Sunday, January 17, 2016

Horse Hockey - Bull Follows Fiction

I'll start here by saying that I deplore how some lazy debunkers find a single obscure example of a phenomena in fiction that predates an allegation as evidence of direct influence.  Of course, just because something happened in fiction first doesn't mean it can't happen in real life, but of more relevance here is the fact that reality and fiction are messier than that.

The transmission of cultural ideas does not consist of single "aha" moments.  It's nearly impossible to point to a single work and say it was the first of anything.  Everything steals from something else, and then gets bitten off some more.

Having said that, the Greys didn't become the stock alien until after Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  UFOs didn't have a standard saucer template until Kenneth Arnold - ironic here, as he described the ship's movements as saucer-like, not their shape.

Conspiracy theorists and pseudoscientists can be an unimaginative bunch, and I swear that got exponentially worse with the internet.  That's one of the reasons I originally lost interest in the field - instead of inventing their own delusions the lunatics were just pointing at random sci-fi shows and saying it was a documentary.

I can't even bother to roll my eyes when I would read that the military has a Stargate like the Stargate in the movie Stargate.  Now you can go and research how the term Stargate was used in fiction prior to the movie, you can find the first usage of the term, you can trace the history of time travel and wormholes in science fiction, but you really don't need to.  Someone just saw the movie Stargate.  Or maybe the TV show - still can't get over how that was a thing.

Such blatant plagiarism is inevitably accompanied by grandiose justifications and further conspiracy theories:

  • The government doesn't want you to know the truth about wizards, so it presents Hogwarts as a fiction so that truth-tellers like me will be ridiculed.
  • The government is slowly introducing us to the idea of the Galactic Empire so that we won't panic when the Death Star comes into orbit.
  • Disney wanted to warn us about menace of talking, pantsless, ill-tempered mallards but had to disguise his warnings as fiction.

These are all bullpoop, but what's worse, it's bullpoop to cover for lazy intellectual thievery.  While I feel it's gotten worse in the last couple of decades, this phenomena goes back to the very origins of modern horse hockey - Helena Blavatsky.

I had assumed the influence was the other direction, but Blavatsky's work came after that of Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race.  I'm not expert enough (nor do I care to wade through Blavatsky's bibliography) to say how much of an influence Bulwer-Lytton was on her, but I wouldn't say she lifted her entire cosmology from him.  However, there is the whole "ascended race with special powers living in the hollow earth" thing going on in both.

I'll deal with Blavatsky and the Coming Race in more depth later, but for now, "I'll just leave this here" as the kids like to say.

"Sir E. Bulwer-Lytton, in his Coming Race, describes it as the VRIL, used by the subterranean populations, and allowed his readers to take it for a fiction."
"Absurd and unscientific as may appear our comparison of a fictitious vril invented by the great novelist, and the primal force of the equally great experimentalist, with the kabalistic astral light, it is nevertheless the true definition of this force. Discoveries are constantly being made to corroborate the statement thus boldly put forth."
"The name vril may be a fiction; the Force itself is a fact doubted as little in India as the existence itself of their Rishis, since it is mentioned in all the secret works."
I'll conclude with this - Disney's Michael Eisner revealing the truth about the government withholding facts about alien contact.  A complex double-bluff?  Or just hitting up the X-Files demographic to promote a new attraction?

No comments:

Post a Comment