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The Illuminati in popular culture covers how the secret society of the Illuminati founded by Adam Weishaupt in Bavaria in 1776 has been manifested in popular culture, in books and comics, television and movies, games, and music.

A number of novelists, playwrights, and composers are alleged to have been Illuminati members and to have reflected this in their work. Also, early conspiracy theories surrounding the Illuminati inspired a number of creative works, and continue to do so.


Books and comics Edit

Gothic literature had had a particular interest in the theme of the Illuminati. The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction wrote that readers had a "scandalous vogue for German tales of the Illuminati."[1] The role of the Illuminati in Horrid Mysteries, as in Montague Summers' introduction to a later reprint of it. The Illuminati also turn up in two spoofs of the gothic genre, which both also reference Horrid Mysteries, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen and Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock.[2] A number of writers have indicated the familiarity of Mary Shelley with the early anti-Illuminati text Memoirs Illustrating the History of Jacobinism due to Percy Bysshe Shelley's enthusiasm for it and see its influence in Frankenstein, Zastrozzi and The Assassins particularly, reading the Monster itself as an amalgam of Shelley's Illuminati-influenced ideas and of the Illuminati itself, with the monster being created in Ingolstadt, where the Illuminati had been formed.[3][4][5]

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson is a three-book science fiction series published in the 1970s, which is regarded as a cult classic particularly in the hacker community. An incomplete comic book version of the Illuminatus! was produced and published by Eye-n-Apple Productions and Rip Off Press between 1987 and 1991. Robert Anton Wilson also wrote The Historical Illuminati Chronicles in the early 1980s, and several other books and stories making use of it. Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum is a labyrinthine 1988 novel about all sorts of secret societies, including the Illuminati and the Rosicrucians.[6] Angels & Demons (German title: Illuminati), Dan Brown's 2000 precursor to 2003's The Da Vinci Code, is about an apparent Illuminati order plot to destroy its enemy the Catholic Church by using antimatter to blow up the Vatican while Papal elections are being held. In this novel the Illuminati movement was founded by Galileo Galilei, and others, as an enlightened reaction to persecution by the Catholic Church. They were initially based in Italy, but fled after four key members were executed by the Vatican.[7] In Michael Romkey's vampire novels, the Illuminati are an order of benevolent vampires, consisting of many famous figures throughout history (Beethoven, Mozart, etc.). The main character, David Parker, joins the order, but later leaves.[8] Author Larry Burkett wrote a book called The Illuminati, where "The Society" seeks world power.[9]

TV and movies Edit

In Simon West's movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001) a group of high-society villains call themselves Illuminati, developing a plan to rule the world. They and Lara Croft's father claim that the Illuminati have existed for millennia for this purpose.[10][11]. In Angels & Demons, the Illuminati devise a plot to destroy Christianity by capturing the four possible successors to the Papacy and torturing and murdering them once an hour, until a bomb explodes, enveloping Vatican City in a blinding light. In several episodes of the Walt Disney animated series Gargoyles, one of the major antagonists of the series, David Xanatos, was revealed to be a member of the Illuminati.[12][7]

Games Edit

Several games from Steve Jackson Games are based on the mythos: the card game Illuminati and its trading card game reincarnation Illuminati: New World Order, and the role-playing game GURPS Illuminati.[13] By appearing in video games like Deus Ex, in which the player is a United Nations agent pitted against conspirators that include the Illuminati, Illuminati conspiracy theories are kept alive partly by "the fertile imaginations of computer game creators and their players."[14]

Music and audio Edit

Some composers had been members of the Illuminati itself, like Brindl, Benedikt Hacker[15], Gustav Friedrich Wilhelm Großmann,[11] and Christian Gottlob Neefe.[16] Member Karl von Eckartshausen included masonic references in his libretto "Fernando und Yariko."[11] Some writers detect references to the Illuminati and its concerns in the music of Neefe's student Beethoven, though cautioning about reading too much into that[17] and in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, particularly his opera "The Magic Flute"[18] Rolling Stone noted in 1998 that there were at that time "dozens of songs" making use of conspiracy theories about the Illuminati, such as Dr. Dre's "Been There, Done That"[19] Hip-hop music has continually returned to the theme of the Illuminati in songs and albums, like Tupac Shakur's final album The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory,[20] Jay-Z's debut album, Reasonable Doubt,[21] and Mr. Dibbs' album Outer Perimeter.[22]

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. The Cambridge companion to gothic fiction By Jerrold E. Hogle p.51-55
  2. Gothic immortals: the fiction of the brotherhood of the rosy cross by Marie Mulvey Roberts, passim.
  3. Roberts.
  4. In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-century Writing, Chris Baldick p.36
  5. Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters, Anne K. Mellor, p. 73, 83-84.
  6. "Foucault's Pendulum (review)", New York, 6 November 1989, p. 120
  7. 7.0 7.1 Dice, Mark (2005) The Resistance Manifesto, The Resistance, San Diego, ISBN 0-9673466-4-9, p. 305
  8. Altner, Patricia (1998) Vampire Readings: An Annotated Bibliography, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 978-0810835047, p. 60
  9. The new inquisitions: heretic-hunting and the intellectual origins of modern totalitarianism By Arthur Versluis, p. 121-122.
  10. Ebert, Roger (2004) Roger Ebert's Movie Yearbook 2004, Andrews McMeel, ISBN 978-0740738340, p. 362
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Pocahontas in the Alps: Masonic traces in the stage works of Franz Christoph Neubauer, Chris Walton Musical Times; Autumn 2005, p. 50-51.
  12. The wonderful world of Disney television: a complete history By Bill Cotter p.280
  13. Conspiracy theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture Mark Fenster, University of Minnesota Press, 2008. p.173-178
  14. Reynolds, John Lawrence (2006). Secret Societies: Inside the World's Most Notorious Organizations. Arcade Publishing. p. 257, 280. ISBN 978-1-55970-826-5. 
  15. Mozart and masonry, Paul Nettl
  16. Late Beethoven: music, thought, imagination By Maynard Solomon p.138
  17. e.g. Solomon, p. 8, p168.
  18. The magic flute: masonic opera, Jacques Chailley, passim.
  19. Heimlich, Adam (December 10, 1998). "Hot Plots: A Guide to Hip-Hop's Leading Conspiracy Theories". Rolling Stone (801): 37. 
  20. Christopher Holmes Smith and John Fiske, "Naming the Illuminati" in Ronald Radano and Philip Bohlman, eds. Music and the Racial Imagination (Chicago: University of Chircago press, 2000), chap. 18.
  21. "Jay-Z: A Master Of Occult Wisdom?" Guy Raz (host), Mitch Horowitz (guest) National Public Radio September 20, 2009.
  22. Coleman, Brian (April 1999). "Hip-Hop". CMJ New Music Monthly (68): 53. 
fr:Illuminati dans la culture populaire

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