“The Future Has Been Shown to Me to the Year 2037”: Jeane Dixon and the Marketing of Miracle, Mystery, and Authority

This is the back cover of a 1973 book by Jeane Dixon, a self-proclaimed psychic, prophet, and astrologer who died in 1997. When her popularity was at its height in the 1960s and 70s, her books sold in the millions of copies.

I think that the marketing represented on the back of this book is especially mendacious. Notice the following:

  • She wears a cross, and speaks of Jesus and prophecy, giving her the appearance of having pious “street cred,” especially with Protestants and Catholics.
  • She dresses conservatively, giving her the appearance of a non-hippie, non-feminist, patriotic American.
  • She inverts the last two digits of the year of the publication of the book, 1973, into the year in which the prophecies are fulfilled: 2037.
  • 2037, of course, is a full generation away from 1973. Thus her predictions are sufficiently distant that they cannot be skeptically evaluated for accuracy (at least not by the readers in 1973, when the book would have made money for the author).
  • The book sets a power trip on the audience, as if there’s something special about Jeane Dixon. Dixon gets things from God that other people do not. In this instance, the future has been revealed to Dixon, but not to you: “The future has been shown to me to 2037.”
  • The title of the book, The Call to Glory, gives the impression that purchasing the book will give you inside information on how to reach a ‘glorious’ (whatever that means) spiritual state. It is a path that is not your own, but one that you are called to from the beyond. Thus the difficulty of making your own decisions can simply be bypassed by submitting to some mysterious ‘call,’ presumably from God.
  • In short, the book’s back cover is a good example of Dostoevsky’s critique, in The Brothers Karamazov,  of conning people by “miracle, mystery, and authority.”

On the other hand, there are three interesting undercurrents of feminism at work here, and which may account in part for Dixon’s once wide readership among women:

  • She is a woman engaged in prophecy, subverting the stereotypical notion that God, or the beyond, only communicates through male prophets.
  • She is addressing topics in the traditionally male realm of the civitas (the public arena), as opposed to the traditionally female realm of the oikos (the home).
  • In the hierarchy of the universe, she sets herself above many men, as one with special gifts that most men do not, presumably, possess.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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