Bigfoot: The Mysterious Monster – Robert and Frances Guenette

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Schick Sun – 1975
I’ve stated before that I think Bigfoot could exist. The purpose of this book is to make his existence seem more feasible, but after reading it, I feel a little more sceptical than I did beforehand. That’s not to say that it’s a bad book; some of the arguments in here are quite interesting. The issue is that it was published 40 years ago, and every day that has passed since its publication has added to the likelihood that Bigfoot is either imaginary or extinct. There are too many cameras in the world for him not to have been photographed clearly at this stage. It would be cool, but the fact that they could exist isn’t enough to convince me that they do exist.
The book is based on a film that you can easily find online, and much like The Outer Space Connection, both the book and movie cover the same material. (I’d recommend watching the film before trying to track down a copy of the book.) There’s not really much to say about the content; it’s pretty much what you’d expect. There wasn’t enough material on Bigfoot, so it includes a relatively big section on the Loch Ness monster, and there’s also a part where they tried to use a psychic’s testimony as evidence for the existence of these creatures. That bit was pretty stupid.

 

The Outer Space Connection – Alan and Sally Landsburg

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Bantam Books – 1975

Well, here we go again; another dumb book about ancient aliens. This one is really bad too. It’s based on the making of a film that was itself based on this book. Does that sound awkward? Yeah, it is. To get the full picture, you really have to watch the movie too. (Don’t worry; it’s online.) The soundtrack is fucking awesome, and the guy from the Twilight Zone does the narration. It turns out that Alan Landsburg worked on Erich Von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods movie (also available online), and it shows. (In fairness, he openly admits that he has been “doing that Von Daniken stuff” at the end of this book.) The writing is laughable at times, it’s written as a first person narrative about the shooting of the film, but it has a real Da Vinci Code feel to it. My favourite line in the book comes at the end of a paragraph discussing the disappearance of the Mayan people:
“Instead, they retreated deeper and deeper into undesirable places, seemingly in fear of contact with any other people. Why, damnit, why?

So what’s being said in here that isn’t being said in the other stupid books I’ve reviewed on the same topic? Well, this one throws in the idea of cloning as an explanation as to how the aliens managed to get here. To plant the seeds of human life on Earth, the aliens would have to have travelled for hundreds of thousands of years. Cryogenics is ruled out as a means of prolonging life, and so in order for the crew to live through the journey, they would have filled up their spaceship with cannisters of human DNA, their own DNA at that. After a few years, one of the female crew members would impregnate herself with some of this DNA and give birth to a clone of herself. 25 years later, the clone would impregnate herself with yet another clone, and the process would be repeated until the ship finally reached Earth. Simple, right?

Landsburg doesn’t really go into detail on how this would work. Regardless of how large and advanced their ship was, I would imagine that the food supplies would have run out after a few thousand years even if the crew was made up of only a few people. I think the idea hinted at is that there is only one crew member alive at a time. (Quite similar to that movie Moon right?) So presumably the mother would have to sacrifice herself as soon as her clone/daughter was ready to take control of the ship. What would the clone do to the corpse? Well, considering the scarcity of meat aboard that spaceship, I reckon the only sensible thing to do would be to eat the body. Nothing should go to waste in space! Matrophageous spite; autophageous delight!

Ok, so that’s a nice bit of fantastic realism, but is there any evidence for this having happened? Of course there is! Scientists cloning axlotals [sic] found that the cloned versions of this variety of salamander end up with a slightly shorter body than the originals.  They are otherwise identical. That interesting fact is noted in one of the first chapters of the book, but its relevance isn’t made apparent until somewhere near the end. After the mention of this crucial piece of information, there are a bunch of chapters on the usual ancient alien garbage, including several discussions of the Mayans and their pyramids. The Mayans are praised as being far more advanced than any other peoples of their era. Mayan skulls with holes in them are presented as proof of their advanced medical skill. They  weren’t simply smashing each other’s heads open; they were removing cells from the brain to create clones! But wait a minute; how do we know that the Mayans were creating clones? Well, their skeletal remains suggest that the Mayans were fairly stocky.That is to say that they had shorter than average bodies, JUST LIKE THE CLONED OXLOTALS!!!
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Brain transplants in 2000 BC

There’s tonnes of other crap in here; lots of utter shit about pyramid power and human auras. The stuff on the Bermuda Triangle was pretty cool, but it’s written in an infuriatingly credulous way, just like everything else in this book. There’s also a discussion on Vladmir Demikhov’s experiments on dogs. I had heard of these before, but I’d not watched the footage online. Fuck, it’s absolutely horrible. I guess that’s what Roky Erickson was singing about.

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Pretty sure that’s just a monkey there mate!

I can’t say I’d recommend this book to anyone, but the movie might be enjoyable if you were high on drugs. I myself was not high on drugs when I watched it.

Morning of the Magicians – Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier

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Dorset Press – 1988

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.

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I’m going to have nightmares about having to read these.

The Legend of the Sons of God – T.C. Lethbridge

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Arkana – 1990

This books contains some of the choiciest bullshit I have ever come across. Did you know that the rocks of Stonehenge are from Tipperary? Were you aware that the craters on the moon are the results of an interstellar nuclear war between the Martians and Venusians? Had it ever occurred to you that Jesus was a ghost alien from the future? I can’t say I had ever wondered about these things before reading this book, but now I am convinced that they are all entirely true.

T.C. Lethbridge doesn’t even bother to present his ideas as fact. He openly admits that the bulk of this book is conjecture. He reminds his reader that there are gaping holes and inconstencies in our accounts of history. The standard scientific approach to solving these mysteries is to use proof and evidence. This method doesn’t quite satisfy Lethbridge though, and he suggests that it would be more productive to make up ridiculous stories and then look around for evidence of the events that we imagined. This book was written by a grown man playing make-believe.

“Although much of what has been written so far is not strictly orthodox, the present chapter is far worse and deals with matters which are fit really only for the television plays called ‘Doctor Who’.” Thus opens the seventh chapter of this masterpiece.

This book came out at roughly the same time as Von Däniken’s Chariot of the Gods, and it contains some similar ideas, but this one is definitely more enjoyable. It’s short, the writing is engaging and the claims herein are silly enough to be thoroughly entertaining. This is a must read.

Chariots of the Gods? and In Search of Ancient Gods by Erich Von Däniken

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Chariots of the Gods? – Erich Von Däniken
Laffont / G.P. Putnam’s Sons – 1970

In Search of Ancient Gods – Erich Von Däniken
G.P. Putnam’s Sons – 1973

I believe in aliens. I would be surprised to find out that the only forms of life in the universe exist on this small planet. I even believe it likely that life on Earth originated elsewhere in the universe. I haven’t seen any evidence to the contrary.

Erich Von Däniken believes that an alien civilization came to earth thousands of years ago with the aim of speeding up human development. Apparently Quetzalcoatl, Odin, Zeus, the Burning Bush, and all of the other gods of ancient mythology are members of this band of galactic Samaritans.

Some of the theories in this book are interesting, but the reasoning that Däniken uses is so incredibly bad that he discredits his own work. The first vision of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:4) is analyzed in both of these books. Now, Ezekiel is one of the more ‘out-there’ prophets in the old testament; early in his narrative, he has a vision of God floating down to Earth in what Däniken very reasonably refers to as a spaceship.  Däniken also makes the reasonable point that if God were truly omnipotent, that he would not have to arrive from the North as he does in Ezekiel: if he were truly omnipotent, he should have been able to instantaneously appear. Even devout Christians must admit that even God can’t do what he can’t do, and I think that if you’re willing to believe in Ezekiel’s vision at all, that you must accept that the God that therein appears is in fact an alien. Now this reasoning should be convincing to believers of the Old Testament, but people with any shred of intelligence won’t really care if the Bible contains aliens. Well, in order to convince non-believers, Däniken actually dismisses the story of Ezekiel and other myths as mere exaggerations of real life UFO encounters. On one hand he is saying that we should believe in aliens because they appear in our mythologies, but on the other hand he is saying that myths are not to be trusted as they are full of exaggeration. According to Däniken, we should only trust the parts of ancient stories that suggest that aliens were once our overlords.

These are two different books that cover largely the same material. Chariots of the Gods? was Däniken’s first book. It seems that some newer versions of the book have dropped the question mark in the title. I find this unfortunate for comedic reasons; every time I see the title I imagine it being read aloud by Ron Burgundy. The other book, In Search of Ancient Gods, has no question mark in the title, but it does have the aptly descriptive subtitle; ‘My Pictorial Evidence for the Impossible’. This one was published a few years after the first one, and it’s almost the exact same content, just with more pictures. Some of the pictures in here are truly bizarre, and they’re far more unsettling than any of Däniken’s writing. This book also has a cool little alien man embossed on the front cover:
lad

Both of these books are ridiculous. They’re not remotely convincing, but they did make me think. I really like reading writer’s predictions for a future that is now past. Däniken believed humans would have reached Mars by 1986. I don’t hold that against him though; if we focused our attention on space travel rather than on killing each other, we might well have reached Mars already. He also imagines the rather futuristic notion of a series of computers in different cities around the world being able to store information and send it to each other! Overall, I’ll give these books a 5.5/10. They were dumb, but they were interesting enough to finish. The film version of Chariots of the Gods refers to to book it was based on as a novel, and I think that reading these books as novels is a good idea. They’re good as science fiction, but shit as science.

I really want to visit Erich Von Däniken’s theme park.

The Occult A History – Colin Wilson

Random House – 1971
occult
The title, ‘The Occult A History’, is a little misleading. A more accurate name might be ‘A ridiculous theory based on an unquestioning and incredibly naive consideration of the History of the Occult’. Colin Wilson comes across as frustratingly credulous. The following might be a typical paragraph in this book:

Tom was able to communicate with the leader of the great race of flying ape-dogs on the planet Durthyanus. Tom was a patient in mental hospital who was spoon-fed mush by a nurse and needed his nap-nap changed twice a day, but there is no reason not to believe that he had strong powers of interplanetary telepathy; most people who possess such gifts are actually completely untrustworthy.

That’s barely even an exaggeration! I understand that people who write books on the occult are often going to be more ‘open-minded’ than the average individual, but Colin Wilson comes across as a chump. The book is definitely well researched though. Wilson uses lots of interesting sources and I got loads of ideas for other books to read from this one. This book is actually quite an enjoyable read if you don’t waste too much time getting upset over the author’s ridiculous methods of reasoning. I really liked the chapters on Cagliostro and werewolves, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish the final chapter in which the author discusses ‘Faculty x’ in detail. ‘Faculty x’ is basically a 6th sense type thing that Wilson believed human beings were about to discover/develop. Well, this book was written more than 40 years ago and from what I can tell, we’re yet to x.

Sometimes I feel that I put too much faith in the authors of books on the occult. I’m not sure that people intelligent enough to make their living as writers could possibly believe the wacky crap that ends up getting published. I reckon that authors are spewing out this silly garbage just to increase their sales. It makes sense that a writer like Wilson would inject a little craziness into an otherwise reasonable historical account; books on the fantastic just aren’t as enjoyable when they’re logical. I mean it’s not likely that anybody would ever pay money for a book that sets out to disprove the validity of moleomancy.

gurd

(Wise words from Gurdjeff on the back cover.) This book is dumb but mostly fun. Read it, but don’t bother with the last chapter. 6.5/10