All of the Above

An Allegory of Time Unveiling Truth, Jean-François de Troy

Grant Cameron is fond of quoting the theoretical physicist John Archibald Wheeler, who said, in an attempt to untangle the seemingly absurd nature of quantum mechanics, that “there is no ‘out there’, out there.”

I’ll exonerate even the most studious generalist for not hearing of Grant Cameron. I didn’t know who Grant Cameron was either before December 16, 2017, which was when I came across an article in the New York Times.1 The subject of that article, and the expertise of Grant Cameron, is none other than unidentified flying objects. Yes, flying saucers.

Now, believe me, writing about flying saucers brings me no joy. Not the same joy at least as, say, writing about the poetry of Philip Larkin. “Flying saucers? Seriously?” I hear the sound of a contemptuous snide of a colleague. “Surely, you must be joking.”

So, I am prompted to write this preamble, as if to allay it through a series of rationalizations, to prove to you the reader and to yours truly that I’m not some impressionable imbecile who via reading an article became an eccentric putz.

William Shawn, the legendary editor of The New Yorker (and by the way, yes, believe it or not, The New Yorker was once legendary), considered the two worst subjects for his publication to be the future and the Loch Ness monster.2 Flying saucers have a whiff of both. Consider the problems that one faces in the composition of an essay about the Loch Ness monster. To start, it’s an idiotic subject. In similar fashion to writing about the future, writing about the existence of the Loch Ness monster would be speculative, at best, and speculative writing is genre writing – a second-class citizen in the literature and rightly so, it rarely escapes its tropes. An angle an editor may propose to tackle those obstacles would be to consider an anthropologically themed piece, perhaps centered around those who believe that the Loch Ness monster truly exists, an in-depth profile about a Loch Ness fearing individual. Another angle would be a literary anthology of mythological undersea creatures. But that’s a cop-out. One hasn’t really written about the Loch Ness monster, but of the semiotic cultural and symbolic codes that exist around it. It’s a different matter altogether to write about the existence of it as a matter of fact. To do so, ostensibly, would be stupid. But that’s a statement that has less to do with the Loch Ness monster, and more with the appearances of inquiring about the Loch Ness monster. Surely, from a comprehensive view of knowledge and its pursuit, all subjects should be equally worthy of inquiry. Our comprehension of the universe is a collection of arbitrary biases that we collectively agree upon at any given moment. But from an editorial standpoint, we have an unspoken agreement on what constitutes a literary faux pas (and, in any case, The New Yorker had published on the matter of U.F.O.s since3).

It turns out I’m not the first to contend with this problem. The psychoanalyst Carl Jung, in his 1958 book, Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, wrote about this matter directly:4

It is difficult to form a correct estimate of the significance of contemporary events, and the danger that our judgment will remain caught in subjectivity is great. So I am fully aware of the risk I am taking in proposing to communicate my views concerning certain contemporary events, which seem to me important, to those who are patient enough to hear me. I refer to those reports reaching us from all corners of the earth, rumours of round objects that flash through the troposphere and stratosphere and go by the name of Flying Saucers, soucoupes, disks, and “Ufos” (Unidentified Flying Objects). […] It would be frivolous of me to try to conceal from the reader that such reflections are not only exceedingly unpopular but even come perilously close to those turbid fantasies which becloud the minds of world-reformers and other interpreters of “signs and portents.” But I must take this risk, even if it means putting my hard-won reputation for truthfulness, reliability, and capacity for scientific judgment in jeopardy. I can assure my readers that I do not do this with a light heart. I am, to be quite frank, concerned for all those who are caught unprepared by the events in question and disconcerted by their incomprehensible nature.

This honest assessment brings about another question worth asking: Who is in charge of deeming one subject to be idiotic and the other not? As an editor I’d like to point out one distinct difference between the Loch Ness monster and flying saucers, one of them, as we were told in that Times article, is being investigated at the Pentagon,5 and the other, as far as I know, is not. Consequently, and inconvenient as it may be to me, I must now reassess the vague scope of what constitutes a literary faux pas when it comes to flying saucers and their presumed occupants. Irrespective to the cavernous implications of ontology on what is in existence and actuality or not, but on grounds of this newly developed consensus view within the establishment, I must reassess unidentified flying objects as a legitimate poetic subject.

What constitutes as legitimate poetic subjects, or whether there is an ex cathedra catalog of them, is a matter of debate. Nothing is off limits, of course, but I do make distinctions. A poetic subject can be solemn or fatuous, stately or juvenile, profound or trivial. The poem itself makes the difference but, just like in genre writing, there are the usual tropes and conceits that make for doggerel, but should unrequited love seem just as poor of a primary poetic subject as flying saucers, one being clichéd, the other simply esoteric?6 Perhaps, from the point of view of this editor at least, that’s the crux of the matter, the aesthetic judgment of subjects and the seemingly arbitrary discernment of respectability from a certain class within the establishment, one that I sometimes willingly participate in – but why, though, truly: If a poet considers institutional opinion as anything to reckon with during the composition of a poem then he or she had already failed.

The proper and accurate definition of the literary faux pas and a meta-definition (one that carries through different temporal and societal adaptations) of it is what we’re after, then. The exact relation of taboo vs. faux pas.

It’s no surprise that Frued, in Totem and Taboo, begins with “The Horror of Incest” as the exemplar through to illustrate the problem of taboo (and, as it is, Nabokov’s Humbert was Lo’s father, if through espousal, and, of course, an academic scholar of French literature). As Freud relates:7

We have arrived at the point of regarding a child’s relation to his parents, dominated as it is by incestuous longings, as the nuclear complex of neurosis. This revelation of the importance of incest in neurosis is naturally received with universal scepticism by adults and normal people. Similar expressions of disbelief, for instance, inevitably greet the writings of Otto Rank [e.g. 1907 and 1912], which have brought more and more evidence to show the extent to which the interest of creative writers centres round the theme of incest and how the same theme, in countless variations and dis- tortions, provides the subject-matter of poetry. We are driven to believe that this rejection is principally a product of the distaste which human beings feel for their early incestuous wishes, now overtaken by repression. It is therefore of no small importance that we are able to show that these same incestuous wishes, which are later destined to become unconscious, are still regarded by savage peoples as immediate perils against which the most severe measures of defence must be enforced.

But, as opposed to the literary faux pas, the literary taboo can be discussed, if one employs a certain metadiscursive tone, as Freud had above (or, as in the case of the avant garde, it’s possible to examine taboo through mastery of composition, but not without its risks, one misstep and enfant terrible quickly becomes persona non grata). A mere mention of the faux pas, other than in mocking it, is impermissible. Examples of taboo aplenty, as a temporal societal one, there’s Joyce’s depiction of masturbation of the “Nausicaa” chapter in Ulysses, considered too risqué for its time, but comparatively (though uproar ensued), to Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint far fouler infamous self-gratification-employing-liver technique. The patricide in Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov was never deemed taboo, even though Freud suggested patricide to be as universal as incest.

A literary faux pas, on the other hand, is not psychoanalytically devastating; at least, it’s only as ruinous as its correlating embarrassment. A faux pas establishes a hierarchy in societal codes that was breached, unawares by the less sophisticated. The literary faux pas establishes a hierarchy in textual aesthetical semiotic codes that was breached by a misplaced or wrongly abstracted motif. Flying saucers, or the phenomenon, as people like Grant Cameron refer to it, appearing amongst the pages of the upper echelon of the literary elite is an example of a literary faux pas. Contrast how pedophilia in Lolita employs a taboo as its primary subject and is nearly consensus as a monumental literary achievement, yet flying saucers and their occupants, with few exceptions,8 are deemed lesser, and placed within the genre confines of science fiction (or on pages of tabloid newspapers).

Maurice Blanchot, in the essay “How is Literature Possible?” from the collection Faux Pas, argues that mastery of those abstract editorial aesthetic hierarchies, unspoken or not, vulgar or otherwise, is the very function that makes literature possible:9

Now we are ready to give an answer to the question, How is literature possible? It is actually through virtue of a double illusion— illusion of some who struggle against commonplaces; illusion of others who, renouncing literary conventions or, as we say, literature, cause it to be reborn in a form (metaphysics, religion, etc.) that is not its own. […]  It is a question of revealing to the writer that he gives birth to art only through a vain, blind struggle against it, that the works that he thought he wrenched from common, vulgar language exists thanks to the vulgarization of virgin language, through an excess of impurity and debasement. There is in this discovery enough to cause the silence of Rimbaud to fall on everyone. But just as for man the fact of knowing that the world is the projection of his mind does not destroy the world, but on the contrary assures knowledge of it, represents its limits and makes clear its meaning, so does the writer, if he knows that the more he struggles against commonplaces the more he is bound to them, or if he learns that he writes only with the help of what he detests, has the chance to see the extent of his power and the means of his authority more clearly. In any case, instead of being unknowingly ruled by words or indirectly governed by rules (for his refusal of rules causes him to depend on them), he will seek for mastery of them. Instead of submitting to commonplaces, he will be able to make them; and knowing that he cannot struggle against literature, that he could eschew conventions only to accept their constraints, he will receive the rules, not as artificial guidelines that point out the way to follow and the world to discover but as the means of his discovery and the law of his progress through the darkness where there is neither a way nor an outline.

So, it’s the ability to make commonplaces, de facto, rather than a submission to the arbitrary lex terrae dictums of editorial land, which results in progress.

Clearly, the amorphous nature of decoding social codes and attempting to formulate some universal statement at any given time is impossible, and making any sweeping statements on moral categories in literature would be reckless, but I consider the comprehensive, if ultimately anecdotal, inquiry that I’ve conducted, scouring serious articles and verse which involves flying saucers and the phenomenon in general outside field-specific publications as to be sufficient to indicate the point of its absurd faux pas.

Stanley Kunitz, twice Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, clearly unperturbed, and certainly not indirectly governed by rules, had published “The Abduction” in 1982, under the reputable pages of The Atlantic, and notably without much scholarship on it.10 11 It describes a classical abduction:12

Some things I do not profess
to understand, perhaps
not wanting to, including
whatever it was they did
with you or you with them
that timeless summer day
when you stumbled out of the wood,
[…]
we pieced enough together
to make the story real:
how you encountered on the path
a pack of sleek, grey hounds,
[…]
You lie beside me in elegant repose,
a hint of transport hovering on your lips,
indifferent to the harsh green flares
that swivel through the room,
searchlights controlled by unseen hands.
Out there is childhood country,
bleached faces peering in
with coals for eyes.
Our lives are spinning out
from world to world;
the shapes of things
are shifting in the wind.
What do we know
beyond the rapture and the dread?

An excellent poem. The invocation of “what do we know / beyond the rapture” is scriptural and reflects back on a phenomenon that stretches beyond eschatological knowledge of a theological end. Kunitz’s “childhood country” is evoking of preadolescence and of the imagination and unbolted freedom of creativity of children, unburdened by common sense, or, perhaps referring to Arthur C. Clarke’s 1953 dark novel Childhood’s End.13 Beginning with “I do not profess / to understand, perhaps / not wanting to” admits to a memory the poet prefers to have repressed, common amongst those who report such abductions (most likely due to what Paul Tillich described in Systematic Theology as “ontological shock” when encountering “the threat of non-being”14). The striking allusion of “a pack of sleek, grey hounds” in this context to the “greys” should need no further elucidation.

But, of course, Kunitz is not the first, outside of mythological works (that hold a different standing than that of the modern definition of verse) to employ this poetic subject. The earliest poem to mention extraterrestrials is Henry More’s “Democritus Platonissans, or an Essay Upon the Infinity of Worlds”, published 1647. In More’s verse:15

This is the parergon of each noble fire
Of neighbour worlds to be the nightly starre,
But their main work is vitall heat t’ inspire
Into the frigid spheres that ’bout them fare,
Which of themselves quite dead and barren are.
But by the wakening warmth of kindly dayes,
And the sweet dewie nights they well declare
Their seminall virtue in due courses raise
Long hidden shapes and life, to their great Makers praise.

An interesting observation, that the hidden extraterrestrial life praises their God as it does our God, as it’s one and the same. More, a rational theologian, held similar views to that of René Descartes. Significantly, More opposed Cartesian dualism, stating that: “It would be easier for me to attribute matter and extension to the soul, than to attribute to an immaterial thing the capacity to move and be moved by the body.” More coined the term “fourth dimension” for where the spirit is subsumed.16 Quite ahead of the metaphysics of his time.

Theology is deeply integrated into flying saucers as poetic subject, and with it an issue of dogma and the orthodoxy of whoever it is that demarcates the inexplicable boundaries of nonsensical poetic subjects from (no pun intended) transcendent ones. Consider what Katy Price wrote of John Donne, the eminent metaphysical poet, and of William Empson criticism of his work:17

William Empson provocatively dubbed John Donne a ‘space man’ in his second major essay on the Renaissance poet, establishing science fiction credentials for a writer who, Empson maintained, was ‘interested in getting to another planet much as the kids are nowadays’. ‘Donne the Space Man’ appeared in John Crowe Ransom’s Kenyon Review in the summer of 1957, a few months before the launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October. Empson’s argument was that Donne ‘brought the idea [of space travel] into practically all his best love-poems, with the sentiment which it still carries of adventurous freedom’, and that ‘coming soon after Copernicus and Bruno’ this was a defiance of Christian doctrine, since it meant ‘denying the uniqueness of Jesus’. If there can be life on other planets, there must be a separate Jesus for each world, and Donne’s references to the holiness of his beloved, coupled with imagery of new lands and spheres, are subversive. A reading that failed to take Donne’s interest in speculative astronomy seriously was, according to Empson, one that risked allowing his love poems to appear merely smutty, so that establishing Donne’s heresy and his respect for female interlocutors became one and the same endeavour. The use of the term ‘space man’ by the twentieth-century critic was a radical humanist gesture, asserting a major preoccupation of science fiction – life on other worlds – against a literary critical establishment that he found loaded with oppressive Christian values.

If anything, the “heretical” interpretation of Donne’s work is a testament to theological, and outdated, bias even by the standards of the Catholic Church, which, as Padre José Gabriel Funes, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, discussed in the 2008 catechism “The Extraterrestrial is My Brother”:18 19

LOR: And this would not be a problem for our faith?

FUNES: I believe no. As a multiplicity of creatures exist on earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God. This does not contrast with our faith because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God. To say it with Saint Francis, if we consider earthly creatures as “brother” and “sister,” why cannot we also speak of an “extraterrestrial brother?” It would therefore be a part of creation.

Padre Funes’ answer (and likewise, Rabbi Aron Moss, who writes that: “The discovery of ETs would pose no more of a threat to Judaism than would the discovery of a new species of rabbit.”20) is reminiscent of More’s 1647 concluding line: “Long hidden shapes and life, to their great Makers praise.” All that said, it’s a notable peculiarity to have the Vatican, one of the most conservative institutions on this planet, consider the extraterrestrials as brothers and sisters, whereas the topic, even amongst avant garde circles of poesy is still rare.

Rare but not nonexistent. Bob Perelman’s “Confession” stands out.21 22 23 It’s at first humorous in tone, but keeps its head above water with ingenious self-reflective reasoning and classical dialogue toying with the avant garde. Perelman speaks directly:

Aliens have inhabited my aesthetics for
decades. Really since the early 70s.

Before that I pretty much wrote
as myself, though young. But something

has happened to my memory, my
judgment: apparently, my will has been

affected. That old stuff, the fork
in my head, first home run,

Dad falling out of the car—
I remember the words, but I

can’t get back there anymore. I
think they must be screening my
sensations. I’m sure my categories have
been messed with.
[…]
just waiting for my return ticket
to have any meaning, for those

saucer-shaped clouds to lower! The authorities
deny any visitations—hardly a surprise.

And I myself deny them—think
about it. What could motivate a

group of egg-headed, tentacled, slimier-than-thou aestheticians
with techniquies far beyond ours to

visit earth, abduct naive poets, and
inculcate them with otherwordly forms that

are also, if you believe the
tabloids, salacious? And these abductions always

seem to take place in some
provincial setting: isn’t that more than

slightly suspicious? Why don’t they ever
reveal themselves hovering over some New

York publishing venue? It would be
nice to get some answers here—

we might learn something, about poetry
if nothing else,
[…]

Without getting into the mechanics of Modernism and the influences of dialectics and literary criticism, Perelman simply tells that aliens have inhabited his aesthetics, and the aesthetics of aliens is a lot to ponder about, regardless, the couplets of: “I’m sure my categories have / been messed with” invoke deep, a priori alterations of the poet cum abductee’s ontology on behalf of said aliens. I can only second Perelman’s “It would be / nice to get some answers here— / we might learn something, about poetry / if nothing else,” this is the true pedagogical lesson of Perelman, taking the phenomenon of alien abduction and noting its value not to the investigation of aliens, but to the investigation of poetry, for the advancement of literary criticism through the eyes of an ultimate Other.

But it was Ben Lerner’s “The Lights” (post-Nimitz), published in The New York Review of Books,24 that captured me completely and like no other when it comes to poetry of the phenomenon:

Slow moving objects flying in groups
Lights in the trees. Like those minutes before
the storm when we stood at Kyle’s wedding
looking up. A decision has to be made
about taking shelter. Too high to be birds
too slow to be conventional aircraft
her white dress stood out against the dark gray
sudden drop in pressure. Lights
in the trees. Slow moving. The radar
we shut the radar down and recalibrated to rule out ghost tracks
[…]
has to be made. I was in Paris once
with Bobby who was mourning his mother
and filming public sculptures. Every few hours he would
in tears. And I would hold him. It is rare for me

to hold a male friend, but I was and looked up to see
these lights. Now, my degree is not in physics
so it is important I rise early and try to get it all down
before my echo. Like walking to meet
Mónica I must have got too much sun
sat on the curb suddenly cold and looked up
to the art. The video shows a source of heat
Birds are out of the question. I have learned to hold
the back of the head when we embrace,
[…]
they are beside it without judgment
that they smell vaguely of burning paper
that to meet them would be to remember meeting them
as children, that they are
children, that the work of children is
in us, that they are part of our sexual life
that they are reading this
that they are baffled but can make out
the shape of a feeling to which they assign
no number, gender

that they have sources
of lift

The numerous abrupt enjambments of the ordinary with the extraordinary (or is it?) indicates how internalized the phenomenon had become to the poet; he lives it, through it, every day, “they”, as Lerner writes, are “part of our sexual life” and, more importantly, as it pertains to poetry, it’s that “they are reading this” – this poem; the poet is aware that the audience includes “them”, not just us, and perhaps this is an answer to Perelman’s inquiries, the perceived cognizance of “them” acknowledged through the poem is could be seen as a their response – and to this poet, the poem shares the sense that we cannot know the phenomenon dialectically, but intimately, instinctually, just as the poet knew to embrace his friend in his grief, which is the explication of those enjambments, a series of of the most intimate with the seemingly exceptional.

I would be remiss not to mention Jack Spicer, who claimed to have his poetry entirely dictated by extraterrestrials, or Roy Bentley’s “The Man Who Fell to Earth in Dayton”, on the pages of this publication. But it’s W. B. Yeats and fairies,25 that appear to me closer to what we are attempting to relate, that is, an ancient mythology retold through infinite reflections made by contemporary adaptations of the same underlying phenomenon.

*

It wasn’t just the Loch Ness monster that was distasteful to Shawn, but the future, as well – and for good reason. I have a particular dislike of speculative writing, the sensitive premonition of my editorial sensibilities peek through the cracks and observe mere genre writing coming from the speculative department and its ilk, suffering from the same habitual and dim-witted tendencies, ones of utopias and dystopias made on juvenile whims better left to late night conversations at smoke-filled dorm rooms, not serious literature. This editorial predicament, one supposedly inimical to actuality, is not entirely shared by Aristotle who, in Poetics, wrote that:26

[…] it is not the function of the poet to relate what has happened, but what may happen,—what is possible according to the law of probability or necessity. The poet and the historian differ not by writing in verse or in prose. The work of Herodotus might be put into verse, and it would still be a species of history, with metre no less than without it. The true difference is that one relates what has happened, the other what may happen. Poetry, therefore, is a more philosophical and a higher thing than history: for poetry tends to express the universal, history the particular. By the universal, I mean how a person of a certain type will on occasion speak or act, according to the law of probability or necessity; and it is this universality at which poetry aims in the names she attaches to the personages. The particular is—for example—what Alcibiades did or suffered. In Comedy this is already apparent: for here the poet first constructs the plot on the lines of probability, and then inserts characteristic names;—unlike the lampooners who write about particular individuals. But tragedians still keep to real names, the reason being that what is possible is credible: what has not happened we do not at once feel sure to be possible: but what has happened is manifestly possible: otherwise it would not have happened. Still there are even some tragedies in which there are only one or two well known names, the rest being fictitious. In others, none are well known, as in Agathon’s Antheus, where incidents and names alike are fictitious, and yet they give none the less pleasure. We must not, therefore, at all costs keep to the received legends, which are the usual subjects of Tragedy. Indeed, it would be absurd to attempt it; for even subjects that are known only to a few, and yet give pleasure to all. It clearly follows that the poet or ‘maker’ should be the maker of plots rather than of verses; since he is a poet because he imitates, and what he imitates are actions. And even if he chances to take an historical subject, he is none the less a poet; for there is no reason why some events that have actually happened should not conform to the law of the probable and possible, and in virtue of that quality in them he is their poet or maker.

Aristotle makes the point that a poetic subject is greater than any specific event, in actuality or otherwise. The allusions, analogies, and personifications are there as a form of potentiality in the abstract, one that speaks to the universal human condition (or, in our case, the non-human condition, too). There is a poetic gestalt that is transferred via the subject that transcends its supposed veracity, the professed emotive setting is the true phenomenon behind the spectacle of the underlying subject, and that is projected through the sophisticated devices employed by verse (executed via what Wordsworth, in his own theory of poetry, termed as the “spontaneous overflow of intense emotions” – that is, what it feels, no matter the intrinsic motif of the work).

But there is an intrinsic motif, and it’s one of unconcealment, of attempting to unearth an answer. As Heidegger stated:27

In Parmenides’ reflective poem which, as far as we know, was the first to reflect explicitly upon the Being of beings, which still today, although unheard, speaks in the sciences into which philosophy dissolves. Parmenides listens to the claim:

[…]
… but you should learn all:
the untrembling heart of unconcealment, well-rounded
and also the opinions of mortals,
lacking the ability to trust what is unconcealed.

(Standard translation: “It is needful that you should learn of all matters-both the unshaken heart of well-rounded truth and the opinions of mortals which lack true belief.”)

Aletheia, unconcealment, is named here. It is called well-rounded because it is turned in the pure sphere of the circle in which beginning and end are everywhere the same. In this turning, there is no possibility of twisting, deceit and closure. The meditative man is to experience the untrembling heart of unconcealment. What does the word about the untrembling heart of unconcealment mean? It means unconcealment itself in what is most its own, means the place of stillness which gathers in itself what grants unconcealment to begin with. That is the opening of what is open, We ask: openness for what? We have already reflected upon the fact that the path of thinking, speculative and intuitive, needs the traversable opening. But in that opening rests possible radiance, that is, the possible presencing of presence itself.

It’s the process of unconcealment itself, the individual account of it, that is its meaning. As Jeffery Kripal noted on the subject of unidentified flying objects:28

[…] they were always looking for a mechanism, they all wanted to know what caused this, and I was, you know, the weird Humanist in the room, raising my hand saying: “There is no mechanism”, there is no cause, these are stories, and the point of them is meaning. It dawned on me that I think what a “paranormal” event is, it’s essentially an intervention, from one other aspect of oneself, or the world, and the message is: “The story you’re inside of isn’t working so well, let’s start to take it apart, so that you can start to tell a different story.” By “you” I don’t mean you personally, but the culture as a whole. So, what I think “paranormal” events really are about, at the end of the day, is deconstruction. I think that they’re about taking the culture apart, and taking the big story that we’re all living in apart, because guess what, it’s not working so well. And that big story might be a religious system, it might be some kind of materialistic scientific system, it might be nationalism, it might be any number of things […] Now that doesn’t mean they may give you a solution. Like a lot of phenomena, it’s going to rely on the interpreter, that’s what you were getting at with the quantum problem. But this is the nature of textuality, a narrative, it’s the interpreter that comes up with the meaning, it’s not the text that is the story itself.

The paranormal phenomenon is an event that ignites the textual deconstruction, one that reconfigures its abstract center, as Derrida defines it:29 30

By orienting and organizing the coherence of the system, the center of a structure permits the play of its elements inside the total form. And even today the notion of a structure lacking any center represents the unthinkable itself.

Nevertheless, the center also closes off the play which it opens up and makes possible. As center, it is the point at which the substitution of contents, elements, or terms is no longer possible. 
[…]
If this is so, the entire history of the concept of structure, before the rupture of which we are speaking, must be thought of as a series of substitutions of center for center, as a linked chain of determinations of the center. Successively, and in a regulated fashion, the center receives different forms or names. The history of metaphysics, like the history of the West, is the history of these metaphors and metonymies. Its matrix—if you will pardon me for demonstrating so little and for being so elliptical in order to come more quickly to my principal theme—is the determination of Being as presence in all senses of this word. It could be shown that all the names related to fundamentals, to principles, or to the center have always designated an invariable presence—eidos, arche, telos, energeia, ousia (essence, existence, substance, subject) aletheia, transcendentality, consciousness, God, man, and so forth.

And the paranormal event contextualizes itself, for us, under the predictable rules of societal decorum, as Foucault notes:31

Those termed ‘illuminated’ and ‘visionaries’ are considered to correspond to the people we think of as suffering from hallucinations: ‘visionary imagining he sees celestial apparitions’, ‘visionary who has revelations’, and those described as ‘imbeciles’ are deemed cognitively deficient or suffering from some form of organic or senile dementia – ‘imbecilic after horrible debauchery with wine’, ‘an imbecile who is always talking, comparing himself to the Pope or a Turkish emperor’, ‘imbecile with no hope of return’. Sufferers from such delirium are characterised by the picturesque or absurd aspect, as in ‘a man pursued by people who wish to kill him’, ‘institutor of crackpot projects’, ‘man continually electrified, who receives ideas transmitted by other people’, or ‘madman who wants to submit reports to Parliament’.

For this editorial inquiry, and as Elsa De Smet describes Barthe’s observation:32 33 34

Viewed from within the history of its representation, a rocket is an element in the construction of the myth of Space, which makes it [Barthe’s] ‘pass from a closed, silent existence to an oral state, open to appropriation by society, for there is no law, whether natural or not, which forbids talking about things.’

I editorially agree. We can talk about whatever we want and, so much as this editor is concerned, as Terence McKenna once put it: “The world is not made of anti-mu mesons, quarks, and photons, and electromagnetic fields. Reality is made of words.”35

*

Those who research flying saucers are called “ufologists”, and the lingo they employ for flying saucers, as in the actual physical craft, is “nuts and bolts” (though it’s doubtful that a flying saucer so advanced would have nuts or bolts in it), everything else that has to do with the metaphysical aspect of the field is labeled with the word “woo”, as in, the mocking “woo-woo” sound that the general sober-minded public makes when hearing about paranormal subjects such as, say, telepathy or apparitions (two subjects that, as it turns out, are at the heart of ufology).

Grant Cameron is a ufologist, and he’s very much “woo”. He calls his grand ufological thesis “The Theory of Wow”, where he asks:36 37 “Why do U.F.O.s have lights on them?” With the answer of: “So we could see them!” Grant Cameron proposes that the lights in the sky we call flying saucers are there to make us go “Wow” in amazement when we see them, Cameron asserts that the “Wow” instills doubt in our normal reality, that doubt is meant to lead us to consider that, just like Wheeler believed, the universe is an activity taking place inside our consciousness. Grant Cameron, I’ve learned, wasn’t always so concerned with consciousness. He likes to joke and say that he couldn’t even spell the word consciousness prior to 2012. He was, as they say in the field, a “nuts and bolts” person, but then, he had a revelation. Herein lies the first “hard problem” of ufology, the dichotomy of “nuts and bolts” and “woo”, and from what I’ve inferred so far, I believe it’s a false dichotomy.

To better understand this false dichotomy, one should consider Jacque Vallée’s Interdimensional Hypothesis, proposing that the flying saucers and their occupants are not coming from outer space at all, but from a different dimension alongside our own, a proposition that’s very much in line with modern theories in physics. The Interdimensional Hypothesis hypothesizes that flying saucers were always here with us, in one form or another (Ezekiel’s Wheel or otherwise), and us assigning them as being extraterrestrial is merely a contemporary interpretation to the same events, some considered theological in nature, we have always experienced throughout recorded human history. Following his reasoning has religious events traditionally ascribed to ghosts and demons as interdimensional entities. Gods, aliens, potato, potatā, is what Vallée is saying.38 39 Our interpretation of such events is tailored to us based on whatever happens to be fashionable in our collective biases, signs, and cultural codes, whether it’s a religious apparition of the Virgin Mary, little green men, or abnormally large owls, it’s mere representation of the same phenomenon, a different observable spectacle (“Wow”) for the same underlying event.

This relates to the apparent disjunction of subject matters, between the subject of Grant Cameron’s expertise being unidentified flying objects, and the aphorism he quotes, “there is ‘no out; there out there”, made by John Archibald Wheeler, comes from an interview with Denis Brian, in The Voice Of Genius: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries, and when pressed on its meaning, Wheeler elaborated with:

The universe does not exist “out there,” independent of us. We are inescapably involved in bringing about that which appears to be happening. We are not only observers. We are participators. In some strange sense, this is a participatory universe. Physics is no longer satisfied with insights only into particles, fields of force, into geometry, or even into time and space. Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.

Firstly, and needless to say, when it comes to incontrovertibly outstanding poetic subjects, existence itself is probably first in class. Amongst the primordial questions that I imagine some proto-human to have asked whilst gazing at the stars at night surely must be something along the lines of “What is out there?” And to elucidate Wheeler’s answer we must introduce the dreaded C-word in intellectual polite society, that record scratch shrieking in a cocktail party that stops everyone at their heels upon mentioning it: Consciousness. Materialistic hypothesis assumes that matter gives rise to consciousness. We need brains to be aware that we have them. Wheeler saw it the other way around: Consciousness is primary. There is no “out there” because everything is right here, manifested by consciousness. The hierarchy is flipped on its head. To borrow a phrase from one Lucasian professor of mathematics, consciousness is what breathes fire into the equations to make a universe for them to describe.40 41

Wheeler is not the first physicist to tackle the problem of existence from the point of view of consciousness, Erwin Schrödinger, too, had proposed it, and notably expanded on it, with the remark that: “Consciousness is never experienced in the plural, only in the singular.”42 (And to this I’d like to add an axiomatic inverse that information is always a plural). And as logical deduction, if consciousness is the primordial force that constructs reality, and if there is only a singular of consciousness, then there is one body of consciousness the we, ostensibly each with our own disjointed individual consciousness, are instead a fragment amalgamated within consciousness. We and reality are one, as the physicist Max Planck once said: “Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” These ideas were explored in quantum mechanics’ holographic principle, plainly stated as every point of consciousness, us, is composed by the entirety of existence (which also deeply relates to simulation theory and information theory43). This isn’t a recent idea, either. ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib, the 7th century companion to prophet Muhammad said that: “Dost thou reckon thyself only a puny form / When within thee the universe is folded”, or as Christ says in Luke 17:21: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.”44 45 46

But to get from “nuts and bolts” to “woo” should have been no surprise to me. Henri Bergson, in Two Sources of Morality & Religion wrote that:47

Nature, in endowing us with an essentially tool-making intelligence, prepared for us in this way a certain expansion. But machines which run on oil or coal or “white coal”, and which convert into motion a potential energy stored up for millions of years, have actually imparted to our organism an extension so vast, have endowed it with a power so mighty, so out of proportion to the size and strength of that organism, that surely none of all this was foreseen in this structural plan of our species: here was a unique stroke of luck, the greatest material success of man on the planet. A spiritual impulsion has been given, perhaps, at the beginning: the extension took place automatically, helped as it were by a chance blow of the pick-axe which struck against a miraculous treasure under-ground. Now, in this body, distended out of all proportion, the soul remains what it was, too small to fill it, too weak to guide it. Hence the gap between the two. Hence the tremendous social, political and international problems which are just so many definitions of this gap, and which provoke so many chaotic and ineffectual efforts to fill it. What we need are new reserves of potential energy—moral energy this time. So let us not merely say, as we did above, that the mystical summons up the mechanical. We must add that the body, now larger, calls for a bigger soul, and that mechanism should mean mysticism. The origins of the process of mechanization are indeed more mystical than we might imagine. Machinery will find its true vocation again, it will render services in proportion to its power, only if mankind, which it has bowed still lower to earth, can succeed, through it, in standing erect and looking heavenward.

So, “the mystical summons up the mechanical”, very much correlates with “there is no ‘out there’ out there” and “the kingdom of God is within you”, there is, it appears a thread (albeit, so thin it’s barely physical, if at all).

Despite my best efforts, I cannot offer an easily digestible series of syllogisms that would coalesce “nuts and bolts” and “woo” into some grand unified theory of the physical and the metaphysical, though dual aspect monism is tempting, and no shortage of ambitious theories were proposed,48 49 50 51 but one can perhaps see how considerations of non-human life should lead to an examination to the very definition of what life is exactly; to questions on what is knowing; to epistemological questions about knowledge itself; to the very definition of who and what we are; and following that, and where the investigation has led me, whether or not we, here in the ivory tower built by Western civilization, have mistakenly abandoned the necessity of the soul to the understanding of the human condition and existence itself.

*

Vallée and others relate our assumption that the phenomenon, the lights in the sky, the various entities people have reported to have met (or abducted by) to the anthropological concept of a cargo cult.52 During World War II, Melanesian islanders observed cargo planes airdrop supplies and, without prior knowledge of airplanes, began to imitate the signaling of soldiers on the ground, fashioning radio communication earphones using coconut shells and wave their hands, in hope that the sky would deliver them with goods. Needless to say, none came. The obvious mistake on part of the islanders was to merely mimic observable behavior without comprehending its underlying phenomenon, in their case, the principles of lift and radio waves, and the broader geopolitical context of which they unwittingly participated. In a similar sense, we are mindless participants in Wheeler’s “participatory universe”, we live in a constructed reality based on empirical evidence of actions and reactions. What we’ve previously attributed to miracles and saints, could have very well been some unknown interdimensional phenomenon, with religious rituals made to resemble some occurrences hitherto unexplained. The attribution of extraordinary events to gods coming from the sky is a common conceit of the Native American oral tradition and the Vedic mythologies of India.53 54 But miraculous events are common throughout the Bible and the New Testament, not to mention Greek mythology, or any other mythological isomorphism that correlates to anything otherworldly. Indeed, Jacques Vallée speculates that those accounts are not entirely fictional, but misattributed occurrences of a single underlying interdimensional phenomenon that was cargo cult-ed into various sects, each describing its own particular cosmology, theology, and divinity as the different descriptions of the blind men and their partial discernments of the same elephant. Peter Levenda and others hypothesize that the origins of many religions are a cargo cult of worship of various entities (not all with the best intentions towards humanity, as inter-dimensional tribes warring within themselves, with us as their playthings).55 As Terrence McKenna put it: “We are part of a symbiotic relationship with something which disguises itself as an extra-terrestrial invasion so as not to alarm us.”

What Jung and Valleé are saying is that they’re not aliens at all. It’s us communicating to us symbolically, as a Tulpa or created by the collective subconscious, as Jung postulated, it’s a physical expression made from all our consciousness and unconsciousness – and us, believing in it, is the same metaphysical artifact required in order to recursively create it in physical form as to pass us a literary archetypical symbolic information that we, individually and collectively require. For instance, many often report to seeing owls masking as “alien” greys56 57 – in the field, they call it “screen memory”, a visual perception of the phenomenon based on an individuated symbolic language of one’s unconscious, meaning that if you’re into Christ, you’ll see Christ, if you’re into space, you’ll see “greys”, if you’re into lights, you’ll see an orb, and so on (the phenomena displays itself to us in however we perceive it employing our consciousness to convey meaning). That’s not to say that beings from other planets are not visiting here, but to say that, perhaps, it’s not a phenomenological Kierkegaardian Either/Or; it’s not only an interdimensional entity, a secretive human advanced technology, a breakaway civilization, an angel, an extraterrestrial, a leprechaun, or an apparition of the Virgin Mary, but that it’s all of them, depending on how one conceives of it the phenomenon expressed by consciousness, that all answers are correct depending on how you perceive of them according to your semiotic comprehension of existence, that it’s all of the above.58 59

*

But I keep going back to McKenna, who infuses the phenomenon with a deeper societal holistic, feminine, spiritual evolution:60

What [UFOs] are doing is eroding faith in science, [a system] which has led us to the brink of global catastrophe, […] I really believe that we have moved so far from an awareness of the feminine portion of our psyche that now, the [Divine Feminine] must present itself in consciousness under the guise of an extraterrestrial or interdimensional invader. […] The UFO is nothing more than an assertion of herself, by the Goddess into history, saying to science and paternalistically governed and driven organizations: “You have gone far enough. We are going to turn the world upside down. Your science is going to be shown for what it is, nothing more than a pleasant metaphor,” […] [Science] is not some metatheory at whose feet every point of view from astrology to acupressure to channeling need be laid, to have the hand of science announce thumbs up or thumbs down. […] Rationalism and scientific technology which began and came out of the scholasticism of the Middle Ages and the wish to glorify God turned into kind of a demonic pact leading to atomic weapons, male dominated organizations flying messages of lethal destruction and inevitable historical advance, and into this comes an anomaly which cannot be explained, […] I believe that is the purpose of the UFO, to inject uncertainty into the male dominated paternalistic rational solar myth under which we are suffering.

In this sense, and similarly to Jung’s idea of a collective subconscious creating a physical object through shared psychosis, the phenomenon relates to a vast superconsciousness, perhaps of our planet, perhaps of the grand greater whole, that signals to us that we’ve gone too far. It’s the ultimate literary archetype, one that edits our reality through our symbolic comprehension of it. It’s interesting how Time (linear, certain, bound) in de Troy’s is depicted as masculine, while Truth is depicted as feminine (Aletheia: complex, disentangles of others’ masks not just that of herself, her existence invariant to Truth’s unconcealment) – as in Parmenides’s poem, and of McKenna’s depiction of the “flying saucer herself”; Paremendies, Heidegger, McKenna, Valleé, et al. assigning a feminine Aletheia for truth and in turn to the spiritual phenomenon (and the nuts a bolts). As if the male, who cannot fathom that the scientific method had failed to fully realize the phenomenon is finally seeking the answer for the non-materialistic in the feminine.

This idea doesn’t entirely contradict Wheeler’s concept. Richard Feynman famously made an analogy on the scientific process, as he put it:61

[T]ry to understand nature is to imagine that the gods are playing some great game like chess. […] And you don’t know the rules of the game, but you’re allowed to look at the board from time to time, in a little corner, perhaps. And from these observations, you try to figure out what the rules are of the game, what [are] the rules of the pieces moving. You might discover after a bit, for example, that when there’s only one bishop around on the board, that the bishop maintains its color. Later on, you might discover the law for the bishop is that it moves on a diagonal, which would explain the law that you understood before, that it maintains its color. And that would be analogous we discover one law and later find a deeper understanding of it. Ah, then things can happen–everything’s going good, you’ve got all the laws, it looks very good–and then all of a sudden some strange phenomenon occurs in some corner, so you begin to investigate that, to look for it. It’s castling—something you didn’t expect.

Feynman’s analogy, from Wheeler’s perspective, is incomplete. According to Wheeler, the chess pieces of the gods are affected by us observing them move; further, the chess pieces wouldn’t even be there if it weren’t for us observing them. Observing creates the phenomenon. This relation is not hierarchical, both gods and mortals are necessary for the game to take place. This observation is not recent, in fact, it’s part of many ancient Gnostic texts. Consciousness being the primary force of creation isn’t all that revolutionary either, it’s much of what Hermeticism is based upon, as well as being a foundational understanding that makes for nearly all Buddhist scholarly texts. But the current scientific orthodoxy finds that comprehension a bit challenging, even when considering the implications of the double slit experiment of quantum mechanics. Observing some ultramicroscopic Bose-Einstein condensate phenomenon at near zero Kelvin is vastly different from the radical proposition that consciousness is what underlies all physical matter. Roger Penrose was scolded and crucified after he published his 1989 book The Emperor’s New Mind, proposing that consciousness is the missing ingredient in theoretical physics, only to, in 2020, become a Nobel Laureate in the field of physics, not to mention Alain Aspect, John F. Clauser, and Anton Zeilinger, Nobel Physics Laureates of 2022 for their theories regarding non-locality and quantum field theory, and it’s unspoken implications as they pertain to consciousness (similarly, the physicist Brian David Josephson, the 1973 Nobel Laureate, as many others, maintain that consciousness is being primary). It seems to me that we have reached a “bare metal” that relates, linguistically if anything, quantum mechanics to Zen Buddhism. We, at the time of writing this essay, are at what Garry Nolan calls a “Kuhnian moment”, after Thomas S. Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, where “the anomalies have built up so high, that the edifice of current understanding is about to fall on top of it.” Or, that the brain is in fact an “antenna” for consciousness, rather than a central processing unit.62 Linda Moulton Howe, another prominent ufologist, likes to quote the physicist Thomas Campbell, who similarly to Wheeler and Penrose, believes that consciousness is projecting reality. As Howe tells it:63 “[Campbell] envisions that our entire universe is simulated by Another Intelligence to be an ‘entropy reduction trainer for souls’ in which encoded information participates with consciousness.” At this point I’m thinking, as Paul Hellyer, member of King’s Privy Council for Canada, once noted in regard to the alien question: “I didn’t know what I didn’t know because I didn’t know how much there was to know.”64

And there’s a lot I don’t know (and I often like to invoke the faux-Socratic panacea of “I know that I know nothing”, but that appears like a political “known unknowns”, a sort of Hegelian Aufheben that I do my best to avoid). So, one investigates, and enters what ufologists ambivalently refer to as the “rabbit hole” –  a vast entertainment industrial complex built on redacted government documents, questionable footage, questionable characters, and complex theories tending, generally, to a conspiratorial disposition.65 66 67 68 69 There’s something to be said about Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland being chosen for that term for delving into the subject and, as Merriam-Webster has it, “rabbit hole” is “a complexly bizarre or difficult state or situation conceived of as a hole into which one falls or descends”, and one very much “descends”. While I would not recommend going through the arduous task of cataloging the different schools of thought in ufology, I think it’s a necessary step if one were to find out anything at all, and one that cannot be exactly replicated. This is because there’s not much in the way of an academic field of study of flying saucers, though an immature attempt is being made by Jeffrey Kripal at Rice University,70 Avi Loeb at Harvard University,71 Gary Nolan of Stanford University,72 Diana Walsh Pasulka at the University of North Carolina Wilmington,73 and Michael P. Masters of Montana Tech,74 to name a few. But a cautionary tale remains that still casts its shadow over ufology as a serious field of study, and that’s of former head of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, John Mack, who, after a successful career as a researcher of child psychology, decided to investigate the claims of alien abductees, those who claim to have been taken by advanced non-human intelligence on board a flying saucer. Mack was hoping that he’d be able to discern a psychiatric disorder revealing an underlying psychosis, but instead concluded that the abductees were in fact entirely sane, and that to his assessment, they were telling the truth. Harvard University, of course, did not see Mack’s claims of alien abductions as being concurrent with the scientific postulations of its faculties, and subjected Mack, a tenured professor, to an investigation under threat of a career ending verdict. As the committee at Harvard put it: “To communicate, in any way whatsoever, to a person who has reported a ‘close encounter’ with an extraterrestrial life form that this experience might well have been real … is professionally irresponsible.”75 Harvard seems to have recently recanted much of its vexation over the phenomenon with Project Galileo, headed by the astronomer Avi Loeb, though, so far, I find it difficult to believe that they’ll uncover some unequivocal scientific evidence that would be universally accepted. At least, and that’s pure speculation, it seems that whoever “they” are, they appear averse to providing us with concrete evidence that they’re definitely and unequivocally, here, at least not in any significant empirical scientific methodology repeatable way, time will tell.76

Paradox is not just an integral part of the phenomenon, it is the phenomenon, what Vallée calls a “meta-system”, one that our systems cannot mathematically describe. Leonard Scranton reports on Dogon teachings,77 which tells of two universes, one is the one we inhabit which has free will and the ability to change, but with imperfect knowledge, and the other universe that has perfect knowledge but inability to change, and the two are attempting to connect with each other,78 in a sort of ontological retelling of Abbott’s Flatland,79 one commuticating between space and time.

Now the zeitgeist,80 or is it the comme il faut,81 82 dictates “dimensions” as the presiding pseudo-mathematical metaphor in the abstract metaphysical-cosmological-ontological superstructure that is supposedly Everything; consciousness realizing existing timeline potentialities, grand theological tensor of tensors, ad infinitum, some say Omniverse in a broader universe of discourse of self-aware structures fabricating one deduction or another since the dawn of cognizance, though I maintain that Joyce had figured the broad side of the iceberg of symbolism and allegorical as the nature of existence in Finnegans Wake, yes, “riverrun” and all of that – Vernon M. Neppe, in an attempt to come up with a linguistic compound in the spirit of Heidegger to describe all the different facets of this Everthing with the intentionally absurd word:83

Quantomacroasronomophysicochemicalethicospirituobiphysiopsychofamiliosociocultural

Which is (to my estimation) unintentionally similar to Joyce’s word for a lightning strike in Finnegans:

Bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk

Vive la différence.

*

Ufology is preoccupied with loose mystical ideas, the occult, and via those, establishing sort of proto-religious sects that appear to be predominantly preoccupied with “ascension” to “higher dimensions” through a series of “densities”, though that scene is dogged by bitter internal spiritual disputes with exactly how to achieve this supposed ascension, as it were, and to what dimension, exactly one is one ascending. Expect plenty Atlantis lore (to my delight, Plato’s, after all, Timaeus and Critias tell much of the origin of that mythology,84 85 though not so many sects appear to adore Homer and the tales of Odysseus, not outside of literature departments, at least). It’s not uncommon, in that subgroup, for one to invoke Hermeticism, Gnosticism, Theosophy, The Kybalion, and other mystical teachings throughout a book written or a lecture given by an experiencer as the knowledge passed to them by “the others” – with some additions from recent alien “channeled” texts, such as The Urantia Book, for those fond of Catholic scriptures, an extended universe of Milton’s Luciferian Rebellion86 cum extraterrestrials; deriving alternative histories of human genetic manipulation by gods from the ancient Mesopotamian poem the Epic of Gilgamesh; an alternate theology tracing Yahweh to be a plural referring to a group of demigods extraterrestrial; or offering multidimensional interpretations on the Book of Enoch.87 88 89 Whether accurate or not, the creativity and research prowess (sheer obsession) of ufologists are, if anything, astounding.

The frequent message that E.T. is trying to communicate to us, according to those experiencers, is that our technological progress does not match our spiritual progress. Another is that we, everything, is all One. That we are all connected. To this I subscribe to on grounds of mathematical proof90 (and it was Charles Upton who noted that the constant dialectical conflict between Leibnizian pantheism and panentheism is the expressed via the primordial oscillations of Ohm91). This message, though, is sometimes accompanied by a message of a cataclysm, nuclear or environmental, soon to be upon us if we won’t mend our materialistic ways. Regardless of flying saucers, it’s easy to subscribe to such interdimensional bulletins. Undoubtedly, we are living in a greedy, violent, shallow society preoccupied with appearances and possessions, and it’s true that unless we change course soon, our planet will not be able to sustain us. But I do wonder, if the interdimensional beings are so concerned with nuclear annihilation and environmental collapse, why don’t they take it up with those in charge, instead of harassing folks in the middle of the night, folks who recycle, people who are not anywhere near any government environmental policy making or the reach of a nuclear football. Messages of loving our neighbor aren’t recent either, and I’d like to point out to E.T. to a famous case we had here on Earth of someone who carried such a message some time ago, and ended up being nailed to a cross for it. Welcome to Earth.

So, it’s not all love and light. As Jacques Vallée points out, the phenomenon is cunning, if not outright abusive and deceitful.

Whitley Strieber is a ufologist and an “experiencer” – what ufologists call those who had face-to-face contact with non-humans. He’s famous for being abducted by “the visitors” (as he refers to them). In his 1987 book, Communion, he describes, in excruciating detail, the many unpleasant experiences he went through, including extraction of semen and insertion of needles to various body parts.92 As Strieber tells it, the encounter left him traumatized, and that the intention of “the visitors” is for us to spiritually grow through overcoming the inflicted trauma of meeting them. Strieber describes what turned out to be the common “experiencer” refrain I’ve heard many times by now from “experiencer” researchers such as Preston Dennett: You begin terrified, most likely surrounded by “greys” – short, large headed, big black-eyed beings; you proceed to process the traumatic event and overcome the fear of encountering them; you eventually undergo a spiritual awakening to all things being one and that consciousness is the underlying phenomenon governing our universe, one that enables us to step over multidimensional boundaries of time and space in order to communicate, ultimately, with different aspects of ourselves represented as different beings, as if they were geometric petals that amalgamate the superstructure that connects everything – Love. Yes, very New Age (or, sometimes, a prophecy leading to mass suicides93).

And the New Age connection doesn’t end there. I was very surprised to learn of how many ufologists believe in reincarnation, or more accurately, metempsychosis, the transmigration of a soul from one physical container to another (a concept that spans many faiths, with some compelling, if ultimately materialistically debatable, evidence94). It’s central to many theories on the agenda of some of the multidimensional beings. The parallels quickly slope from hippie to ecclesiastical,95 with a fight between Good and Evil and of the ownership of our souls.96 Unlike John Mack, I’m not qualified to assess the veracity of those accounts, but I can surely see how they can be dismissed as a complex case of psychosis. I cannot say in any certainty that I believe or disbelieve, perhaps the question I’m asking is what does “believe” mean, and whether there is an epistemological limit on whether anyone can know anything with absolute axiomatic certainty.

The very definition of being over an epistemological limit is that it cannot be defined, no matter what meta construct one invents. This is where this phenomenon resides. The glimpses we get from it are only symbolically nonsensical because of its extra-territorial epistemological location. As Mac Tonnies had in this allegory:97

Every few nights I get out my laser pointer and indulge my cats in a frenetic game of “chase.” Cats are natural hunters, and they’re effectively incapable of not looking at the quickly moving red dot that I project onto the carpet, walls, or any piece of furniture that happens to be in its Path. To my cats, the red dot possesses its own vitality. It exists as a distinct entity. While they may see me holding the pointer, they can’t (or won’t) be distracted by such things once the button is pressed and the living room is suddenly alive with luminous vermin.

In that sense, we are the cat chasing a laser dot, believing that it is the phenomenon because we only comprehend its effects, not its fundamental mechanism. But it’s something Anne Strieber once said that I intuit as having substance: “Whatever this phenomenon is, it has something to do with what we call Death.” There’s an uncanny similarity between those who experience near death experiences and those who encounter the phenomenon98 (reportedly, it’s what Whitley’s Strieber’s son once said that resonated most with me, that if we would use a telescope to look beyond the edge of the universe, we would see the back of our heads through its lens). The visitors, as Whitley Strieber says, don’t seem to have a barrier between our life and death. Though it’s unclear to me how to assess this statement theologically. As the current consensus in ufology goes, all paranormal events, not just near death experiences, but psychokinesis, premonition, cryptids, ghosts, spirits, out of body experiences, remote viewing, synchronicities, and a plethora of other unusual curiosities are related to the same underlying phenomenon that describes how consciousness—always as a singular—expresses its own polylogue-monologue.

The way forward in the infinite unconcealment, it appears to me, relates to Jung’s collective unconscious, thought forms, Tulpa, physical archetypes, through reification,99 100 101 102 made real, as if created by consciousness, as Wheeler’s idea of it being the only thing that is, in fact, actuality. 

I maintain that everything exists, it’s our consciousness of it that makes us aware of it (time is statically confined from the point of view of tensor mathematics, it all is in the Now). But I must be cautious on what I consciously breathe into life through consciousness, it could not only be ourselves, but a “grey” golem, extraterrestrials, multi-dimensional entities, but also (from that perspective) Earthly prophets such as Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Muhammed, Jeanne d’Arc, JFK, MLK, Lubavitch, or Tupac Shakur (and Yes, I do recognize Tupac Shakur, and I maintain that he should be canonized, as well as the too many oddly absent women from that list – it’s about time to admit them to the rank of saints); or, equally and conversely, and as Charles Upton had suggested, Djinn,103 104 perhaps even Lucifer and his minions, Gnostic Archons, temporal hackers, soul-embodied-in-plasma,105 106 107 108 whatever we collectively psychologically project onto it,109 or any number of apparently contradicting but meta-ontologically non-contradicting possibilities interacting with each other in our own consciousness manifesting physical reality in the infinite of what imagination can and does produce – and this I know absolutely possible from literature, poetry, and art (as Grant Cameron says: “Wow”).

Many in ufology ask whether this phenomenon is a threat to us, or whether there is a grand deception plotted by the powers that be to believe that it is such, for some nefarious reason or another.110 I don’t know the answer to that, but I estimate that it is a threat, but not in the conventional sense. It’s our own souls we need to worry about, whether we choose Good or Evil, and hopefully, to you reader, the obvious choice should be Good, and without any fear or doubt. As far as this editor is concerned, and as Heidegger’s posthumous assertion:111Nur noch ein Gott kann uns retten.”

*Addendum [January, 5, 2023]: While I attempted to not express opinion throughout this text, but to give measure of “the phenomenon” in poetry and amongst certain pundits, I do wish to reveal that I do, in fact, hold a firm opinion that is for me conclusive. I will state it simply and plainly, instead of trying to give a thesis for one to refute, and it is that this “phenomenon” is not from outer space, nor from some parallel dimension, but that it is demonic and nefarious. I believe that it is a grand deception colluded by many governments and that who opposes God and His creation. I hold my faith with God and Christ, and nothing else.112

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  2. McPhee, J. (2003, November 3). Whiff. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2003/11/10/whiff
  3. Lewis-Kraus, G. (2021, April 30). How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/05/10/how-the-pentagon-started-taking-ufos-seriously
  4. Jung, C. G., and R. F. C. Hull. Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky. (From Vols. 10 and 18, Collected Works). Princeton University Press, 1978. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvzxx9sf. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.
  5. Greenewald, J. (2022, October 13). The Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP) Documentation. The Black Vault. https://www.theblackvault.com/documentarchive/the-advanced-aerospace-weapon-system-applications-program-aawsap-documentation/
  6. And, to avoid confusion, particularly as it pertains to flying saucers, as the OED defines esoteric: “intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest” – nothing frivolous here, just a smaller headcount.
  7. Freud, S. (2022). The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud Vol.13: Totem And Taboo & Other Works (New Ed). Vintage.
  8. Stanisław Lem and H. P. Lovecraft comes to mind.
  9. I hear, from out the back, someone shouting: “Hey, what up about Greek mythology?!” And lest this be a dissertation much marked by pages from Graves – plenty incest there, plenty alien-gods there – but I think that I’ll leave the mythology angle for another point, I mention the similarity, or outright up-to-date depiction of the phenomenon in mythologies, and not just those of the Greeks.
  10. Taylor, J. “Passing Through: The Later Poems New and Selected.” (1997): 291-293.
  11. Bedient, C. “The Wild Braid of Creation.” (1988): 137-149.
  12. Kunitz, S. (2022, July 8). The Abduction. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1982/11/the-abduction/665191/
  13. C. Clarke, A. Childhood’s End. (1993). Del Rey Books. (Original work published 1953)
  14. Levy, E. P. (2005). The literary depiction of ontological shock. The Midwest Quarterly, 46(2), 107+. https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A129090502/AONE?u=anon~29ef5bb0&sid=googleScholar&xid=f0cd4010
  15. More, H., & Stanwood, G. P. (2021). Democritus Platonissans. Alpha Edition.
  16. More, H. The Immortality of the Soul. London (4th edition). 1712. For further comments on this idea see Burtt, E.A. The Metaphysical Foundations of Science. London. Routledge & Kegan Paul. 1932 and Smythies, J. The Walls of Plato’s Cave. Aldershot, Avebury. 1994
  17. Price, K. (2012). William Empson, Ants and Aliens. In J. Holmes (Ed.), Science in Modern Poetry: New Directions (pp. 116-129). Liverpool University Press. doi:10.5949/UPO9781846317743.008
  18. https://www.vatican.va/news_services/or/or_quo/interviste/2008/112q08a1.html
  19. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/14/world/europe/14iht-vat.4.12885393.html
  20. Just a moment. . . (n.d.). https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/160985/jewish/What-does-Judaism-say-about-the-Discovery-of-Aliens.htm
  21. Perelman, B. (1998). The Future of Memory (Chapbook). Roof Books.
  22. Poetry Foundation. (1999). Confession by Bob Perelman. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/58547/confession-56d23d051bf73
  23. Filreis, A., Schultz, K. L., Gallagher, K., & Andrews, B. (n.d.). Listening to An Abductee, in Theory: A discussion of Bob Perelman’s “Confession.” Poem Talk. https://www.scribd.com/listen/podcast/418429454
  24. Lerner, B. (2021, July 1). The Lights | Ben Lerner. The New York Review of Books. https://www.nybooks.com/articles/2021/07/22/the-lights/
  25. Yeats, W. B. (2011). Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry (Reprint). Dover Publications.
  26. Aristotle, “Poetics,” in the Internet Classics Archive, trans. S.H. Butcher, (site by Daniel C. Stevenson, Web Atomics.), http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/poetics.1.1.html
  27. Heidegger, M., Stambaugh, J., & Schmidt, D. J. (2010). Being and Time: A Revised Edition of the Stambaugh Translation (SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy) (Revised). State University of New York Press.
  28. Whitley Strieber. (2022, September 29). Week One of a 2 Week Special: Who are Our Visitors? A New Vision that Goes WAY Beyond Where We Now [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBXAJcxlz9c
  29. Derrida, J., & Bass, A. (2017). Writing and Difference. University of Chicago Press.
  30. Fernelius, C. (2021, June 4). Subjects Hinder Talk. THE DECADENT REVIEW. https://thedecadentreview.com/corpus/subjects-hinder-talk/
  31. Foucault, M. (2006). History of Madness (1st ed.). Routledge.
  32. #103 | Technological Statuary on Extraterrestrial Ground | Elsa De Smet. (n.d.). https://www.sciencespo.fr/artsetsocietes/en/archives/3608
  33. Bogost, I. (2012). Alien Phenomenology, or What It’s Like to Be a Thing. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  34. Badmington, N. (2004). Alien Chic: Posthumanism and the Other Within. Routledge.
  35. Which also evokes John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word”, to some an analogy the Word to sound, harmonics, vibration, Kundalini, and String Theory.
  36. Grant Cameron Whitehouse UFO. (2021, December 21). GRANT CAMERON UFO Hardware, Dream Signs, Gary Nolan, Metamaterials [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYeu69v-ark
  37. Cameron, G. (2021). Triangles, Aliens and Messages. Independently published.
  38. Vallee, J. (1993). Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds (Reprint). Contemporary Books.
  39. Rice Humanities. (2022, March 20). Archives of the Impossible conference | First plenary session, March 3, 2022: Jacques F. Vallée [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wF9IVqdOQY
  40. Hawking, S. (1998). A Brief History of Time (10th Anniversary). Bantam. (“Even if there is only one possible unified theory, it is just a set of rules and equations. What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe? The usual approach of science of constructing a mathematical model cannot answer the questions of why there should be a universe for the model to describe. Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing?”).
  41. And, this observation really puts a dent on the phrase, taken from popular culture, that “the truth is out there”
  42. Wilber, K. (2001). Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists. Shambhala.
  43. E. Shannon, C. “A Mathematical Theory of Communication”, Bell System Technical Journal, Vol. 27, pp. 379–423, 623–656, 1948
  44. The Seven Valleys and The Four Valleys, “The Valley of Wonderment”, quoting ‘Alí , p. 34, from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá.
  45. King James Version, 1604.
  46. I would be remiss not to mention Tolstoy’s text by the name of the Luke 17:21 quote, The Kingdom of God is Within You, where he expounds on his philosophy/theology/political concept of Christian Anarchism. The book was banned in Russia for thirty years, but was an integral part of anti-colonial thinking in India.
  47. Bergson, H. (2015). The Two Sources Of Morality And Religion. Andesite Press.
  48. Stubenberg, Leopold, “Neutral Monism”, §8,3, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2018 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2018/entries/neutral-monism
  49. Langan, C. M.. “The Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe: A New Kind of Reality Theory.” (2002).
  50. J.D., H. R., Ph.D., S. R., & Ph.D., K. J. (2018). Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non Human Intelligence (Volume One) (Original). CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
  51. Cameron, G., & Barnabe, D. (2020). Contact Modalities: The Keys to the Universe. Independently published.
  52. Otto, T. (2009). What Happened to Cargo Cults?, Social Analysis, 53(1), 82-102. Retrieved Nov 27, 2022, from https://www.berghahnjournals.com/view/journals/social-analysis/53/1/sa530106.xml
  53. Cremo, M. A. (2003). Human Devolution: A Vedic Alternative to Darwin’s Theory (1st Edition). BBT Science.
  54. New Thinking Allowed with Jeffrey Mishlove. (2021, September 20). Vedic Tradition and UFOs with Michael Cremo [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwZahojr_OA
  55. DeLonge, T., Levenda, P., & Vallee, J. (2017). Sekret Machines: Gods: Volume 1 of Gods Man & War (1) (Sekret Machines: Gods Man & War) [Hardcover] DeLonge, Tom; Levenda, Peter and Vallee, Jacques [Hardcover] DeLonge, Tom; Levenda, Peter and Vallee, Jacques. To The Stars.
  56. Magee, T. (2021, May 10). For UFO Hunters, the Owls Really Aren’t What They Seem. https://www.vice.com/en/article/93yyj5/for-ufo-hunters-the-owls-really-arent-what-they-seem
  57.  Clelland, M., & Dolan, R. M. (2015). The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity and the UFO Abductee (1st ed.). Richard Dolan Press
  58. Puthoff, H. E. (n.d.). Ultraterrestrial Models. Journal of Cosmology, 29(1), 20001–20016. https://thejournalofcosmology.com/Puthoff.pdf
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  60. Just Breathe. (2019, September 28). Terence Mckenna – Angels, Aliens, and Archetypes [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMIv09BBHro
  61. The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman. (2005). Basic Books.
  62. FADE TO BLACK Radio. (2022, December 13). Ep. 1730 Dr. Garry Nolan: Research for our Community [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERFSgCCSvf4
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  64. Hellyer, P. (2010). Light at the End of the Tunnel: A Survival Plan for the Human Species (3/14/10 ed.). AuthorHouse.
  65. Lundberg, J. (Director). (2014, March 27). Mirage Men. Perception Management Productions.
  66. Farrell, J. P. (2013). Roswell And The Reich: The Nazi Connection. Adventures Unlimited Press.
  67. Farrell, J. P. (2012). Saucers, Swastikas and Psyops: A History of A Breakaway Civilization: Hidden Aerospace Technologies and Psychological Operations (Illustrated). Adventures Unlimited Press.
  68. Dolan, R. M., Brabant, M., & Howe, L. M. (2013). UFOs and the National Security State: The Cover-Up Exposed, 1973-1991. Keyhole Publishing Company.
  69. Levenda, P., & Hougan, J. (2011). The Nine (Sinister Forces: A Grimoire of American Political Witchcraft, Book 1) (Sinister Forces, 1) (1st ed.). Trine Day.
  70. https://impossiblearchives.rice.edu/
  71. https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/galileo/home
  72. https://web.stanford.edu/group/nolan/
  73. https://uncw.edu/par/faculty/faculty-pasulka.html
  74. https://www.mtech.edu/arts-sciences/faculty/michael-masters.html
  75. Blumenthal, R. (2021). The Believer: Alien Encounters, Hard Science, and the Passion of John Mack. High Road Books.
  76. https://www.dmtx.org/
  77. Scranton, L., & West, J. A. (2006). The Science of the Dogon: Decoding the African Mystery Tradition (Illustrated). Inner Traditions.
  78. Where Did the Road Go? Radio. (2022, October 17). Jeremy Vaeni on Alien Disclosure, Consciousness, and Reality – Oct 8, 2022 [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk_U6x-AuC4
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  80. Kwan, D., & Scheinert, D. (Directors). (2022, December 11). Everything Everywhere All at Once. IAC Films; Gozie AGBO; Year of the Rat; Ley Line Entertainment. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt6710474/
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  82. Robinson, R. (2022b, December 2). Multiverse Theory Goes Far Beyond “Stranger Things.” Now. Powered by Northrop Grumman. https://now.northropgrumman.com/multiverse-theory-goes-far-beyond-stranger-things/
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  84. The Internet Classics Archive | Timaeus by Plato. (n.d.). http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/timaeus.html
  85. The Internet Classics Archive | Critias by Plato. (n.d.). http://classics.mit.edu/Plato/critias.html
  86. https://standardebooks.org/ebooks/john-milton/paradise-lost
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  88. Lewis, T.; Kahn, R. (2005), “The Reptoid Hypothesis: Utopian and Dystopian Representational Motifs in David Icke’s Alien Conspiracy Theory”, Utopian Studies, Pennsylvania: Penn State University Press, 16 (1): 45–74, doi:10.5325/utopianstudies.16.1.0045, JSTOR 20718709, S2CID 143047194
  89. Wallis, P. (2020). Escaping from Eden: Does Genesis Teach that the Human Race was Created by God or Engineered by ETs? Axis Mundi Books.
  90. p.403-404,429-437 of: Kurt Gödel (Mar 1995). Solomon Feferman and John W. Dawson jr. and Warren Goldfarb and Charles Parsons and Robert M. Solovay (ed.). Unpublished Essays and Lectures (PDF). Collected Works. Vol. III (1st ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN0-19-507255-3.
  91. New Thinking Allowed with Jeffrey Mishlove. (2022c, October 5). Traditionalist Eschatology with Charles Upton [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqDoqBOnyqk
  92. Strieber, W. (2008b). Communion: A True Story (Reprint). William Morrow Paperbacks.
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  94. Stevenson, I. (1980). Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation: Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged (Rev and Enl). University of Virginia Press.
  95. Partridge, C., Alien demonology: the Christian roots of the malevolent extraterrestrial in UFO religions and abduction spiritualities, Religion, Volume 34, Issue 3, 2004, Pages 163-189, ISSN 0048-721X, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.religion.2004.04.014. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048721X04000570) Abstract: Initially, the sacralisation of the extraterrestrial led to an understanding of the alien as a fundamentally benevolent, messianic figure—a ‘technological angel’. This was largely because of the Cold War environment in which much UFO religion arose. Those attracted to the myth looked beyond a politically and militarily unstable planet to extraterrestrial saviours. Furthermore, because UFO religions have their roots in the Theosophical tradition, the religious understanding of the extraterrestrial tended to be fundamentally indebted to the concept of the wise and benevolent ascended master. The aim of this article is to examine the technological angel’s foil. The central thesis is that, in their construction of the malevolent alien, UFO religionists and abductees turn not to Theosophy and Eastern religious traditions but to the myths and symbols of Christian demonology. Moreover, in exploring the origins and nature of the demonologies of contemporary UFO religions and abduction spiritualities, the article also draws attention to the importance of popular culture in the West, which, itself influenced by the Christian tradition, contributes to the formation of both popular demonology and also UFO mythology, which are in turn synthesised in UFO demonologies.
  96. Some experiencers describe an advanced race of a hive-mind collective of beings who, through increased technological advancement, are not able to transmute their souls back to God (or “Source” as some at the community refer to the universal consciousness of the universe), so they’ve embarked on a multi-generational DNA hybridization program to restore their emotive abilities while infusing us with telepathic capabilities, so we could avoid their fate of nuclear annihilation (some even more esoteric persuasions of that theory maintain that they are, in fact, us, as in the evolutionary product of human beings who traveled time from some future possibility of the universe, but… your mileage may vary). There are entire support groups dedicated to those who ardently believe that, yes, they have multiple hybrid babies, some of them they have met on spaceships – something they describe in great detail – and that they’ve agreed to being abducted in a prior “soul contract” with the abductors in order to restore order to the universe by this mutual assistance. There are even rebel hybrid parents who claim to be attacked by said greys, who claim that their agenda is to modify the human timeline and ultimately control it. The convoluted reasoning that the human mind is capable of could lead one to ask a number of questions, for one, whether the experiencer is a reliable narrator, assuming that the experiencer is telling of the experience to the best of their knowledge and without embellishments. Perhaps they were abducted by an advanced intelligent life form, but they came up with a chain of reasoning justifying their actions as Stockholm syndrome hostages do with their captors. 
  97. Tonnies, M. (2010). The Cryptoterrestrials: A Meditation on Indigenous Humanoids and the Aliens Among Us. Adfo Books.
  98. Moody, R. A., Jr. (1985). Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon Survival of Bodily Death. Mockingbird Books.
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  103. Upton, C. (2021). The Alien Disclosure Deception: The Metaphysics of Social Engineering. Sophia Perennis.
  104. New Thinking Allowed with Jeffrey Mishlove. (2022b, March 28). UFOs & The Demonic with Charles Upton [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zINb1Usx3EQ
  105. Allan, B. B. F. (2022). The Deception of Gods and Men: The price of power has never been so great. Independently published.
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  108. Leak Project. (2022, December 16). Alien Invasion Deception, Demonologist, Nathaniel Gillis [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO5u6QnjehE
  109. Houran, J. & Randle, K. (2002). “A Message in a Bottle:” Confounds in Deciphering the Ramey Memo from the Roswell UFO Case. Journal of Scientific Exploration Society for Scientific Exploration. 1602. 45-66.
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  112. Holy Bible: King James Version (KJV) (Box Lea). Collins.