Mephistopheles & Nosferatu: Children of Western Civilization & Christian Fundamentalism

Mephistopheles, Child of Christian Civilization

Part II: Nosferatu is Risen

By George S. Svokos

Copyright August 2015

Our next iconic avatar would naturally arrive on the scene near the end of 19th century as Dracula, however, the 1922 cult classic silent film Nosferatu made in breach of the Dracula copyright actually serves our heuristic purposes better. Although the stories are essentially the same, with the underlying incest theme discussed by anthropologist Robin Fox in The Tribal Imagination, the evil cleric finally looks like a sinister archpriest. The symbolic development or growth in its imago change has gone from dandy, to grandiose filthy blood sucking (energy draining) old man, to filthy old energy draining high cleric. Interesting to think about, but the real question is how did we get a symbol evolving from the mischievous dandy (of the early Industrial Age) to the malevolently filthy cleric (of the Post World War I) period? The answer is power, an enormous investment of unconscious power from the collective psyche. As noted earlier in this article, when an energetic phenomenon is continually suppressed, repressed, ignored, etc., it does not go away but gets buried deeper in the personal unconscious and extracts power from the archetype lying hidden with the collective unconscious from its primordial images and evolved archaic patterns. Since this is an evolutionary structure in an ancient part of the brain, the more one presses back against it, the greater the power the complex accrues, until it bursts forth in a symbolic image that cannot be ignored and usually carries a heavy fear load (thanks to the limbic system’s amygdala and neurotransmitters.) It surely is not a coincidence that Nosferatu appears a mere four years after the Great War when the Weimar Republic was struggling under the chains of the Versailles Treaty. Where were the Protestant Churches at this crucial time? The fact that they were at least partly impotent was revealed by the rapid rise of the Nazi Party and its occultism. The church, though it should have known better (as Carl Jung lamented) did not provide the necessary succor to the suffering population; but the Nazi’s clever rhetoric rapidly infected a public consumed by their own shadow (See Jung’s essays Wotan, After the Catastrophe, and The Fight with the Shadow in his volume on Civilization in Transition.) The Nazi’s, in addition to apparently soothing Germany’s wounded shadow, also offered “order.”

The symbol for order was emblazoned on everything Germany owned from rise of the Nazi party through to the end of the second war in 1945: the ancient (non-German) symbol of the swastika. Anyone paying attention would have seen this albeit disordered quaternio as a cry for help, not an invitation to seriously treat with a preposterously puppet-like lunatic or to further punish a spiritually depleted people. (This must remain an unanswered historical question: if Hitler and the Nazi’s had been marginalized early on, would they have been around to start another world conflagration?) Once again, the correct reading of the language of symbols may have averted “the catastrophe.” At one point, far in the mists of time, humans and their brains communicated via symbol-pictures, not writing. Symbols have been appearing in dreams as another language the prehistoric mind understood; even as most modern minds do not. If you doubt this author, then take a trip to France or Spain and look at the cave paintings at Cosquer, Lauscaux, and Altamira. Who among today’s talented individuals actually understand fully what the ancients are trying to communicate to “the reader?”

The question to ask now seems to be how do the shadow, anima/animus, and Self symbols relate to each other? The Self has not been addressed in this essay until this point; that is because it is farthest away from consciousness and “regulates” in a non-conscious way, the human collective unconscious (ethology’s “ethogram” or biology’s “genetic memory.”) The Self, as an archetype, will only present itself in symbolic form such as the other archetypes described herein. The symbols are myriad, but a constant in its appearance is the quaternio. This may be a simple cross, a quadratus circuli, a variation of the number four or four + 1, the nexus of four rivers, an ouroboric symbol of infinity, a diamond pattern with the bases of the diamonds touching and with an apex at the top and bottom, or some variation of this theme (doubtless there are more.) The key here is to look for “four,” ouroboric (complete circle,) and other symbols that represent completion or wholeness. The archetype, like all others, has negative and positive polarities: picking up Ariadne’s thread, we must follow it to the Self through archetypal symbols starting with the shadow, probably in some negative aspect. The lattice-form plexus constituting the Self will be described later in this essay.

Before digressing further, let us examine where we left off with our unpleasant “friend” Nosferatu. Did this shadow symbol lead to anything constructive in 1920s Germany? Was it even recognized as something other than “entertainment” or pop culture of the time (a representative of the era’s Zeitgeist?) The answer is an unequivocal no: because of the illiteracy of the intelligentsia in reading a non-written symbolic language made of “pictures” and not words. Instead it all collapsed in psychopathy and demagoguery. If the reader sneaks a peak at what pop culture in the United States was producing at the time, we get a massive red flag with Sinclair Lewis’ 1926 novel Elmer Gantry. Gantry is not only a crook, but he masks himself under the cloak of a Fundamentalist Christian. Some 60 years or more after this warning, American Christianity fell into the miasmic phantasmagoria elucidated by Sinclair Lewis with the unbridled disasters Jimmy Swaggert, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Oral Roberts, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell (“the Moral Majority:” really?) and others brought to television screens across the United States in the latter part of the century. A careful reading of archaeologist William Dever’s superb “Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?” might have alleviated some of the miserable ignorance surrounding the subject: with archaeology the primary research tool to verify Biblical claims. Most conservatives (fundamentalists) are afraid to even question its factuality. In the 21st century, we can look forward to an increase in this chaos with Pat Robertson, Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, John Corapi, and a plethora of others willing to take funds out of people’s pockets who can’t really afford it, with their Fundamentalist Christian “empires” threatening to take over the United States government altogether. Their extremist (and frankly ludicrous) views on evolution, the age of the Earth, climate change, and the environment should send the critical thinker heading for the Judean hills, Masada, and the Wailing Wall.

For those Westerners seeking an Eastern path, no other lesson in the abuse of human rights, life, limb, and property is necessary other than the patently fake “geshe” Michael Roach who somehow reached the level of guru after “graduating from Princeton University, making $250 million in the diamond industry” and preached wealth management, sex with monastic partners, and barely escaped conspiracy to commit murder charges when a close acolyte was found dead in the Colorado country side near his compound. Roach’s “widow” now runs her own Buddhist enterprise after leaving her lover dead in that cave. The natural reaction to these “religious” (read “demagogue” and “thieving”) leaders would logically be incredulity. But the evidence is contrary to this and one only needs to turn the television on to “The 700 Club,” Osteen’s mega-church services, or “Father Corapi’s” pretence at being the wise and holy Pope-like cleric delivering the Vatican’s edicts (etc., and ad nauseum) to see the sheer numbers of people put their blinders on. The Gospel of Thomas’ superb rebuttal to this “mass psychosis” (there is a close parallel here with the German psyche of the 1930s as described by Jung in Wotan, After the Catastrophe, and The Fight with the Shadow) is found in Verse 34 which states that “if a blind person leads a blind person, they will both fall into a hole.” The lead donkey (whether pastor or geshe) with the blinders on leads his herd to the watering hole expecting their “drink” and then they all get ambushed by ravenous crocodiles waiting at the water’s edge. All of these pastor-guru-leader (“Fuhrer”) types are or were powerful shadow figures in the suggestible and weak minds of the masses; making these unfortunates vulnerable to the quackery of the demagogue (a “doctor” of the mind?) Some 2,000 years ago, would “the faithful” follow the demagogue’s orders to jump into a coliseum full of lions? Throw in the demagogues and quacks first and see which of the “faithful” willingly follow. A developed ego, critical thinking, and the ability to read the symbols (humanity’s most ancient language was visually pictorial – again, see the rock art in Southern Europe, Australia, and Africa tens of thousands of years old.) In Daniel Quinn’s splendid novel Ishmael about a seeker, the protagonist does find a mentor, though this genuine and venerable fountain of wisdom turns out to be a telepathic gorilla. Perhaps the Fundamentalist Christians, Muslims, quasi-Buddhists and other weak-minded followers need to take a trip to the zoo, or a museum, or a library, or even the theater downtown to help them clear the miasmic phantasmagoria swirling in front of their faces.

Since we have turned the clock forward more than half a century, what do we find of Nosferatu? Long “dead and buried” perhaps by a watershed change in Zeitgeist? Have the intelligentsia learned any lessons and another case of “never again” and not in the United States? Pop culture, once more, is again providing warning signs. What fascinates this author is how Nosferatu slumbered in his German coffin for 50 plus years before reappearing in almost identical form as Mr. Barlow in Stephen King’s brilliant and scary novel of a small New England American town and its “visitor.” Nosferatu’s metaphorical “grandson” has finally arrived in the here and now of our own lifetimes? (Nosferatu/Mr. Barlow did indeed “emigrate” to the United States.) To remind the reader: when a symbol reappears at a given time, it means that whatever psyche’s previous issue was, it has not been resolved. What has not been resolved?

Mr. Barlow conveniently arrives in the late 1970s, when even the Muslim Fundamentalists were running amok in the American Embassy. Here in America we can add the televangelist du jour. A small tsunami is growing like it did in the Roman Empire some 1,700 years ago. Emperor Constantine’s greatest error in judgement may have been the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity in the early 4th century A.D. Less than 150 years later Rome was plundered and under “barbarian” control after its erstwhile Christian tenants were slaughtered or evicted to the Byzantine half of the empire to the east. This author makes no claims about “history repeating itself,” however it is certainly a truism that civilizations rise and fall. One might be tempted to state that Mr. Barlow’s “reappearance” is still in the past, even if only the recent past. Perhaps all has been resolved now that the late 20th century has moved into the technologically super-advanced 21st century and the anticipation of the future techno-utopia lies just over the horizon. Sadly, this is not the case, and the penury of the American spirit persists (much like the German a century ago) even as the accumulation of technical knowledge is increasing at phenomenal rates.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s two of the most iconic malevolent high clerics (now in their trademark leather black cassocks appeared in print and on stage. Nosferatu’s power-packing black cleric’s cassock has gone from cloth to leather: more details that indicate the new leather cassock is an increase in power. The reader may be thinking “so what,” cow-skin, but the clue is reptilian, not bovine: more on this later.) Perhaps not as well known, but certainly memorable is author and screenwriter Clive Barker’s hell-priest or “Pinhead” as the public calls him, for the railroad spikes hammered into the grill pattern incised on his scalp that appeared in the movie Hellraiser.  Only a couple of years later, the ever popular Star Trek turned the quintessential hero of the Next Generation series into the quintessential villain of probably franchise history: the anti-hero Locutus of Borg. The great diplomat and strategic thinker Captain Picard of the U.S.S. Enterprise has been “infected” by and become the mouthpiece (“interlocutor”) between the larger Borg collective and the “individual” human idealized by the Federation Council. The Borg are attempting to communicate for once, instead of merely assimilating the Federation because their “resistance” does not seem to be “futile.” Horror of horrors, Locutus, even with his semi-autonomous mind only lightly tethered to the Borg collective is not the being in charge at all. There is another being just outside his peripheral vision. It would seem, like a bee, or wasp, or ant collective that it is the queen who rules from the top. Even the singular Locutus is but a high ranking worker bee. No-one wants to be turned into an automaton subject to the collective (here we go again: recall our musings with Jungian thought on large collectives mentioned above.) If Locutus is a frightening opponent on his own, then the dyad of Locutus and the queen (superbly played by Alice Krige) pose a lethal threat to Earth and the human race, their intended target for “assimilation.”

This is a trenchant metaphor for the “assimilation” of gullible minds to demagoguery, especially of the religious kind, and for potential technological intrusions into the human brain and body advocated by some futurists for a more evolved type of person. In other words, humans will soon be able to manipulate their own evolution through nanotechnology and genetic tinkering. If the audience fears the threat of “assimilation” by the Borg, why is the general populace (the viewing public) obliviously happy to the new and improved humans promised by cumulative technological change; about to forever change the basic organism created by millions of years of natural selection? Whether through Fundamentalist religious demagoguery or some future hyper-technology, “assimilation” is not the answer, as popular culture causes the viewing public to recoil in terror at the prospect of unnatural selection. Organic evolutionary selective pressures over the millennia have produced many “eusocial” species (species that evolved to live in communities) as brilliant sociobiologist Edward O. Wilson describes in his aptly named book, The Social Conquest of Earth. Wilson is clearly referring to the Darwinian calculus that led to the natural selection and evolution of these societies; from ants and wasps all the way to humans.

In recent years, the malevolent high cleric remains with us to remind us that the individual’s internal work with the psyche’s shadow (not a large collective that submerges personality characteristics) is to draw out those characteristics before they explode on the world stage as another human calamity. Interestingly pop culture’s Tarot deck features the Devil (shadow) not as a nebulous and morally evil being but is described as “self-imposed bondage” in the same way a Rorschach test or shadow recognition does. Therefore it is the individual’s job to recognize shadow energies and release them in a positive way. Popular culture today relative to our sinister archpriest lives on in the form of “Viktor the Elder” from the fairly new Underworld film series and the formidable “Pinhead” in Clive Barker’s latest Hellraiser instalment: The Scarlet Gospels. Viktor reminds and invites us to embrace our instinctual nature by “embracing” the wolf; The Gospel of Thomas refers to this in a similar simile in Verse 7 by stating “lucky is the lion the human will eat, so the lion becomes human.” However, the ferocious “Pinhead” subliminally asks us to defuse the demonic affect of a powerfully constructed shadow complex by analysing the “fours,” (quaternios) not embracing or consuming our animal/instinctual natures. The ubiquitous and continuous “reverse” religious imagery of the malevolent cleric continues to disquiet people even as it fascinates them. This may be more about morbid curiosity or titillation rather than any real desire to be tormented further by the spiritually bankrupt who through their power, influence, and money can affect the minds of the masses. That fascination, however, may be the end of Ariadne’s thread the individual should be struggling to reel in for the process of the reconciliation of the opposites to begin. The Unholy Hierophants are awaiting the presence and attention of the seeker of psyche’s internal mysteries.

It is worth mentioning here that in the 1990s and 2000s, the Star Trek franchise introduced a host of characters who can be used as “splinter” personalities that make up the whole quaternio. Important characters include the negative young alter-ego of Captain Picard (Shinzon) and his Viceroy who exist in a symbiotic relationship in which Shinzon relies on his second in command to provide telepathic support. This is another example of the dyadic monad played out in popular culture. Shinzon’s desire for Picard’s blood (literally) is the theme of the story as the ailing younger man seeks the DNA of his “older” brother from which he was cloned. Picard’s telepath, the lovely Deanna Troi plays counterpart to all the negative influences surrounding them. This can be compared to the Trinity (all male) plus one female (Mary Magdalene) to make up the Holy quaternio, rather than just the Trinity alone, positive as it is. The Viceroy is a fascinating character, though he does not have the central role in the Star Trek movie Nemesis. The Viceroy was, by race, a “Reman” in the Star Trek series. They lived on the twin planet of Remus, orbiting the main planet Romulus and were considered vampire-like slaves laboring in Romulan mining operations. The Remans lived on the “dark” side of their planet, and the producers of the movie wanted them “to have a Nosferatu-like feeling without making them vampires.” The script for Nemesis describes the Remans as having a disturbing resemblance to the original Nosferatu, “Count Orlok.”

In fact, Count Orlok actually served as inspiration for the Reman make-up design. Thus, if we map the diachronic appearance of the Nosferatu/Barlow/Viceroy creature, it steadily reappears over an 80-year period (1922-2002) gathering more energy as the decades move forward right into the 21st century; except now, there is a whole space-faring race of them inhabiting their own planet! The insertion of the Viceroy into the quaternio, dyadically coupled to Shinzon and opposite stoically “good” Captain Picard, still creates an immensely negatively charged, if lopsided, “evil” shadow quaternio. Let the reader ponder Verse 5 of the The Gospel of Thomas relative to the above: “know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden will be revealed to you.” What does all this “reveal” to the critical thinker of the 21st century? The malevolent high cleric is about to literally explode on the scene and infest the universe as the unholy virus the likes of which has never been seen before.

Next: Part III

Symbols of Transformation


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