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Kripal

Mutants and Mystics:Science Fiction, Supergero Comics and the Paranormal
By Jeffrey J. Kripal University of Chicago Press, 2011

In many ways, twentieth-century America was the land of superheroes and science fiction. From Superman and Batman to the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, these pop-culture juggernauts, with their "powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men," thrilled readers and audiences—and simultaneously embodied a host of our dreams and fears about modern life and the onrushing future.

But that's just scratching the surface, says Jeffrey Kripal. In Mutants and Mystics, Kripal offers a brilliantly insightful account of how comic book heroes have helped their creators and fans alike explore and express a wealth of paranormal experiences ignored by mainstream science. Delving deeply into the work of major figures in the field—from Jack Kirby’s cosmic superhero sagas and Philip K. Dick’s futuristic head-trips to Alan Moore’s sex magic and Whitley Strieber’s communion with visitors—Kripal shows how creators turned to science fiction to convey the reality of the inexplicable and the paranormal they experienced in their lives.

Expanded consciousness found its language in the metaphors of sci-fi—incredible powers, unprecedented mutations, time-loops and vast intergalactic intelligences—and the deeper influences of mythology and religion that these in turn drew from; the wildly creative work that followed caught the imaginations of millions. Moving deftly from Cold War science and Fredric Wertham's anticomics crusade to gnostic revelation and alien abduction, Kripal spins out a hidden history of American culture, rich with mythical themes and shot through with an awareness that there are other realities far beyond our everyday understanding


 

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Edward Morgan Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy, “What I Believe” (1938)

I believe in aristocracy. . . — if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke. I give no examples — it is risky to do that — but the reader may as well consider whether this is the type of person he would like to meet and to be, and whether (going further with me) he would prefer that this type should not be an ascetic one.
I am against asceticism myself. I am with the old Scotsman who wanted less chastity and more delicacy. I do not feel that my aristocrats are a real aristocracy if they thwart their bodies, since bodies are the instruments through which we register and enjoy the world. Still, I do not insist. This is not a major point. It is clearly possible to be sensitive, considerate and plucky and yet be an ascetic too, and if anyone possesses the first three qualities I will let him in! On they go — an invincible army, yet not a victorious one. The aristocrats, the elect, the chosen, the Best People — all the words that describe them are false, and all attempts to organize them fail. Again and again Authority, seeing their value, has tried to net them and to utilize them as the Egyptian Priesthood or the Christian Church or the Chinese Civil Service or the Group Movement, or some other worthy stunt.
But they slip through the net and are gone; when the door is shut, they are no longer in the room; their temple, as one of them remarked, is the holiness of the Heart’s affections, and their kingdom, though they never possess it, is the wide-open world. [full chapter]  

President Abraham Lincoln, Nov 21, 1864 (letter to Col. William F. Elkins) 

I see in the near future a crisis approaching. It unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. The money power preys upon the nation in times of peace and conspires against it in times of adversity. It is more despotic than a monarchy, more insolent than autocracy, more selfish than bureaucracy. It denounces, as public enemies, all who question its methods or throw light upon its crimes.
I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me & the financial institutions at the rear; the latter is my greatest foe. Corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in the hands of a few, and the Republic is destroyed.

 

 

 

 

“Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.”
Democratic Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965), speech in Denver, Colo., September 5, 1952  
Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. - Mark Twain  
It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end. -Leonardo Da Vinci - The Notebooks
Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties. John Milton - Discourse 14, The Areopagitica, 1644 [full]
"Life itself, she thought, as she went upstairs to dress for dinner, was stranger than dreams and far, far more disordered"- Nancy Mitford (Christmas Pudding 1932)
When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle. - Edmund Burke, Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, 1770
I repeat ... that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that, from the people, and for the people, all springs, and all must exist. - Benjamin Disraeli, Vivian Grey, Ch. 7, 1826
The Bible is literature, not dogma - George Santayana, The Ethics of Spinoza, 1910
How many cares one loses when one decides not to be something but to be someone. - Coco Chanel
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the  difference. - American poet Robert Frost
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism. - Hubert Horatio Humphrey
Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. - Noel Langley, spoken by Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz, 1939
Don't be humble. You're not that great. - Golda Meir
Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted. - Aldous Huxley                      
And so the Princes fade from earth, scarce seen by souls of men. But tho' obscur'd, this is the form of the Angelic land -
- William Blake (1793) America A Prophecy.                                     
               
  



 

 

 

 

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