Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Cult of Alien Gods

A package arrived at the house yesterday.  No, not the kind that I normally see dropped off by a MIB who then speeds away in a late model black Cadillac.  This time, it was a book sent to me by my brother.
It is called The Cult of Alien Gods: H.P. Lovecraft and Extraterrestrial Pop Culture by Jason Colavito.  I was previously unaware of this book's existence, but my brother obviously knew me well enough  to recognize the obvious equation of "alien visitation+H.P. Lovecraft=Jonny must have this."
I have already made a cursory perusal of the text, but I have not sat down to read it all the way through.  Nevertheless, I could not resist blogging about it.  I will post a full-length review when I finally get to it in my long line of "need to read" books, but for now...first impressions.
The subject matter at hand in Colavito's text is that of the ancient astronaut theory, but he is not expounding upon the claims of von Daniken nor is he proclaiming his own find in so-called "alternative archeology."  Rather, he is arguing that the ancient astronaut theory is rooted far more in fiction than it is in any kind of evidence.  No fiction writer had a greater influence in this regard than legendary horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft.  As any reader of his no doubt knows, Lovecraft's work was chock full of eldritch, occult gods that came to this world in ancient times with the intent to conquer and enslave all of humanity.  They had names like Dagon, Yog-Sothoth, and of course...Cthulhu.  They had their share of worshipers, but now they sleep in the depths, dreaming and waiting.  
Colavito examines the literature of Lovecraft as a whole and demonstrates the direct and distinct parallels between "elder gods" stories published in the 1920s and a bevy of Fortean concepts in the current day.  Concepts such as visitors from space who altered human history in the distant past and shadowy beings who abduct and genetically alter humans.
Just glancing at the table of contents, it seems that Colavito built a sound skeletal structure for the book.  He begins with a preface, then moves on to a baseline familiarity of Lovecraft's writing and the Cthulhu mythos, then demonstrates the crossover into ancient astronaut theory and most intriguing of all, the ties to modern UFO lore.  But it was the first few pages of the preface that grabbed me and I found myself reading all 20 pages right there on the spot, sitting in my living room with one shoe on and one shoe off, my work bag still plopped at my side.  
The preface was almost entirely concerned with Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.  Though mainly a skeptic like Colavito, Serling was a big fan of Lovecraft and worked in the concepts of ancient gods and lost civilizations on several occasions.  One need only take a look at the script he wrote for the original Planet of the Apes to see this.  Remains of a forgotten human civilization are found, but this time it is by strangers (the apes).  Not too difficult to see the connection.
The matter deepens when Serling's longtime producer came to him one day with information regarding the ancient astronauts hypothesis.  "Rod," he said.  "I think it's real.  I think I can prove Earth was visited by intelligent life from outer space."  I'll save the remaining details for a formal review of the book, but suffice to say that Serling's involvement winds its way into In Search Of... with Leonard Nimoy.  Geek heaven!!!
Mr. Colavito is most unambiguously a skeptic.  Despite the things he has to say about aliens and UFO cases like that of Barney and Betty Hill, I still find his point of view refreshing.  I embrace skepticism, for it is only through that filter that the truth can finally be proven.  I for one have never been a big fan of the ancient astronaut theory, so if someone wants to blast holes in it, I'm happy to watch.  
And if they base their argument upon the writings of H.P. Lovecraft, himself a skeptic, well, then that's just sauce for the goose.
More to come.

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