Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Does anyone really believe the official conspiracy story of 9/11?

Okay, I'm coming out as a 9/11 doubter. Do I know what happened on 9/11? No. But I can say with a deep sense of certainty that the official conspiracy story presented by George Bush and the Republican controlled and whitewashed "9/11 Omission Report" is as phony as the whole "War on Terror"!

I don't feel I need to go on much about the facts that make the whole story fake. But my favorite questions are these.

(1) Why haven't all the closed circuit TV videos from the Pentagon been released? Why was the hole in the Pentagon so small? Why was there no evidence of the wings of a large airliner hitting the face of the building? Where was the plane's debris, including the tail?

(2) What made building WTC 7 fall? Why did the BBC announce the fall of the building before it happened? Why did the leaseholder say he gave the okay "to pull the building"?

(3) What happened to the debris of Flight 93 in Pennsylvania? How could a large airliner disappear into a 15 foot crater leaving no large parts since it has never happened in history before? Why did United Airlines say flight 93 landed in Cleveland and now there is no explanation of what plane really landed there if it was not flight 93? Why did Cheny say Flight 93 was shot down?

(4) Why do the photos of the WTC 1 & 2 wreckage show the characteristic diagonal sliced vertical support beams known to be caused by "shaped charges" used in building demolition?

(5) How did the so-called hijackers know to attack on 9/11 the very same day NORAD was doing a simulation of an attack by planes going into buildings? Why weren't the jets scrambled? What did Cheney mean when he said his orders had not been changed when he was told the planes were 30-, then 20-, then 10-minutes away? Why was Cheney put in charge of the order to shoot down hijacked jets only a couple months before 9/11 when before that it had always been a military decision?

Really, it goes on and on....

Here's a sampler of links to YouTube questions about 9/11.

9/11 - Flight 93 Witness

Flight 93 landed in Ohio?

9/11 Flight 93 Rare Footage




BBC Reported Building 7 Collapse 20 Minutes Before It Fell

9/11 Coincidences:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part Ten

9/11 Pentagon Strike, Flight 77 did NOT hit the Pentagon

9/11 Pentagon Strike, Flight 77 did NOT hit the Pentagon


Maj General Stubblebine Support 911 Conspiracy

911 Truth Movement Press Conf - Victim's mother asks questions.

You can spend a whole day just viewing 9/11 video at YouTube.

Enjoy. "The Truth Is In Here."

Monday, June 18, 2007

Is “Magic” There in the Heart Sutra?

Well, of course there is magic in the Heart Sutra, in the sense there is magic in a sunset, a mountain stream, bird’s call, a blade of grass, a child’s smile, a dew drop, etc. But does the word “magic” appear in the Heart Sutra, that most pithy of Buddhist scriptures? This question has come up for me because I was recently reciting the Heart Sutra in English with a Zen group using Red Pine’s translation of the Heart Sutra in which he translates the relevant passage describing the Heart Sutra's mantra as: “You should therefore know the great mantra of Prajnaparamita, the mantra of great magic, the unexcelled mantra, the mantra equal to the unequaled, ....” [fn. 1.]

When I read “the mantra of great magic” I cringed. Is the Heart Sutra a mantra of great “magic”? The definition of magic is "1 a : the use of means (as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces b : magic rites or incantations 2 a : an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source b : something that seems to cast a spell : ENCHANTMENT 3 : the art of producing illusions by sleight of hand." [fn. 2]

My connotations to the word “magic” don’t correspond with the meaning and wisdom of the Heart Sutra. As I see it, supernatural powers are not part of the Heart Sutra. And for me, magic, when not taken as a supernatural power, is the third sense of the word as what is done my magicians to fool people. Magic is illusion. The Heart Sutra is not a gospel or mantra of “great illusion.” The Heart Sutra is one of the Prajna Paramita Sutras whose essential purpose is to expose the truth about illusion, about the artificial magic of the wizard behind the curtain, the house builder of the house of illusions, as Buddha says in the Dhammapada, “I see you, oh Housebuilder...” As I see it, to call the Heart Sutra “a mantra of great magic” is just the same as calling Buddha “a great magician.” In Zen parlance this kind of language is quite acceptable as a faux-insult, but should that type of Zen idiom be used in the translation of a Buddhist sutra? I don’t think so.

And in fact, that Zen idiomatic usage is not the sense of the term “magic” that Red Pine is using. He is putting forward the word “magic” as the legitimate translation of the Sanskrit term “vidya”. The Sanskrit for the passage (as translated by Red Pine above) is “tasmaj jnatavyam prajnaparamita mahamantro mahavidyamantro anuttaramantro asamasamamantrah,...” Here are a few translations of the phrase “mahavidyamantro” that Red Pine translates as “the mantra of great magic”: “the Great Wisdom Mantra” (by Zuio H. Inagaki), “the Mantra of great knowledge” (by Georg Feuerstein), “the mantra of great knowledge” (by Thupten Jimpal for the Dalai Lama’s book on the Heart Sutra.), “the mantra of great knowledge” (by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.), “the spell of great knowledge” (by Edward Conze), “great clear charm” (Dr. Michael E. Moriarty), “the mantra of great wisdom” (from Sunrise magazine, December 1996/January 1997 by Theosophical University Press), “the great bright mantra” (by Mu Soeng Sunim).

Thus in the above examples the word vidya is rendered into English as “knowledge” (most frequently), “wisdom,” “clear,” and “bright.” The Chinese translation of the Sanscrit vidya (which is used in the Japanese version of the Heart Sutra) uses the ideograph 明 ming2 (J. myo, Unicode: U+660E) which means, “[1] bright; light; brilliant [2] clear; understandable; [v] clarify; understand; obvious; evident [3] intelligent; clever [4] eyesight; seeing faculty [5] day; daybreak; dawn [6] [v] state; show; assert [7] next (day or year)” [fn. 3.] That is why some translations relying on the character ming will translate the word as “clear,” “light”, “bright,” or “brilliant” which are not found in the Sanskrit meaning of vidya.

Here is the Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon (CDSL) entry [fn. 4] for vidya:

2 vidyA f. knowledge (cf. %{kAla-jAta-v-}) , science , learning , scholarship , philosophy RV. &c. &c. (according to some there are four Vidya1s or sciences , 1. %{trayI} , the triple Veda ; 2. %{AnvIkSikI} , logic and metaphysics ; 3. %{daNDa-nIti} , the science of government ; 4. %{vArttA} , practical arts , such as agriculture , commerce , medicine &c. ; and Manu vii , 43 adds a fifth , viz. %{Atma-vidyA} , knowledge of soul or of spiritual truth ; according to others , Vidya1 has fourteen divisions , viz. the four Vedas , the six Veda1n3gas , the Pura1n2as , the Mi1ma1n6sa1. Nya1ya , and Dharma or law [964,1] ; or with the four Upa-vedas , eighteen divisions ; others reckon 33 and even 64 sciences [= %{kalAs} or arts] ; Knowledge is also personified and identified with Durga1 ; she is even said to have composed prayers and magical formulas) ; any knowledge whether true or false (with Pa1s3upatas) Sarvad. ; a spell , incantation MBh. Ragh. Katha1s. ; magical skill MW. ; a kind of magical pill (which placed in the mouth is supposed to give the power of ascending to heaven) W. ; Premna Spinosa L. ; a mystical N. of the letter %{i} Up. ; a small bell L. (cf. %{vidyAmaNi}). 1.

Here’s the much more concise entry in Capeller's Sanskrit-English Dictionary [fn. 5]:

3 vidyA f. knowledge, learning, a discipline or science, esp. sacred knowledge (threefold) or magic, spell.

So the word vidya primarily means “knowledge” “learning,” etc., with a minor meaning of magic or a magical skill or tool (e.g., spell or pill). The question arises, whether it is legitimate to use the lesser meaning of “magic” when translating vidya in the Heart Sutra, or is using the word English word “magic” simply the equivalent of mistakenly using the word Sanskrit word for “sexual intercourse” in a reverse translation into Sanskrit of the English word “knowledge”? Certainly vidya includes the meaning of “magic” just as the word knowledge includes the meaning of “sexual intercourse,” but is that the correct meaning? Or has Red Pine wrongly used a minor meaning in the exuberance of translation? Certainly when every other translator who has translated from the Sanskrit has used the word “knowledge” (or a variant such as “wisdom”) and where the translator was not interpreting the Chinese version with the character ming2 and using a variation of “bright” or “clear,” there is a strong reason to question Red Pine’s use of the word magic.

Here’s Red Pine’s explanation of his use of the word “magic”:

The word vidya is derived from vid, “to understand,” and includes every kind of mastery from science to practical arts to magic. Among Buddhists, the term vidya is often used as equivalent to the word mantra because it, too, encapsulates a system of mastery, though one that surpasses the ken of ordinary mortals. But vidya is also distinguished from mantra as referring to the mastery of female deities, while mantra refers to that of male deities. Thus, the term mahavidya (great master/magician) has become an appellation for many of India’s most popular goddesses, including Kali, Tara, Durga, Sarasvati, and Lakshmi (cf. Tantric Visions of the Divine Feminine: The Ten Mahavidyas, by David Kinsley, pp. 57-60). The reason for such usage is that mantras (or vidyas) have the power to give birth to a new state of consciousness. Thus, each of these mahavidyas is associated with a particular form of spiritual awareness and only appears when her mantra is chanted, just as a genie only appears when its magic lamp is rubbed. But not all mantras give rise to such deities, only mantras that possess great magic. In this case, the mantra does not give rise to Prajnaparamita but becomes her womb and thus the source of the greatest of all magic, the appearance of a Buddha. [fn. 6]

While it is true that the magical formulas or incantations are known as Vidya, Mantram, or Dharani the question remains whether the use of vidya in the Heart Sutra is referring to such a magical formula or to knowledge.

The CDSL has an entry for “mahavidya” but it too refers first to a “great science” with the secondary meanings of names for female deities or the plural of a class of personifications of the Shakti female energy of Shiva.

1 mahAvidyA f. a great or exalted science MW. ; N. of Lakshmi1 VP. (= %{vizva-rUpo7pA7sanA} Comm.) ; of Durga1 Ma1rkP. ; of a Mantra Cat. ; pl. of a class of personifications of the S3akti or female energy of S3iva (10 in number) RTL. 187 ; %{-dIpa-kalpa} m. %{-prakaraNa} n. %{-prayoga} m. %{-sAra-candro7daya} m. %{-stava} m. %{-stotra} n. N. of wks. ; %{-ye7zvarI} f. N. (perhaps a form of Durga1) Cat.

Well first, is Red Pine correct to equate the term vidya with “mastery” or “magic” rather than “knowledge”? As the CDSL indicates, vidya is used as an inclusive term that includes the branches of learning and knowledge as well as for knowledge in the whole. Thus, there are four, five, 14, 18, 33 or 64 vidyas, depending on how knowledge is categorized or outlined in one’s taxonomy of learning. But there is no indication that the idea of mastery of that knowledge is assumed in vidya. Thus there is no basis for Red Pine’s preference that mahavidya means “great master” or “great magician” when it actually means “great knowledge” or “great science” (cf. science means “having knowledge” and, like vidya, comes from a root meaning “to know”).

If one presumes, like Red Pine does, that “a mantra is like a magic lamp” and “if you rub it correctly, its resident genie will appear.” [ fn. 7]. then one may not be faulted too much for assuming that the use of vidya in the phrase great-vidya-mantra here is referring to magic rather then knowledge. But is that a Buddhist assumption, or is it just the assumption of folk-superstition? The phrase great-vidya-mantra occurs as the second in a series of four phrases designating adjectives for the type of mantra that is the Heart Sutra: (1) mahamantro (great-mantra) (2) mahavidyamantro (great-knowledge-mantra) (3) anuttaramantro (unsurpassed-mantra) and (4) asamasamamantrah (unequaled-equal-mantra). Since mantra is applied in all four instances there is no internal basis to assume that vidya means “magic” rather than “knowledge” since there are no magical connotations to the other three adjectives in the list, “great,” “unsurpassed,” and “unequaled equality.”

Instead, these three adjectives do have direct Buddhist connotations rather than folk-magic connotations. “Great” (maha) is of course the keystone adjective for the branch of Buddhism, the Mahayana, that considers the Heart Sutra to be an essential teaching of the Buddha. “Unsurpassed”(anuttara) is known in the phrase anuttara-samyak-sambodhi that epitomizes the meaning of Buddhism as “unsurpassed complete perfect enlightenment.” The term asamasama meaning “equal to the unequaled,” “unequaled,” or “incomparable” is an adjective familiar in Buddhist usage, because asamasama is one of the titles of the Buddha (“the incomparable One,” “the unique One” or “the One of unequaled rank”) and his incomparable enlightenment, so it fits as an adjective of the incomparable mantra that expresses the essential heart of Buddha’s enlightenment. [Zen Buddhists will see in asamasama, the Sanskrit title of Buddha as “a person of unequaled rank,” the origin of the Chinese phrase “a person of no rank” popularized by Zen master Linji Yixuan (Lin-chi I-hsuan; J. Rinzai Gigen) (d. 867 C.E.).]

So, while the three other adjectives all have direct Buddhist references, is there a basis for mahavidya to be interpreted as “great magic”? Even when mahavidya is considered in Hindu Tantra it is taken as “great wisdoms” or “great knowledges” and not “great magicians” and as such refers to the ten “wisdom” Goddesses not “magical” Goddesses. [fn. 8] All ten forms of the Mahavidyas, whether in her gentle or terrifying aspect, are worshiped as avatars of the universal Mother appearing in the ten directions. So, even without considering the lack of reference to “magic,” there is no basis to ascribe or include this Hindu mythological belief in goddesses, with its anthropomorphic imagery, to the Buddhist usage of mahavidya in a primary Buddhist scripture like the Heart Sutra.

In Buddhist usage vidya refers to knowledge or wisdom and avidya refers to ignorance or unenlightenment. [fn. 9] Vidya-carana-sampanna or “Perfected in Wisdom & Action” (J. Myogyosoku) is another title for the Buddha. In Buddhist tantra practices such as “creation process yoga,” “the meditation leads to a realization that Intelligence (vidya) is spontaneously everywhere, though nowhere localized; that even inanimate matter breathes with potential intelligence —— a Consciousness that is evolving in all energy.” [fn. 10] There is no reference to “magic” here, where vidya is taken in Buddhist tantra to refer to the knowing intelligence of the universe.

The inclusion of folk “magic” into Buddhism by way of calling the Heart Sutra a “mantra of great magic” is inherently suspect as a non-Buddhist interpretation. It is not that the Heart Sutra is illuminated as a tool of magic when it is called a “mantra” but that the form of mantra itself is illuminated by Buddhism as an expression of wisdom by the Heart Sutra being called a mantra of great knowledge. The “great knowledge” that is expressed in the Heart Sutra is not the folk magic of summoning a genie by rubbing a magic lamp, but is the knowledge of awakening to transcendent wisdom (prajnaparamita) expressed in the Heart Sutra as the awareness that “Everything has the aspects of emptiness: not arising not ceasing, not stained not immaculate, not deficient not excessive.”

The mantra of great knowledge that is included at the end of the Heart Sutra is “TADYATHA OM GATE GATE PARAGATE PARASAMGATE BODHI SVAHA” To view Buddhist use of this mantra as a magical tool to conjure up the appearance of a Buddha is to go backward in the evolution of religious understanding that the Heart Sutra embodies. Mantras are not infrequently appended to Mahayana sutras. The Indian commentator Prasastrasena explains why the mantra is called mahavidya: “Because it naturally understands and clears away all the signs of external objects, it is the mantra of great knowledge.” [fn. 11]

The eleventh century Indian commentator Vajrapani, known as a master of the Tantric practice of mahamudra, wrote in his commentary on the Heart Sutra, “The mantra of the perfection of wisdom is not a mantra for pacification, increase, power, or wrath. What is it? By merely understanding the meaning of this mantra, the mind is freed.” [fn. 12]

The practice of deity yoga that Red Pine advocates in his book is a form of the tantric Mantra Vehicle and is not considered part of the practice of the Perfection Vehicle (paramitayana) of the prajnaparamita sutras. [fn. 13] Advocates of Mantra Vehicle usually consider it to be superior to the Perfection Vehicle, and perhaps vice versa. I, for one, consider the idea that the mantra is a magical incantation to be practiced like the rubbing of a magic lamp, as Red Pine says, to be a non-Buddhist intrusion into the Buddha Dharma. From point of view of One Vehicle (Ekayana) Buddhism the image of a magic lamp can be an expedient means of communicating to non-Buddhists or Buddhists of immature understanding and encouraging them to engage with the Dharma through the hope of magical conjurations of the supernatural power and appearances of Buddha, but the literalization of such supernatural powers as magically derived, while it may be the way of Vajrayana, is not the Zen way of the One Vehicle.

As Zen ancestor Linji said, even the supernatural powers of deities are karmic and dependent. “They are not the six supernatural powers the Buddha possessed: entering the realm of forms without being deluded by forms; entering the realm of hearing without being deluded by sounds; of smelling without being deluded by smells; of taste without being deluded by tastes; of touch without being deluded by touch; and of mental configurations without being deluded by mental configurations. Therefore the six fields of form, sound, smell, taste, touch, and mental configurations are all formless; they cannot bind the man of true independence. Though the Five Skandhas are leaky by nature, yet mastering them they become your supernatural powers here on earth..” [fn. 14] This is the direct Dharma of the Heart Sutra’s perfection of wisdom, and has nothing to do with rubbing magic lamps or magical incantations of deities, including the anthropomorphic conception of prajnaparamita as the mother of Buddhas.


[fn. 1] The Heart Sutra, The Womb of Buddhas; Translation and Commentary by Red Pine; 2004; Shoemaker & Hoard, Washington D.C.; page 3.

[fn. 2] Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary at http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/magic

[fn.3] http://www.chineselanguage.org/cgi-bin/view.php?query=660E&encoding=text&mode=&lang=en&beijing=pinyin&canton=jyutping&meixian=pinjim&sound=0&fields=bushou,mandarin,english

[fn. 4] http://webapps.uni-koeln.de/tamil/ Using the Dictionary menu set to Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon and entering “vidya” in the “Word in Primary Language“

[fn. 5] http://webapps.uni-koeln.de/tamil/ Using the Dictionary menu set to Capeller's Sanskrit-English Dictionary and entering “vidya” in the “Word in Primary Language“

[fn. 6] The Heart Sutra, The Womb of Buddhas; page 148.

[fn. 7] The Heart Sutra, The Womb of Buddhas; page 147.

[fn. 8] See, for example, the Wikipedia entry on Mahavidya at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahavidya and the entry at the Rudra Centre website at http://www.rudraksha-ratna.com/mahavidyas.html

[fn. 9] A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms by William Edward Soothill and Lewis Hodous.

[fn. 10] From the website of the Dharma Fellowship of His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa http://www.dharmafellowship.org/library/essays/way-of-the-yogi.htm

[fn. 11] The Heart Sutra Explained by Donald S. Lopez, Jr.; 1988; State University of New York Press; page 109. According to Lopez nothing is known about Prasastrasena other than his moderate length commentary on the Heart Sutra.

[fn. 12] The Heart Sutra Explained; page 112.

[fn. 13] The Heart Sutra Explained; page 113.

[fn. 14] The Zen Teaching of Rinzai translated by Irmgard Schloegl; 1976; Shambala Publications,Berkeley CA; pp. 39-40.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

“At World’s End” Really Means Something

The third installment of The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End set in the mythic world of piracy is actually a great film about today's world, the war on terrorism, and the clash of mythologies currently going on throughout humanity. At World's End is a declaration in film art every bit as relevant today as Friedrich Nietzsche's "God is Dead" was over a century ago. In fact, At World's End in its heart is the continuation of that same discussion about the slow end of that old world God mythology and the yet to be born new mythology of the post-modern post-materialist world.

Yet, many of today's reviewers are beyond their film depths as they can only wade into the shallow waters with such comments as, "incoherent," "storytelling mishmash," "without logic," "disorienting," and "unfathomable." Even reviewers like Staci Layne Wilson from About.com who, to her credit, recognize the film is "really more about the end of an era" don't seem to know which era. By in large the reviewers fail entirely to see that At World's End succeeds, and does so wonderfully, in presenting the disorienting incoherence of today's world by the film's great coherence and orientation within the symbolic language of art.

I’m amazed at the entire industry of film critics who almost entirely review films as if they don’t mean anything. Being in the generation where I could be the younger brother of Bob Dylan or Keith Richards, I suppose there is some ability to see the reason for it. I recall those comedic media interviews with Dylan when he was drowned in the projections of an age, and he was barraged by questions about what his songs meant. He would volley with the reporters like Rosencrantz to their Gilderstern returning questions with questions and quips, or he’d just flatly deny that his songs meant anything at all, “They’re just songs, man.”

One understands that the artist is not always in the best position to perceive their own muse or what it is saying. Many artists are like trance mediums channeling their art through creative genius they themselves don’t know how to describe. Thus questions about what a piece of art means can be embarrassing because the artist him/herself doesn’t know what it means any more than anybody else. After the work is created, the artist can stand as much in awe of the work as anyone. In order to avoid the embarrassment of frank talk about the art when the artist’s ego doesn’t really have the answer to “what is the meaning/” many artists merely mumble incoherent dodges, such as that unique form of the “artist’s self-statement” in which the artist uses a vernacular so arcane and arty that it is just another smoke screen, but one that sounds like they are somehow explaining their work.

Then of course there are artists, like Andy Warhol, who deliberately played hide and seek with their meaning, being moved by a muse of a different sort. These artists are not channeling the muse, there are possessed by it and it becomes embedded in their own identity as they identify with it. But they too then have to play with the world of meaning otherwise they become mere fabricators rather than artists. Though their meaning is clear to them, as deep or as shallow as it is, if they just said it plainly the muse’s work would lose its charm and glamour in the world.

But whether or not the artist knows the meaning of the art, the muse does; and it is for the experiencer of the art to see, listen to, and touch the muse communicating through the art itself in order to discover its meaning. In this sense art speaks for itself.

But to look at film reviews today one would be hard to find a critic willing to step up to the plate and try to hit the ball of meaning in a film. There are infinite comments on the technical aspects of film, on the lighting, the directing, the acting, the amount of sex and violence, and even whether the plot turns are “understandable,” but none of that has to do with the meaning of the film. Films present the pantheon of our archetypal psychological foundations and are the living mythology of our times. It is because the living mythology stirs up the mind that many prefer to stick with the dead mythology to be found in old books and doctrines. But the life of films is the same life that our ancestors 20,000 years ago experienced sitting in the darkness of the cave around the campfire watching the light play with the dancing shadows on the screens of our minds.

Films have meaning, and it is the singular task of the film reviewer to open the discussion of that meaning in the social context. Reviewers do a disservice to their art when they think that they can or should allow the art viewer to look for meaning, or not, as they wish, as a private affair. Especially with film because of its impact in society and the enormous resources and revenues that it generates, film demonstrates its mythic hold on the awareness of a people and their society. To simply advise about the level of violence or sex in a film, to remark that the plot was hard to follow, to say that the acting was exceptionally good, to applaud innovative directing, all these are secondary values to discerning the essential meaning of a film by asking what is this film saying? Why does it exist at this time and place in our society? What is this mythology telling us about ourselves?

Virtually every film critic working today fails at this central purpose of film criticism. They function as mere fan reviews stating whether they liked a movie or not. Just reaching for technical reasons to like or not like a film doesn’t change the core quality of the review as nothing more than a film fan comment. Many fans do better at that type of review. To say that they earn their money by providing parents with enough information to know whether their children are old enough to see a film is a compete abdication of the central purpose of film reviewer: to help the viewer discover the meaning of the art, discover what the muse is saying. If the reviewer remains just a fan, enthralled by the glamour of what is portrayed on the silver screen, or mesmerized by the flickering shadows, then the reviewer has taken on the reviewer’s role whose purpose is to bring out the fecundity of film, but remains a eunuch in the attempt. By this form of self-castration the film reviewer has lost touch both with themselves and with the living muse in the film.

The Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Many if not most reviewers gave the film’s first two installments above average marks, but they did so for the acting, the action, the cinematography, the special effects, the costumes, etc., not for the meaning. Of course, it was a trilogy, so one can’t blame them for not comprehending the meaning at first, but they may be faulted for not discussing where the meaning was going, for not indicating what initial portents of a fuller meaning were to be found. Of course I haven’t seem them all, but of the reviews I have seen not a one could not see past the “eye candy.”

Yet when the third installment, At World’s End, arrived, reviewers still didn’t get the meaning. Reviewer Richard Roeper is a good example. He comments, “If Errol Flynn or Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Could see the ridiculously entertaining action sequences they’d drop their swords in amazement. The sets, the costumes, the stunts, the special effects are beyond what anyone could have dreamed about during the golden age of the pirate movie.” He goes on to add that he found this to be the funniest film of the trilogy, but he also found it to be a “long, convoluted and intermittently inexplicable pirate epic. But it’s definitely worth seeing for the jaw dropping action, the doses of irreverent humor, and of course for the star power.” Roeper gives not a word to the meaning of the film.

The guest reviewer on Ebert & Roeper that night was David Edelstein, film critic for New York Magazine, who is even worse. Edelstein gives it a thumbs down saying “all those people from those old movies would go, ‘Oh my god, these people can’t tell a story.’ Now of course I understood it all....NOT!” Edelstein admits that neither he nor his 9 year old knew what was going on. By this admission Edelstein shows he has no business critiquing films other than on the basis of childish fan commentary.

The collection of reviewer comments at Rotten Tomatoes shows the complete lack of the reviewers’ recognition of meaning. Rob Vaux of Flipside Magazine dares to say “Betrayal, unfortunately, is the most apt word for At World's End. Betrayal of purpose, and of promise, and of the grand, glorious finale that everyone wanted so dearly to see.” However, it is Mr. Vaux who betrays his profession by being illiterate in the language of imagery.

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone is another reviewer who is lost to meaning and blames it on the movie maker’s “incoherence” instead of on his own inability to search for meaning and understand the language of mythology and image. Travers goes so far at to say “Producer Jerry Bruckheimer does deserve a shout out: It takes a kind of genius to sucker audiences into repeatedly buying the same party tricks.” Travers review is a proverbial demonstration of the deaf and blind claiming there is nothing to see or hear.

Roeper agrees with Edelstein (and Travers) that the film “is kind of a mess” and there were times that he had “no idea why some of these people who now seemed to be good guys, and they used to be bad guys, or which evil British India Trading soldier guy is a good guy or a bad guy, but I mean really, if you’re going to the Pirates Trilogy for story, that’s insane. It’s all about the action and the excitement and the relationship. And I think on those counts it delivers.”

In my view it is Roeper who is ignorant if not "insane" to be going to movies for their visceral entertainment only. He is more of a ghost than any of the characters in the Pirates trilogy. Both Roeper and Edelstein completely miss the coherent story within, as well as the meaning of, At World’s End. A fan interview on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show got closer to the truth of this film by asking, “What is going on with all these gang banger pirates being made into the funny good guys?”

At World’s End portrays today’s reality in a meaningful way. It does so in two ways, in a horizontal dimension of social political reality and in a vertical dimension of the psychological and spiritual realities. Horizontally, it is essentially about the phony war on terrorism and the current environment that the attitude towards “terrorism” creates and reflects. It is probably because no one today looks at meaning in films that this film was able to be made and to get made by the Disney Corporation. The “bad guys”.in this film are the transnational corporations protected by the Imperial power. The “good guys” are the people fighting the corporation called pirates or terrorists, and the independents who fall in with them. That Roeper and Edelstein had trouble following who was a “good guy” or a “bad guy” at any particular moment is not a negative, it is merely an accurate reflection of the machinations that go on in real life, for example, when one year Osama bin Laden is the USA protege against a common foe and the next year he becomes evil incarnate.

At World’s End is a film that depicts today’s politics which are clearly at wit’s end when one looks at them with an eye to following any threads of integrity among the political players of today. The Bush administration is accurately portrayed through Lord Beckett’s deceit and use of torture. The opening scene of people being marched to the gallows should have been the tip off that something mythological is going on here. Yet, when a boy is hanged, some moralistic reviewers were repulsed and couldn’t sustain any interest in the film thereafter. But moral indignation of the killing of that boy is exactly the point of the film’s muse. Rather than be repulsed at the film makers for putting the scene into the reel story, a reviewer needs to ask why are we not repulsed by such child killings in real life, where we easily accept the killing of children once we label them “terrorists” or “killers”? Such is the hypocrisy of reviewers who are blind to the living meaning of film.

Mary Ann Johanson, the flick filosopher, is one of the few film reviewers who actually perceives the horizontal dimension saying, "It’s Guantanamo Bay in the Caribbean as At World’s End opens." Johanson also recognizes that the Great Mickey Trading Company, Disney, has "cast itself as villain." Ironically, Disney gets the last laugh of taking millions to the bank with a film that portrays it as the bad guy. Fortunately for Disney, since most reviewers are so adverse to meaning, most film reviews havn't mentioned this aspect with anything approaching the insight of Johanson. But I suspect that this view of corporations is clear to many more of the audiences (if not the reviewers) than Disney would prefer.

The vertical dimension needs to be seen and appreciated as well. Today we hear about the war on terrorism as a “clash of civilizations”, yet Joseph Campbell was more accurate in stating that the clash is about the current mythologies that have become outdated attempting to prevent the emergence of a new mythology as much as their clash with each other. We are at the world's end and the world that is ending is the dominance of the current mythology. The mythologies of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam warring with each other in the Middle East are all three faces of a patriarchal Father War God who had conquered the power of the matriarchal nature Goddess of the geographical areas of their conquest. The fundamentalists of these religions seek the abortion of the birth of a new pluralistic mythology as much as they are in conflict with each other. This confusion is also accurately portrayed in the film by the shifting allegiances between all the parties trying to get an advantage for themselves. It is unfortunate that the meaning of this realistic degree of shifting complexity goes unnoticed and actually is used against the film by reviewers like Roeper and Edelstein.

At World’s End shows this underlying conflict between the Corporate Imperial power and the Pirates’ power (as well as the conflicts between the Pirates themselves) and the independents represented by Will Turner and Elizabeth Swan, all as being within the larger context of the current mythology that has succeeded because of the repression of an even older mythology has been captured and kept trapped in human form by today’s Father-God mythology. At World’s End doesn’t say let’s continue to worship the Father-God and His ways which leads to this corporate greed. At World’s End says in order to find our way in this new world and way of things, it is time to release the female Goddess from her entrapment in human form. This is the essential meaning of the film.

It is not that people should return to Goddess worship, but that, in order for a new balance to be gained and for a new mythology to be discovered, the older mythology must be reclaimed and released back into our nature. In other words, to find the new mythology of the new world, we have to recognize all the archetypal forces within our mind and heart and not keep one archetype in bondage and service to another. This fixation of the archetypes in patriarchal moralism is a core component of fascism in whatever guise it takes, the dictatorship of Transnational Corporatism or the factional petty powers of Piracy (e.g., Christians, Jews, and Muslims).

The other dimension of archetypal fixation in the film is the capture of Davy Jones’s heart which puts him and his ship The Flying Dutchman under the control of the Imperial Corporation. This is an interesting point. This shows how materialism (the East India Co.) gains control of the spiritual life, by the corruption of the spiritual life when the spiritual life betrays itself and acts to entrap the feminine. Calypso, the sea Goddess, was captured because of the betrayal by Davy Jones who had at one time been her lover (i.e., devotee) when Jones told the Pirate Lords how to trap her in human form. This portrays how spirituality (including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) has trapped the feminine archetypes in their mundane forms and elevated only the Father to chief spiritual status, but it is this process of entrapment of the feminine by these forms of spirituality that leads to the entrapment of spirituality itself by materialism.

Every so often a film comes along that uses the language of mythology to reflect accurately upon the social, psychological, and mythological issues of the day. The muse speaking through At World’s End has done just this. It is an important film series that, contrary to Roeper, does tell the story of our time. Going to the cinema for the action, the excitement, and the relationships as Roeper and most reviewers do only trivializes film and the life portrayed in film. Whether or not one sees the meaning of At World’s End as I have described it, and there is much more to the films imagery than I have discussed here, the important point for awareness and our society is that we ask what is the meaning of the film, and come to some consummation about that in our own minds. To simply say that art, and films in particular, have no meaning is to demean art and turn it into mere decoration. That is turning live art into ghost art. Bringing the life back into art by appreciation of its living mythology is going to the world’s end and rescuing Jack Sparrow from Davy Jones’ locker. And what a wonderful adventure that is.