Mindbomb: Heaven's Goat

There is coincidence, there is meaningful coincidence and then there is symbolically supercharged meaningful coincidence. 

Then there is the Mindbomb.

In light of the recent revelation about the Heaven's Gate suicides, I've been thinking about the concept of the walk-in, and how it differs from the more prevalent idea of possession. 

I began to wonder if the classic New Age concept of the walk-in has ever been depicted onscreen, since The X-Files' treatments of the theme are oblique and ambiguous. Finally, I came up with two definite examples. 

But once I began pulling at the threads an entire synchrosweater began to unravel.

Supernatural (which had a number of X-Files veterans behind the camera in its early seasons) has been running for 11 seasons now riffing on the idea of angels and demons at war in another realm and wearing 'meatsuits', or human bodies, to carry out their work in the human realm. This concept got a few go-rounds in X-Files ('Revelations', 'All Souls', 'Terms of Endearment') but also in 1013s Millennium, with the Legion demons such as Lucy Butler and Aleister Pepper and angels such as Sammael and uh, Samiel.

Although I don't recall the term being used, one of Supernatural's lead characters, Castiel, is fairly close to a classic walk-in, a believer who offered up his body to an angel (enormous creatures of light, upon which humans can't gaze). More often than not, the meatsuit borrowing isn't voluntary. 

But that's corny old angel-demon stuff and doesn't fit the migrating ET spirit theme of the New Age walk-in as we know it:

Scully: "So, you started to tell me about walk-ins, but I'm not sure if I grasped the finer points."
Mulder: "It's kind of a new age religion based on an old idea, that if you lose hope or despair and want to leave this mortal coil you become open and vulnerable."
Scully: "To inhabitation by a new spirit."
Mulder: "A new enlightened spirit

But as I was researching this a more nagging thought kept itching at my brain, something that I couldn't let go of; to any cineaste the term's "Heaven's Gate" has a very definite meaning. 

It describes a notorious disaster that sank the promising career of director Michael Cimino, and was part of a string of expensive flops (Spielberg's 1941, Altman's Popeye, Coppola's One From the Heart, Xanadu, Sgt. Pepper's) that had critics up in arms in the late 70s and early 80s.

Attempts have been made over the years to rehabilitate the film, with varying degrees of success. I don't remember seeing it, but may have back in the early VHS days when we rented everything. 

What interests me about the film is the cast. In the supporting cast alone, we have Geoffrey Lewis, Terry O'Quinn and Tom Noonan, all of whom had remarkable guest appearances on The X-Files.

The star of Heaven's Gate is Kris Kristofferson, who costarred with Wesley Snipes, Jessica Biel and -wait for it- Ryan Reynolds in Blade: Trinity, which depicted Dracula as one of the Anunaki. 

Reynolds co-starred in the 'Double Helix' mindfuck episode of The Outer Limits, the Heaven's Gate wetdream-come-true episode that somehow aired the week of their suicides. This was when Reynolds was a teenage Canadian TV nobody, not the movie star he later became (also, he's a Nine).

Heaven's Gate also features Jeff Bridges, who also starred with Kevin Spacey in what is generally acknowledged as one of the films following the classic walk-in formula- a man suffers terrible trauma and is then possessed by the spirit of an enlightened alien being traveling from a distant utopia.

I began to wonder; Jeff Bridges stars in a film about walk-ins and a film called Heaven's Gate? 


Bridges himself played a variation on the walk-in theme in John Carpenter's Starman, in which he reconstructed the body of a dead man using a strand of hair found in a brush. As we saw before, Wavelength writer/director Mike Gray was hired to produce the Starman series, based on the film. 

Gray lent a major effects rig to Carpenter, the big Stargate-like spaceship that is featured at the climax of both Wavelength and Starman.

By the way, there's only a small handful of movies about alien spiritual possession out there, but for some reason Robert Carradine, the star of Wavelength, has appeared in two of them; the Tommyknockers TV miniseries and John Carpenters' Ghosts of Mars. How about that for a "sync?"

Mike Gray went onto work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which borrowed the basic plot of Starman --a disembodied alien reconstructing a lost loved one-- for "The Bonding", Ronald B. Moore's first sale (Moore went onto fame with his adaption of Glen Larson and Leslie Stevens' Battlestar Galactica). 

"The Bonding" was produced during Michael Piller's first season as showrunner, and saw the reintroduction of Nine-like discarnate aliens capable of altering time and space. In this case they reincarnated a dead crew member, with the surname "Aster". 

Alice Astor was one of the original Round Table who channeled the Nine in Maine in 1952.

Mike Gray allegorized a disaster that had taken place during a remote viewing exercise in Wavelength, an attempt to contact non-human intelligences that may have used children as mediums that resulted in the death of personnel. 

A similar disaster has been allegorized in the The Outer LimitsThe X-Files and the Taken miniseries (aka "season 10 of The X-Files"). All three are considerably different enough as to not be copying each other but riffing on the same source material.

One possible source is a paper published and circulated in the USNET days by the Rev. Ray Boeche, a MUFON director who came into contact with the Collins Elite. Representatives from that group informed him what was being done in the black projects world:

Research is being done on teleportation, healing, extracting
information from the brains of dead subjects, remote viewing,
developing computers with the ability to interpret and record the waveforms of thoughts, enabling them to be recorded and or transmitted.

Several projects have been designed to study "negative healing", the psychic infliction of pain, injury, and death.
Kind of stuff you don't want circulating. Kind of stuff you creating bogus programs to steer people away from. Which brings us to...

Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey would reunite in The Men Who Stare at Goats, the John Sergeant book on the First Earth Battalion and the Army's remote viewing program that some dismal, sniveling shill took credit for. Bridges played a character based on First Earth Batallion Jim Channon, who had extensive contacts with Esalen and is generally seen as a decent guy.

Spacey played a character based loosely on Major Ed Dames (with a little L. Ron Hubbard thrown in), who worked on the Army's RV program. I can tell you first-hand that people I spoke to in the Bay Area RV/psi world didn't think much of the Army's RV program and there are a lot of people out there who think much, much less of Dames.

It's the Dames orbit-- Courtney Brown, Prudence Calabrese, Art Bell-- that brings Heaven's Gate back into the mix. Brown and Calabrese had made the prediction on Bell's show that a planet-sized UFO was traveling in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet, which the Gate interpreted as their taxicab back to the stars. 

But that prediction didn't exist in a vacuum; all manner of outrageous nonsense had conveniently hit the airwaves just as a coalition of religious and skeptical fanatics were fighting to get the military out of the psi research business.

Prudence Calabrese

From an article by Don Ecker entitled "Aftermath of Heaven's Gate: Who Is Responsible?", we see the work of Major Ed Dames and get a sense of his mission in regards to remote viewing. Upon ostensibly leaving the military, Dames formed a company called PSITECH, which claimed to train remote viewers and offered their services to corporate clients :
 Many people have assumed that Dames was a project remote viewer, but he was actually a "monitor," who didn't remote view himself but assisted the remote viewers. 
Even though Dames claims 100 percent accuracy, I and others
know he's "missed by a mile" in some of these predictions.
He claimed that remote viewers in his company, PSITECH, had remotely viewed a "platform coming in over our shoulders." Dames said he and his team wereamazed to see this object and another land in northern NewMexico.
 According to Dames, the objects were transporting a race of dying aliens from a planet suffering a eco-holocaust… 
After the Hale-Bopp "companion" object was announced, Dames added to his doomsday prophecy by claiming that he and the remote viewers from PSITECH had examined the Hale-Bopp comet and viewed a "container filled with plant-killing pathogens." 
All of this went down just in time to cast the entire RV program into disrepute and ridicule. Never mind that the Stanford program had been created by two major league scientists, one of whom had been a pioneer in laser technology.

But back to Heaven's Gate. The film also starred Brad Dourif, who made his first splash in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, written by MK Ultra test subject Ken Kesey. Dourif also played a channeler/remote viewer in a key early episode of The X-Files, "Beyond the Sea." But it gets weirder. Here's the late Philip Coppens, on PSITECH:
The truth of how the “remote viewing” project would be leaked and ridiculed, was also clear: by linking it to little grey aliens – extra-terrestrials. At one point, I typed in remoteviewing.com on my web browser, and arrived at a site operated by “Psi Tech”. The company (PsiTech) was apparently operated by two individuals, Jonina Dourif, President and Dane Spotts, CEO. So far, nothing wrong. But in 1995, I chanced upon a lecture by Major Ed Dames, who stated he was at the birth of PSI TECH. 
Jonina Dourif was, in fact, his wife, and the ex-wife of actor Brad Dourif. 
 Jeez. Small world. It's about to get smaller. But first, this:
In an interview with Alex Jones, Gunman Dean Haglund ("Langley") stated that agents from the FBI and NASA would approach Chris Carter with story ideas. Haglund also claimed that the CIA would send people to Hollywood parties to keep tabs on what was being filmed, and said that before The X-Files premiered, a CIA psychic approached Carter and ensured him that his project would be successful.

Sometimes it seems other Hollywood projects aren't so lucky.

Christopher Walken also appeared in Heaven's Gate and had two very interesting movies premiere in 1983. One was The Dead Zone, based on the Stephen King novel. Walken played a man who received psychic powers after a near-death experience. The Dead Zone was later developed into a TV series by Michael Piller, of Star Trek 9: The Battle for Esalen fame.

The other was considerably more interesting. Like Wavelength, Brainstorm* was produced in 1981 but delayed, in this instance due to the death of its female lead, Natalie Wood. That case is still front page news on the tabloids, with many suspecting the death was the result of foul play. 

Brainstorm was directed by Douglas Trumbull, the effects man for 2001: A Space Odyssey. From iMDb:
Brilliant researchers Lillian Reynolds and Michael Brace have developed a system of recording and playing back actual experiences of people. Once the capability of tapping into "higher brain functions" is added in, and you can literally jump into someone else's head and play back recordings of what he or she was thinking, feeling, seeing, etc.…The government tries to kick Michael and Lillian off the project once the vast military potential of the technology is discovered...The lab starts producing mind torture recordings and other psychosis-inducing material. 
MGM tried to kill Brainstorm in the wake of Wood's death but Trumbull fought tooth and nail to keep it alive. But the battle ended his career in Hollywood. Like Wavelength, Brainstorm is a movie with heavy MK Ultra undertones. And like Wavelength a connection to Big Sur:
To prepare for the film, Trumbull took most of the key cast and crew up to the Esalen Institute, an experimental research facility in Northern California known for its new-age classes and workshops. 
I should add that this was during the time that the Nine were running Esalen, and were listed as directors in the Esalen catalog.

The story for Brainstorm was written by Bruce Joel Rubin, who returned to MK Ultra themes (in this case the experimentation on GIs in Viet Nam) in Jacob's Ladder, a script the studios wouldn't touch until Adrian Lyne, fresh off a string of box office smashes, took an interest in the project.

Incidentally, Christopher Walken also starred in the Prophecy films, a major influence on Supernatural, which we discussed earlier. He also portrayed Whitley Strieber in the film adaptation of Communion.

 Speaking of MK Ultra AND The Nine...

Louise Fletcher also costarred in this star-crossed film. Fletcher was an Oscar winner for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in which she appeared with Brad Dourif. A fine actress, Fletcher went from Cuckoo's Nest to Brainstorm to, you guessed it, Star Trek

Fletcher was a regular guest star on Deep Space (the) Nine, where she played Kai Winn, a Bene Gesserit-like priestess of the Prophets, or let's just be blunt here: The Nine.

Fletcher also appeared on the CBS show Picket Fences. The X-Files first walk-in drama 'Red Museum', that seemed to have such an impact on Heaven's Gate, was originally written as a crossover with Picket Fences but the plan was scuttled by CBS execs.

Back in 1013 world: Actor/director Grant Heslov, who cast Robert Patrick as a military contractor in The Men Who Stare at Goats, played opposite Patrick on the X-Files in the episode "Via Negativa." 

So Jeff Bridges appears in Heaven's Gate, a walk-in movie, and a film directed by a guy who played a Heaven's Gate-based cultist. Got all that? Get this now...

Heslov played 'Andre Bormanis', a drug wizard who cooks up Iboga derivatives for a charismatic cult leader who does a Heaven's Gate on their followers (one of several references to the Gate on X-Files). Only this guy can do it telepathically, through remote influencing, astral projection, whatever you want to call it: 

Frohike: "We don't know why. But we might tell you how. You've heard of MK Ultra?"
Byers: "The CIA mind control project started in the 50s."
Langly: "They gave LSD to a bunch of people to see what would happen. Didn't bother telling them first."
Frohike: "They understood the power of hallucinogens to harness the mind."
Doggett: "Tipet was the one on hallucinogens, not his victims."
Byers: "The CIA invested millions trying to create psychic assassins, failing where Tipet has evidently succeeded."

Ahh, psychic assassins, remote influencing, bilocation, contact with NHIs, all the truly weird stuff the wicked wizards of Washington were really after. Interesting.

The name chosen for this quasi-MK Ultra drug chef, who cooked up drugs for a Heaven's Gate-inspired cult who all end up dead, led by a leader who insert himself inside people's dreams, is rather curious considering who in fact he was named in honor of:
Andre Bormanis is an American television producer, screenwriter and author of the book Star Trek: Science Logs. Bormanis is most notable for his involvement in the long-running Star Trek franchise, and was the science consultant on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. He also wrote several episodes of the Voyager and Enterprise series, as well as acting as science/technical advisor on the Next Generation films.

A different kind of walk-in was later introduced on The X-Files, the supersoldiers, more accurately, the human replacements who were being dropped on Earth in place of abductees in order to kill off the population when colonization began (you can relax, it's come and gone). 

The main supersoldiers in season eight were Knowle Rohrer (played by Adam Baldwin of Full Metal Jacket fame) and Billy Miles (played by Zachary Ansley, who appeared in the show's pilot and became a recurring character beginning with "Requiem." The supersoldier program was named after an ongoing DARPA project, that has been wildly embroidered by Internet fantasists.

Ansley is very important since after The X-Files he went on to appear on The Outer Limits, in what I would call the most explicit and deliberate use of the Walk-In trope in any presentation that I'm personally aware of: "The Vessel", written by old Glen Larson hand Sam Egan (who was likely a Leslie Stevens hire, given the latter's long and fruitful association with the Larson organization).

It's interesting to note that the scene where the host communicates with the alien walk-in is a visual tribute to "The Galaxy Being" (aka "Please Stand By), Leslie Stevens'† Outer Limits pilot.

Unlike K-PAX, there is no ambiguity or uncertainty, and the method in which the host gives himself up to the Walk-In is played out in explicit detail. Heaven's Gate would have loved it, it's a shame they didn't stick around long enough to see it. 

But they did miss Creed and Limp Bizkit, so maybe the joke's on us.

*Strangely enough, another movie with the title Brainstorm was released in 1965- it was Jeffrey Hunter's first major role after turning down the lead on Star Trek. He met an early end as well.

†  Remember that Stevens wrote an influential book called est:The Steersman Handbook in the late 60s. The acronym was almost immediately absconded by Werner Erhard, a former used car salesman who was part of the Esalen orbit in the late 60s, being close friends with co-founder Michael Murphy.

AstroGnostic: Heaven's Gate's Final Secret?

It's a continuing source of amazement how many of the themes I followed on the blog over the years have re-entered the newsstream since I began blogging again, especially so in the past month. 

I'm sure a lot of you have heard that The X-Files is returning to television as a limited series (something I'd been lobbying for in lieu of feature films since the series went off the air) and from what I've been told that's a done deal, with Chris Carter, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson all coming back. 

Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz probably won't be returning, since he's producing the adaption of Man in the High Castle for Ridley Scott, now airing on Amazon.*

Either way this is a good time for a rewatch- check out The Secret Sun Guide to the X-Files Mytharc, an all-encompassing viewer's guide that includes not only with the alien colonization episodes that were included on the Myth boxsets but all the episodes that deal with government conspiracies, human experimentation, mind control and other parapolitical and paranormal topics.

Which brings us to another recent news story, the publication of a major scholarly text on the Heaven's Gate cult entitled Heaven's Gate: America's UFO Religion By Benjamin E. Zeller, a professor at Lake Forest College (not to be confused with Wake Forest University). 

And although the book is a fairly typical serving of lukewarm Ivory Tower wordsoup, Zeller did uncover a curious detail about the 1997 suicides that ties back to The X-Files mythology in a strange and tantalizing way.

Just don't expect anything that goes against the usual media narrative on the cult.

There's no mention of The Mysterious Two, the absolutely insane 1982 TV movie based on Heaven's Gate's prior incarnation of HIM and their widely publicized disappearance into the Oregon wilderness (a film that had TV megastar John Forsythe portraying Applewhite and Steven Spielberg's future mother in law portraying Bonnie Nettles), the comic story in UFO Flying Saucers and no mention of the work Jacques Vallee did on HIM in Messengers of Deception or Brad Steiger's interviews with Applewhite and Nettles in Gods of Aquarius (Steiger is cited for another, lesser text). 

There's certainly no mention of the fact that the Gate's suicides were preceded by one of the most widely publicized UFO flaps in recent times (given the Gate's Net savvy, they may well have been aware of the Phoenix Lights, even though the story didn't go national until after their deaths) or the bizarre episode of the The Outer Limits that allegorized Applewhite's wildest fantasies and aired the week of the suicides.

Worst of all, he continually describes the Gate's doctrine and practice as being consummately Gnostic, yet the term "Gnostic" never appears once in the text. Zeller: 
By the end of 1996, the members of Heaven's Gate had reconfigured their worldview in a starkly dualistic manner, they upheld two forms of dualism: one a metaphysical dualism that distinguished the body from the true self, found in the mind or soul; the other a second form of dualism that I call "worldly dualism," which distinguished the members of Heaven's Gate and their movement as good, saved, and wholesome, and separated from a bad, damned, and corrupt outside world. 
In other words, Applewhite was preaching good, old fashioned Manichaeism. A first year divinity student could tell you that. Zeller does not.

Given the fact that Zeller is a professor of religion and a self-styled specialist in New Religious Movements (a specialty that's becoming increasing archaic in this age of Borgsong media immersion and suicidalist secularism), it boggles my mind that he can continually describe the doctrine and practice of the most austere and world-denying forms of Gnosticism among the Gate without naming them as such.
Members therefore saw themselves as more alien than human, as engaged in only a temporary sojourn on Earth but destined to return to the Next Level. One of the earliest and most explicit examples of such occurs in a 1994 statement that Applewhite or other members of the group wrote but did not distribute. Using the third person to refer to themselves. they wrote, "[t]hey began 'touching down' on Earth (evacuating their bodies and the crafts they came in) in the 1940s and subsequently began incarnating in adult human bodies in the 1970s and will evacuate this planet within the next year." 
This is Gnosticism 101:
The fundamental difference that separates the Gnostics from their contemporaries is that, for them, their native `soil' is not the earth, but that lost heaven which they keep vividly alive in their memories: they are the autochthons of another world. 
Hence their feeling of having fallen onto our earth like inhabitants from a distant planet, of having strayed into the wrong galaxy, and their longing to regain their true cosmic homeland, the luminous hyper-world that shimmers beyond the great nocturnal barrier. 
Their uprooting is not merely geographical but planetary 
The Gnostics by Jacques La Carriere
Zeller also sees UFO religions as some 20th Century novelty: 
Within Heavens Gate, science played a central role as a rhetorical tool used to understand the movement, its identity. and its relationship with outsiders. As a UFO religion, this is hardly surprising. Historian of new religions John Saliba has postulated, "UFO phenomena are a new type of religion that attempts to formulate a worldview that is more consistent with the culture and technology of the twenty-first century." 
Again, as much as secular minded theology professors want to chalk this all up to some postwar quirk, some glitch in the Matrix of naturalist perfection, these beliefs are ancient. See Fragments of an Alien Faith; the ancient Gnostics may not have understood the "clouds" and "wheels" and "light beings" in the context of science fiction as the Gate did but they certainly couched their visionary experience in the language of the pop culture of the day, which was religion.

Though I've never seen any evidence that Applewhite was reading Gnostic literature (though given the overlap between Gnosticism, UFO lore and conspiracy culture in the 90s, it's difficult to imagine the Gate not stumbling upon it), the developing cosmology came straight out of Hypostasis of the Archons:
The poster indicated that humans today were "enslaved; that all existing religions were "corrupted by malevolent space aliens," and that the Next Level would soon begin "the process of recycling Earth's environment and inhabitants." 
This may have also been the X-Files influence at work. But there's another, more explicit influence; the growing acceptance among the cult of the doctrine of the 'walk-in', the migrating non-corporeal intelligences who travel by starlight seeking out bodies to inhabit. According to Zeller, this doctrine came to dominate Gate thinking in the days leading up to the suicides. 
Although most observers were puzzled or amused by the Gate's language of "exiting their vehicles" and speaking about themselves in the third person, the Gate meant it all quite literally. They believed that they were extraterrestrial wayfarers trapped in inferior human cages. Note that the walk-in concept has also been the topic of the novel The Host (and a feature film) by Stephenie Meyer, author of the Twilight juggernaut. Zeller:
 By the end of the group's existence members spoke of themselves as something akin to popular psychic Ruth Montgomery's concept of  'walk-ins:' spirits from the Next Level who had long ago been human, but had abandoned their humanity in order to become Next Level creatures, and now returned to complete a predetermined task.
But according to Zeller, the Gate may have gotten the idea from The X-Files.
Member of the Class might have discovered the concept of walk-ins by reading Montgomery's 1979 book on the topic, Strangers Among Us: Enlightened Beings from The World to Come, or they might have encountered the term on the television series The X-Files, which featured multiple episodes exploring the topic. 
The X-Files featured multiple episodes on the walk-in theme but only one that aired before the Gate exited their vehicles; 1994's 'Red Museum'. It's known that the Gate watched The X-Files religiously, a fact that confused the show's producers, given the fact that they portrayed aliens in such a negative light. 

But whereas Zeller equivocates, I believe the Gate's devotion to the show proves that it was indeed 'Red Museum' where the Gate first encountered the walk-in concept, or at least where they latched onto the concept as their raison d'etre and the justification for their final exit.


Because 'Red Museum' portrays a cult that is remarkably similar to Heaven's Gate, so much so that Applewhite may well have seen the episode as a message specially meant for him and the group. "The Church of the Red Museum" is a cult that believed in an apocalyptic event destined for 2012, led by a charismatic preacher who left his profession as a doctor to lead a nomadic, separatist cult that believed they were the hosts of enlightened, non-corporeal aliens who would survive the coming catastrophe.

In the story the Red Museum are first seen as suspects in a series of kidnappings but are later portrayed as heroes, protecting the town's children from a hitman tasked to erase all evidence of experimentation involving alien DNA being injected into the children and to livestock.

In the growing anti-governmental paranoid mindset of the Gate, this episode must have seemed like a bolt from the blue. Applewhite may well have thought the aliens were using the show to send messages to him, since the cult then started down the road that ended in March of 1997. 

What's ironic is that 'Red Museum' may have been initially inspired by Heaven's Gate's 1994 recruiting campaign, in which they held their final public conferences. A classic feedback loop. But knowing that were so would have only strengthened Applewhite's resolve.

But we're left to wonder- how did a tiny, monastic cult with zero influence on the world outside leave such a large footprint in Hollywood, even long before the suicides?

Aside from a few scattered USENET postings, the Gate's legacy is a forlorn, archaic website, adrift in the Sargasso Sea of Cyberspace. No one is inspired by them, no one follows in their footsteps, no one sees them as anything but objects of pity or contempt. Yet they linger out there, like pixelated ghosts. So what was their appeal to the alpha males of Tinseltown?

I've heard baseless theories of the Gate being used as MK guinea pigs and all manner of silliness following the suicides, but none of it adds up to much. The cult were indigent and nomadic for most of their existence and their literature was as paranoid and conspiracy-minded as anything that circulating on alt.militia back in the day. They were true outliers. Maybe that's why they persist.

When the walk-ins were revisited after the 1997 suicides, Carter cast Kim Darby as their prophetess and curiously portrayed her in the androgynous style of a female Heaven's Gate cultist, with the bowl cut, lack of makeup, etc. Darby starred in Don't Be Afraid of the Dark, directed by Andrija Puharich's comrade John Newland but more significantly- and synchronistically- with William Shatner in The People, another Gnostic parable made for television in the Magonian 70s.

In the end, the Gate's fate was inevitable. Those of you who've read Messengers of Deception saw a cult that made unbelievably outrageous promises, promises it could never, ever keep, in the childish hope that the power of wishing would make it all so. 

Though the Gate held Gnostic tenets, it did so in a reductive, simplistic, literalist fashion more akin to the Fundamentalist milieu Applewhite and Nettle emerged from than the Sethians or the Ophites.

They never seemed to question the nature of reality, indeed they took the bread and butter of consensus reality for granted. They simply plugged the sci-fi elements of Gnostic doctrine into their naturalism and tried to will it all into reality. 

But the archons and the aeons are only part of the equation; hacking the nature of reality itself is hardwired in the Gnostic worldview as well. That offers more constructive solutions to the human dilemma than exiting your vehicle.

*Carter's apocalyptic series The After was picked up and then dropped by Amazon, and I have a feeling that the X-Files revival had something to do with that decision.

Prisoners of the Atom

We wanted Pluto, We Got Plutocracy

Watching that 2001 promotional video was extremely poignant because it was yet another reminder of all the expectations we no longer have. 
In the 1960s, hundreds of thousands of people were employed- mostly in the state of California- in and around the space program. These were very good paying jobs that raised families in middle class comfort, creating a new gold rush to a new California dream.
Today, California leads America into a new feudal nightmare, a bifurcated garrison state in which a small cognitive elite sit atop a vast ocean of poverty. It's become so segregated by class that most upper class Californians have no idea their state is the poorest in the nation.
It all began to fall apart in the early 1970s, as the Apollo program ended and NASA's sights were set ever lower.  Thousands of jobs were lost, beginning a middle class exodus from California that continues to this day.
Apollo skeptics have gleefully pointed out the fact that every mission since the moon landings were low earth orbit shuttle missions, the proverbial walk around the block in outer space terms. 
But the incredible cost (and danger) of space in relation to benefit- and the bludgeoning recession and oil shocks of the 1970s- made the numbing yet practical (someone has to maintain all those spy satellites) shuttle program a gimme for Congress.
Now Internet billionaire Elon Musk is trying to rekindle the old rocket flames. His SpaceX startup has been making a fool of NASA and has become the hottest name in rocket technology. Others are following his lead, most notably Amazon honcho Jeff Bezos. 
Musk realizes that you have to do something with all that hardware so he proposes a Mars mission with all the Red Bull-fueled gumption of a Silicon Valley startup.
"I'm hopeful that the first people could be taken to Mars in 10 to 12 years, I think it's certainly possible for that to occur," he said. "But the thing that matters long term is to have a self-sustaining city on Mars, to make life multiplanetary." 
He acknowledged that the company's plans were too long-term to attract many hedge fund managers, which makes it hard for SpaceX to go public anytime soon.

But there's a force not even a Valley whizkid can resist and that's the power of entropy. We are so used to rapid-fire technological and scientific progress, we're not going to know what to do now that the rate of progress is beginning to slow. 
Some believe we've picked all the low-hanging fruit, that all the big, flashy breakthroughs have been made and now humanity is like late-period REM or U2, continuing to record and tour long after the blockbusters have come and gone, watching the audience age, watching the returns diminish.
Kirby predicts Google, 1958
I recently read Jacques Vallee's memoirs of his time during the heady days of Silicon Valley and it was shocking to me how much of the great gizmos we see as novelties were all in prototype long before most of you were born. 
What is touted as the apple of the American economy these days? Well, there's Facebook, which is nothing more than a souped-up America Online, which itself was just a fancier version of the dial-up BBS systems in use since the 60s. 
We've all seen the videos from the 60s, showing off the prototypes of the Internet as we know it today. 40 years ago Silicon Valley was putting the basic architecture into place. What are they doing out there today? Besides creating hedge fund pirateware and Facebook games, I mean?
2015 looks nothing like I imagined it would when I was a kid. But we didn't realize that gravity, entropy--and rapacity-- would all get such a megaphone in the debate. 
Another Internet whiz kid, Peter Thiel, has diagnosed the problem- we have had great success in the world of electrons, not so much in the world of atoms.
"We live in a financial and capitalist age, not a scientific or technological age," investor Peter Thiel said at the Gartner Symposium in Orlando yesterday, echoing themes he has been talking about for several years now. 
In the 50s and 60s, science and technology meant not only computers, but also space, underwater cities, energy, nuclear power, etc. Now, he said, when we talk about technology, we pretty much just mean computer technology. 
He doesn't question that we're doing great things in the Internet and in mobile, and that's enough to dramatically improve business efficiency.  But he reiterated the subtitle manifesto of his Founder's Fund: "We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters." That's not meant as a critique of Twitter as a company, but "it's not clear it's enough to bring our civilization to the next level," he said.
This speaks to a theme I've been banging on all along. Just because something exists on paper, doesn't mean it exists off of it. Science fiction films conditioned us to expect a lot of great things that required expenditures of resources that simply made them untenable. Star Trek can't exist without energy and lightspeed travel that goes way beyond most physicist's wildest speculations.

And then there is the inconvenient fact that after a long period of technological stasis (the 17th Century AD isn't all that technology dissimilar to the 17th Century BC), we had a burst of creativity, but now the default setting of 'painfully slow, incremental progress' seems to be reasserting itself.
Air travel is nearly identical today as it was in the 1960s- in fact many 1960s airframes are still in use. Some cars drive themselves, some use electricity, but they don't fly. Hovercraft are not consumer products. Pops doesn't take the minicopter to work every day. There are some very interesting bullet and maglev trains out there, but that's old technology and most commuter trains still use diesel or electric engines.
Some of the futuristic technology that does make it to market fails simply because it offers an awkward consumer experience- Google Glass has been discontinued, for instance. Others- such as virtual reality- require such labor-intensive market prep that they become financially untenable.
You may have noticed you don't hear much about Transhumanism lately. Again, another case of concept failing when it came to the application stage. The Singularity may well come, but unless major breakthroughs are made, breakthroughs that require sums of money there's no evidence are being spent, it will come and go without us. 
Who really wants to go first when you think about, being carved up like a turkey in hopes of some promised digital immortality?
For the foreseeable future, we'll still be fragile bags of meat, subject to the same limitations- and not a few new ones- that our ancestors were. This probably helps to account for the continuing popularity of the superhero mythos, as well as the popularity of genres like urban fantasy, while science fiction itself recedes to a small and increasingly fractious priesthood. 
Hell, even the growing popularity of Gnosticism is a byproduct of the Atom's dictatorial rule. I mean, they called it first, didn't they?
How to deal with the tyranny of the Atom is going to be a major conundrum. It's going to take the best minds of the future to overcome, and it probably won't be an elective debate. I think circumstances will force us to confront these issues once and for all. We haven't changed our basic, workaday technology- not really- because it's been easier not to. 
That most likely will not be an option in the near future.

UPDATE: Well, we're getting Pluto. After a fashion.