Steven Soderbergh’s Spatial Relationships

Why did the creative force behind such pragmatic vehicles as “Traffic”, “Erin Brockovich”, “Ché”, “Good Night and Good Luck”, “Syriana” and Ocean’s Trilogy flirt with the paranormal in their financial failure “Solaris” ?

Quite simply, the film was Steven Soderbergh’s hymn to his heritage. Earthly logic on the contrary, the temporary shift of their creative sights to spirits and space was predetermined.

The son of mystics, he spent his childhood on tiptoe across the outer limits of reality. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 14, 1963, the son of Dr. Peter A. Soderbergh, a professor of education, and Midge Soderbergh, a parapsychologist.

The Soderbergs had left the Catholic Church some years earlier, finding greater comfort in plumbing advances to other worlds. While Peter championed ingenious teaching methods in the classroom, Midge addressed less tangible topics, frequently leading workshops at regional retreats for the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship, a loose collection of mediums, channels, and spiritual healers. The couple’s joint experience at the gates to new dimensions was well received at both academic and esoteric gatherings.

While his father was Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Affairs at the University of Virginia (1973-1976), Steven began to fight for his own identity and to dream of a career in baseball. At the time, Charlottesville was a center for spiritual development. The UVA division of parapsychology had a faculty of credible scientists whose research provided an umbrella of academic respectability to Dr. Soderbergh’s fascination with the arcane. His brief tenure there was marked by his own prolific production of articles on the spirit world, more than 50 in a few years.

At the same time, competitive parapsychology research was being conducted at Duke University and the Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto. The hierarchy of the University of Virginia, eager to excel at the forefront of a virgin field, endorsed and endorsed Dr. Soderbergh’s numerous lectures in lectures devoted to the psychic arts and sciences.

Shortly after Dr. Soderbergh joined the Louisiana State University faculty in 1976, he enrolled Steven in an animation class on campus. By the age of 15, Steven had made his first short film and his parents were contemplating a separation. Those circumstances prompted Steven’s decision to drop out of college because of a stabbing in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, my introduction to Dr. Soderbergh’s vocation was through his article, “Russell H. Conwell and the Spirit World, 1910-1925,” which is now in the Conwellana-Templana Collection of the Library of Temple University. The content of this, one of his early articles on parapsychology, may well have been discussed at the family dinner table in the presence of young Steven. Conwell, a Baptist minister and founder of the university, justified his “Acres of Diamonds” as the culmination of a vision. His experiences paralleled those of Leland Stanford, who established Stanford University after receiving what he believed to be a telepathic message from his dead son.

Dr. Soderbergh’s passions spanned academics, mysticism, American theater, the Marine Corps, and popular music. Her services in the Korean War as a captain in the United States Marine Corps gave the impetus to her two books on the history of women in the Marine Corps. Later, he was appointed to the board of directors of the US Marine Corps Historic Center Foundation in Washington.

Following his death from a brain hemorrhage at the age of 69 on February 17, 1998, the flags of the LSU campus flew at half mast. The obituary in Baton Rouge Advocate cites his role as professor and dean in the College of Education and director of LSU’s Office of Academic Development. His many awards include Outstanding Teacher from the LSU Student Government Association in 1993. As a community volunteer, he assisted Special Olympics and local crisis and intervention centers. Using the pseudonym Dr. Record, he hosted a radio show on WBRH (Baton Rouge) playing records from his private collection of popular music.

While on UVA faculty, psychic Jackie Altisi, a frequent SFF workshop leader with connections at NASA and the United Nations, urged me to contact him about his articles on the impact of science. psychic in education. During one of our phone conversations, Dr. Soderberg mentioned that his son had taken some summer courses in film while he was in high school and was planning to write plays. He predicted that high minds would lead Steven in the right direction, his ultimate success being a certainty.

Confirmation of that prediction came when Steven’s first feature film, “Sex, Lies, and Videotapes,” won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. It subsequently won an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and Steven was honored with the Independent Spirit Award for Best Director. Did you get there through courage and old-fashioned courage? Or did this success materialize courtesy of the invisible advisers his father foreshadowed?

Dr. Soderbergh’s writings do not dwell on the burden of unwanted apparitions, mischievous, often evil spirits, blamed for countless human faults over the centuries. Instead, he focused on the higher forms of contact from other planes, entities he believed responsible for endowing America’s founding fathers with a quality that he called “College X,” the ultimate psychic sense. He called these men “Illuminators of the highest gender” for their universal qualities, rare brotherhood, and extraordinary foreknowledge and sensitivity.

The optimism and innate “Faculty X” that Dr. Soderbergh transferred to his gifted son represents only half of the filmmaker’s psychic potential. Although Midge Soderbergh did not emulate her husband’s academic influence on college campuses, his very presence inspired awe and quiet voices. Dr. Soderbergh’s UVA colleagues recognized her as a true psychic.

After her divorce, Midge became even more immersed in psychic affairs and soon made her presence known throughout the Baton Rouge community. He hosted a ten-minute regular show on a local television channel for several years in the early 1980s. On July 25, 1992, Midge had embarked on another venture. An article by Ken Fink that appeared that day in the State Times / Morning Advocate announced that Midge was preparing to produce a film about the abduction of two men from Biloxi, Mississippi, by an alien ship.

Tentatively titled “Snatched,” the $ 10 million feature film would be based on UFO: Contact At Pascagoula, a book by Charles Hickson and William Mendez published in 1983. Filming would begin along the Gulf Coast in early September 1992 with the premiere scheduled for January 1993. Although he declined to name the “lead movie star” who had secured himself to play the title role, Midge emphasized that the project required about a thousand actors and crew, most hired from among residents. from the Biloxi area.

During Fink’s interview, Midge Soderbergh confessed that she herself had witnessed unexplained magnetic anomalies and lights associated with UFOs, but had never been abducted. He warned that “some of the encounters (of Hickson) and how they happened have a lot to do with our children and the future of their survival.”

Contrary to expectations raised by the press release, the project died. Perhaps the Walsh Production Company, responsible for the casting and filming of the film, never raised the necessary funds. This type of failure is typical of the film industry. Despite his own notable successes, your son has learned that most film projects face multiple barriers between idea and execution. Those who reach the public are the exception.

In 1976, Dr. Peter Soderbergh mailed a questionnaire to selected psychics across the country requesting their predictions of developments in the occult fields by the late 20th century. His answers ran the gamut from a better understanding of the higher mind to universal telepathy and psychic healing. While the common man has yet to master these skills, Dr. Soderbergh was a dreamer and optimist to the end.

In his “Bicentennial Tribute to 200 Years of Occulturation,” published in the July 1976 issue of Psychic World, he rejoiced in his belief that America is in an advanced state of occulturation. He based his conclusion on the open participation of millions in the esoteric arts. “It is very rare,” he wrote, “to meet a man, a woman or a child who has not acquired the occult language and / or symbolism to some degree. The following year, his “Tribute to UFOs” in the same publication expressed confidence that “a great deal of Saucerian-level action” will occur for years to come.

Because the gift of seeing beyond the present was a family trait, it is not surprising that Steven Soderbergh was drawn to the script for “Solaris” and the concept of Kelvin’s visits to his late wife. The approach of his 40th birthday signaled that the time had come to reflect on his own mortality by revisiting the stories he heard at home of unexplained events and contacts. Until his father came to him in a dream, Steven Soderbergh had rejected the concept of consciousness after death. During a conversation about “Solaris” with British journalist Suzie Mackenzie, she stated that the nighttime incident determined the theme of the film’s reconciliation, the hope that spiritual communication between the living and the dead could be achieved.

In more than 25 films completed or currently in production, Soderbergh’s admiration for his parents and the lessons they taught him about operating in both real and imaginary worlds shine through. An excellent example of a multi-talented day laborer, he emulates his work ethic, functioning as a producer, director, writer, cinematographer, editor, actor, composer, and sound department as needed.

Several of his female characters named Midge may represent strong characteristics that he sees in his mother. When he takes on the role of cinematographer, he appears in the credits as Peter Andrew, his father’s first and middle names. Other pseudonyms that mask personal relationships are Sam Lowry and Mary Ann Bernard, the editor of the movie “Solaris” whose last name is her mother’s maiden name.

As predicted by his father, Steven Soderbergh has been educated in all facets of his career despite the fact that his formal education ended upon graduation from high school. More than any of his films to date, “Solaris” proved that he uses and respects his heritage of advanced lighting.

Did it herald a deeper spiritual journey yet to come?

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