If anyone is interested—and I can’t imagine many will be—Richard Thornton published his latest screed attempting to vindicate the episode of America Unearthed on which he appeared nearly two years ago. In it, he complains about “those who had set up web sites to attack” America Unearthed and the tyranny of the cabal of professors who are suppressing the truth about the Maya, this time in terms of their supposed visits to Miami. Thornton is particularly upset this week about scholarly rejection of the claim that the Mayaimi, who gave their name to Miami, were really Maya based on a shared syllable. He falsely claims that people believe Mayaimi to mean “Big Water” (rather than “Maya”) because of Wikipedia:
I recently watched the first episode of the BBC’s fascinating three-part documentary Art of Gothic, written and presented by art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon, and it was a wonderful look at the influence of the Gothic on the arts in Britain in the late eighteenth century. As you might have guessed, what Graham-Dixon calls “Gothic” art, we here stateside prefer to term Gothic Revival or Neo-Gothic, to distinguish it from the period that succeeded the Romanesque in the Middle Ages. The documentary featured gorgeous photography and a cultured and urbane narration that skillfully and insightfully examined the origins of the dark and gloomy moment of terror that overtook Britain at the end of the Enlightenment.
A+E Networks, the parent company of H2 and the History Channel, hasn’t always gotten along with me, particularly when they threatened to sue me last year over Scott Wolter’s “Hooked X®” trademark. But they were kind enough to accredit me as a journalist, which gives me access to screeners for their upcoming shows. I had hoped this would allow me to watch Search for the Lost Giants ahead of time, but no such luck. I received access to the first episode of the 10-part Brad Meltzer’s Lost History instead. It is one of the few new shows for which History/H2 has made a screener available.
So, lucky you: You’re getting an early review of Lost History. Keep in mind that screeners are unfinished and subject to change, so some of what I am previewing below may be different in the final version that makes it to air. Although H2 has not placed any restrictions on my reporting on the screener, I will be speaking primarily in general terms about the show, so you will need to watch the episode for specific names of individuals involved, the background and history of the objects discussed, and other key details.
Today I have a few odds and ends to discuss.
I have closed the comments on yesterday’s blog post due to the ridiculous number of comments making threats and engaging in verbal fireworks. I have only recently been given the power to close comments on individual blog posts rather than the blog as a whole, so I intend to use this power to prevent comments explosions like yesterday’s. For now, comments will remain open on each new blog post, but if readers begin to abuse the comments, I will delete the comments and switch that entry’s comments to “require approval” or close them entirely. This will, I hope, balance the ability to comment with some measure of control over extreme situations.
NOTE: I awoke the morning after posting this to more than 200 new comments which included threats and intemperate language. I deleted most of the comments and have closed further comments. The closure affects ONLY this blog entry. Other entries remain open.
As per the request of the individual first mentioned in this blog post, all reference to him has been removed.
The story of the Bible giants is not the most exciting area of fringe history, but I was sufficiently intrigued by the discussion of giants in the early modern Anglo-Irish Book of Howth to do a little more research into some its claims. The text’s chapter on giants takes the form of an unfinished set of notes by an unknown hand, who appears to have been adapting into English a Gaelic transliteration of Latin texts without really understanding the underlying source material. Thus, for example, King Porus of India becomes “Parris of Find.” This alone has made it very challenging to determine exactly what the writer was talking about—so much so that the first editor of the text simply inserted questions marks beside some of the names of the giants, unable to determine what the heck they referred to. My annotations are given on my Book of Howth page, and I think I found all the giants in the passage.
Earlier this week I talked about fringe historians’ seeming lack of emotional maturity when it comes to dealing with those who disagree with them. Thanks to an alert blog reader, to this sorry spectacle I must now add novelist David Brody, who I learned has chosen to act out a petty revenge fantasy on me in the form of a character in his new novel, The Oath of Nimrod, published a few weeks ago. It is so bad that I can hardly stop laughing at Brody’s puerile attempt to call me names under the guise of fiction.
Since it’s the Halloween season, stories about hauntings, ghosts, and horror have begun to fill the society and culture sections of mainstream publications in an annual orgy of macabre journalism. Over at Salon.com, sex and porn correspondent Tracy Clark-Flory published a piece linking horror to sadomasochistic sex, reflecting outdated conceptions of horror that trace their descent to Sigmund Freud’s essay on “The Uncanny” (1919). Or, as Clark-Flory put it in her inimitably eloquent style:
Sex, sexuality, sexiness — they are all so blatantly hit-you-over-the-head-with-a-fist-sized-dildo present in everything from slasher movies to women’s Halloween costumes. Then again, sex is such a long-time staple of horror that it’s easy not to notice or wonder about it. It just is, as the sky is blue.
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece on H. P. Lovecraft in honor of the publication of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, edited by Leslie S. Klinger with a foreword by Alan Moore. I haven’t read Annotated except for the introduction, which I did not find particularly insightful, drawing as it does primarily on Joshi’s work—which, for the trouble of reading a rewrite of Joshi, you might as well read the original. In the article, Klinger and Moore make the unusual case that the power of Lovecraftian fiction derives from Lovecraft’s fear-driven racism. “One need not adopt the racist views of HPL to agree with this conclusion, but we can understand how his sense of being threatened by the world around him led to these deeper feelings,” Klinger said.
Have you seen the rather harsh write-up of the Paradigm Symposium in the Twin Cities Daily Planet? Author Caleb Baumgartner offered a caustic take on the annual gathering of fringe figures, though I can’t say that his analysis was entirely unwarranted. In the interest of disclosure, I do need to say that Scotty Roberts, who runs the Paradigm Symposium, invited me to speak at next year’s gathering. I am not able to commit that far out for a four-day event, but I am looking into whether I can make it work.