Anton LaVey Vs. John Doe (Referee: Puppy)

Contrary to Occultist (and undeserved Cult Figure) Aleister Crowley, whose drug-induced “revelations” have about as much credibility as “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” (Yes, I know about the drawing), Anton LaVey actually tried to put forth an intelligent intellectual argument in his conglomeration of mostly other people’s ideas known as ‘The Satanic Bible’.  John Doe, from the film ‘Seven’, would likely take issue with LaVey’s stance that the “Seven Deadly Sins” in fact reflect man’s inherently carnal nature and should be embraced, not avoided.  Granted, John Doe was an incredibly sick and disgusting character, but what makes ‘Seven’ so scary is that he is perfectly lucid in his explanations, which are rather more articulate than LaVey’s…e.g…

9/6/12: I’m big enough to admit when I’m wrong…I didn’t really understand Crowley when I wrote this.  Although I put no faith in his spiritual/theological arguments, nor do I “oppose” them…they are, at least, genuine.  Unlike LaVey.  And Crowley, while in my opinion quite flawed and, at times, completely incorrect in his non-spiritual musings, was from what I now understand an extremely intelligent man whose one-line philosophy doesn’t mean what many people think it means.  As a wise(r) man once said, “Those things that are easily understood are rather shallow.”  Unlike LaVey, Crowley was NOT shallow.  Now, onward…

Lust: 
LaVey: Believed it should be embraced in whatever (consensual, legal) way you wanted, including extramarital affairs and relationship infidelity.
Doe: Although he objects based on the morality of the marriage contract with God, he also seems to think it’s wrong to have sex with someone after you’ve promised someone you supposedly Love that you will always be faithful to them.

Winner:  Doe

Pride:
LaVey: Believed that one should be Proud of their accomplishments and abilities, and that Immortality is achieved by performing great deeds on Earth, and being thus remembered.
Doe: Believed that, as was taught in Medieval Times, Pride is a “Sin” even if you don’t believe in the concept of Sin because becoming too full of oneself often leads you to underestimate others and overestimate yourself, and has caused more amazingly stupid defeats than can be counted on all digits (INCLUDING toes).

Winner: Doe

Wrath:
LaVey: Believed that it was proper and just to exercise one’s Wrath upon one’s enemies, assuming (supposedly) it was within the constraints of the Law.  A bit of a contradiction, since violence is rarely lawful.  Then again, the law hasn’t exactly always been in keeping with truth and justice (See “Slavery”).
Doe: Believed that exercising one’s Wrath upon another was a weakness, something only God had the right to do, and would inevitably lead to your own destruction in one form or another.

Winner: Call it a draw…Revenge rarely leads to happiness or closure, but the law itself is a form of revenge against those who do wrong.

Envy:
LaVey: Believed Envy was a driving force in man trying to achieve one’s goals and obtain things desired.
Doe: Believed that everyone should be content and happy with their place in life, and not want for anything they were not provided with.

Winner: LaVey.  From a purely logical standpoint, he makes sense…in moderation.

Sloth:
LaVey: I’m not quite sure how Anton justifies endorsing doing absolutely nothing as part of the basic nature of man.  Sad, really, if he believes it is.
Doe: Believed that Sloth (Apathy, laziness) was wrong as a form of omissive destructiveness.

Winner: Doe…I mean, come on.

Greed:
LaVey: Again, as with Envy, believed Greed motivated people to better themselves.  Or, to quote Gordon Gecko – “Greed is Good”.  Sounds a bit too Capitalistic.
Doe: Believed that Greed motivated people to do things they knew were wrong simply for monetary gain or other relatively meaningless factors.

Winner: Doe.  I’m not a BP fan.

Gluttony:
LaVey: Believed that one should indulge one’s appetites as one wished, that it was every person’s right to consume anything they wished (within legal means)
Doe: Believed that it was wrong for people to eat WAY too much food when millions of people are starving to death.

Winner:  Doe, although this only applies if the excess food is in fact given TO the people that actually need it.  It does no good sitting on store shelves.

After Se7en rounds, the bout goes to Doe, 5 rounds to 1, with one draw.  Still a twisted little thing, though.

-Puppy >.< Yip!

Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)

George Orwell’s great Novel (as opposed to the “Fairy Story” entitled ‘Animal Farm’) is an intricate, incisive, and terrifying warning against the dangers of blind obedience and the quiet tolerance of unacceptable changes.  It makes absolutely no attempt to moralize, and that’s exactly why it’s so scary…the story is told in a matter-of-fact way that suggests a recital of facts, and nothing more.

That’s not to say that Orwell wasn’t trying to make a point…he most certainly was.  But unlike Aldous Huxley before him and many others after him, he realizes that to inject his own personal feelings into the story explicitly serves only to push the novel towards exactly that which it is objecting to – Propaganda.  The characters are laid out, the rather complicated world is created, and the story unfolds.  It is neither good nor bad…it simply is.  In NOT trying to generate sympathy for his characters or his cause, Orwell succeeds in doing both.

In a similar fashion to ‘Hagakure’, it seems that Orwell is writing in a way that is the limit of what can be understood by most people.  An overly intellectual treatment would serve no more useful purpose, and since the message of non-conformity and freedom of thought/expression/ideas is meant for everyone, it is written for everyone to understand.  You can heed it or you can ignore it…Orwell doesn’t seem to be particularly hopeful it will do any good, and I would tend to agree with him.

Grade: A+

‘The Satanic Bible’ – Updated Analysis (By Puppy)

– Anton LaVey thanks Ragnar Redbeard, whose “Might Makes Right” philosophy would be applauded by Adolf Hitler, among others.  And, of course, no women (until the secondary “thanks”)…because to Anton (although he would never actually come out and say this) women are here on Earth to please men.  I also like the acknowledgement of P.T. Barnum (“There’s a fool born every minute”) as an influence on LaVey…it shows from the start what a fraud he is.

7/23/11: Apparently he thanks him a lot, according to those that contend much of his book is plagiarized from ‘Might Is Right’.  This philosophy is, of course,  abject nonsense,  the sort of mindless drivel spouted by the physically and/or mentally strong when they’re at the height of their powers and conveniently forgotten whenever they actually need help from anyone else.

9/7/12: I suppose there are those who espouse this when physically and/or mentally strong, AND who continue to espouse it even when they become physically and/or mentally weak…but I’m pretty sure the ratio of those “true” believers to fraudulent, bullying scumbags is about 1:1000.

10/21/15: For some reason I was thinking about bugs and this naturally came to mind. Bees, ants, and other insects that have a sense of “community”, at least in SOME way, are NOT LaVeyan. Spiders, cockroaches, ticks, mosquitoes…these are the best LaVeyans on the planet: existing to exist, thinking only and always of themselves (each one), producing nothing. Well, spiders are at least good organic vacuum cleaners.

– The introduction, in which Anton is described as dedicating things to “The Devil”, although he by his own definition defines “The Devil” as a Christian concept…and, being a Christian concept, he must see it as ignorant and foolish. So, he’s dedicating his ceremonies to ignorance and stupidity. Brilliant.

7/23/11: This isn’t completely fair, as he is using “The Devil” as a metaphor in an attempt at parody/mockery/shock value/etc…I don’t think he’s doing it very WELL, but he is doing it.

10/21/15: It’s comedy that’s not funny. Simple as that, really.

– “man’s carnal nature will out no matter how much it is purged or scourged by any white light religion.” – Anton LaVey

Really, Anton? Then how do you explain Mother Theresa, amongst others? You didn’t say “Usually”…you said WILL…meaning always. STRIKE.

7/23/11: My response sounds a bit petulant in retrospect, so I’ll expand it…there’s a huge difference between “carnal” and “brutal and selfish”. To use the example of sexual repression, as opposed to the (non-destructive) display of lust in a consenting manner, as THE nature of man and as something “opposed” by white-light religions is simply deceptive. White-light religions do not by definition attempt to “purge”, “scourge”, or really even repress sexuality. Not ALL of them, at least…the generalities are unfounded and the basis for his reaction is therefore false.

9/7/12: “The sensuous Pagan ritual begins…” – Tom Servo. Sorry, I LOVE that one. No offense to Pagans in general meant in any way.

10/21/15: Clarification: No offense to NON-LaVeyan Pagans meant in any way. If you’re LaVeyan, please stop visiting my website.

– “I came to detest the sanctimonious attitude of people toward violence, always saying it’s God’s will.” – Anton LaVey

I never said that. So…you formed a cult. Brilliant.

7/23/11: Here I agree that to explain something horrible by saying it’s *Insert Deity’s Name Here*’s will is insufficient, at least from an intellectual point of view. But I think, again, he’s lumping in EVERY Theist into the same category, which is, again, a false premise.

9/7/12: Let’s be frank: He’s an angsty post-adolescent venting his frustrations.

10/21/15: He’s a showman with nothing to show, a comedian without material.

– “In my case, I found I could conjure up parking places at the last minute in front of theaters, when none should have been there.” – Anton LaVey

So you just blinked the cars out of existence that otherwise
would have been there…did you wiggle your nose or fold your arms
and nod your head quickly?

7/23/11: I still think my response here is amusing and I have nothing to add.

9/7/12: Personally, I always preferred ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’ to ‘Bewitched’…but that’s a whole other (more interesting and worthy of thought) topic.

10/21/15: Of course the reason I preferred ‘I Dream Of Jeannie’ wasn’t really the writing…also, it strikes me that he must have done the nose-wiggle ‘Bewitched’ thing, because the other one would be really hard whilst driving.

– “Satanism is a blatantly selfish, brutal religion.” – The guy that wrote the foreword.

…ummm…aren’t you supposed to PRAISE what you’re forewording?

10/21/15: Personally I think the vast majority of LaVeyans are idiots, lunatics, or (the majority) a$$holes who want to pretend that they have a “philosophy” behind why they’re such an a$$hole when the reason is…they’re an a$$hole.

– “This is the book of our era.” – second foreword guy.

HAHAHAHAAHAHA!!! Oh…ummm…you’re serious. I wrote better sh1t in Junior High.

7/23/11: Actually according to its Precepts, it isn’t supposed to NECESSARILY be a “blatantly selfish” or “brutal” philosophy (No, it’s not a religion). It’s only used in that way by blatantly selfish and/or brutal people. As for the “book of our era” quote…I think Joel Hodgson said it best – “That’s a reach…that’s a reach.”

– “Crucial to the concept of Satanic ritual is an appreciation of its illustrative and inspirational qualities without necessarily regarding it as inflexible reality.”

Translation – It’s good theater! Well…so is Rocky Horror…

7/23/11: Form over function is perfectly fine for a lifestyle or a hobby, but as a personal guiding philosophy it leaves a lot to be desired.

9/7/12: Do not AVOID the Hounds of Hell…do not AVOID the Beasts of Brimstone…do not AVOID the Pup..pies of…Pur..ga…tory…

10/21/15: I’m sorry, I lost interest, where was I?

– “Satan…Although condemned to the most hideous of domains, a Hell totally shunned by the divinity, he embraced such privations as the burden of his intellectual prerogative.”

Ummm…no. Actually Satan/Lucifer/TheDumbAngel was cast out
of Heaven, according to Christian mythology. So unless Anton found some Holy books that say otherwise, he’s using Christian mythology to denounce Christian mythology…which doesn’t quite
work. If Satan (If he exists) was offered a chance to go back to Heaven, he’d say “OK!” and leave all his pathetic “followers” behind.

7/23/11: This part is actually the most convincing/factual of all the quotes thus far…Lucifer WAS, in fact, cast out of Heaven for refusing to obey God’s will (If you believe in such things), and he did start off as a bit of a “tragic hero” before being consumed by his own (justified or not) hatred and bitterness. I still stand by the last part though…he’d leave in a second if he could (Again, if you believe in such things).

9/7/12: To wage a war you know you cannot win can be considered noble. It can also be considered insane. A matter of perspective, I suppose. <=== That’s NOT a snide comment.

10/21/15: Ten bucks says Anton used a Thesaurus for this.

– “The Satanic Bible is a most insidious document.”

No…it would have to be clever to be insidious.

7/23/11: Ditto.

9/7/12: If it’s so insidious, why do you have to SAY that it’s insidious? That’s like one of those cr@ppy 50’s horror film posters with the word “TERRIFYING!” on it.

10/21/15: EXPLOSIVE…A MUST-SEE…

– “As candid and conversational as the Satanic Bible might seem at first glance, it is not a volume to be gently dismissed.”

Sure it is!

7/23/11: Ok, ok…perhaps not “gently dismissed”. It’s better written than that. But dismissed nonetheless.

9/7/12: You are the weakest LaVey. Goodbye.

10/21/15: Well, at least you can take a picture of it.

– “You, the reader, are about to be impaled upon the sharp horns of a Satanic dilemma. If you accept the propositions of this book, you condemn your most cherished sanctuaries to annihilation. In return you will awaken – but only to the most fiery of Hells. Should you reject the argument, you resign yourself to a cancerous disintegration of your previously subconscious sense of identity. Small wonder that the Archfiend’s legacy has won him so many bitter enemies! Whatever your decision, it can be avoided no longer”

WOW! This sounds like it’d make a decent “Choose-Your-Own-Adventure” book…maybe Steve Jackson can re-write it and make it more interesting.

7/23/11: Hmmm…I certainly was a bit bitter, no? Although I was a funny guy…

9/7/12: I was just funny, you know.

12/19/12: You know…just, the way I talk…you know, like a clown…

10/21/15: Get the fck outta here…

-Puppy Yip!

10/21/15: Edited for appearance.

Brave New World (1932)

Two book reviews, two Doors appropriations.  Unfortunately, this time the source in question (Aldous Huxley, ‘The Doors of Perception’) isn’t nearly as interesting as the previous one (Yamamoto Tsunetomo, ‘Hagakure’).

‘Brave New World’ starts out ambitiously enough, suggests an extremely interesting idea, and then takes it absolutely nowhere you don’t expect it to go. 

As with ‘Equilibrium’ (although this isn’t anywhere NEAR as bad) the aspirations far exceed the accomplishment, although ‘Brave New World’ does at least maintain a constant level of moderate interest, a fervent hope that perhaps, eventually, it will regain/fulfill the promise of the opening/hype.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t, and the ending is as much symbolic of my relief of escaping Huxley’s ‘World’ as it is the very real relief of the “Savage”.

The name references are obvious, the progression is obvious, the explanations and counter-arguments are obvious…basically, this has the ambition of ‘1984’ with the verbal and conceptual simplicity of ‘Animal Farm’, only with much less subtlety and charm.

Sadly, any two-paragraph review of the plot is about as interesting as the entire book itself, and wastes far less of your time.  If he did in fact plagiarize this, he didn’t do it very well. 

The kind of “work of art” people sneer at when others have the audacity to label it a “classic”.

Grade: C

In Appreciation

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought
like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became
a man, I put childish ways behind me.” – Corinthians 13:11

“…I do not know what I may appear to the world; but
to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing
on the sea-shore, and diverting myself by now and
then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell
than ordinary, while the great ocean of truth lay
all undiscovered before me…” – Sir Isaac Newton

Hagakure (1716)

Propelled into the relative mainstream by the 1999 Jim Jarmusch film ‘Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai’, this collection of observations (translated roughly as “Hidden Leaves”) is extremely diverse, focusing on everything from the very mundane basic aspects of everyday life to deep philosophical/spiritual concepts, some of which I still don’t fully understand.  But that’s the point, as (to quote the book) “Those things that are easily understood are rather shallow”.

The book consists of comments recorded between 1709-1716 by Tsuramoto Tashiro as told by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo.  There is very little linear order to it, as there is no clear progression from “start” to “finish”, but perhaps that’s intentional…it’s clearly not something to be read casually or simply memorized.

There seem to me to be three distinct types of entries: Physical/Mental Instruction, Philosophical Observation, and Historical Recollection…although sometimes two (or all three) intertwine.  I frankly found very little use for some of the memories recorded, not because they weren’t interesting but because, in comparison with the other entries, they had very little to actually think about and/or “use”.

The wisdom displayed in the book is truly profound, which is made that much more impressive because I get the distinct impression that most of it wasn’t MEANT to be profound, simply told in as complex a fashion as Tsunetomo believed most people would be able to actually comprehend.  It can be a bit tedious wading through the recollections…not to say that they’re boring, but they simply have nowhere near the power of the most far-reaching of the observations. 

Knowledge gained too quickly often is lacking in wisdom, and whether intentionally or not, this is certainly a book that (contrary to Tsunetomo’s own advice) must be re-read many times to even begin to fully understand.  Which is a good thing, I think.

When a book can inspire a lyric that is considered profound 251 years later, you know it’s something special.  Watch the movie (‘Ghost Dog’) for a (then)-modern day “interpretation” of ‘Hagakure’, but read the book itself if you want anything near the real, intended experience.

Grade: A

10/4/12: It cannot be explained simply, because it’s not simple.  Read it.  Grade: A+

Land Of The Dead (2005)

The precise moment when George A. Romero FINALLY gets some real actors to work with is the precise moment he creates his greatest film and definitive statement, better even than the original ‘Night’ or the mercilessly cynical and anti-commercial (but quite cheezy) (original) – sequel ‘Dawn’.

Simon Baker (showing that “Good Guys” need neither be Pure nor Stupid), the late (great) Dennis Hopper (showing once again that inflection and attitude can make ALL the difference) and especially the vastly underrated John Leguizamo (pushing an ultra-cocky attitude that only a VERY few actors, including himself, could fully pull off) are all first-rate.

The supporting cast is almost as good, especially Robert Joy as the somewhat-unwanted sidekick and Eugene Clark as “Big Daddy”, the most intelligent of the zombies (Yes, they’re getting smarter).

The unrated/uncut version is grotesquely gruesome, and while I’m sure that a lot of the same people that liked the original movie not for the story or the message but for the shock value will revel in it, to me it’s irrelevant…perhaps a necessary reminder of the horrid contrast between the Have’s (Fiddler’s Green) and the Have-Not’s (Everyone else), and a grim depiction of Inhumanity versus Humanity, but purely secondary to the acting and character development.  That’s not to say it’s “gratuitous”, it’s used to horrifying effect and makes the movie’s endgame that much more Hopeful.

The story is a multi-layered version of ‘Night”s claustrophobic inevitability, and while I won’t spoil it by telling every detail of what happens (That’s what Wikipedia is for, if you want to know) I will say that it is extremely good from start to finish. 

When people talk about loving or hating horror movies, this is where the divide should be:  Only those that absolutely refuse to watch a film that is violent even if it is of extremely high quality won’t derive pleasure from this, while those that simply crave gore will probably be a bit disappointed that Romero didn’t spend less time having his characters talk and more time having them dismember…or be dismembered, as the case may or may not be.

Inspirational Quote: “No.  They’re just looking for a place to go.  Same as us.”

Grade: A-

2012: Add Asia Argento to the supporting cast mentions.  Her and Baker win in the “Most adorable romance that you KNOW will eventually lead to LOTS of sex using mild flirtation only as their lives hang in the balance” category.  I had to watch this again to make sure I wasn’t over-rating it as a thankful reaction to most gore film sh1t.  I wasn’t.  Grade: A-

Equilibrium is Tedium-ium

It’s so unbelievably mediocre that it fails to generate that “Wow, that’d make a great MST3K episode!” response.

Or, to describe the feelings of my eyes as they lolled around in disbelief while watching, I believe Lucifer said it best when he was cast out of Heaven…

“I’ve Fallen…and I can’t get up!!!”

-Puppy >.<  Yip!

Equilibrium (2002)

A cult seems to have sprung up around this movie for reasons I can’t fully understand.

Yes, the idea is a brilliant one.  Unfortunately, it’s not ‘Equilibrium”s idea.  But beyond the concept of totally rehashing previous films/books, which is a weak argument at best considering that many fine movies do exactly that (see “sequels”), there is just nothing here beyond the opening scene (Which is quite violent – get used to it, love it or not – but also displays a certain inventiveness in combat choreography and a mild subtlety to its character development and foreshadowing that seems to be lost during the rest of the movie) that’s worth watching in any way, shape, or form that could in any way be considered an advancement or even a worthy homage to an idea not already driven into the ground with the finesse of a Peter Gabriel.

LET THERE BE NO DOUBT ABOUT IT.

Perhaps fans of the over-rated but still vastly superior ‘American Psycho’ are just humming Genesis and Huey Lewis and The News songs as Christian Bale trudges woodenly through Ch..ch…ch…ch…changes in (I guess you could call them) emotions during his painstakingly reinforced metamorphosis from cold-blooded killer to warm-blooded killer (I mean “Freedom Fighter”), but for me, the promising professional mediocrity of the opening scene having long since worn off since…the opening scene, the final moment of tolerance comes during a dog-killing spree that apparently was the result of a “Creative” meeting that must have gone something like this:

(Man) “Hmmm…the script kinda sucks, how exactly are we going to keep people horrified?”
(Other Man) “How about burning priceless works of art?”
(Man) “Not enough…”
(Other Other Man) “How about flashbacks to traumatic moments?”
(Man) “Nope…”
(Woman) “How about actual character development?”
(Man) “Shut up!”
(Other Other Other Man) “How about killing defenseless little cute adorable animals?  Ummm…Kittens?”
(Man) “PUPPIES!!!”
(ALL) “BRILLIANT!”

Grade: D-

2012: Grade: F

4/23/16: Like ‘Fight Club’, ‘Saw’, and other movies I think are VASTLY overrated, I WANT to rank this lower than it deserves; sort of a counter-balance in the overreaction department. Unfortunately, critical integrity demands that I not. So…it just really stinks. Grade: D-