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.
9/7/2014 02:18:49 am
>>>will soon be speaking about consciousness, hallucinogens, and lost civilizations<<<
9/7/2014 03:41:11 am
This would actually be Moore's third comic foray into the Mythos. 2003's The Courtyard was more or less an X-Files knock-off with a magical bend and a vague plot about a language-drug that makes men see Old Ones.
9/7/2014 05:19:33 am
Do Deep Ones have hemipenes?
9/7/2014 04:47:55 am
Pope's criticism may be pure sour grapes over sales interest, though it is also a fairly obvious criticism if one isn't invested in the idea, but are still willing to do almost anything for money (which seeing Pope's track record with conventions, video game promotions, etc. ...)
9/7/2014 04:58:45 am
Speaking of, what IS Hancock's desired audience? I mean, who actually reads his books?
9/7/2014 05:35:38 am
I don't know Hancock's material or interviews well enough to really say. What I do know is that he came into this with the solid reputation of a journalist. And while his most famous books have largely regurgitated earlier fringe ideas, it seems to me that he still tries to push for a sophisticated and detached approach, or something resembling one.
9/7/2014 06:01:06 am
I must confess I didn't take into account him being British. I mean, they did give the world Colin WIlson - there is a market for fringe literature that is at least convincingly pretending to be intellectually sophisticated. And I guess if you have enough somewhat educated people who have more leasure than critical capacity, lengthy tomes like his can be explained...
9/7/2014 06:16:54 am
Re: popular books. As you will see from a project I'm working on, I agree.
9/7/2014 06:35:50 am
I certainly didn't mean to suggest that North America contains no impressive monuments or sophisticated artefacts! However, it takes a certain sophistication (and priorities) to find them as valuable as the remains of Egyptian, Hellenic, Roman, Gothic, or Qin cultures. They are not as striking to the uneducated eye of broadly European heritage. Whoever invaded ancient Egypt or China could be as ruthless as they wanted, but they couldn't pretend that the people they were subjugating were savages.
9/7/2014 07:00:00 am
That's why I'd make the comparison with the megalithic sites of northern Europe. I understand why people see the art and monumental works of state societies differently than those of non-state societies (if you haven't seen them, go and google The Princeton Vase or the murals of Calakmul, which you can follow up by trawling through the Kerr database at FAMSI).
9/7/2014 07:17:27 am
"see the folks who shoved small orgone collectors into Serpent Mound two years ago to open a rainbow bridge to another dimension"
9/7/2014 07:36:52 am
I mean I can see why someone would be impressed more by the standing ruins of a city of carved masonry, vs. an earthen mound. From a pure "wow" stance, I would not expect people to treat them equally. Never minding aesthetics or taste or anything, there is simply more there, there. Larger societies, typically with greater inequality, concentrated more effort and resource into such things, leaving more material with greater amounts of effort poured into such objects or constructions.
9/7/2014 07:59:31 am
As for the exaggeration, I don't think it is, really. Pseudoarchaeology and related mysticism largely serves to explain or to exploit wonderous aspects that cannot be directly explained via history. It is the product of the intellectual divide that occurred in the 19th century of prehistory and history. It is another variation on "X in the gaps"
9/7/2014 08:18:03 am
I think that neither archaeology or pseudoarchaeology was really needed to get the Ancient Astronauts ball rolling. Theosophy-style melting-pot occultism and Jungian association of modern and ancient myths (with direction of explanation reversed) suffice. That isn't to say that archaeology didn't (and doesn't) play a key role as a matter of fact, but we are considering counterfactuals here.
9/7/2014 10:31:16 am
Theosophy arose because of the changing ground of ideas that science was modifying. Hence the importance of a bad version of evolution to Theosophy. Weird notions didn't need science and in this case archaeology, but the ones that emerged did.
9/7/2014 12:10:26 pm
"Theosophy arose because of the changing ground of ideas that science was modifying. Hence the importance of a bad version of evolution to Theosophy."
9/7/2014 03:23:11 pm
You're taking a number of things I'm talking about re:protohistory at too high a theoretical level, rather than a more pragmatic investigatory one.
9/7/2014 04:14:01 pm
"You're taking a number of things I'm talking about re:protohistory at too high a theoretical level, rather than a more pragmatic investigatory one."
9/7/2014 05:15:30 pm
re: Evolution. No, you're correct, but it they were tied it was just the other way around. Paleontology can only really become what it becomes when some kind of evolution (an idea that predates Darwin/Wallace's natural selection of course) exists. Archaeology as handmaiden to history, focused on either the Classical Civilizations (and then things that looked like them elsewhere like Mesoamerica) or antiquarianism, predates evolution.
9/7/2014 05:57:11 pm
I agree once again that "deep time" has a lot to do with the rise of Theosophy and other occultism, but in much the same way as did "deep space" (astronomy) and secular study of religious texts - by filling the niche created by an unprecedented combination of spiritual void and information overload. As far as I understand, "deep time" emerged out of geological sciences (and astronomy), and in turn enabled archaeological and paleontological inquiry to shed stifling cosmological constraints. It also gave grist for the mills of Theosophy and various new religious movements (as well as some of the more cringe-inducing philosophical speculation of that era).
Duke of URL
9/8/2014 05:12:21 am
spookyparadigm -- "even where such places have been protected by parks, how commonly are they visited?"
9/8/2014 07:51:23 am
Really? How many visitors does Stonehenge get a year?
9/7/2014 04:53:38 am
9/7/2014 02:25:09 pm
9/7/2014 02:39:02 pm
Or .-ian (not sub-.-ian, since that's physically impossible).
9/7/2014 06:04:26 am
I have to wonder if the popularity of Joshua Tree for fringe events has something to do with its reputation for being an area of spiritual power, specifically for artists who like to participate in psychedelic drug use. The association with U2, The Eagles, The Doors, and various other music figures certainly sets a tone for the area.
9/7/2014 06:35:23 am
Hancock's pro hallucinogenic drug use stance is more than questionable. But I suspect that he actually hasn't watched the show much, if at all. I know for example that the first of the AA shows Andrew Collins saw was in February of this year when he visited the USA for 3 weeks.
9/7/2014 06:47:58 am
Wow, you got *two* articles in AP this month?!
5/18/2015 07:23:39 pm
I'm a friend of Graham's, and as of 2014 he'd not watched an episode.
9/7/2014 09:02:55 am
9/7/2014 09:10:44 am
And of course, archaeology can be manipulated to suit contemporary political situations (whichever way it's put)
9/7/2014 10:27:08 am
AAT is a racist cult? Man, that's so not groovy. Pass me some of that peace offering, my brother from another mother :)
9/7/2014 10:35:46 am
You speaking figuratively, man? Or are you talking to Pacal? Been dipping into Bruce Fenton's stash again? :)
9/7/2014 11:04:47 am
I know these hucksters are shameless, but I don't know how they can lecture on the subjects of hallucinogens and lost civilizations (as they present them) with a straight face.
9/7/2014 11:46:30 am
"The trouble with telling (and believing) yourself that the rest of the world doesn't know as much as you do, is that doing so "opens the windows and draws back the drapes" on one's actual level of intelligence."
9/7/2014 01:49:12 pm
I *knew* you couldn't resist, EP.
9/7/2014 02:40:58 pm
Hey, we should ask BillUSA what he thinks about Tomy :)
10/6/2015 02:29:59 pm
As Le Plongeon and Blavatsky were relatively recent living people, there is no point in confusing who did what, nor how they worked.
2/2/2018 10:44:54 pm
Nice editing bud "hitching it wagon to" hahaha
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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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