Beyond the Fringe

Donna Kossey. Kooks: A Guide to the Outer Limits of Human Belief. Feral House, 1994
Quasi-Fortean publishing seems to be a growth area in the U.S., and this example is an interesting if somewhat disorganised ramble through the field of contemporary American fringe beliefs. Much of the content centres on individuals propagating their ideas through self-published manifestos, a number of which are reproduced. Interestingly, many of them resemble each other in their visual style, consisting of strange collages of type faces, littered with exclamation marks, whole paragraphs in capital letters, and interspersed with press cuttings of cryptic significance.

Unfortunately the emphasis on this type of material rather negates the issue of a wider climate of irrationality in present-day America, in which beliefs that were once on the fringe, such as anti-Satanism or 'Afrocentric history' can now be taken seriously by major public bodies.

Two of the books most substantial essays deal with Christian Identity, the name given to a number of groups that combine Anglo-Israelite beliefs with survivalism and neo-Nazi politics, and with Black Messianic sects, many of which share the Christian Identity preoccupations of antisemitism and the search for the lost tribes of IsraeL Particularly interesting is the way some Black Messianic sects are based on contactee-type experiences by their founders, or have incorporated UFO retrieval stories into their conspiracy theories. -- Roger Sandell.  Magonia 53, August, 1995.

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