Monday, June 29, 2009

Pulp Fiction analysis - part 2: Relationship to the movie 'Hostel'


In part 1 of the analysis, we talked about the contents of the briefcase. Here in part 2, we will discuss the relationship of Pulp Fiction to Eli Roth's 2005 film, Hostel (of which Quentin Tarantino was one of the executive producers), and we will see how this relationship ultimately gives away one of Pulp Fiction's underlying themes.

For those who have not read the analysis of the movie Hostel on this blog, it is discussed therein that two of Hostel's underlying ideas are that, 1) some of Hostel's characters 'switch places', so to speak, during the film. For example, the character Paxton, who is a victim of physical torture early in the movie, has himself become a torturer by the end of the film; and, 2) there is suggestion made at one point in Hostel that each of the members of its audience is to switch places with Paxton. Putting these two ideas together led to the conclusion that Hostel's underlying theme is that anyone, given the right set of circumstances, can switch, from being a torture victim to becoming a perpetrator of torture, as did Paxton.

That Hostel indicates to its audience members that each of them is to switch places with Paxton, is evident from putting two specific scenes in Roth's movie together. In the first of these scenes, Paxton, along with his friend, Josh, have just arrived at a European hostel and are checking in with the desk clerk there. On a nearby countertop there is a TV playing, and on it is showing Pulp Fiction (see screencap at left; note the lack of subtitles). It is playing in a foreign language, not English, and Paxton comments on this, saying, "Great - no subtitles." Then in a later scene, in which Paxton is about to be tortured, he speaks to his would-be torturer in a foreign language, and the audience (of Hostel) is given no subtitles. By virtue of the fact that each member of the Hostel audience has here become like Paxton, in the sense that he/she is viewing a movie scene in which a foreign language is being spoken but no subtitles are given, each of them is to infer that he/she is to switch places with Paxton; and then, by the end of Hostel, each member of its audience is to realize that he/she could apply the idea of 'switching places' between tortured and torturer to himself or herself.

It was necessary to first describe the means whereby all the switching that is to take place regarding Hostel, was indicated to its audience, for us to now realize how all of this applies to us, the audience of Pulp Fiction. For If we now 'complete' the switch between the characters and audience of Hostel, within the context of Pulp Fiction being shown on the TV in Hostel, we see that when Paxton is watching Pulp Fiction, he must be watching a movie that has a theme of switching among characters, since that is what the audience of Hostel is doing (i.e., they are watching such a movie). The point is that one of the themes of Pulp Fiction itself is switching, in the sense that some of its characters undergo a kind of switching within the film.

Here is an example of the switching in Pulp Fiction: After Butch Coolidge has defeated his boxing opponent (killing the opponent in the process), cab driver Esmarelda VillaLobos ('lobos' is Spanish for 'wolves') accepts money from Butch for helping him - he gives her some cash, and she promises not to tell anyone that she gave a cab ride to the boxer who killed his opponent.

Butch and Esmarelda seal their deal.

Later in the movie, in the scene in Jimmie Dimmick's house, we see that Winston Wolf ('The Wolf') pays money to Jimmie for his help (for the purchase of some of Jimmie's blankets and bedspreads, to be used to hide bloodstains that are on the interior of the car which Jules and Vincent, who have driven to Jimmie's house, have been travelling in). The audience is here cued to the relationship between the two situations (Esmarelda/Butch, and The Wolf/Jimmie) via use of the 'wolf' nomenclature - the two scenes are, in a sense, 'opposites' of each other: In the first scene, 'wolf' (Esmarelda VillaLobos) is paid to help; whereas in the second, 'wolf' (The Wolf) pays for help. The (metaphorical) wolf has effectively switched, from being a person who accepts money, to a person who pays money.

Above left: Winston Wolf ('The Wolf'; seated on left) prepares to hand over some cash to Jimmie for the use of his blankets and bedspreads. Above right: Jules and Vincent wipe down the car in which they have been travelling, and inside of which a man was shot in the head, spattering blood (as well as brain and skull fragments) on the interior of the car (the body has already been removed from the car by the point in time depicted above). The blankets and bedspreads purchased by The Wolf, are to be used to cover over any bloodstains remaining in the interior of the car after Jules and Vincent are done cleaning it, so that it can be driven on public roadways without drawing suspicion.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 61: The meaning of the suit of skin


From Confessions 13.15 (Outler translation):

"Now who but you, our god, made for us that firmament of the authority of your divine scripture to be over us? For 'the heaven shall be folded up like a scroll';[Isa. 34:4] but now it is stretched over us like a skin. Your divine scripture is of more sublime authority now that these mortal men through whom you dispensed it to us have departed this life. And you know, lord, you know how you clothed men with skins when they became mortal because of a sin.[Gen. 3:21] In something of the same way, you have stretched out the firmament of your book as a skin - that is to say, you have spread your harmonious words over us through the ministry of mortal men. For by their very death that solid firmament of authority in your sayings, spoken forth by them, stretches high over all that now drift under it; whereas while they lived on earth their authority was not so widely extended. Then you had not spread out the heaven like a skin; you had not yet spread abroad everywhere the fame of their death."

This passage reminds us of Gumb's (Satan's/Lecter's pupil) 'suit' of skin. The idea of Gumb's physical body being enclosed by a suit of skin assembled from patches obtained from his female victims, must therefore be an allegory for the construction of a firmament 'surrounding' Satan's pupil, i.e. an 'evil firmament', keeping in mind that in the passage from Augustine above, 'firmament' means scripture. Thus, the formation of the suit of skin represents the unfolding of Satan's (Lecter's/evil hermaphroditic Jews') evil word (i.e., scripture) over mankind. And, 'fame of their death' refers to the fact that the killings of the women have become widely known among the public largely due to Catherine Martin's mother, a U.S. Senator, appearing on national television to address her daughter's plight (specifically, to plead with Buffalo Bill so that he will not kill Catherine).

Above left: Jame Gumb, wearing his almost-completed suit of skin. Above right: Catherine Martin's mother, Senator Ruth Martin, pleads with Catherine's captor (Gumb, aka Buffalo Bill) on national TV, to be merciful with Catherine and to release her unharmed.

This completes the 'abstract' analysis phase 3, which consists of parts 51-61.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Outler)

[If you are only interested in viewing the explanation of the film's hidden plot, continue on to part 63 of the analysis. Otherwise, use the buttons below to navigate the analysis.]


Friday, June 19, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 60: Aurelius's tripartite divisions and the Trinity


The "Shield of the Trinity" or Scutum Fidei diagram of traditional medieval Western Christian symbolism, since 12th-century CE. [Image from the Wikipedia 'Trinity' page, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.]

Marcus Aurelius discusses what one could think of as certain tripartite divisions in his Meditations which, upon close examination, seem to be matches for the Christian Holy Trinity, which consists of three persons: God the Father, God the Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit. First, some preparatory material:

In the bible's Gospel of John, chapter 20, verses 20-23, a correspondence is drawn between breath, and the Holy Spirit:

20. [T]hen the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
21. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you."
22. When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit."
23. "If you received the sins of any, they are forgiven them..."
[New Revised Standard Version; emphasis not in original.]

There are several ways in which the entities of Aurelius's division are put into words by him. From the Hammond translation of Meditations:

[2.2] "Whatever it is, this being of mine is made up of flesh, breath, and directing mind..."[a]

The correspondence with the Holy Trinity here seems to be, 'flesh = God the Son (Jesus), breath = Holy Spirit, directing mind = God the Father.'

[3.16] "Body, soul, mind. To the body belong sense perceptions, to the soul impulses, to the mind judgments..."[b]

'body = God the Son (Jesus), soul = Holy Spirit, mind = God the Father.'

Aurelius's other formulations are, 'directing mind, sensual soul, body' [7.16], which corresponds to 'God the Father, Holy Spirit, God the Son (Jesus)', and 'body, breath, and mind' [12.3], corresponding to 'God the Son (Jesus), Holy Spirit, God the Father'.

a. Marcus Aurelius. Meditations. Trans. with notes Martin Hammond. London: Penguin Group, 2006. p. 10.
b. Ibid., p. 22.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 59: More from St. Augsutine; rel. to Gumb


Continuing with the topic begun in the previous post, in Confessions Book 13, chapter 9, Augustine says,

"... The body tends towards its own place by its own gravity. A weight does not tend downward only, but moves to its own place. Fire tends upward; a stone tends downward. They are propelled by their own mass; they seek their own places. Oil poured under the water rises above the water; water poured on oil sinks under the oil. They are moved by their own mass; they seek their own places. If they are out of order, they are restless; when their order is restored, they are at rest. My weight is my love. But I am carried wherever I am carried. By your gift, we are enkindled and are carried upward. ..."

The above suggests the idea of the placement of Gumb's victims' bodies in flowing water, and their subsequent movement through it. Recall that Gumb weighted down the body of his first victim (Frederica Bimmel), and that therefore she was found third - thus, 'out of order' with respect to the later victims.

A photo of Frederica Bimmel from the FBI Buffalo Bill case file.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Outler)


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 58: Augustine and the waters; rel. to Gumb


The red arrows on this FBI map, show where the bodies of some of Gumb's female victims were discovered by the authorities. Each body was found in a different river.

In this post, we connect some of Augustine's writings on 'the waters', with the fact that Jame Gumb places his victims' bodies in rivers. Book 13, chapter 7 of the Confessions says,

"Now let him who is able follow your apostle with his understanding when he says, 'Your love is shed abroad in our hearts by the holy spirit, which is given to us'[1 Cor. 12:1] and who teaches us about spiritual gifts and shows us a more excellent way of love;[1 Cor. 12:31 ff.] and who bows his knee to you for us so that we may come to the surpassing knowledge of the love of Christ. Thus, from the beginning, he who is above all was "moving over" the waters.

"To whom shall I tell this? How can I speak of the weight of concupiscence which drags us downward into the deep abyss, and of the love which lifts us up by your spirit who moved over the waters? To whom shall I tell this? How shall I tell it? For concupiscence and love are not certain places in which we are plunged and out of which we are lifted again. What could be more like, and yet what more unlike? They are both feelings; they are both loves. The uncleanness of our own spirit flows downward with the love of worldly care; and the sanctity of your spirit raises us upward by the love of release from anxiety - that we may lift our hearts to you where your spirit is 'moving over the waters.' Thus, we shall have come to that supreme rest where our souls shall have passed through the waters which give no standing ground."

The ideas here of being "plunged" and of flowing downward, are suggested by Gumb's placement of his victims' bodies in rivers: Each body is 'plunged' into the water, then 'flows downward' through the water.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Outler)


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 57: Augustine on movement of the Holy Spirit


In the previous post, we began to discuss the importance of bodies of water in the movie. In the Confessions, Augustine speaks of the Holy Spirit 'moving over' the waters at the beginning of creation, as told in the biblical book of Genesis. From Book 13 of the Confessions (Outler translation):

[13.5] "See now, how the trinity appears to me in an enigma. And you are the trinity, my god, since you, father - in the beginning of our wisdom, that is, in your wisdom born of you, equal and coeternal with you, that is, your son - created the heaven and the earth...And now I came to recognize, in the name of god, the father who made all these things, and in the term 'the beginning' to recognize the son through which he made all these things; and since I did believe that my god was the trinity, I sought still further in his holy word, and, behold, 'your spirit moved over the waters.' Thus, see the trinity, my god: father, son, and holy spirit, the creator of all creation!"

Recall that Clarice Starling's green clothing in certain scenes, indicates that she represents the 'presence' of the Holy Spirit.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Outler)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 56: The movie's depiction of a biblical river


On the plane to West Virginia: Agent Crawford shows Starling the FBI map denoting the locations of Buffalo Bill's victims. The blue circles mark the places where girls were abducted, and the red arrows point to locations where their bodies were found (each victim denoted on the map was found in a different river). The lower center arrow points to the area of Jefferson County, Kentucky. (You may click on the image to enlarge it).

Noting the importance of water in the movie, i.e., that Jame Gumb places his victims' bodies in various rivers after he has killed and skinned them, let's look at a part of the biblical book of Genesis that brings up the topic, of the four rivers that were connected with the Garden of Eden. Beginning at Genesis 2:10 [New Revised Standard Version]:

10. A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches.
11. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12. and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.
13. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush.
14. The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows out of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

As noted in the caption to the above screen capture, the lower center arrow on the map points to the general area of Jefferson County, Kentucky. The northern border of Kentucky is formed by the Ohio River (the dark blue wavy line above the arrow). This river represents the Pishon, based on the following reasoning:

1) Genesis says the Pishon flows around the land of Havilah, where there is gold. Jefferson County, which is adjacent to the Ohio River, is the location of the Fort Knox gold bullion depository. Also within the county there is a city named Hollyvilla, a name which sounds similar to 'Havilah'.

2) There is said to be bdellium and onyx in the land around the Pishon. Bdellium (Hebrew bedolach) is an aromatic gum like myrrh that is exuded from a tree. According to the University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture website, the Black Tupelo tree, also know as the Blackgum or Sourgum, is native to Kentucky.[a] As the alternate names suggest, this tree exudes gum.

Onyx is a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. Quartz is quite common in Kentucky. According to Kentucky Agate, State Rock and Mineral Treasure of the Commonwealth, "In 2000 the Kentucky Legislature passed House Bill 123, which designated Kentucky agate [a type of quartz] as the official state rock of Kentucky."[b]

a. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, Department of Horticulture "Black Gum" page. Web. URL =
b. McIntosh, Roland L. and Warren H. Anderson. Kentucky Agate, State Rock and Mineral Treasure of the Commonwealth. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2013. Google Books, p. 12. URL =


Monday, June 8, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 55: A review of Augustine on creation


From previous parts of the analysis, we know that Hannibal Lecter's Baltimore prisoner number, 'B1329-0', is a reference to the writings of medieval philosopher and theologian Saint Augustine, specifically, to Book 13, chapter 29 of his Confessions. At this point it is convenient to review both chapters 28 and 29 of Book 13, and to look at chapter 30 as well; all three chapters have to do with creation of the world, and thus, they apply to what Gumb (Satan's pupil/evil Freemasons) is doing by assembling his 'suit' of skin, while being 'overseen' by Lecter (Satan/evil hermaphroditic Jews), insofar as this is a metaphor for (an attempt at) creation of some 'alternate' evil world (the 'evil kingdom' mentioned earlier in the analysis, which is precisely the utopia to be established in southern Indiana mentioned in the previous post). From the Confessions (Outler translation):

[13.28] "And you, god, saw everything that you had made and, 'behold, it was very good.'[Gen. 1:31] We also see the whole creation and, behold, it is all very good...I have counted seven times where it is written that you saw what you had made was good. And there is the eighth time when you saw all things what you had made and, behold, they were not only good but also very good; for they were now seen as a totality. Individually they were only good; but taken as a totality they were both good and very good. Beautiful bodies express this truth; for a body which consists of several parts, each of which is beautiful, is itself far more beautiful than any of its individual parts separately, by whose well-ordered union the whole is completed even though these parts are separately beautiful."

[13.29] "And I looked attentively to find whether it was seven or eight times that you saw your works were good, when they were pleasing to you, but I found that there was no 'time' in your seeing which would help me to understand in what sense you had looked so many times at what you had made. And I said: Lord, is not this your scripture true, since you are true, and your truth sets it forth? ...[And you, Lord, replied to me,] 'Man, what my scripture says, I say. But it speaks in terms of time, whereas time does not affect my word - my word which exists coeternally with myself. Thus the things you see through my spirit, I see; just as what you say through my spirit, I say. But while you see those things in time, I do not see them in time; and when you speak those things in time, I do not speak them in time.' "

[13.30] "And I heard this, lord my god, and drank up a drop of sweetness from your truth, and understood that there are some men to whom your works are displeasing, who say that many of them you made under the compulsion of necessity - such as the patterns of the heavens and the courses of the stars - and that you did not make them out of what was yours, but that they were already created elsewhere and from other sources. It was thus [they say] that you collected and fashioned and wove them together...[They say] a hostile mind and an alien nature - not created by you and in every way contrary to you - begot and framed all these things in the nether parts of the world. They who speak thus are out of their minds, since they do not see your works through your spirit, nor recognize them in you."

To review: 13.28 reminds us of how Gumb is assembling a whole suit of skin from parts, more specifically, pieces of skin from women's bodies. Also, chapters 28 and 29 together remind us of the seven days of creation, plus the idea of an eighth day. As discussed earlier, this latter idea is related to the '8' in Lecter's Memphis prisoner number ('B5160-8'). The addition to the 'suit' of the patch of skin Catherine Martin is to provide, is to be the metaphorical seventh day of creation, and, once Clarice shows up at Gumb's door, he is too think that he can use a patch from her to complete an eighth day.

Taking 13.30 within the context of our movie, Jame Gumb would be a hostile mind and alien nature, weaving together things in the nether parts of the world.

Starling introduces herself to Jame Gumb, at Gumb's house in Belvedere, Ohio.

The Confessions of Saint Augustine (Outler)


Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 54: The "lambs" of the movie (cont'd)


Continuing from the previous post, Isaiah 53:7 reads as follows [New International Standard Version]:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

With regard to applicability of the above verse to our movie, recall from the previous post, in the description of the book of Isaiah, the idea of a land promised to the Jews by God, and the idea of the future glory of Zion. Ultimately, the movie-makers want us to take the members of the general public as the lambs of the movie's title, being silent while unknowingly being led to their virtual slaughter by those evil parties who desire to establish a real-life 'new Zion'/promised land/utopia in southern Indiana, i.e., evil hermaphroditic Jews and other parties.


Silence of the Lambs analysis - part 53: The "lambs" of the movie's name


In this and the next post, we attempt to determine who the "lambs" are in "The Silence of the Lambs." To do this, we will look into the biblical book of Isaiah.

The book of Isaiah is not one of the Five Books of Moses (the Torah), but Judaism nevertheless considers it to be a part of its canon, and regards Isaiah as the first of the major prophets.[a] In the first 39 chapters of the book of Isaiah, Isaiah prophesies doom for a sinful Judah and for all the nations of the world that oppose God. The rest of the book (chapters 40-66) consists of what some have called "The Book of Comfort." In the first eight chapters of this Book of Comfort, Isaiah prophesies the deliverance of the Jews from the hands of the Babylonians and restoration of Israel as a unified nation in the land promised to them by God. The remaining chapters of this book contain prophecies of the future glory of Zion under the rule of a suffering servant, generally understood by Rabbinic Judaism to be Israel, that is, the term represents Israel personified.[b]

In the next post, we'll see what the notions of a 'promised land' and the future glory of Zion, have to do with the metaphorical "lambs" of the movie's title; we'll see who these lambs are.

a. Wikipedia, 'Book of Isaiah'. Web, n.d. URL =
b. "Zion" is a term that most often designates the Land of Israel and its capital, Jerusalem. However, as we will see in the next part of the analysis, a 'new' Zion (i.e., a 'utopia') is to be established at a particular location in the United States.


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Marcus Aurelius's Meditations - from Wikisource (except where otherwise noted); portions from Wikisource used on this blog are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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Saint Thomas Aquinas's Summa Theologica from the 'Logos Virtual Library' website (except where otherwise noted), compiled and edited by Darren L. Slider; believed to be in public domain.