The Ark in Space, The Talons Of Weng-Chiang, Planet Of The Spiders, The Nightmare Of Eden – all these episodes of Dr. Who from the mid to late 1970s seem like comic strip versions of Kenneth Grant's Typhonian motifs... most strikingly the title, “The Nightmare of Eden” being one syllable short of Grant's astral travel guide to the qliphoth, Nightside of Eden... I've often wondered whether the script writers were dipping into Grant's work but temporally this doesn't quite add up. But I secretly hope the obverse is true, that Grant was drawing inspiration from the whacked out synopses of Dr. Who, which often read better than their cardboard realisations.
|Chislehurst Caves – Occult pop hot spot: Bowie played here and Dr. Who filmed "The Demons" here|
The Nightmare Of Eden features two spaceships, the good mothership “Empress” and an evil trade ship “Hecate” on board which are traffickers attempting to harvest drugs from the planet “Eden”. Are the monikers of the ships really Tarotic hints of the refractive sephira between the tree of life and the tree of death that Grant dissects in his most Nephilim drenched volume?
If Grant didn't program 70s children's sci-fi, then incredibly it would seem that Dr. Robert Vaughan, Ballard's “Maldoror Of The Motorway” played some part in the creation of The Tomorrow People – ITV's derivation of Dr. Who. Moreover, one of the sole interesting facts emerging from John Baxter's recent churlish character assassination of JG Ballard, is that Ballard wrote an episode of Jackanory in the late 1960s. Hilariously, Baxter also claims that Ballard was hoping to cash in on the success of Alan Garner's novels by writing a children's book, resulting in the shamanic sperm quest of the Unlimited Dream Company. One can only imagine how this could be scheduled along with the likes of The Secret Garden but I'd like to fantasise that the exotic parrots of Ballard's suburbia would abscond to the Blue Peter set, fecundating its Italian sunken garden and making Priapus of Percy Thrower.
|Dr. Christopher Evans|
Dr. Christopher Evans, TV psychologist and Ballard's self-actualising other, was the inspiration for Crash's Dr. Robert Vaughan. As well as writing the Mighty Micro, Landscapes Of The Night and Cults Of Unreason, Evans edited two anthologies of sci-fi and horror: The Mind In Chains and The Mind At Bay. Pleasingly, both anthologies contain stories by both Ballard and M.R. James – an unusual collage of authors that has exciting meta-fictional ramifications pending their hybridisation. The Mind In Chains, in particular, was the creative keystone for the Tomorrow People and Evans' name appears on the credits of every episode of the programme – as the scientific advisor. The Tomorrow People's central conceit concerns a group of hyper evolved children with psionic powers – the children are known as “Homo superior”... taken from David Bowie's Oh you pretty things. This delicious collision of glam and sci-fi is only heightened by the fact that the Tomorrow People appeared as a comic strip in the Bay City Roller obsessed Look-In magazine that so was popular with hormonal adolescents in the mid-70s.The Tomorrow People cartoon strip first appeared in Look-In on 28th July 1973 (the same year as Ballard's Crash), to coincide with the TV series' launch. The cover of the magazine shows four young astronautically attired characters from the Tomorrow People, while the blurb for the magazine offers a chance to win an album by the Fab 4. Most tellingly at the top of the page, the contents of the magazine include a road safety quiz - epitomizing the paranoia of the car crash that pervaded every pore of culture in the early 70s.
The Tomorrow People explored and extrapolated to cosmic proportions the whole weird pop svengali/pretty boy band vampiric/faustian bargain in an amazing episode called Hearts of Soggoth. One of the stars of the Tomorrow People, Michael Holoway was also a member of Flintlock an Essex pop group similar to The Bay City Rollers' and the Tomorrow People fused fact and fiction when Flintlock appeared on the sci-fi programme as “The Fresh Hearts”. In the storyline, they are approached by a seedy silver haired chap called Jake who asks to be their manager. It turns out that Jake is actually one Prof. James Marsden, the leader of a religious sect known as “The Hearts of Soggoth”. Marsden has a special metronome that causes the band to play at a certain beat that will invoke “Lord Soggoth” who according to an old book will return when a million people hear the beat of his heart. Marsden's aim is to make “The Fresh Hearts” into a stellar pop band who will be broadcast to an audience of millions, thus paving the way for the return of Lord Soggoth. On returning, it is predicted Soggoth will destroy the “Lords Of Heaven”.
A Gnostic Lovecraftian Ragnarok, all before the early evening news, this astoundingly mashed up episode of the Tomorrow People explores similar themes to Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus where frequencies issued at a Bavarian rock concert invoke a Teutonic army from a lake to immanentise the eschaton. It also promotes the dodgy pop impresario to the position of a minion of the Old Ones. Perhaps the archetypal vampire impresario is Andrew Loog Oldham – the androgynous gangster manager of The Rolling Stones. His name is intriguing for us Grantian “scholars”. In one of Grant's New Isis Lodge grimoires there is a cipher that gets transliterated as “Loog”. Grant ruminates a great deal on its meaning, exploring its qabalistic significance as well as its phonetic similarity to Bela Lugosi speculating (wildly),
“there is an alternative interpretation of Loogs which, although far-fetched, may be legitimately considered since it is typical of the paronomasia traditionally used by qabalists. Loogs... approximates too nearly to Lugosi to be overlooked. Lugos is the name of the place in which Lugosi was born. As a scion of one of the oldest families in Hungary he, more than anyone, was particularly the part”.
Grant, in a footnote to the above quote maintains that Lugosi, as well as identifying himself with Dracula, also expressed an admiration for Crowley's magick.
More important than the academic correctness of Grant's qabalism is his assertion of the importance of paronomasia as a magical method. Here he shares much in common with some of the theories posited by Dr. Christopher Evans in his study of dreams, Landscapes Of The Night. Essentially Landscape Of The Night is a slick paradigmatic argument for the software programming role of dreams. Where it intersects with Grant is in championing the psychological truth of the pun.
I speculate that paronomasia can be used as a linguistic analogue of Dali's paranoiac critical method, where Dali enters a waking dream to retrieve hand painted photographs of the concrete irrational. Taking this analogy to Grant's work, I suggest Grant was constructing hand written grimoires of the walking dead names - in other words, Necronomicons.
One of the key refrains of Evans' dream research is in elucidating the dream's "positive logic, quite distinct from the day world". Evans recounts some fascinating experiments in lateral thinking puzzle solving by dream narrative. In one test, dreamers were asked to consider the letters H,I,J,K,L,M,N,O - the solution to this sequence being a single word, "water", since the sequence is phonetically H20, the chemical symbol of water. Test subjects who had not solved the problem before sleeping reported dreams which had water in them somewhere. The dream appears to solve problems with imagistic word play. Moreover, the "giant gelatinous pun" of Finnegan's Wake, as Ballard describes Joyce's novel, is perhaps closer to Grant's Necronomicon's than one might expect. And we must not also forget the argot of Fulcanelli's Mystery of Cathedrals as an object lesson in Hermetic wordplay, where the mysterious Alchemist states,
"People think that such things are merely a play on words. I agree. The important thing is that such word-play should guide our faith toward certainty, toward positive and scientific truth..."
echoing the Evans' theory of "positive dream logic".
Whatever the validity of the Grant's vampiric logos, the spectres of Andrew Loog Oldham, Jonathan King and Tam Patton assume a powerful pop GodForm, and the cartoon amalgam of glam, sci-fi and the schlocky gnosticism in Hearts Of Soggoth raises the question of who programs Who? Perhaps the answer lies in Dr. Christopher Evans' anthology The Mind In Chains - where M.R James' pederastic horror story The Lost Hearts lines up with J.G. Ballard's Bowie-esque The Dead Astronaut. Maybe the programming by Evans of these seemingly diametrical authors created the formula for this episode?
|English Heretic's Chrome plaque for Vaughan, anti-hero of Ballard's Crash|