Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 23: Swedenborg on Samson


So far, the Swedenborgian analysis of the Lecter series of movies has focused almost exclusively on Manhunter. In this post, we will see how Swedenborg can be used to interpret something from Hannibal. What we are going to look at is the (forged) letter from Hannibal Lecter to Clarice Starling (Agent Paul Krendler uses this letter to get Agent Starling suspended). The contents of the letter are as follows:

"Did you ever think, Clarice, why the Philistines don't understand you? It's because you're the answer to Samson's riddle: You are the honey in the lion."

Philistinism is a derogatory term used to describe a particular attitude or set of values. A person called a Philistine (in the relevant sense) is said to despise or undervalue art, beauty, intellectual content, or spiritual values.[a] For the purposes of this post, however, 'Philistines' is to be considered as being used in the biblical-historical sense (that is, as a reference to the people who occupied the southern coast of Canaan); and ultimately, it is to be taken in the sense of the correspondence which Swedenborg assigned to it, as will be seen below.

Samson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Children of Israel mentioned in the Tanakh (the Hebrew bible), and the Talmud. He is described in the book of Judges chapters 13 to 16. Samson is a Herculean figure, who is granted tremendous strength by God to combat his enemies and perform heroic feats unachievable by ordinary humans. Samson's activity takes place during a time when God was punishing the Israelites, by giving them "into the hand of the Philistines forty years." [Judges 13:1, King James Version]

When he becomes a young adult, Samson leaves the hills of his people to see the cities of the Philistines. While there, Samson falls in love with a Philistine woman from Timnah that, overcoming the objections of his parents who do not know that "it is of the Lord", he decides to marry. The intended marriage is actually part of God's plan to strike at the Philistines. On the way to ask for the woman's hand in marriage, Samson is attacked by an Asiatic Lion and simply grabs it and rips it apart, as the spirit of God moves upon him, divinely empowering him. This so profoundly affects Samson that he just keeps it to himself as a secret. He continues on to the Philistine's house, winning her hand in marriage. On his way to the wedding, Samson notices that bees have nested in the carcass of the lion and have made honey. He eats a handful of the honey and gives some to his parents. At the wedding-feast, Samson proposes that he tell a riddle to his thirty groomsmen (all Philistines); if they can solve it, he will give them thirty pieces of fine linen and garments. The riddle ("Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet") is a veiled account of his second encounter with the lion (at which only he was present).[b]

Now let's look at the Swedenborgian correspondence. From Arcana Coelestia:

That: When Samson had rent the young lion he found in its carcass a swarm of bees and honey, when he was about to take a wife from the Philistine nation (Judges 14:8); signified the dissipation of faith separated from charity, which the Philistine nation represented; for this reason the Philistines were called "uncircumcised," and this term signified that they were without spiritual love and charity and only in natural love, which is the love of self and of the world. Because such a faith destroys the good of charity it was represented by a young lion that attacked Samson with intent to tear him in pieces, but as Samson was a Nazirite, and by his Naziriteship represented the Lord in respect to His ultimate natural, he rent the lion, and afterwards found in its carcass "a swarm of bees and honey," and this signifies that when such faith has been dissipated, the good of charity succeeds in its place. The other things related of Samson in the book of Judges have a like signification; for there is nothing written in the Word that does not represent and signify such things as belong to heaven and the church, and these can be known only by a knowledge of correspondences, and thus from the spiritual sense of the Word. (--from A.C. n. 619.)

Putting all this together, it seems that when Mason Verger forges the note to Clarice, he assumes that Lecter would believe her to represent the good of charity, since this is precisely what would not be understood by the Philistines.

a. Wikipedia, 'Philistinism'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'Samson'. Web, n.d. URL =

This concludes the Swedenborgian analysis of the Hannibal Lecter movies. You may use the buttons below to continue navigating the unified analysis.

The works of Emanuel Swedenborg from the Internet Sacred Texts Archive
Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1749-56], tr. by John F. Potts [1905-10], at Web. 21 Jul. 2010.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pulp Fiction analysis - part 19: Tarantino on Kubrick and violence in films


The theatrical release poster from Stanley Kubrick's Lolita (at left),[a] is reminiscent of Mia Wallace sucking on a cherry as she sits across from Vincent Vega in Jack Rabbit Slim's (above). The protagonist in Kubrick's movie, middle-aged Humbert Humbert, becomes obsessed and sexually involved with a 14-year old girl named Dolores Haze for whom his private nickname is Lolita.

Upon Mia and Vincent's return to the Wallaces' residence, Mia begins to dance to the song Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon. One thing that is being suggested by the way Mia is portrayed in Pulp Fiction, is that she is immature or incompletely developed in some way.

Lately we have been discussing connections between Pulp Fiction and Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. There are known connections between other films created by Tarantino and Kubrick. For example, Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs corresponds somewhat to Kubrick's The Killing. Tarantino himself has commented on this, saying, "I didn't go out of my way to do a rip-off of 'The Killing,' but I did think of it as my 'Killing,' my take on that kind of heist movie."[b]

The seemingly senseless violence in some of Tarantino's films, such as that in Reservoir Dogs (above), are a 'homage' to the violence in The Killing, and to that in some of Kubrick's other films as well, such as A Clockwork Orange (left). This comprises part of Quentin Tarantino's way of saying that Kubrick's message was, that we as a society have become insensitive to violence in films, and to real-life violence as well. In fact, Tarantino himself is sending us this same message with his own films.

a. Image from the Wikipedia 'Lolita (1962 film)' page, LolitaPoster, licensed under fair use via Wikipedia. Source: Scope Advertising, e.g. Herman Zuckerman (design) and Frederick L. Hyman (copy). The photograph of Sue Lyon used in the poster was not in the movie but was taken randomly on the set as she was waiting for her next shot. Zuckerman and Hyman found the picture in a batch of publicity shots.
b. Hartl, John (October 29, 1992). "'Dogs' Gets Walkouts And Raves." The Seattle Times. Web. URL =


Monday, July 5, 2010

Pulp Fiction analysis - part 18: A theme in common with '2001: A Space Odyssey'


Stanley Kubrick as a Look magazine photographer in 1949. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Stanley Kubrick' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

In part 17 of the analysis we observed that the black briefcase in Pulp Fiction corresponds to the black monolith from Stanley Kubrick's film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Another connection between Pulp Fiction and 2001, is that they both have a theme of enlightenment-death-rebirth. We have already discussed Pulp Fiction's enlightenment theme, and we know that Mia is depicted as 'dying' and then being 're-born': Mia 'dies' when she mistakenly inhales heroin, then she is 'reborn' when given an adrenaline injection.

Above left: Mia appears to be dead after having accidentally inhaled heroin. Here she is shown being driven by Vincent to Lance's house. Above right: At Lance's, Mia is revived with an adrenaline injection to the heart.

The enlightenment-death-rebirth 'theme' in Pulp Fiction, is meant by Tarantino as a hint that this is also one of the themes of A Space Odyssey.

In Kubrick's movie, the fact that astronaut David Bowman points to the monolith in the ending 'hotel room' scene (above left), indicates that he's reached a kind of enlightenment. Just after this, he dies, then he is reborn, as indicated by the fetus inside an orb of light (above right).


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Lecter series - unified analysis - part 22: The correspondence for 'Baal'


The name Hannibal means "grace of Ba'al" from the Phoenician hann "grace" combined with the name of the god BA'AL. Hannibal was the name of a Carthaginian general known for his cruelty, who threatened Rome during the Second Punic War in the 3rd century BC.[a] BA'AL is a Northwest Semitic title and honorific meaning "master" or "lord" that was used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant. Worship of all such spirits was rejected as immoral, and many were in fact considered malevolent and dangerous. Generally speaking, "Ba'al" can refer to any god and even to human officials. Since Ba'al simply means 'Lord', there is no obvious reason for which it could not be applied to Yahweh as well as other gods. In fact, Hebrews generally referred to Yahweh as Adonai ('My Lord') in prayer (the word Hashem - 'The Name' - is substituted in everyday speech).

Most biblical uses of "Ba'al" refer to any number of local spirit-deities worshiped as cult images, each called ba'al and regarded in the Hebrew bible in that context as a false god. Baal is sometimes seen as a demon in Christianity. Christian writings referred to Ba'al Zebûb as a demon or devil, often interchanged with Beelzebub. Either form may appear as an alternate name for Satan or may appear to refer to the name of a lesser devil. The demonization of Ba'al Zebûb led to much of the modern religious personification of Satan as the adversary of the Abrahamic God.[b]


The most important inference to be drawn from the above, is that Hannibal Lecktor represents a personification of Satan.

Swedenborg mentions Baal in several places in his works. The following commentary on the book of Jeremiah is from Apocalypse Explained:

"To set up altars, altars to burn incense unto Baal," signifies worship from the love of self and from the love of the world...[the Israelitish] nation did set up altars and burn incense to Baal; but as all things of their worship were representative, the things that were done according to the statutes were representative of things celestial and spiritual; consequently the things that were done contrary to the statutes were representative of things infernal; therefore by "altars set up to the gods," and by "incense offered to Baal," these contrary things are signified. (--from A.E. n. 324.)

Since worship unto Baal corresponds to worship from the love of self,[c] and since Francis Dollarhyde represents the great red dragon, for whom, as we have already observed (from the Swedenborgian interpretation of Revelation 12:1-4), the correspondence is those who are in love of self, we see that we have a connection between Dollarhyde and Lecktor here, that is, that Dollarhyde 'worships' Lecktor in some sense.

a. Behind the Name, 'Hannibal'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. Wikipedia, 'Baal'. Web, n.d. URL =
c. And from the love of worldly things, which is what Swedenborg means by "love of the world".

To skip over the remainder of the Swedenborgian analysis of the Hannibal Lecter movies, click here.

The works of Emanuel Swedenborg from the Internet Sacred Texts Archive
Apocalypse Explained, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1757-9], tr. by John Whitehead [1911], at Web. 3 Jul. 2010.


Table of Contents to the Silence of the Lambs analysis


There is a button that links to this table of contents, at the bottom of each post in the analysis. The parts of the analysis having to do with the film's 'hidden plot', are denoted below by use of dark orange text.

The 'basic' analysis (parts 1-19)
part 1 - Introduction to the analysis

part 2 - Starling is being 'watched' in several scenes in the movie

part 3 - Miscellaneous observations on the film

part 4 - More miscellaneous observations; Starling represents a virgin

part 5 - The Immaculate Conception; Clarice represents the Virgin Mary

part 6 - The significance of our not being shown intervening physical events in certain scene sequences

part 7 - Events surrounding Starling's 'visit' to Gumb

part 8 - Determining who and what the characters represent: Hannibal Lecter functions as Starling's metaphorical psychoanalyst; he is a personification of Satan, and he also represents an evil hermaphroditic Jew; Jame Gumb is Lecter's pupil or 'apprentice', i.e., he is a 'pupil' of Satan/evil hermaphroditic Jews; he represents the Freemasons; Clarice Starling represents holiness itself: she is a (friendly) angel of death, sent by God to destroy Satan's pupil, Jame Gumb, and she also represents the Roman Catholic Church; Catherine Martin represents the 'typical American young woman', as well as the general public; Jack Crawford represents a father figure for Clarice; Ardelia Mapp functions as a Jungian psychopomp for Starling, i.e., as a mediator between Starling's unconscious and her conscious; Barney represents the Christian Holy Spirit

part 9 - The movie's use of colors; the religious meanings of green and red

part 10 - Lecter's prisoner number in Memphis, 'B5160-8', is a reference to the Passover

part 11 - Reflection and camera positioning are used to lend religious significance to Starling's second meeting with Lecter

part 12 - The positioning of mannequins in the 'dance' scene suggests that Gumb believes he is getting closer to becoming a woman

part 13 - Determining who it is that Dr. Frederick Chilton represents

part 14 - In certain scenes, Clarice Starling represents the 'presence' of the Holy Spirit

part 15 - The meaning of Starling climbing uphill at the beginning of the movie

part 16 - The beginning of Clarice Starling's psychoanalysis, performed by Dr. Hannibal Lecter

part 17 - The psychoanalysis continues; the 'Your Self' storage unit represents Starling's unconscious

part 18 - The reason Starling must defeat Jame Gumb: in order to become a 'complete' woman, Clarice must defeat the incomplete woman within herself, which is represented by Gumb

part 19 - The final scene: Lecter symbolically 'joins' the movie audience

The 'abstract' analysis phase 1 (parts 20-33)
part 20 - St. Augustine's Confessions; the addition to the 'skin suit' of each patch of skin from Gumb's respective victims, represents a day of creation (of an 'evil kingdom')

part 21 - The Confessions, Book 13.29; Gumb is attempting to 'usurp' God's power of creation

part 22 - Lecter's statement, "First principles, Clarice. Simplicity.", is a reference to one of the works of Saint Thomas Aquinas

part 23 - Color mixing is used in the movie as a metaphor for God's simplicity

part 24 - 'Reality check' on alphanumeric clues - verify that Lecter's two prisoner numbers are references to the bible and the Confessions

part 25 - Continuation of the reality check - see whether Lecter's prisoner numbers are references to other works of literature, in addition to the bible and St. Augustine's Confessions

part 26 - Lecter makes a reference to Marcus Aurelius's major work, Meditations

part 27 - Marcus Aurelius continued: references to marionettes, and that which "pulls peoples' strings"

part 28 - Aquinas's concept of God's Simplicity

part 29 - Aquinas on creation

part 30 - Lecter's relationship to the audience: Lecter, as an evil hermaphroditic Jew, represents the world's collective shadow

part 31 - Reality check - continue to see whether Lecter's prisoner numbers are references to other works of literature, in addition to the bible and Augustine's Confessions

part 32 - Hannibal Lecter is betraying Clarice

part 33 - More on Lecter's deception of Clarice

The 'abstract' analysis phase 2 (parts 34-50)
part 34 - Details on the events in Memphis and their religious meaning; Officer Boyle represents the Paschal (sacrificial) lamb

part 35 - Saint Augustine quoted on the book of Exodus: what God said to Moses ("I Am Who Am")

part 36 - Aquinas on creation; application to Jame Gumb

part 37 - The bible, 1 Corinthians 12: the members of the Church are like the parts of Jesus' body

part 38 - References to bodily senses made by Lecter, during the first meeting with Starling

part 39 - Saint Augustine on the bodily senses and their relation to memory (this applies to Lecter)

part 40 - More from Aquinas on creation and God's simplicity

part 41 - The events in Memphis (continued); the Last Supper, the Lord's Supper, Passover, and the Paschal Lamb

part 42 - More from Aquinas; relationship to Aurelius

part 43 - More on marionettes; relationship to some of the characters

part 44 - Marcus Aurelius has advice to offer us

part 45 - The outcome of Starling's psychoanalysis

part 46 - The reason God wants Jame Gumb to be killed

part 47 - A listing of all posts (up to this point) on mannequins, marionettes, and body parts, and a brief summary of applicable material appearing in those posts

part 48 - More from Marcus Aurelius; relationship to 1 Corinthians 12

part 49 - Aristotle and the law of the excluded middle; application to Clarice Starling

part 50 - More on 1 Corinthians 12; in using his sense of smell, Hannibal Lecter covets Clarice Starling

The 'abstract' analysis phase 3 (parts 51-61)
part 51 - Aristotle on the senses; relationship to Augsutine

part 52 - More advice from Marcus Aurelius

part 53 - Using the biblical book of Isaiah to determine who the "lambs" are in The Silence of the Lambs

part 54 - The "lambs" of the movie's name are the general public, being led to their slaughter by evil hermaphroditic Jews who want to establish a modern-day Zion/'promised land' in southern Indiana

part 55 - Reviewing Augustine on creation; relationship to Gumb

part 56 - Depiction in the movie of a biblical river from the bible's book of Genesis

part 57 - St. Augustine on the movement of the Holy Spirit, 'over the waters' at the beginning of creation

part 58 - Augustine and the waters; relationship to Gumb

part 59 - More from Augustine on the waters; relationship to Gumb

part 60 - Aurelius's 'tripartite divisions' correspond to the Holy Trinity; breath and the Holy Spirit

part 61 - The meaning of the suit of skin: its formation represents the unfolding of an 'evil scripture' over mankind

The final phase (parts 62-75)
part 62 - Jame Gumb's death

part 63 - Lecter set up the storage unit several years in advance, for he knew an angel of death was coming

part 64 - In-depth analysis of the meaning of Hannibal Lecter's name

part 65 - Plotinus on sense perception and memory; rel. to Aurelius and application to Lecter

part 66 - Lecter's imprisonment and the resultant denial of sensual pleasure, is God's punishment of him for his being 'overly-sensual' while free

part 67 - Analysis of the name 'Clarice'

part 68 - Roden, Pilcher, and Ardelia are working with Jame Gumb

part 69 - We address some supposed errors made by the movie-makers

part 70 - Ardelia acts as a Jungian psychopomp for Starling

part 71 - Gumb is attempting to trick Lecter; Lecter discovers this

part 72 - Contrapasso in the movie

part 73 - Confirmation from Augustine that Gumb is not creating

part 74 - Representation in the movie, of the abyss present at the beginning of creation

part 75 - Wrapping up the analysis; more about the moths

UPDATE: The 'unified analysis' of the Lecter series of movies contains some more posts for The Silence of the Lambs

Table of Contents to the Pulp Fiction analysis


There is a button that links to this table of contents, at the bottom of each post in the analysis.

part 1 - The briefcase contents - each character sees in the case, that which he believes it contains: Vincent - drugs; Ringo - gold; Marsellus - cash; Jules - enlightenment (in the Buddhist sense)

part 2 - The relationship between Pulp Fiction and the movie Hostel, suggests that there is a certain kind of 'switching of places' in Pulp Fiction

part 3 - Jules is like Paul the Apostle on the road to Damascus, in that he becomes 'converted'

part 4 - There is an allegorical relationship between Pulp Fiction and the 1970's television series, Kung Fu

part 5 - Unlike Jules, Vincent is not converted by the experience in Brett's apartment

part 6 - The connection between Butch and Jules; the process of acquiring enlightenment consists of both study and meditation

part 7 - The relationship between Mia and Vincent: These two characters represent the complementarity of yin and yang

part 8 - Butch's process of acquiring enlightenment

part 9 - The meaning of our not being shown Jules handing the briefcase to Marsellus: Jules is a traitor to mankind in that he fails to save us

part 10 - Butch is a bodhisattva warrior; he saves mankind

part 11 - Exploration of the gold watch scene

part 12 - Yellow-orange coloring is used in the movie to represent enlightenment

part 13 - Butch as a 'self-less' person; exploration of the Diamond Sutra

part 14 - Further exploration of the gold watch scene

part 15 - The metaphorical meaning of 'The Bonnie Situation': The arrival of The Wolf represents help arriving from Asia, from the concepts of Hinduism, Buddhism, and/or Indian Buddhism

part 16 - The switching of control among the different characters in certain scenes (such as that which takes place in the diner scene) is examined

part 17 - The Pulp Fiction briefcase represents the black monolith from Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film, 2001: A Space Odyssey

part 18 - Pulp Fiction has a theme in common with 2001: A Space Odyssey

part 19 - Tarantino on Kubrick and violence in films: Kubrick was trying to show us how insensitive to violence we have become; Tarantino is doing the same

part 20 - Wrapping up the analysis: a chronological breakdown of the narrative structure of Pulp Fiction, accompanied by observations we have made during the analysis; new observations

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All Wikipedia content on this blog, and any edits made to it, are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Marcus Aurelius's Meditations - from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Augustine's Confessions and City of God from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

Saint Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica from the 'Logos Virtual Library' website (except where otherwise noted), compiled and edited by Darren L. Slider; believed to be in public domain.