification of a hope. The name is interchangeable, the hope has not been fulfilled. The monument is toppled into dust. (5)

History is fixed by a small number of possibilities, pre-determined by unpersuasive narratives that bind action to violence and oppression. Even the utopian visions they nominally serve have lost their power to persuade or animate. One thinks of the technocrats of Müller's East Germany, tunelessly singing Marxist-Leninist hymns.

As the play proceeds, the Hamlet-actor tries to reject the role to which he has been consigned, refusing to go along with this murder-drama. The dramatic action breaks down, and a political demonstration explodes onto the stage, suggesting the 1967-8 student protests in Berlin.

The Hamlet-actor is swept up in the angry mob and pushed to the police lines, where, in an arresting image, he confronts his own reflection in bullet-proof glass, and sees himself facing himself from the opposite side of the line.
Heiner Müller

I look through the double doors of bullet-proof glass at the crowd pressing forward and smell the sweat of my fear. Choking with nausea, I shake my fist at myself who stands behind the bullet-proof glass. Shaking with fear and contempt, I see myself in the crowd pressing forward, foaming at the mouth, shaking my fist at myself. (6)

He responds with rage to his own complicity in totalitarianism, then goes home to watch television, “at one / with my undivided self.” (7) In Shakespeare's Hamlet, inaction is a fatal flaw, but when all courses lead to murder, inaction and action both mean self-betrayal, and purity is found only in death, or, in its political equivalent, television.


I am Ophelia. The one the river didn't keep.”

Ophelia chooses suicide instead of murder. Like Nietzsche's ascetic, her violence turns inward, sublimating her will to power. Her character represents a type for Müller, a woman whose inflexible moral code renders her capable of anything.

She is the “woman dangling from a rope,” suggesting the far-left RAF terrorist Ulrike Meinhof, whose strident critique of hegemonic capitalism ignited a series of bank robberies and murders. (8) Eventually she was captured, and hung herself in her cell.

Müller's Ophelia would also choose death as a way of dismembering the mechanisms of oppression:

I smash the tools of my captivity, the chair the table the bed. I destroy the battlefield that was my home. I fling open the doors so the wind gets in and the screams of the world. I smash the window. With my bleeding hands I tear the photos of the men I loved and who used me on the bed on the table on the chair on the ground. I set fire to my prison. (9)

In his autobiography, Müller comments “Lenin always said revolution comes from the provinces, and women are the provinces of men.” (10)


Born in Eppendorf in 1929, Müller spent his childhood under the shadow of the Nazi regime. In "The Father," an early autobiographical prose-poem, he describes being woken from sleep when he was three years old:

In 1933, January 31 at 4 a. m., my father, a functionary of the Social Democratic Party of Germany, was arrested from his bed. I woke up, the sky outside the window black, noise of voices and footsteps. In the next room, books were thrown to the floor. I heard my father's voice, higher than the other voices. I climbed out of bed and went to the door. Through a crack I saw how a man was hitting my father in the face. (11)

Two officers of the Nazi SA, the predecessor to the notorious SS, took his father to a concentration camp, where he was held for over a year for his socialist activities. Müller was shunned as the son of a criminal, and other boys in his village were not allowed to play with him.

After he visited the camp with his mother, he was haunted by the image of his father diminished behind the wire mesh fence, and later, by memories of walking for hours in bitter cold to meet his father upon his release.
Flandern (detail), Franz Radziwill
Image by Barnaby Thieme
I wish my father were a shark
Who tore to pieces forty whalers
(And in their blood I had learned to swim)....

In these early memories, we find the germ of his later political views. Müller would remain a socialist for the rest of his life, though he appears to have been deeply demoralized by Stalin's tyrannical abuses. He was tolerated as a high-profile artist of the GDR, but was also a fierce critic of his country. Hamlet Machine was banned in East Germany until its final days. (13)

Perhaps in these early memories, we also find the seeds of his feverish, fragmentary style. Hamlet Machine resembles the disjointed impressions of a child-dreamer, woken from sleep by disturbing events for which he has no context or compass.

Perhaps Müller seeks to bring his audience to that moment of his childhood, to share with them his epiphany of chaos. It may be the only truth of which he was certain.


“One can make many things of Hamlet Machine,” Müller said. “First of all, its unperformability certainly stands for stagnation.” (14) And the play is indeed notoriously difficult to stage. The playwright Tony Kushner notes:

Certainly the most immediately striking fact of Müller's dramaturgy, of all of his dramatic texts, is that they were written intentionally to resist production, to make of their production an act of appropriation. When one first encounters Müller's plays one worries how they 'should' be done, one searches in vain for the key to their staging, assuming that the author has hidden such a key in the text or that it may be uncovered through some sort of anthropological investigation. Research, and learning, is required; but ultimately, familiarity with the plays' referents and antecedents will not reveal how they are to be staged. Eventually any theater artists intent on doing Müller's works will find themselves faced with a heady and alarming freedom, for the key to the staging must, to a far greater degree with Müller's plays than with any other major body of dramatic work, be invented upon the occasion – by the historically informed, politically engaged imaginations of those doing the staging. (15)

This may gives a clue to the title of Müller's play. It is sometimes taken to refer to the author himself, i.e., Hamletmaschine (HM) = Heiner Müller (HM). The author himself “carefully disseminated this interpretation.” (16) But I prefer to think of the play itself as a meaning-making machine, powered by its interpreters, directors, actors, readers, and audience. All are free to move among its fragments, and to create something for themselves.

Heiner Müller's play Hamlet Machine is available here (English, PDF), und hier (auf Deutsch).

Mesocosm is a writer and researcher in intellectual history and mythology. His blog is

1) Müller H. ed. Carl Weber. Hamletmachine and other texts for stage. Performing Arts Journal Publications. 1984. p. 53
2) Eliot T. S. "The Waste Land," lines 423-5, from The Complete Poems and Plays; 1909-1950. Harcourt, Brace, & World. 1971. p. 50.
3) Müller, 1984. p. 53
4) Müller H. Krieg Ohne Schlacht; Leben in zwei Diktaturen. Kiepenheuer & Witsch. 1994. p. 292
5) Müller, 1984. p. 56
6) Müller, 1984. p. 56
7) Müller, 1984. p. 56
8) Müller, 1994. p. 294
9) Müller, 1984. p. 54-5
10) Müller, 1994. p. 295
11) Müller H. A Heiner Müller Reader. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 2001. p. 14
12) Müller, 2001. p. 15
13) Müller, 1994. p. 296
14) Müller, 1994. p. 295
15) Kushner, T. "Foreward," from Müller, 2001. p. xvi
16) Müller, 1984. p. 51

Apocalyptic Imaginary: 1st Edition Released!

I'm happy to announce that the 1st print edition of Apocalyptic Imaginary is now available. You can order it direct or on Amazon. ($18) It is also available on Kindle. ($2.99)

Check out the free sample on Scribd. 

I just got my copies of this, and it looks nice. There are a few very minor aesthetic tweaks that I intend to make for the 2nd edition, but none of them are things that would probably even be noticed by most readers. (Plus, I'm sure, the stray typo or two that slipped by me and the freelance editor.)

More about this book:
"This book captures and expands upon the unique commentary and analysis that has helped define the Modern Mythology project in 2011. Through the voices of many contributors, we collectively take a hard look at the blurred lines between narrative and truth, philosophy and literature, personal history and cultural memory. All of this is done with an eye towards the imagined apocalypse that is always just around the corner."

Authored by James Curcio, Edited by James Curcio, Edited by Michael Tesney, Authored with Peter Emerson Williams, Rowan Tepper, Mr VI, Rusty Shackleford, David Metcalfe, Wes Unruh, Gunther Sonenfeld, Doctor Adventure, and Brian George.
Seriously, check this one out. Whether you're a writer, artist, musician, or just curious about how your ideas play into the world you live in, this book should give food for thought for years to come.

This book will be featured in the upcoming class at SUNY Binghamton, "The Apocalypse of Love." Also, if these subjects herein interest you and you'd like a deeper look, check out The Immanence of Myth, published by Weaponized this past September.

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Cosmogenesis: In a Small Boat, Drifting on the Ocean/ Part 7

By Brian George


In his comment titled, “The Walking Dead”, Dave Hanson wrote:

Thanks, Brian. You describe well the end of the world. Margaret the therapist expresses the spirit of the times perfectly. Margaret says, "I just sort of accept the way the world is and then don't think about it a whole lot." She likes the notion of "a mature sense of autonomy." "No external demand should compel us to be answerable to the needs of others," etc. In other words, we can have a "good life" as alienated, terrified slaves to the machine of civilization. The Kogi, on the other hand (as one example of many) are responsible for the health of the world. They came down the mountain to tell us to grow up and begin caring for our planet. Throughout the indigenous world we find that our work, our intention, must be in part to sustain everything else. We must be compelled by that external demand.

You have accurately described a culture of domesticated animals using language and myth to fool themselves into thinking they will not be slaughtered. Words, words, words. Endless words. Unless we can reintegrate ourselves into the living, conscious, multidimensional web, we will annihilate ourselves and our planetary home. We either will, or we won't, and I'm betting on the latter.

When, 12,000 +/- years ago we decided on agriculture and religion, we sealed our fate. The end began. As it accelerates, what does one say? What does one suggest? As this bus careens off the cliff should we open the windows or leave them closed? Is it possible (this idea keeps cropping up in my head) that we should stop reading, writing and talking? Could we, in silence, be more agile travelers, more easily merge with our living brothers and sisters? Perhaps the only dialogue we should have is with our plant helpers and those beings who have been pushed aside and kept silent all these horrific generations. Let's try it!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Nyssa, Part 1: Love Notes To A Stranger (Unillustrated)

A dark modern fairy-tale.

I am beginning work on putting together this piece as an illustrated story, but have released the text online eBook for those that want this (cheaper) version. Pick it up for $.99 on smashwords. It'll be showing up in Amazon's store in a week or two. It's live now on Amazon's Kindle store as well.

Are you an artist interested in collaborating on the illustrated version?

[Check out some of the books, albums, and soon movies produced by Mythos Media and our various media partners.]


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