19.6.16

New Light on Lucifer?

This seems to be a broader view on 'satanism' historically than many other books on the subject.

Ruben van Luijk. Children of Lucifer: The Origins of Modern Religious Satanism. OUP USA (1 July 2016)

From the publisher's website: Children of Lucifer explores the historical origins of Satanism, the "anti-religion" that adopts Satan, the Judeo-Christian representative of evil, as an object of veneration. Ruben van Luijk traces its development from a concept invented by the Christian church to demonise its internal and external competitors, to a positive (anti-)religious identity embraced to varying degrees by groups in the modern West.

Van Luijk offers a comprehensive intellectual history of this long and unpredictable trajectory; a story that involves Romantic poets, radical anarchists, eccentric esotericists, Decadent writers, and schismatic exorcists, among others, culminating in the establishment of the Church of Satan by carnival entertainer Anton Szandor LaVey. Yet, he argues, this story is more than just a collection of colourful characters and unlikely historical episodes.

The emergence of new attitudes towards Satan proves to be intimately linked to the Western Revolution, the ideological struggle for emancipation that transformed the West and is epitomised by the American and French Revolutions. It is also closely connected to secularisation, that other exceptional historical process during which western culture spontaneously renounced its traditional gods in order to enter into a self-imposed state of religious indecision. Children of Lucifer, thus, makes the case that the emergence of Satanism presents a shadow history of the evolution of modern civilization as we know it.

15.6.16

Has Anybody Seen My Glasses?

And I thought it was just with growing old!

Tony Jinks. Disappearing Object Phenomenon: An Investigation. McFarland. (30 Jun. 2016)

Have you ever had your car keys or television remote control inexplicably vanish from under your nose, only to reappear months later in another part of the house for no evident reason? Most would dismiss it as absent-mindedness, with perhaps a joking remark about paranormal activity. Yet remarkable circumstances surrounding many such accounts suggest that the mysterious disappearance of objects could be more than "just one of those things." Examining a large selection of fascinating narratives, this book investigates the ""disappearing object phenomenon from a scientific standpoint. Both skeptical and supportive perspectives on DOP are considered, leading to the conclusion that "objects behaving badl" are subtle indicators of a controversial take on the nature of reality.

11.6.16

Ghostly Encounters

Dennis Waskul, Michele Waskul. Ghostly Encounters. Temple University Press (10 Jun. 2016)

From the publisher's website: "In the top corner of the window a pale, milky-white wisp is rising almost to the top of our ten-foot ceiling...I am startled but not afraid...Mostly, I am engrossed; I have never seen anything like this before (or since) and it fascinates me."

Dennis Waskul writes these lines-about his first-hand experience with the supernatural-in the introduction to his beguiling book Ghostly Encounters. Based on two years of fieldwork and interviews with 71 Midwestern Americans, the Waskuls' book is a reflexive ethnography that examines how people experience ghosts and hauntings in everyday life. The authors explore how uncanny happenings become ghosts, and the reasons people struggle with or against a will to believe. They present the variety and character of hauntings and ghostly encounters, outcomes of people telling haunted legends, and the nested consequences of ghostly experiences.

Through these stories, Ghostly Encounters seeks to understand the persistence of uncanny experiences and beliefs in ghosts in an age of reason, science, education, and technology-as well as how those beliefs and experiences both reflect and serve important social and cultural functions.

5.6.16

Card Carrying

200 films that feature the tarot and the only one I know is  Live and Let Die!

Emily E. Auger. Cartomancy and Tarot in Film, 1940-2010. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

In the first book-length study of Tarot cards on the silver screen, Emily E. Auger contextualizes cartomancy—the practice of fortune telling via playing cards—and dives deep into its invention and promulgation in film. After providing an introduction to divination and cartomancy, Auger offers detailed descriptions and analyses of the roles that cartomancy and Tarot cards play in films. The book features an abbreviated filmography—including nearly 200 films—detailing their relationships to cartomancy. As Tarot communities continue to grow worldwide, Cartomancy and Tarot in Film will be of interest to scholars of esoteric studies, film, folklore, playing cards, popular culture, and religion, as well as diviners the world over.

29.5.16

Vamp 'til Ready

Continuing Fairleigh Dickinson's sequence of books analysing popular and literary representations of supernatural figures.

Barbara Brodman, James E. Doan (editors). Supernatural Revamped. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press (1 June 2016)

From the publisher's website: This book presents the supernatural as a truly international phenomenon, not restricted to the original folk characters, their literary representations, or their representation in film and popular media. Instead, we move around the world and into the twenty-first century, reshaping legends into a post-modern image that is psychologically and socially relevant while retaining elements of folklore mixed with a hint of science fiction. This book is the logical continuation of a series of collected essays examining the origins and evolution of myths and legends of the supernatural in Western and non-Western tradition and popular culture. 

The first two volumes of the series, The Universal Vampire: Origins and Evolution of a Legend (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013) and Images of the Modern Vampire: The Hip and the Atavistic. (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013) focused on the vampire legend. 

The essays in this collection expand that scope to include a multicultural and multigeneric discussion of a pantheon of supernatural creatures who interact and cross species-specific boundaries with ease. Angels and demons are discussed from the perspective of supernatural allegory, angelic ethics and supernatural heredity and genetics. Fairies, sorcerers, witches and werewolves are viewed from the perspectives of popular nightmare tales, depictions of race and ethnicity, popular public discourse and cinematic imagery. Discussions of the “undead and still dead” include images of death messengers and draugar, zombies and vampires in literature, popular media and Japanese anime.

26.5.16

On Thin Ice

Bernard Heuvelmans, Paul Leblond (Translator), Loren Coleman (Afterword) Neanderthal: The Strange Saga of the Minnesota Iceman. Anomalist Books. (May 11, 2016)

Now in English for the first time, the true story of the Minnesota Iceman! The story begins at the end of 1968 in New Jersey, when zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans and biologist Ivan Sanderson first hear from a correspondent about the frozen corpse of an extremely hairy man-like creature being exhibited in the Midwest. Upon arrival in Minnesota, the two scientists come face to face with a "hominid" not of our species embedded in a block of ice.

An inquiry into the origin of the specimen triggers a bizarre adventure involving the FBI, the Smithsonian, the Mafia, the Vietnam War, drug smuggling, Hollywood, and a secretive millionaire, giving much of the account the flavor of a riveting detective story. What happened is told in meticulous detail by Heuvelmans, who draws a startling conclusion as to the Iceman's nature based on a comparison of its anatomy with that of modern humans and fossil ancestors. But where Heuvelman's scientific tale ends, cryptozoologist Loren Coleman's begins, in a lengthy fact-filled afterword that brings this remarkable saga up-to-date.

23.5.16

Unseen and Uncanny

Susan Lepselter. The Resonance of Unseen Things: Poetics, Power, Captivity and UFOs in the American Uncanny. The University of Michigan Press (30 May 2016)

The Resonance of Unseen Things offers an ethnographic meditation on the “uncanny” persistence and cultural freight of conspiracy theory. The project is a reading of conspiracy theory as an index of a certain strain of late 20th-century American despondency and malaise, especially as understood by people experiencing downward social mobility. Written by a cultural anthropologist with a literary background, this deeply interdisciplinary book focuses on the enduring American preoccupation with captivity in a rapidly transforming world. Captivity is a trope that appears in both ordinary and fantastic iterations here, and Susan Lepselter shows how multiple troubled histories—of race, class, gender, and power—become compressed into stories of uncanny memory.