Tuesday, September 1, 2020

About avatars: Caveat emptor!


Avatar Esoteric Nazism ecofascism ideology Wilhelm Landig social engineering Hollywood

Even before the buzz began building for James Cameron's sci fi blockbuster Avatar, today's "millennial generation," the film's biggest fans, knew what the word meant. Few knew the classical definition of "avatar" as "the incarnation of a Hindu diety" that people my age learned in the 1960s taking comparative religion courses or reading Hermann Hesse. To current-day collegians, the word is the self-definition of a hi-tech kid who manipulates an image of himself projected in a computer game. Commentators on Cameron's special effects tour-de-force are virtually all enthralled by the 3-D visual pyrotechnics, but are deeply divided along ideological lines. The environment-friendly Left embraces Avatar as a love poem to (extraterrestrial) nature's wonders and a cautionary tale about what will become of our planet and species if we don't reform posthaste.

Enviro-skeptics on the Right deride the film as a misanthropic revenge fantasy in which the soulful planet Pandora and its race of blue, 10-foot-tall noble savages - the Navi - all but annihilate humanity's advance guard, portrayed as a rapacious, futuristic military-industrial complex. Ultimately in Cameron's film, the only good humans are dead - or rather, resurrected as "good Navi" by projection of their astral selves into alien bodies. They are the "avatars" who have "gone native" -first by taking on an alien persona, then by totally identifying with the Navi even if that means the end of the human project back on Earth. WHAT UNSETTLED me was not Cameron's Romantic primitivism - which, after all, goes back at least as far as Rousseau - but the uncanny resonances of Avatar with a recurrent theme in Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke's Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity (NYU Press, 2002). A fascinating excavation of the extreme Right's post-World War II literary underworld, this book explores a subject much less well-known than the prewar nexus between the Nazis and the occult. Goodrick-Clarke catalogues fantastic tales - extraterrestrial Atlanteans who burrowed under Tibet to escape Noah's flood, only to reemerge now as potential architects of a Fourth Reich; and SS "miracle weapons" (including "W-7" flying saucers) based in Antarctica, where the Fuhrer and Eva Braun are said to have taken refuge - but he also analyzes how, in the post-World War II era, myths of Aryan racial superiority found a home in the world of New Age spirituality and environmental consciousness  (more...)

About avatars: Caveat emptor!


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