Technocrats and Trojan Horses




Some of you might have heard by now of the so-called "Roswell Slides", the latest controversy concerning the alleged "flying saucer crash" of July 1947. In this case a couple slides were found of bodies in glass cases, and the holders of the photographs believe they are of the bodies of dead aliens long rumored about, said to have been transferred from Roswell Army Air Field to Wright Field, now known as Wright Patterson AFB.

The slides are hotly disputed even within the nuts-n-bolts community, with many decrying them merely as photographs of hydrocephalic mummies. That in turn is denied by claims that the physiology is entirely different and the bodies are too tall to be a hydrocephalic child, who usually die before they can grow long past early childhood.

I don't know what they are myself. My gut tells me they probably aren't aliens. I'm not a believer in the "crashed saucer" paradigm. I'll be the first to admit that I'm no expert in the field, but I'm not so sure that UFOs and aliens are entirely physical (or solid) objects as we commonly define that state of matter. I think we're dealing with something altogether more complicated than that.

THAT OLD TROJAN HORSE BIT

You see, to me this slides business seems like the latest (or perhaps, last) attempt to colonize the UFO phenomenon, to control it. The whole notion of "UFO crashes" has always felt like a relic of the Cold War, extending American colonialism to the stars. It implies a sense that we could somehow dominate this phenomenon, that Divine Providence were casting angels out of the sky and into our laboratories so that we would know their magic.

The funny thing is is that I think something extraordinary did happen at Roswell in 1947, something that greatly alarmed the powers that be and something that changed this country in more ways we may realize. What it was exactly is something I've spent some time pondering but have yet to come to any conclusions, but I have a feeling it might have been even stranger than a "crashed saucer."

What we do have to ask ourselves though is this: say we did recover a crashed saucer at Roswell and were able to reverse engineer its technology, leading to the electronics and technology we now take for granted- was that necessarily to our benefit? 

Are we getting smarter or freer or healthier or happier because of all this technology? Or was it all a kind of Trojan Horse, ultimately leading to a Borg State? A Trojan Horse left for us by a race not unlike the Solid State Intelligence of John Lilly's most unhinged ketamine fever dreams?

I don't necessarily believe that myself but I do believe that we put far too much trust in technology. Increasingly too much, in fact. 

When idiots become so lost in their private reality show that they'll take giddy selfies at concentration camps or exploded buildings, we need to stop and seriously think where this technology is taking us.

In this, Roswell has become a kind of technocratic mythos, one that people have processed even if they don't in fact believe it literally. The deal with the Devil. And as usual, we come up short in the negotiations.

THE GREY IN THE MIRROR

The real problem I ultimately have with nuts-n-bolts thinking is that its theorists don't really have a concept of what is truly "alien." They want to find reflections of themselves, intrepid space scientists on a solar scouting mission. Astronauts in a funhouse mirror.

The ETH proponents have always argued that aliens are some kind of research team, here on a surveying mission. Hence a few of them have even argued that the aliens have gone home, and did so some time in the early 70s.

However,  if you look at the phenomenon it looks not so much like a surveying mission than a surveillance mission. Hence the apparent tail-off in quote-unquote landings and close encounters is explained not by the "aliens" taking their thousand-year trip home, but simply adopting more stealthy methods of surveillance in the age of home video and cell phones, so that their presence is never anything more than ambiguous. 

If you study the history of espionage, you'll see that spies often made themselves known to their targets as part of a stratagem (not to mention police doing surveillance work) to modify their subject's behavior in some way. Yet this kind of argument would be heresy to an ETH guy.

INSIDE/OUTSIDE

What's more, ETH guys are slide-rule thinkers in an iPad world.

They tend to conservatism in an endlessly fruitless quest for respectability. But they will never, ever-- short of a major, unambiguous revelation-- ever be taken seriously by mainstream science. Scientists increasingly spend a lot of time talking about aliens and whether or not they should be contacted (why would they care if there was no chance of them ever getting here?), but the idea they've already contacted us is blasphemy.

So much of the rancor you see in UFOlogy is down to jockeying, guys trying to big themselves up by branding their rivals as kooks, not realizing that the official world sees it as a rhetorical debate in a madhouse.

In a weird way it reminds of the conflicts in the alt.rock scene in the early 80s. You had a schism within punk; some bands felt you needed to appeal to the mainstream, to play by its rules. These became the New Wave bands. Then you had bands who felt that the mainstream needed to be reformed, that it would come around if you stood your ground and stuck to your guns. These were the Post-Punk bands. 

The New Wave bands found more immediate success but nearly all of them collapsed under the weight of the compromises made. The Post-Punk bands took longer to achieve success, but found that the struggle to define themselves against the mainstream gave them a greater sense of mission and often led to these acts holding together while others split up.

It's an extremely inexact metaphor because the ETH is still the dominant paradigm by far in UFOLogy. But more and more people are embracing alternative points of view, such as the Ultraterrestrial school of thought put forward by John Keel, Jacques Vallee, Aime Michel, Allen Greenfield and other theorists, ways of thinking that embrace some of the strange reverberations set off by the phenomenon, the synchronicities and high weirdness and so on.

The thing about the esotericist school of UFOlogy is that it has history on its side. When you really get down and read some of those myths you see on Ancient Aliens, they're a lot weirder and a lot less technological that Giorgio might have you believe. Not so much stepping onto a spaceship as stepping into another reality.

BE THAT AS IT MAY

The Roswell Slides are a sideshow, but I think the UFO issue is going to heat up again (in fact has already begun to do so, as it always does immediately after it's declared "dead"), particularly as the drums of war are heard in the distance. The skies are indeed pretty crowded right now, but people are already tuning out the novelty of drones, lanterns and exotic aircraft. And for whatever reason, the UFO phenomenon tends to react to what's going on on the ground. 

Call it Jacques Vallee's "control system", call it black projects, call it "Blue Beam" or call it whatever you like, the fact remains that geopolitical trends are all pointing now towards a global conflagration of some kind. And if history shows us anything, it's that times of tension are exactly when strange things begin to fill the skies. Roswell might seem little more than footnote by the time the smoke clears.

SYNC LOG: Just had a weird UFO sync while going over this post. Ironically connecting with a famous case of UFO synchronicity. Go figure.

UPDATE: Fact or Faked star Ben Hansen breaks down the body language from Obama's Area 51 chat on Jimmy Kimmel.

The Church and the Black Swan


This was a grim week here at Secret Sun Central- a friend of my sons died in an accident and we attended his wake Thursday and my sons attended his funeral yesterday. He was one of the first friends my younger son made in this neighborhood. 

His family are the salt in the salt of the earth, a large and close-knit unit that I've always greatly admired. The kids all went to college, all got good jobs, all were active in sports and the community. People living the American Dream.

The turnout for the wake was astonishing. The parking lot for a large local church was filled- we had to improvise a spot. The receiving line wrapped around the enormous sanctuary. 

True to form, the family were solid, in good spirits, strong, gracious, warm and personable in their time of tragedy. I wasn't so much myself. I felt ashamed because I had a very hard time concealing my grief when talking to the family. But again, there they were; understanding, smiling, accommodating, stolid.

The family are devout Catholics, active in their local church. It appeared that a lot of the turnout for the wake were parishoners, coming to support a woman whom they love and value as an important member of the community. I couldn't help but think of the Roman era and how we are reliving it now, and how the love and support in a time of grief was such a powerful tool of persuasion in the spread of Chrisitianity.

Christianity wasn't alone in building bonds of community, of course. There was Judaism, which was an influential and widespread religion in Roman times. And you had a number of other religions, most notably that of the Mother Goddess Isis, which the Roman Church of today so resembles. 

But it struck me that in Roman times you had a powerful and evangelizing faith which atomized, rather than gathered. And that was the religion of cosmopolitanism, an umbrella under which all of the systems of disbelief such as Epicureanism and Stoicism coalesced. And of course, like today you also have Nü Atheism.

Nü Atheism is an adolescent movement. The adults who follow it have adolescent (or pre-adolescent) temperaments and personalities (Maher, Dawkins, Gervais, Myers etc) and it's grown in popularity since you have a large generational cohort reaching young adulthood and seeking to set themselves apart from their parents. But it's reactionary and petulant. A pose, not a philosophy.

The Christian churches helped it along by cynically allying themselves with partisan political interests of post-Cold War conservatism, ignoring that the so-called Mainline churches thought they too were surfing the crest of a wave by allying themselves with 60s liberalism. Didn't work out that way.

There are many in the Church who see this as a time of exile, many who see the current mood as a millennial shift, that the Church faces the same abyss the state cults of Rome did when Constantine began the process that brought the Church to power. This is absurd. Christianity is rising like wildfire in Africa and China, is reviving in Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe and remains powerful in Latin America. 

It's in the graying, dying, shrinking precincts of Western Europe and North America where religion is in decline. 

Gee, you think there's a connection?

Many very conservative Christians (conservative theologically, that is) see this as a time of discipline for the Church, that God is punishing the Church for submitting itself to partisan and economic powers and neglecting its calling to evangelize and to serve the poor.

I don't know, it's no longer my fight. I left the Church for very complex and powerful reasons. Part of this was my disgust with the politics, with the aggressive partisanship of the 90s Southern Baptist and nondenominational ascendancy. I disdain Nü Atheism and its tributaries for the same reason, though in this case the politics are a mirror image. Same aggressive polarity, different party.

But I'm not one of those who are writing the Church's obituary. I think when the Millennials hit middle age they'll remember how nice it felt to be part of a community and will want to return to some kind of church. And to see the power of an institution that can provide such solace and support during the worst time of your life; well, what do the atheists have to counter that

Inevitably, the priest scandals come up, curiously often by the same people who ally themselves politically with people trying to mainstream pedophilia such as the BBC,  Salon.com and The Guardian. The priest abuse scandals were a total disgrace, there are no two ways about it. But at the same time the lion's share of the cases were decades old. Not that the damage is, however. The damage is often forever.

Yet he same people calling for the abolition of the Catholic Church because of the scandals and the cover-ups go suddenly silent when you point out that the worst of the Church's scandals are nothing in comparison to the sexual abuse of students committed by public school teachers. 

We are hearing cases seeming to pop up on a weekly -sometimes daily- basis from the public schools, and yet we don't see any movement from the Atheist movement to abolish the public schools. Why? Why the double standard? 

Science and math teachers especially commit rape, statutory rape and other forms of sexual abuse at alarming rates and yet the media seem to look the other way. 

Why?

It's a funny thing for me- I could never join the Catholic Church for reasons both personal and historical. But I respect it in many ways, as much as I decry its abuse of power. I'm not a joiner, I value my position as an outsider. But I do wonder if we're working backwards in a way, reliving late Rome but in reverse.  

I've written about the New Age, and how its power and influence is often unnoticed because it presents such a nebulous target. But it continues to grow and influence the mainstream religions in ways people don't quite yet understand. There are yoga cults most people have never heard of that have tens of thousands of followers.

And I do believe that without the monopoly of the churches -especially the intimidation and repression we often saw from the Southern churches towards any competition- that we will see interesting new religious movements flower once this adolescent rebellion burns itself out. 

We can't really guess at what they are yet. These things tend to follow larger streams of environment and event, meaning they arise in reaction to what is happening in the world and respond to the needs that present themselves to be filled. Social media may well be the medium in which the contagion may take root.

Whether or not they take the symbols of religion literally, people find meaning in them and the will to overcome adversity. They find community, fellowship, and support in time of trial. As our overclass becomes more antihuman and more psychopathic, those are needs I can only see increasing. Who will fill the void?

As powerful as the Church is I just don't think its symbols still resonate with people today. In that way it is like paganism in the Fourth Century, finding its neolithic vocabulary no longer resonating with a modern audience. The Bible was written for a time when families were companies and most of the population were slaves. You had limited technology and most people worked in menial labor until dying sometime in their 30s or 40s. 

Maybe the Church can reinvent itself. Maybe Islam will take hold, fueled by a disgust and utter fatigue with modernity and cosmopolitanism. But it's just as likely a black swan may arise, something we can't even imagine yet. Something that will fly under the radar, fueled by the technology of today. 

Aggressive atheism pops up from time to time and breeds itself out of the gene pool (I keep meaning to create a graphic using an old man mourning at a grave and write "Atheist Family Reunion"). It may be how Gaia or the Overmind cleans out certain social maladaptations in the body politic, I don't know. But already many- if not most- of the articles we see from atheists in the mainstream media are protests about how the author isn't like those atheists, the jerks. 

Heaven forbid.

Religion predates America and will exist long after America has disintegrated into a Balkanized collection of corporate serfdoms (which is to say 'in 30 years or so'). It serves a basic human need and has done so for millennia.  I see nothing of any real value or permanence filling that need in its absence. The only question in my mind is whether the old religions will revive or that black swan will take flight.

On The X-Files Revival...


By now you've heard the news: The X-Files are returning to Fox for a limited series. David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Chris Carter have signed up. Best of all, the City of Vancouver has been enlisted as the shooting venue for the episodes.

Longtime readers know how badly I wished the series never left Vancouver, with its moody atmospherics and deep pool of talent. The series lost something vital when it left Canada after Season Five, and that may have a lot to do with losing executive producer RW "Bob" Goodwin, the man on the floor who made the magic happen.

I was watching some episodes in Season Eight (read my epic post on the season here), specifically the episodes I had given the lowest ratings to. And it surprised me how well they've aged and how obvious the effort to recapture the magic of Vancouver was.

I was just telling my wife how I seemed to tune in with Season Seven at the time (aside from crapfests like 'First Person Shooter' and 'Fight Club'), how some of the mystical themes seemed to synch up with my life at the time. But I feel that it's aged quite badly, that all the comedy and high concept may have been novel at the time but now it just seems like they were squandering the show's hard-earned mystique. It's actually my least favorite season now.

Of course, disenchantment had happened the season before, a season I definitely did not appreciate at the time. But I didn't know then that the producers were struggling to keep their star engaged in those seasons, even after he unilaterally forced the entire operation to move to Los Angeles.

But aside from some of the really broad comedies ('Rain King', 'Aqua Mala', 'How the Ghosts Stole Christmas') and the paint-by-numbers eps ('The Beginning', 'Alpha') I think there's a lot of high-quality work in Season Six, even if the show seemed hellbent on running away from itself (it certainly seems to be the favorite of a lot of fans online).


As I've said, Season Eight is by far my favorite season of the LA years and the truest reflection of what the show might have been had there not been so much creative interference coming from outside the writers' room (hence the record nine Carter/Spotnitz Mythology episodes)

But it's the Vancouver era where the magic really lies (particularly seasons Two, Three and Five). Even the weaker episodes (and there are no shortage of those) retain a certain charm because the machine was so well-tuned, so efficient at telling compelling stories.

I'm of mixed feelings about this reboot, not because I don't have faith that the people involved can't still do excellent work, but because of my alienation from the world it is reincarnating into. No matter what goes on screen there will endless bitching on the Internet. I am going to do my best to tune the negativity out, as I've tried to do since, oh, Season Two (I'm still totally mystified by the bitching about the second XF movie, which to me was a classic 1994-vintage standalone, replete with a host of familiar 1013 faces).

But part of me wants it to remain an indelible part of another age, a better age. An age when everything didn't seem so totally fucked-up. It's the same impulse you get when an old band reunites. Part of you wants them to remain as a totem of another time, not this time. As much as I want to see some new material, I don't know if I want The X-Files to be a part of 2015.

Or I only want to see The X-Files if it exists to defy 2015, with its superficiality, narcissism and Balkanization. Certainly the show is more relevant than ever but it will also be reaching an audience to whom "conspiracy" is a four-letter word, thanks to incessant media conditioning. I've already seen Millennials bitching about The X-Files' distrust of government and corporate power. Sigh.

But maybe The X-Files will strike a nerve once more and make it cool again to question authority. Stranger things have happened.

UPDATE: Excellent interview with Chris Carter where he takes some of his critics head on.