Friday, September 5, 2014

Subliminal Messaging

The "Pink Elephants on Parade" song got stuck in my head the other day (see previous post) and it really gave me some pause. Three things mainly, which gave me to pondering, left me with something of a conviction - I hate to say it - that the scene in the movie Dumbo, yes, in the movie Dumbo, just might really be a sort of creepy cryptic Illuminati overture.

First, the music itself considered apart from the lyrics, but including the way in which the lyrics are sung (together with a ghostly laughter in some parts). Doesn't it just sound like a cultic initiation chant/song? The disconcerting silences between the sung lyrics has a blindfold effect on the listener, the initiate, especially with the slate backgrounds. Yeah, I don't care if this sounds nuts.

Second, the slate backgrounds in tandem with the hollow eye sockets of the elephants. The elephants look demonic and/or bizarre.

Third: at first I thought that the pyramids and opening eye as evidence of Illuminati symbology was laughable. But now, after some thought, it occurs to me that, well, what are the odds? The odds of the hollow demonic eyes of one of the elephants turning into two pyramids, which turn into another elephant doing a belly dance, whose belly then turns into an opening eye? Sorry,  but somebody knew what they were doing.

But then - and this point actually is the one that gave me most pause - there is the fact that this sequence happens pretty well at the end of the film. After the scene, there is the tree scene with the crows and then Dumbo flying at the circus. But if you consider it, this hallucination scene is pretty well the denouement of the entire film. It's the cathartic stage before the rise of its hero.

The sequence doesn't have the same Disney take on spookiness as, for instance, The Headless Horseman. That short film gives its spooks at a certain remove typical of Disney. But with the scene in Dumbo, there's something about the "threshold" that the animation is breaking across: there is some kind of immediate visual information that the scene seems to be "injecting". Hence, perhaps, the various comments from youtube commentators that alternately say they were scared witless of the scene as a kid, or they found it incredibly weird.

That being said, I haven't come to any tinfoil hat conclusions about any of it. And I do realize that's more than enough words that one should expend on, you know, some harmless children's animated movie from the 40's. But it's just that I've been thinking quite a bit about subliminal messaging as a result.

Fr. Dunstan Massey of Christ the King abbey in Mission was once critiqued by a German for using what was - to the German - subliminal imagery, something which he said that Satanists use.

Here is one of Fr. Dunstan Massey's frescoes, The Temptation of St. Benedict:

Clearly there are differences to be made between what people generally mean by subliminal messages and the sort of thing that one sees in the above image.

A dictionary definition of "subliminal message" is:

"Below the threshold of conscious perception. Used of stimuli. Inadequate to produce conscious awareness but able to evoke a response."

What we usually mean by subliminal messages concurs with the above definition, such as when people speak of the advertisements that movie theatres showed before films, in which images of certain foods were flashed between frames, causing people to go and buy those foods at the concession of the theatre. (I don't know if this is "urban myth", but it doesn't matter for our case in point: what we mean by "subliminal message".)

The reason why subliminal messaging is, in worst cases, a creepy thing is precisely because the image/film being viewed is a sort of front, behind which something different is being fed to the viewer. When it is going on in children's movies, the creep factor goes up several notches.

If you view Andrei Rublev's icon of The Holy Trinity you can see something that some might call "subliminal":

The two angels representing the Holy Spirit and the Father that flank either side of the table/altar are actually forming the table into a cup/chalice. And who is in the cup? Christ, the figure at the top center.

Yet this is not at all subliminal messaging, as it is generally understood. Nor is Fr. Massey's work. For one, it is not relaying a different message from behind a front. Rather, the not-conciously-registered aspects of the images are further deepenings of the image itself and its meaning. Facet is being reflected in facet. Deep is calling to deep on a certain visual level. Perhaps we could call this sort of thing visual hierarchical sublimation. Hm, that's probably not a good term.

Anyways, then there's this:

Definitely not the same thing. LOL!

And then of course there is this:

And this:

A priest once said in a homily: with God there is no fine print.

In other words, there are no "one overs" where God says, "Aha! I gotcha! You were supposed to read the fine print!" There is nothing that can be held against us as though God stowed something important away from our sight as a kind of "fine print" for which we needed extra special magnifying glasses.

Likewise, nor does God use a false front from behind which he utters words of which only the initiate can register, while the rest respond to it without conscious perception.

Likewise, nor did God "superimpose" a sexual subtext on nature as a "key" for us to find Him.

God is much deeper than that. And much closer - right there in front of you close. Hidden in the open. Hidden in the humblest species of bread and wine. He is also inside of you, for you carry His image, and no one else has His image in the same way as yourself, for He created you - "a unique and unrepeatable creation." And He redeemed you and set you free - in Him. When He speaks to us He respects our voice so much He actually identifies Himself with it. He identifies himself with our most impoverished being and there He loves, and in His love our poor being lives in Him.


Belfry Bat said...

And that, ("there is no fine print") is the proper answer to Mrs. You-Are-Going-To-Hell-Right-Now. Whether she likes it or not.

Paul Stilwell said...

Yes, exactly.