For years, I have collected art and publications from various esoteric sources -- End Times tracts, religious pamphlets, Communist propaganda, survivalist manuals -- which I collectively refer to as Nut Lit and Nut Art. (I guess the technical term is Ephemera, but let's face it -- the best stuff comes from people and groups who could be accurately described as "nuts".) Most of these I enjoy out of mere historical or artistic interest. Over the years, however, a select few of my Nut Lit finds have provided the Tingle -
- that creepy and voyeuristic thrill that comes from peeking into a world outside of the one the rest of the human race inhabits.
There's a certain esoteric frisson in looking inside the fevered imaginings of kooky cult, or from getting a look at the occult, the confusing, or the just plain crazy.
Certain people and groups tend to put out Nut Art that stands head and shoulders above the rest, however, and of these classics of the Nut Art genre, none stands above those produced by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society -- the propaganda arm of the Jehovah's Witnesses.
In many ways, the JW art published by the Watchtower is the Cadillac of the Nut Art genre. Their books, magazines, and pamphlets tend to feature big (usually full-color) illustrations (often paintings), well-executed by obviously-professional and always-anonymous artists, each dripping with oversaturated color and often featuring group shots of faces and figures bearing the peculiar stiffness that comes from the copious use of photo reference. These masterpieces of religious imagery often depict sensational Watchtower themes like the fiery destruction of Earth during the Apocalypse, the Scarlet Harlot on her Seven-Headed Beast, and (natch!) the Roman Catholic Church, which the JW hierarchy reckons to be the tool of Satan extraordinaire. However, other than the Jack Kirby-esque subject matter and the technical quality of the art, there is little Tingle in Watchtower art itself.
What I know about the Watchtower art will chill you to the marrow.
I am talking about the subliminal imagery hidden in the watchtower publications. This subliminal images are related to witchcraft and Satanism. There are, for example, over-printed images, which are figures placed one above another. The subliminal images are hidden, but when they are found, these satanic images are absolutely notorious for anyone.
There are also, embedded images. In other words, figures that are part of the scenery, like a chair, a wall, a tree, etc.
However the strangest type of encrypted images I found in Watchtower publications, are the "mirroring images". These images are the most elaborated (and certainly the most recurrent and evil).
In order to identify them you have to take certain pieces of Jehovah's Witnesses art (as they appear in their publications) and, and placing a mirror at the center (sometimes at the edge) of these pieces of art, creating new images composed of one-half of each piece viewed forward and backward at the same time -- sort of the visual equivalent of backwards masking in audio. (It sounds complicated, but it's really nothing more than the old funhouse mirror technique -- a trick some of you might remember from Prince's video for "When Doves Cry" -- applied to a piece of static art.) And -- as much as I hate to admit it -- when viewed in this way, the new images formed really do appear to contain composite images that resemble devil's heads, moaning, tortured faces, and psychedelic shapes suggestive of madness and evil.
Of course, I'm no spring chicken when it comes to this sort of thing.
I'm well aware of the power of the suggestible human mind to pull "images" out of chaos, but I have to say that these pictures are so creepy and disturbing on a gut level that they couldn’t be mere accidents of the artist's hand, Of course, someone could say that they are mere random daubs of paint turned into Lovecraftian horrors by my fertile imagination, but the whiff of pure evil I sense in some of the pictures on the site is so strong that if indeed I am imagining it my imagination is far stronger than I had heretofore suspected.
Now, I'm not here to put down anybody's beliefs. The validity or invalidity of the JW faith itself is not the point of this post. I'm talking about the images here, not the organization behind them -- and, bluntly put, this watchtower art is odd, disturbing, and not at all unintentionally humorous. This stuff is just weird, no matter who is behind it. It's creepy. It's eerie. It's got the Tingle.
Now I am going to present some of these mirroring images.