Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dark City: The Reality Projector, Individuation and the Aion

"If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern." - William Blake

One wonders how some things can be hidden in front of our noses. In today’s world the notion of a deeper wisdom meandering through the underbelly of a Hollywood flick seems unlikely if not ill-placed; actually, it's the optimal place for it. Interestingly enough, it’s with a “hunch” I began to dig beyond its “Hollywood skin”.

The world is centered upon your point-of-view; hence by purifying or harmonizing this center of the self, everything else which is connected to it (absorbs and emanates from it) will benefit from your balanced intentions; increasing wisdom.

In this symbolical interpretation of Dark City, I discuss everything from astrology to Jungian-alchemy. The integration of psychic wholeness (individuation; the alchemical process) and the cycle of the ages (Aion, in particular the transition from Pisces to Aquarius) with its subsequent effects on our consciousness as the underlying theme. This, of course, is one interpretation of many (intrinsic of good art). Further interpretations of the film may follow in subsequent posts. More to come.

Dark City, Dark Mind

"They control everything here including the sun, that's why it's always dark. They can't stand the light." - Dr. Schreber

Dark City is an allegory of the self (or psychic totality). The characters playing roles as aspects of the self, many being projections of "dark content". The city, or upper-world, represents the conscious/awake/known state. This is easily related to us, since it is what we know or see most. The underworld represents the unconscious content, inhabited by the Strangers. The Strangers can represent the unconscious projections and archetypes; personal and collective.

We also find the Strangers are most active when the city has been put into the sleep state; unconscious. The Stranger's subterranean control machine is a human head with a clock inside; the mind under the sway of Chronos/Saturn. When the Strangers focus in unison the machine generates the physical structure of the conscious world; the physical structures representing how our world view is limited/controlled by our unconscious projections. The Strangers create the memories which create the mental structure of the inhabitants; showing how our experiences are, again, controlled and guided by the unconscious mind. Since the unconscious content is so far out of balance with John's (our) life, the psyche appears dark and we are seemingly trapped by the web of illusion spun by Maya; the Strangers. The web of Maya, is represented by the spiral, labyrinthine "web" of the streets of Dark City of which no person can find the way out; Shell Beach/Integration. John's task, in life, is to reawaken and become the whole-self; alchemical marriage.

The movie itself appears to be based on Daniel P. Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness, an account of his mental break. Dark City is the schizophrenic mind of Daniel Schreber. Dark City also appears to exhibit "the way out", or the alchemical approach to finding wholeness; individuation. In The Red Book, Jung mentions the Schreber case, which along with his own personal mental crisis, most likely served as case studies in his development of the individuation process (alchemy).

What's in a Name...
  1. John = Ioannes or Yahweh is Great. Murdoch = God, Chief God, Lord. John Murdoch is a god man with amnesia. John was also God's "favorite" disciple.
  2. Emma = ermen meaning "whole" or "universal". (G)emma - from Schreber's Memoirs of My Nervous Illness.The wholeness she provides after the Chemical Wedding of feminine and masculine. Emma, later is renamed Anna/Hannah = Grace, glorious
  3. Detective Bumstead = Baumstead; abode of the tree or to hold a place for the tree.
  4. The Strangers (Mr. Hand) = The Unknown, "little men" - The archetypes of the unconscious; personal and collective.
  5. Dr. Daniel P. Schreber = Ego? - Named after a composite of Daniel Paul Schreber and his father Dr. Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber. Daniel P. Schreber revealed psychosis which included delusions of tiny people in his head, abnormal (at least in those times) female envy and was confined to a sanitarium for many years.
Daniel Paul Schreber (25 July 1842 - 14 April 1911) was a German judge who suffered from what was then diagnosed as dementia praecox. He described his second mental illness (1893-1902), making also a brief reference to the first illness (1884-1885) in his book Memoirs of My Nervous Illness (original German title Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken)[1]. The Memoirs became one of the most influential books in the history of psychiatry and psychoanalysis thanks to its interpretation by Sigmund Freud.[2] - Wikipedia

Dr. Daniel Gottlob Moritz Schreber In 1844, he became director of the Leipzig "Heilanstalt" (sanatorium). His publications predominantly dealt with the subject of children's health and social consequences of urbanization at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution... Schreber was the founder of the eponymous "Schreber movement", although that term was used only after his death. In 1864, Leipzig school principal Ernst Innozenz Hauschild established the first "Schrebergarten", by leasing land for the physical exercise of children. - Wikipedia

"Schreber writes of the "little men" who crowd around his days. He describes them as being "a few millimeters in height,"invading his body because of his power…"

If it were just a matter of having these little folk wandering through his room, it might be bearable, but Schreber says that they insisted on literally dropping in on him:

"On some nights the souls finally dripped down on to my head, in a manner of speaking, in their hundreds if not thousands, as "little men". I always warned them against approaching me, since I had become aware of the immensely increased power of attraction of my nerves."

I was frequently told the names of the stars or groups of stars from which they had emanated or "from which they were suspended...." Especially frequent were the names Cassiopeia, Wega, Capella, also a star "Gemma" (or Emma)." - The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities

We can see from this understanding of who Schreber was that the film itself is an artistic rendition of the inner workings of Schreber's head, a sort of schizophrenic play. Hundreds of little men inside his head, Gemma (Emma in Dark City), the time spent in the sanitarium, and the Schrebergarten are key features of the film. Again, Jung also had a strong interest in Schreber and thus we can see the alchemical method/individuation being applied to the psychosis of the film (Schreber's/our head). Dark City apparently provides the "way out" for Daniel Schreber had he undergone the individuation process that Jung formulated, due in part to Schreber's psychosis itself.

The Alchemical City

In the Jungian archetypal schema,
Nigredo is the Shadow; Differentiation
Albedo refers to the anima and animus (contrasexual soul images);
Citrinitas is the wise old man (or woman) archetype; and
Rubedo is the Self archetype which has achieved wholeness.

Nigredo - The Shadow

In Dark City, a man awakens in a tub of water. Here he begins with amnesia. He is scarred with red blood upon his forehead. Later we find the scar is a remnant of the spiraling needle used to inject his memories into his pineal gland. He moves into the world scared and without knowledge (amnesia). He must seek to remember who he is (anamnesis). This is the baby being born (in water). The umbilical scar relative to the forehead scar. Babies are born with amnesia and must gain knowledge through life.

We can see similar "water births" in The Matrix, where Neo (One) is "birthed" into the "real" world in the water-pod battery matrix designed to steal/harvest his energy. (Note - Andrew Mason was a producer on both Dark City and The Matrix, creating a link between the gnostic/alchemical designs apparent in both. More similarities abound, but I defer that till later.)

The Fall - Embodiment of Spirit

The memories or "spirit" are transmitted via a spiraling tube needle with 2 side flaps. This represents the process of devolution into matter of the god man; (re)incarnation, the fall. The Spiral represents the flow of energy, time and spirit. The 2 side flaps represent duality inherent at birth. This is the corruption to be overcome. The needle itself represents the process of birth or awakening; beginning stage. Notice that the needle has 3 rings for the fingers; trinity.

The Spiral Imprint

In his book DMT: The Spirit Molecule, Rick Strassman describes the effects of DMT (FYI, movie out soon). Evidence shows that DMT appears in the pineal gland at the same time that the embryo's sex is determined. DMT is also present/released during near death or traumatic situations and becomes present in the embryo simultaneous to its determination of sex. Taking doses of DMT induces near death experiences, or more aptly, creates the spiral "gateway" through which the spirit or life force travels from the source (time less) into the 3D realm (time). Being the only non-bifurcated part of the brain, the pineal gland is "the seat of the soul"; the gateway of consciousness. The facilitation of spiritual incarnation is the literal meaning of the word entheogen; "that which causes God to be within an individual".

More on the Spiral Symbol below.

City of Pisces

John then stumbles out of the bathroom and breaks a fishbowl; he saves the fish. This can represent the gnostic-Christian idea of the fisher of men; the inhabitant of the Piscean Age. The fish represents the Goddess Sophia; the feminine wisdom-completion of wholeness hence Christian "fisher" symbolism. His rescue of the fish is his yearning for wholeness.

We can also see the presence of the dual fishes in the above image (by the pool/solar zodiac of Schreber). We have the Fish and its shadow in opposing directions; Pisces. John is sitting by the Solar zodiac/pool Dr. Schreber frequents. The pool itself representing zodiacal significance of Pisces/Aquarius. See image below in Zodiac image section.

According to Jung's Aion: "In the present instance the fishes would characterize the ascendant, the moment of the world's birth... the cosmogonic myths are, at bottom, symbols for the coming of consciousness... the dawn-state corresponds to the unconscious; in alchemical terms... the nigredo... The fishes represent the coming world of consciousness."

Pisces is symbolized by 2 fishes in opposing directions. These 2 oppositions are John and the Strangers. These oppositions come to the fore in Pisces and must be reconciled in order to enter into the Aquarian age. This can only be accomplished through struggle and the overcoming or more aptly the integration of the negative aspect. Hence the fishes represent the total state of consciousness; conscious + unconscious or light + dark.

Pisces is the 12th house of the zodiac and final stage before the start of the Age of Aquarius. We can see John's search for the Shell Beach (Rubedo & Aquarius) result in his eventual realization of the true reality and subsequent regaining of wholeness and power over the dark forces/unconscious. We have a concurrent process of individuation and shift from Pisces to Aquarius in the film. This does not necessarily infer the common belief of Aquarius being a perfect, golden age that will solve all problems being equated to Individuation. But we can step back and consider them together.

Shell Beach can refer to Pisces/Aquarius "border". The water and sun referring to the rubedo; dawn of new consciousness. The Nautilus shell relating the golden ratio; perfected design.

In Aion, Jung states: "... a junction of Saturn and Jupiter took place in Pisces..." "Saturn is a black star; maleficus..." "Jupiter is a beneficent star, Saturn equals death; Jupiter life..." " The conjunction of the two therefore signifies the union of extreme opposites."

This clearly illuminates the enantiodromian aspects of John's newfound abilities; to counteract the stranger's maleficus "evil".

"I have John Murdoch... in mind." - Mr.Hand

John = Christ; conscious ego
Mr. Hand (Stranger) = anti-Christ; the shadow

John, during his awakening to the false world, becomes hunted by the stranger, Mr.Hand who imprints himself with John's memories. This solidifies them as the christ/anti-christ pair; the piscean balance of opposites (enantiodromia).

"The anti-Christ, the perverse imitator of Christ's life...who follows in Christ's footsteps like a shadow following the body." - Aion, C.G.Jung

Notice the reference to Christ on the cross-zodiac in the image above for both John and Mr. Hand.

We even find the meeting of Mr. hand and Emma on the banks of the water. Mr. Hand is John’s shadow self whom she does not recognize. They meet at the banks of the water with 2 pinecones on either side; pineal gland - duality.

In The Matrix, we find a similar relationship between Neo and Agent Smith, especially Matrix Revolutions where Neo sacrifices himself to destroy Agent Smith.

Saturn - Back in Black

Detective Bumstead = Saturn, Persona (animus?)

"Astrological Saturn has always been associated with the letter of the law. Gnostics have identified Saturn with the god of Early Scripture, whom they regarded as a tyrannical father, obsessed with rigid enforcement of the law." - Wikipedia

The element associated with Saturn is LEAD. (turning the alchemical lead into gold) This is the beginning stage; Nigredo.

Dark City is influenced by Saturn and Jupiter. Saturn represents our limitations in power and control (by his rulership and its coming to an end), in confinement or isolation and capacity (as Saturn's placement as a planet, which until modern times was the boundary of our Solar System). Taking all this into consideration, it is no wonder we face difficulty when attempting to transform Saturn from a controlling force to a teaching force because we encounter all our limitations in every aspect of our lives. The principles of Saturn exist to prevent these transgressions from occurring or repeating through having learned lessons from them the hard way. Feelings of shame, fear, guilt and humiliation shackle us and keep us confined to the pit of darkness (note:dark-ness city). The way to get out of the pit is to stop placing blame on others and take personal responsibility for our situation in life.

Saturn often stands for the father in the natal chart, as does the Sun, however with Saturn it usually indicates problems with the father. Saturn indicates a tyrannical, domineering parent who seeks to mold his children in his own image and force them to live by his standards. Children often become "swallowed up" by such domination. Cronus became domineering and swallowed up his children in a need to control Fate (symbolized by the many clocks in the movie). It was the fathering style he was taught, which modern day psychologists tell us is what happens in dysfunctional families. We learn how to parent from our parents. Zeus broke the pattern, which is the example which we ideally seek in dysfunctional parenting. To break the pattern, one must learn to develop the positive side of Saturn. Mastering Saturn as the inner teacher is a difficult task as it forces one to deal with the problematic side of Saturn as well.

Saturn's function is contraction, which gives Saturn (called since ancient times "The Greater Malefic") a somewhat polarized role against Jupiter (called "The Greater Benefic") in astrology. - Wikipedia

In Dark City we find a variety of signifiers confirming the Saturnian qualities. We can see the police officer with the number 53; Precinct 53. Saturn has 53 moons. Detective Bumstead upholds the law.

Police officers wear black octagon hats. The black background of the octagon refers to the darkness of ignorance in reference to the uninformed state of mind. (see 8th Psychological Operations Insignia. Note: the insignia's lightning bolts represent the water wave sign of Aquarius turned vertical to create the bolts.)

Jupiter - The 5th Planet

Jupiter is the ruling planet of Sagittarius, and, for many astrologers, also the ruler of Pisces and is exalted in Cancer. In Roman mythology Jupiter is the ruler of the gods (having overthrown Saturn) and their guardian and protector, and his symbol is the thunderbolt.

Jupiter is associated with the principles of growth, expansion, prosperity and good fortune; and a person's inner sense of justice and morality and their ideals and higher goals. Jupiter governs long distance and foreign travel, higher education, religion and the law. It is also associated with the urge for freedom and exploration, humanitarian and protecting roles, and with gambling and merrymaking or 'joviality'. The first-century poet Manilius described Jupiter as temperate and benign, and the greater benefic. It was regarded as warm and moist in nature, and therefore favorable to life.

We can see the relation of 5 to John, Emma, Bumstead and Mr. Hand. They all interact through John’s apartment #5. This shows the affects of Jupiter on the aspects of the psyche throughout the movie. We can also see the interactions in apt. #5 as beingconscious interactions being they are above ground in John's home in contrast to the later interactions which occur underground (unconscious). We can note that Mr. Hand (the shadow) tracks Emma (anima) down at John's apt. to the ignorance of John (who wasn't physically there) and manages to erase her memories. This shows how the subconscious shadow self can render harmful affects when not properly integrated. Later, John's actions underground bear positive results leading to the rubedo; conscious & unconscious integrated.

Neptune - A Different Tune

Neptune is considered by modern astrologers to be co-ruler of Pisces with Jupiter. In Roman mythology Neptune is the god of the sea, and the deep, ocean blue color of the planet Neptune reflects this. Modern Western astrologers associate the planet Neptune with idealism and compassion, but also with illusion (see image below), confusion and deception; with religions, spirituality and mysticism, the mass media, creativity in art and music, drugs, extreme sensitivity, fantasy and imagination, psychic phenomena and altered mental states. Neptune governs hospitals, prisons, mental institutions, and any place, such as a monastery, that involves a retreat from society (from Wikipedia), i.e.- Detective Walenski's room (see image in Spiral Symbols below), Uncle Karl, and Dark City as prison. In the film, Neptune's Kingdom, the abode of Uncle Karl, is on the outskirts of town; signifying it's relevance to this concept of isolation.

In medicine Neptune seems particularly associated with the thalamus...(wikipedia). The thalamus is connected with the regulation of sleep and consciousness which are key aspects in this film; the strangers make the inhabitants "sleep" on command; the subconscious operates to the ignorance of the conscious.

Albedo - Whitening: Purification; Anima and Animus

Emma, (Gemma) the anima. (Later as Anna)

In Dark City, John Murdoch's feminine counterpart (contrasexual soul image) is represented by his wife Emma; anima? Dark City (night) in part alludes to her role as a Lunar symbol with whom he must later seek harmony with in order to achieve wholeness.

Again, noting Gemma was a star/person "emanating" in Schreber's head in Memoirs of My Nervous Illness.

We can see Emma connected to the number 5 both in John’s apt. #5 and in the related image shown here. The 4 elements with an X on the center 5th; the fifth element.

John comes to find that he has a wife named Emma. He goes to meet her and cannot remember her at all. This represents his estrangement from his anima; his imbalance with the feminine aspect. As he progresses through the movie, he comes to realize his love for her is genuine.

John supposedly has been killing prostitutes, but he cannot remember since he has amnesia. He picks up a prostitute at an automat to test his supposed killer instincts. John realizes that he is not a killer and eventually realizes the real killers are the Strangers; the maleficus dark content that is responsible for the evil. The spirals carved onto the bodies of the dead women can be thought of in this way: The female body is the soul, which is defiled by our unconscious due to our lack of wholeness (See Stephen Hoeller's work on the Gnostic Exegesis of the Soul). The spirals carved by the Strangers can signify the expansion of the unconscious, the path taken and, again, the ruling aspects of Saturn/Chronos; time as the spiral.

John must "awaken" by battling with the Strangers underground in order to complete the chemical marriage; through Emma. This is the whole conscious, coming face to face in totality.

Citrinitas - Yellowing: Spiritualization, Enlightenment. Wise Old Man/Chthonic Woman

"When we are aware of the precariousness of our spiritual condition, that awareness calls the savior into the picture..." - Stephen Hoeller

Detective Bumstead represents awakening aspects of John's masculine psyche;

"I don't know if I am awake of dreaming. It's like nothing in my past life was real..."

Bumstead, the reductive logical thinker, begins shifting from pure logic to intuitive thought. His accordion amplifies this symbol; music as balance of thinking and feeling. Bumstead is connected with his mother, who gave him his accordion. She can be seen as a picture in his house and on his desk. The mother/son combo is a symbol of the fishes, according to Jung. In addition, we see Bumstead as the transforming aspect of Saturnian control. The shift from mindless obedience to the control system, to personal individuation. He can also represent the animus.

Dr. Schreber, Bumstead and John journey to find Shell Beach (the Dr. is forced against his will). On the way they travel by boat over the deep dark waters under a broken bridge. This symbolizes the journey into the depths of the unconscious. The broken bridge signifying the disconnect between the conscious and unconscious, and masculine and feminine halves of the psyche. The boat signifying the journey or work in action.

After finding the edge of the city (consciousness) the strangers find them and Bumstead is killed (that is, Bumstead + a Stranger) thereby symbolizing the completion of the shift; the defeat of the negative Saturnian aspect, the death of the (false) persona. John is captured by the Strangers where he is imprinted with ultimate knowledge embedded in memories by Doctor Schreber. This instant gnosis represents enlightenment and realization of self; (anamnesis leading to Chemical Marriage).

Mr. Hand re-imprints Emma with new memories; symbolizing her death and subsequent rebirth as Anna; this coincides with the Rubedo phase.

The ensuing battle between John and the Strangers shows the conscious and unconscious at war to attain balance in the underworld. The resulting explosion shows the spiraling separation and rising of the material to the upper or conscious world. The impure material being cast off leaving behind the philosopher's stone.

John destroys the old world/dark consciousness by releasing the waters (which the Strangers have an aversion to) and uses his thought projections (tuning) to build the new world. We see the world turn and reveal the Sun and Water (heaven and Earth); enlightenment/citrinitas. The waters symbolizes the feminine that the unconscious had feared as well as a symbol of the Age of Aquarius.

By individuation/integration of the conscious and unconscious content, John takes back the power of his Self and can thus project an intentional, conscious world free from the prison of the limitations previously placed. (the marriage of the quaternio)

Rubedo - Reddening: Unification of the limited with the unlimited. Manifestation of the whole self. (Demonstration of perfection - Rosarium Philisophorum)

Anna + John + Dr.Schreber = the Wise Old Man/Chthonic Mother

Shell Beach - The Aquarian Vacation

John and Anna(Emma) come together on the pier; unity of male and female, Sol and Luna; the whole self. So with the “death” of Emma and Bumstead; anima and animus, we are seeing the rebirth into the new self. In this view, I take the idea of the anima and animus co-existing in John because John is both male and female (the viewer’s sex). This maintains relevance for both men and women of course.

The sun over the ocean amplifies this unity of opposites. The waters also represent the Aquarian Age; new aion.

More Symbols:

The dagger is adorned by 2 side "prongs" which can represent the exit out of duality; the compliment of the spiral needle of duality. The dagger is similar to the Phurba of Bhutanese shamans. Accordingly we can see its purpose to kill the 3 poisons noted below:

The handle generally has a triune form as is common to the pommel and blade. The blade is usually composed of three triangular facets or faces, meeting at the tip. These represent, respectively, the blade's power to transform the negative energies known as the "three poisons" or "root poisons" (Sanskrit: mula klesha) of attachment/craving/desire, delusion/ignorance/misconception, and aversion/fear/hate. - From Wikipedia

We can see the use of the phurba in the film The Shadow and a form of it in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

During the early stages, the movie shown playing is "The Evil". This can also represent the last phase of Pisces or the prevailing imagery projected by the mind as "evil". We also see "The Evil" being advertised in the subway; abode of the unconscious.

During the Citrinitas stage, the coming attraction is "Book of Dreams". This can also represent the start of Aquarius; the power of the imagination machine in its "good" form.

UPDATE: I almost forgot to mention the obvious. The movies themselves are projections. The theater is the image projector; imagination/psychological projection-Jung. We can correlate the movie theater with the overall scenario of the movie. If we consider the theater as the image-in-ation generator (again, the city as the mind of one person), good and evil emanate from this projection. We see Dark City/Schreber's state of mind relate to and are born from these projections. Hence by cleaning up and harmonizing this projector, we get different scenarios.

There is a Roof chase scene, a spiral stairs chase scene and a Subway scene (again, where "The Evil" is shown advertised). This symbolizes the conscious and subconscious work John is performing in order to find wholeness of self, "Shell Beach"/Aquarius; traveling the spiral staircase en route. Note the staircase bottom floor is shown with the masonic black and white checkers.

Gnostic/Quartered Cross-

The Strangers are shown fabricating memories by compiling an array of objects to put into people's homes. The conveyor is flanked by rows of quartered/Gnostic crosses on both sides; duality, path to wholeness. This is also a nice metaphor for the mainstream media as the meme-machine; reality generator through consensus spell casting at the subconscious level; Strangers-underground-memories-artifacts. When John is captured by the Strangers, he is whisked to the machine on a transport with 2 quartered crosses on it. The gnostic cross also signifies the gnostic influence in an fashion.

The Stag/Deer -

The deer is connected to the prostitute in the film. We can see the deer as a symbol of regeneration, cycle, and growth, expansion and the moon/luna - the feminine. The prostitute can be seen as the suppression of the feminine archetype; her later death as total suppression.

The deer-prostitute as the inner spiritual growth killed by the shadow or dark content (the shadow, Mr. Hand). The forced prostitution of the deer implies the unconscious dark contents' maliciousness towards the whole self. The mirror reflects/hints to our identification with the deer-prostitute since we are seeing a reflection of "ourselves". This is a common subtle trick used in many movies.

"Just as the deer has an uncanny sense of where to find the green freshness earth provides, we can ask the deer within ourselves to seek out our inner treasures. In meditation or day dream, go on a spiritual hike with the deer. See yourself walking in the woods with the deer leading you into amazing depths within your soul. Each step you and the deer take will lead you deeper into your spiritual knowing, and to limitless treasure within. The deer (particularly the doe, females) has the capacity for infinite generosity. Their heart rhythms pulse in soft waves of kindness. Match that graciousness by offering your trust to her. She will reward you by leading you to the most powerful spiritual medicine you can fathom. In China the deer is a symbol of happiness and good fortune. Indeed, its name in Chinese is a homonym for the word abundance."

"The deer was/is a symbol to the Native Americans representative of the great spirit – a sign of the sun as its antlers spread like the sun’s rays. The Native Americans also recognized the shedding and regrowth of the antlers and deemed this a symbol of regeneration, cycle, and growth.

Above all, we can recognize the sensitivity of the deer - alert, keen, and always aware – we can translate these qualities to of being spiritually aware – and this is why the deer is seen primarily as a spiritual symbol.

The fact that you were able to see this very powerful sign – the white deer – is a message that you are on a path of growth and expansion that will lead you in a direction beyond your wildest dreams. The message of the white deer is one of "get ready." - From here and here

The Spiral

"Round and round and round she goes... where she stops nobody knows." - Detective Bumstead

Detective Walenkski's drawings are reflections of his efforts to try to figure out that which he cannot remember or understand.

The streets and subway follow a spiraling pattern . John finds out that the "Green Line" is the only way to Shell Beach (green-Osiris), but he has no way to get on it.
  • John notices his fingerprint is a spiral.
  • The spiral staircase in John's apartment building. 
  • Dr. Schreber's lab contains a labyrinth with a rat in it. "A rather crude experiment" he calls it.
  • Bumstead notices his coffee and the photo of a fingerprint are both spirals. He then notices the prostitutes are carved with spirals by the Strangers.
  • The buildings "grow" in spirals.
  • The clouds over Dark City are spiral formed.
  • The imprinting needle drills in spiral motion.
  • The final explosion and destruction of the machine results in a spiral beam of light toward the heavens.

The golden spiral is the principle underlying rule by which all energy naturally flows in the universe; tornadoes, water pouring, seasons, light waves, subatomic particles (generally speaking). Cycles can be seen as a circle that repeats; over and over. In order to evoke true nature though, it must also never be the same; diversity. This is accomplished by constantly changing the diameter of the circle (X an Y dimensions) and at the same time moving the circle along a path (Z axis). This creates a constantly fluxing, breathing energy flow; see diagram. A spiral is nothing more than a static circle imbued with the life force; dynamism. This is why the ancients used it to represent time; see Anasazi and Celtic/druidic symbolism.

Symbolically, the spiral represents the expansion of consciousness, life, awakening, the feminine... etc.

By observing moving spirals, the mind can become hypnotized or entranced. This movement of the spiral interacts with the minds movement (consciousness). It can become a gateway between consciousness and unconsciousness, imagination and reality. Walking a labyrinth can induce a state of focus (inward movement) or meditation.

DNA is a toroidal spiral antenna. It is designed to receive moving signal and materialize it into the 3D world. It is trapped into the 3D by the Ouroboros-like DNA structure which traps the life force in a closed system (toroid).

The spiral's appearance in the film is indicative and symbolic of somatic and psychic "objects" of the conscience. They also portray the natural occurrence of spirals in form linked with the immaterial motion of the spiral; time, waking/sleeping, coffee swirling, etc... Use your own eyes to read into the meaning.

Spiral Time: The Anasazi Solar Calendar

Back in the real world, I found some nice examples of the spiral used to measure time. In Chaco Canyon there is a carved spiral into a cliff wall with a series of stone slabs set up to cast shadows at specific times on the Winter and Summer solstice. The sliver of light cast by the sun lands dead center at exactly 11:11 am AND for less than a minute (summer solstice around 800 AD)! The moon also interacts with this spiral clock, but is less understood due to the complex motions of the moon. This spiral calendars can be found all over the southwest used in symbolic and clock forms. Also note, the spiral as time symbol is quite universal and is found all over the globe. The 11:11symbolism is indicative of death/rebirth and "gateways/portals". The infamous 12-21-2102 date itself is set to occur at 11:11am GMT.


The clock by the pool shows 11 o'clock, pisces on the zodiac round. We also find the 2 fishes on the wall behind the pool as towel hooks, pisces.

Zodiacs appear frequently in the movie, amplifying the time/astrological meanings.


"You still don't understand John. You were never a boy. Not in this place. Your entire history is an illusion, a fabrication, as it is with all of us." - Dr. Schreber

We also see the Saturnian aspect of the clocks being consistently reinforced. Saturn is Cronus. (Edit, I misspelled Cronus which could have caused confusion. See note on Cronus/Chronos confusion: "His association with the "Saturnian" Golden Age eventually caused him to become the god of "human time", i.e., calendars, seasons, and harvests — not to be confused with Chronos, the unrelated embodiment of time in general." Wikipedia) Although there is a difference between Cronus and Chronos, there is a similarity in their association with time and in the etymology of the names, yet are distinct from each other.

Time to Sleep

Well.... as I squeeze the last bits of this post, I’ll leave you with these ideas to ponder and consider for yourself. This movie left an impact on me those years ago when I saw it in high school and even now as I see it anew through symbolist eyes...


Indras Net said...

Wow Beutiful work Ryan, thanks! I need to see this flick, looks great. Love the alchemical style of it, and also Shell Beach synchs with something I read in the Book "Initiation in the Aeon of the Child" where I read that in the Journey up the tree at the path of Pisces symbolized by the Moon Tarot Card the Initiate goes through a "Dark Knight of the Soul" in the Nigredo process, and turns the "Grey Old World" or the "World of Shells" to light. These are known as the Shadows of the tree of life, the Qliphoth, which are the shells or shadows of the Spheres on the Tree of Life, basically the negative reflections. Also wanted to mention that when I read the Neptune bar part I wanted to mention that Neptune is the newest Ruler of Pisces(previously it was Jupiter), Neptune and the Seas of the Unconscious/the Moon all fits well, makes me think of the dark side of the Moon. Anywhoo I think youd enjoy this book, he quotes Jung often too. Im lookin forward to reading more here, keep up the lovely work sir and be very well. Namaste

Unknown said...

Quite a good read, I really enjoyed your interpretation of this film. ;) I'll have to catch up on your other posts later, and add this blog to my links!

Ryan said...

Thanks for the kind words, from both of you! I will add your blog to my list as well (my blog is meant to promote my thoughts and the thoughts of others as well). You have a good array more than I have as yet ViølatoR. Some really nice posts I will check out, although I have happened by it before! Thanks again!

Unknown said...

Great read, brother. It's always a thing of beauty to see your conversations and thoughts manifested and portrayed in such a detailed and succinct manner. Hope all is well with you.

Jasun said...

Epic piece, Ryan. Not to plug myself but you'd def enjoy secret life of movies. Maybe see if your library stocks it?

Ryan said...

That's on my list too... Are you writing specifically for me? Ha ha :)

Going Against The Grain said...

Hi Ryan, I truly enjoyed reading this decoding of the Dark City. After SecretSun's recommendation to see 'The Box', I have but I am ashamed to say that I have no idea what to look for in terms of symbology, synchronicity etc. Are you planning to do a post on this film soon?

Much appreciated, and will be subbing.


Ryan said...

I am working on something right now, but it will be a short while before I can publish the post. All I can say is that these films present different meanings to everyone, as we all have our own particular point-of-views and experiences. This one (The Box) is packed with meanings and the subject requires some reading of supplemental material in order to fully understand it's "conscious" intent. That said, I am sure that your input on my posts will enrich me and everyone else reading it. Awareness is the key. There is no shame in being new to or not understanding something, whichever you might be. Your interest is all that is required. Without people who care about the inner meanings of life and care to make conscious steps in understanding, we are lost and are nothing more than consumers of others' decisions. Thank you for reading and keep your look out for the next post...

Bruno said...

Great Job!

Unknown said...

Dark City is my favourite film, I play it endlessly when working some days...

It was Australian-based - Aussie director / writer etc. so there are further synchronies to be found-

Melissa George played the prostitute, best known in Oz for her portrayal of ANGEL on the soap opera HOME AND AWAY...

Mr. Hand was played by NZ "third sex" actor and impresario Richard O'Brien creator of the rocky horror picture show and later host of the CRYSTAL LABYRINTH.


Also in relation to the good doctor, in the dream teaching sequence when Murdoch / k undergoes reintegration and... illumination the doctor says, "I'll be working for you some day"...

And so on, and so on. :)

Ryan said...

Hmmm, Crystal Labyrinth huh? I'll have to check that one out. It also resonates with Jennifer Connely's role in The Labyrinth with the crystal wielding David Bowie and Dark City.

And yes, Dark City is a favorite of mine too.

Thanks for the inputs.

Matthew Daniel Ford said...

Wow, really interesting article-- I got the dualities but you really went all out in depth.

I've been sort of haunted by numbers and shapes appearing in media as well.

This blog really sparked my interest.


The part with the energy flows in the MOD9 circles is especially interesting. It seems like there's a correlation.

Unknown said...

Wow. This is amazing! I'd thought that Dark City was interesting when I watched it in film class, when many others didn't understand it and thus found no interest in it. But wow. I didn't know that there was actually sooooo much more to it!

Thanks so much for sharing! Good work! :)

Eon said...

Not bad. I spotted this after seeing the similarities in The Matrix. It describes the process of Enlightenment, as does the Matrix and the Bible.

shubham said...

one of the best blog with many informative information similar i have also want to read so click here Best Hotel in Manali Mall Road