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Film School At The Cineforum Music & Film # 1: Bernard Herrmann.

jason-and-the-argonauts 51dirjt5ddlFor some time now I have thought of offering people interested in music for motion pictures the opportunity to listen to a film soundtrack before watching the film the better to understand how the music was actually used in the picture.

Monday, October 3,

7pm: JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS   The soundtrack followed by the film. As strings had not been invented in the time period of this film Bernard Herrmann decided to create a score without them.

The Cineforum, 463 Bathurst below College Across From The Beer Store. 416-603-6643. A program like this at a college, university or film school could cost $100 or more. Donation $20 ($10 under 24)

Bonus 6pm: BERNARD HERRMANN. For those unfamiliar  with Bernard Herrmann this documentary will more than fill you in.

CD Review by Dan Goldwasser

One of my favorite fantasy films as a child was definitely Jason and the Argonauts. It got me interested in Greek mythology, and while that phase eventually passed, I still have a lasting affinity for the film. With Ray Harryhausen’s classic stop-motion animation, and exciting story, the film also featured orchestral underscore by Hitchcock regular Bernard Herrmann. Herrmann had previously worked on The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad andMysterious Island for producer Charles Schneer, and in writing this score, decided to get rid of all of the strings, and beef up the other instruments. The result was a powerful and dramatic score that still holds up today as an excellent example of film music.

Unfortunately, the score to Jason and the Argonauts was edited a bit in the final film, and with a mono mix combined with dialogue and sound effects, much of Herrmann’s complex orchestration and arrangement fell through the cracks. However, Intrada took it upon them, with the help of Bruce Broughton conducting the Sinfonia of London, to re-record this score as Herrmann intended. The ensuing album is a must-have item in any serious Herrmann enthusiast’s collection.

The thunderous fanfare in “Jason Prelude”, with roaring brass and timpani, contains three main themes that will be reoccurring throughout the score. It’s fantastic, and leads into the diametrically opposite “The Prophecy / The Battle” which begins out as quiet and brooding as they come. Reminiscent of Citizen Kane, the cue slowly builds into a battle sequence filled with percussion and an alternating “tug of war” between horns and bassoons. “The Feast” contains a more “period” type of dance cue, and “The Oak Grove / Ascension” features a harp solo which slowly grows into a heroic brass fanfare.


In “Departure” we hear the main theme once more, followed by a very calm – but slightly ominous “Hera’s Effigy”. “Argo” starts out with the optimistic heroic fanfare, but then slows down into a dark foreboding motif. The action in “Talos / The Boat / The Wreck” serves as a great example of why Harryhausen was the master of his craft. The pounding timpani and brass in this scene are exciting and tense. With the exception of “Hera Speaks”, the Talos attack (including the next track, “The Attack / Talos’ Heel / Talos’ Death”) runs nearly eight minutes long, and allows Herrmann an opportunity to really let the brass give their all.


“The Nets / The Rope / The Cage” is another tense action cue, while “Medea’s Ship” is in party rhythmically similar to the main title Herrmann wrote to North by Northwest. In “Medea”, we finally get a romantic theme out of the action and drama. Warm woodwinds and a French horn play out this soft and romantic cue. After a few more fight sequences (“Acastus and Jason Fight”, “The Hydra / The Hydra Fight”) we reach the pinnacle moment in the film. The teeth of the Hydra become skeletons, and in a signature Harryhousen moment, Jason and his crew battle a stop-motion skeleton attack. “Hydra’s Teeth / Skeletons / Attack” begins with low brooding rendition of the “Dies Irae”, and as the skeletons emerge, woodblocks and castanets are used effectively to “rattle” the bones. This climactic battle takes form in “Scherzo Macabre”, which is one of the more challenging and exciting cues. During the next three minutes the orchestra (literally) goes wild! With instruments seemingly bouncing back and forth with complex maneuvers, the music stopping and then starting again, and all the while building in power and intensity.


This is, quite simply, an excellent album. Broughton and the Sinfonia have done an excellent job in interpreting Herrmann’s score, and the sound quality is spot on perfect. With a running time of a tad over an hour, this is a hearty album that never gets boring. In fact, it is noted in the (mildly extensive) liner notes that very short or repetitive cues weren’t recorded for the album, which is something I wish would happen more often when re-recording film scores! Available exclusively from their website (, I strongly urge you to pick this album up. It will be worth it.

As a young man I was encouraged to become a writer. I saw the movies as the medium in our time print had been in the 19th century. Today, in the 21st century both print and the movies no longer interest the public. That is because the people working in both media are creating works that fail to capture an audience.

I set out to give myself the best possible education in the art, business and history of the motion picture covering all aspects of the medium from its origins until now (including porn). Along the way many others have benefited. Here are some of the ads used to promote JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. Enjoy them.

If you do not live in Toronto I have provided a link to the film’s soundtrack. You can listen to it and then watch the film. In his books TRUE AND FALSE and BAMBI VS. GODZILLA David Mamet states, “Invent nothing. Deny nothing. Stand up. Speak up. Stay out of school.” I’m with Mamet. I want only bad students. What are bad students? Henri Langlois of the Paris Cinematheque: “An art form requires genius. People of genius are always troublemakers, meaning they start from scratch, demolish accepted norms and rebuild a new world. The problem with cinema today is the dearth of troublemakers. There’s not a rabble-rouser in sight. There was still one, but he went beyond troublemaker to court jester. He clobbered the status quo. That’s Godard. We’re fresh out of “bad students.” You’ll find students masquerading as bad ones, but you won’t find the real article, because a genuine bad student upends everything.”–Reg Hartt,jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-belgian jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-french-grande jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-half-sheet jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-insert jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-lobby-card-set-of-8 jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-one-sheet jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-pressbook jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-three-sheet jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-title-lobby-card-and-lobby-cards jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963 jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1980-first-release-spanish-one-sheet jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-r-1978-half-sheet jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-r-1978-poster jason-and-the-argonauts-columbia-1963-window-card-14-x-22-f ray-harryhausen-lot-various-1990s-promotional-poster

October 2016 The Cineforum, 463 Bathurst, Toronto.

bugs-bunny dali-1 eliot god jane-jacobs-1 kid-dracula lsd rochdale the-birth-of-a-nation the-fool-1 wet-dream









The Cineforum, 463 Bathurst, Toronto (across from The Beer Store). 416-603-6643.

Saturday, September 24, October 1, 8, 15, 22, 29.

05pm: Reg Hartt Spoken Word: JANE JACOBS: URBAN WISDOM (2004) Don Alexander.




Sunday, September 25, October 2, 9, 16, 23, 30.


5:00 pm: Film: T. S. Eliot, MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL (1952) with the voice of Eliot as the 4th Tempter.

7:30 pm: KID DRACULA [NOSFERATU (1922) set to music from Radiohead’s KID A and OK COMPUTER]

Monday, September 26, October 3, 10, 17, 24, 31.


Tuesday, September 27, October 4, 11, 18, 25.

07:00 pm: Reg Hartt Spoken Word: D. W. Griffith and THE BIRTH OF A NATION.

Wednesday, September 28, October 5, 12, 19, 26.

07:00 pm: Reg Hartt Spoken Word: The Night They Raided Rochdale College.


Abel Gance: NAPOLEON

Ordered this. Something to look forward to.

Reg Hartt is a cross of Amos Vogel, Kenneth Anger And Timothy Leary

D. W. Griffith before the present day nonsense.

D.W. Griffith, Remembered

The death of pioneer filmmaker D.W. Griffith in 1948 prompted this appreciation from The Nation‘s film critic James Agee.

By James Agee

February 17, 2009

The death of pioneer filmmaker D.W. Griffith in 1948 prompted this appreciation from The Nation‘s film critic James Agee.


He achieved what no other known man has ever achieved. To watch his work is like being witness to the beginning of melody, or the first conscious use of the lever or the wheel; the emergence, coordination, and first eloquence of language; the birth of an art: and to realize that this is all the work of one man.

We will never realize how good he really was until we have the chance to see his work as often as it deserves to be seen, to examine and enjoy it in detail as exact as his achievement. But even relying, as we mainly have to, on years-old memories, a good deal becomes clear.

One crude but unquestionable indication of his greatness was his power to create permanent images. All through his work there are images which are as impossible to forget, once you have seen them, as some of the grandest and simplest passages in music or poetry.

The most beautiful single shot I have seen in any movie is the battle charge in The Birth of a Nation. I have heard it praised for its realism, and that is deserved; but it is also far beyond realism. It seems to me to be a perfect realization of a collective dream of what the Civil War was like, as veterans might remember it fifty years later, or as children, fifty years later, might imagine it. I have had several clear mental images of that war, from almost as early as I can remember, and I didn’t have the luck to see “The Birth of a Nation” until I was in my early twenties; but when I saw that charge, it was merely the clarification, and corroboration, of one of those visions, and took its place among them immediately without seeming to be of a different kind or order. It is the perfection that I know of, of the tragic glory that is possible, or used to be possible, in war; or in war as the best in the spirit imagines or remembers it.

This is, I realize mainly subjective; but it suggests to me the dearest and deepest aspect of Griffith’s genius: he was a great primitive poet, a man capable, as only great and primitive artists can be, of intuitively perceiving and perfecting the tremendous magical images that underlie the memory and imagination of entire peoples. If he had achieved this only once, and only for me, I could not feel that he was what I believe he is; but he created many such images, and I suspect that many people besides me have recognized them, on that deepest level that art can draw on, reach, and serve. There are many others in that one film: the homecoming of the defeated hero; the ride of the Clansmen; the rapist and his victim among the dark leaves; a glimpse of a war hospital; dead young soldiers after battle; the dark, slow movement of the Union Army away from the camera, along a valley which is quartered strongly between hill-shadow and sunlight; all these and still others have a dreamlike absoluteness which, indeed, cradles and suffuses the whole film.

This was the one time in movie history that a man of great ability worked freely, in an unspoiled medium, for an unspoiled audience, on a majestic theme which involved all that he was; and brought to it, besides his abilities as an inventor and artist, absolute passion, pity, courage, and honesty. “The Birth of a Nation” is equal with Brady’s photographs, Lincoln’s speeches, Whitman’s war poems; for all its imperfections and absurdities it is equal, in fact, to the best work that has been done in this country. And among moving pictures it is alone, not necessarily as “the greatest” — whatever that means — but as the one great epic, tragic film.

(Today, The Birth of it Nation is boycotted or shown piecemeal; too many more or less well-meaning people still accuse Griffith of having made it an anti-Negro movie. At best, this is nonsense, and at worst, it is vicious nonsense. Even if it were an anti-Negro movie, a work of such quality should be shown, and shown whole. But the accusation is unjust. Griffith went to almost preposterous lengths to be fair to the Negroes as he understood them, and he understood them as a good type of Southerner does. I don’t entirely agree with him; nor can I be sure that the film wouldn’t cause trouble and misunderstanding, especially as advertised and exacerbated by contemporary abolitionists; but Griffith’s absolute desire to be fair, and understandable, is written all over the picture; so are degrees of understanding, honesty, and compassion far beyond the capacity of his accusers. So, of course, are the salient facts of the so-called Reconstruction years.)

Griffith never managed to equal The Birth of a Nation again, nor was he ever to strike off, in any other film, so many of those final images. Nevertheless, he found many: the strikers in “Intolerance”—the realism of those short scenes has never been surpassed, nor their shock and restiveness as an image of near-revolution; the intercutting, at the climax of that picture, between the climaxes of four parallel stories, like the swinging together of tremendous gongs; the paralyzing excitement of the melodrama near the waterfall, in Way Down East; Paul Revere’s ride and the battle of Bunker Hill, in America; Danton’s ride, in Orphans of the Storm; most subtle and remarkable of all, the early morning scene in his German film, Isn’t Life ‘Wonderful? in which the ape-like Dick Sutherland pursues Carol Dempster through a grove of slender trees. All these images, and so many others of Griffith’s, have a sort of crude sublimity which nobody else in movies has managed to achieve; this last one, like his images of our Civil War, seems to come out of the deep subconscious: it is an absolute and prophetic image of a nation and a people. I will always regret having missed Abraham Lincoln, his last film to be released: a friend has told me of its wonderful opening in stormy midwinter night woods, the camera bearing along toward the natal cabin; and that surely must have been one of Griffith’s finest images.

Even in Griffith’s best work there is enough that is poor, or foolish, or merely old-fashioned, so that one has to understand, if by no means forgive, those who laugh indiscriminately at his good work and his bad. (With all that “understanding,” I look forward to killing, some day, some specially happy giggler at the exquisite scene in which the veteran comes home, in The Birth of a Nation) But even his poorest work was never just bad. Whatever may be wrong with it, there is in every instant, so well as I can remember, the unique purity and vitality of birth or of a creature just born and first exerting its unprecedented, incredible strength; and there are, besides, Griffith’s overwhelming innocence and magnanimity of spirit; his moral and poetic earnestness; his joy in his work; and his splendid intuitiveness, directness, common sense, daring, and skill as an inventor and as an artist. Aside from his talent or genius as an inventor and artist, he was all heart; and ruinous as his excesses sometimes were in that respect, they were inseparable from his virtues, and small beside them. He was remarkably good, as a rule, in the whole middle range of feeling, but he was at his best just short of his excesses, and he tended in general to work out toward the dangerous edge. He was capable of realism that has never been beaten and he might, if he had been able to appreciate his powers as a realist, have found therein his growth and salvation. But he seems to have been a realist only by accident, hit-and-run; essentially, he was a poet. He doesn’t appear ever to have realized one of the richest promises that movies hold, as the perfect medium for realism raised to the level of high poetry; nor, oddly enough, was he much of a dramatic poet. But in epic and lyrical and narrative visual poetry, I can think of nobody who has surpassed him, and of few to compare with him. And as a primitive tribal poet, combining something of the bard and the seer, he is beyond even Dovshenko, and no others of their kind have worked in movies.

What he had above all, his ability as a craftsman and artist, would be hard enough—and quite unnecessary—to write of, if we had typical scenes before us, or within recent memory; since we have seen so little of his work in so many years, it is virtually impossible. I can remember very vividly his general spirit and manner-heroic, impetuous, tender, magniloquent, naive, beyond the endowment or daring of anybody since; just as vividly, I can remember the total impression of various major sequences. By my remembrance, his images were nearly always a little larger and wilder than life. The frame was always full, spontaneous, and lively. He knew wonderfully well how to contrast and combine different intensities throughout an immense range of emotion, movement, shadow, and light. Much of the liveliness was not intrinsic to the characters an the screen or their predicament, but was his own vitality and emotion; and much of it—notably in the amazing flickering and vivacity of his women—came of his almost maniacal realization of the importance of expressive movement.

It seems to me entirely reasonable to infer, from the extraordinary power and endurance in the memory of certain scenes in their total effect, that he was as brilliant a master of design and cutting and form as he was a composer of frames and a director of feeling and motion. But I cannot clearly remember one sequence or scene, shot by shot and rhythm by rhythm. I suspect, for instance, that analysis would show that the climactic sequence on the icy river, inWay Down East is as finely constructed a piece of melodramatic storytelling as any in movies. But I can only venture to bet on this and to suggest that that sequence, like a hundred others of Griffith’s, is eminently worth analysis.

My veneration for Griffith’s achievements is all the deeper when I realize what handicaps he worked against, how limited a man he was. He had no remarkable power of intellect, or delicateness of soul; no subtlety; little restraint; little if any “taste,” whether to help his work or harm it; Lord knows (and be thanked) no cleverness; no fundamental capacity, once he had achieved his first astonishing development, for change or growth. He wasn’t particularly observant of people; nor do his movies suggest that he understood them at all deeply. He had noble powers of imagination, but little of the intricacy of imagination that most good poets also have. His sense of comedy was pathetically crude and numb. He had an exorbitant appetite for violence, for cruelty, and for the Siamese twin of cruelty, a kind of obsessive tenderness which at its worst was all but nauseating. Much as he invented, his work was saturated in the style, the mannerisms, and the underlying assumptions and attitudes of the nineteenth century provincial theater; and although much of that was much better than most of us realize, and any amount better than most of the styles and non-styles we accept and praise, much of it was cheap and false, and all of it, good and bad, was dying when Griffith gave it a new lease on life, and in spite of that new lease, died soon after, and took him down with it. I doubt that Griffith ever clearly knew the good from the bad in this theatricality; or, for that matter, clearly understood what was original in his work, and capable of almost unimaginably great development; and what was over-derivative, essentially non-cinematic, and dying. In any case, he did not manage to outgrow, or sufficiently to transform, enough in his style that was bad, or merely obsolescent.

If what I hear is right about the opening scene in Abraham Lincoln, this incapacity for radical change may have slowed him up but never killed him as an artist; in his no longer fashionable way, he remained capable, and inspired. He was merely unadaptable and unemployable, like an old, sore, ardent individualist among contemporary progressives. Hollywood and, to a great extent, movies in general, grew down from him rather than up past him; audiences, and the whole eye and feeling of the world, have suffered the same degeneration; he didn’t have it in him to be amenable, even if he’d tried; and that was the end of him. Or quite possibly he was finished, as smaller men are not, as soon as he had reached the limit of his own powers of innovation, and began to realize he was only repeating himself. Certainly, anyhow, he was natural-born for the years of adventure and discovery, not for the inevitable following era of safe-playing and of fat consolidation of others’ gains.

His last movie, which was never even released, was made fourteen or fifteen years ago; and for years before that, most people had thought of him as a has-been. Nobody would hire him; he had nothing to do. He lived too long, and that is one of few things that are sadder than dying too soon.

There is not a man working in movies, or a man who cares for them, who does not owe Griffith more than he owes anybody else.

James Agee James Agee, author of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (with photographer Walker Evans) and the screenwriter of The African Queen and Night of the Hunter was The Nation‘s film critic from 1942 to 1948.


“Why won’t our senior cineastes stand up for Reg Hartt?”–Joe Fiorito, Toronto Star

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5pm Wednesday & Thursday, JANE JACOBS AT THE CINEFORUM, 463 Bathurst, Toronto, Canada, M5T 2S9. 416-603-6643. Donation $20 ($10 under 24).

“Old ideas are sometimes found in new buildings. New ideas are found in old buildings. By old buildings I do not mean refurbished old buildings. I mean old, run-down, low value buildings.”–Jane Jacobs. “Reg Hartt’s Cineforum is everything Jane Jacobs wrote about. She was a regular.”–Laura Lind, EYE weekly (1992).

“Hartt has been a credit to Toronto for decades. His Cineforum, which screens noteworthy films for small study groups in his living room, has long won acclaim from critics in Canada and abroad and endorsements from Canadian icons such as author Pierre Berton and urban guru Jane Jacobs. Lonely Planet lists 463 Bathurst St, his modest abode on a major Toronto thoroughfare, as among the top 30 sights to see in Toronto and in the top 30 of sights to see in Ontario. That’s quite a credit to the city. Yet although neighbours don’t complain, the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department periodically shuts him down.

MLS regulates freedom in Toronto, everything from the activities of major retailers down to an individual’s garage sales. It can investigate how well you are prepared to look after your pet in an emergency, whether you are mowing your lawn properly, and whether you are operating a pedicab without a license. And – in the case of Hartt — whether you can screen films in your living room for small gatherings. MLS’s answer was “no” – Hartt’s screenings of everything from modern classics to Nazi propaganda from the 1930s to Betty Boop cartoons, it claimed, somehow threatened the common weal.

Until Ford came to the rescue, it looked as if Hartt’s on-again, off-again battle against the authorities had finally ended in his defeat – Jane Jacobs, a former defender of his but now deceased, was no longer able to talk some sense into city officials. But while Hartt is grateful that the mayor has ended (at least for now) the bureaucracy’s ability to put him out of business, he would like to see something done for the many others like him who have been shut down, or live in fear of being shut down. A city shouldn’t shut the door on the inventiveness of its residents.”–Lawrence Solomon, NATIONAL POST.

“A city that sees value in rules, but no value in letting Reg Hartt bend them, has no right to claim Jane Jacobs’ legacy.”–Edward Keenan, Toronto Star (2016).

“And you will permit me an observation: if Martin Sheen can come to town and stand on the picket line with striking hotel workers, why won’t our senior cineastes stand up for Reg Hartt, as the city moves to strike him down?”–Joe Fiorito, Toronto Star (2010).

Damn few people got a fan letter from Jane Jacobs. I got several. Damn few people were invited into her home for a beer. By the time we hit the third one Mrs. Jacobs said to me, “The best part of what you offer is what you have to say.” That is one helluva compliment. It is also the primary reason film buffs stay away from my programs. They don’t care to listen to me. The number of new ideas that have emerged from my Cineforum on Bathurst in Toronto is phenomenal.

As for our senior cineastes, they were silent in 2010. They are silent in 2016. I long ago learned nothing can be expected from them. That is fine by me. Henry Miller, in his OPEN LETTER TO SURREALISTS EVERYWHERE, wrote, “When a man is truly creative he works single-handed and he wants no help.” Nor does he need it. “Toronto’s government constantly proclaims its belief in the Gospel of Jane Jacobs. But bureaucrats can’t see the value in the kind of fascinating, eccentric home Hartt keeps. Instead, they try to shut him down in the very year they are loudly celebrating the 100th anniversary of Jacobs’ birth. If they understood the first thing about Jacobs’ work, they would let Hartt continue to develop his own.”–Keenan, TORONTO STAR.

In this the 100th year of her birth the city has given us a reconstruction of Jane’s living room and a Jane Jacobs walk. Jane was about walking with a purpose. That purpose was to use her eyes, ears and feet to do her own research. More than she was about walking, much, much more than she was about walking Jane was about standing up. At The Cineforum I am standing up for her essential idea. What is that? It is that a city should adapt to its people not its people to the city. “Our mother loved you,” her children have repeatedly told me. I reply, “I love your mother.” I also love standing up for her ideas in this city. Right now it looks like I am the only one actually doing that. That’s fine. Never underestimate the power of one person to change the world for the better. All too often that is all that does it.

When THE NATIONAL POST first came into an existence one of its reporters asked if I go to TIFF. I replied, “No.” She said, “Don’t you want to meet Jack Nicholson?” I replied, “Why would Jack Nicholson want to meet me?”

I skip TIFF annually. It is irrelevant.

Jane was never in favor of government funded programs. Everyone who has studied her ideas knows that. She was never in favor of TIFF. I’m with her.

–Reg Hartt 09/14/2016.



Preserving our 3D Motion Picture Heritage Now While We can.


This film's huge box office success led to the brief 3D boom of the 1950s. It is a picture I and millions of others are dying to see in 3D. We can't.

This film’s huge box office success led to the brief 3D boom of the 1950s. It is a picture I and millions of others are dying to see in 3D. We can’t.

A while back BWANA DEVIL, the 1953 film that launched the brief 3D boom of the 1950s was about to be released on Blu-ray. BWANA DEVIL is not a great film. Far from it. Its importance in cinema history lies in the fact that it showed by sheer dint of its unexpected box office success that we the public have a huge desire to see that flat motion picture screen open up into a 3D window.

The people behind the projected Blu-ray release were not going to issue the title in 3D.

3D has a bad rep with cinema elitists. It is too often viewed as in bad taste.

I’m with Henri Langlois of the Paris Cinematheque when he stated that good taste not bad taste is the enemy. That view was also shared by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.

I had privy to information that let me know that the 3D elements on BWANA DEVIL are available MGM which has the rights to the film.

Bob Furmanek of The 3D Film Archive shares my love of 3D. The difference between myself and Bob is that Bob is in the trenches doing what he can to restore and save 3D motion pictures. He’s doing it at a cost that runs about $20,000.00 a title which is peanuts in the industry.

We have yet to see a proper 3D release of BWANA DEVIL. I am not alone in my desire to see it.

Arch Obler, who produced, wrote and directed BWANA DEVIL, has two other 3D films. Neither are great movies but both feature a wonderful use of the 3D medium. One, THE BUBBLE, has been wonderfully restored by the 3D Film Archive who worked with less than satisfactory materials.

The other is titled “DOMO ARIGATO.” I have this in a low quality field sequential 3D version that does scant justice to the pictorial beauty of the film.

I asked Bob about it. He said a 3D print exists and is in the hands of a person who wants $25,00.00 for the negative no rights included. The rights would have to be negotiated separately which puts this title in a very dangerous bracket.

We have only to look at the terrific work The 3D Film Archive did on its restoration of the 50’s 3D film GOG to see that whomever employs the services of The 3D Film Archive is getting full value and more for their money. This is a team that should be used to restore 3D motion pictures as often as possible. Hell, they should be used to restore 2D movies.

The fellow who has DOMO ARIGATO has an anaglyph copy of the film in 35mm which is prone to rot. Its value can decrease as the many things that have robbed us of so much of the world’s motion picture heritage eat away at it.

The smartest thing this man can do is to give his copy to The 3D Film Archive so they can do a digital restoration. That means that even if the hard copy is lost the digital copy will remain. Down the road when and if the title falls into the public domain that digital copy will not only be preserved but also can be copyrighted by virtue of the work done to create the restoration.

I can only hope the person who possesses the hard copy can see the wisdom in this.

Few in the history of the motion pictures have been visionary people which is really strange as vision is such a key element in film making.

But year after year the films we parade out in glory go on the shelf to gather dust while the horns blare for the latest and greatest.

Film is the only art form in which this happens.

I asked Bob Furmanek about what other titles are out there languishing. He replied, “Sony has done preservation but does not have matched and aligned 3-D masters of the following: Fort Ti, The Stranger Wore a Gun, The Nebraskan, Drums of Tahiti, Jesse James vs. the Dalton, Down the Hatch. Fox has HD of one side only on Gorilla at Large and Twilight Time has a license to release on Blu-ray. But they will not pay to create a 3-D master so Fox needs to know that it is worth their investment. Wade Williams has Robot Monster, Cat Women of the Moon and Hannah Lee. You know his position from the Home Theater Forum thread. That’s about it for now!”

People please now while you can take advantage of what THE 3D FILM ARCHIVE offers.

When Universal Pictures fell out of the hands of founder Carl Laemmle the new owners burned the studio’s silent film library because they could see no money in silent films. As I said, for a medium that depends for its existence on vision visionaries are few and far between.

All of these films deserve a proper restoration. 3D television while slow to get up and going is getting up. There will be a future market for these titles.

Heck, as someone who has made his life’s work the presentation of great films to the public I know that given a proper release each of these titles will do great at the box office.

The public loves 3D. The public has always loved 3D.

Here in closing are some frame grabs from my Field Sequential 3D version of DOMO ARIGATO which was converted from an anaglyph version for the undergound 3D market.

Unless the person who has the physical copy of this film wises up this is all we will have.

Too damn bad.–Reg Hartt 09/13/2016.


domo-arigato-1 domo-arigato-2 domo-arigato-3 domo-arigato-4 domo-arigato-5

D. W. Griffith and THE BIRTH OF A NATION

Every year film students are told that D. W. Griffith was a racist and that his film THE BIRTH OF A NATION (1915) is racist. He wasn’t. It isn’t.

Stanley Kubrick’s Acceptance Speech
Director’s Guild of America DW Griffith Award


“Good evening. I’m sorry not to be able to be with you tonight to receive this great honor of the D.W. Griffith Award, but I’m in London making Eyes Wide Shut with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman and, just about this time, I’m probably in the car on the way to the studio.

Which, as it happens, reminds me of a conversation I had with Steven Spielberg about what was the most difficult and challenging thing about directing a film. And I believe Steven summed it up about as profoundly as you can. He thought the most difficult and challenging thing about directing a film was getting out of the car. I’m sure you all know the feeling.

But at the same time, anyone who has ever been privileged to direct a film also knows that, although it can be like trying to write War and Peace in a bumper car at an amusement park, when you finally get it right, there are not many joys in life that can equal the feeling.

I think there’s an intriguing irony in naming the lifetime achievement award after D.W. Griffith because his career was both an inspiration and a cautionary tale. His best films were always ranked among the most important films ever made. And some of them made him a great deal of money. He was instrumental in transforming movies from the nickelodeon novelty to an art form. And he originated and formalized much of the syntax of movie-making now taken for granted.

He became an international celebrity and his patronage included many of the world’s leading artists and statesmen of the time. But Griffith was always ready to take tremendous risks in his films and in his business affairs. He was always ready to fly too high. And in the end, the wings of fortune proved for him, like those of Icarus, to be made of nothing more substantial than wax and feathers, and like Icarus, when he flew too close to the sun, they melted. And the man who’s fame exceeded the most illustrious filmmakers of today spent the last 17 years of his life shunned by the film industry he had created.

I’ve compared Griffith’s career to the Icarus myth, but at the same time I’ve never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be, as is generally accepted, “Don’t try to fly too high,” or whether it might also be thought of as, “Forget the wax and feathers and do a better job on the wings.”

One thing, however, is certain. D.W. Griffith left us with an inspiring and intriguing legacy, and the award in his name is one of the greatest honors a film director can receive, something for which I humbly thank all of you, very much. ”


THE DEVILS OF LOUDON, Aldous Huxley (appendix)

Aldous Huxley

The Devils of Loudun

(1952) Note

In this short text, Aldous Huxley puts forward the hypothesis that the evils we ascribe to religious intolerance and obscurantism are instead a product of human nature under specific circumstances, namely the existence of a totalitarian manipulative power. That is why, totalitarian political ideologies built on anti-religious bases can easily replicate the worst aspects of monopolistic religion. As a matter of fact, with the introduction of religious tolerance, those intolerant aspects of religious practice have been put almost to rest. As stated by Huxley, elsewhere in the book : “In the course of the last six or seven generations, the power of religious organizations to do evil has, throughout the Western world, considerably declined.” At the same time, “[f]rom about 1700 to the present day all persecutions in the West have been secular and, one might say, humanistic. For us, Radical Evil has ceased to be something metaphysical and has become political or economic.” For this reason we can add that those who still fight religion as the root of every evil are totally missing the target either deliberately or by reason of crass ignorance.



Without an understanding of man’s deep-seated urge to self-transcendence, of his very natural reluctance to take the hard, ascending way, and his search for some bogus liberation either below or to one side of his personality, we cannot hope to make sense of our own particular period of history or indeed of history in general, of life as it was lived in the past and as it is lived today. For this reason I propose to discuss some of the more common Grace-substitutes, into which and by means of which then and women have tried to escape from the tormenting consciousness of being merely themselves.

In France there is now one retailer of alcohol to every hundred inhabitants, more or less. In the United States there are probably at least a million desperate alcoholics, besides a much larger number of very heavy drinkers whose disease has not yet become mortal. Regarding the consumption of intoxicants in the past we have no precise or statistical knowledge. In Western Europe, among the Celts and Teutons, and throughout medieval and early modern tithes, the individual intake of alcohol was probably even greater than it is today. On the many occasions when we drink tea, or coffee, or soda pop, our ancestors refreshed themselves with wine, beer, mead and, in later centuries, with gin, brandy and usquebaugh. The regular drinking of water was a penance imposed on wrongdoers, or accepted by the religious, along with occasional vegetarianism, as a very severe mortification. Not to drink an intoxicant was an eccentricity sufficiently remarkable to call for comment and the using of a more or less disparaging nickname. Hence such patronymics as the Italian Bevilacqua, the French Boileau and the English Drinkwater.

Alcohol is but one of the many drugs employed by human beings as avenues of escape from the insulated self. Of the natural narcotics, stimulants and hallucinators there is, I believe, not a single one whose properties have not been known from time immemorial. Modern research has given us a host of brand-new synthetics; but in regard to the natural poisons it has merely developed better methods of extracting, concentrating and recombining those already known. From poppy to curare, from Andean coca to Indian hemp and Siberian agaric, every plant or bush or fungus capable, when ingested, of stupefying or exciting or evoking visions, has long since been discovered and systematically employed. The fact is strangely significant; for it seems to prove that, always and everywhere, human beings have felt the radical inadequacy of their personal existence, the misery of being their insulated selves and not something else, something wider, something in Wordsworthian phrase, ‘far more deeply interfused’. Exploring the world around him, primitive man evidently ‘tried all things and held fast to that which was good’. For the purpose of self-preservation the good is every edible fruit and leaf, every wholesome seed, root, and nut. But in another context – the context of self-dissatisfaction and the urge to self-transcendence – the good is everything in nature, by means of which the quality of individual consciousness can be changed. Such drug-induced changes may be manifestly for the worse, may be at the price of present discomfort and future addiction, degeneration and premature death. All this is of no moment. What matters is the awareness, if only for an hour or two, if only for a few minutes, of being someone or, more often, something other than the insulated self. ‘I live, yet not I, but wine or opium or peyotl or hashish liveth in me.’ To go beyond the limits of the insulated ego is such a liberation that, even when self-transcendence is through nausea into frenzy, through cramps into hallucinations and coma, the drug-induced experience has been regarded by primitives and even by the highly civilized as intrinsically divine. Ecstasy through intoxication is still an essential part of the religion of many African, South American and Polynesian peoples. It was once, as the surviving documents clearly prove, a no less essential part of the religion of the Celts, the Teutons, the Greeks, the peoples of the Middle East, and the Aryan conquerors of India. It is not merely that ‘beer does more than Milton can to justify God’s ways to man’. Beer is the god. Among the Celts, Sabazios was the divine name given to the felt alienation of being dead drunk on ale. Further to the south, Dionysos was, among other things, the supernatural objectification of the psycho-physical effects of too much wine. In Vedic mythology, Indra was the god of that now unidentifiable drug called soma. Hero, slayer of dragons, he was the magnified projection upon heaven of the strange and glorious otherness experienced by the intoxicated. Made one with the drug, he becomes, as Soma-Indra, the source of immortality, the mediator between the human and the divine.

In modern times beer and the other toxic short cuts to self-transcendence are no longer officially worshipped as gods. Theory has undergone a change, but not practice; for in practice millions upon millions of civilized then and women continue to pay their devotions, not to the liberating and transfiguring Spirit, but to alcohol, to hashish, to opium and its derivatives, to the barbiturates, and the other synthetic additions to the age-old catalogue of poisons capable of causing self-transcendence. In every case, of course, what seems a god is actually a devil, what seems a liberation is in fact an enslavement. The self-transcendence is invariably downward into the less than human, the lower than personal.

Like intoxication, elementary sexuality, indulged in for its own sake and divorced from love, was once a god, worshipped not only as the principle of fecundity, but as a manifestation of the radical Otherness immanent in every human being. In theory, elementary sexuality has long since ceased to be a god. But in practice it can still boast of a countless host of sectaries.

There is an elementary sexuality which is innocent, and there is an elementary sexuality which is morally and aesthetically squalid. D. H. Lawrence has written very beautifully of the first; Jean Genet, with horrifying power and in copious detail, of the second. The sexuality of Eden and the sexuality of the sewer – both of them have power to carry the individual beyond the limits of his or her insulated self. But the second and (one would sadly guess) the commoner variety takes those who indulge in it to a lower level of subhumanity, evokes the consciousness, and leaves the memory of a complete alienation, than does the first. Hence, for all those who feel the urge to escape from their imprisoning identity, the perennial attraction of debauchery and of strange equivalents of debauchery as will have been described in the course of this narrative.

In most civilized communities public opinion condemns debauchery and drug addiction as being ethically wrong. And to moral disapproval is added fiscal discouragement and legal repression. Alcohol is heavily taxed, the sale of narcotics is everywhere prohibited and certain sexual practices are treated as crimes. But when we pass from drugtaking and elementary sexuality to the third main avenue of downward self-transcendence, we find, on the part of moralists and legislators, a very different and much more indulgent attitude. This seems all the more surprising since crowd-delirium, as we may call it, is more immediately dangerous to social order, more dramatically a menace to that thin crust of decency, reasonableness and mutual tolerance which constitutes a civilization, than either drink or debauchery. True, a generalized and long-continued habit of overindulgence in sexuality may result, as J. D. Unwin has argued, in lowering the energy level of an entire society, thereby rendering it incapable of reaching or maintaining a high degree of civilization. Similarly drug addiction, if sufficiently widespread, may lower the military, economic and political efficiency of the society in which it prevails. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries raw alcohol was the secret weapon of the European slave traders; heroin, in the twentieth, of the Japanese militarists. Dead drunk, the Negro was an easy prey. As for the Chinese drug addict, he could be relied upon to make no trouble for his conquerors. But these cases are exceptional. When left to itself, a society generally manages to come to terms with its favourite poison. The drug is a parasite on the body politic, but a parasite which its host (to speak metaphorically) has strength and sense enough to keep under control. And the same applies to sexuality. No society which based its sexual practices upon the theories of the Marquis de Sade could possibly survive; and in fact no society has ever come near to doing such a thing. Even the most easy-going of the Polynesian paradises have their rules and regulations, their categorical imperatives and commandments. Against excessive sexuality, as against excessive drug-taking, societies seem to be able to protect themselves with some degree of success. Their defence against crowd-delirium and its often disastrous consequences is, in all too many cases, far less adequate. The professional moralists who inveigh against drunkenness are strangely silent about the equally disgusting vice of herd-intoxication – of downward self-transcendence into subhumanity by the process of getting together in a mob.

Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ In the midst of two or three hundred, the divine presence becomes more problematical. And when the numbers run into thousands, or tens of thousands, the likelihood of God being there, in the consciousness of each individual, declines almost to the vanishing point. For such is the nature of an excited crowd (and every crowd is automatically self-exciting) that, where two or three thousand are gathered together, there is an absence not merely of deity, but even of common humanity. The fact of being one of a multitude delivers a man from his consciousness of being an insulated self and carries him down into a less than personal realm, where there are no responsibilities, no right or wrong, no need for thought or judgement or discrimination – only a strong vague sense of togetherness, only a shared excitement, a collective alienation. And the alienation is at once more prolonged and less exhausting than that induced by debauchery; the morning after less depressing than that which follows self-poisoning by alcohol or morphine. Moreover, the crowd-delirium can be indulged in, not merely without a bad conscience, but actually, in many cases, with a positive glow of conscious virtue. For, so far from condemning the practice of downward self-transcendence through herd-intoxication, the leaders of church and state have actively encouraged the practice whenever it could be used for the furtherance of their own ends. Individually and in the co-ordinated and purposive groups which constitute a healthy society, men and women display a certain capacity for rational thought and free choice in the light of ethical principles. Herded into mobs, the same men and women behave as though they possessed neither reason nor free will. Crowd-intoxication reduces them to a condition of infra-personal and antisocial irresponsibility. Drugged by the mysterious poison which every excited herd secretes, they fall into a state of heightened suggestibility, resembling that which follows an injection of sodium amytal or the induction, by whatever means, of a light hypnotic trance. While in this state they will believe any nonsense that may be bawled at them, will act upon any command or exhortation, however senseless, mad or criminal. To men and women under the influence of herd poison, ‘whatever I say three times is true’ – and whatever I say three hundred times is Revelation, is the directly inspired Word of God. That is why then in authority – the priests and the rulers of peoples – have never unequivocally proclaimed the immorality of this form of downward self-transcendence. True, crowd delirium evoked by members of the opposition and in the name of heretical principles has everywhere been denounced by those in power. But crowd-delirium aroused by government agents, crowd delirium in the name of orthodoxy, is an entirely different matter. In all cases where it can be made to serve the interests of the then controlling church and state, downward self-transcendence by means of herd-intoxication is treated as something legitimate, and even highly desirable. Pilgrimages and political rallies, corybantic revivals and patriotic parades – these things are ethically right so long as they are our pilgrimages, our rallies, our revivals, and our parades. The fact that most of those who take part in these affairs are temporarily dehumanized by herd-poison is of no account in comparison with the fact that their dehumanization may be used to consolidate the religious and political powers that be.

When crowd-delirium is exploited for the benefit of governments and orthodox churches, the exploiters are always very careful not to allow the intoxication to go too far. The ruling minorities make use of their subjects’ craving for downward self-transcendence in order, first, to amuse and distract them and, second, to get them into a sub-personal state of heightened suggestibility. Religious and political ceremonials are welcomed by the masses as opportunities for getting drunk on herd-poison, and by their rulers as opportunities for planting suggestions in minds which have momentarily ceased to be capable of reason or free will.

The final symptom of herd-intoxication is a maniacal violence. Instances of crowd-delirium culminating in gratuitous destructiveness, in ferocious self-mutilation, in fratricidal savagery without purpose and against the elementary interests of all concerned, are to be met with on almost every page of the anthropologists’ textbooks and – a little less frequently, but still with dismal regularity – in the histories of even the most highly civilized peoples. Except when they wish to liquidate an unpopular minority the official representatives of state and church are chary of evoking a frenzy which they cannot be sure of controlling. No such scruples restrain the revolutionary leader, who hates the status quo and has only one wish – to create a chaos on which, when he comes to power, he may impose a new kind of order. When the revolutionary exploits men’s urge to downward self-transcendence, he exploits it to the frantic and demoniac limit. To then and women sick of being their insulated selves and weary of the responsibilities which go with membership in a purposive human group, he offers exciting opportunities for ‘getting away from it all’ in parades and demonstrations and public meetings. The organs of the body politic are purposive groups. A crowd is the social equivalent of a cancer. The poison it secretes depersonalizes its constituent members to the point where they start to behave with a savage violence, of which, in their normal state, they would be completely incapable. The revolutionary encourages his followers to manifest this last and worst symptom of herd-intoxication and then proceeds to direct their frenzy against his enemies, the holders of political, economic, and religious power.

In the course of the last forty years the techniques for exploiting man’s urge towards this most dangerous form of downward self-transcendence have reached a pitch of perfection unmatched in all of history. To begin with, there are more people to the square mile than ever before, and the means of transporting vast herds of them from considerable distances, and of concentrating them in a single building or arena, are much more efficient than in the past. Meanwhile, new and previously undreamed-of devices for exciting mobs have been invented. There is the radio, which has enormously extended the range of the demagogue’s raucous yelling. There is the loudspeaker, amplifying and indefinitely reduplicating the heady music of class-hatred and militant nationalism. There is the camera (of which it was once naively said that ‘it cannot lie’) and its offspring, the movies and television; these three have made the objectification of tendentious fantasy absurdly easy. And finally there is that greatest of our social inventions, free, compulsory education. Everyone now knows how to read and everyone consequently is at the mercy of the propagandists, governmental or commercial, who own the pulp factories, the linotype machines and the rotary presses.

Assemble a mob of men and women previously conditioned by a daily reading of newspapers; treat them to amplified band music, bright lights, and the oratory of a demagogue who (as demagogues always are) is simultaneously the exploiter and the victim of herd-intoxication, and in next to no time you can reduce them to a state of almost mindless subhumanity. Never before have so few been in a position to make fools, maniacs or criminals of so many.

In Communist Russia, in Fascist Italy, in Nazi Germany, the exploiters of humanity’s fatal taste for herd-poison have followed an identical course. When in revolutionary opposition, they encouraged the mobs under their influence to become destructively violent. Later, when they had come to power, it was only in relation to foreigners and selected scapegoats that they permitted herd-intoxication to run its full course. Having acquired a vested interest in the status quo, they now checked the descent into subhumanity at a point well this side of frenzy. For these neo-conservatives, mass-intoxication was chiefly valuable, henceforward, as a means for heightening their subjects’ suggestibility and so rendering them more docile to the expressions of authoritarian will. Being in a crowd is the best known antidote to independent thought. Hence the dictators’ rooted objection to ‘mere psychology’ and a private life. ‘Intellectuals of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your brains.’

Drugs, elementary sexuality and herd-intoxication – these are the three most popular avenues of downward self-transcendence. There are many others, not so well trodden as these great descending highways, but leading no less surely to the same infra-personal goal. Consider, for example, the way of rhythmic movement. In primitive religions prolonged rhythmic movement is very commonly resorted to for the purpose of indulging a state of infra-personal and subhuman ecstasy. The same technique for achieving the same end has been used by many civilized peoples – by the Greeks, for example, by the Hindus, by many of the orders of Dervishes in the Islamic world, by such Christian sects as the Shakers and the Holy Rollers. In all these cases rhythmic movement, long-drawn and repetitive, is a form of ritual deliberately practised for the sake of the downward self-transcendence resulting from it. History also records many sporadic outbreaks of involuntary and uncontrollable jigging, swaying and head-wagging. These epidemics of what in one region is called Tarantism, in another St. Vitus’s dance, have generally occurred in times of trouble following wars, pestilences and famines, and are most common where malaria is endemic. The unwitting purpose of the men and women who succumb to these collective manias is the same as that pursued by the sectaries who use the dance as a religious rite – namely, to escape from insulated selfhood into a state in which there are no responsibilities, no guilt-laden past or haunting future, but only the present, blissful consciousness of being someone else.

Intimately associated with the ecstasy-producing rite of rhythmic movement is the ecstasy-producing rite of rhythmic sound. Music is as vast as human nature and has something to say to men and women on every level of their being, from the self-regardingly sentimental to the abstractly intellectual, from the merely visceral to the spiritual. In one of its innumerable forms music is a powerful drug, partly stimulant and partly narcotic, but wholly alternative. No man, however highly civilized, can listen for very long to African drumming, or Indian chanting, or Welsh hymn-singing, and retain intact his critical and self-conscious personality. It would be interesting to take a group of the most eminent philosophers from the universities, shut them up in a hot room with Moroccan dervishes or Haitian voodooists, and measure, with a stop watch, the strength of their psychological resistance to the effects of rhythmic sound. Would the Logical Positivists be able to hold out longer than the Subjective Idealists? Would the Marxists prove tougher than the Thomists or the Vedantists? What a fascinating, what a fruitful field for experiment! Meanwhile, all we can safely predict is that, if exposed long enough to the tom-toms and the singing, every one of our philosophers would end by capering and howling with the savages. The ways of rhythmic movement and of rhythmic sound are generally superimposed, so to speak, upon the way of herd-intoxication. But there are also private roads, roads which can be taken by the solitary traveller who has no taste for crowds, or no strong faith in the principles, institutions, and persons in whose name crowds are assembled. One of these private roads is the way of the mantram, the way of what Christ called ‘vain repetition’. In public worship ‘vain repetition ‘ is almost always associated with rhythmic sound. Litanies and the like are chanted, or at least intoned. It is as music that they produce their quasi-hypnotic effects. ‘Vain repetition,’ when practised privately, acts upon the mind, not because of its association with rhythmic sound (for it works even when the words are merely imagined), but in virtue of a concentration of attention and memory. The constant reiteration of the same word or phrase frequently brings on a state of light or even profound trance. Once induced, this trance can either be enjoyed for its own sake, as a delicious sense of infra-personal otherness, or else deliberately used for the purpose of improving personal conduct by auto-suggestion and of preparing the way for the ultimate achievement of upward self-transcendence. Of the second possibility more will be said in a later paragraph. Here our concern is with ‘vain repetition’ as a descending road into an intrapersonal alienation. We must now consider a strictly physiological method of escape from insulated selfhood, the way of corporal penance. The destructive violence which is the final symptom of herd-intoxication is not invariably directed outward. The history of religion abounds in gruesome tales of gregarious self-whipping, self-gashing, self-gelding, even self-killing. These acts are the consequences of crowd-delirium, and are performed in a state of frenzy. Very different is the corporal penance undertaken privately and in cold blood. Here the self-torment is initiated by an act of the personal will; but its result (in some cases at least) is a temporary transformation of the insulated personality into something else. In itself, this something else is the consciousness, so intense as to be exclusive, of physical pain. The self-tortured person identifies himself with his pain and, in becoming merely the awareness of his suffering body, is delivered from that sense of past guilt and present frustration, that obsessive anxiety about the future, which constitute so large a part of the neurotic ego. There has been an escape from selfhood, a downward passage into a state of pure physiological excruciation. But the self-tormentor need not necessarily remain in this region of infra-personal consciousness. Like the man who makes use of ‘vain repetition’ to go beyond himself, he may be able to use his temporary alienation from selfhood as the bridge, so to speak, leading upward into the life of the spirit.

This raises a very important and difficult question. To what extent, and in what circumstances, is it possible for a man to make use of the descending road as a way to spiritual self-transcendence? At first sight it would seem obvious that the way down is not and can never be the way up. But in the realm of existence matters are not quite so simple as they are in our beautifully tidy world of words. In actual life a downward movement may sometimes be made the beginning of an ascent. When the shell of the ego has been cracked and there begins to be a consciousness of the subliminal and physiological othernesses underlying personality, it sometimes happens that we catch a glimpse, fleeting but apocalyptic, of that other Otherness, which is the Ground of all being. So long as we are confined within our insulated selfhood, we remain unaware of the various not-selves with which we are associated – the organic not-self, the subconscious not-self, the collective not-self of the psychic medium in which all our thinking and feeling have their existence, and the immanent and transcendent not-self of the Spirit. Any escape, even by a descending road, out of insulated selfhood makes possible at least a momentary awareness of the not-self on every level, including the highest. William James, in his Varieties of Religious Experience, gives instances of ‘anaesthetic revelations’, following the inhalation of laughing gas. Similar theophanies are sometimes experienced by alcoholics, and there are probably moments in the course of intoxication by almost any drug, when awareness of a not-self superior to the disintegrating ego becomes briefly possible. But these occasional flashes of revelation are bought at an enormous price. For the drugtaker, the moment of spiritual awareness (if it comes at all) gives place very soon to sub-human stupor, frenzy or hallucination, followed by dismal hangovers and, in the long run, by a permanent and fatal impairment of bodily health and mental power. Very occasionally a single ‘anaesthetic revelation’ may act, like any other theophany, to incite its recipient to an effort of self-transformation and upward self-transcendence. But the fact mat such a thing sometimes happens can never justify the employment of chemical methods of self-transcendence. This is a descending road and most of those who take it will come to a state of degradation, where periods of subhuman ecstasy alternate with periods of conscious selfhood so wretched that any escape, even if it be into the slow suicide of drug addiction, will seem preferable to being a person.

What is true of drugs is true, mutatis mutandis, of elementary sexuality. The road runs downhill; but on the way there may occasionally be theophanies. The Dark Gods, as Lawrence called them, may change their sign and become bright. In India there is a Tantric yoga, based upon an elaborate pyscho-physiological technique, whose purpose is to transform the downward self-transcendence of elementary sexuality into an upward self-transcendence. In the West the nearest equivalent to these Tantric practices was the sexual discipline devised by John Humphrey Noyes and practised by the members of the Oneida Community. At Oneida elementary sexuality was not only successfully civilized; it was made compatible with, and subordinate to, a form of Protestant Christianity, sincerely preached and earnestly acted upon.

Herd-intoxication disintegrates the ego more thoroughly than does elementary sexuality. lts frenzies, its follies, its heightened suggestibility can be matched only in the intoxications induced by such drugs as alcohol, hashish and heroin. But even to the member of an excited mob there may come (at some relatively early stage of his downward self-transcendence) a genuine revelation of the Otherness that is above selfhood. This is one of the reasons why some good may sometimes come out of even the most corybantic of revival meetings. Some good as well as very great evil may also result from the fact that men and women in a crowd tend to become more than ordinarily suggestible. While in this state they are subjected to exhortations which have the force, when they come once again to their senses, of post-hypnotic commands. Like the demagogue, the revivalist and the ritualist disintegrate the ego of their hearers by herding them together and dosing them with plenty of vain repetition and rhythmic sound. Then, unlike the demagogue, they give suggestions some of which may be genuinely Christian. These, if they ‘take,’ result in a reintegration of broken-down personalities on a somewhat higher level. There can also be reintegrations of personality under the influence of the posthypnotic commands issued by a rabble-rousing politician. But these commands are all incitements to hatred on the one hand and to blind obedience and compensatory illusion on the other. Initiated by a massive dose of herd-poison, confirmed and directed by the rhetoric of a maniac who is at the same time a Machiavellian exploiter of other men’s weakness, political ‘conversion’ results in the creation of a new personality worse than the old and much more dangerous because wholeheartedly devoted to a party whose first aim is the liquidation of its opponents. I have distinguished between demagogues and religionists, on the ground that the latter may sometimes do some good, whereas the former can scarcely, in the very nature of things, do anything but harm. But it must not be imagined that the religious exploiters of herd-intoxication are wholly guiltless. On the contrary, they have been responsible in the past for mischiefs almost as enormous as those brought upon their victims (along with the victims of those victims) by the revolutionary demagogues of our own time. In the course of the last six or seven generations, the power of religious organizations to do evil has, throughout the Western world, considerably declined. Primarily this is due to the astounding progress of applied science and the consequent demand by the masses for compensatory illusions that have an air of being positivistic rather than metaphysical. The demagogues offer such pseudo-positivistic illusions and the churches do not. As the attractiveness of the churches declines, so also does their influence, so do their wealth, their political power and, along with these, their capacity for doing evil on a large scale. Circumstances have now delivered the churchmen from certain of the temptations to which, in earlier centuries, their predecessors almost invariably succumbed. They would be well advised voluntarily to deliver themselves from such temptations as still remain. Conspicuous among these is the temptation to acquire power by pandering to men’s insatiable craving for downward self-transcendence. Deliberately to induce herd-intoxication – even if it is done in the name of religion, even if it is all supposedly ‘for the good’ of the intoxicated – cannot be morally justified.

On the subject of horizontal self-transcendence very little need be said – not because the phenomenon is unimportant (far from it), but because it is too obvious to require analysis and of occurrence too frequent to be readily classifiable.

In order to escape from the horrors of insulated selfhood most men and women choose, most of the time, to go neither up nor down, but sideways. They identify themselves with some cause wider than their own immediate interests, but not degradingly lower and, if higher, higher only within the range of current social values. This horizontal, or nearly horizontal, self-transcendence may be into something as trivial as a hobby, or as precious as married love. It can be brought about through self-identification with any human activity, from running a business to research in nuclear physics, from composing music to collecting stamps, from campaigning for political office to educating children or studying the mating habits of birds. Horizontal self-transcendence is of the utmost importance. Without it, there would be no art, no science, no law, no philosophy, indeed no civilization. And there would also be no war, no odium theologicum or ideologicum, no systematic intolerance, no persecution. These great goods and these enormous evils are the fruits of man’s capacity for total and continuous self-identification with an idea, a feeling, a cause. How can we have the good without the evil, a high civilization without saturation bombing or the extermination of religious and political heretics? The answer is that we cannot have it so long as our self-transcendence remains merely horizontal. When we identify ourselves with an idea or a cause we are in fact worshipping something homemade, something partial and parochial, something that, however noble, is yet all too human. ‘Patriotism,’ as a great patriot concluded on the eve of her execution by her country’s enemies, ‘is not enough.’ Neither is socialism, nor communism, nor capitalism; neither is art, nor science, nor public order, nor any given religion or church. All these are indispensable, but none of them is enough. Civilization demands from the individual devoted self-identification with the highest of human causes. But if this self-identification with what is human is not accompanied by a conscious and consistent effort to achieve upward self-transcendence into the universal life of the Spirit, the goods achieved will always be mingled with counterbalancing evils. ‘We make’, wrote Pascal, ‘an idol of truth itself; for truth without charity is not God, but His image and idol, which we must neither love nor worship.’ And it is not merely wrong to worship an idol; it is also exceedingly inexpedient. The worship of truth apart from charity – self-identification with science unaccompanied by self-identification with the Ground of all being – results in the kind of situation which now confronts us. Every idol, however exalted, turns out, in the long run, to be a Moloch, hungry for human sacrifice.



R.I.P. Chris Colledge.

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They don’t last long in this world.

Too bad.–Reg Hartt, 09, 1, 2018