As I scanned the credits of Stranger Things over the course of the series, a name popped up that triggered something very familiar in me. Karl Gadjusek, the executive producer of Stranger Things is the son of one of my English professors in college, the late “Robin Gadjusek.” Robin was one of the preeminent Hemingway scholars in the country. I sat with him five-days-a-week, soaking up the ins and the outs of the Apollonian vs the Dionysian mythos of Hemingway. The class was so intense and Gajdusek’s knowledge transfer so thoroughly rigorous that at some point in that semester, while I was sleeping, Hemingway appeared to me in a dream and initiated me into astral travel. I would later find out that Hemingway suffered from insomnia due to the fact that he left his body while he was wounded in the Spanish Civil war, doing duty for the Red Cross. The event terrified him for the rest of his life.
Karl no doubt got his writing chops and more from his father, but it’s not Robin who is the Gajdusek that is the strange influencer of Stranger Things, it is Karl’s uncle, Daniel Gajdusek.
Daniel Gajdusek, born 9/9/23, Virgo Sun. Moon in Leo, Mercury in Libra. His chart is marked by four planets in Virgo; (Sun) Venus, Mars and the TN. Since we’re exploring Pisces as a theme through this series, it makes sense that Pisces would play a role in the chart as well. Uranus was in Pisces at 15 degrees, in exact opposition with his Sun at 15 degrees and Venus at 14, TN at 11. That means that Uranus was also conjunct his South Node in Pisces at 11. Needless to say, Daniel Gajdusek was a strange man, but how strange and how does he fit into the darker web of Stranger Things?
Gajdusek was a trained physician and researcher. He started at the University of Rochester where he studied physics, biology and mathematics. He obtained his MD from Harvard, then did his post-doc work at Columbia, Cal Tech, and Harvard. Gajdusek was drafted into the Army where he served as a virologist at Walter Reed. After he left the military, Gajdusek began his Noble prize winning work with the Fore tribe of New Guinea.
The Fore were dying of a disease called, “Kuru.” A funerary cult, the Fore were said to have eaten the brains of the deceased as part of a tribal ritual. This caused a series of rampant and generational deaths amongst them. It was here that Gajdusek discovered prions, an inorganic life form that has also been linked to Kreuzfeldt-Jacobs syndrome aka Mad Cow disease.
Gajdusek’s methods were unique to say the least, fitting for someone that would have Uranus/Sun opposition. He blended the brains of the deceased Fore, drilled a hole in the heads of local research monkeys and poured the gelatinous remains directly into the Monkey’s brains, where the symptoms of Kuru would appear much quicker than the generational wasting. For his um, unique methods of research and subsequent discovery, he was awarded the Nobel prize in 1976. If the discovery of prions and his methodology weren’t unusual enough, Gajdusek’s legacy has an even more bizarre twist of fate, one that relates to a theme inside of Stranger Things.
ABDUCTING THE ALIENS
While he was curing the Fore of Kuru, he was also learning their language and customs. Gaining their trust, he brought over fifty children, mostly boys from New Guinea to the USA. Crossing the ocean (Neptune/Pisces) he transferred them to their own version of “The Upside Down” from essentially a Paleolithic culture to a modern and sanitized world. While his intentions surely appeared humanitarian at the time, as the young men approached adulthood, they confessed that Gajdusek had molested them. There were seven in all that confessed. Four of them said the sex was untroubling while three were shamed by it. On the surface it would appear that he would disgraced, Gajdusek however was quite the opposite, making a philosophical case for his morals, which accepted both pedophaelia and incest as normal forms of expression. He plea bargained, did one year in prison in the USA then went to Europe for supervised detention, where died in Norway at the age of 85, still researching.
The film, The Genius and the Boys a documentary about Gajdusek and the case debuted on the BBC on June 1, 2009.
There’s a surreal reflection of Gadjusek’s bizarre odyssey, and Stranger Things. A scientist that has unusual methodologies ala Brenner that also harbors secrets with children taken from their homes, changed and altered in some way, for some that was traumatic. Whether or not this was a theme woven in Stanger Things by his nephew, Karl and the Duffer Brothers, isn’t explicitly clear and yet the synchronistic undercurrent that connects both worlds, real and cinematic is startling and twisted. Part four of this series will connect Stranger Things with Midnight Special in a gnostic macrocosm of Piscean proportion.