Wednesday, April 24, 2013

“Just Who are the Djinn?”: A review of Rosemary Ellen Guiley’s The Djinn Connection


 (New Milford, CT: Visionary Living, 2013), ISBN: 978-0-9857243-3-7

Exactly two years ago I reviewed The Vengeful Djinn: Unveiling the Hidden Agenda of Genies, a book co-authored by Guiley. This new companion book, subtitled “The Hidden Links between Djinn, Shadow People, ETs, Nephilim, Archons, Reptilians, and other Entities,” picks up where The Vengeful Djinn left off—with the possibility that the Djinn (often known by their Westernized name, genies) are more active than many researchers have believed, and, indeed, may often be mistaken for the types of entities listed in the subtitle.
            Djinn, which appear throughout the Quran, are composed of “smokeless fire” and reside in a parallel dimension to ours. It is said that they are highly intelligent, ancient (they helped to build Solomon’s temple), and eager to take the Earth back from the human race, which has usurped it. I refer readers interested in the complex social classes and habits and behaviors of these mysterious entities to The Vengeful Djinn. This review will concern itself solely with the possibilities of overlap and mistaken identity explored by Guiley in The Djinn Connection (although the opening chapter of this new volume gives enough information to set a clear picture for the more casual reader).
            Chapter 2 deals with the connection between Djinn and “Shadow People.” Having first-hand experience with many different types of entities, I have to say that “Shadow People”—in their cloaks and hats and with such secretive intentions—are the most frightening I have ever encountered. On a November night two years ago, while visiting a well-known paranormal site, my wife and I and our fellow investigators experienced in different ways the presence of a Shadow Person. This chapter contains a number of other first-hand accounts of people’s own stories of visits from these frightening, enigmatic entities.
            Chapter 4, “The Fairy Connection,” is a must-read for anyone interested in the paranormal. Fairies are pervasive in cultures around the world, whether they be Native American, Middle Eastern, or the more well-known types that appear in the legends of the British Isles and throughout Celtic lore. Guiley looks at the similarities between not only Djinn and fairies but it is also in this chapter that she begins to consider ETs, UFOs, and abductions.
            The study of UFO abductees and their scary tales of kidnapping, operations, experimentation, and decades of repeated harassment (often starting in childhood) are thoroughly explored in chapter 5 in relation to the Djinn. This is an area of rich debate. Are these hallucinations, brought on by our cultural inundation and fascination with science fiction and the legends of Area 51, alien grays, Dulce Base, and the like? Are they safety mechanisms to protect victims of childhood sexual abuse from facing a horrible secret? Where do books like Whitley Streiber’s Communion fit in? Is Streiber, a well-known horror novelist, cashing in on a cottage industry with what has turned into a series of books, or is his tale of aliens and abductions real?
            Perhaps the abductions and experiments themselves are real, but the perpetrators are not extraterrestrial but ultraterrestrial or interdimensional, ideas put forth in the past by such paranormal luminaries as John Keel. Chapter 5 makes many excellent points leading to the possibility that it might indeed be Djinn. Drawing on the writings of Streiber, as well as David M. Jacobs and John E. Mack, Guiley takes us deep down into the rabbit hole, and when we emerge, Djinn cannot be ruled out as a possible explanation for what so many have experienced.
            Chapters 7 and 8 are highlights of the book. Guiley is one of the foremost experts on Angelology in her field (I am currently reading her Encyclopedia of Angels) and her knowledge of Nephilim, Watchers, Angels, Archons, and the like is immense. Considering the considerable presence in the Quran of the Djinn, and the tales of Solomon, it is not a stretch to see the links between the angels of Light and those of Darkness. It certainly seems that the Djinn are also in myriad ways the model for the Christian idea of Satan. Those interested in Zecharia Sitchin’s theses regarding the Anunnaki (repopularized in recent years by History Channel’s Ancient Aliens series) will find a compelling case in chapter 8 for their connection with the Djinn.
            Chapter 9, “Black Death and Black Magic,” considers everything from demonic elements of the Bubonic Plague (e.g., accompanying aerial phenomena, poison mists, and mysterious figures with hooded robes and magical staffs) to the Vril, and men such as Mesmer, Reich, and Crowley. The most unsettling pages of The Djinn Connection deal with political sorcery. Whether we consider the Nazi fascination with black magic, the whispered rumors that Eisenhower made a pact with the Reptilians in exchange for advanced technology after World War II, the unsettling images of corrupt politicians who have sold their souls to the “devil” in popular books and films (such as the Left Behind or Omen series), or the first-hand accounts by a Moroccan source of Guiley’s named Mahmoud, the idea that those in power are getting help from ultraterrestrial or interdimensional beings is more than enough to given one pause. Chapter 10, “Reptilians and Reptoids” just begins to break the surface of what might be going on and the aptly named chapter 11, “The Battle for Humanity,” furthers even more the case that there is certainly something larger and more “real” going on in the hidden places around us than most people are willing to seriously consider.
            As always, Guiley delivers a balance of first-hand field experience, extensive interview material, impressive scholarship, invaluable cautions, and a writing style that is fluid and engaging.
            Whether or not the Djinn are as pervasive in the countless encounters related by tens of thousands of people all over the world as Guiley’s work asks us to believe is impossible to gauge, but one thing is certain—something is going on, and the Djinn are almost certainly playing a large part.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Corruptions of the Gothic: A Review of The Luminous Memories of Alexander Vile


 by Tash Jones (available for Amazon Kindle March 25, 2013; www.tashjones.co.uk)

This debut novel from Masters student Tash Jones is a compelling mirror-glance journey into the effects of the Gothic novel on Victorian sensibilities. While both referencing outright and adapting subtle elements of Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, Stoker’s Dracula, Shelley’s Frankenstein, Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, and Austen’s Northanger Abbey, The Luminous Memories of Alexander Vile concerns itself with pulling back the layers of appearance and looking at the arts and their relationship to the dark side of Victorian-era values (the novel’s events take place in 1892–93).
Uses the standard Gothic conventions of diaries, letters, and narration, Vile is a mystery that is slowly pieced together, reading at times like the surrealism of Poe, with generous doses of the flowery, image-laden and complexly sytaxed prose of the time in which it takes place.
It is a story of people who are ruled by their passions and the domino effect of disruption and downfall which they produce on those around them.
The story is told to us by the maid who seems to be a surrogate for the wife of the title character. One senses an unrequited love—that old dramatic chestnut of the wealthy man of the house looking beyond her because she is the maid, although one feels that she might have saved him from himself, and saved some others in the bargain. She is sympathetic to the man whose story she feels compelled to tell, and she tells the stories of the others only by necessity. Two thirds of the way through the novel she interprets the flowery prose of Alexander into a coherent story, pushing forward the plot and allowing the author to deal in the surreal without losing the reader.
Alexander Vile is a pianist who loves poetry and painting. He strives to be The Artist, relying on the arts to create meaning in his drab and difficult world. When one thinks about the fascinating artists of the Victorian era, there is plenty of material on which to draw, and Jones’s exploration of the condition of the artist is deep and engaging.
During the story there are sections of well-written poetry to give us clues to backstory and subtleties of plot, functioning like songs in a musical.
I want to tread carefully, and not give too much away, for the charm and strength of the story is its mystery. But essential to the plot is Vile’s dead wife. She was a painter and he tells us both that they were deeply love but also that she loved her art more than him. Their relationship deteriorates, as does she, following a miscarriage. We don’t get the sense that Vile wanted a child, but agreed only to please his wife. He fears that should the child not be perfect, he would be blamed. Parents and parenting have their rightful Victorian importance in the book, and when their efforts after the miscarriage bear no fruit and Alexander finally tells her how he feels, he says her “mind was dead.” The wife dies, the exact cause a mystery.
He is wealthy, living a life of mostly solitude, his desire to create music outweighing his talent, a la Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s Amadeus. He is searching for meaning and unable to find it. He spends a great deal of time reading in his expansive library. He reminds me of the decadent and bored young men in novels like Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, the Comte Lautreamont’s Maldoror, and Huysman’s A Rebours. His voice is also reminiscent of Poe’s more lucid narrators.
Following his wife’s death, he seeks to grant her wish by adopting a child from the local orphanage. After determining a boy would be best, he cannot bring himself to make a choice, so he leaves it to the orphanage to choose a suitable child and when the child arrives it is a young lady named Joanna.
Joanna sparks something in Vile (she is [perhaps intentionally so] named the same as the Judge’s ward in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd). She quotes Jane Austen to him and tells him of her love of other writers, such as Wilde and the Brontes. He in turn teaches her to play piano.
Joanna too has an emptiness, which she divulges through poems as an intense loss about her biological parents and their untimely death.
All might be well if it were not for a rival for her affections, the well-to-do and aptly named Vincent Valentine, who as one might guess in stories such as these, asks for her hand in marriage.
The novel works its way through several corollary themes, including: Corruption, Nature vs. Nurture. Art vs. Intellect (or Dionysus vs. Apollo), and Science vs. Faith. Vincent’s brother Christian represents the latter.
The Luminous Memories of Alexander Vile is quite the complex mystery, feeding back into endings that could be chosen from almost all of the books referenced within.
If you like a good Gothic novel, you’ll thoroughly enjoy The Luminous Memories of Alexander Vile. As an added incentive, the author donating £1 of each book sale, split equally between ‘Great Ormond Street Hospital’ and ‘Greenpeace.’