Friday, November 13, 2009

Goldwag: Books that inspire me - Boing Boing

Goldwag: Books that inspire me

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Guestblogger Arthur Goldwag is the author of "Cults, Conspiracies, and Secret Societies: The Straight Scoop on Freemasons, The Illuminati, Skull and Bones, Black Helicopters, The New World Order, and many, many more" and other books.

Pesco requested that I write about some of the books that inspired me as I was writing CULTS, CONSPIRACIES AND SECRET SOCIETIES. I'll need to ask for your indulgence, because I'm going to flash back to my boyhood. When I was in the sixth grade, I came across a mass market paperback called IMPOSSIBLE: YET IT HAPPENED, which, I just learned from the magic of the Internet, was written by R. Dewitt Miller in 1947. It was a prime exemplar of what is sometimes called Forteana, after Charles Fort (1874-1932), a failed novelist, close friend of Theodore Dreiser, and avid collector of news clippings about the eerie and the unexplained--he also gave his name to the magazine The Fortean Times (its cover story this month is about Masonic symbols in Washington, DC). Miller's yarns about spontaneous human combustion, ghosts, premonitory dreams, ESP, apparitions of air-born crucifixes in the smoke-filled skies over World War I battlefields, a fortyeight hour-long midnight that enveloped Colonial New England and I don't know what else, scared the living daylights out of me--but at the same time, I couldn't stop reading it, especially at night, by flashlight. It was an addiction and I eventually had the wisdom to go cold turkey, by giving the book away.

Or maybe I should go back even further, to when I was in the third grade, and we all trooped down to the school gym to look at the slides of ruins that a local character--a magician named James Randi--had snapped on his recent trip to the mountains of Peru. I can't remember exactly what I found so interesting about his lecture, but it made a huge impression on me. Maybe he did some sleight of hand tricks. A couple of decades later, Randi embarked on a second career as a Houdini-caliber debunker of psychic frauds. His take-down of Uri Geller on the Tonight Show is still devastating to watch.

conspiracies are still a kind of hobby with me

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