For perspective it helps have a working knowledge of "straight" history and the sciences, to help filter the bullshit and/or wishful thinking of fringe historians and scientists. Conspiracy-mongering is cute in the young, but tiresome in grownups. Any conspiracies named listed here are for entertainment purposes only
Updated somewhat Sept 1993, July 1998 (Subgenius Year Zero), and now November 2000.
Update 21 Feb 2005:
If you want a crash course on a century that's only 4 years old and already gone weird (and if you do your research, you'll find the others did too), then run--don't walk--to
Many, many years ago (late '80s), when I lived in Houston, the punk club Axiom (maybe while it was Catal Huyuk (featured in "Reality Bites")), there was a punk rock garage sale. Among some magazines were Vague, a London magazine about Situationists and "If..." and RE/Search #4/5: W.S. Burroughs, Brion Gysin, Throbbing Gristle. I was on a huge Burroughs tear then, so this was a gift from heaven. In due course I got the other RE/Search books--Industrial Culture, J.G. Ballard interviews, Atrocity Exhibition, Pranks--skipped the Modern Primitives and the Angry Women--Incredibly Strange Films & Music 1 & 2.
I was too squeamish (and non-committal) for full-body tattoos, ampallangs or Prince Alberts, so I never got Modern Primitives, but to this day I swear to people this is the book responsible for every piercing or tattoo on anybody under 40. It created a world (as did ISM1&2); the other books "only" predicted this one. We're all living in J.G. Ballard's and William Burroughs' world now. Industrial Culture is back with a vengeance; the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Torturer General (succeeding the Witchfinder General) makes us all meat puppets by act of Congress. But I'm still looking for that Vermilion Sands (and the US government Recess); meanwhile, I'll go to Libya to see the ruins of Leptis Magna (from a Vermilion Sands story not set in Vermilion Sands), now that it's legal for Yanks to visit it.