Never let it be said that I criticise a view without trying to understand it. I spent eleven hours listening to David Icke. I also had a sprained ankle and spent $80 getting to the venue. When you add in the near $120 for the ticket, “The Lion Sleeps No More” was a big investment for me: I did not attend lightly.
I mention the money associated with seeing David Icke not just so I can run the “I’m a poor student” line and thus garner sympathy. No, the cost of seeing Icke, even if you just factor in the ticket price and you bought your ticket early, was about NZ$90 (the listed ticket price online was in Australian dollars). That’s an expensive ticket to what was, in essence, a lecture (admittedly, a value for money lecture if the ratio of dollars-to-hours is a factor). Even I, who studies conspiracy theories for a kind of living, thought twice about attending for financial reasons alone.
The pricing of any event will decide who goes and who doesn’t. Now, I realise there are certain costs to bringing someone over to Aotearoa me Te Wai Pounamu which make the price tag somewhat explicable, but at around $100 a ticket, you can really only expect true believers and people like me to even think of attending1.
And boy, was it attended. Icke had an audience of over six hundred people, of all ages, all ethnicities and pretty even split on gender. They clapped when they were supposed to clap, laughed when they were supposed to laugh and Mexican waved when they were told to Mexican wave (this is true: it happened at least twice).
It’s a terrible thing to admit, but I did notice a few people and thought “Ooh, they look nice,” only to then think “Matthew, you can’t have amorous thoughts about anyone today: imagine the awkward conversations.” I also thought, possibly too much, about whether some people were there because their partners wanted to go. How would you cope being in a relationship with someone who thinks alien shape-shifting reptiles rule the world when you don’t think that seems very (or at all) likely? Then I thought “Well, people seem to cope with partners who believe in the gods, which is similar…” and realised that maybe my intolerance of dissenting opinions is ruinous to my life in general.
The crowd was in a genial mood, promoted by promoter Adam Davis when he started proceedings about how hard it is to keep believing in theses like that of Icke’s when the rest of the world pours scorn and ridicule on you. He then bade us hug and congratulate one another, a command I completely ignored as I started what would become forty-two pages of hand-written notes2. A man behind me noticed this and tried to engage me in conversation, which I managed to wrangle my way out of by just being a bit terse. I was not ready to out myself as someone who is sceptical of Icke’s work not just because I didn’t want a repeat of being outed at Richard Gage’s Auckland talk but also because I thought that if I did out myself, even to just one person, I might be stuck with them all day, a faithful companion trying to persuade me that Icke is right and my scepticism is just part of the Illuminati’s plot to keep me in the prison planet3.
Luckily, before he could try to engage me in conversation again, the light’s dimmed and a video started playing. It was footage of Icke wandering, in a solitary fashion, down a path as the narrator told us about the hardships and turmoils of Icke’s life in his role of visionary. They then played a bit of the famous Wogan interview (which I thought was both brave and appropriate: Icke, at the very least, owns his past), before Icke took the stage. I’ll talk about what he said in the first part next time. Still, one last thing before I go:
If you decided to give an eleven hour talk, do please think of your audiences’ bottoms. The seats at the Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre were terrible. Plastic chairs with only a token layer of loose cushioning. My bottom is still in distress almost a week later.
David Icke: Think about my bottom!
In the next part: I discuss Icke’s theory of phenomenalism and judge his personality.
- At one stage I did worry that maybe some former students of mine would be in the audience, and how I might react to finding this out. I decided, from that point onwards, to not look at peoples’ faces in the hope that no one would recognise me and, most importantly, I wouldn’t recognise anyone.↩
- Which, miraclously, I can read, given that they were written in the dark and at great speed.↩
- I also considered that maybe he might be a sceptic (or even a skeptic), at which point I might encounter the other trouble: many skeptics can’t see why people would believe in theses like that of Icke’s, and, as such, they seek only to ridicule the believers and supporters. I was there to try and map out his system of thought and work why he thinks it is a plausible story to tell about how our world is constituated. I didn’t want to have to deal with an unsympathetic skeptic.↩