I’m sure everyone reading this is familiar with the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas. I’ve never been to it, or thought much about it, but I knew that it was a vaguely Atlantis-themed waterpark and hotel with rides and attractions decorated in ersatz ancient motifs. What I did not know is that the resort apparently promotes bizarre pseudoscience and fringe history rather than just treating Atlantis as a fantasy like Disney World or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. According to an article published yesterday in The Australian, the staff at Atlantis indoctrinate visitors in some of the very worst fringe history claims about the lost continent.
At one point, reporter and author Tony Perrottet reports that a guide informed him and his son that “Atlantis was a highly civilised place with technology that often exceeded our own.” Later, they see an Egyptian-style “Power Tower” whereby the resort claims that the people of Atlantis generated electricity. At dinner, a waiter told them, after the claims of Edgar Cayce, that “Of course the Bahamas were part of Atlantis.” It is never entirely clear how much the visitor is meant to take seriously and how much is supposed to be an embrace of the fantasy—like when Disney World pretends that the costumed characters really are the people and animals they portray. Perrottet, though, leaves the impression that the resort would prefer that visitors embrace a specific science fiction version of Atlantis—one he says was culled from 1961’s Atlantis: The Lost Continent, though I’m sure there is at least a little bit of Undersea Kingdom in there, too. (The resort features the faux-wreckage of a whale-shaped submarine modeled on the one from the 1961 movie.)
I was struck, however, by Perrottet’s evaluation of how the Atlantis resort embraces a very different version of Atlantis from the Victorian and midcentury versions. Those versions of Atlantis emphasized the continent’s white master race and made it the wellspring of a decidedly Eurocentric global civilization, a precursor of the Euro-American world order. By contrast, the new Atlantis, created in the 1980s, is much more diverse:
Its cheery embrace of multicultural history — tossing Mexican, European and Middle Eastern imagery into a colourful brew — matches the cosmopolitan make-up of its guests. In Plato’s [the resort’s bar], the air echoes with conversations in Spanish, Japanese and Hindi. The philosopher would have been proud; this Atlantis is a celebration of global culture, with everyone united in the pursuit of sunshine and fun.
It’s interesting to see Atlantis transformed from a symbol of imperial power and colonialism, as Ignatius Donnelly had presented it, to one of multiculturalism and globalization.
As we head into this weekend, I want to let you know about my plans to change my blog publishing schedule. I’ve been writing this blog for nearly seven years, and for most of that time I have produced a new post seven days per week, 365 days per year. That amount of writing is not sustainable, especially without pay, and with the downtick in fringe history material being published—and the severe amount of repetition in that which is released. Case in point: Friday night the History Channel launched Ancient Aliens: Declassified, which was nothing but old episodes of the show repackaged with a few deleted scenes and extra commentary. What’s the point of bothering to say anything about that?
Anyway, I am finding that it takes far too long to hunt down and develop a blog post every single day, and I do not have the kind of time needed to sustain that type of schedule. I’ve found that it takes too much time away from my actual paying work, not to mention other projects I would like to devote time to. I had thought about writing shorter posts, but that wouldn’t fix the problem of finding topics. I’ve experimented with other formats to cut back a bit in the past—rerun posts, posts pointing toward others’ excellent content, excepts from historic sources—but it keeps coming back to taking a lot of time to find and prepare content.
So, for a variety of reasons, including my own need for more personal time, I am going to be cutting back my blog from seven days per week to five. Because Ancient Aliens runs on Fridays, necessitating a Saturday (or late Friday—depending on how ambitious I am) blog post to cover new episodes, I am tentatively planning to schedule new posts to run Tuesday-Saturday, to be adjusted as needed.
Of course, I will update my blog as needed if something really important happens, but it’s been a long time since anything really important happened that set the whole world abuzz.
It was not my original intention to write a blog every single day, but I ended up doing it for a long time because there was so much to write about, and between 2010 and, say, 2015, it was pretty easy. With the glut of fringe history TV shows in that era, about a third of my blog posts simply reviewed and critiqued their claims, and I could spin off interesting sidelights into follow-ups. But most of those shows are dead, with the exception of Ancient Aliens, and cable has gone whole hog in paranormal dimensions that are beyond my expertise, particularly in hunting monsters like Bigfoot. That has cut out a lot of the essentially free content I could toss off in a show’s running time. Recent cable programs just haven’t been as compelling. Last weekend, for example, the History Channel devoted a couple of hours to the search for Jesus’ DNA in The Jesus Strand: A Search for DNA. What would one even say to that? The absurdity of the premise refutes itself. Even if one were to recover DNA from a stain or a hair on an object tradition associated with Jesus, how would anyone prove it came from the Biblical Jesus (historical, literary, or otherwise), much less, as the show grandiosely claimed, use it to locate the modern descendants of Jesus? Just playing the odds, they’d more likely accidentally find the descendants of some anonymous monk who had possession of the object in Middle Ages.
I hope that cutting back to five days a week won’t cause too much consternation. This blog post was written in advanced to run today. Tomorrow will be my first day off, and I will have something new on Tuesday.
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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