June 29, 2011 9 Comments
“You are the experiment.”
As I often lay out here, fictional films can show you more about what is really going on that the fictional mainstream news outlets The Box is one of the most striking examples. The Box (2009) is Richard Kelly’s most recent film—Kelly of Donnie Darko and Southland Tales fame. All of Kelly’s films contain deep esoteric themes, and The Box is no different. In fact, it’s one of the most, well, “illuminist” films I’d seen since Eyes Wide Shut. The Box also contains hints and homages toward Kubrick, in fact. On the surface, the viewer is presented with a moral dilemma: It’s a film about compromising morals and suffering the consequences. On another level, it describes the elite worldview and control system with stunning detail—but not just the elite perspective—it also contains an even deeper, initiatory quasi-masonic level, as I will argue. The film was not a critical success, but I suspect its meaning went over the head of most.
The story takes place in 1976, where NASA Viking Mission camera engineer, “Arthur” (James Marsden) and his wife “Norma” (Cameron Diaz), have just purchased a large, new home. They are the typical middle class suburban family, pictured as overwhelming mediocre, in fact (on purpose). We then learn that a certain “Arlington Steward” (Frank Langella) has been resuscitated and released from the burn unit. Early one morning Arlington arrives in a black Lincoln, a “man in black,” and mysteriously drops a box off at Norma’s door, while Arthur heads off to NASA to privately construct a prosthetic foot for Norma, who is slightly crippled. Recall, of course, that in many purported “UFO” experiences the so-called “men in black” arrive on the scene, etc. Note that I am not advocating aliens and the assorted myths attached thereto. This will be relevant later in the analysis, however. Norma discovers the box has another box in it with a large red button on top, and Norma is astonied.
Meanwhile, Arthur finds out he has been rejected from acceptance as an astronaut, a longtime personal goal. Presumable funding for the new house and car would come from the astronaut position he was counting on. Norma teaches English at a local Catholic private school, and significantly, they are studying Jean-Paul Sartre’s play, “No Exit.” A certain miscreant in class has appeared who attempts to embarrass Norma by asking her to show the class her club foot. Norma acquiesces. This is relevant to those in the know concerning Sartre’s philosophy—Sartre proffered that as we mature, it becomes evident we are simply hiding behind various “masks” as a kind of cloak to escape the radical freedom we are condemned to.
For Sartre, Norma’s clubfoot is an imperfection she hides because it’s a reminder that her beautiful appearance which masks the clubfoot is a facade. It’s not real. Were Norma to embrace her defect, she would actually be free from the stigma such defects produce in our psyches. Indeed, for Sartre, we even hide behind such roles as “suburban middle class wife,” because there is a kind of ease in accepting this pre-programmed role handed on from the previous batch of middle class suburban forebears. Sartre calls this “being in itself,” and likens it to inanimate rocks. Those who become “free” realize that reality presents “radical freedom,” and when this is accepted, one becomes “being for itself”-being that is free and undetermined. This will be relevant for the later “initiatory” reveal.
Norma mentions to another student in class the famous Sartre quote that “hell is other people,” because it would be like others “knowing all your faults.” We also note that Arthur’s young son doesn’t believe in Santa when the subject comes up in the kitchen, because Arthur is a “scientist.” It is also relevant that this is Christmas time. This is relevant because we are supposed to understand that “scientism” is another mask, Sartre would contend. The “scientist” hides behind the mask of “rational inductionist,” and when presented with mystery or radical freedom, he timidly avoids the fearful conclusion by resting his faith in the imagined totality explanatory power of “science.” Arthur and Norma are about to encounter something they could never have imagined.
The next day NASA gives a press conference for the upcoming Viking Mars Probe and curiously interjects statements about the expected discovery of “alien life” and “ancient alien civilizations.” In fact, this is precisely what Arthur C. Clarke and the NASA videos at the time were promoting. Isn’t it somewhat obvious that you will find what you’re looking for? It’s not very scientifically “neutral” to be so completely sold on the idea of alien life. Instead, we are being given a larger clue as to the meaning of where the film is going—the underlying new mythology that the supposed “science establishment” has predetermined we will “discover.” The new “discovery” will be that there is “life” elsewhere in the galaxy, thus exotheology. Exotheology is the planned new cosmology that replaces man’s origins and telos with aliens and apotheosis. However, The Box is going to give us a veiled clue as to who the “aliens” really are. During the press conference, one reporter asks why NASA is working closely with the NSA, which goes unanswered. Read more of this post