This Baffling World No. 1 by John Godwin (Bantam, 1971)

Baffling Godwin 1971

Baffling Godwin 1971-2

This Baffling World was originally published in 1968, yet another entry, though more popular than most, in the literature of the unexplained. Bantam reprinted the book in three volumes in 1971. The cover artist is unknown.

Godwin was an Australian journalist who wrote Occult America (1972), a competent early survey that includes a lengthy interview with Anton Lavey, as well as a description of the Church of Satan and its rituals.

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John Keel Interviewed by David Letterman, 1980

Keel is cogent and personable here, although I don’t find his unexplained phenomena particularly unexplainable (red snow is caused by a species of algae, for one, and anomalous thunder seems to me a reasonable explanation for “skyquakes”). Letterman does a good job with the material and is funny without being condescending—the venue is The David Letterman Show, a morning show that lasted only a few months but won two Emmy Awards. (Late Night with David Letterman debuted in 1982.) Keel did not have a new book to promote at the time, and it goes to show how far into the mainstream the paranormal had penetrated.

The cast shown by Letterman and identified by Keel as a “bigfoot print” from New Jersey is actually a cast of a print found by a Mount Everest expedition in 1951. The print was found in snow and photographed by Eric Shipton, the expedition leader. A plaster cast can’t be made in the snow, and the party had no materials to make a cast regardless, so all reproductions were based solely on Shipton’s photos.*

I found some news reports (1975-1976) of the “Illinois kangaroo” here, here, and here. I did not find anything about police chasing a dinosaur in Italy, but I immediately thought of the Ray Harryhausen classic 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957).

The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier (Avon, 1968)

Morning 1968

Morning 1968-2

Originally published in France in 1960 as Le Matin des Magiciens, the first English edition (UK) appeared in 1963 as The Dawn of Magic. The first US edition, titled The Morning of the Magicians, was published by Stein and Day in 1964. This is the first U.S. paperback edition, released the same year (1968) as Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods? Although Däniken’s book loosed the ancient alien hypothesis upon popular culture, the idea is broached by Pauwels and Bergier and had been circulating in the literature of the unexplained for many years. Here’s Charles Fort in The Book of the Damned (1919):

I think we’re property. I should say we belong to something: That once upon a time, this earth was No-man’s Land, that other worlds explored and colonized here, and fought among themselves for possession, but that now it’s owned by something: That something owns this earth—all others warned off.

In fact, The Morning of the Magicians is a book of Forteana: both authors were great admirers and self-described heirs of the author’s specific brand of anti-rationalism. The book was a sensation in France upon publication, and Pauwels and Bergier started the magazine Planète in 1961 to further explore their brand of “Fantastic Realism.”

The cover art of the Avon edition is by Mati Klarwein, best known for his psychedelic, anti-Eurocentric album covers (Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Santana’s Abraxas, Earth, Wind & Fire’s Last Days and Time).