Thursday, January 28, 2010

Everything You Wanted to Know About Kabbalah But Were Afraid to Ask

Mrs. G. doesn't actually depart until tomorrow morning, so here we are. With luck, we'll have time for another post.

Remember "Ezekiel," the raving Jewish sage from a couple of posts back? He says that there are "seven interlinked wonders" that Kabbalah conveys to the sincere seeker, the first of which is "a vision of the infinite One," the Ain Sof, and with it, the "ineffable mystery of how Creation came to be."

In a way, it's analogous to the distinction between science and philosophy of science. The former just tells you what happened, while the latter ascends to a higher meta-level and tries to account for why things happen -- or how all the happenings fit together into a larger framework.

Just so, revelation tells us what happened -- e.g., In the beginning God created -- but the Kabbalah gets into the how of it all. You could say that in the absence of the how, the human imagination is reduced to thinking that it all takes place through some kind of supernatural magic, which is one reason so many garden-variety intellectuals reject religion. While the magical worldview was sufficient for a premodern mentality, it doesn't necessarily speak to the scientistic masses or tenured barbarians.

But since imagination is precisely what so many of them lack -- or at least never develop in its higher sense -- they seem to struggle with the leap from magical thinking to metamagical thinking, the result being that they spend their lives spinning around in their little circles. Non-tenured America is in the process of rediscovering what it's like to be governed by one of these insular little circle jerks, and isn't happy about it.

For me, the Sefirot of the Kabbalah evokes the vision of the One pouring its energies down into creation like one of those Japanese pinball machines. You see, that's the Ain Sof at the top, about to drop the Ball of God into time and history. The first sefirah -- which is the top, the center, and the origin of it all -- is called Keter, or Crown.

And just to re-remind the reader, I won't pretend that any of what follows is strictly kosher by any means -- this is just me and my imagination reflecting on the images and concepts.

Anyway, the Keter is the top of the cosmic hierarchy. Once you accept the fact that the cosmos is indeed hierarchically organized (which you must do in order to accept any facts at all), then it is the work of a moment to understand that there is no hierarchy in the absence of a toppermost of the poppermost. No top, no bottom.

Which is in turn why final causation trumps the other three types of causation. In the absence of final causation, truly, nothing would work. There could be no progress, no evolution, no movement toward truth, no organization, no distinction, just the toxic horizontal goo of our debased trolls, which is the crock upon they build their church.

Humans -- specifically the psychospiritual left -- can try to throw out hierarchy with a pitchfork, but it always comes back with a vengeance (and usually in a pathological manner, e.g., the oppressively hierarchical coercion of political correctness, which is just the dark side of their phony "tolerance"). This is because man is the cosmic pontifex, the one vertical link that cuts through all the degrees of being, from matter to spirit -- or, as the Kabbalah would have it, from the Keter at the top down to the Malkhut at the bottom (and don't conflate "bottom" with "inferior" in any colloquial sense).

Now interestingly, the nonlocal vertical axis of creation extends straight from Keter to Malkhut, or from Crown to Kingdom. The latter also happens to be the divine feminine, which immediately evokes the Hindu idea of the play (or lila) of shiva and shakti, or purusha and prakriti.

In a more Western sense it evokes God and Mary, or the transcendent "seed" (or Word) implanted into the womb of matter (and please recall that matter is etymologically related to mater and matrix, the latter of which is defined as "an environment or material in which something develops").

Now, the crown also evokes the primordial or archetypal man, who is called Adam Qadmon, and who is to be distinguished from the terrestrial Adam. The way I sees it, when Adam fell, he fell from Adam Qadman, precisely. Which is why the fall is not absolutely fatal, because it obviously did no damage to the celestial prototype that is outside time and history.

Oh yes. One of the practical purposes of Kabbalah, if you will, is the "divine marriage" of Keter and Malkhut, which are again cosmic male and female. In turn, their union gives birth to various "children" that we will discuss in later posts. But let's just stipulate at this point that the command to "be fruitful and multiply" has a plain exoteric meaning, but it also conveys this esoteric point about the spiritual fruitfulness of the divine union.

Here is how Matt describes Malkhut, the divine feminine: "She is the secret of the possible, receiving the flow of emanation from above and engendering the myriad varieties of life below." The union of this above and below "is the goal of spiritual life.... Human marriage symbolizes and actualizes divine marriage," which achieves its deepest union and harmony in what Petey calls the Friday night sabootycall: "Sabbath eve is the weekly celebration of the cosmic wedding and the ideal time for human lovers to unite" (Matt).

I'll leave you with a provocative little quote by the great Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, from his classic Thirteen Petaled Rose:

The whole order of relations among the various worlds may be conceived in images of intimate engagement, a kind of sexual contact between one world and another, between one level of being and another.

Or, as Petey put it, A little metaphysical diddling between a cabbala opposites, and Mamamaya! baby makes Trinity, so all the world's an allusion.

46 Comments:

Blogger julie said...

Reminds me of a dream I had, quite a while back. Now that I know what the sephiroth is, I still don't know what it means. But it's worthwhile to try and discover...

1/28/2010 09:07:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

By their fruitful and multiply you shall know them.

Oops! A dirty world!

1/28/2010 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Little Known Fact Department: that was inspired by "Dirty World," by the Traveling Wilburys, which is full of funny double entendres...

1/28/2010 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Someone in Rome gave me a copy of Confessions of an Exorcist in English, so I'm reading that. Maybe we should train more of those instead of "creating" "green" "jobs".

1/28/2010 03:32:00 PM  
Blogger ge said...

Cool topic you are onto Bob!

I might mention Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov the Bulgarian esoteric Christian teacher---yet who surely knew & loved his Cabbalah!

FRUITS OF THE TREE OF LIFE
is his large format volume devoted to the topic, but throughout his spoken teaching there are stimulating timetested references to the system. Incidentally OMA, a 'white magician' lifelong celibate, praises Aleister Crowley's QBL knowledge but criticises his sexual excesses

1/28/2010 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

"Oh yes. One of the practical purposes of Kabbalah, if you will, is the "divine marriage" of Keter and Malkhut, which are again cosmic male and female. In turn, their union gives birth to various "children" that we will discuss in later posts. But let's just stipulate at this point that the command to "be fruitful and multiply" has a plain exoteric meaning, but it also conveys this esoteric point about the spiritual fruitfulness of the divine union."

Ummm... I was told if I tied a purple string around my wrist and chanted "Cabalah" to Madonna's latest tune, I'd receive abundance of the $ persuasion. Are you saying Madonna didn't have that right? Are you sure this Ezekiel feller has been authorized by Madonna to comment on these mystic mysteries?

blink.

Maybe the purple is supposed to be Pink?

Hello?

Hello? Operator they keep hanging up, hello? This is United States calling, are we reaching... [click] See he keeps hanging up, and its a man answering...

1/28/2010 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Slightly OT ref for an off day,

In a book review on Victor Davis Hanson's site of 'The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions by David Berlinski' (favorite quote:“What a man rejects as distasteful must always be measured against what he is prepared eagerly to swallow.”) Terry Scambray's 'God and the Godless' notes,

"But is the preparation of such victuals energized less by “the desire to discover a new idea than to avoid an old one . . . that it is better to have many worlds than to have one God”?
A more comprehensible way to approach cosmology is to begin with something supported by the preponderance of evidence — which is to say, the Big Bang, two words which suggest “the most ancient of human intuitions . . . the connection between sexual and cosmic energies.”
The Big Bang also “suggests an old idea in thought: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Arnold Penzias, Nobel laureate, says that the Big Bang is “exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of the Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”

Though Darwinism is a fossil of 19th-century progressive thought, it is eagerly embraced by the neo-atheists in their quest to appear scientific. But Darwin’s mechanism of progress, natural selection, has never been shown to create anything close to the improvements in organisms necessary to get us where we are right now, such improvements as wings in birds or brains in humans.

Thus, the Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins argues that such changes must, therefore, be the work of covert critters called, “selfish genes”. These Ayn Rand like rascals relentlessly compete for survival, the implacable goal of all organisms according to Darwin. So Dawkins hopes that when we observe people behaving, say, altruistically we will believe that the selfish gene fable explains their behavior and not what our own eyes and common sense tell us...
"

1/29/2010 11:49:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

On behalf of Admiral Toots and the rest of the boys, I propose we replace the neo-atheists with fully-mechanicalized Punxsutawney Phil-bots. And if they don’t like it, they must explain the difference between the two…to our satisfaction…and why any of us should care.

1/29/2010 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Even more off topic, this is interesting, as is this.

"I am not a Bolshevik."

*snork*

Rock-pig-squeal really works.

1/29/2010 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

Ok, as OT as it get's but this from BigGovernment is too funny.

If you are a union organizer make a note to self: Don't attempt to treat your own people the same way you treat everyone else!

A UAW thug tries to break it gently to his union hall that their cumulative demands have put them all out of a job, and the people are a bit miffed, which brings out the thug in him as he tells them all to Shut up you MF'rs! (Note: no abreviations used in his speaking)... for some reason he seems a bit surprised when the entire union hall takes that as their cue to surge forward, swamp, and attempt to inflict severe bodily damage upon their leadership!

Watch both video's, from different angles... too funny.

1/29/2010 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Search of the day:

wayne dyer + wanker

1/29/2010 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger Van said...

I wonder why the redundancy?

1/29/2010 05:05:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Julie:
I watched the video clip. Scary. All I could think is how very un-presidential. Notice how, when he gets nervous, he starts to stutter, and he can't help sliding into that wannabe homeboy cadence- dropping the 'ng's':doowunh', sayng'.

He reminded me of several community college teachers I had- affirmative action hires with a marginal intellect, and an MA in ethnic studies.
In short- this little fellow conned his way into the driver's seat and he's never been behind the wheel of a real car. You can't hide that from the passengers for very long.
We're in trouble.

JWM

1/30/2010 07:48:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Then again, maybe in the long run that's for the best. Not that I'm happy about anything he's likely to do, but it seems a lot of people have had their eyes opened in a way that likely never would have happened had McCain been president. For too many people, it's not enough to simply say "he's a crappy choice, here's why, and this is what's likely to happen if he's allowed to run things the way he says he will." They have to be affected by the crappiness personally.

Also, much as I like the driving analogy, most people would figure out how to steer, brake and accelerate eventually; I'm not so sure he's ever going to learn, in part because there's a very real possibility he's already bored with the task. It's as though it never occurred to him there'd be actual work involved, but now that he knows he'd rather be playing golf.

1/30/2010 08:18:00 PM  
Blogger jwm said...

Also, much as I like the driving analogy, most people would figure out how to steer, brake and accelerate eventually;

Not if the passengers say, "Pull over now, and get out of the goddamn car!"
Which I think is going to happen. I've read more than one commenter bet that he doesn't go the distance. My bet is that the office will break him. I was about to say he'll bail out if we're lucky, but Biden, and Pelosi are as frighteningly inept as teh wun, and not as smart- which is scarier yet.
Where I have real fear is that every other nation on the planet has taken this man's measure. We have never been in such feckless and incompetent hands. The Chinese know this, and so do the moslems. What better time to strike at America? Imagine a catastrophic attack on our soil with this fairy pants at the helm. Yaaarrrggghhh. I'm going to call it a night.

John M

1/30/2010 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Good points; I try not to dwell on all that, since there's not a thing I can about it. I can see why you've been waking up at 3:45, though...

1/30/2010 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger walt said...

Awake at 3:45?

What?

Nobody does that!

1/31/2010 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Just watched Dark Knight on DVD. You may recall the scene where the Joker says, "I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve." Sure was.

1/31/2010 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

GB:

In my previous company (airline security) we knew about this possibility for a long time, as did many people. The civilian authorities are extremely reluctant to admit such possibilities even exist (this was true under Bush as well). As a result we continue to live with a system which is almost purely reactive. Bomb in a shoe? From now on everyone takes off shoes. Bomb ingredients in liquid form? From now on no carry-on liquids.

Eventually devices will be developed by the forces of evil which are essentially impossible to detect without actual surgery. The only positive in this nightmarish scenario is that it may finally force our political/cultural class to realize that searching for material won't work. Instead we will have to search for terrorists as they do in Israel. God forbid it takes a downed plane to actually make this happen.

1/31/2010 07:23:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, it's only a matter of time. No doubt they'll also find a way to implant some biological agents as well.

I was struck by the world-historical relevance of Dark Knight, since the nihilistic and death-worshipping Joker is such an obvious metaphor of the Islamists and their leftist supporters, the latter of whom are and have always been so naive about the nature of evil.

1/31/2010 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Good choice, that movie.
Batman is no match for the Joker. Because Batman is no match for the Serpent. He's just a man with computer-hacking skills, bow hunting skills. The Joker is supernatural.

1/31/2010 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Not so sure about that. Both the Joker and Batman are outside the law, and neither is corruptible. In contrast, Dent, who was inside the law, was corruptible. Batman is the scapegoat who ultimately "gives himself" to the law, that the law might imagine that it alone can aspire to the supernatural.

1/31/2010 08:20:00 PM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

If it’s a good story, both of us can be right.
Anyway, it’s just a movie, so if I’m wrong, it doesn’t matter, of course. Most of what I like about the movie was that it made me notice the head bad guy in a way I wasn’t used to seeing portrayed in a movie. I have no idea if the writer(s) intended what I saw in the Joker character. But to me there were several pieces of evidence presented to show how this Joker was different than all the other bad guys in the movie – and in so doing, all bad guys in all movies. We were shown a (literal) crazy disciple of the Joker and also shown the other bad guys (the mob) who recognized the Joker as not being one of them. The fearless feared him. This may be what happens in hell. It is a jig, and finally it is up.

I think the first thing I noticed was his dry lips, the wide serpent like mouth that he was always licking. Then the clothes with no labels, no history, no ID, and how he refits his story about how he got the scars depending on whom he is talking to. At one point he is talking to an old man who doesn’t fear him and says, “You know, you remind me of my father. And I HATE my father.” He doesn’t want Batman to die, because his life is linked to him (the lie which requires the Truth).

If there is an unholy trinity, then this Joker stands in the Christ position. I do not think Batman stands in the Christ position. He is a man. But not at the same time “all God”. He did not always exist.

Most of what I don’t like about the movie is, because the Joker/Satan is so well portrayed, kids come away from the movie “impressed” in the wrong way. They think he’s cool and want to be like him. To me the movie is very thought provoking on a very important subject, which makes it good, and in that sense, the both of us right, I think.

2/01/2010 05:33:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky said "Anyway, it’s just a movie..."

Just a movie? Just a movie? And I suppose "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II" was 'just' a movie!... er... ok, that was 'just' a movie (my kids didn't think so at the time though, though they are embarrassed when I point that out today)...well then... "American Beauty" was 'just' a movie... a bunch of pretentious 'woe is me' life is pointless drek (Ooh... ready for some Raccoon movie battles like Raccoon music battles?)... to a lot of people the first Star Wars was 'just' a movie, but to millions of kids, teens, adults, it was the rebirth of Heroes and Good vs Evil, after a long, long postmodern winter. But to many a wackedemically inclined, it was just special effects and cheap thrills....

Just a movie. To woefully many people The Bible is just a book, and just a cheezy talkin' snake story of a book at that.

"Anyway, it’s just a movie, so if I’m wrong, it doesn’t matter, of course."

Hmmm... in one way, yes, it doesn't matter, at least not in the form of direct consequences, failed exams, demotions or fines... but in another way... not taking it seriously leaves a lot of doors unopened. We say the Truth protects itself, but maybe it's more of a case of the Truth calls to itself, and it's up to the reader, listener, viewer to listen... the more you do, or don't, the more that may be opened unto you - or not.

Does it matter? I think it does... or maybe better said it could matter, if we allow it to. But then again, to the extent it is allowed to matter, for each door that's opened it seems as if there are two within, as in,

"the Joker/Satan is so well portrayed, kids come away from the movie “impressed” in the wrong way. They think he’s cool and want to be like him."

, and people can easily try to go in the out door and wind up in the labyrinth and prey for the Minotaur. Important to have that Vertical GPS system installed, or a plentiful supply of golden thread might do... or at least several pockets full of bread crumbs, or else the story might end up telling you, and that's never good.

Gagdad said "Both the Joker and Batman are outside the law, and neither is corruptible. In contrast, Dent, who was inside the law, was corruptible."

I like that. Crud... can't think of the phrase..."To be an outlaw, you have to be truly good, or you'll be consumed by it"??? something like that.

Both are outside the law, but with different relations to it. B'atman contains the law, and so is law-full, even when breaking it's statutes, but the Joker is outside the law, neither containing nor contained, just boundless chaos and emptiness, beckoning with faux-freedom. Dent is contained by the law, and when he could no longer follow its rules, he had no choice but to become a law breaker, still defined by it, even in his opposition to it.

"Batman is the scapegoat who ultimately "gives himself" to the law, that the law might imagine that it alone can aspire to the supernatural." vs "I do not think Batman stands in the Christ position. He is a man. But not at the same time “all God”. He did not always exist."

Hmm... while he's not the Person, isn't he standing in that position of the scapegoat? the personification of that which is eternal? The one who points the way to the Out door that leads In?

But what the hey... it's just a movie.

;- )

2/01/2010 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Rick:

Good point about the dry lips and the tongue darting.

There are other interesting parallels between Joker and Batman. Notice how the law needs someone outside the law to save it, which is a common motif in American Westerns. But the lawless also needed someone outside the law to protect them.

The Joker had an insane father and is driven by hatred of him, whereas Batman had good parents and is driven by guilt over their death. He not only fights against the type of people who killed his parents, but against his own perceived weakness in allowing it to happen.

Both wear a mask, Batman to conceal his identity, the Joker to conceal his lack of identity. He is pure willful chaos, with no center.

There are some other Christ parallels. Batman is obviously the "suffering servant," sent into a world that is ruled by Satan-Joker. There are various temptations he denies himself -- Rachel, glory, power.

But again, I think the biggest one is his willingness at the end to "take on" Harvey's sins as a way to resurrect him as the hero the people need -- a man so flawed that he was about to murder a child in front of his father (which indicates that the spirit of the Joker had entered him, i.e., the father that maimed him).

So may other interesting little themes....

2/01/2010 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, now that I think about it, there is the Abraham-Isaac motif of child sacrifice that is the cornerstone of Western history. Dent is about to sacrifice the child (just as the Joker was sacrificed by his father), but Batman jumps in to stop it. But then he takes Dent's sins into himself, and allows himself to become the hunted. It is as if Dent is not strong enough to contain those weaknesses, while Batman is. It's not just a Christian idea, but also central to Vedanta -- the idea of the master taking on the karma of the disciple....

2/01/2010 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Also, if Joker is unalloyed evil and Batman is disinterested good, Two Face is obviosly man with his good and evil propensities.

The idea of chance is also critical. When Dent abandons himself to the metaphysics of chance, this symbolically allies him with the nihilism of the Joker, but also postmodernity and scientism in general. For example, Darwinism is simply the god of chance writ large. It also makes survival the only motive power -- which is again the Joker.

Note also that when Batman catches the Joker at the end, he is dangling upside down.... He also laughs as he is falling.... Thus, he embodies upside-down and fallen man who inverts the cosmos and willfully rejects God....

2/01/2010 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

One of the things I found interesting about Dark Knight was the complete lack of exoteric religion. The first time I saw it, I noticed when the people on the boats believed they were about to get blown up, nobody was praying. It seemed so weird it actually threw me out of the story for a bit. The second time I saw it, I realized that it didn't contain the outward trappings, perhaps precisely because the story itself conveyed the truth.

2/01/2010 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the whole thing is a fable, dealing with psychic currents that run beneath religion.

2/01/2010 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

If one thinks of Joyce's (following Fico) division of history into the ages of Chaos, Gods, Kings, Men, and then Chaos, the film obviously takes place in a post-religious, postmodern world right on the precipice of primeval Chaos. The Dark Knight is analogous to the God who tames the dark night of Chaos...

2/01/2010 09:04:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Van, you said,
""Anyway, it’s just a movie, so if I’m wrong, it doesn’t matter, of course."
Hmmm... in one way, yes"

That's the way I meant it :-)

Or in other words, there are more important things to worry about. Or to guide oneself by.

Tha'tsall.
:-)
I'm a fan o' "the movie" and "the story". You know dat.

2/01/2010 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Bob,
RE the masks, was thinking the same thing on the ride to work – that they both wear them, but for entirely different reasons. The Joker must deceive a person.

2/01/2010 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Here is the big question I have. All these things that can be seen “in” the movie, are a testament to truth – which makes it a successful story. Did the writer(s) know it or intend them?
I think it’s possible that they did not.

2/01/2010 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Any great work of art is guided by nonlocal archetypes. To the extent that the artist is conscious of this, it often spoils the effect and renders it pedantic, which is in my opinion the central flaw with Star Wars. Lucas consciously set out to render Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces in narrative form, but the whole point is that these myths are unconsciously produced. It's like trying to invent a religion by imitating the elements present in it. Can't be done, or it's not religion.

2/01/2010 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Good points.

One other thing, related to my earlier one. I was not “impressed” to the same degree by the Batman character as the Joker character. I know I’m not the only one, as I mentioned all those kiddies. And I know I wanted to be. My claim is it is because I didn’t see him in the same position as the Christ figure. I still don’t. Which is fine, because it’s just a movie :-)
However, I’m going to check in with you Bob in about a year when “The Book of Eli” makes it to your house on DVD. This is another good vs evil (but) unapologetically religious/Christian movie where you are “attracted” to the messianic character. And even then I don’t place him in quite the same position as Christ. There is/was only one, obviously. At best he may fit “saint”. Or at least as far as a man can go.

2/01/2010 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Ricky said "I'm a fan o' "the movie" and "the story". You know dat."

Oh I know... just an interesting opportunity to go poking at the message, not the messenger.

:- )

I dual uses of the mask is a fascinating one too... that the Joker's isn't to hide, but "conceal his lack of identity. He is pure willful chaos, with no center.", which is the reaction I have to the blustery tatoo'd, pierced, goth'd, etc... a sad attempt to pretend to an identity they haven't a shred of... the 'face' of chaos.

Along those lines, I've got a question about Batman's, not the mask he wears, but the 'life' he wears as Bruce Wayne. Aside from the obvious cover story purposes... anything there for reader to read into themselves? To some extent we all feel that although we may not always live up to our ideals, most have the feeling that 'inside' we're pretty swell folks... but she puts a kabosh on that in the first Dark Knight, when he says “Inside, I am more.” and Rachel answers,

“It’s not who you are underneath. It’s what you do that defines you.”,

The fact that what he does do, requires him to appear not to be who he is... there's the 'don't mistake your vocation for your avocation', and 'doing good works' beyond your work-a-day life... but seems like there should be more to mine there.

With all these archetypes, symbolism and meanings... did the screenwriters 'know it or intend them'... I'd bet that much of it was on just the surface, but once you begin working with such mineshafts, you can't help but bring the deep depths along with them... once you pick the right spot to mine, the rich veins and bonanzas are there just waiting to be dug out.

2/01/2010 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Contra Rebels said...

In connection to both the plot of the Dark Knight (or any season of 24, for that matter), and attempting to root out terrorism, it is necessary to understand that these monstors always seek and find elements on the inside to aid their cause.


CNSNews.com) - Michael Leiter, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, told the Senate Homeland Security Committee in a hearing last week that the United States sometimes chooses to allow people into the country who are on the federal government’s Terrorist Watchlist.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.), the ranking minority member of the committee, said at the same Jan. 20 hearing that the government should suspend the U.S. visas of anyone whose name appears in its master database of all people with suspected connections to terrorism and then put the burden on them to prove “they do not intend to harm this nation or its citizens.”

Leiter made the statement about the U.S. government sometimes choosing to allow people on the Terrorist Watchist to enter the country in response to questioning by Sen. Carl Levin (D.-Mich.), who wanted to know how many people on the list were allowed to enter the United States last year. (See video below.)

“We don't know exactly how many came into the country who were on the watch list?” asked Levin.

“No,” said Leiter. “I will tell you that when people come to the country, if they are on the watch list, it is because we have generally made the choice that we want them here in the country for some reason or another.”

2/01/2010 09:52:00 AM  
Blogger julie said...

Ricky, I was not “impressed” to the same degree by the Batman character as the Joker character.

Honestly, I think the acting was a bit of a factor in that one. He had more dimension in the first Batman, but in this one he played it (if memory serves; I haven't watched it since it was in theaters) more... woodenly? What lingers is the glower and the gravel voice; Bale's portrayal of the character got a little crystallized, maybe.

As to whether the the writer consciously knew what he was doing, I don't think so. Bob mentioned earlier the "division of history into the ages of Chaos, Gods, Kings, Men." True not only of history in general but of individual people, I think - and part of the reason this story is so successful is that it speaks to people regardless of which of those divisions describes their current state. A parable, it speaks on many levels. I doubt that any Hollywood screenwriter is capable of consciously achieving that kind of depth.

2/01/2010 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"It's like trying to invent a religion by imitating the elements present in it. Can't be done, or it's not religion."

L. Ron Hubbard would disagree with you on that... but I suspect he's been shown the error of his ways since.

Also attempting to deliberately fabricate it as Lucas did, tends to start those unintended consequences a rolling, as Ricky noted, Darth Vader is by far the more compelling figure, and Luke is kinda wimpy... if it's not done right, Power comes out looking more 'good' than Good does (yeah, I know, the thousand masks...), whereas in the real thing, I don't recall there being a big and profitable merchandising line of goods for Pontius Pilate memorabilia....

2/01/2010 09:56:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Recall that in the previous film, Ras al Ghul (if that's how you spell it) is so intolerantly "good" that he wishes to tame the chaos by eliminating man and starting all over again, as in the Old Testament... Going back to the Kabbalah, he is pure justice with no mercy...

I gotta stop this. Need to get some work done. Carry on.

2/01/2010 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Re El Ron -- Schuon said something to the effect that to imagine that humans could have invented religion is to not know what religion is...

2/01/2010 10:00:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

Julie said,
“Honestly, I think the acting was a bit of a factor in that one.”

Probably, I had a hard time with his deep voice thing. And the suit. Now the car, that seemed 100% practical. Everything else seems to some degree silly. The Joker’s “silly” fits him. He is high-creep-factor-insane-silly. I wonder if Bale was taken by surprise by Leger’s amazing interpretation.

Anyway, I’m not disappointed with the degree to which the writers took the Joker seriously. I sat up straight in my $10 seat. It may be their central argument of the movie (a warning): that there are evil doers and then there is the one who calls them. For such an argument to be made, Batman must “decrease”, for a time, or a bit.

Same for me, back to the salt mines..

2/01/2010 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Poking head out of salt mine.

Interesting that the Joker says he will stop killing people if Batman takes off his mask, i.e., stops pretending he's something special and not just an ordinary human being.

Then, oddly enough, when the weasly accountant threatens to reveal Batman's identity, the Joker protects it and goes after the accountant. As Rick said, the Joker realizes, however dimly, that evil is parasitic on good and that the lie is parasitic on truth: "you complete me," he says to Batman.

You may recall that this is something I've harped on in the past, of getting all excited about day-to-day politics, because the vital excitement may indicate that you need Democrats or Republicans in the same unhealthy way the Joker needs Batman. Indeed, this is why the left simply cannot let go of George Bush. Obama might well say to him, "you complete me!"

2/01/2010 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Looking up from eating the salt ya'll are mining,

"the vital excitement may indicate that you need Democrats or Republicans in the same unhealthy way the Joker needs Batman."

Someone out there with PhotoShop needs to come up with a Harvey Dent type character, dressed in a split suit of Blue & Red, one half with the face of Obama, the other Bush... maybe with the Joker putting the posters up on the walls....

Someone pass the pepper please?

2/01/2010 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger Ricky Raccoon said...

“You may recall that this is something I've harped on in the past, of getting all excited about day-to-day politics..”

There’s an echo in here.

2/01/2010 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger Northern Bandit said...

Dark Knight was a technical tour de force. All of those stunts were real. They actually flipped an 18 wheeler lengthwise. It was also shot in IMAX, meaning hand-held cameras weighing over 100 lbs. They smashed one of the 5 or so mobile Imax cameras in existence filming one of those chase scenes.

This was one of the great achievements in American cinema. Certainly a vastly greater achievement than the masturbatory Avatar.

2/01/2010 03:59:00 PM  

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