Things have certainly changed in society since the halcyon days of the counter culture in the 1970s. of course, what constitutes the counterculture back than and now may be slightly different, or perhaps the term is a misnomer when applied to the various socio-political movements of the 60s and 70s, being there is more convergence between the goals of underground revolutionaries and Brahman political and media class figures then one might think at first glance. Perhaps this s all in hindsight, after the various social and spiritual revolutions died out, the hippies grew up and became the Boomer functionaries of the cathedral institutions we know today, to only live out their abandoned dreams vicariously in the radicalization of their millennial children. Only now the millennial SJW activist operates in more safer, institutional-backed forms of contained rebellion, targeting certain enemies that are deemed non-persons, all without ever daring to disrupt any real forms of modern power. What a contradictory mess we find ourselves in with the modern world. As many have pointed out; we have far left radicals legitimizing corporate censorship and dominance of culture,, faux revolutionaries lionized by the most mainstream of media outlets and entertainment giants, and pretend-vanguards really safeguarding the last semblance of bourgeoisie sentimentalism.
But what does this have to do with the film in question? Alejandro Jodorowsky’s seminal metaphysical 1973 flick The Holy Mountain, a film that would take a full length book to really get into the nuance of the phantasmagoric imagery, surrealism and references to various esoteric mystic schools and philosophies of old. One lesson that lies beneath the surface of such a film is that the political realties of any time are not immune from higher considerations. By this we mean, the politics of an episteme or epoch can adopt a spiritual character. An absurd idea to us moderns, for we are under the impression that any metaphysical element has been clawed and scrapped out of us by the supreme “rationality” and materialism of the modern world. We are simply too “sophisticated” for such things, our politics are “democratic” and egalitarian. The liberal end of history has left us bereft of the spiritual intricacies Jodorowsky depicted in The Holy mountain, and its dying gasp was felt in the new age revivalism of the 70s he was depicting. However, this would be the painfully triumphalist assessment of there being a great “death” of anything metaphysical, and a hubris of the modern scientism and reductionism of the spiritually dyslexic.
Thus it is the world of The Holy Mountain; We are greeted by a thief that resembling Jesus covered in his own filth, the “fool” figure in the ancient Tarot deck, representing child like beginnings, and playful newness. He is venerated by a crowd of towns people, and made into dozens of idols by a drunken group of men dressed as roman guards for a town festival. He eats one figure that resembles his own face, a self-effacement and Buddhist-like recognition of the “original face before you were born” being the original nothing. He then is lifted by a sky hook to the top of the tower occupied by the alchemist (played by Jodorowsky himself) and is subjected to various esoteric rituals, till he is put in a giant alchemical burner, transforming his own excrement into gold. We are then introduced to several figures that represent the globalist class, the movers and shakers of the world behind the scenes. We have a brutal police chief who collects sacrifices in the form of 1000 pairs of castrated testacies. An architect who is selling a plan to industrialists that would make workers sleep in row upon rows of sky coffins (an inversion of the Tibetan ritual burial). A weapons manufacture, a “beauty designer” who makes products that artificially enhance the human body, a government defense minister, and an Andy Warhol-esque artist that has an “art factory” that mass produces modern art in human form.
All of them embark an alchemical journey of transformation by combining various syncretic rituals from Taoism, Mesoamerican shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism and several disparate European and Middle Eastern mystery schools. All of them are made to burn their money and plastic figures representing their identity, becoming a single higher entity for the end goal of achieving immortality by going to the holy mountain that the Alchemist has located, and conducting a hostile takeover of the immortals that sit upon the very peak. They travel by sea after going through a shamanistic journey that of course involves Entheogenic plants. At the base of the mountain is the final test of courage in the form of a crazy village filled with sideshow charlatans, sooth Sayers and false teachers. The main center of the village is “the pantheon Bar”, where the group encounter such figures as a carnival strongman who claims he can travel through the mythical mountain, and a pill-popping Bugman looking phenotype that claims everything spiritual on the mountain is really the product of various psychedelic drugs. The weapons manufacturer responds to this assertion with the famous line “our bees make honey, but your flies make shit”.
Along the way towards the peak, each member of the group struggles with symbolic visions of their various vices, such as sex, lust, avarice and greed. Each of them commits to a de-centering of the ego and a racial detachment from the decadent and spectacle-laden world they not only left behind but in a large part were responsible for running, with the exception of the thief. They finally reach the top and find the roundtable of the immortals, occupied by dressed up dummies. The alchemist then finds a woman who back in the original city, was a prostitute among a group of prostituted young and old that were dressed the same, but who broke off to follow the thief in sudden infatuation (another allusion to Jesus). The alchemist says the two are married, and sends the thief off with the girl, entrusting al his assets and his temple to him. Finally, the alchemist tells the group of technocrat Brahman immortals: “We began in a fairytale and we came to life, but is this life reality? No. It is a film. Zoom back camera. We are images, dreams, photographs. We must not stay here. Prisoners! We shall break the illusion. This is magic! Goodbye to the Holy Mountain. Real life awaits us”. The film ends with a subtle commentary on the reality of the art-house piece in general, a camera crew filming, implying the fourth wall is broken (which in the 70s was a novelty, and of course Jodorowsky does it in a tasteful manner), and like all modern art pieces, forces the audience to question the authenticity of the film’s progression in general.
The Holy Mountain depicts the unreality of the 70s in Jodorowsky’s eyes, a vision that is oddly similar to our time. In the city where the film starts off, the thief wanders around a festival of hedonists and tourists adorning various costumes and veils. This is a world of open dictatorship and religious violence. One scene is of a tourist who is being unclothed and practically raped by one of the soldiers, but laughs and takes pictures as if she is an observer that is totally unaffected by what is surrounding her. The soldiers put down a rebellion, killing revolutionaries in the streets, and then we see tourists snapping pictures as if it is another spectacle among many. The elites themselves in the film are committed to making the world an absurdist pastiche of the real. The cosmetic factory owner literally creates faces and augmented body parts, even cosmetics and augmentations for the dead. The artist goes on about his mass produced “factory art”, a jab at the consumerist and decadent art world at the time that celebrate trends like pop art and minimalist abstraction further confusing and distorting art, something that was once considered sacred. We have scenes of the weapon manufacturer highlighting her “groovy psychedelic weapons” designed to sell to hippies. She then explains how her corporation uses advanced data collection to analyze future trends, randomly determining that Peru will be the next nation to bomb and take over, selling weapons to the government. She then goes on about selling toys and creating TV shows as propaganda, instilling hatred of Peruvians to “make children, who will be the future soldiers hate a future enemy”. The elites in this world of course mimic the Brahman caste of the real world in their pursuit of immortality. They take popular new age trends of the time, totally disregard the intended purpose of these spiritual practices, and synthesize them to achieve all-encompassing power and longevity “on the cheap” as it were. The alchemist of course sees right through this and shatters their reality and expectations, and perhaps the perceptual lens of us the viewers as well.
This is not far removed from the functionaries and technocrat Silicon Valley monoliths that dabble in the ideas that have captured the current cultural zeitgeist today. The post-human has replaced their spirituality, and their alchemical methodology for achieving Godhood is secularized in the science fiction fantasy of Trans-humanism. The elites of old were not shy of bankrolling mystics and soothsayers, as our elites pour millions of dollars into the half-baked research projects of Trans-humanist and futurist crackpots that nearly resemble their metaphysical counterparts. Perhaps in an effort of subversion, or out of some mass delusion of grandeur among the technocrat class, there is this reciprocity between what the controllers promote and think, and what captivates a certain age in terms of mass fictional/pop-culture appeal. Perhaps people like Alex Jones are correct in asserting such a reverberation of the elite’s desires among our decadent and polluted cultural landscape, and perhaps Jodorowsky’s metaphysical masterpiece of a film has pointed to such a trend in a very explicit and provocative way. It is no coincidence that such intricate social commentary is blended together with a self-purifying sojourn to the peaks of the Taoist holy mountain. So it goes, the Kshatriya class has the ability to meanifully utilize the vtiality and ideas of variosu subcultrues and movements of any scoiety, be it the hippies and new-agers, or the middle to upper class campus radcials of today.