Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Duran Code?


If you think for a moment that this post is an excuse for me to write about my favorite band, Duran Duran...well, then you're right.  The post does, however, contain many of the things that Strange Horizons is (hopefully) known for: mystery, conspiracy, art, and UFOs.

So there I was...watching an episode of Ancient Aliens.  I'm not a fan of the majority of the conclusions I see presented on the show but it is about aliens and it's more diverting than the majority of programs on television.  A recent episode was about how aliens came here in the past to mine gold.  Taking a deep breath after that.  The show went to a location that, to me anyway, was unexpected: Rennes-le-Chateau.

Rennes-le-Chateau is a small town in the far south of France.  It is home to Sainte Marie-Madeleine church, Church of Mary Magdeline.  The legend goes that while renovating the church in 1891, the priest of said church, Father Bérenger Saunière, found ancient parchments that brought him great fortune...and nervousness.  He began to add oddities to the interior artwork of the church, such as grotesque faces and a demon holding up the holy water fount.  Tales grew taller and taller about an enormous treasure of gold that Sauniere had acquired due to finding the truth about the Priory of Sion.  That is to say, the supposed secret society that involves the blood lineage of none other than Jesus Christ.  Yes, that is where books like Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and The Da Vinci Code come into play.

Other speculations as to the eerie nature of the Chateau are that it houses the treasure of the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail, or The Ark of the Covenant.  Even though much of this has been discredited, the fine folks at Ancient Aliens aren't giving up.  They posit that the treasure might actually be an alien device, perhaps a "stargate" or even a buried spacecraft.  As one who has studied literature, I would argue that this is simply a case of transferring a story of fantasy to a modern one of science fiction but that's just my opinion.   Anyway, I said that this would have something to do with Duran Duran and I'm getting there.

Nicolas Poussin was a French artist who painted in the classical style.  His beautiful pastoral painting, Les Bergers d'Arcadie (The Arcadian Shepherds), depicts three male figures and one female figure gathered around a stark, eldritch, tomb-like stonework.  Upon this tomb is the Latin inscription, "Et En Arcadia Ego."  This means, "I too (was there) in Arcadia."  There are those that argue that the painting depicts a tomb at the church in Rennes-le-Chateau and that the Latin phrase is loaded with all kinds of hidden meanings relating to things ranging from the tomb of Jesus to the final resting place of Mary Magdeleine.
Whatever the meaning, Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran saw the painting and chose the name "Arcadia" for a spinoff project with band members Simon Le Bon and Roger Taylor.  What other connection is there than that?  Read this question that a fan posted to the band's website in 2004 and check out Nick's response:

"For either Simon or Nick: Arcadia, being named after the quotation "Et En Arcadia Ego", seems to have an interesting theme throughout it's artwork of secret codes. Since Nick has previously said that Jean Cocteau is a favorite of his, and assuming Jean Cocteau was in fact a 'Grand Master' of the Knights Templar this might lead one to believe there are many secret codes and references in the Arcadia music and artwork. Not to mention the fact that 'Holy Blood, Holy Grail' appeared on Simon's Reader, but has since been removed and the whole of the Arcadia project was recorded in France. Mmm, most curious. Comments? Denials? Further evidence? Seriously, are we going to see a 20th Anniversary Arcadia re-release with all sorts of extras?"

YOUR OBSERVATIONS ARE CORRECT. I AM A GREAT ADMIRER OF COCTEAU AND I AM SURE YOU NOTICED MANY REFERENCES, PARTICULARLY IN THE ELECTION DAY VIDEO. THERE ARE MANY REFERENCES AND CODES WITHIN THE ALBUM. WE ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON THE SPECIAL EDITION OF ARCADIA, WHICH MAY CONTAIN SOME EXTRA MATERIAL. THERE IS ONLY ONE OTHER UNRELEASED ARCADIA TRACK – WHICH IS AN INSTRUMENTAL – AND AS YET, UNMIXED. IF WE CAN FIND A MINUTE IT WOULD COMPLETE THE PROJECT. THERE ARE ALSO OVER 100 UNRELEASED ARCADIA PHOTOGRAPHS BY DEAN CHAMBERLIN WHICH WOULD MAKE A FAIRLY INTERESTING BOOK…NR (CAPS LOCKED)

So...what's the deal, Nick?  Is there a stargate at the Chateau?  A downed UFO?  Whatever it is or whatever the duo of Le Bon and Rhodes encountered in France, Messr. Rhodes isn't talking.  So I'll just watch the video for Arcadia's "Election Day."  It's so bizarre, its just got to have some kind of hidden meaning.  I'll keep watching and decoding until I find the "alien spacecraft is located HERE" message.  "Maximum big surprise" indeed.



As a postscript, I attended the Alley Art Fair today.  Great paintings, please watch my Flickr feed for pics.

Follow me on Twitter: @Jntweets

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