Tuesday, June 14, 2005

As the RRRGroup has pointed out, the discourse at UFO UpDates has taken an unexpected trend toward the speculative, with the usual talk about nocturnal lights and daylight discs replaced by what metaphysician Charles Upton has called "postmodern demonology."

Suddenly ufology's usual suspects -- who commonly hail from the "nuts and bolts" school -- are competing with the likes of occultist John Keel ("The Mothman Prophecies") and astrophysicist Jacques Vallee ("Passport to Magonia"). Since I've forwarded some of my recent thought experiments on the psychodynamic aspect of the phenomenon to the list, I suppose I bear part of the blame for the metamorphosis.

In a recent post to the list, esteemed ufologist Larry Hatch expressed his conviction that religion and UFOs were mutually exclusive -- an idea I can't agree with, if only because so many "high-strangeness" UFO encounters impinge on the witnesses' consciousness in a manner that can best be described as "spiritual." Conversely, the UFO evidence contains a parade of apparent religious experiences that, when examined with more than passing curiosity, fall quite easily into the close encounter paradigm (of which the "Fatima miracle" is an example).

One of the first questions to come to mind is also one of the simplest: How are we to tell for sure if religious effects are by-products of the encounter experience or a central component?

Theorists have proposed that contact with nonhuman intelligence, if and when it occurs, will be exceptionally strange. Could this very strangeness be limiting our perception of an unfolding phenomenon of crucial importance?

If we're to seriously advance a "new" ufology, we must maintain the theoretical flexibility to ask questions that may seem far removed from the extraterrestrial connotations that presently contaminate the issue (however well-meaning their adherents).

8 comments:

Dante Rosati said...

Hi Mac-

this paradigm shift you speak of is a good thing in my opinion, but it can be taken too far. If the opinion you mention that religion and UFOs are mutually exclusive is one extreme, the drivel recently posted on the RRR blog is the other extreme, trying to say that abductees should behave like cardboard saints because there is >no< difference between classic religious mystical experience and abduction.

I think a middle course is important. Humanity is subject to a whole range of non-ordinary experience and always has been, clothed in all kinds of imagery from one's culture and previous experience. This does not mean, however, that it is all the same experience and merely the symbols change. The symbols change from time to time, place to place, and person to person, and so do the experiences. There may be commonalities of symbol or experience among certain people, but there are also great divergences.

The upshot is that the situation is highly complex, with there being an interaction between the individual together with his background, and either other levels of our own being, or possibly other consciousnesses altogether.

The UFO phenomena gives evidence of being an encounter with altered consciousness and also with something made of "nuts and bolts". Therein lies its mystery and complexity. We dont understand it yet by a long shot but thanks to people like Vallee (and even Jung) we may be adding an important dimension to the quest for radar images and ground traces.

Gerald T said...

Thanks fer the reminder big D! Yea Jung! Mac,have you ever read famed Swiss psychologist Carl Jung,s book on the UFO’s? Came out late 50’s or so right before he died, been on my books to read list for a while… listed under the heading; Old School Weirdness. (OSW)

Ken Younos said...

This article reminded me that the apostle Paul claims that, on one occassion, over 500 people saw Christ after he had supposedly risen from the dead (this passage is in 1 Corinthians 15). It really makes me wonder if what they saw was actually something very similar to what was seen in Fatima - i.e., a UFO...

Mac said...

Yeah, I've read Jung's book. Good stuff.

RRRGroup said...

Mac:

As usual, your erudition and reasoned commentary are splendid.

At our RRRGroup blog, Christopher Jay's take on "epiphanies" overlooks something I've noticed...

Even though Moses parted the Red (or Reed) Sea, and performed other miracles, his Hebrew brethren still rebelled against his authority, and they had seen the manifestation of God, leading them out of Egypt, and manna from heaven, etc.

So human beings are often unaffected by significant, even profound events.

Those who have altered their lives after an epiphany must have something more going for them than those who don't.

Rich Reynolds

Paul Kimball said...
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Paul Kimball said...

Rich:

Aha - we agree, more or less, once again.

Mac:

As one who has been chastised by some as being too much a "nuts and bolts" ufology guy, let me say that I agree with you about retaining the theoretical flexibility to ask the tough questions. I find it interesting that, at Updates, Jerry Clark said that the ETH, while just one possible explanation, is the one that makes the most sense, and that not all explanantions are equal.

How, I would ask (if I had the stomach for a roasting at Updates), would he, or any of us, know which is the most reasonable explanantion for something like the UFO phenomenon, which is, by its nature, a mystery? Are alien visitors (the ETH) any more reasonable than time travelers (the TDT ie. Temporal Displacement Theory), or beings from another dimension (the EDH)? Or, ufological sacrilege, the possibility that UFOs are a manifestation of the Divine?

To assign a relative probability to one over the others says more, I think, about the person making the judgment than it does about the explanantion's viability.

Paul "Cautious ETH proponent" Kimball

W.M. Bear said...

I would like to see a moratorium on "explanations" of ANY kind and a refocusing on the UFO experience itself along the lines suggested by John Mack. Explanations ("they come from X, they want Y") to my mind just lead to endless unresolvable arguments that do very little to advance our understanding of the phenomenon, very much like asking how many angels can dance on the head of pin....