First Thoughts on David Icke at Wembley Arena

Where the Dreamland Festival had been semi-academic and familial, my fieldwork at Icke’s London Wembley Arena presentation on Saturday, 27th of October 2012, could hardly have been more different in terms of atmosphere and setting. Rather than 120 attendees, there were close to 6000, and instead of a leafy Gothic retreat in southern USA, we were in London’s cavernous Wembley Arena. What’s more, it was bitterly cold, and it turned out that the queue I was in was not getting into the venue, due to a broken ticket scanner. It did give me a chance to listen in to some of the conversations going on around me.

A group of young men immediately behind me got talking to an older couple about Icke. This was their first time seeing him live, they said, although they had all watched his previous presentations online. Their friend had got them into it, they said, “he’s the real nutter”. The chap from the older couple laughed; “well, we’re all nutters here.”

“I’m surprised to see so many couples here,” he then opined. “Women don’t tend to be so awake.”

Eventually we were told to go to one of the other entrances, so we marched round to the front, and arrived at our seats just in time to catch the closing seconds of Gareth Icke’s opening set. Although I had a clear view of the stage, the steep and already almost full arena made getting to my seat awkward. I tried to get a bit of chat going with the others around me, but unlike Dreamland, people were keeping themselves to themselves.

The choice to have his son’s band play at the gig was criticised later by a few people; they thought it was “selling out”. The situation is certainly more complex than this, however; as already noted, Gareth is a director of Icke’s estate, and it cannot be coincidental that he released the single “Remember Who You Are” at the same time as his father’s book of the same title. Whatever his other faults (open to debate), Icke has always been a proud and attentive parent, promoting his children’s activities through his website, and his Ryde flat is adorned with soft toys for his grandchildren’s amusement. What is perhaps more surprising is that Gareth is prepared to throw his lot in with his father’s ideas quite so much.

Other than that, however, the show was typical of his later presentations; three sections, beginning with the “spiritworld – holographic universe” material, through the Illuminati, into Reptilians and then back to the real world, with practical applications. The first section moved extremely slowly. As has been the case since his earliest books, we got a potted history of Icke’s personal history, and a lot of speculative physics about how the universe is a hologram. One of the two women on my right dozed off, and latecomers trickled in throughout the first hour. The room was vast. Someone had brought a baby, which cried throughout.

In the second section, Icke started talking about the Illuminati. I was very interested in how the reptilian material was received; was this, as several reporters have suggested, something which put people off Icke’s other idea? Well, my experience suggests otherwise. The room fell quieter than would be possible through random means. The two ladies who had slept through the first section suddenly woke up; I saw several of the couples around me cuddling up. Two solutions suggested themselves; 1) the couples had bonded over the reptilian thesis, and the fact that they shared something dangerous was part of their shared identity, or 2) the reptilian thesis provided a meeting point between the conspiracist and New Age people. Nor can this really be explained by the suggestion that people are drawn to the more outlandish material for entertainment; given that you could watch any of his previous presentations on the internet for free, it would be an expensive night out, even if you lived in London to start with.

I was surprised, however, that he didn’t milk the Jimmy Savile aspect more. Given that it was the main story in the popular press at that time, including the more conservative (small c) outlets like the BBC and the Daily Mail, it would have seemed an obvious opportunity for Icke to argue that the mainstream media had caught up with him; yet he showed unusual restraint.

Towards the end of this section, he added some new material. Human Race, Get Off Your Knees had introduced the idea of the hollow Moon, and Remember Who You Are had added Saturn into the mix; Icke claims that Saturn is not only the origins of the term “Satan” and “Satanism”, but also of the idea of the Black Sun. The Reptilian frequencies are broadcast from Saturn and amplified by the Moon, and this Saturn-Moon matrix is an important aspect of the control mechanism through which we are controlled. I could not but think of Gurdjieff during this section; he wrote that most humans were unconscious, and that their emotions were “food for the moon”.

Perhaps as interesting, although less obvious, was his increasing use of terms taken from gnosticism. In particular, he several times referred to the highest powers of the Illuminati as “Archons”, rather than reptilians. Was this a way of distancing himself from the reptilian thesis without abandoning it altogether?

After a second break, (I retired to the bar), the third section proceeded as it has since 2003 or so; how these ideas might be taken into the real world. This particular performance added a new coda, however. A number of musicians were brought out, and Icke led a sing-along. Not only that, but he performed his “non-complidance”, and invited anyone in the audience to join him if they wanted to. I was frankly surprised at his energy, given that he’s in his fifties, suffering from arthritis and in no way slender. Moreover, it was a brave move given that this was his highest profile performance to date.

So; still talking about reptilians; still surprisingly New Age; moving noticeably towards gnostic terminology; still very energetic and a skilled orator. And, need I point it out; ETs, conspiracies and New Age…

David Icke and Holly Willoughby in the same post? Be still, my beating heart!

This seems to have taken place shortly after the Wembley event in October – interesting then, that it’s Human Race Get Off Your Knees that’s being advertised, rather than Remember Who You Are. Not sure what the significance is.

Interesting to compare how Philip Schofield deals with Icke compared to Wogan, Nicky Campbell and Fern Britton. Respectful without being sarcastic or overly apologetic. Bearing in mind, however, that he also presented David Cameron with a list of paedophiles he’d printed off the internet…

I think that might also be the only time I ever agreed with David Cameron. Although, I found it hard to concentrate on what he or Schofield were saying…

David Icke: Was He Right?

I think I may have burnt myself out. Normal service will resume in due course. In the meantime, enjoy this, broadcast in 2005 on UK Channel 5:

You may also be interested in the follow-up interview between Wogan and Icke in 2006, where Wogan is somewhat apologetic, which is great for me because I really like Wogan and I always thought that he was quite astonishingly rude back in 1991. Seems that 2005/6 was the high-point of mainstream rehabilitation of Icke – be interesting to see where it goes after this October’s Wembley event:

Immanent Televised Arrest of Conspirators…

Next week’s Sociology of Religion conference at the University of Chester features the panel I have organised on Religion and Conspiracy Theories. This panel is the first of its kind, as far as I’m aware, and the four papers being presented are about a third of those proposed but couldn’t attend for whatever reason. One of the panellists, Kevin Whitesides, sent me this video as an example of what we’re talking about, and frankly, it’s a perfect example.

I’d like to tell you more about the papers but frankly, I’m exhausted and the main impetus behind this post was that I haven’t had time to do a proper post in months. Give me a couple of weeks…

Lancet examination of Haitian Zombies

As inundated by fictional representations of the undead as we are these days, we may forget that there are supposedly real zombies out there – specifically, in Haiti, where dead relatives are often believed to come back as zombies, shuffling, uncommunicative and inert.

Three of these cases were given a thorough examination in 1997, and the results were published in the UK medical journal, The Lancet. The upshot – they’re not zombies, rather, they’re wandering mentally ill or handicapped individuals who are assumed to be the dead people, but aren’t.

Read more about this story here:

Where are Salinger’s Books?

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for legendary, “lost” works. First PKD’s Exegesis, and now Smile by the Beach Boys. It set me thinking.

J.D. Salinger
Image via Wikipedia

It’s now nearly two years since J. D. Salinger died. I cannot think of another case where an artist has died leaving numerous unpublished works. Not unfinished, merely unpublished; according to his daughter, there were so many that he filed them with colour-coding – red means publish as is, blue means needs editing, etcetera. I have a fascination with artists who produce something magical and then struggle to follow it up. Some, like Brian Wilson, go mad in the attempt. Joseph Heller is unusually noble in his acceptance that he’d probably never manage to top Catch 22. A very few, James Joyce or Scott Walker, perhaps, manage to equal or even top their masterpiece, though generally after a decade or more of work. But none, to my knowledge, have simply withdrawn their work from public consumption, except Salinger.

The Catcher in the Rye, his first novel, is a remarkable work, and what Salinger will be remembered for. It is a  succinct, mythical evocation of what it feels like to be a teenage outsider, and as a result, finds a ready audience. Personally, I was always more drawn to the books that followed, Nine Stories, a collection of previously published short stories, and two collections of novellas, Franny and Zooey, and the awkwardly titled Seymour: An Introduction and Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters. Both of these concern the Glass family, former TV quiz show alumni and all-round disfunctional siblings. The former is very good, ad works well as a collection; the latter less so, as it is rather rambling and uneventful.

Despite the declining critical response, Salinger continued to write about the Glass family, and in particular Seymour, a prodigy who committed suicide in A Perfect Day for Bananafish in 9 Stories. Salinger’s last published story, Hapworth 16, 1924, in the New Yorker, took the form of a rambling letter from the seven year-old Seymour Glass to his parents whilst at summer camp. It was particularly poorly received, and Salinger never published again. He didn’t stop writing, however, and between Hapworth in 1965 and his death in January 2010, is alleged to have written some 16 novel-length works. That is, at least four times his published works. So where are they?

Given that Salinger published only one novel in his lifetime, it may be that what is left in the vaults doesn’t measure up. Even so, that doesn’t mean it’s without merit. I want to pursue Salinger’s madness wherever it might roam, regardless of quality. Imagine: several millions of words, possibly all concerning the Glass family, from the pen of one of the most important novelists of the 20th century. Surely it’s of interest whether or not it’s well-written. Or sane.

We can only assume there is some dispute between the children. But Catcher will still sell in its millions; I don’t know what they have to lose.

I Want This Job…

…but it’s two years too early.

Lecturer in Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts

We are seeking to recruit a colleague to join our team of academics within the Department of Religious Studies, whose focus is broadly ‘contemporary religion in historical perspective’. You will support the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes taught or supported by the Department and contribute to the research culture of Religious Studies at The Open University.

You will have excellent qualifications in Religious Studies or in the rigorous study of religion from a methodological position, such as History or Sociology, be familiar with the fields covered in courses offered by the Department, and have sufficient academic flexibility to work on interdisciplinary courses.

You will have experience of and enthusiasm for distance learning, and be familiar with developments in teaching using electronic tools such as Moodle and VLEs appropriate to The Open University context.

You will be expected to make a valuable contribution in the forthcoming REF, therefore your research should be of ‘international’ standard or potential.

The Faculty has a strong commitment to collective working in teaching and scholarship and we encourage applications from those who want to work in such a culture.

Closing date: noon on 10 November 2011.

Interview date: 9 December 2011

Tories on the Meat Rack

This is brilliant.

Theresa May

Theresa May is alleged to have come off stage after her infamous “Catgate” speech to the strains of “Rocks” by Primal Scream. Primal Scream today issued the following statement:

Primal Scream are totally disgusted that the Home Secretary Theresa May ended her speech at the Tory party conference with our song Rocks.

How inappropriate. Didn’t they research the political history of our band?

Hasn’t she listened to the words? Does she even know what getting your rocks off means? No. She is a Tory; how could she?

Primal Scream are totally opposed to the coalition government, Cameron, Osborne, Gove, Howard, Clegg etc. They are legalised bullies passing new laws to ensure the wealthy stay wealthy, taking the side of big business while eradicating workers rights and continuing their attacks on young people, single parents and OAP’s by slashing education and social security budgets, and persecuting the poor for being poor.

We would like to distance ourselves from this sick association.

The Tories are waging a war on the disenfranchised, They are the enemy.

Primal Scream