The Island

August 26, 2020 Category: Religion


{1  “The Island” was a spin-off of the 1979 film, “Parts: The Clonus Horror”.  Even in the earlier film, we find the use of false hope to manipulate–and delude–the masses.  Denizens of the compound in “The Island” had their purpose in life assigned to them.  This is an existential blunder with which all three Abrahamic religions are fraught (though the Koran takes this strategy to new heights).  Within the Christological idiom, this hoax was most brazenly articulated by Rick Warren’s (utterly deranged) self-help book, “The Puropse-Driven Life”, in which we are told that we only have purpose in life insofar as we give our lives to god; as god ASSIGNS us purpose.  In reality, purpose needn’t be assigned to us. It is we–as individuals–who must give our own lives meaning / purpose (or, as the case may be, fail to give our own lives meaning / purpose); a point made in Victor Frankl’s poignant “Man’s Search For Meaning”.  Religion’s biggest scam is that we need an external agent to do it all FOR us…thereby putting us at that agent’s mercy.  We thereby leave ourselves in the hands of anyone who–we are convinced–SPEAKS FOR that agent (see my essay, “The History Of Exalted Figures”.}

{2  The earliest use of a term for an afterlife Paradise was in Old Avestan: “pari-dayda” / “pari-daeza”, which referred to a special, gated place.  That seems to have been derived from the Assyrian word for “domain”: “pardesu”.  Meanwhile, “Eden” is a derivative of the Sumerian / Akkadian term, “edinnu”; and was later incorporated into the Aramaic lexicon (meaning a lush / fecund place).  Ancient Hebrew eventually appropriated the term to refer to a place of pleasure.  Christians adopted the vernacular for their own purposes.  Mohammedans took the idea and ran with it.  So far as they were concerned, the longed-for Edenic venue was as much a bordello as it was a seraglio.  For more on this topic, see my essay: “A Brief History Of Heaven And Hell”.}

{3  I discuss this leitmotif in my essay, “City Of The Beloved”.  Augustine’s vision of a Kingdom Come reflects the overwrought portrayal of the “New Jerusalem” found in the Book of Revelation–a city with streets of gold, gates of pearls, and walls inlaid with gems.  Unfortunately, the overwrought–often lurid–imagery proffered by John of Patmos caught on, and became an integral part of the “millenarian” Nicene eschatology.  As Betsy Hartmann put it, “This promise of a New Jerusalem for the elect, and the cataclysmic violence against people and nature necessary to achieve that goal, has made the Book of Revelation an ideological tool of conquest and empire from the Crusades onwards. You don’t have to be a Christian to be susceptible to John’s logic that the perfect end–the New Jerusalem–justifies the bloody means.”  The maudlin depiction of “Jannah” in the Koran falls squarely within the Christian tradition–the sort of thing a neurotic adolescent might concoct if given a few minutes and lots of caffeine.}

{4  “Asgard” was the celestial kingdom in which is located the great hall, of fallen warriors, “Valhalla”; as well as the magnificent “Breidablik” (home of the god, Baldr).  There was also “Folkvangr”, in which was located the great hall, “Sessrumnir”.  Note that in Norse mythology, the nine realms of the world tree, Yggdrasil were: As-gard[r], Mid-gard[r], Ut-gard[r] / Jötun-heim[r], Vana-heim[r], Alf-heim[r] / Ljosalf-heim[r], Svartalfa-heim[r], Nifl-heim[r] / Hel-heim[r] [alt. Nifl-hel], Muspells-heim[r], and Svartalf-heim[r] / Myrk-heim[r] [alt. Nidavellir].}

{5  Also referenced is the Kingdom of “Kalinga”, which probably corresponded to Orissa (now named “Odisha”) in eastern India.}

{6  This mythical mountain (at the edge of the world) was the source of the Arabian legend of “[d]Jabal Qaf”.}

{7  The Greco-Romans also told tales of the lost city-State, “Atlantis”.  For thousands of years, the legend of this sunken island has captured our imaginations and even enthralled us–as legends tend to do.  Plato referenced the fabled island kingdom in his “Critias” and “Timaeus”.  Related to Atlantis is the legend of a magical, underground world called “Agharti” (a.k.a. “Agartha”), the subject of medieval French occultism (ref. the etiologies of the Occitan fabulist, Antoine Fabre d’Olivet).  Tales of the lost city of may have been inspired by the ACTUAL lost city of Helike in Achaea; which was submerged in a natural catastrophe c. 373 B.C.  Another city that submerged was the Minoan (then Mycenaean) Pavlo-petri off the coast of Laconia, which dates back five millennia.  Another fabled island that was supposed to have sunk was “Kumari Kandam” in Tamil legend.  Later tales of Atlantis may have been encouraged by the (now underwater) Egyptian city of Heracleion (a.k.a. “Thonis”), which dated back to the 12th century B.C. and LITERALLY sank (in the late 3rd / early 2nd century A.D.) due to having been built on coastal silt.  Of course, aficionados of the legend of this sunken city-state are looking in the wrong place.  Atlantis is not in the ocean; it’s in the Timaeus.}

{8  New Age pulp has gotten in on the action as well.  The near-death-experience (NDE) industry is a cash cow, as Raymond Moody learned in the 70’s and 80’s.  In the 90‘s, self-proclaimed “psychic” Sylvia Brown cashed in on it too.  James Redfield’s “Celestine Prophecy” series sold like hotcakes (wherein Shangri La = “Shambhala”).  More recently were “The Secret” and “The Shack”, one more daft than the last.  ALL of it exploits credulity.  ALL of it profits from the universal human longing for something wonderful to look forward to (after death).  In 2013, another MD published “Appointments With Heaven”, peddling his own claims of NDE.  Meanwhile, an ex-Muslim published a book on her “Extraordinary Journey To Heaven”.  In 2015, the appropriately-titled “Oasis Films” produced the cinematic version of “90 Minutes In Heaven”.  As it turns out, the film industry is an even bigger bonanza than the publishing industry…which released yet another NDE account, “Imagine Heaven” that year.  (Again, we were reminded that the utility of heaven lay in the IMAGINING of it.)  Also in 2015, a carbon-copy of “Heaven Is For Real” was published (this time, with a young girl instead of a young boy), entitled “Miracles From Heaven”…which was promptly released as a movie the next year.}

{9  Legends of the proto-Aztec city of Teotihuacan (later known as “Tula”) were based on this city.  Also of note is the Nahua / Culhua legend of “Chicomoztoc”, said to have been the birthplace of mankind.  This is one of many “Eden” variations around the world.}

{10  These tales were likely inspired by the Tibetan legend of seven idyllic “beyul” [hidden valleys] known as “Nghe-Beyul Khembalung”.  They may have also been inspired by the Judaic legends of “Ophir” (depicted as a city of gold and peacocks in the Hebrew Bible).  Legends of mysterious lost cities proliferated during the earliest era of exploration in the “New World”.  Another was the so-called “Ciudad Blanca” [“White City”; a.k.a. city of the Monkey God], said to be located in the rain-forests of Mosquitia (present-day Honduras).  Explorers have often let their imaginations run amok, and hypothesized fantastical cities in mysterious lands–as with European’s hubbub about “Houssa” in the middle of the “Dark Continent”.}

{11  As George Carlin noted, the thing about the American Dream is that you have to be asleep to believe it.}

{12  Also reference “Trayastrimsa”.  Other Buddhist theology posits a celestial realm of mirth for those who earn good karma: the astral planes of “Deva” and “Brahma”.  Note that the notion of Karmic justice could also be found in Greek mythology, with Persephone (overseer of the underworld), who ensured the upright were appropriately rewarded and the wicked appropriately punished in the hereafter.  She also oversaw the dolling out of bounty and perdition during life.}

{13  Men don’t buy swimsuit calendars because they think it will somehow help them get the girls in the photos.  In purchasing the calendar, they are buying a fantasy rather than creating an opportunity.  And that’s all that’s needed in moments of weakness.  (Sales, after all, is primarily about playing to a fantasy–stirring up enticing visions.)  Many men are drawn to auto-shows (in which exotic super-cars are exhibited) for many of the same reasons: the opportunity to ogle at something amazing that they will probably never have a chance to drive.  To wit: Car aficionados attend the event mostly for the FANTASY, not for the reality.  Similar psychical mechanisms are at play, then, whether the spoils are consumer products or vixens.  (After all, toys are toys.)  Nevertheless, exploiting libidinal impulses tends to be the most effective means of manipulating male homo sapiens. That’s why go-go bars (strip clubs, euphemistically dubbed “gentleman’s clubs” to maintain a veneer of dignity) are such a big hit in virtually every culture in the world; and always will be.}

{14  A close second–just ahead of unrequited love–is unfounded fear (a.k.a. paranoia), as I discuss in my essays “Brink Porn” and “Nemesis”.  Also reference the horrific depictions of hell discussed in “A Brief History Of Heaven And Hell”.}

{15  It might be noted that a consumer product (read: fashionable junk) does not have to be material; it can be ideological.  The general idea of paradise is a commodity; but a specific, well-crafted vision of Paradise is a premium…for which some people will pay a very high price.  Mormon men get the gold medal in this respect–as each is promised the chance to be the ruler of his own planet after he dies.  “Golly-gee, what a prize!  Sign me up.  What is it that I need to do to qualify?”  The sales-pitch is preposterous; but it can be enticing to those who are sufficiently credulous.  As with most other cults that promise bounteous rewards that are “just around the corner” yet perpetually just out of sight / reach, the Church of Latter-Day Saints is a bastion for men dealing with severe insecurity issues.}

{16  This is what enables brainwashed Muslimahs to don niqabs / burkas, and be under the distinct impression that they are doing so of their own accord.  Empowerment via subservience is a common feature of cult activity.  Insofar as one can pass subordination off as a kind of EMPOWERMENT, one can get people to do just about anything, and thank you for the privilege.}

{17  Note that “patience” (the virtue that we often discuss) is not the meaning of the Koranic term, “sabr”.  Rather, “sabr” connotes complete conciliation…followed by constancy.  It is a function more of resignation than of what most of us would consider forbearance.  In effect, “sabr” involves a willingness to persevere in the face of any/all indications that one’s faith is unfounded or in vain.  Such dauntless perseverance (one might say, obstinacy) is based on the abiding conviction (“iman”) that things will turn out well in the end.  Hence the willingness of votaries to “sit tight” and wait…no matter what.  In sum: “sabr” is a disposition required for unwavering fealty; an excuse to remain compliant (not put up a fuss).  And it seems to make sense when the ENTIRE POINT of life is believed to be, well, getting to “the Island”.  Just don’t cross the gate-keeper.}

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