Beware the Ides of March! Earlier today Shirley MacLaine appeared on the Today show and talked about her past life in Atlantis, and I have to say that the whole thing was an embarrassment. Matt Lauer took MacLaine’s claims about a past life on the imaginary lost continent at face value, and with a straight face asked her to describe life in Atlantis. No wonder so many people hate the media. If the media are happy to conspire with an actress to pretend Atlantis really existed, is it any wonder that they have such a hard time seeing beyond the horserace and the spin in presidential politics? I know MacLaine comes across as a batty but nice old lady, but even a puff piece surely ought to have minimal standards like asking for some kind of evidence or reason to believe any of these goofball ideas are true.
Speaking of minimal standards—Nick Redfern has a piece at Mysterious Universe in which he praises Brad Steiger’s Mysteries of Time and Space (1974), and demonstrates his lack of critical acumen. The book, which primarily explores the UFO phenomenon and its alleged historic and prehistoric antecedents, has been newly rereleased by Anomalist Books, and Steiger calls it his favorite among the 181 (!) books that he has written. I imagine that the lack of critical analysis is due to Redfern’s relationship with Steiger: They wrote a book together, and they are friends. That makes his notice of the reprint free advertising rather than a review.
Redfern recalls the volume as the first ancient mysteries book that he bought with money from his paper route, in 1977, and recounts how it changed his life at the age of twelve by turning him on to UFOs and anomalies. (Previously, he had claimed that a viewing of Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1978 had sparked his UFO interests.) “I recall eagerly digesting the pages of Mysteries of Time and Space, and marveling at the enigmas – ancient and modern – that filled the pages of the book. It may sound like a classic cliché, but I really did stay up late in my bedroom reading its packed pages.”
As it happens, I have 1979 U.S. printing of the book, and like all paperback from its era, it smells. The pages have yellowed and are starting to decay, and the book gives off that weird, floral and woody aroma that reminds me a bit of my grandmother’s parlor. I’ve had old paperbacks for so long that I can’t really describe the scent as anything other than “old book,” but that’s not exactly right. My Victorian books’ scent is crisper and cleaner (some hardly have an odor at all, even after 150 years), while the 1960s and 1970s books have a woodsier aroma, almost with notes of pine. It’s all the acid, I guess. But I digress.
To be entirely honest, I can’t remember where I got my copy of Mysteries of Time and Space. There are two places I might have gotten it. In the middle 2000s, the Albany Public Library had a used book store in which they sold donated books for 25 cents. I got a lot of paperbacks there back then, but I don’t think that’s where this one came from. I remember it being on my bookshelf back when I lived at my parents’ house, so that suggests that it came from a different source. In the mid-1990s, I went with my father, an antique dealer, to an auction house where the owner was selling off a lot of thousands of 1960s and 1970s paperbacks for ten cents apiece in the parking lot. (I can’t recall why they were being sold individually other than no one really wanted thousands of old paperbacks.) They stretched seemingly forever in the summer sun, and I recall going through box after box of them and acquiring what to this day is the core of my collection of ancient astronaut books. But for all I know I got it sometime later at one of the book sales held at the local mall. I probably should have written it down somewhere, but I didn’t. As far as I can recall, Mysteries of Time and Space made almost no impression on me.
Perhaps that’s because the book is filled with so many lies, half-truths, and hoaxes. As I wrote way back in 2011 in regard to a section of the book alleging that a natural formation was an ancient footprint, “Steiger can pack one heck of a lot of false evidence and misinterpretation into the briefest of passages.” I also criticized his acceptance of the so-called Elephant Slabs of New Mexico in 2012. Practically every page has a demonstrable untruth or an unprovable assertion. Perhaps this is because Steiger claimed that his mother was a dweller in two worlds, like her ancestor, Hans Christian Anderson. In chapter 16 he alleges that his mother saw a Jesus-like figure materialize and leave sandal prints, and that she also had prophetic dreams and visions. He says that he himself received frequent visits from something called the Vardogr, which he calls a “spiritual forerunner” of his parents. According to Scandinavian folklore, the vardøger is a vision of a person before he or she is actually present. All of these events suggest fantasy-prone personalities where waking dreams and passing fancies are mistaken for reality.
“Whether you are twelve (as I was), twenty, thirty, or seventy,” Redfern says, “if you have not read the book you really should. Not just for the material contained within its pages, but also because Brad knows how to write…” A shame he doesn’t know how to research, work with facts, apply critical thinking, or develop solid conclusions. Oh, well; it’s a fringe book, so I guess standards are lower.
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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