Friday, July 06, 2007

Mac Tonnies and the Paranormal Mainstream

I had a long chat with my good friend Mac Tonnies this evening, which always makes me smile, because when we start talking to each other it feels like a jam session with the old band, where we would just play and play until we were played out (just check out our extended, extemporaneous riffing with Greg Bishop on our 2006 Radio Misterioso gig to see what I mean).

Mac is one of the brightest and most articulate people involved in the paranormal / esoteric field of study, and is always well worth a listen, even when, as is sometimes the case with me, one might disagree with him. It is to the enduring shame of Coast to Coast, that the likes of Richard C. Hoagland and Linda Moulton Howe make regular appearances and pretend that they know what they're talking about, whereas Mac has never been invited to be on the show. The Coast people are shortchanging their listeners - in a big way. So too are most conference organizers, who invite the likes of Michael Horn or Steven Greer, but routinely ignore guys like Mac, who might actually say something worth listening to.

What Coast and these conferences are doing, of course, is preaching to the converted. It was undoubtedly a sound business model in the past, but it will eventually run afoul of the law of diminishing returns, i.e. without some new blood with some new ideas, people will eventually get bored, and stop coming or listening. Given the declining numbers across the board at conferences, it should be clear that this process is already underway.

Of course, Mac isn't the guy you want at your conference or on your show if you just want to reinforce the audience's pre-existing beliefs, or to make them feel better. But if you want to challenge people, and stimulate them, and introduce them to ideas and concepts with which they may not be familiar - and isn't that what you should be doing - then Mac is one of the guys you want on board. But when was the last time that the "mainstream" paranormal / esoteric community actually wanted to challenge anyone with new ideas?

And there's the irony with the situation Mac finds himself in, and Greg Bishop, and others - in a field of study where the weird, wacky and far-out should be the coin of the realm, where ideas should matter, and where an intelligent discourse should be paramount, most people have settled for the familiar, comfortable, and easy-to-digest orthodoxy of the commercialized paranormal establishment. "Same old, same old" is the rule, not the exception. Which is why fewer and fewer people seem to care these days.

Religion may be the opiate of the masses in the general sense (or one of them), but in the paranormal / esoteric world, it's Coast to Coast, and Linda Moulton Howe, and Richard Hoagland, and most conferences, and so forth. The stagnation is palpable. It reeks of complacency.

It's not too late to change that, mind you. A good start would be for one of the Coast producers to give Mac a call, or shoot him an e-mail, and invite him on for a full three hour long show.

In the meantime, if you haven't done so, check out Mac's blog, The Posthuman Blues, which is an always interesting, and often amusing, grab bag of stuff, both paranormal and otherwise.

Paul Kimball


The Odd Emperor said...

I stopped listening to Coast to Coast back in the day when Art bell made his first "this is my very last show - goodbye" announcement. (Assuming he was an honorable man I took him at his word.)

If they started putting Mac on, or yourself I would probably start listening again. Ideas are the coin of this realm no matter what people think. People with good ideas and the means to propagate them will ultimately succeed.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

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Paul Kimball said...

The really interesting paranormal radio can be found on podcasts like Strange Days... Indeed, Binnall of America, and Radio Misterioso (when Greg Bishop has guests). C2C, and yes, even Rense (ugh), are mainstream to the core, in the sense that they're about appealing to the same audience, night in and night out, in order to make money. No harm in that - I'm a capitalist, too. The problem comes when they pretend to be something that they're not.


ahtzib said...

I'm not even sure I'd call it the comfortable and familiar. Comfortable and familiar would be the stock-footage junk on the History Channel and the like, which rehashes the same topics over and over (Roswell, Area 51, abduction). Likewise in the publishing world.

Coast to Coast, I honestly don't understand it anymore. The dafter the better, it seems. The stuff there isn't familiar, it is often bizarre, but most importantly, inane. I don't hear comfortable and familiar. I hear Contactees. Which I guess are familiar in another sense.

I get your meaning, though. And discovering UFO and other related audio on the internet pretty much stopped me from listening to Coast. Though in a moment of weakness, I decided to turn on the show last night to listen from Roswell. It confirmed why I can't listen anymore.