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Tag: Mythos

“Vikings” and the Pagan-Christian Synthesis

“In the gentle fall of rain from Heaven I hear my God. But in the thunder I still hear Thor.” (Brother Athelstan)

Ragnar: So have you returned to your faith, renounced ours? Athelstan: I wish it was so simple. In the gentle fall of rain from Heaven I hear my God. But in the thunder I still hear Thor. That is my agony. Ragnar: I hope that some day our Gods can become friends. Ragnar: So have you returned to your faith, renounced ours? Athelstan: I wish it was so simple. In the gentle fall of rain from Heaven I hear my God. But in the thunder I still hear Thor. That is my agony. Ragnar: I hope that some day our Gods can become friends.

Whenever political activists talk about culture, they need to be careful about not over-reading the artist’s intent.

Rather than guessing what he meant politics-wise, activists have to look for the influences, heretical or mainstream, he drew upon. Unlike the intended message, which is subject to interpretation, cultural influences can be identified with sufficient likelihood.

Though it cannot be proven—and culture industry creators would likely deny it—it is more than plausible that James C. Russell’s The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity has had an important influence on popular culture.

In Canadian-Irish TV series Vikings, this influence is close to obvious. Though the show’s screenwriters may not have read it—I would be very surprised they haven’t at least heard of it—they seem to have been influenced by it at least through an intermediary text, or person, which/who conveyed Russell’s message.

Russell established in his book that the Christianization of Germanic Europe (in the broad sense, including Scandinavia) was two-sided: the indigenous Pagan faith was replaced, by fair means or foul, by an exogenous one; and in doing so, Christianity was altered by its prey, a process which had actually already begun in the Roman empire.

The ubiquity of Pagan symbols and rituals in European Christianity

This is a reality that is hard to talk about with Christians—and the more conservative, the harder. It is like Edgar Poe’s Purloined Letter: what is right before one’s eyes is what they cannot see. The omnipresence of Pagan rituals and symbols in European Christianity is such that many Christians see them as having always belonged to their faith, even in its first stages, when it was still a markedly Oriental religion.

In some countries, “king cakes” are baked for the celebration of the Epiphany, and crepes are cooked for the day of Candlemas. Both symbolize a Sun disk, and these two Winter feasts were, before Christianity phagocytated them, meant to prepare the return of the Sun.

Of course, we also know that the Christmas holiday was established to replace the celebration of the Winter Solstice, which was a solar cult in various European indigenous religions, most notably in Rome (Sol Invictus).

Interestingly, since the fracture between Catholicism and Protestantism roughly corresponds to that between Latin and Germanic Europe (please note my emphasis on “roughly” before mentioning Catholic Flanders or Calvinist Romandy), Protestants are usually more aware of this unholy origin. As Richard Rives at WND proudly reminded us, Christmas used to be illegal in many Protestant countries. Below is a screenshot from Rives’s video:

That Rome has influenced Christianity is made evident by the fact that the Catholic Church is established in the Eternal City, that the Pope is called “Pontifex Maximus” as the Roman Emperors used to be, and of course that Latin is the main liturgic language. But do all Catholics know that cardinals wear purple cassocks just like Roman senators used to? That priests (in Western churches) are clean-shaven and keep their hair short like the Romans? And that nuns cover their hair as Roman free women did, to distinguish themselves from slaves?

Christianity didn’t merely conquer the Indo-European world. It was also molded by it, almost beyond recognition after centuries of reciprocal acculturation.

This is chiefly what the two first seasons of TV series Vikings are about.


Ragnar (left) hands his plunder over to Jarl Haraldson. Ragnar (left) hands his plunder over to Jarl Haraldson.

When the story begins, Ragnar Lothbrok is an under-achieving farmer, who occasionnaly goes raiding with other Norsemen in the Baltic lands. He resents the authority of Jarl Haraldson, who is a generation older than he.

Every year, after the harvest, Haraldson orders his men to raid East. The plunder is meager, since Balts are not really richer than Vikings. But even though their farms are hardly sufficient to support their families, Ragnar and the other young raiders have to hand over all the booty to Haraldson, who comfortably stays home. If the story was taking place in today’s West, Haraldson would likely be a baby-boomer expecting his children to pay for his retirement pension after a pat on the back, and then wonder why they, unlike him, cannot make both ends meet. But I digress (or do I?).

Ragnar has enough, and so does his brother Rollo (not to be confused with the founder of the Duchy of Normandy; the story is contemporary to Charlemagne, over a century before the Norsemen’s settlement in France).

Ragnar buys a sun compass to a merchant, which enables him to find his way West, beyond the strait that separates the Baltic Sea from the North Sea. There, the merchant told Ragnar, fabulous riches await him in a place named England. Further South is the even-richer “Frankia” (the Kingdom of the Franks).

Since all the ships belong to Haraldson, Ragnar needs a new boat. He asks his friend Floki (reminiscent of the God Loki), to build a flat-bottomed one, that can both navigate on rivers and high seas. The Scandinavian drakkar is born. Floki’s odd appearance and erratic behavior are a nod to Heath Ledger’s Joker (Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight), as illustrated by a scene in the second season when Floki tells Ragnar’s son that he’s “just a joker”.

“All things begin and end as stories”

Compass, boat… Ragnar now needs a crew. Rollo gathers the region’s best warriors and sets up a meeting. Wary of Ragnar’s intentions at first, and afraid that Haraldson might punish them for disobeying him, the men are, one by one, taken by Ragnar’s Tyler Durden-like speech. Ragnar doesn’t try to convince his audience by way of factual arguments or logical demonstrations. Rather, he inspires them with a dream, a story they’ll tell their children. As Ragnar puts it, “all things begin and end as stories”:

As could be expected, Ragnar’s raids on Northumbria (one of England’s seven kingdoms at the time) significantly increase his prestige and power in Kattegat, still under Haraldson’s rule. This inevitably leads to a conflict between the two men. Being hunted down by Haraldson’s men, Ragnar challenges Haraldson in combat and, predictably, kills him and becomes Jarl.

“Why are we not looking outwards to the West?”

Being now an important ruler, Ragnar will try to unify the Vikings, still spending most of their formidable energy fighting each other (something Madison Grant lamented). After an epic battle leaving no victor between two Viking armies, one led by Ragnar, the other led by his brother Rollo, Ragnar delivers a speech in which he urges all men to “look outwards to the West:”

During his first raid on Northumbria, Ragnar met with a Saxon monk, named Athelstan. He spared his life not out of mercy, but because, Athelstan speaking Norse in addition to Old Saxon, Ragnar thought (rightly) that he’d be of great use to him.

At first a hostage and then a slave, Athelstan soon became Ragnar’s protégé, and even his main advisor, due to his cleverness, courage, and wits.

This symbolizes the encounter between Nordic Paganism and Christianity. At first disgusted by the Pagans’ uncouth manners, Athelstan will more and more forget his Christian faith and convert to the Vikings’ Pagan religion (or maybe I should say “revert,” since continental Saxons had only recently been Christianized under the iron fist of Charlemagne, who was not always the gentle-hearted, loving king both popular and elite culture have pictured along the centuries).

Of course, the acculturation goes both ways: Ragnar is impressed by the Christians’ ability to build wealthy, efficient societies, while his people are still wasting their tremendous strength in suicidal, internecine berserk.

Christianization, a “come-together” moment for Europeans

For all the legitimate criticisms that Pagan or Nietzschean alt-righters can have about Christianity (especially today’s Christianity, whether Catholic or Protestant), they souldn’t forget that it was the first religion that gave a feeling of kinship and a common purpose to Europeans.

Descendants of the long-forgotten Indo-European people, Europeans had scattered across the heterogeneous continent they conquered and branched off into a number of peoples, speaking many different languages, to the point where they saw each other as foreigners, and even “Barbarians.”

(And it happened again during the first half of the 20th century. Then, Europeans worldwide nearly annihilated each other in wars driven by petty nationalisms that were wrong on all counts: genetic, cultural, moral.)

Christianization, despite Christianity’s extra-European origins and universalistic outlook, was for Europeans a “come-together” moment, and this encounter between two Germanic peoples once separated by faith illustrates it well.


Odin on the Cross

Back to the series, this back-and-forth between Paganism and Christianity reaches a higher level when Athelstan is captured by King Ecbert of Wessex during a new Viking raid. Recognized as a Saxon and thus as an apostate, Athelstan is crucified (see picture on the right) by the local bishop (likely a historical inaccuracy since Emperor Constantine had outlawed crucifixion in the 4th century A.D. and none were documented afterwards).

What struck me when I saw the scene was the way Athelstan was represented. Look at the picture closely. Having been beaten up by the Christian populace, his eye is so black that he looks one-eyed, just like Odin. Given the emphasis on his appearance on the cross, I doubt it is coincidental.

Luckily for Athelstan, King Ecbert arrives just in time. He orders the bishop to cut him down, and once again, Athelstan becomes the ruler’s protégé and counsellor. (Priests advising kings was commonplace then: one of Charlemagne’s main advisors was Alcuin, an English monk.)

Of course, King Ecbert wants to know more about the Vikings to be able to defeat them. He is a symetrical character to Ragnar’s: like the latter, Ecbert rules over a portion of a divided country, and hopes to unify England under his rule. The war with the Vikings must be a way, thinks he, to assert his legitimacy, since he is the only one able to resist them. As we know, however, it is two centuries later a Norseman, William the Conqueror, who will succeed in this endeavor at the Battle of Hastings.

The second reason why King Ecbert takes interest in Athelstan is because as a former monk, he is fluent in Latin. Ecbert wants Athelstan to translate and read him aloud the lives of the Roman emperors (likely Suetonius’s Twelve Caesars), thinking Roman civilization was superior to Early Medieval Europe, which is another historical inaccuracy. The very idea of the “Dark Ages” is a modern fabrication devised by French revolutionaries to justify the Enlightenment’s tabula rasa. Roman basilicas and Gothic cathedrals still stand to testify that the “Dark” Ages were actually bright.

The similarities between Paganism and Christianity

Being forced into returning to Christianity, Athelstan has a hard time forgetting Paganism, as if the latter was a natural faith to him while Christianity necessarily needed constraint. During Mass, he almost falls out when a crucified Christ appears to be bleeding, which reminds him of a Viking, Leif, who was sacrificed at the Pagan temple of Uppsala:

Increasingly, Athelstan is struck by the similarities between Paganism and Christianity. When King Ecbert asks him to tell him more about Odin, Thor, Loki or Freyja, Athelstan responds in a way that both thrills and frightens him:

“Their gods are very old… and sometimes I could not help noticing some similarities with our own God… and His Son.”

Later, when Ragnar and Athelstan meet again (King Ecbert and Ragnar are seeking a truce), Ragnar asks Athelstan whether he has returned to Christianity and abandoned Paganism. But things are not so simple:

Ragnar, who unlike his brother Rollo has not received baptism at this point (this was one of King Alle of Northumbria’s conditions for the peace talks), takes a growing interest in Christianity, which foreshadows the Vikings’ conversion. This of course is a historical short-cut, given that Norsemen would not become Christians before the 10th and 11th centuries.

But religious acculturation is a long march, which proceeds with seemingly benign but, in retrospect, irreversible and accelerating steps. Over three centuries passed between Nero’s persecutions against Christians and Theodosius I turning Christianity into the Roman Empire’s official State religion (380). The latter happened “only” 43 years after Constantine’s conversion on his deathbed (337).

In the series, such benign step is the scene in which both Ragnar and Athelstan recite a Pater Noster before going into battle against King Horik of Denmark. Once victorious, Ragnar becomes the uncontested ruler of the Vikings. A Promethean figure, Ragnar proves that boundaries exist to be tresspassed.

The second season ends on this note (Season 3 will be released in 2015) and I could finish my review here, but I think that beyond the depiction of the Pagan-Christian synthesis, Vikings asks a capital question for us, which is:

Which religion for 21st century Europeans?

Three questions seem to arise here. Should we return to the faith of our ancestors? Should we save Christianity from itself? Or should we overcome both Paganism and Christianity with a futuristic religion that would set space conquest as our “Manifest Destiny?” (I’m leaving aside the question whether we should stick to materialistic Modernity. The absence of Transcendence of the latter obviously argues against such an option. If the status quo was a viable one, our legacy would be guaranteed.)

Returning to Paganism poses a major problem. As Karl Marx famously put it, “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.” And I fear a return to Paganism would be such a farce, from what I can judge when I take a look at recent forms of Paganism. Pagans can’t act as if Christianity hadn’t vanquished their faith. I hear the argument that Paganism was just in a state of dormition, and that for most of European history (including when Europeans had no consciousnness of being one people), Europeans were Pagans.

But then, how would it not contradict the imperious necessity of a European Brotherhood? The absence thereof was arguably Paganism’s main flaw, and Christianity, for all its vices, allowed Europeans to get together.

Most readers of this article would return to Germanic and Nordic religions, while the author would have to choose between Gallic and Roman ones (the latter would be more to my liking, by the way; I consider myself a Roman rather than a Gaul). Slavs would be separated from the rest of us. Again.

The same argument works for Christianity. Once united by faith, Christendom has been torn apart by the wars between Catholics and Protestants. These Wars of Religion ended on a “draw,” leading to the triumph of the secular State, which paved the way towards Modernity. That’s where we are now.

Critics of Christianity on the Alternative Right usually blame it for its universalism, but I think the main problem with Christianity is the belief in the Apocalypse. Whether we precipitate the End of the World or wait for it, we can’t have a future (a future far beyond the death and rebirth of our own individual souls, a selfish concern if there ever was one) if we don’t believe that something awaits us (“us” being the long chain linking our ancestors to our descendants) after the Earth has become inhospitable for human life.

Enter this futuristic religion I was mentioning as the third option. The main trap for it would be to amount to “Modernity on life support,” with the West, now encompassing all of Mankind, escaping to new worlds after having made the original one unwelcoming. This would happen only if Europeans keep refusing to drink at Tradition’s rejuvenating spring.

Tradition that comprises both Paganism and Christianity as sucessive, necessary steps in European Man’s upward journey. Yes, that presupposes a belief in linear time. For our mortal planet’s lifespan is linear, too.

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America: Imagine the World Without Her

With that in mind, we have to ask just how many would-be conservatives became liberals because of the seemingly willed stupidity and dorkiness of Conservatism Inc. Dinesh D’Souza’s latest documentary is another chapter in this sordid tale of political buffoonery.

How can any well-adjusted, thinking person still associate with official conservatism?

People often choose their political affiliation for social, rather than for ideological reasons. They want to align with groups that are smart and successful. With that in mind, we have to ask just how many would-be conservatives became liberals because of the seemingly willed stupidity and dorkiness of Conservatism Inc. Dinesh D’Souza’s latest documentary is another chapter in this sordid tale of political buffoonery.

America: Imagine the World Without Her has the same flavor as the latest batch of evangelical movies, and rivals them in its lack of intellectual cleanliness. It features two squishy songs (here’s one) by acoustic guitar-wielding boy-men that are more fit for a middle school revival than a documentary that attempts gravitas, and D’Souza talks about the American founding as though it were the Immaculate Conception.

But that should come as no surprise when the film sets to perpetuate the myth of America as the glorious proposition nation that has overcome the universal faults of the world. Like the Messiah, America was created to expunge the universal sins of the world and offer man the promise of living in a merchant paradise. DSouza also promotes the myth that the old-timey America can be restored and the 1950s can be carried on for all of eternityas long as we vote Republican and live up to the Constitution.

With this in mind, the only people who should enjoy this movie are over the age of 50 or diehard believers in the conservative movement. DSouza himself compounds this problem by attempting to inject himself into every scene of the movie.

Just as viewers cant escape seeing Michael Moores corpulent figure in his films, DSouzas turtle-like resemblance is nearly as aesthetically unpleasing. The close ups of his smarmy face reveal his unbearable narcissism to many viewers.  His sense of victimization and his depiction of himself as some kind of martyr for conservativism widens the problem. But the real DSouza is just an immigrant plagiarist felon with no original ideas. He even stole the opening credit scene from Conan The Barbarianparadoxically, as the films message denounces the value of conquest.

The films subtitleImagine the World Without Heris misleading as the real purpose of the film is to address leftist accusations that America was built on conquest and theft. Except for the introduction, which dramatizes George Washington being gunned down by a British sniper, we never are shown the path of what the world would be like without the United States.

Instead, the film focuses on combating five alleged charges that the left promotes against America. They are: America committed genocide against the Indians and stole their land; America waged an unjust war against Mexico and stole their land; America enslaved millions of blacks and stole their labor; America practices imperialism and has stolen resources from around the globe; and America practices capitalism, which is an unfair economic system that favors the wealthy over the poor and is theft enshrined as economics.

The heroes of the film are George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and (naturally) Martin Luther King Jr. The bogeymen are Howard Zinn, Michael Moore, Hillary Clinton, Saul Alinsky, and, of course, Barack Obama. This is history according to conservatives.

DSouza response to the charges postulated by Zinns A Peoples History to the United States is simplethose faults are attributable to the universal conquest ethic which America has overcome by adopting the ethic of the merchant. This is in many ways an inversion of the caricatured leftist thinking DSouza malignsthe parts of American history which violate his moral sensibilities are attributed to universal failings, while the virtues of America, however, are peculiar only to her. And he answers all charges with this mentality.

The Indians practiced conquest as well and Americans sometimes bought their land legally, thus no harm done. Mexico oppressed Texas, we answered the call to save the Southwest, and we gave back most of the country to Mexico, thus no harm done. Slavery was wrong, but blacks can now be great entrepreneurs and we sacrificed 600,000 lives to end it, thus no harm done. Our foreign wars have been on behalf of freedom and we have never exploited countries for resources, thus no harm done. Finally, capitalism is an amazing system that benefits everyone and depends on hard work, thus no harm done.

Unfortunately for DSouza, all of his rebuttals the left can easily dismiss and they glaringly overlook facts that Zinn and others use for their critical arguments of American history. But that doesnt matter since this film is an exercise in mythmaking and anything that would undermine the notion that America offers opportunity to all and was founded by entrepreneurs, rather than conquerors, is not expected to be offered.

For the main argument DSouza uses to praise America is that it took a different path from that of every other nation in human historythat it did not base itself on the conquest ethic. America, according to DSouzas, based itself on the merchant ethic instead. This ethic placed profit, security, comfort, and materialism above the martial virtues of conquest. The movie acts as an exposition in the merchant mindsetmerchant values above all others. For him, the real heroes of America are its entrepreneurs, not its warriors. To emphasize that America is on a different path, he points out that the entrepreneur was frequently far down in the caste system in every Traditionalist society and cites quotes of Traditionalist thinkers disparaging enterprise as less noble than theft to drive home his thesis. On the other hand, the businessman is the pinnacle of American society and entrepreneurship is treated as sacrosanct.

In many ways, the criticisms that Zinn makes of America as a nation based on conquest is what makes the nation worthy of any respect. A country in order to survive has to emerge out of violence and struggle. You either fight, or you die. The fact that a few frontiersmen from the British Isles were capable of taking over an entire continent is something that should be celebrated, not overlooked in favor of entrepreneurs who pushed hair care products to black women (which is one of Americas heroes). Our side probably agrees more with Zinns assessment of America rather than DSouzas, as well as the actual facts of history.

Considering DSouzas intended audience, he adds that America bases itself on low-church Protestantism and how the only cultural heritage America has is how its population was more likely go to church and provide private charity. Thus, when DSouza wants to pinpoint the quintessential American, he chooses Star Parker. Parker is a Black conservative scammer extraordinaire who racked up multiple abortions early in life while living on welfare. She then found Jesus and has become an entrepreneur in conning White conservatives out of their money by promising to do outreach to the Black community. Thats America folks.

This goes perfectly well with DSouzas celebration of America as the only true proposition nation, where even non-White plagiarists like himself can make a buck. For this argument, he doesnt use his smarmy self to make the pointhe uses a speech by U2 singer and perpetual Africa activist Bono to state the thesis instead.

 Here are some highlights from Bonos speech:

  • “America’s an idea, isn’t it? I mean Ireland’s a great country, but it’s not an idea. Great Britain’s a great country; it’s not an idea.”
  • “That’s how we see you around the world—as one of the greatest ideas in human history. Right up there with the renaissance, right up with crop rotation and the Beatles’ White Album.” 
  • “The idea is that you and me are created equal…the idea that life is not meant to be endured, but enjoyed. The idea that if we have dignity, if we have justice, then leave it to us, we’ll do the rest.”
  • “This country was the first to claw its way out of darkness and put that on paper.” 
  • “I know Americans say they have a bit of the world in them, and you do–the family tree has lots of branches. But the thing is, the world has a bit of America in it, too. These truths–your truths–they are self-evident in us.”

Instead of a nation united by blood, culture, and soil, were a nation bonded together by abstract principles of commerce and comfort. I cant imagine a more damning argument against the American idea.

The film concludes by focusing on Saul Alinsky and his acolytes nefarious plan to destroy these ideas and turn America into a socialist dystopia that hates the Constitution, and how Obama is now going after dissenterslike convicted campaign fraudster DSouza. Unfortunately for DSouzas intentions, Alinksy comes off as by far the coolest guy in the movie. He has gravitas, he has balls, he has ideals, and he seems to oppose all of the stupidity and childishness promoted for the past two hours. After seeing this movie, Id rather be an Alinskyite than a conservative.

The stupidity and childishness that underlies this film drives intelligent people into the arms of the Left. The movie made me want to become a liberal. He only has a place for the entrepreneur. The laborer and employee have no significance. Conquest is immoral and consumerism is awesome. Go to a mega church and make a buck off pointless products. That message makes my very being revolt in anger.

From the triumph of merchants over conquerors to the glorification of the proposition nation, Identitiarians have little in common with this films ideas. It puts into visual form the vast differences between us and our conservative peers, and dispenses with the illusion that they will ever come to radical thought with their own devices. The state and culture despise the aging Middle Americans who will take to this film, while those same audience members cling to the America that is no longer their
s. These people need to be shocked out of their stupor and wake up to the reality that this is no longer their country and the ideas promoted by schlock like America should be discarded into the dustbin of history.

They need to start imagining the world without Americabecause their world is about to get worse with her still around.

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Steven Spielberg’s Masterpiece of Kitsch

A.I. Artificial Intelligence is a film that suffers from some of the worst tendencies of the schmaltzy and declining Steven Spielberg. I will contend, nevertheless, that this cryptic work is, in its way, one of the most ambitious and disturbing efforts of two cinematic masters.

The film A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001), a Stanley Kubrick conception that was midwifed into existence by Steven Spielberg after the former’s passing, was met with favorable, though mixed reviews upon its release. American moviegoers, probably expecting the kinder, gentler fare more characteristic of Spielberg’s defining works, were often nonplussed by what many found to be an odd and gloomy film. A.I. has, to a large extent, been forgotten, by both fans of Spielberg and Kubrick. Generally, I can’t disagree with this popular consensus; A.I. is an odd film, indeed. It is flawed in execution and suffers from some of the worst tendencies of the schmaltzy and declining Spielberg. I will contend, nevertheless, that this cryptic work is, in its way, one of the most ambitious and disturbing efforts of two cinematic masters.

Released in 2001, A.I. was visually spectacular, and it remains one of the more successful attempts at integrating CGI with live action. The film’s deeper meaning, however, is revealed through its plotting and symbology; to understand this, one should revisit its storyline, which fluctuates between futurism and fairytale.

A.I. is set in a world where the icecaps have melted due to manmade global warming. This has caused catastrophic global flooding and changes in weather patterns. As a result, most of the important coastal cities have been lost to the advancing sea, and populations have retreated inland. These changes have also led to a dearth of resources that has annihilated Third World societies. The survivors of the First World live in a civilization that is, on the one hand, full of techno gadgets and utopian material advances and, on the other, still scared by ecological and social collapse.

To meet labor demands, Westerners have invested in the development of highly advanced robots, which require much less resource to sustain than humans. Increasingly, these robots have come to closely resemble human beings, not only in appearance but in their ability to process reality.

The film follows the travails of one particular robot, or “Mecha,” named David (who’s played by the remarkable child actor Haley Joel Osment). David is a sort of “Adam,” a prototype designed to possess a true human sentience or, as described by his creators, “the [genuine] ability to love.”

David is introduced into a human family as a surrogate child. It is a family whose only son has been rendered comatose, suffering from a seemingly incurable condition. David, as programed, develops a strong emotional attachment to his human mother, and the mother, to him. One day, the family’s human child miraculously recovers and, when he returns home, a sort of sibling rivalry ensues between robot and boy. (In this rivalry, the human boy emerges as the the real villain; David, as designed, is nothing if not guileless, innocent, and kind.)

As part of this rivalry, the human child maliciously and subtly teases David by introducing him to the fable of Pinocchio, in which a puppet is turned into a real boy by “the Blue Fairy.” A seed is planted in David’s mind, and, unable to distinguish fairytale from reality, the robot concludes that if only he could find the Blue Fairy, he could be made human—and thus be loved by his mother in the same way she loves her flesh and blood.

Eventually, David unwittingly proves himself a safety hazard to his human sibling, and the decision is made to destroy the robot. However, the mother of the family is unable to execute the plan because of David’s uncanny likeness to a real child; she instead sets him free in a nearby wood. Devastated with grief, she imparts these final words of advice: “Stay away from Flesh Fairs. Stay away from all people… . Only Mechas are safe.” (The mother seems aware of the “inhumanity” of her people when compared to the gentleness of robots.)

Abandoned and alone, David clings fast to his hope of one day becoming a real boy and returning to his mother. Hence begins David’s quest for the Blue Fairy and his journey through a human civilization in deep crisis.

Despite his human mother’s warning, David is soon captured by a wild vigilante gang of humans. He is placed in an “Anti-Mecha Flesh Fair,” an event in which obsolete and unlicensed (undocumented?) robots are destroyed on stage in front of cheering throngs of humans.

While imprisoned and awaiting destruction, the naïve David asks his fellow robots for an explanation of what is happening. “History repeats itself!” is the answer he receives from a wizened old model, who goes on to explain that their persecution is a consequence of a conflict between “electricity and blood.” Here, David also meets his companion for much of the rest of the film, “Gigolo Joe,” a robot played brilliantly by Jude Law.

The anti-Mecha humans are a vaguely Midwestern and lower-middle-class lot (the tone of the setting is like that of a Country Music concert or tractor pull). They are led by a demagogue, who tells the crowd that it is the intention of the societal elite to replace humans with ever more sophisticated robots (a fear that will be dramatically vindicated). When it is David’s turn to be liquidated, he pleas for mercy: “Don’t burn me! Don’t burn me!” Both his cries and his uncanny similarity to a real boy sway the crowd, which demands he be spared. David (along with Gigolo Joe) thus barely evade being made a holocaust in the humans’ crude ritual. In a sort of “civil rights” moment for robots, the rabble rises up against its demagogic ringleader, allowing David and Gigolo Joe an opportunity to escape the pogrom.

Mecha at the Flesh Fair Mecha at the Flesh Fair

I don’t use the word “holocaust” frivolously. Is is an ancient Biblical term meaning “a sacrificial offering that is burned completely on an altar,” and, within the context of this scene and the film, Spielberg is likely evoking images of sacrificial offerings as well as the “Holocaust” of the Second World War.

Like David, Joe was also designed as a playmate, only he is for adults. In A.I.’s version of Sodom and Gomorrah, “Rouge City,” Gigolo Joe was employed as a sex toy for lonely middle-aged women. Joe’s “game” is, of course, crass and degenerate; but Spielberg also make clear that Joe represents a kind of upgrade on humanity. In Joe’s words, “Once you’ve had a lover robot, You’ll never want a real man again.”

Joe makes a point of relating this truth to David in front of a kitschy Catholic Church ensconced in the sin of Rogue City. According to Joe, the mortal women (shiksas?) go to the Church to seek their Creator, yet when they emerge, they invariably seek out Gigolo Joe for more earthly salvation. Importantly, the reason the robotic duo had stopped in front of the church is because David mistook an image of the Virgin Mary for the magical Blue Fairy. It is a comparison, I am certain, Spielberg makes quite deliberately.

Gigolo Joe is on the run from the law and is scheduled for imprisonment (he was framed by a jealous human for the murder of one of his return clients). And his words of wisdom to David regarding humans are similar in sentiment to the advice David received from his human mother: “They hate us, you know. The humans. And will stop at nothing to destroy us.” When David insists that Joe is wrong and that his mother loves him, Joe corrects him: “She loves what you do for her. As my customers love what I do for them. But she does not love you. You are neither flesh, nor blood.”[1] Joe continues,

They made us too smart, too quick, and too many. We are suffering for the mistakes they made because when the end comes, all that will be left is us. That’s why they hate us…

Despite his “sexbot” appearance, Joe makes a profound and prophetic assessment—and one that is the key to understanding A.I. The root of human hatred of robots is not so much fear as envy—envy of a superior “humanity.” Joe also foresees that the meek Mecha will inherit the earth. (Despite all this, David holds fast to the feeling that his human mother loves him and insists on continuing his quest to find the Blue Fairy.)

Later in the film, when Joe is finally captured by the authorities and being hauled away for extermination, he identifies himself, cryptically, to David: “I am.” Then, comically, as he is dragged away: “I was.” (This is not the only place in the film in which the dialogue and imagery shift away from sci-fi realism and take on a kind of fairly tale or esoteric hue.)

This expression “I am,” uttered as a self-identification, has a very specific religious meaning. It is the name that God uses to identify himself to Moses in the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 3:14), and it is a frequent expression in the Torah as the name of God. The Jewish conception of God is that God is synonymous, first and foremost, with the Jewish people; hence every Jew is also God (or a part of him). Is Gigolo Joe identifying himself as a Jew? Perhaps metaphorically … unless, of course, the robots are the metaphor.

Eventually, David’s quest for the Blue Fairy ends when he encounters her in the form of a statue amid the submerged ruins of the Coney Island amusement park. There he sits in a submersible vehicle, baptized by the ocean, vainly praying to this watery siren (an “idol,” which you’ll remember, has already been explicitly compared to the Virgin Mary). Alas, his innate nature is such that a “conversion” is impossible.

David's devotion David’s devotion

Two thousand years pass—the length of time between the birth of Christ and the making of the film—and the ocean freezes around him … as he prays, endlessly, hoping to become “real.”

After the ice age, David is excavated by a race of highly evolved Mecha. They are, in fact, Mecha descended from David’s own race of robots. Two thousand years later, carbon-based civilization has been replaced by silicon. Intriguingly, much like the aliens of Close Encounters of a Third Kind, in physical form, these advanced robots tend to remind one of emaciated prison-camp inmates, with an aura of both long suffering and benevolence.

The Aliens of *Close Encounters of the Third Kind* The Aliens of *Close Encounters of the Third Kind*

Soon it is revealed that humans have gone extinct. Anti-Mecha fears and Joe’s prophecies have proven accurate. Effectively, humans birthed a species that became better than themselves through scientific (or religious and “ethical”?) development. Man lost a competition for dominance in much the same way species may develop a subspecies of itself through mutation, and then lose a struggle for survival against it.

Tapping into David’s memories, these evolved Mecha are able to recreate the setting of his human home. They are even able, at his request, to resurrect his human mother through the DNA of one of her locks of hair (which David’s teddy bear companion has preserved). The rub: she’ll only last a day, at the end of which she’ll die. In a scene suggestive of rabbinical counseling, an advanced Mecha gently explains to David the terms of this interaction before gaining his consent. The ensuing scenes, where loving mother and loving child spend their last joyous but fleeting day together, like a macabre cereal commercial, are undoubtedly Spielberg at his most mawkish and manipulative.

When the mother passes away into oblivion at the end of the day, little David lies next to her in bed (in what, in Freudian terms, could be seen as an Oedipal victory over an absent father). David drifts off to sleep, suggesting that he has finally become a real boy … a mortal … which means that he, too, will cease to exist. As the narrator describes it: “And for the first time in his life, he went to where dreams are born.”

In embracing Mother—humanity, the Blue Fairy, the Virgin Mary—David has converted to a faith that promises a selfish personal afterlife, but which will ensure he does not inherit the earth, as do others of his kind.

So what has just happened here?

Is A.I. merely another cautionary tale of technological development gone amok? Is it merely an arty variation of “robot apocalypse” movies like James Cameron’s Terminator series?[2]

Or is there, as one strongly senses, a deeper metaphor at work? Who are these manmade robots? These rejected and cast-out Golems, who—unlike the Golems of Rabbinic fables (among whom Adam and Eve are included)—prove more intelligent and divine than their creators? Who are these beings that are both irresistible saints and irresistible entertainers (and smarter, more industrious and productive workers, endlessly capable of adapting, “progressing,” and evolving)? Who are these descendants of “David,” prophesied to inherit the earth while all other nations of man are cursed by God are destroyed (and destroyed in a flood of Biblical proportions)?

And what are we to make of the striking Anglo-ness of Jude Law and Haley Joel Osment? Is this casting simply an effort to more deeply conceal an esoteric message? Or is it an abstruse form of scapegoating (much like that carried out by the Gentile Martin Scorsese in the film The Wolf of Wall Street, in which Leonardo DiCaprio portrays Jordan Belfort)? (The term “scapegoating” derives from the ancient Jewish practice of figuratively placing the sins of the tribe onto a goat and then sacrificing the animal. Thus the goat, like Christ, dies for the tribe’s sins, thereby absolving it.) Or perhaps this casting speaks to how “robots” have come to so closely resemble “humans,” though not, as we learn, in their ultimate evolution? (Or maybe Spielberg simply wanted to get butts in the seats by casting cute actors?)

Whatever the case, Spielberg (using images and ideas from Kubrick) has created a work of potentially great longevity (despite its current obscurity), largely because he has imbued A.I. with esoteric elements analogous to those in Wagner’s Ring of the Niebelung, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the ancient myths of Scandinavia, Rome, Greece, and Judea.

A.I. is certainly not high art; nevertheless, I imagine that it will have a staying power, whereas better films will prove ephemeral. After all, when one reviews the Biblical oeuvre, one is struck by the innumerable instances of crude, convoluted, unimaginative, and simply soporific tales—which have, nevertheless, remained touchstones in Jewish and Occidental cultures because they are imbedded in peoples’ ethnic and religious understandings of themselves.

In other words, Spielberg and Kubrick have created a story with an exoteric value— that is, the sci-fi, CGI-laden, sentimental “entertainment” that is consumed by the masses—and one that simultaneously carries an esoteric meaning—which speaks to those parties with ears to hear.

Kubrick decided well before his death that he would not be the director of A.I., and he considered Spielberg’s aesthetic far better suited to dealing with a child-centered story (which, as mentioned, even includes a robotic teddy-bear). Certainly, the “coldness” in much of the film (at least in comparison to Spielberg’s other offerings) would have been greatly magnified had Kubrick helmed the project (and it would have likely turned off a great deal of the movie-going public). As a director, Kubrick’s interests were never in “humanizing” protagonists; his cinematic world is one of “de-humanization,” in which landscape, color, and abstract ideas overwhelm the drama. Kubrick was also a master at wryly and caustically satirizing his protagonists’ “authoritarian personalities” (most notably in Paths to Glory, Dr. Strangelove, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket).

Spielberg, on the other hand, had E.T. on his résumé, the heart-warmer about a trans-galactic immigrant who was more “human” than the humans. (E.T. was also a parable, and, in retrospect, Spielberg’s rehearsal for A.I..) This was likely Kubrick’s real motivation for selecting Spielberg: to create a protagonist that audiences could feel deserved, in some way, to outlive humans. And certainly, handing the film to Spielberg gave Kubrick’s vision greater salience in the world: more eyes would see it, and thus more kindred minds might understand it. Additionally, if the film was, in fact, intended to carry the esoteric message I’ve suggested, Spielberg is a most subtle vehicle for delivering it. Kubrick is a darling of film buffs and academics, and his works are picked apart endlessly for possible esoteric meanings.[3] A Spielberg movie, on the other hand, is “just a movie,” that is, art that can be passively absorbed by audiences and critics without undergoing much deep analysis.

A.I. thus represents a rare synthesis: the originator of the film’s mythos and ideas—which are shocking and disturbing in unmediated form—had the self-awareness and honesty to hand the project off to another director who, though inferior as an artist, was much better skilled at imbuing the film with entertainment value and “innocence.” And it is fitting that Kubrick and Spielberg carried forth this work together, like Biblical scribes, as it is a story bigger than either one of them. The exoteric myth of A.I. is that of Pinocchio, the puppet who wants to become a real boy; the esoteric myth is that of Exodus, in which the Chosen People must flee a persecuting and degenerate society, which is, afterwards, destroyed by “God” or “I Am”.[4]

Those who wish for a rebirth of Occidental civilization would be wise to follow this example and learn the importance of collaboration—and of finding the right messenger. A.I. is a masterpieces of kitsch. Let us strive to make masterpieces of high art!


  1. In the midst of this tirade, one is tempted to wonder if Spielberg feels the same of his audiences, for whom he furnished entertainment, moral instruction, and enlightenment, even while, perhaps, believing himself to be envied and reviled by these very same ungrateful hypocrites.  ↩
  2. In these films, Cameron predicts that Austrian-accented Nazi robots will inherit the earth … quite a different vision to Spielberg’s!).  ↩
  3. Incidentally, A.I. compels another look at the more opaque 2001: A Space Odyssey.  ↩
  4. In this effort, Spielberg and Kubrick remind me of a less cohesive, less complementary version of the Cohen Brothers, who are, likewise, deeply convinced of shared goals and through a effective, close, and egoless collaboration have brought into the world works they feel serve a purpose larger than themselves.  ↩
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Rainbow Nation

The original Rainbow Family met a gruesome end in the jungles of South America, but its spirit still infuses all major social institutions in the United States.

November 2013 was a month of key political anniversaries in America, with 150 years having passed since Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and 50 since the assassination of John F. Kennedy. While Lincoln articulated the United States as a Proposition Nation ordained to illuminate the world with freedom in 1863, Kennedy’s execution a century later revealed in brazen fashion the inescapable reality of oligarchic rule in democracy[1]. Though the importance of these events should not be diminished, another anniversary has eluded our attention: that of the mass-murder suicide of 913 cultists from the People’s Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. Thirty-five years later, Jonestown is now mostly remembered for its signature cocktail of cyanide-laced grape Kool-Aid[2]. Yet it is this tragedy, brushed aside as the handiwork of a lone maniac, that heralds the results of the liberal experiment.

Long before collecting children from third-world countries became chic among Hollywood celebrities and megachurch Evangelicals, the eccentric Marxist Reverend Jim Jones and his wife Marceline had already formed their own “Rainbow Family” in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the early 1960s[3]. This was comprised of three Koreans, an African-American boy, an American Indian girl, a White adopted boy, and the couple’s own biological son. Jones, a Pentecostal preacher who sold monkeys on the side, was known as “Father” to his mostly inner-city Black congregation, which he named the People’s Temple, itself an extended Rainbow Family upheld as the prototype for humanity’s future development. Soon finding the Midwest inhospitable territory for his progressive vision, Jones took the People’s Temple to California, where by 1974 it would flourish in the counter-cultural laboratory of San Francisco.

One striking note in interviews with survivors is their conviction that the People’s Temple was a wondrous “mosaic” of harmony and fusion between different peoples. The white members who joined seemed positively intoxicated by the sense of racial equality on display in Jones’s church; here was a chance to demonstrate avant-garde morality and strike a blow for progress. And over decades of coverage of the Temple, from heady days of prominence in San Francisco to post-massacre trauma, the news media have helpfully reinforced this narrative[4]. What should have been a project for a bright new tomorrow suddenly “went wrong,” as the story goes. Its leader, after all, was a drug-addled madman. But Jones was not merely some charismatic charlatan who managed to deceive society for a time; he embodied the ideals of the American civic religion—pluralism—and played them out to their ultimate conclusion.

Almost from the moment of the Columbian discovery, America has been subject to mystical speculation over its role in inaugurating a New Order of the Ages. Sir Francis Bacon, one the greatest minds of the Elizabethan era, imagined a thinly veiled virgin continent as the New Atlantis under Rosicrucian rule[5]. A ready refuge for centuries of Quakers, Shakers, hucksters, and heretics, America would accommodate the growth of innumerable sects and religious crazes due to a combination of popular pietism and constitutionally encoded state indifference. The appearance of an organization like the People’s Temple was therefore less of a novelty even in the conservative Midwest than it was a familiar facet of national life.

In the revolutionary spirit of 1776, Jim Jones was first and foremost a fire-breathing egalitarian. Sunday services at the Temple, headquartered at a former synagogue in the rundown Fillmore district, featured a carnival-like atmosphere of revival preaching flavored with leftist activism. Once raucous Gospel music, dance routines, and comical faith healings lathered the crowd into a frenzy, “Father,” clad in trademark shades and choir robe, would descend to the pulpit from his elevated chair, an American flag on one side and a poster-sized Declaration of Independence on the other. Warming up with down-home vulgarity, he’d then launch into extended harangues on socialism, racist government persecution, and his own divine greatness. By channeling the ressentiment of his followers and playing upon their hopes and fears, Jones effectively became both Norman Mailer’s alienated White Negro and an unscrupulous Superman who drew his strength from mass manipulation. And Jones’s rants were remarkable not only for their length, but especially for their consistent inversion of orthodox Christian doctrine, rejecting the Kingdom of Heaven for a perfected kingdom of this world.

For all of Jim Jones’s efforts at innovation and originality, the People’s Temple was just a new rendering of the chiliastic temptation, that “City on a Hill” so central to the American messianic mythos. Seventh-century Puritanism had long since devolved into secularized forms, but in the marketplace of ideas, its zealotry still manifested in moralistic social movements like suffrage and civil rights, as well as fringe sects like the Temple. Jones’s syncretistic brew of holy-rolling Communism was reflective of a counterfeit spirituality ascendant after Enlightenment rationalism and materialism had so successfully wreaked havoc upon the traditional worldview of Western man. Deprived of divine Truth or programmed to disdain such embarrassingly outdated notions, moderns have chased after simulacra of transcendence by adopting every manner of surrogate religions, from the Prosperity Gospel to self-help psycho-twaddle and New Age magical narcissism. Here the California-born Sufi writer Charles Upton provides especially useful context from his own experience:

As the early and mid–20th Century had called for culture and education for the masses, we called for mass enlightenment… The legacy of old-fashioned American revivalism abruptly encountered psychedelic drugs, exotic religions, 20th Century ideas of evolution and progress, and the shock of the war in Vietnam to produce a ‘go for broke’ attitude: ‘give me Enlightenment or give me death; Apocalypse Now.’

Due to increasing press scrutiny of torture, brainwashing, and sexual abuse within the People’s Temple (Jones was omnivorous in his depravity, carrying on numerous affairs with the women surrounding him and sodomizing his male adherents), the cult hurriedly left San Francisco for its jungle outpost in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1977. Like the Jacobins and Bolsheviks before him, Jones promised the citizens of his new society a radiant paradise of freedom, equality and brotherhood, only to deliver them unto misery and death. Having killed a U.S. Congressional Representative on a fact-finding trip to Guyana a year later on November 18th, the patriarch of the Rainbow Family opted for revolutionary suicide rather than see his life’s work unravel[6]. Invoking the words of Doors frontman Jim Morrison, Jones showed himself an “erotic politician” on a mission of annihilation, a veritable medium for demonic forces unleashed upon the world.

Anglo-Saxon democracy does not appear at first glance as destructive as the maximalist programs of a Robespierre or Trotsky, yet America is acquiring certain features characteristic of the People’s Temple. Lest anyone raise the objection that Jim Jones was an un-American Communist psychopath, it’s worth remembering that the United States was founded upon the same revolutionary abstractions of liberty and equality that time and again have given rise to tyranny. Liberal pluralism, a potent weapon of the plutocrats who seek our enslavement, first produces spiritual, moral, and physical chaos, which in turn serves as a convenient introduction to the militantly tolerant police-state panopticon. Jones would have exalted in the capabilities afforded him by an NSA total surveillance grid, and he certainly would have given hearty approval of mass immigration and Washington’s plans to further “diversify” the country through population resettlement. Far from promoting friendship and brotherhood, the false virtues of egalitarianism lead only to paranoia, envy, hatred, and the murder-suicide of nations.

Though the People’s Temple was conceived as a universal model for all mankind, it was at its most basic level a Black church. For that simple reason primarily Black Americans suffered at the hands of their prophet at Jonestown; around 80 percent of the victims were identified as such. In a cruel irony, Jim Jones, the all-loving “Father,” the tireless anti-racist advocate and integrator, flew hundreds of African-Americans to their deaths at a tropical slave plantation maintained by armed guards and a fanatical inner circle of White female administrators. Other suspicious circumstances have even suggested the whole bizarre saga was possibly a mind-control operation conducted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

With the passing of decades since Jonestown, the Black community in the United States remains just as vulnerable to government social engineering and corporate exploitation, often acting as a test subject for whatever new cultural pathogen our controllers have devised. The record includes unethical medical experiments, the taxpayer-subsidized ruin of the Black family (with a resulting surge in crime), and the CIA’s facilitation of the crack cocaine epidemic in the 1980s, not to mention the relentless, full-spectrum promotion of degeneracy by media organs quite openly intent upon smearing everyone in filth. And any principled black voices willing to oppose this system are studiously ignored. “Integration” with the regime benefits self-appointed spokesmen such as Al Sharpton and public sector unions, while calls for integrity and autonomy from the likes of Booker T. Washington and Malcolm X have been forgotten in an atmosphere of corruption and decay.

To best understand the People’s Temple as an American phenomenon, we must look to its “white-bread,” all-American congregants. What sort of fever impelled educated, professional young White women, or young couples raising families, into the embrace of Jim Jones? The road to Jonestown was paved with the lofty expectations of American pluralism, transmitted through cradle-to-grave indoctrination. Countless times in their upbringing, at school, on television, or at home, children in the United States have learned that our nation is a proposition, a place for every tribe of man to merge as one in the pursuit of happiness, i.e. plentitude and pleasure. As ancestral memories often fade within a generation, Whites in particular, long the main source of “human capital” in this enterprise, have consequently defined identity according to the universalist constructs bequeathed us by the Founders and their disciples.

There is a terrible price to pay, however, for imposing the reign of equality. If the Brave New World is to survive, rites of blood tribute must be performed to satiate its dark gods. In 1978, Jim Jones and his impeccably progressive inner circle murdered nearly 1,000 sect followers, mostly Black families, rather than relinquish utopia. Today U.S. policy elites carry out war and subversion to export liberal democracy across the globe while racial antagonism at home takes on ever more vicious forms. The latest nationwide trend, often known as the “knockout game,” consists of groups of young Black males attacking most commonly White (and sometimes Asian or Jewish) pedestrians. Hoover Institution fellow and Black columnist Thomas Sowell has forthrightly identified the implicit racial motivations behind the acts, and Mike Tyson, a man who knows a thing or two about knockouts, called the perpetrators “evil.” The media, meanwhile, strives mightily to misdirect its audience with regard to the nature of this violence, in the process hoping to salvage the imploding pluralist dream, an illusion that no amount of entertainment spectacle, debt schemes, or overseas adventures can sustain.

The original Rainbow Family met a gruesome end in the jungles of South America, but its spirit still infuses all major social institutions in the United States. Jonestown’s millennialist Marxism and international capitalism both reduce existence to the purely material plane and man to an economic unit stripped of any higher meaning. What we know to be the actual diversity and dignity of creation among mankind must be abolished and re-engineered into Diversity, Inc., as life attains all the depth of a Doritos commercial. A coming unified race of Wal-Martians is to worship at the altar of Mammon, whose incarnation will utter blasphemies earlier foreshadowed by the Reverend Jim Jones:

I am freedom. I am justice. I am peace, and I am equality. I AM GOD!


  1. December of 2013, marks 100 years since the incorporation of the Federal Reserve System, the Money Power’s open declaration of hegemony over America.  ↩
  2. The powder drink was actually a similar product called Flavor-Aid.  ↩
  3. Jones was well-known as an influence broker in San Francisco politics, a role that earned him a seat on the Housing Commission. The assassination of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, both of whom were closely tied to Jones, came just nine days after the massacre at Jonestown.  ↩
  4. Jones’s eccentricity was so far-ranging that his boyhood peers observed him killing cats and holding funeral ceremonies for them. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s vile Smerdyakov engaged in the exactly the same practices as a child in The Brothers Karamazov.  ↩
  5. Bacon was quite prescient about the role of secret societies in establishing the New World; the United States was founded upon Masonic Enlightenment ideology.  ↩
  6. Jones would privately confide to his lieutenants that he was atheist or agnostic. Nonetheless, the rebellion against God presupposes one’s own desire to become a god. Thus Jones could at once deny the “Sky God” and assert his own divinity. Dostoevsky already laid out the results of such a quest in The Possessed. The atheist Kirillov denies Christ the God-man and seeks to affirm his own godhead, an objective he deduces can only be reached through suicide.  ↩
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