Name that tune
Where are you now, my fingerprints? - Leonard Cohen
Remember Magnolia? Most people who do probably still don't know what they saw. Those frogs - where'd that come from? Even The Guardian could say, "This scene does successfully manage to shock the audience, but possibly only because it makes no sense whatsoever." But of course it did: an audience member had earlier disrupted the gameshow What Do Kids Know? by holding up a sign that read simply "Exodus 8:2." Of course it took looking up the reference to get it: "If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs." So it required some work, and interest, to find the sense. And if you didn't get the frogs, you'd likely have also missed The History of Freemasonry on contestant Stanley's bookshelf, the Masonic symbols adorning the television studio, the conspicuous Masonic ring on the finger of the producer who consoles his paedophilic host Jimmy Gator, or the significance of Gator's farewell, "We met upon the level and we're parting on the square." Far from being meaningless, Magnolia is one of the most meaningful of American films, for those with the semiotic skillset to decode it.
Remember Michael Meiring? If not, you can find several entries beneath his name on the subject index. It took an effort to understand Magnolia, and it would have taken an effort to get the Meiring story too, if it had ever been permitted to find its domestic audience in the US news market. It certainly has a cinematic breadth, including an unsatisfying third act: An American national in the Phillipines: a "treasure hunter" who's both a conspicuous evangelical Christian and an alleged weapons dealer with ties to both the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf and the CIA, which he winkingly calls "Christ in Action." During a wave of terror bombings Meiring is wounded when one explodes prematurely in his hotel room, and he becomes the chief suspect. Then days later, an FBI team plucks him from his hospital bed and flies him stateside, as local authorities bewail his evasion of justice and America's harbouring a suspected terrorist.
It just doesn't make sense. But of course it does, once you know what kind of world it is that you're trying to parse. The Meiring affair may be crazy-making, but don't say it doesn't make sense. Because there's an intelligence at work here, too. And the consequences of its discordant reality are just too much for an embedded media to bear telling us the story.
And now, in Bolivia, another weird tale. Two hotels bombed, two dead and two arrested, one a US national. And like Meiring, something out of a film: "Lestat Claudius de Orleans y Montevideo," also known as "Triston Jay Amero," a self-professed "Wiccan High Priest" obsessed with explosives, who was passing himself off in La Paz as a Saudi lawyer. As "Gouda" posted on the RI board, Amero is the author of a number of occult book reviews, including The Satanic Bible and The Necronomicon ("If you want to have a copy of a powerful - but dangerous - book in your possession, I recommend this book wholehartedly").
Bolivian authorities appear confused about what they have on their hands. The initial presumption was the bombings must have been politically motivated. Then, when faced with "Lestat Claudius de Orleans y Montevideo," perhaps religion. But when is it ever one or the other?
"There is a battle against terrorism and the government of the United States is sending Americans to do terrorism in Bolivia," said Evo Morales. "A US citizen placing bombs in hotels. What is happening?"
These things don't direct themselves.