Eric: Okay this is by far the best episode for me. The fact that they make you wonder if there were ancient Hindu nukes going off then go for the Sodom and Gomorrah story as a lead into Noah’s flood with the explanation that it could have been a biological purge or culling of inferiorities in a genetically modified species is brilliant. They’re up to all their old tricks, but as I was watching I was going, yeah that’s actually a pretty reasonable explanation for the flood. I’ve had that thought before.
Joe: I have to wonder, honestly, what a nuclear blast zone would look like in forty-thousand years. We haven’t seen long term nuclear anthropology, and hopefully never create that mess again. I do think it is interesting about things like the weird sweating sickness that plowed through England just before Henry VIII became king, and even killed his older brother to make it so, and no one even knows what disease it was or where it went. There’s a lot of questionable stuff in the dark corners and we are still trying to make sense of all the ways humans died. Greek fire is still a mystery, and it was a prominent weapon of mass destruction in its time. And, where did all the other proto-human races go? These are interesting questions and I am curious enough about the universe to be open to the possibility that something non-terrestrial occurred. God apparently made us in His image, right? Aliens probably would, too. One of the greatest arguments against the alien visitations I’ve always felt is how human the aliens look: two hands, two legs, a head on top with eyes and a mouth. It’s hard to fathom a universe where that occurs twice naturally in a universe where squid and sponges and spiders all exist.
It’s a neat story, of course. Again, to appreciate the show you have to set aside the rational mind and let the story wash over you. My favorite guest in this episode was Professor Cargill, who looked so visibly annoyed and offended in his refutation of the whole concept of ancient alien nukes. I want to ask him how they even got him to agree to be on camera, because he looked like he was about to fire his secretary for letting these lines of questions into his office.
And… that to me is the greatest argument to celebrate and permit this line of kooky, kooky research going. That it offends the establishment so much is, to me, something to celebrate. There was a Professor Emeritus from Occidental University talking about the aliens in art history, and he loved it and I loved it! (Hooray for tenure!) I used to work as a security guard at an art museum, and I loved listening in on all those goofy experts coming through and lecturing people about this or that, when most artists I know just make the art they want and don’t lose themselves in theories like that. The UFOs of history, I just loved that. It seems like someone’s Ph D thesis about to come true: exploring the unexplained UFO phenomena documented in history with an eye for scientific rigor and offering no interpretation of what or why beyond what can be formally proved. There’s a hole in our story of history where unexplained phenomena are ignored because they are outliers on the line of perceived and received truth.
Eric: Well there go most of my talking points! The one that I really want to echo is the bit about all these experts being upset because this is exactly the kind of thing that got people like Galileo and Copernicus in trouble. Conservatism kills ideas like these out of hand. Anything that challenges the establishment is tantamount to heresy.
Since our conversation last week (link) and the review I wrote about Brockway’s The Unnoticeables (link), I’ve been brooding over the idea you posted about aliens versus God. When I think about the aspect of a continuum or faith being used for something, a process, I don’t understand, I’ve got admit, I much rather prefer the idea of aliens meddling with my DNA.
This show, over and over, fills my note pad with more esoteric prehistory I NEED to know about than any other show I’ve ever watched. For someone who isn’t a lazy viewer, who is curious enough to go do some digging, this show is worth it’s weight in gold. It’s a fountain of theories that warrant further investigation.
The other thing I want to point out is how good the show is at making you consider this as an alternative viewpoint. There’s a line like, “We have to consider what our ancestors were trying to tell us” really struck me as someone who studied literary theory. All of history is ultimately told by an unreliable narrator? That’s mind-blowing. Absolutely bonkers. When they dropped that line, for me, all bets were off.
Joe: So, I minored in History as an undergraduate and one of my professor’s explained what a historian is, and how it is different from just anyone – particularly antiquarians. An antiquarian can tell you the precise measurements and technical specs on the artifacts. A historian can tell you why that matters, what that means, and how it connects to the story of who we are, where we came from, and why. I feel like this weird show is doing real, serious “history” work in the most ridiculous way possible, and thereby demonstrating the limitations of our own concept of history. It fuels the idea that the establishment is an unreliable narrator. In this, it’s both doing a great public service, and… also not. Again, this is the tools of propaganda we’re watching, in the act of propaganda. It’s fairly harmless to take up the idea that aliens founded human society and altered our DNA through cataclysms and genetic manipulation, but when those tools are turned to things that can actually hurt people, you really want to just take a breath and remind yourself that vaccinations do not come us from unreliable narrators. The point of science and the scientific method is to diminish the unreliable narration of existence, and create reproducible, measurable truths. Challenging the establishment is all well and good, but there’s a reason it so rarely works and Copernicus makes history and a thousand others don’t. Much of what the establishment is doing is trying to slow down the wild, zany theories that are not quite all the way founded on truth. But, hey, we’re both educators, so I’m preaching to the choir.
The main conceit of one of my recent novels is that memory is just the story we tell ourselves about who we are, and we are unreliable narrators of our own lives even in our minds. I love that this show challenges us to see history from the fringe looking in, and to connect the dots in a way that maybe can’t be explicitly disproven in the same sense that a lot of what we claim to know about history is just a story that’s passed down by the establishment players to justify their own place in power. I think back to how much I learned about British History in school and majoring in English when one could have easily stepped outside British history and followed the story of the writings of the colonies and the conquered looking in. That story is not as convenient to the power structures that are built upon the idea of centralized control, whether that is explicitly or subconsciously done. I take this episode as a challenge to myself as an educator and a writer to remember that there’s more holes than threads in what we know, and we can’t always trust anyone to tell us what is true, if that truth is even partially received. I’m less like “The Truth is Out There” in X-Files-world. I’m more like “The Truth is More Complex Than Anyone Can Ever Truly Know.”
Maybe the next episode will help me make sense of what we can do with this new way of seeing. What exactly are we supposed to do with this story of history, with the aliens amongst us, shaping our lives and destinies?