Saturday, July 29, 2023

Hans Holzer's "Charismatics"

Here's another in an occasional series about the more obscure paperbacks penned by parapsychologist and ghost hunter Hans Holzer. The most recent post before this examined The Psychic World of Bishop Pike.

In bad news, this copy of Charismatics was pristine when I got it, but it had clearly never been read and it was dry as a bone. Through the mere process of me opening it and examining it, it fell apart at the binding. But at least now it's more documented in cyberspace than it was previously. There's almost nothing about it on the internet.

  • Title: Charismatics
  • Additional cover text: "How to make things happen for you by developing your untapped Sensory and Extrasensory powers...!"
  • Author: Hans Holzer (1920-2009)
  • What is Charismatics: According to the back cover, it was created by Holzer and is "a new approach to a magnetic personality which lets you use both your sensory and extrasensory powers to create a new and exciting identity, expand your mind, and develop a better, strong, more convincing You!"
  • Publication date: 1971
  • Publisher: Ace Books
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 190
  • Cover price: 95 cents
  • A few of the chapter titles: "The Art of Giving and the Art of Receiving," "Charismatics and the Sex Drive," "Charismatics and Illness," "The Nature of Sleep," "How to Expand Your Mind," "How to Apply Charismatic Techniques Without Even Half Trying" and "The Seven Deadly Hang-Ups."
  • First sentence: "Charismatics is an attempt to bridge the gap between concept and reality and to help individuals a little further toward the desired goal of perfection."
  • Last sentence: "When the basis for greed is removed, when guilt no longer has validity, when there are no suppressed feelings or desires left, man can indeed speak to man almost as clearly as nature speaks to us all, if we would only listen."
  • Questionable excerpt #1: "If you are a woman, you have another avenue of fortifying your charisma. Perfumes and aromatics are not merely adornments or fashionable expressions. They are quite definitely supporting tools to personality relationships in that scents penetrate through the aura of electromagnetic field of the human personality and create emotional responses. ... A friend of mine in California who is a high priestess of a witchcraft coven uses specially brewed perfumes to stimulate sexual response."
  • Questionable excerpt #2: "Marxism, one of the forms in which materialism appears among us, has always put forth the theory that the physical part of man is practically all there is of him. The mind exists, to be sure, even to Communists, but it is somehow still a physiological adjunct to the body.  ... But there are now eight schools of learning in Russia where parapsychology is a legitimate science and where matters of mind are studied seriously."
  • Less questionable excerpt #3: "To begin with, we should become aware of the fact that we are not always good observers. One of the first exercises consists of learning how to observe properly. I suggest that one stand in front of a store window with paper and pencil in hand. Look at the window for thirty seconds, and then write down everything that you have observed inside the window, price tags if any, color, size, anything in the way of detail. Then check back with the observed details and see how much you have missed."
  • What are the Seven Deadly Hang-Ups? They are all based around fear. Holzer writes, "The medieval church created the idea of the seven deadly sins. ... I would like to replace the seven deadly sins with today's seven deadly hang-ups ... fear of death, fear of sex, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of loneliness, fear of ridicule, and fear of responsibility. ... When you have removed the seven deadly hang-ups and are free from the fears that have until now caused you to fail, and when you have learned the techniques of charismatics to advance your aims more forcefully and more successfully, you will find that you are living a much fuller life, and with this realization comes a sense of well-being and joy. You are getting closer to the natural concept of what human life is all about."
  • Ebullient online review: The only review I found was on Amazon, written in 2014 by Dragonrand: "Undeniably Remarkable! I have had this book for years! It is a tome of brilliance and enlightenment. In the aspect of a melancholy society of which clouds society today, this book is a muse on the ear of the creatively drained."

If this post has piqued your interest, the good news is that you don't necessarily have to track down a crumbling 1971 paperback to learn more about Charismatics. The book is available on Kindle and Audible (read by Beth Stewart, who also narrates Glamour Ghoul: The Passions and Pain of the Real Vampira, Maila Nurmi)

BONUS: Here are some of the advertisements from inside Charismatics, which no doubt helped Ace Books to underwrite its publication. (See more of the psychedelic Kotex Kotique advertisements on Retro Musings.)

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Cat postcard from Russia

I can't send Postcrossing cards, or any other mail, to Russia. But I can still receive Postcrossing cards from the residents of that country. 

This card from Vika arrived in my mailbox today after traveling for 38 days. She's a 31-year-old who likes Hayao Miyazaki films, weird houses and baking pies. Her postcard to me features the cat-filled artwork of Katya Maush. 

This was Vika's typed message on the postcard: 
Hello, Chris :) Warm greetings from Abakan, which is located in the south of Siberia. My name is Vika, I am 31 years old. I live with my husband and our cat named Nyura. I live in a small town, but with very beautiful nature. Abakan is surrounded by the Taiga Forest and the Yenisei River. In winter, the Yenisei never freezes because of the strong current. So on the Yenisei is one of the largest hydro-electric power stations in Russia. It is called the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro-electric station. The beginning of summer turned out to be very hot for us :) although I don't really like summer, I prefer autumn more :) but at the same time we rejoice at every warm day, since our summer is short. I wish health to you and your family. Sincerely, Vika.

The postcard had this pretty nifty fairy tale stamp, too. I spy Baba Yaga.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Book cover: "Dangerous Island"

Mom loved this book when she was a kid, and she shared it with me when I was a kid, so it's my go-to example of a book that bonded us because we both enjoyed it in our childhood. From some of the comments on Amazon and Goodreads, it's clear that we're far from the only family in which this book was beloved across generations.

  • Title: Dangerous Island
  • Author: Helen Mather-Smith Mindlin. There's very little on the internet about her, but the dust jacket gives us some background: She was "born in Kansas City, Missouri, but spent most of her life in California, Hawaii and Florida, with some time in New York, Chicago and St. Louis. At present, she lives in Boca Raton, Florida. She attended school in both Illinois and California." Additionally, "she has written scenarios in Hollywood and feature articles for King Features Syndicate and for the Los Angeles Times Magazine Section. Her interests include not only writing but also yachting, fishing, dogs, wild animals and playing the accordion." The only other books I found her associated with were Inside Our Earth, Strange Animals (illustrated by Charles Mather-Smith) and 1958's Volcano Trap, which features the same characters as Dangerous Island and is a followup adventure, presumably involving a volcano.
  • Illustrator: Manning de V. Lee (1894-1980). His full name was Manning de Villeneuve Lee. He was born in Summerville, South Carolina, and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There's a lot of information about his life on the Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists.
  • Publication date: 1956
  • Publisher: Dodd, Mead & Company. (This is the Weekly Reader Children's Book Club edition.)
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Pages: 178
  • Dust jacket price: $2.75
  • Dust jacket excerpt: "A delightful combination of high adventure and fantasy that might almost be true. When the mooring on their raft breaks loose from the Jersey shore, three young children, two boys and a girl, are carried out to sea and become castaways on the most amazing island. ... A most satisfactory book."
  • Author's dedication: To my son.
  • First sentence: It had been terribly hot in Philadelphia and as it was just the beginning of summer, with even worse weather ahead, Mr. and Mrs. Warren had decided that Frank and Dorothy should be in a cooler spot.
  • Last sentence: In fact, some people believed there never had been a Rock Island!
  • Paragraph from the middle: As the children walked back to the cave, they noticed their Bath Tub rock was not longer there, either. It had been at the ocean's edge and now, it too, was completely covered with water. This seemed to be another warning that they were positively sinking, but the fact that it was still a clear day, with no fog anywhere in sight, gave them fresh hope of rescue.
  • Rating on Goodreads: 4.21 stars (out of 5)
  • Goodreads review excerpt #1: In 2020, Heidi wrote: "My fourth grade teacher read this book to the class (1957). We were all spellbound and loved every minute. Over the years I remembered the story but couldn't remember the title properly. Another librarian helped me to rediscover the book and I was delighted to have been able to obtain a decent, used copy."
  • Goodreads review excerpt #2: In 2011, Dave wrote: "I read this abomination under duress, back in '76 -- and I hold a grudge against my teacher to this very day. Tearing a fourth-grader away from his Poe, his Tolkien, his Stoker (and his totally cool books on dinosaurs, Indians, knights, rocks, plants, folktales, ghost stories, etc.) and forcing him to read this kind of dross is child abuse."
  • Rating on Amazon: 4.9 stars (out of 5)
  • Amazon review excerpt #1: In 2020, "Kindle Customer" wrote: "This was one of my mom's favorite books as a child, she even signed it in 5th grade in the 1950s. Thirty years later, I read Dangerous Island and fell in love with the adventure, and also added my elementary aged signature to the front page. Last month, I read it to my 8 year old — he's now added his signature under ours. 
  • Amazon review excerpt #2: In 2011, W. Thompson wrote: "I was telling my kids about this book and how my mom read it to me every summer from the time I was five until I was able to read it myself (it was her copy when she was a child and her mom read it to her). ... I have since read this book several times to my children. A wonderful story that I hope my children will someday read to their kids. Too bad Disney never made this into a movie."
  • Another mention: In a 2020 column praising mail-order book clubs for the Star Tribune in Minnesota, W. Scott Olsen recalls that Dangerous Island "was perfect for a young Midwestern boy. ... I am sure this book is responsible for my love of sailing stories and the Coast Guard. This book was Indiana Jones long before Indiana Jones. A trio of friends in danger? A bit of Harry Potter there. This book made me a reader."