Friday, August 20, 2010

Review: PARANOIA: The Conspiracy Reader, Volume 1

Kenn Thomas

Haha! This volume brings popular conspiracy lit full circle: many moons ago a square-bound conspiracy journal called Critique turned itself into a newsstand magazine, presaging the age of conzines, immediately preceding the explosion of conspiracy sites on the internet. PARANOIA became among the last holdouts of the hardcopy zines and now has returned to that pre-zine, Critique like format.

It's a good move from a credibility standpoint. For some reason, a square bound journal gets more respect than a lowly magazine that fits folded in any back pocket. It is sad, though, that the newsstands have one less product reflecting interest in parapolitics. Also sad in that clearly editors Joan D'Arc and Al Hidell made this decision for economic reasons. The newsstand demand had lowered to the point that the magazine was no longer financially feasible. Although a more attractive package, this POD production means a more limited circulation and by no means guarantees to resolve the money issue. Encouragement should go out to as many people as possible to order this in the hope of more volumes to follow.

Even neophytes would benefit from the broad selection of topics: the moon hoax and the Masons; 9/11 and Bin Laden; alien intelligence, scientology, the Necromicon--and who hasn't wondered about the conspiracy that was Tiny Tim? The explication is pretty advanced, though, so readers more familiar with the material also come away from the volume satisfied that they've added to their knowledge warehouse, which in this format looks more like a library than a magazine stand.

Yes, all readers could argue with every single thing in this journal/book. I've recently come to question the research capabilities of Anthony Bragalia and so cast a wary eye at his contribution; I also wonder about the credibility of yet another JFK jailhouse confession from a Robert MacKenzie found here; and certainly harder questions could have been asked of rightist Christ debunker Acharya S. But that's sort of the point--almost anything said about the contents of PARANOIA The Conspiracy Reader Volume One leads so far from the binary boredom of MSNBC/FOX, left/right pre-occupations that, with luck, the reader will never find a way back into the box.

No comments: