“Watch the Skies”
The Thing From Another World (1951)
I spied one once with my little evolved simian eye.
A bright object fell from a clear star littered night sky; through a haze of celebratory wine and smoke onto a lush Welsh hillside. The ethereal object left a trail of white light as it plummeted following a sharp right hand curve towards the dew damp earth, then vanished. There was no report of any object the following day. Stop smirking at the back. You do not want me to get all Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows on you, capisce?
So, was this seemingly suicidal space light a shooting star? Maybe. A meteorite? Why not. An alcohol and drug induced hallucination? Quite possibly. An *gulp* Unidentified Flying Object? Well, now …
An acquaintance once told me of an unusual happening he and his father, who was an aeronautical engineer, were privy to on a desert safari in Dubai many years earlier. One night while stargazing on the side of a dune, they had seen two clusters of three dots in the sky – he described these lights as the corners of a solid triangle – zooming and zipping around, often at right angles and criss-crossing like some celestial boy racers playing chicken. The father stated flatly that he knew of no vehicle on the gods’ green Earth that could move in such a zoom-zip fashion.
So, does this prove anything? Of course not.
The unique and absurd cauliflower-shaped apparatus inside our skulls that we call the human brain appears hardwired to create patterns and paradigms out of the utter chaos that the so-called “reality” our senses present us with, as they filter the information through our beliefs created by culture, primal urges and emotional experiences.
Or as Leary and Robert Anton Wilson called it : your “reality tunnel“; the tunnel that your individual consciousness saunters down to make sense of the world. Not all tunnels are the same, of course, hence all the opposing and pure bloody-minded opinions and explosive car bombing trajectories flooding the world.
The number of views concerning UFOs and aliens vary greatly, twisting and writhing in the modern psyche like a Shai-Hulud sandworm love-fest, each with a degree of probable plausibility and an obligatory conspiracy theory threaded into its dusty old X-File.
The classic and old school idea that the US government made hidden contact sometime in the 50s, siphoning the technology in the covert Area 51 at Roswell to create such weapons as the B-2 stealth bomber towards the end of the Cold War, inspired such pop culture phenomena as the aforementioned and hugely influential hit franchise The X-Files with the tagline “The Truth Is Out There“, Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, where a gigantic spaceship lands on a giant plate of mashed potato and where the ETs come as a kind of creepy and childlike Brotherhood of the Universe – a sort of cosmic branch of the Moonies – as well as the notion of the babyfaced Greys to name just a few.
However, the wormhole does not just stop at that dusty underground bunker. Oh no, my interstellar TARDIS travelling companions, it gets so much weirder.
Take the ideas of the French computer scientist and Ufologist, Jacques Vallée. (Spielberg actually approached Vallée before CEotTK but found his ideas too outlandish for mainstream consumption, yet he inspired Truffaut’s portrayal of the scientist Claude Lacombe) Mr V has hypothesised that entities do not come from another planet but from another dimension. These entities, Vallée spouts, can manipulate time and space, and have influenced humankind in various ways and incarnations throughout the ages. I also find it interesting that he suspects human agencies themselves of manipulating the sightings. To what end, I hear you breathless whisper? The good doctor can merely speculate but a breakdown in old values and an establishment of the new seems on the cards.
Dwell on that in your brain’s control console while your inner-Wookie lets loose a strangled howl for a second.
Then there is David Icke.
For those who do not know, Mr Icke was once a professional football player and sports presenter on the BBC. Then, in 1990, something happened. The papers said he had suffered a complete mental breakdown and had become utterly radiation-proof-underpants-on-head mad. His words were leapt on and torn to shreds by the tabloids and his 1991 ill-fated appearance on a British chat show turned him into a turquoise coloured laughing stock overnight. Yet the laughter had somehow set him free. From becoming the nation’s Z-list celebrity nutter yelling on the street corner, he became a man who now sells out amphitheatres worldwide in a show that spans nine hours, which shows you that either people are obscenely gullible, or that he has really tapped into a nerve.
Shape-shifting Reptilian overlords from the Draco constellation; Consciousness manipulation through the media; a Satanic Elite ring of abuse; A hollow Moon that shoots mind control rays at the Earth – A series of endlessly fascinating and seemingly insane theories, mixing a Matrix-style Sci-Fi backdrop with the conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories. Icke, as Vallée, looks at the big picture through a sinister, murky and neo-Gnostic lense that stretches back to the ancient Sumerian legends of the Anunnaki, and ties up the chaotic events of history, rather too neatly, into an expensive package of righteous anger. We’re all hopping and bopping to that cosmic mind controlling Crocodile Rock.
Pop culture appears intimately linked to Sci-Fi conspiracy theories; from the foreshadowing of Icke’s theories with the lizard people of the classic eighties TV show V and its remake, along with John Carpenter’s brilliant satire on the global elite and consumerism in They Live! (1988); from the red menace baiting 50s Hollywood paranoid classics, such as The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and George Pal’s The War of the Worlds (1953), to the ever-present The X-Files. Ever since Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, coming alive on screen with A Trip to the Moon, (1902) through The Day The Earth Stood Still (1951) to Doctor Who, science fiction has expressed our existential wonder and horror at our place in this universe. It has forced us to ask questions of the times that we live in and of the nature of our own humanity. As the visionary writer J G Ballard said, “Everything is becoming science fiction”.
Could this mean that UFO sightings, claimed alien abductions (anal probes!) and connected Fortean happenings express the collective fears of our uncertainty in an uncertain reality, and do they spike at the most uncertain periods of our lives like some mass hallucination? Carl Jung thought so and called them a “modern myth“. Does this mean that they do not exist? Not necessarily.
What about ETs? Do they live here among us? As archetypes; haunting our dreams, most definitely. Maybe they have become tropes themselves, infecting us with imagination and reveling in the awesome power of ideas. Less : We Come in Peace. More : We Come in Pieces of Information.
If the concept of Panspermia proves itself correct, then we, and all life on this vicious and glorious mudball we call Home, come from the stars. Oh, and French civil servants. If there ever was an inhuman fly munching eye-licker living among us, I would put my money on them cold blooded bastards.
As the bard once said :
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
– Hamlet (1.5.167-8)
And remember, if, by chance, you ever happen to bump into a two metre tall extraterrestrial robot with a built in Death Ray named Gort down a dark alley, just mutter the eternal words : Klaatu barada nikto!