Since 2007 book reviews, events, publishing announcements, opinions, wild ideas and more!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

PARANORMAL AMERICA - New Book


Two sociologists from Baylor University have spent several years researching and studying the people who support or believe in the paranormal and the result is Paranormal America. The result is an easy to read but highly scholarly work that brings some surprises including the fact that this once outlaw point of view is more common and that instead of supporters being easily identified by fitting into some stereotypical caricature - they are more and more mainstream and frighteningly 'normal'.

Review
While this [book] showcases an astounding amount of research, [i]t is accessible to any reader with an interest in the convergence of paranormal beliefs and religion... Highly recommended. --Library Journal

"Paranormal America is an authoritative but extremely readable analysis of an important but often ignored subculture. This fine book explains how many people seek personally-relevant meaning in a chaotic and often alienating world. In these pages we learn much not only about believers in ESP, Bigfoot, and astrology, but also about the general ways in which all human minds make sense of our perplexing position in the universe." William Bainbridge, author of Across the Secular Abyss: From Faith to Wisdom



Product Description
A significant number of Americans spend their weekends at UFO conventions hearing whispers of government cover-ups, at New Age gatherings learning the keys to enlightenment, or ambling around historical downtowns learning about resident ghosts in tourist-targeted “ghost walks”. They have been fed a steady diet of fictional shows with paranormal themes such as The X-Files, Supernatural, and Medium, shows that may seek to simply entertain, but also serve to disseminate paranormal beliefs. The public hunger for the paranormal seems insatiable.


Paranormal America provides the definitive portrait of Americans who believe in or have experienced such phenomena as ghosts, Bigfoot, UFOs, psychic phenomena, astrology, and the power of mediums. However, unlike many books on the paranormal, this volume does not focus on proving or disproving the paranormal, but rather on understanding the people who believe and how those beliefs shape their lives.

Drawing on the Baylor Religion Survey—a multi-year national random sample of American religious values, practices, and behaviors—as well as extensive fieldwork including joining hunts for Bigfoot and spending the night in a haunted house, authors Christopher Bader, F. Carson Mencken, and Joseph Baker shed light on what the various types of paranormal experiences, beliefs, and activities claimed by Americans are; whether holding an unconventional belief, such as believing in Bigfoot, means that one is unconventional in other attitudes and behaviors; who has such experiences and beliefs and how they differ from other Americans; and if we can expect major religions to emerge from the paranormal.

Brimming with engaging personal stories and provocative findings, Paranormal America is an entertaining yet authoritative look at a growing segment of American religious culture.

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: NYU Press (October 12, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0814791352
ISBN-13: 978-0814791356

Sunday, October 17, 2010

TALE OF THE BAGMAN

Airship 27 Productions & Cornerstone Book Publishers are happy to announce the release of their thirtieth title, “Tale of the Bagman” by B.C. Bell . This book features the debut of a brand new pulp hero, the Bagman, and he’s unlike any other crime buster ever seen before.



In the 1930s, Chicago was one of the fastest growing metropolises in the country. Situated on mighty Lake Michigan , it was the home to millions of hard working Americans looking to better themselves. The Windy City was also shackled by its bootleg history, a time of violent gang wars that had permanently established a brutal underworld empire second to none. Corruption was the order of the day and both the police and government were in the pay of the mob bosses.



Frank “Mac” McCullough was a foot-soldier in one of the city’s toughest families until he was ordered to rough up his uncle; a decent man with a gambling problem. The innate decency in Mac rebelled and suddenly he found himself up against the very men he had once admired and followed. Determined to put an end to their lawlessness, he put a bag over his head as a crude disguise only to become labeled the Bagman by the press.



Now writer B.C. Bell tells the amazing stories of old Chicago ’s most unique hero. Aided solely by a tough, black WW I veteran named Crankshaft, Mac wages war against the mobs in these fast pace, non-stop action tales pulp fans will cheer.



“ Bell ’s writing is a terrific mix of pulp action and wry humor,” applauds Airship 27 Productions’ Ron Fortier. “It’s really a breath of fresh air in the pulp genre and we know our fans are going to love the Bagman.”



Designed by Rob Davis, the book features nine illustrations by Kelly Everaert and a gorgeous cover by Laura Givens. Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present pulpdom’s newest avenger, The Bagman.



ISBN: 1-934935-76-X

ISBN 13: 978-1-934935-76-7

Produced by Airship 27

Published by Cornerstone Book Publishers




The White Goddess.


This classic literature book provides some intriguing explorations of the role of the poet, myth and creative expression in European history. In the 1948 White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth, poet Robert Graves, makes some interesting notes that are suitable for recall in this season of ghosts, goblins and witches galore.



Graves saw the Goddess of ancient times as a "lovely slender woman with a hooked nose, deathly pale, lips red as rowan-berries, startlingly blue eyes and long fair hair..." (pg.24). Her ability to transform herself into other forms is well known and in Ghost tales, he says, "she often figures as the "White Lady" and in ancient religious traditions "from the British Isles to the Caucasus" she is the 'White Goddess'.


He says every true poet from Homer forward has expressed some encounter with her because:


"The reason why the hairs stand on end, the eyes water, the throat is constricted , the skin crawls, and a shiver runs down the spine when one writes or reads a true poem is that a true poem is necessarily an invocation of the White Goddess or Muse, the Mother of All Living Things, the ancient power of fright and lust - the female spider or the queen-bee whose embrace is death."(pg. 24)


It is interesting to note the prevalence in ancient myth of damsels, sirens, and characters of note who match that description. In some of the myths the Grimm brothers collected can be heard the faint echo of that ancient presence in the lovely maiden or the plotting vicious queen. Always there is the lingering element of respect and strength of woman and the Goddess she reflects.


For Graves the ancient poetry was the wild spinning top, an art form less concerned with form than experience. The further one progresses into the controlled and pedantic period of Rome forward into modern times, the greater the emphasis on form and content. In claiming to 'master' the art form, the guardian child of the ancient Muse and Goddess, the more soulless and lackluster the works, according to Graves, and the more dependent they become on over romanticism and long sections of poetic atmosphere. He wrote his own paen to her in The White Goddess, a poem found in a collection of his work.


So, as one explores the classic ghostly legends, Wilkie's Woman in White, and so many others, give a nod to the ancients whose poets, storytellers, bards, fili, derwydd, and ollaves, in poems, songs, and recitations at court and in humble hearth preserved the symbols and the stories. The great goddess who wooed humanity for centuries. In seeing those infamous flying witches and hooked nose women with rosy lips recall that the Muse who may have inspired them all also had a less friendly side. This duality of nature, so reflective of the male and female and the human psyche itself, it no doubt what has driven this mythic core for so long. We do not understand ourselves and so the Goddess remains an elusive, tantalizing, mystery.


Graves, Robert. The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. Amended and enlarged version. Farrar, Straus, and Girous, 1948. However, a version is still available at Amazon.).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

HOUSES AS METAPHOR


For many eons the house has been a metaphor of the workings of the inner being, what today might be glibly termed the psyche or the ID. Dreams of houses were intuitively understood to be houses inside the mind or the soul, reflections of a larger world writ small enough to examine and control.

The dream:
The dream was a study in black, white, and yellow. A pitch black night, a long grey sidewalk, a pool of amber light from a old iron light, large shiny black double gates with a large golden crest of indeterminate design, a grey mansion in the distance with lights glowing warm in butter tones of welcome and warmth. The girl is dressed extremely fashionable and senses the clothing means something but has no glue why; sports hounds-tooth jacket dress, shiny yellow shoes, and headband. She senses she must go to the house, but has no clue how to enter the gate. She looks around but sees no one and stands alone in a vast dark night in a glowing circle of golden lamplight looking through gates at the gray mansion with its inviting muted lights.

The dream:
The dream always started by going into the house via the old fashioned sidewalk, crossing the white rail ringed porch to enter the tidy front rooms. Over the course of the dream, the woman went up stairs, up other stairs into spaces cramped and clogged by furniture and boxes. Into an attic filled with boxes, trunks, and things. Then ladders rose high into wooden beamed ceilings with more attic space and then more ladders….

Many have seen this metaphor as useful for exploring social taboos and the thin line separating mad from bad. Some have seen it as a therapeutic means for self-discovery or personal development. Authors have applied it to many works. From Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting” to Stephen King’s, ‘Salem’s Lot and ‘Rose Red’, the house is portrayed as an active main character both concealing and revealing plot.

The dream:
Each night when I want to calm down and get some sleep, I picture a dream house. This is usually an old bungalow or Victorian. I begin the process of cleaning it, painting it’s tan walls, adding curtains or rugs. Sometimes I find that my mind has sought out discovery of hidden panels or secret stairs; vast rooms and treasures are unearthed. Beauty hidden waiting for me to discover and value it…

How ancient the draw of the soul to the home? Homer’s hero sought nothing so much as to finally just reach his home. The entire journey can be seen as a peon to individualism and, as a metaphor, for all personal journeys of self-discovery, one of self- actualization as well. Homer penned his work ca 800 B.C. indicating the deep and long lasting desire of the human mind for its own journey home, to enter the gates, gain welcome, and dive deeply into the inner self to clean away cobwebs. Or, as the last dreamer reveals, we set about gaining control to manipulate (improve) the houses. We are all, regardless of starting place or destination, seeking to put our own personal houses in some sort of order.

#links

#links
Outstanding list of 'meaty' books to read.