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Star Trek VII: Generations [DVD]
Star Trek VII: Generations [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Shatner
Price: £4.00

4.0 out of 5 stars An appointment with Blavatsky, 23 Aug 2014
“Star Trek Generations” is a somewhat uneven film, bringing together James Kirk from the original Star Trek franchise and Jean-Luc Picard from The Next Generation. Both are pitted against a mad alien scientist named Soran, who desperately wants to get back to the Nexus, a kind of fake heaven where all dreams and wishes get fulfilled. Soran is ready to kill millions of innocent civilians to reach his goal. The plot also features Klingon renegades Lursa and B'Ethor and the mysterious Guinan (starred by Whoopi Goldberg). And, of course, the annoying android Mr Data trying to become more human...

Probably not the best choice of entertainment if you don't like Star Trek, but quite good if you do. Personally, I'm fascinated by the Nexus. It strongly reminds me of Madame Blavatsky's description of Devachan in “The Key to Theosophy”. Perhaps the wise lady Guinan is supposed to be Blavatsky? Yes, yes, I'm speculating wildly... Still, the parallel is intriguing!

Due to this unexpected similarity with the West's very own underground religion, I give “Generations” four stars, although it really only deserves three, or perhaps just two if you're completely uninterested in Trekdom. After all, the film contains many references meaningful only to Star Trek fans. I mean, who outside devout viewers of the TNG series know about Lursa and B'Ethor?

As for myself, I feel a bit like Soran. I just can't get the Nexus out of my mind. “I have an appointment with eternity, captain, and I don't want to be late”.

The Case for Anthroposophy
The Case for Anthroposophy
by Owen Barfield
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Owen Barfield has a case, 23 Aug 2014
"The Case for Anthroposophy" is a small book edited by Owen Barfield, containing extracts from Rudolf Steiner's "Riddles of the Soul". Barfield was a life-long student of Anthroposophy, the spiritual worldview associated with Steiner and his Anthroposophical Society. I readily admit that Barfield's translation of Steiner's article is excellent. This must be the first time the notoriously unreadable Austrian occultist speaks to us in fluent English ...or fluent anything! Besides, the Steiner extracts are extremely interesting. I don't think it's a co-incidence that Barfield, who usually stayed clear of the stranger ideas of Anthroposophy (at least in his published writings), choose to translate, edit and publish a relatively sophisticated philosophical text by his spiritual mentor.

"Riddles of the Soul" is an attempt by Steiner to justify Anthroposophical "spiritual science" (really a form of paranormal clairvoyance) epistemologically. It's intended to be read by sceptics and materialists, and functions as a kind of opening to Steiner's explicitly spiritual-religious works "Occult Science" and "How to know higher worlds". The article (or at least Barfield's edited version) doesn't really make a sustained, systematic argument. Rather, Steiner throws out pointers towards a more spiritual worldview.

He makes three especially pertinent observations. First, that empiricist epistemology sooner or later comes to a point beyond which it cannot go, an impenetrable mental wall in our own minds. To modern science and materialism, these are the "limits of knowledge". Steiner observes that those who press against the wall, continuing their search for further knowledge, eventually experience a kind of breach, and gradually acquire new "spiritual organs", making it possible for them to "see" a spiritual reality previously unknown. This, I think, is correct - it's certainly "phenomenologically" correct, since seers and mystics surely do experience this particular "breach in the wall". Steiner, naturally, interprets this phenomenon as representing something real. In this context, he denies that Anthroposophy has anything to do with hallucinations, "visions" and the like. It represents a higher stage of cognition than conclusions based on mere sense-impressions, not a lower one (compare Ken Wilber's pre-trans fallacy).

Second, Steiner points out that the "representations" given to us through our sense organs only represent one dimension of the observed phenomena, and a relatively restricted one at that. The real phenomenon is "deadened" by the process of representation. Yet, we *do* experience other dimensions of the surrounding world, too, but not through our sensory organs or the nerves. Steiner speculates that we experience feelings through the respiratory system, and willing through our metabolism. The bottom line is that most of our experiences are usually subconscious (compare the "prehending" of Whitehead's process philosophy). His point, of course, is that the spiritual realities are "hidden", as it were, in these subconscious experiences, but can be brought into consciousness by spiritual training.

Third, Steiner makes a few philosophical observations. He points out that empiricism has to posit the existence of logical laws without being able to really explain their origins or validity. How can something purely sensory or corporeal be in tune with the laws of logic? Isn't the psyche's discovery of logic a purely spiritual activity? In another extract, Steiner discusses the faculty of judgment and reaches the conclusion that a "sense of hearing" is different from both "being aware of words" and "comprehending thoughts". A "hearing" per se is no more a "becoming aware of words" than touching implies seeing! The point here is that our perceptual activity must be based on more than just the five senses. Where does the ability to bestow *meaning* come from? (Compare C.S. Lewis' "dangerous idea".)

"Riddles of the Soul" also contain some more surprising statements. Steiner actually says that clairvoyant experiences aren't "literal" in the sense of being similar to observations made through sense-impression. Thus, when a clairvoyant says that he sees something "yellow" in the spiritual world, he is actually suggesting the experience of something which evokes similar feelings as the earthly colour "yellow", not that he is observing something literally yellow. Steiner distinguishes between three quite different mental processes: psychic processes leading up to a spiritual perception, spiritual perceptions themselves, and spiritual perceptions translated into the concepts of ordinary consciousness. I find this statement intriguing, since Steiner's clairvoyant investigations of the spiritual realms are notoriously detailed and, indeed, literal. As far as I understand, devout Anthroposophists do interpret them literally: Lucifer and Ahriman are real beings, Atlantis and Lemuria are real sunken continents, Old Saturn or Old Moon are real former incarnations of Earth, the Norse god Vidar really does accompany Christ in the etheric, demons with webbed feet really do live near crocus plants (sic), and so on. Yet, in Barfield's rendering, Steiner takes the more sensible position that, of course, "spiritual science" isn't literal in *this* sense, but merely attempts to render spiritual realities into earthly, sense-organ bound language! It's "real" but not literal - daimonically real, perhaps? (Compare Patrick Harpur's ideas about a daimonic reality.)

"The Case for Anthroposophy" is one of the more interesting books I've read lately, and this review can't really do it justice. I gladly give it five stars, despite not being convinced by the more concrete "case" for following Steiner in particular (I'm not an Anthroposophist, nor even a fellow traveller). I nevertheless regard many of Steiner's arguments in these extracts as almost obviously true. It seems Barfield's case for Anthroposophy is definitely stronger than unthinking materialism...

The Mission of the Folk-Souls: In Relation to Teutonic Mythology
The Mission of the Folk-Souls: In Relation to Teutonic Mythology
by Rudolf Steiner
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Steiner on a mission, 23 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
“The Mission of the Folk-Souls in relation to Teutonic Mythology” is a collection of lectures by Rudolf Steiner given in Christiania (Oslo), the national capital of Norway. The book is often used by critics of Anthroposophy to prove that Steiner was a racist and White supremacist. While Steiner does take an “essentialist” view of the current races of man, and claims that the Germanic and Slav nations are the most advanced in terms of spiritual evolution, his full view of race and nation are complex. They hardly fit the standard racist or nationalist discourses.

Thus, Steiner claims that races didn't exist on Atlantis, nor will they exist in the future. He believes that all humans must emancipate themselves from the influence of their Folk Souls at a certain stage of spiritual development. He also believes that racial diversity is something positive under present circumstances and has an obviously respect for Indian civilization. Steiner notoriously supported Germany during World War I, but in 1910 (when these lectures were given), he speaks positively about the British Empire and its Folk Soul, claiming that the British are spreading parliamentary democracy around the world! It's also interesting to note that Steiner, often accused of being a German nationalist, considered the Slavs to represent the next and higher stage of spiritual evolution. He speaks especially highly of Russian mystic Soloviev.

But yes, the lectures also contain ideas many will consider Euro-centric or Germanic-centric. Europeans represent “the Jupiter forces”, and “Jupiter” is the name of the next evolutionary stage of Earth. Europeans, Germanic Europeans in particular, are developing the ego and the Consciousness Soul, something necessary for the next stage of evolution. Steiner believes that “Teutonic” (Germanic, particularly Norse) mythology contain a lot of secret esoteric codes which, properly interpreted, yield a message similar to that of Anthroposophy. For instance, Thor is the god who gave humans an ego, Loki is Lucifer, the murder of Baldur by Hödur symbolizes the end of the old clairvoyance, the Fenris Wolf is Ahriman, and so on. Steiner is particularly fond of Vidar, the god who eventually defeats Fenris. In other texts, Steiner associate Vidar with the second coming of Christ.

Readers of Steiner's lectures will be struck by several things. One is the animistic worldview. Rather than seeing humans as products of various cosmic-spiritual forces, Steiner sees them as products of actual, personified spirits (he calls them angels). At one point, he even claims that solar eclipses are caused by a literal Fenris Wolf chasing and swallowing the sun! Of course, only clairvoyants can see what is really going on at the cosmic backstage… Another typical Steiner trait is the sheer complexity of his worldview, with a long list of different angelic beings overseeing human evolution, “abnormal spirits” who nevertheless plays a positive role, various historical epochs recapitulating each other in bewildering fashion, speculations about lost continents such as Atlantis and Lemuria, etc. This leads us to the third item I wish to draw attention to: the complete lack of external evidence for most of Steiner's claims. To take just one example, how do we know that one of the seven Elohim from the Sun, Jahve, entered the Moon? The founder of Anthroposophy does claim that all his statements can be tested and independently verified by other spiritual researchers, but in practice Steiner has always been the prophet or guru of the movement he founded. Personally, I was struck by the contradiction between the “Western” claim that individuality or individualism is something positive, and the (arguably) more collectivist claim that the Slav spirit is the next stage of our evolutionary sojourn.

“The Mission of the Folk Souls” may be too in house for most people, but students of esoteric lore might perhaps find its approach interesting, even if they eventually decide to disagree with it. Hence, I give this somewhat curious tome three stars.

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country [DVD]
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country [DVD]
Dvd ~ William Shatner
Price: £5.11

3.0 out of 5 stars The undiscovered Klingons, 23 Aug 2014
“The Undiscovered Country” is a typical Trekkie film. Faboulous if you're first and last love in life (and the universe) is finding out more about The United Federation of Planets and their complex relationship with the rest of the Star Trek universe…and probably immensely boring (or even incomprehensible) if you belong to another galaxy sub-population. This is the movie where the Federation (and James Tiberius Kirk) finally attempts a peace deal with the Klingon Empire, a bit like Americans and Russians finally becoming friends. Trekkies will note the discrepancies between the Klingons in this film, and those in later versions of the Star Trek saga. They will also note that Worf is Kirk's defense counselor. They might not note that the shape shifting alien at the penal colony is starred by David Bowie's wife! Not sure how to rate this Shakespeare-obsessed little drama, but I give it three stars for the effort. But, as I said, probably too in-house.

She Monkeys [DVD]
She Monkeys [DVD]
Dvd ~ Mathilda Paradeiser
Offered by fat_buddha
Price: £4.99

1.0 out of 5 stars Disturbingly boring, 23 Aug 2014
This review is from: She Monkeys [DVD] (DVD)
"She Monkeys" is marketed as a disturbing, Bergmanesque coming-of-age drama about lesbian teenagers, domination and violence. Or something. In reality, it's probably the most boring movie ever made. No plot. No drama. No acting. Not even lesbian scenes. The only positive review must have been written by the director. And trust me, it isn't Bergman. But sure, there is one scene suggesting incestuous pedophilia. Well, it's a Swedish movie, after all...

Rose of the World
Rose of the World
by Daniel Andreev
Edition: Paperback
Price: £24.60

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Roses and thorns, 23 Aug 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Rose of the World (Paperback)
I recently skimmed Daniel Andreev's curious work “The Rose of the World”. The author was a Russian mystic arrested by the Soviet authorities in 1947. Written during the 1950's (to a large extent in prison), the work wasn't officially published until 1991 by the author's wife Alla Andreeva. Daniel passed away already in 1959. The English translation by Lindisfarne Press is an abridgement, leaving out all sections exclusively dealing with Russia and Russian history. “The Rose of the World” is often referenced by the Anthroposophical offshoot around Robert Powell, but seems to be otherwise unknown in the West.

I can't say I was overly impressed by Andreev's work. It comes across as a somewhat exotic version of Theosophy or Anthroposophy, complete with annoying neologisms. An entire glossary is needed to explain the author's newly coined terms, including Witzraor, Skrivnus, Shrastr, Rarugg, Agga and Bramfatura. Our Earth is called Enrof and belongs to a wider cosmic system known as Shadanakar. The Planetary Logos (who incarnated as Jesus Christ) and his bride Zventa-Sventana are opposed by Gagtungr, a planetary demon resembling the Devil in more traditional systems. Humanity is on an evolutionary path towards higher spiritual perfection, a path that will eventually lead to the creation of a world government and the Rose of the World, a syncretistic pan-religion incorporating Christianity and other traditions of Light. A wide assortment of demonic beings oppose this development, preferring instead to create an satanic anti-humanity.

Jesus Christ (who seems to have lived on Atlantis and other unknown continents in earlier incarnations) partially failed in his mission, which wasn't supposed to end with his crucifixion. Rather, Jesus was supposed to have turned the world into a kind of paradise through a gradual, centuries-long evolutionary uplift of humanity. Andreev claims that such a thing actually happened in the world of the “daemons” (not to be confused with the demons), where Jesus had incarnated at an earlier point in time. The daemons (a kind of spiritualized humans) readily accepted Jesus and has therefore evolved further than terrestrial mankind.

Since God is all-good, evil is the result of creatures misusing their free will. The demons are responsible for all evil and suffering in the world, including death, karmic retribution and hell. Thus, the hellish realms where sinful human souls are tortured are really the creation of powerful demons, not of God! Some of the hells are of relatively recent vintage. The most important heavenly realm seems to be Heavenly Russia. Interestingly, there is also a kind of satanic Russia, complete with dark versions of St Petersburg and the Kremlin! Sometimes, the author gets unintentionally comic, as when he claims with an entirely straight face that the similarities between the demonic Raruggs and flying dinosaurs aren't co-incidental, since (of course) the Raruggs *are* flying dinosaurs… Another curious notion is the claim that certain fiction characters in novels are really a kind of undeveloped spirit-beings who get to live a fuller life by being incorporated into works of fiction here on Earth!

I'm not entirely sure why anyone would want to uncritically accept Daniel Andreev's works over those of, say, Rudolf Steiner or Valentin Tomberg. Andreev comes across as a well-meaning but confused visionary, trying to make sense of his spiritual experiences with varied degrees of success. Knowledge of his sources might have been helpful, but isn't provided since the publisher claims that we are dealing with a genuine revelation.

In my opinion, “The Rose of the World” only deserves two stars, although I admit rating a religious work is somewhat difficult…

Centurion [DVD]
Centurion [DVD]
Dvd ~ Michael Fassbender
Offered by Helen's Goodies
Price: £10.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Behind enemy lines, 23 Aug 2014
This review is from: Centurion [DVD] (DVD)
“Centurion” is a film about a small group of Roman soldiers stuck deep inside enemy territory in Scotland. Hunted by wild Picts led by a female Brigantine warrior named Etain, the group desperately tries to make its way back to Roman-held lands. Naturally, traitors, cowards and unexpected friends hide behind every bush…

I don't really like Roman-themed movies or series (let alone the actual Romans), but “Centurion” doesn't contain the usual stereotypes, making it interesting to watch. Or perhaps it's just filled with other stereotypes? Most of the plot is set in Pict territory, far away from gladiators, harlots and mad emperors. Instead, we get our fair share of Amazon warriors and blood vengeance. Still, a movie set in a real Northern forest has a more authentic feel than the ones made on stage in Hollywood (or Tunisia)!

For making my evening somewhat brighter, I give “Centurion” four stars.

The Rite [DVD] [2011]
The Rite [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Anthony Hopkins
Price: £3.00

2.0 out of 5 stars The biggest scheme, 23 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Rite [DVD] [2011] (DVD)
The biggest scheme the Devil ever pulled was the trailer to “The Rite”. It sure looked promising, but the film never really delivered. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised, since the concept is terribly unrealistic to begin with!

An atheist-sceptic trains for the Catholic priesthood (despite not believing an iota of the Bible and Tradition), and ends up at an exorcist course in Rome, where he befriends a devil-possessed exorcist, portrayed by Anthony Hopkins (OK, he was perfect for the part). After some supernatural haunting, including by a red-eyed mule (!), the sceptic becomes a priest-for-real, while the Devil presumably retreats into the woodworks. And yes, cats really are on the wrong side of the eternal battle.

The plot holes are obvious, the film is dragging, some twists are never explored in depth (what about the investigative reporter infiltrating the exorcist course?), and the horror scenes just aren't scary enough. But sure, it's interesting that “The Rite” seems to be relative positive towards Catholicism and exorcism, compared to “The Da Vinci Code” and other blockbusters. Still, only worth one or two stars in my opinion…

Aliens Vs Predator - Requiem [DVD] [2007]
Aliens Vs Predator - Requiem [DVD] [2007]
Dvd ~ Steven Pasquale
Offered by DVDBayFBA
Price: £4.10

2.0 out of 5 stars They are here, they are hungry, and they just nuked the entire franchise, 23 Aug 2014

A small town in Middle America is besieged by alien-predator hybrids, munching on drifters, soldiers and, ahem, a blonde teenage girl. OK, the latter specimen was never actually eaten, but you do get the drift...

The local sheriff's department soon finds itself in the crossfire between the alien hybrids and a lone pure-blooded Predator with some pretty original ideas about damage control. Some scenes are gross even for this franchise, including aliens attacking toddlers and pregnant women in a maternity ward! The U.S. military "saves the day" by nuking the entire town to kingdom come, or perhaps to the next sequel.

While "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem" isn't as bad as many reviewers claim, it's not a particularly good movie either. It's probably best suited for quite young and quite hardcore fans of "monster of the week" movies. Lovers of the original Alien or Predator films will probably find it something of a juvenile debasement of the original concepts.

Two stars.

The Hidden Zodiac
The Hidden Zodiac
by Sasha Fenton
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Decans and dwaads, 23 Aug 2014
This review is from: The Hidden Zodiac (Paperback)
Sasha Fenton's “The Hidden Zodiac” is one of several thousand astrology books. Most of the material is the usual, basic information about sun signs (birth signs). Arians are active and courageous, Librans are charming, good-looking but lazy, Scorpios are emotional and mysterious…you know the drift. And yes, Pisceans adore the sea and like to live near water!

However, Fenton has also included more obscure subjects. Apparently, each sign is divided into three decans and twelve dwaads. This purportedly explains why, say, a Scorpio born in late October is different from one born in early November. This, of course, is the “hidden zodiac” of the book's title.

Due to its introductory nature, the descriptions of these astrological sub-divisions are pretty short. I found more meaty stuff on the web. The book lacks a description of people born “on the cusp” between two sun signs.

I'm not sure how to rate Fenton's little book, but since I used it in some contexts myself, two stars seem a bit unfair, so I will give it the OK rating of three.

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