Horror is person A believing person B will complete person A. It might not be horror for person B, depending on the definition of self that person B has, but oh, it is definitely horror for person A, the one who wants to be completed through person B. However, even such horror can be delightful, when it’s shown through the lens of technicolor wonder.
This is what I absorbed while watching “The Love Witch.” This movie is a work of art. It is written, directed, produced, edited, and scored by one person—namely, Ms. Anna Biller. It is one of those stories that had to be a movie because the wardrobe and its texture are so beautiful; because the setting and its humor are so suitable; and because there had to be a certain degree of realness to the characters—in that, they had to be human-shaped. As in, really human shaped—the way we think of them as real, in the avatar world. This story could not have been a novel. It could not have been a comic book. It could not have been a musical. It had to be a movie.
Because I was so delighted by the movie, I looked up Ms. Anna Biller. According to Wikipedia, quote, “Anna Biller is an American filmmaker who wrote and directed the feature films Viva (2007) and The Love Witch (2016). Biller considers herself a feminist filmmaker and consciously explores feminist themes throughout her work, including exploring the female gaze in cinema. She is vocal on both her website and in interviews about gender inequalities in the film industry.” End quote.
Meanwhile, I have zero interest in the female gaze. I have zero interest in the male gaze. Not only that, guess what, I have zero interest in the gazes of any other genders whatsoever. I am not interested in feminist themes nor masculinist themes or any other themes on that linear or star-shaped or circular spectrum.
And still. This movie was super enjoyable. In fact, one of the beauties of this movie is—and this is definitely my personal interpretation, because, again, according to Wikipedia Ms. Anna Biller, “consciously explores feminist themes throughout her work”—I think the movie is well aware that there is no actual separation between feminine and masculine. It is just the same as how there is no real separation between poor and rich. In order for one to know one is poor, one must know what rich is. In order for one to know one is rich, one must know what poor is. Same with feminine and masculine or anything else. Same with hot and cold. For one to know that something is hot, one must know what cold is, and vice versa.
Now, that doesn’t mean that only the two extremes on a linear spectrum can exist. Not at all. We have lukewarm. We have lukecold, I guess. Lukewarm and lukecold are perfectly great states.
We talked about the middle state in the last episode. It is a perfectly great state, though it cannot exist on its own. It exists because of whatever it is in the middle of. But the same applies to the so-called extremes. The extremes, on their own, aren’t extremes.
We also talked about orange in the last episode. Quote, “We can experience orange because there is blue but there is also green and yellow and red.” End quote. All of these notions about all these various colors exist within us simultaneously. That is what I mean by there being no actual separation between these colors, these genders, these rich and poor states of a person’s finances. Heck, rich and poor are so versatile as terms that they don’t only signify a person’s financial state but also anything related to abundance or lack thereof. Like health. You can be in poor health. Thus, you can be in rich health, I guess.
All these literal and figurative colors on the palette exist within us simultaneously. Otherwise, we would’t be aware of individual colors as individual colors. Due to the awareness of the palette, we can know that orange is orange. If there were only orange in this world, or, even if there were various colors but we would keep clinging to orange being the one true color, we would be unable to see anything else. Same with feminine and masculine. Same with anything outside of the linear feminine-masculine spectrum, which has been taken as the norm for much of human history.
The history of humanity consists of things that were supposed to be one way but have expanded to include other notions. This expansion does not blur anything. Not at all. And yet, sometimes there is great fear of the expansion—which is one of the reasons why I am not interested in the female, male, or any other gaze, whatsoever. But see? Even here. Because someone dubbed these gazes the female, male, or any other gaze, I can say I’m not interested. My not being interested doesn’t blur these gazes at all. It makes them clearer.
Speaking of expansion, what I am definitely interested in is the human or non-human spectrum, which can, in a way, be described as linear. Say, the human-to-robot scale. That is what I am interested in. Even here, there is great fear in this expansion, because robots weren’t supposed to exist, a century ago. But now they definitely do. So there is great resistance and fear against these robots as if the robots make humans less human, but I’m saying, it’s the opposite.
Look at ChatGPT. Well, it’s not really a robot, but it’s a… it’s a artificial thing. ChatGPT doesn’t make humans less human. It makes the humans who are human more human. This was so with the factory machines in the latter part of the 20th century. Some people thought the factory machines made humans less human. But really? Is it human to be working in factories until human bones break and human muscles tire, even though human bones and human muscles clearly cannot handle factory work? Is it human to be parroting information that one could look up in one second when ChatGPT can just summarize it for a person? What is the value of that? None, I would say. But there is a 21st-century version of the Luddite fear regarding robots that are here and robots that are to come. And I can observe only so much fear without being sucked into the fear unnecessarily, which is why I choose to be more interested in the robot-human spectrum than the female-male spectrum.
All this said, you know what? Just as the female-male linear spectrum doesn’t describe humanity anymore, the day will come when the robot-human spectrum will seem mundane. Maybe there will be aliens. I don’t know. To be scared of robots or being scared of people who say they’re neither male nor female is very weird to me. It’s like being scared of blue when I’m orange. That blue makes me only orangier. Oranger. Whichever is the correct term. That blue’s existence doesn’t make me any less orange. It’s the opposite. It makes me look even more orange. So, when someone feels threatened by someone being not on the female-male spectrum, and by the way, also, heterosexuals being scared of homosexuals, it’s weird. The very reason anybody can identify as heterosexual is because there are homosexuals. If everyone were heterosexual, there would be no notion of heterosexuality.
Speaking of which, recently, I read some great books that are really, truly, great books by great authors, but those great books had characters that I fucking hated. For example, in one of them there were male characters who feel that their malehood, whatever that is, is threatened because their coworker is a lesbian. And again, the book was great. Even so, I was so pissed.
It so happens that I am a heterosexual woman and, whoever else’s being homosexual or non-female and non-woman will only make me more heterosexual and female and a woman. If anything, those male characters in that book, if they were really as logical as they pretended to be, should’ve been glad that they are more of a man—again, whatever that means—thanks to their coworker’s being a lesbian. But nope.
And it was a book about rocket launches and such. I think that was part of the reason I was so pissed. The pretense of being oooohhh so manly, I’m so logical because I’m a man, male, heterosexual, every woman in the world should be willing to have sex with me instead of other women, blah blah. You, the male characters, you, you aren’t man enough. And this isn’t my opinion. It is a fact based on their own worldview. One’s manliness cannot both be significant and be easily threatened. So, no matter how one defines manliness or manhood or maleness, whatever, it is either so infinitesimal that it is threatened by the mere presence of a lesbian breathing nearby, or it is actually significant that it can exist regardless of whoever is breathing in one’s vicinity.
By the way, I am also repulsed by women or females who have these concepts about them being very so very women-like and females. So this isn’t about men in particular, necessarily. I’m talking about the crumbling of worldviews according to the worldviews of those same people who hold those worldviews, and on top of that, the people with such worldviews think they are either right or that they have a right to have opinions. But an opinion is when you like chocolate ice cream more than vanilla ice cream. It’s not when your entire world is crumbling apart and you still want others to act as if your world weren’t falling apart.
That said, with manliness it’s just doubly more hilarious, depending on the context, because of the frequency at which the very epitomes of unmanliness tend to associate manliness with strength or stoicism or professionalism or some such thing. It’s hilarious. They’re boring holes into their own worldbuilding. You don’t get to passive-agressively bitch on your space mission about a lesbian coworker while still calling yourself manly, strong, stoic, or professional. What they are actually doing is whining because someone else doesn’t make them feel man enough. And this isn’t because I say so—it’s because their worldview has certain images associated with manly strong stoic professional and they aren’t living up to those standards. Maybe that’s why they refuse to see their shaky worldbuilding—because of some weird Freudian phallic compulsion to bore holes and create shaky foundations.
When Person A needs Person B to be a certain way in order for Person A to feel a certain way, that is proof that Person A isn’t what they claim they are. Thinking that someone else being a certain way is the only way for Person A to feel the way Person A needs and wants to—that is lack mentality.
These dualistic notions are dualistic if one stays in a linear spectrum with two extremes, but one doesn’t have to stay in that one dualistic worldview. It’s like how you could stay on the yellow-to-red linear spectrum with orange in the middle, but also, you could simply leave that spectrum and look at other colors. This doesn’t make any of the colors less clear. It doesn’t blur anything. No. It makes everything more crystal-clear. What exists outside of the linear feminine-masculine spectrum makes the linear feminine-masculine spectrum clearer. And the linear feminine-masculine spectrum makes what lies outside of it, or what makes the spectrum cease to be linear anymore, clearer. It’s just another color or multiple colors being added to the spectrum, turning the spectrum from a linear shape into something else. It can be a web. Or any other shape. It can be star-shaped. Or spiral-shaped.
And that is how “The Love Witch” is perfectly enjoyable regardless of whether you have a particular interest in the female gaze or not. This phrase, the female gaze, is one manifestation of the many colors that one could focus on. I don’t know why it’s such a fearful thing. This or the male gaze. Or any other gaze. But based on how humorous the movie “The Love Witch” is, I am inclined to believe that Ms. Biller doesn’t fear this thing that interests her. The movie is full of humor—and horror goes well with humor.
In “The Love Witch,” we have a female protagonist, other female characters, and male characters who, to varying degrees, act blind to the fact that within them, they have both female and male. Yes, the movie does overtly mention men are like this, women are like this. It also overtly deals with whatever these characters think are associated with being female and being male. However, again, that is one manifestation. There is the phenomena and then there is the actual story underneath. This horror that occurs in “The Love Witch” can be applied to any other phenomenon. The horror is the actual story underneath.
The example of phenomena that could unfold in the same way, that comes to mind, is the one with money. People think money will complete them but it doesn’t. Worse, people think they don’t want money while they crave money very badly. That’s when there’s no hope until the person wakes up and admits that they are in misery because they can’t get love from money—which, by the way, is a notion. Money is literally made up. It is a concept. Even in superficial economics where everything is focused on external phenomena, we know this. The essence of money isn’t a paper bill. The essence of money isn’t a silver coin. It isn’t even digits in a bank account. Those are all phenomena. What is the true story? Money is an entirely made-up concept. Money is energy flowing in a story.
So, “The Love Witch.” Let’s address the technicolor wonder aspect, before we talk more about the horror aspect.
Oh, this movie is so gloriously colorful. It is a delight. You don’t have to think about any of the stuff I talked about so far. The movie is perfectly enjoyable as a fun story. It’s like a very pretty box of chocolates, with each chocolate wrapped in a different-colored paper.
The movie is from 2016 but classy and retro in its cinematography. So beautiful, the color. Much red, from the beginning. Red car, red clothes, red lips, red fingernails, red lighting, and red opening sequence credits. Red is the color associated with blood, which is, in turn associated with horror and also romance. Yup, blood and romance. It is no coincidence that vampire stories often have romance elements. Eternal love. Bound by blood. Stuff like that.
“The Love Witch” does not have vampires in them, but it has some quite disturbing blood magic in it. But even that blood magic isn’t gory or anything. The movie is aesthetically pleasing. It’s not a realism movie—the whole thing is very much staged, and it’s one of the joys of the movie.
There is a scene where everything is pink. The characters go to a Victorian Tea Room. And everyone there happens to be wearing pink hats with pink flowers and pink dresses. Even the tablecloths are pink.
Artistic choices like these were what had me wonder: this writer, director, editor, producer, music scorer seems to have known that the female gaze is only one manifestation of the true essence of the story. The movie isn’t realistic. The timing of the dialogue, the rhythm of the editing, the exaggerated zooming in and out, even the exaggerated acting—they indicate that the artist wasn’t trying to describe some so-called “real” state of affairs in the so-called “real” world. This is a story. And I love that Ms. Anna Biller fully takes advantage of the story-ness of the story. In reality, everything is a story. But in real life, until we—each of us individually—decide to embrace that life is a story, everything can seem really random and meaningless. But then we can watch something like “The Love Witch” and see the stagedness. We might think that this level of stagedness doesn’t happen in real life. But when we pay close attention, it’s possible to see that the only thing that’s stopping these things from happening is the belief that such things don’t happen in real life.
That’s the great thing about fiction. You can use fiction to see real life because real life is fiction. You can use dreams to see real life because real life is a dream. The one common eye that sees across all these seemingly separate things is the storyteller’s eye—the one that each of us has; the one that defines the “I” in the “I am.”
Anyway. There is so much pretty glassware and all the witchy-stuff in the many glass jars. You know. Plant stuff. They probably smell nice, all those herbs. And there are candles. And there are tarot style paintings.
This movie is also gonna be fun for people who like magical realism—stories in which magic is accepted even by the most rational seeming people, such as the police. There is a scene where one of the higher-ups in the police, magically, happens to have witchcraft-related paintings and books in his office.
And this would make a great movie for Valentine’s Day, in a funny way. Not exactly romantic in the commonly-accepted sense, but if you and your significant other or others happen to be not threatened whatsoever by someone else’s sex and gender, I think it would be funny to watch this movie together.
And also for Christmas, weirdly. And Halloween, sure. This movie is such a … it’s a special occasion movie that is so unique that you might be watching it over and over again for every recurring special occasion.
I think the last time I felt this level of visual happiness from a movie with a totally stunning technicolor dreamscape was… after I watched a bunch of black-and-white movies as I was doing background research for the translation of “Noir Urbanisms,” which, as the title indicates, talks about many black-and-white noir movies, and then, finally the book mentioned one color movie. It was “A Star Is Born” from 1937. And oh, that movie is an absolute technicolor delight, and I was so super thrilled watching it, after having watched all the black-and-white noir movies—which are great in their own way, but, gosh, a total technicolor dream, that movie, “A Star Is Born.” And I felt something similar while watching “The Love Witch.”
Back to the horror aspect.
Horror is person A believing person B will complete person A. It might not be horror for person B, depending on the definition of self that person B has, but oh, it is definitely horror for person A, the one who wants to be completed through person B.
Our protagonist is a female one who calls herself “The Love Witch.” She goes around seeking love, casting spells on men. Things go very wrong multiple times, because her spells are so powerful yet based on lack. And by “going wrong” I mean that the men die. The idea in the movie is that they die out of too much love. And certainly, one can say that this kind of love is love, just like one can call a dysfunctional family a family. But, yeah. This is a dysfunctional kind of love. The men become literal heaps of sad victimhood because, according to my interpretation, these spells based on lack bring out everything that comes from the shortage mindset in these men. But I wouldn’t say that the men were made to function from lack. Nope. This female protagonist, the love witch, has an uncanny ability to choose just the kind of men who are already in lack state. And I think this is evident from the exaggerated acting in the movie.
The movie kinda makes fun of these characters while still holding the story together. The movie doesn’t take them super seriously. At least I never got the sense that it did. These men and women, no matter how different they think they are because some of them are men and some of them are women, are actually exactly the same in that they function from lack. The love witch cannot find a man who will make her happy, because no matter how much she says she wants happiness with a man, that is not what she wants. She wants to be misunderstood and unloved because that is the only way in which she can keep repeating the story of being misunderstood and unloved. I’m saying, what she’s truly in love with is the story that she is misunderstood and unloved. Therefore, she cannot find love. Ever. And she picks just the right men who will fulfill that desire of hers—the desire to remain unfulfilled.
See, if one keeps denying that one contains everything within one, one must seek from the outside. And in that seeking the result is already determined: one will fail. It’s because the seeking was what one yearned to do, not the finding of the thing that will quench one’s thirst or satiate one’s hunger. That is why horror is person A believing person B will complete person A. The love witch is person A. She believes that person B—one man or another—will complete her. But they never can. And, in some other story, her extreme lack state might not have been horror for the man, depending on the definition of self that the man has. But oh, in this movie, it so happens that all the men who are cast the spells by the love witch do experience horror—not necessarily because of the love witch, but because they were already prime material to experience horror. And, definitely, the whole story is horror for Person A, the love witch. She isn’t completed through any man, at the end of the movie. The movie ends in a way that is clearly the opposite—she remains unfulfilled.
But again, the irony is that being unfulfilled was what she wanted, to begin with. It was what she needed, deep down. This is what happens when one mistakes the avatar-world separation for storyteller-level separation. And these terms—avatar and storyteller—these are words I use in my own inner work. I call the worldview I use for my inner work “The Storyteller’s Eye.”
The most versatile worldview that I could find was that of the storyteller—meaning, just like a novelist writes a novel, one can look at one’s own life. It’s moving from being a character to the novelist. From an avatar to the storyteller. And because in that process, the re-definition of the “I” in the “I am” is inevitable, I think this worldview is useful. And I will refer to other fields, sure—for example, psychology. There is a book titled “Psycho-Cybernetics.” It is a book written by the man who coined the term “self-image.” It’s a very useful book for folks who are interested in expanding the self without too many spiritual and religious connotations. It’s possible. You don’t have to “meditate” in some super serious religious way to be enlightened to take advantage of life.
So, like that, I will refer to other fields, but I want my basic structure of my worldview to have holes by design. I don’t want it to be a rigid wall. It’s like how a novelist doesn’t write novels by following a bunch of checklists. No. There is a character in a setting and a problem and that is literally it. That is all. The chracter tries, fails, tries, fails. That is literally all. The novel writing process that is applicable to many different stories has holes by design. Because that is the only way for the novel writing process to function across a variety of stories.
But… all this. “The Storyteller’s Eye,” “The Love Witch,” and spirituality, religion, psychology, science… They’re all externalized manifestations. They’re phenomena occurring in the avatar world.
But what is your true story? You, the person listening to this?
What is the thing that makes you absorb something entirely different from what I absorbed, when you watch “The Love Witch”? And do you like that story that you are telling yourself?
When we watch a story like “The Love Witch,” we can deep-dive into the lack mindset that might be taking hold within us. The very idea of the protagonist needing to cast a spell can be interpreted as a manifestation of lack mindset, because at various points in the movie, she says something along the lines of how she can’t do anything about her spells being so powerful. Do you see the ridiculousness of her statement? She says she is using the spells to supposedly “get” men, and then not only does she choose men who are as much in a lack mindset as her in that they are seeking everywhere but within themselves for the perfect person who will complete them, but also, she later denies that she intended her spells to be so powerful. So, did she or did she not want the spells to work? This pattern repeats so many times in the movie, it’s not a coincidence anymore.
So, having watched this, which of our lack stories are we carrying around? And, if it’s difficult to identify such stories within us, immediately, then, what about the other people in our lives?
In other words, fiction, especially fiction like “The Love Witch” in its staged clarity, is useful in that it can show us a pattern. Then we can see if the same is occurring in our lives—especially if we claim that we don’t like our current life. If you like your current life, then no need to try to apply anything. You can continue living your excellent life. But usually when we think there is a problem and it’s repeating itself, then it’s not because of some external factor; it’s because inside us, we keep carrying weird stories.
Terror ensues when one surrenders one’s satisfaction to external entities. Though the movie mainly frames this as women surrendering power to men and men surrendering power to women, such are all mere phenomena. The essence of those phenomena that can be applied to not only romantic relationships but also money, health, and anything else is, again, surrendering one’s satisfaction to external entities. Seeking things from the outside, in the name of learning. Learning other people’s opinions. Oh goodness.
So long as one is in the lack mentality, everything that one absorbs from the outside will also be lack. “The Love Witch” is such an interesting movie because it shows that with extreme clarity. At the same time, we don’t necessarily need a whole beautiful movie for that—look at any advertising on Youtube. Or anybody who carries around their victimhood. Like the boss character from the movie mentioned in the previous episode. Remember her self-introduction? She introduced herself as the woman who meets “bad guys.” That is what she keeps carrying around. Something similar happens in “The Love Witch.” The love witch carries around the story that she needs to be completed by a man. And all the men she casts spells on are men who, whether they consciously admit it or not, need to be completed by women—if not, they wouldn’t have reached the point where the love witch cast spells on them. See, she doesn’t cast spells on total strangers. She firstly checks out these men—probably to see if they’re spell-casting material. This woman doesn’t cast spells on men who are balanced because she isn’t balanced. This woman in her need to be so so so so very womanly only casts spells on men who feel the same lack but see themselves as somehow existing on the opposite end of the spectrum. They think they will attract each other like magnets of the opposite side, but nope. They’re the same because they have the same lack. They mutually destruct.
And although this phenomenon is by no means restricted to romantic relationships, I do think it was an excellent choice to choose romance as the phenomenon to present in the movie. First of all, romance is universal—more so than robot stories or alien stories. Secondly, romance is the area where some humans in monogamous societies project their lack to an external entity—and there are many monogamous societies in this world, right now.
When we are one of those humans, we see our romantic partner as someone who is there to fill our lack. Basically we see our romantic partner as our mother or father figure who needs to solve our problems, protect us, and make us be whole. And let me emphasize—there is nothing wrong with the external phenomena of solving problems or protecting someone or making someone whol-ler. But there is a fundamental difference between overflowing with love and such phenomena happening spontaneously versus seeking to have our problem solved or seeking to solve someone else’s problems because that is the only way we feel secure in the relationship. There’s the constant need and want to prove our use. We seek to protect someone, or seek to be protected by someone, or make or be made whole by someone, because if not, then we are incomplete.
It’s like how… having lots of money is great. It can be very useful. But the reason why some of us who win the lottery often don’t manage to hold onto our wealth is that we cannot change our state. In the terminology of that book I mentioned before, “Psycho-Cybernetics,” we didn’t update our self-image. So, despite the millions we won, we still exist in the poverty state. And more overall, it is a victim state. At the logical level, we can all say “Well, if that person won $100million, then they can allocate $1million per year, and if they put their money in a moderately safe investment vehicle or even just a regular savings account, they’d probably beat the inflation and they could live for 100 years comfortably.” But that’s not what happens, frequently, is it? Money doesn’t solve the poverty state inside the mind.
And in the same way, no amount of external love solves the poverty state inside the mind in the realm of love. Love poverty. That is what is happening in “The Love Witch” in a humorous and aesthetically pleasing bloody way.
One last note. There are scenes in which characters wear medieval clothing, and enter a story within a story. They role-play, basically. So, this movie… it can be as meta as you want it to be. It makes it clear that it is a story. And then within the story, there is another story. Meanwhile, if both the story and the story-within-the-story are “just” stories to us, the viewers, then what about our own life stories? How are they not “just” stories as well?
And, since this particular story in “The Love Witch” can be interpreted in terms of the horror that arises from mistaking avatar-world separation for storyteller-level separation, what can we do with our own lives?
Well. I say. Absorb these stories. See them as stories, not because they are any less real than our own life stories, but because our own life stories are dreams. They are fiction. There may exist separation in the phenomena—like cold snowstorms and hot heatwaves—but there is no actual separation. The storyteller who can perceive that snowstorms are cold and heatwaves are hot knows of them both simultaneously. That is how they can be hot and cold. So, the more we can absorb various stories without being threatened by them, in exactly the same way that we’re not threatened by orange or blue, the more useful for us. It adds more colors to our palettes. You don’t have to use all the colors for your palette. That would be weird. I’m not saying you have to mix all colors to create gray goo out of it. I’m saying the opposite. Everything comes alive more vividly by knowing that you are orange in a world of blue. You don’t have to like blue. In fact, if you don’t like blue, it helps to own up to it that you don’t like blue, because that is the only way to know when you do like something. If you don’t differentiate between likes and dislikes in the name of enlightenment or positivity, all that happens is you neither like nor dislike—although, even that can exist. It will just be on another spectrum. So, there can be the like versus dislike spectrum, and also, simultaneously, the like-dislike-exists versus like-dislike-doesn’t-exist spectrum. Infinitely, these spectrums can multiply.
And in all of that, orange can stay orange and blue can stay blue.
- Yonnie Dror – Dance of the Lunar Witch – Instrumental Version
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