Fingerprints of the Gods (1 star)
I’ve always been fascinated by the world of constructed reality, whether it be conspiracy theory or pseduoscience or just general disinformation and propaganda. Fascinated in a “I hate this so much but can’t disengage because I must punish myself for some inexplicable reason” kind of way.
When I was in college, I spent an embarrassingly large amount of my free time arguing with young earth creationists on the internet. It so interested me that I wrote my thesis on creationism, science education in public schools, and the role anthropology (which is what I got me degree in) could play in the conflict.
I don’t know the first time I heard of Graham Hancock, but his ideas have been kicking around for decades. This book, his most famous, was initially published in 1995 to great academic scorn – which had absolutely no effect on sales. This book was a massive success. The first time I remember hearing about them was freshman year of college, twenty years ago. There was a documentary on The Discovery Channel about an ancient global civilization 20,000 years ago. It sounded like bullshit.
Because it is bullshit.
The fundamental idea, here, is that there was an ancient lost civilization centered in Antarctica over 10,000 years ago: Atlantis. The influence of this civilization can be seen in South America and Egypt, and in the flood myths of various cultures throughout human history. The necessary conceit is that academics are wrong about….just about everything. His evidence is scant, and heavily in favor of presenting “facts” dishonestly.
I had good intentions going into this. I didn’t expect to like it (and I wasn’t wrong), but I thought I might give a solid refutation of the Hancock’s claims. And then I got about halfway through the book and….just couldn’t be bothered to. Here‘s a skeptical website that covers some of Hancock’s claims.
Blood Meridian (3 stars)
I’ve tried reading this book three times, now. The first was after reading The Road….maybe 13 years ago. I didn’t get into it.
I tried again a couple years ago, this time listening to the audiobook. Narrators make or break audiobooks, and I’m not a huge fan of Richard Poe. But having just read No Country for Old Men, and loving it immensely, I wanted to give it another shot. It’s supposed to be his magnum opus.
I really tried, you guys. I got about a third of the way through it, but I just couldn’t finish it. Life is too short to read books that you aren’t enjoying – especially considering how many wonderful surprises there out waiting for you.
I was getting nothing out of this book. I didn’t care about any of the characters. I didn’t even care about the plot. I was vaguely intrigued by how closely it followed the real story of the Glanton Gang, but I simply wasn’t getting anything out of it.
First, there’s McCarthy’s writing. In The Road and No Country for Old Men, I could suffer through his refusal to write like a normal person familiar with the English language – but I really wanted punctuation, here. And in this book, less so than the other ones I’ve read, there just seemed to be endless description of landscapes (which can often be of unparalleled beauty and erudition) interspersed with sporadically violent encounters between the gang and Native Americans, or villages of random civilians.
This just didn’t read like “the great American novel”, even if everyone seems to agree that it absolutely is. Maybe I just don’t know what that phrase means.
I don’t know how many times I have to try reading a book before simply shrugging and moving on with my life – but I’ll probably give this another shot at some point.