Truth be told, it’s been a bit of slow week in the world of pseudohistorical zaniness. At the end of the month To the Stars will launch the new volume in Tom DeLonge’s and Peter Levenda’s God, Man and War series, War, but I don’t imagine they’ll be sending me one. As I write this on Wednesday evening, I just finished proofreading and indexing my Mound Builder book—which took me longer than expected and was much more work than I had anticipated. The older I get and the more responsibilities I have, the harder it is to cram several extra hours of work into each day. When I got close to the end, I decided to just take the day and push through to get it done. I wrapped it up Wednesday morning and then spent the afternoon formatting the final document, which I sent in to the publisher just before close of business yesterday. To be frank, I’m tired and decided to take the day to decompress before I resume work trying to push out the last few pages of my pyramid legends book.
For a few minutes, I thought I would write a lengthy analysis of Steven Pinker’s recent Twitter rant in which the Harvard psychologist and popular writer alleges that historians of science are biased against science and are actively working to destroy science’s claim to objectivity by forcing people to read about the history of science rather than its conclusions.
At Mysterious Universe, Nick Redfern alleges that writing about the supernatural induces supernatural experiences in both author and reader. “We’re talking about occult backlash, synchronicities of the jaw-dropping kind, weird phone-calls, and ominous runs of bizarre bad luck that appear to have been orchestrated by things that are foul and malignant.” He also said he had bad dreams. This isn’t really much by way of supernatural power. It sounds more like scaring yourself silly and then interpreting your everyday experiences through a paranormal lens. He cites, however, the case of Buffy Clary, who was twice by lightning just for reading about the Djinn. Imagine if she had watched the Netflix series. Of course, there is no evidence given to support the claim, nor any connection to the Djinn. “Yes, some books really can be dangerous,” Redfern writes. Well, I’ve read, written about, and even translated some of the most “dangerous” books, including those that explicitly have curses written in them for anyone who dares read or share them. I even translated the real-life inspiration for the forbidden Necronomicon, the Akhbar al-zaman, which is also a book about Djinn, Nephilim, giants, etc. So far, the paranormal entities haven’t much cared.
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.
I am really starting to feel the pressure of trying to proofread and index one book while writing a second as the deadlines for both loom. I find indexing and proofreading to be slow-going, particularly squeezing it in among other work. I hate to do it, but I’m going to have to rely on computer assistance to index proper nouns to save time. It’s problematic because it can introduce mistakes due to spelling and/or random similar names that then have to be manually reviewed, but it’s the only way to get through the book quickly enough given the minuscule time given to me. I have to learn to write books that are less fact-dense so each page has fewer indexable terms.
Last week, Netflix debuted producer Ryan Murphy’s new satirical dramedy The Politician, which tells the story of a high schooler named Payton Hobart (Ben Platt from Dear Evan Hansen) who will stop at nothing to win the student government presidency as part of a thirty-year plan to reach the presidency of the United States. Subsequent seasons will chart his progress to the White House. The series produced polarizing reactions, with many major critics arguing that the show is a tonally inconsistent mess anchored by a protagonist whose unlikable, over-mannered persona was unrealistic and off-putting. Willa Paskin of Slate, for example, called Payton not a real person but “a mannered cartoon of one.” TV Guide’s Matt Roush called him “a chilly antihero it's hard to muster much empathy for,” and “more robot than human.” I think that these critics are wrong, and as someone who was basically that person in high school, I can speak to where they err.
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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