Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Alan Alford / The Gods of Eden

The Gods of Eden

by Alan Alford

The Biblical tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is based on actual events which happened nearly 200,000 years ago. A comparison of ancient texts with the latest breakthroughs in genetic science reveals amazingly consistent details, which enable us to finally solve the mystery of mankind’s origins. The shocking conclusion is that man was a genetic hybrid, created and manipulated not by God, but by flesh-and-blood, walking, talking ‘gods’.

Man The Slave

A religious belief in One God has dominated the thinking of western society for more than a thousand years, leading to considerable difficulties with the concept of flesh-and-blood ‘gods’. However, such an idea did not present any problems to the world’s first known civilisation – the Sumerians – who lived alongside these divine rulers and depicted them as human-like beings. The Sumerian scribes and their Akkadian successors inscribed clay tablets with a wealth of information about the gods. One such text, commonly known by the name of its hero, Atra-Hasis, describes the background to the creation of man, when the gods themselves were involved in the painstaking extraction of minerals from Earth:
When the gods, as men, bore the work and suffered the toil – the toil of the gods was great, the work was heavy, the distress was much.
Conditions were so severe that, after 40 periods of hardship, the gods rebelled against their leader Enlil. A council of the gods was then called, at which the god Ea (alias Enki) provided the solution:
While the Birth Goddess is present, let her create a Primitive Worker, let him bear the yoke, let him carry the toil of the gods!
The ensuing passages of the Atra-Hasis describe what appears to a modern-day reader as a cloning process, in which the goddess Nin-ti (‘Lady Life’) made fourteen pieces of ‘clay’ and impregnated fourteen ‘birth goddesses’. The first slaves comprised seven males and seven females, referred to as LU.LU – a term indicating a genetic mixture between the primitive hominid Homo erectus and the gods themselves. The event can be dated to around 200,000 years ago when the large-brained Homo sapiens suddenly appeared on this planet.

The Meaning of Eden

The Biblical Garden of Eden is not a mythological place but a real location. In order to understand what happened there, it is necessary to appreciate that the word Eden is derived from the Sumerian term E.DIN. Whilst the first syllable ‘E’ meant ‘Home’, the second syllable was an abbreviation of DIN.GIR, commonly translated as ‘the gods’. Eden or E.DIN was therefore the ‘Abode of the Gods’.
Ancient texts describe more than one abode of the gods, with the Earth being divided geographically between two rival groups, headed by the brothers Enlil and Enki respectively. Whilst the Enkiites inhabited the African continent, the Enlilites occupied Asia and particularly the fertile lands of Mesopotamia. We are thus dealing with both a western Eden and an eastern Eden.
It was in the western Eden, also known as the Abzu or Lower World, that Enki and Ninti created the LU.LU slave, a detail which is confirmed by finds of the oldest Homo sapiens fossils in Africa. It was in these mineral-rich lands that man was put to work in the dangerous process of extracting minerals from deep underground.
A text known as The Myth of the Pickaxe explains what happened next. In the eastern Eden, Enki’s brother and rival, Enlil, was besieged by his underlings, who complained that the slaves were being unfairly monopolised in the Lower World. Enlil, described in the following text as ‘the Lord’, reacted accordingly:
The Lord called forth the AL.ANI, gave its orders. He set the earth splitter as a crown upon its head, and drove it into the Place-Where-Flesh-Sprouted-Forth. In the hole was a head of a man; from the ground, people were breaking through towards Enlil. He eyed the Black-headed Ones in steadfast fashion.
This raid on the Black-headed slaves is also mentioned briefly in the Old Testament, Genesis 2:7-8, where man rather curiously had already been formed when he was ‘put’ in the Garden of Eden by ‘God’.

The Serpent God

The Book of Genesis tale of Adam and Eve is nowadays regarded as a symbolic myth, but several clues suggest that it drew upon an earlier account of a real event. The first clue is that God himself is described as one of the walking talking gods. The second clue is the presence of the Serpent – a well-known symbol for the ancient Egyptian gods, and particularly Enki himself, the genetic scientist who had created man. It is no coincidence that the modern symbol of medicine is a serpent entwined around a staff.
The third clue lies in the outcome of the Serpent’s intervention. Adam and Eve’s embarrassment at being naked, along with Biblical references to the acquisition of ‘knowledge’, clearly suggest that they were the first human pair to become sexually aware. The Old Testament suggests that this change was caused by the consumption of a ‘fruit’. This is a significant detail because, according to the scenario outlined so far, man was created by the gods as a hybrid creature, and hybrids are nearly always born sterile. The tale of sexual knowledge being granted in the Garden of Eden therefore carries a distinct ring of truth.
How exactly did a ‘fruit’ bestow sexual knowledge on Adam and Eve? As mentioned earlier, the Serpent god was Enki, the genetic scientist of the gods, and the ‘fruit’ with which he tempted Eve would thus seem to symbolise a deliberate genetic intervention by him. However, in order to confirm our suspicions, we must first address the questions of motive and opportunity, and we must produce a solid scientific hypothesis on how such a genetic change could have been introduced. The background provided so far provides all but one of the clues we need to reconstruct the event. The missing piece which solves the puzzle is the mysterious ‘Tree of Life’ in the Garden of Eden.

The Tree of Life

According to the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were free to eat from a ‘Tree of Life’ up until the moment they became sexually aware. Only then did the Lord God say:
The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live for ever.
Why the sudden change of mind? Why was it that this god, identified earlier as Enlil, originally wanted man to eat the fruit and live forever, but then decided to withdraw it from Adam and Eve? Why did it suddenly become necessary for him to expel them and safeguard the Tree of Life with a ‘flaming sword’? The answer is amazingly simple. Originally mankind was designed as a slave workforce which could be easily controlled, and his sterility was an essential control mechanism. However, with the granting of sexual knowledge to Adam and Eve, man acquired the means to independent reproduction. The longevity offered by the Tree of Life thus changed from an asset to a liability, creating a serious risk of an out-of-control population explosion.
Is it really possible that consumption of a ‘fruit’ could have delayed Adam and Eve’s ageing process? Genetic scientists have recently discovered that ageing is caused by genetic mutations, and that one of the prime causes of these errors is excess oxygen in the cells. This oxygen, known as ‘free radicals’ causes damage to our cells in the same way that it causes cars to rust and butter to go rancid. Scientists are now investigating the possibility of using a cocktail of drugs to form a protective barrier around the cells, and so extend the human life span. Such a drug could well lie behind the symbolism of the legendary fruit of the Tree of Life.
Anti-ageing drugs, however, were only one method used by the ancient gods to maximise their life spans. As explained in my book Gods of the New Millennium, the primary factor behind the alleged immortality of the gods was almost certainly a genetic inheritance, as evidenced by the male gods’ obsession with marrying their half-sisters. Such a genetic longevity is indeed being sought in the laboratory today. Scientists at the Geron Corporation in America are confident that they can prolong the life of human cells by manipulating the telomeres on the end of the chromosomes. Furthermore, a genome which was artificially enhanced in this way would make perfect sense for a species which was attempting to overcome the time barriers to inter-stellar travel.

Adam and Eve

According to the Old Testament, Adam lived for 930 years, but this amazing life span pales into insignificance compared to the reigns of thousands of years recorded in the Sumerian Kings Lists. These periods once seemed incredible, but are now scientifically plausible, based on the assumption that man was indeed created in the gods’ image, genetically-speaking. Today’s average life span of three score years and ten is the inevitable result of the reproductive orgy and genetic mutations which followed the events in Eden.
Let us now return to the crucial question of how and why the god Enki genetically reprogrammed the human race. Enki’s motive presents us with no problem, other than denting our proud human heritage, for it would seem that his gift of sexual knowledge was simply a spiteful trick on his brother Enlil. Following the raid on the slave camps, mentioned earlier, we can safely surmise that Enki was more than a little upset with his brother, and was awaiting a suitable opportunity for revenge.
How was it that Enki, the Serpent god, turned up in the Garden of Eden? The plausible answer is that Enlil’s raid into Africa captured an insufficient number of male workers. Without the cloning technology and the females that were created to act as surrogate mothers, Enlil was powerless to expand his newly acquired labour force. It was thus inevitable that he would have to seek Enki’s help in setting up a fully independent medical centre.
What happened next? The most likely scenario is that Enki brought two female LU.LUs to the eastern Eden and offered to demonstrate the necessary procedures by carrying out the first cloning operations. Let us assume that one male and one female embryo were implanted into the two females with Enlil blissfully unaware that these embryos had been genetically altered by Enki. The birth of Adam and Eve would thus have appeared perfectly normal, and they would have happily spent their childhood days playing in ‘the Garden’ (or more likely a secure wing of the hospital facility). Then one day the sex genes kicked in (as they do) and the two pubescent children suddenly realised that they were naked. When Enlil saw them hiding with embarrassment, he immediately realised the genetic trick which had been played on him, and the rest is history – the serpent was cursed and the blameless Adam and Eve were expelled.


Modern genetic science has revolutionised our understanding of the Book of Genesis and other ancient texts. The alleged intervention by so-called gods is now supported by a scientifically plausible scenario, which involves two different Edens and two separate genetic creations. It is hardly surprising that the editors of the Bible were extremely confused, and their confusion has handed the Darwinists a walkover victory in the debate on mankind’s origins. But, whilst these mainstream scientists hunt in vain for mankind’s ‘missing links’, interventionist scientists are engaged in a different search which has shattering implications for the new millennium – a search for mankind’s ‘missing gods’.

ALAN F. ALFORD (1961-2011) B Com., FCA, MBA, began his career as a chartered accountant, prior to turning full-time author in 1996. His published books comprise Gods Of The New Millennium (1996), The Phoenix Solution (1998), and When The Gods Came Down (2000). After this, he published his own books: The Atlantis Secret(2001), Pyramid Of Secrets(2003), and The Midnight Sun (2004). His aim was to lay the groundwork for an eventual unification of all the world’s religions by demonstrating that they all reflect the same esoteric myth, and that God is but a personification of that myth. For further details on Alan Alford’s work, see www.eridu.co.uk.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Philip K. Dick / The Man Who Remembered the Future

A Life of Philip K. Dick 

The Man Who Remembered the Future


December 30, 2013

Philip K Dick with his wife Leslie (Tessa) Busby (married between 1973-1977). Photo courtesy of Tessa Dick.
Philip K Dick with his wife Leslie (Tessa) Busby (married between 1973-1977). Photo courtesy of Tessa Dick.

This year saw the 30th anniversary of the death of one of the most influential writers of all time, the iconic Philip K. Dick. Although virtually unknown outside of science fiction circles, during his lifetime Dick’s intriguing philosophy on the nature of reality has become a staple of the modern Hollywood movie. Huge blockbusters such as Total Recall, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, Blade Runner, A Scanner Darkly and Paycheck were loosely based directly on his novels or short stories, and movies such as The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Memento, The Matrix, The Truman Show and Inception all owe a huge debt to his vision.

One of the most intriguing themes of Dick’s writing was the concept of the “precog,” a person who could “see” the future before it happened. In 1954 Phil introduced the concept of precognition in his novel The World Jones Made. In this novel the eponymous anti-hero Floyd Jones can see exactly one year into the future. From then on “precogs” occur regularly in his novels and short stories, most notably in his 1956 short story The Minority Report, his 1964 novel Martian Time-SlipThe Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritchand many others.
What was it that made Philip K. Dick interested in precognition? It had not been a particular theme within classical science fiction nor had it been part of the books that the young Philip read during his childhood years and early teens. The answer may lie in one simple fact: Philip K. Dick himself was a “precog.” He was not writing fiction but heavily disguised autobiography. Let us review the evidence.
Like many of his schoolmates, Phil was expected to attend the University of California in his hometown of Berkeley. But in order to do so he needed to reach the entrance grades required. This possibility started to fade rapidly when, during a crucial physics test, Phil couldn’t remember the key principle behind the displacement of water. As eight of the ten questions involved this principle, he was clearly in trouble. And then it happened: a voice clearly and precisely explained to the surprised young man the scientific principles he so desperately needed to understand. All Phil had to do was write down the words in his head. Phil received an ‘A’ grade.

Although this “voice” effectively disappeared for many years, Phil continued to sense there was a part of him that was alien in some way. Throughout the 1950s the voice remained silent and then, under somewhat prosaic circumstances, it re-appeared. In an interview with his friend Greg Rickman, recorded in October 1981, Phil described how he had been watching a TV programme about the Galapagos turtles. The fight for survival of one particular female turtle had really upset him. After laying her eggs she had turned in the wrong direction and instead of going towards the sea she crawled inland. Soon the heat had brought about extreme dehydration. She was dying. As she began to fade her legs were still seen to be moving. The film had been edited to give the impression that the dying turtle was imagining she was back in the ocean. He went to bed with this tragic image in his mind. He woke up in the night to hear a voice. In careful and deliberate terms the entity explained to Phil that the turtle actually believed she was in the water:
I was just terribly amazed and dumbfounded to hear that voice again. It wasn’t my own voice because one of the sentences the voice said was “And she shall see the sea” and I would not use the two words “see” and “sea” in the same sentence. It tends to do that, use word choices I don’t use. One time it used the expression “a very poisonous poison” which I would not use.1
It is clear Phil recognised the voice as being the same entity that had helped him in his physics exam all those years before. It was back. He was to continue hearing this entity for many years, but only as a faint background whisper. In another 1981 interview he stated:
I only hear the voice of the spirit when I am falling asleep or waking up. I have to be very receptive to hear it. It’s extremely faint. It sounds as though it is coming from a million miles away.2

The “Voice” Returns

In February and March 1974 the voice was to reappear and stay with him. It all started quite innocently. Phil had been in considerable pain after having a wisdom tooth pulled out. His wife, Tessa, called the dentist who prescribed painkillers. As Tessa did not want to leave her husband alone in such a state of agitation she asked if somebody could deliver the prescription to their house in Fullerton. Half an hour later the doorbell rang and Phil dashed to the door. On opening it he saw a young woman clutching the much-needed painkillers. Phil stood back stunned. Around the young woman’s neck was a necklace with a fish pendant. Phil recognised this as a symbol of something deep within himself. He asked her what it was and she explained it was a sign used by the early Christians as a code to show their secret beliefs to fellow Christians.
Dick later reported this was the first time he experienced the pink light, the same light so central to the Beatles incident (described below). He said a beam of this light shot out of the pendant and entered his brain. This light opened up a part of his brain that had long been asleep. He described it in this way:
I suddenly experienced what I later learned is called anamnesis – a Greek word meaning, literally, “loss of forgetfulness.” I remembered who I was and where I was. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, it all came back to me.3
As we have already mentioned, up until March 1974 what Dick had called “the voice” manifested itself on rare occasions such as the incident during the school exam. But after Phil’s “anamnesis” his hidden partner was to become very active in his life. It decided that Phil had become far too slovenly in his personal appearance. He was made to go out and buy a pair of nasal hair-clippers and it suggested he trim his beard. The entity even had Phil go shopping for new trendy clothes.
It was also concerned about the health of the shared body. It had Phil go through his drugs cabinet and forced him to throw out those medications that were proving problematical to his health. It discovered that wine was too acidic for his sensitive stomach and suggested he change to drinking beer. This being had many skills that Phil sadly lacked, such as business acumen. It realised he had made quite a mess of his tax matters and within weeks the entity sorted this out. It also had Phil sack his agent after it read over his royalty statements and discovered massive irregularities.
All of these were minor interventions compared to its apogee, the saving of Phil’s son’s life. Phil describes how one morning he was lying in a semi-sleep state when he heard the voice announce that his recently born son, Christopher, had a potentially fatal birth defect and that urgent medical attention was needed. Indeed the voice was quite precise when it stated: “Your son has an undiagnosed right inguinal hernia. The hydrocele has burst, and it has descended into the scrotal sac. He requires immediate attention, or will soon die.” Phil told various versions of this story, including one involving him listening to the Beatles and the lyrics of “Strawberry Fields” were changed to give the instruction. Tessa, acting on her husband’s frantic instructions, took Christopher to the family doctor and it was, indeed, confirmed that Christopher had exactly the problem the “voice” had described and surgery was needed.

Dick’s “Homoplasmate”

What was the source of this “voice” and how did it have information unknown to Phil? Phil was to conclude that it was an immortal part of himself, something he called a “plasmate.” He argued this entity had bonded with him and in doing so had taken human form, something Phil termed a “homoplasmate.” He was later to describe how his mind had been invaded by a “transcendentally rational mind, as if I had been insane all my life and had suddenly become sane.” He explained that:
…mental anguish was simply removed from me as if by divine fiat… some transcendental divine power which was not evil, but benign intervened to restore my mind and heal my body and give me a sense of the beauty, the joy, the sanity of the world.
This being, set free from its shackles by Phil’s “anamneses,” was able to use its powers to help Phil precognise the future. Indeed, Phil realised this being had been the source of a series of peculiar precognitive incidents that had taken place throughout his life.
For example, in his 1974 novel Flow My Tears the Policeman Said, Phil has a sequence in which one of his characters, Felix Buckman, is distraught at the death of his twin sister, Alys. He finds himself in an all-night gas station and there he meets up with a black stranger. Buckman and the black man start up a conversation. In the summer of 1978 Phil, uncharacteristically, decided to go out late at night to post a letter. In the darkness he noticed a man loitering by a parked car. Phil posted his letter and on the way back the man was still there. In a second uncharacteristic impulse Phil walked over to the man and asked if anything was the matter. The man replied that he was out of gas and he had no money with him. Much to his surprise Phil found himself digging into his pocket and giving the man some cash. The man asked for Phil’s address and said that he would return later and pay him back. As Phil entered his apartment he realised that the money would be of no use to his new friend. There were no gas stations within walking distance. Phil went back out, found the man, and offered to drive him to the nearest all-night gas station. As he stood watching the man fill up his metal gas can he had an alarming sensation of a déjà vu-like recognition:
Suddenly I realised that this was the scene in my novel – the novel written eight years before. The all-night gas station was exactly as I had envisioned it in my inner eye when I wrote the scene – the glaring white light, the pump jockey – and now I saw something which I had not seen before. The stranger who I was helping was black.4
Phil drove the black man back to his car, they shook hands and Phil never saw him again. He finishes off his description of this event with a slightly chilling comment:
I was terribly shaken up by this experience. I had literally lived out a scene completely as it had appeared in my novel…. What could explain all this?5

Uncanny Precognition

In early 1974 Phil started a long-term correspondence with a graduate student called Gloria Bush. As time went on Phil described to Gloria some of his deepest thoughts, including his fascination regarding his own precognitive abilities. In a letter dated 9 May of that year he described to Gloria a particularly strange recurring dream he experienced in November 1971. In the dreams he always saw what looked like a Mexican city with “square arrangements of streets and yellow cabs.” The yellow cabs suggested to Phil a location in the USA rather than Mexico or Latin America. At the time of these dreams he was living in Marin County, north of San Francisco. In 1974 he was living in Fullerton, a southern suburb of Los Angeles. Right next to Fullerton is a place called Placentia which is a strongly Hispanic area. Phil explains to Claudia that he was convinced this was the place he saw in these dreams.6
But Phil’s dreams in 1975 took a turn to the macabre. On 25 February he wrote a letter to Bush that was very different from those he had sent before. In a fascinating postscript to an otherwise standard letter, he mentions “the entity” again. It had clearly been manifesting itself within his life at that time. How regularly and to what intensity we cannot say as we have no other source other than this letter. However, it is clear Phil wanted to bring things to a head. He told Claudia:
I was up to 5 a.m. on this last night. I did something I never did before; I commanded the entity to show itself to me – the entity which has been guiding me internally since March. A sort of dream-like period passed, then, of hypnogogic images of underwater cities, very nice, and then a stark single horrifying scene, inert but not still; a man lay dead, on his face, in a living room between the coffee table and the couch.7
On 9 May 1974 he wrote another typewritten letter to Claudia stating that he felt “scared.” He didn’t elaborate on this comment but at the bottom of the letter is a handwritten note that states the following: “p.s. What scares me most, Claudia, is that I can often recall the future.”
Almost exactly seven years later Phil had failed to answer a series of phone calls to his condominium. A group of neighbours then found his front door open. One witness, Mary Wilson, entered the condo and described how she initially thought nobody was home, but then she spotted Phil’s feet sticking out from behind a coffee table. She immediately asked her mother to phone Phil’s close friend, science-fiction writer Tim Powers. Powers jumped on his motorcycle to see what he could do to help. In his introduction to The Selected Letters of Philip K Dick Volume Four Powers describes what happened next:
As I was putting the key in the ignition of my motorcycle I heard the sirens of the paramedics howl past me down Main Street. When I got to Phil’s place the paramedics and Mary Wilson were already there and the paramedic had lifted him from between the coffee table and the couch and carried him to his bed, and Mary and I answered a few hasty medical questions about him before they got him into a stretcher and carried him downstairs to the ambulance.8
Phil’s February 1975 dream had come true in stunning detail. He had seen the circumstances of his own death.
Who, or what, was the “entity” that seemed to share Phil’s life and know his future? Surprisingly enough Phil believed this being to be a version of himself that existed outside of time; a being that could observe the whole of Phil’s life from a position of timelessness. Phil believed that during his dreams, in his semi-waking states and during certain times of heightened awareness, this timeless part of himself could communicate and use its foreknowledge to assist him.
In October 1977 Phil made a very curious statement during a radio interview at the Berkeley radio station KPFA FM. He described an incident that took place in 1951:
Back at the time I was starting to write science fiction, I was asleep one night and I woke up and there was a figure standing at the edge of the bed, looking down at me. I grunted in amazement and all of a sudden my wife woke up and started screaming because she could see it too. She started screaming, but I recognised it and I started reassuring her, saying that it was me that was there and not to be afraid. Within the last two years – let’s say that was in 1951 – I’ve dreamed almost every night that I was back in that house, and I have a strong feeling that back then in 1951 or ’52 that I saw my future self, who had somehow, in some way we don’t understand – I wouldn’t call it occult – passed backward during one of my dreams now of that house, going back there and seeing myself again. So there really are some strange things…9
If the figure at the end of the bed was a future version of Phil then that version would have foreknowledge of all Phil’s life-experiences between 1951 and 1977. Indeed, if Phil’s interpretation can be taken at face value, we have here evidence that in some way his mind from the mid-1970s was manifesting itself back within its own past.

Vertical Vs. “Orthogonal Time”

But Phil was not simply happy with accepting this may be the case, he wanted to create a model to explain such a belief. Immediately after the strange events of February and March 1974, or simply 2-3-74 as he termed them, Phil started to keep a journal. Initially in hand-written form and later as page after page of typewritten sheets with diagrams and side notes, this became known as his Exegesis. In effect this was Phil’s attempt to understand the source and meaning of the visions and revelations that he continued to receive until his death in March 1983.
We are fortunate that in November 2011 a single volume containing all the main sections of this huge work was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Running to 976 pages this is a fascinating read and in it one can discover Phil’s own understanding of how a part of him could see the future. His solution was a radical re-interpretation of time itself – something Phil called “orthogonal time.”
He proposes there are two variations of time, both of which exist at right angles to each other. We are usually only aware of “Vertical Time,” but there is another which runs at right angles to our space-time. He calls this “Orthogonal Time.” If we could perceive both times simultaneously it would look cubical, hence his term cubic time. He proposed that events are actually located within this cubic time. As such the idea of cause and effect cannot be applied within this model. Causality can run in reverse or act simultaneously with an event in the past or the future. In other words within orthogonal time all past and future states exist at this moment. In the whole of the Exegesis Phil makes one passing reference to a physicist by the name of Herman Minkowski, the teacher of the much more famous Albert Einstein. With reference to his own precognitions, Phil wrote:
This is a disturbing new view but oddly enough it coincides with my dream experiences, my precognition of events moving this way from the future; I feel them inexorably approaching, not generated from the present, but somehow already there but not yet visible. If they are somehow “there” already, and we encounter them successively (the Minkowski block universe; events are all already there but we have to encounter them successively), then this view might be a correct view of time and causality.10
Phil suggested that the basic premise of his short story Adjustment Team – that there exists a way in which the past can be “adjusted” to change the present – may be another of his fictionalised accounts of something that really takes place.11 
Phil believed that part of us exists within orthogonal time and this alternate-consciousness can, under certain circumstances, communicate with the every-day self that perceives only linear time. This was the source of “the voice” and VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence System, Dick’s gnostic vision of one aspect of God). This is how, in dreams, Phil found himself back in his own past observing an earlier version of himself. In this way “the voice” was his own voice speaking from his own future. This entity created his plot-lines using material from his own future. Was this how the meeting with the black man at the gas station ended up in A Scanner Darkly? All information from all parts of our life is readily available to a mind open to receive it. Phil suggested in a letter to his friend Patricia Warrick, written in September 1981, that:
The universe is an information retrieval system; which is to say, everything that has ever happened, ever been, each arrangement and detail – all are stored in the present moment as information; what we lack is the access or entry mechanism to this stored information… where the past of each object – all its prior manifestations along the Form axis – this is all stored in the present object and can be retrieved.12
This is again astounding evidence that Phil seemed to be accessing information from some form of infinite data-field. It is very much in keeping with the work of modern-day researchers such as Ervin Laszlo and Bernard Haisch, both of whom suggest this “library” is, in fact, something known as the Zero-Point Field.13
Is this the answer to the mystery of Phil’s precognitions? It certainly makes sense. The future and the past are simply illusions. Phillip K. Dick and every being that reads this article consist of two independent consciousnesses. One lives in linear time and the other in orthogonal time. And in this way we may all be immortal. After all, the transition between life and death takes place in linear, not orthogonal, time.
In his novel Ubik Phil created a concept known as “Half Life.” This is a timeless place, hovering between life and death. Tibetan Buddhists call this the “Bardo State.” Is this from where Phil’s eternal mind communicated with him? To paraphrase the title of one of his most intriguing books, could it be we all exist in a place where “Time is Out of Joint”?
For more on the above, read Anthony Peake’s book The Man Who Remembered the Future: A Life of Philip K. Dick.


1. Gregg Rickman, Philip K. Dick: The Last Testament, Fragments West, 1985, 23
2. John Boonstra, Horselover Fat and The New Messiah, Hartford Advocate, 22 April 1981, reproduced inPKD Otako #06, 22
3. ‘How to Build a Universe that Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later’, published as an introduction to I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon, Doubleday, New York, 1985
4. Lawrence Sutin (editor), The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick, Vintage, 1995, 268
5. Ibid., 269
6. The Selected Letters of Philip K Dick, 1974, Underwood-Miller, 1991, 101
7. Philip K. Dick, Letter to Claudia Krenz, 25 February 1975
8. The Selected Letters of Philip K Dick, 1975-76, Underwood-Miller, 1992, ix
9. Richard A Lupoff,  A Conversation With Philip K Dick, Vol. 1, no. 2, August 1987, 45-54
10. Philip K. Dick, The Exegesis of Philip K Dick, Hachette Littlehampton, Kindle Edition.
11. Ibid.
12. The Selected Letters of Philip K Dick, 1980-1982, Vol. 6, Underwood Books, 2009, 262
13. Ervin Laszlo, Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything, Inner Traditions, 2007


ANTHONY PEAKE is the author of a series of highly acclaimed books, all of which develop a hypothesis that he terms “Cheating the Ferryman.” In these books he presents an explanation for all of Philip K. Dick’s extraordinary experiences. His book on Dick is The Man Who Remembered the Future: A Life of Philip K. Dick

New Daw No. 139 (July-August 2013)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Andrew Wyeth / A Work to Admire

Andrew Wyeth
Trodden Weed, 1951
Tempera on Panel

Andrew Wyeth
Boots (Study for Trodden Weed), 1951

Christophe Thornock
A Work to Admire

I have a great affinity for the work of the late Andrew Wyeth. Finding his works when I was about 13 or so, really cemented a desire to look further into what it meant to be an artist. I had found books of reproductions at the local library and was so surprised by the power of the simplicity in the paintings. These works have always felt honest. This painting is one of my favorites. According to his autobiography, it is a self portrait. He is wearing a pair of French cavalier boots, once owned by Howard Pyle (the great American illustrator and teacher). After a surgery, Wyeth would wander the hills around Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, in order to regain his strength.
In Wyeth's own words, "As I walked, I had to watch my feet because I was so unsteady. And I suddenly got the idea that we all stupidly crush things underfoot and ruin them-without thinking. Like the weed here getting crushed. That black line is not merely a compositional device-it's the presence of death. Before my operation I had been looking at Albrecht Durer's works. During the operation they say my heart stopped once. At that moment I could see Durer standing there in black, and he started coming at me across the tile floor. When my heart started, he, Durer-death-receded. So this painting is highly emotional-dangerous and looming. I like it."

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christian Coigny / Femmes

Christian Coigny


Yurie Nagashima / Bodies

Yurie Nagashima, Kazoku, 1993

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the photographer Yurie Nagashima whose photographs of herself and her family in the nude instigated a dramatic shift in Japanese visual culture. After exhibiting her phenomenally successful Kazoku series in 1993, Nagashima continued to interrogate photographic subjects related to gender, sexuality, representation and the body.
Yure Nagashima, Onion Boob and Sarah Lucas, Self-portrait with Fried Eggs, 1996

In one photograph, she holds an onion in front of her left breast while holding her t-shirt up by her teeth. This form of visual allegory and humorous photographic intervention locates Nagashima alongside artists such as Sarah Lucas who, in one photograph, placed two fried eggs in situ of her breasts. In the case of Lucas, the reference to female fertility and reproductive organs signified by the eggs is clear. In Nagashima’s case however, the onion is more difficult to locate since it does not immediately signify either the male or the female body. Instead, the onion might refer to the trope of perfectibility: the emphasis on aesthetic perfection of fruit and vegetable that is common in Japanese department stores. The perfect watermelon, the perfect carrot, the perfect onion, is, above all, determined by its symmetrical and even visual appearance. Nagashima’s photograph appears to question, even ridicule, this paradigm closely associated with consumerism and the representation of gender. Here, I am referring to consumerism in an economic sense but also consuming food as metaphor for consuming the female body. The onion thus functions as a pun on consuming and being consumed: in contrast to the soothing milk of the mother’s breast, Nagashima purposefully chooses a vegetable known not only for it’s acidic taste, but also, for causing tears. The unpeeling of the onion, and the allegorical pain associated with it, becomes the complete antithesis to the warmth associated with the mother.
Another photograph in which she has painted her breasts in the shape of two cartoon characters suggests that Nagashima’s preferred subject is her own body. Here, the body is not a neutral canvas or a corporeal ground zero, rather, the body functions as a potentially humorous even uncontrollable form explored by the camera. The physical act of taking a self-portrait is more closely located within the realm of performance art as Nagashima interrogates a corporeal and spatial interior by turning the camera on herself. In other words, the intervention takes places in Nagashima’s personal sphere via her body, while the camera acts as documentary device. Similar to the onion photograph, the cartoon characters serve as a visual pun that also acts to defamiliarize body parts. The cartoon characters have the effect of setting the photograph off from the classical iconography of the Nude and enabling it instead to act as asignifier for specific bodily functions. The defamiliarization of body parts also acts to desexualize the body as a whole. This visual methodology is perhaps most apparent in This Time, where Nagashima makes another direct gender specific reference to a bodily function. In his concept of the ‘grotesque body’, the literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin argued that references to bodily excrement can act as a powerful device to invert a hegemonic social order. The allegorical blood on the floor situates the body outside of stereotypical representations of the body in mass media, consumer culture or pornography, placing it instead within a discourse of necessity and privacy.

Yurie Nagashima, This Time
It is ironic that as much Nagashima explores narratives of private life in her photographs, she was herself in the meantime turned into a celebrity figure in Japan. For a period of time in the mid-1990s, newspapers, magazines, TV chat shows, and the so-called ‘wide shows’, relentlessly pursued Nagashima in hopes of featuring the up-and-coming artist in their programming. With the emergence of a number of women photographers in a relatively short time period, from 1993 until about 1996, critics referred to Nagashima as a leader of a ‘girl photography boom’. Nagashima fiercely sought to distance herself from this label and, in the process, became critical of the media attention that her work has provoked.
Yurie Nagashima, Red Undwear
In as much Nagashima appears to engage in the pleasure of looking and being looked at in her photographic series Kazoku, in more recent photographs Nagashima’s gaze back to the spectator is noticeably absent. In one photograph, Nagashima’s back is literally turned towards the spectator. Viewed within the context of Nagashima’s resistance towards the increasing media attention, this gesture signifies her growing desire to be left unmediated. Even if this photograph relates to Nagashima turning away from the camera, from representation, from our gaze, she is still using her body to communicate this message. By performing to the camera, by deconstructing socially constructed gender identities, and by becoming object as much as subject of her photographs, the many bodies of Yurie Nagashima have reset the parameters of photographic discourse in her native Japan.
Please also read my post The Family Photos of Yurie Nagashima.

Alberto Sughi / In the Bedroom

Alberto Sughi
In the Bedroom
Nella camera, 1964
by Alberto Sughi

Alberto Sughi had become one of the greatest Italian artists of his generation. A self-taught painter. He started painting in the early 1950s, choosing realism in the debate between abstract and figurative art in the immediate post-war period. Even from his early works, however, Sughi’s paintings have avoided any attempt at social moralising. They depict moments from daily life with no heroes, allowing Enrico Crispolti, in 1956, to define his work as "existential realism". His artistic expression proceeds, almost always, in thematic cycles, in the manner of film sequences. First of all, there were his so-called "green paintings", devoted to the relationship between man and nature (1971-1973), then the Supper cycle (1975-1976), after that the 20 paintings and fifteen studies of Imagination and Memory of the Family, dating from the early 1980s; the series Evening or reflection started from 1985. His most recent series of large canvases, exhibited in 2000, is entitled Nocturnal.
|        The theme of incommunicability dominates Alberto Sughi’s metropolitan scenes and half-empty rooms, populated by lovers. In the work  In the bedroom (Nella camera) two visionary human figures, a man and a woman, reduced to almost ectoplasmic forms, are ‘camping out’ in the dark and anonymous space of a hotel room, illuminated by the bright glare of electric light. Although we are given no clue as to whether they are occasional lovers or a well-established couple, we clearly feel the distance and incommunicability separating the two figures, each trapped in their own solitude. Sughi does not show the woman’s face, as she sits half-naked on the bed, stretching, with her hands pressing against her back. The man has his back to her and, as often happens in Sughi’s works in this period, he is staring ahead, looking at himself in a mirror to straighten his tie and hastily leave the room before his companion.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Etgar Keret / Two Stories

Two Stories
By Etgar Keret


CONJUNCTIONS:55, Fall 2010
September for Good
—Translated from Hebrew by Sondra Silverston and Miriam Shlesinger

When the crash came, NiceDay was the first to go. They’d always been a luxury brand, but after the Chicago riots even the wealthiest clients cut off their service. Some did it because of the unstable economic situation, but most of them just couldn’t face the neighbors. The shares lay on the world trading floors, bleeding point after point. And so NiceDay became a cautionary tale of the depression. The Wall Street Journal headline ran “September Gone Bad.” This, of course, was a play on their “September for Good” campaign, in which a swimwear-clad family stood around on a sunny fall day … decorating a Christmas tree! The ad had worked, big-time. One week postlaunch they were moving three thousand units per day. Affluent Americans bought. So did the less affluent, if they could fake it. NiceDay became a status symbol. The official stamp of a millionaire. What executive jets were to the nineties, and into 2000, NiceDay was to now. NiceDay: weather for the wealthy. Say you’re based in Greenland, say all the snow and gloom is driving you batshit, one swipe of your credit card and, with a satellite or two, they’d set you up with a perfect fall day in Cannes, delivered direct to your own balcony, every day of the year. 
      Yakov “Yaki” Brayk was one of NiceDay’s earliest adopters. He truly loved his money and had a hard time parting with it, but even more than he loved the millions he made selling weapons and drugs to Zimbabwe, he loathed those humid New York summers and that gross feeling you get when your sweaty undershirt sticks to your back. He bought a system, not just for himself, but for the whole block. Some people mistook this for generosity, but the truth is he did it just to keep the great weather with him all the way to the bodega on the corner. That bodega wasn’t just where he got the unfiltered Noblesses they imported from Israel especially for him. No, more than anything, it marked for Yaki the boundary of his personal space. And the minute Yaki signed the check, that block turned into a weather paradise. No more gray rain, no more dog days. Just September, twelve months a year. And not, God forbid, one of those off-and-on, partly-sunny, partly-cloudy New York Septembers, but the dependable kind, the kind he grew up with in Haifa. And then, out of the blue, came the Chicago riots and suddenly here were the neighbors telling him to cease and desist with the gorgeous fall post-haste. At first he didn’t give them the time of day, but then came those lawyers’ letters and someone left a slaughtered peacock on his windshield. That’s when his wife asked him to turn it off. It was January. Yaki turned off the fall and instantly the day turned short and sad. All because of one dead peacock and an anorexic wife with an anxiety disorder who, as always, was able to control him through her weakness.
      The recession went from bad to worse. On Wall Street, NiceDay hit rock bottom. So did shares in Yaki’s company. Then after they hit rock bottom, they drilled a hole in the rock and went down a little farther. It’s funny, you’d think weapons and drugs would be strong during a worldwide recession, but that’s not how it worked out. People were too broke to buy medicine, and they very quickly rediscovered an old forgotten truth: that weapons with chips are a luxury, just like electric car windows, and that sometimes all you need is a stone you found in the yard if you want to smash in somebody’s skull. They very quickly learned to manage without Yaki’s rifles, much more quickly than Yaki could get used to the unseasonably cold and wet mid-March. And Yaki Brayk, or Lucky Brayk, as the tabloids liked to call him, lost his shirt. 
      He kept the apartment, the company accountant managed to retroactively put it in the anorexic wife’s name, but all the rest was gone. They even took the furniture. Four days later, a NiceDay technician came to disconnect the system. When Yaki opened the door, he was standing there drenched with rain. Yaki made a pot of coffee and they talked for a while. He told the technician how, not long after the riots, he’d turned the system off. The technician said a lot of customers had done the same. They talked about the riots, when a furious mob from the slums had stormed the Indian-summery homes of the city’s wealthier residents. “All that sun of theirs, it was driving us crazy,” one of the rioters said on a news commentary show a few days later. “Here you are freezing your ass off, just trying to make your next gas bill, while those bastards, those bastards …” At that point, he burst into tears. The camera blurred his face to hide his identity, so you couldn’t actually see the tears, but you could hear him wailing like an animal hit by a car. The technician, who was black, said he was born in that same neighborhood in Chicago, but today he was ashamed to admit it. “That money,” he said, “all that fucking money fucked up the whole fucking world.” 
      After they’d finished their coffee, when the technician was about to disconnect the system, Yaki asked if he could turn it on just one last time. The technician shrugged and Yaki took that as a yes. He pushed a couple of buttons on the remote and out came the sun from behind a cloud.
      “That’s not real sun, you know,” the technician said proudly. “What they do is image it, with lasers.” 
      Yaki winked and said, “Don’t spoil it. For me, it’s the sun.” 
      The technician nodded. “A great sun. Too bad you can’t keep it out till I get back to the car. I’m sick of this rain.”
      Yaki didn’t answer. He just closed his eyes and let the sun wash over his face. 

My Brother’s Depressed
—Translated from Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger

It isn’t like just anyone walked up to you in the street and told you he’s depressed. It’s my brother, and he wants to kill himself. And of all the people in the world, he had to tell it to me. Because I’m the person he loves the most, and I love him too, I really do, but that’s a biggie. I mean like wow. 
      Me and my little brother are standing there together in the Shenkin Playground, and my dog, Hendrix, is tugging away at the leash, trying to bite this little kid in overalls in the face. And me, I’m fighting with Hendrix with one hand, and searching my pockets for a lighter with the other. “Don’t do it,” I tell my brother. The lighter isn’t there, in either pocket. “Why not?” my little brother asks. “My girlfriend’s left me for a fireman. I hate university. Here’s a light. And my parents are the most pitiful people in the world.” He throws me his Cricket. I catch it. Hendrix runs away. He pounces on the kid in the overalls, pushes him flat on the lawn, and his scary rottweiler jaw clamps down on the kid’s face. Me and my brother try to pry Hendrix off the kid, but he won’t budge. The overalls’ mother screams. The kid himself is suspiciously subdued. I kick Hendrix as hard as I can, but he couldn’t care less. My brother finds a metal bar on the lawn, and whams it down on the dog’s head. There’s a sickening sound of something cracking, and Hendrix collapses. The mother is screaming. Hendrix has bitten off her kid’s nose, but completely. And now Hendrix is dead. My brother killed him. And besides, he wants to kill himself too. Because to him having his girlfriend double-cross him with a fireman seems like the most humiliating thing in the world. I think a fireman is pretty impressive actually, rescuing people and all that. But as far as he’s concerned she could just as well fuck a garbage truck. Now the kid’s mother is attacking me. She’s trying to gouge out my eyes with her long fingernails, which are painted with repulsive white polish. My brother picks up the metal bar and bangs her one on the head too. He’s allowed to, he’s depressed. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Tim Roth / Interview / Steve Buscemi


Tim Roth. Photo by Dan Winters. Grooming by Patty Wheelock with Jillian Fink.

BOMB 59/Spring 1997 cover

When I was asked to interview my friend and fellow “dog” Tim Roth, I was glad to have the opportunity to catch up with him over a few beers. It’s something we used to do often when we worked together a few years ago, but living on opposite coasts we hardly ever get the chance. I was also excited to finally have access to his earliest films which were made on his home turf in England and are extremely difficult to obtain here. To truly appreciate the versatility of his enormous talents I strongly recommend seeking out, however hard it might be, Allen Clarke’sMade In Britain and Meantime by Mike Leigh. Throw in Stephen Frear’s The Hit, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead and Robert Altman’s Vincent and Theoand you have an impressive array of strong performances in a number of eclectic films made before he bloodied a warehouse floor as Mr. Orange (in Reservoir Dogs) and proceeded to take the States by storm in a slew of risk-taking films. If there’s one actor I sometimes feel a tinge of jealousy over, it’s Tim. In my paranoid mind I envision the casting director saying, “Yeah Buscemi’s okay, but what about Roth?” I sometimes give him shit about all the Brit actors who have invaded our turf, but the truth is, I respect his talent and dedication to his craft. Since he’ll soon be making his home in New York, I guess I’ll have to accept that this town is big enough for both of us. And of course there’s no shortage of beer, even with us both at the bar.

Steve Buscemi You just got back from Sundance?
Tim Roth Yeah. I have a film called Gridlock’d that premiered there. It reminded me ofReservoir Dogs: first time director shitting himself but loving it all. We were standing in the lobby of the Egyptian Theater, smoking where we’re not supposed to be and acting terrified. It was a lovely experience, wonderful, actually.
SB I’m seeing ads for it, your picture on the side of a bus. How does that feel?
TR Well I saw the ads for Gridlock’d the first time the other day, driving down the street. It was very strange. Considering it’s a fairly low budget film. A lot of it has to do with the fact that Tupac’s record company got involved with the marketing. It’s a very odd, very funny film.
SB You’ve worked a lot, but in the past you were able to enjoy a certain amount of anonymity…
TR Yeah, that’s gone. It went a little bit with Reservoir Dogs, a little bit more with Pulp Fiction, but it really went with Rob Roy. Once you get nominated for an Oscar you’re fucked. It’s a lot harder. You walk into the same places you’ve been going to forever and it’s all changed.
SB I was sitting in a diner the other day with my son, just a little diner that he loves, and this guy came up and sat in our booth totally uninvited. He started talking to me, ignoring my son. It’s tough, because I didn’t want to be rude, but the guy wouldn’t leave. Finally I had to say, “I’m sorry, but can you go away?”
TR You don’t want to be rude, but they’re being really rude.
SB The last time we were here in this place was right before the Academy Awards with Quentin [Tarantino] and Alex [Rockwell]. You remember? Quentin was telling you if you lose you have to say “Oh, fuck” into the camera. (laughter) I’ve read that you thought your acting was pretty big and over the top during the Rob Roy shoot, but even that wasn’t enough for the director, Michael Caton-Jones.
TR I really thought I was going to get fired. I thought that they would get the dailies back in America—it was a proper studio film—they would say, “Get this fucking guy out of there!” But it was what Michael wanted. It was a real case of the director saying, “You’ve got to trust me on this one.” He was right and I was wrong.
SB Were you going to dailies then?
TR No.
SB You don’t like to go to dailies. But I remember you fought for my right to go on Reservoir Dogs.
TR Big argument, too. It’s an actor’s right to use them, I know some actors thrive on it.
SB I like to go because it’s fun, and I also find it really useful. Some directors are concerned that actors might change their performance, and they want to have the freedom to talk about the actors when they’re not there. But if an actor wants to alter his performance based on the dailies, he should discuss it with the director.
TR It scares me, because I start seeing things maybe I like or don’t like.
SB Did you go on the Robert Altman film, Vincent and Theo? I know he really likes the actors to.
TR No, I didn’t. I would sit and wait for everyone else to come out, and then say, “So, what was it like? Was it good? Was it good?” The only time I saw dailies was with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, because of the language. I wanted to make sure the timing was right on the comedy acts.
SB Did you choose to go as big as you did in Four Rooms because you had just done that inRob Roy
TR No. The choice to go big in Four Rooms came not during rehearsal or any preproduction process. The first time we shot, there was a moment where lone Skye appears in the distance and then, suddenly, appears right in front of me, and I chose to do a thing which I did when I was a lot younger and first saw Jaws. When a human head floats across the hole in the bottom of the boat, I literally, and I was sitting quite normally, leapt into a fetal position. It scared me that much, so I decided to use that. And, once I’d used that I had no where to go but…
SB That dictated you.
TR Yeah, it was really on the spur of the moment that that happened. It’s that comedy thing—you’ve done comedy—comedy performance is the most dangerous thing in the world. After the fact, you’re in the hands of the editor and the director, and their timing is very different from yours. As much as you may get your timing right or wrong, it’s really the editor and the director who pull the scenes together.
Tim Roth in Vondie Curtis Hall’s Gridlock’d. Photo by Nicola Goode. Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures.
SB Your character, Ted the bellboy, is in the whole film. How did that work in Four Rooms, having four different directors [Allison Anders, Robert Rodriguez, Alexandre Rockwell and Quentin Tarantino]? Did the four of them discuss that character with you, or did they leave it up to you?
TR No, they saw the dailies, and then took that character into their rooms. They did their own work to a certain extent. We didn’t know what was going to happen. Each section had it’s own tone, and I think what the financers really wanted was the one that worked best in the test screenings. They wanted them all to be the same. It was basically a little experimental film that should have remained as that, but they put the full weight of Disney behind it. I saw an uncut version of it which was a lot better than the final cut, but it just plain didn’t work. Interestingly enough I get so many people who come up to me and say, “Oh, I loved you inFour Rooms.” On the one hand, I think the experience of making it was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life, but my experience watching it is one of the most painful.
SB Well, I think the hype surrounding that film actually hurt it.
TR For me, it did one real service, apart from working with directors I really love, it gave me a kind of armor against the press. Ever since then, I don’t bother to look at bad reviews because who needs it? Even if the critics slaughter it, I know that there is still an audience for a film and that’s great ammunition to have as an actor. But it was a very weird experience—I would definitely want to work with the directors again. The time, the experience of making the film, that’s another part of what I’ve learned. If you really, really enjoy that…
SB It doesn’t matter how well the film does.
TR You really have to bear that in mind because you’re an actor after all, you’re not a movie star.
SB A question I get asked a lot is, when am I going to do a romantic lead?
TR I’ve done it once.
SB Really?
TR Actually, yeah. We don’t usually get offered them because of the way we look. I mean, we’re not Brad Pitt.
SB I was offered his part in Legends of the Fall, you know, but I turned it down.
TR I did one in England, where I played opposite Julia Ormond. It would have to be in England, they cast people like us over there.
SB I was going to bring that up: Angela Pope’s film Captives. You play a convict. You’re in prison, and she plays a dentist who falls for you. She’s on the rebound from her husband and you’re this mysterious guy. You two have a wild love scene. We should explain that your character is let out once a week to go to college. You meet her in a pub and both of you go into the bathroom. It’s a really hot scene.
TR Slightly disturbing. You know, it’s kind of horrible to watch yourself being in love with somebody. Definitely don’t go to those dailies—unless you’re one of those horrible people who look in the mirror while they’re fucking.
SB Is that bad? (laughter)
TR Well, in this case I was watching myself being in love and goo-goo over this woman, and I watched it and I was like, “Oh my God.” I’d never had to put that kind of experience on film. In a sense I would love to play those roles again because they’re a new type of exploration as an actor. But physically, the way I look, it doesn’t occur.
SB Well, my romantic lead was Living in Oblivion, because I got to kiss Catherine Keener. Even though it was a dream sequence, I still count it as a love scene.
TR I had a little bit of a sex scene in Little Odessa. But it was so weird that it can’t really be counted.
SB Now for Little Odessa, how much research did you do about the Russian mob in Brooklyn?
TR Absolutely nothing whatsoever.
SB So you got everything you needed from the script?
TR From the script and from James Gray. It was really a film about a family, a family where the devil has gotten into their house. I love that film, it’s one of the films I’m proudest of.
SB Very dark.
TR Very disturbing. Horrible, horrible, film. I like that.
Tim Roth and Drew Barrymore in Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You. Photo by Joan Clifford. Courtesy of Miramax Films.
SB Now, in the Bill Duke film Hoodlum you play Dutch Schultz. On the one hand you were playing a real character, and also there’s the knowledge that two other actors have played him. Had you seen Dustin Hoffman in Billy Bathgate, or James Remar in The Cotton Club? What does that do to your head?
TR I had seen Billy Bathgate a long time ago, when it first came out. But my main inspirations for the character were Bugs Bunny, Edward G. Robinson, Bogart and Cagney. You know, go for it, let it rip and be big about it. I didn’t want to do the whispering bad guy thing that everyone does nowadays, it’s boring.
SB Did you do any reading on that period? There’re some really good books.
TR The William Burroughs screenplay was the most interesting. I read that and Requiem of a Dutchman, and that was it really. I just read from the script. Historically, it’s pretty inaccurate, but it doesn’t really matter. We were making a film, and it was about an aspect of the mob scene back in the thirties that I didn’t know anything about. I had no idea about the black gangsters in Harlem at that time. It’s a historical character, but in the end it’s a Hollywood movie. And I just went full and big. That was my goal.
SB What are you working on now in South Carolina?
TR I’m going to do a film called Animals, which is by a first time director, Michael D. Giacomo. John Turturro’s in it, Martin Landau, Mickey Rooney. It’s got all of these weird characters, it’s gonna be good.
SB Let’s talk about your directing. Where’d the script come from?
TR It’s an English novel called The War Zone by Alexander Stewart. It’s about a fourteen-year-old boy whose life was destroyed by the discovery of incest within his family. It’s very graphic, but it’s quite beautiful. It broke my heart when I read it.
SB When I was directing, I was kicking myself in the ass for all the times I’ve been on film sets and not really paid attention to the technical side.
TR Well I always did, because I thought if I wasn’t an actor, I really wouldn’t want to be a director, I’d love to be a DP. In fact, I acted recently in a film called Liar. It was really low budget, but I met the DP Bill Butler who shot DeliveranceGeorgeCuckoo’s Nest, an incredible guy. And the stuff that he was pulling off for no money whatsoever was fantastic. So I sat with him and watched.
SB Have you been watching other films for ideas?
TR Films like My Life as a Dog, which is one of my favorite films, To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve been doing my homework. I’ve got a ton of films that just deal with children—from Russia, China, Germany, all over the world. Just looking at how directors deal with children.
SB What directors have you been influenced by?
TR Truffaut, Bergman, Tarkovsky. You probably couldn’t do anything without that guy. Early Coppola, Kubrick. Jim Jarmusch I love. Wim Wenders. There’re plenty out there.
SB You also mentioned the Hollywood movies of the seventies…
TR They were probably some of the best films ever made. So, how’s your son? Does he still look like an angel?
SB No, he’s got straight hair now. He’s trying to grow it long so he can be a rock n’ roller. How old is your son, Jack?
TR Twelve. I’m getting to the stage with him where I’m not cool anymore: “You don’t really know what’s going on dad.” Especially in the music scene. For example, I didn’t know who Tupac Shakur was and he did. So basically I’m just not very cool.
SB It’s great when your kids can educate you. I saw Allen Clarke’s Made in Britain, where you play a sixteen-year-old skinhead. It’s an amazing film.
TR At the time I had absolutely no experience in film whatsoever, so he would rehearse scenes lock, stock, and barrel really thoroughly. There was absolutely no star system within the cast at all. Everybody was equally important, which was great. We had only three weeks to rehearse it in a little church hall in England, and then we shot it. Chris Menges shot most of it on steadycam.
SB So it was steadycam, because all those great shots with the camera starting on the third floor and then following you down from room to room.
TR Yeah, it was all steadycam, and so I thought all films were like that. After working with him and Mike Leigh, I couldn’t understand why they just didn’t get the steadycam out. I had no idea that there were different styles. That was the first time, that was losing my virginity. What was yours?
SB A film called The Way It Is with Eric Mitchell where there was no script, shot in black and white, and no sound. We dubbed the sound in later. So I thought, this is how they do it, it’s normal. The character that you played in Made in Britain — Trevor was so disturbing because he was so intelligent.
TR That was the intention. I went to school with guys like Trevor. I’ve always hated whenever skinheads or racists aren’t portrayed right. They have the National Front in England, which is a pretty nasty organization. I went to a couple of their meetings, and there were some very bright people there.
SB There just seemed to be no way to get through to Trevor, to change his way of thinking. As much as you can disagree with his politics and the way he sees the world, there was something you had to admire about his conviction.
TR He was determined. I think in the back of his mind he thought prison would be a good idea for him.
SB At the end, when he could have escaped, he goes to the social worker and tells him everything. And he never talked about his home life, but there’s the scene of you passing a model family in the store window, and the look your face told everything.
TR That is the difference in our styles. With European film it’s not as necessary to give the details, the background, as it is with Hollywood films. Adults can fill in the blanks.
SB Your character takes everything in, lets everybody have their say, and you think maybe they’re slowly getting to him, but then he says, “You guys are the assholes, because you buy the system. I don’t.”
TR Yeah, A-B-C-D. He absorbs information so he can spit it back at them. He’s a very intelligent guy.
SB Do you ever think about your characters, like Trevor? I mean, you did that film twelve years ago?
TR ‘83.
SB What would Trevor be doing now?
TR He’d probably be dead. The ones I went to school with are either dead or in prison. The one I loosely based the character on became a drug dealer. He was very violent. I think he’s probably in prison back at home. I mean, he did kill somebody.
Tim Roth and Tupac Shakur in Vondie Curtis Hall’s Gridlock’d. Photo by Nicola Goode. Courtesy of Gramercy Pictures.
SB So then after Made in Britain you did the Mike Leigh film Meantime. What’s interesting is that he cast you in a role that was 180 degrees opposite of what you played in Made in Britain.
TR When Mike hires you there is no character. The characters emerge from a series of discussions. It’s all improvised. In fact, there were a few circumstances that happened on set that changed the entire story. I think one of the guys came out and started having trouble on the set, another one had a nervous breakdown, so the story veered off into another direction.
SB What’s interesting about your character, Colin, in Meantime is that you can tell, like Trevor, that he has a lot of anger in him, but it is all turned inward. And so he’s just a basket case most of the time.
TR Tragic.
SB I didn’t know which character was sadder, Trevor or Colin.
TR Cohn was based on somebody I went to school with. He was very, very poor and his father died. He was living with his mother and they didn’t have any hot water, it was really awful. And he was bullied, mercilessly, beaten up everyday. By teachers and by kids, and he became the basis for that character.
SB And the actor who plays your brother?
TR Phil Daniels. He plays the lead in Quadrophenia. He’s one of my heroes. Phil also did an Allen Clark movie called Scum, which was about abuse in a juvenile prison. It was produced by the BBC, and then they banned it. Watching Scum and Taxi Driver is what made me want to be an actor.
SB And had you known Gary Oldman before that, who is also in the film? Or Alfred Molina?
TR No. I didn’t know any of them. I was so new.
SB When you were doing these films, were you also doing theater?
TR Yeah, I’d do plays above pubs.
SB Above pubs?
TR Yeah, pub theaters. There’s a whole tradition of it in England, where pubs will have a twenty seat theater upstairs, or in the back. Some of them are really well-respected. You’d do a play and earn a bit of money. Theater was what kept me going, it kept me acting.
SB The first thing I saw you in was Steve Frears’s The Hit. Another great role.
TR A brilliant role. At first Joe Strummer was going to play that part and he couldn’t do it, so I got it.
SB Were you feeling more confident as an actor by then? I mean, you seemed pretty confident.
TR I never had a problem with that. My problem was that I always felt that as soon as it was over, it was over forever. I still have a bit of that. If I’m not working, I go nuts. I never feel secure about it until the first day of filming and I can say, “Okay, it’s actually happening.”
SB Do you go through a little depression or withdrawal when you end a film? This happens to me. The film cast and crew become your family, and when that’s taken away…
TR I still do. And then after a while, you bump into somebody whom you’ve had this extraordinarily intense relationship with, and you have nothing in common. It’s very strange, especially if it’s been a great experience.
SB What were rehearsals like with Frears?
TR We didn’t do anything. We just showed up. My character was basically a football hooligan who got paid with a small amount of money and a gun which he didn’t know how to use. And he couldn’t drive particularly well. Frears let me go with it, let me run. He’s a funny guy. I like working with him.
SB So how did you raise the money to finance your film? Probably was the biggest acting job of your life.
TR God, I was good in that. I got yes’s from everybody.
SB Really?
TR Yeah, but it really is a performance. I get off a plane in England right, and I have a meeting with the head of drama at the BBC, Channel Four who did Trainspotting, and then two other companies. I have to sit and try and sell them on the idea of doing a film about incest. A very uncommercial film, it has no hip qualities about it whatsoever. A film I will not be in, but I want to have casting approval. When you’re an actor, you turn up, hit your marks and you go. But directing… I’m asking them to write a big, fat check. It probably counts as one of the strangest experiences of my life. When you become a director, you have to become a grown-up. I sit with my DP on the phone because I have to know what I want. I can describe shots to him that I need, and he will tell me what that will require, and I have to think about if it’s in the budget. I worked with Alexander Stewart on the screenplay, I structured it with him and let him run. An extraordinary feat. The lead character is a fourteen-year-old boy who discovers that there’s incest in his family between his father and his sister. The film is mostly about how your sanity is breached. It happened to him at probably his most vulnerable time as a young adult.
SB You talked about how his perception of reality keeps changing. Will you do anything with that in the way you shoot it?
TR Yeah. When something disastrous happens, even ordinary objects seem changed, those were always my nightmares. So I’m going to do a lot of that with the set designer, move already established objects around, and change the texture of surfaces, and the lighting. Start bringing the walls in, give them less space, play with things like Eli Kazan did in Streetcar Named Desire.
SB Well you’ll have a lot to be responsible for, and you’ll be working with a fourteen-year-old who may or may not have acting experience.
TR Yeah, and because it’s very graphic, and people don’t behave in the way that we expect them to behave, I have to find a young adult who understands this film’s around forever. I don’t want to become an abuser of the child who’s acting in the film. And his parents will have to be very aware of the story. It’s highly graphic, and it could fuck somebody up by just being in it.
SB Did you see Bastard Out of Carolina?
TR No, I read the book, but I haven’t seen the film.
SB It deals with child abuse that’s very graphic, and almost seems too much to put a young kid through that.
TR There are certain things you can do to protect the child.
SB I imagine Anjelica Huston did.
TR I know for a fact that she did, because I worked with a couple of people who were on that film. But you have to be careful as a filmmaker not to be an abuser. However, I have to be aware that probably three out of ten parents abuse their kids. So if I have an audience of one hundred people, thirty of those people are going to be abusers. I may aim my film at that audience. You see consequences, it’s not gratuitous. You see how this boy is destroyed by what he encounters. There’s no happy ending.
SB Do you ever write?
TR The only way I write is when I’m in cahoots with somebody, when I already have a book or a script, and then I can embellish. I used to write short stories when I was younger and I was always very embarrased about what I had written, so I would burn them immediately. But the actual writing was always an enjoyable experience. Do you write a lot?
SB No, I’m slow. It took me seven months to write Trees Lounge. I think actors can be good writers, but the hard part is to just sit down and do it. I’m always jealous of these guys who have four scripts sitting in their drawer.
TR I know what you mean, and they’re working on another one.
SB How do they do it?
TR I’m just glad they do it, because that’s how we work.