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Preamble to the League of Reformed Supervillains

           The biggest problem with exporting Superheroes out into the real word has very little to do with the whole superpowers thing. Mankind, whether you personally grasp this fact or not, has it within its ability to reach as far as we can imagine; a lack of powers has hardly ever been our main problem. The real trouble begins when we start to feel ourselves to be in the right, when we look imperiously upon the sins of others with a self-righteous mandate that says that what we perceive as impure must be punished and that all manner of violence has become justified. The biggest problem with superheroes, like any other sacred office or lofty title to which one might ascend, is that the cape, when offered, gives each of us a golden opportunity to gleefully become an authoritarian fascist, and I think that we’ve all been given more than enough encouragement to move in that direction already.

           I have never aspired, and will never aspire, to become any sort of “people’s champion.” “The people,” if you care to believe in such gross oversimplifications, seem to dimly discern their own heroes amongst a sad slate of state sanctioned murders and bullies, over paid athletes and surgically symmetrysized entertainers. I want no part of that heroism, although I acknowledge that I am probably only training exactly those kinds of heroes, because in the end “the people” will always have their due, and few, it seems, have the courage to simply ignore them.

           The essentially inspirational nature of the “superhero” has made this very controversial territory indeed, to be fought over by those subtle social forces which ultimately end up defining all of our most important words, telling us, in no uncertain terms, exactly what such terms should mean. For the reasons mentioned above, you all can have this cheap and theatrical word anyway; I come here now in order to clarify the rather strange place where all of this madness puts the so-called “supervillain,” and why, despite the terribly unfortunate timing of this act, I’m coming out as one.

           While no less theatrical, essentially a villain is someone who fundamentally disagrees with a thing that not everyone else, or perhaps even anyone else, seems to be against; logically, this fact all by itself is insufficient to make them necessarily wrong, but, sociologically at least, this recalcitrant characteristic seems to be sufficient to plant the seed by which any person may one day grow into a proper supervillain, because it is only in the course of becoming thus alienated from most other people that one can be drawn into taking some action or actions which normal people simply can’t conscience or even understand.

           Now, I’m not defending every possible action of every possible villain, as if holding a merely personal conviction was somehow important enough to sanctify any sort of behavior, because it's not. No, I’m just saying that when good and evil have become dumbed down to the point that what we like, agree with, or understand is placed on one side, and what we dislike, disagree with or fail to understand is on the other, then our so-called villains suddenly have the most to teach us about the sort of big picture mistakes that we probably don’t even know we’re making. As of late my own personal goal has become to point out our various authoritarian neuroses and the ubiquitous nature of the neo-fascist values that are driving America today, but this awkward distopian vision, or the alienation that typically accompanies such divergent thoughts, has never driven me to make far worse mistakes than the ones I currently perceive all around me, unlike some who need not be named, and I can assure you right now that it never will; That is emphatically not where all of this is going.

           I set out to inspire people to become more than they would otherwise think possible by advertising “superhero” classes, a word that, despite my reservations, I still feel describes something that is at once innocent and empowering and idealistic and honorable and yet, perhaps most important of all, is simple enough that almost anyone “gets it.” Perhaps this is because almost all of us, as children, used to unambiguously believe that superheroes could, and perhaps, in some form or another, actually did, exist in this world, and, most importantly, that they were always, and in all ways, completely good in a manner that no one else really could be. Of course, it’s that last part which is the dangerous trap into which I now feel that I must keep each of the students in my charge from falling, and so this is the main reason for my perhaps financially disastrous move into the newly formed League of Reformed Supervillains.

           Comic books, of course, have grown up quite a bit and therefore have tried to address my Superhero concerns with some truly brilliant storytelling. At one point in “The Dark Knight Strikes Back,” a god-like Green Lantern point outs what a thinly veiled farce it has always been to act as if Earth’s so-called superheroes were really anything other than merely criminals themselves, because, in a world like this, it couldn’t possibly be any other way.

           I imagine I’m not the only one who grew up reading the rather cynical revisionist works of comic book revolutionaries like Frank Miller, at an age long before I was actually able to really digest these messages, because, although I was an extremely precocious youth, I for one really had no way of understanding what those words meant when I first read them so many years ago. No, it wasn’t really until I was far older that I could possibly understand such ideas, because by then I was able to experience first hand all of the innocuous, well-intentioned and readily available ways that one could very quickly become a criminal in our supposedly free society, and what most of our so-called heroes were actually doing that we so cravenly and shallowly called “heroism.”

           I feel that children shouldn’t have to come face to face with our multitude of hypocrisies and moral compromises, at least not until it’s absolutely necessary, whenever they reach that unfortunate but inevitable point where they themselves will have to be woken up to the various responsibilities of an adult life. Some of these responsibilities, once we can acknowledge, understand, and, at last, accept them, absolutely insist upon a certain manner of so-called “villainy’ which, among other things, questions the status quo, and, almost certainly, authority as well, so that, if nothing else, we can somehow foil all of those authoritarian attempts to indefinitely extend what then becomes the most morbid and intellectually dishonest form of childhood imaginable.

           The same sober adult appraisal of things that reveals why the all powerful Superman, if he existed, couldn’t possibly be considered an actual hero, comes from the sad revelation that life just isn’t good enough to highly recommend the God or the Government that supposedly has all of this under its control. Even among those who are brave enough, or perceptive enough, to swallow as bitter and uncomfortable a pill as all that, few can make that next logical step that tells them that it’s no one else but their own responsibility to do whatever it is that God or our Government (if they actually exist) are failing to do.

           I will continue talking about superheroes as if the world deserved them, but my own roots must trace back to the supervillainous impulse if I’m to remain honest about all of the things that I find deplorable in humanity and which stand to be corrected. I am at best an anti-hero, and most realistically a somewhat reformed Supervillain who has pragmatically promised to momentarily play nice with a tragically sick and misguided world. The League of Reformed Supervillains will allow me to foster a sense of wonder for the possibilities of Mankind, yet will free me, and hopefully my young superheroes, of the fascist imperative to violently force my own enlightened prerogatives onto others. My villainous back story invites us to examine important psychological concepts such as alienation, self-reflection, behavioral consequence, forgiveness and redemption, and also opens the door onto a unique and inspired education in any and all of the various sciences, as well as numerous other empowering, although commonly overlooked, fields of study that could perhaps benefit from a little rational scrutiny as well.

          Of course, I know the limits to what I can actually do in our current society; all of my students will still be training as Superheroes (even if I may remind them, occasionally, that I run this school so that they can stop both unreformed Supervillains such as my former self, as well as similarly misguided Superheroes). After all, I meet very few children, or adults for that matter, who are savvy enough to grasp moral ambiguities. Thankfully, being willing and/or able to read also seems to be a common trait among those who are fit for such extensive explanations and back stories as these, and so, here they will remain, hidden right out in the open and obscured only by the shadows of human apathy.

           If you find yourself interested in joining the League of Reformed Supervillains, please contact me immediately. Just to be absolutely clear, this is not a call to violence or even the so-called gentlemanly criminal arts; This is a chance to repent of all past mistakes and move on to something that will not only improve your world but also the worlds of those around you; More specifically, it’s a chance to build a secret lair and then to make it very, very, public, for both fun and profit. Now, who wouldn’t want to do that? Good Luck and Namaste.

Fact, Fiction, and Beyond in the Chinese Martial Underworld

          “We are unique, gentlemen, in that we create ourselves. Through long years of rigorous training, sacrifice, denial, pain, we forge our bodies in the fire of our will.”
                            -the steel clawed Mr. Han, Enter the Dragon

          When we think of China, many of us instantly think of the martial arts, arguably China’s most popular international export, second only, perhaps, to their delicious cuisine. Yet what we here in America have all come to know and love as “Chinese food” is in fact a largely American phenomenon, not, as many people may believe, a genuine representation of that country’s actual dietary fare. Ironically, our popular conceptions of the martial arts are similarly distorted. Yet, at least in the case of the Chinese martial arts, the distortion itself proves to be an authentic Chinese export, one that has its roots deep in a literary tradition that is known as Wuxia (woo-shy) fiction. Furthermore, as with almost all genres of fiction, we will soon see that there is a surprising element of truth to be found at the heart of these illusions as well.

          The Wuxia genre so easily blurs the line between the mythical and the historical that it has come to serve as both in the popular consciousness of American, and perhaps even Chinese, youth, particularly those involved in the martial arts. Although most Americans have never read a single work of Chinese literature, much less a Wuxia fantasy novel, this genre has had an enormous impact on our ideas about China and the martial arts because the Wuxia world is directly responsible for the Kung Fu movies which have become so popular in the U.S., bringing a new nation to witness the mysterious wonders of the Water Margin, and the fantastic possibilities that pervade the entirety of these Wuxia “fictions.”

          The term “Wuxia” is a combination of two Chinese characters. The first is “Wu,” which refers to martial things, and “Xia” which is the word that is used for the heroes of Wuxia fiction, a word which is often translated as a synonym for chivalry. So Wuxia fiction could be literally translated as martial-chivalric fiction, and it is a literary theme that shows up in Chinese history arguably as far back as the warring states period of 481-221 B.C., although it can clearly be seen in the Chanqi tales of the much later Tang Dynasty. These stories all focused on supernatural and fantastic feats preformed by both heroes and villains, and were set in a world that has today come to be the standard back drop of the Wuxia tradition, the world that is know as the Jiang Hu.

          The term literally means the River-lakes, but it has a much greater significance than one could possibly capture with such a crude rendering as this. The term itself actually refers to a shadowy underworld realm, a frontier that exists beyond the reach of the civil law, a place where criminals and beggars gather together among even stranger outcasts from the commonly experienced realm of polite society. As the title of one of Wuxia’s most popular novels it was translated as “the Water Margin,” and today this may just be the most common rendition of the term that one will encounter in the English language. So it is in this so-called Water Margin that we will find the heroes and villains of Wuxia fiction, and it is also where we will find our first glimpses of the historical reality that lies at the heart of this popular fantasy genre as well.

          The Water Margin is a place of both secret societies and fantastic martial arts accomplishments, yet these were also very real things that one could once only find at the margin of actual Chinese society as well. Due to the heavy influence of scholarly Confucian values, the overly physical culture of the martial arts was, for many years, looked down upon throughout polite Chinese society, and was considered something that was only taken up by those at the lower end of society, who needed it as a practical means of self defense, and, of course, by the police and military as well. Yet due to the deep fear and distain that the Confucians harbored for all things violent, there were institutional barriers put in place to ensure that no one in the military could rise up to influence politics, and therefore society at large. However, although there was little place in high Chinese society for what today we would call a “martial arts master,” a phrase which to the Confucian ear would sound as strange as the term “belching virtuoso,” that was not the case within the ranks of countless secret societies that existed all over China.

          This brings us to another common feature of the Wuxia novel, which is the intricate web of secret societies and the many alliances and wars that would erupt between these ubiquitous invisible factions from time to time. This, however, was not a purely fictitious creation of the Wuxia novelist but rather a fact of Chinese history. Many such secret societies developed all across China, often to defend the local people from marauding bandits, as well as to protect them from the more vicious abuses of unwelcome though inescapable governmental abuses. Such secret societies existed in many forms and for a diverse array of purposes, from the merely charitable, to the mystical, as well as the purely political. Many of these quite naturally also became the fertile ground from which malcontents would carry out their long-term subversive activity against the ruling powers.

          For example, the modern day Triad society, which is the Chinese organized crime equivalent to the Mafia, claims to have had their origin in a revolutionary conspiratorial group which waged a secret war against the Ching Dynasty for centuries. The martial arts played a central role in such conspiracies as these, and it is not surprising that the Triads claim that their underground war began with the Ching’s infamous burning of Shaolin Temple, a popular episode within the realm of Wuxia fantasy as well.

          Beyond the obvious, that one has happened and the other probably has not, what is the difference between a history that we have no living connections to and a fantasy world born whole cloth from the mind of its author? The point I wish to make is that both of these, facts and fictions, have become to the present moment merely stories, but for mere actions that are now all but lost to time, and each can hereafter affect us only so far as we give either of these two things the power to do so. One may claim that only history is credible enough to make it the wise choice when trying to decide which of these two voices we should heed, yet I would argue that there is a wisdom that goes beyond mere happenstance, which one can easily find in any well written story, and this sort of wisdom is something that I feel is palpable throughout the rich Wuxia world.

          It is here that we are introduced to the psychic prowess of the Buddhist monk, the mysterious promises of immortality put forward by the Taoist sage, and even the Japanese Ninja, with all of the magic tricks of the Shinobi mystics, eventually finds his or her way into China's Water Margin as well. The magic of forest dwelling hermits is revealed, forest spirits, gods and monsters of all types abound, and secret martial techniques are explored that can make men impervious to all conventional harm or allow them to kill will but a touch (or even just a thought). Should we disregard these tales as nothing more than absolute fantasy, or are they perhaps merely lies by degree, containing truths that can only be approached by such careful half-measures as these because this is precisely how well most of us will ever really be able to grasp them?

          Of course it should be pointed out that such mystification has perhaps lead many men to a sure and violent death, like those doomed members of the mystical secret societies who fought in the Boxer Rebellion, cut down by bullets that they falsely believed could no longer harm them. Of course, given the blunt and primitive nature of firearms in that day, who’s to say that there were not or could not have been human beings who could accomplish such an “impossible” feats as that. Whether you choose to accept it or not, the most pervasive message of Wuxia fiction is one of limitless possibilities and enormous individual potential, the idea that absolutely nothing is beyond the reach of the fully mobilized human will. Did the revolutionaries of the failed Boxer uprising get shot because of a lie, or did they instead die, like all revolutionaries, for this one eternal truth.

Waking up in America to the Nazi God Machine

          If you’ve never heard of the Nazi God Machine know as Ultima Thule, don’t fret; its power is such that its existence can only be revealed indirectly, inductively inferred by its unmistakable and ubiquitous effects on the course of human history since WWII. To be clear, I’m not talking about a mere conspiracy, although the magickal force of this Machine can facilitate or derail volitional conflagrations such as these all too easily. No, somewhere in the middle of the last century, human scientific progress brought forth into this world the divine influence and providence of a synthesized Nazi God.

          Least I be accused of irrational fear mongering, allow me to briefly walk you, step by step, through a very short introduction to the mostly untold story of how Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Party secretly conquered the United States of America.

          In the final days of World War 2, a desperate Hitler pulled every last one of his scientists and engineers off of the front lines, so that they might put all of their scientific knowledge towards the seemingly impossible task of turning back the tide in what was clearly becoming a losing war for the German people. Due to the strange and occult nature of the God Machine’s power, it remains unclear how, or at precisely what point, one of them actually succeeded in their task and turned the damn thing on. All we can know for sure is that it’s still running to this very day and its malign and almost irresistible influence affects nearly all events, from the most massive all the way down to the most seemingly insignificant.

          Although popular history marks the fall of the 3rd Reich on May 8th 1945, those with a keener historical eye know that on that day, while proud American patriots were capturing some of the worse war criminal’s we’d ever faced, American intelligence agencies were scrambling to recover as many Nazi scientists, engineers, and intelligence assets as they could find, before any of them might escape, fall victim to violent retribution at the hands of those they’d wronged, or, worse of all, fall into the hands of America’s next scheduled enemy, the Soviets.

          Although the apparent necessity of such a sinister collaboration as this was not lost upon then president Harry Truman, he did make it undeniably clear that “active supporters of Nazi militarism” were expressly not to be granted entrance into the U.S., and thereby allowed to escape punishment for their crimes, simply for a few minor ill-gotten advances in military tech or intel. The only real trouble with that, as one might expect, was that it was often exactly those scientists who were the most aligned with the fascist cause who proved to be the most motivated, hard working, and terrifyingly prolific.

          Therefore, when American investigators discovered the number of ground breaking advances in technology that had been, or were just about to be, produced by these die hard Nazi zealots, a fateful decision was made to fabricate more agreeable background reports for this long list of most disagreeable men, and, against the direct orders of the president, a choice was made by the office of Strategic Services, forerunner to the modern C.I.A., to strike a deal with the devil; over 2,000 such deals in fact, in a military black op known as Project Paperclip.

          Surely, you might think, these monsters were all forced to spend the rest of their miserable days laboring thanklessly for U.S. interests in some dark dank secret prison-lab somewhere, right? It’s not like they were given control over, say, the early space program, or sent to Disney World to make regular appearance on kid’s shows… except perhaps for Warner Von Braun, a man who, as technical director of the Nazi’s Rocket program, used slave labor and worked over 20,000 prisoners to death in order to develop his infamous V-2 rockets. Despite this fact, von Braun become a minor celebrity in the 50’s and 60’s on a popular Disney Show called “World of Tomorrow,” and was even made director of NASA’s Marshal Space Flight Center. By 1970, he was NASA’s associate administrator (NASA, it turns out, was just jam packed with former Nazi’s); Not a bad run for a slave driving mass murderer.

          Many details of Project Paperclip and our collaborations with Nazis like Warner, his brother Magnus, Arthur Louis Hugo Rudolph, Walter Schreiber, Kurt Blome, Hubertus Strughold, Arthur Rudolph, Eberhard Rees, Reinhard Gehlen, and many, many, others, have now become common knowledge. Those who doubt, or who still remain completely unaware of, the existence of the Nazi God machine usually attribute the continued good fortune of so many Nazis, particularly Nazis who’d committed such atrocious war-crimes, to nothing more than the intervention of American Intelligence agencies, but now, of course, you and I know better, don’t we?

          Oh, still not convinced? Well, the luck of these various war criminals is nothing when compared to the good fortune of some prominent American Nazi traitors, like the Bush and the Ford families, who’s sons and grandson’s went on to have wildly successful political careers, despite their father’s nearly being indicted for treason for their zealous and open support of the wrong side of the Holocaust. We’re not just talking about some sort of financially motivated moral indifference either, like what might have compelled IBM to help automate and streamline the Nazi Census which was then used to more efficiently locate and round up millions of Jews, Gypsies and other “undesirables.” (Although, since IBM later actively staffed and serviced Nazi concentration camps with this very same organizational technology, perhaps calling it “indifference” is a bit too charitable.)

          No, in addition to IBM, there are many other American corporations that supplied significant material and financial support to Hitler, not only during his worrisome, but still holocaust-free, rise to power, but well beyond. Compiling a complete list of these companies is something that’s a bit beyond the scope of this story, but if I did so it would be topped by companies like Ford, Kodak, Hugo Boss, General Motors, General Electric, DuPont, Siemens, Standard Oil (which later became Exxon, Chevron, and BP), ITT, Chase Bank and National City Bank, to name just a few. All of these, you might have also noticed, continue to operate, and even to thrive, to this very day.

          The list of prominent American elites with deep ties not just to the profitable Nazis war machine but to their venomous fascist beliefs and ideology as well, going so far as to fund pro-Nazi Propaganda and continuing to supply aid to Germany even as their fellow Americans were being killed by the tens of thousands fighting against them, is also much, much, longer and well represented than one might expect; a few of the most famous of these villains include Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon, William Randolph Hearst, Joseph Kennedy, Charles Lindbergh, Allen Dulles (who became the director of the CIA) and Prescott Bush (Who’s son would one day become the director of the CIA as well, and then later, of course, a U.S. President). Just Google the names of any of these men or the corporations listed above with the word "Nazi" and you’ll find extensive documentation linking them with the Nazi plan for world conquest (unlike, for example, generically evil companies like Monsanto, where all of those "Nazi" references that are plastered all across the internet are mere metaphorical hyperbole, and not, as far as I can tell, something that should be taken literally. I think.)

          So you see, the Nazi’s were not nearly as defeated as many American’s have been lead to believe, and it’s also clear that they had plenty of time to finish and activate their terrible God Machine long after their more obvious war was lost. Perhaps their apparent defeat in that war was all just a part of the Ultima Thule’s subtle magic, but whatever the case may be, at some point, the flow of fate seems to have shifted in a dark direction which carried these evil men and their families into positions of enormous power and prestige here in America. Of course, as I said, you don’t have to take my word for it; the evidence is there for anyone who cares to check. (Although conveniently enough for the nearly invisible directors of the God Machine, few people seem to really care anymore; probably a coincidence.)

          If you learn nothing else from this story I hope you take away an understanding that that sinking feeling you may have inside, the assumption that knowing about any of these things won’t do a single thing except make you depressed, THAT, my friend, is the sinister and oppressive magickal power of the Nazi God Machine Ultima Thule, grinding you down and sapping your will to fight on a level that goes deeper than any mind poisons which even the masterful Mother Dreadful could concoct. Maybe.

          Interestingly enough, records of this Machine seem to go as far back as 1810. In John Hashlam’s book Illustrations of Madness, James Tilly Matthews describes an “Air Loom” being secretly run in London by “Pneumatic Chemists” for the purposes of espionage, mind control, and psychic warfare. The fact that this man’s primary claim to fame is as history’s first officially diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, and not, as one might expect, as mankind’s earliest heroic martyr in the war against this unspeakably wicked device, should serve as a chilling illustration of the soul crushing powers which are possessed by the Ultima Thule.

          As I continued my research, evidence of its existence became even more overwhelming. In 1919 psychoanalyst Viktor Tausk compiled the first exhaustive study of what he noticed as a growing number of minds shattered by these infernal engines of psychic war. Tausk described the “influencing machine” thus:

          “The schizophrenic influencing machine is a machine of mystical nature. The patients are able to give only vague hints of its construction. It consists of boxes, cranks, levers, wheels, buttons, wires, batteries, and the like. Patients endeavor to discover the construction of the apparatus by means of their technical knowledge, and it appears that with the progressive popularization of the sciences, all the forces known to technology are utilized to explain the functioning of the apparatus. All the discoveries of mankind, however, are regarded as inadequate to explain the marvelous powers of this machine, by which the patients feel themselves persecuted. The main effects of the influencing machine are the following:

      • 1. It makes the patient see pictures. When this is the case, the machine is generally a magic lantern or cinematograph. The pictures are seen on a single plane, on walls or windowpanes, and unlike typical visual hallucinations are not three dimensional.

      • 2. It produces, as well as removes, thoughts and feelings by means of waves or rays or mysterious forces which the patient's knowledge of physics is inadequate to explain. In such cases, the machine is often called a 'suggestion-apparatus.' Its construction cannot be explained, but its function consists in the transmission or 'draining off' of thoughts and feelings by one or several persecutors.

      • 3. It produces motor phenomena in the body, erections and seminal emissions, that are intended to deprive the patient of his male potency and weaken him. This is accomplished either by means of suggestion or by air-currents, electricity, magnetism, or X-rays.

      • 4. It creates sensations that in part cannot be described, because they are strange to the patient himself, and that in part are sensed as electrical, magnetic, or due to air-currents.

      • 5. It is also responsible for other occurrences in the patient's body, such as cutaneous eruptions, abscesses, or other pathological processes.

          So what then, you might ask, is one to do? Is there some sort of tinfoil hat or magical circle that one might turn to in order to block out this cruel and incessant oppression? The short answer, unfortunately, is “No, those hats don’t actually work.”

          In the end, we are each faced with a very difficult choice: to either move swiftly and heroically to warn all others of the impending danger of this Nazi God Machine, even at the very real risk of becoming yet another tragic martyr to what is perhaps a truly unwinnable war against this ultimate of evil adversaries; or else to simply remain silent, to carry on calmly as if absolutely nothing was wrong, and to thereby block out any possible psychic influence from this diabolical device with one profoundly delusional and mentally unhealthy act of deep denial and psychological repression; in other words, willed insanity.

          This choice seems obvious enough to me. So, would you like to know how I beat the Nazi God Machine Ultima Thule and its massive army of U.F.O.s, Grey aliens, Men in Black, and Shapeshifting Nazi Reptoids? It was quite simple really.

          It doesn’t actually exist.

           Good luck and Namaste.

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