Cleansing the doors of cinematic perception... for a better now

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Disinformation Please: LOS ESPOOKYS, and the Mythic Real

“Nothing is wholly obvious without becoming enigmatic. Reality itself is too obvious to be true.” ― Jean Baudrillard
"Fake it 'til you make it" - old AA proverb
Written and conceived by doe-eyed El Salvadorian ex-SNL writer Julio Torres (the genius behind the 'Wells for Boys' sketch) and the startlingly deadpan young writer/comedian Ana Fabrega, LOS ESPOOKYS, a new HBO comedy is one of the first to be filmed in Spanish meant for American audiences as well as the world. Set in Mexico, the show chronicles the interlocking adventures of a group of horror make-up/effects specialists who--for a fee--stage 'real' scares: everything from UFO abductions, to exorcisms, sea monster sightings (to drum up seaside tourism), and old dark house hauntings and so forthFans of  classic Mexican horror, Ed Wood, Alejandro Jodorowsky, the ficciones of Borges, the deadpan drollery of Fred Armisen (i.e. Portlandia) and all the true (?) ghost and UFO shows on cable--ay dios mio!-- must love it.

Aside from the deliriously deadpan ultra-fey Torres (as emo/goth/his own thing cookie fortune heir Andres) and the vacant Tati (as the group's idiot savant intern), the show stars Bernardo Velasco as Renaldo, the sweet-hearted ringleader, and badass flaca Ursula (Cassandra Ciangherotti). José Pablo Minor is Andres' hopelessly vain fiancee; Paloma Moreno Fernandez is the possibly hypnotized TV hostess whose E-style clip news show becomes a showcase for these 'real' happenings; John Early is a coked-up pyramid scheme health drink scam artist who power talks Tati into buying hundreds of cases of his energy drink on credit, then comes after her with the coked-up fury of a rabid dog; Fred Armisen is Renaldo's Uncle Tico, who lives in America where he's a master valet who rescues and then hooks the gang up with Carol Kane as a kind of Doris Wishman/Roberta Findlay horror director; a stereotypical blonde American ambassador (Greta Titelman) enters the picture when they need work visa and she may be willing to expedite if it means they stage a haunted mirror abduction that will garner her an extra week vacation. It all only gets weirder from there, but hey - we're with these unfadable titans of scariness, every haunted step.

Aside from this powerhouse cast, great concept and deliriously rapid but easygoing pacing, it's just nice to find a show on HBO that cares nothing for sudden, disturbing misogynistic sexual violence. Instead we're blessed with a colorful, good-natured zesty comedic dissertation on the way reality encompasses the fictional to create living myth, popping with great colors, sublime ensemble acting and subtext that brilliantly encompasses the way magic-realism keeps myth alive in Mexico (the way it just isn't in hopelessly materialistic Yankee-land).  In stepping out of the borders of the US it delves deep into the more open-minded mythic social structure of Catholic-heavy Mexico, a land where imagination still reigns and one can believe in haunted houses, get thoroughly scared by a bunch of ghosts, but then show up the next day to hire the gang who faked it all for your own event, never once letting the dichotomy of that, of belief/scared coupled to knowing its 'faked' - bother them.

The Age of Post-Reality
“What you knew in your childhood is true; the Otherworld of magic and enchantment is real, sometimes terribly real - and certainly more real than the factual reality which our culture has built...” ― Patrick Harpur
While Smithsonian and the 'SCI' channel deliberately obfuscate UFO "truths" by exploring already debunked cases (then proudly debunking them), and History and Travel go the other route, Los Espookys transcends both to arrive at a 'hole' truth superior to both fiction and the socially-accepted parameters of 'reality'. As we see with the clients that hire them and the people they scare or entertain, knowing (or suspecting) something is fake doesn't detract from the power of the myth, especially in a more mythic place like Mexico. There the metatextual post-modern simulacrum of our current era is implicitly understood in ways America, being itself a simulacrum, will never see (the way fish don't notice water). There's no need to add a logos-choked materialist 'skeptic' like Gunnar Björnstrand in Bergman's The Magician (1958) or one of the smarmy hipster naysayers that even History Channel UFO shows once employted to keep in the idiotic little investigatory teams (see "Zealots of Doubt"). Free of America's terrified knee-jerk tenure-brass-ring grabbing first-world 'expertise', there's no need to protect the borders of what constitutes reality. Once undefended, it disappears.

You can read that last paragraph two ways, either as racist (Mexicans are dumb enough to believe anything and can't afford to go to Harvard) or as an example of the Latin American gift for magical-realism ala Garcia-Lorca / Jodorowsky / Castaneda / Borges. We come to the zone where we have to realize that Spanish /Latin American conceptions of the supernatural exist on an infinitely higher plane than the true/false dichotomy of the North. In the mythic reality of Mexico, the wall between the real and the vividly imagined is not only elastic, traversable, and illusory, but porous. The ability to traverse freely across this barrier is something that Americans only get during the LSD trips, or as young children, or during schizophrenic breaks, or when suffering from an intense fever. It's something we'd never usually see in an American TV show where we're constantly on the scent for hoaxes and scams. We're so terrified of looking foolish to our peers(and maybe attracting all sorts of scam artists who sense our 'kook' gullibility) that it's far better to just keep our lips frozen in a perma-sneer of disbelief.

Will get fooled again - Jaime Maussan
The Mexican consciousness (based on this and other shows, purely) is by contrast not as concerned with governing one's belief system based on popular opinion as if they are still stuck in some stressful high school pecking order.. An example of this difference is the undiscerning Mexican TV UFOlogist Jaime Maussan (left) who tends to take all evidence presented as truth rather than hoax or misidentifications. If photos, video or witnesses are proven either deliberately or accidentally off the mark, Maussan never seems to feel ashamed or taken for a fool - he merely puts one case down and moves onto the next.  For him it's the wonder, not necessarily the affidavit. A snarky UFO doc I saw awhile ago actually released a close-tied bunch of big silver balloons into the air above Mexico City when they knew he was out filming to trick him - and he fell for it. But is he dismayed? Nope. And frankly, that's what makes him way more intriguing than some of the other authenticity-obsessed types who never seem to get any evidence at all.

In the world of Los Espookys, there are multiple realities within the diegesis: the horrors staged by the group are fake, but demonic events, hauntings, inter-dimensional mirror abductions, etc. seamlessly occur as well. The funniest of these being an ancient underwater creature who promises to tell Andres the truth about his birth (he believes he's a demon child who was left on the doorstep of his adopted parents), provided he first show her The King's Speech on his laptop.

In the meantime we in Los Estados Unidos turn to horror films for our fakery, living the myth through that extra window of separation. That's the end moral in the show, where Renaldo learns that it's better to scare people for real in Mexico than make bad movies in America. To make fake reality is to make myth - this is not hoaxing, this is the anti-hoax. The skeptics of America would stamp HOAX on pictures of Santa, and FAKE on Easter Bunny mall pics (as in my own expose of Bunny Fraud, via Queen of Disks - above left) this is aiding the supernatural with a screen for itself to project on from within the collective unconscious.  Trying to say what percentage of the universe is still unknown makes one look stupid for just trying to answer, like casting a fishing line into New Jersey and when you don't get a nibble, declaring it an empty lake.

Certainty is a luxury reserved for the ignorant.

The Panacea of Myth

More than ever, the mountain of evidence in favor of UFOs is so high you only have to start reading and watching cable to get that stoner jaw-drop kind of feeling. If you doubt, just look into Dr. Roger Leir's implant removal and the subsequent forensic research on said implants; the death bed confessions from high-ranking leaders in the military and aeronautics industry (Phillip Corso, Richard French, etc);  the case of Phil Schneider and the Dulce Wars; the stories of Bob Lazar; and the videos and firsthand accounts from military personnel assembled by the Pentagon's exotic technology study group vis-a-vis whistleblower Luis Elizando - the evidence stacks higher and higher if you can handle it. But it's terrifying the more convinced you become. That's why a parallel belief that it's all just hoaxes, our own advanced technology misidentified (due to lack of communication between black budget military projects) or drones piloted by mischievous third world supervillians or brainiac little rich hackers - is so important for our peace of mind. If you think the fabric of our social reality wouldn't tear in a million pieces if such news as an alien presence was made 'undeniable', as in, pics of the aliens landing on the White House lawn on CNN, you haven't really thought it through. We haven't officially acknowledged the alien presence in at least 3000 years. As a result, we've been allowed to build some neat shit, confident it's the first time it's been done. Would a neanderthal feel inspired to learn basic math if he was met by people of today?? He'd just bow and pray or try to smash your smart phone out fear. He'd feel no sense of actual progress and achievement, only an ocean of inferiority so vast there's no point trying to build a boat.

There's a fascinating episode of M*A*S*H--the season six finale ("Major Topper") where the unit runs out of morphine and has a full house of suffering casualties. Colonel Potter decides to try the giving out placebos until the real stuff arrives. He instructs his doctors and nurses on the importance of acting as if this placebo is the real thing: they must show absolute confidence in the power of the pill. They tell patients it's a very potent new drug, etc, even stronger than most opiates. The slightest lack of conviction on the staff's part can lead to... nothing... no effect. But they pull it off, and for most of the wounded, it works great.

Is not the razzle-dazzle carny tricks, the shaking rattle and strange dances of the shaman, the mix of hocus pocus and hypnosis, similar to the belief in the placebo? Conjuring healing spirits up out of feathers and sage smoke, the shaman conducts the air, blows tobacco smoke in the face of invisible demons, and create psychic currents in the mind the way the snake charmer blows his drowsy reed.

In the eyes of a debunker, this would be a hoax. Would the "Mythbusters" feel the need to storm the MASH tent and wise the patients back into a world of 'honest' pain? Since the mainstream medicine can't quite figure out how a trick of the mind can affect the physical healing process so strongly (or vice versa, as in the stigmata), surely they must point out it cannot technically be working.
The mind is a curious, unknowable thing, as vast and strange as the universe it's part of. Fiction is seized on as needed - thus a book that never existed, like the Necronomicon, is now sought after by people who believe it's real; then some enterprising genius writes one --a kind of post-myth truth. Or consider the case of Carlos Castaneda's "Teachings of Don Juan," based on the teachings a Yaqui shaman who, by most accounts, doesn't actually exist, but people say they have 'studied with him' - did they mean the took mescaline in the Mexican mountains and spent an hour having a life-altering psychic conversation with what he thought was a snake but turned out to be an abandoned grouse nest?

The brain that works so hard to deny the unknown is itself dangerously unaware of its own unconscious. The person with such an attitude may be in some form of repetitious denial from, say, being laughed at in elementary school for believing in fairies. An affirmed atheist is usually reacting against being forced to go to a very dogmatic church as a child, little knowing or allowing himself to know that there are millions of other, better ways to envision God -they have killed off their sense of wonder by a desperate bid to belong to the 'right' side, to believe only in what is firmly and conclusively 'known' and areso hostile to ideas involving aliens, ESP, reincarnation and ghosts that even concrete evidence is dogmatically disregarded. They have a flimsy sense of self and groundedness, otherwise they wouldn't have such a closed-minded reaction. They are the witch burners of their age.

The American Embassy in Mexico City in the Age of Trump
In their way, atheists are really no better than the creationists, for really, any decent Pisces could show them a third alternative, where both evolution and creation, where God and no/God can easily fit into a single paradigm (DNA as the computer language God uses to code itself into existence).

This goes both ways of course - the undeniable power of God-- a holy visitation - a heavenly hand reaching from the clouds opening up behind you, to touch your shoulder and electrify your kundalini like a bolt of lightning, can either lead you to join a holy order and renounce selfish ways - you asked for a sign and received one! Or to think about doing that, then shrug it off after awhile when you realize what a drag that would be. Maybe you were just 'expecting' some big holy event, some Potter placebo effect, and it was delivered. Thus the doubter who insists on a sign before belief--and then gets just that sign--often refuses to believe anyway.

In sum, we're better off without either undeniable evidence or a dead worldview that allows no wonderment about the world. Los Espookys' genius lies in this, in becoming the "/" in the either/or dichotomy. To find the truth behind the unknown too soon may seem like a good idea, but then you're stuck having to pretend to be surprised later, when it's finally time to open your present. The trick is to have already forgotten what it was, because you're so stoned all the time.

Here's an example of Disinformation and the Mythic in action: After the massive triangle shaped UFO sighting over the Phoenix skies in 1997 (thousands saw it, video evidence galore), the city's mayor was under extreme pressure from a panicked public to provide answers. He didn't have any, so what were they expecting? What did their panicked unease demand? The idea it was military flares didn't really gel (the local air force did drop some flares afterwards, in a classic bit of disinformation/obfuscation after the fact), and the demand for an explanation itself became a looming threat to the local government - how could they ease the public without lying to them?

"Phoenix lights" press conference 1997
The fact that anyone would even call the police when they see a UFO proves the point. If you need the police to come because you see some lights, you can't handle the truth. So what can the mayor say that will allay pointless panic and dissolve expectations of 'action' and answers from local government? The mayor's masterful psychological solution: bring the alien (an aide in a costume) to the press conference.

The worry ended in a scattered eruption of nervous laughter. The gut response of the city and the thousands of witnesses was both momentary amusement followed by lingering resentment - feeling their concerns weren't being taken seriously. Clearly they weren't deconstructing the tactic or they would have 'gotten' its brilliance. Sure, the arrival of that costume and alien mask on the podium made a a lot people mad --they felt the mayor wasn't taking their concern seriously. But he was, he just didn't have an answer for them. The only way to dissolve their fear of the unknown was by turning it to disgruntled disaffect. It was a masterful example of a kind of anti-placebo, the wrapping of an unwieldy football field-sized question mark into a sugar pill of fiction.

As in the hauntings of Los Espookys, the alien at the press conference is a 'true' joke, a classic example of disinformation and the mythic real. Look at the the alien mask/head above for a minute: its a far too large to be a grey - but otherwise looks just like one, even suspiciously so if you really stare at it. Even the hands and uniform are on point. The 'joke' aspect is a way to admit there's really nothing the government can do. There's no real need for the public to know that the most powerful nation in the world can do absolutely nothing to stop these strange unknown phenomena from doing just as they please. The only response the president of a fully 'disclosed' nation could make about alien visitation concerns would be either "Don't worry, if it comes back we'll shoot it down! USA Number One!" Or "I think we should take our five purist virgins and leave them on a mountain as a welcome present." 

Welcome to our new squid overlords, 2029!

Think back to being a child and watching bad old movies and not noticing the special effects because your own vivid imagination helped sketch in the missing details. But back on fuzzy local TV as a six year-old in the 70s, my childhood imagination painted movies like Yog! The Monster from Space (above) so much more vivid than they look today. I remember watching this as a kid of around nine or ten, being coated in sweat from the dread caused by that alien, who could jump from body to body, enlarging a crab or a squid offshore or becoming a dangerous man in sunglasses. I cheered the bats that scramble its sense of radar, like they were the cavalry. I have a clear vision of a bat's eye view shot looking down from the height of the thing, seeing that massive drop to the ground and feeling a vertiginous rush. I saw it for the second time recently, on HD widescreen and, eh - it was okay. Those bats weren't the same. My adult blinders had closed off my sense of wild wonder. There was no shot from the bat's eye view at all, just the medium shot you see above. But does that mean I imagined it? Am I somehow wiser than a Mexican Catholic version of myself who still swoops swoops to those nutty bats? 

Similarly, a bunco spiritualist might bilk old ladies out of money but they give them assurance - and a place to project their own wishes. The medium provides the sound effects and the spirit lights and the ghostly voices, the grief-stricken participants project (unconsciously) the voice of their departed loved one onto the noises. The medium works with the client's unconscious mind, opening it up into a kind of auto-hypnosis due to grief, guilt, and fervent longing to say one last thing - to project/create a 3-D image of the departed spirit (and maybe the combination of that image--maybe a photo of the departed projected onto a silver/white balloon released by secret lever--plus the unconscious drive of the participant and the psychic openness of the medium, all combine to allow the projection of the actual spirit, much like the way a newborn body provides a screen for the projection of the soul (beamed down from the heavenly projector). The trappings of the skulls, darkness, candles, hand-holding, deep breaths and chants, etc. all soothe and orient the mind towards suggestiveness, towards a child's kind of keyed-in imagination, painting in details with such ease even the most mundane setting is imbued with memorable magic (that will later pay off as an adult with endless nostalgic comfort).

At the same time, a debunker, too, would find what they were looking for. The reverse of Col. Potter's placebo may well apply too. If the patient is sure they're getting a placebo but they actually get the real medicine, would it even work?

Sorry - lots of tangents. But as someone who is fascinated by the living myths of the supernatural and extraterrestrial via a Jungian lens, I just have to chime in. I hope you too will enjoy LOS ESPOOKYS and pay attention to the progress of alien information dissemination as it gains more and more momentum via cable TV channels like History, Travel and Destination America. As more and more dis/information is gathered, the line between speculation, theory, evidence, belief gets moved closer and closer over the border into being incorporated into social doctrine. Can our immersion into a childlike sense of agog wonder be far behind, I mean ahead? Los Espookys predicts it all by pointing out it's already true in its glorious falseness. Has it never not been?

Communion (1989)
PS - If you do research the Leir implants, especially the recent scientific examinations that have found microscopic nanobot sub-frequency wave generators within their unique weave, don't let it scare you to the point you call the cops. You can always peek out from behind the curtain and just watch the big green head projection telling you not to worry. You are granted, by a parental government, the freedom to doubt everything you see and read. The grey alien face itself is probably just a great and powerful OZ-style mask, and behind that, still another, a human face, then a lizard's, then Christopher Walken's -- just stop looking when you get to the face marked 'fiction' if you're scared, and 'real' if you're bored. If you can find the perfect balance, you must be in Mexico, or are a Pisces. Duda realidad y creer ficciónes -  solo si es mito es verdad

For more, visit Divinorum Psychonauticus - my extremely "other" blog, for occult theory, trippy art, and... is that it? Just those two things?

UFOs in sky, or close-up on powder blue bowling ball?

Here are some recommended vistations:

Unconscious Contact: COMMUNION (1989)

from Divinorum Psychonauticus:

The Truth is a Hoax and that is a Lie (2.12)
Keeping Roswell's Plain Sight Secret: Phillip Corso and The Day After Roswell. (8/13)
Anthropological Amnesia: Humans aren't Human (March 2012)
Guide to Cable's Paranormal-Ghost-Hunting Shows (August 2012)
Aliens do it up the Nose: HARD Evidence (Aug 2010)
A Bug-eyed Look at UFO Disclosure (May 2010)
Demon Sheets: Sleep Paralysis Theories (Aug 2013)
Through a Dark Symbol (Nov. 2012)
Disclosure Happened: you missed it (3.11)
From Satanic Rite to the UFO to the Afternoon Nap (2/11)
I Blur the Line (July 2010)

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