Today I have three brief topics to discuss. One is about ancient astronauts in Malibu, and another is about H. P. Lovecraft, who would probably have found it difficult to invent a story that could make ancient astronauts in Malibu sound remotely plausible, though the famous archaeological ending of Planet of the Apes was shot on its beaches. But so was Gidget. Finally, I’d like to talk a bit about Graham Hancock’s latest interview, in which he endorses the reality of ancient astronauts (sort of) and justifies his continued appearance on Ancient Aliens before stabbing them in the back as a “cult.”
Let’s start with Lovecraft since there is rather little to say.
Alan Moore is working on a new ten-part graphic novel set in the world of the Cthulhu Mythos. To help promote the series, to be called Providence, he recently discussed Lovecraft with Nick Talbot of The Quietus. Moore said that he has shelves filled with Lovecraft criticism, and Moore described using S. T. Joshi’s books on Lovecraft, particularly his philosophical criticism volumes, to develop the series. He then proceeds to regurgitate most of Joshi’s arguments, to which Moore adds practically nothing original. He sees Lovecraft as a provincial figure deeply in love with his hometown’s geography but cognizant of the decentralizing power of relativity and quantum theory and thus sought to balance his beloved local environment with the raging chaos of underlying reality. It was a rather disappointing interview with very little by way of insight.
And if you’re interested in even more insipid commentary, science fiction author Flint Johnson has a blog post on Lovecraft and “Heroic Mythology” that offers nothing about heroic mythology (by which he seems to mean superheroes) and professes to have discovered that Lovecraftian ideas are appearing more frequently in genre dramas, by which he seems to mean references to ancient astronauts. It’s not a good read.
Rise of the Silver Surfer: Ancient Aliens of Malibu
Since the fall of the Mubarak government, Egyptian tourism has been in a tailspin. The Egyptian government reported last month that revenue has fallen by 95% since 2010, down to just $17 million for this year from 2010 figures of $408 million. With fewer Americans queuing up for events like fringe theorist Scott A. Roberts’s conspiracy tour of Egypt, how can fringe figures keep the party going? Answer: Move the aliens and ancient mysteries over here! The Malibu Times reports that Jimmy Church of Dark Matter Radio and UFO writer Robert Stanley have announced that natural standing rock formations near Malibu, California are actually prehistoric monuments built by space aliens, and that geometric blurs on Google Earth images of the ocean off Malibu prove that an underwater alien base allows UFOs to fly through the earth via “portals.”
The so-called alien base is a known geological feature called a thrust fault, according to the Geological Society of America.
Malibu, the Los Angeles county area with the highest percentage of white residents, has been a UFO hotspot for decades but the area’s fringe theory promoters appear to be looking to make up for declining interest in flying saucers by hitching it wagon to the ancient astronaut theory. However, an effort to create an “Alien Woodstock” for the city, one of California’s most affluent, has not yet come to fruition, with major ancient astronaut stars and celebrities declining to confirm appearances at the proposed festival. I can’t imagine that the close proximity of the more established Contact in the Desert festival in nearby Joshua Tree helps matters any.
Graham Hancock and Ancient Aliens
Joshua Tree also hosts the Psyche & Matter Symposium where fringe writer Graham Hancock will soon be speaking about consciousness, hallucinogens, and lost civilizations. (What is it about Joshua Tree?) In anticipation, he gave an interview to Jill V. Mangino for the cover story in OM Times, conveniently divided online into 15 parts to maximize exposure to obtrusive video advertisements. There he endorsed the reality of the space aliens from Ancient Aliens, at least in their “otherworldly beings” / “nonhuman intelligences” form made famous by Phillip Coppens and William Henry:
I’ve got nothing against the entities our species presently calls “aliens”. These entities are real, in my view, although I don’t think we’re anywhere near understanding exactly what they are or where they come from. That being said, though, the fact is that I don’t need “aliens” – whatever they are — to explain any mysteries in our pre-history. Honestly I don’t need a single alien for the great pyramids or the Mayan calendar. I just don’t. What I need is a more advanced level of human civilization in that period than is recognized by historians.
Yes, it’s all about what he “needs”—i.e., what he emotionally desires. (Or, rather, it’s what he “needs” to promote his new book, a sequel to Fingerprints of the Gods.) He also endorsed the idea that Atlantis is a truthful representation of his lost Ice Age civilization, which is a change from the days where he would not speak the A-word. But here’s where it gets interesting, especially when we remember that Hancock has continued to appear on Ancient Aliens as recently as this season:
One of the problems I have with the whole ancient alien lobby is that at one level it operates like a religion or a cult, by which I mean its believers are resistant to, and often get furiously angry about, other possible explanations that challenge their faith. But at another level members of the “ancient astronaut cult” are also crassly materialistic, seeking to reduce everything to a simplistic material reference frame, projecting our present and imagined future levels of technology onto what are in fact deeply mysterious and unexplained phenomena, and sticking their heads in the sand when it comes the implications of the latest research into altered states of consciousness – for example Rick Strassman’s groundbreaking work with DMT and human volunteers. I’m not saying altered states of consciousness explain everything about the UFO/alien phenomenon. I am not saying there are no physical aspects to the UFO/alien phenomenon, because there are. I’m simply saying that if we neglect altered states of consciousness and focus solely on the physical, we will never solve the UFO/alien mystery.
He goes on to attack scientists, too, for also being “of the materialist persuasion” and refusing to endorse the reality of non-material realms. Of course, Hancock also co-wrote The Mars Mystery (1998), which speculated about ancient aliens on the Red Planet and accused NASA of hiding proof of contact.
That said, he hasn’t really been watching the Ancient Aliens shows he appears on, has he? Ancient astronautics has become quasi-theosophical and, aside from die-hards like Giorgio Tsoukalos and Erich von Däniken, largely replaced nuts and bolts spaceships and technology with psychic invasion from parallel dimensions—you know, essentially the same thing Hancock talks about when he claims that while high on ayahuasca he battles demons who intrude into his consciousness.
There you have it, folks: After ufologist Nick Pope condemned the ancient astronaut theory as “borderline racist,” Graham Hancock is now condemning it as a “cult”! Clearly, those whose careers have taken a hit from the return of the ancient astronaut theory and its displacement of nuts and bolts ufology and Atlantis-like lost civilizations on the forefront of fringe culture are starting to strike back.
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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