Review of The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier

I had mostly just thought to give The Morning of the Magicians an awful review and move on. Most of the book is profoundly stupid, and often in factual error. (For instance, Piri Reis was NOT a 19th-century admiral, but a 16th-century one thus could have presented the US with anything. Radio waves and gamma rays are both forms of light, so, yeah, you can compare them. Plus, computers are binary and human-style intelligence is analog, not the other way around.  The book’s errors are numerous and multifaceted, obvious and subtle, and even worse is the broad mischaracterizations, equally untruthful oversimplifications, and the extent to which facts are taken out of context.)

However, inside the brutal stupidity that is most of the book are two interesting parts.

First, Pauwels suggests that a being of superhuman intelligence wouldn’t need to hide. Neither would an organization of such intelligences. What they said to each other would be incomprehensible to ordinary humans, much in the same way that dogs don’t understand what humans say. It would simply be lost on us.  For a fiction writer, this is a highly interesting idea.

Additionally, they would have no desire to brag about their accomplishments or explain their thoughts to us – for the same reason, we don’t try to teach our dogs algebra. We simply could not understand anything meaningful they had to say.
As a sci-fi writer, that’s interesting.  Further, it parses well.  I’ve often been in conversations where the people around me have no idea what I’m saying.  I have also been in conversations – usually with physicists – and had no clue what they’re talking about.  So, yeah, superhuman intelligences would not need to hide – and it would then follow that the occasional genius might be able to notice this communication, too.

Interesting, but not proof of superhuman intelligences living on the earth.  Everything that the authors of the book say is perfectly comprehensible, but often factually erroneous, which cramps the idea that they are the people who have found those superhuman intelligences.

Second, and a broader audience can appreciate this, I found the author’s description of Nazi mysticism utterly chilling. Hitler as a medium for dark, subterranean powers, Himmler as a high priest, Nazism as an alien society focused on global war and mass murder as part of a magic ritual to create the ubermensch is one of the best horror stories written. I found it to be honestly terrifying.

So, how do I rate this book? About eighty percent of it is altogether stupid. Between outright errors and ludicrous overstatements, it layers on this banal vision of possibilities that is quite frankly the origin story of the X-Men – that nuclear waste created by atomic explosions is creating mutants with strange powers. Combined with a long section on alchemy, it’s very much like the Marvel Universe – where magicians, psychics, and mutants fight Nazi evildoers and dark powers. But presented as non-fiction? It is to laugh. Plus, when not talking about Nazi mysticism, Pauwels repeats himself ad nauseum.  The book tries to wear the reader down with repetitious assertions, like repeating a lie a hundred times might – through alchemy – transform it into truth.
On the other hand, damn, that part about Hitler and Himmler is smoking hot horror goodness. It got to me.  If you want to read the juicy parts, go straight to the sections with the Nazis, and then stop.

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