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Gnosticism Reborn: The Matrix As Shamanic Journey
by Jake Horsley
Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n
Milton’s Satan, Paradise Lost
The plot of the film holds together admirably, even if we may not notice it at the time. The directors don’t have the time to take us through their maze step by step, they simply hurl us into it headfirst, and leave us to put things together as we go through. The movie starts off at full tilt, and gives us no time to get orientated; it is already exploding our sense of “what is real” before we have even established the vaguest idea of such, to the point that, for the first half hour or more, we can’t be sure if we are watching dream or reality, or something else altogether. This is a perfectly effective disorientation device, since it is the way that Thomas Anderson (played by Keanu Reeves) himself feels, as his existence suddenly goes beyond the bizarre—into the appalling. But at the same time, this is perhaps the movie’s biggest weakness. The fact that we are never given time to settle into Thomas’s false reality before we get to see it torn apart, and exposed as the computer simulation fantasy that it is, denies us the full brunt (both the horror and the pleasure) of his initiation. The Matrix might have been more than just a great sci-fi movie, it might have been an authentic masterpiece, if it had eased off a little on the action and given us an extra twenty minutes (at least) to establish the character, his dream world, and the slow, steady encroachment into the dream of a hidden, higher reality, one that will eventually break through and drag him literally screaming back to the Other Side. Despite the intricacy and ingenuity of the plot, the film lacks subtlety, it lacks characters, and as a result it lacks any real psychological depth. Its depths—which are truly giddying—are all subtextual, they aren’t textual depths, because there are no shades or nuances to the characters or to their actions, all of which are inevitably overwhelmed by the sheer scope and breadth of the story. As a result, despite being head and shoulders above every other movie of its kind, The Matrix suffers from the same deficiencies: the vacuity and banal surfaces that characterize the ’90s blockbuster. Since this may well have been necessary to ensure the movie was a success, however—and The Matrix simply had to be a success or it wouldn’t have been made at all—this may not really be a valid criticism so much as a major regret. The miracle is that the movie was made at all; but still, I can’t help but imagine a Matrix three hours long, with a muted, toned ’70s feel to it and a real actor at its center, the measured pace and attention to scientific detail of Alien, the human depths of Kaufman’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and perhaps a little more of the anarchic spirit of Brazil. It might have been a Godfather for the ’90s: a sci-fi classic for people who don’t like sci-fi movies. As it is, it’s strictly for cyberpunks and Gnostics.
The story is briefly as follows: Thomas Anderson is a pallid and lifeless employee for a computer firm (“Metacortex”) who also has a “secret” life as a hacker who sells illegal software like it was a psychedelic substance. What he is involved in we can only guess at, since the film hasn’t the time to tell us. Somehow, along the way, he has been brought into contact with a man named Morpheus, a notorious “terrorist” whom he has never actually met but has been seeking for some time. Thomas (the doubter) is given hints and clues first of all by the mysterious Trinity, who sends him messages on his computer that predict coming events. Shortly thereafter, Thomas is hurled bodily into “the game,” and there left to run, hide, make the leap or plummet to his death. His engagement in this game begins when he is at work and receives a call from Morpheus, warning him that “they” are after him. Sure enough, the sinister men in black (government agents) are at that precise moment being directed to his desk. Following intricate instructions from Morpheus (who appears to be able to see the entire layout of Thomas’s world like he is looking at a map, or like a god from on high), Thomas sneaks past the agents into an empty office. There he is told to make an improbable leap to safety. He fails to make the leap, does not even try in fact, and allows himself to be captured by the government agents instead. He is taken into custody and there offered a deal: cooperate in the tracking of Morpheus, in return for a clean slate. When he refuses the deal, his world without warning warps into a Surrealist nightmare, as the agent whose name is Smith literally wipes Thomas’s mouth off, leaving him speechless and writhing in horror. The other agents hold him down as a metallic but definitely living parasite-like cyber-organism is inserted into his body, through the naval. At this point, Thomas wakes up, as though from a dream. Little respite is allowed him, however, as he is promptly picked up by Morpheus’s team (also dressed in black), held down in the back of the limo, and subjected to another bizarre procedure, as the parasite implant is removed. Thomas yells out in horror: “That thing is real?!” He may well ask. By now we have no more clue than he does. As it turns out, it isn’t real, but then nothing else in his life is, either.
When Thomas finally meets Morpheus, he finds
a regal and highly stylish black man (Laurence Fishburne) with soft, seductive
tones to match his name. In what is perhaps the most unforgettable part of the
movie, Morpheus explains everything to Thomas over the next twenty minutes or
so. This is a genuinely deranging, blood-curling sequence, and may well be the
giddy peak of sci-fi cinema to date. First of all, following his opening speech,
he offers Thomas a choice: blue pill or red pill. Take the former, he will wake
up again and all this will be just a dream. Take the red, however, and he goes
through the looking glass and finds out “how deep the rabbit hole goes.” Of course,
he takes the red. His decision is already built into Morpheus’s offer, because,
if it’s only a dream, why not take the red; and if it’s not, then why take the
blue?! But what Thomas undergoes as a result of the red pill is like every psychedelic
seeker’s worst trip. As the betrayer Cypher puts it: why-oh-why did I take that
damn pill??!! Thomas is torn from not-so-blissful oblivion, and there given the
hideous,, literally mind-shattering Truth: that he is a slave to an order of inorganic
beings that until this moment, he did not even know existed. Morpheus explains
that the year is not really 1999, that it is in fact closer to one century later,
and that civilization has in the meantime already been destroyed. That, as a result
of the discovery of Artificial Intelligence (AI), somewhere around the start of
the twenty-first century, there was a stand-off between man and machine—between
the creation and the creator (exactly as in The Terminator)—and the machine
won. AI discovered a means not merely to destroy civilization and inherit the
Earth (a limited prospect at best), but to develop for itself cybernetic, semi-organic
bodies, using human beings as its primary energy source. (The machines were solar-powered,
but the human-engineered holocaust blocked out the sun.) To this end, human beings
were enslaved en masse. They were put into a deep sleep, and a collective dream
was engendered to keep them tractable and docile, like babies in their cribs,
while their vital life force was sucked from them. Humans are bred and raised
directly into these incubators, and fed intravenously with the liquefied remains
of the dead. This is pure occultism, and goes way beyond even the best sci-fi
cinema, into the murky realms and veiled nightmares of Lovecraft, Heinlein, Kenneth
Grant, Carlos Castaneda, et al, with their accounts of “the labyrinth of the penumbra,”
the inorganic entities that have enslaved humanity and turned it into a food source.
Of course modern UFO lore of “the grays” adapts and develops the same atavistic
beliefs, complete with technological additions such as “implants” and clones,
etc. All of which puts The Matrix at the very front-line of modern myth-making;
or is that psycho-history?
are manifest to man, but the light in them remains concealed in the image
of the light of the Father. He will become manifest, but his image will
remain concealed by the light.
Keanu Reeves, as Thomas/Neo, is an attractive enough personality, but he’s
also a disappointingly bland center for such an intense drama to revolve around.
He plays the archetypal reluctant hero, yesterday’s man, a burnt out shell
with barely the energy to smile. As such, he makes the ideal candidate for
world savior—mythologically speaking—because there is nothing remotely heroic
about him. The film is about his own spiritual rebirth—his coming to consciousness—and
this is its main strength, what gives it its resonance, beyond all the tricks
and twists and the karate kicks. It is also its failing, however, because
Neo, as played by Reeves, is never really real to us, either as a zombie or
as a superman.
Talking Heads, “Nothing But Flowers”
The primary trouble with The Matrix is that it is back-to-back action from start to finish. There is hardly a single scene that doesn’t serve to advance or expostulate its plot or to set up some character, and as a result the movie has a choppy, forced feel to it, like endless Kung Fu kicks. It lacks perhaps the most elusive pleasure of all works of art: the superfluous moment, details, random felicities. At the same time, as a result of this lack, none of the realities seem quite real to us, because we are never given the time to get accustomed to them, to inhabit them. The film never sets its scenes, it simply hurls headfirst into them. This weakness is most especially regrettable with the real world sequences, which never take the time to give us an idea of this post-apocalyptic world and what it looks like (beyond the images of the endless “fields” in which the inorganic entities are leeching the humans, the single most chilling and inspired image in the movie). We are left with little more than the inside of Morpheus’s hovercraft, the Nebuchadnezzar, in which the rebels operate, with no sense of its movements (in relation to Zion for example, which is located near the center of the Earth) or of just why this rebel force is so limited in number, whether there are other groups working to the same end, etc etc. Since they are merely human vehicles for the themes and the plot of the movie none of the characters is allowed to develop. The rather shabby acting throughout hardly compensates for this weakness, either (the major exceptions are Fishburne, Foster as the Oracle, and Hugo Weaving as the demon-agent Smith). This is the level at which the film is weakest, and ironically enough it’s the human level.
The Matrix is more than simply a movie, however, and this is why I have been so unabashed in praising it, above and beyond its actual qualities as a work of art. Such qualities, though prodigious enough, are also (I freely admit) quite debatable. It is as a social phenomenon, on a par with and also intimately related to “The X-Files,” that The Matrix deserves attention and respect, beyond any other movie in recent memory. Coming as it did on the very eve of the Aeon (it was released on the last Easter weekend of the millennium), it effectively sums up a whole body of fears, beliefs, fantasies, hopes, and paranoias that is gaining an ever firmer hold upon the collective imagination (at least that of the Western world). It ties together a vast array of millennial strands into a slick, phenomenally entertaining package, and seems designed to spark off its own cult following, somewhere along the lines of a Star Wars for grown-ups.
The Matrix is simply the latest in a timeless series of myth-making in which humanity is shown to be ensconced in a truly diabolic situation, the nature of which entails our complete ignorance of the fact. Since the most essential factor here is ignorance, by the same token, the first and most difficult, most crucial, step is simply becoming aware of the true nature of our predicament. Considering all this, The Matrix is serving the oldest and most respectable, most revered, cause of art: that of enlightening the populace, by means both profound and ridiculous, to the Truth. Perhaps one in a thousand of those who see the movie will recognize or even notice its Gnostic tenets; but regardless of this, everyone who sees the film has effectively been exposed to them. Of course by the logic of the kids in The Faculty, it might equally be argued that The Matrix is serving the precise opposite function, that by rendering the truth as sci-fi it is stripping it of its credibility. This argument only holds up however if the work in question is actually ridiculous, in itself. In the case of The Matrix, the work is simply too inspired and effective (and affecting) to be anything but a work of revelation.
Where exactly the immensely talented Wachowski brothers came up with the ingredients to their sorcerers’ brew of a movie I cannot say, without looking further into it; obviously they have done their share of research. The Matrix has an internal drive and logic beyond the mechanics of its paranoia-based plot, and its mythical base compares to (and finally outdoes) the very best of science fiction cinema, from Metropolis to Invasion of the Body Snatchers to Alien and The Terminator, all movies that have sprung—with varying degrees of integrity and poetry—from the collective unconscious of humanity. Since sci-fi by definition involves our future as much as our present, since it attempts to project the collective imagination forward, and so perceive better what is happening now (by seeing where it is leading), great sci-fi is intrinsically more revealing—more progressive—than the other genres. (Possible exceptions are horror and fantasy, which are equally obliged to plunder the unconscious.) The Matrix is the most fully realized and impassioned projection of our collective fears and aspirations in a sci-fi movie since Fritz Lang’s Metropolis; and since it has been timed, with alarming precision, to come at the very end of the present millennium, it has not merely earned but actively seized its place in cinema history. It’s a veritable bookend for an age.
Time is always
At the start of The Matrix, Neo is one of the living dead, a sleepwalker
lost in the maze of his own mundane daze; yet he has stirrings, feelings,
yearnings, that tell him two things above all: that he is somehow special,
different from everyone else; and that something is somehow not quite right
about the world he is living in. Hence when he is contacted by Morpheus through
the computer-telephone channels of the Matrix (representing the unconscious
mind), and is told to follow the signs, he cannot help but respond. This is
(shamanically speaking) the “descent of the Spirit” (Morpheus’s dream dust),
heralded in the movie by a knocking, traditionally enough in sorcery circles.
He is told, like Alice, to follow the white rabbit; the rabbit signifying
fear, among other things. At this stage, driven above all by curiosity, the
primary nature of the experience that awaits our neophyte (once he has taken
the first active step on the shamanic path, and so entered the maze which
the Spirit has assembled for him)—will be fear. Sure enough, Thomas’s next
meeting is with Trinity, the Holy Spirit woman who whispers in his ear (the
tempting words of Eve) that she knows what he has been yearning for—knowledge,
equating at least partially (biblically) with sex. So of course he is hooked,
and allows himself to be drawn—steps willingly—into the snare of Morpheus,
lord of dreams: the shaman.
not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world
will not receive truth in any other way. There is a rebirth and an image
of rebirth. It is necessary to be born again through the image. Which one?
Resurrection. The image must rise again through the image.
Where the Wachowskis could go from here is the most intriguing question of
them all. They have stated that two more Matrix movies are on the way, but
whether they will be prequels or sequels, or both, remains to be seen (the
ideal thing would be one of each, since The Matrix shows us neither
the ending nor the beginning of the story). There is potential here that verily
boggles the mind. After all, as a holographic demi-god—just one in a growing
number, or coming race—there is literally no limit to what Neo is capable
of, in time. The objective would seem to be not simply ending the tyranny
of the old program, but also the insertion of a new program into the old,
to thereby make the transition possible; otherwise most humans (as the film
points out) are simply not strong enough to make the leap, from blissful oblivion
to hellish reality, without losing their minds in the process (the line between
“freeing” and “losing” here is a fine one indeed). Since Neo and his fellow
Illuminates are destined not merely to navigate and overthrow the Matrix,
but actually to reshape it—to reassemble its components into something more
viable, something more open, something that leads to freedom—their work is
no longer simply that of terrorism. It is something infinitely more demanding,
and whether the Wachowskis—inspired as they are—are capable of envisioning
such a process of world initiation, only time will tell. It seems doubtful,
unless they can successfully ignore the pressure, from the studios and the
audience, and simply follow their own inspiration all the way, take as many
risks next time around as they did this time, thereby coming up with something
every bit as unexpected.
I think what we’re growing towards is . . . an artificial intelligence of some sort [that] will emerge out of the human technological coral reef and be as different from us as we are from termites. . . . The internet is the natural place for the AI, the artificial intelligence to be born and . . . it learns 50,000 times faster than a human being, and the internet, all parts of it, are interconnected to each other . . . a stealth strategy would probably be a very wise strategy for an artificial intelligence that’s studying its human parents. It’s also true that more than most people realize, huge segments of today’s world are already under computer control. . . . Perhaps it’s already taken over. . . . We really can’t predict what it will do. It would be nice to suppose that, like a compassionate and loving god, it would smooth the wrinkles out of our lives and restore everything to some kind of Edenic perfection.
The idea of the eschaton ties up, in ways obscure and bewildering, with William
Burroughs’s “Word Virus,” Jean Baudrillard’s “simulacra,” and to the novels
of Philip K. Dick, Greg Egan, and so on, and so forth. Essentially, so these
authors suggest, our reality has become (or is due to become) a repetition
of previous experience, a recycling of old data, and as such is no more than
an image, a hologram, a projection of a reality that is . . . elsewhere. It’s
at this point, then, that time effectively comes to a standstill. Consciousness
is forced to make the leap, into the next stage (whatever that may be), in
order not to collapse in on itself. This is why the logical evolvement of
the Illuminati in The Matrix would seem to be from mortal (albeit extraordinary)
freedom fighters into . . . something else: interdimensional travelers, non-human
units of awareness, projections of another reality, perhaps, a divine Matrix,
hence capable of moving through time as easily as they once moved through
space. Of course, this idea is nothing new; it is the sine qua non of understanding
the nature (and possible reality) of so-called fourth-dimensional beings,
call them angels or demons or extraterrestrials or future human beings traveling
back through time to pay us a visit. Obviously, this is way beyond the scope
of this book, here at its closure as we are. But in terms of the Matrix
scenario, it’s not such a great leap.
I have been thinking about the idea that extraterrestrials, and this penetration of the popular mind by images of extraterrestrials, is something that we may not get a hold on until we accept the possibility that aliens only can exist as information, and therefore the internet is the natural landing zone for these alien minds. . . . No matter what the alien is, we interpret it through human experience, and god knows our human experience is tweaked enough at the end of the twentieth century. . . . When you pile up all this stuff and realize that major discoveries are being made in all these fields simultaneously, you begin to see the morphogenetic momentum for this “thing” that wants to be born out of the human species at this point as almost unstoppable and inevitable. We’re all just witnesses to this unfolding. . . . A multi-sensored dynamic organism that lives on information.
McKenna believes that the day in which time travel is discovered to be physically
possible—the day on which mankind as a whole becomes aware of this fact (and
it appears to be close)—will effectively be the end of time as we know it.
He posits a kind of doorway opening up in space-time through which the future
will coming pouring into the present. If time travel becomes possible, he
argue, logically then our future selves will thereby become known to us. But
in order not to abolish our illusion of chronology altogether (the rule of
Cronos, or Saturn, or Time)—in order to allow us the full benefit of instruction
and preparation which this time stream is providing us with—obviously our
future selves must be discreet. Like the AI agents of The Matrix they may
walk among us but cannot make themselves known to us, for the simple reason
that to do so would effectively collapse the program, would—in the vernacular—blow
our minds. It follows, however, that the moment in which time travel becomes
possible for the average individual, and in which yesterday’s man gets a glimpse
of tomorrow’s god, these godlike beings—who are both our devils and our angels,
our creators and our descendents—may at last walk freely among us. Hence (according
to McKenna), the moment in which time travel is discovered there will occur
a massive and truly apocalyptic influx—a tidal wave if you will—of alien energy,
or unprocessed data, of wholly novel units of information; or, to put it more
bluntly, of superhuman beings. The gods arrived today. Of course, one could
also “reduce” this eschatological scenario to less apocalyptic terms by saying
that all it really entails is the raising of the floodgates between the left
and right sides of the brain. An apocalypse by any other name . . . .
1. The “Demiurge” is perhaps the central tenet of Gnosticism, as found in the Nag Hammadi Library (the sealed codex discovered in the Middle East in 1947). The Gnostics taught that Jehovah—accepted by the Jews, and by Christianity after them, as the creator of mankind, its one true God—was in fact a pretender, a false god, whose real name was Samael, “the god of the blind,” or the Demiurge. Samael was begotten by the goddess Sophia (wisdom) but quickly rebelled and assumed his false throne as world-creator and “god” (rather like Lucifer), crying “I am that I am, there are no Gods besides me,” etc, etc. Despite Sophia’s insistence that he was lying, that he was but a blind god leading the blind, mankind accepted the lie and allowed themselves to become enslaved to it. As The Gospel of Truth puts it: “Ignorance of the Father brought about anguish and terror; and the anguish grew solid like a fog, so that no one was able to see. For this reason error became powerful; it worked on its own matter foolishly, not having known the truth. It set about with a creation, preparing with power and beauty the substitute for truth.” The Hypostasis of the Archons describes a veil that exists “between the world above and the realms below; and the shadow came into being beneath the veil; and that shadow became matter; and that shadow was projected apart.” Thus began a program of mind control—or soul enslavement—maintained by Samael and his “Archons” (rulers) which involved keeping mankind distracted by material problems and concerns, imprisoned by its own fear of death, of mortality, and ignorant of its true, divine nature. Hence the soul became “entangled in the darkness of matter,” confined to bodily identification, and condemned to endless, repeated reincarnation, without possibility of parole, of graduation to godhood. (Rene Descartes seems to entertain a similar prospect when he writes: “I shall suppose, therefore, that there is not a true God, who is the sovereign source of truth, but some evil demon, no less cunning and deceiving than powerful, who has used all his artifice to deceive me. I will suppose that the heavens, the air, the earth, colors, shapes, sounds and all external things that we see, are only illusions and deceptions which he uses to take me in.” Descartes’s Meditations, quoted by Doug Mann and Heidi Hochenedel, in “Evil Demons, Saviors, and Simulacra in The Matrix. In Letter from Peter to Philip, Samael is called “the Arrogant One” who steals a part of the creation. “And he placed powers over it and authorities. And he enclosed it in the aeons which are dead . . . But he . . . became proud on account of the praise of the powers. He became an envier and he wanted to make an image in the place of an image and a form in the place of a form. And he commissioned the powers within his authority to mold mortal bodies. And they came to be from a misrepresentation, from the semblance which had emerged. . . Now you will fight against them in this way, for the archons are fighting against the inner man. And you are to fight against them in this way: Come together and teach in the world the salvation with a promise.” Combine all this with modern UFO lore, which posits an evil (Draconian) alien race implanting human beings since the beginning of time with tiny mind control devices (the “Gods of Eden” and their livestock), for the exact same purpose: of ensuring eternal forgetfulness, endless sleep, so that the souls are denied the possibility of evolving, remain enslaved to the alien beings (the Archons), who (at least in some versions) use the souls as an energy source. Combine all this, and you have The Matrix. More or less.
2. In certain Gnostic texts, Jesus is said to have a twin brother whose name is Judas: Judas Thomas, or “Judas the twin.” Without making too many creative leaps it is possible to draw the conclusion from these texts that it was not in fact Jesus who died on the cross, but Judas, his betrayer and twin, “the one who came into being in his likeness,” as The Apocalypse of Peter has it. (Nag Hammadi Library. The full quote is: “The savior said to me, ‘He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshy part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness . . . he whom they crucified is the first born, and the home of demons, and the stony vessel in which they dwell . . . But he who stands near him is the living Savior, whom they seized and released . . . Therefore he laughs at their lack of perception, knowing that they are born blind.”) In which case, the myth begins to take on rather more complex ramifications (the betrayer was sacrificed and so redeemed; the point of the crucifixion being a blood offering [DNA?], it follows that, as Jesus’s twin, Judas’s blood was a perfectly acceptable “substitute”). Thomas in The Matrix, then, is not the doubter, he is the double, the one who must be sacrificed, just as is Abel by Cain. Neo, his perfect twin, is the “resurrected,” the image that ascends, the Christ half of the equation. It’s interesting to note, in regard to this, certain Christian interpretations of the movie that see Neo as “the AntiChrist.” The fact that Keanu Reeves recently played the son of Satan (Al Pacino) in Devil’s Advocate cannot be too quickly dismissed as a mere coincidence. Of course, pyscho-history does not allow for coincidences.
3. The most disappointing thing about The Matrix is its reliance on the familiar terms of action movies, presenting violence and “resistance” as the only means to overcome tyranny.
4. The name is especially curious considering the Gnostic tenets of the movie: Judaism and Gnosticism are diametrically opposed, philosophically speaking, and mortally at odds, historically speaking.
5. As Morpheus puts it, “They are still part of the system, and that makes them our enemy. . . . Most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. [They] are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.” Since the AI agents are capable of entering into—of “possessing”—any human still hooked up to the machine, and of thereby converting them into mindless automatons that do its bidding, programmed killers, no less, any human not actively recruited by the Illuminati is a potential threat to it.
6. Shaman means “skywalker,” which is where George Lucas got the name for his hero. Doubtless The Matrix, above all if the trilogy ever comes off as planned, is the movie that Star Wars never quite succeeds in being.
7. McKenna could even have been foreseeing The Matrix when he says: “I think cultures are kinds of virtual realities where whole populations of people become imprisoned inside a structure which is linguistic and value-based.” Later he remarks: “Now, if we’re gonna become a planetary being, we can’t have the luxury of an unconscious mind, that’s something that goes along with the monkey-stage of human culture. And so comes then the prosthesis of technology, that all our memories and all our sciences and our projective planning abilities can be downloaded into a technological artifact which is almost our child or our friend or our companion in the historical adventure.” Made to order Matrix, anyone? (All quotes can be found in the Art Bell/Terence McKenna interview at http://artbell.com/guests3.html [link now broken. -ed] of 1998)
8. In one of the scripts more interesting quirks, agent Smith explains to Morpheus that the “first Matrix was a perfect human world,” that AI originally created a surrogate reality of earthly bliss, a return to Eden, but that humanity rejected it out of hand, that “no one would accept the program”! Hence, they unconsciously chose purgatory instead.
9. “Ye shall not
surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes
shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” The Serpent
of Genesis, 3:5. In John 10: 34, Christ says the same, with only slight variation:
“Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are as Gods?”
Jake Horsley was born somewhere in the British Isles (in the Year of the Anti-Hero) into a wealthy and rigidly atheist environment. He discovered the joys of cinema while watching Where Eagles Dare on TV (by a curious case of synchronicity also the first film he can recall seeing in a theatre, many years previous); on finally figuring out the difference between Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton, his passion was consolidated. For a long time, Jaws was his favorite movie. He dabbled in film criticism and scriptwriting from an early age, but eventually became sidetracked by the world. He never went to college. He has spent the last ten years of his life rolling about and gathering no moss, and has lived at various times in the following locations: London; Edinburgh; New York City; Oaxaca, Mexico; Taos, New Mexico; Tangiers, Morocco; Pamplona, Spain; Paris, France, and, most recently, in Amsterdam, Holland. His next port of call he intended to be San Francisco, but was thwarted in his designs by U.S. immigration, due to a previous history of pot-smoking. He now lives in his own private Valhalla, somewhere in Central America. He very occasionally inhales. He has only ever held a single job in his life, for a period of six months: a dedicated seeker of all brand of experience, it seemed only fair that he experience the real world also, but quickly decided that it was not for him. Most of his spare time has been spent writing books that no one will read; he has recently completed a script based on the life of psycho-artist Sam Peckinpah, and is presently at work on a novel, based on his non-existent sex life. Besides movies, his interests include philosophy, psychology, mythology, paranoid awareness, and witchcraft. An undefeated seeker and incurable dreamer, his acceptance is that the quest is all, and its object of relative unimportance, provided only that it be unattainable. Like the fool riding his ox in search of oxen, he trundles on in search of Truth and Beauty. Like a solitary fish that swims endlessly through the ocean, seeking after this mysterious quality called water of which he has heard so much but never seen, he continues his merry march towards Armageddon, squinting at the invisibles, and grasping after the intangible. He does not expect to succeed: he is content merely to try.
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