Erik Cloud’s The New Age Bible represents the author’s attempt to synthesize his own brand of numerology, astrology, and religious scholarship into a practical philosophy. Cloud’s central thesis appears to be that the world’s problems can largely be attributed to the diminished status of men and the waning cultural importance of male achievement.
From the outset, Cloud’s work seems intensely personal, and perhaps because of this he fails to bridge the gap between his thoughts and readers’ comprehension. The significance he draws from numbers is highly idiosyncratic: Each number is assigned gender and sexual significance based on a supposed resemblance to male or female genitalia (although it seems that in the case of the numbers 3 and 8 he has confused genitals and breasts). These numbers are cross-referenced with zodiacal signs, allegedly to produce cultural or spiritual insight.
But while it seems as if these are his goals, his writing style makes it exceedingly difficult to grasp his meaning. Cloud’s sentences are syntactically challenged, run-on, and often fragmented. Readers will struggle with ungrammatical lines such as: “Do the ever-present sun setting billions of times make that much sense when it is apparently very omnipresent and limited concerning age?” A single sentence can switch streams multiple times; meanwhile, paragraphs, which have no discernible organizational structure, can run for pages. Typos are abundant.
Beyond merely being unclear and cluttered, however, Cloud’s stated aim and the book’s content don’t match up. The majority of the text, peppered with charts and equations, is actually devoted to his political views, which are certain to offend a plurality of readers. He demonizes Democrats, calls women psychopaths and whores, refers to Asians as “yellow people,” affirms his belief in white supremacy in the event of a race war, and even appears to praise Hitler.
In short, rather than the religious/spiritual tract promised by its title, The New Age Bibledelivers an angry rant, which is deeply offensive and nearly impossible to decipher.
The New Age Bible is bold in naming its own significance.
Erik Cloud’s The New Age Bible combines creative numerology with American political discussions in an attempt to enlighten readers and influence sacred canons. The work has ambitious aims and a winding style, but ends up alienating more than it illuminates.
Cloud is blunt in pronouncing the importance of the work from the first, declaring himself a “modern-day wizard” whose existence is “genius,” and announcing that The New Age Bible is on par with Moby-Dick and destined for inclusion at the end of the Christian Bible: This book transcends all known religion and religion so far as we know it with me as the third and final prophet so talked about and predicted in previous days.
Such pronouncements are an off-putting accompaniment to language that trends abstruse and to the frequent appearance of slurs. Meandering sentences land uncomfortably on harsh and modern declarations, particularly around American politics. Hints of white supremacism, including quotations from Hitler, pop up throughout. In a work that aims to reveal eternal truths, such contemporary and prejudicial pronouncements are a continual distraction. The project’s purpose seems to involve Cloud’s numerological system, though, as heavily as it is used, that system never quite comes into focus. The book dives into evaluating topics along its numeric scale without properly introducing the paradigm itself. 3 is presented as masculine, 6 as feminine, along with a bevy of other number-tovalue assignments. The hows and whys of such revelations remain veiled until well into the book. Even with the addition of numerical charts and graphs, and the incorporation of zodiac concepts and star cycles, Cloud’s assignments and formulas seem tendentious, unintelligible, and insular, rather than revolutionary.
Conclusions are pronounced, but are not arrived at in a way that can be easily traced. The book seems to draw in concepts at random, including elements of graphic design, martial arts, aesthetics, mythology, sexuality, time travel, and banking practices, making for very uneven reading. Long tangential asides on historical and political subjects are unreliable and hard to follow, and they further clutter The New Age Bible, pulling audience attention in a multitude of directions.
Though the work repeatedly references itself as an “epic poem,” in form, it looks and reads much more as disordered prose, and its ideas congeal less as an elegant “ballet” than as an unfocused screed. Regular misinformation and malapropisms undermine its credibility, and expletives compromise its “prophetic” delivery. Forays into anti-Semitic thought and Holocaust apologetics should drastically limit Cloud’s ability to find a receptive audience.Conspiracy theories are not infrequent, and troubling allusions to the author’s clashes with the legal system haunt later portions of the text. “I love people as a whole,” declares Cloud; by the end of his work, though, what comes together is less a persuasive holy book for mankind than a supportive tract for those with supremacist tendencies. The New Age Bible is bold in naming its own significance, though ultimately the enlightenment it promises remains elusive.
MICHELLE ANNE SCHINGLER
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An exhaustive astrological thesis covers a wide variety of aspects of daily life.
Cloud’s compendious debut work of nonfiction presents a sprawling discussion of what the author sees as the immense impact that astrology and numerology have on all facets of human life on Earth. He presents a great many protracted conjectures about the role higher-order numbers, the stars, and the planets play in everything from human history to American party politics to gender relations to religion (“I will safely conclude that Moses’s birth happened in the month of Taurus sandwiched between Gemini and Aries. This would explain his unrelenting passion to search out the stars and their majesty”). His book comes with a number of flow charts and graphs designed to help readers visualize the connections he attempts to draw. This systematic approach will likely appeal to fans of New-Age material of this sort; Cloud’s linking of common threads among the major world religions, for instance, is energetically done and can at times be thought-provoking, and his comparative analyses of the zodiac schemes of disparate cultures are often intriguing. Cloud champions a strongly mathematical approach to comparing these different bodies of knowledge. Such strengths as these are considerably blunted by the book’s flaws, however. The most pervasive of these is Cloud’s penchant for impenetrably obscure overwriting, with sentences winding on at absurd length to cover simple points, as when he mentions early on that he had more than one motive for writing his book: “I feel as though I need to mention that although money has been my main motivation, the charity of inevitably helping other people in need, I think, is to be just as motivating, and in some ways, thinking of others’ needs therein learning even more rewarding void of the ever so apparent God complex associated with usually very reputable and responsible positions of, say, doctor or any lifesaving profession.” This turgid prose is also marred by frequent factual errors—science can indeed prove evolution, women “over the ages” have not used prostitution as a means of attaining prosperity, Michelangelo was not the first “celebrity” artist, humans are not the only animals who hunt for sport, God did not design the modern computer keyboard, etc. A strong front-to-back edit would fix both these drawbacks for future editions.
A deeply thoughtful—and deeply tangled—exploration of the unseen forces that underlie humans’ reality.
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