Structured procrastination, oh yeh. I have an unfinished review of Doug Henwood’s “After the New Economy” on the computer in front of me, which is looking like taking me longer to write than he took to write the book, plus James Surowiecki’s new book is out, covering a couple of areas which he’s argued with us about on CT. And what am I reading and reviewing? The latest work by that noted metaphysician, David Icke. “Tales from the Time Loop”. Icke is a bit of a guilty pleasure for many of us here at CT, and a few others. But I’m rather afraid that with this latest one, he’s jumped the shark. See below the fold for my Amazon review, which to be honest I’m not anticipating getting posted. I’ve added a few links so that non-Icke fans can get up to speed. I don’t know why I’m so bright and breezy today btw, it’s actually rather sad.
Update Richard Kahn in comments points me to this forthcoming paper for the Journal of Utopian Studies. Opinions on this kind of free-wheeling, name-dropping postmodern cultural studies writing are somewhat split on CT, but I’m inclined to be a bit softer than the median. When this sort of thing comes off, it’s really good, and I rather think that Richard’s Icke paper comes off pretty well.
David Icke has always had a fond place in the hearts of lovers of kitsch conspiracy theories ever since the famous “Wogan” interview. However, after scaling (pun intended for the cognoscenti) the heights of inspired lunacy in his second book, “The Biggest Secret”, his works have become less and less entertaining even as the “J” section of the index has grown and grown. “Alice in Wonderland and the WTC Disaster” was just about bearable as a compendium of every 9/11 conspiracy theory ever published on the Web, but “Tales from the Time Loop” is a desperate rehash; as well as having surprisingly little genuinely new material, for me it marks the point at which Icke takes the leap from mere dabbling with codewords into full-blown anti-Semitism.
Dealing with this issue first, Icke has always had a thing or two about “international bankers” as a group and the Rothschild family in particular, but has usually in the past been scrupulous and thorough enough in his disavowals of anti-Semitism to get the benefit of the doubt from me (if not from the ADL). However, the new material in TFTTL is just disgusting. Icke has got hold of a copy of Norman Finkelstein’s excellent “The Holocast Industry”, filtered it through his own wonky prism and come up with a view of history in which the Jewish people do not exist as a race, but only as a conspiracy to hoodwink Gentiles out of their cash. Of course, Icke is at pains to insist that “ordinary” Jews don’t incur his hatred; they apparently are as much victims as the rest of us of the “leaders” of the international Jewish conspiracy. This is boilerplate sub-Protocols rubbish circa 1902, and chucking a few lizards into the mix doesn’t improve it very much.
For the rest of the book, seasoned Icke fans will recognise almost everything here, not least because Icke doesn’t regard the acquisition of a new global conspiracy theory as a reason to dump any old ones, even if they’re laughably inconsistent. (Why is “…And The Truth Will Set You Free” still on sale, btw? It predates Icke’s discovery of the Annunaki Lizard conspiracy and thus should presumably be regarded by anyone who’s up to speed on the lizards as dangerously misleading.) We have more or less the Greatest Hits of Icke; the Bush/Rameses bloodline, Dick Cheney as a rampaging child murderer in Bohemian Grove, the pyramid diagram of the Illuminati power structure and here there and everywhere a lizard (the White Martians, interestingly, don’t get much of a look-in this time round, while Credo Mutwa has been downplayed as Icke takes on a new, South American shaman in the role of provider of vague confirmatory myths and psychedelic herbal teas).
The material on the Iraq War is pretty limp by the standards of AIWATWTCD; given the extent to which actual, documented evidence of state misdirection and intelligence cockups is available through the conventional media, this is quite surprising. If you want grainy reproductions of pictures from Al-Jazeera of child casualties of bombing, they’re here, and they look about as bad as one might expect. If you want some of the sillier factual assertions which Al-Jazeera and other Arab sources have tried to get away with, reported as indisputable fact, they are here too.
And then we end with the usual Icke chapter on muggy quantum physics, love vibrations and prisons of reality; Steven Hawking meets Doris Stokes. Except this time the cursed thing takes up half the book; Icke has apparently decided that all this conspiracy stuff is a bit negative, and the reason that the rest of humanity as yet remains unconvinced by his poor man’s Robert Anton Wilson act is mainly that we haven’t been sufficiently bored into submission by it yet.
So where next for Icke? To be honest, I’m not optimistic. Given his current trajectory, which appears to involve severe hostility to the USA, uncritical acceptance of Al-Jazeera television and some decidedly unpalatable views on the Jews, my guess is that pretty soon we will learn that his latest spiritual revelation is that the all-powerful love-force that permeates the universe has a name and that name is Allah. Roll on Icke’s Cat Stevens moment, I say; if nothing else, it has a decent chance of getting his books off the shelves.
Update: See comments below. Lots of people apparently object to my dragging Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam into this. I think they make a fair enough case; I personally regard Stevens as a figure of fun and his religion as a fair subject for mockery, but I wouldn’t want to pretend that this post is CT’s finest hour on the subject.
 Just a few jokes about the Surowiecki book to get out of the way so I don’t have to put them in the review. James S needs to shoot his blurb writer. Not only does the UK edition of his book promise to explain to us how it is that “you can buy a screw anywhere and it will fit into a bolt made 10,000 miles away”, but also the message of the blurb more or less explicitly says “everyone thinks that crowds are always wrong and experts are always right. Well James Surowiecki is an expert on this, and he thinks that the conventional wisdom is wrong and he’s right”.
 The page linked here suggests that Icke was stitched up by careful editing of the Wogan show. IIRC this is not true; it was live.
Nuts fit into bolts. Screws don’t.