I am not sure if I can explain how I determine whether something is interesting from a gonzo history perspective, but let’s take a look at an example. On Friday, I was in Canterbury with an hour and a bit to kill, and as is the ancient custom of my people I was looking through the bookshelves in charity shops. While doing this, I came upon this:

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Now, for a moment I thought that this might be an interesting read for Gonzo History, until I flipped through it. It has some funny bits — the antichrist is apparently Silvio Berlusconi, of all people — but mostly it is just conspiracy gibberish and all tiresomely predictable. It is what I call a “symptom” — that is, the detached ravings of a kook rather than a genuinely gonzohistorical phenomenon. “Kook” might be mean; I mean, dude could really need actual help.

To provide contrast, I pulled this one from my bookshelf:

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It’s not just that this is Phrenology, the organ of the British Phrenological Society (Inc.) but that it is the careers issue. The careers issue, I ask you! Far from the ravings of a kook, this is pseudoscience — and seriously, a pseudoscience that a child could see through; you only have to read their account of their trip to the National Portrait Gallery to go “hang on a moment” — as a more or less respectable facet of society, with this very staid, respectable journal and a careers issue. That is way weirder than some guy that thinks that Silvio Berlusconi’s media empire and Catholicism make him obvious Antichrist material and can’t even keep his fictional Screwtape Letters bullshit steady for ten minutes.

Further selections from the relevant shelves to follow.

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