Books And Authors I’ve Read (1-59)

19. “The Keep” by F. Paul Wilson (horror, sci fi)

Theodore Cuza meets Molasar

I saw the movie when it was released in the theaters. I loved it. I remember thinking that it could have used more dialog. I felt that that might have explained more, because with this film, you don’t get a lot of answers about the incredible beings who are at the center of the story. Clearly, This story is meant to be a part of the vampire genre. Watch the movie and you will see that while it quite strays from the classic vampire story, this is still a vampire story, sort of. However, Michael Mann, who directed The Keep, took the movie version even further from (but not totally out of) the classic vampire story (than the book by F. Paul Wilson) to explore themes of evil versus good in the context of the rise of Nazism.

But there isn’t enough in the movie to go on. The book, which I read after seeing the movie, varies in small ways and also doesn’t say a whole lot about where and when these beings come from. It’s been a long time since I read Wilson’s book, although I’ve re-watched the movie many times.

As I recall, Rasalom/ Molasar (same name, but reversed) and Glaeken (the good guy) are not exactly the same. Whether that means that they are different species, I don’t know. More likely, they are the same species, but the different paths they have chosen also resulted in their acquisition of different abilities and qualities. You can see the movie, apparently, on YouTube. In the meantime, and while it lasts (no one can guarantee the continuation of YouTube videos), I can give you a link to my YouTube collection of Keep music. The thing about that is that Tangerine Dream, who did the soundtrack, created so much music for the movie that didn’t get used, but got presented as Keep music, it’s confusing. And the music is uneven. Some Keep music is crappy, at least to my ears. What’s in the movie is perfect and, incidentally, about the only Tangerine Dream music I really like. Finding the entire TD soundtrack that was used in the movie, solely, isn’t possible. I have some of it. The unused (in the movie) TD soundtrack music I’ve added (to my Keep soundtrack playlist), hopefully, doesn’t clash with the good stuff.

20. “Deterring Democracy” by Noam Chomsky (non fiction)

Chomsky Deterring Democracy Chavez

I began my intellectual awakening with religion. I was a Jehovah’s Witness. They taught me a lot, but I don’t believe that they are God’s chosen people or that their religion is the true religion. However, I can’t imagine learning more about what is in the Christian Bible from any other organization. I agree with much that the Witnesses believe. And I disagree with much.

Rule by God is theocracy. Rule by man is democracy. If the theocracy in fact is presided over by those who don’t know the true God, then that too is democracy. And you see a lot of that on this planet. Some time after I had been associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses, I came across a Toronto Star review of Noam Chomsky’s “Deterring Democracy.” I thought, in a simplistic fashion, “Here’s a good book to have! I can use the information, possibly, in my arguments with people who I’m trying to convince that theocracy is preferable to democracy.” So I bought the book. Talk about information overload! Anyway, That was the beginning of my self-education in class politics.

Eventually, because I took to heart the Christian Bible’s admonition to buy truth itself (rather than an organization, or individual) and questioned beliefs and behavior of the Watchtower Society and it’s followers, I found myself drifting away from that camp. Finally, I separated from Jehovah’s Witnesses altogether. They might call me, out of a sense of wounded pride, ‘apostate’. But I am not apostate. An apostate is one who knowingly and willing goes against beliefs he or she holds. I question and honestly disagree with or can’t accept some beliefs and practices of the Witnesses.

As for Noam Chomsky, Once he was on my radar I was astounded to find his name popping up everywhere. I’m sure it was some time after I had read “Deterring Democracy” that I decided to send him a letter, as was my habit (and kind of my own way of extending my ministry which I took seriously and which I abandoned only gradually, but never completely). I sent letters to all kinds of people, talking about current events but bringing my message around to the Kingdom Of God – always, in the beginning, and often, as time passed. I still mention God in my communications with people – but only when the subject comes up. I don’t have any need to force my views on people. I now talk to (in person or online) people mostly about politics which I’ve been following for a long time, which JW elders would hypocritically say I shouldn’t do. But when you talk to them casually, you’ll find that they have political views even if they don’t participate in elections. I don’t either, although I have voted a few times. But I’ve sort of come back to the position that electoral politics, which isn’t ‘all’ politics, is to be shunned. Whereas I was following the lead of others in this matter when I was a Witness, I now take the position I take very deliberately and for what I believe are good reasons. Electoral politics these days is hopelessly corrupt and I will not legitimize undemocratic, ungodly electoral politics meant to sidetrack the people and entrench powerful, criminal, special, fascist interests by participating in it.

My letter writing hobby, which began with paper (mid 80s, and I was just discovering computers and was some time away from having an online existence), involved sending letters to world and other leaders, making a copy of every letter sent and attaching replies to them. I received a number of replies and still have them in a folder. As for my letter to Chomsky, I didn’t think he was going to reply. So much time had passed between my sending him my letter and his response. I even moved. Then, some time after moving, I returned to my former room to see whether there was mail for me. Lo and behold, Noam had replied to my letter. I was a bit perturbed, since I had tossed my copy of the letter I had sent him, thinking he wasn’t going to respond. Anyway, I was thrilled that he enjoyed my letter, which was long enough. I can be verbose. He actually responded to all the subjects I raised. But that’s what Noam is famous for. He’s a real person and loves to talk to regular people. He’s a democrat. But, as he mentioned in his reply, he does not believe in God. He said that if he can’t somehow measure him, then he can’t believe in him. Perhaps Noam has ‘chosen’ to not measure God. I can’t see Noam’s mind, but I can measure that. Similarly, God ‘can’ be measured. But Noam is entitled to his views and I will always be grateful for all that he’s taught me. I will always look up to that brave speaker of truth to power and advocate for peace.

21. “Rethinking Camelot” by Noam Chomsky (non fiction)

This is an interesting book. I await the book, by a truth-telling author, that focusses on the Kennedys. As this book by Chomsky makes clear, such is needed. This subject, I find, is kind of an easy litmus test for those who claim to be progressive. Someone in a discussion forum mostly inhabited by progressive thinking people, will say something demeaning about JFK or the Kennedys and someone else will jump all over that person for doing such a terrible thing. I just now was reviewing comments of other Disqus users and came across such an exchange. It wasn’t recent however. Still, I offered to demean the Kennedys and said I’d start with Chomsky.

Noam himself put me onto this book. I hadn’t heard of it before he did. In fact, I was a newbie to class politics. I had just discovered Noam Chomsky – and the alternative media – and sent him a letter. I was seeing his name pop up everywhere, something I would readily notice now that I had read his book “Deterring Democracy.” It was a long letter but conversational in tone. I didn’t query him about anything. I just fired off a bunch of thoughts. My hobby/ ministry (I am religious, but my religiosity has changed) was writing letters to world and other leaders. When I was a Jehovah’s Witness, I would just go door to door. But I gradually fell away from that organization and found that I didn’t agree with all that they taught and did. Anyway, I never abandoned my faith. Even on my own, I thought, I had a ministry to maintain. And so I tried. I even entertained the idea of going door to door on my own at one time. I didn’t follow up, mostly because I just found (still do) life too chaotic for that. And that’s a direct result of poverty.

I would make copies of my letters to people and, if I received a response, I’d attach the response to the letter sent. I have a few from those days. They make interesting reading. There’s nothing shining there. I’m not a deep thinker. And my lack of formal education has always limited me. I certainly held on to my letter to Chomsky – until it was evident that I wasn’t going to get a reply. Some time after tossing my copy of my letter to Chomsky, I revisited the house where I lived when I wrote and sent it to see whether there was mail for me. Lo and behold, I had a letter waiting for me from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It was Noam! Here it is:

Massachusetts Institute Of Technology
Department of Linguistics and Philosophy
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

December 16, 1993

Dear Rick Battams,

Thanks for your interesting and thoughtful letter. I’m sorry, but not too surprised, to hear that you don’t get many responses, or at least useful ones. I’m afraid I’ve got to apologize too. I’m absolutely inundated with mail, try to at least acknowledge everything, but couldn’t possibly keep up seriously in a 24-hour day, even if I devoted full-time to it.

On the questions you raised, Gore Vidal was exaggerating a bit if he said I couldn’t publish in the US. I can publish with marginal presses and small journals. Glad you liked Rudmin’s book. Pretty surprising things, I thought, but he’s too be taken seriously. On JFK, my own views might surprise you. I don’t find evidence for a conspiracy very convincing, and as for a high-level conspiracy that might have had any significant policy implications, the evidence is powerfully against it. In fact, it’s rare that historical evidence converges so on such a conclusion. I’ve explained my reasons in a recent book, Rethinking Camelot (South End/Black Rose in Montreal), which I’ll bet was not one of the 2000 reviewed in the Star, which you mentioned. Peter Dale Scott is a personal friend, and has done some interesting work. He certainly knows the details that might somehow relate to the Kennedy assassination very fully, but he presents no convincing case, in my opinion (and in fact hardly pretends to), and on the matter of Vietnam, he is just wildly wrong, so much so that he cannot even comprehend detailed factual analyses that depart from his premises (there’s a section in his book on me that illustrates that dramatically; I’ve rarely seen such extraordinary misreading and misunderstanding, even on trivial matters, completely without malice incidentally). On Freemasonry, I know essentially nothing. As for belief in God, people are of course free to choose their beliefs as they wish, but my own path is to try to keep to beliefs that can be somehow confirmed or disconfirmed, and that leaves me no place for belief in any kind of deity or counter-deity, though I understand very well the deep meaning that humans have always found in a very wide range of such beliefs – actually very wide range. I can’t lie to people, even if it disappoints them. Those are my principles, for what they are worth.

[Noam’s signature]
Noam Chomsky

Floyd Rudmin’s book titled “Bordering On Aggression” (non fiction. apologies for the Amazon link)

Peter Dale Scott’s book titled “Deep Politics And The Death Of JFK”. I see that he’s written a sequel. I don’t know why he doesn’t link to the above (first) book on his website. But whatever.

That letter hasn’t quite made me famous, but people who know who Noam is, and even some who don’t, are fairly impressed when I tell them about it. More than once, I’ve been asked if I can please show it to them. On one occasion even, an older gentleman, a retired University of Toronto professor who was renting cheap digs in return for, mainly, intellectual conversation two or three times a week over dinner, asked potential tenants to provide some means of proving that they could fulfill that requirement. I brought my file folder of letters to world and other leaders, including my Chomsky reply. He was flipping through them when he came to Chomsky’s letter. I explained briefly how that came about and was pointing to other stuff when he said ‘No, no. That’s enough. Let’s go for a walk back to my place if you wish’. He never met prospective tenants at his home, but always around the corner at a coffee shop.

Rethinking Camelot

As my letter indicates, there’s some controversy about Peter Dale Scott’s interpretation of Noam on this subject. I can’t say that I grasp it. Totally coincidentally and unknowingly, I touched on that in my letter to Noam. I wished I knew Noam personally. Then I could say “Okay, Please explain to me what it is about Peter’s account that you object to?” I also see that another progressive, who I greatly enjoy and respect, namely Michael Parenti, disagrees with Noam about this subject and Chomsky’s (structuralist) way of looking at things. The problem I have with Parenti’s criticism is simply that I have to dig through mountains of complete trash (by rightists masquerading as objective researchers) to find it. When pro establishment flamers find some disagreement between a few prominent Left figures, it seems, they just go ape crap about it, yammering on, throughout countless websites, about how it shows that one of those figures (Chomsky in this case) is in fact evil or deranged. For now, I can’t provide a handy link to Parenti’s criticism of Chomsky. I’ve read it before and I found it to be sensible enough. What others say about it however… Woohoo! Nuts! I may have bookmarked something on my other laptop. I’ll return to edit this if I find it.

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