Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vigils 'n' Sigils: What Is The What?

Wait! Don't start here -- start here!

These days it is a rare Super Bowl halftime performance that doesn't get called out as an evident Satanic ritual -- Ms. Lady Gaga is just the latest.

Um ... Snopes?
I think the tendency is to read these exposĂ©s with an ironic smirk -- aren't we above all this by now?

I'm as guilty of this snobbery as anyone. Still, I advocate these efforts be taken seriously -- and more, that they even be emulated.

Why? Three reasons:
  1. Whatever you may glean from Gaga's lyrics, her visual cues in concert and in video "borrow" heavily from Kenneth Anger -- ergo: Crowley, Lucifer Rising, etc (Wiki).
  2. Madonna, Katy Perry, BeyoncĂ© are all borrowers as well. In fact, just about anyone who's a big deal in the music industry seems to have the same visual inclinations when it's time to put together a video or a massive stage production for a televised awards show. Not only that, but . . . 
  3. . . . it's getting increasingly difficult to tell the difference between a snippet from these extravaganzas and, say, an ad for a can full of sugared water.
Is it too much to suggest America's most popular performers are secretly gathering with soft-drink execs at anonymous-looking pizza parlours to perform even more elaborate and insidious Satanic rituals?

Eschewing snark for frank disclosure: I think it's possible that Gaga -- a super-sharp observer, adopter and adapter -- might be unaware of the degree to which her shtick relies on visual grammar established by Anger. It's taken nearly 50 years, but the media is utterly saturated with and indeed dictated to by this particular grammar.

Which leads to my larger concern: spotting and awkwardly taking a stab at "calling out" the ephemera becomes, more often than not, a critical distraction (we do recall "Satanic Panic," yes?) to the more crucial concern -- namely, what are we being conditioned to accept without reservation?

Douglas Rushkoff argues we are being massaged into reflexive, deeply self-destructive modes of thinking and living. Whether digital or cartoon, when given consideration his esoteric perambulations reveal that any reader's particular magisterium is surprisingly vulnerable to unanticipated influence.

"Honey? Where'd you put my Rushkoff?"

Rushkoff may be the latest, and most voluble (understatement) prophetic voice of the digital era, but he's hardly the first to frantically ring the steeple bell -- Jacques Ellul, Ivan Illich, even Marshall McLuhan expressed profound dis-ease with the forming shape of the West's collective consciousness at the close of the 20th century.

Say, those last three were all Catholic, weren't they? Hm . . .

Next: keeping score.


paul bowman said...

And Rushkoff’s paying attention to the Catholics, of course.

Darrell Reimer said...

Man, it takes me forever to throw together a sloppy post citing works I've only half-read -- how does this guy manage to do what he does??

paul bowman said...

Ha, I’m still just getting acquainted with him, comparatively — and probably a bit too infatuated on some level, at the moment, to assess his output with clarity even if I did have the whole picture.