Scottish novelist Charlie Stross posted his thoughts about the driving force behind H. P. Lovecraft’s cosmic fiction yesterday, and he attributed Lovecraft’s dread at the limitless cosmos to advances in physics during the first decades of the twentieth century. Specifically, he related Lovecraft’s inter-dimensional, infinite cosmos to the growing understanding in the 1910s and 1920s that universe is larger and older than the physicists of the 1890s had assumed.
I have two completely unrelated thoughts for today.
Racism and America Unearthed
It’s frankly bizarre that nearly a year after the first America Unearthed broadcasts debuted on the H2 channel, it is still the case that whenever episodes of the show are rerun anywhere on the face of the earth, my reviews of those episodes light up with new comments from new viewers searching for information on the show. It happened again last night, and if I may offer some unsolicited advice to H2: You are missing a tremendous opportunity to sell merchandise to the credulous by having such a piss-poor web presence that searches for America Unearthed lead people directly to me rather than you.
The Spooksville book series covered everything from monsters to Atlantis and Lemuria to extraterrestrial invasions across its 24 volumes. Since no one else apparently wrote anything about The Hub network’s new TV adaptation of Spooksville, based on the children’s book series by Christopher Pike (unread by me), which premiered last night, I thought I’d give a brief notice to this modern, more Gothic Eerie, Indiana. The latter show was one of my favorites when I was ten years old (so much so that I still remember it two decades later), so it would be nice for kids today to have something similar. If Spooksville isn’t quite as instantly memorable as Eerie, Indiana, it is a cut above some of its competitors in the teen-oriented horror series landscape.
TV Guide’s Matt Roush called NBC’s Dracula “the worst Dracula ever,” which is something of a stretch for anyone who has ever seen the 2006 BBC TV-movie in which the vampire becomes a symbol for syphilis and only religious puritanism can stop the sexually-transmitted scourge. However, the new series (a co-production with Britain’s Sky Living) certainly ranks among the most oddball interpretations of Dracula I’ve yet seen—and I’ve seen Dracula 2000 (2001) in which the count is “really” Judas Iscariot.
After reading this today, I can’t let it go without a brief notice. Fox News medical pundit Dr. Manny Alvarez warned in a column last week that The Walking Dead is government propaganda aimed at turning children into socialist zombies. I don’t usually watch or read Fox News, so I wasn’t aware of this until the Onion’s AV Club shared the story.
Alvarez claims that even though he may be “paranoid and misinformed,” he fears that zombies are desensitizing children to violence and serving as government propaganda to ease the transition to socialism.
I know I don’t write about it as much as I should, but in addition to alternative history I am also (and started out as) an expert in the horror genre. I’ve literally written the book on the subject (as well as its crossover with ancient astronauts), so I like to think I know a thing or two about horror. As it turns out, the Chiller channel, from NBC Universal, parent of Syfy, says I’m wrong.
Yesterday was H. P. Lovecraft’s birthday, and in honor of that, I thought I’d take today to discuss the “monsters” part of my tagline (“Aliens, Atlantis, Monsters, and More!”) and think a little bit about horror. In my book Knowing Fear (2008), I described the way the horror genre had historically reflected societal concerns over science and knowledge. But in the wake of the Twilight franchise, a resurrection of the Gothic mode of pseudo-horror has largely dispensed with epistemology as a concern in favor of dressing up romance in the borrowed trappings of horror. The purpose isn’t to scare or to touch the sublime, but rather to explore gender issues.
According to the CBS affiliate in Washington, DC, America Unearthed is filming scenes in downtown Washington this week alongside (but unrelated to) production of the next Captain America movie. This suggests to me one of three things: (a) Scott Wolter is planning to accuse the federal government of suppressing the truth about ancient white colonizers of America; (b) he’s exploring “Freemason” influence on the layout and design of the nation’s capital, like Brad Meltzer, Dan Brown, and Graham Hancock before him; or (c) both (a) and (b). I wonder how the phallic symbol of the Washington Monument fits in with his belief in the Sinclair-Templar-Freemason worship of the “sacred feminine.” After all, Ancient Aliens already told us that obelisks are giant electro-penises ejaculating free energy into the aliens’ world power grid.
But enough of that.
This year marks the eighty-fifth anniversary of the publication of H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Call of Cthulhu” in Weird Tales, in the February 1928 issue. (Lovecraft wrote the story two years earlier.) Although the anniversary was a few weeks ago, I bring it up because the New York Public Library posted a web page celebrating the publication yesterday, and they included my Cult of Alien Gods as recommended reading. Lovecraft’s story, of course, accidentally gave new life to Victorian pseudoscience when Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, under its influence, wrote The Morning of the Magicians and sparked the ancient astronaut theory, which in turn bequeathed to us the Maya apocalypse, Ancient Aliens, and America Unearthed.
But in the spirit of celebration, I’d like to take a day off from thinking about all that. Lovecraft wrote “Cthulhu” as part of a project to modernize the Gothic, to bring horror fiction into the twentieth century and to marry it to the great scientific discoveries of the age. From the Gothic, Lovecraft retained the Romantic notion that the past dictates the future, and that secrets long buried will not stay hidden forever. This Gothic inheritance continues in more recent attempts to modernize the traditional trappings of horror.
Today, I have two brief topics to cover. First, Ancient Aliens’ dumb new promotional spot; then, the Lovecraftian connection to the ‘mysterious’ Newport Tower.
During Season 4 of Ancient Aliens, H2 aired a promotional spot in which Giorgio Tsoukalos claimed that a straw suit worn by the Kayapo is a memory of an alien space suit. I completely demolished this stupid claim in April by looking at what the Kayapo themselves said about it, namely that the suit was a beekeeping suit worn by the supernatural protector of bees. Despite the facts, H2 filmed a completely different promotional spot for Season 5, airing this week, in which Tsoukalos is again claiming that the beekeeping suit is just like “a modern day astronaut suit.” If they can recycle debunked claims, I can recycle my debunking. Read my takedown of this dumb idea here.