I approached this genuinely weird book with an openness to its weirdness and a commitment to dealing with the author's eccentric style. I figured thosI approached this genuinely weird book with an openness to its weirdness and a commitment to dealing with the author's eccentric style. I figured those attitudes are essential to dealing with any sort of spiritual, hermetic, or occult work, and this book is, or at least repeatedly purports to be, both such a work (a true labor of love) and a facilitator of similar drive, dedication, and devotion in the reader. I hope the author releases a paperback version of this book, on slightly more textured paper, as a "grown-up" coloring book. After all, what better to way to engage with this creative work other than with a creative response?
As for my wife, she loved the cover so she picked the book up, flipped through a couple pages, and put then hurriedly it down in near horror. I think it gave her an instantaneous migraine; she said she was overwhelmed by the black and white illustration, after seeing the colorful cover and expecting, well, color. We agreed that this book would work better as a coloring book.
I need to buy my own copy and color the blessed thing!
I have enjoyed books about ghosts and the supernatural since I was a young child, but the older I get the less I tend to believeHalloween 2014 book #4
I have enjoyed books about ghosts and the supernatural since I was a young child, but the older I get the less I tend to believe that these stories describe real events. Usually. This book is unique among all the ghost story books I have read in that it doesn't simply relate ghostly accounts with a shrug and a "judge for yourself" attitude. Instead, Steiger asserts that, based on his half-century of experience as a paranormal researcher, not only are ghosts, poltergeists and malevolent disembodied entities real, but that they also offer substantial evidence for the existence of life after death and also for the existence of an entire ecology of non-embodied intelligences. I shouldn't have been surprised, given that the book's title begins with the phrase "real ghosts", but sometimes those sorts of things are lost on me, at least initially.
While I personally prefer the suggestive ambiguity of Will Storr's ghost book, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed Steiger's accounts. I was also very moved (and honestly somewhat taken aback by being so moved) at the accounts of ghosts visiting and looking after loved ones. (I thought a lot about my own family, and what I would do if I "stuck around" after shuffling off the mortal coil.) The accounts of mediums and channeling were pretty tedious and the messages of the channeled entities boiled down to vanilla and New Agey platitudes; as Terence McKenna said, "Just because they're dead doesn't mean they're smart." The majority of the other stories, though, even retellings of classic accounts such as the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, were pretty fun and occasionally creepy. Particularly in light of their possible, if improbable, implications... ...more
As I noted while reading it, this book is at once a page-turner and a slog. It's a page-turner in large part because chapters are so short and the entAs I noted while reading it, this book is at once a page-turner and a slog. It's a page-turner in large part because chapters are so short and the entire thing is plotted and written like a Michael Bay movie. That latter analogy may be why it is such a slog. Because a book written like this shouldn't be 500+ pages long. And Brown's writing in this book is even worse than The Da Vinci Code, something I wouldn't have thought possible. Each commercial-length chapter ends with a fake cliffhanger where the character sees something very important that is not described for the reader and that cannot be inferred from the context. Guess I'll just have to turn the page to find out just what that thing is in the box. This is not real suspense, but suspense for dummies (i.e., suspense of the "I'll tell you later" variety). It kept reminding me of Lost in the way that it never really resolved and questions were never really answered; in both cases, the gimmicky storytelling and perpetually deferred resolution rapidly grow tedious.
What makes it worse, though, is how obviously ignorant Dan Brown is about the actual subject matter of his book: from his tone deaf take on undergraduate lecture halls to his mistaken understanding of "noetic science" as an actual academic discipline, Brown obviously doesn't get it. It's like he skimmed a couple pop science-mysticism books (including The Field, which is a far better book than Brown's association with it might suggest), "contemplated" the latest spiritual musings from Oprah, mined Wikipedia for interesting factoids on Washington, D.C.'s Masonic architecture, and cut-and-pasted contemporary Masonic rhetoric from a couple websites on Freemasonry, without actually understanding much of what he was writing about. As beautifully summarized in this spot-on review, Dan Brown's writing is "a dumb guy’s idea of how smart people talk." ...more
I just read this for the second time. When I read it before, in late 1997 or early 1998, it didn't make an impression on me one way or another. I remeI just read this for the second time. When I read it before, in late 1997 or early 1998, it didn't make an impression on me one way or another. I remember reading it, but that's about it. This time around, I understood a lot more of the "occult," "esoteric," and "hermetic" references, and I also appreciated the unreliable narrator, the insights into the nature of conspiracy theory/religion/literature, and the delightfully ironic conclusion. Alas, it still didn't make that much of an impression. (I still haven't learned French, and was too lazy to look up translations of the French passages, though, so I'm still missing out on that aspect of the novel, which I am sure is critical. Maybe I will read it a third time, after I have mastered le français...) It isn't as much of a slog as it might appear, especially if you are into conspiracy theories and secret societies, but it isn't really a thriller either....more
Who wants our children? TSR? WoTC? Parker Brothers? Who wants our future? Gary Gygax? Weis and Hickman?"They want our children. They want our future."
Who wants our children? TSR? WoTC? Parker Brothers? Who wants our future? Gary Gygax? Weis and Hickman? That blurb on the back gives a sense of this book's paranoid tone. This book was written at the height of the role-playing scare (think Mazes and Monsters). The authors are honest enough to admit that D&D and other RPGs don't cause madness or suicide, although they take pains to point out that marginal and/or disturbed people can and do play D&D. It isn't mentioned that the marginal and disturbed can also watch television, eat chocolate, listen to Bach, and read the Bible.
RPGs are viewed with suspicion from the first page because they don't "take place on a board." (Oh my gosh. Video games don't either. Neither does tag. Or Twister. Yikes! The influence of the boardless game abounds!) In a very condescending tone, the authors continue: "Instead, you play in your head. In D&D the basic rule is, 'Use your imagination. Stretch it to the limit.' Game boards and little men can be so confining" (p. 2) Having grown up in a fundamentalist Christian home, I suspect that it is this reliance on and cultivation of one's imagination and creativity that threaten the authors. Anything that smacked of fantasy scared and even angered my folks, who had no problems believing in the literal, historical existence of a talking serpent. I don't think this is accidental; it is almost as if using your imagination fantastically makes the transparently mythical nature of much of the Biblical narratives readily apparent. Fundamentalists feel this cognitive dissonance and so want to cut it off at the root, which is to say, the creative imagination.
As well, the idea of "alignment," of being able to create and play chaotic and/or evil characters, disturbs the authors immensely. According to the authors this is because playing evil or chaotic characters molds one's mind and shapes one's inclinations so that the player slowly and subtly becomes evil and chaotic in real life. (Which is why Stephen King and Dean Koontz have basements filled with the buried corpses of their victims, and actors who play villains inevitably commit real crimes.) I think it is because the multi-axial alignment sytem in RPGs reveals that morality is complex and that there are different ways (not all good or skillful of course) of relating to situations. This is a direct challenge to the simplistic, dichotomous thinking that afflicts fundamentalism of every kind.
The authors are also bugged by the "central role" of magic users and clerics in most game systems, and they see RPGs as methods for indoctrinating children into occult practices. Evidently they mistake the Player's Handbook and the Dungeon Master's Guide for the Collected Works of Aleister Crowley or somesuch. You can tell how many standard deviations the authors' views are from the mean when they include the Smurfs and the Care Bears (!) in their inventory of occult influences in pop culture. In their list of suggested reading, the authors include the classic work of fundamentalist, "culture war" idiocy, Turmoil in the Toybox; this book famously claimed that Yoda introduced children to dangerous cults like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Judaism (the dangerous cult to which Jesus Himself belonged, according to that questionable source, the Bible).
I can't take the piss out of the authors completely. They actually had a few good points for Christian parents, like suggesting that they create a library of other options in terms of games, books, etc. They also listed quite a few good authors like C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. They also prefer "educating" kids about RPGs, rather than prohibiting them outright, which was a nice contrast to my experience. My parents unceremoniously threw my D&D materials in the trash after their pastor jumped on the "D&D = the occult = Satanism = Ozzy Osbourne = suicide" bandwagon of the late 70s/early 80s, and so I would have appreciated the authors' more nuanced (relatively speaking) approach.
That the authors haven't actually experienced a real game of D&D is painfully obvious. (The very fact that they wrote an absurd polemic against a game usually played by nerds/geeks/dorks, and not aspiring necromancers, says a lot!) They reveal their abject cluelessness about the game when they say that the "characters with magical powers are the most powerful players in the game" (p.8). Spoken like someone who has never played a first-level wizard with 4 hit points and a handful of magic missile spells....more
My dad made his living as a draftsman, designer, and fabricator of sheet metal. In addition he was, and remains, a devout Christian for whom the BibleMy dad made his living as a draftsman, designer, and fabricator of sheet metal. In addition he was, and remains, a devout Christian for whom the Bible is literal truth. For decades, he has combined these two interests in sketch after sketch in which he attempts to capture the exact proportions and dimensions of such esoteric structures the as Ark of Noah or the New Jerusalem.