I've got 99 Problems but the Illuminati ain't one

I have the tendency to ask people this one rhetorical question; “You know what I hate?” The problem is that question never comes off as rhetorical because I hate a lot of things and people actually want to guess what’s bugging me this time even though it’s usually something brand new when I say that. I might even start a new tag called “TIH” or “things I hate” in long form. In a tag cloud it would be the size of your face.

I’m pretty sure in that last entry I meant to talk about the decontextualization of imagery in the information age, but it got lost in the shuffle of Everything I Wrote in the Last Five Years. In a certain way, the Internet experience is frequently one where people take slices of non-native media and either present them naked of their original context or present them in a new context that reconfigures their meaning. Typically this phenomenon spawns “memes” which result in “lulz.” But it also has to do with what I was talking about in reference to Fight Club where people actively refuse to look beneath the surface of the act being presented or write off the symbolic as being arbitrary. In recent years, the word “random” has been repurposed to refer to anything allegorical, symbolic, or surreal that the speaker cannot account for or understand without further investigation which is not likely to be forthcoming. It’s a close relative to “tl;dr.”

Disastrously, a second phenomenon has risen into prominence on around the same timeline that is perhaps even more insidious, although occasionally useful for clever, subversive minds such as my own. I don’t have a neologism for it yet, but it will likely involve an unsubtle reference to Dan Brown. The way it works is that someone of at least and usually not much more than average intelligence makes a ridiculous postulation somewhere on the Internet that seems legitimate because they cited a few sources that look like they could be credible because they got printed somewhere off the Internet on actual paper with a solid binding. The most well known incidents include that one time that Dan Brown stole a bunch of half baked conspiracy theories and joined them together with a few action verbs and called it a novel and a rather bizarre and quickly forgotten flash video about how google and amazon were going to take over the world with friendster being the lynchpin of their awesome scheme. No, I did not make up the word friendster, someone actually owns a copyright on it and allegedly had a service by that name at some indeterminate point in the past.

I don’t mind laughing about people who buy into idiotic conspiracy theories, but what I do mind is people who use lazy scholarship and selective application of it to poison the well for those of us who are actually in it to win it, especially when it comes to so called occult analyses of pop culture. I’m no slouch when it comes to this shit. Today I’m calling out “The Vigilant Citizen” because they’ve caught press not only from my favourite screwball corner of the net- Coilhouse- but The Huffington Post on a slow news day for their kooky suggestions that everyone from Lady Gaga to Jay-Z are fronting for the Illuminati. You know guys, I read the Illuminatus! trilogy too. It was diverting and an interesting variation on Catch-22, but it’s derivatives like The Invisibles really showed it up. Stop fronting like you’re legit when you’re tilting at windmills like a motherfucker while I break it down like an instructional Ikea video on rewind.

First of all. There is no such thing as a “semi-subliminal.” Either you’re subliminal or you are not. Next up, occult symbolism does not work like “that kinda sorta looks a bit like that, so it must not only mean that but it’s also a perfectly functioning symbol.” Symbols are charged images that point the way to powerful concepts. You don’t half ass it in the occult, especially if you’re biting from the OTO, which is one rigid fucking organization no matter what kind of dirt old man Crowley was up to back in the day. Which doesn’t really explain how Satanism, the OTO, the Illuminati, and the Knights Templar all come together into one ur-group. I’m fairly certain that both the Illuminatus! trilogy and Foucault’s Pendulum are both found in the fiction section of your local library. The whole thing about the spontaneous manifestation of the ur-group in Foucault’s Pendulum was an extended shout out from Umberto Eco to his hero Jorge Luis Borges who wrote some pretty nifty shit about the interplay between fiction and reality, the creator and the created. It was not an expose of the secret chiefs of Lemuria or wherever.

As far as that skull in the video goes, it’s fairly simple. For the Love of God is the world’s most expensive piece of artwork, the product of a cynical ploy by alleged artist Damian Hirst. When art critics referred to it as the kind of thing that only a third world dictator would want to own, the hip hop world seized on it. One of 50 Cent’s video games was all about murdering a country full of Arabs to get it back. I’m sure there’s some stealthy narrative in there about how Fiddy is actually one of the Merovingians or something. Look how easy that was. Anyway, pouring a viscous black liquid over it has nothing to do with drinking blood out of a skull, especially since there is no drinking of anything in the video. Essentially, it’s just HOVA stunting. He’s telling you that he’s so far ahead of the game that he can trash the world’s most expensive art without blinking. In fact, in that video, and at least one other for a Blueprint 3 single feature him trashing and insulting traditional symbols of wealth either as a measure of how wealthy he is or as a way of disassociating himself with what he sees as juvenile street culture in favour of a more mature and sophisticated vision of wealth. Kind of when Denzel threw the pimp coat in the fire then went skeet shooting in a really naff jacket with elbow patches in American Gangster.

The whole video is about Jay-Z abandoning the common tropes of gangster rap and going “onto the next one,” which is clearly inspired by high fashion. An institution well known for shallow and frequently less than accurate appropriations of various cultural symbols. Dragging The Crow and The Dark Knight into the mess was just goddamn stupid. I mean seriously, Heath Ledger was not wearing skull make up in that movie. It was a sinister interpretation of classic clown face paint. “Deeply occult” my ass. A title riffing off Saint John of the Cross with a central theme evocative of gnosticism and Frederick Nietzsche does not qualify as “deeply occult.” Kenneth Anger films are “deeply occult.” Asshole.

As for The Crow, gangsters the world over are obsessed with it for the simple reason that it looks slick and they typically come from places where they do not expect to live past the age of around twenty five. These two clearly tamed and non threatening death figures, especially the one that keeps fucking up his make up, represent Jay-Z’s triumph over death if it represents anything at all. It also suggests that the halo is telegraphing that he’s reached the status of being a hip hop saint, a position he has confirmed numerous times from The Black Album to the present by placing himself in the exclusive company of the Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur.

Here’s how it breaks down. Symbols do not have occult power on their own, removed of context. They only function in a magical capacity when manipulated as a part of a ritual made irrelevant by the fact that HOVA himself is never seen in the video to be taking part in any of the ritual acts that the imagery is supposedly referring to. If you want to know why he puts that creepy pyramid you see on money on his clothing line, then go read The Secret. It’s called The Law of Attraction and it’s about as secret as the fact that The White Stripes are not a brother-sister duo.

Adios. I’m- wait for it- On To The Next One.


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