The Return of Holy Russia: Apocalyptic History, Mystical Awakening, and the Struggle for the Soul of the World
Gary Lachman | May 2020 | Inner Traditions | 448 pages | ISBN: 978-1620558102 | $32.00
Occult histories can be interesting, provided that we don’t take them over-seriously. It is a rare occurrence when occultism takes the wheel and steers history toward mystical ends, though it is less rare to find powers and potentates making use of occultism to drive their policy goals. For Gary Lachman, however, occultism is the secret stream of knowledge animating all of world history. His last book, Dark Star Rising, tried to envision Donald Trump as a literal chaos magician harnessing supernatural forces to enact an evil agenda. Continuing to mistake incompetence and arrogance for supernatural genius, Lachman’s new book, The Return of Holy Russia, casts the whole of Russian history as a centuries-long conversation with occultism about Russia’s supposedly unique place in the world as the embodiment of Christian virtue (hence, holy) and occult power.
The new version of Dracula airing on the BBC and Netflix this week comes to us from Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, whose previous collaborations on Doctor Who and Sherlock share more than a little DNA with the thematically muddled but intermittently interesting three-part vampire drama. Like Sherlock, their Dracula aims to reinvent Bram Stoker’s novel, but the result is more of a pastiche of a century of Dracula adaptations spiced with a superficial gloss on toxic masculinity and feminism and wrapped in a veneer of pseudo-camp and linguistic anachronism that cut hard against the vestigial Gothic horror the miniseries retains from the source material. British critics loved the series, but I wonder if it doesn’t play more to a British sensibility than to an American one. I have a hard time buying any Dracula who quips like a Batman villain as a timeless supernatural menace.
Happy New Year! As we start the new year, it’s time to take stock of a few odds and ends left over from the month that just passed by. First, I will share my unalloyed joy that the offensively incompetent Unexplained + Unexplored on the Science Channel hit a series low of just 299,000 viewers on Sunday for its painfully awful effort to find the Fountain of Youth. The show has steadily lost viewers for the majority of its eight weeks, according to the Nielsen ratings, which is typically the kiss of death for a cable show. It lost 10% from its lead-in and barely squeaked by the ratings for mid-afternoon reruns of Dr. Pohl on NatGeo and the middle of the night reruns of Married to Medicine on Bravo. Of course, it’s also a show about history conspiracy theories, and cable networks love to renew those because they are considered “evergreens” that can be rerun, repackaged, and resold around the world for years to come. And it did manage to outdraw original shows on other cable channels in its 10 PM timeslot, including Oxygen’s lineup.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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