Nebuchadnezzar II (who reigned c.604-562 BC), the king of Babylon, started a series of ambitious building projects including the richly decorated Ishtar Gate (575 BC). A long processional avenue linked the sacred gate to the temple of the city god Marduk and his famous temple tower, known from the Bible as the Tower of Babel. The façades of the Ishtar Gate were decorated with reliefs on glazed bricks, representing dragons (Akkadian: mušḫuššu ; from Sumerian: MUŠ.ḪUS, lit. “reddish snake” sometimes also translated as “fierce snake” ), Marduk’s emblem, and bulls (aurochs) symbolizing the weather god Adad. The processional route away from the city was decorated with lions, the animals of Ishtar, goddess of love and war. They were to guard against advancing enemies, as is indicated by the name of the gateway: “Ishtar conquers its enemy”.
This dragon is preserved at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen (DK). Cm 115 x 164
When I was first playing the game I sometimes wondered why Blake is narrating the obvious. Many a times, he did do that. We are able to discern for ourselves most of the video content that he is recording. However, you will realise as you keep on playing the game that this was actually important in the whole narrative. It takes time to realise this as I also realised this recently. If you realised this before than more power to you.
Basically, the first videos Blake takes talks about the crash and not remembering the pilots name. Then he talks about the mysterious town. This is all things that happens in real-time. He also shows confusion when he goes to the school and cannot understand why the images are not recording though he is seeing them. He talks about things he does actively remember. An example, is Jessica’s suicide note, which he says he remembers. You will also notice that the first time he is in the school he can actually run outside. As in, he can leave. Also, the TV is not directly on. He has to move the TV to get in on. And, it surprises him. These little gestures matter; they are crucial to the game.
As someone mentioned, the demon keeps on getting progressively more violent. At first, Blake sees Loutermilch as Loutermilch. As in he is not a demonic entity. But as he keeps on getting indoctrinated with the signals Loutermilch mutates into how his true perception is. Loutermilch becomes a watchdog who seems to not want Blake to live or even find out the truth.
This is where the dissociation starts taking place. You will see that what Blake videotapes and comments on are not concomitant with each other. When Laird and Nick dies he talks about his parents dying. When Knoth dies he talks about Loutermilch dying. This means that the game wanted to use his voiceover for videos as way to show the deterioration of his mind. As one site deftly put it (I think Polygon) — documenting your own mental breakdown. Basically, by those voiceovers, we, the players, aer seeing Blake’s gradual dissociation and detachment from the present.
When he talks about even his new child he does not talk about her as a being separate to himself. He actually considers her to be Jessica reborn. Then by the end the white light consumes him and he stuck in the gateway as though in purgatory/limbo between that dimension and the real world. This is why the ending is so tragic alongside the death of Lynn and the devastation Murkoff caused. Blake has completely lost his sanity, which is as terrible as Miles losing his body to the Walrider.
In this way, the game tried to show us that Blake’s narratives mattered to make us question him and question his perceptions. There could have been things we would notice as another character that Blake won’t really. As in, when you met Corgan who is the guy who has “Consume the flesh, and spice it well” when you go to that area before you will see that it is boarded. Question is, Blake went around it — but that part was in the gateway. Or, rather the gateways allowed him a different path to go through.
In this way, Jessica is like a saviour to Blake as she helps him in many ways. Like in that section where you follow her voice alone it’s like she is helping him move forward. In that way, she is like Father Martin in the first game, only she doesn’t seem to have nefarious intent, not that we know of (personally, when I first played the game I wonder if Jessica intentionally wanted Blake to stay with her making her a villain in some respects). So, the Jessica Blake sees may not completely be a hallucination. She may be in some ways real.
So, yes, Blake’s narrative is important. Perhaps, in the DLC we will play as another character who actually sees how Blake went through those things or even disappear in the gateway and be shocked. This is an important insight to the game and the overall mythology.
Kurama’s main attraction, Kurama-dera, is a Buddhist temple located along the steep wooded mountainside above the town. It takes about 30-45 minutes to climb up to the temple’s main buildings from the town below. A cablecar (100 yen one way) leads about halfway up the mountain. (which we did take haha). Along the ascent to Kurama-dera stands Yuki Jinja, a shrine famous for its Fire Festival (Kurama Hi Matsuri), held annually on October 22. Kurama-dera’s main buildings stand on a terrace on the mountain slope, overlooking the wooded valley.
When we reached Kurama-dera we noticed that there was still some cherry blossom on the trees in the court yard. The colours were awesome, greens, pinks, oranges, reds, blue skies. The most wonderful spring day. Continuing past Kurama-dera up towards the peak we came across an huge bell tower called a shōrō in Japanese. It was surprising how empty this whole place was. I’m not used to going to such beautiful places, on a gorgeous day and there being hardly any people! It was amazing.
The next Majora’s Mask themed commission is the Giant’s Mask! The Giant’s Mask basically has no lore in the series, so I got inventive. I imagined the mask as based a figure from ancient Ikanan legend. The mask was part of the head of a great stone colossus (thus the Shadow of the Colossus look, haha :P) that dueled with Twinmold, eventually becoming sealed away in the inverted Stone Tower together with its foes when the doors were closed, and crumbling away to dust.
A Post with me trying to chart daily life in Temple Gate. Life in Temple Gate didn’t necessarily start in Temple Gate. We know from canon information online that Knoth started his gospels and that he had followers and they lived in Lydia Deagan’s ranch until they were chased off by authorities. The reason stated, as Outlast wiki documents, that dead bodies started showing up. As I mentioned in an earlier post, infanticide and death were mentioned since the first gospel of Knoth so there is no wonder that killings of people not following beliefs can happen.
However, Temple Gate was founded in 1975. Outlast wiki stated that Knoth and his followers came to the place in 1971. Took around five years to build the whole town.
As you know there is an inscription on the town plague: “It felt inevitable, like a dream or memory. Not mine.” The “not mine” part is not read out by Blake and is pretty effaced and one must carefully see it. Basically, this is already explained in the gospels of Knoth of all the visions he had of numerous entities that personally sounded eerily similar to Walriders.
Well, moving on, we know that Knoth in his journey to Havasupai took different sorts of people and rejected no criminals neither. In the gospels Knoth is encouraged to breed by the voices until a “nation” could be established thus allowing the antichrist to emerge,
This could mean that the killing of the children is a recent phenomenon. It may have been happening for like a year or so now; when the cult’s population starting to rise. This is probably Murkoff being very twisted and perverse and going to the “basics.” Experiments cannot be done without a suitable sample size. By encouraging incest and inbreeding they could get their sample size. But they needed to control it and also the radio emissions pretty much had a feedback loop which would make people hypersexual and homicidal. That is exactly what Murkoff wanted or just went with. Evidence of this is that there is a good number of people within Temple Gate.
Though, initially Knoth seemed to have many female followers. It later ebbed possibly because many of them became Scalled. You will see more females or recognize more females in Scalled population. Seeing that syphilis is spread by Knoth the chance of many females being affected is not unlikely.
Going back to life in Temple Gate, they seemed to live a “normal” enough life until recently. People seemed okay tending farm and crops. There was also a school for children though the books seem old and limited. The education level is not so good amongst many people. Some like Ruth can write eloquently. Others, like John and even Marcus, Simeon’s friend and Judith’s husband, write less so but seem to write more colloquially. Ethan also keeps a colloquial sense of tone in his letter but doesn’t have spelling mistakes.
When the troubles start Blake comes along. The first letter is from Tom to Ellie: basically a suicide note which is also eerily close to home for Blake concerning Jessica. The second letter is the one that Lisa writes; Lisa pretty much reiterates her Faith in The Testament of New Ezekiel. As I have explored in an earlier posts on belief systems, Lisa excitedly talks about having visions:
“I saw a creature like the burning sun but with inward rings of teeth upon teeth and dangling beneath limbs that I took to be arms but were cocks that rose in chiding purpose and as this monstrous sun descended, it fucked the earth and birthed some great and slouching horror from the fire. I was filled with the same fear, so great that I could not breathe nor move…when I woke I found myself wet with lusting…I would take greater comfort in your manhood inside me and a firm prayer that the antichrist be strangled in my womb. The most faithful of your flock in holy longing,
Lisa.” (highlights my own)
As we know from Knoth’s gospels, sexual imagery, feeling aroused and all of that is a part of the experience of being blinded by the light or exposed to radio signals. Also, seeing these ghastly, supernatural type creatures that are possibly Walrider like references.
I do believe the Heretics, the murders and all of these things are actually recent happenings. The Gospels of Knoth prove that and many of the letters seem recent. The gospels are fashioned with a scientific experiment in mind, with a device partly planned to go about it that way. Obviously, there were unplanned things like the feedback loop was more a theory than a perceived reality which augmented the experiences of the people making them do separate things like New Gospels and make motifs such as the “Scalled Christ” and all of that. Similarly, Val’s communication with the voice inside The Towers is pretty much like some sensual dialogue of “understanding” or “inheritance” which I believe Murkoff didn’t essentially plan such as Billy’s lateral ascension and laughing at REM sleep.
Not everyone is keen on the visions. Not everyone was happy with the infanticide. Not everyone faced “ecstatic rage” in the line of “proximity to death.” Judith becomes emotionally and sexually withdrawn from her husband Marcus when they killed their child Sarai. Marcus wants to still have sex and all but Judith has become angry and sad. Though Marcus threatens her with violence because he believed that both of them were doing their religious duty. There is another husband, I believe, Phillip, who talks nicely and respectfully to his wife telling her to hold on and that the visions mean they have come close to the end and after this pain there will joy in paradise.
From Val’s own accounts I recognised a lack of intimacy and community within Temple Gate. Even in the school lesson plan, which may be recent, there is an activity on finding out the enemy. This makes bullying and harassment inevitable among later generations. Where the odd child would be questioned and be ostracised; later on they may even be ostracised from their parents believing they have delivered a form of antichrist. Thinking that anyone could be the spider-eyed Lamb or the lesser whores or the devil’s whore also breeds unfaithfulness to one’s spouse because they may always be suspecting their husband or wife is relational to the antichrist.
The letter titled “Val’s secret” is interesting as Val shows sexual attraction to a woman named Ruth:
“The chief among his deacons, Val, came to me before sunrise this morning with an offer that was not fully described. Val acted like somebody offering something secret and sexual in nature. But my knowledge of Val and his character, it frightened me terribly and I would not accept any such invitation. Val would not further explain, and told me that “there are places in our hearts Papa Knoth cannot reach” though truth be told Val seemed more interested in other areas of my body. I suspect [this] is blasphemy and betrayal and cut it off before any harm is done. I hope Papa can help, as I am dreadful scared.
Ruth.” (highlights my own)
Whenever, I read Val’s journals or read letters pertaining to them, I always feel this lack of intimacy. This gulf of understanding amongst the people in The Testament of New Ezekiel. Everyone is out to report and criminalise everyone: in many ways this is the way I think Ngugi wa Thiang’o talked about this in relationship to Colonialism. Though, colonisation is not necessarily happening here, the way Thiang’o talked about English schools not allowing children to talk in their native languages but always in English and how children were forced to report people who spoke in their native tongue. There would be punishment for the child to indoctrinate them in the English language and to feel they have done something wrong speaking in their own. Similarly, David Wyndham’s The Chrysalids show that mutant humans living amongst religious zealots was always in fear for their lives because punishment was either death or something terrible, if discovered. We can say cults colonise the mind in behaving in certain ways that are not reasonable or even “good” but they make believe their rights and wrongs are perfectly alright. Actual tyranny is born from this.
There are two people mentioned in letters that we don’t necessarily see: Paul and Simeon. They are both important people who Blake does not meet or we don’t meet thus we are not sure what their fates are. Paul can be considered to a form of leader, a council elect, a person who helps keep justice in check. Simeon is their provisions’ manager it seems. When a man named John questions about Knoth’s syphilis it is to Simeon who seems higher in rank than him though they both go beyond Temple Gate to get their provisions such as gas and penicillin for Knoth. John may have later been punished: there is a note talking about offending Knoth and feeling horrible about this. I may think this was John.
There is also a suicide note: we know it is a woman who was lusted after by a person named Judah (you do see a woman’s body in a chasm with bodies dropped; some youtubers, perhaps Timm3D, show that the well from which the tongue pull’s Blake is actually this chasm. Which had Heretics also piled saying “Whores to Satan”). They are pregnant and it hurts; the baby hurts and they can’t see Judah drowning over and over again. Stating they didn’t know Judah couldn’t swim. They think that the antichrist is also in their womb and do mention the baby is Knoth’s. A youtube commenter talked how syphilis can be transmitted to mother to child. Yes, that’s true. Wikipedia also states Cuba is the first country to have stopped this transmission. So, Knoth’s syphilis makes birth difficult and possibly even fatal. Knoth originally mentioned there were more females in his followers to Temple Gate than men but, aside developer issues, you will notice the female population in Temple Gate has gone heavily down when Blake visits it. Female mortality rates may be higher and many now may actually be amongst the Scalled. And we know of the man in the Scalled who hanged himself pretty much just saying he was borrowing the rope and that he will be done with it soon (this was very painful and sad).
There is also preparations for the mass suicide casually mentioned as “Garden Note.” I actually had to read it again to know it was preparations for the mass suicide. A man named Macon tells Christine, who is probably his wife, that not to be angry with him for taking the Grape Aid (Koolaid anyone?) for he has taken in for Papa Knoth for a “celebration” (we all know how that turned out). Macon also states:
“I know we ain’t got a thing better to cover the taste in the water, but folks will just have to put up with it, I expect. Don’t give them none of the Sacrement as its needful for service. I guess we can do without our Grape Aid until there’s another run.
The fact is probably not all of them knew about the death. Knoth may have separately planned it for The Towers’ influence as the gospels lacked those details. It just mentioned if you don’t kill the antichrist, she will kill the world and people who like suffering will drop down to it and drag the righteous along with them.
I do believe initially there was some peace in Temple Gate. Seeing that Marta and Val probably grew up there and Val may have been born there shows that much. However, seeing that there were always tensions and also their idyllic pastoral lives were punctuated. heavily, by the forthcoming doom and “cannibalistic” genocide/infanticide, I believe there were always suspicions and even ostracisms carried out.
A mass ostracism is carried out already by the Scalled. The Scalled are out Heretics and are a sub group of The Testament of New Ezekiel. However, there are people over there that actually do realise they are suffering from syphilis and gonorrhea. The first mention of this is from Laird, who has Nick write his letter, talking about how the Scalled are complaining they are not getting the provisions owed them and though Laird and Nick can give them a beatdown they prefer the “gentle path.” We know that Knoth said that he should be harsher with the Scalled. There was a post here on tumblr by someone distinguishing Father Martin Archibald and Reverend Sullivan Knoth. I agree the former seems to “Protestant” the other “Catholic” but they both criticise self-pity so in that they have one similarity. Only, Martin calls Miles his Job and wants him to suffer and believes the crucifixion will help him reach resurrection thus suffering for that resurrection. Knoth believes self-pity is a “womanly sin” and that it also needs to be outed to, I guess, remain pure.
Going back to the syphilis, Athalia, Simeon’s cousin, possibly also lover or friend, states to give her penicillin as she needs to immunise herself before sores stop coming on and she is showing her sickness. She also questions how Knoth keeps well but she needs proper medicine. We see in her tone many of the Scalled are angry with Knoth. They know he is lying and they are angry to be living in such squalor and filth for faults not of their own. We know Laird was mean to the Scalled and was also telling them, when Blake is escaping, that all of them are worthless and does not deserve good health. So, when he is pushed off that house, I think that was inevitable.In the end, the game does not necessarily point out if anyone from the Scalled or the Heretics or Temple Gate really survived. It would be interesting if they have.
There are people who talk about the Lake being evil. That is where in the distance Blake sees The Towers on the left side, the mines on the right. We can only think that Murkoff had started building alongside Temple Gate and the mines are also evidence of this. When being chased by Val in the mines Blake comments on where this place is getting this amount of power. It surprises him because the mines are supposed to be dilapidated and abandoned but they are still surging enough power as if they are still functional. It wouldn’t be a surprise that until recently people were maintaining the mines. That The Towers were also being maintained. The Old Traveler may either have succumbed to the signals or even have been saved by going to The Towers and getting refuge.
The only three people I saw different in the game in Temple Gate was Ethan who proclaimed he was “Unborn”, possibly even slight excommunicated, and the man who is chased down in the lake and the “atheist: . Who had a fire light and may have spelled Help with stone. Both people show that some people may, by luck chance or something, escape indoctrination heavily by the signals if not completely. But Murkoff may know they need to be killed as they don’t necessarily need controls for the experiment in Temple Gate. They need Subjects and Projectors so those people would defeat the purpose of the experiment. Outliers may have always been there and may have been killed within Temple Gate. The last person, document titled “The Atheist” shows how a man is apologising to their wife. They became a Heretic but even that didn’t stop the visions. Unlike Val who accepted that “god” was not god but something else this man may have realised there is something pretty nefarious about Temple Gate. No amount of merry making or fucking around could get them happy. This is someone who is completely devastated. And it is painful to read that.
When I think about Temple Gate it sometimes brings a sadness in me. When you think about that people wanted probably some peace and instead gogt violence and bloodshed. At the same time, Murkoff has been planning these experiments. Which are pretty much dehumanising and barbaric that instilled in the The Testament of New Ezekiel and Heretics that they must kill and thrive in violence. The only neutral party are the Scalled. The Scalled, unlike the Variants, seemed somewhat awakened by their sickness. Unlike Variants who seem either warped in their own worlds, calling Walrider a god or just screaming — some question the science and mention Billy talking about things hidden or waiting for them in the mountain. I talked this once to someone else and though there is obviously science involved here I do believe the “gateway” generates some things which is not traditionally science if not supernatural.
The Walrider is considered a god by Martin. To me it looked more like a ghoul or a phantom. The strange, morphing lifeform is also called God by Knoth though I wonder if it was a Walrider like entity. Val obviously recognises it as something having some concrete trajectory. The fact Val wants to consummate their feelings with this creature just shows Val’s desperate need for empathy and intimacy which were denied to them so much. Marta, herself, is denied understanding. She cries when she kills someone but Knoth tells her conscience is just a worrisome worm and that her faith is imperfect. When I think about Marta I also imagine currents of loneliness and a pinnacle of isolation which Murkoff made Temple Gate to be.