2016 PA Book Award Winner: Prometheus and Atlas
on Wednesday, July 6, 2016
Last Updated: Monday, July 18, 2016
Prometheus and Atlas is an incredibly ambitious synthesis of western thought -- actually, global thought -- with a central place devoted to understanding the significance of what author Jason R. Jorjani calls The Spectral: outlaw phenomena that are not only poorly understood but positively suppressed throughout history for reasons that become less mysterious as one follows the author's analysis. What we consider the occult has been positively occulted -- shoved into the darkness -- by whatever the establishment is in that century, always for basically the same reasons. They threaten established power structures based upon shared cultural understandings of the nature of the world and the human being.
Jorjani begins before history with the ancient myths of Greece and Judaism, and touches on Eastern antecedents to historical thought as well. Prometheus and Atlas are world-creating and world-defining figures who rebel against Zeus by stealing the fire of knowledge and gives it to humans who have been constrained for their uppitiness. Like Satan with Jehovah, they challenge the authority of Zeus and claim the right of self-definition and self-creation for humanity.
Zoom forward through lots of significant thinkers, including those who formed modern science, and Jorjani comes to a deep analysis of the current state of the world as seen by Heidegger and other modern and post-modern post-Kantians, such as Nietzche, Bergson, Feyerabend. Then in the present day, we get some ideas of what a more promethean, more parapsychological world may come to look like. In all of this, Jorjani shows his dazzling eclecticism by giving us treatments of the deepest elements of Japanese Anime, the evolution of Buddhist and Taoist thought, all in the context of William James and Dostoevsky and the weird Ted Owens studied by Jeff Mishlove. And that leaves out almost all of it.
No reader will agree with all of it personally, but this is not a major problem. One can easily agree with his scholarship, he breadth, his commitment to the problem of the place of the super natural in our thinking, his jazzy and spunky but serious style.
For scholars of the history of ideas who might want to understand the importance of parapsychology, Prometheus and Atlas makes a unique and very important contribution.
The Parapsychological Association Book Award was established in 2015 to recognize books in the field of parapsychology that make significant contributions to science and to the cultural conversation about the implications of parapsychology. Visit the PA website to learn more about the award and previous winners.