Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Part II: Halloween 2007

Kenneth Anger. I came across this name many times over the years and I always associated it with two things: Scorpio Rising and Hollywood Babylon. For some reason I never figured that his films were going to be very good or interesting, primarily because of some of the stills I had seen from Lucifer Rising: pyramids, occult symbols, lots of color and psychedelic imagery. I had seen similar things in Ira Cohen's 1968 film The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, a few minutes of which I had once randomly downloaded, and they seemed to me to exemplify everything I found empty and cliche in "psychedelic philosophy." However, the fact that Anger's name is all over underground film and Scorpio Rising is often mentioned alongside many films I admire was enough to override any unfounded impressions I had of his work and when bits and pieces of Anger's films eventually started to appear on youtube I was curious to see what they were like. Every so often I would click them to see if they were decent enough to watch (they never were). It wasn't until I clicked on the 1979 version of Rabbit's Moon and watched the first minute and a half that my jaw dropped. I quickly turned it off because the quality was so poor, but it had hypnotized me. Months later it was announced that Fantoma planned to release The Kenneth Anger shorts Vol 1 in Jan 2007. I watched the trailer for this and was so blown away that I immediately placed a pre-order; I hadn't been so excited to see a movie in a long time. The short films were even better than I had anticipated and I was eager to share this discovery with friends. When volume 2 was announced for later that year, I immediately placed a pre-order for it, too.

rabbit's moon kenneth anger pierrot
Rabbit's Moon (1953)

Kenneth Anger's works are more incantations than they are films, and when you watch them you can feel a portal open to another world. They're able to summon up and sift the magical qualities out of life and present them to you in the same way a monster presents itself to you under your bed when you're a child. You fear this monster not so much because you think it's going to devour you (this is your conscious fear but it's not something you truly believe because monsters aren't real); you fear it much more deeply on a subconscious level because you know that if you were to really see a monster under your bed you would have to concede that you live in a world where there are no rules and anything is possible. Few realizations would be more terrifying to a species that makes a point to rationalize and understand everything. Anger's films are not frightening in this way, they are liberating in this way. But they are also dangerous.

Halloween: 2007.

I decided to have some friends over for a nice Halloween meal. Black pasta, orange sauce, blood stained plates, etc. After dinner I forced everyone into the basement to summon up a Halloween mood, mindset, and spirit with some Kenneth Anger films. Unfortunately, it worked! Somewhere between Lucifer Rising and Invocation of My Demon Brother there emerged from the television - for all to see and bear witness to - a specter of color. It danced through the room like your favorite screen saver, changing color and shape before erupting quickly and shooting squarely into the chest of my dear friend Justin (1981 - 2007). However! Seconds later, as we were frantically burying him, he returned to life and yelled out something in what we now realize was Hindi.

Inside his very soul a creature now torments him, trapped like a funny metaphor. It takes all of Justin's power to keep this creature in check. Originally he had planned to live with it but he later decided that he must go on a long journey to get it exorcised, removed, excommunicated, repelled. He had a dream of a place very far away. He saw himself riding a red motorcycle with a flame on the side. He saw visions of himself in a lungi. And every time he slept he heard the voice of a man who called himself Asharof saying God knows what is in your heart. These visions led him to India where he is currently seeking out Tantric sects devoted to Ganesha/Ganapati. With him he took a copy of Aleister Crowley's Book Four that he will use precisely when the moment is upon him. All of his friends who were there that Halloween night wish him luck in removing the spirit and returning safely. May he one day be strong enough to watch the films of Kenneth Anger! (I know this is hard to believe, but it is all TRUE!)

Kenneth Anger Pleasure DomeKenneth Anger Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome

1 comment:

Sean said...

I was there. It is all true.