German Town Invites Erich von Däniken to Combat Boredom; Plus: Australian Aborigines Want You to Know Their Art Does Not Depict Ancient Aliens
This has to be the saddest story about Chariots of the Gods author Erich von Däniken that I’ve read in a long while. A report in NGZ Online, a German news site, says that the ancient astronaut theorist is scheduled to speak in the German town of Neukirchen, in Grevenbroich, on March 3. He is coming to the small town of just 2,700 people at the invitation of Thomas Stenbrock, a restaurateur who confessed to NGZ Online that he hasn’t read von Däniken’s works.
“A good friend of mine knows him from Switzerland,” Stenbrock said (in my translation), “and at the (restaurant) counter the idea came to invite him one day. A bit of variety can’t hurt in the village.”
Wow. That’s a ringing endorsement: A lecture from him is better than being bored!
But it gets better! The town is so small that they don’t have an auditorium, so he’s going to be speaking in a carnival tent, where he belongs. For the price of 40 euros, guests will be treated to a lecture by what NGZ Online describes as “both a euro and (Swiss) franc millionaire many times over,” along with a free copy of von Däniken’s latest book and a buffet catered by Stenbrock himself. The restauranteur said that only about 50 tickets are left for the event out of the 200 for sale.
This wasn’t the only recent von Däniken news. An article from Australia earlier this month announced that some of the famous Wandjina rock paintings of Western Australia will be returning to Aboriginal ownership for the first time in nearly two centuries. According to the report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Aborigines who are taking back control of the paintings hope to educate the public on what they really mean—and especially what they are not.
Since the discovery of the images, which show human-like forms with large heads, bulbous eyes, and haloes surrounding their heads, Westerners have tried to argue that they could not be the original work of Australian Aborigines. Early efforts, from the nineteenth century, alleged that they were art done by shipwrecked sailors, or even colonists from China or the Muslim world.
Local author Mike Donaldson had some choice words for von Däniken, who infamously suggested that the art depicted space aliens wearing fishbowl-style space helmets. “It was just ignorance on von Daniken’s part, the kind of ignorance that goes back to the people who initially, 100 years ago, thought that Aboriginal people were not so sophisticated enough to do those paintings. Of course we soon learnt that they were very sophisticated, and could paint all these wonderful things … so that’s just one guy’s crazy story, that thought they were space men or something.”
Leah Umbagai, an Aborigine from the Worrora people, is the former manager of the Mowanjum Art Centre, and she told the ABC that von Däniken’s ideas weren’t just wrong, they were also hurtful to her and her culture:
A lot of the people that come into the art centre, they ask so many questions, and yes I suppose there have been UFO sightings in America and all of that, but it just really saddens me that they say things about it. […] It’s like people are making fun, or think we’re making things up, and it’s hurtful for us.
It’s a side of the story you don’t hear on Ancient Aliens, and one that we need to hear more often. Bad ideas have consequences, and cultural appropriation is hurtful to those whose culture has been hijacked in service to fantasies about space aliens.
12/31/2016 12:09:41 pm
"Early efforts, from the nineteenth century, alleged that they were art done by shipwrecked sailors, or even colonists from China or the Muslim world."
12/31/2016 12:30:08 pm
I wonder if Von Daniken is going to speak before or after the juggler or the dog act.
12/31/2016 05:39:08 pm
I wonder if they serve free beer.
12/31/2016 02:13:49 pm
Several things came to mind when reading about EVD's lecture, but the practical side of me thought about how cold it would be in that tent.
12/31/2016 02:16:06 pm
EVD is at least funny to listen to on TV because he is so obsessed with his stories.
12/31/2016 05:41:56 pm
Or perhaps a heretofore unknown species of very wise aliens.
12/31/2016 03:58:25 pm
Wow, I just looked at a picture of the Australian Masked Owl and it certainly is possible that they are the subject of the drawings.
12/31/2016 05:16:42 pm
Yep, actual science and deductive reasoning went on in researching and finding the likely type of owls, because that would be the most likely thing they are.
12/31/2016 05:57:56 pm
The owl is sacred to the Wandjina, and many have proposed that it was a model for Aboriginal depictions of these spirits.
12/31/2016 07:56:27 pm
Evd may have been the first try this kind of cultural appropriation/misinterpretation, but he is not the only one, you had new ager Marlo Morgan in the 1990s and more recently Ancient Aliens tried to claim that Aboriginals were descended from space aliens.
12/31/2016 11:46:17 pm
I'm Pindinjara tribe, me.
1/1/2017 12:28:03 am
1/1/2017 03:11:05 am
Your last paragraph is very poignant. But surely that is one of the overlying themes for Ancient Astronaut theories. To reduce native culture, Australian Aborigines or any other, into nothing more than an empty vessel, for their own westernised ideology. Or something like that haha.
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