Friday, February 25, 2011

In Haste: The Plague Dogs

Answer: to cause me pain.

Goodness, gracious... please, goodness and grace come down on me -- after such a movie experience I long for such things.

Now, I've seen my fair share of frustratingly depressing flicks, but man alive, this one takes the cake.

I dare you to make it through the first 10 minutes in full knowledge that the rest of the film offers no light at the end of the tunnel. No solace.

One of the most excruciating moments comes in the first few minutes, where a dog who has been relentlessly tortured, asks to his buddy,
Why do they do it Snitter? I'm not a bad dog.
Lord, Lord... have tender mercy upon all the creatures of this earth. Please.

Throughout the film there are several short cut-backs to the 'animal experiment center' where we see a secluded macaque monkey trapped in a small cylinder. A little post-film research brought up the real experiments of Dr. Harry Harlow. The good Doc was obsessed with maternal bonds, social isolation, and depression. He created what he coined a "pit of despair" in which monkeys would be stripped of hope and left completely alone for up to six months.

Oh, but it gets worse! The monkeys that came forth from these experiments would all be horrifically mentally damaged. Recovery was not something achievable. But you must understand, isolation was not the only thing Dr. Harlow wanted to examine! He also needed to test how these disturbed monkeys would treat their young. But a problem arose: no monkey wanted to have sex with the socially disturbed monkeys. Being the problem-solver that he was, the master-and-commander Doc devised a jerry-rigged "rape rack". Apparently that worked. Quoting from wikipedia,
He found that, just as they were incapable of having sexual relations, they were also unable to parent their offspring, either abusing or neglecting them. "Not even in our most devious dreams could we have designed a surrogate as evil as these real monkey mothers were," he wrote. Having no social experience themselves, they were incapable of appropriate social interaction. One mother held her baby's face to the floor and chewed off his feet and fingers. Another crushed her baby's head. Most of them simply ignored their offspring.
Once upon a time I thought Dancer in the Dark was the most depressing film I had ever witnessed. That film at least had moments of hope (and even singing). I have found its melancholic destroyer.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the most depressing film my eyes have ever witnessed:  
The Plague Dogs.

 One more note: the fox in the film (spoiler: he dies) has the same name as the fox in The Fox and the Hound; Tod.

I shall leave you with a few more quotes from the cartoon.

Rowf: Something's been burnt in there. It's a death place. Bones, hair...
Snitter: They must burn creatures in there, Rowf.
Snitter: Sheep... rain... I can smell it underneath the ashes.
Rowf: In there? Smells come through the cracks. Dogs don't. 

Snitter: Rowf, if we don't find food soon, we'll die.
Rowf: I'm not going to die. Not without a fight.
Snitter: Who are you going to fight? There's no one here.
Rowf: I'll fight this.  

Rowf: They can't do anything worse than they've done already...

The Tod: Oh, I'm just going to bark at the farmer's door! Maybe he'll let me shove me head up his gun! Save a lot o' bother, that will! 

Snitter: Have you ever thought, Rowf... that we won't need food when we're dead? Or names for that matter...  

Why do they do it Snitter? I'm not a bad dog.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Confounding World: Feral Children

 Forget Tarzan. Forget Mowgli. 

Those stories of lore are malarky. 

Romulus & Remus
Echoes of feral children or, in times long past, feral peoples, have succeeded in permeating cultural traditions in perhaps every generation of storytellers. The idea balloons in our minds as something oddly romantic. How kind of those apes to raise that needy little boy. 'Gee-golly, what an opportunity that boy has had! He gets to see the world like no one else, and now we will dutifully acclimate him to the ways of modern man so he can share his learned wisdom with the myriads.'

We have only a handful of documented cases where a child either learned to live in the wild, or was enslaved by an upbringer who deprived the child of sensory interaction with the world. The results from such cases are much less happy-go-lucky than our imaginations would lay siege for.

The most famous case was perhaps one which sprung up from 19th century France in the form of a young boy named Victor. Victor was eleven or twelve when he was spotted on the outskirts of town by a woman who promptly reported the likes of the crazy child to local authorities. Using dogs, the boy was caught, and then plopped into the age of man. The story from this point forward is immortalized by Francois Truffaut's film, The Wild Child. His take on the situation peels out more with the same The Elephant Man-esque ode to the human spirit fervor that Lynch's later film mastered. The cause of Victor is taken up by Dr. Jean Itard (played by Truffaut) himself, the unsinkable doctor who successfully rehabilitates the boy to french society. The film is noted for its ending, in which the good doctor has finished his work with the child, and we watch Victor ascending a spiral staircase with his new foster mother. The idea from this, of course, is that now that the hard work of assimilation into culture was completed for Victor, 'the sky's the limit!' Huzzah!

Reality tells a bleaker tale. Dr. Itard was able to make a good deal of progress with Victor, but language never came. For some reason, when it came to speaking and reading, language simply didn't stick.

In modern times in America, we have the story of Genie. Genie was a little girl who was found to be locked in a room her whole life. When she was found, the adolescent girl was wearing a diaper. Upon being found out, Genie's father shot himself. Her mother claimed her and her daughter were both enslaved by the now dead man. An insightful doctor admitted that when Genie was discovered by doctors and scientists, "She had a personal quality that seemed to illicit rescue fantasies." Here was a girl who was going to be put through the ringer of every test imaginable.

The scientific trick of feral children is that you can't easily test for such environments. No person will isolate a child from society for years just to see what happens to their brain. So, when little Genie showed up in 1970 -- studying her was an opportunity that couldn't be overlooked.

With her, also -- the same results as Victor.

She could learn many things, but language was an insurmountable hurdle. A brain-scan of Genie showed that significant parts of her brain revealed 'sleeping-packed neurons'; packets of neurons that are bundled together and unused.

Watch a Nova special about Genie HERE.

Why is this perplexing? Why do feral children get quick access into my wonderful list of enigmas? It's the 'what-ifs'!

Why can't these children learn to talk? As of now, the evidence shows that if a child is not around a language speaking society by ages five or six, well then, it's too late. The brain hard-wires itself down, and then it's to be no more. The limits have been established. The caps are in place. The sky isn't the limit after all.

Remember that time during The Matrix when Morpheus apologizes to Neo -- he tells him he broke his own rule -- that people can't handle the switch out of the matrix after a certain age? Is there authentic truth to that? If we can't handle language acquisition after a certain age, what else do we hard-wire ourselves against?

Is there anything we are missing out on? Is there something that we would understand better, if only we encountered it during our formulative years? And what of telling a child about God? What happens to the brain of a child that is taught to believe in God from toddler age on upwards, and what of the child that is deprived of such ideas? If a child is brought to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, is he more apt then to beliefism over skepticism?

A bit further down that rabbit-hole before I finish -- what of speaking in tongues? If tongues can be some sort of angelic language that is bestowed from above, are we hardwired to never be able to comprehend it on our own because we missed out during the growing years? Okay, that one's a stretch. But logically, it seems theoretically possible that the parent can greatly affect what hardwiring goes on due to what one's child is exposed to. If you raise a child only on logic and mathematics, trying your best to leave out the arts, do you create a creature that is more akin to a computer than to an emo-rockstar? Conversely, if the world of the senses is denied, and in its stead only the fantastic is pushed in -- what happens then?

Perhaps it is due to classic Disney movie indoctrination and the American spirit, but my instinct is to want to believe that anything we put our minds to we can accomplish. Sadly, the failures of language acquisition in the lives of these feral kids shows otherwise. As it turns out, when you wish upon a star, you better be younger five for it to work.


As long as I'm touching on this topic I would be chagrin not to mention the great Werner Herzog's contribution to the conversation. His 1974 film, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser covered this very subject matter.

All that anyone really need know of the film is this: the title of this Herzogian film in German directly translates to, "Every man for himself and God against them all." Yep. That's the title.

VikingJesus: What is This?

For the sake of posterity's sake I'll be posting links to my weekly column over at when they go they up.

This week I start with the basics: why is there something rather than nothing? Confession: as is my custom, I don't actually try to answer this question, I just shout the it over and over again.

Read it here:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Confounding World: Romantic Love

Do you have a favorite film? Probably. Most people do. I am among their ranks. I have a favorite. This specific affection we may have for a particular film is not necessarily exclusive. We still hope to find a new film that will move us with the same amount of force. In short, we are not movie-monogamists.

Ask a lover what it is about their loveree that inspires their world-consuming passion. What answer do you get? Maybe, "Everything about him." Or, "The way bites her lip when she's frustrated." What? Of the seven billion souls on this earth, you're drawn to this one in particular because you like the way she bites her lip? Really?

My first crush came in first grade. Serena. And then the next year, Samantha. And then 5th grade, Erin. What compelled me to have these secret longings for these specials little ladies? Was it something each of them did? Were they particularly nice to me? Particularly cute? Probably not. Even if these girls reciprocated an affection of some sort, what would that have meant? I didn't even understand what this feeling inside me was, let alone be able to understand 'why' this was happening. All I could know was that I felt like the passive protagonist through these feelings. There was nothing I could do; I was the Benjamin Button of my own movie. This affection was happening to me. I couldn't help it.

Near the latter end of high school, I began to understand human psychology a bit. I began to understand various methodologies that my fellow gentlemen utilized to lure women into their arms. Most of the common techniques were never means by which I could embrace, so I started hunting for my own method. What I somewhat ended up diverting my image to, was this aura of mystery. If I could convince girls that I had old secrets of lore, that I was perhaps classic noirish in my appeal, then maybe they would be wooed by their imaginations of what I could be. Because after all, I was a 16 year old white boy that played trombone in the marching band and didn't have a driver's license. There wasn't a lot there, so I supposed. There was nothing that made me special, so I felt compelled to arrange my attitude in such a manner that an illusion of mystery hid behind my normal day-to-day existence.

I remember the moment in which I realized I knew this romantic love for myself. Even then, back in October of 2005, it came to me as if by instinct. I was an active participant then, in the sense that I welcomed this new child within my heart of hearts. But even so, there was a mystical (using the word liberally) aspect to the situation. I couldn't define this love. I couldn't label or organize it. It was this organic creature storming to power within me.

What makes love different from favoritenss? Why is it that the lover chooses the biting lip girl above all other women in the world, rather than just identifying certain behaviors as favorites? Why do we choose but one lover? Subpoint: I am equally confused by the anomaly of those who claim to be in love with more than one person simultaneously -- but that is a separate matter entirely -- and seems less pure, less natural, and certainly such attestations are dubious to begin with... Why not act like the movie affectionado, who has a favorite, but never ceases to enjoy what the rest of the world has to offer?

Perhaps my words read quite cynically; this is not my intent. Rather, I wish to bring to note the intangibility of romantic lingerings. Sam Keen, an author, philosopher and former editor of Psychology Today said, "You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly." Yes. I agree. I think Scripture agrees. But how does one come to find the imperfect perfect? Isn't that illogical? Subpoint: the art term baroque literally means, misshapen pearl. Intriguing, no?

Yes. Love is illogical. I can prove my case swiftly.

God created man. Man hates God. Man stands condemned. God comes to earth as man. God is perfect. God gives himself to man. Man kills him. God takes the torture as punishment for man's hate. He dies.

The story of Jesus Christ is illogical from God's perspective. God should not have sacrificed His perfect Son for Us -- He should not have sacrificed His son. We deserve what we would have received. Hell is fair. Heaven is unjust. There should not be a Heaven for us.

If God is perfect, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, He could have simply created a new species... a people without hate. He could have burned the very idea of you and me and us. He would be right to do so. But apparently this was not His will.

We thank the Lord for His grace and mercy. Do we ever ask why? Why save hateful sinners like us? Why do it? Why suffer the torment, the agony? Why scar perfection? Why have the only man, the one who never screwed it up, enter into sin while he stayed pinned to wood by nail and blood? Why endure the lashing? Why?

Whoever stumbles upon this -- answer me, does it make any sense? At all?

No. That's the beauty of it.

Love is illogical.

John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Mindshot: Band of Brothers

38 minutes into the seventh episode of the miniseries Band of Brothers, Lieutenant Buck Compton breaks...

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering,

We watch it happen...

and the time for my departure is near. 

Whatever analogy you implement to explain this world, be it a war, a game, a puzzle, a test, a mystery wrapped within an enigma, a sandbox, or just a bucket of piss, blood, tears, and laughter -- no matter what label you put on it, there is loss. Our fellow soldiers/fighters/test-takers/gamers/sandbox buddies, some of them will fall... 

I have fought the good fight, 

Just like Easy Company, when I signed up for this gig, this long walk, I knew that all those of whom I love wouldn't live to see victory. Alas, in the beginning it is all theoretical...

I have finished the race, 

Now, when the day comes...

I have kept the faith. 

...when those in the bunker beside you say, "No more," then it hurts...

Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, 

Then we break.

which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—

I wish I had more eloquence for days like today. Hell...

God Bless Buck Compton

and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 
2nd Timothy 4:6-8

Come Lord Jesus, renew that which is broken.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Method-Watching: Blade Runner

You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down... You look down and see a tortoise, Leon. It's crawling toward you... You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back, Leon... the tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping... Why is that, Leon?
*Like Method-Acting, method-watching is the implementation of various external elements into the movie experience so as to heighten the film-goers' identification with the journey of the protagonist.

On Monday, I, along with several others, will be launching a website: One of the slogans of our site is the phrase, "Soon I will die." Part of the concept of the site is that we don't have much time on this earth. And, until the Lord redeems all things, we will die. All of us. Blade Runner is a film with an arrow like focus on this reality. But it's impact is all the more astounding when we can supplant ourselves into that reality. The goal is not to observe, but to implant ourselves within the story itself; to look from within.

Now, Blade Runner is an epic film in league with the original Star Wars trilogy, Lord of the Rings, and perhaps 2001: A Space Odyssey. The problem is, however, that Blade Runner just doesn't stay around as long as those other epics. At a swift two hour run-time, you don't have much time to soak in Los Angeles circa 2019. So to give the evening of method-watching the correct rhythm, I recommend these opening acts.

  1. Read this article: 2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal. A certain detachment from the absurd advances of technology, is necessary to empathize with the plight of Detective Deckard. 
  2. Find a way to get a hold of Werner Herzog's Lessons of Darkness. This, one of the surrealist and creepiest documentaries imaginable, this gem of Herzog's, running at a brisk 50minutes, is the perfect 'expect the unexpected' aroma to preview the main attraction. 
  3. Most importantly: Reflect upon a sad memory, and then go run in the rain until your body is ready to collapse. Trust me. Do it.
Do not read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K. Dick -- the novel Blade Runner was built from. If you read it first, you'll spend the whole film comparing the two stories. Comparisoning does not lead to methoding.

Time of Day: Night time - Raining
Avoid: Don't watch the theatrical cut. Go with the director's final cut or go home. 
Attire: Turn the movie on just after taking a warm shower after you come home from that run in the rain. Then put on some old, dirty jeans and a jacket without a shirt. And go commando with the jeans.
Drinks: Shots of vodka (not too much to get overly drunk, though, you gotta stay with Deckard).
Food: The oldest, rattiest looking chinese food you can find. 

Drive a nail through your palm in order to feel Roy's desperate battle waged against his own mortality. 

  1. Go to sleep immediately. 
  2. Let your dreamlife continue the journey.

It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Confounding World: Duality

On Duality:
Here I continue a series in which I intend to raise questions about those things in this God ordained world of which I just can't quite wrangle my mind around. (Visual Cues taken from the film Sliding Doors, 1998, directed by Peter Howitt)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philipians 2:5-11 ESV

Once, whist a voice cried out in the wilderness, a great man came forth. His name was Jesus from the region of Galilee. He performed miracles, spoke many things, died, and then appeared in the flesh to his followers many others after his death.  This guy certainly made a mark on history. As amazing as his miracles of healing and wine making were, while indeed amazing, they never specifically stated that Jesus was anything other than a powerful human. No, it is His words that testified to much more than this. Jesus is the Messiah to the Jewish people. More than this, He is the Messiah to the Gentile people. More than this, He is God. Yet, He also was man.

Jesus is God and Man. I'm pretty sure that Aristotle would say that these two things are logically exclusive. One cannot be that which is infinite and omnipotent (God) and simultaneously finite and limited (man). This breaks the laws of nature; the laws of our brain.

Nevertheless, the God who came into history has spoken of this truth. Proper exegesis of the New Testament remains as a standing witness to this oxymoronic reality.

I can't understand how the Son of Man can also be the Father of all Creation. It is beyond my comprehension. Attempting to fathom such things leaves my brain vulnerable to much systematic breakage.

Now, I don't know if this is a great mercy, or a further means by which to simply remain in humility and a state of proper hair-pulling-outness, but it appears that the Son of God's duality is not the only verifiable logical contradiction on the block.

Behold, the photon! What is it? It's a packet of energy. A shot of Four-Loco. A kick in the nards. A wave function. A particle. Both. It is a wave and a particle. In my feeble brain those things are irreconcilably different. Apparently not.

When I think of a wave, I think of a ripple in a pond. Motion. It's the flow due to some form of displacement. A particle, on the other hand, should be the rock. The rock can be chucked into the pond to cause wave splashingness, but these waves are never the rock itself. The rock remains a rock, only now it's a rock under the water. Apparently, however, the ways of photons tells us that they are simultaneously rocks and the ripples of effect. further informs us,
Just one of the effects of this wave-particle duality (or particle-wave duality) is that photons, though treated as particles, can be calculated to have frequency, wavelength, amplitude, and other properties inherent in wave mechanics.
Okay, okay, okay... light is a tricky little vermin. Perhaps the trickiest of all the physical elements abounding amongst us. Whoopidee-doo! It's all theoretical, eh?

Then came 1929, the year Louis De Broglie won a Nobel prize. De Broglie showed through experimentation that it's not just light that gets to have all the Jekyll and Hydeian fun. No sir! We slabs of mass get smothered in the pie as well. Gee-golly-willickers!
The de Broglie hypothesis showed that wave particle duality was not merely an aberrant behavior of light, but rather was a fundamental principle exhibited by both radiation and matter. As such, it becomes possible to use wave equations to describe material behavior, so long as one properly applies the de Broglie wavelength. This would prove crucial to the development of quantum mechanics.
Hannah is the wave, Miley is the particle.
Realistically, the amount of waveness that we exude is too slight to have any sort of impact on our livenesses, but still people! We ourselves are the ripple! We are the wave, we are the sea!

I'll likely post further on topics dealing with quantum mechanics in this series. This aspect of duality (remember that zombie cat?) is particularly intriguing to me in that it brings up these elements that aren't really thinkable. They don't make sense as to what we can conceive. There is no physical, observable aspect of this sort of thing in the world of the upright walkers... unless, of course, you count that Jesus fella...

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-5, 14 NAS

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Confounding World: Hypnosis

On Hypnosis  
(Visual Cues taken from the film The Manchurian Candidate, 1962, directed by John Frankenheimer)
Here I start a new series (we'll see how long it lasts) in which I intend to raise questions about those things in this God ordained world of which I just can't quite wrangle my mind around. 

A family tradition within my family clan was to annually visit the Hypnotist show at the San Diego County Fair. Every year we'd go, and every year members plucked from the crowd would answer the phone in their shoe, or discover that they happened to be a singer in Destiny's Child. The shows were always uproariously fun to observe. Uproarious, I say.

The show was always G-rated, but the hypnotist told of a nightclub where performances were done for adult crowds only. I never ventured to such a show, but my mind has wandered... what things would he suggest to the hypnosees? What acts did they do under the cover of an adult show?

I never volunteered to go onstage. I was always too scared. I am still scared. What would it mean if it worked? What does that say about me? Could I crumble under the power of suggestion? Would I do things that my inner flesh desires, but my moral soul denies? Would I do acts against God? Could I steal, rape, kill?

Remember the glitch in The Matrix -- the black cat that shows up twice? If deja vu is the glitch in The Matrix, then perhaps hypnosis is the glitch of our brain circuitry. Wikipedia's article on the subject quotes ol' Ivan Pavlov:
Speech, on account of the whole preceding life of the adult, is connected up with all the internal and external stimuli which can reach the cortex, signaling all of them and replacing all of them, and therefore it can call forth all those reactions of the organism which are normally determined by the actual stimuli themselves. We can, therefore, regard ‘suggestion’ as the most simple form of a typical reflex in man.
There's the rub: words. What are they? Signals. Symbols. Not essence; no, not that. The things behind the words -- those unquantifiable essences -- the things that words point to -- those are the hidden units of control. Perhaps hypnosis simply momentarily hotwires our brains to action rather than to signals. Maybe it forgoes the interpretation of symbols and signals. Perhaps the symbol becomes the essence.

Let's get scarier. 

Do you control yourself? To a degree, of course. But I don't regulate my heartbeat. I can control my breathing if I will myself to, but if I fill my brain with thoughts, my body knows enough to breathe on its own. A thousand wars are being fought inside of me as I write this; white blood cells slay foreign enemies from abroad. My autonomic nervous system -- it itself is a creature I can't control. 

Ernest Hilgard was an American Psychologist who taught at Stanford. He spoke of a theory that sounds like something out of Dexter or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. He believed in a, "Hidden Observer." 
Who is this dark companion? According to Hilgard's experiments, he is our dissociated self. Hilgard suggested to a hypnotized blind man that he could no longer hear. The patient remembers ceasing to hear anything at that point, so he began working out a statistical problem in his head to fill in the void. The next thing the patient recalls is his finger involuntarily lifting. This frightens the man and he asks to be freed. When he awakes from this realm of cognitive dissonance, he asks Hilgard what happened. Although he supposedly couldn't hear anything, Hilgard questioned the patient, asking that if any part of the brain still could hear, that the body was to raise his finger. In another instance, patients that were taking a bath in ice under hypnosis, when asked if they were cold, cheerfully said they felt fine, but when told to raise their finger if any part of their body felt coldness, the involuntary finger arose once more. I ask again, who is this inner puppeteer?

If the subconscious of every individual has its own understanding, its own ability to interpret and respond to its surroundings, if in fact we accept this theory, where does that leave us? For the Christian soul, can we say this is the keen eye of the Holy Ghost? That suggestion feels off-kilter to me, as if to proclaim that it is the third member of the Trinity that is actively orchestrating each heart pump and palpitation. Do we also really make claim as such that when we use the nomenclature of God coming into our hearts, that this, in some manner, is anatomically accurate? Furthermore, what is to be said of the inner being within the constructs of the man who has not asked for God to enter into his life? Who is the inner master there? Nevertheless, we do see in Scripture that a position of the Holy Spirit is to transcend the symbols of language -- to speak in essences rather than signals;
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27 NIV
All this is talk of hypnosis within the sole person, the lone dualist. What of the masses? People are capable of horrendous acts of villainy. In the thirties, how was it possible for an entire nation to blindly follow such a lunatic as Hitler. Yes, the German people were coming out of an awful twenty years since the end of WWI. Yes, they were vulnerable. Yes, they needed hope. But how could such evil be so seductive? Is there something to be said for a form of mass-hypnosis? 

David Redles, in his book "Hitler's Millenial Reich: Apocalyptic Belief and the Search for Salvation" delved into the issue of Hitler and hypnosis. He quotes Kurt Ludecke's account of his first time intaking a Hitler speech:
Presently my critical faculty was swept away. Leaning from the tribune as if he were trying to impel his inner self into the consciousness of all these thousands he was holding the masses and me with them, under a hypnotic spell... His appeal to German manhood was like a call to arms, the gospel he preached a sacred truth. He seemed another Luther... I experienced an exaltation that could be likened only to religious conversion... I had found myself, my leader, and my cause. 
Ludecke seems to be suggesting that Hitler's words were crossing the realm of mere symbol and signal. He was speaking through feeling, through some brand of osmosis even. He was able to roam around in the German mind in such an authentic matter that there could be no question as to his moral authority. This creature of rhetoric somehow kept his turpitude an unexposable secret beneath the construct of his hypnotic pulse.  Another intaker of Hitler's power quoted in Redles' book remarked,
The susceptibility of the Chancellor's mind to psychic influences is shown in his public oratory. At the outset of a speech his delivery is sometimes slow and halting. Only as the spiritual atmosphere engendered by a great audience takes possession of his mind does he develop that eloquence which acts on the German nation like a spell. For he responds to this metaphysical contact in such a way that each member of the multitude feels bound to him by an individual link of sympathy.

What is this power that breaks down our internal security system? What is physically happening in the mind amidst such a cacophony? Reading these interviews of the myriads that were led astray by Hitler causes me to wonder: is this all feeling and instinct that controls people in such circumstances? What part of the brain takes hold of the steering wheel in such cases? Could this happen to me? Has it already? 

There seems to me to be ample evidence that hypnotism is something greater than merely a great placebo. I've seen too many Fair-Goers turn into clucking chickens to doubt its reality. What bothers me is not just its existence in our reality, and the questions that raises as to how our minds really work, but that it is a topic that very few folks seem interested in. Who amongst the Christian intellectia is focused on understanding hypnotism, and its ramifications on history and perhaps theology? 

Hypnosis: that really creepy thing that unnerves me whenever I think about, but really know nothing about... if you have any wisdom on the subject, lend me your knowledge, so as to ease my unsettledness. 
Made to commit acts too unspeakable to be cited here by an enemy who had captured his mind and his soul. He freed himself at last and in the end, heroically and unhesitatingly gave his life to save his country. Raymond Shaw... Hell... Hell.