Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Whitley Strieber's 1987 bestseller "Communion" has been reissued in trade paperback. Featuring a compelling new preface by the author, the reissue is a good excuse to revisit Strieber's cryptic interactions with "the visitors," regardless of one's preconceptions.

This blog has been alternately sympathetic to and critical of Strieber's "visitor" mythos. On one hand, I think the cautious, questioning approach evident in Strieber's books is consistent with the bizarre events he describes. It's equally obvious to me that Strieber's own creative and intellectual predispositions have colored his testimony to some degree, although I find it extremely hard to blame him given the high strangeness of his encounters.





My criticisms of Strieber are almost universally leveled at his online endeavors. Specifically, I think his website is awful -- perhaps one of the worst high-profile sources of fringe news online, teeming with pointless filler, credulous "reporting" based on the exploits of Linda Moulton Howe, and incessant pleas to buy books and DVDs. Readers are forever reminded that their financial contributions are needed to keep the site online, a sentiment at odds with Strieber's duly reported success at selling his work to Hollywood. In his quest to turn UnknownCountry.com into the Web's biggest seller of fringe titles, we're asked to accept Strieber as a virtual pauper -- which may prove difficult for the myriad Fortean bloggers who do it both better and infinitely cheaper.





To some, Strieber's online sensationalism negates his testimony as an "abductee." But in our rush to pigeonhole "Communion's" author as a metaphysical huckster (thus erasing the bothersome -- if tantalizing -- specter of the "visitors" in a single stroke), we miss out on a potentially rich understanding of how the UFO phenomenon interacts with us on an individual level.

Strieber himself has emphasized the emphatically personal nature of the contact experience, suggesting that its operative intelligence has chosen to bypass bureaucratic authority in favor of a deeper, more pervasive dialogue with our species. Even if Strieber is wrong about everything else, I suspect he's struck a vitally important vein -- with or without the assistance of the diminutive humanoids that populate his books.

(For more on Strieber, refer to Beyond Communion.)

9 comments:

Siani said...

I can never make my mind up about Streiber. Of his books, I've only read Communion in its entirety. As much as I don't want to think it, I've always felt there was some veracity and sincerity to that story, in the sense that he was honestly recounting what he subjectively perceived. Whether any of it happened in the world outside of Whitley - I'll reserve judgement, rather than side with the Whitley lovers or Whitley bashers. Sadly, I feel he may have veered off on a tangent somewhat with some of the things I've heard him talk and write about in more recent years. I also find him too ready to believe the claims of others. In fairness to him, perhaps any experiences he has had, may have pre-disposed him to believe the outlandish, and sadly, often fraudulent accounts of others - if that makes sense.

Brent said...

Virtual Pauper indeed LOL

mister ecks said...

They changed the cover for the reissue. What a shame!

Anonymous said...

I heard a rumor several years ago that an accountant working for Strieber embezzled $2 million from him, so maybe he's not as well off as most assume. But, I'm sure he does quite well, financially speaking.

Regardless, Strieber is a fraud.

His own wife was once quoted as saying everything he's written is fiction. Of course, she denied saying that, later. What a pair.

Mac said...

His own wife was once quoted as saying everything he's written is fiction.

That was a deliberate misquote by a journalist obviously out to "get" Strieber. Do you honestly think his wife would casually admit the whole thing was a put-on? And she didn't deny it; she simply put it into context (re. his horror fiction prior to "Communion").

Mac said...

They changed the cover for the reissue. What a shame!

They wanted the reissue to look "new," I suppose. But I would have retained the famous "alien face."

mr. intense said...

"...Strieber's own creative and intellectual predispositions have colored his testimony to some degree, although I find it extremely hard to blame him given the high strangeness of his encounters."

Given the high strangeness of his encounters? Then you believe he's had actual encounters of the kind he describes?

wintermuse x9 said...

Yeah, I think the new cover is sort of boring.

Maybe for the new trade paperback they should have used the same insidious "alien" graphic, only in a different color, like grey or maybe light blue, and adding a curling, Snidely Whiplash or Dalinian mustache.

Mac said...

Then you believe he's had actual encounters of the kind he describes?

I think he's had encounters with something. It's difficult to know precisely what we're dealing with because Strieber's is essentially a single-witness case and we're forced to rely on his own recollection of events that, of his own admission, were bizarre and terrifying in the extreme.