Dark Star Rising: Magic and Power in the Age of Trump
Gary Lachman | 256 pages | TarcherPerigree | May 2018 | ISBN: 978-0143132066 | ~$17.00
It’s a bit challenging for me to review former Blondie band member and occult historian Gary Lachman’s Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump because it straddles the borderline between the serious and the ridiculous in a way that makes me uncomfortable. Lachman’s thesis is that Trump’s rise, and that of the alt-right in general, has been made possible by and helped resuscitate particular strains of occultism. That this is partially true cannot be denied. Trump received support from Richard Spencer, the white nationalist whose erstwhile business partner, Aryan supremacist Jason Reza Jorjani, openly calls for a rejection of monotheism and an embrace Aryan paganism, with its magical rituals and spirituality. But on the other hand, Lachman actually believes in the power of magic and the occult, or seems to, and alludes to supernatural implications that I simply cannot accept. This is half a sober book about right-wing interest in the occult to justify hateful policies, and it is half a bizarre panic attack over fears that evil spiritual entities are pushing the world toward war.
Erich von Däniken, Star of "Ancient Aliens," Claims in Newspaper Interview That the Media Won't Report Ancient Astronaut and UFO Evidence
I would be remiss if I did not note that the Discovery Networks, which recently purchased the Travel Channel, moved Expedition Unknown from Travel to the Discovery mothership. That’s about as far as my interest goes, however. I suppose it’s nice that Josh Gates has a bigger platform, but I hope that the parent network will keep a tighter leash on quality control and avoid the forays into ancient astronautics and guest spots from problematic figures like Brien Foerster that marred the show’s original Travel Channel run.
Military Encounters with Extraterrestrials: The Real War of the Worlds
Frank Joseph | 320 pages | Bear & Company | Sept. 11, 2018 | ISBN: 9781591433248 | $20
At some point, a reckoning is going to come. I don’t know when, and I don’t know how, but this situation cannot continue. Every day, we watch as darkness overwhelms our country, and much of the West, a sort of self-created madness where one specific group—conservative whites—are increasingly willing to blow up everything America and the West ever stood for in service of the politics of ethno-nationalism and fear. This happens regularly in America, and the story usually plays out the same way. But while we wait for the better angels of our nature to undo some of the damage, I cannot help but think that the people who give aid and comfort to the worst among us must pay a price for their contribution to the wounds they inflict on our society. That is why I cannot but think that Inner Traditions International, the parent company of Bear & Company, needs to be dissolved.
I’m going to break format today to talk about the recent release of the second season of the Netflix high school tragedy 13 Reasons Why. I do this first because no one is going to read this after my Ancient Aliens review goes up later today, and also because I have retained an affection for the high school genre since my first job after college an astonishing fifteen years ago (!) was working as a TV recapper analyzing episodes of the Fox high school soap opera The O.C. during its first season in 2003. Although it has been fifteen years, that series casts a long shadow, and I was surprised to discover how the new season of 13 Reasons seems to exists in conversation with the older show in a surprising way.
Reign of the Anuannaki: The Alien Manipulation of Our Spiritual Destiny
Jan Erik Sigdell | Sept. 2018 | Bear & Company | 160 pages | ISBN: 978-1591433033 | $16.00
OK, so here comes another one. It’s probably beyond pointless to try to break down some of the ridiculous claims in Christian reincarnation believer Jan Erik Sigdell’s forthcoming Reign of the Anunnaki: The Alien Manipulation of Our Spiritual Destiny (Bear & Company, 2018), but I will serve up notice of them anyway. Sigdell’s book was originally published in German in 2016, and the serviceable translation comes to us from the author’s own pen, if not from his own original ideas. Divided into six chapters, the book is basically a digest version of Zecharia Sitchin’s Earth Chronicles series, but the author at least recognizes that Sitchin’s works, and those of Michael Tellinger that were inspired by them, are unscientific and lack sufficient academic grounding to justify their more extreme claims. Sigdell thinks he can provide that.
Next week is the annual Contact in the Desert symposium in which the cast of Ancient Aliens and those who profit from association with them will gather to provide audiences with summaries of past episodes of Ancient Aliens, and more extreme claims that are too offensive to make it past network standards and practices over on the History Channel. This year, however, there is something new. In addition to the regular group of Ancient Aliens talking heads, Tom DeLong’s coauthor, Peter Levenda, will be on hand to promote To the Stars Academy of Arts and Science as a major player in the ancient astronaut field.
You will forgive me if today I am not quite up to writing a particularly detailed blog post. Everyone in my household has come down with a cold, and I feel terrible. The cold has merged seamlessly into my spring allergies, and I am basically using all of my remaining energy staying awake and getting work done. It has not been the nicest of weekends. While I am starting to feel better today, I am looking forward to finally getting over the congestion, sneezing, coughing, and general crummy feeling.
I received some bad news yesterday. One of the country’s top literary agents had asked to read my mound builder manuscript, but told me that he couldn’t possibly sell it to publishers because no mainstream publisher would take on a book with a topic like that. Now, I know this is not true since Doubleday is publishing The Secret Token by Andrew Lawler in a few weeks, and that book is an almost mirror image of my own, except on the topic of Roanoke instead of mounds. Though now that I think about it, Lawler does offer some words condemning mainstream historians, so perhaps that is my problem. I am relating history rather than attacking it. Whatever the problem, it is depressing to be told time and again how much educated people love my writing but that it can never be published because the public would never buy it. I haven’t decided what to do with the book. It seems like a waste to let it sit unread, but it is also rather pointless to give it to some small press where it will never be seen.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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