Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Weird Alien Dreams

At the age of 36, in the middle of what I took to be a normal life, I awoke inside the following bad dream:

I am sitting at a kitchen table with my brother, who in real life is one year younger. In the dream, we are eight and nine years old or so—not quite into puberty, but not little kids either.

The table belongs to one of those 1950s Formica-topped dinettes, the kind with grooved chrome side trim, metal legs, and matching chrome chairs with red vinyl seats. 


(Today these retro sets are popular fixtures in soda shops, hamburger joints, and Atomic home d├ęcor. When I was a kid, every household had one.)

The Formica table, my brother, and I are all suspended in black space. The scene reminds me of one of those 1950s existential stage plays in which the theater goes completely black except for a spotlight on an actor or two who blather on about (supposedly) deep stuff.

My brother is wearing pajamas, also from the 1950s, the seersucker kind with cowboys and Indians and lassos printed all over them. His expression is blank and a little strange. I reach out to shake his shoulder, as he seems to be in some sort of trance, and just as I begin to stretch out my hand I hear a voice inside my head hiss, “Don’t touch him!”

But it’s too late.

By the time I hear the voice I’ve already touched his shoulder. The moment my hand makes contact, he is suddenly not my brother anymore but some alien creature with huge deep eyes as black as space itself, only much, much deeper and vast beyond imagining. ‘Hypnotic’ is a shallow word for these eyes—They are infinite and alive, dark in a way that almost gleams or shines.

I recognize this creature. In fact to this day I can see its face clearly and vividly. I have never forgotten it. The face is so real that in the dream it feels hyper-real, as if it is somehow more real than everyday reality, and it is clear to me right away that the warning voice and this thing are in fact one and the same.

The thing has staged this scene somehow for my benefit, but my touch has destroyed the illusion and now I am face to face with it instead, locked in its gaze. It is nearly impossible to explain how this feels, but the moment includes extreme terror, paralysis, and the sense of being completely controlled by this other being.

The creature’s skin glistens golden or slightly green-golden, iridescent, like the skin of some colorful Amazon frog. The eyes take up most of the bulb-shaped head. There is no nose to speak of and no proper mouth.  Beneath the eyes, which dominate the entire top half of the face, in the place where the mouth and nose should be, a network of what looks like veins or ridges or some kind of wrinkled skin disappears into an almost nonexistent neck.

Then suddenly this thing, which has no mouth, smiles. It smiles with its eyes somehow and yet it feels like the whole face smiles. The smile is transmitted telepathically in some sense, and yet looking at the face it is still clear that it is in fact smiling—in somewhat the same way you know that a dog is smiling even though dogs don’t have human features.

The smile is not reassuring at all, but weirdly sickening and terrifying. I sense that the creature means to reassure me by smiling, but the smile is so ‘off’ that it only deepens my terror. 


                *************

The dream ends abruptly. I wake to find myself sitting bolt upright in bed, shaking and drenched in sweat. Relieved that I’ve only been dreaming after all, a deep unease and mild nausea settles in nonetheless.

I am convinced against logic that this vignette has not been a normal sort of dream but something dreadfully familiar and all too real, and I now feel as if I am losing my mind. Yet my experience is so visceral I cannot make myself chalk it up to hallucination.

The next night, a follow-up nightmare seems tailor-made to validate these fears:

In this second dream I believe that I am just waking up, as if I am not asleep at all but am in my normal bedroom about to start my day. Standing at the foot of my bed is the creature from the night before, only this time, I sense that there are others with him nearby, even though I can’t see them.

The minute I see this creature again I am frozen in terror. I can’t move and I can’t cry out. The thing is absurdly dressed in what looks like a very ornate, heavily embroidered medieval red robe, and is holding a thin white metallic rod about a foot long that is slightly pointed at the end. The tip of the rod glows.

This thin rod looks exactly like the sort of ‘magic wand’ a stage magician might use as a prop, and the ridiculous ornate costume that the thing is wearing heightens that absurd association. I seem to already ‘know’ that this rod holds a charge of some kind—I recognize it--and I immediately begin to plead in my mind with the thing to please, please not touch me with it.

Of course it does touch me with it, and the second that it does, I am no longer frozen in my own bed but find myself running hard through a downtown alleyway at night, still dressed in my bedclothes.

Just as in the scene from the night before, the run through the alleyway feels hyper real—more real than real—I can feel the cold night air on my skin and I recognize the location.

I come round a corner (I am ostensibly running from this creature though I don’t see it anywhere) and run smack into a street person, a man, in very dirty clothes and wearing an odd expression. He smiles in a way that is oddly reminiscent of the smile on the thing in the other nightmare, but he’s clearly human. I can smell him, and he doesn’t smell good.

“Are you all right?” he asks me solicitously, and reaches out his hand. The minute his hand touches my shoulder (again, much like in the dream the night before where I reach out to touch my brother’s shoulder) I wake up.


                *************

Once again I wake from this dream in my own bed, drenched in sweat, short of breath and more than a little nauseous, still smelling this street person and still stuck with the sick feeling that none of this is a dream, that it’s all way too real and way too horrible.

That same day, I return some books to the public library downtown and check out some new ones. The books I check out are about trauma, PTSD, and multiple personality. I hold a BA in psychology and have a legitimate academic interest in these topics, but my interest is also personal. I’m trying to figure out if I’m cracking up, and if so, exactly what the nature of my insanity is.

I’m about to walk out the door when I feel a hand on my shoulder. I wheel around, and standing there in front of me is the very same bum from my dream, still smiling that odd, inhuman (but not really threatening, just weird) smile, still dressed in the same dirty clothes and still smelling really bad.

“Are you OK?” he asks, and then goes on, “I was worried about you last night.”

I run, literally run, out of the library without responding.


                                        *************************

Well, there's more to this story, a lot more, but I won't go into it here.

I wonder how many people have these odd experiences and never discuss them for fear of ridicule. I have been unable to completely swallow the ET hypothesis when it comes to alien encounters, and weirdly, since all this happened I have found some of the weirder, more ridiculous elements of my dreams (like the wand, the ornate clothing, the wrinkled 'mouth' of the creature) repeated in other people's stories, giving the whole thing a sort of credence that is not exactly welcome.

One thought I've been entertaining lately now that the movie Inception is in theaters is that someone or some thing may well know how to move in and out of other people's dreams for a purpose. This idea is not as fantastic as it sounds. In fact, modern scientific culture is the first in history to NOT believe that such things happen routinely.

That being the case, it does make you wonder WTF.

More later.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Alien Encounters as Personal Deconstruction

If you want to feel better about not being able to afford or attend college, pause right now for ten minutes or so and educate yourself about the philosophy of famous 20th Century Frenchman Jacques Derrida, a philosophy more popularly known in academic circles as Deconstruction.

Just click the hot links in the above paragraph and start reading. Then come back.

OK, done yet?

No, it sure doesn't take long to have more than enough of that, thank you very much. In all fairness though, most philosophy reads like that, not just Deconstruction. The only differance between Derridian texts and other kinds of philosophy is sheer Europineal attitude, but then the guy was French.

He had a cultural standard to uphold. Not to mention a sartorial one.

Anyhoo, Derrida's big philosophy idea du jour was that the bit that's excluded or absent from any given text is what makes the whole text meaningful, and that if you locate that bit--that excluded bit that he referred to as differance--if you find that central differance embedded in any given text and invert it, you can then take apart the whole sense of the thing, as in, unravel the text completely (as in, literally de-contstruct it) and render all the meanings therein utterly nonsensical.

Voila!

Start with Shakespeare. End up with overcooked spaghetti!

What could be better than that?

OK, a lot of things could be better than that. OK, ok.

But here's my point:

What if UFO encounters are personal, experiential deconstructive moments?

Think about what happens to an individual's view of reality and self after such an encounter. At first, the experiencer may just feel a bit stunned and awed by the whole incident, but as minutes, hours, days, and eventually months tick slowly by, more and more questions about the very nature of reality and self begin to present themselves, whether that person is ready for such questions or not.

Often, the experiencer becomes increasingly aware of a little glob of 'missing time', a break in the normal personal narrative of memory that seems to attach itself to other bits of existing memory that once seemed fairly solid, but now, not so much.

It's a contagious little bit of nothing, this 'missing time', and it seems to have a penchant for dissolving all the little certainties and assumptions that make life possible and pleasant. Gradually, lots of things the person thought he or she 'knew' for sure about the present and the past and about who he or she actually is seem to be up for grabs, interpretively speaking.

In the end, the contagion may spread to the experiencer's very sense of self. Many abductees eventually come to see themselves as having dual identities: one human, one alien; and they discover that these blank moments of absence stretch all the way back to their earliest childhood recollections.

When strung together, these deconstructive moments create an alternate history that is bizarre in the extreme, a sort of shadow self and shadow reality that looks like the direct inverse of this one. 'Real' life at this point becomes somewhat dreamlike and the dreamlike alien encounters become primary.

When things get to this stage, we pretty much have our pile of deconstructive spaghetti.

But why?

Well, that's the gazillion dollar question. Why indeed!

Here are a few possible answers:

(What? You thought I was going to give you the one right answer just like that, just off the top of my head? Au contraire, sugar bear!  Clearly you haven't been reading UFO stuff for very long if you actually thought that was going to happen...)

  1. Somebody is actually doing this on purpose to individual people: the government, evil magicians, aliens, guys who wear too much black clothing and smoke funny little cigarettes... who knows? The thing is, we know it can be done on purpose, so maybe someone or some thing is doing it on purpose for reasons we have yet to understand.
  2. The organizing structure of the experiencer's consciousness has lost all functionality, and the deconstructive alien encounter is a sort of massive spontaneous 'reset' experience; kind like rebooting a computer when it's all bugged up or frozen, or reinstalling the operating system. 
  3. The deconstruction of individual personality and personal history is part of an initiation experience similar to the kind of vision quest sought by shamans in premodern cultures. Post-experience, many abductees and contactees exhibit increased psychic abilities, and many also develop an acute awareness of how permeable the membrane that separates dream states from waking states really is. 
  4. The experience is exactly what it seems to be, and the whole of what we refer to as 'real' life is implanted into our consciousness by creatures with big eyes and suction cup fingers--kind of like in The Matrix. Sometimes I do wonder if people aren't actually larval aliens and the whole fabric of our lives isn't just one big pupated dream. We'll wake up one day on Zeta Reticuli.
None or all of the above could be true. We just don't know, really. And we aren't likely to find out any time soon. But since most of us are out of a job these days anyway, throwing out ideas is not a bad way to pass a Thursday afternoon. Derrida probably wouldn't like it.

But he's just another dead white guy now.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Roswell Before Roswell

Right now I am reading and enjoying a book by Jim Marrs called Alien Agenda.

Marrs is a natural story teller, which gives his book a narrative hook that many UFOs books just don't have.

Even if you think UFOs are rot and nonsense, it's fun to read Marrs because he can spin a good yarn.

When Marrs gets to Roswell, (he starts on the moon, moves to the 1876 airship mystery and ancient aliens, and then heads for New Mexico), he goes into some detail about the Roswell that came before Roswell on June 24, 1947 on Maury Island in Washington State's Puget Sound.

(The Roswell story began a week later on Tuesday, July 1st, 1947.)

According to Marrs, the Maury Island incident began when:

"Harold A. Dahl, a harbor patrolman, reported that at 2:00 PM he--along with two crewman, his teenage son, and his dog--had guided his boat into a Maury Island bay to escape bad weather when they saw six doughnut shaped objects about two thousand feet in the air. They were described as gold and silver metallic objects approximately one hundred feet wide with a hole in the center and what appeared to be portholes around the perimeter and a dark hole underneath."

A small explosion in one of the UFOS caused hot slag to suddenly shower down from above, killing Dahl's dog and burning his son's arm. Dahl took some photos and upon his return gave his camera and some samples of the hot slag to his boss, Fred Lee Chrisman.

Although this incident is rarely discussed in UFO lore today (outside of Marrs' book), it is significant because Fred Lee Chrisman was a CIA guy whose weird little career linked him to all kinds of government disinformation campaigns over the course of many years.

When Kenneth Arnold (yes, that Kenneth Arnold) was dispatched to investigate the sighting, he found that the slag samples looked like ordinary rocks and that he wasn't able to see Dahl's son at all--the excuse was that the boy was in the hospital for his UFO burns. All the motel rooms in the town were filled up, yet someone had mysteriously prepaid for a room for Arnold in the best hotel.

The whole thing smelled, and when the small cargo plane on which the rocks were sent on their way to DC crashed for no apparent reason, the whole thing smelled even worse.

Marrs goes on to talk about how Arnold was never convinced that the Maury Island sighting was a hoax, even though the military ended up dismissing it easily, but what seemed clear to me on reading Marrs' speculations was that the US intelligence was mucking about with planted UFO stories well in advance of Roswell, and it was working out pretty well for them.

I have always thought that Roswell felt like a psychological operation and that the whole thing seemed planned in advance: the initial announcement that a saucer had been recovered, the quick retraction and lame weather balloon story, the subsequent rumors about alien bodies and reverse engineering: All designed to get people talking and keep them talking.

Look over there. Not over here.

In Melanie Klein's political critique The Shock Doctrine she talks about Nazi research into how to use shock to make prisoners more compliant and easier to control, and how the US government picked that research up and continued it after the war. Marrs talks a lot about the Nazis too, and how they seemed to have been working on a saucer shaped craft right before WWII ended.

What we do know for sure is that Roswell diverted the attention of the American populace away from weapons development and nuclear build up and toward little men from space. In fact, to this day UFOlogy is used effectively over and over again to divert attention away from military activities and government malfeasance.

For instance, whenever the public seems a little too itchy about biological warfare or covert military research of any kind, the Pentagon just leaks some tantalizing bit of info to Linda Moulton Howe about cattle mutilations and then retracts it, and boom! We're off to the races again.

Problem solved.

I'm not saying that all UFOs are fake or made up by the US government.

But it seems clear to me that at least some of them are, and that the American public is still falling for it hook, line, and sinker.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Missing Time and the Mystery of Memory

Alien abductions are frequently marked by periods of what has come to be called 'missing time'.

For example, Betty and Barney Hill, the first 'official' modern abductees and certainly the most famous, were driving on a well-traveled highway when they saw a UFO with some strange small inhabitants visible through the windows.

The UFO began to follow the Hill's car, and very soon landed in front of them, blocking their progress.

The next thing the Hills knew, it was two hours later and they were far away from the spot where they spied the craft, driving along as if nothing had occurred.

The two hours between the time the Hills saw the UFO and the time they realized they were driving again many miles away from the location of the sighting is called 'missing time'.

What is really missing though, is not the time itself but any memory of the missing hours. This discontinuity of experience is behind the title of the book and movie describing the Hill's ordeal, Incident at Exeter: The Interrupted Journey.

Later, under hypnosis, both Betty and Barney Hill separately 'remembered' remarkably similar events that involved being forcibly taken aboard that same UFO, examined medically, and then released and sent on their way. Betty Hill remembered being shown a star map showing where the aliens were from, and was able to reproduce it under hypnosis years later.

Much has been made of the unreliability of this kind of hypnotically recovered memory. What is not often discussed is the fact that we actually know that ALL memory--not just recovered memory--is creative, selective, and mutable. That's why three different people in the same family can all remember the same family gathering differently, and why our parents seem one way when we are in our teens, another way when we are in our 30s, and different still when we are elderly ourselves.

Our parents are still our parents. They are the same people no matter how we remember their past behavior. The same events comprise the story of our lives no matter how we interpret those events. But our memories of people and events change as we change, and evolve as our circumstances and our understanding evolve.

Normal memory constantly shuffles and adjusts the 'facts' of an experience to fit our current situation and what we know now; highlighting some bits that we discarded earlier, and discarding other bits that we cling to for years.

This process is not the same as lying or fudging the truth; it is adaptive and normal. It is as if memory is less like a bank of discrete bits of data stored on some internal hard drive, and more like language.

Language is symbolic. It means nothing until we put it together to form a story and share it with others or use it to understand our environment. Memory is like this too: It is not just a collection of facts, but also a constellation of meanings. 

Letters are just letters until we actively form them into words. Words are just sounds until we use them to tell stories. Stories that are irrelevant get discarded in favor of ones that shed light on current circumstances. Language and memory are both ongoing processes that help us figure out where we are in relation the rest of the worth and to other people.

So what happens when a period of time simply vanishes after a strange event? What happens when there is a big gaping hole in a story that has just gotten a little too interesting?

Skeptics say that human cognition abhors a vacuum, so memory automatically makes stuff up to create an illusion of continuity--even if the made up stuff is outlandish and strange.

The idea here is that there are really two kinds of memory: 'true memory' tied to things that really happened; and 'false memory' implanted by the hypnotist or created by the subject in order to explain hours of inexplicable amnesia.

This idea is actually profoundly deceptive.

What skeptics don't say is that memory itself is in part the the process by which we take random experiential data and make a story out of it, and that all memory is partially false and partially true. All memory is full of errors and highly personal interpretations, and is subject to change over time.

If there is no such thing as strictly 'true memory', there can be no such thing as strictly 'false memory'. Even memories that are not 'real' in a material sense often are rich in symbolic emotional content and therefore do contain a kind of truth, even though it might not be reductive or empirical. For that matter, material reality itself is a LOT more slippery than we generally assume.

Things are not always what they seem.

I personally distrust UFO 'researchers' who get ALL their data from hypnotic regressions and take whatever emerges as material fact, but I also don't think it's right to trash the phenomena just because the methodology has been sloppy and the facts are baffling.

If anything, you'd think that would encourage more serious study.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Eyes Have It

What is it about aliens and big black eyes?

Whatever it is, it isn't new. Take a look at the drawings below of ancient Mesopotamian eye goddesses unearthed in Syrian circa 3000-3500 B.C.

For at least 5,000 years, human beings have attributed supernatural powers to beings with huge, mesmerizing eyes.

One theory about big-eyed aliens is that they are actually adult memories of an infant's experience of a mother's face.

The idea is that infants can't speak, so communication seems telepathic (just as aliens seem to transmit thoughts telepathically instead of speaking), and that infants zoom in on the mother's eyes, which then seem huge and out of proportion with the rest of the face.

I think that's a creative and interesting theory, and it's especially intriguing given that the early eye goddesses were (of course) female--sort of super religious mother figures. However, it doesn't account for the supernatural terror and surreal quality of these experiences. Why would an infant respond to a mother's face with sheer terror?

The element of terror doesn't fit.

The prototypical grey alien face seems an ungenerous representation of anybody's Mom, to put it mildly.

Eyes as a supernatural feature are every bit as as duplicitous as the aliens themselves.

On the one hand, you have the tradition of the 'evil eye' common to many European cultures. When someone gives you the evil eye a kind of bad luck curse sticks to you that is transmitted via a malevolent stare.

On the other hand, you have a long tradition of the eye as an amulet of protection against evil. The Eye of Horus carried this protective power, and the eyes found on currency serve a similar purpose.

Eyes are also associated with control and sexuality. Eyes play a key role in inducing trance or auto suggestion by means of NLP or hypnosis. In terms of human sexuality, a direct prolonged gaze by a female signals sexual availability, whereas the same prolonged gaze by a male can signal dominance or even threat.

I'm not sure what to make of any of this--much of it is conflicting and complex--but I think it's interesting and relevant to the visual appearance of aliens. 

In the cheesy and mostly trashed movie, The Fourth Kind, the abducting aliens are emissaries of the Sumerian eye goddesses. They speak Sumerian. They are bossy and unpleasant.

I wonder if the ancients didn't know some things that we don't about what is in the world and how to perceive it. More and more I lean toward the idea that we share this earth with creatures and energies that are not easily perceived through a modern cognitive filter.

I don't think they come from outer space.

But I do suspect they are real.

There is too much consistency over too many thousands of years to shrug off that possibility.