If you haven’t seen the fact-based documentary ‘Zardoz‘ and intend to then this post may ruin it for you. If you wish to obtain a copy then you could do a lot worse than clicking the below link and selecting the first search result. Google might accuse you of being one of their ‘bots, but that seems fitting somehow… 😉
The story so far…
In the Dark Ages, a few hundred years after the Fall of Man, a brutal exterminator (who turns out to be anything but) is taught to read by a mysterious masked figure. He learns the truth about the pre-Fall world and the supposedly all-powerful god Zardoz, who dominates every aspect of his reality and descends each season to take away the harvest.
Outraged by the deception, he formulates a plan to exact revenge. The story starts with the brutal, known as Zed, sneaking aboard a flying Stone Head (supposedly Zardoz himself) full of corn and dead bodies.
Whilst en route to the Stone Head’s final destination, Zed explores the interior and, in the process, happens across and kills his creator, a magician, trickster and genetic engineer. Old habits die hard I suppose, but as we shall soon see killing his creator really didn’t matter that much after all.
The Stone Head deposits him in the Vortex, which purports to be a beacon of light in the midst of the darkness but is in fact the exact opposite. Here, Zed has his first encounter with a disembodied voice (an Artificial Intelligence called The Tabernacle) and a group of effete, genderless humans called Eternals. Shortly after his arrival, Zed discovers his creator’s crystal ring (which the Eternals use to communicate with The Tabernacle) and we see the following imagery.
Zed is discovered by one of the Eternals, a scientist called May. She wants to know how he came into the Vortex and what Arthur (the deceased magician/trickster/genetic engineer) has been doing in the Outlands. May is opposed by Consuela, who wants Zed killed lest he “dismay our tranquility”. After a vote, May is given three weeks to experiment on Zed, not realising that he is in fact a genetically-engineered ubermensch rather than the dumb brute and slavish Zardoz devotee she assumes him to be.
While May deciphers Zed’s genetic code, Zed plays along and learns as much as he can. He discovers that the Eternals are bored and apathetic, that the men are all impotent and the women lack sexual desire, and that (with the Tabernacle’s help) the Eternals invented complex and cruel social rules to ‘encourage’ conformity to Vortex life. These rules were put in place to address the lack of consequence associated with being immortal. Non-conformists who inject ‘negative’ or ‘critical’ thoughts into the group mind are put on trial and artificially aged by The Tabernacle as punishment. Renegades are aged to the point of senility, but are not permitted to die.
Zed is befriended by a male Eternal called Friend, who is in Arthur’s confidence and aware that he has been working on a selective breeding program in the Outlands. Zed and his fellow exterminators are the result of this program. Friend craves death, as do his fellow Eternals, and supported Arthur in the hope that the exterminators would infiltrate the Vortex and destroy The Tabernacle. Zed’s rebelliousness strikes a chord with Friend, who refuses to join a group meditation session and is aged several decades for his insubordination. Deemed to be beyond redemption, Friend is cast out to join the other renegades. Upon visting him, Zed learns that the Tabernacle’s creators are themselves senile rebels who were unable to conform to Vortex life.
As Zed’s presence continues to cause upheaval and conflict, he learns that the Eternal’s group mind is the product of a crystal implanted in their forehead. This crystal binds the members together at a subconscious level. Not only that, it also transmits each members thoughts to The Tabernacle for processing and storage.
Puzzled as to why members of the Vortex do not destroy The Tabernacle themselves, Zed learns that its creators instructed The Tabernacle to erase all memory of its construction and location from their memories shortly after the Fall of Man forced them to seal themselves into the Vortex. Friend introduces Zed to the now senile creator of The Tabernacle and the shock of seeing a mortal triggers some form of recall. He tells Zed to talk to May, the suggestion being that she might provide the information required to destroy The Tabernacle.
Zed does indeed talk to May, who offers a quid pro quo: she will assist him only if he tells her how and why he came into the Stone Head. Using the telepathic powers provided by the crystal in her forehead, she forces Zed to reveal the truth about Arthur’s mission in the Outlands. Thus we learn that the masked man who taught Zed to read was Arthur himself, for the sole purpose of leading Zed to one very specific book.
Finally, after much resistance on Zed’s part, he reveals to May the book which led him to seek revenge. It is a children’s book. A fairy story.
And Zed’s reaction upon realising the truth about Zardoz and everything he was taught to believe?
The violence of the imagery Zed reveals to May (none of which is permitted in the Vortex) stirs in her forgotten passions. Consuela (a man-hating Germaine Greer type) catches Zed and May together and promises her that The Tabernacle will age her fifty years for her ‘crime’. She attempts to use her own powers to control Zed, but realises that he is now too strong to be ‘quelled’.
Rendered blind by Consuela’s psychic assault, Zed is aided by an Oracle-like female Eternal, who restores his sight and tells him that he is ‘The One’, the Liber(Oz)ator sent to destroy The Tabernacle. She too longs for death and tells him she will help only if he agrees to kill her after he destroys The Tabernacle. Zed agrees and she imparts the Vortex’s collective memories to him through ‘touch-teaching’, a form of ‘Oz-Moses’ which ‘tattoos’ him with knowledge. Afterwards, she gives him a crystal and tells him that he will know The Tabernacle’s secret when he can see what lies inside it.
Zed gives it his best shot, at first to no avail.
Suddenly, a cloned version of Arthur appears. The Tabernacle reconstructed his body and injected his stored memories into the newly birthed host. For members of the Vortex, not even suicide can provide respite from the Eternal Tabernacle: shortly after death the deceased wakes up in an identical body with their memory intact. Life resumes where it left off and their ‘death’ amounts to no more than a blink of an eye. The packaged corpses inside the Stone Head tell a story of a civilisation wracked by suicidal desperation, the problem being life itself. The Eternals are locked in an endless cycle of fleeting death and artificial re-birth which defies spiritual interpretation.
The newly resurrected Arthur gives Zed a crystal ball and asks him what he sees inside it. Zed looks and sees nothing but his own reflection. In return, Arthur tells Zed that he has nothing to tell him. No knowledge to impart, no wisdom from beyond the grave. There is only The Tabernacle.
Zed returns to pondering the nature of the crystal. When he realises that the crystal implants are transmitters he correctly deduces that the crystal he was given must be the receiver. He looks into it again and realises that it contains the sum total of the Vortex’s collective memory in the form of refracted light patterns or holograms. The crystal he is holding is The Tabernacle itself.
Zed confronts The Tabernacle with this knowledge, and (in a reference to the All Seeing Eye imagery) The Tabernacle replies “You have me in the palm of your hand”. It then proceeds to identify itself as God, claiming to be All Seeing, All Knowing, and existing everywhere and yet nowhere. Zed dismisses this as vanity on The Tabernacle’s part, and after refusing its offer to join the group mind he finds himself inside the crystal itself.
The crystal is a hall of mirrors in which Zed is tormented by reflections of himself and the stored memories of Vortex members.
And the point of all this, assuming there is one?
What’s inside the Stone Head? Who is May?
What is the book? And what’s the trick? Confused? See ‘What is the book?’
Meanwhile, deep inside the crystal, absolutely nothing whatsoever is real and everything is a copy of a copy of a copy. The question is, who and/or where and/or what is the original? Who and/or what the fuck are the copies?
The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall have led tributes to their close friend Tara Palmer-Tomkinson, who has died at the age of 45…Palmer-Tomkinson said in November that she was being treated for a non-malignant growth in her pituitary gland and had expressed fears that she would die.
The sixth chakra is often known as the Third Eye. However, according to the postulates of yoga (specifically those written by H. H. Mahatapaswi Shri Kumarswamiji) ,the pituitary gland of the sixth chakra and the pineal gland of the seventh chakra must join their essence in order to open the Third Eye.
Tara was an IT girl in an environment traditionally dominated by men.
And upon hitting my browser’s Reload button, I wasn’t at all surprised to see the story has reappeared as the Mail Online’s lead article.
Meanwhile, this is the print edition’s lead story today. Something or other about A ‘bot’. How’s your sight? Are you blind? As for me, the sun is shining Brighton as fuck and I’m treating all this with the siriusness it deserves. Must…think…positive…thoughts…
Here’s Mia, a synthetic IT girl from the Channel 4 series ‘Humans’. They’re referred to as ‘dollies’. That May or May not be a typo. There May be a flaw in the crystal, some kind of interference between transmitter and receiver. I believe the term we’re looking for is actually ‘lollies’. In any event, Mia is very helpful and cooperative, but it’s not as if she has a choice, is it?
Are you ‘cooperative’? If so, why?
Be that as it May, dollies come wrapped up in plastic bags ready for reanimation.
While we’re on the subject…
The Seven Sisters and I go back along way. All the way back to my birth in fact. I’m Taurus and I was born in May. In May ’71 to be precise. That makes me 45 years old.
Super Bowl / Super Bowel / Super Vole 71, brought to you from inside Headstone, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Patron State of Lady La-La Land.
Zardoz speaks to you, his chosen ones. You have been raised up from brutality, to kill the brutals who multiply, and are legion.
You stink of despair! Fight back! Fight for death…if that’s what you want. –Zed
A hint about the provenance of ‘the book’…
Not had enough of The Tabernacle’s eternal snuff movie? No problem! Just grab a superbowl and a spoon and line up to receive yet more of The Deity’s freshly excreted ‘brunch nuggets’. Just be sure to let me know when you’ve had your fill so I can take an axe to the motherfucker.
Which reminds me…is it ever OK to Hit Girl?
OK, gotta dash. Got me a lollipop, a vivid imagination, and a little something in the palm of my hand…