Preface: On the Cover’s Aesthetical Harmony to SpeciMen Trilogy
In the first place, I will take this opportunity to thank Pat Seals for so graciously allowing us to use his magnificent piece, titled “Green Heart,” as the cover art for the Special Edition Pre-Release of SpeciMen Trilogy (Epsiode One): “Out of This World Alive.” As the primary focus of this essay is the correlation of the meaning carried within the imagery of Green Heart and the expression of that meaning in the story of SpeciMen Trilogy, I would like to briefly discuss how it was that when Josh Rowan first showed me this piece, from a sheer aesthetic standpoint, I knew that this woodcut art style was the perfect fit for portraying the mystical roots of the story.
At first glance, in the mind’s eye this beautiful tapestry of potent symbology evokes in an old-world feel which is produced by that quality of detailed custom craftsmanship which seems so increasingly rare in modern art and design. There is an immediate sense from the “faux-archaism” of this woodblock art that conveys a certain degree of weightiness to the meaning of the subject it bears within itself. A reader of SpeciMen Trilogy will at once realize that, although the story is immersed in a setting of post-contemporary technology, this setting is itself immersed within the context of the historically holistic narrative which incorporates the great legends of antiquity to bring them full circle to infuse them back into the sordid mix of present day global intrigues.
An observant student of ancient mythological or Sacred Texts which handle gods or angels will notice the struggled descriptions from authors who stretched the lexicographic limits of their now arcane languages to articulate the powerful functionality of technologically advanced machinery which was apparently possessed by the custodians of humankind. From Ezekiel’s angel-tech to the lighting bolt of Zeus, from Apollo’s chariot which Phaeton crashed to the aircraft described in the Vedas, a modern thinker cannot help but to have a sense that our sciences and subsequent engineering are only just catching up to those technologies to which antiquity bore witness. As SpeciMen Trilogy turns on the cutting edge of modern physics to burst into the spiritual realms, we are constantly harkened back to the ancient World and reminded of the actual origins of the story of human existence in this universe. The beautiful woodblock art of Green Heart captures the enigmatic essence of SpeciMen Trilogy: As we look forward into the prophesied and yet unknown future, we are beckoned to look back upon the old Sacred Texts which summon our mind to gaze at the truth of the wonderful mystery of human spirituality in and out of the universe.
A Note from the Artist Himself
In the event that one or two readers were not already aware, Pat Seals is also the bassist for the hugely popular band, Flyleaf. It just so happens to be that one of Flyleaf’s tunes is intimately connected to the artwork which also serves as the Special Edition cover for SpeciMen Trilogy: “Out of This World Alive.” I asked Pat if he would write a little blurb for SpeciMen Trilogy social media, and upon reading the five heavily thought-laden sentences he wrote back to me, I decided to write this essay on the apparent harmonization of our creative spirits which has preceded the two of us ever having met (we have not, in fact, at the date of this writing, met one another in person). I was so moved by the obvious inSpiration that has brought our respective creative forces together that I decided to structure the format around Pat’s reply and thus include his words to me here:
“The Meraviglia Letters mention a single question that would shake the entire universe: Should a creature be given a soul? In the Gospels, Jesus tells the disciples to regard the well-being of their souls above their physical lives. This concept is the subject of the Flyleaf song ‘Green Heart’ & it’s corresponding woodcut (from the New Horizons series master printed by Outlaw Printmaker Ryan O’Malley in ’13). A sort of ‘crest of dread’, the woodcut depicts moths, a two-headed bat, & crocodiles; the latter feared enough to appear in the ancient Egyptian vision of hell. In tandem with the remaining elements, these animals signify infernal attributes which many humans can’t keep from expressing, invariably bringing hell to Earth, despite so much self-awareness.”
The Creative Harmonization on the Special Edition Cover Art by Pat Seals for SpeciMen Trilogy (Episode I): “Out of This World Alive”
In the pre-universe physics, the force of gravity, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and the electromagnetic force were indistinct, melded together inside the singularity from which the Big Bang would proceed. As the first eras of the universe unfolded across inconceivably tiny fragments of time, each of the four forces which govern the behavior of the entirety of the material realm peeled away from the amalgamation until all four were uniquely manifest. From these four forces follows the ordered behavior of subatomic particles and galaxies which together allow for the logical expression of the magnificent array of diversified forms of created being within the physiochemical scope of material existence. In the beginning, there was pure potentiality in the chaos and there was the Logos which would bring actuality into splendid order.
The ancients likewise recognized the struggle of being against non-being, not as existence versus the void, but rather as order versus chaos. In various mythologies of the oldest known cultures, from ancient Egyptian and Sumerian lore, we find the depiction of the enemy of the Creation as that which disorganizes her – Chaos monsters. Pertinent to Seals’ observation that there are “infernal attributes which many humans can’t keep from expressing, invariably bringing hell to Earth, despite so much self-awareness,” in the same space of the Gospels which Pat cited as Jesus teaching his disciples to, as Pat aptly summarized, “regard the well-being of their souls above their physical lives,” we find a profound linkage to the infusion of chaos into human lives on Earth. In the sixth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus says, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on Earth, where moth and rust destroy where thieves break in and steal but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and thieves do not break in and steal.”
In his art, titled Green Heart, Seals depicted a moth to represent one of the “infernal attributes.” The moth is particularly apropos to chaos in the above-mentioned passage from the Gospel of Matthew. In this passage, the type of moth referred to in the original Greek (σὴς) is specifically the type of pestilent organism that ruins fabricated articles by eating away at them, reducing a structured system by disconnecting its parts, effectively making chaos from order. In fact, the word often translated as “rust” (βρῶσις ) literally means “eating,” and the exact same form of the exact same word is translated as “eating” in both of its other instances in the New Testament (John 6:55 and Romans 14:17). This strongly suggests that the “eating” being referenced is actually the activity of the moth and not of the figurative use of the word for the deteriorative capacities of rust. In SpeciMen Trilogy, in comparative form to the way the moth eats up of objects of design, Conditioning Agents and Military Handlers in Pandemonium tempt humans on Earth into behaviors which corrode their character, where chaos reduces the order of a created thing, robbing it of the integrity of its original form. Segue to robbing…
Jesus’ reference to thieves who “break in and steal” carries an embedded notion that infernal attributes are breaking through into the material realm to rob souls of their valuables. In fact, the original Greek for “break in” is the compound word “διορύσσουσιν,” which, parsed, comes from διά (through) and ὀρύσσω (to dig), meaning that the thief is described as clawing his way through to the material barriers of a household with the objective of stealing value from it. In this metaphor, the household is the soul and the thief is Satan, who digs his way through the barriers which hold him in hell in order that he can break into the material realm through the human mind. The thief steals away bits of higher reason and from the mind, baiting the soul to place its value on material things, effectively dissolving the integrity of the soul with corrosive logic that assigns inordinate value to eternally worthless things. Seals wrote of the shield crest symbolism in the artwork, saying, “The symbol in the top-left corner is the sigil for platinum. It refers to general greed for material wealth and the prowess of ego… The skull speaks for itself and I chose to add the hemlock for it’s fame as a lethal plant.” As hellish chaos steals away dignity, piece by piece, the infernal attributes subsequently disintegrate the finely ordered and beautiful person, ultimately leaving the soul without the capacity to sense its own great worth. The lyrics of Flyleaf’s song Green Heart sing to this philosophical tune: “Must, crush, destroy all that you’ve built. Thieves break in and steal your green heart.”
The Meraviglia Letters denote the thief to whom Jesus was referring as one fallen Malachim being once named Phaeton (Φαέθων: “the Shining One”) who would turn dark and assume the name of Zophos (ζόφος: “gloomy darkness; a pitch black that can be felt on the skin”). The word or name of Zophos is used in Peter’s Second Epistle (2:4) where he writes, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in the chains of darkness/Zophos (ζόφου) to be held for judgment.” The Meraviglia Letters say of the fallen messengers who were the custodians of the Creation were banished to Pandemonium: “At the time of the great flood, the Governor Himself banished the souls of the rebel Malachim from the Capitol Realm, causing one third of the stars to vanish underneath the heavens, their souls cast down below to the place under space and before time.” In his letter to the church at Ephesus Paul connects the trap of the world with the spiritual thief: “you also were dead in your transgressions and sins when you lived in the ways of this world and of the prince of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are unconvinced.” Seals depicts a crown for this price between the heads of bats.
On the fundamental conceptual platform of the first Episode of SpeciMen Trilogy stand the modes and means of hell’s demons’ breaking into of Earth. Of the “how” of the thief’s capacity to invade the human mind, The Meraviglia Letters say, “With the code of living human souls swirling above in the skies of Pandemonium, Zophos was quick to summon Mulicber to develop a technology that would interface with the point of contact with the space-time fabric above – the human mind. Through this subconsciousness infiltration technology, at the command of Duchess Sabotage, Conditioning Agents of Zophos infiltrate the thought-life of human specimen on your Planet…” Like a vampire bat hunts from within the darkness to sink its teeth under the surface of the flesh and drink on the blood of its victim to bring about a slow death, so does the thief rob spiritual life-force from the soul. In SpeciMen Trilogy, we find that Pandemonium Conditioning Agents manipulate the thought-life of human beings on Earth to confuse and confound their fee will to generate a chaos that deadens their soul’s sensitivity to the Order of Life, Light, and Love. The artwork that adorns the Episode One special edition SpeciMen Trilogy features the bat which points to the demonic piercing of the thought-life of humans – a piercing from within the darkness which is designed to drain of the human soul down underneath space-time where chaos can perpetuate the sordid disorder of the fallen human condition. Of the Pandemonium Conditioning Agent vampire bat-like tactic of draining the soul of life-force into the things of this world, it must be mentioned that another creative collaborator, a magnificent musician and prolific thinker who is lending his genius to score the upcoming SpeciMen Trilogy teaser-trailer and eventually, God-willing, the feature films, wrote these lyrics in one of his little tunes: “The world is a vampire, sent to drain; Secret destroyers, hold you up to the flames. And what do I get, for my pain? Betrayed desires, and a piece of the game; Even though I know – I suppose I’ll show all my cool and cold – like old Job. Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage.”
The third animal Seals’ uses to characterize the “infernal attributes” which make their way into the human condition are crocodiles. In the ancient Egyptian variety of the chaos legend of the underworld, the chaos monsters were often characterized by images of this giant prehistoric reptilian that wreaked havoc up and down the Nile River on the peoples who were utterly dependent on the Nile for water and fish. Hellish chaos lurking in the shadows of everyday life, like a crocodile with only its eyes exposed above the surface and its great powerful mass of body concealed beneath the water, waits for the opportune moment to spring upon the soul going through the motions of its necessary day-to-day existence. To understate it, the ancients’ use of this beast which lies in wait under the water before it strikes to represent chaos breaking through to dissipate the order of material realm is quite congenial to the most cutting-edge theories of the space-time field in modern quantum mechanics, which describe the substance of the fabric of space-time behaving as a fluid medium. SpeciMen Trilogy has the chaos monster lying in wait under the ocean of space-time were he is jailed underneath the universe, with his eyes seeing above the surface of the material realm as he peers through the subconsciousness infiltration technology to launching his well-timed strikes against living souls from his hidden position in Pandemonium.
Of Sheol (Hebrew: שְׁאוֹל), Hades (Greek: Ἅιδης), that underworld house of resting souls of all humans, The Meraviglia Letters say this: “Because the pure code of the souls of the man and the woman had been corrupted, their spiritual bodies could no longer be housed within the Capitol Realm above the ocean of space-time. In His love, the Governor Himself created a containment zone underneath physical space for these contaminated souls and all who would follow.” Relating chaos to this place, the oldest text in the books of the Bible, Job, describes Sheol this way, “the place of no return, the land of gloom (zophos) and the shadow of death, the land of deepest night, of deep shadow and disorder, where even the light is like darkness.” The idea of the eternality of the human soul has a direct representation on the Special Edition cover art in the words which Seals etched across the bottom with the seeing eye filling all of the O’s: “YOUR SOUL WILL FOREVER LIVE ON,” and the lyrics of the Flyleaf song which correlate to Seals’ art conclude with these words: “You’re not just a body of flesh, bones and blood. You are alive, you’re his precious child. And your soul will forever live on… Will forever live on…” The soul is, as the very title of the first episode of the SpeciMen Trilogy indicates, indeed “Out of This World Alive.”
The Great Divorce
Just after the aforementioned verses in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, it is written that those who have turned their minds to follow the Way of Light have their souls raised into the kingdom of the heavenly realms, out from the depths of hell. To indicate activities which have already occurred for those souls who have already accepted and adhered to the first recorded sentence Jesus spoke after He began to preach: “Turn your mind around, for the Kingdom of the heavens is near…,” in reference to the human soul dwelling in the ἐπουρανίοις (“the heavenly realms”), Paul used the indicative mood of the aorist tense of the verbs συζωοποιέω (“to make live together with”) συνεγείρω (“to be raised together with”) and συνεκάθισεν (“to be seated together with”) – that after a turning of the mind, souls may be extracted from the containment area and lifted into the Capitol Realm, to borrow SpeciMen Trilogy parlance. But what constitutes such a turn of mind (the “Μετανοεῖτε” in the Greek) in order for the raising of the soul into the ἐπουρανίοις? Immediately after Jesus told His disciples that there are no moths corroding or thieves breaking into the kingdom of the heavens, He told them this: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” C.S. Lewis, in the preface to his Great Divorce, succinctly states it this way: “But what, you ask, of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell: and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself.”
Of the diversified beauty apportioned to the human mind in the Kingdom of the Heavens, Dante wrote this in his Paradiso: “Lo rege per cui questo regno pausa in tanto amore e in tanto diletto, che nulla volontà è di più ausa, le menti tutte nel suo lieto aspetto creando, a suo piacer di grazia dota diversamente; e qui basti l’effetto (The King for whom this realm rests in such great love and in such great delight that no one ventures to ever ask for more, creating every mind in His own elated aspect, at His pleasure He diversely dowers with grace; and here the effect itself is enough).” Saying nothing more of the splendor of the Kingdom of the Heavens enjoyed by those who have chosen its eternal things above the perishing things of Earth, for those who have chosen to treasure the things of Earth more than those of the Kingdom of the Heavens, what might they expect to encounter upon the expiration of their corporeal body? In SpeciMen Trilogy, we find that fallen humans are given a choice to bow down to Zophos and remain awake to serve in his army or face being thrown into the chaos fire of Pandemonium, which is the prison of the universe situated when and where we also find the earlier mentioned pre-universe conditions which have the four forces of the universe amalgamated. Whereupon contact with the pre-universe substance, the everlasting substance of the human soul fuses with the chaos fire to encase their personhood within adamantine shells where they rest – the collective adamantine surface constituting the terrain of Pandemonium upon which the “fallen awake” tread. Of this Hell/Sheol/Hades, The Meraviglia Letters say, “The containment realm has been ever since known as Planet Pandemonium. It consists of an adamantine surface which materializes as the eternal souls of physically dead humans come into contact with the chaos fire of the pre-universe. There personage becomes encased within the unbreakable adamantine it forms. Zophos and his fallen array have roamed the surface of resting souls ever since, plotting diabolical revenge.”
Actuality is Good
In Genesis, we read a recurring phrase that the Creator internally comments on the creation as He fashions it: As the actuality of order from the potential of chaos gave existence to the universe, it is said of the Creator, “He saw that it was good.” Chaos is the logical form of pure potential – random everything could be organized anything, but it is not actually something. Order is the logical form of pure actuality – everything created is organized something, and it could be anything. Chaos ultimately reduces all distinction to sameness whereas order brings distinction out of sameness. If we admire a beautiful stained glass window collage, we appreciate the entirety of the organized form which some glass maker has given to the colored panes and the organized form which some artist has then given to the colored panes. If that ordered form is smashed to pieces and then pulverized to its base form as a pile of sand, even though all of the same material may lie in that heap, none of the goodness and beauty of the artistically created stained glass window collage can any longer be found. The wreckage of Pandemonium chaos is like that pile of sand that was once something wonderfully and uniquely organized – when a human soul is reduced to its base desires, it becomes regressively indistinct and unbeautiful as the order-reducing chaos smashes through into the material realm through the human mind and pulverizes the soul to make the infernal attributes manifest on Earth. Conversely however, as C.S. Lewis noted in the same preface to The Great Divorce, wrote this: “Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.” If I dared to venture to more philosophically reword the master-writer’s thought, I might say it this way: Good, as it becomes more organized, becomes continually more beautiful, not only more beautiful than the base hideousness of evil, but more distinctively beautiful among all of the other good. When it comes to the good and beautifying activity of the increasingly ordered soul, Seals captured the essence: “Jesus tells the disciples to regard the well-being of their souls above their physical lives.”
As this whole concept has prevailed in Seals’ woodcut art and his music, I conclude this essay by leaving one last remarkable example of creative synthesis between my new friend, Pat, and myself. It is only fitting that I should share the lyrics to a song I wrote which expresses the same fundamental message alongside the lyrics of Green Heart. After writing this song, I was subsequently blessed with the opportunity to track it out in L.A. with my great pal and producer Mark Grilliot (play song below lyrics):
Listen to Become