Wednesday, December 28, 2022

RIP Tom Harrison

I got to talk briefly to Tom Harrison a couple of years ago when I was writing my article, "That Time the Clash Played Soccer with a Bunch of Vancouver Punks." I didn't actually use much of the conversation,  but I did run a photo of the young Mr. Harrison with Mick Jones, and the sentence of Tom's that I did incorporate seemed crucial to the article (which I hope y'all will go read). I had considerable respect for Tom Harrison, even though I never actually went the next step to see or hear Bruno Gerussi's Medallion, the band he fronted; but he was a stalwart champion of local independent musicians, a good friend to NO FUN, and an engaging writer -- a man of wit and taste; I used to also enjoy watching him review records live on Soundproof, when I was a kid out in Maple Ridge, though all I really remember of that experience is that he liked Lou Reed's Mistrial more than I did. I have not read an obit for Mr. Harrison, do not know the details of his passing, but all my music-oriented Facebook friends are posting their respects, so it seems apropos to say something here, as well. The world is lesser for your absence, Mr. Harrison. Condolences to those who knew you better than I...

Update: check out this great John Mackie article about Tom... 

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Back to work...

 So my disability leave is over, I am back to work, aaand I am having computer issues again. Plus Erika and I got hooked into Gareth Evans' Gangs of London, which is great, if very brutal at times. No one films violence quite like Gareth Evans.

I will have other stuff to say here at some point, but I won't be quite as active as I have been. Plus: Christmas!

But I am doing well! Happy holidays, see ya at the Black Halos or Bison or Yob or something... 

Monday, December 05, 2022

Thinking more on Robyn Hitchcock

I've been listening a lot to Robyn Hitchcock lately, while I still wait for Shufflemania! to land in Vancouver shops (which I wrote a bit previously about here). I nabbed Invisible Hitchcock the other day at Red Cat, in fact, on CD, because I'd never seen it on CD before and because there were four bonus tracks on it, all of which I probably have somewhere else but perhaps not in the same version, who knows? ("Eaten By Her Own Dinner," I think, is the best known, and very Soft-Boys-esque, enough so that it's a slightly weird fit for this record, in fact, but what the heck). The LP of this was the first Robyn Hitchcock I ever purchased, probably getting it when it was brand new at Odyssey Imports, circa 1986, when I was 18. As such, I have quite a bit of attachment to it; there are some very fun songs on it, some very catchy ones, some very pretty ones. And even the cover speaks of Robyn's weirdness: why is he holding that radish and looking at you like that? It was one of my best blind or near-blind buys ever, perhaps fueled by my having read about Hitchcock in an early issue of Spin, but perhaps simply because I had to know what kind of music went with a photograph like this. I think that first version I had was the US pressing with "Grooving on an Inner Plane" on it; since I sold off my record collection when I moved to Japan, then re-acquired it, I ended up with the Glass Fish UK version, with "It's a Mystic Trip" - the better song, really, though both are fun. It always amazed me that the album is basically a collection of outtakes, demos, and non-LP tracks, because it's just so cohesive - can something be "consistently eclectic?" - and enjoyable to listen to; if I were assembling a Desert Island Hitchcock collection, this would be in the top 5 must-keeps, beating out such worthies as Element of Light (which the Glass Fish CD represents on the Invisible Hitchcock disc as the title of the album, for some reason) and Fegmania! and... well, lots of other Hitchcocks that I love less.     

And yet, as well as I know this album, having purchased in now three times in three different versions, having to listened to many songs off it as repped in the While Thatcher Mauled Britain anthology, it still yields secrets. Because I knew nothing of the Soft Boys' anthology Invisible Hits at the time I bought this record, it never occurred to me until YESTERDAY (26 years late, basically) that the title is punning on the other record's title, in the spirit of Groovy Decay, Groovy Decoy, and Gravy Deco (an example of a Hitchcock I don't even have or want - I had the Decoy version for a short time and sold it, deciding it wasn't bad but that I just didn't care; it has very little of what I'm interested in in Robyn Hitchcock's music, is more of a straight pop album. I see that one track on one version of it, "Falling Leaves," is now back in my home on my new Invisible Hitchcock CD).  

Which brings us back to "The Sir Tommy Shovell," previously written about in that aforelinked blogpiece. Robyn's love of witty wordplay is evident at least from the days of the live side of the 1981 release Two Halves for the Price of One, Lope at the Hive (recorded live at the Hope, get it? It's a venue I do not know, but which is also namechecked on Invisible Hitchcock, rhyming with "dope" in the withering put-down "Trash"). Despite being long aware of Hitchcock's propensities here, I didn't put it together that "Shovell" might be a pun on "Shuffle," since I was distracted by trying to figure out if there was anyone who actually has that name. It also occurred to me, in listening to the song for the dozenth - is dozenth really a word? - time that the lyrics might be more complex and subtle than Hitchcock merely crafting a fantasy pub, where one finds like-minded individuals, good beer, vegan food, and none of those "racist losers" he pokes at at the end. He might actually be subverting his fantasy a little, in that he sings about wanting to find people who "agree with everything you say/ every single day," which immediately reminds one of the echo-chamber effect we get on social media: if people disagree with you, if they have different ideas or values, it's become somehow socially appropriate to belittle them, insult them, craft ad-hominem arguments, misrepresent their views, and/or block them from further interacting with you. Maybe there's some slight commentary on that, and on the tendency to demonize your opponents (calling them a racist is certainly a popular way, these days). 

Anyhow, that song has been on my mind, while other songs - "The Feathery Serpent God," which has resonated against my recent Graham Hancock binge and the restrained, bluesy near-rocker "The Midnight Tram to Nowhere" - have risen in prominence since I first heard them (that latter has a stellar bit of wordplay in it, involving a recontextualization of the cliche that "it takes all kinds of people," but I'll let you discover what he does with that for yourself.) The climactic track on the album, "One Day (It's Being Scheduled)" also has some uncharacteristically (but apparently sincere) heart-on-sleeve, emotive writing in it, but I haven't really come to terms with it yet, so... The album continues to grow on me, as does Queen Elvis, which is by no means a recent album, but which I've been happily re-exploring, since it contains plenty of mysteries that I have not yet unravelled and gave me a nice Hitchcock to trade off listenings of Shufflemania! with (I've also been re-exploring Eye, which I like much better than when it first came out). ...

But sticking with Queen Elvis, a lyric on a song off it really hit me in an unusual way the other day: "Freeze." It would be folly, perhaps, to take any of Robyn Hitchcock's lyrics too personally - as I say in that other piece, he seldom asserts a value with undermining or at least complicating it - but, as people who follow this blog (or my Facebook posts) know, I had a tongue surgery last year that left me with a speech impediment and problems swallowing, which means that sometimes I have excess saliva in my mouth. So there I am, walking to Metrotown Skytrain, Queen Elvis on my headphones, and I encounter THIS lyric:

I know who wrote the book of love
It was an idiot
It was a fool
A slobbering fool with a speech defect and a shaking hand
And he wrote my name
Next to yours
But it should have been David Byrne or somebody

Hey, wait a second there, Robyn! I'll leave the issue of whether I'm a fool or not open - I mean, maybe, but jeez, just because someone is slobbering and has a speech defect, it doesn't mean that they're an idiot! Ableism! Ableism! 

It gave me a moment's pause, but mostly amused me, to discover a lyric that would have blown by unobserved and unremarked-upon in any of my PREVIOUS 53 years, but now in my 54th is suddenly kinda fraught. 

It's true, you know, we judge people, especially their intellect, by the sound of their voice. Come to them with a stammer, a slurp, a lisp, a cleft palate, or just some goofy-sounding, imprecise mumbling, and you will likely be deemed mentally deficient in some way, until you prove otherwise. I used to do it, too, never thinking to question it. It's been a surprising discovery!   

I didn't write the fuckin' book of love, either, there, Robyn. It ain't me, babe. 

I do wish Shufflemania! would hurry up and get here, but then again, I can't really afford to buy it right now anyhow, and I can hear the whole thing online, so...

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Ad Astra: existentialist SF with a nod to Apocalypse Now (or Heart of Darkness)

Watched an exceptionally interesting SF film that I had missed theatrically: Ad Astra. Was first struck by the narrative similarities to Apocalypse Now (and/or Heart of Darkness, if you prefer), insofar it offers an impressionistic journey narrative whereby a younger man voyages, not up river but to Neptune, to find an older man (in the case of Ad Astra, the younger man's father), who has apparently gone insane (he is, in the case of Ad Astra, devoted to his mission of finding intelligent life in the universe to such an extent that he has, perhaps, become dangerous, though the less said about how, the better). The voyage gives us, perhaps, some insight into why the older man has gone insane, if that is what, indeed, has happened, as do occasional transmissions that have been recorded (I believe that one includes mutterings about "moral clarity," which is about as "Col. Kurtz" a phrase as one could wish, surely offered as a deliberate, explicit nod to the earlier text); and the climax of the film, the purpose of the secret mission, may or may not involve - what's the phrase from Coppola - terminating his command with extreme prejudice?

There are all sorts of pleasures in the film, from watching a never-better Tommy Lee Jones actually stepping outside his comfort zone as an actor to create the scarred and profoundly sad father, some subtle work from Donald Sutherland, and some surprising moments of suspense. There is a feeling that perhaps the film has been simplified a bit in the process of development - that perhaps initially there were more complex plot points that got trimmed, leaving a few inessential questions unresolved - but overall it's pretty darn thought-provoking and satisfying, especially when you do get to the end of the film, which is - I'm going to use a word I dislike - profoundly existentialist.

That's a frustrating term for me, I should note, and I don't use it lightly, because I have read just enough existentialism to feel like I have a firm toehold on what it means, but not enough that I feel confident asserting that this person or that is using it wrong, though that is what it almost always feels like when I encounter the word in popular media. Half the time one sees it, I think of it like I think of asafoetida, in Indian cooking: an expensive, exotic spice that one adds to a curry to elevate its status, make it seem more "authentic" and highbrow, which apparently also does something to the flavour of a curry, except good luck determining what, exactly (I was most non-plused when, after reading about asafoetida in Indian cookbook after Indian cookbook, I finally acquired a small bottle of the stuff, and added some to curry I was making, which I found to be entirely unchanged as a result, at least that I could tell. Subsequent uses of the stuff have been no more enlightening. Maybe I am using it wrong, but thus far, it seems the Naked Emperor of spices). 

Anyhow... to me, the concept of existentialism has to do with the denial of a transcendent realm: if there is value in life, it owes not to some Godlike, heavenly force to which we must answer, is not due to some beyond out there, drawn to it though we may be, but inheres entirely in how we treat each other, how we make meaning in this, the only life we have evidence of. The question becomes not one of answering to a deity or fulfilling a cosmic quest or achieving something in "the beyond," but living in an authentic, reality-based way in the here-and-now, even though it may seem inadequate. If that's all there is, my friends - then how, really, are we to live? 

These ideas are all very germane to Ad Astra, though it will be best for people who have not seen it if I do not elucidate how (if you haven't seen the film, it may be best not to finish this, in fact, but go watch it, then come back for the rest). Despite my earlier observations, once you finish it, the film ultimately does not read as a riff on Apocalypse Now, which leaves us embracing a sort of violent, quasi-fascist, and likely immoral realpolitik ("exterminate them all," and while you are at it, call in the airstrike and sacrifice that cow!) as a response to the horrors of life - which is the sort of thing that the word "existentialism" seems to correlate to most times, when I feel like people are using it wrong; nor does it read as a riff on Heart of Darkness, which ends on Marlowe embracing a lie (the-last-words-on-his-lips-were-your-name shtick) to protect others from encountering the horrors Kurtz whispers about. Neither option would appeal to Camus or Sartre or Kierkegaard much. The first approach, in the film, seems to stem from a sorta undergrad-level anger at discovering that meaning in life is not what we've been taught as kids - the pissed-off punk who uses the non-existence of God as a pretext for acting out and/or indulging an "everything is permitted" way of life; the second alternative, found in the book, is just a retreat into inauthenticity, a shameful cop-out, a dodge. 

You will, alas, have cause to feel a brief flicker of fear in Ad Astra that things will end tritely, in a variant on that dodge, but there is, in fact, a very nice little "psychological examination" that ends the film, that resolves a lot of the thematic-and-philosophical tensions, gives you a richly philosophical (truly existentialist) takeaway, and does some pretty nice things with language, to boot, ending on a word that - while used elsewhere in the film, since Brad Pitt's main character takes several psychological examinations as part of his job as an astronaut, decompressing to a computer at the end of missions or after upsetting experiences - takes on a new, profound meaning. It was nicely handled, an ending that makes a really good film into a great one, confirms that the movie is even smarter and more self-aware than you realized, that it isn't even really an SF movie, but a disguised philosophical investigation. I think Camus and Sartre and Kierkegaard would have loved it.  

About that one-word kicker, actually - it reminded me of something that I once heard Mickey Spillane say on a talk show, about wanting to have a novel where everything hinged on the last sentence, or even the last word, which makes you go back and re-evaluate everything you've read previously. I haven't read Spillane, in fact, but Charles Willeford did something like that in his novel Pick-Up, with the final sentence. Ad Astra would have probably pleased Spillane quite a bit, too, then, because hitting that final word at the very least makes you kinda want to play back the whole evaluation scene and apply it to yourself. What is this ending teaching us about how to live? What is it to be mission-ready? Am I?

That's how it seemed to me, last night, anyhow. I liked it. (A side note: I'm not 100% confident of the SCIENCE of the film - there's a few things that happen that leave me wondering - but nothing that interfered with my suspending my disbelief, which is really all I ask). 

Thanks to David M. for facilitating the viewing of this film! (Erika liked it, too). 

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Graham Hancock rabbithole: What's wrong with Ancient Apocalypse?

It was Erika who wanted to see it: Ancient Apocalypse, the new Netflix "speculative archaeology" series. From the title itself, it sounded like one of those bullshit Discovery (or History?) Channel docs postulating that UFOs built my carport, or such (I don't even have a carport). As the trailer played while I was making our evening tea, I rolled my eyes and said something dismissive and asserted some other movie at her. But the next night, the "whattaya wanna watch" conversation came around, and she mentioned it again, so I looked the series up and saw that it was hosted by Graham Hancock. That fact changed my mind, so down the rabbithole we went.

It's not that I'm a Graham Hancock fan. But as someone who has occasionally worked in the used book game - minding the till at Albion Books for awhile in the 1990s and Carson Books in the 2000s - I am familiar with Hancock, have even made money on a couple of his books. His writing kind of had its day before this Netflix series premiered (which presumably will re-invigorate interest in it: take heed, thrifters!). I wouldn't actually ever make time to READ one of his thick tomes, but it's not like I'm not curious about the books that have passed through my hands. If I encounter a Fingerprints of the Gods on the shelf, I occasionally flip through and check out a few pages with idle curiosity: "So what's this guy on about?" Unfair or not, based on very little exposure, I quickly came to associate Hancock with other fringe stuff, like the Krishna fave Forbidden Archaeology or the works of Zecharia Sitchin or Erich von Däniken or - because the angle at which I'm coming at this is books one encounters fairly often - James Churchward, whose book on The Lost Continent of Mu one crosses paths with regularly, if you're a book guy. If this were my bookstore we were talking about, I'd put all of this stuff in the same place. With the possible exception of the (Hindu Creationist?) first book, these authors all posit that there was an encounter between early humans and some sort of now-forgotten civilizing influence, whether from outer space (Sitchin, von Daniken) or the diaspora of a now-forgotten civilization destroyed by a cataclysm (Hancock, Churchward, and anyone who has written on Atlantis, apparently). Anyhow, I figured that the series would at the very least be an easy way of getting a grasp on Hancock's ideas without having to read a three-inch thick book. It might also help me determine if there were anything in Hancock's work that might give me pause about the buying and selling of his books, or if (less likely-seeming) there was any merit to his ideas.  

Understand: as an adult, I've never much paid attention to this sort of fringe stuff, but I never really thought of it as problematic, either; even in a post-9/11 world, an Alex Jones world, a Donald Trump/ Fake News world, where conspiracy theory has been manipulated, weaponized, and used to undermine confidence in democracy, legitimate scholarship, and journalism, I would be no more disturbed to sell any of the books these people have written than I would be to sell a book about bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster. What does it hurt? It's the intellectual equivalent of watching episodes of In Search Of..., which I used to devour as a kid, or reading The Fortean Times (which I used to look at online every week; thanks go to Robin Bougie for reminding me of that magazine). And anyone who has worked at a bookstore knows that, while you may judge people inwardly for the stuff they buy, and you may have a line that you won't cross, for the most part, if your living in any way correlates to the selling of books, when a customer brings crap to the counter, you take their money and ask if they want a bag and let them be their own judge of the ideas they encounter. What you DON'T do is roll your eyes and say, f'rinstance, "What the fuck do you want to read Dan Brown for? At least buy Holy Blood, Holy Grail or, here, have you read Robert Anton Wilson? Dan Brown is just that stuff for dummies, for fucksake. Put it back!" (I haven't actually read Dan Brown, either, but I saw a movie once...). 

Brief digression: it's actually interesting to note what lines bookdealers WON'T cross. I once found a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that ancient, malicious, and incredibly damaging anti-Jewish conspiracy theory tome, which I liberated from a "free book bin" on a rural road in Vancouver Island, of all places, because I thought the ideas in it are dangerous enough that it shouldn't be left somewhere where any kid could stumble across it and get polluted or confused or led down a toxic road. But then, with the book in my possession, I had to figure out what to do with it. I think it's entirely valid to read it, if you're researching, for example, the causes of the Holocaust or the history of anti-Semitism, but was shocked at how many of my friends told me I should burn it (Erika's dad, into whose house I briefly brought it, suggested the fireplace for it himself, while noting that there IS a contradiction between burning a book that inspired people - the Nazis - who themselves burned books). Most of my Facebook friends, liberal sorts all, were on that page as well, but I don't burn books... especially not when I figured a bookdealer might take it off my hands for a few bucks. I mean, I read a bit of it myself; it's not like the minute you open it, it infects you and corrupts you and you start listening to Burzum or something. (I mean, even viruses are worth studying, as long as you don't spread them; at least The Protocols has historical import, unlike, say, the crap put out by David Icke, whose books I feel vastly less comfortable with than Hancock's). However, I made a couple calls and was kind of impressed and surprised that no one - even bookstores that will stock Mein Kampf, which also has similar historical import - wanted anything to do with it. Unable to find a buyer, unwilling to burn it, and not wanting to put it back into general circulation at a thrift store or free bin, I ended up giving it to a buddy with an interest in the history of conspiracy theories, whose ability to bullshit-detect I have utter faith in; I believe he read it and then destroyed it himself, which is fine with me. 

Now: it might not occur to people who watch Graham Hancock's series that there is anything problematic about it at all. Erika and I are now six episodes into it, and I must confess, Hancock has tickled that part of me that used to LOVE my weekly fix of Leonard Nimoy musing about cryptids or creature storms or the lost colony of Roanoke (the actual In Search Of... about that is on Youtube! Whoa! I watched that when it aired, I believe - on October 25, 1979, when I was 11). Ancient Apocalypse is spectacularly well-made, with neat photography of ancient historical sites around the world, fun computer graphics that show how these sites might have looked when they were active, nifty observations (presumably in many cases quite trustworthy) about how ancient astronomers plotted the layout of the temples and mounds to correspond to events in the heavens, and Hancock himself, who seems sincere, if a bit of a character, as your host. It's amusing how his indignancy over how archaeologists exclude him and will will not listen to his ideas is tellingly mirrored by HANCOCK'S OWN REFUSAL TO LISTEN TO THESE ARCHAEOLOGISTS. If he's hell bent on advocating his own non-conforming version of ancient history, no matter what anyone might say to the contrary - if there is no sense of a free debate of ideas within his show - he's still engaging and funny and articulate and passionate. You kinda like him, and don't sense that he's, for instance, a dangerous hustler or utter fruitcake; he's just an eccentric non-conformist making a case for a pet theory of his, which on the surface seems no more dangerous than believing that nine foot tall ape men stalk the remote forests of British Columbia or that Kubrick's The Shining is about the faked moon landing (which also was an entertaining idea to, uh, entertain in that Room 237 documentary, so what the hell?). 

There may even be educational value in the series. Maybe it's not the kind Hancock intends, but, y'know, if I had kids, I would happily share the show with them, in the hopes of sparking wonder about the world and the past. I'd probably try to guide their viewing a little, mind you, because the real value in the series to me is that it is an object lesson in the dangers of confirmation bias: because with only a couple of tiny exceptions, Hancock only includes people on his show if they are willing to entertain (or themselves believe) his central premise, that the survivors and descendants of a forgotten lost civilization that pre-dates any known civilization by thousands of years, after an apocalyptic event some 12,800 years ago, brought their ideas about architecture, astronomy, and agriculture around the world, teaching hunter-gatherers about pyramid construction and so forth, which explains common features in the mythologies and construction principles of these people. Since it is not Hancock's purpose to find the truth about these ruins, but rather to defend and expand his own hypothesis, if you are an archaeologist who says anything that disputes this theory - unless Hancock changes his tune in the last couple of installments, which seems unlikely - you will not be included in the conversation. He's not interested in objectively unravelling the very real questions that might be asked about, say, Gunung Padang, one of many fascinating locations he visits, unless they are answered by his pet theory. Still, I'd be just fine with children of mine learning about Gunung Padang from Hancock, as long as their next step was to get onto the computer and look it up themselves and fact-check his claims. Teachable moment, eh? 

Of course, I would also hope that kids watching the series would ask the obvious question (which I am guessing Hancock doesn't get around to): if we need to posit the existence of some sort of prehistoric super-civilization (possibly Antlantean) to explain how different ancient societies came up with pyramids, learned about astronomy, and so forth - well, who taught that stuff to the prehistoric super-civilization? It's not that far off the standard refutation of the Christian argument from design: if we need to posit a God to explain the existence of the universe, then how was God created? (He wasn't, he's eternal, is the standard reply, which you then rebut with, "but if something can itself be uncreated and eternal, why can't that be true of the universe itself?" Checkmate, end game, seeya later).  

...which leads to the next obvious question: WHY might we need to explain how ancient societies built such structures? And this is where people are jumping up and down on Hancock, online, slurring him as a white supremacist - on Boing Boing, say ("Archaeologists reveal the the white supremacist nonsense behind Netflix's 'Ancient Apocalypse'), Slate ("The Ancient Absurdities of Ancient Apocalypse") or The Guardian (which calls the series "The Most Dangerous Show on Netflix"). The problem behind many of these "ancient civilization taught the hunter-gatherers everything they know"-type postulations - which is actually laid out most clearly in this article about the history of Atlantis theories, which doesn't even mention Hancock - is that Atlantis has historically been used to erase the accomplishments of the (mostly brown-skinned) people who built the pyramids, temples, and mounds that Hancock visits. Quoting from that last linked article - "The Harmful Pseudoarchaeology of Mythological Atlantis" by Stephanie Halmhofer, who chronicles the evolution of the concept through the late 19th century - we see that 

Atlantis became intertwined with human evolution and the idea of superior (those descended from Atlanteans) versus inferior (those not descended from Atlanteans) nations. In 1888 Helena Blavatsky, founder of the Theosophical Society, published The Secret Doctrine, which was inspired by Donnelly’s arguments with an added splash of esotericism and spiritualism. In The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky discussed her theories of evolution and what she called the “root races”, in which Atlantis was considered the fourth root race. She believed Atlanteans were the ancestors to the fifth and most superior race – the Aryans.

Further, she writes that Atlantis

played a large role in 1930’s Nazi Germany when Heinrich Himmler and Herman Wirth founded the Institute for the Study of Atlantis. The institute’s purpose was to find proof Atlantis had once existed to prove the superiority of the Aryan race, because Himmler believed Blavatsky’s claims about Atlantis. Today, Atlantis and the idea of hyperdiffusion is still continually brought up in both discussions looking for explanations of the achievements of people in the past and discussions of nationalistic superiority.

That's all interesting and worth noting and very relevant. Perhaps Hancock is doing a grievous injustice to the hunter-gatherers he seems unwilling to believe might have come up with the complex architectural knowhow and astronomical knowledge that, say, the builders of the Serpent Mound in Ohio might have had? It still seems like it's not a fair game to call Hancock a white supremacist, though. The author of the Slate article, Rebecca Onion, quotes an archaeologist named John Hoopes on this point (which is also quoted on that Boing Boing piece):

If you research Graham Hancock and look at his books over time, as I have, one of the things that you discover about him is that he self-edits. He doesn’t use the word Atlantis now except very sparingly. He has also edited himself since 1995, when, in Fingerprints of the Gods, he came out and said that it was an ancient white civilization. He no longer says the “white” part in the series. If you pay careful attention, he does talk about “heavily bearded Quetzalcoatl” who arrives, according to myth, to give the gift of knowledge, but he doesn’t mention the other part of that trope, which all of us know about, which is that this visitor supposedly had white skin.

It’s similar to the way that Donald Trump operates. He will get to the edge of something, but he won’t say it, because he knows that his followers already know it. He can say, “I didn’t say that,” and he didn’t say it, but everyone knew what he said because it was already known, right?

There's a more charitable interpretation: perhaps Hancock doesn't mention that his ancient superior race was white (if he ever in fact said this - I wouldn't know) because he no longer believes it? There is certainly no mention of it in the series; should he be criticized and tarred as a white supremacist for NOT asserting that his proposed "master race" was white? (Maybe in Hoopes' circles everyone knows this aspect of the theory, as he says, but watching Hancock, I was assuming that his probably fictional super-civilization was ALSO brown-skinned, since most early civilizations were!). Of  course, there IS mention of the seafaring explorers who came ashore to offer lessons in pyramid-building being hairy, and being "giants," compared to the people they encountered, which COULD be code for "white" or something, I guess, but there is no mention of their skin colour anywhere in the show (that I've seen). The only relevant feature of this purported lost civilization is that it is more advanced than that of the hunter-gatherers its survivors/ descendants encountered. And while there may still be some troubling similarity between what Hancock offers to the racially-motivated history of Atlantis theories discussed in the article by Halmhofer, there's an easy way of clearing Hancock of all charges: would it still be white supremacist to argue that pyramid builders got their knowledge from a  - let's say it - earlier white civilization, if, in fact, it was historically correct? 

No. If Hancock could actually prove his claims, it would just be history, not white supremacy, that he was offering. And in the absence of that proof, while we might find the desire to ADVANCE such claims suspect - because Hancock's desire to believe this stuff does seem to come from somewhere OTHER than the evidence - if we wanted to say that all such theories are rooted in some neurotic need to believe that "whites were first" - it seems kind of unfair to read quite THAT much into the show, all things considered. The problem isn't that Hancock is racist or white supremacist; I see no reason to slur his name with that particular association, at least not based on the six of the eight episodes I've seen. The problem is, he's not in any way objective (Hoopes connects him with mystical/ New Age beliefs and gets into Hancock's history with cannabis and ayahuasca, all of which seems more plausible as a starting point than some sort of white-race neurosis). Why call someone a racist, when all you really need to do is note that he's a fringe figure who won't let go of a probably untenable theory regardless of what anyone says? Isn't that invalidating enough? 

Anyhow, though I disagree with Hoopes, above, the Slate article is fascinating and enlightening. There's also a review linked in it from Archaeology Review, written by a professional archaeologist, which makes the worthy claim that far from wanting to suppress Hancock's "discoveries," "every single archaeologist I know would be elated to discover any previously unknown civilization of the Ice Age. Or any age for that matter. Whatever their advancement is."

It's probably not the rabbithole Graham Hancock would have me go down, but I'm getting even more entertainment value reading the debunkings of his series than I am from the series itself. Value-added, eh? I'm having a damn good time with all this. And, you know, the places he visits in Ancient Apocalypse are fascinating and worthy of contemplation, even if the host is less than trustworthy. 

Thanks, Mr. Hancock! Good show.