Wednesday, April 30, 2003

I went shopping at Half-Price Books after work. This is a great place. I bought a brand-new trade edition of Whitley Strieber's "The Secret School" and a book called "The Ultimate Alien Agenda," supposedly an abductee's scoop on the hybridization program I described several posts back. A month ago I wouldn't have bothered with it, but I find myself drawn to the possibility of human-alien hybrids. It's a powerful metaphor, if nothing else. Doesn't anyone seem to realize we're living through a Jungian paradigm shift? It doesn't matter if these human-alien chimeras exist or not; a lot of "normal" people certainly think they do. New mythologies are a good place to start understanding the human dynamic of the UFO problem (which may be the reason the phenomenon exists in the first place, as capably argued by Jacques Vallee and Colin Wilson).

I expected my mss. to be waiting for me when I opened my door; it wasn't there. So I suppose that leaves the evening free.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

I just bought a new watch. I like it. It sort of has a "Blade Runner" thing going for it.
I'll probably finish reading "Alien Dawn" this evening, which leaves me with a problem: what nonfiction can I read next that will be remotely as entertaining? I learned from browsing that Colin Wilson is the author of eighty books. Eighty. His first was called "The Outsider," about the role of outsiders in art, culture and society. Needless to say, it's out of print.

I found a copy of a Paraview Pocket Book in Borders this afternoon. It seems the Mars book will be classified as "New Age," which is no huge surprise. And honestly, I can live with that, even if it's a commercial misnomer. At least I'm in good company. I should receive my mss. back from Paraview today. I'm excited about digging into the editorial process but also cringing a bit.

Jason Sheets has posted an utterly hilarious (or grotesque, depending on where one stands on the "white trash" issue) overheard conversation on his blog. I envy his ability to find humor in disturbing dialogues like this. I think it's much easier to do when you're with friends; when I hear stuff like this by myself I experience a bone-chilling rush of pure existential horror. I share cartoonist Bill Griffith's fear: In a society gone certifiably insane (and thus indistinguishable from conscious self-parody) what becomes of satire? Who's left to "get it"?

But I'm being pessimistic and typically misanthropic. There are some good outlets for parody out there. Here are two that I've really appreciated lately:

The Onion (billed as "America's Finest News Source"...and I'm not so sure they're being ironic.) (Check out their patriotic posters; I'm actually semi-considering getting one of these on a T-shirt.)

Monday, April 28, 2003

Here's my (very brief) assessment of author/scholar Richard Dolan's new essay on the "flying triangle" phenomenon (soon to be included with his other "Alien Essays"). Given the overwhelming evidence that unknown triangular aircraft are in our skies, Dolan asks if they're ours . . . or someone else's. Read his essay before reading the following, which began as a letter to Dolan.

Personally, I'm less troubled by the possibility of a "shadow government." The mere existence of a multi-billion dollar "deep black" military budget would virtually demand that something like a "secret goverment" or "shadow group" be created. I remember an engineer (who claimed to have worked on the same project as Bob Lazar) who said that a deep-black "satellite" government was created in the 1960s to deal with the extraterrestrial issue. (Substitute "electrogravitics" for "extraterrestrial" and the gist of his testimony suddenly becomes easier to accept. The ET mythos, along with Lazar's alleged experience at Area 51, might be disinformation.) Supposedly the satellite government interfaces with the "real" government occasionally but remains more or less autonomous.

As for gravity modification, I'm haunted by the possibility that, if we have it, we've likely sent human-crewed antigravity craft into space. Perhaps activity of this sort is responsible for some of the anomalous video footage taken from the Space Shuttle.
Thinking is not an innate human skill. We're born capable of stimulus response, which we refine to varying degrees during the course of adolescence and adulthood. Thinking is an acquired skill, like learning to ride a bike. (But unlike riding a bike, it's not a skill that can be conquered over a single afternoon.) The distinction between blind stimulus response and actual thinking is crucial and almost entirely overlooked. Everyone seems to be under the illusion that they can think, just as everyone with a political ax to grind "knows" that their cause is the "right" one. In my experience, this couldn't be farther from the truth.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

My cat, Spook, is the happy new owner of a Turbo Scratcher. This thing is weird. A friend had been describing it to me for a while and finally managed to pick one up. Spook is hunched over it as I type, batting the red ball around through its tunnel while getting stoned on catnip.

Ken MacLeod: socialist, libertarian, cyberpunk.

I've been up late creating a page dedicated to the novels of Ken MacLeod. (I'll finish reading "Dark Light" soon, so check back in a week.)

Saturday, April 26, 2003

I woke up from weird dreams late last night and found myself utterly disgusted with UFOs and UFO research. I was half-asleep and convinced that the whole thing was a sham, that I had wasted my time trying to figure it out. I was furious with myself in a dazed kind of way. It even occurred to me that aliens had implanted the sense of disgust in attempt to steer me away from my "weird" interests. I was rather concerned. After yet more distressing dreams, I finally got out of bed. Not surprisingly, I'm still healthily curious about strange phenomena and nonhuman intelligence. Whew!
Synchronicity! "Alien" encounters! Paranormal activity!

I was enjoying a cinnamon latte and reading Colin Wilson's "Alien Dawn," which contains some fascinating material on bizarre "coincidences." Then I walked home, turned on the computer, and the first message in my email box was a recounting of a minorly weird coincidence from Steve Melling. Another layer to the the Jungian onion, or too much dopamine?

Maybe the universe is contructed like a hypertext filing system (i.e., a cosmic computer like the one Peter Gersten talks about). Events with no apparent causal connection may be intersecting points in a multidimensional database or archive.

So where does consciousness come in?

"Somewhere on planet Earth, existing in some undiscovered domain, another intelligence shares this world with humanity. Its intent, presently, is to remain on the fringes of human perception."

--Peter A. Gersten

"Welcome to the desert of the real."

(from "The Matrix")

Friday, April 25, 2003

Forget Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country, with its insidiously camoflauged ads for credulous books and watered-down commentary.* Fortean Times is my kind of paranormal site: astute, funny and well-designed. (By the way, this isn't a paid ad for "Fortean Times." I'm sincerely tired of Strieber's good-looking but vacuous assault on the "unknown." There are truly excellent alternatives out there, some of which I've catalogued.)

Speaking of "Fortean Times," both my editor Patrick Huyghe (author of "The Field Guide to UFOs" and "The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials") and postmodern ufologist co-conspirator Colin Bennett ("Looking for Orthon," "Politics of the Imagination") attended the annual (?) Fortean UnConvention in England. According to an email I got from Colin, my name came up, so presumably Patrick likes what I've sent him so far. Patrick edited Colin's "Looking for Orthon," about flying saucer contactee George Adamski, which is how we got in touch in the first place: I wrote a review of Bennett's book (published by Paraview Press, of which Patrick is Editor-in-Chief).

The imprint taking on "After the Martian Apocalypse" is a chimera consisting of Paraview (which you may not of heard of, although their literary agency is responsible for Jewel's poetry book...) and Simon and Schuster's Pocket Books.

So there you have it. I have an indirect link with Jewel. I wish it could be with someone I like. Maybe Fiona Apple or Natalie Merchant.

*In Strieber's defense, he did include a link to my Mars site on his own...

Thursday, April 24, 2003

"New" short-stories posted to MTVI...

I just posted two stories to my site: "The Symbiosis" and "The Reenactment." They're not especially new, but this is the first time they've appeared on the Web. And I'm too preoccupied (and too damned lazy) to take up submitting them to science fiction magazines right now, which is what I should be doing...

To read them, visit my Dead Letter Office page.

I threw away some old notebooks this evening. Tons of old stories and journal entries I barely remember writing. Most of it was unfinished, but definitely reflected the sort of fiction I write now: surreal settings, weird technology, apocalyptic vibes. I've started a new project that may evolve into a novel; it's much too early to tell. In the meantime, I can keep my ego afloat by thinking about my Mars book.
It really struck me the other day how absurd our collective disinterest in nonhuman intelligence really is. To me, the possibility of nonhuman intelligence is absolutely pivotal. One could argue that I have a natural inclination toward "weird" things because of my literary interests. But are the things we deem "weird" really weird? Could our smugness be hindering our intellectual/psychospiritual/cognitive progress?

As planetary citizens, we're a dreadfully solipsistic lot. The mind-numbing holy trinity of Western civilation -- religion, patriotism and professional sports -- keeps us from asking basic questions. It's no surprise that answers are in short supply. We have entrusted the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence to a small and rigid priesthood of self-proclaimed skeptics (however sincere their intentions). The "alien" -- as a meme -- has been quarantined under the most stringent protocol. Occasionally we glimpse it retooled for the big screen in the form of "Independence Day" or "Contact." Advertisors seem to have an inexhaustible penchant for using the alien meme as kitschy media fodder.

The consequences of this are intellectually devastating. Americans, in particular, have taken the "alien" inquiry and turned it into a ridiculously binary issue of "belief" in flesh-and-bone extraterrestrial visitors. But the possibilities are so much more fascinating, as Dr. Jacques Vallee and John Keel point out in "Passport to Magonia" and "The Eighth Tower." We have allowed our imaginations to dim like so many cheap lightbulbs.

My research has led me to the conclusion that the human race is indeed interfacing with some sort of nonhuman intelligence. I don't know what it is, where it comes from, or what it looks like (although if pressed I'd suggest that it could look like whatever it wants). Whatever this intelligence is, it is unimaginably potent. If technological in origin -- as it seems it must be, at least in some abstruse sense -- then we're dealing with something very different than anything yet contemplated by humans. The evidence indicates it may desire to remain unknown (assuming it's knowable in the first place.)

By refusing to entertain "weird," potentially heretical ideas, we've disarmed ourself against a universe bristling with epistemological weaponry.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

10 more-or-less contemporary science fiction books you have to read (in no particular order):

1.) 2001: A Space Odyssey or Childhood's End

Arthur C. Clarke challenges our most treasured existential notions. (All right, so they're not that "contemporary"...)

2.) Neuromancer

William Gibson reinvents SF. Hauntingly effective.

3.) Terraplane or Elvissey

Jack Womack's bizarre retelling of the 20th century, with a cynical eye toward the future...

4.) VALIS by Philip K. Dick.

It just might blow your mind.

5.) Starfish


6.) Maelstrom by Peter Watts.

A gritty and terrifying look at the way the world ends.

7.) Crash

J.G. Ballard's hallucinatory psychosexual protocyberpunk masterpiece.

8.) Anything by Ken MacLeod.

I recommend Cosmonaut Keep, the first in his "Engines of Light" trilogy. It's dense, demanding and very smart.

9.) Saucer Wisdom by Rudy Rucker.

Screamingly funny and intelligent. The same goes for the "Ware" tetralogy.

10.) Something by Bruce Sterling. (Holy Fire is good.)
A few posts ago I said my laptop was running Windows NT. I was mistaken; it's running Windows XP. I have no absolutely no idea what this means.

Planetary chauvinism

In most science fiction dealing with space exploration, space colonists leave Earth to find reasonably Earth-like planets to settle. In actuality, I think this will be quite rare: what do planets offer settlers? They're subject to extinction level events, nasty plate tectonics, uncontrolled mutation, and the caprices of climate.

It's more likely that future colonists will construct space stations. In space, construction is infinitely easier since nothing weighs anything. Tweaking our genes to support a spaceborne existence is likely to be easier than "terraforming" an alien world. Want gravity? A space station can be rotated to produce whatever amount of gravity you want (or, of course, none at all). Planets might be fun places to visit, but only eccentrics will choose to live there for any length of time.

Of course, while writing this, I realized I could argue persuasively for the other side of the argument... The important thing to remember is that futurism is less prediction than stream-of-consciousness. Who's to say with authority that we won't perfect gravity control (i.e., "antigravity")? Who says we already haven't...? The scenario above seems to make sense from our perspective right now. But "right now" has an interesting way of going away really quickly. Colonists might prefer to use antigravity selectively while living on a planetary surface, or use an artificial gravity field while in a microgravity environment. It's simply not a matter of one or the other. Attempts to pin down the future will invariably fail -- but hopefully in intriguing ways.

Antigravity totally upsets quaint ideas of rotating space stations. A few hundred years from now, film enthusiasts might watch the revolving, spoked space station in "2001" with the same kind of mirth we experience when watching cheesy movies of astronauts fending off giant spiders on Mars.

The multiverse continues to branch into alternate incarnations, all equally valid.


I think it's profoundly disappointing that so many people can only "express" themselves through clip-on "designer" cell-phone faceplates, bumper stickers, and obnoxious clothes. Compulsary corporate schooling has churned out a plague of mentally deficient cogs with no other means of self-expression. Of course, the trends they latch onto aren't "expressive" at all. It's just the best they can do given limited resources.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

This is a truly embarrassing thing to admit, but packing a laptop computer makes me feel "cool." I feel "with it," man. The reasons for this are probably science fiction-induced; if you read William Gibson's first three novels, you find his characters inhabitating an unspecified near-future where "cyberspace decks" are all-but-ubiquitous. Cyberspace decks are decidedly unlike most real computers, such as the Compaq Presario I'm writing this on. For one thing, they're sleek and very portable -- kind of like a laptop.

The man.

My laptop has Gibson-esque potential. It's a token from the world of "Neuromancer" and "Count Zero"; its ideological lineage can be traced to nonexistent rain-slicked streets and the inescapable pallor of brooding outdoor holography.

Gibson made computers sound sexy. Of course, he didn't own one when he wrote "Neuromancer," so he didn't know any better. J.G. Ballard intentionally reinvented the subtext of the automobile for his novel "Crash." ("Crash" is satire, although elusively so.) "Neuromancer" was written with consummate punk naivete.
I have an apparent heightened sensitivity to the mass media. I can't tolerate radio or TV; both make me acutely uneasy. I'm not implying that it's a physical response, although sometimes the intensity of my reaction rivals a literal allergy. The single exception is NPR, which I can take in small doses before rewarding myself with a week or so of "media sabbatical."

My idea of ultimate stress relief is to be set loose in a room full of TVs with a baseball bat. Or maybe a gun, like Elvis. (Not having fired a gun in my life, I don't know if this would have the same satisfying effect that bashing a screen with a bat would certainly produce. I'm guessing it would be OK.)

Interestingly, I'm immune to the Internet. I hate spam and pop-up ads as much as anyone, but they don't piss me off the way TV commercials do. And while I really can't stand pervasive and unnecessary public cell-phone use, I think I'm getting used to it; I don't have to like it, but it doesn't bother me as much as it used to.

Other things I don't like:

1.) Driving. I have a vague fear about driving. Nothing terrible or disabling, but I secretly wish for matter-transmitter pods or at least ubiquitous mass transit.

2.) Elevator buttons. Why do they make them so difficult to press? You really have to mash your finger against them at the proper angle. This is a very minor but potential annoyance.

3.) Magazines about music. What's the point? They all look and read the same and they're all about the same bands/entertainers/whatever. Yes, there are exceptions. But not many.

4.) Maya Angelou. I have a deep-rooted, largely unspecified hatred of Maya Angelou.

5.) Trendy young "literary" authors. There's never a shortage of these. Their books are praised as unparalleled genius, prominently displayed in bookstores, and inevitably compared to Thomas Pynchon and/or William Burroughs. And they're all about the same thing: befuddled neo-Bohemians taking drugs and getting into confused relationships.

This list could go on forever...
Posthuman Blues is now a certified member of Kansas City Blogs. Apparently there's an unofficial network of bloggers here in town that get together periodically to talk about blogging and stuff. Eat your heart out, Skull and Bones Society!

I've gone from a period of not being able to remember my dreams to near-perfect recall. The last two nights have been extremely weird. My subconscious is attracted to the "life as film" dreams are like multimedia presentations in which I'm both impartial observer and active participant.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Maybe it's infantile or escapist, but I'd like to live a thoroughly wired existence. Brain implants. Cognitive enhancements. "Bionic" senses. Media players and cameras embedded in my eyes. Unlimited memory. 24-hour Internet access at the speed of thought. All on my own terms, of course. (You can check out my transhumanism page if you're interested in stuff like this.)

While we're at it, let's eradicate the need for sleep. Sure, the dreaming part is neat, but life is just too damned short.

Last night I started Ken MacLeod's "Dark Light," the sequel to "Cosmonaut Keep." MacLeod is formidably intelligent and one of the top ten speculative writers working today. His stuff is sharp, surreal and very rewarding.

Sorry this is short; it's been a tiring Monday and I'll probably end up taking a nap. How pathetic. I've got things I want to do!

Sunday, April 20, 2003

I've spent the afternoon getting used to my new laptop computer. It's actually a much better machine than my desktop. Windows NT takes a little bit of getting used to, but it's nothing fundamentally different. I've already backed up most of my Microsoft Works files onto the laptop's hard drive. Right now my plan is to use the laptop primarily for writing and my desktop primarily for online use. I don't think I realized until today quite how badly I needed extra floppy disks and recordable CDs. I'll have to pick some up tomorrow.

I found this great animal rights story on Jason's blog...

Saturday, April 19, 2003

I just saw the following ad while logged into my Yahoo Mail account:

This Tim LaHaye guy is one extremely creepy character. And he simply doesn't understand prophecy, his stated field of expertise. Prophecy is all about foretelling possible futures so that steps can be taken to prevent the bad ones, much how science fiction novels like "Fahrenheit 451" and "1984" were written as cautionary fables. This guy seriously wants "Armageddon" to happen, since it would provide the capstone for his own perverted belief system. And he's got a financial empire rooted in the dispersal of religious fear and "End Times" misery: an infrastructure of terror that adapts to the political zeitgeist with the veracity of a virus.

And we're supposed to be afraid of Saddam Hussein?
I mentioned that SARS might be extraterrestrial. I wasn't joking. Noted astronomer Fred Hoyle pioneered the concept of panspermia, and concluded that life on Earth almost certainly originated not on the planet's surface, but in the warm, watery interiors of passing comets. I read his book "Diseases from Space" a couple years ago and was very interested in his study of flu outbreaks. Strong circumstantial evidence indicates that new flu strains arrive from above -- evidently from space.

In 2001 a research team detected unknown organisms thriving in the upper atmosphere: they very well could have been ET microbes that had taken up temporary residence. The prospect is totally plausible, but "experts" seem to have an ingrained aversion to things dealing with space; consequently, the necessary research isn't being done.

I'm reading a new science fiction book called "Slave Trade," by Susan Wright. I'd read Wright's book about Area 51, which held my interest (although it wasn't nearly as well-executed as David Darlington's "Area 51: The Dreamland Chronicles"). "Slave Trade" -- the first in a projected trilogy -- is a disconcerting "Star Trek" rip-off in which aliens kidnap humans, who are horrified (and sometimes thrilled) to discover that they are prized as sexual delicacies.

I immediately emailed Wright about the biological implausibility of an alien species finding Earthlings sexually desirable. Her response was sincere yet somehow flippant -- and totally unconvincing. I pointed out that I tended to doubt the "real life" alien abduction theories of Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs, who think that the "Grays" (see essay below) are manufacturing a hybrid species using alien and human DNA. This is roughly as likely as a human mating with a grasshopper and producing viable offspring. Hopkins and company would insist that either

a.) the Grays are related to us, allowing genetic compatibility


b.) the Grays are extremely talented genetic engineers.

But if "B" is the case, why the fascination with human DNA? Why don't the aliens just synthesize it? Surely the supposed "abuction program" is inefficient and redundant. Unless, of course, the extraction of reproductive material is a metaphor for something else. This is Dr. John Mack's take. I personally think it makes more sense than Hopkins' doomsday scenario. If we're interacting with a muiltidimensional intelligence as opposed to interstellar visitors, then this might have a strange limiting effect on the human mind and the mechanics of perception. The aliens' methods might seem primitive or nonsensical to us simply because our three-dimensional minds are incapable of grasping the big picture. (There's actually a field of quantum physics that deals with this sort of thing.)

Talk about xenophobia...

Friday, April 18, 2003

The inclusion of the Iraq Body Count banner on my Cydonian Imperative site has angered several readers who think its methodology is skewed to favor the alleged civilian casuality death-wish of the antiwar "movement."

Some astute gentleman left the following in my guestbook the other day:

"love your site,but the iraq civilian body count link,is a bunch of blows my mind how some people are cynical of our goverment(which is far from perfect)but will believe some of the crap on the internet or worse,will believe every word some thug like sadaam says or the hand job united nations spits out.come on man stick to the mars stuff"

No, not all of the comments have been this this "colorful," but I have the feeling the sentiment is largely the same: the ends justify the means, the figures are inflated, God Bless America, Amen. Two readers have suggested I post a "Saddam Body Count" to ensure fairness, knowing full well there's no such thing online -- and I'd post it if there was.

Lesson of the day: politics and alien megaliths on Mars don't mix.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

SARS is an unknown disease. We don't know where it came from; the possibility exists that it came from space or was cooked up by a terrestrial lab. Already, the virus is mutating. Just beneath the calm surface of newspaper headlines, a viral storm is brewing. We'll probably weather this one out. But what about the next one? And the one after that?

A barrage of mutations, new vectors, failed quarantines. A choking silence engulfs the planet...

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

The "CROATOAN" fiasco has blown over. (By the way, "CROATOAN" is how the word appears in Ken MacLeod's epigraph. Strieber's article had a typo suggesting the spelling "CROATAN.")

A couple readers from the UFO UpDates mailing list have filled me in on the unexplained disappearance in the 1500s. One of these readers has an email address containing "Macleod"! Synchronicity? I think so.

What happened:

1.) I thought something was weird.

2.) I told other people I might be onto something weird.

3.) I learned it wasn't weird after all.

4.) I explained the misunderstanding: the epigraph in MacLeod's book and the disappearance in the Sahara were separate incidents. No link between the lost colony of Virginia and the vanished African tourists (beside the fact that both disappearances are unexplained).

5.) A guy with "Macleod" in his email address informs me of the fact. So some weirdness emerges out of all of this after all.

Is there any evidence of "deep structure" here? Well, "Mac" is my name. My astrological sign is "Leo"...

As insignificant and absurd as incidents like this seem, I've experienced enough of them to make me wonder if there is indeed something odd going on. The phenomenon behaves like a reflexive intelligence of some sort, quietly reminding me that it exists but without divulging any details. I have a strong intuition that the phenomenon is subjective; I can't prove that I'm interacting with some sort of acausal mechanism or intelligence any more than I can "prove" I'm self-aware.

The "nine beeps" episode with my telephone (see archives) is a case in point. Someone with an electronics background eventually assured me the beeps were caused by a "leftover" microchip the phone's manufacturers had failed to recall. Just when this seemed perfectly plausible, my phone recorded another set of beeps: eight of them this time, as if defying logical explanation.

(I have a certain suspicion that if the sequence of eight beeps could be explained in purely electronic terms, my phone would record seven of them just to keep the evidential ball rolling.)

If this acausal reaction is "real," then I suspect it's a component of a much larger paranormal spectrum governed by quantum mechanics. Jung defined synchronicities as "meaningful coincidences." Physicists think they might be rifts in the very fabric of reality.

Could the "alien presence" alluded to in a previous post be the logical culmination of undiscovered physical law? Could "aliens" be, as Whitley Strieber has speculated, the force of evolution as experienced by a conscious mind?

John Keel has written that researchers of the paranormal eventually become entwined in the very phenomena they're studying; what was once an interesting theory or crazy story becomes experiential truth. But this could be due to a blind external force or to some novel, pervasive form of intelligence.

Ultimately, is there any difference?
I'm going to lay off the Iraq issue. It's being covered ad nauseum by others. I will remain vigilant, but I don't want to become redundant. So unless I have a profound or original insight, I'll spare you my kvetching. I'm not apologizing, by the way. I just don't want to run this blog into the ground dwelling on trends that should be apparent to any thinking person.

My central stance, for readers who don't feel like slogging through the archives, is that the US administration has been dishonest in its portrayal of Iraq as a threat. I think the "War on Terror," as it is being waged right now, is a politically prudent fiction whose primary goal is to reinvent the world political stage for reasons that, on close inspection, appear to be less than noble and certainly not worth the huge loss of life witnessed in the last few weeks.

But enough about that for now.

I began reading Colin Wilson's "Alien Dawn" last night. So far I'm very impressed. Wilson realizes that the concept of alien contact is thoroughly interconnected with other mysteries. UFOs and abductions (whatever these things turn out to be) are not discrete phenomena that can be plucked from the experiential world with a pair of tweezers and examined in isolation; they're components of something bigger, more confounding...yet possibly more coherent than we typically expect.

Wilson thinks in the same basic vein as Philip K. Dick, R.A. Wilson and Jacques Vallee: postmodern, quantum-era intellectuals who realize that "reality" is being orchestrated, manipulated and consequently hidden. Existence is a juxtaposition of cosmic conspiracies and battling memes. "Nothing is true; everything is permitted."

Our species has taken the easy way out. We've forfeited the achingly weird and beautiful realm of expanded consciousness in favor of trite information management and "politics of the imagination" (to borrow a phrase from Colin Bennett). I've never taken LSD and I don't plan to. But after reading about the work of Leary and Grof, I can't help but feel that we've crippled our psychological horizons (in much the same way that our space program is inherently deficient, promising the notion of limitless space and possibility, but in fact stifling the emergence of mutant paradigms). This is what my Mars book is about. The Face is arguably more important as a metaphor and catalyst than as a possible engineering work, although it will likely function as both.

Reality is a much more complex place than we've allowed ourselves to acknowledge. We're committed to a stupor of denial and politically correct "skepticism," believing in outlandish religious fictions but denying laboratory evidence that quietly but forcibly expels our assumed rule over a "material" world. We like reality spoon-fed to us in Platonic blocks because our cognitive digestive system has atrophied almost beyond repair.

If close encounters mean anything at all, my guess is that they're deliberate shocks to our ontological framework. Nothing is more unnerving than something "alien," even if the special effects are dredged up from our Jungian unconscious. But our visitors go a step farther: they're often absurd, mocking, unbelievable caricatures of what we suppose aliens "should" be like. Close encounters are innately psychedelic experiences that challenge the senses as well as the intellect, all the while ducking the radar of our fact management priesthood (i.e., SETI, CSICOP).

New Agers talk about saintly extraterrestrials who are here to rescue us from ourselves, or to hasten the transition to a new form of being divorced from workaday materialism. They may be close to the truth, although I personally doubt that the "aliens" (if that is indeed what they are) are altruists in the conventional sense. I also doubt that there is an impending change in global consciousness. Our visitors have always been here to whisper strange warnings in our collective ear. The goal, ironically, might not be change so much as homeostasis (as argued by Vallee).

Tuesday, April 15, 2003


I misread the damned article! It clearly says that the tourists' message was similar to the strange "CROATAN" inscription. In my obviously hasty reading, I thought the Sahara disappearace and the Roanoke disappearance were the same event. In my defense, I had never heard of the Roanoke event before. So I'm not merely historically ignorant, but idiotic enough to get a science fiction book confused in this...

Having said that, "Cosmonaut Keep" is good stuff. MacLeod can write.
Breaking (weird) news...

I just sent the following letter to UFO UpDates:

A story about vanished (presumably kidnapped) tourists appears on Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country today (4-15-03). A "cryptic message" was left etched in the bark of a tree, reading "CROATAN."

This immediately rang a bell. I reached for Ken MacLeod's science fiction novel "Cosmonaut Keep" (which, eerily enough, deals with flying saucers and ETs) and found the following text as the epigraph:

"and one of the chiefe trees or posts at the right side of the entrance had the barke taken off, and 5 foote from the ground in fayre Capitall letters was graven CROATOAN without any crosse or signe of distresse"

Is this a clue?

What am I missing?

Mac Tonnies


I just Googled "CROATOAN" and found this historical reference, which sheds some light on MacLeod's novel (I never did get that epigraph...) but unfortunately seems to shed little on the disappearance in question...unless it's a hoax, and this is the hoaxer's clever "signature."
The 1980s and 1990s spawned once of the most satisfying mythologies of the 21st century. In essence, it goes like this:

The U.S. government has known that UFOs are alien craft since the late 1940s [actually, not totally impossible]. Formal contact with the aliens was established in the 1950s. Shortly thereafter a deal was struck between the government and the extraterrestrials: the aliens would be allowed to abduct citizens for research and experiments in exchange for technological information.

[Here the line of reasoning suffers a critical fracture: why would a starfaring (or dimension-hopping, depending on who you ask...) alien species need our government's permission to do anything? One would think it could do as it wished with impunity, much how we tag and research ants without bothering to "negotiate" with their representatives. While I don't necessarily preclude the idea of some form of official human-alien contact, the human-alien "deal" recounted in the Silent Invasion Myth strikes me as very questionable -- unless, of course, the ETs were simply staging the whole thing...]

It was supposed to work like this: the aliens would furnish the government with a list of their human abductees, never going over "quota." But soon the horrible truth became apparent: the aliens were abducting more than their legal share of unwitting humans! And to top it off, they were performing grotesque biological experiments with cattle and leaving their handiwork in plain view! How insolent! Moreover, some of the abductees weren't coming back...

[One naturally wonders if the government knew exactly what kind of "research" the aliens were up to when it signed its Faustian pact. Apparently the aliens duped the humans into thinking they were nothing more than benign interstellar anthropologists, free of ulterior motives.]

The brass panic. Although armed with some ET-derived technology (possibly including crashed alien vehicles such as the one allegedly discovered at Roswell, New Mexico), they realize they're no match for the aliens (or, as they are now known, the "Grays"). Pandora's Box has been unleashed.

But that's not all. You know those experiments the Grays have been up to? They're secretly creating a hybrid alien-human species adapted to terrestrial conditions. In other words: pod people! They're going to take over the goddamned planet!

But the Grays are a sympathetic bunch, in a way. They've destroyed their home planet through environmental abuse and direly need a fresh source of DNA to invigorate their gene-pool. That's where we come in.

[The basic idea here (i.e., impoverished aliens seeking to better their condition by invading another planet) is much the same as H.G. Wells' in "The War of the Worlds." Some say the issue is deeper than this, and suggest that the Grays are actually interested in the human spirit, as opposed to our genome. Many writers and close encounter "experiencers" have postulated that the Grays can transfer and manipulate souls about as easily as people change the oil in their cars. Some embrace this quasi-religious interpretation while others vehemently denounce it as "New Age" babble.]

In the meantime, UFOs continue to be seen. Some are human-piloted alien vehicles while others are ET. Abductions continue, as do cattle mutilations (or "mutes"): evidence that the Grays are still perfecting their "master race" of hybrids.

Where is this happening? According to a variety of leaked documents and insider testimony, the Grays have either built or taken over underground bases in the American Southwest, colonized the ocean floor, and constructed bases on the lunar farside in which to further their goals for planetary conquest. Invasion is imminent.

Further complicating things, an unknown government agency appears to be actively assisting the Grays (or is it the other way around?) during horrific kidnappings known as "MILABs" (for "military abductions"). Military personnel -- apparently the same crowd that tools around in unmarked black helicopters -- have supposedly been seen working with Grays in an unknown context. Is there an ultimate common agenda on behalf of the "hidden government" and our ET visitors?

[This is, of course, the "downer" version of the Gray mythos. Other variations exist, and in some of these the Gray aliens are seen as Christly figures helping to prepare the human race for impending ecological catastrophe.]

Monday, April 14, 2003

Hot off the press!

I have an article and a couple book reviews in the debut issue of Mysteries magazine. Check your newsstand. Demand that your local bookstore carry it. Because if you don't buy it, I don't get paid. And if I don't get paid, I can't afford to live on the Plaza and drink overpriced coffee...
In a strip a few days ago, cartoonist Bill Griffith noted that Dubbya doesn't pronounce "terrorist" correctly. He contracts it into two syllables: "terrist." To say nothing of his persistent mangling of "nuclear"...

The United States is spiralling into a fetid vortex of unbridled stupidity. Blind faith, unquestioning adoration of authority and indefinite suspension of creative/constructive thought have become fixtures of the new American Dream, powered by an out-of-control government, soulless yet nonetheless sinister corporations, and an obliging mass media. I'm tired of this crap.

I demand a world free of opportunistic, pathological politicians, arrogant underhanded agendas, and the ever-present threat of convulsive violence. I demand an immediate end to all cottage industries and retailers who are profiting from ignorance in the form of "heartwarming" gaudy figurines and omnipresent flags. I demand an end to shitty, mass-produced music and the spineless drones who listen to it.

I've had more than enough of pop stars, post-modern media spectacles, infotainment, edutainment, civilian casualities, pretentious novels, professional athletics, gun-happy policemen, religion in any shape or form with the possible exception of Buddhism (but more on that later), spurious medications for nonexistent psychopathologies, obnoxious holidays, SUVs, "What Would Jesus Do?", the abortion "debate," NASCAR, genetically modified foods, viral epidemics, depleted uranium, "Shock and Awe," hunting, pub-crawls, Starbucks, "poetry slams," vanity presses, et cetera.

You know, I thought the 21st century might be cool. It had promise. But unfortunately it's just a lot more of the same old tired shit.

Sunday, April 13, 2003

I tried to take a nap yesterday but some guy with a megaphone was standing over by the Horse Fountain shouting out some masturbatory tirade against the Iraq war. And this was Saturday -- the big antiwar protest is today, so the Plaza's probably really in for some incendiary amplified rants... I suppose I should be glad the war is being opposed -- and I am -- but I've become horribly cynical about the protest scene, with its limp slogans and quaint simplifications. I still don't know exactly what's going on. The war and the administration that spawned it is a diabolical hall or mirrors. The best I can do is make educated guesses and try not to become a drooling conspiracy-monger.

Speaking of conspiracy-mongers, check out the Sumer/Iraq connection photos at the Enterprise Mission (a site ostensibly about ET archaeology). This was only a matter of time.

Saturday, April 12, 2003

The weather is in the 80s today. My window is up and the fan is on. I scared my cat to death with my new vacuum cleaner and I'm not sure she's forgiven me.

I awoke to find most of my email box full of hi-rez images of the Martian surface and what some are claiming is a ruined city (not the one in Cydonia). My initial impression is that the shallow sun-angle is lending the knobby mesas in the region a spurious faceted appearance. While I think there are indeed extraterrestrial structures on Mars, I don't think these deserve the interest the're likely to receive (which isn't to say they're not interesting, and I honestly hope I'm proven wrong).

I began reading "Contact of the Fifth Kind," a book on the extremely weird spectacle of "flying triangles" that began in the mid 1970s. Black-ops prototypes or nonhuman craft? Or something else?

I plan on spending the remainder of the weekend not stewing over the sorry state of the mass media and the US's deceptive "victory" in Iraq. Can it be done? Your guess is as good as mine.

Motto for the day: "Anyone except Bush in 2004!"

Friday, April 11, 2003

Started a new story today:

Anime stepped from the recessed bed, cool recycled air playing against her bare skin. She glanced down into the shallow contoured basin that held the gel mattress; the man's sleeping body had curled into a fetal position beneath the randomly flickering translucent sheets. She was reminded of insect pupae, snug in cocoons of dried slime while the world progressed around them as if in time-lapse.

The buoyant lunar gravity seemed to caress her as she navigated the darkened bedroom. She had ever known the torturous pull of Earth or the chest-constricting push of take-off. Her bones, though augmented by supplements and periodically refreshed by nanomachines, were as temperamental as so many glass sticks.

The bedroom was cavernous: faceted walls, dormant flatscreens, polished lunar regolith that absorbed shadow like vampirish sponge. Silicates extracted from lunar soil had been turned into walls of opaque glass, inset with palm-sized newsfeeds and free-form holography. The screens bled light, illuminating transparent furniture, scattered components of virtuality workstations. A brain-link lay coiled on the floor between he feet, nasal studs encrusted with blood and mucus. The man she had slept with had used it before they had gone to bed, his eyes staring at nothing.

One side of the room featured a louvered window, shut to block the unfiltered glare of the Sun across the ash-gray plain. Invisible retinal scanners sensed the intent in her eyes and the louvers parted with a quick whispering sound. The man continued sleeping, chest heaving beneath the sheets. Mossy-green light played across his closed eyelids, synched to his brain rhythm by the room's mindful AI.

Standing naked in the dark, she wondered if she was something more than the AI, or possibly just a mere extension of its sensory embrace. She knew what she was; had seen her own skin lifted from a frothing vat like a pinkish wetsuit, hands like empty gloves, facial features deflated into a thoroughly demeaning caricature. The techs had installed her sense of body-identity before adding the actual body; her abrupt adolescence had been spent in a grueling immersive dialogue with Turing auditors.

Her first vision of the world -- the real world, as opposed to the auditors' cybernetic fictions -- had come when her body had achieved a semblance of womanhood. She remembered awakening in a scalding foam of nanomachines, gloved hands drawing her up into a haze of disembodied eyes and fluorescent strips that left rungs of purple light on her newborn retinas. She knew intuitively why the techs were wearing rebreather masks: rogue nano. She was an infestation in the form of a woman, to be handled with obsessive care.

Shortly thereafter, the first of her implanted memories had risen to the surface, silent and impersonal as newsfeeds. She knew they weren't true memories -- her designers hadn't wanted to deceive her into adopting some phantom past. Not for her convenience, but for theirs; her sudden emergence on the Moon would have taxed any fictitious past, breaking its own narrative stability and quite likely
her psyche in the process.

The Moon appeared behind the polarized glass: a tortured yet somehow peaceful surface of petrified dunes and hulking rocks that gleamed near-silver in the light from the landing beacons. The Earth was an anonymous crescent, defining features veiled by cloud. Memories: episodic flashes of oceans overgrown with a gray, fibrous substrate, hordes of metal insects dripping their armored eggs over quarantined cities. A mushroom cloud seen from a great distance: as insubstantial as a cheap hologram -- not the incandescent orange she would have expected had the memory actually been hers, but a sickly luminous gray-brown . . . the unassuming color of a camouflaged moth.

She walked away from the window, a chill creeping up her legs as she headed for the bathroom and donned a thin white robe that adjusted itself to her contours with a flourish of piezoelectric trumpets. Above the toilet -- little more than a streamlined bulge emerging from the yielding dun-colored tile -- was a mirror. She looked into it, wincingly, bothered by the quizzical stare, lank black hair, pursed lips.
I have a somewhat new story posted on my website. It's called "The Restoration" and it vaguely prefigures the siege of Baghdad in a dreamily metaphorical way. Bruce Sterling read this and said it was "pretty good." Coming from Sterling, that made my day.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

I got a ticket for running a red light while driving home from work today. It was pretty iffy, and the police officer seemed reluctant to write me up. Actually, I don't think he was going to until he went back to his squad car and talked on the radio; evidently the city of Overland Park, Kansas is hard up for cash. What a wonderful way to end the day. At least he wasn't an asshole. No tough-guy routine like you get with some cops.

On a more positive note, the J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain (aka the "Horse Fountain") has been turned back on for spring and summer. You can undoubtedly find a picture of it here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

I tumbled across an idea for an alien invasion story today, probably facilitated by thinking about "rods" (see below). Speaking of which, these things need a new name. The sheer uncreativity of the term "rods" typifies how neglected the subject is. How about "Anomalous Video Phenomena"?

It appears as if the war has ended. Predictably, Saddam is missing in action, leaving a possible sequel of some kind a possibility. CNN's already purchased the rights. And more worringly, no sign of any weapons of mass destruction. Not that Dubbya has to worry; I think the public has dutifully forgotten that they were the reason we invaded to begin with. Ostensibly, of course. Nothing about this war has been presented in a coherent manner by the administration. The White House has trotted out one of the most ridiculous parade of lies, distortions and omissions in modern American history.

Still, some of our estranged international neighbors might not take the Missing Weapons of Mass Destruction issue lightly. Even now questions are being asked, like: "If they had them, why the hell didn't they use them"? Allow a moment's paranoia: I think that if the pressure to come clean with evidence to "justify" this conflict is focused enough, the US will gladly "arrange" for some WMD to be found. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

While Iraqi looters throw shoes and overturn Saddam Hussein's statue (with the help of a photogenic US tank), the country's intellectuals -- even the most ardent Saddam haters -- are paralyzed with despair over the encroaching political melee. Meanwhile the rest of the Middle East is wondering who will be the next country lucky enough to get "liberated" (Iran? Syria? Maybe eventually Egypt?) and gelling into something of a pro-jihad consortium.

This whole turn of affairs is curiously predictable. Has Dubbya read too many "Left Behind" books? Could the raison d'etre behind the last few months' geopolitical derring-do be to set the stage for an "Armageddon" conflict? Dubbya's minions loudly remind the public that the war has nothing to do with oil. But they're relatively quiet on the religion front, perhaps sensing a level of historical absurdity. After all, the crusades were a long time ago, and surely irrelevant. But not to Muslims.

We have disturbed the hive. We have shaken it, beaten it with sticks, poked it until its sides are dripping and buzzing with pure insect menace.

When the next wave of terrorist strikes hits, there won't be enough paper for the "God Bless America" bumper stickers we'll be needing.
"Rods" over Baghdad! Again, what are these things? "Insects" composed of "mirror matter"...? If these were cryptozoological anomalies, we might expect to find fossil evidence or the occasional molted exoskeleton. If these "rods" aren't electronic glitches, then my guess is that they're residents of John Keel's superspectrum: in some sense, actual objects capable of bridging the gulf between parallel worlds. They are a quintessentially liminal phenomenon that absorbs theories as greedily as black holes feasting on light. Orwellian drones sent to spy on us? Self-replicating electronic warfare devices spawned in the depths of Area 51?

I'll continue to appreciate the weirdness embodied in the ever-unfolding "rods" saga regardless if a prosaic explanation is proven accurate.

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

I'm turning into a William Burroughs scholar of sorts. Rereading biographies, buying "restored" versions of his books...what next? If WSB was still alive I'd probably be pounding on his door in Lawrence: "Open up! You're the only sane person left on this planet! Please speak to me!"

Actually, I did exchange words with Burroughs once, at a symposium at the University of Kansas. Usually meeting authors is boring. It's their books we're interested in, after all. And while I didn't "meet" Burroughs, it was almost intolerably cool just to have him sitting nearby.

In other news: Boy, we sure "liberated" some Iraqis today, huh? A field correspondent on NPR said that the hospital in Baghdad had stopped keeping track of the bodies. Fifteen of them had been stuffed in a freezer to keep them from rotting prematurely.

The US blew Iraqi TV headquarters to smithereens, of course. Why? Most likely to seal a potentially nasty public relations breach: I doubt Dubbya is too keen on the idea of actual reality intruding on his crusade in the form of televised corpses. It's in bad taste. And it's unpatriotic. We should all be buying Precious Moments "freedom fighter" figurines (yes, these infernal goddamned things actually exist) and tying yellow ribbons around trees and in general acting like the brainwashed numbskulls we're inexorably becoming.

Maybe I should stop reading Burroughs for a while. I've heard those "Left Behind" books are addictive!

Monday, April 07, 2003

I have an implacable nostalgia for urban decay, derelict architecture, ideas quick-frozen in bleached anonymous concrete, the echo of unheard fountains in emptied shopping malls, expanses of forbidden parking lots, rusted and unusable fire-escapes mounted to the sides of weathered, defeated buildings, solemn ranks of archaic grain silos and smoke stacks hovering like pale, listless fingers over forgotten horizons, paralyzed escalators, the demeaning glow of fluorescent lamps, institutional tile offseat by time-beaten steel and peeling vinyl...
Reader mailbag...

I just received the following superstitious defeatist blather, presumably from a reader of my essay, "Will We Survive the Next 1,000 Years?" (now posted at the Center for Pyschology and Social Change site as well as my own Cydonian Imperative). Enjoy.

As an astrophysicist, the truth remains. Humans are comprised of three essential elements, any enlightened priest or rabbi will acknowledge this truism of human existence. Humans are comprised of the divine spark, the flesh and TIME. When our time runs out, we then experience the death of the flesh.

If this humanity honestly believes that they have the right to engage in interstellar space travel by utilizing faster than light speed forces, then they are simply missing the grand picture. At speeds faster than light speed, the human form will dissipate at the control panel and then no-one will be traveling anywhere. The time element comprised within human creation cannot withstand speed faster than light. The time element will be negated, and the humans aboard will simply die.

Science will not be able to outdo creation in order to recreate the human form in an in situ spiritual type of being which will be able to be comfortable and survive the effects of interstellar faster than light speed travel. And, faster than light speed is what it takes in order to engage in interstellar space travel.

Terraforming Mars will be highly difficult. The planet's magnetosphere is dead, it has turned inward. To bring the magnetosphere back to life would be one hell of a feat of astrophysical engineering. The planet needs a healthy and living magnetosphere in order to sustain and continue life as life exists on Planet Earth.

If indeed humanity were to populate another area of this solar system, another area not liken to the natural environment of Planet Earth, then humanity and it's biophysics would become naturally assimilated into the geophysics of the new said world of human colonization. The human form would undergo a biophysical assimilation, and would not entirely retain it's original human form, the human form that took millennia to achieve on Planet Earth due to natural evolution. Therefore, essential and fundamental humanity will not survive in it's original state once colonization occurs in an environment highly unconducive to the life and death cycle experienced for millennia on Planet Earth. Nature cannot be contained or stopped or totally altered. And, to retain an original human form on a planet not entirely like that of Earth will not be conducive to the perpetuation of the original human species.

If indeed contact were ever to occur with a civilization on a planet similar to that of Earth, then we had better be able to set up good negotiations with it's inhabitants. We won't have squatter's rights. It would be highly ludicrous to even fathom that this species had a right to simply drop in unexpected and set up home.

In closing, when God decides that human time is up, and every age has exhausted it's vulgar vanities, then God will simply close the page on humanity, and in a natural and biological and spiritual manner, just as God intended from the beginning.

In the meantime, the space science community can dreams it's ludicrous dreams of space colonization, but they are sadly missing the forest for the trees when it comes to the reality of the truth of human existence. Humility in the face of extinction honors the fact that we have a creator, and to humbly bow out is showing that we are not liken to God, and that we are highly dependent upon the creator for our life and for our sustenance.

Society will never change. History has taught humanity that the road to spiritual death is also the road to societal death.

Enough opinion aired.

I'll say. Like most humans, this guy delights in imagining mystical impediments to progress and clings to a laughably simplistic definition of what it is to be "human." Progressive obsolesence and mutation are concepts to be embraced and exploited, not feared or shunned as "unnatural." It's not at all surprising that religion plays a pivotal role in the writer's private cosmos.

"After the old god has been assassinated, I am ready to rule the world..."

As usual, I'm disappointed in another basically wasted weekend. I need to apply the same reckless approach taken in yesterday's cut-up to my own life.

Lots of interesting ideas for science fiction stories percolating in the back of my mind...

An ancient urban substrate exposed by patient Martian winds?

I've added an interesting new animation to my Cydonia site.

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Another Burroughsian cut-up (interesting lines in boldface):

The multinational corporations and bigoted governments whose "future" is as reassuringly glowing fabric of Sterope's genengineered sarong moved with animal intelligence, near as next month's NASDAQ or voter opinion polls. Is gilding her waist and breasts in bloodred light as it this how it ends, snuffed out into petrochemical oblivion before undulated on the floor. The screens on her bare arms we make the critical move off-planet? Our space shuttles crash flashed erotic poems in forgotten languages. Hieroglyphics morphed into Sanskrit; because they're obsolete, fragile museum pieces. But our smart-bombs are runes and mandalas blossomed like foliage in an Ernst painting. cutting edge: gleaming chrome and laser-light, avatars of technological cunning. Naked, we painted ourselves with the last of her image But if we have every reason to be deeply afraid, lotion. We patched into each other, turning our bodies into we also have room to be deeply hopeful. We possess mirrored Freudian billboards. Dreams swam across suggests that moving off into deep-space, solar sails wafted by cancer-radiance. Martian advanced ET intelligences will be able to provide for themselves? polar caps gushing and melting, flooding the empty sea bottoms Our time as an endlessly complacent species is running out. while Gaile watches over them with Olympian indifference, knowing that In a very true sense, it has always been running the seas will vanish once again, this time not into out, but our technological society is just waking to the ice but thick, writhing steam. The city passed us by fact...and perhaps wishing it was all a bad dream. Our in a procession of foreboding white thermal bunkers and tanks weather patterns are showing ominous new trends; global warming continues; of liquid nitrogen. We retired to the silent chill of deforestation and desertification hack away at our biosphere's roots with my apartment. The administration had paid a visit during my the unheeding avarice of out-of-control clockwork. Can we rouse ourselves absence, rubbing crystalline patterns onto the increasingly brittle walls to in time to make a difference? Or is Earth to keep them from shattering from sheer cold. I had left become a clone of Mars, arid and wind-scoured, any remains the wall-to-wall counters strewn with personal relics: incomprehensible electronics from of civilization consumed by dust? An ecological 9-11 might get the previous century, volumes of fiction committed to scaly yellow our attention, but it also might consume too much of paper.

I'm tired of Whitley Strieber guilt-tripping his website readers into thinking they're somehow starving him financially. The site isn't even that good. I can think of at least five completely free general interest "fringe" news sites that leave Unknown Country in the dust. That said, Strieber's site isn't exactly pay-per-view. Yet. But full site access now costs $4 a month. What does this get you? As far as I can tell, some recordings of Strieber talking about his books; I think I'll pass, thank you very much.

Strieber has an annoying tendency to remind his readers that his website exists on the razor's edge of existence because of scarce funds. Give me a break. We're talking about an author who's just sold the rights to two of his books to major movie studios. And he can't maintain a site that's largely an ad for his body of work? This strains credibility and it strains my respect for an author who has been willing to offer frank, intriguing commentary on the close encounter phenomenon.

By attempting to lure paying subscribers to his site, Strieber has placed himself squarely in the line of fire of debunkers who will accuse him of lying for profit. And for once I won't blame them.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

I've referred to Jason Sheets' commentary here before. His post today is incredibly trenchant. Read it now.


Jason has nailed a major reason for my antiwar protest reticence: I agree with the basic sentiment veing voiced by protests, but a somewhat more nagging portion of my brain is appalled at how big and dumb they are. Don't take this as "waffling" on the Iraq issue. I think the Dubbya administration's invasion of Iraq is monstrously wrong-headed. And I don't think that protests are necessarily anachronistic. But they need to mutate; like Jason, I'm tired of the trite slogans and simplifications that fuel the wrath of the prowar crowd.

In an earlier post, I suggested that Americans are unable to digest a concept that can't be reproduced on a bumper-sticker. But that holds true for the antiwar "movement" as well as for the Bush-loving God 'n' Country crowd.

Unfortunately, large gatherings of angry people are not amenable to subtlety. Doubly unfortunately, most people are immune to subtlety anyway. The Iraq war is a multilayered malignancy with a host of ugly (and complicated) geopolitical nuances and needs to attacked as such. So we're left with the confounding problem of "wising up the marks." And quite honestly, I don't think we'll succeed.

Maybe after a few more civilians have been casually butchered and the forerunner of the U.S.'s quasi-occupational government is doing its thing, a few more people like Jason will have the nerve to address this atrocity sensibly. In the meantime, we'd be well served to abandon this idiotic fascination with "good" and "evil" that's predictably entered the wartime lexicon. Dubbya might inhabit a storybook universe governed by religious abstractions, but that doesn't mean you have to fall for his speeches.

In the cartoon language of placard-wielding street protesters, "Support Our Troops -- Bring Them Home" makes a certain amount of sense. I've expressed the same sentiment in this blog. But Jason's right: these people weren't drafted. Even in a society that promotes xenophobia and the pragmatic fiction of absolute good vs. absolute evil, it doesn't take a whole lot of brains to realize that signing up with the armed forces just might mean being forced to kill people for reasons with which you may not personally agree. Ideally, by retooling the Orwellian machine that passes for "education" in this country, there will simply be no troops to order into battle.

And, one hopes, no soulless control-freaks to condemn them to slavish "patriotism" in the first place.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Remember 9-11? You know, when Palestinians bombed the Empire State Building or something like that? Remember all of the tear-jerking inconography that infected our streets immediately thereafter? It's back! Clip-on flags fluttering from the cabs of pickup trucks whose drivers assail us with wit such as "Real Men Love Jesus." It's like a bloom of noxious toadstools. Shiny "American Pride" stickers: "These Colors Don't Run." You've seen 'em.

The one I like the most informs viewers that "We Will Never Forget" 9-11-01. Let me make something clear: as atrocious as the attacks were, in a million years the human race will have ceased to exist in any recognizable form, and I somehow doubt anyone's going to give a damn about them. If humans are around in a mere few thousand years (in one mind-boggling posthuman incarnation or another), they will have necessarily made it past this "God and Country" fixation that presently engulfs the world like a grisly caul.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

I'm typing this with a brand-new keyboard, purchased impulsively today while on a rare visit to my hometown of Independence, Missouri. I was tired of having to super-glue the spacebar on the last one. It was cheap and somehow obstinate, in the way that only electronic hardware can be.

The dental visit was a pleasure. Apparently I'm grinding my teeth at such a rate that they'll basically cease to exist by the time I'm 50 unless Expensive Dental Procedures are undertaken. Needless to say, I'm taking them, albeit with a little reluctance. I was tempted to ask the hygienist if she could simply spray my teeth with a protective carbon monomolecular laminant but thought better of it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Barry Miles' "William Burroughs: El Hombre Invisible" is out in an updated edition. Great book, and I plan on actually reading it again. (Reading "expanded" versions of books I've already read is becoming something of an uncharacteristic habit ... First, Bob Frissell's "Nothing in This Book Is True..." and now this, soon to be followed by the "definitive" editions of "Naked Lunch" and "Junky.")

Dentist appointment tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

It must be real fucking easy to condemn a bunch of teenage soldiers to possible death when you're a "born-again Christian" who thinks that people have immortal souls that go to Heaven when they die. Let's see what you've got, Bush. Suit up, parachute into Baghdad and give this country a lesson in patriotism. God's on your side, after all.

I think I finally realized what this insanity might be about. Rumsfeld may well be a complete bloody idiot, but my paranoid side says he's craftier than the Iraq "liberation" disaster would have us think. To maintain a "New World Order," one must have an equally pervasive New World Disorder. Hence a swiftly crumbling relationship with the Muslim world that will very likely keep us up to our necks "liberating" neighbor countries for years, if not decades. Oh, yeah -- and it plays off America's most bigoted, xenophobic fears, too, ensuring that everyone's too busy "supporting our troops" to get a straight answer.

Perhaps grotesqueries like this are what our factory-like public "schools" are really all about: deprive a child access to critical and creative thought and you wind up with a malleable, broken excuse for a human being that's good for basically one thing: following orders. A lot of these drones are likely to join the armed forces -- another plus; the New World Order will require a lot of meat if the festivities are to continue...

The US has launched probes to the planets, sent humans to the Moon, erected fantastic cities, and produced brilliant art. A nation that can do these things can remove one sad, twisted fuck from an office he was never elected to in the first place.