Friday, October 22, 2010

Nick Redfern and the Alien/Monster Connection

I just finished reading a fascinating book by Nick Redfern called Three Men Seeking Monsters

I had such a good time with it, that afterward I went to You Tube and found an interview with Redfern on his latest ufology treatise, Final Events: A book about a covert U.S. government research group that made a link between UFOs and demonology way back in the 50s.

Although many people do not realize it, UFO researchers have been making connections between UFOs and monsters for decades. Wherever UFOs show up, Bigfoot, phantom cats, spectral cavement, sea serpents, and dragons are not far behind.

Some witnesses have reported the emergence of cryptid animals from what can only be described as a small, luminous UFO. Other witnesses see these creatures vanish in a flash of light that, again, is more remniscent of ufology than zoology.

Hot spots for UFO activity frequently overlap with cryptid hotspots. In fact, several mainstream UFO researchers have admitted to Redfern privately that they are aware of this, but because it does not fit their own theories or the theories of their readers, they try to ignore it.

Three Men Seeking Monsters and Final Events examine this link between UFOs and other paranormal phenomena such demons, cryptids, time slips, channeling, possession, and occult magical traditions head on. So far I've only just read this single book by Redfern, but a quick scan of his other titles suggests this theme runs through most of his work and has become more focused over time.

Redfern is neither the first nor the only researcher to reject the ET hypothesis and conclude that UFOs have a paranormal or occult origin. John Keel came to the same conclusion back in the late 60s, followed by Jacques Vallee--the inspiration for the Frenchman in Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind in the 70s and 80s.

Keel eventually came to see UFOs as demonic in the Christian sense of '"something evil and deceptive that is up to no good spiritually and practically." Toward the end of his career Keel became obsessed with U.S. intelligence involvement in the occult and in Nazi mind control techniques.

I'm not saying that's all paranoid hysteria on Keel's part. It may well be true, at least in part. But it is one murky pail of creepy slimy stuff that, thus far, I haven't really had the stomach to dissect.

Vallee was less perjorative in his assessment than Keel, concluding only that UFOs and the paranormal phenomena that often accompany them are profoundly deceptive by their very nature.

Vallee noted after spending some years writing about these phenomena that anyone who does any amount of research into them enters a twisted world of high strangeness that just gets more slippery with every new bit of evidence and every new firsthand report.

Some writers go over the edge and never come back. It happens. 

Vallee did not believe it was possible (at least not yet) to know what the motives of the 'aliens' in question actually are, but he argued convincingly that whatever they are up to, they've been getting up to it right here on planet Earth for thousands of years.

Vallee's best guess was that the 'aliens' are engaged in shaping human culture and consciousness by means of mythic intervention: a really interesting idea that he took no end of abuse for floating.

It bothered Vallee greatly that UFOlogists as a group tend to edit out the stranger elements of encounters in order to make UFO reports fit the 'visitors-from-space' explanation. Vallee felt that this was just bad methodology, a concern that Redfern shares, and one that has always bothered me as well and that I've written about here in this blog maybe a little too much.

Redfern is closer to Vallee in his outlook than he is to Keel, although there were times reading Three Men in Search of Monsters and listening to the interview when I felt like Redfern was definitely leaning toward seeing UFOs, monsters, and other paranormal phenomena as more malignant than friendly. If you come to see them as being generated (or at least summoned) magically, it's hard not to at least get a case of the willies. I mean, you'd have to be dead not to feel that.

But what does it all mean? That's harder to parse.

Redfern explains that both aliens and monsters do seem to feed on human emotion and belief, and that the emotion of fear seems to be an especially tasty treat for them. Therefore, these paranormal entities will try to generate as much of that emotion as they possibly can, and they seem to become all the stronger to the degree that they are successful in doing so. This is not the same thing as saying they are imaginary and fed by our fears. They're real enough, but not real in the way we are used to.

I've noticed this bit about fear and belief and deception myself and, again, I've spent rather more time thinking about it than is probably healthy. For me, it's a riddle. Although I experience bursts of fear and an occasional case of the heeby jeebies when delving into this stuff, in general I don't get scared by it very easily anymore.

At this point in my life, I just want to know WTF.

I realize I might not find out before I die, but I'd like to.

Hence this blog. And my infatuation with bad 50s sci fi.

Anyway, as we approach Halloween, when the veil between this world and theirs grows thin and things start to go bump in the night, if you're looking for a good read about men, monsters, aliens, and the virtues of punk rock music, you could do way worse than anything written by Nick Redfern.

Well, gotta go. I hear something growling by the back door...

P.S.--A film based on Three Men Seeking Monsters is due out in 2013. Hope they don't muck it up, because the book is way cool.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Mirage Men: An Adventure into Paranoia, Espionage, Psychological Warfare, and UFOs

If your favorite X-Files episodes were always the ones with the Cigarette Smoking Man and the Spy versus Spy endless backstory, then Mirage Men is your kind of UFO book.

You'll probably eat it up in a single sitting and not even need an antacid afterward.

If, on the other hand, you were there for the supercool monsters and the overall hotness of Gillian Anderson, then you might find yourself feeling kind of woozy about a third of the way into this well-written, uncharacteristically rational ufology treatise.

In fact, you might need to lie down for a bit afterward. Just for a few minutes. Just until the room quits spinning and you no longer feel like you're going to hurl.

In case the title isn't enough of a tip off, Mirage Men chronicles the various and sundry methods used by the U.S. intelligence community to f**k with the general public (and more specifically, the UFO community), using specific examples that stretch all the way back to the 1940s, before Roswell.

In the movies this is the stuff that is always "on a need to know basis."

Well, if you are a UFOnut or naut, you need to know. Read the book. Most of it is probably even true.

Having made that necessary disclaimer--that yes, you should read this book and pay attention to what it says because a lot of stuff that passes for fact in UFO lore really is disinformation and nonsense--I have to also say that about a third of the way in I began to have, well, qualms.

Like so many UFO adventures, the beginning of my journey into their journey was promising. I was beyond happy when author Mark Pilkington straight up validated my pet theory about the Roswell myth, right out of the gate. Nobody is ever nice to me when I ruin Roswell for them, and that gets so lonely. So when that specific topic got a thorough and early deconstruction,  I was all like, "Oh cool! I KNEW it!"

Who doesn't like to feel right? I know I do.  

But things quickly went south.

For a tiny taste of why, contemplate the following statement for just a minute or two:

Everything I say is a lie.

What does it mean? When I say that I'm lying am I actually telling the truth? But how can I tell the truth ever, even by trick or deception, if I have stated as a given that everything I say is a lie?

Back and forth, back and forth.

That feedback loop is fun for about as long as it takes you to realize you're trapped in it, at which point it's time to pull down the shades, take a Percocet, and pull the covers over your head.

I got my first queasy feeling early on when, not long before the splendid Roswell deconstruction, Pilkington explains that he and his friend John are longtime members of a group of pranksters who make crop circles. From there he goes on to boldy declare that "...yes people make crop circles--all of them--and have done so since the early 1970s."

Seriously? Every single crop circle since the 1970s? These guys weren't even born until the 1970s!

I mean, I like to dress up like Rue Paul on Halloween, but that doesn't prove that drag queens--all of them--are really women pretending to be men pretending to be women, and always have been, ever since the invention of Spandex sometime in the late 1960s.

All I'm saying is, A does not equal B simply because C said so.

That's all I'm saying. (Is this ride moving already?)

By the time Mark and John set off for a Nevada UFO conference to meet the infamous UFO spook Richard Doty (if, as they themselves openly wonder, this guy really is the *real* Richard Doty, assuming a *real* Richard Doty exists anywhere except in Spy versus Spy lore and legend)--by the time they show up at this conference to drink beer and make snarky comments about the heavy American food (which is awful, yes, and who would know awful food better than the British?)--by the time they are quaffing brewskis with the possible Richard Doty and swapping opinions on film clips of purported Grays--by that time, I'm lovin' it all just a little bit less.

They discover that they really, really like this Doty guy. It's like love at first bullsh*t, and the longer they listen to his ever-evolving disinformation monologues and plausible denials, the more deeply they all fall in love with each other.

That blossoming love affair is weird for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that Richard Doty (or someone who plays him in this book) is a pasty-faced, sweaty, middleaged life insurance agent sort of guy who wears outdated polyester clothing that barely covers his enormous ego.

Richard Possibly Doty is kind of a jerk. His jokes are not funny, he drinks a lot, and as if what I've said so far isn't already enough to send any sober woman running to the ladies room and out the back door, it turns out that Doty's most impressive UFO intelligence achievements involve undermining, falsifying, or totally destroying UFO films, books, documentaries, and investigations before they are ever fully completed.

Doty does this by approaching the investigators/authors/filmmakers and feeding them BS, which he is, you know, doing with these very guys as you read their very book.

Tums, anyone? Percocet?

Bottom line: The truth is not out there, and it's not in here either.

Seriously, stop looking for it before your brain falls out. Lighten up. Those rubber rooms are so hard to decorate. 

I wish ufologists were more skeptical. Or skeptical at all. I wish skeptics were more imaginative. Or imaginative at all. I wish debunkers were more open to creative tension and possibility, instead of so mean-spirited and autocratic. If wishes were horses, I'd have finished my own book by now.

Alas, I'm just a girl who loves monsters. And Gillian Anderson.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Biological Approach to the Grays

No one with any scientific or academic street cred is studying Gray aliens.

We all know this.

But what if they were?

I got to thinking about this the other day, as I mentally ticked off the characteristics of Grays most widely reported by experiencers.

It hit me like a lightening bolt from the land of the Obvious:

These things sound like animals. 

As animals, it's completely possible that the Grays are animals that really do come from outer space. I mean, when you know nothing for sure, anything is surely possible. 

But what is most likely?

If the Grays are indeed animals, and if, as it appears, they've been messing with human beings for thousands of years (not just since 1946), then it seems to me a lot more likely that, like all the other animals we know about right now, the Grays probably hail from the very same planet humans currently inhabit:

Earth.

Consider the following list of commonly (if not universally) reported characteristics and ask yourself if this doesn't sound like a description of a creature that could be a part of ordinary, earthly reality:
  • Huge black hypnotic eyes with no pupils. Creatures on earth come equipped with many different kinds of eyes. The complex eyes on a fly are as bizarre, if not more so, than anything Lovecraft could have invented for a horror story. Not only that, we know that many creatures do use eye contact to render prey immobile or to signal dominance. Praying mantises do this, for instance. Dogs and many mammals signal dominance this way. So it isn't as if this feature is so alien that it must absolutely originate on some other world. It exists here, now.
  • Smooth, glistening skin that can be grey, green, golden, white, or changeable in color. The skin of Grays leaves a vivid impression on many experiencers, who describe it as being similar in appearance to the kind of skin an amphibian might have.
  • Skin that is whisper-soft to the touch or rock hard. Experiencers who have been touched by these creatures report that it feels almost ethereal, yet when restrained by the very same creatures the skin takes on the feel of armor and Grays seem super-strong. Some say that this variability proves that Grays are creatures of fantasy, but nature is filled with examples of perfectly real creatures that have exoskeletons or skins that exhibit amazing, changeable qualities. It's not impossible. 
  • Insectoid movement and social structure. Many, many repeat experiencers have pointed to similarities between the Grays and certain kinds of social insects, like ants. At least three different body types have been reported: short stocky 'workers' that seem to possibly be robotic, short thin Grays with large heads and long fingers and big eyes (the Close Encounters of the Third Kind version of the Gray and the most recognizable), and tall white beings that share characteristics of the Close Encounter Grays but that seem to be elders or leaders--these are often described as having a praying mantis-like appearance. 
  • Insect-like motivations. Again, many social insects exhibit behavior that is both amazing and seemingly alien, yet they hail from right here. Who is to say that a highly evolved insect species doesn't predate ours and doesn't regularly interact with ours for their own purposes? Some experiencers have speculated that the Grays seem not to understand 1) individualism, 2) human emotion, and 3) sexual reproduction. This lack of understanding is reported so often that it may well be part of their reason for studying us. Such a motive seems consistent with the notion that Grays are similar to (or even are) social insects, for whom these qualities are completely unnecessary or not central to their survival.
  • Nighttime abductions, altered consciousness. Grays appear beside people's beds in the dead of night and seem to come through walls or drop down through ceilings. Sometimes non-abductee witnesses see UFOs and brilliant lights at the same time that abductions occur, lending credence to the idea that something 'real' happens during abductions--not something delusional. While the bizarre, dreamlike nature of Gray encounters is often used to discount their validity, consider that we really don't understand our own need for sleep, what dreams are, why we need them, or how other species might perceive or use these states. When you find a grasshopper, does it see you? If it does see you, what does it see, exactly? When we don't understand our own perceptual apparatus it seems naive and self-serving to assume no other creature on earth could possibly manipulate it.
  • Feet with two split toes, sometimes described as 'cloven'. Pretty straightforward anatomical data, and not a detail you'd expect to remain consistent across reports.
  • An odd smell. Some experiencers report a sour, damp odor. Others mention a spicy/sulfurous smell. Others associate the Grays with a burnt smell. All of these share a quality of pungent earthiness; something you'd associate with an animal that lives underground. Some species of ants do scent mark their trails to communicate to other ants how to get from here to there. 
  • Lack of genitalia. Not that weird. Hundreds of species of creatures on earth lack the equipment for sexual reproduction. Do worker ants have genitals? They don't need them. So, no. 
I don't know what is happening with Gray aliens and abduction experiences.

But I do feel strongly that when we close ourselves off to experience out of fear or arrogance, nothing good happens as a result.

The more seriously I consider Grays, the more I think they are animals that share our planet.

We might want to ask ourselves, what are they up to?

The answers might be surprising indeed.