Monday, January 25, 2016

Page 185–9: A Quartet of References

The promotor fidei (Promoter of the Faith) or advocatus diaboli (Devil’s Advocate) was originally a Roman Catholic canon lawyer appointed by the church to skeptically oppose a candidate for canonization. The term “devil’s advocate” came to refer to generally to someone who takes an opposing view for the sake of challenging and improving the original idea. In the context of The Billionth Monkey, it’s also a #DevilReference.

Cover for the motion picture soundtrack to Devil's Advocate (1997).
“Little sunshine” on page 186 is a reference that readers of Perdurabo may recognize. It’s my favorite anecdote about Aleister Crowley. In 1934, he tried unsuccessfully to sue former student Nina Hamnett for alleging that he practiced black magic; when the defense challenged him to explain why he calls himself “The Great Beast 666,” Crowley explained that the number is simply that of the sun, and if counsel preferred they could refer to him instead as “Little Sunshine.” Not only is the remark hilarious, Crowley was also being serious: The number of the sun in the Western esotericism is traditionally 6, as are its extensions 62 and Σ(1-62)…or in other words a 6x6 magic square, and the sum of all the numbers within that magic square. This occult understanding flies in the face of popular conceptions of the number 666, which is why the juxtaposition of The Great Beast and Little Sunshine is so funny. Because of the associations of 666 in the popular mind (e.g., through movies like 1976’s The Omen), I count this as a #DevilReference.

A hair-raising moment from The Omen [image source: The Omen Wiki].
Nicholas Young’s dialogue on page 186 is part-inspired by the hit song “A Criminal Mind” from Canadian musician Lawrence Gowan’s Strange Animal record. When the album came out in 1985, my buddy TJ and I drove to Windsor, Ontario, from the states to buy it because copies were unavailable back home. (Bear in mind this was before the World Wide Web, and CDs were still a relatively new format.) I always thought the chorus was chilling; a paraphrased version worked perfectly in this scene. It’s also a sort of replay of Young’s “Do you know who I am?” schtick. Anyway, Gowan is a wonderful songwriter and musician, and currently fills the keyboardist role in the band Styx. If you don’t know Gowan’s material, check it out!

Music video for Gowan's "A Criminal Mind" (1985).

Let’s wrap this up by looking at Destiny Jones’s Tweezer post on page 189. Given the subject matter, there wasn’t a lot to do here numerologically, so I just snuck in the number 165, which is the numeration of the city “Babylon”: another shout-out to readers of Perdurabo.

Music video for David Gray's "Babalon" (1998).

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