Parker’s Esoteric Analysis – Nicolas Cage’s ‘The Knowing’

By: Peter Parker

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Poised on the cusp of the summer season, as Hollywood begins to release it’s usual torrent of mind numbing crud, the “paranoid” observer would do well not to overlook, one of the “hidden gems” of semiotic programing that has, largely, slipped under the radar of media fanfare. “Knowing”, with Nicolas Cage, seems to line up quite nicely with the actor’s self-professed interest in the neo-gnostic theology of 17th century German mystic Jakob Böhme. The film is yet another, in a growing line of Cage movies that involve aspects of what might be called paranormal and conspiracy discourse. Others include “National Treasure,” focusing on the idea of hidden Freemasonic secrets in architecture, “Next” a film about a psychic predicting a major terrorist attack, and the 9-11 whitewash “World Trade Center,” just to name a few. Although, “Knowing” wasn’t written or directed by Cage, certain Behmenist underpinnings seem to be present nonetheless.

The theology of Böhme, to which Hegel (and by extension Marx and his myriad offspring) are partially indebted, is itself derived from the hermetic, kabbalistic milieu that permeated Renaissance Europe. Taking his cue from 16th century Jewish Kabbalist Isaac Luria, Böhme developed a theology in which creation, the Fall of Lucifer and the Fall of Man were all part of a necessary process for God and Man to attain self-knowledge. This runs contrary to the traditional Christian teaching that God is possessed of all knowledge and fulfillment, that creation is a gift from God, not something God did out of any requirement and that a fall from grace is caused by a misapplication of free will.

“SPOILER WARNING.”

The plot of “Knowing” is roughly as follows: In the 1950’s a strange, young elementary school student, named Lucinda Embry, scribbles a long series of numbers on a piece of paper which she deposits in a time capsule, to be opened 50 years later.

Five decades pass, the capsule is opened and Lucinda’s paper is acquired by elementary school student Caleb Koestler, the son of widowed astrophysics Professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage). John, who has been experiencing a crisis of faith due to the death of his wife, accidentally ends up discovering that the numbers on the paper mache the dates, death tolls and GPS co-ordinance of major disasters such as 9-11. Turns out Lucinda was a psychic. Meanwhile, Caleb begins to hear voices as mysterious ethereal beings keep trying to contact him. John and Caleb, in an attempt to foil disasters on the list that have yet to happen, recruit Lucinda’s daughter Dianna and her young daughter Abby. Lucinda herself has since passed away. We also learn that John Koestler has, since his wife’s death, become estranged from his father; a Reverend.

Soon John and company learn that the final predicted disaster is an apocalyptic solar flare that will end all life on Earth. John is forced to accept that there is nothing he can do to avert it. The mysterious ethereal people who have been trying to contact both Caleb and Abby, finally reveal their true forms; aliens or perhaps angels. Seems that all along space people were angels or vise versa. We are reminded of the lyrics to Styx “Come Sail Away” as John, Caleb and Abby watch the U.F.O hover overhead. “I thought that they were angels but to my surprise they climbed aboard their star-ship and headed for the skies.” In typical “Chariots of the Gods” style it is implied that all biblical prophesy was given by these benevolent space brothers. Ezekiel’s “Wheel within a Wheel” was of course a flying saucer and it is in such vehicles that the visitors must now take Abby and Caleb, leaving the rest of mankind to perish in world killing fiery doom.

John at first resists the idea that he can’t go with his son, but the alien/angels bestow on him a special kind of “knowing” awakening his mind to a new consciousness. He knows that death isn’t the end and that he will see his wife again and he is able to accept the loss of his son and the destruction of the world. As the children are spirited away John, his faith rekindled visits his father, the Reverend Koestler. Father and son embrace as the planet is consumed by a wave of celestial fire, destroying everything. At the epilogue we see the space craft deposit Caleb and Abby in a golden field on some Eden like planet. The two children take each others hands and happily run towards a solitary tree standing majestic against the horizon.

Viewers accustomed to Holly Wood clichés will recognize the all too typical “ancient astronauts” plot device, however the undercurrents of Behmenist theology will likely be less apparent to the average movie goer. As mentioned above, Böhme seems to have taken The Fall as a necessary process in the perfection of both God and Man. Borrowing from Luria, Böhme’s God must contract himself to make room for his creation and he must create something distinct from himself to achieve self-knowledge. That separate creation must in turn seek self-knowledge by attempting to return to God, which it does through the intermediary of Christ. Though this bears certain similarities to orthodox Christian theology the over all blueprint shares more in common with the general scheme of the ancient gnostic heresies.

I would argue that it is for this reason that John Koestler, has become estranged from his father and can’t achieve reunification and spiritual fulfillment until the angelic entities induce in him a new kind of “knowing” or, if you will, “gnosis.” Likewise a new creation cannot be generated until John willingly separates from his own son, allowing Caleb and Abby to become the Adam and Eve of a new planet. This repeat pattern of Unity, Separation and Return, would later help form the back bone of Hegel’s concept of thesis, antithesis, synthesis, which would become the bedrock on which Marx would build his vision of dialectical class warfare. Though, the atheistic and genocidal tyranny of Marxist Communism was never the intent of Jakob Böhme, it is arguable that his quasi-pantheistic theological vision helped provided the philosophical segue to a materialistic March of History.

It is also worth noting, the John’s sister, who appears throughout the film, acting as a sort of go-betweener for her brother and father, is, telling, named Grace.

Besides the Behmenist subtext in “Knowing” it is likely that John’s family name Koestler, is meant as a reference to Arthur Koestler, who’s bizarre life and shifting beliefs are perhaps better described by his wikipedia biography than by me.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koestler

Hopefully this article has helped shed some light on Holly Wood’s continued fascination with the esoteric tradition, because where psycho-symbolic propaganda campaigns are concerned “Knowing” is half the battle.

See also – The Knowing predicts BP Oil Disaster!

5 thoughts on “Parker’s Esoteric Analysis – Nicolas Cage’s ‘The Knowing’

  1. Pingback: Jay's Analysis

  2. Here’s a further defense of some of the above claims I made about “Knowing.” I wrote this over a year ago for a friend after I yacked about my Boehme theories on his podcast. Thought I should stick it up here to backup some of my assertions.

    Exhibit A: Cage visited the German city of Goerlitz in 2006 just because he was interested in it’s connection to the somewhat unconventional, early 17th century Lutheran mystic Jacob Boehme (AD 1575-1624). Cage’s sojourn is briefly mention in this article from the Herald Sun.
    http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,22905509-2902,00.html
    This I take as more than sufficient evidence that Cage is quite enamored with Boehme and his particular theology and this would all have been going on little more than a year before “Knowing” went into production.

    Exhibit B: Boehme’s theology, borrowed partially from the theories of (the also unconventional) Jewish, Kabbalist & Rabi Isaac Luria (AD1534-1572), suggested that God in the beginning was infinite, filling all space and therefore to create anything He first had to make room by contracting himself, thereby providing available space in which to create the universe. By creating “otherness” He (God) attained a greater degree of self-knowledge as he now understood Himself in terms of what He was not. In some interpretations of Boehme’s writing, the fall of Adam and Eve is taken as a good or at least necessary thing for all parties involved to achieve self-knowledge. In becoming separated from God, Adam and Eve can comprehend both their own individuality as well as God’s status as creator, this part of the process then leads to the next stage, their desire to return to God, an act that completes both God and Mankind. This also figures into Boehme’s Christology. Boiling it down to its most simplistic the formula is this: For Father to be Father, the Son must become something separate from the Father, For the Son to be the Son, the Son must know the Father, to find ultimate fulfillment the two must reintegrate. This is clearly the plot of “Knowing.” Cage, estranged from his own father and all out of faith can only return to his Father and regain his faith, when he is able to let go of his own Son.

    Exhibit C: Boehme, went against the grain of orthodox Christian theology by denying that man is reconciled to God ultimately through Grace alone but rather through this process of “Knowing.” Cage’s sister in “Knowing” is named Grace she is still in contact with their Dad.

    Exhibit D: Boehme’s theology also dealt greatly with the “wheel within a wheel” passage from the book of Ezekiel. Though, on the one hand, this could be in the movie because it is popular with “ancient astronaut” theorists, I think, given all the evidence I’ve piled up here, it could also pertain to Cage’s interest in Jacob Boehme. Note too that the front of the plane engine in the movie poster is positioned as such that it looks like a wagon wheel.

    Exhibit E: Boehme also compared God’s presence in the world to reflected light, the little girl at the beginning who starts the story is named Lucinda Embry. Lucinda means “Light.”

    That’s 5, count em, 5 exhibits!

    Also, just for the record I’m not finding any of this because I love Boehme’s theology, I happen to disagree with much of it. For example the error of Boehme and Luria is the presupposition that spacial dimensionality was co-eternal with the Fundamental Principle of Reality (ie: God), hence their assertion that God would need to contract himself to “make room” before he could create. Anyway my own philosophical mincing about is irrelevant to the issue at hand, that “Knowing” is totally, clearly about Boehme. Nobody needs to let this effect their enjoyment or lack there of, of the film, I just feel the need to point this out so I can continue to kid myself into thinking my education up until this point hasn’t been a total waste.

    • Quickly though….

      Many theologians admit that ‘let Us make man in Our image’ is not a good prooftext for the Trinity – on the one hand we are supposed to believe that when God “talks” that is the generation of the Word, and yet here, it is supposed to be God conversing with His other “Persons.” The other problem is that in confessing one God, we are supposed to confess one center of consciousness, or “mind.” For God to talk to other Persons requires seemingly more than one center of consciousness, as well as more than one will and operation. For one Person to “talk” to another would require one Person have an energy the other two do not, but that is heresy in Christian Orthodoxy. If the response is that this is anthropomorphism, then it ceases to be a prooftext for the Trinity.

  3. All of the above comments about Jacob Boehme’s philosophy are either misunderstood or not found in the writings of Boehme. If you want to understand Boehme, read him.

  4. When i first read Jakob’s name i thought – nomen est omen. I’m sure he had to climb some Jacob’s Ladder in his life. I’ve foud later that his father’s name was George Wissen. ‘Wissen’ in German means ‘to know’. Interesting, isn’t it?
    Have you noticed how ruined is house where John lives with his son?

    I watched the movie more than a year ago. My Brother recomended it to me. After few minutes I wrote him a message “Whisperers are angels – white rabbits – they speak to children because only children can hear them”. What a spoiler to myself by myself…
    Of course, white rabbits AREN’T angels. Rabbit is Intuition and if you follow White Rabbit you might see the Angels.

    About Adam and Eve… I hate to see how catholic Church sotonizes Lucifer making him look really bad. ‘Poor guy’ has to bear this heavy burden of Fallen Son. Karma is a bitch. Anyway, If Lucifer didn’t show up in Garden of Eden, everything would remain the same and world would be pretty dull place. Lucifer is that spark that makes things move. Without him there would be no evolution. Both of life and spirit.

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