Weapons of the Weak

Weapons of the weak are a concept coined by political scientist James C. Scott, referring to the methods employed by the disadvantaged and oppressed in society to resist authority and assert their rights. These weapons are often non-violent and symbolic, yet they can still be effective in challenging the status quo.

In many societies, the weak are subject to the power of the strong, be it in the form of governments, corporations, or other forms of authority. However, the weak can still find ways to resist this power, often through small acts of defiance that may not be immediately apparent to those in positions of authority.

One example of a weapon of the weak is foot-dragging, which involves purposely slowing down work or other tasks to resist the demands of authority. This can be a subtle way for workers to assert their autonomy and push back against the power of their employers. Similarly, gossip can be used by the weak to undermine the authority of those in power, spreading rumors or negative information to reduce their influence.

Another example of a weapon of the weak is non-violent protest, which can take many forms, including boycotts, sit-ins, and marches. These methods allow individuals and groups to express their grievances and push for change without resorting to violence. Non-violent protest has been used throughout history to challenge authority and bring about social and political change.

Even seemingly insignificant acts, such as graffiti or littering, can be considered weapons of the weak. These acts are often seen as vandalism or disobedience, but they can also be a way for individuals to assert their presence in public spaces and challenge the dominant narratives of those in power.

One of the most powerful weapons of the weak is humor. Satirical humor can be used to undermine authority, challenge the status quo, and build solidarity among the oppressed. Humor can be used to expose the absurdity of power structures and to ridicule those in positions of authority, reducing their influence and making them appear less threatening.

Overall, weapons of the weak are important tools for those who lack traditional forms of power and authority. These weapons allow the weak to assert their autonomy, resist oppression, and challenge the status quo. While they may seem small and insignificant, weapons of the weak can be effective in bringing about social and political change, and they serve as a reminder that even the most powerless among us can still find ways to fight back.

The Death Star and the Atomic Bomb

The development and use of the atomic bomb was a highly controversial and deeply troubling concept for many reasons. The power and destructive potential of such a weapon had never been seen before, and it was clear that regardless of whether it was used for war or peace, the consequences for humanity would be devastating. The destructive power of the atomic bomb had been greatly underestimated and misunderstood, which led to grave consequences for those directly impacted by its use.

The destructive force of the atomic bomb caused widespread death, injury, and destruction. The long-term effects of exposure to radiation were not fully understood at the time, resulting in even more suffering and loss of life for years to come. It was a weapon that had the potential to cause immense harm to not only those directly impacted, but also to the environment and the future of the planet as a whole.

In retrospect, it is clear that the atomic bomb was never going to empower people in any way. While simple weapons have often empowered the weak, complex weapons like the atomic bomb have primarily helped the strong. The emergence in our collective unconscious of new, highly destructive weapons like the death star in science fiction has only heightened these concerns and fears. These weapons are not only highly destructive, but they also strip power away from the common people, leaving them vulnerable to the will of those who possess such weapons.

In many ways, the use of highly destructive weapons like the atomic bomb and the death star signal a return to a world of slavery and tyranny. As the power and control of vectors continue to increase, the ability of the common man to control his own affairs and maintain autonomy in his life has decreased. In essence, the development and use of highly destructive weapons have only served to reinforce power imbalances and contribute to the loss of freedom for the masses.

The idea that simple weapons empower the weak while complex weapons mainly benefit the strong has been evident throughout history. The use of gunpowder, for instance, played a crucial role in the overthrow of feudalism by the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie could leverage the power of gunpowder to defeat their feudal overlords and establish a new order. Similarly, during times when the dominant weapon is complex, nepotism tends to thrive, as those in power can maintain their positions by controlling access to these weapons. In contrast, during times when the dominant weapon is simple, common people have a greater chance to succeed as these weapons are easier to obtain and use effectively.

This dynamic can be observed in various periods of history. For example, in medieval Europe, knights and nobles held the power, as they had access to advanced weapons such as swords and armor. However, with the introduction of gunpowder weapons, the balance of power shifted. The feudal lords could not maintain their control as easily, and the bourgeoisie were able to overthrow them.

Similarly, in the modern era, the development of more complex weapons like the atomic bomb has given powerful countries an advantage over weaker ones. The creation of such weapons has required significant investment in resources and technology, which only a few nations can afford. Consequently, countries with access to these weapons hold more power, making it difficult for others to resist them.

In contrast, simpler weapons such as knives and clubs can be easily made and used by anyone, making it easier for the weaker individuals or groups to defend themselves against those in power. This can be seen in various contexts, such as in street fights, where a smaller and weaker person armed with a knife can quickly level the playing field against a larger and stronger opponent.

The notion that modern weapons of warfare are fundamentally oppressive is rooted in the fact that they require a high degree of technical expertise to operate, and are often only accessible to those with significant resources and power. In contrast, computer viruses are relatively simple to create and distribute, and can be used by individuals or groups with even limited technical knowledge.

This difference in accessibility between modern weapons of war and computer viruses has important implications for the relationship between power and control. When weapons are beyond the reach of ordinary people, it undermines their ability to have control over their own lives and affairs. This is particularly true in the context of modern warfare, where the state and other powerful actors often have a monopoly on the most advanced weapons.

In contrast, the use of computer viruses can be seen as more democratic precisely because it enables a wider range of actors to exert control over their own affairs. For example, an individual or group with limited resources and technical knowledge can use a computer virus to disrupt the activities of a larger, more powerful actor. This can be seen as a form of resistance against oppression and a way to level the playing field.

Furthermore, the use of computer viruses can be seen as a way to promote greater transparency and accountability. In many cases, powerful actors may seek to hide their activities from public view, making it difficult for ordinary people to hold them accountable. However, the use of computer viruses can expose these activities and help to bring them to light.

In sum, while modern weapons of warfare like planes and bombs are fundamentally oppressive, the use of computer viruses can be seen as a more democratic form of resistance against oppression. By enabling a wider range of actors to exert control over their own affairs, computer viruses have the potential to level the playing field and promote greater transparency and accountability.

Overall, the complex nature of advanced weapons like the atomic bomb creates a power imbalance, making it difficult for common people to succeed. However, simpler weapons provide a level playing field, allowing weaker individuals and groups to defend themselves and achieve success.

The creation of the atomic bomb gave rise to new centers of power, but it also stripped power away from the common people. The increased power of states and other entities has diminished the control that ordinary people have over their affairs, reducing their ability to influence the state of affairs. This has led to a concentration of power in the hands of a few, further marginalizing those who are already at a disadvantage.

Scientific advancements were supposed to propel humanity forward, but in the case of the atomic bomb, they have taken it backwards. The use of such a destructive weapon has robbed people of their power to resist and has pushed the world towards the reintroduction of slavery, reversing the progress made towards a more just society. The lessons of history suggest that we need to be cautious about the development and use of new technologies, and ensure that they serve the greater good rather than being used to reinforce existing power structures.

The China in Ourselves

The relationship between China and the rest of the world has always been a complex one, fraught with tension and conflict. Whether it is the ongoing trade war, disputes over territorial claims, or concerns about human rights violations, there seem to be no easy solutions to the challenges posed by China’s rise as a global power. However, as much as we may want to point fingers and assign blame, the reality is that the situation with China can never be resolved without disaster unless we first deal with the China in ourselves.

What do we mean by the “China in ourselves”? Simply put, we mean that many of the issues we see in our relationship with China are rooted in our own fears, biases, and insecurities. We are quick to judge China’s human rights record or economic policies, but we are often blind to our own faults and shortcomings. We may be critical of China’s lack of transparency, but we ourselves may be guilty of the same when it comes to our own actions and policies.

This is not to say that China is blameless or that we should ignore the very real challenges posed by its rise as a global power. However, it is to say that we cannot simply blame China for all our problems without examining our own role in creating them. We need to acknowledge that many of the issues we face with China are not just geopolitical or economic, but also cultural and psychological.

As we consider the current situation with China, it becomes clear that our addiction to cheap goods is not just a matter of personal consumption habits, but a systemic issue that perpetuates and reinforces inequality. We cannot hope to resolve the challenges we face with China without first dealing with the China in ourselves.

This addiction to cheap goods is not limited to physical products like clothes and gadgets, but extends to a global system that prioritizes profit margins and convenience over people and the planet. The demand for low-cost goods is often met by exploitative labor practices, environmental degradation, and other forms of social injustice. In turn, this creates a cycle of inequality that harms millions of people around the world.

To break this cycle, we must first acknowledge the true cost of our consumption habits. We must recognize that the price we pay for goods and services does not always reflect the true cost of production, and that marginalized and vulnerable communities are often the most affected by this system. We must take responsibility for our own role in perpetuating this cycle of inequality and be willing to pay a fair price for the things we consume.

However, simply paying a fair price is not enough. We must also address the root causes of inequality and work towards a more equitable and just global economy. This requires confronting issues like wealth concentration, resource depletion, and social injustice head-on. It may mean making changes in policy and consumer behavior, and rethinking the way we value the goods and services we consume.

Ultimately, the issue of cheap stuff is a symptom of a much deeper problem in our global economy. If we want to resolve the challenges we face with China and create a more just world, we must be willing to confront this systemic issue and work towards solutions that prioritize people and the planet over profit margins and convenience. Only then can we truly address the China in ourselves and build a better future for all.

For example, we may fear China’s growing influence and power because it threatens our own sense of identity and superiority. We may be biased against China because of stereotypes or misperceptions we have about its people and culture. We may be insecure about our own ability to compete with China economically or technologically, leading us to resort to protectionist measures or cyberattacks.

To deal with the China in ourselves, we need to first acknowledge and confront these fears, biases, and insecurities. We need to be willing to engage in honest and open dialogue with China, rather than resorting to name-calling, sanctions, or military posturing. We need to be willing to learn about and appreciate Chinese culture, rather than dismissing it as “foreign” or “strange”. We need to be willing to work with China as a partner, rather than treating it as an adversary or enemy.

In doing so, we may find that many of the issues we face with China are not as insurmountable as we once thought. We may find that we have more in common with China than we realized, and that by working together we can achieve more than we ever could alone. We may find that by dealing with the China in ourselves, we can build a more peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious world for all.

Refactoring a Problem at a Pre-Technical Level

In problem-solving, the importance of framing the issue at hand cannot be overstated. A well-constructed frame can guide and direct the search for solutions, leading to more efficient and effective problem-solving. However, a frame is only useful if it is being generated and intelligently analyzed faster than options are expiring. In other words, the speed at which the frame is being generated and analyzed must keep pace with the urgency of the situation.

The failure to refactor a problem at a pre-technical level can also compromise the solution. Refactoring is the process of restructuring and simplifying code to improve its readability and maintainability. In problem-solving, refactoring involves breaking down a problem into its constituent parts, analyzing it from different angles, and simplifying it to make it more manageable. This process can be crucial in identifying the root cause of a problem and developing effective solutions.

NASA’s development of the space pen is a classic example of the failure to refactor a problem at a pre-technical level. In the early days of space exploration, NASA faced the problem of writing in zero gravity. They invested millions of dollars in developing a space pen that could write in zero gravity conditions. The Russians, on the other hand, simply used pencils. This illustrates the importance of refactoring a problem at a pre-technical level, rather than jumping straight into developing a technical solution. By breaking down the problem and analyzing it from different angles, it may become apparent that a simple, non-technical solution is the best approach.

Another example of the importance of framing and refactoring can be seen in the field of medicine. Doctors must frame a patient’s symptoms and medical history to diagnose and treat their ailments. Without a clear frame, doctors may miss important clues or misdiagnose a patient’s condition. Refactoring is also important in medicine, as doctors must break down complex medical issues into their constituent parts to understand them fully and develop effective treatments.

In conclusion, the importance of framing and refactoring cannot be overstated in problem-solving. A well-constructed frame can guide and direct the search for solutions, while refactoring can help identify the root cause of a problem and develop effective solutions. The failure to refactor a problem at a pre-technical level can compromise the solution, as illustrated by NASA’s development of the space pen. By understanding the importance of framing and refactoring, we can become better problem solvers and achieve more efficient and effective solutions.

  1. Healthcare: In healthcare, physicians and researchers often face complex medical problems that require careful analysis to identify the root cause. For example, a patient may be experiencing chronic pain, and the initial response may be to prescribe pain medication or surgery. However, by refactoring the problem at a pre-technical level, the physician may identify that the real issue is a lack of physical activity or poor diet. By addressing these root causes, the physician can develop more effective treatments that lead to better health outcomes. This approach is known as lifestyle medicine.
  2. Environmentalism: In environmentalism, activists often face challenges in ensuring that their efforts are effective in reducing carbon emissions and protecting natural habitats. Rather than immediately turning to new technologies or policy changes, activists can refactor the problem at a pre-technical level by examining the root causes of environmental degradation. For example, they may identify that the real issue is the overconsumption of natural resources or lack of education about sustainability. By addressing these root causes, activists can develop more effective ways to reduce carbon emissions and protect natural habitats.
  3. Software Development: In software development, engineers often face challenges in ensuring that
  1. Music: In jazz improvisation, musicians often deactivate the prefrontal cortex, allowing for more creative and spontaneous expression. By refactoring the problem of traditional musical structures and rules, jazz musicians can push the boundaries of what is possible and create innovative new music.
  2. Art: The Cubist movement in art refactored the problem of realistic representation in painting. Rather than simply copying the visual world, Cubist artists like Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque broke down objects and forms into geometric shapes and fragmented perspectives. This allowed for a new way of looking at the world, and influenced many other movements in modern art.
  3. Science: The discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming was a result of refactoring the problem of bacterial infections. Rather than immediately searching for new drugs or treatments, Fleming identified that the real issue was the ability of bacteria to resist conventional antibiotics. By studying the growth patterns of bacteria, he was able to discover the antibacterial properties of penicillin, leading to a major breakthrough in modern medicine.
  4. Literature: The Beat Generation in literature refactored the problem of traditional narrative structures in storytelling. Rather than following conventional plot lines and character development, Beat writers like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg embraced spontaneity, improvisation, and stream-of-consciousness writing. This led to a new form of literature that challenged conventional norms and influenced many other writers and artists in the years to come.

The Outsider Effect

The outsider effect is a phenomenon that suggests that individuals who are unfamiliar with a particular field may be better suited to finding innovative and creative solutions to problems within that field. This is because people who are not constrained by the conventional ways of thinking in a specific discipline can approach problems with a fresh perspective, free from the biases and assumptions of those who are deeply embedded in the field.

For instance, a chemist may have a very narrow and specialized understanding of how molecules behave and interact with each other. However, a molecular biologist, who has a broader understanding of biological systems, might be able to use this knowledge to identify novel chemical reactions that could be used to create new drugs or therapies.

Similarly, a molecular biologist might have a limited view of the properties of chemicals and how they can be manipulated, but a chemist might be able to bring new insights and ideas to the table, leading to innovative solutions in molecular biology.

People who are experts in a given field have a host of ideas that people in other fields do not have access to, but which ideas are nonetheless capable being applied to those fields. Breakthroughs often arrive when we apply old solutions to new situations.

The outsider effect, therefore, suggests that cross-disciplinary collaboration and exposure to new perspectives can be an effective way to stimulate innovation and creativity in problem-solving. By bringing together individuals from different fields, it is possible to create a diverse team with a broad range of skills, knowledge, and perspectives, which can lead to breakthroughs that might not be possible with a more narrow, specialized approach.


Compounding and transposing are two powerful concepts that have been instrumental in driving innovation and progress in various fields. Compounding refers to the process of combining multiple ideas or concepts to create something new and unique. Transposing, on the other hand, involves taking an idea from one domain or field and applying it to another, seemingly unrelated domain.

Gutenberg, for instance, transformed his knowledge of winepresses, which he had used in his previous work as a goldsmith, into an idea for a printing machine. By combining the concepts of movable type and the winepress, Gutenberg was able to create a printing press that could produce large numbers of books quickly and efficiently.

Similarly, the Wright brothers used their knowledge about bicycles to invent the airplane. They applied the principles of balance, control, and stability from their experience with bicycles to the design and construction of their flying machine, ultimately leading to the world’s first successful powered flight.

Google is another great example of compounding and transposing. The search algorithm behind Google applies the ranking method for academic citations. By taking this idea from the field of academic research, Google was able to create a search engine that could analyze and rank websites based on their relevance and authority.

Overall, compounding and transposing are powerful tools that can be used to create innovative and groundbreaking solutions to problems. By combining and reapplying knowledge from different domains, individuals can approach problems with fresh perspectives and creative solutions that might not have been possible with a more narrow, specialized approach.


Insiders in any field tend to develop a deep understanding and expertise in their respective domains. While this is important, it can also lead to a narrow and conventional way of thinking. Over time, insiders may become so entrenched in their established ways of thinking that they fail to consider new ideas or approaches.

This phenomenon is known as the curse of knowledge or the expert’s curse, and it can be detrimental to progress and innovation. Insiders may become too comfortable with their knowledge and experience, leading to stagnation in their thinking and work. This can result in a lack of creativity and a tendency to repeat the same ideas or solutions, leading to a lack of progress and advancement.

Furthermore, insiders may be more prone to groupthink, which is the tendency for individuals to conform to the ideas and opinions of a group. This can further reinforce the conventional thinking and prevent individuals from challenging the status quo or thinking outside the box.

On the other hand, outsiders may not be constrained by these conventional ways of thinking and can bring new and innovative perspectives to a problem. They may be able to see things that insiders may have overlooked or take an approach that insiders may not have considered.

Therefore, it is important for insiders to continually challenge their thinking and seek out new perspectives. This can be achieved by collaborating with individuals from other fields, attending conferences and workshops outside of their own field, or simply taking a step back and questioning their assumptions and biases.

In conclusion, while insiders have valuable expertise in their respective fields, they can also be susceptible to conventional thinking and groupthink. It is crucial for insiders to be aware of these limitations and to seek out new perspectives to drive innovation and progress.

Deactivate the Prefrontal Cortex

Our brains are incredibly complex, with different regions responsible for different functions. One of the most fascinating aspects of the brain is the way in which it can be trained to focus and refine our work, while also allowing for moments of insight and creativity. According to research, these two capacities emanate from different parts of the brain, with the prefrontal cortex playing a key role in our ability to focus and refine our work, and the right hemisphere being responsible for our capacity for insight.

The prefrontal cortex is often referred to as the brain’s CEO, as it is responsible for executive functions such as decision-making, planning, and problem-solving. It is also the part of the brain that allows us to focus our attention on a particular task, which is crucial for achieving success in any field. This ability to focus and refine our work is what separates the best from the rest, and it is what allows individuals to achieve greatness in their chosen fields.

On the other hand, our capacity for insight, which is often associated with creativity and innovation, originates in the right hemisphere of the brain. This is the part of the brain that allows us to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas and to see things from a different perspective. It is the wellspring of our creativity, and it allows us to come up with novel solutions to complex problems.

Interestingly, while these two capacities emanate from different parts of the brain, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, research has shown that one way to get better results is to shut down the mechanism that acts as a check on the flow of thoughts from the prefrontal cortex. This mechanism, known as the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex (DLPFC), is responsible for inhibiting certain thoughts and behaviors, which can be helpful in certain situations, such as ensuring that we don’t say or do the wrong thing. However, this inhibition can also prevent us from thinking creatively and outside of the box.

To overcome this inhibition, improv actors warm up with exercises that shut down the DLPFC, allowing them to be more creative and spontaneous in their performances. Similarly, jazz players are able to ‘deactivate’ this part of the brain before improvising, allowing them to play more freely and creatively.

In conclusion, our capacity to focus and refine our work originates in the prefrontal cortex, while our capacity for insight and creativity emanates from the right hemisphere of the brain. These two capacities are not mutually exclusive, and finding ways to shut down the inhibitory mechanism of the DLPFC can allow us to access our creativity more readily. By understanding how our brains work and finding ways to optimize their performance, we can achieve greater success in our chosen fields and live more fulfilling lives.

El Topo

When a man buries a pole in the sand, he automatically creates a sundial and begins to mark time. To begin marking time is to begin creating a culture.

“The mole is an animal that digs tunnels underground searching for the sun. Sometimes his journey leads him to the surface. When he looks at the sun, he is blinded.”

In the version according to Jodorowsky, the midnight-movie magus, comic-book artist and tarot enthusiast influenced by Sergio Leone, Tod Browning and Luis Buñuel, El Topo is a bizarre. trip festival of occult psychedelia, visuals, nude dancing and violence. Shot on a fairly large budget in Mexico, It began its American existence as an underground cult object, playing midnight shows in New York for six months.

El Topo consists of two distinct parts united by the central role played by the film’s eponymous character. In the first part, he appears in a bizarre Zorro-like guise, dressed in a slightly homoerotic black leather cowboy suit and hat. The West is peopled largely with corpses of men and animals and the survivors are gross, obscene caricatures who follow phony gospel-mongers and practice slavery. After the death of his first incarnation, he emerges seated in a Lotus position, his hair and beard dyed in white, his eyes made-up with black eye-liner.

Jodorowsky lifts his symbols and mythologies from everywhere: Christianity, Zen, discount-store black magic. He makes not the slightest attempt to use them so they sort out into a single logical significance. Instead, they’re employed in a shifting way, casting light on life and death, redemption and rebirth, myth and religion, jealousy and revenge, violence and pacifism, heroism and villainy, the real and the imaginary, the rational and the irrational, rampant egocentrism and spiritual salvation (including a phallic­-shaped, circumcised boulder among the never-ending dunes that ejaculates life-giving water and semen when a woman caresses it), Buddhist koans, references to the Bible and to Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha,


El Topo is and “Acid western” both a Western and an “Eastern,” a drama and a comedy, a profound allegorical meditation and a slapstick farce. It’s an “art house masterpiece that undermines the Western’s dichotomy between the good and bad.

The real drama was not whether the “Injuns,” or mobsters, or delinquents, or Reds would destroy the American way of life — because they couldn’t — but rather, who was going stop them, the cops or the docs, the soldiers or the scientists? And by what means, force or persuasion?

Peter Biskind

The film has also an undercurrent of absurdity, as if each meaning, once analysed, would prove to contain its own contradiction. No child can wholly discard one parent for the other, no rational education neglects the value of playthings, no rider travels naked if there’s a long journey ahead. The film tells us that the mole is a creature which digs through the earth in search of the sun, only to be blinded when it comes to the surface, but it just not true.


With its bizarre characters and violent, bloody events, use of maimed and dwarf performers, and heavy doses of Christian iconography, Eastern philosophy, sexual symbolism, and Freudian imagery, the film fits the Comte de Lautréamont’s contradictory surrealist metaphor of “the chance encounter, on a dissecting table, of a sewing machine and an umbrella.” Indeed, an umbrella figures prominently in El Topo’s opening scene, as it does in the work of Magritte.

“The Surrealists went prospecting for the latent meaning of movies, “the sexual spot” that heralded the return of the repressed. Epicureans of detritus, they uncovered treasurers of poetry and subversion in the bargain basement of cinema.”

Salvador Dali, René Magritte, and Max Ernst in painting; Louis Aragon and Lautréamont in poetry, André Breton’s Manifesto, and surrealism’s cinematic acolytes, Luis BuñueL. Even using that stringent definition, El Topo is clearly in the surreal tradition.


Following the degree of violence within the movie, such as duels, violent subjugations, rapes and bizarre symbolic ceremonials removed from the superficial conventions of modern existence we can see that Jodorowsky’s surrealism is not of the Bretonian type, however, but bears a resemblance to the work of Antonin Artaud, a member of the original Surrealist group who was expelled after opposing the movement’s political association with the French Communist Party.

As the name of his manifesto suggests (‘The Theatre of Cruelty’), Artaud assigned cruelty a fundamental role in the newly envisaged art:

“Without an element of cruelty at the foundation of every spectacle, the theater is not possible”


Jodorowsky stars as the black-clad horseman, cousin to the journeys in Tolkien, “Stranger in a Strange Land,” “Easy Rider,” certainly “2001,” and most obviously to the goalless, introspective missions of Eastwood’s Man with No Name. Riding through the desert with his son Brontis, who is completely naked except for his hat symbolizing the natural state protected by the power of the father underlining the film’s Freudian theme of self-actualisation through parricide.

El Topo carries not a lance but an umbrella, while the diminutive Sancho Panza behind is clutching a teddy-bear and a framed picture of his mother. It is time, the boy is told, for childish things like toys and mothers to be put away and for him to become a man. Father plays a flute for the burial, and they ride off to meet the world, umbrella still hovering bat-like above them

El Topo sweeps grandly on its way. The child’s first lesson is a vision of hell, a scrubby Mexican street after a massacre, bodies everywhere, disembowelled animals, vast pools of blood from which strange colours of sunlight are reflected, men hanging like sides of meat, and an electronic cacophony of scavengers on the soundtrack. The child learns either pity or pragmatism, take your choice, when handed a pistol to finish off a dying man, and is then carted off to learn the lesson of vengeance as his father tracks down the bandits responsible.

El Topo encounters three sexually deprived thugs given to raping shoes, lizards etc. After performing obscene acts on the powerless Franciscans, including stripping them of their clothes and riding on their backs while spanking them with cactus plants, the four thugs notice a beautiful woman fetching water from a near-by well.

They surround her and start performing wild sexual gestures. But a single sentence pronounced by the woman, her name is Mara– “the colonel said he’d kill anyone who touches her” – suffices to drive utter horror and submission into them, demonstrating that they are, after all, subjected to a higher force, whose ruthless efficiency is enforced through the mere mentioning of a name.

Once again, Jodorowosky opts for a monotonous organ melody to accompany the scene of a ritual that stands between a sacred ceremony and a cheap mime show.

The woman enters a cone-shaped brick structure in which we see the colonel, dressed in nothing but red boxer-shorts, lying on a mat on the floor. He seems like a helpless baby, relying on the physical assistance of the woman to walk across the room, but her absolutely subservient position is demonstrated by her kissing the feet of the colonel.

The arrogant might of the colonel seems to grow as his dressing up is progressing to the final touches of eyeliner, wig and lipstick representing an uncanny hybrid between holiness and raw power, is symbolized in a scene in which the half-dressed colonel stands underneath a large Crucifixion.


El Topo is a religiously hybrid figure. At different stages of the film, he pronounces words or carries out actions that could be associated with a variety of religious traditions, but this fluidity should not be regarded as an indication of evolution. The first explicitly religious statement El Topo makes in the movie is his response to the defeated colonel’s question “Who are you to judge me?” the bandit leader asks, confronting his Nemesis.

El Topo, it seems, considers himself to be God. Although it is tempting to link this statement to the Old Testament imagery of El Topo’s subsequent religious transformations, in the interview Jodorowsky points out that the source of this dialogue is to be found in the Sufi poet Al Hallaj.


This revered Islamic mystic was executed by the authorities for infamously pronouncing the same words as El Topo, but his followers recognized that Al Hallaj had reached a state of such spiritual perfection that God himself was speaking through him.

El Topo, assisted by the colonel’s thugs who have lost any respect or fear of him, removes their leader’s toupee, and then strips his entire costume in a single comical move, thus reducing him to the state in which he was originally seen lying on the floor of the temple. In an act of ultimate humiliation he castrates the colonel, who then runs off and shoots himself in shame. The colonel’s subjugated wife runs after El Topo, pushing his son to the side.

After El Topo abandons his son Brontis to the Franciscans by telling him that this will teach him not to depend on anyone. He is seen instantaneously changed into a Franciscan robe, indicating his transformation into an individual protected by but also subservient to a higher symbolical order embodied also in a dark enclosed space.


She informs him that she will only love him if he succeeds in killing the four masters of the desert. They have each reached mystical perfection in gunslinging which leads El Topo to try and defeat each of them by any means possible.

El Topo finds water in the desert by shooting the top off a rock, and he finds food by digging up turtles’ eggs and bring forth a source of water from a stone. The imagery is certainly biblical, yet the location of the eggs under Mara’s spread legs and the sprout of water from a phallic stone add certain sexual undertones.

At one point, Mara touches a phallic boulder and it magically spews out semen and life-giving water.

“The stone is an exact replica of my own penis. That’s El Topo’s sex!”

He bestows an orgasm upon her. El Topo’s ritual orgasmic rape of Mara, after which she is able to find eggs herself and drinks water from a penis-shaped stone, definitively takes the events outside of traditional Christianity and into the arena of fertility cults.

After a while she too becomes capable of these homely miracles.


The very idea of a journey to face the Four Masters of the desert can be seen as an original combination of Hellenistic (Jodorowsky points out the significance of Alexander the Great and the Odyssey) encountering lions, lambs and white rabbits.

These four Masters, a splendid quartet of vaguely Taoist eccentrics, have to be defeated by a succession of tricks. These four meetings involve wise and mystical dialogues between the Masters and El Topo: “The deeper you fall, the higher you get”; “Perfection is losing yourself’; “To lose, you must love”; and “Too much perfection is a mistake.” In violent Sam Peckinpah fashion. He buries one rival under a mound of dead rabbits.


The First Master is a quicker draw than El Topo, but our hero tricks him and shoots him dead. Mara then kills The Double Man — two men, one without arms, on the bottom, and the other, without legs, strapped on top — the First Master’s servant.

Soon afterwards, Mara sees her reflection in a pool and, like Narcissus, falls in love with herself. She even looks at herself in a mirror while making love to El Topo. El Topo shoots the mirror and puts the broken glass in his pocket.

After his first victory, El Topo and Mara meet a second woman, a whip-cracking, horse-riding lesbian dressed in black, with a husky male voice, who guides them to each new rendezvous.


As part of his scheme to defeat the Second Master, who is preoccupied with his mother, El Topo places the broken glass beneath her foot. When she cries out in pain, the Second Master is distracted and El Topo kills him. He takes a copper ashtray this Master made and puts it under his shirt.


Jodorowsky also demonstrates a reverence for pre-Columbian American civilizations:

“The Third Master is a Mexican Master. In every Western ever made, the Mexican is always the outlaw, the bad guy. In my picture, the Mexican is a very wonderful man, because Mexico has a very wonderful culture.”

Later, the Third Master shoots El Topo in the heart, but the bullet hits the ashtray and El Topo slays that Master too.


The Fourth Master catches El Topo’s bullets with a butterfly net and flings them back at him. To show how unimportant death is, he takes El Topo’s gun and shoots himself dead.

After completing his mission, our hero is crazy with guilt about his killings, so he destroys his gun and retraces his journey as if to do penance. However, as he approaches the two women, Mara and El Topo’s uncanny double who joined him in the course of his journey who have bonded with each other, he learns that they do not approve of him anymore:

At this point, he is challenged to a duel by the Woman in Black. He refuses to fight her and is shot four times in the places of Jesus’ wounds. Mara fires the fifth shot, riding off with the Woman in Black in an erotic embrace.


The second half of the film takes place twenty years later.

After sucking on a hallucinogenic beetle and undergoing a symbolic rebirth, El Topo awakes in a community of dwarves and deformed outcasts who live underground. These mutants, worthy of Todd Browning’s Freaks, believe El Topo is some kind of god.

Having survived his redemptive execution, El Topo has cast off his black leather chaps and guns and become “reborn” as an unarmed monkish-looking figure in pale-­colored Buddhist robes and with a shaved head. They inform him that they have been put there by the townspeople many years ago, leading to their deformations through incestuous reproduction. They believe that he will free them one day.

More specifically the contrast between enclosed, dark, underground areas associated with the recesses of the human mind on the one hand and the infinite extension of the naked, barren and eternally sun-lit desert on the other. Although El Topo is locked in a brutal and permanent struggle with his environment, it is clear that the location of the ultimate battle is within his own head – just like for the mole.

He decides to liberate the cave dwellers by raising money to buy dynamite and thereby help them escape from their subterranean cavern. Eventually, a tunnel is dug (hence the title, El Topo ) and the cave people flee their prison and go into town. Seeking atonement for his wasted past life and becomes a clown begging for money.

He performs little skits (including making love in public) with one of the dwarf women (who becomes his wife) for the amusement of the depraved and sadistic citizens of a nearby Old West town, ruled by a corrupt church, whose icon is the-eye-in-the­-pyramid symbol found on the back of the dollar bill, part of the Great Seal of the United States.

“I’ll tell you a little secret, but don’t tell anybody. It’s on the dollar bill. I think it’s a perversion of knowledge. Because if you take a sacred symbol of Atlantis, or whatever, and put it on the dollar, this symbol becomes a very terrible symbol: an economic symbol. But I used it in the film as a symbol of guilt: the eye says: ‘You are guilty, you are guilty’. Yes. A guilty society.”


The inhabitants of the town participate in a perverted collective delusion justified by the authority of the symbol. The religious ceremony of this institution can be read as a metaphor of the moral bankruptcy of spiritual institutions in a society dominated by hypocrisy.

Soon, a new young priest comes to town, a cleric who joins his parishioners in games of Russian roulette in search of “miracles.” The ‘believers’ are ecstatic in their repetition of ‘God will protect us’ until the priest starts handing out a revolver for a game of Russian roulette. The new pastor is the son El Topo abandoned many years before. The young man now wants to kill his long-lost father but decides to postpone his revenge until the underground dwellers are freed.

Several ‘believers’ take the gun and attempt to shoot themselves, but every time they emerge victorious, followed by the enthusiastic response of the audience — “A miracle”

The game ends tragically with a little boy grabbing the gun and shooting himself, after which the crowd disperses in panic and the priest states that “the circus is over”. Brontis pulls down the sheet with the eye symbol, revealing a cross behind it.

Finally the village promptly massacre all of El Topo’s friends in a scene that “rhymes” with the early scene riding through a bloody town. He is repeatedly shot himself, but he is not harmed by the bullets. Ignoring his wounds, he returns to his vengeful gunslinger ways and annihilates many of the perpetrators, while the rest flee for their lives.

He must also face his son again, who is now a grown man. Brontis emerges dressed in El Topo’s original Zorro-suit. Clothing thus indicates the symbolic order of meaning and power in which the subject operates, a crucial element without which the individual is ultimately reduced to impotence.

At the end of his journey, dressed like a Buddhist monk, Jodorowsky douses himself with gasoline and sets himself on fire. The image is similar to those Buddhist monks protesting the war.

El Topo’s son and dwarf girlfriend survive the bloodbath and make a grave for his remains, which becomes a beehive. The dwarf girlfriend gives birth to a child at the same time as El Topo’s death, and the son, now dressed in El Topo’s gunfighter duds, the dwarf lady, and the infant ride off on a horse in the same way that El Topo and his son did at the beginning of the film.

It’s not so much a full circle as a spiral, in keeping with Jodorowsky’s affection for the theories of Gurdjieff. Thus, the first half of the movie resembles a Spaghetti Western, albeit a surreal one, while the second act is a love story of redemption, rebirth, and re-death.


Jodorowsky himself stated that “El Topo is a library … of all the books I love. He also acknowledged the influence of Jean-Luc Godard, Luis Buñuel, Sergio Leone, Erich von Stroheim, and Buster Keaton. As such, it is a staggeringly visionary work that “samples” dozens of often paradoxical artistic inspirations: Zen, Eisenstein and pantomime (Jodorowsky studied with Marcel Marceau), Antonin Artaud and Russ Meyer, Beckett’s Theater of the Absurd, Jean Cocteau’s surrealism, and MAgic SHows. Moreover, El Topo is part Jean-Paul Sartre, C. G. Jung, Wilhelm Reich, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Lao-Tzu. It uses both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

For some viewers, there are far too many philosophical references, Jungian and religious symbols, parables, geometric configurations, epigrams, in-jokes, and abstruse images.

You can ask me about any symbol you like. I know the meaning of every symbol there is. So do you, because the meaning of every symbol is recorded in your brain cells.

What unites all of Jodorowsky’s religions is their esoteric nature, which is contrasted to the visceral presence of earthly institutions.


I ask of film what most North Americans ask from psychedelic drugs. The difference being that when one creates a psychedelic film, he need not create a film that shows the visions of a person who has taken a pill; rather, he needs to manufacture the pill.

More importantly than that, however, Jodorowsky points out that the movie is not the representation of a psychedelic experience, but rather the pill that would create a psychedelic experience in the viewer. The structure of the film acts as that element of external stimuli that, along with sensual and intellectual interpretative mechanisms of the human mind, combine to create the psychedelic experience of watching El Topo.


“I believe that each image of the film is an imprint. I can’t give the entire body. You have to form it. Each film must be a sample of the entire universe, as each grain of sand is a sample of the entire beach.”


The film begins with Brontis’s ceremonial entrance to adulthood, marked by El Topo’s request to dig his teddy bear and the image of his mother in the sand. In the subsequent shot, we see El Topo and Brontis riding off in the background, behind a close-up of the mother’s photograph only half-buried in the sand, thus indicating that Brontis’s suppression of his mother’s memory has only been semi-successful.


The Second Master, who initially defeats El Topo by shooting his revolver from his hand, explains that the cause of his defeat is El Topo’s self-obsession: “You shoot to find yourself, I do it to shoot. Perfection is to lose yourself, and to lose yourself you need to love.” The Second Master adds that he has succeeded in dissolving his ego by completely submitting his self to his mother: “What I do and say is ordered and blessed by her. I hate all that is mine, because it distances me from her divine presence.”

However, the Second Master’s obsession with his mother is also the cause of his downfall, as El Topo secretly throws shards of a broken mirror in front of the mother’s feet. Tending to her injury, the Second Master forgets about El Topo, enabling El Topo to shoot him from behind.


After El Topo’s reincarnation in the cave, he is led to a very old woman. He participates in a ceremony in which the old woman and El Topo suck on a scorpion-like insect, followed by a scene in which we see him emerging from the old woman’s womb.


And what does it all mean?

In so much as it means anything, it is about that circular, spiralling journey. In his end is his beginning, and his son’s beginning. El Topo is ultimately engaged in a battle without an end:

When you struggle internally in life, and you triumph and are freed from your problems, you become faced with a greater problem: the problem of the entire universe. Right? In other words, you are never liberated from the weight. You increase it. When a mystic reaches a god, he realizes that there is a greater god. And he has to work and work. It’s endless. El Topo is endless.”

It is possible to imagine an endless chain of El Topo’s reincarnations, inevitably ending in his realization of the futility of his efforts. The universe whose imprint El Topo represents is an endless spiral in which enlightenment consists in the realization of the essence as a constant flux rather than a particular stable state of mind or external affairs.


Artaud insisted on the superiority of the theatre for the achievement of the effects he envisaged. In ‘The Theater of Cruelty there is a wider Surrealist concern with a fundamental reformation of art in general, which is perceived as decadent and lacking in true spiritual energy.

Jodorowsky’s work, in accordance with Artaud’s ideas, is far removed from psychology and concrete politics, aiming instead to use art to encourage a spiritual engagement with the underground forces of which would result in an alchemical conception of enlightenment as a continuous conversion of darkness into light.

“A mass audience that trembles at train wrecks, that is familiar with earthquakes, plague, revolution, war, that is sensitive to the disorderly throes of love, provided these ideas do not come to them by way of costumes and an overreified language which belong to dead ages, ages that will never be brought to life again.”

The explosion of galaxies is violent. A comet falling on Jupiter making seven big holes is violent. The birth of a child is very violent. Someone passing away… it’s immense violence… Life is violent; the circulation of blood, the heart beating, all this is violent. But there are two types of violence: creative and destructive. I am creating art.”


As the alchemists, obsessed with the problem of matter in classically Gnostic terms, sought methods of changing one kind of matter into another (higher, spiritualized) kind of matter, Jodorowsky seeks to create an alchemical arena that operates on the flesh as much as on the spirit.”

What Artaud and Jodorowsky share is an earnest admission of their limitations for political actions as individuals, combined with an insistence on the mutual independence of art and politics.


If you are great, El Topo is great. If you are limited, El Topo is limited.”

It should be understood as a comment on the state of mind required for the possibility of an alchemical transformation in the viewer whereby instinctual, unconscious thought is rendered serviceable for both psyche and society.

3 Readings of the War of the Worlds

I have had the pleasure of reading H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” three times at different stages of my life. Each reading offered a unique perspective, reflecting not only my personal growth but also the changing times we live in.

The first time I read the novel was in 1985, during my early teens. At that time, I was fascinated by science fiction and eagerly devoured books that explored the vast universe and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. “The War of the Worlds” was a revelation, presenting an alien invasion that captured my imagination and sent chills down my spine. I was thrilled by the ingenuity of humanity as it fought against the Martian forces, and felt a sense of relief when the Martians were finally defeated by earthly pathogens. To my teenage self, the novel was a thrilling adventure, a page-turner that kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.

The second time I read the novel was in 2000, during my college years. By that time, my perspective on life had changed, and I approached the novel with a more critical eye. I was struck by the social commentary woven throughout the book, the way Wells used the alien invasion as a metaphor for the colonialism and imperialism that were rampant during his time. I was also struck by the way the novel dealt with the theme of survival, highlighting the resilience of humanity in the face of overwhelming adversity. I found myself appreciating the novel on a deeper level, recognizing the artistry and the message behind the story.

The third time I read the novel was in 2020, during the global COVID-19 pandemic. As I delved into the story once again, I found myself drawn to the theme of contagion and the role it played in the story. I was struck by the irony of the fact that the Martians, with all their advanced technology and weaponry, were ultimately defeated by something as small and invisible as a virus.

In light of the pandemic, I couldn’t help but see the novel as a reflection on the relationship between humanity and the natural world. The Martians, with their advanced technology and weaponry, could represent the destructive forces of industrialization and progress, while the earthly pathogens that ultimately defeat them could symbolize the resilience of the natural world in the face of human intervention. In this reading, the novel takes on a new significance, highlighting the consequences of our actions and the importance of recognizing our place in the world as stewards of the planet.

Reading the novel during this time of uncertainty and fear, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of melancholy at the thought of the devastation that pandemics can wreak on a society. The novel took on a new significance for me, highlighting the fragility of life and the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other.

In conclusion, reading “The War of the Worlds” three times at different stages of my life has given me a deeper appreciation for the novel and the themes it explores. From a thrilling adventure to a social commentary to a poignant reflection on the fragility of life, the novel has evolved with me, reflecting the changing times we live in and the growth I have experienced as a person. It is a testament to the enduring power of literature and its ability to speak to us in different ways at different times in our lives.

The Right to Market Products to Buyers with no Alternative

the right to market their products to buyers who have almost no alternative.

Buffet quotes “Competition may prove hazardous to human wealth” and likes to say the nature of capitalism is that if you’ve got a good business, someone is always wanting to take it away from you and improve on it.”

The ideal business was one that had “high pricing power, a monopoly.” The message is clear: If you invest in a competitive business, you are doing it wrong. Value-investing hordes are searching for stocks with “wide moats” that discourage pesky competitors.

However, businesses without competition (i.e., monopolies) can lose something important in the long run: an incentive to get better. They stop innovating, without any risk in the near term. This is not healthy for anyone.

Culture thrives when open competition encourages producers to deliver the best goods at the lowest prices. It has a cost: some ideas fail. But that is essential, too. It signals better uses should be found for those workers and capital.

The more general argument here is that leading “capitalists” are not really capitalist, particularly when they use political power to stamp out competition. Fake capitalism promotes wealth concentration that leads to economic stagnation, political instability and…

If I was Lenin I’d probably argue, If you are going to bring about socialism, just pretend that nothing is wrong and stay on the current course.

The ultimate aim of these companies is to bankrupt or threaten anybody who tries to operate a real company, one in which entrepreneurs compete by reducing costs by applying a method to materials to make it more valuable than the sum of its parts

Instead, they compete only on access to capital, which they use to manufacture goods worth less than the sum of their parts. You can compare the outcome of this to “Gresham’s law,” which describes how, when counterfeit money is in circulation, “bad money drive out good.”

I mean, if you get a fake coin, you’re trying to spend it as fast as you can because if it gets dtetcted while you have it you will lose. The person you trick into getting the coin always wants to spend it as soon as possible, until the bogus ones are the only coins circulating

This creates and economy where bad businesses drive out good: where running a business that figures out how to make better products at a better price has to compete with businesses that will always underprice a profitable rival to drive them out of the market

Then jack up prices to provide profits so that investors can use to do the trick again and again. Endless money-losing is a variant of counterfeiting, and counterfeiting has dangerous economic consequences.

So if you can counterfeit something for cheap, the counterfeit will eventually take over the entire market and drive out the real commodity. MP3s and then streaming are an early example of this

Aggressive pricing schemes waste resources entirely on money-losing enterprises, and gradually these enterprises become self-dealing Soviet-style generators run by actors playing captains of Industry

“Expired: Offer a service, create a product”.

The meme “Expired: Offer a service, create a product. Tired: Make as much profit and do what’s arguably legal. Wired: artificially change the price of a security with the intent to make a profit. Galaxy Brain: Launder Saudi oil Billions and exit through IPO that offloads companies on suckers” highlights the evolution of unethical business practices, from the traditional model of offering a service or creating a product to the current trend of exploiting legal loopholes for profit. The meme serves as a warning against the dangers of greed and corruption, as individuals and corporations seek to maximize their profits at any cost.

The first stage of the meme, “Expired: Offer a service, create a product,” refers to the traditional business model, where companies create a product or offer a service to meet the needs of their customers. This model prioritizes quality and customer satisfaction, and businesses are rewarded for their efforts with repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals. While this model still exists, it is increasingly being overshadowed by the pursuit of profits above all else.

The second stage of the meme, “Tired: Make as much profit and do what’s arguably legal,” reflects the current business landscape, where companies prioritize profits above all else, often at the expense of their customers or the wider community. This mentality has led to a range of unethical practices, from exploiting tax loopholes to avoiding responsibility for environmental damage. While these practices may be technically legal, they are not necessarily moral or ethical.

The third stage of the meme, “Wired: artificially change the price of a security with the intent to make a profit,” highlights the rise of more sophisticated and unethical practices in the financial industry. This includes practices such as insider trading, market manipulation, and other forms of securities fraud. These practices are illegal and can have significant consequences for investors, yet they remain prevalent in the industry.

The final stage of the meme, “Galaxy Brain: Launder Saudi oil Billions and exit through IPO that offloads companies on suckers,” reflects the most extreme and unethical business practices, where individuals and corporations seek to exploit every opportunity for personal gain, even if it means breaking the law or harming others. This stage highlights the dangers of unchecked greed and corruption, where individuals and corporations prioritize their own interests above all else, regardless of the consequences.

In conclusion, the meme “Expired: Offer a service, create a product. Tired: Make as much profit and do what’s arguably legal. Wired: artificially change the price of a security with the intent to make a profit. Galaxy Brain: Launder Saudi oil Billions and exit through IPO that offloads companies on suckers” serves as a warning against the dangers of unchecked greed and corruption in the business world. As individuals and corporations seek to maximize their profits, it is important to remain vigilant against unethical practices that harm the wider community and erode trust in the business world. Ultimately, businesses must strive to balance their pursuit of profits with their responsibility to act in a moral and ethical manner.