The World’s Weirdest Places, by Nick Redfern
This book is easily the most unusual book, even perhaps the weirdest book, of geography that I have ever read. Some readers may be familiar with areas of cryptozoology, where the writer searches for animals whose existence has not been verified by science, but fewer readers are likely to be familiar with crytogeography, and this is the first such example that I am familiar with, a geography of places associated with paranormal activities, seemingly with the intent of encouraging people to visit such places and demonstrating undue credulity in a variety of dubious stories that are associated around particular places, strung in a connected fashion with transitions in alphabetical order. The book can be appreciated for not focusing only on the most famous places (although many of these are mentioned) but rather the author’s total commitment to writing about absolute nonsense in the sort of fashion that ends up looking like the alien promoter who appears on History Channel documentaries all the time. This book is not written so much to those who are fans of geography, but rather to those who wish to put their favorite stories and conspiracy theories in an understanding that is rooted in a sense of place.
The premise of this book is a simple one: take twenty-five places associated with bizarre imaginary creatures, deaths, disappearances, ghost tales, and paranormal encounters and write about them. The places included are: the Bermuda triangle, the Berwyn Mountains of Wales, Bhangarh (India), Carew Castle (Wales), the Caucasus Mountains, Death Valley, Devil’s Gate Dam (near Los Angeles), Devil’s Sea (Japan), the German Cemetary in Cannock Chase (England), Guadalanal (site of a famous WWII battle), Halifax (Canada), Han River (Vietnam), Jefferson (Texas, USA), the Kremlin, Laguna (Philippines), Loch Ness, Mount Shasta, the New York City Subway, Panteon de Belen (Guadalajara, Mexico), Rendlesham Forest (Suffolk, England), Reykjavik (Iceland), Roswell, Sedona, Sydney (Australia), and Taushida (Guyana). Some of these places are likely to be familiar to the reader, and many of them will be unfamiliar to those who are not particular fans of the paranormal , but all of these places and the stories attached to them are treated with total belief, with the worst possible conclusions drawn about scientists and government authorities in addition to this.
For those who do not believe the stories in this book at face value, this book is still of some worth, but not of a straightforward kind. This book reminds us, for one, that secrets on the part of authorities about places tends to lead people to come up with the worst conclusions possible, and that places associated with great evil tend to leave some sort of spiritual scar on a place. Many places in the earth are considered to be numinous because of the combination of various factors, and this book explores the dark side of that sense of place, one that leads to a feeling of dread and to the reality of demonic activity (some of it directly channeled by people who are involved in various occult arts, including Jack Parsons, founder of the laboratory that became JPL in Pasadena). Some of these sites are places where there have been massive deaths, leading to a sense of heaviness about a place and to a connection between the events of the physical world and some awareness of the spiritual world, while other places are the source of myths and involve remote places, dark wildernesses, and the persistence of our fears even in a world where science is given a great deal of general respect, even if it closes itself off from the darker parts of our being. This book is more a testament to how people believe in myths and lies and search for places of darkness and secrecy, despite (or maybe because of) the danger such places bring.
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