The Wall Street Journal has an interesting piece on H. P. Lovecraft in honor of the publication of The New Annotated H. P. Lovecraft, edited by Leslie S. Klinger with a foreword by Alan Moore. I haven’t read Annotated except for the introduction, which I did not find particularly insightful, drawing as it does primarily on Joshi’s work—which, for the trouble of reading a rewrite of Joshi, you might as well read the original. In the article, Klinger and Moore make the unusual case that the power of Lovecraftian fiction derives from Lovecraft’s fear-driven racism. “One need not adopt the racist views of HPL to agree with this conclusion, but we can understand how his sense of being threatened by the world around him led to these deeper feelings,” Klinger said.
Moore made a particularly good comparison between Lovecraft’s fiction and the current wave of anti-science like creationism and the New Age, which are irrational reactions against the discomfort produced by science: “the advances of science upon the certainties of religion would appear to have resulted in an upsurge of anti-scientific fundamentalism that makes Lovecraft’s new Dark Age seem at very least a worrying possibility.”
The piece is worth a read.
Less worthy of a read but nevertheless also interesting is a comment exchange on Amazon.com, where earlier this year Scott Wolter engaged Dr. Bryant Lister in a series of nasty comments over Lister’s review of Wolter’s Akhenaten to the Founding Fathers. Lister’s original review was a fairly typical negative Amazon rant, but it hit Wolter on his most sensitive issue, the one that he recently posted about on his blog, his lack of an advanced degree. “The arrogance of this ‘forensic geologist’ is startling considering his complete lack of credentials and higher education.” Naturally, Wolter couldn’t resist returning fire, and the exchanged continued for months, running from February to July.
I wasn’t aware of this since I don’t make it a habit to read Amazon.com book reviews, but I was shocked at the bitterness and unprofessionalism of Wolter’s responses: “Your comments Mr. Lister, are frankly, pathetic. […] I don’t believe you’ve read either book as you made no reference to anything specific and only made general negative comments that qualify as personal rants.” Lister, however, is no angel and repeatedly insulted Wolter’s intelligence during their exchange.
One of Wolter’s comments was deleted by Amazon, but to judge by Lister’s response, in it Wolter claimed that he took a pay cut to star on America Unearthed and therefore is exempt from the charge that he is promoting conspiracies for money. However, rather than make a reasoned argument, Wolter continued down the path of personal insult: “You’re (sic) mind is so closed you wouldn't know what the Holy Grail was if She bit you in the rear end.” Even in an insult, Wolter reveals his deeply held belief that the Grail is Mary Magdalene herself.
In response to now-deleted comments by another poster that apparently referenced my work evaluating Wolter’s claims, Wolter replied: “Covalito (sic) is a debunker and I do not take him seriously.” The riposte was good enough to quote at length:
I have no affiliation in any way with Jason Colavito, other than posting a few times on his blog several months back. However, I would clarify what he does by stating that he debunks your theories by supplying missing facts and providing accurate facts to replace your inaccurate and incorrect assertions. So basically, you’re saying that you do not take the facts and the truth seriously. Yes, we've seen that on your show many times.
If I may give Wolter some unsolicited advice: Don’t reply to book reviews. There is no good that can come of it. It only makes an author look vengeful and petty.
But that’s part for the course for Scott Wolter, who steadfastly refuses to recognize that he has a public face that ought to at least try for professionalism. Consider this comment posted on his blog just a few days ago. A commenter used some slightly intemperate language in asking Wolter to “act like” a scientist, and this is how Wolter replied:
…what do you know about being a scientist? Sounds to me like you’re a little too judgmental and probably don't understand the scientific process as well as you think. I’m just saying...
It seems to me that the most popular fringe figures tend to be the ones who put on a sunny face and ignore criticism, but that probably isn’t true. Mike Bara is much ruder and often more insulting, and he also managed to get a TV show. On September 22, for example, Bara called Neil deGrasse Tyson a “science choad,” referring to a derogatory term for a malformed penis.
But Bara and Wolter aren’t the only people lashing out against their critics. So is Kathleen McGowan (a.k.a. Kathleen McGowan-Coppens), who has a beef with a British esoteric author who leveled criticisms against her as well as her hair color. (How would her hair be relevant to anything?) She, too, shares the wit and rhetorical eloquence and elegance of her fringe history peers: “What I am intolerant of are idiots who post stupid crap on my Facebook page.” I don’t care much about her online drama, but as Matt Mc pointed out in comments on one of my earlier blog posts today, McGowan reaffirmed her alleged connection to Mary Magdalene in that same blog post: “I ‘claim to be a descendant of Mary Magdalene.’ - TRUE. I do and I am. Period. Read my books and find out how and why I know this.” Like most fringe writers, she has multiple websites and blogs in different locations; this post was on her Divine Feminine blog, not her main self-titled website. It makes it hard to track.
But there you have it, in her own words. McGowan claims to be of the Holy Bloodline of Jesus, which therefore makes her the perfect subject for Scott Wolter to DNA test and match to all those Native Americans he says share her magic Jesus blood. Fat chance of that ever happening. But she does share red hair with the cannibal Nephilim and vouchsafes that it is her natural color, so call L. A. Marzulli!
This final bit is not directly relevant to the above discussion, but it made me laugh. Have you seen Jason Martell’s new website? Martell seems to be trying to appeal multiple audiences at once, and I don’t think it’s effective. He’s promoting his web technology business, his line of self-published books, and his “Ancient School” video lessons on a page designed like a dating profile. The tagline confused me both for its misplaced comma and its complete lack of sense: “The resistance to a new idea, is increased by the square root of its importance.”
Like many of Martell’s claims, the more you think about it, the less it means. If you can tell me what it’s supposed to mean, please let me know.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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