17 April 2016

Spirits and the Stars

Gordon's Star.Ships will probably make you angry. Doubly so if you've spent any time navigating the intricacies of academic bureaucracy. There is something almost Gnostic Demiurge or archon-like with the ways political ideologies, inflated egos, and outright racism and sexism poison and choke scientific findings. It's frankly infuriating to even imagine how much information has been stifled, nipped in the bud, misrepresented, and often entirely reconstructed all for the purpose of appeasing someone's greed or worldview. In shining a light on the legacy of spirit-human contact, redrawing the numbers on our dating of the origins of various beliefs and practices, and obliterating the dogma of materialism, Gordon gives his readers millions of reasons to smile and look to the skies with awe. This book will make you angry in the same way learning virtually anything about political history will make you angry, but unlike politics it will make you beam and cherish your humanity as well.

Honestly I've read this book three times now and if it weren't for my massive to-read pile of new books I'd no doubt go at it again. It's a fantastic work, no doubt, but probably my favourite thing about it is how much more I learned once I put it down. All those highlights and sticky notes mark long hours spent googling, reading on JSTOR, and perusing news stories to both expand on ideas mentioned, fact-check passages, and stare at pictures of excavation sites. Gordon's push for re-contextualization as opposed to reconstruction is critical—I definitely see this book as the twice-removed cousin of Jake Stratton-Kent's Encyclopedia Goetica trilogy. Western magic is ancient, our ancestors were just as sophisticated and intelligent as we are, and their mythologies are our mythologies; their stars our stars. The author did a lot more than just his homework, but take him up to the challenge and verify the pages anyway. You'll be glad you did.

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