ROBERT W. BROCKWAYTHE ROOTS OF NEW AGE
replete with Cold War hysteria. The Air Force, meanwhile, always has insisted that it has hidden nothing from the public concerning UFOs..
Spangler focuses on these UFO cults, and stresses their similarity to other counter-culture communities of the 1960s and 1970s. All, he says, shared the apocalyptic vision that the New Age was about to begin.
During his last years, Jung also collected reports of UFOs with great fascination, and published an article in which he held that these were the modern version of folk tales about demons, elves, fairies, and angelic beings. This is as good an explanation as any, evidence of the persistence of such beliefs, albeit in modern or futuristic garb. The late Joseph Campbell, who has been called the “guru of myth,” was also fascinated by science fiction, and especially films such as Star Wars, a medieval hero myth about futuristic spacemen.
There is an esoteric component in fantasy fiction, most certainly in “sword and sorcery” tales. There is also such a component in “dungeons and dragons” computer quests, and, very much so, in Tolkien’s stories of Middle Earth. However, all of these compositions are deliberate, and very consciously draw upon medieval myth. They are chiefly meant to entertain, for a profit.
Having said this, anyone who has attended a Trekky Conference or a Popular Culture Conference encounters many people, including academics, who are vitally involved with the esoteric as true believers. While science fiction, in the strict sense of the term, is a rational genre, the authors of which are often highly-informed no-nonsense scientists, there are some, such as Arthur Clark in his now badly dated 2001, who are esotericists with scientific backgrounds. There is a detectable Gnostic element in his fiction.
The term “holism,” which is so much heard and seen today, was invented by J. C. Smuts, a New Ager, to mean (1) God/Creation, (2) Man/Nature, and (3) spirit/matter. It contrasts with Judeo-Christian-Islamic dualism, which is based on God and Creation as two distinct entities. Holism is therefore a synonym for monism, the view that there is but one reality in which all substance is of the Godhead. New Agers like Smuts also deplore scientific reductionism and modern rationalism, a particular concern of Fritjov Capra, who contributed to New Age, especially in his widely read book, The Tao of Physics. Here Capra attacked the discovery of truth by taking things apart. Instead, he emphasized holism, now become a basic principle of esotericism today. It has been particularly prominent in such areas as alternative medicine, often associated with esotericism.
As New Agers like Smuts and Capra see it, Westerners erred when Réne Descartes, the founder of modern philosophy, figuratively shut himself up in a stove a whole day, doubted everything that could be doubted, and finally arrived at his famous cogito ergo sum: “I think therefore I am.” This, according to Capra, led to the fragmentation of reality, and to a science based on taking things apart. Descartes treated organic wholes as mechanisms. Animals, he asserted, were nothing but machines, and their cries of pain when misused were nothing but the