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Chaotic States of Amnesia (Part 1) by Jayge 8^J I can't produce as revealing & depressing a book as Pulitzer Prize winning journalist & Presbyterian minister Chris Hedges' work America: The Farewell Tour, but I can write about my impressions & insights from it. All 4 library books here are borrowed & UH will buy it if any student, faculty, or staff asks. Its 7 chapter headings alone offer enough clues: Decay, Heroin, Work, Sadism, Hate, Gambling, & Freedom. His 1st chapter said that Karl Marx foresaw Capitalism's inevitable collapse & parasitic feeding off its host, like what's happening to some rustbelt cities. Despite nearly daily mass shootings, we haven't seen any levels of violence Marx predicted. Maybe we can expect them in Trump's 2nd term, once the privatization & gutting of infrastructure, education, & social programs are well underway. Big Pharma has dumped opiates onto underemployed whites with similar intensity as CIA heroin & crack infested Black & Latin communities. Wealth-sucking casinos increasingly replace union jobs in manufacturing. Politicians, bribed & cajoled by slick lobbyists, give more tax breaks, favors, & government contracts to corporations & the uber-rich. The rest of us are free to be their slaves. "...The United States of Amnesia...Gore Vidal coined the expression 'the United States of Amnesia' in a 2004 book about George W. Bush’s America. The particular instance of amnesia Vidal highlighted with that phrase was the failure of those then waging the 'war on drugs' to remember the disasters of the prohibition of alcohol sales in the 1930s, and the ensuing corruption, gangsters, and smuggling rings that came with it. His larger point, however, was that, in general, American historical memory is short. Thirteen years after Vidal’s book appeared, and with a new Republican administration ascendant, it seems that this country is in danger of sinking ever deeper into a state of amnesia. And can there be any question that, in a distinctly Orwellian fashion, the new administration is doing everything in its power to hasten that process? As the Trump administration prepares for a new 'surge' on the perpetual battlefield that is Afghanistan, we’ve conveniently forgotten how little the last one achieved. We’ve forgotten how deregulation led to the Great Recession, as the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded in 2011. 'The greatest tragedy,' that panel wrote, 'would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done. If we accept this notion, it will happen again.' Yet the Republicans in Congress can’t wait to repeal Dodd-Frank, the law that restored a semblance of regulation to the world of commercial banking. The fifth-century African bishop St. Augustine was probably the first western thinker to pay attention to human memory. In his Confessions, Augustine observes that it is memory – the ability to bring into present awareness past experiences and the ability to recognize the difference between past, present, and future – that makes us self-aware beings. He described the 'vast hall of my memory,' where 'I meet myself and recall what I am, what I have done, and when and where and how I was affected when I did it.' It is on the basis of memory, he added, that 'I reason about future actions and events and hopes, and again think of all these things in the present. ‘I shall do this and that,’ I say to myself within that vast recess of my mind which is full of many rich images, and this act or that follows.' If Augustine was right and memory gives us our selves, allowing us to 'reason about future actions and events and hopes,' then a political regime that seeks to destroy its people’s memory is an existential threat. In that case, the first act of resistance is to remember who we are." -- https://www.nationofchange.org/2017/05/26/down-the-memory-hole/ "We Are Living in Trump’s United States of Amnesia By Rebecca Gordon & Tom Dispatch May 25, 2017, 6:46 AM GMT The Trump administration seems intent on tossing recent history down the memory hole. Admittedly, Americans have never been known for their strong grasp of facts about their past. Still, as we struggle to keep up with the constantly shifting explanations and pronouncements of the new administration, it becomes ever harder to remember the events of yesterday, let alone last week, or last month. The Credibility Swamp...Trump and his spokespeople routinely substitute “alternative facts” for what a friend of mine calls consensus reality, the world that most of us recognize. Whose inaugural crowd was bigger, Barack Obama’s or Donald Trump’s? It doesn’t matter what you remember, or even what’s in the written accounts or photographic record. What matters is what the administration now says happened then. In other words, for Trump and his people, history in any normal sense simply doesn’t exist, and that’s a danger for the rest of us. Think of the Trumpian past as a website that can be constantly updated to fit the needs of the present. You may believe you still remember something that used to be there, but it’s not there now. As it becomes increasingly harder to find, can you really trust your own memory? In recent months, revisions of that past have sometimes come so blindingly fast that the present has simply been overrun, as was true with the firing of FBI Director James Comey. First, the president ordered up some brand new supporting documents from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein. These were designed to underpin his line that Comey was fired on their recommendation -- for being “unfair” to Hillary Clinton. Then, even as his surrogates were out peddling that very story, Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that, “regardless of [Sessions’ and Rosenstein’s] recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.” And he explained why: “And in fact when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’” Which rationale for Comey’s departure is true? Both? Neither? What is “truth” after all? When the need to ask such questions occurs once in a while, it’s anomalous enough that we notice. We have time to remark that someone or various people in this story -- Sessions, Rosenstein, the surrogates, Trump himself -- are mistaken or even lying. Fortunately, in the case of Comey’s firing, journalists are still reporting the lies, but what happens if the rewrites of our recent history begin to come so fast that we stop keeping up? During the Vietnam War, President Lyndon Johnson was famously said to have a “credibility gap.” People, including journalists, had stopped believing everything his administration said about one very important topic: the war. Trump doesn’t have a credibility gap; he’s tossed us into a credibility swamp. We’re all there together swimming in a mire of truth and lies, with the occasional firecracker thrown in just to see if we’re still paying attention. If the age of Trump doesn’t end relatively soon, the daily effort to sort out what happened from what didn’t may eventually become too much for many of us. Memory fatigue may set in, and the whole project of keeping the past in focus shelved. In that case, we might very well start to give up the concept of citizenship altogether and decide instead to just get on with our own private uninsured, underpaid, and overworked lives. Sometimes it's easier to simply adjust to an ever-changing official version of reality than to keep up a constant, unrewarding struggle to remember. This was the phenomenon George Orwell described so unforgettably in his dystopian novel 1984. His hero, Winston Smith, becomes aware that the sole party that runs his country incessantly rewrites the past to its own liking and advantage. In fact, he realizes that “the past not only changed, but changed continuously.” Like most inhabitants of the mega-state of Oceania, it wasn’t that Smith couldn’t accept such a reality. He could. What he couldn’t shake was a nightmarish sense “that he had never clearly understood why” the Party needed to do it. “The immediate advantages of falsifying the past were obvious, but the ultimate motive was mysterious” to him. That “ultimate motive,” he eventually realizes, is to so destroy people’s hold on memory that they come to believe that truth genuinely is whatever the Party says it is. ”In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy. The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable?” Does President Trump know what he’s doing? Does he know that, in a more chaotic fashion than Orwell’s “Big Brother,” he’s grinding away at American memories, threatening to turn them into so much rubble? It’s hard to say; he appears to be incapable of either self-reflection or planning, indeed of acting in any way except on impulse. He does, however, seem to know in an intuitive way what works for him, what gets him things he wants, as he has his whole professional life. He’s called his method “truthful hyperbole.” And regardless of what he himself understands, there are certainly people around him who do grasp all too well the usefulness of that “ultimate motive,” of convincing the public that facts are not all that stubborn after all. The Memory Hole...Supplying alternative facts is one way of destroying memory. Erasing real facts is another. In Orwell’s 1984, there was a slot in the wall at the Ministry of Truth where Winston Smith worked, a memory hole, into which inconvenient documents could be fed to be consumed forever by a huge basement furnace. There are, it seems, plenty of memory holes in Washington these days. Since January, the Trump administration has been systematically removing from federal websites inconvenient information on subjects as diverse as climate change and occupational health and safety, and replacing it with anodyne messages. Take, for instance, this one, which you get when you search the Environmental Protection Agency’s website for the term “climate change” and click on links that search turns up: “This page is being updated. “Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA's priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator [Scott] Pruitt. If you're looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.” " -- https://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/we-are-living-trumps-united-states-amnesia "The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Tyranny or Revolution by Chris Hedges 10/22/2018 At the age of 10 I was sent as a scholarship student to a boarding school for the uber-rich in Massachusetts. I lived among the wealthiest Americans for the next eight years. I listened to their prejudices and saw their cloying sense of entitlement. They insisted they were privileged and wealthy because they were smarter and more talented. They had a sneering disdain for those ranked below them in material and social status, even the merely rich. Most of the uber-rich lacked the capacity for empathy and compassion. They formed elite cliques that hazed, bullied and taunted any nonconformist who defied or did not fit into their self-adulatory universe. It was impossible to build a friendship with most of the sons of the uber-rich. Friendship for them was defined by “what’s in it for me?” They were surrounded from the moment they came out of the womb by people catering to their desires and needs. They were incapable of reaching out to others in distress—whatever petty whim or problem they had at the moment dominated their universe and took precedence over the suffering of others, even those within their own families. They knew only how to take. They could not give. They were deformed and deeply unhappy people in the grip of an unquenchable narcissism. It is essential to understand the pathologies of the uber-rich. They have seized total political power. These pathologies inform Donald Trump, his children, the Brett Kavanaughs, and the billionaires who run his administration. The uber-rich cannot see the world from anyone’s perspective but their own. People around them, including the women whom entitled men prey upon, are objects designed to gratify momentary lusts or be manipulated. The uber-rich are almost always amoral. Right. Wrong. Truth. Lies. Justice. Injustice. These concepts are beyond them. Whatever benefits or pleases them is good. What does not must be destroyed. The pathology of the uber-rich is what permits Trump and his callow son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to conspire with de facto Saudi ruler Mohammed bin Salman, another product of unrestrained entitlement and nepotism, to cover up the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, whom I worked with in the Middle East. The uber-rich spend their lives protected by their inherited wealth, the power it wields and an army of enablers, including other members of the fraternity of the uber-rich, along with their lawyers and publicists. There are almost never any consequences for their failures, abuses, mistreatment of others and crimes. This is why the Saudi crown prince and Kushner have bonded. They are the homunculi the uber-rich routinely spawn. The rule of the uber-rich, for this reason, is terrifying. They know no limits. They have never abided by the norms of society and never will. We pay taxes—they don’t. We work hard to get into an elite university or get a job—they don’t. We have to pay for our failures—they don’t. We are prosecuted for our crimes—they are not. The uber-rich live in an artificial bubble, a land called Richistan, a place of Frankenmansions and private jets, cut off from our reality. Wealth, I saw, not only perpetuates itself but is used to monopolize the new opportunities for wealth creation. Social mobility for the poor and the working class is largely a myth. The uber-rich practice the ultimate form of affirmative action, catapulting white, male mediocrities like Trump, Kushner and George W. Bush into elite schools that groom the plutocracy for positions of power. The uber-rich are never forced to grow up. They are often infantilized for life, squalling for what they want and almost always getting it. And this makes them very, very dangerous. Political theorists, from Aristotle and Karl Marx to Sheldon Wolin, have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, Aristotle writes, the only options are tyranny and revolution. They do not know how to nurture or build. They know only how to feed their bottomless greed. It’s a funny thing about the uber-rich: No matter how many billions they possess, they never have enough. They are the Hungry Ghosts of Buddhism. They seek, through the accumulation of power, money and objects, an unachievable happiness. This life of endless desire often ends badly, with the uber-rich estranged from their spouses and children, bereft of genuine friends. And when they are gone, as Charles Dickens wrote in “A Christmas Carol,” most people are glad to be rid of them. C. Wright Mills in “The Power Elite,” one of the finest studies of the pathologies of the uber-rich, wrote: They exploited national resources, waged economic wars among themselves, entered into combinations, made private capital out of the public domain, and used any and every method to achieve their ends. They made agreements with railroads for rebates; they purchased newspapers and bought editors; they killed off competing and independent businesses and employed lawyers of skill and statesmen of repute to sustain their rights and secure their privileges. There is something demonic about these lords of creation; it is not merely rhetoric to call them robber barons. Corporate capitalism, which has destroyed our democracy, has given unchecked power to the uber-rich. And once we understand the pathologies of these oligarchic elites, it is easy to chart our future. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed—the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarized police, Homeland Security and the military—and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them. The uber-rich care inordinately about their image. They are obsessed with looking at themselves. They are the center of their own universe. They go to great lengths and expense to create fictional personas replete with nonexistent virtues and attributes. This is why the uber-rich carry out acts of well-publicized philanthropy. Philanthropy allows the uber-rich to engage in moral fragmentation. They ignore the moral squalor of their lives, often defined by the kind of degeneracy and debauchery the uber-rich insist is the curse of the poor, to present themselves through small acts of charity as caring and beneficent. Those who puncture this image, as Khashoggi did with Salman, are especially despised. And this is why Trump, like all the uber-rich, sees a critical press as the enemy. It is why Trump’s and Kushner’s eagerness to conspire to help cover up Khashoggi’s murder is ominous. Trump’s incitements to his supporters, who see in him the omnipotence they lack and yearn to achieve, to carry out acts of violence against his critics are only a few steps removed from the crown prince’s thugs dismembering Khashoggi with a bone saw. And if you think Trump is joking when he suggests the press should be dealt with violently you understand nothing about the uber-rich. He will do what he can get away with, even murder. He, like most of the uber-rich, is devoid of a conscience. The more enlightened uber-rich, the East Hamptons and Upper East Side uber-rich, a realm in which Ivanka and Jared once cavorted, look at the president as gauche and vulgar. But this distinction is one of style, not substance. Donald Trump may be an embarrassment to the well-heeled Harvard and Princeton graduates at Goldman Sachs, but he serves the uber-rich as assiduously as Barack Obama and the Democratic Party do. This is why the Obamas, like the Clintons, have been inducted into the pantheon of the uber-rich. It is why Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump were close friends. They come from the same caste. There is no force within ruling institutions that will halt the pillage by the uber-rich of the nation and the ecosystem. The uber-rich have nothing to fear from the corporate-controlled media, the elected officials they bankroll or the judicial system they have seized. The universities are pathetic corporation appendages. They silence or banish intellectual critics who upset major donors by challenging the reigning ideology of neoliberalism, which was formulated by the uber-rich to restore class power. The uber-rich have destroyed popular movements, including labor unions, along with democratic mechanisms for reform that once allowed working people to pit power against power. The world is now their playground. In “The Postmodern Condition” the philosopher Jean-François Lyotard painted a picture of the future neoliberal order as one in which “the temporary contract” supplants “permanent institutions in the professional, emotional, sexual, cultural, family and international domains, as well as in political affairs.” This temporal relationship to people, things, institutions and the natural world ensures collective self-annihilation. Nothing for the uber-rich has an intrinsic value. Human beings, social institutions and the natural world are commodities to exploit for personal gain until exhaustion or collapse. The common good, like the consent of the governed, is a dead concept. This temporal relationship embodies the fundamental pathology of the uber-rich. The uber-rich, as Karl Polanyi wrote, celebrate the worst kind of freedom—the freedom “to exploit one’s fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage.” At the same time, as Polanyi noted, the uber-rich make war on the “freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s own job.” The dark pathologies of the uber-rich, lionized by mass culture and mass media, have become our own. We have ingested their poison. We have been taught by the uber-rich to celebrate the bad freedoms and denigrate the good ones. Look at any Trump rally. Watch any reality television show. Examine the state of our planet. We will repudiate these pathologies and organize to force the uber-rich from power or they will transform us into what they already consider us to be—the help." -- https://www.truthdig.com/articles/the-rule-of-the-uber-rich-means-tyranny-or-revolution/ "Profiting from pain: Big Pharma, big marketing, and opiate addiction by Marc on January 30, 2018 in Connect This guest post addresses a complex and emotionally-loaded issue: the link between pharmaceutical opiates (and the questionable way they’ve been advertised and marketed) and the current “opioid crisis” or overdose epidemic. Nick does a splendid job of recounting key milestones and contextualizing them within the history of Big Pharma...by Nick Johns...With the number of regulatory departments and protective measures in place today, we as consumers are inclined to believe that a product or service has been proven safe before it’s approved for public use. We’d like to think that if something turns out to be dangerous or harmful, the responsible party will be held accountable and similar situations will be prevented in the future. Unfortunately, in the complex and tangled world of pharmaceutical drugs, that is frequently not the case. Take for example Pradaxa, an anticoagulant and blood thinner most often prescribed to treat and prevent blood clots and reduce the risk of stroke following hip or knee replacement surgery. The medication managed to obtain FDA approval five years before its reversal agent, Praxbind (an antidote to Pradaxa designed to reverse its effects and prevent uncontrollable bleeding) became available, leading to incidents of severe bleeding and hundreds of deaths. Companies with ties to multiple other entities and those that have major influence on the healthcare economy are able to skirt the rules and make deals with federal agencies or court systems to avoid serious legal repercussions. Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, marketed a drug called Bextra in 2001, a Cox-2 inhibitor. While the FDA rejected the drug at high doses for acute surgical pain, Pfizer and its marketing partner Pharmacia pitched it to anesthesiologists and surgeons anyway — at doses up to twice what the FDA had approved as safe. What effect have these historically loose controls had on the present overdose epidemic? Sidestepping regulations to bring potentially unsafe drugs to market is only part of a larger problem, and it isn’t the only method that pharmaceutical companies have employed in pursuit of profit. When it was released in 1995, Purdue Pharma’s now-infamous opiate painkiller OxyContin was hailed as a breakthrough in pain management. The active ingredient of OxyContin is oxycodone, a long-lasting narcotic with up to twice the strength of morphine (milligram by milligram). Prior to OxyContin, doctors had historically been reluctant to write prescriptions for powerful opioids outside of end-of-life care or acute cancer pain due to fear of the addictive properties of the drugs. In order to shift this perception, Purdue Pharma launched a massive marketing campaign to diminish concerns about addiction and to promote OxyContin as a safe treatment for an increasing range of ailments. At the forefront of the campaign, and differentiating OxyContin from other narcotics on the market such as Vicodin and Percocet, was the patented time-release formula — a characteristic which Purdue claimed was responsible for the drug’s purported addiction rate of “less than 1 percent”. This, employees of Purdue claimed, made the drug a safe choice for CNCP (chronic non-cancer pain) patients. In an effort to maximize the efficacy of their marketing efforts, Purdue compiled profiles of doctors and their prescribing habits into databases used to identify where their campaigns would have the most success. This aggressive marketing tactic coupled with an incredibly lucrative bonus structure for sales representatives (a range of $15,000 to nearly $240,000 on top of a representative’s average annual salary of $55,000 in 2001) led to a tremendous increase in the number of visits to physicians with higher than average rates of opioid prescription. While pitching OxyContin, sales representatives for Purdue even reportedly claimed to some healthcare providers that the drug, now frequently compared to heroin in terms of potency and risk of addiction, didn’t even cause a buzz. For millions of patients, a prescription for OxyContin provided crucial relief from debilitating pain. For many, however, addiction became so severe that the period of withdrawal between doses became unbearable — especially if the recommended dosage was exceeded. Purdue’s marketing campaign for OxyContin reached its peak in the early 2000s, and sales of prescription opioids (with Oxycontin in the lead) quadrupled between 1999 and 2016. During that same period, over 200,000 people died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids — with many cases involving a mix of other drugs and/or alcohol. While federal regulations have since cracked down on OxyContin and tightened around pharmaceutical practices, the opioid epidemic is far from over. Patients addicted to prescription painkillers can eventually find them too expensive or too difficult to obtain, and may turn to other drugs instead — heroin in particular. Drug-related deaths are climbing at an alarming rate, and many can be linked to the addition of fentanyl to street drugs. But there’s little doubt that Oxycontin prescriptions greatly contributed to a wave of addictions that has yet to subside. With prescription opioids potentially serving as dangerous gateways to fentanyl-laced illicit drugs, it’s clear that attention needs to shift to pharmaceutical companies, hospitals and physicians. Doctors and healthcare professionals can help by screening and regularly monitoring for substance overuse or addiction, and by prescribing painkillers only when other treatment options have proven ineffective. Patients can help by never sharing or selling prescription pain medications, and by taking steps to ensure that they are the only ones with access to their painkillers. Friends and loved ones can help by monitoring patients for correct usage of prescription pain medications, staying alert for any signs of prescription drug overuse, and questioning and challenging potentially dangerous habits before they become entrenched. The battle can be won, but we all must fight together." -- http://www.memoirsofanaddictedbrain.com/connect/profiting-from-pain-big-pharma-big-marketing-and-opiate-addiction/ "Government-organized pogroms against the Jews deflected attention from the corrupt regime. It is arguable which of the Russian Czars was the worst to the Jews. We'll start with Czar Nicholas I (who ruled from 1825 to 1855) as one of the prime contenders and work our way down. In 1827, Czar Nicholas I introduced what became known as the Cantonist Decrees. (The name came from the word "canton," meaning "military camp.") These decrees called for the forced conscription of Jewish boys into the Russian Army. These boys were between the ages of 12 and 18 and were forced to serve for 25 years! During their army service, every effort was made to convert them to Christianity. Due to the horrendous conditions under which they were forced to serve, many of the boys who were conscripted didn't survive, and if they did, few continued to identify themselves as Jews. As far as the Jewish community was concerned, either way was a death sentence. Some Jewish parents were so desperate they would actually cut off the right index finger of their sons with a butcher's knife ― without an index finger you couldn't fire a gun and you were exempt from service. Other people would try and bribe their kid's way out. The Cantonist Decrees raise the level of pressure on the Jewish community to new extremes. Each Jewish community was responsible to produce a certain number of boys for the army and the community leadership was held responsible for failure to meet this quota. It's not to hard to imagine the turmoil caused by forcing community leaders to decide which boys had to go and which boys could stay. If that wasn't bad enough, there was the government-sponsored anti-Semitism. Protocols of the Elders of Zion...Around the turn of the century (It was first published in 1903), the Russian secret police began to circulate a forgery which became the most famous anti-Semitic "document" in history ― The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. These protocols purported to be the minutes of a secret meeting of world Jewish leaders, which supposedly took place once every hundred years for the purpose of plotting how to manipulate and control the world in the next century. As ridiculous as this might sound to us today, the Protocols were seized upon as "proof" that the world was dominated by Jews who were responsible for all of the world's problems. Fans and proponents of the Protocols have included such anti-Semites as: Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company; Adolf Hitler, as might be expected; Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser; and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, among others. Despite the fact that the Protocols are a proven forgery whose allegations are completely ridiculous, an expression of the worst kind of anti-Semitism, the Protocols continue to sell briskly today and are carried by such huge bookstore chains as Barnes and Noble and amazon.com in the name of freedom of speech. Pogroms...We spoke of pogroms ― mob violence against Jews ― in Part 49 when we covered the murderous attacks of the Ukrainian Cossack Bogdan Chmielnicki in 17th century Poland. In Czarist Russia, there were so many pogroms against the Jews that it is simply impossible to even begin to list them all. (In one four year period there were 284 pogroms, for example.) These pogroms were seldom spontaneous, though incitement by Christian clergy around the Christian holidays could drive the masses into a frenzy. However, in Czarist Russia, most of the pogroms were government organized. Why would the Czarist government organize mobs to target Jews? Because Jews were the classic scapegoats for the economic problems of Russia (and many other countries in history). Of course, the problems of Russia had nothing to do with the Jews. The problems of Russia had to do with a totally backward, feudal, and highly corrupt regime. One of the ways of diverting attention from the corruption was to blame the Jews and to allow the masses to blow off steam by taking it out on the Jews. The problems of Russia got worse after Czar Alexander II (who was one of the more competent Czars and who was relatively benign to the Jews) was assassinated in 1881 by an anarchist who threw a bomb at his carriage. And when the problems of Russia got worse, the problems of the Jews got worse as well. The government of the new Czar, Alexander III (who ruled 1881-1894) organized one pogrom after another to keep the anger of the masses focused on the Jews. In addition to the pogroms, Alexander III promulgated a series of laws against the Jews. These laws were called the May Laws and they included such prohibitions as: "It is henceforth forbidden for Jews to settle outside the cities and townships." "The registration of property and mortgages in the names of Jews is to be halted temporarily. Jews are also prohibited from administering such properties." "It is forbidden for Jews to engage in commerce on Sundays and Christian holidays." Writes Berel Wein in Triumph of Survival (p. 173) of the reign of Alexander III: "Expulsions, deportations, arrests, and beatings became the daily lot of the Jews, not only of their lower class, but even of the middle class and the Jewish intelligentsia. The government of Alexander III waged a campaign of war against its Jewish inhabitants... The Jews were driven and hounded, and emigration appeared to be the only escape from the terrible tyranny of the Romanovs." It did not help matters any that during the reign of Alexander III a terrible famine struck Russia in which 400,000 peasants died. Those who survived were bitter and their resentments grew (which would erupt eventually in an aborted revolution in 1905 and the successful Russian Revolution which ushered in Communist rule in 1917.) The Last Romanov...When Alexander III died, he was succeeded by Nicholas II, the last of the Romanovs whose incompetence and inflexibility helped bring about the Russian Revolution. The new Czar had to cope with the mess left behind by his father and he did so badly. During his reign one of the most famous pogroms took place ― in Kishinev, on Easter (April 6-7), 1903. The Kishinev pogrom happened when there was a lot of tension in Russia (two years before the first, unsuccessful revolution). Wanting to dispel the tension, the Czarist government once again organized a pogrom against the Jews. Strange as it may sound, the Kishinev pogrom received a lot of international attention. This was because by this time pogroms were something that the "enlightened" Western World no longer found acceptable. (If only they knew what they themselves would do to the Jews 40 years later!) Here is an excerpt from a description of the pogrom printed in the New York Times: "It is impossible to account the amounts of goods destroyed in a few hours. The hurrahs of the rioting. The pitiful cries of the victims filled the air. Wherever a Jew was met he was savagely beaten into insensibility. One Jew was dragged from a streetcar and beaten until the mob thought he was dead. The air was filled with feathers and torn bedding. Every Jewish household was broken into and the unfortunate Jews in their terror endeavored to hide in cellars and under roofs. The mob entered the synagogue, desecrated the biggest house of worship and defiled the Scrolls of the Law. "The conduct of the intelligent Christians was disgraceful. They made no attempt to check the rioting. They simply walked around enjoying the frightful sport. On Tuesday, the third day, when it became known that the troops had received orders to shoot, the rioters ceased." After two days of mayhem, the Czar said, "Okay enough ― mission accomplished. Now it's time to stop it." And it stopped. 118 Jewish men, women and children were murdered, 1,200 were wounded and 4,000 families were rendered homeless and destitute. There were also 12,000 Russian soldier in the city who did nothing for two days. Until the next time. Between 1903 and 1907 was a period of great internal unrest in Russia. Nicholas's incompetence coupled with excessive taxation and the humiliating defeat of Russia during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) let to the first Russian Revolution in 1905 which led to a few short-lived reforms in the government. This period also proved disastrous for the Jewish community there were 284 pogroms with over 50,000 casualties. The level of violence was unbelievable. There was only so much of this kind of thing that people could take. The Jewish community was being devastated and people were looking for a way out. Jews were running out of the shtetls and joining all of the anarchist, communist, socialist, Bundist movements that they could find in the hopes that they would be able to change the situation in Russia. Jews have been history's great idealists and during this time they were desperate to find some way of making things better. (We will cover their activism when we discuss the events surrounding World War I.) Another thing that was happening in this time period was emigration. We see mass emigration of Jews out of Russia. Between 1881 and 1914, some 50,000 or more Jews left every year to a estimated total of 2.5 million Jews. Despite these migrations, the Jewish population of Russia stayed constant ― at about 5 million Jews, due the very high birthrate. Had these Jews not left Russia there would have been 7-8 million Jews there. And it was America which absorbed most of the Jewish immigrants during this period of time. Golden Land...We might recall (from Part 23) when the Jews were exile by the Babylonians, the exile had happened in two stages. First the Babylonians took away 10,000 of the best and the brightest, and that turned out to be a blessing in disguise because when the Jews arrive in Babylon, there is a Jewish infrastructure in place. Yeshivas had been established, synagogues built, there was a kosher butcher and a mikveh. Jewish life could continue and as a result we saw hardly any assimilation during the Babylonian exile. However, when the poor Jews of Russia arrived en masse in America at the end of the 19th century ― passing through the famous Ellis Island ― they found no Jewish infrastructure in place. The Jews who had preceded them in the migration of the 1830s were German Jews (about 280,000 of them). These German Jews ― who resented the poorer Russian Jews ― were either Reform, (and did not believe that the Torah was God-given nor in any specific God-given law that Jews had to keep) or they were secular Jews who totally eschewed Jewish tradition. Thus, the poor Russian Jews stepped into the Golden Land of Assimilation as we shall see in the next installment." -- aish.com
True Detective Season 2 and the Tibetan Book of the Dead: Part 1/3
http://static.wixstatic.com/media/20b2f9_7183ea84400d44bab78c64d99caa14a6.jpg Summary: The second season of True Detective is an integration of the afterlife concepts described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a noir-style police procedural. Many of the jarring narrative moments that appear unnecessary (e.g., Ray's shotgunning to the chest in the second episode), undeveloped (e.g., Antigone's revelation about her being kidnapped and raped as a child), and the seemingly terrible dialog excerpts ("And I never lost a tooth“) are often clues to the underlying state of the 4 main characters. The (not?) Obvious Connection Episode 1 of Season 2 is entitled "The Western Book of the Dead." There are two published works with this title that I am aware of, but the contents of these two books do not meet any significant themes of Season 2. One of the books is New Age nonsense from a con-man, the other is a short, nihilistic poem. That nihilism might make for an appealing link to Season 1, but its got little to do with Season 2. I'd contend that the "Western" in the 1st episode's title is simply a juxtaposition of "Eastern," and that we were always supposed to view Season 2 through the conceptual lens of the Eastern (i.e., Tibetan) Book of the Dead. We were supposed to see "Western Book of the Dead," relate it to the well-known (if not widely read) Eastern version, and ask ourselves how it influenced what we were going to be seeing. Of course, it might seem ridiculous of Pizzolatto to expect us to make this link. I'd agree, if not for two points: 1: When Season 1 referenced the Yellow King, the internet immediately set to work trying to uncover the relationship between it and Robert Chambers The King in Yellow: sales for the century-old book skyrocketed on Amazon. It seems reasonable that Pizzolatto would have expected the internet to attack this pretty obvious clue with the same gusto. Unfortunately, this was not the case: while I have seen some boards ask the question regarding a possible relationship, no one to my knowledge actually did the leg work of attempting a connection. 2: It would not be the first time that Bardo-concepts played out on the screen. Jacob's Ladder (1990) was a film whose screenwriter directly cited the Eastern Book of the Dead as inspiration. Further, I feel that this film was a direct influence on season 2, and should be watched; in my analysis of Season 2 episodes, I will be highlighting what appear to be pretty obvious nods to Jacob's Ladder. Finally, I'd like to take a line from that movie that I will be referencing again: "If you're afraid of dying, and you're holdin' on, you'll see devils tearin' your life away. But if you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freein' you from the world." Relevant info regarding the Tibetan Book of the Dead The Bardo Thodol (also known as the Tibetan [or Eastern] Book of the Dead is a short, Buddhist funeral text. From the Wiki:The Tibetan text describes, and is intended to guide one through, the experiences that the consciousness has after death, in the bardo, the interval between death and the next rebirth. Link: http://www.wiseones.org/The_Tibetan_Book_of_the_Dead.pdf Take a look at it: its a very short piece, and only the first ~20% is relevant to True Detective (Season 2). When I discus concepts like the "face-to-face" moments, the connection to Ray's name to the use of "rays" in the text, it will help to have seen for yourself how prominent they are. Basically, the idea behind Bardo-concepts is that, following the moment of death, there is a movement of consciousness through a series of stages, with the goal of the dead individual's self/soul/spirit surrendering its identity (i.e., ego) and all of it's baggage accumulated over a lifetime. Once this is achieved, the spirit can return to its source for rebirth. Below, I'll be describing the 3 main stages (or Bardos) following death. Bardo-stages following death In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, there are three main Bardos, or stages, following the moment of death. The following is a brief explanation of them. 1) "Chikhai Bardo: The Primary Clear Light Seen at the Moment of Death." The initial Bardo following death is simple: a light of unsurpassed clarity is witnessed. If the dying person is prepared, he or she recognizes they have died and they release their identity and return to the source for rebirth. Pretty much no one ever does this, including Season 2's four main characters. From the text: "The first [glimpsing] of the Bardo of the Clear Light of Reality, which is the Infallible Mind of the Dharma-Kāya, is experienced by all sentient beings..." O nobly-born (so-and-so), listen. Now thou art experiencing the Radiance of the Clear Light of Pure Reality. Recognize it. O nobly-born, thy present intellect, in real nature void, not formed into anything as regards characteristics or colour, naturally void... ...Thine own intellect, which is now voidness, yet not to be regarded as of the voidness of nothingness, but as being the intellect itself, unobstructed, shining, thrilling, and blissful, is the very consciousness... 2) "Instructions Concerning the Second Stage of the Chikhai Bardo: The Secondary Clear Light Seen Immediately After Death" Should an individual fail to recognize the indicator of the Clear-Light of the first Bardo, a second Bardo is then initiated. Basically its like a sudden bizarre dream involving places and people from the dying individual's life. Space and time get all confused, with a mishmash of times and places colliding. Following the clarity of the light in the first Bardo, this second stage is a confusing mess. The description of the imagery is indicative of the self being drawn into the proverbial ego trap that is the third Bardo, but without the third stage's apparent reality. If you ever wondered what was up with that crazy dream sequence at the beginning of S2:E3 (following Ray's shotgunning to the chest), this Pizzolatto's depiction of the second Bardo. From the text: "Thus the primary Clear Light is recognized and Liberation attained. But if it be feared that the primary Clear Light hath not been recognized, then [it can certainly be assumed] there is dawning [upon the deceased] that called the secondary Clear Light... When the consciousness-principle getteth outside [the body, it sayeth to itself], ‘Am I dead, or am I not dead?’ It cannot determine. It seeth its relatives and connections as it had been used to seeing them before." 3) "Instructions Concerning the Experiencing of Reality During the Third Stage of the Bardo, Called the Chönyid Bardo, when the Karmic Apparitions Appear" At this point, a real narrative can occur, because the third Bardo appears, for all intents and purposes, to be regular life going on following a close brush with death. However, its really all a big illusion, designed to force the ego to release its hold on the self so the latter can move on for rebirth; its a big dream that gets so nightmarish that dreamer has to wake-up; its a fish, stuck in a puddle that is evaporating in the heat. "At that time, sounds, lights, and rays – all three – are experienced. These awe, frighten, and terrify, and cause much fatigue..." "Assuming that the deceased is karmically bound – as the average departed one is – to pass through the forty-nine days of the Bardo existence..." "Alas! when the Uncertain Experiencing of Reality is dawning upon me here, With every thought of fear or terror or awe for all [apparitional appearances] set aside, May I recognize whatever [visions] appear, as the reflections of mine own consciousness..." For those of you who have seen Jacob's Ladder, you might remember how that movie depicted the third Bardo experience. Vanilla Sky (2001) and Donnie Darko (2001) are two others that demonstrate this concept (though I am not aware of any reference to the Eastern Book of the Dead by their creators). These stories are ultimately about a slow self-acceptance and surrender to our own mortality, and are effective in leading one to contemplate that each of us might be in our very own third Bardo right now, making our way toward the acceptance of our own annihilation. Character analysis Below is some evidence for each character, including name symbolism, dharmic challenges (i.e., reason for continuing on into the third Bardo), relationship to rebirth (working under the idea that children are figurative devices to indicate rebirth in S2), and any further, salient evidence to support my position. More robust analysis of the characters will occur in the episode analysis section. Ray Velcoro (Colin Farrell) Name: First name, Ray, can be in linked to the Bardo Thodal in its constant repetition of "rays" of the clear light being filtered through the ego to create the third Bardo illusion. A Kindle word search shows repetition of "rays" occurs 21 times. Last name is similar to Velcro, a fabric known for having trouble letting go. Dharmic challenge: Ray is haunted by his apparent inability to do better as a father and police man than his own father (indicating dharmic lineage and non-escape from rebirth). He has become a man of violence, incapable of healthy relationships, and a prisoner of vices. In episode 7, he admits that he is a "Bad Man." Of the 4 main characters, his arc is the most about redemption. Relationship to rebirth concept: The real mystery of Season 2 is not who murdered Ben Caspere: its whether or not Ray is the father to the ginger-kid, or if the man who raped his wife is. Its only at the end of the season and his "life" in the third Bardo, do we get confirmation that ginger-kid was indeed Ray's son. This is indicative that he has achieved rebirth. Further evidence: Let's start big, with Ray's shotgunning at the end of episode two, moving into episode three. At the beginning of episode three, Ray is sitting at a table across from his father. In the background, a Conway Twitty impersonator sings "The Rose," a song about releasing fear and being reborn. His father foretells Ray's death in the final episode, "running through trees," until they "shoot you into pieces." As he describes this soon-to-be event, the lyrics sang in the background are: It's a dream afraid of wakingThat never takes the chance/It's the one who won't be takenWho can not seem to give/And the soul afraid of dyingThat never learns to live. "Where is this?" Ray asks his father. "I don't know," his father responds. "You were here first." Ray then looks down, and sees his shotgun wounds. This, in accordance to the working theory, is Ray's encounter with the second Bardo. It is already constructing the events that will move him toward release, but he is not ready accept his death. This results into a transition into the third Bardo, with him appearing to wake up on the floor with no apparent wound or serious injury. This series of events appears to be little more than a David Lynch homage with serious compromises to narrative integrity, unless considered in light of the Bardo Thodal. Video of this scene below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vt67YwRx1T8 During episode 6, Ray gets upset and tries to self-destruct via cocaine and alcohol bender, but is unable to despite his best efforts. The Bardo can't let him go until his dharmic equation is solved. This will be discussed in greater depth in the episode analysis Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn) Name: In Season 1 of True Detective, time was often described as a repetitive loop or flat circle, a ouroboros (i.e., a serpent constantly devouring its own tail). This corresponds to Nietzsche's view of 3-dimensional space-time. From Thus Spake Zarathustra: Oh! how should I not burn for Eternity, and for the marriage ring of rings...the Ring of Recurrence? Yet, the killer from Season 1 was attempting to elevate himself from the "the loop and the disk" via his horrific, ritualistic murders...to essentially elevate himself from a "King (in Yellow)" to godhood. This was likely an homage to Alan Moore's From Hell and his depiction of Jack-the-Ripper, who engages in ritualistic murders with the purpose of transcending 3-dimensional space-time. Moore's work (also including Neonomicon...another likely influence on Pizzolatto for Season 1) is highly influenced by his own occult beliefs and practices, including an admiration of Aleister Crowley's mysticism. Its worth noting that Crowley was a proponent of ritualist, magical sex acts; a copy of his Book 4 is visible on the desk of Caspere when Ray initially investigates his house in episode 1. One of Crowley's most well known contributions to Western occultism is his Thoth tarot deck. This deck's Wheel of Fortune card (which most directly describes the movement of 3D space-time) contains three central figures: a serpentine Typhon figure at the bottom (symbolizing death and the underworld), a sphinx at the top (indicating transcendence to godhood) and a monkey in the middle (symbolizing man rising from the underworld toward godhood). Image below: http://www.esotericmeanings.com/thoth-fortune-tarot-card-tutorial/ Semyon (a homophone for "Simian") is the monkey attempting to rise from his own death and position in the underworld (both criminal and mortality state) to rise to a godhood (i.e., freedom from the constraints his life has placed on him). Dharmic challenge: Frank has given himself an impossible task. His third Bardo began in childhood, but he continues to struggle against releasing his identity no matter how hard his dharmic path becomes. He is willing to commit any act of violence in this task. He represents total ego, and refuses to die no matter the agony inflicted on him. Relationship to rebirth concept: Due to his refusal to release ego, he and his wife are unable to have children, despite every conceivable effort. It tortures him, and remains a goal throughout the season. Further evidence: Frank provides the greatest insight into the experience of someone trapped in the third Bardo. Early in the second episode, he provides the following: "My old man back in Chicago, when I was a kid… (laughs) he used to lock me in the basement when he’d go on a bender. Usually last the night. Let me out the next day. Thought he was keeping me safe, I guess. This one time, I was six - he puts me down there. I wake up and it’s locked. It had happened before. Anyways, so I guess he ended up arrested, I guess. Well, by the second morning I was out of food. The third day the light bulb burnt out. Pitch black in there. That’s when the rats started coming out. I dozed off and I felt a thing nibbling my finger. I woke up, it was, you know, chewing my finger. I grabbed it in the dark with my hands, I started smashing. And I just kept smashing it until it was nothing but goo in my hands. 2 more days I was in there. In the dark. Til my dad comes home. Ever since, I wondered: what if he never comes home? What if I’m still in that basement in the dark? What if I died there? That’s what that reminds me of...something’s trying to tell me that it’s all papier-mache. Something’s telling me to wake up, like… like I’m not real. Like I’m only dreaming. In the above monologue (technically a dialogue but I only included his parts), Frank describes his fears of dying at a young age in a basement (i.e., a literal underworld). He was trapped in the underworld of the basement, and stays in that underworld (i.e., a life of crime); all of his efforts throughout the season are about escaping the underworld, but he cannot. And he continues to starve: "Never do anything out of hunger. Even eating," he tells an associate. An odd line that harkens to the Tibetan "pretas" (i.e., hungry ghosts) that inhabit their own Buddhist hell realm. Finally, in the last episode, following his ambush and stabbing by the cartel, another intensely literal Bardo sequence is provided, as he walks through the desert and is tortured by visions of his past. The Bardo ultimately had to take him into the wasteland to abolish his ego. Video below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpKogArhMC0 Antigone Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) Name: One of the most jarring and apparently unnecessary tangents that occurred in Season 2 was Antigone's recollection of her abduction and rape as child. She tells her father she remembers her abductor's face, but nothing else comes of this plot line. Further, a bizarre emphasis was placed on the 4 days she spent in a cave following her abduction. When considering her namesake, the Classical Greek figure Antigone, this narrative component becomes much more rich. In Greek mythology, Antigone is the daughter of an incestuous relationship between Oedipus and his mother. While attempting to secure a burial for her brother, her tendency to ignore man's laws in favor of her own moral compass leads to her internment in a cave-like crypt for 4 days. After this, the crypt is opened to reveal she is dead. When watching her discussions about her abduction with her father (episode 7) and with Ray (episode 8), it is made apparent Antigone has no memory of the 4 days in the cave, telling Ray, "He must have slipped me something." Antigone died in that cave, and like Frank, her third Bardo was playing out over the course of her life from childhood. Dharmic challenge: Antigone's most obvious struggle is with healthy sexuality and relationships. Not surprising, given the defining event of her childhood. Further, she struggles with authority (both exercising it correctly and surrendering to it). Relationship to rebirth concept: Antigone gives birth to a child in the final episode. This is a figurative rebirth for her as well, as she has now engaged in a committed relationship to another person (her child), with a transition from archetypal maiden to mother. Further evidence: After watching a few minutes of episodes 7 & 8 to remind myself about the details of her abduction, I noticed Antigone made multiple comments regarding her abandonment of who she had been prior to the recollection of her abduction. Of the 4 mains, she is the one character who seems most willing to let go of who she was. Perhaps this is why she is still alive at the end? Suspicion: My wife and I have debated this, and I'd be glad to hear your thoughts. Did anyone else get the impression that Antigone was insinuating she remembered her abductor was actually her father when the two of them were talking in episode 7? He seems so apologetic and nervous, and they both say so much while staying so vague. I'll discuss it further in the relevant episodes. Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) Name: Paul is tricky. Here are some suggestions. From Reddit user u/friendmefriend: I think Paul's name comes from Polynices, a character in Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone's brother. He very well could be her brother, as his mother fits the part of a former Caspere party girl. Heck, lots of the party girls in the present timeline could be the daughters of the party participants, as they wouldn't know (in line with Oedipus not knowing his wife was his mother). Anyway, Polynices goes to war despite Oedipus cursing him, foreseeing his death in battle. Given Pizzolatto's history of teaching literature at the college level, this explanation seems very possible. Another thought I had during a discussion with Reddit user u/HBICmama: A previous commenter suggested a link to the Biblical Paul, but I couldn’t think of any correlation at the time. However, it occurs to me that Paul was on the road to Damascus when he witnessed a bright light from the heavens that put him on his new path. Similarly, Woodrugh witnesses a flash of light during his suicide attempt in episode one. He then stops his bike, finds Caspere’s body, and is put on his path. User u/HBICmama also suggested the following for Paul's last name: And I’m only somewhat serious with this one but the last name is maybe because he’s ashamed and trying to hide his sexuality? Like he ‘rues’ how much he desires ‘the wood’ (erect penis)? Dharmic challenge: Paul is our only character who truly attempts to live by his principals. He consistently tries to make the honorable choice as he sees it, both in his work and relationships; unfortunately, his ideal-self and actual-self are not compatible. This incompatibility between how he believes he should act in the world and his own innate character results in external events that lead him a suicide attempt in the first episode, and also force him to abandon his own concepts of honor in the episode 7, resulting in his release from ego-identity (i.e., his death following the shootout). Due to his commitment to (sometimes misguided) principles, Paul arguably achieves the cleanest Bardo release of the 4, as he is celebrated as a hero after his death. Relationship to rebirth concept: Paul's girlfriend gives birth to his child after he dies, indicating rebirth. Further evidence: In the final minutes of Episode 1, Paul has accelerated his bike to over 100 mph and shuts off the headlamp. His suicide attempt is apparently interrupted by...a flash of light? There are no oncoming cars (Paul is actually heading into a rock face), but a bright light suddenly flashes over him. He is then able to successfully bring his bike to a stop before hitting the wall in front of him, despite the small amount of space between he and it. I'd contend that this is not terrible editing with needless lens flare, but our indicator that Paul did just kill himself (i.e., the flash of light of the first Bardo following death), but was not prepared for complete ego-release (the tortured look on his face as he drove through dark is not indicative of a man who has made peace with his own death, self-perpetuated or not). In the moments following his miraculous stop, he talks to the voices in his head much the same way Frank did as he dealt with his own hallucinations in the desert. Following this, he sees the body of Caspere and is enfolded into the investigation that brings our main characters together. My wife doesn't agree with the above, and feels that he died in the incident that gave him his scars. She feels that his romance with a fellow solider in the desert (as the place of annihilation...discussed later in episode analysis) was a move toward his releasing his identity, but his ego was too strong for him to acknowledge he wasn't who he thought he was. My wife is really smart, and she's probably right. If this is the case, than his suicide attempt was doomed due to his not meeting the dharmic demands of the third Bardo. Concepts Frequently Utilized Throughout Season 2, a couple of concepts were consistently utilized that appear to be direct references to the text of the Bardo Thodal. See below. The Face-to-Face "And also in the case of any other person the reader shall set him face-to-face... As stated earlier, the Bardo Thodal is a funeral text for priests. When an individual is dying, priests are instructed to sit across from the dying and read the contents to help guide them through the Bardos. The importance of "face-to-face" is stressed over and over again: according to a Kindle search, the phrase shows up 79 times, literally nearly every page. The concept of "face-to-face" is utilized to great effect in Season 2. Every episode contains at least one example of two characters sitting directly across from one another, engaged in intense dialogue. These dialogues are very different from the rest of the season. Frequently containing intense head-on camera work and haunting music, these intimate scenes demonstrate a dream-like quality with little to do with the crushing force of environment portrayed in the rest of the season. Many of these "face-to-face" scenes occur in the bar that doubles as a human trafficking hub. Figuratively, such a setting can be described as an in-between place for individuals on a journey (i.e., from place to place, from life to afterlife). One of the most intense "face-to-face" moments occur in at the beginning of episode 3, in the previously discussed meeting between Ray and his father, following his shotgunning. Note that, while this does occur in the bar, Ray speaks with his dad at a side table, rather than the rear-corner table where he meets with Frank. As I rewatch Season 2, I will be making note of "face-to-face" encounters. The Ambush May [I] be led safely across the fearful ambush of the Bardo... Variations of the above prayer in the text occur multiple times. When emerged in the third Bardo, an unspecified and personalized ambush situation occurs for the spirit of the newly dead, approximately in the first "seven days" of immersion. This directly describes the ambush/gunfight at the end of episode 4. This sequence represents a major turning point for the plot and our main 4. Further, Season 2 is filled with ambushes. In the episode analysis section below, descriptions of ambush concepts as they occur will be described. Death and Rebirth An underlying theme through the season is the juxtaposition of polarities (e.g., death/rebirth, east/west, lighting themes that contrast orange, high-pressure sodium colors against blue, metal-halide tones). ____________________________________________________________________________________________ Episode Analysis In the below section, each episode will be briefly analyzed. For the sake of this post, salient info considered will be that which points to a relationship between Bardo-concepts and Season 2, including visual and audio (e.g., music and suspect lines of dialogue). It might get a little tangential at times, but I will try to keep my inclusions to info that will enrich your viewing of Season 2, and are at least debatably tangible. Personally, I would recommend watching the episode before coming here and looking at my analysis. If you have read this far, you are probably as equipped as me to look for these concepts, and you might find your viewing more fun when you start noticing things in the background and dialogue. Then check back here and see how what you saw compares to what I saw. Episode 1: The Western Book of the Dead Initial reference to Bardo-concepts is provided in the first minutes by the series chosen theme song: "Nevermind" by Leonard Cohen. The lyrics describe a man who has been forced to let go of everything, to go somewhere else, and become someone different. T-Bone Burnett selected the music for both season's, and while his selection for the theme song of S2 was highly debated, it perfectly encapsulates Bardo-concepts. Further, u/Cornbread_madefish provided me with an incredible piece of information regarding a documentary on the Bardo Thodal: 1985 2-part documentary filmed in Ladakh and the States, first part entitled "The Tibetan Book of the Dead: A Way of Life"; the second part "The Tibetan Book of the Dead: The Great Liberation" was a co-production between NHK (Japan), Mistral (France) and FBC (Canada). Narration in the English version is by *Leonard Cohen.*** First scene shows us Ray in the car with his son, Chad. Given the lack of any shared features in their appearance, the immediate question is whether or not they are actually related. This is immediately reinforced in the following sequence, when the lawyer asks if a paternity test has been performed. Ray is terrified that the boy is not his because he is the one anchor he has to stop his complete ruination as a man. This is explored further in upcoming episodes. When asked about his previous employment and it's potential impact on his case, he states, "No, I welcome judgement." This is indicative of a man who cannot admit that he has done bad things, with a hint of foreshadowing (i.e., death before judgement). Next, we meet Frank and his wife, Jordon. Their house is Eastern in style with small zen gardens, reminding us of the East/West theme. Suspect Line: "Behold, what was once a man," spoken at 9:49; indicative of transition from one state of being to another. Following this, we see Frank and Jordon at work in the Casino, and we learn about another polarity dynamic at play: Frank is at a crossroads, where he might be able win (via real estate deal) or lose it all (via the burgeoning investigation into the business affairs of Vinci). Suspect Line: "Never do anything out of hunger. Even eating." This line occurs at 10:48 and is discussed in Frank's character analysis above. Following this, we get an arial shot of our main setting, the fictional city of Vinci. This is a Latin word meaning "victory," or "to conquer." However, given the defeats and losses throughout the season for our 4 mains, we have to ask: victory for whom? I'd contend that the city itself is the proverbial conquerer, that it attains victory in forcing all of our mains to abandon their identities. This is reinforced by the following scene in the mayor's office, where we learn about the fears of the local officials regarding the possibility of a state investigation; they are rats on a sinking ship, fish in a bowl that has started to leak. This is how the third Bardo operates: it constricts the ego to nothing. We also learn about the importance of Ben Caspere, pronounced "Casper." The obvious connection is to one friendly ghost. This is salient, I believe, because Caspere is essentially the ghost haunting Season 2. The hunt for his killer leads our main 4 to all of their revelations regarding the nature of the world they live in and their attempts to impact it in a major way, yet the resolution of the hunt for the killer is ultimately a comparatively minor event with little importance. As his killer drives him out of the city, we see the raven mask. Ravens are often considered psychopomps (animals that act as spirit guides to the underworld) in some Native American traditions; similar traditions see the raven as a trickster-god that shapes and changes the world, while also causing mischief and trouble. They are also notorious for eating the eyes of the freshly executed; Caspere will later be shown to be missing his eyes (burned out via hydrochloric acid). In the next sequence, we learn about Antigone. Our initial introduction occurs with a physical partner, after an apparently unsuccessful attempt at initiating a novel sexual act (suspicion: it was butt stuff). Following this is Antigone's raid on the porn studio where her sister is working, during which she reveals that her whole reason for staging it was "she had heard a rumor." These scenes provide us with a good look at her character: she is unafraid of abusing the power her position affords her for personal reasons, and is very hypocritical regarding what is acceptable behavior for her vs other people. Next we meet Paul Woodrugh. Via cultural priming from years of television presenting California bike cops as masculine/sexual beings, we are quickly given a clever twist on a trope, with Paul refusing the opportunity for sex with a beautiful, blonde starlet. This refusal immediately results in him getting put on leave; further, he expresses concern that he is being unfairly viewed due to his involvement with the private-security group, Black Mountain, that we later learn was part of some shady dealings in Afghanistan. "We were working for America, sir," he tells his superior as he leaves the office, visibly frustrated (an American flag is hung just outside the door as he leaves). This creates a picture of a man of principle who consistently finds himself in bad spots despite trying to do the right thing as he sees it. Of course, a strong, willful ego that can follow its principles is still just ego at the end of the day. Following this is our initial look at Caspere's house of pleasure. As Ray and Dix enter, a bizarre moment occurs when they spot a realistic, nude woman floating in a bowl of milk. A Lynchian touch that, when considered with the rest of Caspere's belongings, indicates it is a fertility-fetish art piece. Other such flourishes occur with the sexual paintings on the wall, as well as the obsidian, female sculptures visible throughout the house (the Black Madonnas are known objects of reverence for ancient Magdalene-gnostic cults that celebrated the sexual aspect of the Biblical Mary...a movement considered heretical for their contrasting the virginal mother to the sexual maiden). Death is also present in the form of the crowned female skeleton, a symbolic object recognizing the commonality between the tomb and womb, the places of darkness we originate from and return to. [Edit: the name of this skeleton will be revealed in episode 6.] As stated previously, Aleister Crowley's Magic: Book 4 is visible on the desk (~24:58...the big, blue brick with the caduceus on the spine...thanks to my wife for spotting this), along with a copy of the Kama Sutra. Caspere's home is, like Season 2 as a whole, a commentary on sex and death, where East meets West, where the darkness of tomb and womb blur into a singular place. After receiving a lead concerning a missing woman, Antigone and her partner visit the Panticapaeum Institute, where her father is lecturing. Above him is a statue of Kali Ma in her most fearsome aspect: that of the world-destroyer. The statue holds the severed head of Shiva as she prepares to mount his dead body; this act will lead the world's recreation. A revered Hindu goddess, she is the liberator of souls, and the Eastern equivalent of the Queen of Death in Caspere's house. Antigone's father tells his listeners that they must simultaneously hold two thoughts: the "Universe is meaningless," and "God did not create a meaningless Universe," and that this is "how we must live now, in the final age of man." An apparent paradox, unless the characters are no longer in a creative Universe, but a destructive one that is collapsing around them. Behind Antigone, a small plaque invites donations in consideration of "dharma." Personal suspicion: while discussing her sister's current career to her father, he becomes irritated with and says, "I've never been good at guessing your needs." Antigone is visibly upset by this for a moment. I continue to think there is evidence that he was the unnamed man who abducted, molested, and killed her as a girl. Again, discussion on this point welcome. Following the painful scenes where Ray yells at his son in the schoolyard, there is a throw away line at 38:34. "I used to want to be an astronaut," Ray says into his recorder. "Astronauts don't even go to the moon anymore." The disgust this last line is spoken with is powerfully indicative of how fed up with life he is; there aren't any dreams worth having for him anymore. Except for his hope that he is a father. Following this we observe Paul at his girlfriend's place, and his need for pharmaceutical enhancement to achieve erection prior to sex with her. While further revelations in the season are necessary to understand his own proclivities, this scene on rewatch further demonstrates how far Paul is willing to go to meet his own ideal self (i.e., a man has sex with women, even if he doesn't really want to). I did not take notes on the scene where Rays beats the father of the boy who bullied his son, but my wife reminded me of something clever; as such, this might be out of sequence, but its close. Visible behind the father in the doorway is a large picture for Luna Park, an Australian theme park that was the site the famous Ghost Train Fire in 1979, which resulted in the death of 6 children and 1 adult. Possibly, by referencing this tragedy just prior to Ray committing a cruel bit of violence, it is indicative of some final innocence or decency being extinguished (especially given his behavior and dialogue with Frank at the end of this episode and in episode 2); possibly just a nice visual touch. One other piece of content worth noting during the beating: Ray tells Aspen that his dad is "doing this for you," or that he is taking his son's beating for him; conversely, this is Ray saying he is doing this for his own son. This sets a precedent that will continue in the season, with Ray refusing to acknowledge that he does terrible things because of his own anger. Following this is Frank's meeting with Osif. During these scenes, two things are made abundantly clear: Frank wants out of the underworld, and Osif is not having it. Frank is a mean demon in the underworld, but Osif is the Devil, and the Devil is not letting anyone go. In the background, a photo is visible of a crocodile with a serpent trapped in its mouth. Osif is the crocodile (an underworld god, Typhon or Anubis in the Tarot), and Frank is the serpent (often a replacement for the monkey, or simian, in well known Tarot decks). Image below. https://www.trustedtarot.com/cards/wheel-of-fortune/ Finally, we observe the face-to-face in the bar. As Lera Lynn sings "My Least Favorite Life," Frank encourages Ray to date, "have some kids" and otherwise become someone else. Ray isn't having it: following his brutal assault on another father, he is determined to get as obliterated as possible, pounding expensive scotch and snorting cocaine. Frank is operating from a place of confidence, describing his own attempts at having children (i.e., achieving rebirth via ascendence) in light of his expected success in business and upcoming escape from the underworld. lulz Frank... Link to part 2 of analysis: https://www.reddit.com/useHonest_Richard/comments/bc2tcq/true_detective_season_2_and_the_tibetan_book_of/
New Contract: Locke Born in South Africa, educated at Lincoln Laboratory, trained under MI5, and now employed by Murkywater. Vernon Locke heads their special cyberwarfare division, which has been tasked with infiltrating and destroying Crime.net. Locke has managed this. However, being a mercenary with no loyalties that extra money couldn't bend, Locke sees this as an opportunity. An opportunity to get rich, and cause a little chaos. He has reached out to Bain and the Payday gang. The deal? Work with him, or he brings Crime.net down forever. And he already has a couple of jobs for you...
Beneath the Mountain
Going Underground ~~~~ Built deep into granite bedrock, Black Ridge was designed by the Air Force to survive a direct nuclear impact. After the Cold War, it was purchased by Murkywater, and re-fitted to act as a command center for the mercenary army. Locke knows there is loot stored in the deep vaults of this mountain fastness. He will guide you through it, supplying intel and assets. Can Black Ridge survive a direct attack by the Payday gang? Defense at Depth These old Air Force bunkers are built to last, built to withstand any kind of attack, and over the years Murkywater have added to this. In addition to ranks of Murky mercenaries, you can expect heightened security protocols and deadly fixed defenses. These include airlocks and the latest anti-personnel ceiling turrets.
Birth of Sky
Keep Those Heisters Flying! Robbing stores is great. Robbing banks, warehouses and casinos is really fucking great. But how about robbing a plane? A military cargo plane, 20,000ft above the ground? Murkywater is a private army with a private air force, and part of that air force is tasked with transporting huge pallets of ill-gotten cash around the world. One such plane is scheduled to fly over the Eastern Seaboard soon. Locke has arranged for you to be on board. Getting the money will be one thing - getting off the plane, that's something else... A speedy getaway Need a quick getaway? Locke has your back. This guy is prepared. In the sewers beneath the town he has stashed a dinghy. But we're not talking the kind of boat you take out for a Sunday bob by the beach. This is a military speedboat, designed for infiltration, assault and fast exfiltration under fire. Is everyone aboard?
Bodhi is known as one of the greatest legends in the world of crime, but few know the man behind the mask. As the founding father of the Ex-Presidents gang, Bodhi's renowned in the criminal underworld for his extreme athleticism and daring heists. His recent feats of strength in Mumbai and Austria got Bain's attention, granting him an invitation into the Payday gang.
When looking for the cleanest, most beautiful line, every firearm except the sniper rifle feels clumsy and random. An instrument of precision in the hands if one is focused in the mind. Don't let the name fool you. The Platypus is precise.
Masks have always been used in spiritual traditions that relate to deities, the divine and those chasing the apotheosis of the self. Bodhi's mask reflects the man behind it. Strong, cunning, single-minded, and centred.
It may seem like a utilitarian tool, but if this blade can cut through the tough-bastard vacuum-sealed plastic of packing crates it can deal with anything the cops might wrap themselves in.
Bodhi's Perk Deck, called the Ex-President, is about you and your crew working together as a team. The better you and your team are at disposing enemies, the higher chance of survival you have. The Ex-President perk deck works best when the crew works together. The support of the full crew and quick reaction when your armour is depleted will let you stay in the heat of battle for a longer time. Keep in mind however that letting yourself be cornered with no cover or running away from your crew will leave you vulnerable, as regenerating your armour as fast as possible is crucial to your continued life of crime. The Ex-President perk deck is also efficient with dodge builds as well as armour builds. Try adapting it to your favourite playstyle. It's up to you to find the combination of dodge, armour and health stored that you feel is your perfect line.
"Locke and Load has a very atmospheric stealth part that builds into a booming techno track with huge Taiko drums and feverish melodies.Drop Zone starts off with some live bass and subtle but unpredictable drum riffs in a very 'secret agenty' stealth part. The track then builds to a high adrenaline fusion track" - Simon Viklund Great action heists share many things with great action movies. They're exciting, adventurous, dramatic, and feature a great soundtrack. So with the Point Break DLC we're also dropping four tracks taken directly from the movie's soundtrack!
Ice Pick - *When you're scaling the slick cliffs beneath angel falls, you need something that can gouge into the hard rock. When you're robbing banks in D.C., you need something that can gouge into the helmets of cops.
Diving Knife - Simple and strong. Whether you're cutting throats, or cutting dolphins free of tangling fishing nets, it gets the job done. And it looks badass on your hip when you come swaggering out of the surf.
Selfie-Stick - As hoxton said, "look at that fucking berk with the selfie-stick. What a bellend. I bet it's strong, though. Y'know, I should take it off him and twat him with it. Back in a mo..."
Machete - They say you can last three weeks without food, and three days without water, but in a hostile environment you won't last three hours without a good blade at your side.
Oro - It was exploring the islands of french polynesia, bodhi encountered the disciples of the war-god oro. The young adventurer quickly became enamored of this god, who valued the appreciation of beautiful crafts as much as the art of struggle.
Maui - Exploring the pacific "ring of fire" in his youth, bodhi came to the following revelation: honoring oneself means honoring the myths. A myth that stuck with him was that of maui. Like bodhi, maui was a dauntless champion of humankind, a trickster and adventurer.
Tane - Tane was the god of the forest who used his mighty strength to separate his parents, the earth and the sky. Legends also credit him with creating tiki, the first man. Thus, he created the world as we know it, and the people within it.
Tawhiri - Brother of tane, tawhiri is the god of weather, most particularly violent storms and lightning. Bodhi experienced plenty of both, and it was during a particularly vicious explosion while reef-diving in tuvalu that bodhi gained a true appreciation for this powerful deity.
"Beneath the Mountain" Achievements
Hall of the Mountain King - *Complete the "Beneath the Mountain" job on the Deathwish difficulty.
Clean House - *In the "Beneath the Mountain" job, secure all the loot from the vaults and mountain-top in the escape helicopter. Unlocks the "Tawhiri" mask, "Flow" material and "Sun avatar" pattern.
Commando Crew - In the "Beneath the Mountain" job, open the 4 vaults that contain loot within 10 minutes of starting the heist on the Overkill difficulty or above.
No Scope - Kill 10 enemies in a row by shooting them in the head with a platypus 70 sniper rifle while not aiming down the sights. Unlocks the "Tane" mask, "Sancti" material, and "Tribal Face" pattern.
Juggernaut - Complete the Beneath the Mountain job on the Overkill difficulty or above without any player going down
"Birth of Sky" Achievements
The Sky is the Limit - Complete the "Birth of Sky" job on the Deathwish difficulty
Pinpoint Landing - In the "Birth of Sky" job, parachute into the diner through a hole in the roof
No blood on the floor - In the "Birth of Sky" job. release the money without having any player take health damage on Overkill difficulty or above. Unlocks the "Oro" mask, "Glade" material, and "Tribal Wave" pattern.
1... 2... 3... Jump! - In the "Birth of Sky" job, have the entire crew jump out of the airplane within 1 minute and 23 seconds on the Overkill difficulty or above. Unlocks the "Maui" mask, "Wade" material, and "Ornamental Crown" pattern
Black Tie Event - Complete the "Birth of Sky" job using only pistols and a two piece suit on Overkill or above. You have to be in the heist from the start to receive this achievement
2 new heists - Beneath the Mountain & Birth of Sky
10 new achievements - 5 for each heist
A new pistol secondary weapon
Four melee weapons
6 new songs added: 2 all-new heist themes composed by Simon Viklund, and 4 menu themes from the Point Break soundtrack.
New Contract: Locke
4 masks, materials, and patterns
Bodhi Character Pack
Bodhi - a new playable character
A new sniper rifle primary weapon
A new melee weapon
A new perk deck featuring 9 perks
2 new masks
All Assault Rifles have had their accuracy increased by 8
Stryk 18 Pistol - Damage from 38 to 35
Chimano 88 Pistol - Damage from 38 to 35
Deagle Pistol - Damage from 160 to 145
Crosskill pistol - Damage from 80 to 65
Bernetti 9 Pistol - Damage from 40 to 37
Bronco .44 Revolver - Damage from 190 to 175
Interceptor 45 Pistol - Damage from 80 to 65
Chimano Custom Pistol - Damage from 80 to 65
Gruber Kurz Pistol - Damage from 40 to 37
Sig .40 Pistol - Damage from 80 to 65
Chimano Compact Pistol - Damage from 40 to 37
Broomstick Pistol - Damage from 40 to 37
Leo Pistol - Damage from 80 to 65
Peacemaker .45 Revolver - Damage from 195 to 180
Matever .357 - Damage from 195 to 180
All weapons have had their ammo pick up rate increase. Weapons with a higher total ammo will benefit most from this change.
M1014 Shotgun - Damage from 30 to 40
Predator 12G Shotgun - Damage from 30 to 40
Izhma 12G Shotgun - Damage from 23 to 33
Steakout 12G Shotgun - Damage from 23 to 33
Street Sweeper Shotgun - Damage from 23 to 33
Perk and Skill Changes
Gunslinger - Akimbo pistols will now benefit from the skill in the same way as pistols. Akimbo pistols damage from 7.5 to 15
Disturbing the Peace - The panic effect can now be triggered by all weapons
Weapon Bug Fixes
Fixed an issue where some shotguns didn't fire all 12 pellets
Fixed an issue where the projectile fall off by some shotguns was too severe
Normalised the projectile fall off difference among all shotguns
Fixed an issue where the accuracy bonus from crouching and aiming down sight didn't apply properly
Added more voice lines for Dallas
Added more voice lines for Hoxton
Added more voice lines for Houston
Added more voice lines for Chains
Added more voice lines for Clover
Added more voice lines for Bonnie
Added more voice lines for John Wick
Added more voice lines for Jacket
Added more voice lines for Sokol
Added more voice lines for Jiro
Added more voice lines for Dragan
Added more robber lines in First World Bank
Added more robber lines in slaughterhouse
PLEASE NOTE: This is a partial addition from the "Big VO Update" that we are continuously adding to the game.
Moved some containers and props in the escape to avoid players getting stuck while opening them
Fixed two graph issues in open containers in the container yard, they can now be randomly closed
Moved a coat hanger you could get stuck on
Fixed an issue with cloaker spawns
Fixed a few portal issues
Added an option to change the camera view in vehicles for the driver by clicking the right mouse button while driving a vehicle
Added an 'Edit Keys Option' for vehicles
Fixed performance issues on the heist
Fixed an error in the heist description
First World Bank Heist
In stealth, manager detects you, but heist doesn't go loud
Magnetic lock computer can be hacked through wall
Fixed missaligned spotlights
Sniper on the right side could shoot through roof
Crash when dropping loot in the vent
Dominating the camera security guard in the first area will not disable the cams
Level Experience Rework
Experience is rewarded for each day instead of after the contract is completed. The experience reward system has been reworked on the following heists:
Fixed an issue where stamina would not regen while looking through a camera
Fixed an issue where damage skills would not work properly while being tased
Fixed an issue with a crash related to Captain Winters
Fixed an issue with Chains VO volume for his Inspire lines
Listen, mate. Something is rotten in the State of Victoria, Australia. From the muddy banks of the Yarra, up and beyond Sydney Road, to the Dandenong mountain ranges….down to the borders of Port Phillip Bay where the fibreglass Luna Park clown, old Mr Moon, grins contemptuously over the brothels and slums of St Kilda. Fuck me sideways. Pernicious humidity followed by a spell of rain, and a sky perpetually overcast with moral decay. Something is wrong, and it rhymes with girder. Yeah, see....in St Kilda, in July of 2017 a dead body was found in the Triangle construction Site near the Bay, adjacent to where the Palais theatre once stood —before it burnt to cinders. Body had also been burnt, and was unidentifiable, charcoaled as it was. Funnily enough...Nobody seems to know who is to blame. As daily race riots and brawls break out on St Kilda streets, and the cops impose tougher alcohol restrictions, this gaping wound remains untended. J D Williams and the three Phillips brothers from Seattle had their part;— left their American legacy in Australia, no doubt about it— the Coney Island style theme park of vices, a carnival of underground crimes which led to that precise moment —a swamp of intertwined histories beyond my capabilities to research thoroughly or summarise accurately. Nevertheless, I swear to you old chum, like a moth to a flame, I was drawn into the tangled investigation of that mangled female corpse near Luna Park,... an investigation which would near drive me insane. My name is Pharlap Dronefire, a Private Investigator based in South Yarra. I’m not normally inclined to investigate murder cases, but this particular private client had a list of seemingly unrelated things he wanted me to research, the St Kilda murder being just one of them. As I didn’t have access myself to the police files, I resolved to meet up with my police contact, Andrew Barrington, and get the facts surrounding the case. Officer Barrington consented to meet at Luigi’s; a video game themed bar on Acland Street. It was a hot Saturday, and the St Kilda crowds were wild and varied; thousands of English, Irish and American tourists flocked to the beach, whilst teenagers vomited on the rickety roller-coasters of the seaside theme Park. The scenes were impressionistic, with Bosch-like crowds, bollards lined with palm trees. Myriad junkies asked for change and cigarettes of passers by— on the street, whilst bips and boops sang out from customers playing the vintage arcade machines behind me. I sat at the outside tables, drunks brushed by me on the cramped and cracked sidewalk, car pollution and smog slept thinly at knee level over the scene, as the green and orange blur of a passing tram flashed by. I saw officer Barrington approaching from a distance and waved as he crossed the road, shortly he sat down at the table and we ordered two Pale Ales. ‘Thanks for comin’ Bazza’ I said with genuine appreciation. Barrington scratched his face, and muttered a kind of ‘no wukkers ’ through his chin.....he seemed to have a lot on his mind. ‘So what have you got on this St Kilda killing?’ I asked directly, ‘There’s almost nothing online about it, barely made a dent in the press.’ ‘Jesus Pharlap.’ Barrington sighed, ‘Haven’t you got anything better to do than dig up old corpses?’ ‘You know me Baz—’ I said, ‘I’m determined to end up a chalk outline myself. But this corpse is still pretty fresh i’d say. Why are the cops choking on this chicken anyway? What’s the unseen bone?’ ‘Look…’ Officer Barrington sighed, as our beers arrived and I took a big swig of lager; ‘The murder made the papers when it happened, toured the news for a week or so...but because the body has never been identified there hasn’t been much for the press to chew on. There’s no suspects, no motive or cause. We’ve only been barely able to piece together what actually happened.’ Barrington took a sip of beer, as I jotted down some notes. The officer looked down at my ex—left-hand for a moment, noticing the bandaged stub from the accident that had happened to me recently. ‘What happened to your hand?’ He asked. ‘My own bones have been chewed…You and I...’ I replied, ‘....Work in a dangerous line of work.....sometimes the danger of your profession leaks over to mine in unexpected ways ....probably best leave it at that. So what exactly DO the police know about this barbecued girl?’. I noticed an extraordinary amount of discomfort in Barrington’s face as he discussed the girl. Being partially involved in the murder investigation, it seemed to have particularly disturbed him. He struggled uncomfortably in his seat, Barrington was a large muscular man with thick, black-rimmed glasses and layered, thin hair. His eyes seemed permanently tinged with paranoia. ‘Officially?’ Barrington replied nervously, ‘Nothing...... But unofficially....’ ‘You’ve got your own theories about who did this, don’t you?’ I asked making my own deductions. Bazza sighed and massaged the back of his neck; ‘Look’ he said, ‘Whatever I tell you here is completely off the record. You understand?’ I made an affirmative gesture. ‘You know well— I’ve been investigating various unsolved gangland killings for a long time.’ Said Officer Barrington, ‘We’ve discussed previously my unofficial research and interests.’ I nodded, motioning him to continue. ‘Well. Hexton Police Station is full of officer’s hunches. We’ve always known of these criminal families running things, and what not, but sometimes you don’t have the evidence to put the bastards away. This case goes back years....’ Another tram chimed past in the street as Bazza continued his story; ‘There was the Walsh Street Massacre in 1988; that set a wave of anxiety through the ranks. You’ve head of it?’ ‘Sounds familiar. That’s what ‘Animal Kingdom’ was about, right?’ I said. ‘Right. Before Howard took the guns away, you had the crime families, bank robbers, strings of crimes done with sawn-off shotguns in broader Hexton. Cops shot Greame Jensen, and Victor Pierce promised two cops would die in revenge attacks. After those two young coppers were murdered in Walsh Street, the cops fought back. Executed a bunch of the gang leaders. Then there were the trials of the Walsh Street killers, that bitch Wendy Pierce didn’t testify. Half the buggers never done time. I was trying to nail Peter McEvoy for a long time in the nineties. He moved up to NSW after he was freed.’ I furiously recorded notes as the officer spoke. ‘After the gangland killings of the nineties, and the Purana task force, it took years to catch up on who was doing what. Well that’s when I really went down a rabbit hole in my research. Started trailing these rich crime families who’d been running tricks over the NSW/Victorian border for over a century unchecked. I’m not talking about Gangitano, Gatto or the Manillas. Used to be all the crime was comin’ in from the docks, you know? The Painter and Dockers union, that’s where Victor Pierce worked, the Walsh Street murderer, the Moran family and the Carlton Crew, they were all running drugs through Port Melbourne. The Calabrian mafia, AKA the honoured society, the Ndrangheta—now they also got their claws into Australian society way back then too, they come down from Queensland, had their racketeering going through the fruit and vegetable markets. Everyone remembers the key events— Frank Benvenuto was killed in 2000, but even without their leader the ’Ndrangheta was obviously still operating —because in 2008 the cops seized 15 million ecstacy pills hidden in tomato cans from Calabria. Now, Frank Benvenuto rang Victor Peirce the day he died. You want my opinion— That’s because the thugs that organised Walsh Street, weren’t just acting on some petty revenge motive. The whole thing was planned from higher up, maybe Frank was fronting up to Peirce before he was shot, and maybe Peirce knew too much when he was blown away in 2002. You catch my drift?’ ‘’Im trying my best to follow—’ I replied, still anxiously scribbling notes. ‘Keep up mate… Anyway listen, after the terrorist attacks on September 11, people have been too hung up on Islamic extremism to pay attention to what’s really happening with the Mafia and these other organisations, these crime families. Now there was way more knowledge of this in the police force, the internal corruption was proven to go right to the top….in the end — we know the Wood Royal Commission only really exposed the affairs of the Kings Cross Police in Sydney, barely scratched the surface of mafia interception and corruption within the government. Yeah, they brought in some regulations, hell… even that snake Roger Rogerson got done eventually,…the Labour party dealing with Mokbel was partially revealed… but all the while, secret meetings of the same groups were happening; members of corporations, corrupt police, board members, Australian politicians. I was still trailing them, I had addresses of mansions where these figures lived and hung out. Just waiting to catch a lucky break. This wasn’t just a few career criminals. It was like an underground cult.’ I polished off my beer and motioned with my hand to the waitress to bring out another one. ‘So you think this St Kilda killing was perpetrated by these underground crime families?’ I asked intrigued. Bazza grew more paranoid still, almost sweating and glancing about him as if he was afraid of being watched. ‘There’s this urban legend among ...those interested in crime ....in this city. Have you ever heard of the the ‘Slaughter Theatre’ trilogy?’ ‘The what?’ I asked cluelessly. Barrington seemed peculiarly begrudging to keep telling me information about what he knew, nonetheless he obligingly indulged me; ‘Back in the days of Walsh Street there were rumours of these VHS tapes existing, you know?… It was rumoured that Peter McEvoy, Victor Pierce and other murderers involved in the police killings— used to film their crimes. Snuff videos —which would prove their identities in various murders —nail the Walsh Street killers, and hundreds of other crime figures….. these VHS were alleged to have been seen by multiple witnesses. The stickers on the old video tapes were supposed to be labelled ‘Slaughter Theatre’ in red permanent marker, creepy handwriting. That’s what all the legends say anyway. I know officers who claim to have seen some of this footage. I’m talking sadistic brutal shit. You remember Dennis Allen?’ ‘Sure’ I said. ‘Mr Death they used to call him, well— there’s apparently a snuff video of Allen cutting up one of his biker adversaries with a chainsaw, he’s covered in blood, films the whole thing as he approaches a bunch of slaughterhouse workers in their white gear. They’re all covered in blood and laughing their asses off, saying ‘What floor you working’ on then Dennis?’. Another guy I know claims he’s seen these tapes, proof of all kinds of things we just suspected… Mad Charlie being massacred at his home in Caulfield. Girls being raped and tortured and mutilated. One of the pieces of footage is allegedly of a group of about 30 members of the Comanchero Motorcycle club, and they’re standing around with a group of these government guys in suits, who pay them a bunch of money, then what follows is a sadistic orgy which ends in bloodshed and bizarre ritual.’ I sweated, my hand starting to cramp from the overload of information. I held my hand up for a moment, indicating Bazza to give me a second to catch up. Finally, after a deep breath, and massaging my wrist, I waved; ‘Go on’. Barrington continued; ‘In the nineties and noughties —more rumours popped up about these secret videos. Apparently rich perverts we’re paying criminals for these snuff films, this Slaughter Theatre….. some of them were even getting top notch production values with members of the Melbourne creative industry being involved. At least that’s how the rumours go. The legends are constantly embellished. In the 90’s it was burnt DVD’s which the files were allegedly being copied to. Press dubbed it ‘Slaughter Theatre part Two’. Then downloaded files, and well, you can imagine how the rumours escalated in the modern age of social media.’ I tried to absorb what Barrington was telling me, but had to admit it sounded suspiciously like an urban conspiracy theory. I tapped at my pad with the nib of my pen. ‘So how exactly does this relate to the burnt female corpse that was dumped here in St Kilda?’. ‘Listen,’ Barrington said adjusting his thick, black glasses nervously and preparing to stand; ‘I’m afraid there’s only so much I can tell you without compromising my job. That girl was burnt alive, with a can of gasoline. Autopsy confirms that much. If I tell you that urban legends suggesting that her murder was filmed— are prominent in police circles, would you even believe me? What if I told you I had proof that this murder was filmed as part of a third instalment in this snuff trilogy? Slaughter Theatre - Part Three. That these murders are having a resurgence ——that its all part of this conspiracy?’ ‘I’d say you were either crazy, or had something that would make the biggest news story in Australian history.’ I replied bluntly. Officer Barrington stood up and handed me a business card; ‘That’s all I can do, mate—to tip you off. Listen Pharlap… If you want to learn more I suggest you dig around about this snuff video, I think you’ll find more than you had imagined in your worst daydreams. The.... You’re going to want to speak to the guy —on this card’— (Barrington handed me a business card)— ‘…about a murder that happened at the Three Vertice construction site in Footscray in July 2016. Sorry I can’t be of more help...’ Officer Barrington then shook my hand firmly, and I thanked him before he disappeared into the St Kilda crowds. So that was how it started. How my innocence was tainted, and I was dragged into this most unnerving and unusual investigation. The business card Barrington gave me belonged to somebody called ‘Drendyl Pex. Three Vertice Construction Company. Owner. Manager.’ For a moment I sat back, and tried to get the tangled mess out of my brain, sipping at the last of my beer. Surely Barrington had gone a bit nuts— reeked of classic Police conspiracy stuff. The idea that the whole criminal underworld is linked through some kind of satanic cult— it was absurd. Satanic Panic. And as for this snuff film? Well… I just had trouble believing that something that could’ve appeared on a /4chan creepy pasta/ could exist in any tangible reality. Nonetheless, right now, it was my only lead. If Barrington believed that the murder of the girl at St Kilda… could somehow be linked to another murder in Footscray, i’d have to investigate it, any other solution would be neglectful. It was about a twenty five minute drive out to Footscray in my Valiant Charger. I had the air conditioning up to full blast, and my tinted windows down. The radio was blaring FURY FM, some poncy hipster DJ raving on about his succulent garden, and his batch of home-brewed beer. I was about to turn it off when a killer track came on, Head On by The Jesus and Mary Chain, so I cranked the volume and hit the gas. The DJ may have been an arsehole… but he did have decent taste in music, the next tracks were also great; King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, MGMT -Little Dark Age, ORB -Man in the Sand, Nap Eyes -Don’t be Right. The synthetic pulses of the Chromatics cover of Kate Bush’s ’Running up that Hill’ was playing as I pulled into the car park of the Three Vertice construction company. It was a busy location, with an adjacent yard; many workers in their flouro orange high vis neons and yellow hard hats coming and going. I stumbled over a poorly concreted patch of turf, up a flight of roughly hewn stairs, through a mesh steel fence, until I came into a sheltered office, and temporary reception desk. The lady at the desk gave me a funny look, and I realised I was still wearing my aviators and tennis visor, and I removed them for politeness. ‘Pharlap Dronefire. I’m here to speak to Drendyl Pex’, I said flatly. The blonde woman with dark wirey eyebrows still had an aggravated look on her face, she scowled and said, barely curteously; ‘I’m afraid Mr Pex is quite busy, do you have an appointment?’ I thought cunningly for a few split seconds; ‘No. But this is of a very private and urgent nature. Mr Pex will see it in his interest that we speak as soon as possible—’ ‘Im sorry sir, but Mr Pex….’— ‘—You can tell him it’s in relation to something that happened last year—at this site— he may want to keep confidential…’ The woman sighed, looking fearfully at her computer, ‘Ill try his office, if you just want to take a seat Mr….?’ ‘Dronefire’ I repeated, casually taking a seat on the old, tattered couch. It was about a seven minute wait —before a well dressed man, with shoulder length, greased-back hair, purple waist coat, cravat, dark velvet jacket and long boots walked into the room. The woman stood up to introduce us, but before she had a chance the man lunged forward and stood before me with his right hand held straight. The man commanded a strange authority, so that I found I quickly leapt to my feet in his presence, and before I knew it we were in the middle of a firm handshake. ‘Mr Dronefire I believe? Drendyl Pex.’ ‘It’s a pleasure, sir, Is there somewhere we can talk a little more privately?’ ‘Of course, please… Come to my onsite office.’ I followed Mr Pex outside of the temporary unit, and we walked up a hazardous mud slide mountain to a— 3 metre square— white cubicle or trailer. Pex opened a door, and we entered into the luxurious space, decked out with a bar and expensive furniture and entertainment system. ‘Can I fix you a rum, Mr Dronefire?’ Pex asked. ‘I’ve never said no to a rum before.’ I replied truthfully. Pex pulled down a bottle from his packed shelves, dropped ice machine cubes into two glasses and poured. ‘On the rocks suit?’ ‘Yeah…that…uh…that….suits perfectly’ I replied. Drendyl handed me a three quarter full glass of pale liquid; ‘Have you tried it?’ He asked ‘Australian brand, from Adelaide, Gunnery, white spiced. Best this country has to offer.’ I took a sip of the drink, and was surprised by the earthy taste, it was dirty but delicious. ‘Mr Pex’ I said, ‘May I be upfront?’ ‘You want to know about the death that occurred last year.’ Pex replied; ‘I’m guessing you’re a Private Investigator or amateur sleuth of some kind.’ ‘Your receptionist passed on the hint, I suppose?’ I asked. ’I must apologise for our quote-unquote reception. It’s a temporary head office, we’re building a new office space here. Miss Weabley is actually our occupational health and safety manager, just filling the desk whilst we get a new temp in—’ ‘I’m not here representing anyone in a legal capacity Mr Pex’… I said, sensing Pex’s defenses, ‘…you guessed it right, I am a P.I-——— my client is interested in a murder that occurred in St Kilda recently, however other trails of research have led me to a you. Did the death last year occur at this location?’ ‘Aha!’ said Pex, seeming to have figured me out, ‘You’re following the urban legend surrounding a certain snuff film.’ I tried not to act surprised. ‘I can provide you some information about that. But follow me, I want to show you something first.’ Pex swigged the rest of his drink, and placed down the empty glass, I followed his lead, and we exited the white building, trudging around a muddy path on the outer rim of the construction zone. My head was warm from liquor and smog, the sprawling horizon bore the haphazard scattering of Footscray industry. ‘Just up here…i’ll show you…. is where the death happened Mr Dronefire. Alice Goddard. Up over the hill there. I’ll show you the place alright…but….. Are you familiar with Footscray at all?’ ‘Not really…Not a bulldogs fan….I…uh…I barrack for Essendon.’ I joked. ‘Blasphemy’ Pex smiled with formulaic small talk, ‘This was Wurundjeri land, where we are standing. Some time ago it was an immense lagoon where the Koories went fishing. There was a factory here at the turn of the century when the industrial revolution hit. They bulldozed it in the seventies, and it’s been nothing much more than landfill up until 2007 when the Three Vertice construction company purchased it. It’s been a sort of base for some time, although our head office used to be in Fitzroy. We are an equal opportunity employer Mr Dronefire. In the last 20 years, over 50 thousand employees; South Vietnamese, Sudanese, Ethiopian, Somalian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Indonesian —they have all come through here.’ ‘I’m not quite sure why you are telling me this Mr Pex’ I confessed. ‘I know you’re not a fool Mr Dronefire. We’ve been through our trials and tribulations, pleaded our side in court cases. I don’t particularly enjoy going through the ordeal of recounting the horrific tragedy that happened here last year over and over again. But if I can be plain with you, off the record…’ I nodded. ‘There’s no doubt that girl Alice Goddard was murdered out here, and if you ask me, the likelihood that someone under the employ of the Three Vertice Construction company committing that murder— it’s more than just a likelihood. Of course, you can understand…. why, as leader of this company I would be cautious about publicity over this, i’m not a monster. My pity for the girl is endless. I’ve been very frank with the police about giving them all our employee files.’ I felt like I had just taken in a whiff of pure Drendyl heroine, and had to take a minute to contemplate it. ‘I’m not here to accuse you or your company of anything untoward Mr Pex. Just to seek out the truth. To be honest, I have absolutely nothing in my research which even suggests that the murder which occurred in St Kilda is in any way related to the death of Alice Goddard.’ ‘Well… if you’d done your research, you’d know that she—Alice— was burnt alive.’ Pex stated plainly, ‘Similar autopsy results as your St Kilda murder. I read the newspapers too Mr Dronefire. If I was a police man, i’d definitely be looking at the murders as a double homicide, or possibly two murders in a repeat serial killing. Mind you, this country’s never been well equipped to deal with the serial killer phenomenon, the AFP has a history of bungled investigations in that regard.’ ‘This snuff film?’ I asked increasingly intrigued, but distracted—’You said you were aware of——‘ ‘Everyone in Melbourne is aware of Slaughter Theatre, Mr Dronefire. It’s a legend that’s been spreading around parties in the Northern suburbs for as long as Venereal disease.’ I tried to hold back a chortle, given the morose aspect of the subject matter. Mr Pex began to walk again, and I followed him up over the last dirt pile which led to the alleged murder site. We were quite high up on the elevation now and had a good view of the Melbourne CBD. Pex stared outwards towards the skyscrapers looming over the Yarra on the horizon. ‘Do you know much about the Crown Casino?’ Pex asked, looking in the general direction of the deluxe crown towers on the horizon. ‘Only that it’s putting a lot of cash in Andrew Packer’s pocket’ I replied. ‘Pfa haha… Packer’s barely here, he’s too busy in Sydney building his 60 million dollar pad at Barangaroo, when he’s not brushing gently against his Scientologist buddies. Good mates with Tom Cruise our James, they’ve all stayed out here at Crown towers too; prominent Scientologists, the Kardashians, the Bush’s, the Rumsfields. Kerry Packer was much more interesting than his son, you know Dronefire. Back in the days of VHS, back when him and Rupert Murdoch were fighting their cold war over who was to be the king pin of the Australian media.’ I took a moment to absorb the serene, pale view of the spires of Hexton CBD, and the dark crown towers silhouetted by the glare of the sun. ‘I’m waiting for the day when the full history of Consolidated press broadcasting comes out,’ Pex continued, ‘…there’s a dark past there the public may never know about. But ol’ Kerry, he knew how to separate recorded history into public and private.’ ‘How do you mean exactly?’ I asked ‘I’m not going to spill all the dirt on Kerry—Mr Dronefire. My father and he had some shared acquaintances. We’d be here all year, and besides, what’s the point. The old cunts dead. You’re a younger bloke, aren’t you Dronefire? I’m guessing 34?’ Pex continued without waiting for an answer, ‘My generation will always remember the day— ha— when Nine Network over stepped Packer’s rule book….’ We reached the top of the hill and stared down into a junkyard of scrap material where the body of the girl had allegedly been dumped. ‘During the shortly lived ‘Australia’s Naughtiest Home Videos’ hosted by the Triple M yobbo Doug Mulray, do you remember? Grown men all over the country were loosening their belts with joy, but Kerry knew there was a time and a place for pornography, and Network television wasn’t it… Haha…. ‘Get that shit off the air!’ That’s what he told the Nine execs when he called them. You should have seen Doug Mulray’s face. Now young James, he’s much more interested in chasing girls, much more interested spending his time in Casino’s than policing the media-boundaries of public and private.’ ‘Forgive me Mr Pex’ I interrupted, ‘Maybe i’m misunderstanding all of this. But what exactly does this have to do with the snuff film? Slaughter Theatre?’ Pex seemed satisfied he had given me enough time to look at the scrapyard the body had allegedly been dumped, his body language suddenly changed, and suggested I had overstayed my welcome, and he authoritatively began to escort me back down the dirt hilltop. ‘I can tell you everything I know about the snuff film Mr Dronefire. I’ve heard plenty of rumours about these murders being connected. About them being filmed, and what not. The rumours are everywhere out West and up North in Victoria. They have been for the last 50 years— every time a body shows up, theres a new trail of gossip. Melbourne IS the murder capital of Australia, Mr Dronefire. But unfortunately, I can attest to the truth of those claims no more than I can—the millions of claims about the Loch Ness monster. For all intents and purposes, those of us who are sane rightly dismiss such conspiracies as absurd. Right wing nuts who can’t handle disorder in everything, want everything to be part of some master plan. Then you’ve got the left wing vultures, media types who love a scandal, any fad you can write an article about, or make an indy film inspired by. That’s all this is. Now I have to apologise Dronefire, but I am a busy man. Always happy to help out any investigation, and i’d just as soon see whoever is behind these horrendous crimes behind bars, as much as you, the police— and the girls parents. Now—‘ I could see Pex was wrapping up, but I wasn’t a hundred percent satisfied with the information I had been given, and needed a few more points; ‘Do you mind if stick around here for another ten minutes, just to get some quick interviews with the staff?’ Pex looked mildly disgruntled but not resistant; ‘I can give you ten minutes. Longer than that and you’d be interfering with our productivity i’m afraid. You can speak to our onsite supervisor, he works with most of the staff here.’ Drendyl whistled, and an ocker looking fellow with a mullet, safety vest and a hairy arms made his way over. ‘Fortyn Kildare, this is Private Investigator Dronefire. He’d like to ask you a few questions about the death of Alice Goddard.’ Pex excused himself and disappeared, as I shook Mr Kildare’s hand. ‘You’re a little late aren’t ya?’ asked the gruff man in a thick Aussie accent; ‘Press was all over this ten months ago. What are you hoping to dig up now—eh??’ Continued in Part Two: https://www.reddit.com/libraryofshadows/comments/7new6s/slaughter_theatre_part_two/
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