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.


  1. How the large eyes are like the memory of an infant looking at his mother, I find that theory interesting. The alien forms do have a babe like look to them, and I had never really thought about that.

  2. They do, don't they? They almost look like fetuses--some people have mentioned that too.