Technology with attitude

CultureMob interviews Barry Morgan, creator of the Arcana web series


Barry Morgan is a Portland, Oregon based filmmaker gearing up to release season one of a new Fantasy / Drama webseries titled “Arcana.” To understand Barry’s ideas behind the world of Arcana, we must travel back to a time before the internet and global integration. To a time before the Industrial Revolution or even the French Revolution. To a time before Romans, Greeks, or Egyptians. To understand Arcana, we look to a point in history where the only record of man’s passing lay dim and faded on the walls of caves or frozen in the ice for thousands of years.

“And then, something happened,” Barry declares.

Exactly what happened continues to boggle the mind, but the outcome shrouds understanding in mystery.

“A massive something happened,” Barry adds, “the dawn of civilization.”

“On a very distinct level, [Arcana] is a way for me to explain some things that I find a little bit confusing – some explanations that I find missing.  My education, anthropology and history, taught me a certain narrative regarding the origins of humankind.  However, in the back of my head, I always thought, ‘this puzzle seems incomplete.’  Then, years later, many more than I would like to admit, I came across a book by a British author, Colin Wilson, who described the accepted academic interpretation of humankinds’ history as the ‘then something happened’ theory.”

Barry explains that early humans lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle for untold millennia.  And then, “something happened”.  The Ice Age, and the end of the Ice Age. Then, “something happened” again. Humans developed agriculture. Humans developed civilization.  Humans developed writing.  Humans developed myriad ways to kill one another.  Humans developed morals and reason.  Humans developed religion.  Humans developed science.  Humans became human.

“These developments represent gigantic, and in some places, seemingly simultaneous leaps of knowledge and social organization in different parts of the world.  This narrative that’s been constructed leads us – tells us – to believe that we went from hunter-gatherers to developing agriculture and then, in certain places like Egypt, build these massive structures that we still can’t figure out how it was done. There is a big missing chapter between the end of the Ice Age and the dawn of civilization.”

Possessing a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology, a minor in Religious Studies, and a master’s degree in History, Barry finds this historical gap, or as Barry calls it, the “human amnesia period”, both troubling and interesting.  While Mesopotamia may have been the academically accepted birthplace of humanity and civilization, Barry believes there is still a story left untold. The yearning for this story, mixed with Barry’s wild imagination, became the birthplace for Arcana.

“There could have been a very specific point in history where human consciousness was raised, and that was the base timeline I established,” Barry declares.  “I then took [this idea] and incorporated the Tibetan Buddhist idea of reincarnation, which is a conscience reincarnation – you see your life and all that is about to unfold before you are born.”

Barry melded the ideas of a spike in human consciousness and a conscious form of reincarnation and pinpointed a time roughly 65,000 years ago.

“Then, let’s look at two individuals who might have started this spike and let the snowball accumulate,” he says, fingers twirling to indicate the growing snowball effect.

“How does this one event lead to the world we live in and the fantasy world of Arcana?”  Barry admits that he let this question consume him. His metaphorical snowball grew, and with time it gained momentum. But with a backstory so elaborate, a mythology so complex, Barry needed a structure. He drew inspiration from a wide variety of influences. If you could take a dash of Carl Jung, stir in a little Plato, add a pinch of Tenzin Gyatso, sprinkle liberally with Indiana Jones and mix it all together in a magical black cauldron you might begin to see the foundations of Barry’s thinking for Arcana.  However, there are two writers in particular that always make the top of Barry’s list.

End Part 1