If you’re a connoisseur of bizarre Internet ephemera you may have run into a series of YouTube videos about the connections between 9/11, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the movie Back to the Future. Now the creator of those videos, Joe Alexander, has a new short film that takes the mystic connections between the 9/11 attacks and Back to the Future further than ever before (he even ropes in Zemeckis’ new movie, The Walk). We spoke with Joe Alexander, filmmaker and member of the synchromystic community, about Back to the Future, modern mysticism, and the power of film to raise human consciousness.
Back to the Future Predicts 9/11
Back to the Future Predicts 9/11 is a dizzying watch, full of big breath statements like, “Zemeckis, a pre-cogging conduit, channels the 9/11 archetype with his tower strike Twin Pines terror attack cinematic superimposition, both scenes featuring the transdimensional portal, pointing to 9/11 as the archetype of transcendence.”
So what are we to make of Back to the Future Predicts 9/11? The first version of the film was variously described as a “brilliant truther parody doc,” “amusingly interesting,” and evidence that “they had planned to take down the towers for many decades and they have left clues in many shows.”
I've just been asked to watch a short film about 9/11 references in Back to the Future "with an open mind". For fuck's sake.
— Gary (@GKM77X) August 18, 2015
But Back to the Future Predicts 9/11 is no simple conspiracy rant, nor a parody of one. Instead, it’s something much stranger and more interesting: the work of an Internet-grown mysticism movement that has largely replaced the Christian symbolism, magic circles and demonology of 19th century occult practices with echoes of universal consciousness mined out of our own pop culture.
Known as synchromysticism, often shortened to ‘sync,’Alexander describes the community as “chasing the biggest answers out there.” But it’s exactly because synchromystics are probing “the fundamental archetypes and the structure of the universe and consciousness itself” that they eschew concrete answers.
Instead short films like Back to the Future Predicts 9/11 are playful exercises in pattern recognition, searching out meaningful coincidences that they believe may emerge from a mystical, universal holism.
Influential synchromystic Jake Kotze describes these coincidences, or synchronicities, as what happens “when we notice the bleed-through from one seemingly separate thing into another, or when we for a brief moment move beyond the mind's divisions of the world. Synchromysticism explores this phenomenon…"
So… uh, what does this have to do with Back to the Future again? Synchromystic filmmaker Joe Alexander offered us an in-depth look into the sync perspective on the pop classic.
How would you characterize the "Back to the Future Predicts 9/11" video?
"The video really has two main components to it, the first is the sub-narrative of Back to the Future and the second is the power that film has to influence the human mind and to paint reality in a different light.
From Back to the Future Predicts 9/11:
“More human minds on planet Earth observed 9/11 than any single event in human history, making it a massive terrestrial meditation, concentrating collective consciousness on a single space-time focal point, making 9/11 humanity’s most potent consciousness-altering Stargate.”
Why Back to the Future?
"I think it chose me to be honest. I think that these sub-plots, they wanted to be expressed on some level. We come back to intention, like in the way a human being has intention. Can a movie have intention? Can something that doesn't seem to be conscious have intention? I think it can because it's ultimately tied to the infinite consciousness of the universe."
How many times have you watched Back to the Future?
"I've maybe watched it 50-75 times. I watch it in slow-motion a lot. I watch it frame-by-frame."
The closest I can think of to sync that has come anywhere near the pop culture is Room 237. Do you see that movie as in the same spirit as your movement, or something different?
"It's very similar to me. Rodney Ascher, while making Room 237, found the sync community maybe halfway through and it definitely influenced his production of the film. And I don't know how much you know about Rodney, he's sort of been assimilated into our sync community and has definitely taking a liking to it. So I think there's a blend there and as far as emerging in mainstream, definitely Room 237 is the biggest we've gotten."
You describe the video as both “mysticism and sophistry” and I don’t want to insist on nailing down how literal your intentions are, but would you describe this video as art, or ceremony, or tool? How do you want viewers to look at it?
"I want it to be pseudoscientific. I want it to be mystical. And to me that means it rests somewhere between the lines of art and science. To me that is science. It's just a willingness to delay jumping to conclusions. So it's an inconclusive exploration of a hypothesis, which is mysticism and also science."
What do you think generates the symbolic, or archetypal or mystical resonances your teasing out of things? Are they the products of consciousness and mind, or an attribute of the universe generally? What's the wellspring of this stuff?
"I would say that it's both. But at the most fundamental level I would have to assume that it comes down to mathematics, in the same way I see all of the structure around me in the universe emerging from seemingly consistent mathematical principles. So, those archetypes blossoming in Back to the Future and other films, I believe is happening all around us every second in every fractal of the universe. They could probably be extracted from the most subtle and mundane elements of our lives. But I just choose to use Back to the Future."
Synchromystic world view: everything in the universe is connected. All symbols have multiple layers of information & interpretations.
— Alien Axioms (@AlienAxioms) July 21, 2015
Why did you decide to add a contextual warning beforehand on this one?
"The primary rational is that I wanted to be honest. And I got to a point with my production where I realized I was having a heavy influence over people's perception merely based on my ability to tweak the production, whether it be a narration, specific images I was choosing... and I wasn't comfortable with having audience members either not know or not be totally aware that they were being manipulated.
I feel that since the synchromysticism community currently is so heavily investigating pop culture, particularly movies, it was only appropriate to use the sync film to also try and touch on the topic of how movies themselves are manipulative in a way that can't be divided from the message being presented. So it was really an attempt to be honest with the audience."
In the opening you write "There is no message here divisible from this medium," can you explain that a little more?
"Information that human consciousness is pulling out of the universe is also not divisible from the universe itself. This is an important concept to me. I can speak more about it, but that's basically what I was getting at. And it also speaks a little bit to how film has the power to manipulate. The medium not being divisible from the message is saying that the information contained in this film only exists because this film exists. The film has warped the information merely by presenting it. So I'm not actually presenting truth, but I'm warping reality and creating truth. So, as an audience, that's something you need to be aware of and guard yourself against."
One of the positive effects you identify in the video is a psychic awakening through the democratization of film and people's ability to create videos for themselves, allowing everyone to access its power. Do you think there has been an expansion of people's ability to look at things differently because of that?
"I don't think it's questionable. You can see it when you log on to YouTube and watch a video and you can read the comments and see people saying "this is fake, this is fake, this is fake." I think we take for granted our newly discovered ability to look at film and say "this is doctored" because half a century ago people were watching film and believing everything they saw.
So the fact that in the last decade we've all got video cameras and editing ability in our hand, it's very much akin to when the global masses made the transition from illiteracy to literacy and they were suddenly freed from having to believe everything read to them, because they realized they could write something that's completely fabricated and make other people believe it.
It's just such a profound leap for mankind to be able to dismiss something on a screen that seems so convincing. I feel like it's really important to break those chains and prevent being lied to."
Any word on whether Robert Zemeckis has seen the video?
"I doubt that he has yet, but I think it's a matter of time. And if he ends up not seeing this one because it doesn't get big, I'm just going to make another one that's hopefully better and it's going to reach him eventually because I feel like his material is too clean and too eerie to not have an impact on non-synchromystic personalities."
Where would you suggest people start if they want to learn more about synchromysticism?
The most important thing to me is that synchromysticism, as I said in the disclaimer, is explorative. It's all conjecture. And in the community what's so unbelievably fun about participating is that we're not looking for answers."