Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cynic’s Dictionary

By
Cynic—one who no longer believes in the comforting  illusions and protective half-truths that most others naturally use unreflectively  to get through their lives.
A
administration, n.—an abstract concept to disguise a concrete problem of government;   an administration of 4.4 million people, such as the U.S. has attained, has been found to be incapable of administering to 310 million citizens, though it is comforting to know that every group of 70 people has an administrator looking after them.
aristocracy, n.—the rule of a state by its ablest and usually richest people; where this is not allowed, as has happened in the U.S. since the popular election of the Senate and the formation of the civil service, there is established the unshatterable illusion, since disproven by experience,  that anyone is fit to govern.
B
beetle, n.—despite those clinging to a contrary belief fostered by the Bible about the primacy of man, beetles are the most popular species by far in Nature’s design, for which J.B.S. Haldane once said the Creator had “an inordinate fondness;” of all known species, 75 per cent are insects, and 60 per cent of those are beetles.
bureaucracy, n.—lit., government by desks; usu. the body of bureaus, offices, and petty administrators whose task is to create an ever-larger leviathan of inefficiency, intrusiveness, insufferability, and inertia so that only those laws that increase their power are carried out.
C
capital, n.—1. the prime seat of government, as of a state or nation, usually situated as far as possible from the largest city and most populous areas, in the hopes that most people will not know and have little influence on what goes on there, and the rubes in the neighborhood will not understand. 2. the primary coinage by which the capital functions, usually distributed with acute generosity to those  in charge there, including the lawmakers as well as the lawwriters, who meet in the lobby.
Christian, n.—one who professes to believe in the New Testament of the Bible, at least insofar as it is compatible with his current life, which may not necessarily contain any of the virtues therein described, but believes it does, or ought, to pertain in all its admonitions and strictures to his neighbors.
civil service, n.—the system of government administration that replaces the graft of  cronyism and the corruption of nepotism with the inefficiency of bureaucracy and the lethargy of job permanency.
commonwealth, n.—a group of states with a presumed common interest, though not necessarily in sharing wealth in common; in the U.S., an appellation chosen by certain states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia ) to give the illusion that somehow wealth is common to all its citizens, or at least that is the goal its leaders proclaim, though patently this does not pertain.
compromise, n.—an arrangement by which two parties agree to agree, each side giving up nothing it holds dear but trying to convince the other that its future is dark and stormy indeed; it is not a device much used in modern politics because both sides nowadays seem to be convinced of the unalterable faultlessness and exactitude of their differing positions.
congress, n.—generally  a meeting for a common purpose, sometimes legislative, from L. con (with) and gredi (step), therefore a body that works in harmony; in U.S. politics, cap., a meeting of politicians in Washington, sometimes legislative, that never works in harmony.
Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons–Menken
conservative, n.—in politics, one who wishes to conserve his superior position, and his superior positions, as one would fruit cooked to a jamlike consistency;  see also neoconservative, paleoconservative.
corporation,  n.—the  fictitious contrivance devised by American robber barons (and baronets and knights below them) in the 19th century to put responsibility on the public for  any failure of private greed; in later centuries, the device by which, and for which, the nation was ruled through such fronts as the Congress and the Presidency.
D
debt, n.—an ingenious device cooked up in the early days of capitalism so as to promote the work of bankers and others  of wealth by convincing others of the counterintuitive truth  that owing money is the successful way to ultimate riches; the device has been used by modern American governments largely to make wars by vast expenditures of public money with the promise of ultimate riches, behind curtains that assure that the accumulated expenditures remain illusory.
defense, n.—the act of resisting an attack from without, or the fortifications for such a purpose; cap., a modern American department not for defense of any substantial kind but for waging war (formerly, until 1947 and America’s embarkation on a series of  wars every year since then down to the present, the properly named War Department) on a scale so vast that it now acknowledges spending more than the next 25 countries in the world—combined.
democracy, n.—a system of government according to which a majority gets to decide the fate of a minority, regardless of the justice, truth,  morality, temperance, and common sense of the decisions, to which the minority has no recourse—-until of course it somehow becomes the majority.
dependency, n.—reliance upon others for what you cannot otherwise force from them; the chosen condition for those the state determines poor, or insufficiently wealthy, which no amount of free government money, housing, food, health care, child care, and counseling will alter, nor is it designed to, lest the dependent not vote Democratic.
dictator, n.—the head of a state whose people have chosen to do the bidding of a single man or cabal, in return for being relieved of the agony and uncertainty of having to think, learn, judge, and cast ballots.
E
economy, n.—the name given by economists for the state of material life at any given time, which they claim to study and understand, though no pronouncement from them has ever stood the test of more than a few month’s duration; its cumulative impact is said to be gross, as in “national product,” “national income,” “national debt,” and the like, and no one who has ever looked at the workings of economists would ever dispute that assessment.
emancipation, n.—the presumed release of  human beings from bondage by another, without necessarily securing their true  freedom but only allowing  the despotism of themselves as preferable to the despotism of others; in American history, cap., the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which freed not a single slave, nor was it intended to, but served eventually to give the Northern forces a supposed moral cause for the slaughter they visited upon their foes that they could comprehend better than the fight for the abstraction called the Union.
equality, n.—that impossible condition in which everyone is presumed to be the same as everyone else, in quality, degree, rank, value, and/or ability; in American politics, a pestilence visited offhandedly by Thomas Jefferson in an extra-legal document, referring to status at birth (“created equal”) that is patently untrue, which various charlatans have subsequently been pleased to refer to as if a condition of the Constitution (where it does not appear) in their quest to increase the power of central government, thus to try to create an equal distribution by government fiat —e.g., in income, rights, opportunity, education, marriage, love, etc.—of that which inherently does not admit of correspondence.
executive, n.—one who sees to the execution of laws, in the sense not of the termination of their lives, though that happens often enough by high-minded executives who disfavor their provisions, but of the carrying out of their instructions; in American government, cap., it is the branch of government that carries out in its own chosen ways (see Presidential Signing Statements) the laws passed by the Legislative until forbidden to do so by the Judiciary.
F
flag, n.—a piece of cloth of no particular value or interest, that, when it comes to symbolize a nation, regardless of that body’s importance, significance, affluence, or influence, takes on uncommon and indeed unnecessary grandeur and symbolism, somewhat as does the cross, the Romans’ instrument of punishment and torture that was so cruel and horrible that subsequent civilizations, though quite open to many other forms of punishment and death, banned it; in American terms, the “Stars and Bars,” the addressing of which requires from military personnel a salute to the brim of a hat and from civilians a clutch of the right side of the chest similar to that which a person suffering a seizure might make, although the burning of which, held by the highest court to somehow be an act of speech though no utterance of any kind need be involved, may be contrived by anyone anywhere without any prescribed forms of address.
Federal Reserve, n.—in U.S., a self-created collection of private banks that is allowed to serve as a central bank for the American government, whose interests are no more in the public welfare than public toilets and whose authority is no more federal than Federal Express.
G
Gettysburg Address, n.—a short address by Abraham Lincoln to a crowd in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1863, in which he attempted to make “equality” a formal purpose of American government by claiming the Declaration of Independence as a founding document equivalent to the Constitution, the latter of which evinces no such purpose and indeed endorses slavery; as an example of successful deceit and duplicity, it is likely the most effective piece of rhetoric in American history, which has had much of that.
government, n.—an  arrangement of human affairs by which a few manage to operate their society with the sanction of the many, and miraculously  contrive  to convince them, without offering the slightest substantiation by way of proof,  that all other ways of ordering life bring anarchy and chaos, although historical experience has yet to show that those are in fact brought by any other agency than government itself.  G. “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” a phrase invented by an abolitionist preacher in Massachusetts and picked up by Lincoln for a short address (c.v.) in which he claims that this is the sort of arrangement that obtains in the U.S., although the Founding Fathers would have rejected all but the last part of the phrase, having a reasonable dislike and distrust of “the people” as the dangerous rabble that a proper government is formed to keep in check.
H
history, n.—that telling of events in the past that most of those in the present have no first-hand knowledge of, and generally depend on others, called  historians, who have no such knowledge either, generally recounting stories about kings and princes mostly corrupt or power-mad or both, and battles fought between two armies neither of which has any idea about why it is doing what it does but manage a good deal of mayhem and destruction in the process.
humanism, n.—that belief, fostered in the Renaissance when humans were most admiring of themselves despite ample evidence even then of their errancy, that the human species is primary in the eyes of God (man, followed by woman, followed by mammals, fishes, birds, insects), indeed in some senses the equivalent, as in “man the divine,” and is thus fit to rule over the other species as well as their habitats, a truth initially proved by the ability of European humans to conquer and occupy most of the known earth and later proved by the ability of humans to kill off species, including their own, and their habitats.
I
ignoramus, n.—the condition of ignorance given to the largest number of humans, most of whom are ignorant also of their condition but find that no impediment to acceding to positions of influence in nearly all professions and undertakings, particularly politics.
incumbent, n.—one who holds office and spends his greatest effort, time, and money trying to ensure that this condition will continue to exist so long as life and voice shall last.
Israel, n.— that modern state created in 1948 as an experiment  to assuage Ameri-European guilt over aspects of the war and Nazi atrocities by planting down in the midst of an Arab Muslim section of the Levant a foreign Jewish, mostly European, population, whose presence was never welcomed but successfully enforced by Israeli military might supported unquestioningly by the United States;  the experiment having proven itself a failure, with no neighboring state accepting of its imposition in over 55 years, and Arab populations both within and without the country increasing much faster than the Jewish, the logical solution would be for its dissolution, the achievement of which should  not be anticipated soon.
A Cynic’s Dictionary—II
J
justice, n.—the condition that the state promises to deliver through its courts and other administrative offices in return for loyalty, obeisance, and regular taxes, though there is of course no one other than the courts to assure that what is delivered is in fact just; in U.S. politics, cap, an officer of the Supreme Court who is appointed for life to assure that there is no recourse to decisions made no matter how foolish or ignorant.
L
labor, n.—the means by which the rich get richer while allowing the actual workers to have as little of the increased riches as possible.
labor union, n.—in certain democracies, a system by which workers make the ultimate surrender of their freedom to an organization whose leadership professes to look out for their interests immediately after looking  after their own;  it is most common in professions of civil servants, such as teachers, where it would rationally be illegal, as it provides these public servants with a means of ignoring the wishes and interests of the public as whole while steadily looking after private gain.
law, n.—a profession that teaches people how to bend, maneuver, and otherwise evade the laws or any jurisdiction, all under the rubric not of seeking justice—for that is not what the American system of jurisprudence, rhetoric aside, is all about—nor of seeking  truth and veracity as some other legal systems do, but of seeking the best possible case for either side that may be employing them regardless of the merit of the case, this process being overseen by another lawyer who has remarkably managed to be endowed with the gown of judgeship and with that impartiality and wisdom that had not been given him previous to his exaltation.
liberalism, n.—at one time a belief in freedom (Latin liber, free)in behavior or belief, as in “liberal toward artists,” but now meaning the freedom of centralized government to do whatever it wants, particularly in the establishment of a welfare (sic, q.v.) state.
M
machiavellian, adj.—behavior erroneously believe to have been sanctioned by Niccolo Machiavelli in his The Prince (1532), in which much cunning and conniving is urged upon a man of high office but nothing so wicked and malevolent as that of which the modern office-holder, who evokes his name, is capable.
Mammon—the highest god in the world’s most popular religion, to whom many temples have been built in  every major city but whose principal temple, even one might say cathedral, is on the oddly named Wall Street in New York City.
money, n.—that form of currency that is assumed to have worth, though there is often little enough to prove that claim other than the stubborn belief of those who have a good deal of it; though it is of no use whatsoever except when those who possess it part with it, for most people its amassment only instead seems to be their primary goal.
N
national security, n.—the purported purpose of the instruments of the federal government, even those whose actions and policies serve to threaten the nation’s security; in usage, the excuse by any agency for doing whatever it chooses to do, regardless of constitutionality or legality.
neocon, n., short for neoconservative (obs.)—that kind of conservative who believes in conserving nothing, especially despised governments and the lives of the young, and in the transformation of the world in its image of itself, which embodies about all the glories that politics is capable of; in recent years the neocon has elaborated on its name by adopting the con games (from confidence game, elaborate swindle) of pretending to find weapons where they did not exist and creating imaginary sins for unliked foreign leaders sufficient to justify their destruction.
O
optimism, n.—a mental aberration by which certain people believe (without evidence, which is the way with beliefs) that everything will turn out to be better on some tomorrow, the arrival of which is never doubted though it never occurs.
P
paleoconservative, n.—that kind of conservative whose ideas are so ancient that the stem “paleo-,” usually used for earlier geologic eras, is applied, with the suggestion that conservatism actually had a system of ideas having somewhat to do with the conservation of values and beliefs of an earlier, though not necessary a geologic, time.
politics, sing. n—the art of deluding the public for private gain, with its full biannual or quadrennial approval, the mysteries and inscrutabilities of which remain unknown and for the most part unexamined so that the superficialities and posturings may be regularly examined by a most incurious press.
R
reformer, n.—one who has come to the inevitable conclusion that the government he is under is dishonest, corrupt, insane, undemocratic, and insufferable, but has somehow come to the conclusion that he can change it.
religion, n.—the organized system by which the ignorant are  taught to believe in everything known about the unknowable and eternal omniscient deity, which is very little.
republic, n—a rare form of governance far removed from dictatorship and not far from anarchy, where a chosen few decide the laws for the unchosen few, who acquiesce in the belief that they might someday be the chosen, and often are, making a harmonious relationship rare in human affairs.
S
senate, n.—a body of deliberative purpose, usually to counsel, govern, or pass legislation; in U.S. government, cap., the senior assembly of the Congress, now subject to the voters of one of the fifty states, thus creating politicians not concerned so much with the affairs of the country as with the enrichment of their state, creating a sizeable barrel capable of being filled with expensive porcine products.
suffrage, n.—the right to vote, often taken to be an obligation, even a privilege, and thought desirable in a democracy, regardless of how useless it may actually be; its Latin origin tells it best, from suffragium, from subfragor—sub—meaning under, plus fragor—meaning noise, together being the condition of one out in a thunderstorm, or under a passing subway, that is to say,  one without thought, or one incapable of thinking.
What ass first let loose the doctrine that the suffrage is a high boon and voting a noble privilege?–Mencken
T
tribe, n.—the basic and original social grouping of humankind (averaging around 500 people), characteristic of homo sapiens life for 500,000 years, until recently, though no adequate substitute has been found; still the bedrock fact of life for many in Africa and Southwest Asia, though guilty decorum demands that fact be overlooked.
truth, n.—that quality of a thing that conforms to fact or reality, not necessarily an attribute of speech, particularly political speech, and thought by some to be an impediment to it; it is said to be the goal of philosophy, which is why that discipline in the hands of academics has existed forever and will never come to an end.
U
usage, n.—the current favorite style in speech or grammar, as opposed to other styles based on logic or other notions of correctness, or descriptive rather than proscriptive; as employed by the illiterate, often found on public radio, use—see also closure, a psychiatric term, employed by the illiterate to mean close or closing.
W
welfare, n.—once the good fortune of a person or group, now a task that is no longer an individual or even religious duty but exclusively given to the government, generally one centralized and bureaucratized, to perform, and usually to guarantee.
Z
zeal, n.—an ardor given to young lovers and warriors in about equal amounts, doing great damage to others in either case; rarely found in those of superior intellect or inferior gumption.
And thus a cynic’s dictionary’s finally done,
Which may be ignored, but at their peril, by anyone.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Mythology of the Supreme Court


The Supreme Court’s recent decision on prayer at government meetings reminds me that Supreme Court “season” is upon us, and for the next two months or so, we can expect to see the court decide on a variety of cases that can have profound impacts on the lives of citizens and non-citizens alike. The court’s decision in Town of Greece vs. Galloway has produced a lot of commentary on both sides, with much discussion about the dynamics between justices, and how Justice Kennedy must have been in a pro-prayer mood that day, since his decisions appear to be made on a variety of unknowable whims.
Nearly all of this commentary contains the assumption that it is perfectly normal, and probably laudable, that the Supreme Court has the power to decide the legality of virtually everything under the sun, from the death penalty to where local governments can build strip malls.
If there was ever any doubt that public schooling has been an immense success when it comes to conditioning children to blindly accept even the most implausible myths of governance, we only need look to the high regard in which most Americans hold the Supreme Court. The fact that nine modern philosopher kings are empowered to sit in judgment of every American law and custom, right down to whether or not a city council meeting, in a town virtually no American could find on a map, can include some bland prayer time. It troubles no school child that he is taught that democracy is the source of legitimacy for all governments one minute, and then the next minute is told he should fully trust nine lawyers in robes in Washington, D.C. to have the final word on law for 300 million Americans.
The proposition that nine people should tell 300 million people what sorts of laws they should make is rather ludicrous on its surface, but the justification largely rests on the assertion that the judges are somehow above politics and make decisions based on nearly pure reason. Political scientists and most people with experience in the legal profession no doubt know this is nonsense, but the average American is far more likely to be accepting of the long-standing myth that the court is a sort of backstop that prevents “bad” American laws from being allowed to stand. “Sure,” they might say, “Congress and the president, which are infected by vulgar politics, can do many horrible things, but the Supreme Court will dispassionately evaluate them and decide laws strictly on their legal merits.”
This view of the court is of course hopelessly fanciful, and the truly political nature of the court is well documented. Its politics can take many forms. For an example of its role in political patronage, we need look no further than Earl Warren, a one-time candidate for president and governor of California, who was appointed to the court by Dwight Eisenhower. It is widely accepted that Warren’s appointment was payback for Warren’s non-opposition to Eisenhower’s nomination at the 1952 Republican convention. The proposition that Warren somehow transformed from politician to Deep Thinker after his appointment is unconvincing at best. Or we might point to the famous “switch in time that saved nine” in which Justice Owen Roberts completely reversed his legal position on the New Deal in response to political threats from the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Indeed, Supreme Court justices are politicians, who behave in the manner Public Choice theory tells us they should. They seek to preserve and expand their own power.
The court, jealous of its power, and reluctant to hand down decisions that might actually cause the court to lose prestige, is at times careful to reflect the majority opinion regardless of how atrocious it might be. To see this, we need look no further than Korematsu vs. The United States in which the court declared it perfectly legal to round up American citizens and throw them into concentration camps.
The court forever plays a careful balancing act with both the public and with other branches of the federal government in which if continually pushes the bounds of federal power without rocking the boat to the point of calling its legitimacy into question among the majority of the population. Naturally, Congress and the presidency, themselves committed to untrammeled federal power, have no problem with most of this on most occasions, except perhaps in the details.
Bizarrely, however, the court has even managed to cultivate a reputation as a limit on the power of government, and that justices will rein in the state because it is committed, however imperfectly, to the Constitution of the United States. This is wishful thinking in the extreme, however, since the Constitution is nothing more than what the Supreme Court says it is, and this has been well established since Justice Marshall first introduced judicial review into the court’s decisions. If the Constitution was designed to prevent rule by judges (which may or may not be the case), it has clearly failed in its mission. Moreover, the court acts to insert intellectual legitimacy into laws and policies that formed out of nothing more that interest group lobbying, political payoffs, and even outright corruption. Once these laws receive the imprimatur of the Supreme Court, they cease to be political acts, questionable in origin, and take on the life of perpetually established law and precedent.
The public’s deference to the court and its decisions is the key factor in the court’s immense power, and the myth of the court as the protector of what’s left of the Constitution is especially powerful. But, as Ludwig von Mises noted in Liberalism, as an agent of the Federal government, the idea of the court as a friend to limited government is an absurdity:
The tendency to impose oppressive restraints on private property, to abuse political power, and to refuse to respect or recognize any free sphere outside or beyond the dominion of the state is too deeply ingrained in the mentality of those who control the governmental apparatus of compulsion and coercion for them ever to be able to resist it voluntarily. A liberal government is a contradictio in adjecto. Governments must be forced into adopting liberalism by the power of the unanimous opinion of the people; that they could voluntarily become liberal is not to be expected.
Naturally, the court does not limit itself at all, but it knows it is nonetheless limited by public opinion at least as well as anyone else. The court’s strenuous efforts to maintain an aura of majesty and intellectual loftiness can be seen in its refusal to allow television cameras in its hallowed halls or any sort of direct observation by the public at large. The judges wear academic robes and sit on their high bench. They could just as easily do their jobs in business suits while sitting at the same height as everyone else. Of course, if that were the case, the justices would just look like the glorified county commissioners they are, and the court’s propaganda war against the public is essential in maintaining its near total immunity from any meaningful oversight from anyone at all.
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Monday, May 26, 2014

I withdraw my consent

To all those who wave the Republican or Democrat flag, I withdraw my consent because I've come to the realization that democrats and republicans are a false-choice paradigm - a two–party dictatorship.
- both support deficit spending – despite all the bluster
- both support welfare – whether corporate, individual, or agricultural
- both support picking winners and losers through grants, contracts, tax-breaks, etc.
- both have attacked our civil rights in treasonous ways
- both support the Patriot Act with secret, warrantless wiretapping, and trampling of 1st, 4th and 5th amendments
- both supported banker bailouts
- both support agenda 21
- both support the patriot act
- Both support secret arrests
- Both support controlling the internet through SOPA and PIPA
- Both support the NDAA president's power to arrest, detain indefinitely without charges, and assassinate american citizens – without any due process
- Both parties' chief campaign donors and lobbyists are identical
- Both parties are in the pocket of Goldman Sachs
- Both parties support inflationary monetary policy
- Both parties are against auditing the Federal Reserve
- Both parties believe in baseline budgeting, and refuse to discuss any true cuts in government spending.
- Both parties believe that, since they are not going to cut spending, the only way out of this, is to tax our way out, spend our way out, borrow our way out, or inflate our way out
- Both parties have enacted policies that gut the middle class
- both parties were pro NAFTA
- both parties are pro-TSA
- both parties were pro-North American Union. Google it
- both parties support the war on drugs
- both parties have been for varying sorts of gun control – indeed Romney has been virtually indistinguishable from Obama in this regard
- both parties have engaged in false-flag acts to foment war
- both parties believe in the haegelian dialectic, of causing the crisis, then providing the solution
- Both parties refuse to acknowledge that inflation is a tax
- Both parties support keeping our troops in over 130 countries worldwide
- Both parties believe in endless, undeclared, unfunded wars
- Both parties believe in borrowing money from China to provide foreign aid to Israel
- Both parties are beholden more to Israel's policy interests, than our own interests.
- Both parties support a foreign policy of pre-emptive aggression – against countries that have never attacked us
- Both parties refuse to acknowledge the role of fractional reserve banking, and the repeal of Glass Stegall, have in creating the irreversible crisis we're in.
- Both parties have been caught red-handed suppressing and subverting the democratic process here at home, through manipulation/corruption of the electronic balloting system, disappearing of absentee ballots, blocking the suffrage of our servicemen, and shutting out independent or third-party candidates.
- Both parties are controlled by the same criminal offshore banking cartel that runs the federal reserve. This is the same cartel that funded both sides of the Korean war, the Vietnam war, World War 2, World War 1, the War of 1812, and war between Napoleon and England. The Rothschilds even funded the Bolshevik revolution and Lenin's rise. Look it up. Google: Rothschild fund wars
So, while you argue amongst yourselves about distracting topics, such as gay marriage, soaking or helping the rich, anthropogenic global warming (and we've been in a cooling trend for the last twelve years), workers' rights, green energy policy, I want you to shut the hell up, and understand ONE THING. Your country is collapsing. And not because of two men sleeping together, and not because of exhaust coming out of a tailpipe, and not because of lack of photovoltaic cels, not because we're over- or under-taxing the rich, and not because a lack of a higher minimum wage. Your country is collapsing because of the treasonous destruction of our dollar, at the blessing of both major parties. And the quicker you realize that both parties are distracting you with non-issues, while they rape us economically from behind, the sooner we'll have the chance to turn this ship around.
Hugs from Chile.
http://www.dailypaul.com/318673/i-withdraw-my-consent

Friday, March 21, 2014

10 More Conspiracy Theories

Jamie Frater
Conspiracy theories – I can’t get enough of them! Fortunately there are so many floating about that we have been able to give you not one, not two, but now three lists of theories that many people believe with all their might. Be sure to read the earlier lists if you haven’t already and feel free to add any conspiracies missing from all three to the comments here.

10
Area 51
Area-51-1
It makes the list because it appears in almost every alien or UFO conspiracy theory ever devised. The fact is Area 51 is real. It’s a popular target on Google Earth. Another fact is that the FAA has confirmed that no air routes go over or anywhere near Area 51, by direct order from the USAF.
There are television shows purporting to explain just what goes on there, one even including an interview with “a disgruntled employee,” who is provided with black-out lighting, but no vocal distortion, and who states that “it is a testing ground for experimental aircraft. It’s as simple as that.”
I considered putting the Aurora Aircraft on this list, but since its existence is tied so closely to Area 51, I use Area 51 as a catch-all of sorts. It is verifiable now, that the F-117 Stealth Fighter, the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber, and the SR-71 Blackbird were all invented at Area 51. This may account for all the strange lights people have recorded near the base through the years.
But the conspiracy theory goes on to claim that humans were unable to come up with these technologies. They were, instead, reverse engineered by studying the technology of the flying saucer that crashed at Roswell, NM, in 1947. In fact, there may have been other alien aircraft recovered or even shot down in the area over the years, all of which have led to the USAF’s mighty power of innovation. The theory claims that the flying saucer is still there, housed in a secret bunker or hangar, as are the corpses of the three or four aliens who crashed it and died.

9
The Clinton Body Count
Bill Clinton Yeahihitit
This one at least seems plausible, as it has nothing to do with science fiction. This theory states that Bill Clinton, while he was president and before, was quietly assassinating his associates (ostensibly anyone who got in the way of his career, such as Vince Foster). The Clinton Body Count is a list of about 50-60 associates of Clinton who have died “under mysterious circumstance.” The list began circulating over the Internet starting in the mid-1990s. The list grew out of a 1993 list of about 24 names prepared by the pro-gun lobby group American Justice Federation, which was led by Linda Thompson. The list was posted to the group’s bulletin board system.
The facts concerning Vince Foster’s death are that he died untimely, on July 20, 1993, of apparent suicide by gunshot in the mouth. His body was found in Fort Marcy Park, Virginia. Gunshot residue was found on the hand which had held the gun. Foster and Clinton were boyhood friends, both lawyers, and it is believed by the theory that Foster got too close to uncovering some embarrassing truth about Clinton, probably of a sexual and/or dishonest nature, and that Foster was assassinated, less than a year after joining Clinton’s White House staff.
The theorists argue that it is unlikely that a man with a wife and three children, and an extremely lucrative law practice, earning him $300,000 a year, would have manic depression, but Foster was diagnosed with it and prescribed anti-depressants.

8
The Christ Myth Theory
Christ-King2
Yes, you read that right. According to this conspiracy theory, the man himself never existed. His life story, his ministry, his status as the divine Son of God, is a fabrication of the Roman Catholic Church. Those who have proposed one form or another of this theory have documented the similarities between stories of Jesus and those of Krishna, Adonis, Osiris, Mithra, and a pre-Christian cult of Jesus (Joshua) within Judaism. Some authors attribute the beginning of Christianity to a historical founder who predates the time Jesus is said to have lived.
The theory appears to have been originated by two French Enlightenment thinkers, Constantin-Francois Volney and Charles Francois Dupuis, in the 1790s. The theory has always been largely dismissed by academic circles and biblical historians, in which case, the theorists simply elaborated on the theory. Not only did Jesus never exist, his presence in the New Testament is utter fiction, created by the Roman Catholic Church sometime in the very early 3rd Century AD, or late 2nd Century, as a means by which to control people. The authorities passed down the idea to their successors until Constantine considered it a very good means of control and called the Council of Nicaea to organize the Church into global domination.
Despite all of the historical proof that Jesus did exist – and there is plenty of it – there are still many people who would like to think he didn’t. That is the source of this bizarre revisionist theory.

7
The Antichrist
Satan And Demon Baby
Satan is alive on Earth, and has created the Antichrist, who is, at this moment, not quite old enough to seize power, but will in only a few years. He will do so in a very political manner, taking over some powerful organization, such as the United Nations.
Every generation, since St. John the Divine wrote the Revelation, has sworn that it would witness the Great Tribulation, Armageddon, and the second coming of Jesus. “The end is near,” everyone has been saying.
Now, though, with the advent of global communications, especially the Internet, the theory has swelled exponentially. Christians who previously didn’t think much of it have changed their minds. It can be argued that the worldwide availability of press coverage only serves to heighten fear of terrible things happening at any moment. 9/11 was the most well covered, watched tragedy in human history. Wheneer a tragedy occurs, people who believe in the Christian end-times scenarios flock to church to pray away their fear.
But now, with the ability to control the entire world actually conceivable, the paranoia of the Antichrist showing up has become quite the pandemic. Most terrorists believe he will be male, will arise in Europe, probably Western Europe, and some even swear that he will be French. Plenty are sure, however, that President Barack Obama is in fact the Antichrist. Numerologists believe that the Antichrist is not yet old enough, but will make his appearance at the age of 30, symbolically equal to Jesus beginning his ministry. Worldwide terrorism, the current U. S. led war on it in the hotbed of political unrest, and the fact that almost every Arab nation seems to be threatening an invasion of Israel at every second, all serve to make this one feel very real. Every day CNN is loaded with horror stories about the Holy Land, and it just seems to keep getting worse. “The end is near.”

6
The electric car
Jetsons L51
It is a verifiable fact that the human land speed record was set in 1899 at 65 mph by an electric car. Steam and gasoline-powered automobiles could not achieve this for another 20 to 25 years. Today, technology has progressed immensely, and yet, we still have no electric cars. The best production model is the Toyota Prius, which gets 50 mpg. This only intensifies the theory that the U. S. oil companies currently possess the technology for purely electric cars, which you can plug into an ordinary, American wall outlet at night and charge up to a cross-country trip by morning.
But because this would, in truth, bankrupt the oil companies, they refuse to release the technology, and have even put out successful hits on various geniuses since the 1960s, none of whom became very famous, because he was killed before he could make his publish his discovery. A documentary in 2006, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” fueled the fire that if the technology is documented to have existed as early as the 1830s, why did it appear to hits its peak at the turn of the 20th Century, and then decline? Why are we still waiting for electric cars? Edison patented one in 1913. All the electrical pioneers of that time tinkered with the idea, and plenty of reasonable examples were produced.

5
HAARP
Haarp1
The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program does exist. It is a research project funded jointly by the USAF, the US Navy, the University of Alaska, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). When you put that many government organizations into one sentence about new technology, conspiracy theorists come running. Did you see the 2003 movie “The Core”? It concerns a stall in the earth’s magnetic field, allowing the sun’s microwave radiation to cook the planet, until a team goes into the core of the planet and jumpstarts it spinning again, so the magnetic field will resume.
The movie explains that the stall was caused not on its own, but accidentally by HAARP, which is researching the ability to create earthquakes for use as a weapon. The official description of the program, given by the program, is “to provide a research facility to conduct pioneering experiments in ionospheric phenomena… used to analyze basic ionospheric properties and to assess the potential for developing ionospheric enhancement technology for communications and surveillance purposes.”
This sounds like the opposite of deep-Earth experiments, but conspiracy theorists believe the program is a cover for a kind of particle-beam weapon, first invented by Nikola Tesla, which has in fact been perfected, or brought close to perfection, by HAARP. The theory also claims that the ionospheric research is not a lie, but is being developed for use as a weapon to shoot down enemy spacecraft, or ballistic missiles, the latter popular especially given that HAARP’s facilities are all in Alaska, close to Russia. It even speculates that the weapon could become Tesla’s most infamous invention: “the Death Beam,” able to project a beam of extremely powerful electricity from the facility to any point on the planet and create an explosion as devastating as a hydrogen bomb.

4
The Vril Society
Nazi-Ufo Vril6
It has been suggested that there is a secret form of energy, called Vril, which is used and controlled by a secret subterranean society of matriarchal socialist utopian superior beings. Yes, you read that correctly. It is similar in this respect to the #2 theory. It also claims that Nazi Germany discovered this race, and its technology, at Shambhala, Tibet, and used it to create flying saucers (pictured above).
The whole theory is based on an 1871 sci-fi novel by Edward Bulwer-Lytton, titled, “Vril: The Coming of the Race.” It is generally considered an early example of science fiction, but because this genre was just getting off the ground at the time, it was seen by many as a non-fiction account of the subterranean race and their technology, a theory which persists today. The theory really took off in the 1960s.

3
The suppression of Free Energy
Tesla
This one actually sounds plausible. Nikola Tesla claimed that free energy was indeed possible, and worked for most of his career to achieve it. The theory claims that he did, in fact, succeed, just before his death in 1943, in discovering the mathematics and mechanics involved, but that the FBI immediately broke into his home and seized all his papers and work, and has never released any of it to the public.
The concept of free energy is, in very general terms, the ability to input x amount of energy into a machine, which will output x + 1 amount of energy. This seems to conflict with the law of conservation of energy, which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Tesla believed the law to be incorrect. He invented the Tesla Coil as an attempt to create free energy.
If it is possible, free energy could be perfected and result in the entire planet being powered by a single power source, such as a nuclear power plant, and output all the energy anyone could ever need. An infinite supply of energy at our fingertips, all based on electric output. You can see how this would irritate the oil companies.
They are the cause of the suppression, the theory claims, as no one would have to depend on fossil fuels anymore. Electric input is just as viable as coal input, or gasoline input. Thus, the electricity required to power a lightbulb could be all we need to power the whole world, invent spacecrafts capable of interstellar travel, anti-gravity, etc.

2
Jesus was a different species
Rosslyn Chapel
This theory is a lot of fun. It has been alleged that the U. S. and Israeli governments led archaeological digs in the past, which discovered the True Cross, on which Jesus Himself was crucified (along with many others, as crosses were reused). The theories disagree on the location, most claiming Jerusalem, many claiming Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland, or various places in England.
Minute traces of blood were discovered on the cross and analyzed. The DNA was of several strains, and one was encoded not on a double helix, but on a triple helix! Is this good stuff or what?! The DNA is unlike any other known, and was labeled as a new species, Homo superioris. The theory continues that there are other people of this species currently living underground in various places around the world, including most of the major cities, and they have been around as long or longer than Homo sapiens. Jesus made the unprecedented decision to come up to the surface and live among us, and try to teach us to be good, and kind and peaceful.
His species possesses phenomenal supernatural abilities, including telekinesis, levitation (walking on water), telepathy (knowing people’s thoughts), healing, etc. They are also very difficult to kill, and when no one was looking, presumably during the freak storm and earthquake, Jesus got down off the cross and disappeared, having done his job. This ties in with the Jesus bloodline theory.

1
The Montauk Project
Montauk
In the annals of paranoia, no conspiracy theory is more labyrinthine, more convoluted, more encompassing of other conspiracy theories as the Montauk Project, based out of Camp Hero, Montauk Point, Long Island, New York. At the extreme northeastern tip of the island there is a massive AN/FPS-35 radar dish that has long since been decommissioned, but has been saved from demolition by a petition from the local civilian residents, who find it a better sea-faring landmark than the nearby Montauk Lighthouse. This dish features prominently in all the theories surrounding a hyper-top secret military research facility which supposedly operated from 1967 to the early 1980s.
Some theories claim that research still goes on there, deep underground in a facility that was frequently expanded since its inception. But the theories involving what went on in Camp Hero from the 1960s on are the best stuff you’re likely to hear in terms of science fiction realism. The Project began on US Government initiative in 1952-53, when a secret committee was organized to discuss possible research into time travel. The methods by which this could be achieved have never been adequately explained in the theory, but are based primarily on the work of the two favorite scientists of conspiracy theorists: Albert Einstein and Nikola Tesla.
Einstein’s general relativity theory is considered the only plausible jumping-off point to a Unified Field Theory, which has so far not been discovered. Or so the public thinks. The Montauk Project resulted directly from the Philadelphia Experiment, which topped a previous list of conspiracy theories and is claimed by the theorists to be the accidental discovery of time travel. Nikola Tesla, who supposedly died in 1943, did not die, but perfected Einstein’s theory, and invented the mechanics required to stabilize a wormhole, a rip in the fabric of space-time.
The Montauk Project furthered this research, funded initially by $10 billion in Nazi gold bullion, stolen by American soldiers from an underground railroad tunnel in Switzerland in 1945. Some theories include Tesla as the immortal head of the project, traveling through time to cheat death. The base is said to have created and stabilized a time tunnel into the past, enabling anyone to go into it and arrive at any programmed point in the past. But then something terrible happened. No one can agree on precisely what, except that a mechanical failure in the 1980s resulted in a horrible monster from a foreign world (and perhaps from the past or future), which came through the underground tunnel without warning and severely destroyed the base, before being killed by unknown means.
The government immediately scrapped the Project, having learned how to travel through time, and sealed off the entire base, which had grown so large that it actually extends, to this day, under the town of Montauk itself, several square miles. The massive radar dish was used to transmit messages to alien worlds in various times through the history of the Universe.
Today, Camp Hero is now a state park where anyone may go and picnic or hike, and yet there are verifiable reports of backpackers and campers being suddenly accosted by men with automatic assault rifles in the middle of the night and threatened with death if they didn’t leave. In all these reports, the men have been said to wear olive drab uniforms with no insignia of any kind. The film “Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” was filmed in the area, but not in the state park itself, because the local authorities charged exorbitant fees, apparently to dissuade the production from accidentally uncovering any secrets.
The theories all converge at a brilliant end: there is a concrete-sealed door in the side of a building on Camp Hero grounds, which leads down, and which no one is allowed to go near.
Jamie Frater Jamie is the founder of Listverse. He spends his time working on the site, doing research for new lists, and cooking. He is fascinated with all things morbid and bizarre.
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50 best cult books

Albert Camus, Joseph Heller, JD Salinger and Thomas Pynchon are among the authors chosen by our critics for the 50 best cult books

Cult books: Joseph Heller, Albert Camus, Hermann Hesse, Dr Spock, Naomi Wolf, Tom Wolfe, Thomas Pynchon and Hunter S Thompson
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Cult books: Joseph Heller, Albert Camus, Hermann Hesse, Dr Spock, Naomi Wolf, Tom Wolfe, Thomas Pynchon and Hunter S Thompson 
4:29PM GMT 07 Nov 2013

A cult book may be hard to define but one thing is for sure: you know a cult book when you see one.
Cult books are somehow, intangibly, different from simple bestsellers – though many of them are that. And people have passionate feelings on both sides:
Our critics present a selection of the most notable cult writing from the past two centuries. Some is classic. Some is catastrophic. All of it had the power to inspire . . .

19th CENTURY . . .

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1824)
A Calvinist convinced of his indefectible election to salvation is led to acts of murder by Gil-Martin, his devilish doppelganger. More a myth than a religious satire, it vividly survives James Hogg's not entirely satisfactory manner of recounting it. Consider this: there may be a Gil-Martin near you. Christopher Howse
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám tr by Edward FitzGerald (1859)
This is among the best-selling volumes of poetry of all time, and does all that a translation should: it introduces the idea of an exotic, different culture; and it expresses what its readers feel, but lets them blame it on someone else. Here, in an age of doubt, aesthetics and Darwinism, these mysterious verses, drawn from 11th-century Persian, stand as little examples of how to celebrate life even as it slips away. TP
Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1883-85)
Incendiary declamation through a megaphone. If only one knew what he was on about. Put six Nietzscheans in a room and it ought to be a bloodbath; except, since they're all nancies who fancy themselves as Supermen, there wouldn't be one. Nietzsche was brave and mad enough to kill God: but look what happened to him. His acolytes are, largely, less brave. Andrew McKie
A Rebours by JK Huysmans (1884)
Plotless, morality-free salute to decadence. An individual based on its French author lounges about his luxurious home indulging in pursuits such as embedding gemstones in the shell of a tortoise until, loaded down, it expires. Dripping with Baudelairean ennui (and not a little dull itself), A Rebours was a bible for the Symbolists, Oscar Wilde and alienated creative types everywhere. Serena Davies

TWENTIES . . .

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1922)
Hermann Hesse’s allegorical novel sounds a bit Buddhist but is actually saying that experience (including of wealth), rather than contemplation, is the key to enlightenment. It's persuasive, especially if you read it, as many do, chillum in hand, in the Himalayas. Although, thinking about it now, profundities such as "the secret of the river is there is no time" don't make much sense out of context. SD
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran (1923)
Pocket-sized set of aphorisms that sound like they were written by a medieval monk but were actually the product of a Lebanese-American alcoholic who died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1931. The Prophet is a beautifully phrased exercise in pointing out the obvious but Sixties hippy kids loved it. SD

THIRTIES . . .

Journey to the End of Night by Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1932)
Céline's vile political views are well documented but his first novel, Journey to the End of Night, was a groundbreaking modernist novel and a fine satire on war and the medical profession. Céline is considered one of the great French prose stylists of the 20th century. Martin Chilton
Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain (1933)
A record of a lost generation in the shape of the contemporaries Vera Brittain loved and lost in the First World War, this memoir is also a poignant, passionate and perfectly poised study of a woman trying to find her place in a changing world. A bible to the generation who read it on publication, its influence continues thanks to a Virago reprint. Sarah Crompton
The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron (1937)
Modern travel writers such as Colin Thubron and Bruce Chatwin were inspired by Robert Byron. Travelling through the Middle East and Asia in the 1930s, Byron provides detailed descriptions of Islamic architecture, with pungent asides: "The Arabs hate the French more than they hate us. Having more reason to do so, they are more polite; in other words, they have learnt not to try it on, when they meet a European. This makes Damascus a pleasant city from the visitor's point of view." Sameer Rahim

FORTIES . . .

The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)
"Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday, I don’t know." The beach, the sun, the Arab, the gunshots, the chaplain: the stuff of millions of adolescents' fevered imaginings. If you don't love this when you're 17, there’s something wrong with you. In the film Talladega Nights, Sacha Baron Cohen's snooty French racing driver reads it on the starting grid. Strange but true: George W Bush read it on holiday when he was President. Dominic Sandbrook
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand (1943)
Bewilderingly popular and extremely silly Nietzschean melodrama, in which Ayn Rand gives her mad arch-capitalist philosophy a run round the block in the person of Howard Roark, a flouncy architect. Loved by the kind of person who tells you selfishness is an evolutionary advantage, before stealing your house/lover/job. Tim Martin
Baby and Child Care by Doctor Benjamin Spock (1946)
Childcare experts go in and out of fashion, but Dr Benjamin Spock remains the daddy of them all. From his reassuring first sentence – "You know more than you think you do" – he revolutionised the way parents thought about their children, asserting the right to cuddle, comfort and follow your instincts. He also tells you how to deal with croup. SC
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)
This heady mix of romance and reality opens with its teenage heroine Cassandra Mortmain writing while sitting in the kitchen sink. It ends with the words "I love you" scribbled in the margins of the imaginary journal that forms the substance of the novel. In between a story unfolds that feeds the fantasies of every lovelorn young girl; but its status owes much to the way that, as in life, things don’t end happily ever after. SC

FIFTIES . . .

Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health by L Ron Hubbard (1950)
Do you often feel unhappy? Depressed? Ill at ease with others? You will if you read this. Creepy bit of mind-mechanics by the indifferent sci-fi novelist who founded Scientology. TM
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (1951)
Ur-text of adolescent alienation, beloved of assassins, emos and everyone in between, Gordon Brown included. Complicated teen Holden Caulfield at large in the big city, working out his family and getting drunk. You've probably read it, be honest. TM
The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley (1954)
The book that launched a thousand trips. William Blake said that if we could cleanse the "doors of perception" we would perceive "the infinite". Huxley thought mescalin was the way to do so. In this essay, he pops a pill, goes on about "not-self" and "suchness", and decides love is the ultimate truth. He also took LSD when dying, but hardly stuffed it down the way his fans did. Jim Morrison was one: he named the Doors after Huxley's book, gobbled mouthfuls of acid and was dead by 27. SD
Story of O by Pauline Réage (1954)
Deliberately discomforting, Story of O takes as its subject the objectification of women. O is a beautiful woman who submits to the sadistic whims of various men after she is kidnapped and taken to a chateau to be blindfolded, whipped, branded and pierced. It ends with an odd sense of triumph, O wearing nothing but a mask before a group of strangers. Bewildering, creepy and joyless, it's a guaranteed detumescent. Toby Clements
The Outsider by Colin Wilson (1956)
Required reading in the coffee bars of the East Midlands in the late Fifties; unbelievably, some people paid good money for this study of the outsider figure in Western literature. The TLS found 285 mistakes in a sample of 249 lines, but in its young author’s eyes, it confirmed him as "the major literary genius of our century". Modesty was not one of his virtues; nor, sadly, was literary ability. DS
On The Road by Jack Kerouac (1957)
Supposedly filled in under three caffeine-fuelled weeks, the roll of paper on which Kerouac typed his seminal novel recently sold for more than two million dollars, and has spent the past few years on the road itself, travelling from museum to museum in the US, where it attracts queues of bearded jazz fanatics. It is the result of seven years of road-trips across America during the 1940s. Initially it celebrates the alternative lifestyle, although by the end it is coloured by disappointment. TC
The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa (1958)
A thing of beauty, the sole bequest of the last in the line of Sicilian aristocrats on whom the novel is based. An ineradicable elegy for a vanished society, and, despite its risorgimento setting, still the best psychological and botanical guidebook to parts of southern Italy. TM
TM The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell (1957-60)
The great modern Baroque novel. Made it possible for the middle classes to embrace the Mediterranean. No such Alexandria ever existed, nor did the potboiler thriller plot of space/time exploration, Kaballa, sex, good food and drink (it came out during rationing) or philosophical enquiry. Some beautiful sentences, sure; but lots of them don’t make sense. AMcK

SIXTIES . . .

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
Economical Deep South drama around perennially hot-button racial questions, further exalted in literary mythology by being the only thing its author ever wrote. Even those who think they haven’t read it often have. TM
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961)
Bitterly bouncy military farce, responsible for inventing the dilemma to which it gave its name: you're only excused war if you're mad, but wanting an exemption argues that you must be sane. Literary history would be entirely different if Heller had followed his original intention and called it Catch-18: it was changed to avoid confusion with a Leon Uris book. TM
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey (1962)
Anti-hero Randle Patrick McMurphy will forever be associated with Jack Nicholson, the actor who won an Oscar for portraying him in the film, but he is the brilliant creation of Ken Kesey in this novel set in a mental institution. Through the conflict between Nurse Ratched and McMurphy, the novel explores the theme of how individuals are crushed and of rebellion against conformity. MC
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges (1962)
Miniature literary mindwarps from the world's most famous blind librarian, a writer – like Kafka – whose work, once encountered, adds a new adjective to the mental lexicon. Unforgettable stuff, after which mazes and mirrors will never be the same again. Often beloved of the kind of person who agrees with its author that "there is a kind of lazy pleasure in useless and out-of-the-way erudition", and none the worse for that. TM
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963)
In one of the original misery memoirs, Sylvia Plath delivered an intense, semiautobiographical story of growing up at a time when electroshock therapy was used to treat troubled young women. The narrator is a talented writer who arrives in New York with every opportunity before her, but buckles. The Bell Jar became a rallying call for a better understanding of mental illness, creativity and the impact on women of stifling social conventions. Plath killed herself a month after its publication. Ceri Radford
Dune by Frank Herbert (1965)
Sandworms, ornithopters, Atreides, Harkonnen and spice: chop and blend for sci-fi fantasy, strangely like an intergalactic cousin of James Clavell. The first in an increasingly soap-operatic sequence. Equally cultishly adapted for the screen by David Lynch, and the root of many a lifelong passion for complex character names and/or arcane ceremonial weaponry. TM
The Magus by John Fowles (1966)
Posh young teacher goes to idyllic Greek island, there to be exquisitely tormented by young women and a Prospero-like figure. Like most John Fowles, this is solid middlebrow dressed as highbrow, but stunning setdressing, TS Eliot quotations and a twist at the end guaranteed a lifelong place in the hearts of a certain type of bookish male. TM
The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (1967)
Satan live and in person, a mansized black cat, a magician and his helpmeet, Pontius Pilate… Classic text of dissident magic realism, banned for years under Stalin: now you’ll struggle to find a Russian who hasn't read it. Essential stuff, and with the finest description of a headache yet committed to paper. TM
Chariots of the Gods: Was God An Astronaut? by Erich Von Däniken (1968)
Those Easter Island things, they're blokes wearing space suits, aren’t they? Er, no. Hugely influential work of mad-eyed fabricated Arch & Anth, responsible for decades of pub pseudoscience as well as for splendid stuff such as The X-Files. Increasingly common at jumble sales these days, though Von Däniken happily got another 25 books out of the idea. TM
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe (1968)
New journalism, non-fiction novel – however you define it, Tom Wolfe’s 1968 account of the novelist Ken Kesey’s psychedelic bus ride across America with his "Merry Pranksters" established a style of free-associating, hyperbolic writing (count the exclamation marks!!!) that spawned countless imitations. To a generation of readers it fostered a burning envy that they had not been in San Francisco when the Kool-Aid dispensers were being spiked with "Purple Haze". Now a vivid social history of a period that seems as remote as Byzantium. Mick Brown
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut (1969)
Sideways fantasy from the Diogenes of American letters, a comic sage who survived the firebombing of Dresden and various familial tragedies to work out his own unique brand of science-fictional satire. Like much of Vonnegut's stuff, this is savage anger barely masked by urbane anthropological sarcasm. Very much a defining cult novel. TM

SEVENTIES . . .

Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach and Russell Munson (1970)
The book that gave 1970s idealism a bad name, the nauseating story of a seagull who defies his fellows to soar into the heavens. "The only true law," the bird solemnly tells us, "is that which leads to freedom." Richard Nixon's FBI director, L Patrick Gray, ordered all his staff to read it. Later, he resigned for gross corruption, a fitting punishment for his dreadful taste. DS
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer (1970)
Women should taste their own menstrual blood to reconcile themselves to their bodies, declared Germaine Greer in the seminal feminist text of the 1970s. Greer told a generation of women that society had turned them into meek, self-hating, castrated clones. The book was an international best-seller which earned Greer a mixed but enduring legacy. CR
The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart (1971)
Blame a burgeoning mistrust of conventional psychiatry for the immediate impact of The Dice Man – a novel whose hero, a disillusioned psychiatrist, vows to make every decision of his life according to the roll of a die. As one might have expected from the times, chance sends him into violence and anarchy, which also explains the book’s enduring appeal. Alex Clark
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S Thompson (1971)
Needs little introduction. Bad craziness as the Duke of Gonzo and his helpless attorney blaze a streak of pharmaceutical havoc across 1970s California, all in demented bar-fight prose and fever-dream set-pieces. Now also a core text for ex-public school drug bores, which tends to obscure the anarchic excellence of HST's journalistic talent. TM
Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon (1973)
Europe-hopping comic metanovel of war and power, stuffed with maths, shaggy-dog stories, childish humour and ravishing sentences. And lots of rockets. Genius, though long enough to lie unfinished. TM
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973)
More 1970s searching for "authenticity" and "selfhood": a housewife has an affair with a radical psychoanalyst ("Adrian Goodlove", geddit?) and fantasises about sexual liberation. At the end, though, she goes back to her husband. John Updike called it the most "delicious erotic novel a woman everwrote" – but really, what on earth was all the fuss about? DS
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsig (1974)
Burnt-out hippy takes son on bike trip. Remembers previous self: lecturer who had nervous breakdown contemplating Eastern and Western philosophy. Very bad course in Ordinary General Philosophy follows. If he’d done Greek at school and knew what "arête" meant, we could have been spared most of the 1970s. AMcK
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino (1979)
A book composed of the first chapters from other invented books. Either a classic work of literary snakes and ladders or a tiresomely recursive bit of postmodern sterility depending on your interlocutor. Italo Calvino was arguably better elsewhere. TM
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1979)
Forget Asimov or PKD. Douglas Adams was so brilliant a visionary that even in the late 1970s he was able to foresee a time when digital watches would look pretty silly. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy – a radio show before it was a novel, and a film, and a game, and a TV show – was incredibly clever and wildly funny. Thanks to the Guide, an entire generation of Britons was nursed to adulthood with the phrases "Don’t Panic" and "Mostly Harmless", and the number 42. Sam Leith
Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter (1979)
About what it means to think, and how that happens, this is written in the spirit of Lewis Carroll. Pattern recognition in the work of geniuses. Loved by maths geeks and anybody with Asperger's syndrome and anyone with sense. But at root a chess textbook. AMcK

EIGHTIES . . .

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (1980)
Ignatius J Reilly is a fat anti-hero to thwart Promethean selfdramatisation in any reader. With the medieval poetry of Hroswitha swirling in a head jammed into a green hunting cap with earpieces, Reilly eats steadily, despises modernity, seeks solace in canine fantasies and remembers with terror his one experience of leaving New Orleans. CH
The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln (1982)
Similar territory to The Da Vinci Code but earlier, less balefully stupid and with the nerve to claim factual accuracy (its authors took Dan Brown to court and lost). The usual song and dance about Templars, bloodlines of Christ and global conspiracies, but somehow still chilling for all that. Staple text of the bonkers brigade. TM

NINETIES . . .

Iron John: a Book About Men by Robert Bly (1990)
For decades, the cowed menfolk of the world ambled about in pinafores, dusting ornaments and saying "yes, dear". Then Robert Bly wrote Iron John, invented mythopoetic masculinity, and the daft creatures all rushed off into the woods together, hugged, bellowed, wept, painted their furry parts blue and felt re-empowered to wee standing up. SL
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (1991)
The woman who made feminism sexy by being gorgeous and shaving her legs also taught her readers to eat a hearty meal. This book argues that a cult of thinness has desexualised and disempowered women just when, after the acceptance of free love and the introduction of the contraceptive pill, the opposite should have happened. The most important feminist text of the past 20 years. SD
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield (1993)
Deep in the South American jungle an intrepid explorer is about to stumble on a sequence of ancient prophecies that could change our way of living, even save the world. If only we didn’t have to buy the other novels in that the series to find out what they were! For a similar effect on the cheap, rent an Indiana-Jonesalike film – Tomb Raider, say – and ask a hippy to whisper nonsense in your ear while you're watching it. TM

21st CENTURY . . .

No Logo by Naomi Klein (2000)
Few books have caught a political moment better than Naomi Klein’s stylish and impassioned report on the abuses of brands, and the activists who fight them. It was published in 2000, just as "antiglobalisation" crashed into the mainstream, and Klein was adopted as its poster-girl. SL
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)
In the Sixties and Seventies, McCarthy was a cult figure with a reputation as a writer's writer. Yet despite all the success and the film adaptations, McCarthy somehow remains a writer of cult classics, even if they are bestsellers. The Road is his bleak masterpiece about a father and his son in a post-apocalyptic world (“barren, silent, godless”). MC
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (2011)
You could say that Haruki Murakami has always been a cult writer, even though he is now a novelist who sells millions, both in translation and in his native Japan. The two-volume 1Q84, set in 1984 but with a Q in the title to emphasis the question marks hanging over the lives of characters in his epic romance novel. MC
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