This year sees a 25th anniversary re- publication of Margaret Atwood‘s dystopian classic,”The Handmaid’s Tale” about an oppressive America of the future where sexual reproduction is both a eugenics of mind and action. The Handmaids are forced to provide children by proxy for infertile women of a higher social status, the wives of Commanders. She had been a witness to the dissolution of the old America into the totalitarian theocracy that it now is, and she tries to reconcile the warning signs with reality: “We lived in the gaps between the stories.” Something of a general, but compelling, if over wordy rabble rouser whose ink can be prone to run over and smudge, Atwood is now taking on the gaps between the stories of the Apollo 11 moon landing. It has certainly raised the issue of fantasy and illusion as well as the spaces they inhabit…
It is not obvious in determining whether Atwood is legitimately Dystopic or whether she is critiquing the dominant threads of what is termed to be positive utopianism; a position based on a belief in progress, on confidence in the revolutionary role of the proletariat, on humanity’s fundamental capacity for improvement, and on rationality which may become a complete way of life in future society . What sometimes seems like Atwood’s exalted bourgeois philosophy may actually be a well-crafted and poetic negative utopianism; somewhat restrained by a relationship to theology that can be ambivalent and ambiguous. However, even though historical progress turns out to be a vanity, a manifestation of the denounced “principle of individuation” and of “teleology,” there is nevertheless room in it for a utopian (positive) struggle, at least at a prosaic level. But, to what extent is humankind willing to go to keep up appearances? Is it just soaking the rags in gasoline before striking the match?
“The question about the Moon landing is “why haven’t we been back?” and it was done in an age when computers were as big as a couple of rooms. If you even look at the Space Odyssey, 2001, HAL the computer – and I think that movie came out in the late ’60s – HAL the computer is huge. So we didn’t yet have microchips so I just wonder how did they do that? Why haven’t they done it again if it was so easy?” ( Margaret Atwood )
Was the moon landing a hoax? Margaret Atwood may be a conspiracy theorist.Who would have known? Margaret Atwood, one of the english speaking world’s Queen of Letters has implied in a radio interview that the Apollo 11 moon project that marked “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” was a fabrication. Her critique, however, and spirit of contestation runs far deeper and is profoundly nuanced. It seems to oscillate in proximity to the negative utopianism of Walter Benjamin with flections of Eastern mysticism. Her work can even be considered the aesthetics of this dynamic capturing all its fluidity and movement; a literary aesthetic of the “faint hope clause” that is realistically achievable:
The primacy of the theological dimension within his pessimism also becomes clear in light of his philosophy of language. Essentially, the teleological language of “the Fall,” is impregnated by the “first sin,” and can only conceptualize the “progress” of the self and its goals. These goals stand in opposition to the struggle for the language of paradise and for varnishing the goal-driven self, history, politics and, implicitly, the concept of revolution contaminated by the present order. The dimension linking positive utopianism and the thought of redemption is clarified in Benjamin’s negative utopianism and in the philosophical struggle ,as a serious aesthetic game, for the salvation of the soul, which assumes the state of redemption and demands the negative utopian struggle. However, it is already possible to point to the clearly Cabalistic dimension merging into Benjamin’s thought, whose yearning for the eternal, for the completely other, suppresses the temporal, the political, the ever-transient within reality. The appropriate political attitude is defined as “nihilion”.
…”Percy firmly believes that the Apollo footage was either faked or not the original film that was shot on the Moon. He believes that many anomalous features that would alert the eagle eyed viewer, could have been placed in the films by whistle blowers who were deeply dissatisfied to be a part of the cover-up. He has studied the entire transfer of the original film on video tape, a feat that not many people have done. What many people did not realize at the time was that a lot of the footage was actually pre-recorded and not live at all. But the biggest shock is yet to come! The camera pans left past Neil Armstrong towards the left hand side of the Apollo 11, and what do we see out of the left window??? We see what appears to be another Earth” …
Given that Apollo is contestably a fake, there is now possibly, finally, a worthy competitor to Ms. Atwood that is of the same gender, given the unmasking of another fraud. There is now a more heated discussion concerning the Shakespeare authorship controversy in which some have asserted the possibility that the author of Hamlet and the Merchant of Venice was not only a woman, but a clandestine jew as well.
One of the most prestigious academic journals devoted to Shakespearean authorship studies has added a new candidate to the centuries old debate about who else plausibly might have written the works we associate with the little-educated merchant and actor from Stratford-Upon-Avon. The nominee is Amelia Bassano Lanier, a “converso” and the illegitimate daughter of an Italian-born Elizabethan court musician.Dozens of luminaries such as Freud, Dickens and Mark Twain, have over the years joined the so called anti-Stratfordian camp, convinced, as Henry James put it “that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world”.
… “It must also be noted that the Apollo 11 at this point of the mission was supposedly half way to the Moon. The time elapsed was 34 hours and 16 minutes, but from the view of Earth in the right hand window, we can say that in fact they were not in deep space at all, but still in low Earth orbit! look at the blue sky outside. That would also explain why they would be filming an exposure of the Earth that was far away, to give the impression that they were in deep space. The exposure would be clipped to the window and the Sun’s luminance would light it up, a technique that was used to read star charts to help with navigation and star reference.”…
Michael Egan, editor, the Oxfordian: ” we’d have to say this is a highly educated person well traveled with intricate knowledge of the courts and aristocratic life. Where did an obscure provincial boy gain all this information?” The principal proponent of this theory is scholar John Hudson. he argues that if Bassano did not write all of the plays, she was certainly a major collaborator. Her name is not new to this sleuthing effort. In 1979, A.L. Rowe suggested that Bassano, with her family’s Mediterranean skin coloring, was the famous “dark lady of the sonnets,” Shakespeare’s mistress.
… “In western Australia during the live broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing, several people saw a very unusual occurrence. One viewer, Una Ronald watched the telecast and was astonished with what she saw. The residents of Honeysuckle Creek, Australia, actually saw a different broadcast to the rest of the World. Just shortly before Armstrong stepped onto the Moons surface, a change could be seen where the picture goes from a stark black to a brighter picture. Honeysuckle Creek stayed with the picture and although the voice transmissions were broadcast from Goldstone, the actual film footage was broadcast from Australia. As Una watched Armstrong walking on the surface of the Moon she spotted a Coke bottle that was kicked in the right hand side of the picture. This was in the early hours of the morning and she phoned her friends to see if they had seen the same thing, unfortunately they had missed it but were going to watch the rebroadcast the next day. Needless to say, the footage had been edited and the offending Coke bottle had been cut out of the film. But several other viewers had seen the bottle and many articles appeared in The West Australian newspaper.”…
Ridiculed at the time, the Bassano as author of Shakespeare is now more commonplace and accepted. Mr. Hudson goes further. He maintains that Bassano wrote the sonnets about herself; as with the plays, Shakespeare was simply a front used to hide her identity. While Mr. Hudson’s scenario has met with skepticism, it would help to explain, according to Michael Posner, some enduring mysteries , including the prevalence of musical and northern Italian references in the plays, and even possible smatterings of Hebrew. Mr. Hudson pointed out that the plays contain about fifty references to the sport of falconing; far more than the works of any of the bard’s contemporaries- a rich man’s preserve , generally unavailable to commoners such as Shakespeare.
“… Also consider the recent revelation that Yuri Gagarin was not the first person to orbit Earth as first claimed by Russia. Some of the Eleven Apollo astronauts had non space related fatal accidents within a twenty two month period of one another, the odds of this happening are 1 in 10,000…coincidence? James B. Irwin (Apollo 15) resigned from NASA and the Air Force on July 1, 1972.Don F. Eisele (Apollo 7) resigned from NASA and from the Air Force in June 1972. …Why did they all resign from the ‘successful’ Apollo Program? How did man manage to collect the rock samples if we didn’t go to the Moon??? 750 lbs or so were said to be collected on the Apollo missions. This maybe so, but according to official NASA records, only a couple of pounds were actually collected by the astronauts. It would not be impossible to irradiate a rock or put it in a vacuum to get the same results. Did you know that two years before the Apollo 11 mission, its lead scientist Dr. Werner Van Braun made a trip to Antartica which is a prime area for collection Moon rocks?…
Hudson also notes that the Shakespeare plays contain 2000 musical references- three times more than any other typical plays of the period. Why? If the Stratfordian wrote them there is no obvious answer. But Amelia Bassano’s fifteen closest relatives were all court musicians. Also, “Taming of the Shrew” was part of a series of Italian marriage comedies that Shakespeare suddenly started writing in 1592. Those plays aren’t merely set in Italy; whoever wrote them seems to have read Dante and other italian literature in the original. Similarly, it makes no obvious sense that there should be spoken Hebrew in Shakespeare’s plays. No Jews lived openly in Elizabethan England and only a small fraction of those could read the language and the chance of Shakespeare being literate in Hebrew is nil. Hudson claims that scholars have identified dozens of transliterations of Hebrew words in the Shakespearean canon as well as quotations from the Talmud.
… “Why hasn’t anybody spoken out about the cover-up? They have. Bill Kaysing got in touch with his friend, a private investigator from San Francisco called Paul Jacobs, and asked him to help him with his Apollo anomalies investigations. Mr. Jacobs agreed to go and see the head of the US Department of Geology in Washington, as he was travelling there the following week after his discussion with Mr. Kaysing. He asked the geologist, ‘Did you examine the Moon rocks, did they really come from the Moon.?’ The geologist just laughed. Paul flew back from Washington and told Kaysing that the people in high office of the American Government knew of the cover-up. Paul Jacobs and his wife died from cancer within 90 days! Lee Gelvani another friend of Kaysing, says he almost convinced informant James Irwin to confess about the cover-up. Irwin was going to ring Kaysing about it, however he died of a heart attack within 3 days. Is this evidence that a cover-up is in existence?”…
Mr. Hudson also posed the question as to why a man whose works portray well-educated proto-feminist women raise his own daughters as illiterates, as Shakespeare did? Bassano, on the other hand, made feminist history when she became the first English woman to publish a book of original poetry- the three hundred line “hail god, King of Jews”, a satire sometimes known as “Eve’s Apology,” published in 1611. Hudson found connections between that book and the plays, in their biblical allusions and, he argues, their common references to the late medieval writings of French lawyer Christine de Pisan. he also contends that both the poem and the plays contain vengeful parodies of Christian thought.
ADDENDUM: This pessimism is opposed to positive optimism and utopianism, but is not opposed to negative utopianism, through which Benjamin recovers the “principle of hope”- as named by Ernst Bloch. During this period, Adorno and Horkheimer still embraced a positive utopianism, and explicitly relied on an optimistic conception of progress. In this matter, Benjamin preceded Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s second phase of thought, clearly expressed later in the Dialectic of Enlightenment (1944) Benjamin’s “Theological-Political Fragment” is especially devoted to encoding the set of relations between these two elements in his thought. “Only the messiah himself can close all historical events, and he does so by redeeming, completing, and creating their relation to the messianic dimension. For this reason nothing historical by itself is able to relate itself to something messianic. This is why God’s kingdom is not the goal of historical dynamics; it cannot be assigned as a goal. From the historical point of view it is not a goal but a termination. This is why the profane order cannot be erected while relying upon the idea of God’s
kingdom.” Benjamin presented the primacy of the theological dimension in the pessimistic conception of “eternal fall” from paradise into history which promises “happiness.” While the locus of the messianic dimension is man’s inwardness – secluded, suffering, projected towards eternity- Benjamin regards the messianic world, and not the real political one, as a “world of all around and integral actuality. Only in it is there universal history.”
Thus madness is no longer considered in its tragic reality, in the absolute laceration that gives it access to the other world; but only in the irony of its illusions. It is not a real punishment, but only the image of punishment, thus a pre-tense; it can be linked only to the appearance of a crime or to the illusion of a death. Though Ariste, in Tristan ’Hermite’s La Folie du sage, goes mad at the news of his daughter’s death, the fact is that she is not really dead; when Eraste, in Melite, sees himself pursued by the Eumenides and dragged before Minos, it is for a double crime which he might have committed, which he might have wanted to commit, but which in fact has not occasioned any real death. Madness is deprived of its dramatic seriousness; it is punishment or despair only in the dimension of error. Its dramatic function exists only insofar as we are concerned with a false drama; a chimerical form in which only supposed faults, illusory murders, ephemeral disappearances are involved. ( Madness and Civilization )