The first science fiction novel may have been written by a woman (Mary Shelley) but it would be almost another century before further female contributions would penetrate the realms of the sci fi universe. Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia an early science fiction buff and literary historian, chronicles the slow but steady rise of women writers and dreamers in an adventure genre that was once mostly edited, written and read by men. The arrival of the specialized pulp fiction magazines in the late teens and early twenties provides the opportunity for young , aspiring authors to showcase their talents , get published and make some cash. Some literary minded ladies jump at the chance and at first write under male pseudonyms or incognito and in collaboration with their boyfriends and husbands. The women writers of space operas, interplanetary romances , sword and sorcery epics and sci fi fairy tales bring with them new perspectives and possibilities for the examination of more serious and sophisticated issues. A type of expansion of the genres stereotypes and limitations , and a rebellion within science fiction literature itself!
In the conclusion to GRR’s highly acclaimed mini series , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia dissects some of the lost classics and forgotten gems of the American silent era. First off, its the favorite American motif of man into monster, as speculative scientists transgress into God’s domain and pay a high cosmic price for their spiritual and intellectual curiosity. Then its the serials that held the suspense in limbo each week, teasing the spellbound viewer about the next thrilling episode. Rich in imagination and atmosphere , the chapter plays made great use of elaborate sets , fast paced action and the paraphernalia and iconography of mysteries , melodramas and thrillers. And last but not least its the brilliant but controversial father of film, D.W. Griifith and the great directors little known contributions to the horror film genre, a masterful adaptation of an Edgar Allen Poe short story, a flawed but highly influential haunted house spoof and the ultimate , transcendent Mephistophelian melodrama.
Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues his in depth analysis of the formative years of the horror film , this time out its Germany before the arrival of Expressionism as an artistic style. First off, its the beginnings of the film industry in Deutschland and the neglected inventor/genius – Oscar Messter. Who crafts a poetic and lyrical cinematic translation of a medieval Scandinavian legend combining melodrama and romanticism. A style that continues to influence filmmakers all over the world to this very day. Then its the most confusing and complex production history ever, as two rival producers release two seperate versions of a Sherlock Holmes serial (The Hounds of the Baskervilles) at the very same time- sparking off a box office battle that would last for years. Then its the theme of the dopplerganger or double and the remarkable career of Paul Wegener – (actor,writer,producer & director) . Whose bulky presence ignites an intellectual gauge of talent in the German film industry. With The Golem films be becomes the first master of the celluloid supernatural since Melies. Up next, its two prolific years (1917/1919) in the astounding film legacy of Fritz Lang, a wounded W.W. I vet who while convalescing from battle wounds decides to try his hand at screenwriting. These early Langian movies contain elements that would become familiar to his cinematic mold, like a speculative hero, Asian mysticism , psychic powers and a somber atmosphere. And last but not least , its the Medieval Germanic folk tale of a beautiful woman who is born without a soul and delights in luring men to their doom with her dark sexual powers. This ancient legend is modernized for the screen first in 1918 and then filmed again and adapted.
A noted film historian and a lover of genre movies, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines the first 25 years of the horror film (1896-1919) . A special and fascinating era in which the first steps toward cinematic art were taken by imaginative cinematic pioneers . And what are considered traditional themes, sources and motifs were imaginatively developed with an almost supernatural speed. First off its George Melies a magician from the theatrical world who seizes upon the brand new scientific apparatus of the movie camera and incorporates into his act. He no longer needed a theater to conjure up his trickery , since the world was now his audience. Melies would become the first cinematic master of the supernatural and his influence would be massive and world wide. Next up, as audiences grew more sophisticated , films grew longer and sets ,ore elaborate, the horror film would take its place in the cinematic universe . As the French silent horror film matured – film makers would draw inspiration from classic literature (Hugo & Poe) , legends , folk tales and fables. As well as the rapid and remarkable advancements in science, medicine and technology – and explore such themes as Beauty and the Beast and Darwin’s theory of Evolution.
In the second installment of this season’s Thanksgiving special, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues to examine the spiritual significance of plants, trees, weeds and flowers. First off, its the mystical plant lore and nature based religion of the Celts, Norse and Germanic peoples. And some of the mysterious rites and rituals linked to trees and plants, ceremonies presided over by the priestly Druids. Next up, its the Christians who use plants, weeds and wildflowers to help spread the gospels across Europe. Missionaries rechristen and reconsecrate them for use as teaching tools for valuable spiritual lessons that Pagan servants and farmers linked to the soil can understand. And last but not least…its the continent of North America , where the Indian nations have a vast knowledge of Herbology and plants are considered sanctified and holy. With the arrival of European settlers and kidnapped African slaves an intermingling of plant lore takes place and new American traditions blossom into being. Plants in this program include – oak trees,yew trees,miseltoe,holly,mallow,shamrock,lady’s mantle , angelica,rose, St. John’s Wort, henbane, foxglove, jimsomweed, mushrooms, peyote -etc .
To ancient peoples , plants were filled with vital cosmic energy and invested with a supernatural power that linked humanity with the Gods. In this season’s Thanksgiving Special – Jack “The Agnostic”Garcia examines the symbolic and religious role of plants throughout the course of Western civilization. First off, its the land of the fertile crescent where the Mesopotamians magically link the fertility and longevity of their Monarchs to the scared Tree of Life, then its the Egyptians who found evidence of a divine presence just about everywhere they looked. Next up, its the Holy Land where plant magic and spirituality played a role in the lives of the men and women found within the sacred stories of the Bible. Then its the Greeks who were highly inventive in their lore and plants played an important role in their timeless Mythology. And last but not least …its the Mighty Romans who may have been the uber-patriarchal militaristic champions of the world but also placed a high value on the divine power of Nature Goddesses. Plants in part 1 include – Garlic,Verbena,Onions,Myrrh, Belladonna , Mandrake Root , Lotus, Rose , Narcissuss,Palm Trees, Olive Trees and Pomegranates.
In the second installment of this seasons Halloween special , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues to examine the rich tapestry of supernatural bloodsucking beings from Asian myth, legend and folklore. Including such malevolent nocturnal beasties as the re-animated corpse vampire of Chinese legend – The Chiang -Shih , that takes on a green phosphorescent glow before sprouting long talons and serrated teeth. The Huli-Jing (fox fairy) – Chinese spirit that rises from the grave shapeshifts into a beautiful woman and vampirizes its victims. Japan’s own version of the fox spirit demon seductress – The Kitsune that drains her victims sexually. The 58 Vampire Gods of Tibet – that are blood thirsty manifestations of bad Karma and play an intregral role in The Book of The Dead. And some shapeshifting , flying Lady Vampires , beautiful, seductive , deadly nocturnal maidens and supernatural bloodsucking babes like – The Pontiannak (Java) , The Langsuyar (Malaysia) and the Aswang (The Phillipines). This and lots more Vampiric creatures and Gods from the Far East.
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In the first installment of this seasons 2 part Halloween program, Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia digs deeply into various Hindu sacred texts seeking the origins of the European/Slavic Vampire mythos. Ancient Vedic concepts , imagery and traditions were carried by Greek,Roman ,Byzantine , Arab and Gypsies caravans and traders across the great silk routes from the Indus valley to the Mediterranean regions. Jack investigates some of the ghoulish brain munching , flesh eating , shapeshifting and blood sucking supernatural beings found in such sacred stories as the Ramayana, The Mahabaratha and The Puranas (just to name a few). Malevolent , nocturnal spirits , demons and ogres like the Raksasha, the Pisaca, the Brahmaparusha and the Vetala. Then its the deadly and seductive vampire women like the Chural, the Chedipe and the Dakini. Who not only suck the blood of their male victims but also drain their lifeforce or essence via sex and seduction. And last but not least .. its the Queen of the Hindu vampires and ghouls, the dangerous and ambiguous Kali.
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In the conclusion to the epic mini series – Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia journeys to the mystic deserts of Arabia and the kaliedoscopic swirls of ancient India. First off, its the third of the Abrahamic religions, Islam – a faith that includes the idea of personal submission to the divine sovereignty of God / Allah. And teaches that individuals have the power to gain salvation or damnation for themselves by having the the freewill to choose. Next up, its Hinduism – a religion that features a concept that is similar to salvation (Moksa) – the release from the endless cycle of birth, death and rebirth. Essentially a type of emancipation of the soul from the impediments of Karma and reincarnation (Samsara). And last but not least its Buddhism – a spiritual path that also believes in the doctrines of Samsara and Karma – but with some very interesting differences and distinctions.
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First off its the classical Gods of Greece and Rome and the official religion of the city-states (or Polis) which offered no salvation , no hope for a happy afterlife and no escape from death and the shared fate of humanity (Hades the Underworld). This sense of doom and gloom , a sad human dignity and tragic destiny would find a luminous expressions in Helenistic art and literature. Next up, its the mystery Cults that invaded the Roman Empire , promising the forgiveness of sins and the possibility of everlasting spiritual bliss. But… only to those who have been initiated in the sacred , esoteric knowledge and wisdom necessary to achieve salvation. Cult devotees believed the soul to be of celestial origin and immortal and that only they held the key to eternity. And last but not least…its Christianity – the salvation religion par excellence. Which may have originated in Judaism but was also highly influenced by the diversity of spiritual ideas floating around the Greco-Roman world – including such philosophies as Astralism, Gnosticism, Heremeticism and Neo-Platonism.
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