This one is utterly moronic. I’m no stranger to idiotic books, and I have a fairly high threshold for reading garbage, but this one was seriously stupid. It was made particularly disappointing by the fact that I actually spent quite a while trying to track down an affordable copy. I always knew it was going to be fairly bullshitty, and so I decided that anything more than 15 dollars would be too much. It took me five separate orders over the course of two years to actually get my hands on this thing. Three times the bookseller had already sold their copy and not updated their stock online, and one copy got lost in the post. When this nice hardback edition arrived, I was delighted.
The delight was not to last.
Why was I so determined to own a copy of this book? Well, this one was actually fairly popular when it was published (this edition boasts “Over 800,000 copies sold!” on the back cover), and a lot of the silly ideas in here went on to influence other silly writers. I kept seeing its title pop up in other books and articles. It has been claimed that this is the source for the main concept in Erich Von Däniken’s work. Also, a large part of this book focuses on Nazi occultism, and Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke spends a few pages of his book talking about how fucking stupid this one is. On top of that, I had read that this book was influenced directly by the writings of Lovecraft, and while it is only mentioned briefly in Colin Wilson’s The Occult, it becomes apparent after reading it that it had a pretty big influence on his thinking. I didn’t really have a choice; I had to read this one.
So, the main idea of the book is that human beings are on the brink of the next stage of our mental evolution. Pauwels and Bergier believe that the scientific method has run its course, and any major future developments will be based on something other than logical reasoning. Being sensible is holding us back from reaching our potential. Their idea is to use their imaginations to come up with absurd nonsense, and maybe that nonsense will actually be true. T.C. Lethbridge used this exact approach in his book, the topic of which fits in perfectly with the ideas of Pauwels and Bergier. The authors title this approach ‘Fantastic Realism’. I think another, more accurate, way of describing this approach would be ‘simpletonism’.
They talk about how difficult it will be for the masses to adapt to this new approach. You might find it hard to imagine a modern society radically changing its system of beliefs over a short period of time. The authors’ response to this is ingenious. They claim, ‘ If Nazi Germany did it, we can too!’ Honestly, I think they must have been planning to write two different books and ended up throwing all of their material together to reach a word-count or deadline or something. The Nazi stuff takes up about one third of the book, but its function is limited to serving as a bad example of what the authors want to achieve: a society in which people ignore common-sense and listen to the most mental dopes in all the land.
My favourite part of the book was the authors’ theory on mutants. Pauwels and Bergier believe that while nuclear radiation definitely has negative effects on some people, it probably also has positive effects on others. Sure, it melts some people’s skin off and causes cancer and sterilization, but what’s to say that it doesn’t also create super humans? Back in a few minutes guys, I’m just going to go stick my head in the microwave and become one of the X-men! They give a description of one such super human: “He is now superior to us; his thought no longer plods – it flies… Such a man would have absolutely no interest in trying to communicate with us, nor would he seek to dazzle us by trying to explain the enigmas of light, or the secrets of genes… This man would be above and beyond humanity. He could only communicate to advantage with minds of his own.” I would be surprised if Alan Moore hadn’t based Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen on that specific paragraph.
This book discusses Lovecraft, Arthur Machen, aliens, the Nazis and mutants, so you know that there’s going to be some good stuff in here. Unfortunately, all of the juicy bits are (a) not particularly enlightening and (b) surrounded by pages and pages of wank. It’s a long book, and I was only able to stomach a few pages a day. In fairness though, I probably would have enjoyed it a little more if I hadn’t come across its ideas in so many other texts. It would be a good place to start if you wanted to begin researching the ridiculous and inane. Otherwise, your life is almost definitely going to be better if you don’t read this imbecilic pile of crap. I bought two other books by Pauwels and Bergier before this one actually arrived, but I’m going to give myself a break before I torture myself with them.