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A view of John A. Keel's '75 book "The Eighth Tower"

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BOOK REVIEW: The Eighth Tower: On Ultraterrestrials and the Superspectrum by John A. Keel (Anomalist Books) 2013 / 1975

About a year or so ago, while entering the stairwell leading into my office here at Red Dirt Report I was nearly knocked on my ass by a stench so foul, it kind of freaked me out – mainly because I could not find the source of said odor, which was like rotten eggs.

It was a weekend and no one was in the neighboring office. Eventually the smell faded away on its own and was chalked up as “one of those things.”

So, all these months later, I’m finally getting around to reading John A. Keel’s 1975 book The Eighth Tower, described as “the disturbing follow-up to The Mothman Prophecies.” And when I get to page 123, the beginning of Chapter 13, Keel is writing about how “(a)ncient dragons, monsters, and demopns supposedly reeked with the smell of brimstone (sulfur)” and that “(b)urning sulfur smells like rotten eggs” with “(m)odern witnesses” of UFOs often complain that the monsters (like Bigfoot) and UFOs often smell like rotten eggs or something even more rancid.

Keel notes several cases where the bad stench nauseated a New Jersey night watchman to the point that he passed out, later noting that his stomach “felt worse than the time I was overcome by mustard gas in France in World War I.”

He noted instances of mysterious, “noxious gases” blowing inland from the Gulf of Mexico, overcoming people in Texas and Florida. And a 1967 incident in Youngstown, Ohio where an area of tower was “attacked” by a strange “gas,” which was followed by sightings of strange lights and craft, some of which gave off a smell “like burning tar,” a smell that I find to be among the worst in the world.

But the stench that clung to the Red Dirt Report stairwell was disconcerting, as I noted. And when I got to the part in Chapter 13 about a most peculiar “sulfur stench” case in Roger Mills County, Oklahoma back in 1963, well it got my attention, since it was so utterly bizarre.

Keel reports that the Allen family, who lived on a farm in Roger Mills County, and an “evil-smelling something” settled on their farmhouse and land, killing livestock and making the Allen family seriously ill over a number of weeks and months.

Like something out of The Conjuring, the odors plagued the poor family for quite some time, causing all sorts of ailments and the subsequent, rapid decay of their worldly possessions, from curtains to clothing and from walls to causing it to spread to nearby farms as they fled the area, with neighboring Hutchinson County, Texas preventing Roger Mills County residents from entering their county until “’the stuff’is identified.”

The terrified family – and other families in the area not far from Sayre – pleaded for help from Gov. Henry Bellmon and the U.S. Dept, of Health, Education, and Welfare, but what they did for them is unclear.

Keel made no more mentioned as to what the smell was, nor where it came from. It’s presumed the farm family found relief – somewhere – and the odor attacks ceased.

Did this foul stench come from a place of unknown power, a place Keel calls “The Eighth Tower”?  Or, for that matter, the strange lights, craft and creatures that seem to appear and disappear at will? Again, Keel, with his newsman’s nose for sniffing out a story, had seen enough “high weirdness” in his life, by 1975, that he seems to say yes, it is. But that this “superspectrum,” just out of view of our normal senses, houses these good/bad entities and has for millennia.

Yes, the UFOs, stinky monsters and strange humanoids are existing right alongside us, only they can enter our world, we, for the most part cannot easily enter theirs.

And so in these easy-to-read, 250-or-so pages, Keel takes us on an adventure through the shadow of the Eighth Tower – the other seven, said to be hidden citadels run by a satanic elite who work to dominate humanity – using images and sounds, on the “superspectrum,” the electromagnetic spectrum and so forth, as a way of cloaking whatever it is this “force” is doing – and that remains unknown. This is seen as wildly-spinning compasses, radio waves bouncing around, far from their source, and people who have psychic abilities, like “dowsing” or “water witching.”

The superspectrum is tricky. It’s always there and it knows humanity well, since it has been manipulating and playing games with us since we first appeared, something that Keel also questions, not entirely buying Darwin’s theory of evolution.

Writes Keel: “If it has been programmed to accept religious, occult, or scientific beliefs, the mind can inject these beliefs into the messages being received. But the receiver thinks he or she is hearing directly from God, the late Aunt Clara, or Ashtar, the big cheese in the Intergalactic Federation. The bodiless voice will even assume the chosen identity.”

But back to the “Eighth Tower” and the superspectrum. While its motives are unclear, it has certain patterns it follows. Keel notes that in the Middle Ages, people all over the world believed in “wee folk” and “fairies.”

But, as Keel notes, “the fairy manifestations, and the medical effects on the human percipients, were identical to those in the later spiritualistic period and the modern flying-saucer period. While the games change, the basic phenomenon remains the same.”

But what is this phenomenon? This “Eighth Tower”? Perhaps “Titans” of many ages ago and it continues to “function purposelessly millions of year later,” creating chaos and messing with our heads, driving some to madness? And who are piloting the UFOs haunting our skies, something Keel also addressed in 1970's Operation Trojan Horse.

Keel thinks that “penetrating” the camouflage of this “real phenomenon” and discovering its purpose “could well be the final stage of man’s evolution.

But then, like his hero Charles Fort, Keel often throws up his hands and suggests that humanity is simply property. 

Even though Keel, who died in 2009, originally published The Eighth Tower in 1975, being reprinted by Anomalist Books in 2013, it is remarkable how contemporary the issues are and the questions raised. Keel long eschewed the nuts-and-bolts theories of visiting spacemen in solid, interplanetary craft. There was too much that was “ghostly” about this perplexing phenomenon. Like the whole “rotten eggs” and “sulfur” aspect, which people in the Middle Ages (and today, to a certain extent) associate with demons, witches, trolls, swamp apes and whatnot. 

But then, like his hero Charles Fort, Keel often throws up his hands and suggests that humanity is simply property. Maybe our "owners" are too shy - like in Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End - to reveal their true identities. It might be taken the wrong way.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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