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The 33 Degrees of Eyes Wide Shut


Since its 1999 release, Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut has been evaluated as a dissection of marriage and modern sexual relationships, a sub-textual critique of consumer capitalism, an indictment of hierarchical class structures and much more. At its functional surface level, it is typically graded as a sort of Rube Goldberg machine built out of dream-logic vignettes for use as a psychometric tool on the audience.

True, Eyes Wide Shut is all of those things. But this is not one of those analyses. 

As much as I love Kubrick the Social Commentator, he has been given his huge due for many years and there is little left for me to say about him. No– It is Kubrick the Codemaker who interests me here. 

For over two decades, fans of the film who choose to take it at anything more than face value have been transfixed by it’s layered complexity– a nebulous network of double-meanings, multi-purpose metaphors and hidden symmetrical concepts; a subterranean labyrinth of symbolism and veiled intertextual references that seem to number in the hundreds.  It is a fertile Petri dish for conspiracy theory that perpetually walks the line of ambiguity, keeping those who try to decode it left in the dark.
This guide is for those fans. It is not an introductory companion to Eyes Wide Shut. If you are newer to the film, this will be harder to make sense of and I recommend that you start somewhere else.

If you are a devotee of this film who has been baffled by it, or you were once ensnared by it’s mystifying tangles and have long since given up trying to decipher it, please read on. I believe I have the answers that you have been looking for– or at least some of them.

What we will explore here is Eyes Wide Shut‘s bizarre act structure: a disjointed series of highly aestheticized, modular segments. The film frequently jumps between these wildly varying scenes with very little regard for traditional movie pacing; creating a two-and-a-half hour somatic “dream” experience that has long alienated audiences accustomed to more ‘standard’ story formats.

As it turns out, Eyes Wide Shut has been structured in such a way for a very specific reason which is cryptically intertextual in nature. I believe that illustrating this might actually be something of a final nail in the proverbial coffin with regards to a common perspective on Stanley Kubrick: that he was simply a non-literalist aesthetician who made experiential appeals to “the uncanny”, and that his work did not contain large wealths of hidden semiotic meaning bubbling beneath the surface.

As best I can tell from searching the web, I appear to be the first to be privy to the bulk of this information apart from Kubrick himself. While putting this analysis together, I was ethically hesitant to share what my findings, since Kubrick liked to stay tight-lipped about his films and let the viewer figure things out on their own. But ultimately, I think that (A) 21 years is a damn long time to have a secret hidden in a major studio movie seen by millions, (B) the reveal of the secret will open Eyes Wide Shut up to re-evaluation and fairer criticism than it has historically received, and (C) There are still more things hidden in the movie. I need your help to find them.

Without too much more ado: Here is the outline of Eyes Wide Shut‘s overarching ‘master code’.

Welcome to the end of the rainbow.

At its heart, Eyes Wide Shut is a cipher with a key, and that key is the 33 Degrees of the Scottish Rite.

From the official jurisdictional description of the Degrees, which can be read at :

“The Degrees of the Scottish Rite are one-act plays often staged with costume, scenery, special effects, and the full rigging of any production. Their purpose is to examine different philosophies, ancient religions, and systems of ethics. Through all of these, people have tried to answer certain universal questions. The Degrees of the Rite do not tell a person what he should think about these questions. Instead, they tell him about what great thinkers and civilizations of the past have thought, and they try to create a situation in which the candidate or Brother can gain insight. Agreeing with Socrates that the unexamined life is not worth living, the Rite helps with this self-examination by providing reference points.”  

In Scottish Rite Freemasonry, a Mason progresses through 33 honorary stages, or ‘degrees’, awarded to him throughout his career with the fraternity. Each degree is associated with a set of moral and philosophical precepts, or lessons. When the Mason is inducted into a degree, he is presented a ceremonial Masonic apron which bears colours and symbols associated with that degree.

The Scottish Rite code in Eyes Wide Shut is far more encompassing than I anticipated when I started to uncover it. I’m still piecing many of the details together (with your help), and am perpetually updating this site, but I believe I have enough objective evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that this code was deliberately included by Kubrick for reasons that should hopefully become apparent.
The basic outline of the Eyes Wide Shut cipher is that from the beginning of the film until the end, Bill Harford traverses all 33 of the Degrees of the Scottish Rite. This is why the narrative is broken up into a sequence of easily identifiable vignettes. Eyes Wide Shut is essentially a 32 act structure, ending at 33, where the educative associations of each degree are encountered in mostly chronological order, and provide something of a through-line or philosophical arc to the film. Every one of the film’s individual scenes is associated with a separate degree. Whenever the next degree is presented, its arrival is marked by hidden symbolism and Masonic colour schemes.

The Degrees in the film are also clearly delineated by their associated series: each series lines up with a distinctly segmented portion of the film (here listed under their respective jurisdictional bodies). These are as follows:

Blue Lodge (1° –  3°):
This segment is from the beginning of the film until the Harfords arrive at the Christmas party. These degrees are known as the First Series – the Craft Degrees. The Craft Degrees are the foundational core which is common to all iterations of Masonry, whereas the degrees from 4° upward are specific to the Scottish Rite.

The Lodge of Perfection (4° –  14°):
This segment is from Ziegler’s Christmas party until the first arrival at Somerton. These degrees are the Second Series – The Ineffable Degrees.

The Chapter of Rose Croix (15° –  18°):
This segment starts from the Somerton party, and goes through Alice telling her dream to the start of the next day. Technically, this is split into the Third Series (two degrees at Somerton, The Historical Degrees) and the Fourth Series (two degrees at dawn in the Harford house, The Philosophical Degrees).

Council of Kadosh  (19° –  29°):
This segment goes from the start of the day after the Somerton party, when Bill starts revisiting the characters from earlier in the film, up until when he sees Mandy’s corpse in the morgue. These degrees are the Fifth Series – The Historical & Philosophical Degrees.

The Consistory Degrees (30° –  32°):
This segment goes from when Bill confronts Ziegler at his pool table up until the toy store scene at the end of the film. These degrees are known as the Sixth Series – The Chivalric Degrees

The final degree (33° – Sovereign Grand-Inspector General) is reached at the end of the film.

The Scottish Rite typically begins at the 4th degree so I’ll start from there. I am still in the process of properly unearthing a number of the degrees from the 9th to the 15th, but in any case, I will include some of the more obvious sequences from the second half of the film which cement my hypothesis. Beyond this, there are probably a lot of things I have missed, so the game is still afoot.
Regarding the “Blue Lodge” Masonry degrees (1° – 3°), which are the three opening scenes of the film: these are complex enough to warrant a more in-depth investigation, so I will include their analysis after detailing 4° – 33°. The Blue Lodge section also presents some difficulties in analysis, not found in the segments for later degrees, owing to the fact that the Scottish Rite sometimes incorporates its own separate versions of 1° – 3° (colloquially called the “Red Degrees”). These contain variations on the associated rituals which are atypical of a standard Masonic lodge, and the available research materials for these Scottish Rite variations are relatively scarce.

Please note that despite elements of the Scottish Rite having modernised over the years, the incorporated symbolism of Eyes Wide Shut has been largely drawn from the Rite’s historic or ‘original’ forms.

If you feel any of this is unconvincing, the most plainly self-evident of the degrees in the film are the 1st, the 5th, the 7th and 8th, as well as the consecutive chain of degrees going through the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th.  The 15th and 16th are also fairly patent.

I would recommend checking with your copy of the film rather than just viewing the screenshots I have taken, as they will not always do the best possible justice to the scene in question. Note also that due to the relevant details in the screenshots often being quite fine in nature, this website is probably better suited to be viewed on a desktop rather than a mobile.

Let me know what you reckon.

A Quick Note on the Degrees:

I have been mainly using the official jurisdictional summaries of the degrees as a quick reference table for each scene. However, Eyes Wide Shut digs deeper than these summaries, and draws details from the actual text of the degrees themselves. Where appropriate, I may include such text and accompanying illustration from the 1884 release of The Book of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (or BAASR for short), written by Charles T. McClenechan. It would seem Kubrick, as a renowned bibliophile, may have drawn from this directly; one of the earliest major collations of Rite tradition.

It can be accessed here:
The Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite

Please note that the BAASR does not cover the first 3 degrees of Craft Masonry. Similarly, the Scottish Rite does not have official short-hand summaries for 1° – 3°.

Also worth noting is that In the BAASR, many of the chapters for the degrees have a subsection called “The Apartment & Its Decorations“, or similarly titled, describing the appropriate adornment of Masonic lodges and apartments for the different degrees. Anyone with a developed understanding of how Kubrick uses mise-en-scène in Eyes Wide Shut will also quickly grasp why this is relevant. Essentially, he has drawn details from these descriptions, often in very obscure or cryptic fashion, and included them in the set decoration and production design of the scenes that correspond with the respective degrees. I will make note of these where relevant.

Some Quick Notes on Jewels, Lessons and Modularity:

1) On top of colours and symbols, each Masonic degree has a special “jewel” that is associated with it. In Eyes Wide Shut, although the colours and symbols always appear in the scene associated with that degree, it seems that the jewels of the degrees often appear in other scenes, spread throughout the film. The jewels are worn or connected to characters who are linked to the relevant degree.

2) While the main focus of this analysis is the symbolism of the degrees, there are scenes in the film where the philosophical/moral associations of the respective degrees are being obviously presented. In other scenes, these “lessons” are not very obvious, or will require more insight than I currently have in order to be further expounded upon in future.

3) I would consider this an especially important note for skeptics of the Scottish Rite code. If someone was relatively unfamiliar with Eyes Wide Shut, I could imagine this analysis potentially reading as though I have chosen arbitrary points in the film and labelled them as the next degree in a sequence. Whatever your source of doubt, my advice here is always the same: re-visit the movie. Get a visceral feel for the film’s experiential flow. The Rite degree structure is patently reinforced by the film’s framing, pacing, tonality, appeals to the audience’s visual memory, etc. With fresh eyes, you will notice that as Bill Harford moves from scene to scene (or “degree” to “degree”), he goes to an aesthetically differentiated location (usually via a doorway) and interacts with a key character who is central to that particular vignette (usually over a counter or table). As examples, these key characters include Roz the babysitter, Lisa the secretary, the desk clerk at the hotel, the waitress at Sharky’s Café, the hospital receptionist, the news stall vendor, etc. Once you see how obviously the vignettes have been demarcated, how sharply the aesthetic and narrative pivots to satisfy each modular unit, and how conspicuous the film is in its lack of narrative economy, everything else should fall into place. If the structure of these modules still seem unapparent to you, please see the section titled “Doors” which I have included towards the end of the analysis.

Alright. That’s enough preamble. Let’s start the scavenger hunt. 

The Lodge of Perfection
(4° – 14°)

4° – Secret Master

The 4th degree is the ballroom at Ziegler’s party, where Dr. Bill reunites with Nick Nightingale.

From the summaries of the Degrees of the Scottish Rite:
“Your first steps into our sanctuary are duty, reflection and study. They teach us to honor those relationships to God, family, country, Masonry. The apron is white and black, with a letter “Z” and all-seeing eye. The jewel is an ivory key with the letter “Z” on the wards. The lessons of the 4o are secrecy, obedience, and fidelity.

Duty, Study: As they discuss in this scene, Bill stayed in med school whereas Nick dropped out.

Symbolic Markers: Nightingale’s suit is white and black, painting him as an inverse of Bill. This is a thematically meaningful colour relationship which is alluded to at further points throughout the film, especially to do with Bill and Nick (for more on this, see the Syzygy cipher and Greenwich cipher).

Lesson: As with med school, Nick fails in his secrecy, obedience and fidelity. He is plainly connected to these themes throughout the film.

Jewel (Ivory Key): Cleverly, the ivory key is in Nick’s piano.

Numeric associations: Nick tells Bill that he has four boys in Seattle. His band onstage at the Sonata Cafe is a quartet.

5° – Perfect Master

The 5th degree is Bill reviving Mandy in Ziegler’s bathroom, after the ballroom with Nick Nightingale.

From the summary of the degree:
“The degree teaches that honesty and trustworthiness is the cornerstone of the foundation of Masonic honor. This virtue should be in all of our undertakings. The apron is white and green, with a cubic stone and a Hebrew YOD. The jewel is a compass open on a segment of a circle, to an angle of sixty degrees. The lessons of the 5o are Honesty, Sincerity, and good Faith.”

Trustworthiness: Ziegler takes on Bill as confidante (“I know I don’t have to mention this, but this is just between us”, he tells Bill).

Markers: the room is white and green with quadrilateral gold trim (the cubic stone on the apron is also gold).

Perfect Master – Decorations

Let’s open up the BAASR and compare the specifications of the 5° lodge with what we see in the associated scene.

Excerpted from the “Perfect Master” chapter of the BAASR (emphasis mine):

Note that the Masonic abbreviation “H∴A∴” is shorthand for Hiram Abif. In Masonic allegory, Grandmaster Hiram Abif was the lead architect of King Solomon’s temple, who was murdered for refusing to disclose the Master Mason’s password to his assassins.

And now, from the movie:

Here, we have the green and white of the room’s colour scheme. The lights match the cardinal directions; the one in front of us in the screenshot being north. You have the throne (toilet), and at its eastern foot, Ziegler’s black suit jacket draped over the chair is the altar draped in black. The red objects in the room are concentrated at the desk in the northeast, these being the markings of blood.

Now, what about the coffin on the bier in front of the altar?

A bit of tricky cinematography and set design! We see the mantelpiece over the bathtub, through the glass shielding, forming the coffin on its bier. It even comes with a body in the form of the nude painting above the mantelpiece. True to the BAASR description, the bathtub is in front of the altar draped in black/the chair covered by Ziegler’s black suit jacket.

But does the coffin come featuring the jewel or the apron of Grandmaster Hiram?

The apron is indeed here, and the keen-eyed viewers have probably spotted it already. But please, just hold onto that observation for the time being. I’ll come back to Master Hiram’s apron in the 8th degree.

Before moving on to the next section, I’ll briefly refer to the outset of this analysis, where I described the modular nature of Eyes Wide Shut‘s aesthetic variation and conspicuous lack of narrative economy. I’m sure I hardly need to mention that the distinct aesthetics of the film’s vignettes are conspicuous in themselves, also. Namely: why is Victor Ziegler’s bathroom a home office with a fireplace beside the tub? It is an arrangement which is in itself extremely bizarre and unusual– not to speak of its uniquely striking colour scheme– but is all at once lent explanation by the Scottish Rite cipher, which introduces logistical justification for such deliberated, out-of-left-field choices in set design. As we’ll see, much of the film’s characteristic sense of reported “uncanniness” is, in fact, a product of encryption. This is such a general and fundamental reassessment of Kubrick’s mise-en-scène, and moves the proverbial needle so radically from “aesthetic” to “logistical”, that it will plausibly require sizable amounts of film scholarship to be written (or rewritten).

6° – Intimate Secretary

The 6th degree is the montage where Bill goes into his office and we are shown a standard workday for the Harfords.

From the summary of the degree:
“In this degree we should learn duty, charity and toleration. We are told to reshape ourselves and our thinking into charity, self-control, and success. Be a peacemaker. The apron is white and red, with Hebrew letters YOD HEH in the center, and a small triangle containing the Hebrew letters (clockwise from top) BETH, NUN, and SHIN. The jewel is a gold triangle with the same three letters inscribed.”

Lesson: The montage shows Bill and Alice’s professional and parental obligations (duty). Alice and Helena are shown wrapping Christmas presents (charity). The montage closes with the following exchange (appearing to be Kubrick’s representation of toleration): 

ALICE: So how do you feel about wrapping the rest of the presents?
BILL: Let’s do that tomorrow.

Markers: The montage literally opens with Bill stepping out of a lift and talking with his secretary, at a white desk front dressed in red tinsel. Perhaps unrelatedly, the nurse Lisa also has a white nurses uniform with red hairband.

I suspect there are likely more markers here which are as-yet-unidentified… however, please make note of the white envelope which the secretary hands to Bill. We’ll come back to this later.

7° – Provost and Judge

The 7th degree is the Harford bedroom at night, when Bill and Alice smoke weed and get into a fight, right after the “workday” montage.

From the summary of the degree:  
“We learn that impartial justice protects person, property, happiness and reputation. These degrees teach us to judge with patience and impartially. The apron is white, edged with red, with a key and five rosettes. The jewel is a golden key.” [note: the embroidered key on the flap is also gold.]

Impartial Judgement: Alice course corrects Bill for his asymmetrical judgement between the sexes (“Women basically just don’t think like that”, he tells her beforehand). He shakenly attempts to retain patience and composure.

Note also how Alice’s position as an interrogative judge foreshadows Red Cloak’s magisterial judgement of Bill at Somerton, except we have (in chronological order for both scenes) burning cannabis instead of the spinning incense thurible, Bill kissing Alice instead of Mandy, and Bill saying “I think I have to go over there and show my face“, matching the removal of his mask in Red Cloak’s court.

Markers: The Harford bed is red with roses painted into the headboard, backed by a white wall mounted with golden picture frames.  

Jewel (Golden Key): This one is tricky to first notice. While they golden key doesn’t appear to be visible in the scene where Bill and Alice argue, it is in the same room. We can see it in the opening of the movie, next to a stack of records, when Bill collects it from the table at the right-hand foot of the Harford’s bed.

Provost And Judge – The Apartment And Its Decorations

Let’s open up the BAASR and compare the specifications of the 7° apartment with what we see in the associated scene.

Excerpted from the “Provost and Judge” chapter of the BAASR (emphasis mine):

And now, from the movie:

Pretty on the nose, isn’t it? We have the blue of the sky, draped in red. We have the “records”, which are cleverly music records instead of written documents, and in the centre between the red drapes we have the ornamented black box with “records” inside. As evidenced by much of the dialogue in Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick must have been quite fond of homonymic wordplay.

We should also note that since the golden key in the film’s opening scene is beside a stack of records, its linkage to this degree is further certified.

8° – Intendant of the Buildings

The 8th degree is in the Nathanson apartment, when Bill goes to visit the bereaved Marion after the Harford’s argument.

From the summary of the degree:  
“We should strive for perfection by using the great principles of “God’s inherent love, charity, morality and kindness”. The apron is white, with red and green, with a balance, a five-pointed star, and a triangle with the Hebrew letters BETH (for Ben-khurim), YOU (for Jakinah), and ALEPH (for Achar). The jewel is a gold triangle with the same three letters.”

Lesson: Marion Nathanson, who has been caring for her ailing father, is perhaps both an exemplar and a recipient of the lesson in this case. Given the centrality of Bill’s behaviour in the lessons for the Degrees up to this point, we can straightforwardly read his compassionate treatment of the grieving Marion as the generous-hearted teachings of this degree.

Markers: The elevator lights are green and white triangles. The elevator door interiors are green, lit by a white ceiling light. Note: in it’s modern iterations, the colour red often only appears on appendant parts of the 8th degree apron and not on its front, such as in it’s depiction at the start of this section.

As for the balance (as in, a scale like the kind that Lady Justice holds): this is the elevator itself, which is a traction counterweight system.

Now, you may think this is a reach; that the connection between this elevator and a balance is too freely associative. But please observe– there is only one other time in the movie when Bill steps off an elevator (earlier, in the doctor’s office):

The painting hanging on the back of that elevator…

…is Wassily Kandinsky’s “Counterweights“.

Just as per the apron, the 8th degree balance/Nathanson apartment elevator appears directly below the upward pointing triangle, which is lit green.

Intendant of the Buildings – Argument

Let’s look at the Argument section for the 8th degree chapter of the BAASR, in which the degree’s central concepts are allegorically demonstrated:

If the correlation of the Nathanson apartment scene to this degree is correct, then it is quite obvious that the body of the late Lou Nathanson is clearly intended to be the lamented architect, Grandmaster Hiram.

Additionally, we should note the colours of Lou Nathanson’s bedspread, tucked over his belly:

Now, it’s time to tie up a loose end. Remember in the section for the 5th degree when I said I’d come back to the coffin on the bier featuring Grandmaster Hiram’s apron?

Let’s go back to Ziegler’s bathroom, where the overdosed Mandy awaits unconscious. You’ll recall we have our coffin on the bier:

And, as for Hiram’s apron:

Hanging off the side of the “bier”, we see two towels which are arranged to resemble Masonic aprons, and they have an identical colour scheme to Lou Nathanson’s bedspread, on his belly where the worn apron belongs. The apron of Grandmaster Hiram!

It gets even deeper. Check out the “Argument” section for the 5th degree/Ziegler’s bathroom:

Also, the listed moral of the degree:

The linkage here is obvious. Mandy and Lou are the two dead bodies of the movie. One foreshadows the other. This bathroom/mausoleum is the omen of Mandy’s eventual death (“You can’t keep doing this”, Bill tells her in this scene). And, like the nude painting above the mantelpiece/coffin, Mandy eventually appears nude above a bier of her own in the morgue! Incredible!

For anyone in doubt of the Scottish Rite code, I think these connections between the 5th and 8th degrees are among the strongest pieces of evidence from the first half of the film.

Now, I want to quickly double back and put a pin on the Kandinsky painting from Bill’s office, here, just in case its total significance might be lost on the reader. This is a fantastic instance– although certainly not the only example– of the kind of semiotic priming which Kubrick uses as a confirming token for the viewer. Even the more incredulous reader can observe how, irrespective of any broader para-Masonic coded framework, the decision to place a painting titled “Counterweights” on the back of an elevator functions in itself as an isolated node of semiosis. It is by establishing such fragmentary intentionality, at this immediately perceptible level, that we determine the building blocks for a larger, more encompassing network of encryption in the film. Actually, I was a bit surprised that this relatively surface-level find doesn’t appear to have been documented anywhere else on the internet, despite the extensive cryptological commentary surrounding Kubrick’s movies.

To use a syntactical metaphor (if we need even call it metaphor), the “balance” as indicated here could perhaps be referred to as a morpheme— an irreducible unit of meaning in the language of the SR code. It is by considering the film through a syntactical lens that we “come upon the whole” and conceive of the code’s complete structure through empirical context, as we would with a sentence of words spoken to us.

Incidentally: having demonstrated a simple one-to-one pairing of unannounced, mildly encrypted signifiers, this painting can be used as a sort of test scenario for objecting critics looking to call “bullshit” on this analysis. How they explain the immediately meaningful employment of the Kandinsky will quickly reveal whether they are at least engaging the analysis at the barest entry points of its articulated reasoning, or if they are instinctively operating out of the purest reactionary denialism. This will effectively thwart any attempts to hide behind blanket dismissals of the Scottish Rite cipher, such as “I just can’t see it”. Ideally, it will aid in identifying the contrarian refutations from those clinging prudently to the fact that the burden of proof lies with the author as the proponent of this analysis; those readers purposefully insulating themselves against all probabilistic reasoning until a completely undeniable argument can be presented.

Now, let’s return to the 8th degree/Nathanson house, where there are evidently some more Masonic references. Note this use of encrypted alliteration when (Ma)rion Nathan(son) is speaking:

BILL: Yes, I remember him. He’s a teacher, isn’t he?
MARION: A math professor. We’re going to get married in May.
BILL: Well, that’s wonderful news. Congratulations.
MARION: Thank you. Carl has a new teaching appointment at the University of Michigan. We’ll be moving out there soon.

To re-cap:
Marion is Marrying a Math professor in May and is Moving to Michigan.

In this scene, we also have the arrival of the character Carl Thomas, who’s name is an etymological reference to Freemasonry, as first noted by Nik Dobrinsky in his essay Eyes Wide Shut: Hidden in Plain Sight. The name “Mason” comes from “Maso”; a derivative shortening of “Tomasso”, which is itself a variation of Thomas. The name Carl originates from Old Norse and means “Free man”. Therefore, Carl Thomas can be transliterated to “Free (man) Mason“.

It looks like there might be more going on with characters’ names in this scene. “Lou” is short for “Lewis“. Have a read of this excerpt from the Fifth Section of the Lecture for the Entered Apprentice degree (1°):

Q – If you wished to give your son a Masonic name, what would you call him?

A – Lewis.

Q – What does Lewis denote?

A – Strength.

Q – How is it depicted in our Lodges?

A – By certain pieces of metal dovetailed into a stone, forming a cramp; and when in combination with some of the mechanical powers, such as a system of pulleys, it enables the Operative Mason to raise great weights to certain heights with little encumbrance, and to fix them on their proper bases.

Q – Lewis being the son of a Mason, what is his duty, to his aged parents?

A – To bear the heat and burden of the day, which they by reason of their age, ought to be exempt from; to assist them in time of need, and thereby render the close of their days happy and comfortable.

So, Lewis is the name of the son of a Mason. Lou’s surname is Nathan-son. Is it perhaps by coincidence that the creation of Mentmore Towers, the setting of the Somerton ritual in the film, was commissioned for Baron Mayer de Rothschild,[source] whose son, Nathan Rothschild, was famously a Freemason belonging to the Premier Grand Lodge of England?[source]

Also worth noting is that the above lecture extract details the duty of a Mason’s son to his aged parents, which closely mirrors Marion Nathanson’s relationship with her dead father (“Your father was very proud of you, and I know you gave him great comfort these last months“, Bill tells her).

[Authors’ note: I believe some credit here should go to the film analyst Rob Ager for first positing the potential link between the name “Nathanson” and the Rothschild family, however I am at present not able to locate the relevant piece of analysis in which he makes note of this connection.]

9° – Knights Elect of Nine

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

The 9th degree is (perhaps) when Bill goes to the Sonata Jazz café.

From the summary of the degree:  
“Scottish Rite virtues are at the very heart of this degree, truth, candor and generosity. We should use these to shape our lives and conduct. The apron is white, lined with black, and sprinkled with blood, with an arm holding a dagger, and a severed head held by the hair. The jewel is a dagger, hilt of gold and blade of silver.”

Lesson: Bill buys Nick a drink, and, after a genial catch-up, extracts the Somerton password from a reluctantly obliged Nightingale.

Markers: The bounce rat the Sonata cafe’s door has a white shirt lined with a black jacket. The blood sprinkles are patterned on Nick Nightingale’s tie, and his tweed jacket is flecked with red also. Perhaps the dagger and arm is Nick writing on the napkin with his pen (note: only the dagger as the jewel has a gold hilt. Not the dagger of the apron). 

There’s something else worth making a note of in this scene. Nick Nightingale tells Bill: “Well, you gotta go where the work is.” Taken at face value, this seemingly throwaway line of dialogue is ostensibly about Nick having to travel around the country to play jazz gigs– however, in the broader context of Eyes Wide Shut‘s phenomenological underbelly, it appears that this is a Masonic double entendre.

Have a look at an excerpt from 1829’s Light on Masonry by Elder David Bernard, which was one of the earliest in-depth chronicles of Masonic custom in the United States to be pressed and publicly disseminated. This extract comes from a section of the book where Bernard is detailing the typical ceremonies of the Entered Apprentice degree at that time (emphasis mine):

It seems kind of obvious once you know what you’re looking for, doesn’t it? If we take “the work” as referring to ceremony or ritual, as in its Masonic context, then yes– both Bill and Nick do, in fact, end up going where the work is (Somerton). In fact, given the encompassing nature of the film’s Scottish Rite code, the entire movie is Bill going where the work is. The film’s use of the phrase has quite a clever coinciding of meanings, considering that Nick performs music at both his jazz gigs and at the ritual.

[Note: Between degrees 8 and 14, it appears that two of the degrees might not to be in ascending order. I will elaborate on this at the end of the analysis; and in spite of this, I will say there is easily more than enough concrete evidence for my central claims.]

10° – Knights Elect of Fifteen

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

The 10th degree is (perhaps) when Bill gets accosted by the Yale fratboys.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches toleration of others. Everyone has the right to his own political or spiritual views. The apron is white, with a black flap, and with three arch-shaped gates — over each a head on a spike. The jewel is a dagger as in the previous degree.” 

Lesson: One way of reading the lesson for this scene is that, rather than stand up and fight, Bill tolerates the aggressions of the frat-boys. However, there is a more prominent manifestation of the lesson which is consistent with the broader themes of the film, as well as a continuation of what we have observed earlier. This scene/degree begins with Bill jealously eyeing a necking couple and resentfully clasping his hands as he imagines Alice having sex with the naval officer (shown to the audience via a “flashback” cutaway sequence). It is an encapsulating emblem of the film’s core conceit, in which the jealous and wounded B‎ill has to come to terms with the nature of his marriage and learn to live with the latent reality of Alice’s innermost desire. In this sense, this scene’s presentation of the lesson closely echoes how we saw it depicted in 6° – Intimate Secretary, where “toleration” was similarly contextualized through the negotiated marital dynamic of Bill’s relationship with Alice.

Keep in mind that the connection of this scene with 6° is built around what is essentially the most central and unobscured aspect of the film. For all it’s relative minority as a semantic node in the film’s Masonic scheme, it is important to remember that Eyes Wide Shut is chiefly a movie that is about toleration at the most immediate levels of analysis.

Markers: Bill is wearing a black winter coat with a big flapped collar, framing his white shirt. Something to be lightly supposed for the time being: As the 6 frat-boys are approaching, the three walking in front are the arches and the three behind are the heads. Apart from the jackets of the frat-boys framing their torso and forming the arches, the YALE logo on their shirts could invoke the arches of Yale.

11° –  Sublime Knights Elected

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ap11.png

The 11th degree is (perhaps) Bill’s cab ride to Somerton, where he tears a hundred dollar bill in half and promises it to the cabbie.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches sympathy. We should sympathetic to our brother masons and to all mankind as well. The apron is white, lined with black, with a flaming heart in the center. The jewel is a dagger suspended from a black cordon inscribed with the words “Vincere aut Mori,” the pledge “that you will rather die than betray the cause of the people, or be overcome through your own fear or fault.””

Markers: The cab interior is black, with the white lights that the cabbie turns on. The cabbie’s red scarf can be seen over his chest, seeming to indicate the heart.

There is a decently convincing allegorical connection here. Have look at the Argument section of the 11th degree from the BAASR (emphasis mine):

The notion that the Brother will “sooner or later receive his just reward” mirrors Bill’s interaction with cabbie. Bill tears the $100 in half and tells the cabbie he will get the other half if he waits for Bill to come back. “How long you gonna be?“, asks the cabbie. “I don’t know. Maybe an hour or more, but maybe only ten minutes“, responds Bill.

I believe there is much more to be found here. Is the 11th degree colour scheme perhaps being reinforced by the cab’s dash lights, which we can see are red during the drive on the black-and-white road to Somerton?

Note also how this shot is flanked by both a black and white car… but these observations are really neither here nor there. I imagine they are probably only tangentially relevant, and that I am overlooking something far more significant.

12° –  Grand Master Architect

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

The 12th degree is (perhaps) when Domino approaches Bill on the street and walks him to the entrance of her apartment building.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches faith in moral and virtues and in God. “Life is what each man makes of it; the optimist turns a trial into a blessing. The apron is white, lined with blue and gold (symbolizing the Craft degrees), with a protractor, plain scale, sector, and compasses. The jewel is a gold triangle, with a Hebrew ALEPH on the obverse and the five types of columns on the reverse.”

Markers: Immediately as we see Bill at the start of this scene, he passes a white anteroom featuring a blue door on each end and a gold door handle. As with doors elsewhere, does this mark the beginning of the degree?

Right next to the anteroom door, and just before Bill runs into Domino, we can see a hardware store wherein the relevant symbolic measuring tools of the degree would appear to be housed, along with other tools of construction in relation to architecture. In addition to this, we can even see the titular “Master” of “Grand Master Architect” printed on an advert for Master Locks and placed prominently in the shop window.

As we can see in the Argument section of the 12th degree, the allegory of Grand Master Architect pertains to the workmen of the Temple, and the Craft degrees. This offers us some indication as to why the varied hardware tools have been featured in the above scene.

Numeric association: When Domino asks Bill what the time is, he tells her that it’s ten past twelve.

13° –  Royal Arch of Enoch

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

The 13th degree is (perhaps) when Bill is in Domino’s apartment, where Alice calls him and interrupts his attempt to solicit sex.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches liberty in our mind and our hearts, motivated by duty and honor. The apron is purple, bordered with white, and with the “Enochian delta” (hexagram with inscribed Tetragrammation) in the center. The jewel is a gold triangle with the Enochian delta on the reverse, and a scene showing two men lowering a third into a newly-discovered subterranean vault, on the obverse.  [note: this is another apron of which the original design has changed a fair bit since 1884.]

Markers: Domino takes off her jacket to reveal her purple dress, bordered by the white of the doorway behind her. The cut of her dress appears to create a triangular form at the chest.

Note that the original BAASR text specifies the Delta as being surrounded by rays, which may be represented by the gold trim of Domino’s jacket as it stays suspended about her shoulders. It also mentions that the collar should be purple, and has the triangular jewel suspended to it, matching the appearance of Domino’s outfit.

This page of the BAASR has been rearranged and compressed for presentation purposes.

Jewel (Golden Triangle): For reasons I am not quite sure of yet, the images of the jewel for this degree seem to appear earlier in the film, when Bill runs into the YALE boys.
The reverse of the jewel (the Enochian delta) is the yellow slippery-when-wet triangle seen here through a door window (the gold triangle/jewel is the sign itself, and the delta is the warning insignia written on it):

That delta might seem like a bit of a reach on my part. However, I’m going to count it at present because the obverse of the jewel (a scene showing two men lowering a third into a newly-discovered subterranean vault) is more obviously resembled by the frat-boys’ mock-invitation to sodomy:

So, the reverse is before Bill gets knocked over, and the obverse is after, while the camera is facing back the other way down the street; almost as though the boys pushing him is the spinning of the jewel around to its other side.  We can even see, when comparing the above two screenshots, that the frat boy at the center of the jewel is standing directly in front of where the slippery-when-wet sign/delta is positioned in the doorway.

Numeric association: As has been previously noted by viewers, the street number for Domino’s apartment is 265, the digits of which add up to 13. Viewers have also noticed, since Domino lives next to a lottery store visible when this number appears, that it seems “13” here is also being used for its association as an unlucky number. Indeed, this scene later turns out to have been a roll of the proverbial dice for Bill, when we learn that Domino was HIV positive.

Speaking of unlucky 13 and HIV, here’s a connection worth noting: HIV is what links Domino to Nick Nightingale. At many turns throughout the movie, Nick Nightingale is implicitly suggested as a potential homosexual tryst of Bill’s, if only thematically rather than literally. Bill spends part of the second half of of the movie trying to track Nick down, in a way typical of someone with HIV trying to contact their former sexual partners and advise them to get tested. Remember: Bill gets Nick’s room address by telling the Gillespie’s waitress that he has some serious medical test results that Nick will want to hear about. Also, the (gay coded) desk clerk at Nick’s hotel says that Nick had a bruise on his cheek– which, while on its surface level implies that Nick was beat up by the Somerton goons, is also a reference to the skin lesions associated with HIV.

At the Sonata Cafe, Nick counts in his band: “One, two, one-two-three-four”. Just like the digits of Domino’s street number, these numbers add up to 13.

14° –  Grand Elect, Perfect and Sublime Mason

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

The 14th degree is (perhaps) when Bill goes to Rainbow Fashions to get his costume. 

From the summary of the degree:
“In the degree we learn to reflect and look into ourselves. We should strive to be true to ourselves and our God. The apron is white silk, bordered in gold, with the Ineffable Delta in the Center. The jewel is a quadrant (compass open to ninety degrees) topped by a crown, and with a nine-pointed star on the obverse, and a five-pointed blazing star (with the Tetragrammaton) on the reverse. The compass is opened on a segment of a circle, inscribed with the numbers 3, 5, 7, 9.”  [note: while modern iterations of the apron now feature blue lining, the original BAASR text specifies it as having only white and gold.]

Lesson: The reflections of the street in the door window are concentrated on the door that Milich walks out of, and they are positioned to cover him as he emerges and pauses in the doorway. Milich also presses his face against the reflective glass room where the two “guests” are with his daughter, as though looking into himself. Once inside, The reflecting coloured lights are concentrated on him, just as at the storefront. Perhaps Milich, the only other father in the movie, is effectively reflecting onto Bill like a warped mirror; an alternative incarnation of fatherhood.

Markers: The room that Milich walks out of is white with a gold picture frame visible (yet another doorway). There is also half of an emblem resembling a Masonic apron in that room. The door to Rainbow Fashions itself is also white walled with a full row of golden cloaks lining the entrance. Perhaps The Ineffable Delta could be the dragonfly-patterned lamp on Milich’s front desk (it is even giving off the aurora as per the emblem). 

The Chapter of Rose Croix
(15° – 18°)

15° – Knight of the East or Sword

The 15th degree is at the Somerton ritual/orgy. 

From the summary of the degree:
“In this degree we learn fidelity to obligations and perseverance of purpose under difficulties and discouragement.” The apron is of crimson velvet, edged with green, with a bleeding head above two crossed swords, and a triangle (top point to the left) with three interlaced triangles inside it. The jewel is three concentric gold triangles, with two crossed swords inside them.”

Lesson: Bill perseveres in his investigation of Somerton, despite repeated discouragement from the mysterious masked woman (“Please! Don’t be foolish. You must go now”, “You must get away while there’s still a chance”, “You’ve got to get away before it’s too late”, “But you must go. Now!”, “Go!”, she tells him all throughout this scene).

Additionally, we have the obvious link of “Fidelio”/fidelity.

The BAASR degree text draws allegorically from King Cyrus’ release of the Jews from the Babylonian captivity, after which their freedom was contested by violent enemies. Perhaps this is being echoed by Bill’s attempts to take Mandy when he leaves (“That’s impossible […] it would cost me my life and possibly yours”, she responds).

Markers: The velvet crimson is obviously ubiquitous, starting from the doorway (just like the colours in other degrees) and leading to the ritual floor. Lining the red carpet entrance to the inside of Somerton are multiple green plants and green columns.

There is a possible cross-reference, here, although it’s tricky to establish whether it’s intentional. As has been noted by many commentators of Eyes Wide Shut, the Ziegler ballroom party and the masked Somerton ritual are linked as being thematic doubles for each other. Perhaps this is why, at Ziegler’s ball, something resembling a Masonic apron featuring the 15th degree colours can be glimpsed briefly next to Alice at the table where she meets Sandor Szavost.

This would make a lot of sense as a tie-in, but I can’t offer much in the way of confirmation. Let’s call it a speculative possibility for the time being.

16° – Prince of Jerusalem

Following Bill’s tour of Somerton, the 16th degree is when Bill is brought before Red Cloak’s throne for interrogation, and Mandy nominates herself to redeem him.  

From the summary of the degrees:
“This degree teaches “heroism of patience, the nobility of self-sacrifice” and compassionate judgment, along with charity, fidelity and brotherhood. The apron is crimson, edged in gold and aurora-color, and with a square, shield, Delta (with three YOD’s), balance, and a hand of justice. The jewel is a mother-of-pearl lozenge, with a hand holding a balance in equipoise; under it a sword with five stars surrounding the point. On the left is a Hebrew D, on the right is a Hebrew Z.  [note: this is another apron of which the original design has changed drastically since 1884.]

Lesson: The masked woman sacrifices herself for Bill. Red Cloak exercises judgement to release him.

Markers: Red Cloak is clad in crimson and gold, colours which again start from the doorway which Bill enters into this room. The aurora colour is splayed over the reflective surfaces in the court, and emanates from behind the masked woman on the balcony (nudity excised in case you’re reading this somewhere that it won’t fly).

Jewel (Mother of Pearl Lozenge): Amanda (who is one in the same as the masked woman) is wearing a mother-of-pearl ring in Ziegler’s bathroom.

Note that the decision to include the jewel of the 16th degree in the scene of the 5th degree is not arbitrary. The BAASR text on the 5th degree specifies the Junior Grand Warden of the Lodge as wearing the jewel of a Prince of Jerusalem.

Now, here’s an interesting tidbit regarding Mandy’s self-sacrifice at Somerton. We’ve already acknowledged some of the layered connections between Mandy & Lou Nathanson, the two dead bodies of Eyes Wide Shut. As mentioned earlier, Lou is a stand-in for Grandmaster Hiram– Solomon’s architect who was murdered for refusing to utter a password. Isn’t it curious, then, that Mandy’s (suspected) murder seems to be a consequence of Bill failing to give the house password to Red Cloak?

17° – Knights of the East and West

This degree could use an extra piece of confirmation to be more definitively called “solved”– however, due to a notable slice of code here, as well as the context given by sets of neighbouring solved degrees, we can infer that the 17th degree is the scene where Bill comes home from Somerton, checks on Helena as she sleeps, and retires his mask in his study.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lessons of this degree are that loyalty to God is man’s primary allegiance, and the temporal governments not founded upon God and His righteousness will inevitably fall. The apron is of yellow satin, with crimson and gold, and with a sword and Tetractys (of the Tetragrammaton) on it. The jewel is a heptagon of silver and gold, with crossed swords on a balance on the obverse, and a lamb on the Book of Seven Seals on the reverse. The jewel is hung from a double order — one black (left-to-right) and one white (right-to-left), representing good versus evil. A gold coronet is also presented.” [note: The BAASR contrarily specifies the apron for this degree as being white satin, lined with crimson and bordered with gold.]

Markers: As is stated in the BAASR section for this degree, describing the apron: “its color is emblematical of the dawn”. This scene, as well as the one following it, both take place at dawn; with each showing Helena and Alice basking asleep in the white morning light, respectively. This is very telling, since both of the degrees for the scenes of this series– which are inexorably linked to each other– make ample allegorical use of ‘the dawn’.

Now, think back carefully– there’s a key syntactical detail, here. Quick memory check: who was the last person we saw tucked away in bed? As we will recall from the conjunction of the 8th and 5th degrees, it was Lou Nathanson’s bedspread tucked over his belly that was coded as Hiram’s apron. It is fitting, then, that the light of dawn for which the apron’s colour is emblematic now falls on Helena and her covers.

Through the deathly association of Lou, Helena is thus similarly paired with Mandy, his corpse double, whose fate has just been sealed in the previous scene; a good example of the rhizomic interconnection of Eyes Wide Shut. We might also recall that after her earlier revival, Mandy was covered to her chest with a teal blanket in Ziegler’s bathroom, matching the bathroom’s towels/Lou’s bedsheets/Hiram’s “apron”.

Fittingly, due to it following Bill’s escapade at Somerton, this degree describes the dawn of truth (“the promised light”) as that which vanquishes that darkness of error and ignorance, and destroys the “powers of wrong”. It would almost seem that Bill’s regretful, guilt-addled sigh as he sees his peacefully sleeping daughter reflects this– a remembering of purer priorities.

18° – Knight of the Rose Croix 

The 18th degree is when Bill goes to the bedroom and Alice tells him her dream. 

From the summary of the degree: 
“This degree teaches that life and its strengths come from God. The rose signifies the dawn and the cross is a sacred symbol of antiquity in many cultures. To be tolerant of others errors and faults. The apron is of white leather or satin, bordered in red, with a skull and crossbones, a red passion cross, and three red rosettes. The grand jewel is a gold compass open on a quarter circle. A rose-cross is between the legs of the compass, and under it is a pelican, tearing its breast to feed its seven young, on the obverse, and an eagle with wings extended, on the reverse. On the circle are the letters I.N.R.I. ” [author’s note: this is the lettering on Jesus Christ’s cross in the Bible].

Please note: According to the BAASR, this apron features “a representation of a globe with a serpent entwined around it“.

Markers: the scene takes place at dawn, and the light of the dawn splays across the roses on the headboard that were similarly purposed in the 7th degree. Alice is dressed in white sleepwear, bordered by the red of her bed.

Lesson: Aligning with the religiosity of this Rose Croix degree, this scene is the single major biblical analogy in the film, with Alice’s dream (in a “beautiful garden”) obviously describing the Harfords as Adam and Eve, and the naval officer as the serpent who tempted Eve in the Bible. For the religiously unfamiliar:

Genesis 3:6-7
6When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom, she took the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. 7And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed together fig leaves and made coverings for themselves.”  

The story of Eden naturally corresponds to Alice’s dream where Bill scrambles to find clothes for them, as well as the Harfords coming to terms with the nature of their relationship in the toy store at the end of the film (“we’re awake now”). 

I have not located a Christian cross symbol in this scene. However, in the original shooting script for Eyes Wide Shut, it is worth noting that when Alice explains her dream, she describes Bill being crucified like Jesus, something that was culled from the final film:

Then I realized there were other couples around us – hundreds of them, and they too were making love. Then I was making love to the other men, and as soon as my longing was satisfied with one, I wanted another.  I can’t say how many I was with. And yet I didn’t for one moment forget you. And all this time, you were buying the most beautiful clothes and jewellery you could find for me. Then you were being followed by a crowd of people who were shouting threats. Then you were seized by soldiers, and there were also priests among them. Somebody – a gigantic person, tied your hands. You were still naked. I knew you were going to be crucified but I felt no sympathy for you. I still blamed you for everything that had happened.”

Now, there is a correlation that I want to emphasize here; that between the naval officer and the serpent. Although it is obvious that the naval officer represents the serpent from the Garden of Eden in the dream, which corresponds with the serpent on the 18° apron, I want to make a pointed note of this connection. The reason for this is that there are aprons for two later degrees that also employ the symbol of the serpent (namely, 22° and 25°).

What do the scenes that match those two degrees have in common? They are the two scenes in the second half of the movie where we see Bill’s blue-tinted fantasies about Alice cheating on him with the naval officer. Rather than showing any overt snake-like imagery, these scenes cut to the naval officer “flashback” as a coded inclusion of serpentine symbolism. If this seems too esoterically convoluted, don’t worry– the point will become more obvious when we get to the sections for those degrees.

Council of Kadosh
(19° – 30°)

19° –  Grand Pontiff

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

I would say, even with the connection of the “lesson”, that the 19th degree should technically be classed as “unsolved”. Either way, due to the context given by sets of neighbouring solved degrees, we can infer that this degree is the scene where Bill goes into Gillespie’s Diner to question the waitress over the whereabouts of Nick Nightingale.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lessons of this degree are learned from the past and how it affects the present and the way we live in the future. We always strive to endure, produce and improve the world as it surrounds us. There is no apron, but the jewel is a gold “parallelogram” (rectangle) with a Greek Alpha on one side and an Omega on the other.”  

Lesson: The past reflects the future as Bill begins his attempts to revisit the places and characters from the previous vignettes (Nick Nightingale, Milich, Somerton, Domino, Marion, Amanda, Ziegler, Alice and Helena).

20° –  Grand Master of All Symbolic Lodges

The 20th degree is when Bill is questioning the hotel desk clerk over the whereabouts of Nick Nightingale.

From the summary of the degrees:
“This degree shows us Liberty, Fraternity and Equality. These teach moral, religious and philosophical understanding. This degree helps one to comprehend Deity, forces of nature, good and evil. The apron is yellow, bordered in blue, with three concentric point-down triangles, with the Tetragrammaton (horizontal) and “Fiat Lux” (vertical) at the center, forming a cross. Its triangular shape relates to the “fourth great light, which reminds us of the Deity and his attributes.” The jewel is gold, with the same three concentric triangles.”

Markers: Of the pamphlets on the clerks’ desk, one is a yellow triangle on a blue background, resembling the symbols of this degree’s apron.

Liberty: A pamphlet on the desk depicts the Statue of Liberty.

Equality: As we will recall from the 6th and 8th degrees, scales or balances in Eyes Wide Shut are represented by elevators. Here, we can see one behind Bill with its directional indicators unlit. I’m about half convinced of this marker, pending further confirmation.

Can you see a marker for this degree’s third virtue (Fraternity)? I wonder if it might be somehow linked to the YALE fraternity boys from earlier, who assess Bill as being gay similarly to how the desk clerk does.

Also noteworthy is how the desk clerk has a yellow tie framed with his blue shirt. [Note: The clerk also has a brown wristband comprised of three intertwined loops, which I lightly suppose could possibly represent the concentric lacing on the apron].

21° – Noachite, or Prussian Knight

The 21st degree is when Bill returns to Rainbow Fashions.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lesson from this degree is to learn that arrogance; defamation and cowardice are unworthy attributes of a mason, and that humility, modesty and courtesy are the true virtues of men and Masons. The apron is yellow, and contains an arm holding a sword, and a winged figure holding a key in the left hand, and the right forefinger on the lips (the “Egyptian figure of Silence”). The jewel is a point-up triangle, with an arrow, point downward, an arm holding a sword, and the motto “Fiat Justitia, Ruat Coelum.” 

Lesson: The BAASR chapter for this degree expands on the specific meaning of the lesson. This degree draws its allegory from the Order of Prussian Knights, also known as the Holy Vehme, who were once executors of a broader justice before eventually limiting themselves to matters of Masonry, claiming “no jurisdiction except between their own members[…] And in all their judgments it is their rule and duty to judge of other men’s motives and actions by the same rules which they judge their own; to believe others equally as honest in their views as themselves; and to find for the conduct of others the same excuses that they find for their own; for this alone is justice”.

As it is written in the “Argument” section for this degree: “while rendering justice, we remember our vows, believing all guiltless until convicted”.

In the relevant scene from the film, while initially showing concern (“Mr. Milich, last night you were going to call the police“), Bill makes no further appeal to the law upon hearing of the new “arrangement” that Milich has with the two Japanese “guests”, and ends up turning a blind eye to the strange foursome and leaving them to their own devices.

Markers: One of the Japanese “guests” makes the Egyptian figure of Silence when he blows a kiss to Milich’s daughter. The guest’s tie also matches the colour scheme of the apron, as the desk clerk’s did in the previous degree.

Tidbit: Rainbow Fashions is a well-suited locale for this degree– the symbol of the titular Noahidism is the rainbow, due to its association with the Genesis flood.[source]

22° – Knight of the Royal Axe

The 22nd degree is after Rainbow Fashions, when Bill is back in his office, imagining Alice with the naval officer, and has his secretary retrieve his car. 

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches, “if a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well”. By doing good work we improve character and become better citizens. The apron is white, bordered in purple, and contains a three-headed serpent and a table with instruments and plans on it. The jewel is an axe and handle of gold. On the top of the handle are the initials of Noah and Solomon. In the middle of the handle are the initials of Libanus and Tsidun. On the blade are the initials of Adoniram, Cyrus, Darius, Zerubbabel, Nehemiah, Ezra (on one side), and Shem, Kham, Yapheth, Moses, Ahaliab, Betselal (on the other).”

Lesson: Bill is back at work once again, and in the context of the film, the lesson of this degree is not too dissimilar to that of the “Intimate Secretary” from earlier. As explained in its “Argument” section in the BAASR, this degree “… is to teach all men that labor is honorable, and that we should strive to improve the condition of the toiling millions. We are all workmen in our several vocations, whether in actual labor, preparing plans for the laborers, or studying the calculations of Philosophy…” This last sentence in particular is echoed by Bill having his secretary delegate his patients to one of the practice’s other doctors.

Markers: Bill sits behind his desk which is covered with instruments and plans. He is wearing his white lab coat and is bordered in purple by his chair, desk, and the tint of the window behind him. Further to this effect, the film for this scene has been post-processed for a purple appearance.

You may have already gotten a sense of it by now, but many of the “degrees”/scenes in the film feature variations in post-processing that give the film different coloured tones for each one. Kubrick’s selection of specific colours for these different parts of the film negative is recounted in Stephen Pizzello’s article “A Sword in the Bed” for the October 1999 issue of American Cinematographer. Here, Chester Eyre, the head of operations at Deluxe Laboratories where the negatives were processed, is quoted as follows (emphasis mine):

“[Kubrick] had his own ideas about what each picture should look like, and what he was trying to achieve with it. He had a fixed idea about the color of each sequence, and he would strive with [us] to obtain that color, even if it had no relation to the preceding sequence. He was always focused on the mood that could be achieved with a certain color. In the case of Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley actually supplied us with information about the red, green and blue [timing](square brackets in the original) lights. He would look at what had been shot the previous day, mentally adjust the colors, write the specifications on the camera sheets he gave to us, and then request certain color combinations that he’d devised with Larry Smith on the set. Normally, it’s left to the laboratory to assess the color of the negative. A filmmaker might ask us to print something a certain way—say, dark and red—but Stanley was asking for specific combinations of colors.

The same article references the film’s aforementioned cinematographer, Larry Smith, and his description of the specificity with which Kubrick engaged the details of what we see on screen during the movie:

“When filming was imminent, Smith says, Kubrick would obsess over every visual element that would appear in a given frame, from props and furniture to the color of walls and other objects. “Stanley would tell the production designers and set dressers exactly what types of lamps, chairs or decor he wanted…””

We should note how, based on the above statements alone, the preconditions for the existence of an encrypted ‘colour/symbol code’ are quite easily met. The correlating purple tone of the film stock for the 22nd Degree is a relatively clear cut example of how Kubrick has utilized post-processing to aesthetically reinforce the kaleidoscopic “Scottish Rite” structure of Eyes Wide Shut; the “rainbow” unto itself. I would like for the reader to keep this in mind for the following degree, as well as for 25°.

Having analysed it’s colours, let’s now look at one more symbolic marker from the 22° apron. As we noted earlier in 18°, in this scene we see the blue-tinted fantasy flashback to the naval officer as Bill sits at his desk, implicating the serpent.

If you are still uncertain that the naval officer is a stand-in for the Serpent/Satan, consider that, in addition to his serpent role in Alice’s “Garden of Eden” dream, the naval officer is an obvious double for Sandor Szavost; perhaps named for Anton Szandor LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan.

[Note: given here the transparent use of a metaphor to indicate a symbol of the degree, and again later in degree 25, I am now willing to further accept the possibility that Lou Nathanson is the “star” symbol of the 8th degree. Confirmation of this is pending further investigation].

23° – Chief of the Tabernacle

The encoding of this degree seems relatively mild, at least by my current estimation. However, due to the context of the neighbouring sets of solved degrees, we can infer that the 23rd degree is when Bill returns to Somerton and is delivered a second warning by the Somerton butler through the gate.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches that the man who forgets his duty to God, family, country, and himself will be in danger of moral and spiritual destruction by thoughts and unworthy ambition. The apron is white, bordered with red, blue, and purple ribbons. These colors, from the curtains of the Tabernacle, represent earth, fire, air, and sea, respectively, as well as the Lord’s beneficence, glory, wisdom, and power. On the apron is the golden seven-branched candlestick, representing the seven planets and virtues: Sun, faith (“aspiration toward the infinite”); Moon, hope; Venus, charity; Mars, fortitude (“victory over rage and anger”); Mercury, prudence; Saturn, temperance; Jupiter (conqueror of the Titans), justice. The jewel is a small silver censer, or ornamented cup, held by a handle in the shape of an open hand.

Lesson:  As confirmed by the warning handed to him by the butler, Bill risks his own destruction by re-pursuing his lust and curiosity at Somerton. As the BAASR’s brief “Argument” section for this degree puts it: “presumptuous interference with sacred ceremonies are forbidden and punished“.

Markers: The envelope that the butler gives to Bill resembles the white Masonic apron in both form and colour. A red car passes Bill as he arrives at Somerton. The gate is blue, and the road signs are blue and red. As Bill’s car pulls up to the gate, and when the butler’s car is coming down the driveway, the film stock has been post-processed to take on a purple tint, just as Bill’s office had in the previous scene. When the butler gets out of the car, the film stock has returned to normal colouring.

There’s something else we should notice here: this scene corroborates a potential piece of Rite symbolism from an earlier degree. Remember, this is the second time that Bill is handed a white envelope. The first is given to him by his secretary in 6°, and the 6th degree apron is also white.

Jewel (Silver Censer): I’m a bit on the fence about this one, but I think there is enough surrounding context to consider it a decent possibility. The silver censer appears as though it may be the camera, whose base “gripping” it is the open hand (see how the base of the camera itself appears designed as though to resemble a wrist and palm, even featuring a midline where the hand begins). As one sharp reader pointed out to me after the fact, this could also be another of Stanley’s word games such as we saw in 7°: the camera is a “sensor“. Perhaps if we could determine whether the camera’s rotation is motion activated, we could treat that as an additional piece of confirmation (though, as another reader has suggested, all digital cameras feature components known as image sensors). Given Kubrick’s career beginnings as a photographer, his renowned interest and deep knowledge of camera technology, as well as the plainly symbolic depictions of cameras in many of his other films, the suspicion of this being a “hotspot” for prospective semiosis has a fair amount of historical justification. This jewel belongs in the “maybe” pile for the time being, but keep it in mind for the following degree.

24° – Prince of the Tabernacle 

The 24th degree is when Bill returns home from Somerton to Helena and Alice doing math homework.

From the summary of the degree:
“In this degree a Mason must show evidence of compassion, piety and justice. After initiation he may “manifest faithfully the social virtues in order to receive the rewards”, to serve humanity through our brotherhood. The apron is of white lambskin, with scarlet, green, and blue. On it is a  violet myrtle tree, and a gold representation of an Arabian tent. The jewel is the Hebrew letter ALEPH, suspended from a violet ribbon.”

Lesson: The piety of this degree is expanded upon in the BAASR: “The especial duties of a Prince of the Tabernacle are to labor incessantly for the glory of God“. Bill says he needs dinner early because he has to work late appointments in the office, echoing the sentiments of duty and labor from 6° and 22°, where we saw him at work. The religiosity here is also reminiscent of the Rose Croix degrees; the previous domestic scenes where we saw Helena and Alice, framed by the lesson of “loyalty to God”.

It looks like there might be something else here, too. It has been noted by other commentators of Eyes Wide Shut that in this scene, Alice is metaphorically grooming Helena to pick between suitors based on how much money they make: “Joe has $2.50. And Mike has $1.75. Joe has how much more money than Mike?” Perhaps it would appear that in the 24th degree, it is Helena who will “manifest faithfully the social virtues in order to receive the rewards“.

Markers: I would say these markers are relatively vague, and the corroboration for this degree is stronger in the Argument section, but I think there is enough peripheral context in this scene and those surrounding it to suppose these markers. As Bill watches Alice and Helena, the Arabian tent is the window blinds with the styled curtains. The myrtle tree, as stylized on the 24th degree apron, is cloud-like patterning at the centre of the decorative scarlet tablecloth where Alice and Helena sit. The exercise books on the tablecloth are the appropriate degree colours, and all of these colours are also represented by the bottles and lamp on the cabinet next to the table– blue/green/white/red. Curiously, the blue bottle suddenly appears from thin air when we cut to Bill’s point of view.

Now, let’s jump back one degree. Check out the Argument section for 23°, The Chief of the Tabernacle:

So, Bill’s return to Somerton (23°) and Helena’s homework scene (24°) are intimately connected? That must be why, in the room where Alice and Helena are working, we can see the gold-hilted 7 branch candlestick and the silver censer from the 23rd degree:

Please make a note of the Tabernacle symbol of the 7-branched candlestick/menorah, because I’m going to return to it in the segment for the 27th degree. Also, note that the candlestick comes into view right when Helena asks Bill for a watchdog. That’s also going to be relevant later.

Now, let’s look at the 24th degree Argument section:

So, in context, it appears that Helena’s math homework is illustrating the duties in the ancient Temples. Let us see how.

We’ve already met the architect of King Solomon’s ancient Temple– Lou Nathanson, AKA Master Hiram, in the 8th degree, where the Nathanson home represented the middle chamber of the Temple (as stated in the BAASR). Does Helena’s math homework link to any avocations from the Nathanson house?

Yes, it does. Carl Thomas is a math professor. Not only that, but Helena’s homework question, in which she has to pick between the two men, is a reflection of the drama scenario at the Nathanson household, where Marion picks similarly between the doppelgangers, Carl and Bill.

Among Helena’s homework books, one reads CARLOS (as in Carl), and another has two dice each displaying four, adding up to eight, indicating the 8th degree.

[Note: the above details of the workbooks are not visible in releases of the film which have been transferred out of its native 4:3 aspect ratio. In these versions, much detail from the bottom portion of the screen has been unfortunately cropped out. For more on this, please see An Open Letter to Leon Vitali.]

Although the math homework is clearly referencing Carl, I get the sense I am not quite fully conceptualizing the correct association that is being made in this scene. 23°, the preliminary degree to this one, also makes reference to the old sacerdotal duties of the ancient temples.

There is a book titled “Tests” among those that Alice and Helena are working on. This links to the diagnosed Domino, whose HIV test comes back positive. Perhaps a link to 23° (Somerton) is intended as an expansion on the ‘prostitution’ theme, but that is purely speculative at this point.

25° – Knight of the Brazen Serpent  

The 25th degree is when Bill is in his office at night and calls the Nathanson household before hanging up on Carl Thomas.

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree tackles the concept of pure, celestial, eternal soul of man. He looks within his faith, life, and God and to get a clear look at his inner self. The apron is white, lined in black, and with gold stars on the white side (Pleiades, Hyades, Orion, Capella) and with silver stars on the black side (Perseus, Scorpio, Bootes). Also on it is a serpent, ouroboros, surrounding a scarab, a triangle in a glory with the Tetragrammaton in its center, and the four initials of the stars Regulus, Aldebaran, Antares, and Fomalhaut. The jewel is a gold tau cross (crux ansata) with a serpent entwined around it, and the Hebrew words HLThI (“he has suffered or been wounded”) and NChShThN (“the Brazen Serpent”) on it.”
Lesson: Bill looks into himself in a literal sense by encountering his doppelgänger on the phone. Metaphorically, he reflects on own wife’s imagined infidelity while talking to the version of himself whose wife was unfaithful.

For some additional evidence that Bill is here “looking into himself”, or that Carl Thomas is his doppelgänger, note that not only is “Thomas” Greek for “twin”, but the featured actors, Tom Cruise and Thomas Gibson, were both born on the exact same day— July 3, 1962. [credit again goes to Eyes Wide Shut: Hidden in Plain Sight for uncovering these details]. This is one of many meta-details that Kubrick appears to have employed on purpose.

This theme of “looking at the inner self” is actually a bit multi-faceted, here. Not only is Carl the Nathanson apartment’s analogue for Bill, but when Marion confesses her wish to abandon Carl for him, Bill in turn becomes an analogue for the naval officer. After envisioning Alice with the officer in this scene at his desk, he essentially tries to phone Marion in order to re-enact that imagined infidelity. Bill himself is again being likened to a version of the naval officer.

Matching Bill’s lust, driven by his wounded ego in this scene, the BAASR section for this degree describes man’s desirous nature as that which clouds the mind from truth: “…the intellect, like a keen instrument of the finest steel, must be able to dissect the thought, and distinguish one from the other its invisible nerves. The edge of the instrument is blunted by the indulgence of the sensual appetites, or the intemperate passions of the soul.”

Markers: Bill’s vest is black, lined by his white shirt. As in the 22nd degree, Bill again imagines Alice with the Naval officer, again representing the serpent.

As we can see by comparing it to the earlier analysis of this very same office in 22°, the post-processing on the film stock for this scene is now decidedly colourless, bringing out the correlating blacks and whites of this degree as opposed to the purple hue we saw previously.

One last thing, on a quick and possibly coincidental note: we can see Bill’s master’s degree hanging on the wall. Very funny, Stanley.

26° –  Prince of Mercy

The 26th degree is when Bill returns to Domino’s apartment, where he meets Sally.

From the summary of the Rite: 
“In this degree we search for “the rewards of the trinity of Gods attributes – wisdom or intelligence, force or strength, harmony or beauty.” The apron is scarlet, bordered in white, with a green triangle (point-down) in the center. In the triangle are the initials of Force, Wisdom, and Harmony, and a flaming heart of gold with the initials I.H.S. (Jesus Hominum Salvator; or Imperium, Harmonia, Sapientia). The jewel is gold, and is the same triangle, suspended by a purple ribbon.”  

Markers: The gold heart is the golden heart pendant around Sally’s neck.

Echoing the title of this degree, “Sally” is derived from the Hebrew for “princess“.

The alternative name for this degree is Scottish Trinitarian. As well as the “trinity of God’s attributes” in the description, the BAASR section for this degree refers to the “Triple Covenant“, and the emergence of supreme trinities as a prevalent factor across many ancient religions and schools of spiritual thought. This offers a possible explanation as to why Sally lives at the apartment number 3, which marks the door where we first see her.

27° –  Knight Commander of the Temple

The 27th degree is when Bill believes he is being followed in the street by a bald man with tan overcoat.

From the summary of the degree:
“Knight Commander of the Temple: This lesson of this degree teaches us to scorn selfishness, and to uphold the knightly virtues of charity, truth and honor. We should always strive to assist the poor, helpless and infirm. The apron is of scarlet lambskin, lined in black, with a Teutonic Cross (cross potent sable, charged with a smaller cross double potent or, surcharged with the escutcheon of the Empire – the two-headed black eagle) and a black key surrounded by a laurel wreath. The jewel is a gold triangle, on which the word I.R.N.I. is enameled.”  

Lesson (assisting the poor, helpless and infirm): Bill buys a paper from the newspaper stall owner. This might be something of an endearing meta-reference– the stall man is played by Emilio D’Alessandro, Kubrick’s chauffeur and assistant. At the time of filming, Kubrick was well into his 60s and naturally would not have been operating at the same physical capacity that he did as a young film maker.

The “assistant” angle is strengthened even further: the man stepping out of the cab next to the newspaper stall is played by Kubrick’s long-time assistant, Leon Vitali. Signage bearing his name can also be seen above him in this scene.

In fact, now that I think about it… it appears a decent few of the actors heralding the Rite degrees are loyal aids to Kubrick. The “Intimate Secretary” in the 6th degree is played by Lisa Leone, the film’s set decorator and second unit production manager (something of an “Intimate Secretary” herself). Leon Vitali plays Red Cloak in degree 16, wearing its associated crimson and gold… Vitali, whose decade-spanning devotion to Kubrick was once called “a crucifixion of himself” by Full Metal Jacket star Matthew Modine.[source] How’s that for the “self-sacrifice” of the 16th degree?

Markers: Emilio/The newspaper stall owner has a red top/scarf lined by a black leather jacket.

Truth: In the background of this scene we see the Verona Restaurant. Verona means ‘truth‘ in Italian. Are the other listed knightly virtues of this degree (charity, honour) anywhere to be found?

Two-headed eagle: Bill passes a mailbox featuring the head of the eagle from the U.S Postal Service logo. After that, when he’s watching his stalker across the street, we can see a mailbox featuring two of the eagle head logos, placed prominently in frame. We then get a closer look in the next shot of the stalker.

Note also how in the closer shot, Kubrick has lit the mailbox to appear black, as per the degree description.

Laurel Wreath: the laurel wreath can be seen correspondingly above the “double-headed eagle” when it first appears on screen. Note that both the eagle and wreath first become visible as Bill tries the handle of the off-duty taxicab. This will be important later.

Now, remember earlier I said I’d come back to the 7-branch candle/menorah of 23° – Chief of the Tabernacle. In this scene, we see a menorah in a shop window just as Bill’s stalker reappears at the street corner (recall that in the homework scene, Bill approaches the 7-branched candle just as Helena says “he could be a watchdog“).

Notice something else? The listed phone number on the shop with the menorah reads 555-3311. Add the numbers up, and what do you get? 23, as in the 23rd degree.

Another obvious link is that this scene and Bill’s return to Somerton use the same music (the ominous piano motif from György Ligeti’s ‘Musica ricercata‘). But there is one more deeply hidden 23° connection here which is especially jaw-dropping.

We first see Bill’s stalker/watchdog near a crossroad, from which he passes Nicon House, which bears the street number 21.

This is where things get crazy. If you bring up the real-world London location of Nicon House on a map, not only does it have street number 21…

…but we can also see that the crossroad correlating to the one visible when Bill’s stalker first appears is called Tabernacle Street.

You can’t make this stuff up.

But wait. There is yet another real-world Masonic reference in this scene.
The establishing shot at the start of the scene is one of the few in Eyes Wide Shut that was actually filmed in New York. The shot is taken from 33 Wooster Street, near the corner of Grand Street in SoHo.


Wooster Street is named after David Wooster, a general in the American Revolutionary War.[source] David Wooster was termed the “Father of Freemasonry in Connecticut” for his role in organizing the first Grand Lodge in Connecticut in 1750, where he was its charter Master.[source]

An imagined rendition of General David Wooster, created circa 1776. [Source]

In the related shot from Eyes Wide Shut, the street number 33 has presumably been selected for its relation to the Ancient Rite, but on top of that: a Mason who presides over a Grand Lodge, as David Wooster did, is known as a Grand Master– hence, Grand Street.

[Credit goes to Juli Kearns and her analysis, “An In-depth Shot-by-shot Analysis of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut” for first tracking down the filming locations and acknowledging the peculiarity of real-world street names in their relationships to the film.]

Please note that there are further ways in which Bill’s stalker is linked to Somerton. For a more in-depth look at these, please see Pavlov Cipher, Part I. – The True Face of Milich.

28° – Knight of the Sun

The 28th degree is when Bill learns of Mandy’s death in Sharky’s Café. 

From the summary of the degree:  
“This degree teaches that our love for God manifests itself in our love for Truth, Justice and Nobility of Soul. The apron is white lambskin, with a vermilion pentagram. The jewel is a golden sun on the obverse, and a hemisphere, showing the northern half of the ecliptic (Taurus to Libra and zodiac.”)

Lesson: The Argument section of the BAASR expands on this lesson: “He […] who is alarmed by reason and logic and the naked truth, should not rashly engage in the pursuit of the high sciences; but once on the road, he must reach the goal or perish; to doubt is to become insane, to halt is to fall, go to back is to precipitate one’s self into an abyss.” The obligations to pursue truth are echoed in this scene as Bill learns of Mandy’s death and resolves to face the music regarding whether he has gotten her killed.

Further to the above excerpt, and more importantly: the 28th degree centrally employs the daily re-emergence of the sun as a symbol of the restoration of life from death. This is very pertinent to the death of the character Mandy, which we discover in this scene as Mozart’s funerary “Requiem” plays in the background. At many recurrent levels, Eyes Wide Shut infers Mandy as a character doomed to reincarnation. There are quite a few references to Mandy’s resurrection which I’ll explore in a later piece of analysis, but for some of the most damning evidence, see the section titled “Mandy, Doubling & The Long Island Railroad” on the Unsolved Mysteries page.

(P.S: there is one species of orange flower– as ginger-headed as Mandy herself– seen decorating all the tables of this cafe. Do you know what kind of flower it is?)

Jewel (Taurus): Above the stairs of Sharky’s, the Christmas ornament resembles the horns and ears of Taurus, the bull.

Notice that the Taurus Christmas ornament also appears outside Ziegler’s rumpus room, where he tells Bill: “let’s cut the bullshit [bull-shit]”. 

Also worth mentioning is that, seconds prior to Bill passing under the Taurus ornament in Sharky’s, we see a display of horoscopes (star signs) at the newsvendor’s stall:

I suspect that Sharky’s cafe probably contains, somewhere, the rest of the 28° jewel symbolism, including the Libra sign. Can you find it?

You’ll notice that, as well as the zodiac on the reverse, the description of the jewel for this degree also mentions “a golden sun on the obverse“. We will address this in the next segment (“Knight of the Sun – Officers“).

Something else worth noting in Sharky’s Cafe is the soundtrack: over the speakers, we can hear Mozart’s “Requiem“. In the first place, this is reminiscent of the funerary arrangement and death-related allegory of the 5th degree lodge/Ziegler’s bathroom where Bill first meets Mandy. Obviously, this scene in Sharky’s is also where Bill learns of Mandy’s death, bringing the funerary foreshadowing full circle.

And guess what else? Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart spent the last seven years of his life a Freemason, having been inducted into a Viennese Masonic assembly on the 14th of December, 1784.[source]

Knight of the Sun – Officers– Their Stations, Clothing, Etc.

Let’s look at the BAASR and compare the positions for the stationed officers of the 28° council-chamber with what we see in the associated scene.

First, let’s note the orientation of two Brothers, dubbed “Father Adam” and “Brother Truth”. Excerpted from the “Knight of the Sun” chapter of the BAASR (emphasis mine):

This extract from the BAASR has been compressed and arranged for presentation purposes.

Now, let’s compare these alongside some of the other officers:

This extract from the BAASR has been compressed and arranged for presentation purposes.

If we map these descriptions, we will note that they specify the sign of Venus as being in the south, between the signs of the sun and moon.

Now, let’s look at the movie. Hanging on the wall behind the table where Bill sits in Sharky’s Cafe, we can see Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s Astarte Syriaca (1877), which depicts the goddess Venus:

If you’ll look closely at the painting, you’ll notice that not only is there a Venus, but also a sun and moon behind the attendants on either side of her (giving us the “golden sun” of this degree’s jewel). In fact, Rosetti even composed a sonnet to accompany the piece, which drives the point home for us. It opens and closes as follows:

MYSTERY: lo! betwixt the sun and moon
Astarte of the Syrians: Venus Queen
Ere Aphrodite was. In silver sheen


That face, of Love’s all-penetrative spell
Amulet, talisman, and oracle,—
Betwixt the sun and moon a mystery.

If we take the painting as being on the south wall where it belongs, then the sun and moon as depicted are also on the correct sides of Venus (the sun towards the East and the moon towards the west). So, all three are corresponding to the described order of the 28° officer’s stations in the BAASR.

Interestingly, the painter-poet responsible is also a namesake for one of this degree’s other officer positions– “Gabriel”.

Here’s a strong piece of corroboration: Sharky’s Cafe is not the first place where we see the Astarte Syriaca. It can be glimpsed earlier, in the window of the Artinis Gallery as Bill is approaching the Hotel Jason [Reader Contribution .1]:

Artinis” was the name of a Urartian sun god, making this is a fitting linkage for “Knight of the Sun“.

If you have lingering doubt that the Astarte Syriaca was intended as part of the Scottish Rite code, please consider the probabilistic nature of the evidence: 28° is the only degree out of all thirty-three to employ the symbolism of Venus into the arrangement of its lodge. I think it’s fair to say that there are very slim odds for a coincidence of such specificity.

[Author’s note: There’s one more thing I want to mention regarding the appearance of this degree’s jewel. Notice how the reverse (the zodiac) and obverse (a golden sun) are at opposite ends of Sharky’s Cafe, divided by a door. This harkens back to Bill being confronted by the YALE frat boys, where the obverse and reverse of the 13th degree jewel were divided by a door.]

29° – Knight of Saint Andrew

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

The 29th degree is when Bill goes to the hospital morgue to confirm the identity of the late Amanda.

From the summary of the degree:
“The virtues of this degree are “Love of God, loyalty to superiors, faithful adherence to promise and active resistance to unfair judgment.” There is no apron. The jewel has two parts: on top is a gold hexagram, made of concave-outward triangles, with a compass open to 25 degrees inside it. On the bottom is suspended a gold St. Andrew’s cross (“X”), with a knight’s helmet, winged serpent ouroboros, key, and a point-down triangle. In the center of the cross is a Hebrew YOD, and on its points, clockwise from bottom, the Hebrew letters N M I N.”

Lesson: At Somerton, Red Cloak said of Mandy’s sacrifice: “When a promise has been made here, there is no turning back“. Mandy’s death is the fulfilment of this promise. Clearly, and as he later expresses verbally, Bill considers the judgement of Mandy to be unjust.

Markers: The primary markers for this scene are as yet unidentified.

Something worth noting in this scene is (again) the soundtrack, which features Franz Liszt’s Nuages Gris (1881) being played as Bill examines the corpse. Similar to as was noted for Mozart in the previous degree, Franz Lizst was a Freemason. He was inducted into a Masonic lodge (the “Loge Zur Einigkeit”) in Frank am Main, 1841.[source]

30° –  Knight Kadosh

The 30th degree is when Bill goes to Ziegler’s rumpus room to confront him over Mandy’s death.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lesson of this degree is to be true to ourselves, to stand for what is right and just in our lives today. To believe in God, country and ourselves. There is no apron, but the jewel is a gold Teutonic cross, enameled in red, with the letters J.’.B.’.M.’. on the obverse, and a skull transpierced by a poniard on the reverse.”

Lesson: Bill stands up to Ziegler to question the narrative of Mandy’s death. Immediately before doing this, he makes the motion of removing a mask from his face to indicate the revelation of his true self; echoing the removal of his mask in Red Cloak’s court.

I understand that relating this hand motion to the removal of the mask may seem like a bit of a reach from our current vantage point, but please suspend that doubt for just a moment. This linkage will be cemented for us in the following degree. For now, simply note that the rumpus room is a symbolic analogue for Red Cloak’s court; with the red felt matching the court’s carpet, the circling camera shots around the red billiards table matching that of the court, and the subject of focus/discussion in the corresponding scenes being Mandy’s sacrifice.

Markers: The gold Teutonic cross suspends the lights above the pool table, which is enamelled with red (for an example of the typical Teutonic cross as used in Freemasonry, see the illustration at the start of this section or the apron of the 29th degree. The adjacent lines at the edges of the cross are echoed by the crossbars above the pool table.)

As has long been noted by many commentators of Eyes Wide, Ziegler and Red Cloak are thematic doppelgangers for one another. Ziegler’s mannerisms at the red pool table are echoes of Red Cloak’s choreographic role in the Somerton ritual (Ziegler spins and double-taps the cueball on the pool table, while Red Cloak spins a thurible and double-taps his staff).
Red Cloak is played by Leon Vitali, who’s name is shown on street adverts when Bill is being stalked in the street (and the signs are seen above Vitali himself, as he steps out of his taxicab).

The phone number on the advert is 212-555-5005. Add all the numbers together and you get 30, as in the 30th degree.

The Consistory Degrees
(31° –  32°) and 33°

31° – Grand Inspector Inquisitor Commander

The 31st degree is when Bill comes home to sit and drink a Budweiser beer, then tearfully confesses his adventures to Alice.  

From the summary of the degree:
“This degree teaches prayerful self-examination. The mistakes today should not be committed tomorrow. Simply, the daily look at ones self to learn to live with the future. No apron is worn in the Supreme Tribunal, but in inferior bodies, a white sheep-skin apron with a silver Teutonic cross may be worn. The jewel is a silver Teutonic cross. The jewel may be suspended from a white collar, with a gold triangle with a “31” inside it. But in inferior bodies it may be suspended from a golden chain, the links of which form the eight fundamental degrees of Masonry: The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 14th, 16th, 18th, and 30th.”

Lesson: Bill sits and drinks in silent contemplation.  He breaks down and confesses to Alice, repentant of his mistakes. He also self-examines in some literal sense by seeing his mask on the bed pillow. This corroborates our assertions from the previous degree, where the removal of this mask was linked to ‘being true to the self’.

Further to the lessons of this degree, we see Alice and Bill, who, with tearful eyes, are indeed learning how to live with their future. Bill is seen turning off the lights of the Christmas tree, as though turning away from the trappings of the “rainbow” and abandoning his more earthly pursuits (this interpretation of the lesson is a “best current guess”, pending further investigation).

Jewel (Silver Teutonic Cross): The silver Teutonic cross is around Mandy’s neck at the Somerton ritual, where Bill not heeding her warnings is the mistake that lead to her sacrifice, as he has just confirmed from Ziegler. This mistake is the subject of his contemplation. Note that we saw the cross at Red Cloak’s court, to which the symbolic mask removal is also linked.

32° –  Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret

This degree is currently in a state of tentative assertion and is pending more definitive confirmation.

The 32nd degree is the film’s final scene in the toy store.

From the summary of the degree:
“The lessons of this degree are that “genuine brotherhood requires mutual regard, opinion, esteem and charity”. We always look for the good in all, make allowances for other’s short comings. We trust the Supreme Architect to lead us to friendship, morality and brotherly love. The apron is white, lined in black, with a double-headed eagle and a plan of the Camp of the Princes. The jewel is a golden Teutonic cross, with a double-headed white and black eagle in the center.”

Lesson: Bill and Alice reconcile– they make allowances for each other’s short comings and decide to work together for their future.

Markers:  Bill’s shirt is white under a red sweater red (The BAASR also specifies the 32nd degree’s collar as being lined with scarlet). This is bordered by his black cloak. His ruffled collar at the front is styled to resemble two eagles heads facing away from each other, as in the 32 degree insignia.

The Camp of the Princes, as described allegorically in the BAASR, is essentially the toy store itself. The different parts of the Camp are resembled by the various islands of shelves and different sections of the toy store.

Diagram of the Camp of the Princes

Quoted from the BAASR:
“The camp you are entering, and its several parts, are all symbols, the meaning of which we will hereafter endeavour to explain to you. As you pass around and through this camp, we will we will give you the necessary explanation as to its external features, and recall briefly to your mind the characteristics of the several degrees whose standards float over the camp, to aid you in hereafter understanding the esoteric meaning of the whole. You perceive that on each side of the nonagon is a tent with a flag and pennon; that each flag and its pennon are of a different colour from the others, and that each tent is designated by a letter.”

The symbolism here comes very rapidly and is very layered. I will have to invest some time to expand this section further at some point, but basically, lots of images from previous scenes in the movie are echoed throughout the toy store scene.

As an example of this, consider that the Decorations section for this degree describes an altar bearing “…a Book of Constitutions and Statutes of the Order, a naked sword, a sceptre and a balance“. As we will recall from the 8th degree, the balance in Eyes Wide Shut‘s semiotic lexicon is represented by an elevator. Correspondingly, we can see the handily-labelled elevators in the toy store:

This might be a good opportunity to provide more evidence for this association from earlier in the film. Let’s quickly jump back and have look at the “…Decorations” section of 7° – Provost and Judge (Alice and Bill fighting in their bedroom after smoking pot):

In the middle of the chamber hangs an equilateral triangle, in the centre of which is a Hebrew letter; under the triangle is hung an equipoised balance.”

Now, do you remember Alice’s dialogue from that scene, wherein she describes her sighting of the naval officer at the hotel lobby in Cape Cod?

He was checking into the hotel and he was following the bellboy with his luggage to the elevator. He glanced at me as he walked past…

(33°) – Sovereign Grand Inspector-General

The 33rd degree is achieved as the end of the film as Alice utters the word “Fuck”. This is the mark of finality, the conclusion of the odyssey, the union of Bill and his elusive goal; the salvation from holy destruction and the end of the rainbow.

From the summary of the degree:
“The Thirty-third Degree is conferred by the Supreme Council upon members of the Rite in recognition of outstanding work in the Rite or in public life. The 33° cannot be asked for and if asked for must be refused. At its bi­ennial session the Supreme Council elects members of the Rite to receive the Degree. These 33° Masons are Inspectors General honorary and honorary members of the Supreme Council. The active members of the Supreme Council are chosen from among them.”  

Obviously, there is no scene here to be dissected, other than Alice having “elected” Bill… but once we have finished excavating the rest of the cipher, I suppose there will be more to say in relation to the end of the film, and how it factors in thematically with the inclusion of the Masonic “arc”.

One thing that I am here reminded of is how, earlier in the film, Kubrick has seemingly leveraged the associations of the degrees to pay some sort of veiled, meta “tribute” to members of the production crew (Leon Vitali, Lisa Leone & Emilio D’Alessandro). Perhaps, since the 33rd degree aligns with the end credits of the movie, a connection is being drawn between the names displayed on screen and the aforementioned “recognition of outstanding work” from the degree’s official description; likening Eyes Wide Shut‘s notoriously secretive development history to the inner workings of an esoteric community.

So concludes this deciphering of the highest Degree of the Scottish Rite in Eyes Wide Shut. But what about those first three degrees; the indispensable foundations on which the entire Rite is hinged?

It has now come time for us to loop around and go all the way back to the start of the film, where we first met the Harford couple and their simmering marital disunity.

The Blue Lodge Degrees
(1° – 3°)

Author’s note: before proceeding with the contents of this chapter, it is emphatically recommended that the reader first digests the body of analysis on degrees 4 through 33.

First Things Last

The first three degrees of Freemasonry– Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason– are the primary degrees to which all others (Scottish Rite or otherwise) are generally considered appendant. They are known as the Blue Lodge or Craft degrees, and in Eyes Wide Shut they are symbolically represented by the opening scenes of the movie, up to when the Harfords arrive at the Christmas party.

Rather than begin my analysis with the first scene of the movie, I have opted to include the Blue Lodge degrees here, at this late juncture, to be read after the dissection of 4° – 33°. This has been done mainly for PR purposes. While I believe the main sections on the Scottish Rite degrees contain more than enough supporting evidence to certify the existence of the Masonic code in the film, the “Blue Lodge” sequences have some strange features which make them a less fitting entry point for the undecided mind.

My fear is that the first degree of Eyes Wide Shut is too anomalous; too bizarrely and esoterically constructed, that for a reader to start here would dissuade them from reading the rest of the analysis. Please note that this does not mean I have any doubts about the findings in this section. If you have already read the sections on the Scottish Rite degrees (and if I have done my job correctly), then you are hopefully by now convinced of the presence of the code, and this dissection of the Blue Lodge degrees will seem easily within the realm of acceptability.

As I have mentioned, there are no official jurisdictional short-hand summaries of the Scottish Rite Craft degrees (at least, not as far as I have been able to identify). In light of this, I will be drawing on details of the Blue Lodge degrees, where relevant, from an assortment of other Masonic sources.

Let’s go from the beginning.

1° – Entered Apprentice

The 1st degree is the very first shot of Bill, where he gathers his things from the bedroom and readies himself to leave for the party with Alice.

The apron for this degree is plain white lambskin, with no additional embroidery or adornments.

This scene goes pretty in-depth. Let me see if I can set the stage and make it easy to visualize for you.

The first thing worth noting is that when we see Bill for the very first time, he is at the window facing east.

We can firstly gather this by the fact that this is the window where the moonlight is coming from in the early hours of the evening– however, the film also gives us enough additional context to make this inference for ourselves directly.
Recall that in the Sonata Cafe, Bill tells Nick Nightingale: “We have an apartment on Central Park West”. Indeed, the first establishing shot of the movie is a shot of his street, fringed by the park.

This shot is immediately followed by the one of Bill at the window. Since he’s facing the park from Central Park West, he must necessarily be looking east.

Now, why is this significant?

The notion of “The East” is one of the core symbolic touchstones in the three degrees of Blue Lodge masonry. As noted by Masonic scholar Frank C. Higgins in 1916’s ‘The Beginning of Masonry‘: “No single term associated with the hidden mysteries of ancient Freemasonry is so fraught with significance as this one “cardinal point” of the terrestrial compass.”

The extensive Masonic esotericism associated with ‘The East’ runs deeper than is relevant to this analysis of Eyes Wide Shut, and since I am a non-initiate to Freemasonry, any attempts by me to offer a complete scholarly exegesis would be rendered insufficient. However, I will include this excerpt from H.L Haywood’s Symbolical Masonry (1923):

“If there is one symbol that recurs again and again in our Blue Lodge Ritual, like a musical refrain, it is the East; of this I almost despair to speak, save in crudest outline, so rich and so many-sided is the truth enshrined in it. As the centre of gravity is to the earth, and all things thereon, so is the East to a Masonic Lodge; the Master sits there, the representative of a complete humanity; the Blazing Star shines there, the mystic “G” at the centre of the rays; it is the bourne, the goal, the ultimate destination, towards which the whole Craft moves.”

The directional orientations of the Blue Lodge and the Entered Apprentice initiation ritual are key to its proceedings. The ceremony is overseen by a designated Master Mason, known as the Worshipful Master, who universally sits in “The East” of the Lodge. The initiate of the degree begins by being dressed in a preparation room in the west end of the Lodge, and is conducted towards the Master in the east along a series of ritualistic stations. In Masonry, this movement is known as perambulation.

Without going into too much detail, the ceremonial path of the inductee toward the Master can be observed in this engraving from Duncan’s Masonic Ritual & Monitor (1866) by Malcolm C. Duncan:

1. Candidate prays. 2. First stop. 3. Second stop. 4. Third stop. 5. Room where candidates are prepared. 6. Ante-room where members enter the lodge. 7. Hall. 8. Doors. 9. Door through which candidates are admitted into the lodge. 10. Door through which members enter. 11. Altar. 12. Treasurer. 13. Secretary. 14. Senior Deacon. 15. Worshipful Master. 16. Junior Warden. 17 and 18. Stewards. 19. Senior Warden. 20. Junior Deacon. 21. Tyler.

Simply put, this ritual is encoded into Eyes Wide Shut with Bill as the Entered Apprentice, standing before the Worshipful Master at the eastern end of the bedroom.

But hang on a minute– why do we first see Bill standing in the east? If this is a Blue Lodge ritual we’re looking at, shouldn’t he be finishing in the east?

This brings us to the oddity of the Blue Lodge section, and the main reason I decided to document it last, after the Scottish Rite degrees: the ritual is being performed in reverse.

I know, I know– this sounds ridiculous, like the untethered pattern recognition faculties of a complete madman. “What’s next?” you may be asking yourself. “Does the movie synchronize with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon when you watch it backwards?”

If this was any other movie, your skepticism would be completely justified. But don’t take my word for it. Have a look for yourself:

When the opening scene is played backwards, Bill and Alice then go into the bathroom/”preparation room”. Bill then goes into the bedroom/”lodge” and follows the pre-defined circular trajectory of the ritual before ending up in the east.

Now, as to why the sequence is in reverse. It is interesting that the very first sequence of the movie is the only one to be ‘played backwards’, as though it were some kind of singular bookending device. I would be very surprised if Kubrick wasn’t inferring some deeper meaning through this. My guess is that the ‘reversal’ of this scene is rooted in the fact that the Scottish Rite has a palindromic degree structure. From the “Classification of Degrees” chapter of the BAASR (emphasis mine):

As you can see from one of my Reddit postsEyes Wide Shut also adopts a form of palindromic structure, so perhaps this a decent contender as far as explanations go.

Another curiosity that might be relevant to this hypothesis: when we first see Bill, he is standing beside a mirror with his full-length reflection featured prominently, and another small mirror in front of him on the windowsill. Perhaps this is communicating some obscure thematic reasoning.

Now, after all the arcane exposition of this scene, with it’s cryptic reversal and hidden ritual… we’re overlooking something far more simple, aren’t we? The symbolic colour of the respective apron, just as in the 30 degrees already covered.

Markers: Bill pronouncedly retrieves a white handkerchief from the chest of drawers in the corner of the room.

Although it may seem like a stretch to identify a (seemingly random) white, folded, square object with the apron of this degree, please note: in the Masonic system of symbolism, the white lambskin of the Entered Apprentice apron is explicitly described as representing innocence and purity. In the words of Masonic author Albert Mackey as written in Manual of the Lodge (1870):

“The lamb has in all ages been deemed an emblem of innocence; by the lambskin, the Mason is therefore reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is so essentially necessary to his gaining admission into the celestial Lodge above…”

It seems this association is being purposefully referenced later, at Zeigler’s Christmas party, when the model Gayle says to Bill: “You were such a gentleman! You gave me your handkerchief, which was also clean.” She is implying that Bill, like his handkerchief, is unsullied. Indeed, the very first moment we see Bill, at the eastern window of his bedroom, he is cleaning his hands with a cloth. The thematic relevance here is straightforward: before the events of Ziegler’s Christmas party and the descent into his confused journey, Bill is the epitome of naivete. He is clean and pure in the sense of being innocent; a figurative babe in the woods, ignorant to the nature of the world and its undercurrent lusts and corruptions. As we know, it is not long before his innocence is lost.

To speak more broadly of Eyes Wide Shut‘s general structure, I think the first degree’s framing of Bill’s odyssey as a “fall from innocence” is especially useful when considering the film’s Masonic arc as a contextual whole. It aligns perfectly with everything else that the story is trying to communicate to us. Using “Entered Apprentice” as a reference point, we begin with Bill at the plain colourlessness of ignorance and unknowing, before his progression through the veritable “rainbow” of the many-coloured Scottish Rite degrees as he learns the hidden nature of the world around him. In fact, as written in Masonic explications of the Blue Lodge ritual, the trajectory of an initiate towards the East (a place of “light”) is meant to symbolise his emergence from chaotic spiritual blindness into the luminous realms of knowledge.

While we’re touching on the topic of rainbows (as in “Somewhere Over the…“): the view of the Masonic arc as an ‘awakening from banal monochrome into an illuminating technicolour journey’ also lines up very cleanly with Eyes Wide Shut‘s recurrent “Wizard of Oz” motif.

[Interesting tidbit: I am here reminded of Kubrick’s documented original intention to include a recitation of the Bhagavad Gita in the Somerton orgy sequence. The Hindu metaphysics featured in the Gita designate the nature of observable reality as being transient or impermanent in its quality; describing the consciously perceived world as “māyā” — literally, “magic” or “illusion” in Sanskrit. In such epistemology, the myriad illusion of reality is thought to be in a sense ‘underpinned’ by the Brahman; the singular, unseen and unchanging principle of permanent truth which is the generative source of all existence and the counterpart to māyā. The notion of māyā is readily compatible with the conceptual framework of Eyes Wide Shut– a movie about a character who, like Dorothy in Oz or Alice in Wonderland, finds himself in an illusory world.]

I hope I have explained this degree well enough that it hasn’t come across as too far-fetched. In any case, please read on for some more strong supporting evidence.

Finding the Blue Lodge Thread

The process of detangling the first three degrees of Eyes Wide Shut has been one of the more confounding puzzles which I have encountered during the course of this analysis. Even though I had the evidence of the successive degrees to point me in the right direction, I was still struggling to make heads or tails of what I was looking at during the opening scenes in the Harford’s apartment. Without a relevant chapter in the Book of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, and with multiple iterations of the Craft rituals spread across the broad traditions of historic Masonry, I couldn’t see an obvious path forward, but for a vague silhouette. There were three degrees and three Harfords. Could Helena be the Entered Apprentice? I wondered. We do see her in learning, so that kind of makes sense. How about Alice as Fellowcraft? Bill as Master?

These cloudy conceptions swirled about fruitlessly in my mind, and it seemed nothing was bringing me closer to understanding. The breakthrough didn’t truly come until I took the introductory shot of Bill getting prepared in his bedroom and put it into a video editing suite, where I clipped the shot from it’s precise start and end frames.

This shot is exactly one minute long, to the second. One, as in 1° – Entered Apprentice.

Now, I can see how this might come across as an unjustified inductive leap to some readers, so I’m going to offer some additional background and supporting evidence here.

To my thinking, this kind of meta-textual numeric indulgence, which in practically every imaginable circumstance would go completely undetected by the audience, is absolutely the kind of obscurantist methodology we could expect from Kubrick in the editing bay. This is just one more example from a long career of attempting to utilize and integrate symbolic meaning at every stage of the creative process. It is also characteristic of Kubrick’s preoccupation with numbers, which is amply demonstrated throughout the first “Scottish Rite” portion of this analysis (not to mention his filmography in general).

Let me show you a quick follow-up example of this tendency, which actually occurs only about two minutes after the shot in the Harford’s bedroom. Remember how in the main sections on the Scottish Rite degrees, we had Bill’s initial encounter with Nick Nightingale (who says he has four boys in Seattle and plays in a jazz quartet) listed as 4° – Secret Master?

The shot where Bill first notices Nick clocks in at exactly 4 minutes into the film’s runtime. Check it out:

[Note: this cut arrives at 03:56 in the UK DVD version, which was erroneously transferred at 25 frames per second rather than 24. The entire film ends up being 6 minutes shorter than usual as a result of this mistake].[source]

This should be enough to raise some eyebrows, but let’s take an even closer, comparative look at these two shots which have each been timed by their minutes. There is some insight to be gained here from a few technical details.

First, the shot in the Harford’s bedroom. Note that the time code format in my editing suite is HOURS:MINUTES:SECONDS:FRAMES (and remember, there are 24 frames per second of film). Have a look:

Measuring from the exact start of the 1 minute shot, we can see that the last frame of the shot is the 13th frame after 1 minute on-the-dot, and so the cut to the next shot occurs at 14 frames past the minute.

Now, let’s see the cut to Nick Nightingale at 4 minutes into the film’s total runtime:

How about that precision! This cut also happens on the 14th frame past the minute. What does this mean, if anything?

I think the matching nature of these cuts actually implies two things. Firstly, it tells us that Kubrick’s technique for measuring shot lengths is consistent enough across transpositions that, if there is any displacement in the outcomes, such displacement may be universal across measurements. However, I don’t believe there is any displacement here, which brings me to the second, more pertinent point.

The 13th frame of a second is at its halfway mark. What it looks like here is that Kubrick is marking time measurements from the middle of a second, rather than the ‘edges’ where seconds transition into one another. Measuring from the middle like this has more guarantee that a slight time adjustment in either direction will not risk moving the start of the shot ‘out of its pocket’; and generally, this would be a more intuitive way to emphasise the second at which the cut is being made.

[Note: We can potentially infer this pattern of numeric demarcation as a routine conceptualization for Kubrick. For example, it offers a possible reason as to why his millenary space epic is titled “2001” as opposed to “2000”, beyond an arbitrary or aesthetic decision.]

Prelude to 2° – The Syntax of Eyes Wide Shut

In order to make sense of the next degree, we will first need to have a working grasp of how the film uses shot composition and mise-en-scène as an intratextual mechanism through which semiotic associations are made between paired concepts. Let me walk you through a couple of examples before we deal with the symbolism of 2°.

We will recall how, in 27° (Bill’s stalker following him in the street), there is a proliferation of references to 23° – Chief of the Tabernacle. One of these is the appearance of a menorah, which represents the seven-branched candlestick of the 23rd degree. The seven-branched candlestick also appears in 24° (Alice helping Helena with her homework), because, as specified in the BAASR, 23° and 24° are “intimately connected”.

If we compare the appearance of the candlestick in 24° to that of the menorah in 27°, we can notice a compositional symmetry in the respective shots.

In the earlier scene, Bill moves towards screen left as the camera pans with him. Helena says “he could be a watchdog” from screen right, just as the candlestick comes into frame on the left. In the later scene, Bill moves towards screen right, the camera again moving with him. The stalker appears on the left of the screen, just as the menorah comes into frame on the right. These shots are “mirrors” of the one another, and the point of this similarity is to link Bill’s watchful follower to the concept of a “watchdog” (see the page on the Pavlov Cipher for further confirmation of this).

As we can see, this semiotic pairing is being made at the nuanced crossroads of symbolic imagery (the menorah), the contextual linguistics of a spoken word (“watchdog”), and the meta-referential re-usage of shot framing and structure. This is the kind of complex, multivariate relationship that needs to be kept in mind as we decode the second degree.

To follow, I’ll give you another, more mind-blowing example of this semiotic mechanism. This one actually reveals quite a large piece of Eyes Wide Shut‘s thematic and conceptual underpinnings.

First, let’s see the entrance to Domino’s flat when Bill goes there for the second time:

Next, let’s look at the entrance of Sharky’s Cafe, which Bill passes through in the following scene:

Now, let’s compare not only the shot composition, but the larger narrative contexts of these two shots. In the first shot, Bill enters into the flat, wherein he learns that a prostitute has suffered a deathly fate typically associated with syringes (HIV/AIDS). To the right of the entrance, there is a green cycle and some rubbish bins against the lime green wall. In the second shot, Bill enters into the cafe, where he learns that a prostitute has suffered a deathly fate typically associated with syringes (overdose). To the right of the entrance, there is an advert for a recycling program (i.e., bins) on the lime green wall.

Again through metatextual means, we are being presented with a connection between a literal green (bi)cycle and the more abstract “green (environmental) cycle”. I want to emphasize the linguistic aspect here: the film is priming us not just through narrative and visual repetition, but with a semantic relationship involving the homonymic nature of the actual word “cycle”.

Note how, in an interesting reinforcement of meaning, the first “cycle” is next to a heat pipe and radiator, while the second “cycle” is next to a stormwater pipe and grate; each instance corresponding with either half of the water cycle (evaporation/precipitation).

While little linkages like this are fascinating, I would like readers to be wary, here. The noticing of oddities like these ‘mirrorings’, just below the surface of the film’s more immediate meaning, often come with a risk that the viewer will mistakenly think themselves to have now gleaned the full meaning of whatever the object of focus happens to be. For example, consider Kandinsky’s “Counterweights” painting hanging on the back of the elevator in an earlier scene. Without knowledge of the vast Masonic tapestry woven into Eyes Wide Shut, the pairing of elevators and counterweights by itself simply seems like a non-sequitur easter egg, or a sort of erudite joke with no bigger context. Similarly, it would be understandable for a viewer to think that the visual/semantic connections between “green cycles” have been formed by Kubrick for purely aesthetic purposes without any deeper significance.

But that is not so!

In the Entered Apprentice section, we noted that the white of the lambskin apron carries a specific symbolic meaning in Masonry. Are you curious as to what the Masonic connotation of the colour green might be?

If we look up “Green” in Albert Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry (1873), we can find the following:

“In the degree of Perfect Master it is a symbol of the moral resurrection of the candidate, teaching him that being dead to vice he should hope to revive in virtue.”

“The evergreen of the Third Degree is to the Master Mason an emblem of immortality. Green was with the Druids a symbol of hope, and the virtue of hope with a Mason illustrates the hope of immortality. In all the Ancient Mysteries, this idea was carried out, and green symbolized the birth of the world, and the moral creation or resurrection of the initiate. If we apply this to the evergreen of the Master Mason we shall again find a resemblance, for the acacia is emblematic of a new creation of the body, and a moral and physical resurrection“.

Also, under “Acacia“, which is the evergreen plant symbolically employed in Masonry:

“The sprig of acacia […] presents itself to the Master Mason as a symbol of the immortality of the soul, being intended to remind him, by its ever-green and unchanging nature, of that better and spiritual part within us, which, as an emanation from the Great Architect of the Universe, can never die.

I’m sure I don’t have to lure you much further in the right direction before the proverbial penny drops, here. Through its use of green, Eyes Wide Shut is linking together the conceptual nodes of “immortality/resurrection” and “cycle”. At this, there is one word that should be springing to mind: reincarnation.

The Masonic colour association with immortality is the reason why green is featured so prevalently in the coffin-oriented layout of 5° – Perfect Master/Ziegler’s bathroom, as well as on the associated apron. Remember, the Argument section for that degree says its purpose is to illustrate to the initiate the advantages of “inculcating the virtues of the deceased“.

As described earlier, the scene in Ziegler’s bathroom is constructed around Mandy’s future death (and her present ‘resurrection’ at the adept hands of Doctor Bill). “You can’t keep doing this“, Bill tells her, in anticipation of a repeated act. This scene also gives us another major “rebirth” clue: The nude woman in the painting above the mantelpiece, who is intended to represent a corpse on the “coffin and bier”, is pregnant.

Notice also how viewing the film through this ‘cyclical rebirth’ interpretation gives a new, resonant meaning to a line of dialogue from the scene in Domino’s flat, where Sally says of the newly diagnosed (soon to die) Domino: “To be perfectly honest, she may not even be coming back“. Further to this, a baby carriage can be seen outside of Domino’s flat across the doorway from the green bicycle.

Even before evaluating the decent body of evidence in support of the reincarnation sub-text, it gains credibility from a cursory juxtaposition against Kubrick’s earlier filmography. For anyone unwilling to accept “immortality through cyclical reincarnation” as an obvious focal point of Kubrick’s thematic interests: I will remind you of that famous final shot from The Shining. As a matter of fact, that entire movie is thematically oriented around the perpetual, cyclical nature of trauma. If you are still doubtful and would like some concrete evidence that Eyes Wide Shut is definitively making reference to a “cycle” similar to that in The Shining, I strongly advise you to read the “Mandy, Doubling & The Long Island Rail Road” section on the Unsolved Mysteries page.

At any rate, now that we’re appropriately up-to-speed with the film’s unique syntax and methods of communication, we should be able to understand the coding of 2° – Fellow Craft. Let’s proceed.

2° – Fellow Craft/Companion

This degree is currently pending more definitive confirmation.

The 2nd degree is when Bill and Alice are talking to Roz the babysitter and Helena in their living room.

The apron for this degree is white lambskin with two light blue rosettes at the bottom corners.

What we should first note here is that, at surface level, the ritual of the Fellow Craft degree is largely similar to that of the Entered Apprentice. ‘Fellow Craft’ has its own separate lecture and other differing specifics, but the trajectory of the initiate across the lodge is essentially identical to what we saw in 1°. Clearly, this scene in the living room does not feature anyone moving in an elliptical path as Bill did in the bedroom. This means that the aspects of 2° which have been incorporated into the film are likely to be allegorical or rhetorical in nature, rather than procedural or ritualistic as in the previous scene.

This is another degree whose embedding into the film is quite tricky. It appears to be contingent on a particularly cryptic instance of semiotic priming in combination with another of Eyes Wide Shut‘s homonymic word games.

To begin, we will need to rudimentarily familiarize ourselves with a collective symbolic concept from the Fellow Craft lecture known as the Orders of Architecture. There are five Orders of Architecture which are said to be “revered” in Masonry: the Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, and Composite. The most favoured among these are listed as the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian, which have representation in the Lodge as symbols of different attributes (Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, respectively). The Fellow Craft lecture includes a history of the invention of the Corinthian Order, which is written as follows:

“A new capital was invented at Corinth by Calimachus, which gave rise to the Corinthian, which is deemed the richest of the Orders, and masterpiece of art. Its column is ten diameters high, its capital is adorned with two rows of leaves, and eight volutes which sustain the abacus. […] Calimachus took the hint of the capital of this column from the following remarkable circumstance. Accidentally passing the tomb of a young lady, he perceived a basket of toys which had been left there by her nurse, covered with a tile, and placed over an Acanthus root; as the leaves grew up, they encompassed the basket, till arriving at the tile, they met with an obstruction and bent downwards; Calimachus, struck with the object, set about imitating the, figure; the base of the capital he made to represent the basket, the abacus the tile; and the volutes the bending leaves.”

In architecture, the abacus is a flat slab atop a column, typically wider than the column itself, designed to lend stability by providing a surface area which supports the structure above the column.

Now, let’s go to the Harford’s living room. Have a look at the close-up shot of Helena:

Note that on the table beside Helena, to the left there is a purple pot featuring red and orange markers, and to the right there is a calculator atop a book.

Can you think of a synonym for “calculator”?

Let’s now go to a sequence from much later in the film (27°, when Bill is being followed in the street by his stalker):

Here, we can see an obviously purposeful arrangement in which the handset insignias on the phonebooths have been labelled with squares of the same colours seen on the table beside Helena: purple, orange and red. This link in itself is not particularly remarkable, and could be chalked up to coincidence. However… when the film cuts to the start of next shot, across the street to the right where Bill is looking, we can see his stalker, who has printed directly above his head…


Although the use of the word “abacus” is of relatively minor significance in the Fellow Craft lecture, there is a strong statistical likelihood that this linkage is a reference to the symbolism of the second degree. Out of the texts for all thirty-three of the degrees coded into Eyes Wide Shut, 2° is the only one to feature the word “abacus” in any capacity. Also, the fact that both the calculator and the street sign appear above the book and the stalker, respectively, would seem to align with the structural role of the architectural abacus. What I suspect, here, is that this is one small portion in a mosaic patchwork of incorporated Fellow Craft symbolism. Perhaps the “column” and “capital” from the degree text have been similarly encrypted somewhere in the Harford’s living room. Regardless, there is a whole other strain of compelling evidence to consider here.

There’s another aspect of 2° which also seems as though it is being employed through this featuring of the calculator. As well as the five Orders of Architecture, the degree also makes symbolic inclusion of what are called the seven Liberal Arts and Sciences– one of which is Arithmetic.

Recall this text from the “Argument” section of 12°, which corresponds to the scene where Bill meets Domino on the street and goes into her apartment:

The degree partakes of a scientific nature, in which the rules of architecture and the connection of the liberal arts with Masonry are dwelt upon, and portions of the Fellow Craft or Companion degree are amplified and extensively illustrated.

The connection here is clear. The “calculator” element of 2° is expanded upon in 12° as a factor in Domino’s profession as a prostitute. As further support to this, the calculator obviously relates to 24° (Alice helping Helena with her math homework). We’ve mentioned how in that scene, Alice is teaching Helena how to pick between men based on how much money they have.

The “homework” scene is also semiotically linked to scene corresponding with 27° (where we saw the ABACUS sign) via the menorah/”watchdog” connection. Very interestingly, the 27° scene is also where we saw one of the “green cycle” reincarnation references.

The other “green cycle” reference is outside Domino’s flat, where Sally tells Bill the news of Domino’s test results. It appears that this scene is also being referenced during the “homework” scene by Helena’s textbook on the table, titled “Tests“:

This section is a good demonstration of how the film’s degree structure also enlightens us to its various non-Masonic subtexts. Given the references to reincarnation centred around the film’s prostitute characters, and the foreboding likening of Helena to Domino, it would appear the film is anticipating quite a grim fate, at least on a metaphorical level.

3° – Master Mason

The 3rd degree is when Bill and Alice meet Victor and Illona in the foyer of Ziegler’s mansion.

The apron for this degree is white lambskin, bordered with blue, featuring three light blue rosettes and two silver tassels. Oftentimes, the rosettes are replaced by Tau crosses.

[Author’s note: The section for this degree is in the research and drafting stage and will be available soon.]

Epilogue: Particulars and Additional Considerations


Here’s something you might have subconsciously internalized but perhaps haven’t yet turned the spotlight of your cognitive attention towards. What do all the Degrees of Eyes Wide Shut have in common?

Their arrivals are all signalled by doors.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is doors1to3.png

(1°) Bill and Alice leave through their bedroom door (technically, this is at the “start” of the degree, since this scene is performed “in reverse”)
(2°) Bill and Alice enter the door to living room where Roz and Helena are sitting
(3°) Bill and Alice enter the door to the foyer of Ziegler’s Mansion where they are greeted by Victor and Ilona
(4°) Bill and Alice enter the doorway to Ziegler’s ballroom
(5°) Bill enters Ziegler’s bathroom, the door of which shares the degree colours
(6°) Bill steps into the office from the elevator doors
(7°) Alice starts the fight with Bill from the bathroom doorway
(8°) Bill steps out of the elevator doors, featuring the degree colours and symbols, into the Nathanson apartment
(9°) Bill enters the Sonata Cafe, the doorman wearing the colours of the degree
(10°) Bill is knocked over into a car door
(11°) Bill is seated by the car door, and the gate to Somerton is framed in the rear windshield
(12°) The scene opens with Bill passing a door sharing the colours of the degree
(13°) Bill enters Domino’s apartment through a door whose numbers add up to 13
(14°) Milich emerges from a doorway framing the colours of this degree
(15°) Bill enters the Somerton mansion through a door framed by the colours of this degree
(16°) Bill enters Red Cloak’s “court” through a doorway which frames the colours of this degree
(17°) Bill enters the door to his apartment
(18°) Bill enters the door to his bedroom, newly visible as wearing the colours of this degree. (19°) Bill enters the door to Gillespie’s Diner
(20°) Bill enters the door to the Hotel Jason
(21°) Bill enters the door to Rainbow Fashions
(22°) Bill’s secretary is prominently framed as she enters the door to his office
(23°) Bill is seen exiting his Range Rover’s door as he approaches the gates of Somerton
(24°) Bill enters the door to his apartment
(25°) The first shot of this scene pans right to focus on the door to Bill’s office before cutting to Bill at his desk
(26°) Bill enters the door to Sally’s apartment
(27°) This scene’s Masonic elements emerge immediately after Bill tries the locked door handle of the off-duty taxicab
(28°) Bill enters the door to Sharky’s Cafe
(29°) Bill enters the revolving door to the hospital
(30°) Bill enters the door to Ziegler’s rumpus room
(31°) Bill enters the door to his apartment
(32°) The toy store scene begins with the Harfords beside a doorway

The only degree not to be ushered into sequence by a literal doorway is 33°, when Alice says “fuck” and the movie cuts unceremoniously to the end credits. However, given that the usage of doors as sequence indicators is so ubiquitous throughout the rest of the movie, I think it is a relatively safe bet to assume that Kubrick intended the final doorway to be Alice, in the Freudian sense– especially given her last syllable of dialogue.

The reason for including this semiotic use of doors is actually pretty straightforward (or at least, it is straightforward for a movie in which a secret code has been hiding for 20 plus years). When an initiate of Freemasonry is to be ceremonially conferred with a degree, he is evaluated for preparedness at the door of the lodge by the “Tyler”; a designated Mason who also stands at the entrance to guard against unwanted eavesdroppers (known in Masonry as “cowans”). Masonic ceremonies often begin with the Tyler ‘checking’ the door for unwanted guests, and the conferment procedures begin with the initiate being conducted into the lodge.

At any rate, the use of doors in Eyes Wide Shut lines up as a common sense means of clearly dividing each correlating Degree of the film. Since the sets in the film are designed to emulate the ‘apartments’ and ‘decorations’ of the different degrees, it is logical that they have been given distinct visual demarcation points. There is a bit more to unpack here, however.

In opening this analysis, I mentioned that it is easier for the reader to engage the “Scottish Rite” syntagmatic framework upon realising not just how obviously each vignette/”degree” has been demarcated, but how conspicuous Eyes Wide Shut is in its lack of presentational economy. As an example, consider how at 2:04:46 into the film, we are shown an 8 second shot of Bill walking through the antechamber of Sharky’s Café. If we merely accept the film at its literal surface level, there is little indication as to what essential experience/information could be contributed by this contextually bizarre shot, or why Kubrick wouldn’t have excised it from a film that already runs at 2 hours and 39 minutes. The movie is littered with similar “transitional” sequences, like at 48:36 when we are shown a 13 second shot of Bill and Domino walking across her apartment stairwell with no exchange of dialogue, noteworthy occurrences or especially meaningful visual information.

These seemingly redundant sequences are granted a fresh sense of utility when we realise that they are linking directly into the Degrees. They are another method of emphasizing demarcation. Bill routinely enters the door to a “transitional” section before directly entering the door to the actual degree. As further examples, consider the alarmed antechamber entrance to Rainbow Fashions, or the 15 second ride that Bill takes in the red car (another arbitrary inclusion) before going from the car door to the Somerton mansion’s front door, or the same way in which he is later seen exiting a cab door before entering the revolving door to the hospital. Even for the opening Degree of the movie, the Harford’s bathroom provides this intermediary function.

Something else peculiar about the divided vignettes is that they are typically marked by Bill’s interaction with one specific, unique character, often over a table or counter– the waitresses at Sharky’s and Gillespie’s, the hotel desk clerk, the hospital receptionist, the cab driver, the menacing Somerton butler, Lisa the secretary, the newsvendor, etc. Some of these exchanges are only brief, and others are wordless entirely. Perhaps they have merely been included to heighten the sense of demarcation, although I am not yet sure.

Potential Issues with Chronology

As I mentioned earlier in passing, the potential placement of what could be the 9th and 11th degrees makes it so that the degrees between the 8th and the 15th might not play out in a numerically ascending sequence. Despite the fact that Masons are not obliged to complete the Scottish Rite degrees in a strictly linear order, and though the film describes no overt objective that would demand an ordered chronology of degrees, this is still notable because a predominant number of the Degrees in Eyes Wide Shut do seem to have been arranged by number. So, while the presented order of degrees in the film is not necessarily problematic in itself, it does potentially present a minor but unexplained deviation from an established pattern.

I should also note that, as a non-initiate to the Craft, I am unsure as to whether particular SR degrees need to be passed before certain others, and whether such requirements would be factored into the designs of Kubrick, who was similarly a non-Mason.
Pending resolution of the unsolved scenes, it seems as though the degrees might be ordered as follows (blue indicating chronological order, red indicating being out of sequence):

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, 13, 9, 14, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33

If this is the case, it is very strange that all the degrees are in ascending order except for 2 of them, and that the “out-of-sequence” degrees are exclusively from the Lodge of Perfection series, within 2 scenes of each other. My initial reasoning for this was that Kubrick’s vision of Eyes Wide Shut had possibly been meddled with by Warner Brothers and edited after his death… but it appears that the scenes have not been re-arranged, nor are they even re-arrangeable. 

I suppose it is technically possible that I have mis-labelled one of the degrees… but I haven’t yet located any relevant markers that could clear this up. Initiated Masonic readers, please write in if you have any light to shed on this (no pun intended).

There are other possible explanations for this potential curiosity. It is known that Kubrick was fond of numbers and mathematics. Could the non-linear order of the degrees be some type of integer sequence? A code within a code?

Maybe this is just as close as Kubrick could get to an ascending order of the degrees without disrupting the necessary events of the plot… but that seems largely out of character for an obsessive perfectionist, which he certainly was.

I guess time will tell. Unless it doesn’t.

But there is some enlightenment we can glean here: Due to the fact that every degree seems to have a corresponding scene, and that no scene in the film is without a degree, we can effectively dispel the long-perpetuated theory that Warner Brothers culled 20 minutes of the film’s footage after Kubrick’s death.

Where Are We Now?


You’ve now read (most of) everything that I have compiled on the Masonic code. You can perhaps tell that there are still quite a lot of gaps to fill. And, having as much fun as I did while writing all of this, I am happy to say that this code is not quite the bottom of Eyes Wide Shut‘s depths. There appear to be a few more games that it is playing, and these may need another hidden key of some kind. But as far as foundations go, I would say ours is competently strong.

Although we’ve made good headway, we should be careful not to let it bias our vision. With as much perspective as is now afforded to us, it is possible that we may start salivating over some perceived imminent finish line; readying ourselves for the dopaminergic buzz of resolution. We could perhaps envision a big, red, rubber stamp, imprinted with “CASE CLOSED“, dangling precariously over the findings of this investigation like the sword of Damocles. However, unlike most games, Eyes Wide Shut will not give any indication upon completion, and we cannot be sure where it ends. The natural, human desire for closure– the impulse to simplify our experience into a clean-cut narrative with a beginning, a middle, and a neat little bow tied on at the end– must be resisted indefinitely. Lest our immersion into the film becomes total, and we truly embrace the complicit blindness of Dr. Bill Harford, we cannot content ourselves with the convenience of a final answer. In the language of the film: the pot of gold lies at the elusive end of the perpetual rainbow.

Forgetting the endgame, what do we have at the moment? Well, thanks to the AASR, we now have a plain language translation of some of the films’ subtext, which may render it supremely helpful. But what about all the loose ends, non-sequiturs and cul-de-sacs that still riddle the movie? Particularly, what do the rest of the numbers mean? The remaining references to time, the street numbers of buildings, the checking of watches, the frequent appearances of telephones and rings?

Have you noticed that all of the city locations mentioned in the movie are large cities; major plot points on the global map? There no mentions of lesser known cities or obscure, small towns. In the movie, the cities are mentioned in this order:

1) Ziegler’s osteopath is the top man in New York
2) Marion Nathanson tried to call her stepmother in London, but she was out.
3) One of the Yale frat-boys tells Bill to go back to San Francisco where he belongs, man.
4) Nick Nightingale’s family is in Seattle, and he left looking for work.
5) Mr. Milich tells Bill that the previous owner of Rainbow Fashions moved to Chicago a year ago.

Do you see the pattern? Starting from the first mentioned city, New York, all the other cities are mentioned in longitudinal order as you head East. It goes around the world.

Did you notice that in Ziegler’s bathroom, he mentions that Mandy has been unconscious for “five minutes, six minutes”? These are the only numbers mentioned in this scene. Later, in his pool room, he says of his scotch, “That’s a 25 year old, I’ll send you over a case”, and then “you’ve been way out of your depth for the last 24 hours”. These are also the only numbers mentioned in this scene. 25 is a multiple if 5. 24 is a multiple of 6. Could the characters of Eyes Wide Shut be speaking in parallel multiples? If so, why?

My point is to illustrate that the puzzles of the film still appear far from solved, and even the Scottish Rite code is missing many of its pieces. What lies ahead is the heart of the maze, waiting dormant for the likes of Theseus to clear its cobwebbed sanctum.

For now, I will retrace the laid thread back to the entrance of the labyrinth and taste the sunlight… though I suspect the siren allure of the dungeon’s secreted promises will call me back inside before too long. In the meantime, there is nothing to stop you, dear reader, from taking up the mantle and continuing the quest. I may have staked out the thirty-three chambers, scrawled a rough map and lit some directional markers to illuminate your path, but you will need to venture off the beaten track and into the uncharted darkness in order to progress the search. Do your best not to get lost. I would recommend not getting too fixated on any one idea, or you’re liable to miss something that’s right under your nose.

Travel lightly.

If you have any information to contribute to the excavating of this aged cavern, and would like to join the quest for the missing jewels, please contact me at Your co-operation in this matter will be greatly appreciated.

(P.S. – it would be extremely helpful of you to identify the paintings on the walls throughout the movie. Happy hunting.)



More Eyes Wide Shut Content

If you’re wondering what else has been turned up during this investigation, there’s some good news. The book has not simply been closed on the degrees of the Scottish Rite, and the hidden substrate has other facets on offer.

Want to continue delving into Eyes Wide Shut‘s hidden messaging, but are getting tired of Masonic symbolism? You should look into the Pavlov Cipher, or the Syzygy Cipher, or the Clouseau Cipher, or the Greenwich Cipher.

Keen to pitch in on the investigation and have an attempt at wrapping up some of the movie’s outstanding and unexplained threads? Head on over to Unsolved Mysteries. I could always use more detectives in that department.

Are you a left-brained, methodical obsessive with an unshakeable penchant for orderly catalogues and index tables? You might like the Intertext Glossary, which systematically documents all the references made to other media in Eyes Wide Shut.

Think you have what it takes to stand alongside the sharp-sighted readers who’ve contributed to the investigation? Then help crack the case wide open and get yourself immortalized with the rest of the sleuths in the 33 Degrees of Eyes Wide Shut Reader Hall of Fame.

Wondering what the Scottish Rite code means for Stanley Kubrick’s work in the bigger scheme of things? Have a read of Implications of the Masonic Code for Kubrick, His Oeuvre and the Medium.

Are you a gearhead or cinephile who might be interested in a technical question that the Scottish Rite code raises for Stanley Kubrick’s most loyal aide? Check out An Open Letter to Leon Vitali.

Do you think I’m unhinged, off the wall, bananas, whacked out, unsound, sick, certifiable, non compos mentis, round the twist, a few hotdogs short of a picnic or just plain old all-the-way nuts? Then ready thine lance and steed, sir knight, and meet my appeal to your sense of reason at the hallowed challenging grounds of A Pre-Emptive Rebuttal to Accusations of Delusion. In due time shall both of us be charging the windmills in uproarious brotherly tandem.

As for myself, and the auspices under which I have been spearheading this operation, you can read the About/Contact page.

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