Sunday, April 26, 2009

The very definition of "alien"

A New World, if We Can Take It (Whitley Strieber)

In reality, the way the visitors function and what happens to people in their proximity suggests that they perceive the world very, very differently from the way we do. For example, when you are face to face with the small gray beings that form such a large part of the presence we see, and figure so extensively in its folklore, there is no sense that you are with people. Rather, it's like being with animals who are much more intelligent than you are. This is because there is absolutely no cultural familiarity at all. None.

How can officials engage with somebody whose meaning lies beyond a gap far more vast than that between us and, say, dolphins? We haven't the slightest idea what cetaceans may be saying to each other, or even what language means to them, if anything. And our visitors -- even those who appear to engage with us verbally -- are far, far more different from us than any earthly species.


Justin said...

Weird, I just finished re-reading "Majestic" the other day.

This assertion that the visitors/aliens/grays/whatever have been dissuaded from their supposed agenda by secret American government policy, and a century's worth of aerial warfare technology, has always struck me as a wee bit unlikely. Are these guys just really shitty alien invaders, or what? Would invoking the CTH help explain things?

What threshold is it, as a species, that Strieber thinks we have to pass before we learn the truth? Do we all have to learn to get along, and love each other, before they come out from behind the saucer curtain and give us our anally inserted psycho-spiritual upgrades? Is this some sort of beyond good and evil, post-human bollocks, or what? If these things are really as alien as he insists, why is he so insistent that it would be a good thing to open up to them?

Well, the theme in "Majestic" seemed to be that these beings had some sort of technology that worked on the "soul"; they could give it a good defrag, anti-virus, adware and malware scan, and move it to a fresh new body, which would be all fine and dandy if we could get everyone to agree that such a thing even exists.

Given that Strieber's journal updates still show up on your blog quite frequently, I'm guessing that there's some sort of potential connection between the UFO/abduction 'other' (and Strieber's insistence that it's here to help us evolve), and your own assertion that we might have to evolve into some sort of post-human entity that's given up certain human 'weaknesses'. Which is actually kind of an interesting convergence, from an intellectual standpoint.

But with so many layers of noise and confusion, if not downright disinformation, streaming around the modern world, I have to remain skeptical that either of these styles of evolutionary upgrade are really safe. I'm still with Robert Anton Wilson, in that securing the lower levels of Maslow's hierarchy of needs is the most important thing we can do. "Abolition of pain is the noblest goal". If everyone had food, clean water and shelter, why would anyone have a need to be nasty to each other?

Tristan Eldritch said...

I think "Majestic" is an interesting book, in that it attempts to fuse two very different kinds of theory with regard to alien visitation: the more complex, metaphysical slant adopted by Vallee and Keel, with the more conventional (and, I suspect, less convincing) mythology of crashed saucers and government secrecy. The most recent journal entry strongly recalls "Majestic", in that it also espouses the view that an extraordinary opportunity for contact was fudged by the US goverment in the 40's. Streiber expressed this idea quite fervantly in "Majestic", and it would be interesting to know how he came to be so convinced by it.
With regard to posthumanism, I think we have always been posthumans, in that we have always evolved in tandem with our tool-making/technological capabilities, and the human condition has thus always been in a state of hybridity and technological mutation.

Mac said...

"Majestic" is the only novel I've read twice. It's a masterful plunge into conspiracy lore and a unique exploration of "the alien." Probably Strieber's best novel.

Kartott said...

I've not read Majestic. From this snippet, seems well worth adding to my list.

"If these things are really as alien as he insists, why is he so insistent that it would be a good thing to open up to them?"

The question suggests the problem: separation. Communication will be difficult as it means sloughing off fixation on the individuated self. I don't know how we will manage this.

Mac said...


I suspect that we're indeed immersed in a dialogue with a nonhuman intelligence. We call it "alien" for sheer lack of a better term; I'm certainly not convinced, for example, that the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis is the best explanation for UFO phenomena (although I know of no reason why we couldn't be visited by ETs, regardless of the SETI Institute's rhetoric).

The "close encounter" phenomenon may well turn out to be generated by the mind, but in a sense Western science isn't presently equipped to address. The "alien" intelligence might be involved in a patient attempt to eradicate whatever ontological barriers prevent the rapport described by Strieber. To that end, I find shamanic experiences at least as edifying as ufological speculation.

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