Phil Snyder on “Martian Dreams”

Phil Snyder is one of the recurring voices on the POI audios. His website is here.

If we take the feral man-child as some sort of manifestation of the “Guardian” figure then perhaps we can take the “Master” as another version of the same. If I understand correctly, your theory here is that a “Guardian” force in WS’s psyche is keeping him trapped in one fantasy after another (Aliens, Keymasters, Space Exodus, Martian nuns, etc.) in lieu of accepting his trauma, allowing himself to experience it for what it is/was, and making real progress. In which case, I’d have to concur that maybe this “Master” is somehow a step closer to dealing with his trauma and making progress because he’s framing it in the afterlife metaphor with a more human (less alien) figure, which is a rough equivalent to the “psychic growth” metaphor and “healing.” It’s all still couched in fantasy terms, mainly due to WS’s nature as a writer, I think, a person who survives by creative work, and his development of a “following” of loyal readers (and/or believers), and his personal situation, in which he has a supportive wife who also serves as a kind of collaborator. In that case, perhaps they are both in “cahoots,” of sorts, since if they’re still together in a relationship their material survival depends upon continued success of his creative work, and if she helps him maintain at least the appearance of a “true story” then the audience (of customers) may be preserved. So, in this sense, to challenge WS’s position on anything is to threaten his very livelihood.

I am starting to rebel against Kalschid’s characterization of this “Guardian” figure as “diabolical” and so on, as this seems to be not only be not the whole picture (surely this figure isn’t 100% diabolical, that’s too demonic sounding for my tastes, in which case to call it “diabolic” is to paint the entire thing with but one color) but to set up what, if his ideas are to be accepted, must be an internal figure based upon innate, instinctual psychic processes; a situation where people harbor some force, which is ultimately just an aspect of themselves, that is “diabolical,” which, again, seems too extreme and one-sided. Surely there are more sides to it than this? Is everything the Guardian does “diabolical”? I don’t see how it could be, because then we harbor an evil spirit, don’t we? If the “Guardian” was at least at one time a helpful figure, a necessary figure, at least at some point in our development (if we have been sufficiently traumatized), then it should be presented in a more well-rounded way.

People may harbor what seems like an evil personality, or at least a diabolical one (re-defining “diabolical” or adding complex subtleties to it or tracing its Latin roots and so on is an unacceptable way around the negative implications). From what I’ve read, I feel that Kalschid uses “diabolical” more in the sense of “pernicious.” That is, that the Guardian figure is restlessly alert for potential danger and pounces on any hint of it before the individual can actually experience it and find out for themselves what it is. The word “diabolical” simply has the wrong tone to my ears. Perhaps it’s kind of an early Ego, a first stab at a personal self – that is, perhapos before we can develop a well-rounded, healthy Ego the best we can manage is a primitive, impulsive fight/flight reaction. A “diabolical” figure, to me, would be one that looks for any way it can cause harm, wreak havoc and bring chaos.

Kalschid seems to mean to say that the Guardian is preventing re-experience of the trauma, whereas if it were ‘diabolical” it would do the opposite, I think, place the self back in a vulnerable position and shove it back into trauma. If this “Guardian” is an archetype then it has a shadow side, sure, but that means it also has a light side (what IS the opposite of “shadow” in this sense?). Painting it as all “diabolical” seems to concentrate on its shadow aspect, making it all shadow, which is impossible in my understanding and could cause one to fear the Guardian or apply too many negative associations to it, which would only feed fight/flight.

My personal position on the “Face on Mars” is that it has been thoroughly or at least sufficiently debunked. More detail imaging actually makes this feature appear less face-like, just as more light always removed the leering demon faces from the folds of your bed. It’s also a bad story, I think. The episode of The X Files around this (“?”) was actually so bad that it, along with the travesty of a Jersey devil episode, turned me against the show and caused me to write my negative review of it for Strange Magazine. I later came to like the show, but this episode still sucks. It’s just a bad, boring myth, a bad legend, bad lore, bad fairytale. So, bringing the Face into the discussion cheapens it for me.

An alienated, sci-fi obsessed Catholic boy growing up in the repressed 1950’s dreams about Martian nuns who make him feel all nice and vibratey… who’d a thunk it?! I concur with the possibility that the profound desire to “get to Mars” was a result of too much science fiction, not to mention a burgeoning sexuality. “Getting to Mars” can be seen in this instance as a metaphor for “getting to home base” for a repressed (due to the era’s tone) pre-pubescent boy who doesn’t even know what the full culmination of sexual desire would be. Until he really knew the facts of life, then all manner of weird fantasies could result from his instinctive sexual imagination.

The mind becomes entranced by weird things at an early age and there can be many strange sexual connotations to any of it. Deep in your dreams (one function of which is to show you “sneak previews” of cumming attractions) you are shown glimpses of weird things that make you feel funny inside. Later, as you learn more about it, and what was once nascent comes to flower, your ideas change, more matched to the reality of sexual processes, or they should, anyway.

Again, I need a lot more support for these claims of military abuse. Definitely  a lot more than vague memories from childhood from what seems to be at the very least a slightly unstable creative individual who’s material survival depends upon being able to sustain a weird fictional fantasy world that becomes more and more “real” as the fiction world leaves him behind. If he was a Stephen King level success, or even a Dean Koontz, maybe he would have stayed on track and be writing horror novels still.

All the “Secret School” material seems like a series of dreams filtered through a writer’s imagination to me.

“The secret school was founded by the mind, and it lives in the mind…” seems to either be more back peddling to me, or else a slightly veiled admission that it’s all an “as if” series of active imaginations and that any claims for reality of things are just to bolster the “as if” proposition.

2 thoughts on “Phil Snyder on “Martian Dreams”

  1. I had never even heard of Donald Kalshed before reading Prisoner of Infinity but I take his meaning of diabolical to relate more to the twin nature of the Guardian figure that both protects the secret and punishes any attempts to penetrate it. Not so much diablo as devil/evil but rather devil/double- a double agent and therefore not to be trusted in the end.

    “The secret school was founded by the mind, and it lives in the mind…”

    I also differ with you on the reading of this quote. Maybe it’s just my sinister mind but one way to read this is that it indicates a kind of mind control or programming that persists in the mind of course.

  2. still out to lunch whether a real nuts and bolts guardian /master knocked on the door in toronto or an imaginal anyways i`m definitely enjoying the dialogue……hope to have a better idea at the end namaste` derm

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