Saturday, July 21, 2012

Being the Triple Goddess Part II

Welcome to part two of my examination of the 1999 cult classic Being John Malkovich, a film loosely revolving around Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), a puppeteer attempting to take over the mind of the actor John Malkovich via a portal he finds in the office building he works at. In part one I briefly chronicled the story line of Malkovich in addition to the main characters before delving into its extensive use of the Triple Goddess, especially in the characters of Lotte (Cameron Diaz), Craig's wife, and Maxine (Catherine Keener), his coworker. I argued that both heavily embodied aspects of the Triple Goddess while being presented in the context of the Madonna/Whore duality. This is a concept I wish to explore in further depth here, but first I would like to consider the curious numerology of Malkovich in addition to several of themes before elaborating further. So, on to the numbers. 

Craig and Malkovich (top), Maxine (middle) and Lotte (bottom)

There has been much speculation as to why the floor which Craig works on in the Merton Flemming Building is located between the seventh and eighth floor, or seven and half (which he first encounters at the 7:30 run time of the film). The film gives us a rather amusing explanation: Upon being hired, Craig is sent to watch an uber cheesy training video that explains the seventh and half floor. The film opens with a shot of the Twin Towers (naturally) before moving on to a hideous reenactment of the event leading to the building of the seven and a half floor. Craig witnesses the saga of the Scottish Captain Merton, one of the founders of the Merton Flemming Building, who supposedly fell in love with an undersized woman and built a floor on which her height would appear to be normal. Craig first encounters Maxine during the training video, who informs him that it's all bullshit. I'm inclined to agree, so let's consider some other possibilities.

Craig and Maxine on the 7 1/2 floor

Some have speculated that the seventh and a half floor is a play on the legendary Fellini film 8 1/2, but this is only scratching the surface. Both the numbers seven and eight, which seven and a half falls between, have much occult significance. Of seven, Manly P. Hall writes:
"By the Pythagoreans the heptad --7-- was called 'worthy of veneration.' It was held to be the number of religion, because man is controlled by seven celestial spirits to whom it is proper for him to make offerings. It was called the number of life, because it was believed that human creatures born in the seventh month of embryonic life usually lived, but those born in the eight month often died. One author called it the Motherless Virgin, Minerva, because it was not born of a mother but out of the crown, or the head of the Father, the monad. Keywords of the heptad are fortune, occasion, custody, control, government, judgement, dreams, voices, sounds, and that which leads all things to their end. Deities whose attributes were expressed by the heptad were Aegis, Osiris, Mars, and Cleo (one of the muses)."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pg. 219)
In Gematria Aleister Crowley refers to seven as the most perfect of all numbers, which in his estimation made it most evil. Eight is another number that ties in closely to the notion of perfection, or perfect order.
"Universally eight is the number of cosmic balance. With the addition of the intermediate points, it is the number of the cardinal points and the number of the pointers on the weather-vane of the Tower of the Winds in Athens. It is often the number of spokes in a wheel, in the rowels of Celtic bits and in the Buddhist Wheel of the Law. There are eight petals on the lotus and eight paths in the Way, eight Trigrams in the I Ching and eight pillars in the Temple of Heaven. There are also eight angels which support the Throne of Heaven and it also the number --in what precise form is not known --of the Mirror of Amaterasu. As the pillars of the Temple of Heaven, the angelic supporters and the octagonal plan of the lingam would indicate, the number eight and the octagon have also the quality of intermediation between the square and the circle, between Heaven and Earth, and are therefore linked with the intermediate world."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 342)
The 'intermediate world' is a fair description of the universe of Malkovich, but it still doesn't feel quite right. Crowley disciple Kenneth Grant also had an interesting take on the number eight, with some allusions to seven, as well.
"Cheth is the number Eight, which is the Seal of Hermes-Thoth-Mercury, the God of Magick. The figure 8 is, by shape, the Caduceus of Mercury and the emblem of Infinity. In The Book of Law, Hadit (or Set) declares 'I am eight, and one in eight.' The identification is with Sothis the manifestor of the Seven Stars of Polaris (the Great Bear constellation which symbolizes the Dragon --Nuit). She is the Mother of the Primal Gods, and her formula of Change, or Magick, is manifested in One, her Son, i.e. Sothis or Sirius, who, in his occult character symbolizes the Son behind the Sun... 
"Cheth (8. 418), 'k', being the number of the Great Work, is a formula used by occultists, as well as alchemists, to denote the consummation of the marriage of individual and cosmic consciousness."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pgs. 22-23) 

Nut (top) and Thoth (bottom)

Seven is thus the number of the star goddess while eight is the number of her son. Crowley believed that the new Aeon he was ushering in would be of Horus, the son. This would supersede the Aeon of Osiris , which had in turn overthrown the Aeon of Isis. The Aeon of Horus would bring forth a new age of goddess worship. Given the strong themes of matriarchy Malkovich displays, which were discussed in part one, the numbers seven and eight are thus both apt for the film. That the portal to Malkovich's mind is located between the seventh and eighth floor may represent the transition that is occurring with the return of matriarchy --the Age is upon us but not quite in bloom yet.

Another curious theory of the significance of seven and a half is it's association with the number 15 as 7.5 plus 7.5 adds up to that number. Thus, everyone working at LesterCorp goes up and down fifteen floors total on a typical work day. What's more, the time frame that most individuals can stay in the mind of Malkovich is given at 15 minutes.

When many people think of the number 15, they think of the expression '15 minutes of fame,' a reference to short-lived celebrity for an individual or group. 15 has all types of occult associations as well. In the Tarot, the fifteenth trump is the Devil card. In Gematria Crowley describes 15 as the mystical number of Geburah, one of the Sephirots in the Kabbalah. 15 also has a curious association with the Triple Goddess of antiquity.
"...the White Moon-goddess whose sacred number is thirteen in so far as her courses coincide with the solar year, but fifteen in so far as the full moon falls on the fifteenth day of each lunation. Fifteen is also the multiple of three and five: three expressing the three phases of the moon and the Goddess's three aspects of maiden, nymph and hag, and five expressing the five stations of her year: Birth, Initiation, Consummation, Repose, and Death."
(The White Goddess, Robert Graves, pg. 245
So much, then, for the numbers. Let us now move on to the themes of Malkovich. An obvious one that should be evident to anyone who routinely tries to find esoteric meanings in film is that of initiation. The journey into Malkovich's mind in a way parallels initiation into Freemasonry. In Malkovich, the candidate must journey down a nearly darkened, slime covered tunnel until a force seizes the candidate and pulls them towards a glowing light. Now, consider initiation into the first degree of Freemasonry:
"In the first-degree ritual, the lodge is opened by the assembled Masons --according to tradition there must be at least seven present, including the... Worshipful Master --and the applicant for initiation must wait in a special room outside where he is divested of most of his clothing and everything made of metal, such as jewelry, watch, and the like. The lodge at this time is said to represent the first floor of Solomon's Temple. 
"The applicant is then dressed in a coarse white garment, and portions of his body are laid bare; a breast, an arm, and the heel of his foot. He is blindfolded and led to the entrance of the lodge room or temple by a man carrying a sword, accompanied by two others. 
"After a series of knocks (usually three) on the door and an exchange of words the door is opened and the prospective initiate is led inside, across the threshold, and suddenly feels the sharp point of a sword against his chest. He is still blindfolded, cannot know how many people there are watching him, and has no idea what to do next. In every case, he will be prompted by a voice at his shoulder as to how to respond to the questions that are asked him... 
"Finally, once all the information has been imparted in the form of long speeches replete with arcane references that the candidate cannot possibly understand completely on first hearing, and after the candidate has taken the appropriate oaths, the blindfold is removed and, blinking, the new initiate realizes he is facing a man sitting on a throne with a light behind him. This may be the only light in the room, or the strongest one. 
"The effect would be impressive, a subtle shock to the nervous system after all the wandering around in the dark --which is, after all, what the initiation represents. The candidate is referred to as a traveler in the dark, seeking the light; as a man from the West, going to the East..."
(The Secret Temple, Peter Levenda, pgs. 11-13)

In Malkovich various characters, most notably Craig Schwartz (John Cusack), pass through the threshold of a door and wander in darkness. Eventually they are pulled forward and receive the light, or in this case, enter actor John Malkovich's mind. Interestingly, the Schwartz character first enters Malkovich's mind carrying a piece of wood which doesn't leave Malkovich's mind with him. Wood had a most appropriate symbolic meaning to the Celts that fits its use in Malkovich:
"In Celtic tradition, wood and trees partake of learning in all its shapes and aspects. The traditional Irish alphabet, ogham, was cut most frequently in wood and only carved in stone on grave monuments. There is complete homonymity between the words for 'learning' and 'wood' in all Celtic languages (Irish, fid; Welsh, gwydd; Breton, gwez (tree) and gouez, from the root gouzout, 'to know'). Unlike the Gualish druids, Irish seldom used oak, but more often yew, hazel or service trees, literature rarely distinguishing between them. Hazel-nut was the fruit of wisdom and knowledge. Birch and apple also played a leading part in the symbolism of the Otherworld... 
"In general terms, however, the symbolism of wood is constant --it possess superhuman wisdom and knowledge."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pgs. 1123-1124)
Wood as a symbol of learning is in keeping with the theme of initiation Malkovich establishes early on. Curiously, Craig's piece of wood stays in Malkovich's mind throughout the film, only leaving when Craig finally relinquishes control of Malkovich to Dr. Lester to free Maxine, whom he believes Lester has kidnapped. In reality Craig has been duped, Maxine having already opted to leave him for Lotte, Craig's wife. Craig thus gave up a glimpse of the mysteries of the universe for unrequited love, hence his piece of wood is also ejected with him during his final exit from Malkovich. Craig has failed initiation, big time.

Despite the implications of living inside the mind of another, Craig does little with Malkovich other than launch his once-fledgling puppeteer career. He briefly achieves the fame that so long alluded him as Malkovich, but he remains the same person. Malkovich's physical features even begin to change, taking on more of Craig's appearance. Craig ultimately cannot see past the material implications of being John Malkovich.

His wife, Lotte, is the polar opposite. Her travels inside John Malkovich transform her dramatically over the course of the movie. She begins as a stereotypical dutiful wife, supporting Craig while he attempts to launch his pitiful puppeteer career all the while remaining both emotionally and sexually unfulfilled by their marriage. Upon entering Malkovich's mind, she begins to almost immediately rethink her sexuality and gender --At one point she even considers surgery to transform herself into a man. Eventually she falls in love with Maxine, bringing together the various natures of the Triple Goddess which both female leads embody. Thus, Lotte achieves the appropriate transformation from initiation.

Maxine ravishing Malkovich after Lotte enters his mind

Lotte also embodies one of the most compelling themes of Malkovich, namely hermaphroditism. This comes into play shortly after Lotte's first venture inside the mind of Malkovich. Having seen the light, she glowing rambles to Craig:
"I think it's kinda sexy John Malkovich has a portal, y'know, sort of like, it's like, like he has a vagina. It's sort of vaginal, y'know, like he has a, he has a penis and a vagina. I mean, it's sort of like... Malkovich's... feminine side. I like that."
Initially after being exposed to Malkovich Lotte considers a sex change, but backs off once she discovers sex with Maxine-via-Malkovich. After experiencing hermaphroditic sex, a mere sex change simply won't suffice. Maxine, who becomes aware of Lotte's female presence while engaged in coitus with Malkovich, is also smitten with this sensation, and begins to fall in love with Lotte. When Craig eventually discovers a way to stay in Malkovich indefinitely, his duel masculine presence doesn't seem to satisfy Maxine in the same way Lotte was able too.

The concept of hermaphroditism continues to pop up throughout the films. The Malkovich character embodies hermaphroditism --as the Lotte quote above indicates, the portal into his mind constitutes a kind of mental vagina. When Malkovich himself ventures into his own mind in one of the film's most celebrated sequences he appears in a plush restaurant during the lunch rush where every figure, man and woman, is Malkovich.

One instance of Malkovich in drag
Other characters also partake in the hermaphroditism. The group of friends Dr. Lester plans to take with him into Malkovich is comprised of both men and women, and several of the women seem especially keen on experiencing sex as a man. Craig is eventually trapped in the body of Emily, Maxine and Lotte's daughter, who is the next vessel Dr. Lester and his group will use. This gives Emily a purely hermaphroditic soul, as she is comprised equally of female (her own) and male (Craig's) spirits.

Maxine, Dr. Lester (the geezer with his arms around Lotte) and the group he plans to take into Malkovich
The hermaphrodite is one of the most ancient symbols known to humanity. Many of the world's ancient religions are riddled with allusion to hermaphroditism, including Christianity.
"Primordial separation which created cosmically, that is, differentiated, light and darkness, Heaven and Earth, is also the separation of Yin and Yang which created, in addition to those fundamental opposites, heat and cold and male and female. They are the Japanese Izanagi and Izanami, originally interfused in the egg of Chaos, as well as the Egyptian Ptah and the Akkadian Tiamat. According to the Rig-Veda, the hermaphrodite was the pied milch-cow which was also the bull with plentiful semen. One produces two according to Taoism and thus the primordial Adam was in no sense male, but hermaphrodite, becoming Adam and Eve. 
"Indeed hermaphrodites are often depicted as twin beings, each possessing the attributes of the two sexes and on the point of separation. This is a particularly important factor in explaining the cosmogonic significance of Indian erotic sculptures. Thus Shiva, a hermaphrodite deity since he is identified with the formless First Cause of manifestation, is often depicted tightly clasping Shakti, his own power, depicted as a female deity. 
"Further traces of hermaphroditism are to be discerned in Adonis, Dionysus, Cybele and Castor and Pollux, the last-named echoing Izanagi and Izanami. Such examples could be quoted for ever, for, in the last resort --as Ancient Greek theogony most amply proves --all deities were bisexual, which meant that they did not need a mate to bear children. Ritual hermaphroditism, as Mircea Eliade emphasizes, represents the totality of the united magico-religious forces of both sexes.  
"As a sign of totality, the hermaphrodite is as apparent at the end of time as at its beginning. In the eschatological vision of salvation, the individual is regenerated into a wholeness in which differences between the sexes no longer exist. This echoes the 'mystic marriage' of so many traditional literary sources and thus re-echoes the image of Shiva with his Shakti."
(Dictionary of Symbols, Jean Chevalier & Alain Gheerbrant, pg. 498)
The hermaphrodite is also highly important in the occult. In some strands, the ultimate creative force in the universe is depicted as being hermaphroditic. Thirty-third degree Freemason Manly P. Hall informs us:
"When the plural and androgynous Hebrew word Elohim was translated into the singular and sexless word God, the opening chapters of Genesis were rendered comparatively meaningless. It may have been feared that had the word been correctly translated as 'the male and female creative agencies,' the Christians would have been justly accused of worshiping a plurality of gods in the face of their repeated claims to monotheism! The plural form of the pronouns us and our reveals unmistakably, however, the pantheistic nature of Divinity. Further, the androgynous constitution of the Elohim (God) is disclosed in the next verse, where he (referring to God) is said to have created man in his own image, male and female; or, more properly, as the division of the sexes had not yet taken place, male-female. This is a deathblow to the time-honored concept that God is a masculine potency as portrayed by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. The Elohim then order these androgynous beings to be fruitful. Note that neither the masculine nor the feminine principal as yet existed in a separate state! And, lastly, note the word 'replenish.' The prefix re denotes 'back to an original or former state or position,' or 'repetition or restoration...' This definite referrence to a humanity existing prior to the 'creation of man' described in Genesis must be evident to the most casual reader of Scripture."
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, pgs. 399-400)
Mercurius, a major figure in alchemy

Both Gnostic and alchemical strands of the occult heavily incorporate hermaphroditism. Major deities in both, such as Abraxas and Mercurius, were frequently depicted as hermaphrodites. Hermaphroditism is also extremely important to Thelema, the spiritual philosophy developed by the notorious magician Aleister Crowley. One of the chief symbols of Thelema was the phoenix, which has historically been depicted as an androgynous entity.
"The Hidden God, Set (represented astronomically by Sirius, the Dog-Star) typified the peculiar formula of the Eleventh Degree pf the O.T.O., which could be applied to the male or the female. It is this sense that we must understand the symbol of the Phoenix, the title which Crowley assumed in secret conclave with Frater Achad in 1915 in connection with the Sovereign Sanctuary of the Order. 
"The Phoenix or Ibis is the Bird of Cyclic Return and an apt symbol of the God who administers to and by himself, his own clyster. He is thus the Double-Wanded One in a physical as well as in a mystical sense."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pg. 51) 

A few pages later Grant goes on to further explain the 'Double-Wanded One.'
"The biune glyph, or two in one, of alternating and opposite forces gave rise to the image of the Androgyne long before the drama of Jesus and Satan contending on the Mount. 
"In the Cult of Thelema, Therion (Beast 666) and Baphomet are two types of the 'Devil,' or image of the Double Power. The Double-Wanded One combines the solar and hermetic functions of Therion and Baphomet, and both these functions involve the formula of the Beast and the Woman conjoined. 
"The Devil is the Dual One (11 or eleven), the Double-Wanded One, having the attributes of male and female potencies according to the solar or hermetic nature of the rite."
(ibid, pg. 53)
Abraxas, one instance of the 'Double-Wanded One

Strangely, the coitus between Maxine and Craig-as-Malkovich seems to best embody Crowley's notion of the Double Wanded One. The reference to clyster (another name for an enema) in the first Grant quote seems to indicate anal sex. In the next quote Grant speaks of Therion and Baphomet, both male entities, becoming one in the Double Wanded One, who then approaches the Woman, Babalon. In the case of Malkovich, Craig penetrates Malkovich via his portal, who then penetrates Maxine (the Scarlet Woman) via her Graal.

Stranger still, Malkovich features ample shots of the Twin Towers throughout, which was infamously destroyed during the 9/11 'terror attacks.' If eleven is the number of hermaphroditism, as Grant seems to be implying, it makes the continuous shots of the Twin Towers all the more curious. The Twin Towers themselves have the appearance of the number eleven, which makes their appearance rather apt the first time Craig departs the Malkovich portal. They're also one of the first images seen in the 7 1/2 floor training video presentation Craig takes in upon being hired at LesterCorp, and where he first meets Maxine.

But enough about hermaphroditism for the time being. Before wrapping things up there is one final theme running through Malkovich that I would like to briefly examine, namely psychic vampirism. Of late this concept has taken on a lot of New Age associations but in reality the concept of psychic vampirism is very old. In fact, the modern concept of vampirism, in which an individual physically drinks the blood of another, may have derived from a far older concept of energy transference. Manly P. Hall traces these concepts back to the famed alchemist (and opium peddler), Paracelsus.
"Differing widely from the elementals and also the incubus and succubus is the vampire, which is defined by Paracelsus as the astral body of a person either living or dead (usually the latter state). The vampire seeks to prolong existence upon the physical plane by robbing the living of their vital energies and misappropriating such energies to its own ends.
(The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall, pg. 342)
In the modern era the concept of psychic or energy vampires first gained traction in the early twentieth century via the famed occultist Dion Fortune. Psychic vampirism was apparently what pushed Fortune into her occult pursuits in the first place.
"In her twentieth year she suffered a traumatic experience which determined the course of her life. It occurred while she was working at an educational establishment. Her employer, the principal of the establishment, was a domineering and unscrupulous woman of a particularly malevolent disposition who had lived in India for many years. When anyone antagonized her, she responded by directing a current of baleful energy that ate like acid into the object of her attack. One such onslaught was enough to reduce Fortune to a state of total prostration, which shattered her mentally and physically. How she recovered her balance and regained health and vitality is told in her book Psychic Self Defense. It was this critical experience that induced her to study analytical psychology, to join the Theosophical Society and devote herself to occultism."
(The Magical Revival, Kenneth Grant, pgs. 174-175)
Dion Fortune

Naturally Crowley incorporated psychic vampirism into his philosophy, even claiming to have both engaged in it and to have fought off attacks using it. As can be expected, there is much overlap with sex magick in Crowley's view of psychic vampirism.
"Innumerable tales of horror have elaborated the theme of the malevolent mummy, which, on being unwrapped, exhibited signs of recent feeding though having lain dead for centuries. The magically imprisoned shade used the mummy as a basis for its activities; a situation not impossible in actual fact. If victuals were not periodically supplied by relatives or friends of the deceased, the corpse would turn its attention to living people. Posthumous rites and food-offerings were originally of a propitiatory kind, designed to offset the hideous hauntings with which the literature of occultism abounds. It is at this level of mythology that the legend of the vampire has its roots. The magical formula of rejuvenation involves an analogous process with the significant difference that the vampire is alive, not dead. 
"Although Crowley only once resorted to sorcery of this kind, he knew certain Adepts who made a habit of it, and he was on one occasion involved in mortal combat with one of them... 
"In the Comment to Liber Agape, the Book containing the secret sex-magical instructions given to members of the Sovereign Sanctuary, O.T.O., appears the following pertinent paragraph: 
" 'The Vampire selects the victim, stout and vigorous as may be, and, with the magical intention of transferring all that strength to himself, exhausts the quarry by a suitable use of the body, most usually by the mouth, without himself entering in any way into the matter. And this is thought by some to partake of the nature of Black Magic.  
" 'The exhaustion should be complete; if the work be skilfully executed, a few minutes should suffice to produce a state resembling, and not far removed from, coma. 
" 'Experts may push this practice to the point of death of the victim, thus not merely obtaining the physical strength, but imprisoning and enslaving the soul. The soul then serves as a familiar spirit. 
" 'The practice is held to be dangerous. It was used by the late Oscar Wilde, and by Mr. and Mrs. 'Horos' also, in modified form by S.L. Mathers and his wife, and by E.W. Berridge. 
" 'The ineptitude of the three latter saved them from the fate of the three former...' 
"Crowley himself practiced a form of Moon Magick for the purpose of replenishing his sexual energies after they had been depleted by prolonged magical ceremonies, but on no occasion did he carry the practice to the point of death. It is unmitigated Black Magic, and utterly contrary to the Law of Thelema to interfere with the Will of other individuals, much less to rob them of life. Crowley's partners were always willing; the act was never in the nature of an assault, nor did it give them anything but pleasure, as his Magical Record repeatedly shows. On the contrary, in the case of exceptionally vital and robust women, he considered it essential to their well-being to drain off superfluous energy."
(ibid, pgs. 140-141)
Malkovich is riddled with instances of psychic vampirism. The most obvious is the character of Captain Merton, the shipping merchant who first discovered the mind portal and built the Merton Flemming building around it. Merton has extended his life for decades, first as Dr. Lester, and soon as Malkovich. He invades his host's mind by way of the portal, and soon takes over control of all their facilities. The host consciousness is forever trapped in the subconscious while Merton is in complete control, feeding off of the host's vitality until the time comes to jump into another vessel. This is the common practice of a parasite.

Dr. Lester (Orson Bean

Craig is also a very vampiric character. Throughout the film he is frequently depicted as weak and subdued. Initially he 'feeds' off of Lotte, using her money while he attempts to launch his puppeteering career. Lotte is fast running out of vitality herself, seeming rather diminished in the opening sequences of the film until she enters Malkovich. Perhaps this is why she finally puts her foot down and forces Craig to get a job --she knows she is about to fade away unless Craig finds someone else to feed upon.

Enter Maxine, a character overflowing with sexual energy at the onset of the film. For this reason, virtually every character in the film wishes to feed off of her. By Maxine is a kind of vampire herself, feeding off the lust she inspires in others. Thus, she, Lotte, and Craig become a kind of vampiric trinity, feeding off the energies and lusts of one another.

Then there's Malkovich, the one character everyone wishes to feed off of. As a successful actor, his vitality is self evident. What's more, the act of living through a character in a film or TV series, as many fans do, is itself a kind of psychic vampirism in and of itself. The various characters of Malkovich trying to live as Malkovich is an apt metaphor for the widespread psychic vampirism the peoples the United States engage when they obsess over celebrities.

And it is here that I shall wrap things up. Over the course of this post we've examined the numerical significance of Malkovich in addition to its themes of initiation, hermaphroditism and psychic vampirism. In part one of this series I examined the symbolism of the Triple Goddess running throughout the film, as the title of this series indicates. As we've seen, all of the key numbers used in Malkovich are related to the Goddess or her tradition in one way or another. What's more, initiation and hermaphroditism are also heavily associated with the goddess tradition.

the Triple Goddess

In the Robert Graves quote used earlier in this piece it was stated that initiation was one of the five stages of the Goddess. Many of the Mystery cults of the ancient world were centered around Goddess worship and were structured according to various degrees of initiation in reflection of the Goddess' connection to it. Malkovich heavily incorporates elements of initiation as well. What's more, Craig's journey through the film mirrors the stages of the Goddess: birth (his being hired at LesterCorp and discovering a new love interest constitutes a rebirth of sorts), initiation (discovering the Malkovich portal), consummation (Craig figuring out how to stay in Malkovich permanently and thus becoming 'one' with Malkovich), Repose (Craig's success as a puppeteer and relationship with Maxine while controlling Malkovich), and death (Craig leaving Malkovich and becoming trapped in Emily).

The Triple Goddess has an equally strong link to hermaphroditism. One of the earliest guises of the Threefold Goddess was the Potnia Theron, the Mistress of the Animals or Lady of the Beasts, and more recently, the Lady of the Pillars. Her hermaphroditism was more apparent in this form than later ones.
"All of these beasts of the Lady of the Pillar have sexual connotations, and like her magical flowers, they can suggest the possessing spirit of her mate or consort. Their attendance upon her derives from her basic nature as primordially both sexes in one, or hermaphrodite, male as well as female. This can be blatantly explicit, as in the early examples of the very early figurine of a goddess with a phallic head. 
"Or more stylized, like the numerous Cycladie idols with exaggeratedly long necks and female bodies that suggest male genitals, the so-called 'fiddle-case' goddesses. The same symbolism underlies the portrayal of the goddess as a mother nursing her own male child of both sexes, or flanked by human youths, instead of beasts, one of each sex. Sometimes the masculine part of her identity is indicated by the serpents she wields or has twined about her head, the so-called 'snake goddess' or by the birds perched atop her head. The bird is often merged as part of her own body, and she is winged, or raises her two arms in the typical prayerful gesture of the Minoan goddess, suggestive, in its painted striated feathers, or her bird-like wings, a pose that also imitates the lunar crescent. Sometimes the pose with the prayerful crescent is only one in a series of idols, where the other versions in the sequence round out the crescent into a full circle representing the phases of the moon, to depict the trinity of her sisterhood... 
"But even without her digital men, even apart from her flowers and the wings or birds, serpents, and beasts teeming about her body, there would be no mistaking the nature of this Lady with the elongated neck and startling face. This is the Lady of the Pillar, the mainstay of the enclosure. She needs no other maleness to complement her own womanhood."
(Te World of Classical Myth, Carl Ruck & Danny Staples, pgs. 33-34)
the  Potnia Theron
And so it is with Malkovich as well. Maxine becomes pregnant with a female daughter which she later discovers was fathered by Lotte --while in Malkovich's body, naturally. In a way this fulfills the ritual of the Lady's consort, who impregnated the queen while possessed by the spirit of the Great Goddess.

Emily, the daughter of Maxine and Lotte, also completes the threefold nature of the Goddess. As I noted in part one, Malkovich initially divides the Goddess into the Madonna/Whore structure of the Solar era, even as the threefold nature of Maxine and Lotte cannot be contained. Finally the threefold nature is realized with Emily, who becomes the maiden. Maxine is both nymph and mother by films end, bringing totality to the second stage of the Goddess. Finally Lotte, the true Lady of the Beasts, assumes the mantle of the crone/witch/wise woman.


When last we see Malkovich, he is firmly under the control of Captain Merton/Dr. Lester. Malkovich is now aging and already Captain Merton is forming another group of friends to take with him into the next vessel. In Malkovich's final scene Captain Merton is in the midst of recruiting Charlie Sheen for this purpose. But there may be a major problem Merton has not seemingly considered: the next vessel is Emily. I don't normally wish for sequels, but Malkovich II may be compelling. Would Captain Merton be a match for the Triple Goddess in her full nature?

Only Kaufman knows....

1 comment:

  1. Mertin flemmer. Merlin. Martin (Lokheed).
    The original ending of the original script was different. Schwarz become the most famous puppeteer in the world, but the puppet is Malkovich, moved from the inside. Then the Mertin Gang ask him to move out from the Malkovich body, as they (a Satanic inspired circle) want to jump inside the malkovich body to rule the world (sort of).
    "...In the original script Craig Schwartz takes possession of Malkovich and remains within him for months - just as he does in the movie. But in the script Craig doesn't make Malkovich a famous puppeteer - he makes Malkovich a famous puppet. Craig declares himself the man controlling Malkovich, the world's most complicated puppet, and he embarks on a one-man show at the Luxor in Vegas that includes Malkovich doing scenes from On the Waterfront and juggling chainsaws.

    Meanwhile, it turns out that the group hoping to live in Malkovich are being led by the actual Devil himself, in the guise of Mr. Flemmer (the man after whom the Mertin-Flemmer building is half-named). The Devil hopes to get his group into the vessel and use it as a tool for evil - they will rule the world together in the body of Malkovich. But first they have to get Craig out of it. Flemmer comes to Craig in a dream, telling him he must vacate the vessel, but Maxine, who is Craig's producer, tells him that's crazy talk..."