Jan 15, 2016

Amazon's Man in the High Castle

via Gornahoor

Gornahoor Editor's Note: Ostensibly a review of some artifacts of popular culture including the Man in the High Castle, the Vikings and Valkyrie, but a few may notice something else . . .

Amazon recently released a dramatic television series, The Man in the High Castle, loosely based on Philip K Dick’s novel of the same name first published in 1962. The premise is based on the counter-factual history that the Axis powers won World War II. The Pacific states are occupied by Japan and the Eastern states by Germany, with a buffer zone around the Rockies.

It’s difficult to understand Amazon’s purpose, since the occupied USA seems more attractive. Was that by accident or design? Or most likely, the writers saw it as less attractive. That Nippon states were less attractive, since the white citizens were pretty much in dhimmitude to the Japanese. Nevertheless, one is struck by the Japanese code of honor and politeness, at least among each other. Moreover, a government official who failed in his duties felt shame to the extent that suicide was preferable. Now in the USA, many politicians are willing to “accept responsibility” for their failures, but that is something quite different from accepting the consequences.

The Eastern sector was populated by normal families, who were well groomed, polite, dined together, interacted with each other rather than electronic devices, valued patriotism and education. Apparently the intact family, in the mind of the Amazon Studio writers, sounds fascist to the modern mind. On the negative side, the right to bear arms was rejected and Bibles forbidden, available only on the black market. In 1962, a well-bred man in the USA would have been shocked that a government would have that power, since he still “clung to his gun and his Bible”. Nowadays the possession of guns and Bibles is considered fascist and the utopian left is working to ban both of them; what was fascist in 1962 is progressive today.

If the elimination of guns and bibles sounds normal to you, perhaps assisted suicide still makes you queasy, at least it was unthinkable in 1962. When the son of the American Nazi officer John Smith starts exhibiting symptoms of a genetic degenerative disease, the father is given a suicide kit to use on the son. Nowadays, it is called “end of life” counseling, and the “right to die” is increasingly accepted. Moreover, the idea of euphemistic post-natal abortions is gaining acceptance. So the idea of a hospital cremating the handicapped and terminally ill, as in the series, is really a foretelling of our own future rather than an imaginary fascist past.

There is even an annoying SJW, Juliana, who is headstrong in taking on a mission she does not understand, oblivious to the collateral damage she is causing. She illustrates the danger of the sex instinct, since her boyfriend, a young nazi secret agent, and even her I Ching casting Japanese boss, all had major crushes on her. Let’s just say some people get hurt, especially the boyfriend’s sister, niece and nephew. The men all compromise their own life missions for her.

So back to the important part of the story, which we will have to fill in, since it was unclear in the series. The man in the high castle is collecting films that depict alternate versions of reality. For example, in one of them, the Allies won the war, in another the secret agent assassinated the boyfriend.

Now we are getting into Philip K Dick territory, even if he himself did not actually use that motif. In Gnosis, Boris Mouravieff compares each person’s life to a film in which he has a leading part. Such as we are, we are passive participants in the film, interacting with persons for unknown reasons. However, the goal is to become the conscious agent – writer and director – of script of one’s own life.

Perhaps that is the real point of the series, rather than as an homage to our “superior” way of life. As Guenon pointed out, “The end of one world is the beginning of another.” Awakening from the common dream leads to the real world, but it must start with a few.


The series includes a failed assassination attempt on Hitler, perhaps mirroring a real attempt in 1944, that Julius Evola, writing in 1952, claimed was little known. Valkyrie is the title of a 2008 film, about the 1944 assassination attempt on Hitler, starring Tom Cruise, so it is perhaps more well-known now. One can easily get the impression from these shows that liberals and progressives were interested in eliminating Hitler. However, in fact, the attempt was engineered by the conservative elements in Germany who did not regard Hitler as conservative or right-wing.

The Vikings

The History Channel has been airing a series about the Vikings at the time they were becoming interested in England and France. The broad outline is historically correct, although certainly not in every detail. There is a lesson in it about a real “clash of civilizations”. A couple of generations after Charlemagne, Europe had become Christianized while the Vikings remained pagans. Although both sides practiced Realpolitik, the Vikings had no regard for just way theory. Whenever they wanted something, they went on a “raid”. Saxon England and Paris, as more advanced, and possibly more effete, civilizations, provided attractive targets for raids.

There may be lessons here for contemporary attempts at multi-culturalism: it does not happen by wishful thinking. Even when a Saxon king allowed a Viking settlement on his land, the problems did not go away. Differences in race, religion, language, and culture are not easily bridged.

The conflict between pagans and Christians is one of the more interesting aspects. Despite their general amorality, there is still something noble about the Vikings. They regard patriarchy as normative, support their community, love and value their children, are indifferent to pain, accept the tragic side of life, and look forward to an afterlife. Ragnar, the Viking leader, tells his son that “happiness does not matter”, i.e., it is neither the purpose of life nor a goal to pursue.

The Nordic gods and stories are a real presence and even temptation. Nevertheless, from an esoteric perspective all that must be left behind. One Viking explains to a Christian monk that his gods are real, they eat, fight, and so on. To him such humanized gods are regarded as a strength. Yet, Boris Mouravieff tells us something different:
Reason attributes to the divine an attitude, a weakness, and even more often, purely human motives… which tended to humanize the divinities. The Good News announced by Jesus reversed this ancient conception, calling for the divinization of the human in man by a second Birth; the gateway to the Kingdom of God.
Some try to idealize the pagan life in its immediacy and closeness to nature. They can’t see past the first birth into the state of nature. The task of the esoterist is quite different: it is not to humanize the gods, but rather to divinize the human.

A final thought: in our time, it is rare to see a movie or TV show with an all white cast and no gay characters. If you are flirting with white nationalism, you can look and then decide if you like that. I suspect not, since there is no gay character to explain to the Vikings how to act more manly.

When We Were Young

Avoid this if you can; I couldn’t. It concerns a culture clash between a boomer and an ambitious millennial. There was a minor point that was of interest, viz., acting either from innocence or experience. The boomer was all high tech, but the millennial went retro. For example, he played board games rather than electronic games, he used an old mechanical typewriter for his scripts, sported a fedora, and owned an extensive music collection on vinyl LPs.

I don’t see that millennials are going retro in droves, although Barnes & Noble is phasing out CDs in favor of LPs. Now in fact I play board and card games rather than electronic games, often wear a fedora, and still have a nice collection of vinyl. But I do it naively, since that was the world in which I was raised. There is not necessarily a conscious choice, but more a matter of habit.

However, the millennial is acting ironically. He makes a conscious decision to reject the contemporary option; it is not a habit, but rather an acquired taste.

We are in an analogous position. The world of our fathers no longer exists, so we can’t absorb that worldview automatically without thinking about it much. Quite the contrary, we are faced with a choice since the worldview of the modern world totally surrounds us. Hence, we can no longer be na├»ve, but rather we need to know exactly why we adopt one worldview while rejecting its alternatives.

For the innocent man, the will follows the intellect which was formed by family, society, and church. The man of experience needs to consciously create. He is in the situation described by Mouravieff:
By progressively taking his fate into his own hands, man at the same time takes responsibility for all the partners in his film. It has already been said that he must restore the original meaning of his film, then push the development of the latter in such a way that the ‘play’ be properly played out to its intended denouement. The hero, while working on himself, must apply himself to create new circumstances around him,
which will enhance the unfolding of the action towards its originally intended conclusion.

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