Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review: Twilight of The Gods

Kenn Thomas,

"And in December 2012, the gods will return from their long journey and appear again here on Earth. At least that is what the Mayan calendar, and Mayan written and oral lore, would have us believe. The so-called gods-in other words, the extraterrestrials-will come again. We're in store for a 'god shock' of major proportions."

Ah, it's good to have Erich Von Daniken still out there promoting his "paleocontact" theory. Chariots of the Gods? First appeared in 1968 and since then entire generations of enthusiasts for this material, as well as many Carl Sagan skeptical scientist types condemning it, have come and gone. Von Daniken himself suffered years in jail on tax fraud charges-- not pursued in court until after the publication of his first book-- and over the years has been caught up short over several projects promising proof of the idea that primitive man encountered advanced extraterrestrials. About these things these days he seems contrite, even self-deprecating, while still standing four-square behind the overall thesis.

In Twilight of The Gods, von Daniken sets out again to offer proof of it in the strata of the Puma Punku remains in the Bolivian Andes, a few miles southwest of the city of Tiwanaku, by legend constructed in a single night by space gods. The place contains enormous, precision cut stone blocks, apparently machine tooled by a culture that created an astronomical calendar reflecting 15,000 years of history.

Why do few people know about this, asks Von Daniken? "Is there some sort of conspiracy going on?" As a matter of fact, the space gods theory lately has been getting much more attention with the appearance of cable TV shows like Ancient Aliens, upon which Von Daniken has recently appeared, along with the likes of Christopher Dunn, the engineer who has done much work pointing out similar anomalies in the ruins of ancient Egypt; and David Hatcher Childress, whose publishing house for this kind of thing virtually makes him Von Daniken squared. Von Daniken's endurance in the popular paraculture does, in fact, speaks to the ongoing value of the questions he raises, and he does underscore again in this book the question mark in the title of his most famous.

Many scoff at the idea as unscientific, although scientists as respected as DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick have accepted and even championed the idea of "directed panspermia" as scientifically sound. Von Daniken's critics also have called him racist, or at least willfully ignorant of the authentic accomplishments of ancient human civilizations. Few doubt, however, that space god theory is at least an entertaining way to speculate. Witness, for instance, the enormous hardback reprint of Jack Kirby's comics series The Eternals, originally called Return of the Gods before legal fears stepped in. Kirby took Von Daniken's ideas in directions never intended, as do almost all of Von Daniken's readers and supporters.

More than just entertainment, Von Daniken's ongoing presence in pop culture is an occasion to learn and review little known facts about parapolitical history. Von Daniken begins Twilight of the Gods with "World Ice Theory" the proto- Nazi occult belief of Hans Horbiger Welteislehre. In 1894 Welteishire invented a new type of valve essential for compressors still in widespread use today, no small accomplishment in the history of technology. But Von Daniken condemns Nazi racism and describes moon hoax theories as "anti-Americanism", but mentioning that Paperclip Nazis he knew like Werner Von Braun who worked on the moon program as all "honorable men." Thus, Twilight of the Gods returns students of conspiracy to a familiar modern moral quagmire, giving the book a dimension not found in the discussion it renews on the mysteries of Tiwanaku and other aspects panspermia that academia just wants to ignore.


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