Eruditorum Presscast: Sam Keeper (Neoreaction a Basilisk 3)
For the third of our series of Neoreaction a Basilisk (currently available on Kickstarter) podcasts I’m joined by Sam Keeper of the thoroughly phenomenal site Storming the Ivory Tower for a conversation that talks a lot about the structural aspects of the book, as well as my secret traumatic origin story that explains my weird obsession with the alt-right. It’s an absolute blast of a podcast, as you’d expect from someone as brilliant as Sam (and seriously, Sam is one of the best and smartest voices in the quasi-academic pop culture blogging circuit right now).
That’s for download right here.
The Kickstarter also hit $9000 last night, which means that “The Blind All-Seeing Eye of Gamergate” will be going up on the blog when I finish writing it, and that the next stretch goal is “Lizard People, Dear Reader.” Which is another essay I’ve not thought too much about, but I promised that if we hit $9k yesterday I’d offer some disorganized thoughts about it, so here goes.
The basic topic is something I’ve wanted to play with for a while, just because I’ve always had a soft spot for weird Illuminati conspiracy theories. And the lizard people conspiracy theories are some of the best. I mean, how can you not love theories that say the world is secretly run by lizard people? But although the piece will start with lizard people, it’s really my big conspiracy theories essay, which just feels like a natural fit for a book about eschatology.
In a lot of ways it’s easiest to talk about what I don’t want to do. I’m still going back and forth over how much Robert Anton Wilson to put in. Wilson’s fantastic and obviously a huge touchstone for this sort of thing, but he’s such a huge touchstone that he feels almost overdone. I also did a fun little bit on the Illuminatus Trilogy in TARDIS Eruditorum Volume 4, so I’m loathe to go back. So yeah, I think I just talked myself out of Wilson.
Another thing I want to avoid is duplicating “The Blind All-Seeing Eye of Gamergate,” which is about a particular kind of paranoia and dodgy reasoning that you can certainly find in lizard people conspiracy theories. So not an essay that’s based on close-reading David Icke, and certainly not a debunking type essay. I also don’t want to get into “what does it all mean,” not least because the answer tends to just be “it’s antisemitism with the serial numbers filed off.”
So that’s the obvious angles to avoid. As for what I do want to do… since the Kickstarter began, I’ve found myself mindful of the way in which Glycon is kind of a tangible absence in the text. I mean, here I am talking about serpents and philosophical horror and I don’t have any Glycon. And part of that is just that I wanted to talk about new stuff in Neoreaction a Basilisk, but the omission grates. I’m tempted to try to make an opposition between lizard people and Glycon – two very different models for how reptiles secretly control the world. And that might tie in with one of the things that’s always interested me about this sort of conspiracy theory, which is the way in which it posits the major action of the Illuminati as signalling its existence via symbols hidden in pop music and the like, as opposed to actually ruling.
Which gets at one interesting angle in, and one that is a fundamental problem for any conspiracy theory, which is that any secret masters in charge of the world have to be said to be doing an absolutely shit job of it. Which Moore becomes a good angle in for, due to his “the world is rudderless” observation in the wake of “Brought to Light.” So probably, unless I completely change my mind, it’ll end up being an essay on the basic idea of “running the world” that talks about snakes and lizards a lot.
Possible opening: “David Icke’s claim that the world was run by a cabal of extra-dimensional lizard people is, of course, ridiculous. But as anyone who’s seen the inside of a department meeting can tell you, it’s still more plausible than the idea that academia runs the world, so let’s go with it.”
So if that’s a thing you want to read the next sentence of and you haven’t backed the Kickstarter yet, well, get to it.
May 18, 2016 @ 10:28 am
“was run” or “is run”?
Anthony D Herrera
May 18, 2016 @ 10:29 am
One of my Facebook memories for today reminded me of an encounter I had with an old white guy in New York who claimed to be the greatest rapper in the world and that he could teach me to rap in Japanese in 5 minutes if I paid him which I didn’t. He also talked at great length about the Illuminati and a lot of it was confused but his conclusion was that they were real, they were why his rap career never took off, and that they were “messed up sci-fi writers fucked up on pussy weed” and he was the first person to ever tell me that Beyonce and Jay-Z were Illuminati. This surprised me because at that point all I knew about the Illuminati was what I had learned from Jon Ronson’s The Secret Rulers Of The World and I just sort of assumed it was an all white organization. But when I brought up the incident to a co-worker he laughed at most everything except when I mentioned Jay-Z and Beyonce and he just calmly said, “Well, yeah, they are Illuminati. That’s not even a secret.”
Oh and as the old rapper got on his bus he shouted to me to tell as many people as I could that rap was invented in Harlem and not the South Bronx so this last part is for him.
May 18, 2016 @ 10:37 am
any secret masters in charge of the world have to be said to be doing an absolutely shit job of it
Yeah, my default quick response to any world-government conspiracy theory is besically climate change. If there was actually anybody at the wheel, we’d have steered away from the cliff by now. The fundamental, civilisation-ending problem with the global capitalist order is that it’s not run by a conspiracy, reptilian or otherwise.
May 18, 2016 @ 5:10 pm
I suspect that the appeal of conspiracy theories is that adherents can get the sense they’re doing something edgy while actually reassuring themselves. Evil is more appealing than useless. It’s like the way a child’s mind can settle into the idea of an all-powerful, all-knowing oppressive parent more readily than they can an indifferent or clueless parent who’s only in some nominal sort of charge.
May 26, 2016 @ 12:32 am
‘my default quick response to any world-government conspiracy theory is besically climate change’.
See, they’ve fooled you. AGW is the Lizard People getting us to do their terraforming for them. They want a hotter planet with an altered Neo-Eocene atmosphere.
(There’s at least one old SF story from the early 1970s with exactly this theme by Theodore Sturgeon.)
May 18, 2016 @ 1:22 pm
Oh, could we have a digression into the classic children’s TV show, Land of the Lost? Please? Pretty please? Because this is definitive proof that lizard people have been ruling the world since the Silurians went underground. Plus, there’s time travel. And a catchy tune.
Of course, “lizard people” makes much more sense when taken as a metaphor. As in, the world is ruled by people who are most beholden to the reptilian structures of their brains, easily bypassing the limbic systems where emotional content is actually generated and processed. So there’s that.
Also, how about a shout-out to They Live? If we’re ruled by lizard-people, might as well be alien lizard people.
May 18, 2016 @ 1:22 pm
Well Lizardfolk are true neutral on average. Which is better than I can say for any of our current world leaders.
May 18, 2016 @ 2:52 pm
I wanted to put this comment as a reply to Aylwin’s, but the recaptcha says “ERROR for site owner: Stoken expired”. This happens much more often than I’d like when I want to reply to a comment here, which is to say, it happens at all. So here goes.
1) Actually, two different conspiracy theories have incorporated the fucking of the environment as a feature of, not a bug in, Their plans.
a) In Nova Express, William S. Burroughs explains it as the Green Deal, whereby the “boards syndicates and governments of the Earth” will fill all the lifeboats leaving “this dead whistle stop planet” (Women, children, Red Indians, spacemen, and a sort of idealised version of the complete Renaissance man first) “and leave ‘their human dogs’ under the white hot skies of” a planet where lead melts at high noon and the Captive Heads are carried through the Brass and Copper Streets to Death in Centipede and Total Disposal in the Nova Ovens, at the behest of a trust of insect viruses from another galaxy.
b) In a similar vein, “‘Bob’ and the Oxygen Wars,” alternative-energy and -medicine peddler Waves Forest’s contribution to the Three-Fisted Tales of “Bob”: short stories in the SubGenius mythos anthology, posits that the human race in general, and the ruling class in particular, has been subconsciously hijacked by a collective consciousness of anaerobic microbes whose goal is to reverse the Oxygen Catastrophe, and who are using us to that end in the same way the brainworm, or the Cordyceps fungus, uses the ant.
c) So what we have here might be called the Germ Theory of Conspiracy.
2) The tagline I’m seeing, for the first time that I can recall, is “Massively popular among unpopular people”. I don’t know how you keep coming up with them, but please keep it up as long as you can.
May 18, 2016 @ 4:24 pm
Ah, so the problem with the lizard theory is that it’s too unimaginative.
When I get miStokened, I copy my comment and then click Reply, which brings up the Recaptcha again, then paste and post.
May 18, 2016 @ 8:03 pm
I’m getting “Crashlog of the Singularity,” which is beautiful. And then I had to redo the comment because I was miStoken, and now I’m getting “Cuck the police.” I think they just added a bunch of new ones.
May 18, 2016 @ 5:51 pm
I can’t remember which EDA it was in – probably one of Lance Parkin’s – but there’s a lovely scene of a superspy reflecting on the idea of Secret Masters of the World with the punchline something like “He was aware of five groups who thought it was them. Of course, that didn’t mean one of them wasn’t right.”
May 18, 2016 @ 8:08 pm
Back in high school, my friends and I worked out a long, convoluted plot for an RPG that we never actually remotely got close to making, as you do. It included two distinct secret societies that ruled the world from behind the scenes, and were at war with each other. Each was led by an even more secret council within the secret society, and neither of the two warring societies was aware that there was actually only one council manipulating both of them.
Except actually the whole thing was REALLY being manipulated by the council’s stenographer, who operated by slipping orders of his own into the meeting minutes.
May 18, 2016 @ 7:15 pm
One of the most interesting things avout David Icke is – apart from the whole goalkeeper to sport commentator to messiah to conspiracy nut trajectory – is that you can trace his Secret Rulers of the World thing pretty solidly back through the New Age movement; aliens among us guiding mankind is a big deal back from writers like Murry Hope (with her Cat People from Siriun) all the way to Blavatsky and mostly it’s thought of as a good thing. A lot of New Ages welcome their alien Icke, after breaking with his new age contemporaries and leaving the messiah thing behind, makes it toxic, frightening, a thing to be genuinely afraid of. And that’s interesting. He flipped without really changing beliefs. That includes the racism, the alien masters narrative always has coded racism in it.
May 18, 2016 @ 7:17 pm
He’s the Nick Land of Lizard People.
May 18, 2016 @ 7:54 pm
May 18, 2016 @ 8:10 pm
a fundamental problem for any conspiracy theory, which is that any secret masters in charge of the world have to be said to be doing an absolutely shit job of it.
IS that a problem, or is it part of the point?
I’ve always suspected that part of the attraction of a conspiracy theory is that, to a certain kind of personality, the idea that my life sucks because the world is being run by incompetent/evil secret masters is preferable to the idea that my life sucks because life is terrifyingly random and unfair.
May 19, 2016 @ 1:55 am
I’ve always suspected that the reason so many smart people become conspiracy theorists is the reason I spend so much time as one — because for all that Admiral Bob warns against “attribut[ing] conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity”, any sufficiently advanced stupidity has results indistinguishable from those of villainy. Moreover, any sufficiently advanced stupidity would seem incapable of sustaining itself, or its species, for as long as humans have stayed on the evolutionary stage.
May 20, 2016 @ 9:45 am
The Phil Sandifer origin story blew my mind. You two should podcast more often, this is a brilliant conversation.
May 20, 2016 @ 3:52 pm
Agree completely. Sam’s really interesting and her particular interests pushed the conversation in good directions.