Thursday, 22 September 2011

The X Files - the Anima, Subjectivity and the Dark Brother

This essay aims to posit an idea first suggested by Chris Knowles over on and confirmed by my own studies of the seminal television show The X Files.  The idea is that Chris Carter’s television opus is a master-narrative of point-of-view, subjectivity and interpretation, as well as being a philosophical treatise on the suppressed knowledge, themes and potentials of the twentieth century.  Rather than beginning with a breakdown of the show’s central characters and ideas I’ll simply jump in at the deep end – assuming the reader’s familiarity with the show.

Seeking the Anima

Mulder is not simply an obsessive genius haunted by the mysterious childhood abduction of his sister; he is a fractured psyche – an animus seeking to reunite his anima. One of the many themes of the show is the functionality and processes of magical consciousness.  As evidence for this I would highlight that when Mulder first recounts the tale of his sister’s abduction he imagines that he is in bed and Samantha is taken by aliens while he remains paralysed in some awful waking-nightmare state.  It is implied that Mulder and his sister perhaps shared a bedroom.  This adds weight to the idea that they are intimately linked characters even before her abduction, in that they possibly share the same private space.  When the viewer hears this recording of Mulder’s initial recollections, we see him sitting alone and dejected in an empty church.

This idea of Samantha as Mulder’s anima is given further credence when the abduction story evolves into an alternate version.  In flashback we see that Mulder and Samantha are now in the living-room, playing a board game while the television is on in the background.  The game in question is Stratego, a game of strategy.  The show they are watching is The Magician.  So here we see an implied link between strategy and magic concerning Samantha’s abduction.  It is also noteworthy that in this scene Samantha is dressed in a nightgown, almost ready for bed, while young Mulder is still in casual clothes.  This emphasises Mulder’s protector role of his sister and even a surrogate parent capacity while Mom and Dad are out of the house.  This is cemented when the ‘alien’ white light occurs and Samantha is levitated through a window. Young Mulder’s first instinct is quite a mature and forceful one – to get to his father’s gun.

This abduction scene seems to be a touchstone for Mulder’s imagination and interior spiritual life – so much so that it is revisited more than once and with more than one interpretation.  This idea of Samantha as Mulder’s anima or soul is given explicit poigniancy in Paper Hearts when Mulder questions his memory of the abduction narrative and comes to wonder if instead Samantha was actually abducted and murdered by a child-killer.  The emptiness that Mulder feels becomes almost too much to bare when he must question if his symbolic-soul was actually slaughtered many years ago, and he asks himself if he has been labouring under a lie since then. Even this skewed interpretation of Samantha’s abduction is surrounded by Alice In Wonderland imagery, adding credence to the idea that fantasy is somehow strongly connected to her disappearance.

Although within the literal narrative Samantha is obviously a real person, in the symbolic narrative Samantha is so much more than this – she is the absent keeper of all of Mulder’s hopes and fears.  We can find evidence of this in the fact that throughout the show’s duration Mulder comes into contact with various copies and clones of his sister; at various ages.  Some of these copies are still children and some are fully-grown women.  These encounters serve a dual function.  They destabilize Mulder’s sense of the chronology of space-time, as well as reinforcing the concept of Samantha as an absent magical anima who can yet turn up anywhere and in various versions of herself.  This de-literalizes Samantha and converts her into a figure wholly of Mulders point-of-view.  Indeed, the viewer is never even privy to an ‘objective’ flashback of Samantha.  All of the flashbacks are perceived through Mulder’s imagination and usually laden with dream-imagery.

This is the case all the way through to Sein Und Zeit and Closure when the Samantha abduction story is finally resolved.  The resolution to her disappearance isn’t replete with alien abduction imagery as Mulder had previously believed – rather Mulder finds himself surrounded by talk of angelic walk-ins and starlight consciousness.  This further cements Samantha’s status as a denizen of the magical, internal dream-realm.  

In his adult life, on one level, Mulder’s intense and profound relationship with Scully acts as a surrogate anima-soul, someone he can protect in lieu of Samantha’s abduction.  But on another level Scully seems to also act like an extension or fortification of his animus.  We might argue that with the loss of what Mulder perceives as his genuine anima – represented by Samantha – he must overcompensate to hold on to this aspect of his now fractured psyche.  As a result he becomes strangely ‘feminized’, in so much as he becomes receptive, intuitive and almost preternaturally perceptive – all supposed traits of the feminine psyche.  So, although Scully is at first a surrogate anima-sister, Mulder has in some oblique way become his sister through the ferocity and single-mindedness of his quest to retrieve her – and Scully quickly becomes the more traditionally masculine half of their ‘partnership’; representing traits of reason, logic and healthy skepticism.  She is in effect Mulder’s only true tether to the mortal Earth-bound realm. 

So, we can see that the Mulder-Scully relationship is shaded with various nuances of symbolism and meaning.  We might argue that Mulder’s pursuit of his missing sister is both objective and subjective.  It is simultaneously the most literal and the most metaphorical thing in Mulder’s life.  And while Mulder attempts to locate and retrieve Samantha from a myth-laden psychological underworld, we see that he already possesses many of the anima-traits that she represents, though leavened with a large dose of black humour.  In this sense Samantha’s disappearance is both a curse and a terrible gift; it has made Mulder what he is – his genius as well as his self-destructive obsession.

The Shadow and Dark Brother

A central aspect to the show’s exploration of identity, subjectivity and interpretation is the way that various characters represent various facets of each other’s psyches.  With this in mind let’s explore the character of Alex Krycek.  

To my mind, Krycek represents a darker version of Mulder himself.  He is Mulder’s shadow, his Dark Brother.  Krycek is first introduced as an FBI Agent and Mulder’s new ‘partner’.  His introduction comes during the episode Sleepless in which ex-soldiers who have no need for sleep are killed by guilty waking-nightmares.  This is interesting in that it supports this idea of Krycek as a dark twin, or ‘partner’ of Mulder; appearing in a context of literalized nightmares.  Krycek is then later revealed as an almost completely amoral assassin working for the Cigarette Smoking Man.  But Krycek evolves, soon becoming a wild-card renegade serving no-one but himself.  

There are other details that support this ‘Dark Brother’ interpretation of Alex Krycek.  Physically he is attractive and dark-haired like Mulder, but it goes further than this.  The viewer often finds Mulder and Krycek paired in uneasy alliances that take them into dangerous territory, as in the Piper Maru / Apocrypha two-parter where they hunt the Black Oil entity unleashed from a sunken warplane – and Krycek becomes infected and possessed by the entity.  They are forced into another uneasy alliance in the Tunguska / Terma two-parter where they travel to the Siberian forest together to investigate a mysterious meteor crater, and the Black Oil reappears; this time infecting Mulder when Krycek betrays him.  The point of these examples is to highlight the almost brotherly alliances and hostilities that are traded between them. Like Mulder, Krycek seemingly returns from the dead, after being locked in an underground bunker with an alien godship. 

At this point I’d like to point out that the Jungian concept of the Shadow is not an entirely malevolent force.  Instead the Shadow is often a twisted form of things denied and suppressed, be they fears or desires. Acknowledging and honouring the shadow is considered by many Jungian analysts to be a crucial step towards insight, self-governance and personal growth.  In this sense, under the right circumstances, the Shadow can be seen as a dark guide through dark internal realms. So, if Krycek is not just a brutal renegade assassin, and is indeed symbolic of Mulder’s Shadow, we should be able to find evidence in the narrative that at some point Krycek will attempt to genuinely help or guide Mulder in some way.  This comes to bare in Patient X and The Red and the Black, in which Krycek informs Mulder that he is caught in the middle of a war “for Heaven and Earth”. Although Krycek has a gun trained on Mulder in the scene, he kisses Mulder on the cheek and gives him the weapon, leaving himself open to a revenge-killing.  He even wishes Mulder good luck in Russian, and appears to mean it.  

Much has been made of the possible homosexual undertones of the Krychek-Mulder dynamic on slash fan-sites, and the kiss that Krycek gives him adds a little spice to such ideas.  Indeed, Mulder and Krycek have a strangely physical dynamic.  But I think it is more than a simple covert same-sex attraction.  The kiss I have just referenced cements their status as brothers, and Krycek’s dual function as Mulder’s shadow-antagonist and shadow-guide.  Although in the literal narrative Krycek is quite possibly an amoral psychopath, we are shown genuine glimpses of his respect and occasional compassion for Mulder that reinforce his symbolic role as Mulder’s Dark Brother.  In the Essence / Existence two-parter he tells Mulder, again while pointing a gun at him, that he could have killed him so many times, but he was hoping that Mulder would win and somehow defeat the conspiracy.  This contradictory function as threat and helper eventually results in Krycek’s death.  And yet, in the show’s finale, an apparition of Krycek appears to act unequivocally as Mulder’s spirit guide and helper – even giving him a vital piece of life-saving information.  

So, we can argue that in death Krycek is able to transcend the antagonist aspect of his dark twin relationship to Mulder and express his symbolic brotherly love in a way that genuinely helps Mulder’s evolution.  On close inspection, this odd relationship with a brutal assassin who murdered Mulder’s father might be seen as straining credulity – but as the weave and turn of a symbolic narrative about identity, point-of-view and interpretation this odd relationship makes perfect sense.

 And this is why I feel that The X Files is primarily about the power of human consciousness, and to be more specific – the power of magical/symbolic human consciousness.  For me, magical consciousness is about perceiving the world not as we would hope it to be; as a manifestation of our own personal symbols, but as it actually is – an enchanted metaphor composed of symbols.  But the enchantment is often not what we expect, and can contain many darker shades that lead us towards danger, growth, or both.  As The X Files so exhaustively and expertly shows us, even this shaded enchantment is subjective.  The real world is primarily the psychic-space where our most holy collective dreams and darkest nightmares overlap.  This chaos of many minds and many souls is the realm we perceive as ‘real’, because it contains voices other than our own.  The world is not magical because it conforms to our symbols, as Mulder discovers, it is magical because it is itself symbolic. For evolution to be possible, some version of this idea must be true. The Truth is Out There only because We are Out There, learning and growing and facing our own darkness.   

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Darkness Maintained - Axiomatic Illusion and the Control of Context

We live in a culture of death, deceit and evisceration. By ‘evisceration’ I mean to say that our internal realms of art, culture and psyche are being taken away from us. What was once inside us and sacrosanct is now being taken outside of us and being made ready for commodity-conversion.  This culture of death, deceit and evisceration has only one true goal – to control the axioms and context of the human imagination, in every sphere of perception and experience. Whether they know it or not, this is the desire of elitists, sociopaths and degenerates everywhere.  Why?  Because to control the axioms and context of the human imagination is the most expedient way to create avenues of thought that necessitate a belief in the inevitability of corruption, greed and inequality. 
the calibrated eye...

Make no mistake; our world is run, maintained and calibrated by the most ruthless kinds of predators.  And corruption, greed and inequality are their sustaining foods. They cannot maintain such an unnatural, authoritarian and spectacularly imbalanced society without fostering the axiomatic illusion that imbalances in wealth, power and resources are either a) natural, or b) an unfortunate inevitability of modern human civilization.  This is utter nonsense.  However, it is a nonsense so ancient and so prevalent as to be indistinguishable from self-evident truth.  Are we simply savage animals filled with a preponderance of hate and lust? Or are we victims of a consistently maintained situation in which certain baser characteristics are encouraged to thrive exponentially? I’d suggest that the latter contains more truth.   Groups of warlords and elitists cannot lead an entire race into a suicide-run spanning several thousand years without first fragmenting the psyche of the race, or at the very least encouraging and teasing open its hairline fractures.  To do otherwise would seriously limit avenues of profitability and power consolidation. 

This is an ancient art of war.  This culture of death, deceit and evisceration is not simply about spilling blood for the glorification of inequality and imbalance.  It is also about removing the last glimmers of light in the human shadow.  It is about removing all honour, propriety and fairness from the battlefield and, indeed, from all walks of life.  This is partially what I mean when I say that this culture’s only true goal is to control the axioms and context of the human imagination. Avenues of thought that necessitate a belief in the inevitability of corruption, greed and inequality leads consciousness into a very mercenary mindset, where anything can be bought and sold, human life means almost nothing, and so anything is permissible.  This is the exact stance of a professional mercenary. 

the maintained theatre
It is a stance that is being encouraged to thrive by the consistent nurturing of the sociopaths, elitists and degenerates that constitute the collective power-broking facility of this world.  It is not a stance that is guided by a single shadowy organization; rather it is the will of the machine itself.  It is a stance so self-evident to the various groups who broker real power in this world, that to assume otherwise would appear churlish and bad for business.  And it is a stance that is shared by various infighting and competing factions.  As I said before, this is an ancient art of war.  “Anything can be bought and sold, human life is merely a means to an end; therefore anything is permissible.”  If every warlord and elitist subscribes to this – then everyone is fully aware of the dangerous theatre in which all true ‘business’ is conducted.  In this sense, complicity is simply the process of playing your part to make the world a darker place.  To do so is to foster the concept of the inevitability of ‘evil’, by any other name.  And only in this way can the axiomatic illusions of the human race be effectively managed – and future profitability and power-consolidation assured.  Without that consistently maintained theatre of the oldest war, the degeneracy and violence and corruption could not sustain itself so spectacularly.  As all true ‘professionals’ understand, degeneracy and violence is great for business.   

Of course, the concept of money is an excellent tool to foster this false understanding of the human spirit.  Money is a metaphor, nothing more.  It is an agreed upon emblem of human exchange – whether that exchange is energy, labour, emotion or intellect.  It is the ‘currency’ of the human race.  This being the case, it is not too far an imaginative leap to suggest that money is also emblematic of the human soul.  The more romantic amongst us may recoil at this idea, citing art and culture as the true emblem of the soul – and I would agree.  But for pure functionality, what other metaphor are we so dependant upon for our very survival? What other fictional construct governs the possibilities of human experience so completely?  Again, this is what I mean when I suggest that we live in a culture of death, deceit and evisceration.  What was once internal has been gutted and made external.  In a very powerful sense we have taken our souls and externalized them as fictional emblems of human exchange.  
the dominant exchange

If you think I am stretching this idea to breaking point, I will go further.  We have torn our beating hearts from our chests and now wear them on our sleeves and in our wallets – as the dominant mode of human value-awareness.  And because our guiding principles have been torn from our centre and offered up as a legitimate way to conduct human energy and labour exchange, corruption and greed becomes infinitely more possible.  Money is not the ultimate goal for the elites and degenerates that run our world, nor is power itself.  While money and power are fruitful and fun for the professionals of the world, they are simply desirable side-effects to the true goal - which is the consistent maintenance of a situation that makes such pursuits possible.  Organized crime syndicates understand this, hardcore pornographers understand this, and governments understand this; ensure the continuation of a situation in which their appetites can be indulged, and if at all possible, made profitable.   

So, when I say we live in a culture of death, deceit and evisceration – I hope you realize the subtleties and perception-management involved in such a carefully tended situation.  You do not have to agree with every word written here.  You may find these words far too cynical, and wish to elucidate a different point of view, and I encourage that.  Regardless of what you feel about the words written here, I thank you for your time and engagement, and I hope you can feel that these words are intended to empower you, not to leave you feeling hopeless.  After all, controlling the human imagination would not be of primary importance to the power-brokers if the human imagination was not exceptionally powerful. And they would not need to work so tirelessly on turning us all into mercenaries, fostering a sense of the inevitability of darkness, if darkness is all we are.   

The True Human...