In the hidden-away tranquility beneath the branches of large shadowy trees, in the Secret Garden hostel in a mysterious little town called Vilcabamba, in Ecuador December 2008, I met a man with white hair and a white beard. It was from this man that I first learned of the Zeitgeist…

The word “Zeitgeist” comes from the German word Zeit, which means time, and Geist, which means spirit.

So basically Zeitgeist means the “spirit of the times” and according to wikipedia this means the “general cultural, intellectual, ethical, spiritual, and/or political climate within a nation or even specific groups, along with the general ambience, morals, and sociocultural direction or mood of an era (similar to the English word mainstream or trend).”

The first part of the first movie (entitled The Greatest Story Ever Told) looks at religion, describes the worship of the Sun, the anthropomorphism of astrological constellations, of an ancient and ongoing battle between Horus and Set, or Light and Darkness, with each morning Horus winning and providing us warmth and vision, and Set conquering as our nights set in. The celebration of the birth of the Sun would occur on the Winter equinox (the 25th of December), where from then on the days would get longer.

The second part (entitled All The World’s a Stage) looks at the theory that September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were an inside job.

Part 3 (entitled Don’t Mind the Men Behind the Curtain) looks at the waging of war for the economic gain of international bankers.

The sequel to the movie is called Zeitgeist: Addendum explains “fractional reserve banking”, shows how debt makes us economic slaves that must submit to employment in order to live. How’s this for a quote:

“Physical slavery requires people to be housed and fed. Economic slavery requires people to feed and house themselves.”

A confronting lens from which to interpret reality, isn’t it.

The second part of the sequel is mainly interviews with John Perkins, the ex-CIA economic hit man and the author of “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”, a New York Times best seller that is now also a film). Perkins writes:

Economic hit men (EHMs) are highly-paid professionals who cheat countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars. They funnel money from the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and other foreign “aid” organizations into the coffers of huge corporations and the pockets of a few wealthy families who control the planet’s natural resources.

The final part of the Zeitgeist sequel leaves some points of hope, with futurist Jacque Fresco providing a vision of a resource-based economybased on abundance rather than the current monetary-based economy based on scarcity. The vision is known as The Venus Project, and it involves the use of magnetic and geotechnologies that have allegedly been suppressed for political and monetary gains that could help us adapt to environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyles. These technologies sound fantastic, but they need more research and development and hence more funding, which the capitalist system prevents them getting as it gives preference to policies like carbon tax which bandaid a solution rather than looking to solve the actual cause. I don’t know if all that is said is possible, but it’s refreshing and powerful to visualise and imagine.

The last part of this movie turns to our society’s values, oppressive laws, and irrelevant superstitions, and points to a collective ignorance that leads it.

The films have been criticised for containing material that is partially true, and some that is complete bogus, used mainly to ‘maximize an emotional response at the expense of reasoned argument’ which as a result undermines ‘legitimate questions about what happened on 9/11, and about corruption in religious and financial organizations.’[1]

Still even if some details are added for emotional oomph, it seems to me that the core issues they discuss are real issues. They may not have referenced all of their sources but finding sources to support the gist of what they talk about is not hard to find. This documentary is available for free online and is absolutely worth watching, as long as all it’s details are not taken as gospel.

The core messages in the film are strong, I think it does a good job to capture the spirit of our times, and provide at least some direction and vision as to where we are going. It is for sure that humanity together must seek the emergent and the symbiotic. Throughout history people have desired to fit and uphold the norm, otherwise they are ostracized by their society. But the perpetuation of a closed worldview is not positive for society. It is destructive. Fundamentalist religions are psychologically distorting the idea of faith. The new is ignored in favor of outdated beliefs. We misinterpret myths as literal events. Consider the paradigm shifts of the last two millennia: heliocentric to geocentric and beyond. What we know today was unimaginable 2000 years ago. To be proven wrong should be celebrated. Fluid perpetual change must be embraced. There is no such thing as static knowledge. Nothing is ever static.

We have to stay open to new information at all times; even if challenges our present beliefs.

When the pupil is ready, a teacher will show up. Read a Zen proverb on a gift card in a little art shop in a small Vilcamamban street. It is overwhelming to consider the problems of our worldwide system and their deep historic roots. But what matters is not how we can change the world, but how we can change ourselves. It starts with being ready to learn. I am ready.

And on that note, guess what teacher is showing up in town (my town, ie Sydney)???… JACQUE FRESCO!!! Next Friday the 23rd April 2010, for the Venus Project World Lecture Tour. He’s speaking at my uni – Sydney University – and tickets are open, just under $30, and available here … I hope to see you there!

[1] ^ Chapman, Jane (2009). Documentary in Practice: Filmmakers and Production Choices. Polity Press. p. 171–173.