Perhaps more than any year in recent memory, 2019 was the year in which fringe history stopped being fringe and went completely mainstream. This year, we saw pseudohistory and conspiracy theories top the literary bestseller lists, multiply across cable channels like mushrooms on a rotten log, and attract record crowds to traveling carnivals masquerading as pseudohistory “fan” conventions. It perfectly captures the tenor of the times for the post-truth era that the very notions of fact and fiction ceased to have meaning. This was a long, hard year, both for the world and also for me personally. After dealing with family health problems, buying and selling a house (and still not being able to close on selling the old one until early 2020, nearly half a year after the sale), writing two books, and a knot of lawyers for many different developments, I am ready for this unpleasant year to end. Let’s look back in anger:
I am indexing again today, but I wanted to share with you this post from the Ancient Artifact Preservation Society annual meeting in Michigan this week. In the picture, you’ll see the former head of the American Nazi Party, Frank Joseph, posing with a fake crystal skull that he and his friends believe dates back to the Atlantean age. For all the Indiana Jones cosplaying that you see in the world of pseudoarchaeology, it’s rare to see a real-life Indiana Jones villain. I think, though, that the movies got a bit mixed up. I’m pretty sure the communists were the villains in the Crystal Skull movie.
Originally, I planned to spend today’s blog post discussing Tom DeLonge’s recent interview in the British music magazine NME, in which he claimed to have secret knowledge that he has adjudged too dangerous for public consumption: “Believe it or not, we have very long conversations about what we’re going to talk about publicly, not because we don’t have the facts – but because people aren’t ready for the facts,” he said. This seems transparently false. If an aging rock star whose sum total of knowledge of UFOs, ancient history, and the occult is derived, by his own admission, from reading old paperback ufology books has experienced “the facts” and emerged unscathed, surely we mere mortals can hear whatever it is DeLonge thinks he knows (but probably doesn’t). I also thought it worth mentioning that Luis Elizondo, who two Pentagon spokespeople have denied served as the head of the Pentagon’s UFO tracking program, declined to provide evidence that he did head it when asked. “I don’t want to make anyone look foolish,” he said. Sure, that’s the reason.
Yesterday, we all watched the horrible images of Notre Dame de Paris burning, and it is a terrible loss to history that will take years to undo, if at all. The cathedral had survived the French Revolution, the Franco-Prussian War, and two World Wars, but saw its worst damage from renovation work. It was another sad event in what seems to have been an endless cycle of bizarre and unprecedented events. If history is any judge, every generation feels that way.
On Wednesday, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee sent the Lucas Brothers to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to examine why the Alt-Right is obsessed with Greco-Roman statues. The brothers and their team of experts concluded that the white marble of the statues has falsely created a culture of white supremacy around the sculptures which the Alt-Right is exploiting for political gain. This is stupid, and as much as I like Samantha Bee and her show, this segment was flawed, predicated on the facile conflation of the color white with the social construction of Whiteness.
An Australian white supremacist carried out the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand history this week when he murdered 49 people in two mosques in Christchurch. Australian media identified the attacker as personal trainer Brenton Tarrant, who broadcast his rampage live on social media, and police confirmed that he left behind a 74-page manifesto in which he wrote about his hatred of immigrants and non-white peoples, using the language of Neo-Nazism and white supremacy. He spoke of “white genocide,” a common theme among the far right, and one we have seen invoked repeatedly in the racist embrace of the Solutrean Hypothesis among white nationalists.
Legends of the Lost with Megan Fox dropped like a rock in the Nielsen ratings for its second outing this week. Tuesday’s episode, which featured Fox meeting with alternative history icon Graham Hancock and identifying Stonehenge as a prehistoric hospital, bagged just 325,000 viewers, down from 429,000 last week. The miserable ratings secured the show 121st place in the Tuesday ratings race, behind NatGeo’s Life Below clip show special, Animal Planet’s Lone Star Law, Motor Trend TV’s Bitchin’ Rides, and even Travel’s own 9 PM rerun of Expedition Unknown, which 90,000 more people watched than Fox’s 8 PM show, and its 11 PM rerun of Monster Encounters, which 50,000 more people watched.
This has been a particularly slow week for new claims in the world of fringe history, and it was also my birthday week. In honor of my birthday, and also to make time to work on my book, I’m going to be brief today. I wanted to share with you a racist meme that is popular on white supremacist forums. It was once featured on the now-suspended Daily Stormer, a Neo-Nazi website currently facing a libel lawsuit that threatens to expose its secretive finances., but it circulates across the white nationalist and racist hate communities on the internet, and has since at least 2013. Take a look:
As many readers already know, actress Roseanne Barr became an internet laughingstock recently when she praised Donald Trump for his heroic role in an imaginary effort to free thousands of children from a Democrat-run pedophilia network. This bizarre counterfactual belief is part of the so-called QAnon conspiracy, an internet-driven conspiracy theory which holds that Trump and Special Counsel Robert Muller are working together to take down Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, who are the masterminds of a global child abuse network and terrorism syndicate. Barr removed her tweets referencing QAnon but did not apologize for her belief in the conspiracy.
In lieu of a blog post today, I present my review of alt-right “intellectual” Jason Reza Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas, a book that, before his ouster from AltRight.com and retreat from public life, Jorjani had promoted as the intellectual foundations for the alt-right movement. I have covered aspects of the book on this blog because of Jorjani’s prominence among the white nationalist right, where he partnered with white nationalist leader Richard Spencer and delivered a speech a pro-Trump rally where fascist salutes were given. Recently, Jorjani joined a nonprofit dedicated to “Aryan cultural revolution” called Iranian (Persian) Renaissance, where he theorizes that Iran will deliver the “completion of human evolution” by reinstituting an “Aryan” shah.
I wrote this piece for the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture last year. Its publication was delayed, but the journal has graciously made the review available for free. Now, whenever a student tries to find scholarly information about Jorjani, it will be my evaluation of him that they find. Below is the first paragraph. The remainder is available to read on the journal’s website.
Jason Reza Jorjani’s Prometheus and Atlas takes its title in imitation of Nietzsche’s division of tragedy into the Apollonian and Dionysian in Birth of Tragedy; however, while Nietzsche used his mythic references to link art to the divine, Jorjani has selected his Titanic title for a darker purpose, to link the human condition to those immortals victimized by the gods of Olympus. In myth, Prometheus is vivisected for giving fire to mankind, while Atlas must hold the heavens for rebelling against the Olympians. Jorjani wishes humankind to emulate the Titans’ stand against oppressive deities, but it is emblematic of the problematic nature of his scholarship that he conflates the Titan Atlas with the same-named son of Poseidon who was king of Atlantis (Plato, Criti. 114a), and then proceeds to build his framework atop that faulty identity, imagining the conflated Atlas as a ‘world-colonizing’ hero.
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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