Film poster revealing eternal return.
Edge of Tomorrow is like Groundhog Day meets Oblivion, which sounds awful, yet somehow it works. You get to see Tom Cruise killed over and over by tentacled black aliens. As odd as that sounds, I recommend it. After viewing it last night, readers should be warned that there will be spoilers below. Simply put, the film is a presentation of Nietzsche’s eternal return, which is a restatement of the ancient view of cyclical history. The rise of Christianity and biblical, linear history displaced the older, wherein man was viewed as trapped in a never-ending wheel of reincarnations and rebirths. In this scheme, man’s actions in this life determine his higher or lower incarnation the next time around, with ultimate goal of transcending the cycle altogether. Eternal return thus differs, with the same characters returning to the same life and events they previously engaged in, leading to a fatalistic determinism.
In the film, Major William Cage (Cruise) is a propagandist in the near future for the NATO forces that have united to create the United Defense Force, or UDF, which functions as a high tech globalist supersoldier army, geared towards battling recent alien invaders. Cage is forced into demotion and enlistment as a frontline soldier, having never seen combat. Cage is a mere NATO/UDF propagandist, with his name itself signifying his existential and ontological state. Cage is trapped in a psychical, temporal prison of constantly reliving his day of death. The alien force, “Mimics,” are archons in the gnostic sense. In gnostic cosmology, the archons have the ability to manipulate time into a kind of prison. Certain humans are susceptible to the influence of the Mimics, and even have the presence of the mimics in their bloodlines.
The surprising element here is how close this story line matches up to real aspects of the actual new world order and its global conspiracy. The US/NATO/London axis are the global enforcement arms of the new world order, with virtually all of humanity falling under its sway. In the film, the “alien invasion” provokes the formation of the global government, unified finally under a common threat. The idea of using space aliens as a manufactured threat is a real psy op, with President Reagan even pushing the idea publicly at the United Nations. And to add more salt to the wound, the film’s usage of “alien bloodlines” is symbolic of the “elite” bloodlines of the real world, who do not intermarry or mix with the “profane” breed. This is demonstrated in the film when Cage accidentally receives a blood transfusion, making him common and depriving him of his occult powers of vision. The Mimics, who already know how the final battle will go, have the upper hand through advanced knowledge of the events.
Stone engraving of Abraxas with entwined serpentine legs.
One of the chief archontic deities who relates to time is Abraxas, mentioned by St. Irenaeus of Lyon as a deity invoked by the gnostic Baslidians. Wikipedia explains of Abraxas:
“In a great majority of instances the name Abrasax is associated with a singular composite figure, having a Chimera-like appearance somewhat resembling a basilisk or the Greek primordial god Chronos (not to be confused with the Greek titan Cronos). According to E. A. Wallis Budge, “as a Pantheus, i.e. All-God, he appears on the amulets with the head of a cock (Phoebus) or of a lion (Ra or Mithras), the body of a man, and his legs are serpents which terminate in scorpions, types of the Agathodaimon. In his right hand he grasps a club, or a flail, and in his left is a round or oval shield.” This form was also referred to as the Anguipede. Budge surmised that Abrasax was “a form of the Adam Kadmon of the Kabbalists and the Primal Man whom God made in His own image.”
Note the correlation of Cronos, the Greek god of time, and the serpent and kabbalism, which relate to Cage’s imprisonment. This is eternal return symbology, with the ouroboros also being associated with this idea. In Plato’s Timaeus, the ouroboros, the snake biting its own tail, signifies the entire temporal universe:
“The living being had no need of eyes because there was nothing outside of him to be seen; nor of ears because there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he created thus; his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form which was designed by him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet.”
Cyclical, eternal return.
And as I detailed in my Serpentine Mirror essay:
“Man thinks that if he can achieve control of temporal reality he can escape his prison and become God, and it is here that the myth of the Ring of Gyges fits. Situated as it is in the Greek mysteries as part of the Republic’s dialogue, the ring should be read as consonant with Platonic triadic and circular symbolism that often emerges in his and other ancient Greek works. The ring enables its wearer to become invisible, and the question arises as to whether any man is virtuous enough to resist the temptation to perform any act, if guilt could be escaped. Rings are circular and thus embody the symbolism of eternality, as the circle never ends. The ouroboros is also a ring that never ends, and includes serpentine imagery. The early patristic writer Athenagoras cites the Hellenic serpentine mysteries embodied in the Orphic cult as follows:
“Homer speaks of:
Old Oceanus, The sire of gods, and Tethys;
and Orpheus (who, moreover, was the first to invent their names, and recounted their births, and narrated the exploits of each, and is believed by them to treat with greater truth than others of divine things, whom Homer himself follows in most matters, especially in reference to the gods)— he, too, has fixed their first origin to be from water:—
Oceanus, the origin of all.
For, according to him, water was the beginning of all things, and from water mud was formed, and from both was produced an animal, a dragon with the head of a lion growing to it, and between the two heads there was the face of a god, named Heracles and Kronos. This Heracles generated an egg of enormous size, which, on becoming full, was, by the powerful friction of its generator, burst into two, the part at the top receiving the form of heaven (οὐρανός), and the lower part that of earth (γῆ). The goddess Gê; moreover, came forth with a body; and Ouranos, by his union with Gê;, begot females, Clotho,Lachesis, and Atropos; and males, the hundred-handed Cottys, Gyges, Briareus, and the Cyclopes Brontes, and Steropes, and Argos, whom also he bound and hurled down to Tartarus, having learned that he was to be ejected from his government by his children; whereupon Gê;, being enraged, brought forth the Titans.
The godlike Gaia bore to Ouranos Sons who are by the name of Titans known, Because they vengeance took on Ouranos, Majestic, glitt’ring with his starry crown.
Scholar Hans Leisgang comments on these mysteries:
“According to mythical or mystery thinking, the gods and cosmic forces represented here are not conceived as merely existing successively or side by side: they act upon one another and within one another. All are manifestations of a single god and of one and the same cosmos, which is the god himself with all the powers which he discharges but still encompasses; and these forces are the whole world with all its creatures and forms.” (“The Mysteries of the Serpent,” Papers From the Eranos Yearbook, pg. 211)”
With this mythological and esoteric background, it is possible to understand the deeper meaning of the film. The chief alien is the “Omega,” which is the central nervous system of all the Mimics. The Omega appears to control almost the entirety of Cage’s reality. Cage must become a kind of overman supersoldier and unite with his feminine half in order to destroy the Omega. In Christian theology, God is spoken of as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end, or telos of all time. In the gnostic version, this order is viewed as a prison that must be escaped, and therefore the transhumanist engineering in the film signifies the desire to overcome human limitations, like Starchild at the end of 2001. Cage must remember his past recurrences, and thereby navigate the labyrinth of circular history to defeat death, or the Omega.
It is worth pointing out that the Mimics call to mind the ancient Greek concept of mimesis. Mimesis in Plato dealt with the artist and his copy of reality. The forms themselves are copies, and in Aristotle, mimesis relates to poetics and storytelling. In the film, the Mimics copy Cage’s reality over and over, creating the temporal, psychical prison cycle. Philosophy student Zuska has written an interesting analysis of mimesis and eternal return that relates to Cage’s existential dilemma. Zuska explains:
“1.1. – Mimesis as an eternal return of the other already contains in its title an allusion to Nietzsche’s rather enigmatic term and also makes use of it in an extended concept of mimesis. The author [of Towards the Aesthetics of XXth Century: Mimesis, Fiction, Distance] first considers metamorphoses of “mimesis” in the history of aesthetics - mimesis as self-expression, as sign system, as possible worlds and so on. Throughout the whole chapter there are used the concepts of rhythm and temporality as a basis for an answer to the central question of the chapter: Why mimesis at all? After reflecting on Gadamer’s wider conception of mimesis and on Ricoeur’s creative three phased mimesis, on mimesis as the imaginative reiteration in cognitive processes (Kant) and on Nietzsche’s metaphorical rendering of knowledge, the author concludes that mimesis is an eternal return of the very possibility of an order (with chaos as its complement), a genuine presentation of the becoming or birth of the thought, subjectivity and the beautiful feeling. The extended concept of mimesis finally appears as a synecdoche of the universe.
1.2. – Mimesis and self-portrait makes use of the shortest circuit (from the temporal point of view) among creator, model and picture, among immediate sensation, picturing and self-reflection, among reality, mirror image and proper picture. As a kind of D.R.Hofstadter’s “strange loop” the mimesis of self-portrait appears to be a deontological transcendence of its creator. The author discusses a semiotic status of the mirror image, Lacan’s “mirror stage”, the relationship of the virtual and the real, perceptual genesis of the self-portrait, as well as the affirming Other as a participating self in a possible world of the artwork. he also treats double self-reflection (mirror self-image and the intentional setback on the same self). On the base of Rorty’s approach to the problem of the Other in Proust (as well as Levinas’ and Deleuze’s), where the others are shown as equal possibilities, the author claims that self-portrait posits the existential question through distanced actualization of the virtual. In other words, mimesis (not only of self-portrait) is an ontological reflection on possible ways of self-existence.”
That last sentence is exactly what Cage experiences.
The masculinized feminine half of the alchemical equation.
Cage is a synecdoche of all of his reality, because the battle is inside him. Zuska has rightly connected this concept to Hofstadter’s strange loop, which I have elucidated here. He eventually discovers that uniting with his feminine consort, Rita, is the key to his transcendence. Scholar Iona Miller elaborates on a passage dealing with alchemy and Jung that is particularly relevant to Cage:
“Jung asserted that the medieval alchemists were unaware of the natural process of psychological transformation which went on in their subconscious. Therefore, they projected this process into their experiments as a science of the soul. In other words, they projected an inner process outside of themselves. Had they been more conscious in their intent or more sophisticated in their psychology like the yogis, they would have been more consistently successful at producing the coveted lapis or Philosopher’s Stone, a sort of “quantum Tantra.”…
Slowly Jung familiarized himself with their alchemical meaning. Then he, himself, became a living symbol of the healing power of the Philosopher’s Stone — a guide to the depths of the unknown. In his case this power manifested as the ability to heal at the psychophysical level — in other words, to release any blocks hindering the natural process of growth and transformation. When proceeding in the direction of their individuation his clients’ harmony was restored, self-equilibration returned. Jung equated individuation with self-realization. We should be careful here not to dichotomize between “mental” and “physical” too much or we will lose our proper alchemical perspective. Alchemy cannot be reduced to a metaphor of psychological or philosophical transformation — it requires first-hand experimentation.”
Please do rid us of that hideous glass pyramid, Emily.
We know screenwriters love them some Carl Jung. This is why Cage awakens yet again from death after defeating the Omega to a major victory, yet the battle is still ongoing. Like Inception, the mystery of what is happening is in Cage’s own psyche, and the inner and outer worlds are actually one. While I don’t want to go overboard on the gnostic/demiurge element, I must add that there was positive symbolism in the fact that the Omega is a parasitical entity located underground beneath the Louvre, a gigantic glass pyramid commissioned by a Grand Orient socialist, Francois Mitterrand. They also realize they are not aided by the elites in London, Whitehall and the Ministry of Defence – indeed, that is the heart of the globalist system, and the film clues us into that. The global union designed to fight the threat is shown to be useless and impossible – and therefore the new world order itself is unworkable and impossible. Overall, I definitely recommend Edge of Tomorrow to sci fi fans and philosophy nerds like myself. At least the pyramids and supercomputers of the so-called Illuminists are being toppled in Tom Cruise films.