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Mutants and Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal Hardcover – November 15, 2011
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"An invigorating read, and a cross-cultural bonanza you never saw coming. Boldly embracing the enigmatic Id, Jeffrey Kripal has gathered the silver threads of grand mythologies, sacred texts, and mystical creeds, binding them to the visionary Super-Ego at the heart of modern literature’s bastard sons--comic books and science fiction."
"For most of the history of popular culture, the creators and the academics--the storytellers and the scholars--have sat in different rooms, in different houses, virtually on different worlds, having virtually no contact with each other. Even when the professors began to discover the secret, inner meanings and contexts of B-movies and comic books and science-fiction pulps, there was little contact between the classroom and the creators. Now, however, Jeffrey J. Kripal has come along--both analyst and aficionado, examiner and enthusiast. He bridges the gap between spirituality and its sometimes seedy outcroppings in pop culture, and forges—or rather, reveals--a synthesis that was really there all along, if so many guys with PhD’s hadn't had a vested interest in not recognizing it. More power to him, I say! Or rather--more super-power!"
(Roy Thomas, writer of The Uncanny X-Men, Fantastic Four , The Incredible Hulk , and more)
"Jeffrey Kripal is not only serious about some very strange stuff in Mutants and Mystics, he is seriously smart and singularly thought-provoking about it. Trust me, I've been there and this book is an excellent guide, maybe even a new map of mysterious terrain first charted in antiquity. Always scholarly yet never stuffy, always fun but never superficial, Mutants and Mystics makes a solid case for contemplating ancient myth as secret (if garbled) history and demonstrates how that myth/history is perpetuated in pop culture, whether today's creators are fully aware of what they're doing or not."
(Doug Moench, author of Batman and The Big Book of the Unexplained)
About the Author
Jeffrey Kripal is the J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. He is the author of six books, including Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion and Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred.
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The author details numerous personal histories and colorful anecdotes which include amazing paranormal experiences of authors and artists alike. I especially enjoyed learning more about Ray Thomas, the "Amazing Stories" history and his own paranormal experiences; Barry Windsor-Smith's UFO encounter and pre-cognitive experiences; Philip K. Dick's gnostic beliefs and fantastic personal visions, just to name a few. After reading the chapter discussing Jack Kirby's wonderful world of aliens, ancient astronauts, mutants, counter culture and consciousness, I've got a new appreciation for my childhood interest in comic books. I felt like I was reading a "hidden history" of American culture. Buy the book, you won't be disappointed.
The book explores the intersection of pop culture - specifically comics and the sci-fi pulps - and the paranormal, and finds things are stranger and more uncanny than most readers, let alone sci-fi fans, are aware of. Kripal reveals the many hidden themes that all-too-often synchronistically crop up in comics and the lives of those who author them. He proposes that we are living in a Super-Story, an over-riding narrative behind the many sub-narratives we tell ourselves in pop culture. Well, we think we're telling these stories, but we ourselves are being written. By what and by whom? That remains mysterious and rather Gnostic, but once we come to Realization we can move to Authorization and becomes "authors of the impossible" writing the stories of our own lives.
This is a good companion book to Grant Morrison's Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human. It covers some of the same territory, but now from a broader perspective than the experiences of just one artist (Grant Morrison); we also discover the weird and prescient lives and art of other key comic-book and pulp prophets as Alan Moore, Jack Kirby, Barry Windsor-Smith, and Ray Palmer, among others.
Next on my reading list is Kripal's previous book, Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred. I'd previously read portions of his book, The Serpent's Gift: Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion, and I plan to get back to that one soon, too. There's a cornucopia of rich ideas and connections in Kripal's work and I look forward to exploring them all.
Most recent customer reviews
A really good book too btw. Learning about the beginning of the mental construction of aliens and their popularized...Read more