ATLANTIS RISING RESEARCH GROUP
Your full chapter excerpt from
J. Douglas Kenyon’s forthcoming new book
Atlantis of Our Dreams
SEARCHING FOR CLUES IN THE UNCONSCIOUS MIND
In the early 1980s, when blockbuster movies like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark were making box office history, my friend, filmmaker Tom Miller, and I decided to take our own shot at celluloid fame and fortune with an action/adventure screenplay called The Atlantis Dimension. In our story, a group of contemporary explorers discovers the ruins of Atlantis beneath the waters of the so-called Bermuda Triangle. Unconsciously driven by forces set in motion during previous lives on Atlantis, our characters face some very ancient blowback, including heroic action, ancient technology, underwater archaeology, treachery in high places, and nature turned very bad. Our screenplay, we firmly believed, was fully in synch with the public’s obvious appetite for exotic and thrilling entertainment—accompanying, of course, a good story. But, alas, for reasons not entirely clear to us, it was never to be filmed, and the script itself was read by no more than a few dozen people.
Still, on other levels, our scenario was to prove strangely prophetic, and suggested that there could well be larger forces at work here than those of mere pop culture. The site of our fictional account, for instance, was an island in the Bahamas where construction of a giant Atlantis-themed resort was under way. That development project was the work of the story’s villain, whose luxurious Miami villa was situated in an exclusive community called Paradise Island. I ultimately learned that an actual Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas had been around since 1968, though when I wrote our script, I had never heard of it. And when Atlantis, the resort, debuted in 1998, with a massive national advertising campaign, I was astonished to see how much, in my view, reality was imitating my art. (A further curious side note: the Atlantis resort was once owned by a Merv Griffin company, whose principal stockholder, at one point, was Donald Trump.)
I might also add that in 1985, in the midst of our search for funds to produce The Atlantis Dimension, the space shuttle Atlantis was launched for the first time, providing, it seemed, a clear omen that things could be ready to take off.
Never shy about exploiting popular mythology of any kind, Hollywood has long recognized the box office potential of Atlantis. Even before the 1980s, there had been many notable attempts to capitalize on the subject. Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954) and Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), both based on novels by nineteenth-century French visionary Jules Verne, depicted discovery of the ruins of Atlantis. In 1961, MGM presented director/producer George Pal’s Atlantis, the Lost Continent, which attempted to portray events leading up to the continent’s final destruction. Derided as an example of the cheap and cheesy science fiction fare popular in drive-in theaters of the day, critics hated it, pointing out that many of its scenes were taken directly from Quo Vadis, MGM’s 1951 film story of Roman anti-Christian tyranny.
In the Atlantis myth itself, we are left with a persistent tale that, while widely shared, is seldom taken seriously. Yet, no matter how much it is dismissed by academic authorities as nothing more than a kind of cartoon, its deep effect on our culture is undeniable. And while legitimate debate over the facts may rage, some of us believe that deep in the ocean of humanity’s unconscious are the virtual remains of a lost history that still makes its demands on on our thoughts and sensibilities.
The notion of a great lost civilization and our society’s demonstrable amnesia on the subject eventually inspired me to launch a bimonthly magazine, which I dubbed Atlantis Rising, focusing on ancient mysteries, unexplained anomalies, and future science. After twenty-five years of continuous publication and several spin-off books and videos, in the spring of 2019 we closed our doors. Nevertheless, more than thirty years after writing the Atlantis Dimension screenplay, I continue to believe that the echoes of long-forgotten worlds still reverberate, and that if we could only translate their siren songs, we might exorcise some of the strange ghosts that trouble us yet.
Probably no one over the past seventy years could be more directly linked with the notion that Earth’s forgotten history has been punctuated by memory-destroying catastrophic events than Immanuel Velikovsky. The late Russian-American scientist’s Worlds in Collision caused a sensation when it was published in 1950.
His subsequent titles, Earth in Upheaval and Ages in Chaos, further elaborated his ideas and expanded the controversy. Here was a scientist of considerable authority suggesting, among other things, that Earth and Venus might once have collided, leaving a vast chaotic aftermath that could do much to explain our peculiar history. For such arguments, Velikovsky was, ever afterward, roundly ridiculed. Surprisingly, though, many of his predictions have now been verified, and some of his critics, including the late Carl Sagan, have since been forced to concede that he might, after all, in some ways, have been on to something.
A psychoanalyst and associate of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, Velikovsky offered great insight into the psycho-sociological impacts of cataclysmic events. The psychological condition and case history of planet Earth is, he said, one of amnesia. The planet, he believed, is in a near-psychotic state, left so by traumatic events of an almost unimaginable magnitude. Collectively, we must now wonder: Have we compulsively closed our eyes to certain painful realities? Have we, moreover, cloaked that intentional blindness with an aura of authority, thus effectively turning things upside down, making right wrong and wrong right, if you will?
The church fathers of the Middle Ages, for instance, refused—because of Galileo’s politically incorrect conclusions—to look through his telescope for themselves. His notion that the sun, not the Earth, is the center of the solar system was deemed heresy, no matter what the evidence might show. In other words, the minds of the authorities were made up, and they had no intention of being confused by troublesome facts.
Some believe that such blindness continues today, and the ruling elite may be of a similarly intolerant religion.” Around the world, the authorities of government, industry, and the academic world (along with their debunker hit squads) seem to remain determined to prevent any reawakening from the long amnesiac coma.
Sometimes, when it is difficult to find a rational explanation for the choices our leaders make, it is tempting to think in terms of dark conspiracies and treacherous hidden agendas. For Velikovsky, though, the explanation for behavior that some might describe as evil and others would view as—at the very least—self-destructive and unenlightened, or mad, lies in the mechanisms of a wounded mind seeking to regain equilibrium in the aftermath of a near mortal blow. The victim of a near fatal trauma is driven, apparently by fear, both conscious and unconscious, to exorcise the record of such experiences, lest he be overwhelmed. How else can we get on with our lives, put the past behind us, and think about the future? As it turns out, though, fully forgetting such an experience is not such an easy thing. There are heavy consequences. Much more than the record of the trauma can be lost. In fact, the very identity—what some would call the soul—can be a casualty.
What is true on an individual level, Velikovsky believed, was also true on a collective level. The process might move more slowly and allow for personal exceptions, but the institutions of society would, in time, come to reflect and to enforce a deep collective subconscious wish that, for the good of all, certain doors stay closed and certain inconvenient, and terrifying, facts stay forgotten.
As in many a Hollywood mystery or in mythic tales from a host of ancient traditions, we, the victims of amnesia, are left with few clues to guide us through a maze of incomprehensible signs and images. Reduced to a primitive state, we find ourselves back in the Stone Age, so to speak, where we cower in our personal caves, thinking only of survival and forgetting entirely any past grandeur. The path to collective recovery from such a fate can be long indeed—many millennia, perhaps. Nevertheless, like a victim returning to the scene of the crime, or like disembodied phantoms haunting the house where death came suddenly and violently, we are drawn inexorably, no matter the cost, to retrace our footsteps. Again and again, we struggle to uncover the source of our pain, and to find a way back to the pinnacle from which we have tumbled.
Along the way, the incoherent fragments of a lost identity—the artifacts of forgotten worlds—haunt our dreams. Whispering sadly of a lost state of grace, we spin tragic tales of a “Garden of Eden” from which we have been ejected by some cruel and heartless god. Like Sisyphus or Prometheus, we rail against the harshness of our fate, and life seems indeed, as Shakespeare’s Macbeth put it, “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
In such twilight realms, the princes of the darkness and their sycophants, whose seeming light and authority are but an illusion of the shadows, become the tyrants whom we permit to enslave us. Whether in government, orthodox religion, society, academia, or the “Twitterverse,” such figures find the light of recovering consciousness a threat—one best stamped out, nipped in the bud, strangled in the cradle, silenced. Should we be surprised to learn that those dark princes will fight fiercely to preserve the perks and prerogatives of their dim domain?
Nevertheless, driven by ancient longings, we have carried on, often blindly, in the attempt to penetrate at last the darkness and to learn the secret of our birth—our origin. And now, perhaps millennia later, after many harrowing trials, dare we hope that we have come full circle? Is our struggle finally nearing an end? Could this be the time when we transcend our fate and break free of the cycle? Or are we destined to plunge, once again, into the abyss?
Where can we look for answers to such questions? How can we uncover our history’s forgotten prologue and learn the truth?
THE MYTHIC RECORDS
Until we uncover something more concrete, some wonder if the guidance we need could be found in our myths, legends, and dreams—also termed the universal unconscious. Could our planet’s tragic history be unraveled from such subjective records?
Read between the lines, Plato’s Atlantis story, along with other stories of cataclysmic destruction, is corroborated by the Bible, by the Indian legends of Central America, and by a thousand other ancient myths from every part of the world. Giorgio de Santillana, an authority on the history of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, hypothesized in his great work Hamlet’s Mill that an advanced scientific knowledge had been encoded into ancient myth and star lore. If it is true that those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it, could these enigmatic messages from our past be something we ignore only at our peril?
If we accept that mythology may have originated with highly advanced people, then we have to think about what the myths are saying: that a great cataclysm struck the world and destroyed an advanced civilization and a golden age of mankind—and, moreover, the bad cataclysm may be a recurrent feature in the life of Earth. Some people believe that these messages from many ancient sources, including the Bible, point to the possibility of a recurrence of such a cataclysm in our lifetime.
Exploring such knowledge is like an undersea diving expedition—of another kind, but not without perils and monsters of the deep. Could the monster we must face be our own undiscovered selves locked away with the lost secret of our origins? And is what we can discover and prove objectively limited by the amount of light we can bear to cast upon our wounded subjective selves?
When the violent death of an entire civilization has proved too painful to deal with consciously, society has often suppressed the memory by force of inquisition or academic sanction, depending on your historic period. Nevertheless, we are driven by irresistible subconscious forces to reenact the ancient tragedy again and again until the spell is broken and at last we awaken from our coma.
The popularity of the 1997 movie Titanic ago had Hollywood scrambling to clone the formula. The secret of unlimited wealth seemed to be at stake. Most theories about the movie’s success had to do with star power and special effects combined with a good love story, but could something else have been involved? Call it an archetype, if you will, but the idea of an enormous technically advanced and arrogant world—supposedly impervious to danger—suddenly destroyed by nature itself and banished to the bottom of the sea may strike an even deeper chord than most Hollywood moguls would dare to consider.
If it is true that our civilization is, as Plato reported, but the latest round in an eternal series of heroic ascensions followed by spectacular falls, it makes sense that we share a deep need to comprehend better the nature of our predicament.
Velikovsky offered a compelling explanation for many of the world’s pathologies. The cataclysmic destruction of a society and its subsequent descent into barbarism, he said, would result in a loss of collective memory, and whatever new order rose from the ashes of the old, a sense of self-preservation would tend to block any recollection of the former world. The forgetfulness of the amnesiac, however, is not a peaceful thing, as fragments of the lost self haunt the dreams and darken the prospects. Healing demands recovery of the shattered memory and the self that went with it. Unconsciously driven to retrace our footsteps, we, the victims, eventually come full circle and again confront the challenges that defeated us before, and now we must—once and for all—pass our test or die again.
At deeper levels, we all understand somehow that, before the dawn of recorded history—our collective memory—we once rose to the heights, but still, we then plunged into an abyss from which we have not yet fully recovered. Like the watery ghosts of the Titantic, we long to be awakened, but we dread it, too, and there’s the rub.