The Origin Of Evil

Stories about the other world often explore the origin of evil. My work is no exception. The question about the origin of evil lies at the bottom both of philosophical work as work of art. In philosophy and theology, the question is often discussed as “theodicy”, which also implies the question why is there evil in the world?

Season Three Of Twin Peaks, already mentioned in the latest post “Ontological Shock“, is not only an example of a visionary experience but also a breathtaking meditation about the origin of evil by David Lynch in episode 8 of the outstanding series.

 

Episode 8 led to many discussions and became a milestone in modern TV, its central sequence of a nuclear blast turning into a surreal trip compared to Kubrick’s Odyssey 2001.

Along the convincing creative work of David Lynch there are a couple of remarkable things: on one side there is a near-literal visualization of gnostic ideas and also neo-platonic philosophy where things getting transformed from the world of ideas into the material world. The gnostic dualism has never been so obvious as in episode 8. On the other side, it evokes a feeling of a cosmic evil without explaining too much. On some level, there is no explanation necessary.

I wouldn’t even say this is an explanation of evil or the creation of evil (the appearance of Bob – the later killer-demon triggered that interpretation).

There could not be an explanation where there is no real explanation. There might be belief-systems or philosophical systems but episode 8 let us feel a darkness which can’t be understood in an intellectual way. There is no explanation. The atomic blast might not have created evil but perhaps it was something like a door-opener. If we imagine a universe full of life, full of conscience there are always elemental cosmic powers waiting in their otherworldly realm for an invitation.

Todd VanDerWerff is right when he writes in his article on Vox.com, “you can try to evoke evil in the audience”. What we can do in a movie or a series is that kind of meditation which let people remember something which they do know but what has been forgotten.





Furthermore, words fail to explain what evil is. What David Lynch does brilliantly in his work, is to make the invisible a visible and palpable thing through an atmosphere, through stories told in pictures and the interplay of actors who can express something which works like a virus and can possess you completely.


We get it that the ancient gnostic idea is true that the material world itself carries the energy of evil, that is is always around us and looking for expressing itself in horrible manifestations. You can show how it is always at work and be shaping our lives if we don’t care.

It always finds a way into our world, and there are endless forms or masks or ways of deception. It needs chaos to prevail and tempts us in ways we don’t imagine.

In the Forest Dark Movie Project, I will present my own vision about the origin of evil. I believe there is something we all know about this, but the definition is also a thing of individual belief and experience in life. A problem I see at the core of this question is that words fail to describe precisely what it is. As we have seen in “The Demonic Principle” even Goethe struggled with appropriate definitions.

Maybe there is even a relationship between creativity and the origin of evil. Longtime creative work is often also an attempt to express what is unspeakable, and it can be a gift or a curse to deal with certain things – it can mean for the artist to undergo his own dark journeys or he risks to become the sorcerer’s apprentice and gets abused in the cosmic battle between light and dark. Even more, the artist might be chosen a long time before by higher forces without knowing himself and given the task to communicate and to give us insight into the real order of the world.

Ontological Shock

Those who return from the other world are never the same. A visionary experience is an ontological shock.

Agent Cooper’s journey in “Twin Peaks – The Return” appears to be like the aftermath of a shock. It resembles both real cases and the endless chain of mythological stories.

This is not an interpretation of the new landmark series by David Lynch. The story of “Twin Peaks – The Return” is very special and leaves room for a lot of interpretations.

I am talking about underlying themes and archetypical patterns. It’s about something which happens also in reality not only in fiction.

“Ontological shock” as a theme had been a driving force in the development of the Forest Dark. These things happen more often as we think and sometimes in a more subtle way.

What do we mean by “ontological shock”? This is a philosophical term; It is the state of being forced to question one’ worldview. The term appeared – not surprisingly – in connection with the MATRIX movie and was one of the titles in the soundtrack.

So, many phenomena, as described earlier, like dangerous lights in the forest, UFOS, apparitions in the forest could create an ontological shock. If we see something which is simply not possible, this could lead to an ontological shock.




It is interesting, however, that in dreams we experience a lot of things which are not possible, like being able to fly, but we don’t remember them as a shocking experience.

In theological terms, an ontological shock is also related with non-being. This is an interesting aspect of visionary experiences. They open up the question of existence and non-existence.

Furthermore, the return from the other world is probably the shocking moment. We are not any longer in awe of the wonder or occupied by questioning what’s going on but being back in the “normal world” is the most difficult time. We can’t pretend like nothing has happened.

In Agent Coopers’ journey, we find mythological archetypes as “Orpheus” or classic folk-story motives like “Rip Van Winkle”. Somebody vanishing and reappearing years later has always been a very prominent motive in legends and folklore throughout all times.

Even in modern UFO-stories “missing time” is a typical part of the narratives of alien abduction victims. When David Lynch did “Twin Peaks – The Return” there had already been a long tradition of these stories.

However, another interesting question is if the ontological shock is something which happens after the return from the other world, is it because we learned about something which opened another reality upon us or is it because we can’t understand our everyday world not any longer?

Agent Cooper has obviously forgotten about the normal world after his return and the normal reality is for him the otherworld.

Perhaps it is also the moment of shock when we understand what our world really is (facade, a kind of stage).

Furthermore, the ontological shock seems to be related on one side with a realisation (my whole idea of reality was wrong) but on the other side with the loss of memory.

Agent Cooper, when returned from the black lodge, has forgotten about nearly anything. He needs to “wake-up”. In his forlorn state, the everyday-like world appears like a dream.

The most interesting part of this is that it is a familiar thing. It needs a little shift of point-of-view, and we can see the strangeness of our world ourselves in certain moments of heightened awareness.

People who had a visionary experience like near-death-experiences are sometimes conflicted that they cannot any longer relate to the “normal worldview”. They can see “through things”.

Carol Zaleski writes in “Otherworld Journey”: “Several accounts describe a liminal period after recovery, during which the near-death subject, with one foot still in the other world, finds it excruciatingly difficult to adjust to normal life”.

Zaleski finds that in many accounts the “visionary transformed” has completely changed his life, doesn’t speak about what happened, doesn’t laugh and expresses a deep seriousness. This applies both to medieval accounts of otherworld journeys as modern near-death experiences. Agent Cooper has a lot in common with medieval visionaries.

If we look at David Lynch’s cosmogony everything makes sense. In a BFI article (Remain In Light…) B. Kites writes convincingly about the obvious elements of gnostic religion and Indian Vedanta in Lynchs Work. It’s a view which has been discussed in Anamnesis earlier, the soul reborn entering our world and forgetting what has been before. “The Soul take on the guise of individual identity and enters the theatre of the world…where it forgets its origins”.

In this context Plato’s End of Republic with the “Vision Of Er” is very interesting to compare. It is like the very fundament of both works of fiction and real accounts of visionaries about otherworld journeys.

However, things are a bit more complicated. In otherworld journeys, it is not about simply being shocked because one sees suddenly what’s really going in, it is also disorientation and pain because one can get caught in the treacherous maya other world (this is also part of Eastern theological systems).

In these spheres, there might be forces which want to forget the soul about its origins. It wants us to get in a state of shock and it is not about revelation it is about deception. Thus in some cases the visionary transformed can be the victim of deception.

Ontological shocks happen also in our everyday world. It might not even imply the witnessing of supernatural events but sometimes an incredible set of circumstances leading to mind-shattering events. It looks like somebody is doing this and this makes us fear. Or, somebody wants us to have fear.

The important question is who is behind certain cases. Is there somebody out there who can give us an “ontological shock” if he wants to? B. Kites mentions the corrupt gnostic demiurg as part of Lynch’s cosmogony, which sounds convincing, if we think of the “theatre of our lives” as a battleground of cosmic forces of good and evil.

Under The Spell

The offender always returns to the place of the crime.
It seems the same applies to supernatural writers, researchers in search of the unknown and people who had encounters with strange phenomena. We can’t explain our passion but we know we need to do this, there isn’t much choise. We’re under the spell.

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Writers and film makers taking the supernatural seriously get often asked why they pursue difficult projects rather than doing something where you could make money more easily. Even it’s true that genre stuff is supposed to be “profitable” which usually means that it is something which could be done for low budget but has a potential for high revenues. This might be the case for some horror pics with easy-to-grasp concepts however many artists who have a real interest in the otherworld (or simply asking questions about our view of reality) suffer. They choose the hard way. But these are the most committed people, they are prepared to work hard for a long time without knowing about their chance for success.

The same applies to researchers, philosophers and scientists. A profound interest in the otherworld is certainly not the best choice to make a career. We should think that the investigation of phenomena we don’t yet understand is science at its best, but the researcher is often being caught in the middle. They aren’t trusted any longer by the “serious scientific community” and they make often many enemies among the “believers”. They get in trouble with the powerful, become blacklisted by politicians and sinister organizations. The work of a researcher like Jacques Vallée who kept a diary for over 40 years and continuosly published interesting insights about the unexplained couldn’t be praised enough. There aren’t many of them but those who are interested in the otherworld are highly committed people.

If somebody had a weird experience in the woods, had a strange encounter or was somehow involved in strange events we would expect that this person would leave the place where it happened, move into a big city or even another country. But we know that people who had encounters with the otherworld are changed. They return either to the place or become reseachers, lecturers or help other people with similar experiences. They are obsessed in their own way.

Once touched by the otherworld we’re under the spell. Its a bit like becoming involved with the demonic principle. In the same breath we are drown towards the unknown as we wan’t to escape the otherworld. But the artist is dedicated to paint that picture. It might look for outsiders that the artist of the supernatural seems to paint the same picture again and again.

This is not the case. The researcher and the artist or writer and film-maker are sitting in the same boat; it is their quest for the unknown. And like a Tibetan monk repeating the same rituals the researcher studies similar cases again and again, and the storyteller is writing many stories but the stories are all about the same theme. People who had visionary experiences return to places or remember things at certain times every year. However this isn’t about repeating the same thing, it is always about progress, about deepening our understanding, even sometimes in very small steps.

There is an interesting question how much freedom people do really have if they take the challenge seriously. However the creative process itself can be an act of freedom. It’s a chance to redeem the demons. And it can be step forward to understand. The people drawn towards the otherworld or towards the fundamental questions about our reality were always a minority. It’s astonishing that a lot of people can watch endless hours of stuff about zombies, vampires, witches and never ask for one second what’s really going on.




We can’t explain why we are into a deeper reality. Perhaps this is something which couldn’t be explained. It is indeed like the demonic principle, something which works beyond our understanding. And if we look at people who had experiences with the paranormal or some encounters we can’t tell why they were chosen. Human history is full of people who had a very different background and then become changed through visionary experience. The only thing we know is that there are no simple answers, but it appears there must kind of a link between certain artists, researchers and visionaries. It’s like they had at some point in their lives seen, felt or heard the same thing, some sort of hidden reality and they got a call to tell the world.

Magical Realism As An Expression Of A Deeper Reality

The Question is not, “is it real” or is it magic”, it is about finding magic in the mundane.

Magical realism can call on folk-lore and myth to question the true nature of reality. Forest-horror-stories are often stories of this type of magical realism, and this is also what I am aiming for in my own work.

The magical elements are as natural as the everyday world in this genre. The term was originally coined by Franz Roh for an exhibition called “Neue Sachlichkeit” in the 1920ties.

Magical Realism is often connected with South-American literature and describes books or movies with magical elements or a dreamlike-landscape.

Sometimes magical realism is used as toolbox by romantic comedy writers to set up a story – like the lightning stroke making the main character capable to understand what women think – but that’s not what magical realism is really about.

 
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The mother of all magical realism stories on TV is “Twin Peaks” with its credo “The Owls Are Not What They Seem”. Here the magical reality becomes a form of hyper realism: it feels for some folks more real as our limited everyday reality experience. “Twin Peaks” and other great series/movies/books abandon our model of physical reality. However they don’t reveal the mechanics of an alternative model of physical reality like the 5th dimension in “Interstellar”.

“Twin Peaks” interacts with the viewer in a much deeper sense. It reminds us about a daimonic reality where strong hidden forces rule our lives behind the curtain of ordinary reality. We do know about this daimonic reality but is something which became suppressed in our times.

In the best of all cases the magical elements in a magical realism story doesn’t appear like some writer’s invention or something with is kind of an appendix. Magical Realism can reveal what we usually don’t see, something which we are not supposed to see.

I had always a weird comparison in mind: Our reality is perhaps like the layers in the photoshop software: Normally we can only see the surface (the image on top of a pile of images and layers) but with certain techniques the surface (or the picture on top) becomes transparent and you can see what is beyond. If you work with layers in photoshop software you can reveal something which is normally not visible. David Lynch is doing this in his films: He scratches on the surface layer and reveals for a glimpse what lies beneath.

Unraveling the myth behind our reality is more about revelation rather than an invention of fictional ideas or mere fantasies.




I don’t think we need necessarily alternative models of physical reality to get to the hidden layers in our plane of reality. It is what a good story can do. It also happens in real life. The many cases of unexplained phenomena discussed earlier could be also sudden appearances of hidden layers.

Usually we can’t see what’s really going on. Our models are always inconsistent or tend to driven either by anthropocentric biases or scientific assumptions. Nobody can tell us the truth, but we can try to create something which feels right. Even we don’t admit it we often quietly accept a different idea of reality where our destinies are driven by mythical forces when we watch certain series or movies; there are often three levels in series like “Game Of Thrones” or “Twin Peaks”: action and relationship development, everyday events, then there is politics and undercurrents in society affecting characters and deep down there are powerful myths at work.

Perhaps we need to re-discover the magical dimension of our lives not only in TV-series but also in real life.

Indeed the most fascinating thing is that magical realism or fantastic realism has its roots not in fiction but in reality. Long before the first official UFO-sightings Charles Hoy Fort wrote his “Book Of The Damned”. Fort is quite simple the “Father Of X-Files”: he was a collector of “damned data”, of events or things which were excluded by official science: “A procession of the damned. By the damned, I mean the excluded. We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.” (Charles Ford, Book Of The Damned). He was motivated by criticism of the mainstream science. He saw the problem of reductionism in science very early, and his “damned data” are kind of a provocation, like the rat on the table in a clean house.

His book is a ride into a rich world full of weird phenomena. It tells us stories about raining frogs and mysterious disappearances, thunder-stones and much more. Fort didn’t invent these reports. He was looking through weather reports and piles of newspaper articles. He worked for years but wasn’t a simple believer in the fantastic. He is basically a sceptic. He simply demanded open-mindedness. Often he expresses a certain irony about the weirdness of a phenomenon and the even weirder explanations.

There may be a good reason for keeping his distance: investigating phenomena of “high strangeness” is like crawling through quicksand. It’s terribly difficult to find out what exactly has happened and the search for the truth becomes more and more complicated. This is perhaps because this phenomena happen in the realm of “magical realism”. It’s hard to say how much phenomena of “high strangeness” depend on the witness, but they seem to be strongly connected to a certain atmosphere and character (remember the fish in the coffee-filter in the legendary Twin Peaks Pilot?).

However most of all, Charles Ford wasn’t after the proof for the existence of a ghost or the “shower of jellyfish”, which happened in Bath near the Main Station on April 1871 for example. He didn’t believe in any theories or models about our physical reality. His damned data are supposed to say think twice before you believe in anything.

There seems only one idea running through his work expressed by John Michell that our whole existence is an organism. The universe is a living organism. If we think of the Universe as an organism we would indeed live in a world of magical realism.

The forest is a good place for getting a feeling for this idea, both in a literal sense and in a metaphorical sense. It is like one big organism. It is not possible to reveal that organism in a simple model of physical reality. It remains a mystery like a forest dark with an endless number of secrets. That’s what for example “Twin Peaks” is about and what make it a true “forest story”. The idea of a living universe full of consciousness as a background of the mystical aspects of our life is also rooted in ancient mythology and philosophy.

If we open our eyes and ears we may find the magical reality which the forest actually is. There is a surface, and at certain times a window open up showing us what’s behind the curtain.