Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Social Movement Known As Ufology

I saw the advertisement pictured above that somehow remained with me as a illustration of the skeletal framework that lies beneath the veil of consumerism in the search to hang one's hat where there are no longer any coat racks that can stand up under their own weight as former beliefs that were foundational to a series of ideals, an idealism turned sour as it was imagined as a visionary nightmare by a William S Burroughs or the late Phillip K Dick. Or subsiquently as Mac Tonnies so elegantly fingered it .... as a "Post Human Blues"

Is this International Congress more of an effect than a cause? Is this an expression of a perverse idealism based on the society which created it?
The fingerprints of scientific materialism are all over this brand of what could best be described as a cargo cult of the American Dream.

Of course none of this has anything to do with the potential nature of the phenomenon itself and yet to this writer that is what makes it interesting with the additional impetus to write this being is that the cultural social movement that UAP\ UFO has inadvertently created is seldom commented upon.
As time progressed I realized that the social aspect of the phenomenon has very little to do with determining the nature of this anomaly and it simply reflects the society / cultural aspects of an unnamed shared anxiety..rightly or wrongly that frames it according to it's own history, past and present.

Let me explain..lets open up a portrait more illuminating to me than any minutia that any archivist can attribute to any sighting and endlessly debate without effect. More of a human condition than an extraterrestrial existentialism. More globally seen as an influenza lurking beneath all the protracted and abstracted theories any of us could muster on our best day to bedazzle ourselves to distract ourselves, to distance ourselves..but from what?  

Call it the new materialism, a sort of visionary mirror of the technological windshield we find ourselves perched as a mascot for anxiety roaring along at a breakneck speed admid blind curves and reactionary fundamentalists of every stripe.
Hand me the scalpel as I am about to dissect a corpse with pretense which has some resemblance that is lodged between Thomas Jefferson and Santa Claus that had crashed like a software error in a unidentified objectification that is also a projection of our own world. Something you won't witness at The 22nd Annual UFO Congress or for that matter, on cable television.

Seeking a new and improved materialism that will deliver us one way or another for what seemed like a fixed path of unpredictability akin to the survivalists death wish that expresses that the suspense is killing them. Either shoot me or save me as a didactic reaction to controlled chaos. Physicists pronouncing that we should hide under the brush and keep a low profile because the "other"might be us. in terms of sending signals off into the jungle, a sort of primeval instinct is at play among a dazzling array of technological magic tricks. Why?

The pared down question in this flurry of a miasma is one very basic question.
What will become of us? Or......What have we become?

In the open territory of youth it’s easy to imagine that you are not like everyone else and as you stubbornly stand like a rock in the midst of a torrent, the easy presumptions of innocence get worn away and through erosion ,the rough edges get smoothed over and one day you wake up and you realise that you have more in common with your suburban neighbors than you care to admit.

One could say that this is the story of what was once called Ufology, a science without measurement, more of a social movement than a methodology. From the prelude that was the onset of the atomic era wherein Allied bombers penetrated the territorial airspace of the Third Reich, to the mutated monsters that followed the horror of Hiroshima in theaters across America that were welded to the paranoia of the Cold War, the superimpositions of an evolution in the  consensus mindset  of Americans represented the naivete of a technology and science out of control that had taken on a life of it’s own, as well as a profound loss of innocence accompanied by the existentialists that heralded the death of God.

Former pulp fiction writers developed the science of Ufology as well as it’s mythology, all in the context of a social movement. Some went further and developed religions most notable was L Ron Hubbard and Scientology that incorporated alien engrams. A former hot dog vendor appropriately located next to Mount Palomar claimed to have contacted what later became commonly known as extraterrestrials, whether they were Venusian or otherwise.

A sort of semi-bourgeoisies stirs around in the midst of extreme weather, like a slow hydraulic leak of groundwater that seeps through the foundations of a house, flipping through one hundred channels of patented crap, you think back and begin to realise a great deal of recording time was devoted to back-filling what you thought you were…. versus what you are.   And this personal reflection perhaps mirrors Ufology as a social movement.

Today snowflakes the size of notebook paper drift down in such a dense fog that has followed a deep freeze, and in the background the dishwasher slogs away in a rhythmic pulsation, the dirt from yesterday’s meal.  You have no particular place you have to be and the ennui so familiar as a second skin is like an itch that cannot be scratched, a sort of 21st Century post atomic blues.

Eat what’s on your plate because there are kids starving in China who are would be grateful to have it. Remember that? I wonder at times about that. Perhaps in between navigating the aisles of a grocery store, remembering that ghost that suddenly appeared next to me several years ago in the same place while I was staring blankly at twenty different varieties of cereal pretending to myself that I gave a damn which one I would choose. Next to my shoulder was a spry elfin sort of elderly man and I said just as much to myself as to him, “There are too many choices..”
He looked me squarely in the eye in a sort of penetrating way and said, “Thats the point of it, isn’t it?” I chuckled and turned around thinking of some clever rejoinder when it was immediately apparent he had instantaneously vanished. Like an idiot I sped away with my little metal cart up and down the aisles trying to find him to no avail. No one simply vanishes like that.

Too many choices and too few choices, being expanded to be pared down  to be floating in a Sargasso Sea of cereal. Coco Puffs or Granola?  Ennui or satiation? Selling or be sold?
This is also the story of a land of plenty that at the same time had a spiritual emptiness at it’s core as 2,000 year old beliefs were suddenly prone to the science of a microscope and everything that was taken at face value became fair game for rethinking, all of this within the purview of an increasingly technological culture.

I was browsing away much like today with no particular aim in mind as the little voice in my head recorded long ago from a Sufi dialog, that said for some time is counted for others it is not. Some have things to accomplish due to their own volition in relation to their own cognisance of their being evaporated away imperceptibly like Frosty The Snowman while debating between a hot dog or a hamburger on some tangent of the moment only to find it’s difficult to recall what I did yesterday in any detail.

For a generation weaned on Marvel Comics, and The Blob from Outer Space, the idea or even the remote possibility that extraterrestrials have visited the earth seems as naive as the spiritual theologies that stood rigid against change, while the popular media and anyone wanting to make a paltry dollar from this social movement remains running on autopilot. Why is this so? Simply because nothing has come along to replace it as a technological religion buried in a social movement.
The physicality of being embedded in this American life is like walking uphill on a log flume and the very certainty, the predictability the increasing velocity of technological science in everyday life long since taken out of the context of smaller communities or a vote, has created a subculture of idealism that is as old as the concept of a savior and a devil alike. 

The grey aliens who paralyse their victims and intone “do as I say”, who have no eyes to look into, who steal the very nature from our bodies by way of abductees is a Jungian prescription for something that has gone terribly wrong in society represented in the images of colorless. clones who express empathy while their behavior reveals them to be sociopaths. Walk through this house of mirrors and you witness something that has been buried and yet takes an end run to appear as the "other" who are none other than what we most fear we as an aggregate sum have or will become.

Yet what is buried beyond this social movement, what is concealed behind ciphers behind the masks of that which we cannot admit to ourselves? Denial brings many sublimated desires to the foreground many of which have nothing to do with progress or productivity.
We want to have recognized within ourselves something we cannot see or touch, a sense of purpose beyond what car we drive or what cereal we eat.There is an emptiness under the chrome, a rudderless loud chatter, nervous and distracted in the software of Facebook, a hunger to be recognized in a culture that worships the obvious substitution of fame only to find it an addiction that leads to a marketplace cultivation of dead ends, empty bottles, discarded syringes.

This is the context of the social movement of Ufology.

The American Dream is suffused within Ufology along with the ballyhoo of Broadway.

Ray Davies said it all better than I ever could a long time ago. Have we found Shangri La only to have buried it under the refuse of satiation where the point of the exercise has become a empty running joke without a punchline in sight and the idealism of the Ufology movement in it's very materiality reflects that lost civilization, that lost kingdom? If it is found will it be in our own backyard?


  1. I've long suspected you of bein' a seer y'late son's encounter with the *transdimensional matchstick man* t'coin a phrase seemin'ly 'confirmin' the possibility such tendencies run in y'family.

    Even y'run in with the disappearin' old man fits me own suspicions a lot o' people see a lot o' things they take for granted because they seem so mundane but're anythin' but.

    If other people paid the same sort o' attention you did they might notice a lot more people vanishin' or as happened t'me a few weeks back waitin' for me brother t'show up he jus' appeared out o' nowhere in the middle o' the kitchen [or 'while a teenager gazin' at the art room waitin' for the new art teacher t'turn up it never opened even slightly once but suddenly there was this blur t'me left an' there she was somehow streakin' right past me].

    Even if y'buy the neurological glitch explanation f'this sort o' thing then I'm sure a lot more people experience such glitches but fail t'notice them [tho' in the past they may've led the likes o' Zeno t'point out ordinary perceptions may not be as straight forward as we assume].

    I notice y'made' a Sufi reference again an' I find myself won'drin' if all you point out here may be in some way explained by the Sufic *stratagem?* whereby when a major teacher leaves the world a gap's left before the new one appears.

    These intervals where students're left t'their own devices're said t'be crucial t'movin' the *spiritual* momentum o' the masses forward.

    Is it possible Redfern's Gap as I like t'term it's some similiar such *ufological* pregnant pause before...?

    1. As far as my vanishing companion in the grocery aisle, his presence was certainly persuasive but the fact that I remain more ambivalent about his transient presence than what he said to me I suppose says a great deal about my mindset. There was a time when I went through a wave of bizarre occurrences that have never returned which I guess will always remain a personal mystery to me. As far as Sufism is concerned, I always found it interesting how they melded pragmatism with metaphysics as well as some very pertinent observations on psychology. The gap between whatever this phenomenon represents and the medium of the social movement seems to me to be a significant gap as nature works one way and human beings think in another which I think G Bateson was correct in observing. Of course then again, the older I become the more I see verified how naive I remain although I can point to this or that I thought in the past as worse examples of my own prejudices.

  2. Bruce, I know nothing of Sufism as you often reference it in you're writing. Is Ibn Al Arabi a good starting point for me? I have noticed you often quote from his work and appear to hold him in high regard. You may email me at you're convenience. Now to check out the video link you provided above. James

    1. James
      A good place to get an overview of Sufism is here:
      I find food for thought in Al-Arabi but his work is very dense, complex and challenging for me to read. The end result for me is rewarding although I don't necessarily agree with all of his cosmology.
      His best translator is William C Chittick and his summation of Ibn's cosmology is found in the book by him entitled "The Self Disclosure of God"


  3. I have like yourself, long thought that ufology as it is, is the mirror to our dead-end Western neuroses and psychoses. And yes our vapid materialism. The irony is that so many Roswell true believers and believers in the soulless grays (talk about the mirror) are those who often enough also show an allegiance to all things supposedly spiritual, even if only of the plastic shaman variety.

    Ufology as a social movement - the dirty flotsam in the wake of an animus mundi that has become perverted and warped by the rule of economic and scientific materialism in our society, now more than ever, and its associated spiritual deadness, that ekes out of practically everything we do.

  4. Lawrence
    This movement strikes me as a search for an exotic toaster oven, or some other technological wiz bang product invented by omniscient technocrats which is a mirrored image of how low our cultural expectations have fallen as well as how pathetic this self portrait is.
    I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

  5. My response is to cry, especially for the children. When I hear the joy and laughter of the little ones, (which seems to be a rare occurrence) actually playing outdoors instead of tethered to their computer games or text messaging, joy is my inner feeling. I am so grateful to have been able to be a kid undistracted from the "marvels" of technology, to look forward every summer morning to go out and climb trees, dig holes in the earth, laugh, race friends to see who was the fastest, and usually to stop playing when our elders leaned out of windows to let us know it was time for dinner. Thank you Mom. Thank you Grandma.

  6. James
    I think Ufology as a social movement represents values and one of them being that technology is a signpost of an advanced civilization whereas I have found in my own research this was not always so. Its interesting to read evaluations of so called less advanced civilizations remembering Ouspenky's observation that an advanced civilization may seem primitive depending on who is looking. As for myself, I remain here rather than there due to technology. I have a artificial artery, as well as seven screws in my neck along with a rod to hold my head up. Technology in of itself is neither blameworthy or strikes me as benign's how it is utilized that is the rub. I don't want to give the impression I am a Luddite but somewhere along the line the balance was lost and as a result "the center cannot hold"
    Ufology is spiritual materialism hearkening back to reading Sinclair Lewis and "Babbit"..and the main character's failed attempt to escape what he had become, as much of product as the products that filled his life.

  7. Many years ago I was encouraged by a friend to attend a MUFON meeting where a well known author of a book on Roswell was going to be speaking. The idea was that I might gain some insight into an experience that my wife and I had a few years earlier. We attended the meeting and afterward spoke to the author. He listened, though seemed rather uninterested, at least that was my impression. After I finished my brief story he asked no questions and made no comment other than picking up one of his books from a table and suggesting we should buy it. I admit I was naïve and expected something better or different than I received. But in time I understood what I had received was a valuable lesson.

    1. I would assume there are easier and more efficient ways of making money than peddling books & trinkets to such a small demographic, but I could be wrong.
      Your experience reminds me of an engaging & intimate documentary I watched on the Allagash Abductions that had me completely captivated until the end when without any hint of shame the abductees spent the last 5 minutes begging people to purchase Chuk Rak's paintings which they happened to bring along.

  8. Michael,

    Your comment has some synchronicity with some thoughts I had yesterday regarding immeasurability of the phenomenon contrasted to the 57 varieties of strongly held theories regarding it and then asking myself why they are marketed as evangelistic causes.
    I was thinking of a metaphor that would fit this scenario. If there was a person who had never eaten a cake let alone had ever seen one, no amount of staring at recipes would ever equate to
    having eaten one, smelled the ingredients, tasted the concoction, felt the textures etc.
    Selling UFO’s by the a knowable thesis whereas no one knows anymore then the next person. One author I know discounted anyone’s opinion if they have not written a book.
    I kid you not.
    It’s an issue of smoke and mirrors to a large extent from my perspective that has a sort of bourgeois facade surrounding it in order to corral an air of expertise, whereas it’s largely an empty canal. This social movement has self anointed leaders who work very hard much like stage performers, entertainers who when pressed appear to be vapid and have based everything on appearances versus substance when it comes to their self promoting “knowledge”
    This reminds me of a scene from the movie “A Christmas Story’ where Ralphie wants to become a member of a secret society and anxiously waits for his secret decoder ring to arrive.
    When it arrives he pushes everyone and thing aside to decode the first message. He is flabbergasted…”A stupid commercial?!”
    A story as old as humanity.

  9. Sean
    The marketplace of the strange is stranger, a sort of evidence that suggests that the shift from the production of material goods to selling information has a parallel in the anomalous. The question is ( I suppose )
    is the valuation of the material as a consideration in producing it from more than one perspective. Some material could almost have a brand name like Frosted Flakes. Some could be considered granola. The capitalism of truth as a commodity has a certain pliability that invites product innovation. Is the medium of the marketplace the message?
    There certainly is a competitive stepping up of the strange that equals enhanced value as a product. I think this aspect of the social movement is a thread that originated with the original American Contactees..selling hot dogs versus selling star maps embedded in the shoes of Venusians.
    And so it goes...