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Your MindMatters hosts can't be hitting the books and reading non-fiction ALL the time! So on this week's show we'll be sharing some of the novels, movies and shows that, in our estimation, are insightful of the human condition, artful enough to be called something like literature - and entertaining enough to add a little joy to our days - and which are certainly worth discussing. And don't worry, we'll be mentioning some of the non-fiction books we've been looking at that satisfy those qualities as well, some of which we haven't discussed yet on previous shows, like the new, definitive book on the Manson murders, CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties; a truly revolutionary book on mythology, E.J. Michael Witzel's Origins of the World's Mythologies; and two recent books on the literary nature of the New Testament gospels and the classical works they imitated.

Running Time: 01:35:25

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Elan: Welcome back to Mind Matters folks. You could be doing anything else with your time right now, but instead you've chosen to watch our show and to listen to one of the best YouTube geek fests out there, conveying our thoughts on certain things. We enjoy doing it. We appreciate your listening to us. We love feedback and with that, I'll be telling you a little bit about today's show. We'll be discussing some of our favourite books, movies and shows so far that we've either watched or read in 2019. When a good show, book or novel is written or made with enough insight and artistry, you can say that it reaches a level of literature.

So I don't know if we can say that about everything we'll be discussing today and we'll probably be discussing some non-fiction as well, but the hope is that these works that we'll be discussing show some amount of insight into human nature, our human condition and add to us in a way that we usually conceive of only when we think of non-fiction books, books that are a little drier and filled with facts and explanations for science, history, psychology or whatever it is we usually discuss here on Mind Matters.

So having said that, I'd like to begin by bringing up a show that I've recently been watching that I've had my eye on for quite a while. It's called Babylon Berlin. It's a German program that originally got released on German TV in 2017. Babylon Berlin is a story about Germany's Weimar republic circa 1929. So this was the backdrop of all the conditions in Germany, societal, cultural, historical, economic and political, that gave rise to the Nazis and Hitler coming into power at the time.

I had known a little bit about the history of Germany in the Weimar republic for its famed hyperinflation period and the fact that there was a great deal of liberalism that reached hedonistic levels in the culture and society, especially in Berlin. Now the show centers around an inspector who comes from the city of Cologne who is sent to Berlin, we find out, in order to track down some film footage of either a mayor or a top official in Cologne who is being potentially blackmailed with some film of him in a very compromising position. So he's coming to Berlin and joining the Berlin police force, effectively, to join forces and help them, but really he's got an ulterior motive in the back of his mind, which is to find out where these films are and destroy them so that he can be a good lackey to the politician that he's loyal to in Cologne.

In the midst of following him to try and track down these sex films, you get to see really seedy side of Berlin, the cabarets, the prostitution, the hedonistic and lax behaviour. Along the way you find out that Berlin is subject to all of this political intrigue. You have Trotskyists, you have the Stalinist party that's got an embassy in Berlin with their own agenda, you have a right-wing, secretly forming German militia that doesn't like the way that WWI went down. There's a range of characters who all intersect and have various moral compasses and political goals.

So you have one police detective who is looking for a way to bolster this right-wing German militia group. You have industrialists that are seeking to fund it in secret. You have double-crossing, cross-dressing, cabaret singing communist women who are just all over the place in their intrigues. The show has a real gravity to it. If you've ever seen the adaptation of Graham Greene's The Third Man with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, it's got this grim, neo-noir feel to it. It is a crime thriller. But it's also very rich in detail. It's the most expensive television show that's ever been produced in Germany and the reason is that the filmmakers are taking great pains to recreate streets in Berlin and pay attention to period detail so that you really get a feel for what things looked like, what things felt like, and sounded like.

So that's appreciated as well as the fact that it's just a beautifully shot program. But my main curiosity and reason for wanting to see this program was because I heard it was excellent, but mainly to get a greater sense of what that time and place was like considering what we know ultimately grew out of that situation. In watching it I also thought quite a bit about where we are in the US today, what similarities or differences can be said to exist socially, culturally, politically, where you have this dichotomy of left-leaning thinking that has literally taken to the streets as well as what may be considered a totalitarian movement towards the right on the part of the military, even if it has this liberal veneer to it, "Bring more women soldiers" or "We're going to save people because women and children are getting killed" as opposed to "Everyone's getting killed".

So that's been a very strong driving force in my making the time to watch a show because I don't watch many shows or read many novels, but that was the motivation there. The show itself is produced by Tom Tykwer. He was a collaborator with the Wachowski brothers in producing the film Cloud Atlas, if anyone's seen it and liked it. I know a lot of people hated it. I thought it was terrific. I think he co-directed or directed one of the segments in the film. He's actually a creator of Babylon Berlin. What he says about the show is,

"At the time, people did not realize how absolutely unstable this new construction of society which the Weimar republic represented, was. It interested us because the fragility of democracy has been put to the test quite profoundly in recent years. By 1929 new opportunities were rising. Women had more possibilities to take part in society, especially in the labour market as Berlin became crowded with new thinking, new art, theatre, music and journalistic writing."

But he also adds,

"People tend to forget that it was also a very rough year in German history. There was a lot of poverty and people who had survived the war were suffering from a great deal of trauma."

The central character, Gereon Rath, is a surviving soldier from WWI and he's got an addiction to morphine. There's a certain respect paid to the pain of soldiers in Germany who had survived WWI only to be dismissed by a lot of the political class in Germany at the time. So that's addressed.

In the context of this neo-noir crime thriller that has a lot of resonance with the types of things that we're seeing in the US today, especially with what we've been reading about with Jeffrey Epstein and the fact that he may in fact have kept a lot of film on hand to blackmail people in positions of power, there's that whole theme as well. So I highly recommend the show. If you don't mind reading subtitles in German, if you like complex, nuanced explanations of human behaviour and political situations and what people do to voice their political agendas into fruition, it's a pretty marvelous program.

Harrison: I haven't watched that one yet but it sounds interesting. I want to check it out. I also want to watch the Russian show Trotsky. I've heard a lot of good things about that one but haven't watched it yet.

So to get to something that I actually have watched or read, you mentioned Graham Greene and just as a reference point for the feel of the film, I read one of Graham Greene's novels, not one of his spy novels. I read End of the Affair, which is one of his serious novels. He was in British intelligence I believe.

Elan: Yes.

Harrison: So that kind of inspired him, like the James Bond writer - what was his name?

Elan: Ian Fleming.

Harrison: Ian Fleming. He wrote a lot of spy fiction and he called them entertainments or something like that, the word for his less serious novels which were still critically acclaimed and read today. He wrote a ton of them but he also wrote several serious works of fiction that are still considered classics like End of the Affair, Power and the Glory, Heart of the Matter and a few others.

But I read End of the Affair which is about an affair. It's written in the first person. It's an affair with a civil servant's wife and the narrator is an author, almost a stand in for Graham Greene but I'd only go so far just because they're novelists. It's told in the first person and the narrative goes back and forth a bit. There are entire series of chapters that are journal entries that he finds and there's a private investigator that gets involved. I'd recommend it without giving too much away, well-written. Graham Greene's a great writer. Like all great novels, it really gets into the emotional lives and depths of the characters, really captures moments that, as Jordan Peterson calls them, distillations of human experience, even in a particular scene.

That's what I find when reading great literature. I'm currently reading and almost finished Crime and Punishment where in just a sentence or two, you could even take them out of context - the context probably contributes to the power of even a sentence, but every once in a while when reading Dostoevsky or Graham Greene, there'll be just a sentence that captures so much complexity and depth and insight that it's kind of mind-boggling that authors can do that, especially when a lot of times you get to know what the author is really like and they seem totally not as you'd expect or imagine them to be in real life. It turns out they're pretty much ordinary people but when they're writing they manage to dig into and grasp onto something that is really profound.

For me, that's the reason to read literature, to find those bits. A whole story will be worth it, just for a few of those moments when you capture something that really gets to the heart of what humans are like, what it's like to be human, the conflicts and the contradictory emotions that can be encapsulated in a single moment and captured in a single sentence. I haven't read very many novels this year. That was the only serious one.

I read a couple of science fiction novels as well. For science fiction fans. One of the authors isn't very well known but is highly regarded by other science fiction writers, that's R.A. Lafferty. Rafael Aloysius Rafferty I believe is his name. He was an American and just a great writer. One of Neil Gaiman's favourites, a favourite of many science fiction writers and fantasy writers. He's kind of like one of those forgotten legends who's well regarded by writers but hasn't really caught on among the general reading public.

I read one by him called Past Master which takes place in this future society on another world that's been colonized by humans and some things are going wrong with their society which is totally top-down controlled. Everything is laid out and controlled by the governing body and things aren't going very well. It turns out that there are regions of their great cities that have split off and there's crime and poverty but people are streaming towards the crime and poverty-ridden areas because there's something about the society that they don't like and something that they're yearning for.

So the masters decide to go back in time and bring someone back to be their figurehead to set things right and it's Thomas More. The funny thing is they bring back Thomas More and they're telling him, "We loved your book" essentially {laughter} Utopia and he says, "You guys realize it was a joke, right? I wasn't actually serious. I was pointing out how bad the utopian ideas are." And they respond, "Well that doesn't matter. Just do your thing."

Then he ends up being convinced by his own idea. It goes in a bunch of crazy directions because you don't really read Lafferty's stuff for the narrative, even though it's interesting. You just read him because of his sheer inventiveness. He's very strange. He's most well known, for those who know him, for his short stories. Just this year one of the big sci-fi publishing companies released a Best of R.A. Lafferty, each introduced by another sci-fi or fantasy author.

The thing about his short stories is that even they are uncategorizable. Some critic or another author characterized them as Lafferties. You can only call them Lafferties because they're so off the wall and crazy. So I'd recommend checking out some of his stuff. Again, there's some insightful stuff in there but it's totally unexpected. He's kind of like Borges or Calvino, totally unique. There's no one else like him.

The other one was by Jack Vance, a little bit more well known. He wrote The Chronicles of a Dying Earth, I think it was called, a series of novels. I started reading a short novel. It's part one in a series called The Demon Princes. What was the first one called? Star Man I think. If you look at the old covers, it's old sci-fi 60s covers with the cheesy artwork on the front. The way I describe this one is hard-boiled space bounty hunter kind of thing going on. Again, Jack Vance is one of George Martin's favourite authors. The thing that most people like about Vance is that even though he's writing science fiction, the language that he uses and the way that he writes is so rich. It is like reading some serious literature, but he's talking about a space bounty hunter going around and being followed by this race of super beings that no one has seen before. So it's kind of mysterious like Dashiell Hammett or a Chandler vibe going on at the same time.

So check out either of those if you like sci-fi. Then one more connection. You mentioned Babylon Berlin. It's one of the most expensive German productions. Another one is a German show called Dark, also very expensive. A couple of us here watched season 2 of that this year. That's probably one of my favourite shows that I've watched in the last few years.

Carolyn: It really makes you think. It's super intricately plotted and you have to keep track of the same characters in three iterations. So you have to really pay attention.

Harrison: Yeah. Basically the kids as they're babies, young children, teenagers or adults or elderly people because it takes place in three different time periods, expands to four, maybe five. It starts out with this Twin Peaks vibe with two missing kids. It's in this small German city and there's a mystery/missing persons vibe going on in the investigation. Slowly it starts getting more strange and paranormal until it brings in time travel stuff and gets very complex. But it all fits together very intricately. So if you're into sci-fi, I recommend checking that one out too.

Elan: Just two quick comments and then Carolyn we want to hear from you. One, I can't wait until you finish Crime and Punishment, Harrison, one of the all time most amazing novels ever written. It had a profound effect on me the first time I read it some time ago. The tears, the emotions, all kinds of things, not to set up anything and not to spoil anything. It's so delicious, if not harrowing. The entire story is horribly harrowing and 'edge of your seat' drama. I just wanted to mention that the Babylon Berlin show is actually based on a series of novels by a German author named Volker Kutscher, which I think is part of what makes it so good. The filmmakers had a lot to draw on. This was one of the virtues and benefits that Game of Thrones had for a very long time until the horrible last season. But we're not going to get into that today, I don't think.

Carolyn: We'll cut them a break and say they did the best they could.

Harrison: So what about you Carolyn?

Carolyn: Well I also did not read very much entertaining stuff. I will say that I was a big fan of the Philip Pullman series, his Dark Materials, which is The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. I enjoyed those tremendously. The internet had been buzzing for years that Pullman was working on additions to that storyline. So this year a prequel came out called The Book of Dust and what it does is follow Lyra. We meet her in The Golden Compass, she's already eight, running wild like a little animal through Oxford. The question was, why is she afforded so much license and who her protector is and everything.

So The Book of Dust is sort of her antecedents, where she was born, she was hidden away for a while. It's very biblical. Pullman is more or less a Gnostic so you can find all kinds of religious themes in there. She's hidden away in a convent. We don't quite know why. This little peasant boy is dragooned by persons unknown and charged with taking this infant to Oxford, a whole long adventure getting her there. It is the meeting of somewhat tangential characters in The Golden Compass in their beginnings and how they come to have their place in the next story.

I really enjoy it mostly. It's a bit tedious in some places, but if you carry through it's worth it. So that's a good one, especially if you're a Pullman fan and I hear that there's going to be two more after, so you left Lyra at 15, going back to Oxford. In the next one, I understand she's going to be 21, studying her alethiometer (truth-telling device) and more adventures after that. So I enjoyed that a lot.

Harrison: Later this year I believe, they're releasing an HBO adaptation.

Carolyn: And British-made and...

Harrison: HBO/BBC.

Carolyn: Yes!

Harrison: Joint production. The trailer looks pretty good.

Carolyn: It looks good.

Harrison: It's got high production value and James McAvoy. He's one of my favourites.

Elan: And if anyone has seen the 2006 Golden Compass...

Carolyn: A disastrous...

Elan: It was pretty horrible.

Carolyn: Ohhhh, they ruined it.

Elan: This promises to be a correction of what is probably one of the great science fiction fantasy books out there.

Carolyn: Yes. It's so brilliant, I don't know how these movie makers managed to mess it up, but they did, although Nicole Kidman was wasted. I thought she was brilliant. But they totally miscast Lyra and it just went downhill from there. It was awful. So fingers crossed that the BBC manages to do a better job. And you couldn't squash a book like that into a two-hour movie. You just couldn't. So the fact that it's a good 10 episodes...

Harrison: Who knows? It'll be around there.

Carolyn: Then you've got the space to do justice.

Elan: Yes and I think it's going to be one season per book.

Carolyn: Oh good!

Elan: Yeah. So they're really flushing it out.

Carolyn: Yay! Because they butchered it. The other thing I read for jollies, or actually re-read - I'm a big Terry Pratchett fan, I just love him. He is so funny, so literate and yet so wise. I re-read his young adult book or junior reader books, the Tiffany Aching series which starts out with The Wee Free Men. For all those SJW's, she's a strong heroine and you follow her from 8 to 18 as she takes her place in the land of Discworld which is itself - anybody who knows Discworld will know what I mean - and just the idea of watching her grow from a child and learning to be responsible. I don't know if he's ever read any Gurdjieff, but I find a lot of Gurdjieff in there, this idea of observing yourself from the outside, the idea of service. Tiffany makes herself a witch, but a witch in Pratchett's world is more like the one who takes responsibility for their village, their croft, he calls it.

So you are the herbalist. You are the headologist, which is his term for psychology. You've got to be an expert in headology if you want to be a good witch.

Elan: Oh, I like that!

Carolyn: Pratchett is full of wonderful things like that. But her very first act on her road to being a witch, is the fact that her little brother is stolen away by fairies. She doesn't like her little brother that much because he's kind of a pain and sticky and dirty and annoying, but after a while she notices her parents are super busy. They haven't noticed that he has disappeared and she knows how he has disappeared so it's her responsibility. She decides to go and rescue him and she takes a bit cast iron pan and goes off to rescue her brother because someone has to. That's the whole idea through the book, that it may not be your fault but it is your responsibility, this idea that it may not be our fault but we are all responsible for each other. It's very, very lovely. It's a great series and hilarious.

Harrison: Is that the one that starts with Wee Free Men?

Carolyn: Yes.

Harrison: Yeah, the Tiffany Aching series. I'm showing it on Good Reads right now. It looks like there's five volumes?

Carolyn: Five books. He has a lot of fun with the Scots. But Pratchett is another one who I guess like Lafferty is very inventive. He has this really skewed way of looking at the world. The entire Discworld is a skewed vision of our world, including there's a rumor going around on Discworld, this crazy, insane notion, that there is a round world! There's round-worlders! They're just off their rockers. {laughter} So it's a fun one. It's nice to have. Things are so crazy these days, it's nice to have a little airing out for your brain.

Elan: Well I don't quite often read westerns, but some 30-odd years ago there was a mini-series on TV called Lonesome Dove that had Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones and Danny Glover and a host of other actors, Robert Urich, Diane Lane...

Carolyn: Oh my, everybody!

Elan: Yeah, it was a very good cast, Anjelica Houston. I remember being really impressed by it but not remembering much of it. I don't know exactly what possessed me to get it. I think I'd heard, again, that that mini-series was based on a novel that had won a Pulitzer or that Larry McMurtry the writer had won a Pulitzer for his body of work. I don't quite remember which.

Anyway, I decided to pick up and read Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. If you haven't heard about it, it's just a story about two former Texas rangers, Gus and Call who have always been partners in their lives. They're in their mid-50s. They break in horses in a little town of Lonesome Dove, Texas. So they're used to dealing with bandits. They're highly competent and trained to rat out violent Indians, which is what they did for most of their career. A former ranger friend of theirs, Jake Spoon, comes out of nowhere one day and tells Call about Montana and how if you can manage to bring all of these cattle up there, you can claim a whole lot of land and become very rich in a few short years because you have all of these settlers coming into this region of the US, which is during the 1870s or so (I think).

In any case, you have Call, who is this guy who works 18 hours a day, makes all of his hands work 18 hours a day, a really hard worker, and you have Gus, who sits by the porch and drinks whiskey all day long. And yet they have this partnership and decide, mainly at the behest of Call, that they're going to do this. They're going to sneak into Mexico and into parts of Texas and they're going to steal a bunch of cattle from another cattle thief who's next to them {laughter} and they're going to take these 3,000 head or so and travel for several months and go up to Montana.

It is one of the richest novels that I think I've ever read because it gets into what these guys' motivations really are and a deep questioning of themselves and why they've done what they've done with their lives because they've had a good period of time to look back on their careers as Texas rangers and what they're about to embark on and what they do embark on and they're not all that sure. So there's a great deal of questioning involved in their personal histories and in their interactions with one another. And on the subject of taking personal responsibility, there's one subplot that involves the kidnapping of a woman who is peripherally connected to this big drive up north. Call decides that he's going to be the one, since he knows her, to rescue her, which requires hundreds of miles in the desert pursuing this Indian who has kidnapped this woman. So he acts quite heroically.

I've never been a big fan of the western genre. There are a handful of westerns that I've liked watching on film, but when it's done really well, there is this element of direct interaction with the environment since it's so harsh, with hostiles, whether they be thieves or the military requisitioning anything they want, or Indians who feel like the white man has done them wrong and you have to make split second decisions that are quite literally a matter of life and death, not only for yourself but the people that you're surrounded by. So there are a great number of these situations that are in this novel Lonesome Dove that are conveyed wonderfully and entertainingly and often hilariously. So it was good to read a book that had these heavy moments of self-reflection but also the banter between these two main characters and others are just hilarious, which struck a nice balance.

The other thing about this is that McMurtry really takes the time to draw some of his female characters quite well. Usually you think of a western as this patriarchal genre where the men are all protagonists - and they usually are - and the women are just these fixtures in the background, but a large part of the story is the women in these men's lives and the decisions that they've made concerning their relationships with past romances and current romances and how, in a very human, complicated way, they're impelling themselves to face their decisions and their feelings. So Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry, wonderful novel, kind of long but goes very quickly. It's very entertaining and I think, reaches the levels of literature of any novel that I've read except perhaps for Crime and Punishment. {laughter}

Harrison: I'm going to go through some non-fiction books now and get them out of the way. Most of my favourite non-fiction books that I read this year we've talked about on the show. Actually Jewish History, Jewish Religion by Israel Shahak, we actually did that one before we started on YouTube but you can find it in the podcast archives on SOTT.net, that along with Salafi Jihadism - I didn't write down the author's name. But then some other of my favourite non-fiction books from the year are Personality Development Through Positive Disintegration by William Tillier. I'm pretty sure it's the first full book, secondary literature about Dabrowski and his theory in English, so a milestone. It goes over all the basics in the theory. It's a long book and it's really in-depth and extensive so along with reading Dabrowski in the original, it's a great introduction to his work. I think we did a chapter on that one.

Then on the subject of the intersection of some parapsychology along with philosophy, of course we talked about First Sight-ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life by James Carpenter. We did a couple of shows on that one. Also The Idea of the World-A Multi-Disciplinary Argument for the Mental Nature of Reality by Bernardo Kastrup. We did a show or two on Kastrup's work. Then the one we did last week, JOTT-When Things Disappear and Come Back or Relocate and Why It Really Happens by Mary Rose Barrington. That was actually one of my favourite books, just because it was a joy to read. Like you were saying earlier Elan, there's literature and then there's non-fiction which can be a slog to get through. Every once in a while you get a non-fiction writer that actually knows how to write and is entertaining at the same time and knows how to put a well constructed sentence together that isn't purely functional. So she's a pretty good writer.

And then of course we've been talking about evolution and intelligent design. I liked all the books that I read this year on that subject so Darwin Devolves-The New Science about DNA that Challenges Evolution by Michael Behe. Also The Devil's Delusion - oh, that one was published in 2019 so that's a new book. Then one published last year, Heretic-One Scientist's Journey from Darwin to Design by Matti Leisola. That was a good one. There's some theory and science but also behind the scenes information about just what it was like for this guy. I can't remember what country he was in, a Scandinavian country I believe, but just what the scientific community was like and what it's like to be a maverick scientist who has heretical beliefs in the mainstream establishment. So that one was insightful.

Elan: So does he describe his progression from one school of thought, from neo-Darwinism to design? Is that how it kind of goes.

Harrison: Yeah, I can't remember all the details, but there was a progression but most of the book is after the progression so the people he's talking to and the conferences he's trying to set up and the talks that get shut down and dealing with journal publishers and other scientists that are completely unreasonable. {laughter} I'll just leave it at that.

But one other one was by David Berlinski, an older book, several years old, The Devil's Delusion-Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions. He's a good writer. He's got a flair to his writing that's, again, not strictly functional. Berlinski is a philosopher and a really smart guy, can make a joke too, so that is always worth it. We also talked a little bit about one section in this book by Gordon M. Hahn. We had him on the old show Truth Perspective a year or two ago on a previous book that he had written. This one came out last year, Ukraine Over the Edge-Russia, the West and the New Cold War. It's probably the best book on the last four years in Russia/US relations centered around the Maidan revolution in Ukraine. But the reason this book is so good is that Hahn is actually a scholar, reads Russian. He cites a lot of foreign language sources that aren't available to the average alternative media commentator in the west that talks a lot but isn't very rigorous or academic.

Carolyn: So he can go to primary sources.

Harrison: Yeah, primary sources and this is his job so he covers this stuff. He knows everything. It's pretty much a history. You don't even get to current events in Ukraine - well 2014 - until halfway through the book because it's all a history of US/Ukraine relations, the region, the dynamics and the geopolitics going back hundreds of years and tracing all of it up to the present, so through Soviet era and then through the 1990s. Then the thing that we talked about on the show was just a short section, just a few pages on the far right ideology among the Azov battalion, Aidar and Right Sector is the main one.

So it's worth it. That one is physically a big book and it's a long book, so there's a lot of words on each page. It took me a long time to read, but if you want to really get into the nitty-gritty, all the details, it's all there. So I recommend that one.

I don't think we've covered any of these books in particular. I might have read a few quotes from them, but I've made reference to Whitehead a lot when we've been doing shows on philosophy. I've read a few books by Whitehead. The first was A Key to Whitehead's Process and Reality by Donald Sherburne. It's all Whitehead's writing but Process and Reality is considered his magnum opus. It's a giant book, considered one of the hardest books to read in philosophy. One of the reasons for that is that it's all over the place. He doesn't follow a linear progression in his exposition. I think he even writes in the book that in his mind each element of his philosophy presupposes all other elements of the philosophy. He starts in the middle and then recursively keeps going back and introducing new concepts so it all mixes in together. You need to know concepts B, C and D to understand A, but you need to know A, C and D to understand B. He just starts with C and then progresses from there.

So what Donald Sherburne did - I think he published this back in the 1970s, don't know for sure - but he took all these sections in the book and just reorganized them topically. So he started with what he thought was the best place to start, arranged everything. It's pretty much a copy and paste job. He'd find all the places where Whitehead's talking about this one concept or process and put them all together in a way that makes sense and then strings it together in chapters that are kind a bit more coherent than originally presented. So that was useful.

Carolyn: Maybe it was Whitehead's sneaky technique to make you read the whole thing.

Harrison: Yeah, well perhaps. Then I read one short book by Whitehead, Function of Reason. I think it was two or three lectures that he gave. It's a good introduction if you want to read something short that has some great stuff in there. I think that's the one that has the quote about the absurdity of the scientific world view of today which was pretty much the scientific worldview of his time too. This was probably back in the 1920s or 1930s. That's the one with the quote about how it would be an interesting endeavour to research scientists who deny reason, giving their reasons for what they believe in or something like that because that's the absurdity of the scientific worldview that can't account for reason and in essence denies reason, and then you have the entire scientific establishment which is based on reason. So it's an internal contradiction that goes to the very heart of pretty much all modern science. Of course he's got a much wittier and more eloquent way of putting it than I did in my poor paraphrasing.

It was in the first book that he wrote that got into his metaphysics that he developed in Processing Reality, Science and the Modern World. I mentioned it in a show previously. It was a history of the rise of science and all the nitty-gritty and major developments and all of the thought streams that went into creating the modern scientific worldview.

We talked about most of those. One favourite book that I had this year came out this year, that we haven't talked about yet is Chaos-Charles Manson, the CIA and the Secret History of the '60s - I've got it here - by Tom O'Neill. This one just came out recently. It's a tour de force. He originally got a job to write an anniversary piece for the Manson murders and it was just going to be interviewing a bunch of people who were around the scene at the time and just seeing how the murders had influenced the history of the 20th century today, so how those events shaped how we live today, how it shaped the scene and these people.

This was 20 years ago. He'd interview some people, find out some things and it just kept spiralling down all these different rabbit holes that he'd get lost in, these deep, mysterious tangents, essentially, on his research journey.

Carolyn: But they kept providing disconnects from the official story.

Harrison: Right.

Carolyn: And so he would just have to chase them down.

Harrison: So he never ended up publishing this story in the magazine. He kept getting extensions. He kept getting paid and luckily he had a really good editor who was really into this research that he was doing, "Okay, yeah! Another year, another several months!" or whatever. So he did that for 20 years. Eventually that magazine that he was writing the article for went defunct. He got a book deal. That didn't work out. He missed his deadline and so eventually 20 years later he published the book and there is so much to that story that hasn't gotten any mainstream coverage. Probably most of the things that you think are true about that case are probably false.

So he pretty much goes through and shows his process. That's one of the things I liked about the book. It's well written and it's written in the first person perspective so he's talking about his investigations, what's happening as he's finding these things out over the years and what he learns at one point that he didn't know back then. Every once in a while a thing comes up where he's interviewing someone and he says, "Oh if only I knew what I knew five years later at this point, I would have asked this question because I didn't." There's a lot of loose ends. He doesn't come to very many firm conclusions just because it's so hard to in this case. But those loose ends themselves are very suggestive and he found some things that no one had found before, even in related fields of research.

We might actually do a show on it another time so I won't go into it in detail. If you like true crime, if you like conspiracy stuff, if you like history, non-fiction about spies and things like that, this has all of it and it's all documented. One of the big things, I'd had a suspicion about Vince Bugliosi, the lead prosecutor in the case. He wrote Helter Skelter. That was his first big book on the case and he was pretty much working on the book as he was doing the trial, so he had his co-writer in the courtroom with him taking notes and writing drafts as this was going on.

Carolyn: But you could also look at it as him trying to get ahead of other possible versions of the story. He wanted to be out there.

Harrison: Yeah. And you learn that he was just really a total scumbag -- that's the only way to put it -- in his personal and professional life. You'll have to read for the details. But another book he wrote, I think it was in the 1990s that he wrote a book on Lee Harvey Oswald and the JFK assassination, totally backing the official story. If you look at some of his connections and the people he was working with, like I said it's one rabbit hole after another, but I couldn't put it down. It was a real page-turner. So that's the favourite book that I've read so far that we haven't talked about on the show.

Elan: I would just mention as a quick note, that Helter Skelter by Bugliosi, in the 1970s this was the seminal book...

Carolyn: Yes.

Elan: ...about Charlie Manson. Everybody bought it.

Harrison: Until today. It's still in print.

Carolyn: Oh yeah.

Elan: It's still in print. It's the official narrative, as you were suggesting before Carolyn. There was a TV series or a couple of programs made...

Carolyn: Documentaries.

Elan: ...documentaries, depicting the version of events that we've been fed. I'm greatly looking forward to reading that book Harrison. It's like Dave McGowan's series on Laurel Canyon and how the California music scene in the 1960s is not what we think it is. I didn't get to read this book yet, but it looks to be one of those stories that hopefully gets you to question every big mainstream news narrative you've ever heard about an important event of one kind or another. So I just wanted to say that.

Harrison: Maybe we can do some movies at the end of the show but the reason I was inspired to read this one is because I read an article about it by Kevin Barrett and it came out right around the same time as Quentin Tarrantino's new movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywood which is about the Tate murders, tangentially. We won't get into any spoilers because Carolyn hasn't seen it yet.

Carolyn: Thank you.

Harrison: It follows two fictional characters around but they intersect with the events in 1969 that were going on at the time. Right after that I got this book and I couldn't put it down. So a few honourable mentions. I like reading bible studies stuff, history and analysis of the new testament primarily. I read two really interesting books. One is by R.G. Price. This was published last year. It's called Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed. I guess you could call Price an amateur historian or researcher. He's not at any university or anything, but the book has a lot of good stuff in it, stuff that's in line with a lot of mainstream research but from his own perspective. He's a mythicist so he doesn't believe that Jesus actually existed, any individual that the gospel narratives were then based on. He's of the conviction that the earliest gospel accounts, like in the gospel of Mark, which is generally accepted as the first gospel written, was written and intended to be fiction.

Carolyn: Doesn't Francesco Carotta postulate that it was actually a play about Caesar?

Harrison: I don't buy that.

Carolyn: I don't buy that but he does have this sort of quality of lines and stage directions and all that. I thought it was an interesting idea.

Harrison: Either way, they both argue that it was fiction. Then that leads to the second book that I just finished a week or two ago called Resurrection and Reception in Early Christianity by Richard C. Miller. This one was published in 2014 I think, so several years old. This is more of an academic work, kind of in the tradition of Dennis McDonald and Jonathan Z. Smith, if anyone knows any of those authors, and Burton Mack. But he's not necessarily a mythicist but he argues the same point. He's not looking at the gospels as a whole but he's limiting it to certain phenomena like the birth narratives of Jesus and the resurrection/ascension narratives, the beginnings and the ends of these stories about Jesus. Of course Mark doesn't have a birth narrative. It just starts in medias res, in the middle of things. and then ends without a full resurrection narrative. The women go into the tomb and Jesus is gone and they run away scared and that's how the gospel ends and nothing happens after that. Pretty mysterious.

And then it's only with Luke, Matthew and then John that you get the post-resurrection appearances where Jesus says, "Stick your fingers in my side and see that I'm a real guy and I really died" and go up to heaven and all that. But what Miller's arguing is that these two are stock, almost clichéd narrative techniques that would have been, he argues, recognized as fictional embellishments. What he's saying is if you were to go back 2,000 years and be a Mediterranean person living in Anatolia or Turkey, modern Turkey - Asia as it was called - or Greece or Macedonia or wherever, and you were to read these, he's arguing that readers of that time would recognize these as mythic fables that were intended to elevate Jesus to a level that either equals or surpasses the other characters in Mediterranean mythology at the time using the same stories.

What are the precursors to these stories? The most immediate were the emperor cults, the Roman emperors were divine. When they died they were deified and then they ascended into heaven, became gods to live among the gods in the heavens and there were post-resurrection appearances where they would come back, appear to someone on the street or something and these were echoing stories that developed about Romulus, the twin founders of Rome and what happened with Romulus. These stories too only developed in the last 100 years before Jesus, before the kernels of whatever contributed to the gospel stories.

Romulus ascends to heaven and then comes back and he's walking on the road and this guy Proculus Julius sees him and Romulus in his deified form gives Romulus's good news, his gospel, about the glory of Rome and go forth and Rome will be the greatest ever through our military might, whatever. But the storyline is the same and these elements were new to Roman mythology at the time and Roman religion but they were all over Greek religions.

There were all kinds of demi-gods first of all. This gets back to the birth narrative. There were demi-gods who were the product of a god and an earthly woman, a mortal woman who created these demi-gods, and then a lot of these demi-gods and also other people, if they lived a life of sufficient virtue or whatever qualities, upon their death, their body would disappear. It might be burned, it might disappear in a river, be struck down by one of Zeus's thunderbolts, but the body would disappear. So in a lot of these tales, just the missing body would be a hint to the reader that this person had been translated up to the heavens. They were now divine, now living up with the gods because when everyone else died they didn't go up with the gods. They went down into the underworld, into Hades and lived as immaterial shades.

So that was the common belief. When people died they went underground as immaterial spirits and often as undifferentiated spirits so you wouldn't even necessarily be able to have an individuality in the afterlife. Even that took a while to develop. But this new idea came primarily through the development of these stories about Romulus that were associated with Julius Caesar who was the first contemporary in that whole scene to actually have that happen to him, not in a story about the distant, mythic past but in the present. So Julius Caesar was assassinated and then Augustus Octavian at the time saw the comet during the games a few months after Caesar died and that comet was then interpreted as the soul of Julius Caesar ascended to heaven living with the gods.

One of the things about now being a god was that you had a divine body. So you weren't a shade, you were a divine body. Just getting back to what Miller writes, he goes further than Price. Price argues that Mark and maybe Luke, were both writing fiction using something called a literary mimesis, where you take a previous work and then write your own work, stealing the narrative a bit. This is what Virgil did in Aeneid for the Odyssey, taking a Greek classic and turning it into a Roman classic by ripping it off, essentially, but doing it in a very creative way, creating a new classic.

Carolyn: Mimesis just sounds so much more cultured.

Harrison: Yeah. Price argues that Mark and Luke did this but then by Matthew and maybe John, that they'd kind of lost the plot and mistook the previous fictions for historical accounts. So there was this whole thing in New Testament studies about the body. Why did Jesus show his body to doubting Thomas to prove that he was a body? One idea is that there were the mythicists, the people that thought that Jesus wasn't a real man but more of a supernatural being. And then there were those who thought he was a real person and this was a way of injecting some historical verisimilitude to show that, "Jesus was real! And look, he had a real body because this is what he showed to his disciples!"

But Miller even goes a bit further and, in my opinion, pretty much demolishes those theories. He argues that all four of the gospels writers knew what they were doing. It's not like Matthew and John lost the plot and thought "Oh well we're actually writing fiction". He argues that the scenes for the doubting disciples to show Jesus's body wasn't to counter a heretical belief that Jesus was a spirit but to show that Jesus was a god, that he had a divine body, one that could teleport and transform itself because these were features of the gods.

So it was to show that he had a heavenly body, that he wasn't just a shade in the underworld, wasn't some dead dude that was showing up as an apparition. He wasn't a human that had been brought back to life like Lazarus in John, I think. He had a heavenly body now. I'll be talking about that bit more in some subsequent segments because it ties in with a few other researchers and books that they've written over the last few years. I've read a bunch more but I think those are the only ones really worth talking about.

Oh, just another honourable mention, Coddling of the American Mind which we talked about on the show. That was a really good one by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

Carolyn: I just want to make a recommendation for an oldie but a goodie if you have not read it, which is Evolution 2.0 even though you've probably already talked about it. Having slogged through Schilling's The Fifth Option, which is a slog, this guy is so desperate to prove his theory that DNA is code, that there are pages and pages and pages of statistics and comparative analysis and all that other stuff, it's hard. But Evolution 2.0 is by Perry Marshall and it's like reading an infomercial for intelligent design. I could hear the pitch in my head that he makes. The same material - because he is also a coder - much more accessible. He builds a very good case and at the end of the chapter there's literally, "But wait! There's more!" It just makes it so much fun. Of all the evolution books that I read, that was the one that I had the most fun reading and it provides a pretty good grounding because then you can go from there to Behe's books, which I also enjoyed, but his books were written to prove his thesis to his fellow academics, even though he makes them entertaining. If you have that one, then all the others become more accessible.

So I just recommend that one for the knowledge and for the entertainment value.

Elan: I like that one too, a lot. It was the first one I read on the subject of intelligent design.

Carolyn: And he loves his subject. He loves it!

Elan: He does! And he really wants you to know what he knows. There's a real emotional thrust behind it.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Elan: "This is wonderful! Look at the implications behind this." He's quite honest about his religious background and his belief in god and Christianity in his case, although I don't think you need to be Christian per se in order to embrace some of the ideas of intelligent design.

Carolyn: No.

Elan: He just wants you to understand the main core reasons why neo-Darwinism is bunk.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Elan: So I agree with you. I think it's a great first book.

Carolyn: Right.

Elan: And on that subject Carolyn, I haven't finished it yet. I'm reading Darwinian Fairy Tales by David Stowe which is entertaining because he goes back to some of the original ideas that informed Darwin's ideas and breaks them down and gets into food scarcity.

Carolyn: All of Hobbes.

Elan: Yes. So what he's able to do is deconstruct those foundational ideas that made Darwinism the theory of its day and the theory up until now for many scientists and thinkers and people who don't even realize they think about reality and evolution in the way that they do, precisely because these ideas have been propagated so heavily.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Elan: There's this "You're not allowed to question it" attitude. So that's a very entertaining book in some ways. Some years ago I read a number of books on Caesar when it became known to a few of us that the life of Jesus Christ and the Jesus Christ story was quite probably inspired by or based upon the life of Julius Caesar. But I recently came back to one book that I hadn't read that I'm enjoying a lot. This is The Education of Julius Caesar by I think Arthur Kahn. It's not a novelization. It is a kind of non-fiction book, but it's rich and juicy with what you'd come to expect from a novel about the life of someone in history.

Carolyn: Well he took a lot of time to flesh out the people around him.

Elan: Yes.

Carolyn: Especially his mother, his uncles, other people who had a lot of influence as he grew up, choosing his teachers. That was really nice because it feels like a novel even though it isn't a novel and that makes the information very assimilable.

Elan: Yeah. That's what I'm finding as well. I would just add, why is this important? Well if you consider the idea or probability that the whole Christ mythos, religion, Christianity, was based on this man's life and his accomplishments, it would seem important to look at the types of things he was up against. He wasn't only a top notch military general and leader, he was a spiritual force for not killing in the way that carnage and the wars of the time in imperial Rome were known for.

So it really gave me a background on the extent of the treachery and how things played out politically in Rome at the time where one day you'd have one guy leading the consulship and the next day another general would come back to town. Sulla would have been cast off out of Rome and then come back and there would be all this retribution and blood in the streets of thousands of people, including consuls and senators and praetors. This was what civil war looked like and it was a time in which Caesar lived and thrived in. This was just an excellent way to experience that whole time and place.

The last thing I wanted to mention in terms of novels is something I've been making my way through quite slowly. It's a series of volumes called Life Beyond the Veil which was written or automatically written by a priest called G. Owen Vale. This is something I hope to be discussing on a future show here because it is a description of the afterlife or what it may be like. For those materialists out there, you can turn off the video for the next two minutes. {laughter} But if you've ever given thought to why or how there may be an afterlife or another level to reality after we die, if there's a soul or a place that an essential part of us goes to and continues to exist in, this is a wonderful look at what that place is like, what people are learning and doing there and what their reason for being is and that is in part to serve humanity in whatever ways they can and to affirm a value system.

So I look forward to talking about that in the future. I don't know if you guys want to discuss any films at this point or add to that.

Harrison: Before we get to films, there are just a couple of things I want to talk about. First a book that I have not finished yet but which we will probably talk about which will end up being another one of my favourites from the year, is The Origins of the World's Mythologies by E.J. Michael Witzel. This was published back in 2012, another 20+ year project. Witzel argues that world mythologies can be traced back historically in the same manner that languages have been traced with linguistics. The study of languages as it's done today has a 200 or 300 year history and I believe started with the Indo-European languages, noticing the similarities between languages and then noticing the mutation rules, to borrow from genetics, how phonemes will change, sounds will change in a regular manner, in similar ways. By looking at the similarities between languages you can see, "Okay, these two languages are related. They probably branched off there. And then those ones are related and those probably branched off there. And all these languages together had one origin, proto-Indo-European."

There are even some linguists who think you can go even further back and you can find an Nostratic language that has different language families altogether and you can hypothetically trace it back to one original language from which all others derived. That gets pretty tricky because your evidence gets scarcer and scarcer the further back you go hypothetically. But he's arguing that you can do the same thing with entire mythologies.

So he makes a really good case so far. He's very rigorous, very academic to the point where some parts of the book might be a bit dry and tedious but...

Carolyn: Yes. {laughter} But he is, again, making a case to his peers, not to the rest of us, but we'll fold with him. But the idea that you can take entire corpuses of myths to compare to other myths and the fact that nobody ever thought of doing that is kind of interesting.

Harrison: He goes through the various theories and explanations for why certain myths are similar from vastly different cultures. A couple of examples are the archetypal theory that there's a reservoir of images, symbols and little fragments of myth that every human has access to in the subconscious and that explains it. But then he points out that first of all, not all symbols are present in all mythologies. So why do some have them and others not? And after that, why do several very big world mythologies have the same storyline? That's the big feature of what he identified. Pretty much all of North and South America and what he calls Laurasia - pretty much Eurasia, Europe and Asia, they all have mythologies that follow a storyline that has something like 12 chapters in which very similar things happen. Not only do they have the same elements but they follow the same sequence which, to him suggests that they all, just like languages, developed together.

So you might have two closely related mythologies that differ in slight details so you can hypothesize a precursor to that, that didn't have those differences but that had similarities in that too, etc., down these branches until you get one origin of this storyline that's spread throughout all of Laurasia. The test for this - the chapter I'm on right now - is that the mythologies of sub-Saharan Africa and the Australian Aborigines and the Papuans and Melanese, all of these cultures that are in the southern hemisphere, what he calls Gondwana land, the Sahoul continent and Australia, back when the water level was lower so that there was more connectivity in those areas and less water and fewer islands.

So there are two mythologies. There's one in the south and one in the north and they're vastly different. They have some similarities but that can be attributed to borrowing. But there's a new mythology in the north that arises something like 40,000 years ago that didn't influence the south but that influenced all of the mythologies in the northern regions and then of course across the Bering Strait to North America and South America. So it's very interesting to even think that you can excavate mythology to go back in time and see what people might have believed and what their myths might have been before there was writing because this is going back 40,000 as opposed to the 5,000 years that we have writing. A lot of mythologies were only written down in the last 200 years. The ones that were written down are older so you've got all kinds of Sumarian, Semitic and Greek and Roman and even Japanese and Chinese. But then you've got all kinds of mythologies from cultures that weren't literate at these times that have only been passed down orally. Even in those you can find the similarities and trace them.

So it's a giant project. He just started it here but at least hypothetically it could lead to a revolution in the way that mythologies are studies. Then tie that into a third area which is the recent, historically brand new science, the study of ancient DNA. So one of my favourite books from last year was David Reich's Who We Are and How We Got Here. He is one of the pioneers in the study of ancient DNA. I'm not sure if they're the guys who originally discovered Denisovan DNA in southeast Asia, another archaic hominid human population that interbred with humanity in the way that the Europeans did with Neanderthals.

It is now possible to such a greater degree than it was before, to trace back human migrations and cultures meeting and interacting and interbreeding back through the thousands of years of history. So that can theoretically be aligned up with the mythologies and how mythologies met and interbred and created new mythologies.

So very interesting developments and hopefully the mythology gets introduced along with linguistics and the genes because it's cool to think about where the development of those sciences might go because as Reich points out, with the development of this archaic DNA thing, it's proceeding exponentially. At one year, 10 years ago or something, there were something like three ancient genomes that were sequences then the next year there were eight. Then there were 20 and now there are thousands every year.

Carolyn: They're getting better at extracting. It used to be you had to find a pristine tooth. Now you can take the flange of a finger. There's a lot more skill at sourcing so you have a lot more samples to deal with.

Harrison: And it's cheaper too. I think it's millions of times cheaper than it used to be with the development of these new technologies. So it's now affordable too. You can sample all the ancient genomes you want. So they've got skeletons in all of these periods of history all over the world, some better represented than others of course, but that's being reconciled and they're digging up those bones and crushing them up and getting that DNA out of them. Really cool.

Okay, movies. Want to do a few movies before we end for the day?

Carolyn: I only see pop movies. I don't have anything serious. {laughter}

Elan: That's okay. Did one strike you?

Carolyn: Because they're pop movies they've all fallen out of my head. No, I did enjoy the Avenger series. If you want to branch out to movies and TV shows, we were watching Legion which is a Marvel series, kind of. How many of the shows did it end up being? Three seasons, 27 episodes of progressive mindbendiness, totally recommended. Just realize that as you go along it's going to get weirder and weirder and weirder until you say "What did I just watch?" But you want to see the next episode just to see where it goes. It's very inventive, very creative. It's on...

Elan: Netflix?

Carolyn: No.

Harrison: Starz or something.

Carolyn: Yeah, you've got to have a streaming service, but it's called Legion. Who's the guy who stars in it? What's his name?

Harrison: It's the cousin from - what's the British show with the mansion and the people {laughter}? It's kind of like upstairs downstairs.

Carolyn: Oh, Downton Abbey.

Harrison: Downton Abbey.

Carolyn: Okay, I never saw that.

Elan: It's that guy. (Dan Stevens)

Carolyn: It's that guy and he's brilliant in this role. So like I said, if your taste runs to the odd and bizarre, totally recommend it.

Elan: Well some time ago a few of us watched Haunting of Hill House.

Carolyn: Oh yeah!

Elan: Which was based on a novel.

Carolyn: It's the same title.

Elan: Same title?

Carolyn: Mm-hm.

Elan: I'd seen the original film by Robert Wise which was in the early 1960s, I think with Claire Bloom and it was quite scary. This was a reworking of that novel and the film. I think there were maybe 8 or 10 episodes. Wonderful! Wonderful, scary, but even more than that, really touching because of the number of family dynamics involved with the brothers and sisters who had experienced this ghost trauma as children and were now grown up and revisiting those experiences with the ghosts and coming to terms with, each in their own way, how they dealt with this very weird, tragic event that happened.

Carolyn: Even to the point of questioning whether it actually did happen and each questioning the other, the ones who believed completely that it was real and the ones who just went 'no, not really'. So just to watch them work all that out.

Elan: So this series had horror. It had family drama. It had suspense. It had some amount of humour. Everything was well executed and quite affecting and that also has a high recommendation. Haunting of Hill House. I think that was Netflix.

Harrison: Yeah, I'll second that one. Back to Legion, the actor is Dan Stevens who was in Downton Abbey. In a few episodes it also has Harry Lloyd who was Viserys Targaryen in Game of Thrones but also one of the main characters in another show that I forgot to mention that I really like, Counterpart...

Carolyn: Oh yes!

Harrison: ...which is a bit sci-fi.

Carolyn: Parallel worlds.

Harrison: Yeah, parallel worlds but it's pretty much a geopolitical spy drama which is highly recommended. It's got a lot of politics, a lot of scheming and mystery and intrigue. Intrigue's the best one. So I'd recommend it.

Carolyn: And the lead actor in that one was fantastic too.

Harrison: That was the guy in - I'm terrible with names...{laughter}

Carolyn: The guy.

Harrison: You'll recognize him. Let me find out who that was. (J.K. Simmons)

Elan: He's bald.

Harrison: He was in the movie about the jazz drummer and he was the really mean...

Carolyn: Whiplash.

Harrison: Yeah, Whiplash. He's been in tons of stuff.

Carolyn: He's a terrific actor. That also had a wonderful cast and really kept you involved, so Counterpart.

Harrison: Okay, a few of my favourite movies. If you like kids' movies, I really liked Coco. I believe it was the pixar one, on the theme of the afterlife, like Life Beyond the Veil, this one's about a little Mexican kid who likes music but is banned from playing music in his household because of a family conflict in the past. Music is banned but he really wants to be a musician and he ends up going to the afterlife.

Elan: Another tear-jerker folks. Be warned.

Harrison: Yeah, it's a very cute movie as well. An old movie that I hadn't seen before, I'll just mention it because I guess it's underrated, Star Trek The Motion Picture, the first Star Trek movie. Really good actually. I enjoyed that one. I liked Haunting of Hill House. There was a horror movie, so if you like horror movies, I'm going to make this recommendation. If you don't like horror movies then don't see it because it's very scary and you might not sleep for a few nights. I believe it came out last year and it's called Hereditary. All I'll say about Hereditary is if you appreciate scary movies every once in awhile, then that one is scary and you'll enjoy it.

Carolyn: No, you're on your own.

Harrison: It's very well done, very creepy. There are a couple of gory scenes, more disturbing just because of the general creepiness of the atmosphere. It's not like one of those gory horror movies that are just people getting ripped up and tortured for whatever reason, just because some people like watching that. It's not like that. It's more of a psychological thriller with just a little bit of violence thrown in there because it's a modern horror movie. But yeah, it's scary. And for sci-fi, Upgrade. Did you guys see Upgrade?

Carolyn: Yeah.

Harrison: Okay, if you like sci-fi that one was...

Carolyn: That has some very twisty parts to it. That one is good.

Harrison: I wasn't expecting that one. And then more of a serious movie, Twelve, a Russian movie, an adaptation of the play on which 12 Angry Men was based. I believe it came out in the 1950s, a black and white film. Great movie. I haven't seen it in years but this one is a Russian adaptation. It was made just a few years ago.

Carolyn: Wonderful.

Harrison: Yeah. It's the same basic plot, 12 jurors getting together to decide the fate of a young man accused of murder. It's all of them talking to each other as they're deciding the fate of this young man and really well done, really well acted.

Carolyn: I've never actually seen the original 12 Angry Men but what I found fascinating about that film - and yes, highly recommended - was it sort of provided a cross-section of Russian society, I guess that would have been in the early 1990s, maybe early-to-mid 2000s, because there are references to 'your sleazy US oligarchical sellout', there's a guy who's a taxi driver who had a fortune and lost it, angry young people, angry old people. So it's really an interesting - I don't know how accurate - but as an illustration of Russian society after they had been through this tumultuous, horrible 10 years and the effect it had on them. it was quite something.

Harrison: Maybe one last thing before we end for today because it's been a long show. This is the "coming soon" section. {laughter} So these are a few books that have either just come out that we haven't read yet or that are coming out later this year that I think are going to be worthwhile. This one already came out in April but I haven't read it yet. It's Graham Hancock's new book America Before. Graham Hancock is into ancient history and ancient mysteries and possible ancient civilizations and things like that. So this is about the hidden history of America. I'm guessing civilizations that aren't really well known and things that were going on that aren't really mainstream. That one looks pretty interesting.

In October there's a book coming out by Bob Lazar and George Knapp called Dreamland, an Autobiography. This is Bob Lazar's autobiography which should be very interesting and entertaining. If you saw the documentary that came out last year on Bob Lazar or his appearance on Joe Rogan, if you're into that sort of thing, very interesting. In October a book is coming out by Henning Melber. We had Henning on our show several years ago to talk about the assassination of Dag Hammarskjöld. He's got a book coming out, Dag Hammarskjöld, the United Nations, and the Decolonization of Africa. I'm looking forward to that one also coming out in October.

Then in December, I'm really looking forward to this one. It's going to be expensive. It's published by Oxford University Press or something. It's an academic book but it's by Joseph Azize. It's called Gurdjieff-Mysticism, Contemplation and Exercises. This is going to be the first, either academic or not, but the first book specifically on Gurdjieff's contemplative exercises, not necessarily mystical but the elements of meditation and mind training that he did, which a lot of have remained secret for the past 70 years because whenever Gurdjieff would take on students he'd give them contemplative exercises to do and exercises in will and sensing and all kinds of stuff, that they weren't allowed to tell anyone.

So the Gurdjieff community has kept even some of the basic exercises tightly guarded and secret. Unless you join a Gurdjieff group you won't learn a lot of these techniques. Well some of them have been published in various places over the years but Azize has put them all together and then placed them into the context of the different periods in Gurdjieff's life and the different approaches he took at different points in his life to teaching his philosophy and practice. So I'm really looking forward to that one. It should be very eye-opening and have a lot of new secrets revealed that haven't been public.

Elan: Well thanks for those previews Harrison.

Carolyn: Yeah.

Elan: This was a fun show to do. We hope you enjoyed it and we look forward to doing many more and having a lot of fun in bringing out the ideas that most fascinate us about life and science and psychology and philosophy and the human condition and all those things that would be connected to that. Please hit like, smash subscribe. Let us know you're out there. We appreciate your listing and we look forward to talking again next week. Bye everyone.