A strange statement about a strange subject. Not invalidate or belittle traumatic experience, but it seems that recently many people feel compelled to play the "victim" in a public forum. A discordant chorus has sprung up in vying for the title of the "most abused/ traumatized/ or neglected" and that we must know and sympathize with every victim of injustice--real or perceived. Public therapy has, in the last decade, replaced patriotism as "the last refuge of the scoundrel" somewhere between 60 Minutes and Oprah Winfrey. NO, I'm not insensitive. I am as politically correct as the next guy (I mean PERSON), but when too many voices clamor for attention, it becomes a cacophany rather than a legit complaint.
The UFO abduction scenario begs for this sort of attention. Among the ufological ranks I sense in microcosm the same problems I have been ranting about. Now that it's "OK to be traumatized", a chorus of individuals have arisen crying "alien abduction". I am not saying that I don't believe that they believe, but the recent publicizing of abductions could be a convenient Rorscach blot for the same reason thousands are now claiming "satanic child abuse".
Buried memory is not always a reliable thing. I remember almost drowning in a deep, hot Japanese bath when I was about three years old. My father fished me out. I also remember a train going by outside. I am not sure whether parts of this "memory" were filled in later by myself, or if I made up or dreamed some or all of it later. If I had come across a rash of parents dipping their children in hot water in a satanic ritual in the early '60s...well, you know.
The point is, I feel a public revelation of buried traumatic experience may only be somewhat accurate at best in most cases, and in the present media climate can only serve negatively sensationalistic purposes. If it sounds like I am pining for the "old days" perhaps this is true. The "old days" when people "shot straight", "minded their own business", and "played by the rules" is perhaps only a wish for what may have been or what I perceive to have been before I was able to rant like this. My own view is that, until Barney and Betty Hill's case was publicized in the mid-1960s, rather than posit that thousands suddenly came out with buried trauma, wouldn't it also be valid to assume that many were provided with a framework for other experiences--vaguely remembered--that were not necessarily abductions? Now, perhaps a victim has never heard of an "abduction scenario". Perhaps (and this is where I leave the scientific-fundamentalist road) a shift in the post-nuclear "collective unconscious" was signalled by many things, such as the cold war, or at present, ecological disaster and other unspecified fears we are forced to accept and deal with.
Researchers and authors like Valee and Keith Thompson have already pointed out the parallels between abductions and the legends of faries, the "little people", etc. Perhaps Swift's Gulliver's Travels was in part inspired by this legend. The point about abductions is, although they may be grounded in legitimate experience, and thousands have been affected by a phenomenon we still know little about, the popularization of the abductee has probably contaminted the field beyond most efforts at objectivity.
ON THE OTHER HAND
Objectivity is not a real problem when dealing with the ol' Space Brothers. You believe, reject, or suspend your disbelief. However,the most information, enjoyment, and even wisdom can be gained from adopting the latter attitude. Perhaps it can be easier for us to accomodate this state of mind than it was in the "heyday" of the contactees. We are forced to do this every time we watch a film or television show, especially animated or heavily effects-laden stories. In fact, I'd venture to say that lovers and aficionados of the most outlandish in animation art are prepared to accept the contactees' claims at face value in the manner I mentioned in the "Statement Of Principles" article (belief at the moment of encounter).
I intuit from all availible artifacts (TV, movies, publications) that the United States in the 1950s was an era of the popularization of the "rational" as the highest achievement of the human species. It was the era of the mass acceptance of the Freudian school as the "final" model for behavior. To me, the application of the Freudian method probably causes more harm than good with its emphasis on an understanding of the human mind as a strict cause-and-effect/linear relationship, and the application of "cures" guided by this principle. The contactees, consciously or otherwise, rejected the zeitgeist in favor of their own cosmic worldview (or universe-view).
Nearly all discussions of the UFO contactees start with George Adamski, the most accomplished of the lot. He even got an audience with and blessing from the Pope (or devoutly wished everyone to believe he had, since history is unclear on this point.) Adamski also, like all the other well-known contactees of the era, came from the legion of the "great unwashed" underclass who probably didn't have much stake in the popular cultural paradigm to begin with. Perhaps the scientific rationalism of the time hadn't penetrated their social circle as a template of experience or even improved their lot in the most basic ways. Adamski hadn't even finished elementary school, so propaganda and filmstrips about "Our Friend Magnesium Oxide" etc. didn't get a hold on his psyche.
It is safe to assume that the thousands who attended contactee seminars and services and bought their literature (and continue to do so) were cut from the same cloth as their gurus. In fact, this is not idle speculation, since on a recent trip out to the high desert near Joshua Tree and 29 Palms, Robert and I encountered an old caretaker who had witnessed some of the activities and Saucer Conventions given by George Van Tassel at his Universal College of Wisdom in the 1950s, as well as glimpses of his public life in the community. Inquiring about the subject, the man told us that he used to see Van Tassel "coming into town to cash his checks from all the little old ladies who always sent him money." The old ladies, along with the terminally bored, were the backbone of the contactees' flock.
Boredom must be factored into the equation for the contactees success, and provides further answers to the question: "Why did so many listen to these obvious crackpots?" It is my opinion that along with frustration, boredom and the methods availible for alleiviating it has been one of the greatest agents for change in history. Particularly in the latter part of the 20th century where we have witnessed some of the most important molders of public opinion (film, television, videogames, and talk show and fitness gurus, etc.) gain an unbreakable grip on our lives, the boredom factor becomes very important. The "little old ladies" who sent Van Tassel their Social Security checks were only part of the vast spectrum of the bored bourgeoisie who could be counted on to be there when the Space Brothers roll was called up yonder. The working underclass of the 1950s and early '60s who felt left out of the cultural equation could also gain solace that even if success and sometimes more importantly, spiritual attainment had left them behind, a more important and in many ways "modern" brand of savior was ready to lead the willing into the 21st century.
The main reason why I "like contactees better" than abductees is that either through choice or ignorance, they decided to file their experiences, either real, imagined, or in between, in the "ENLIGHTENED" file...in a positive light. High profile UFO kookiness in the 1950s for the most part was a pseudo-religious experience (at least as far as the major media was concerned). In the last 15 years or so, this profile has almost disappeared to be replaced with desparate pleas for understanding from the UFO abductees. The contactees never asked for understanding or even respectability. Perhaps as religious belief, they felt their profiles were above scientific scrutiny, as indeed they were (at least in fields other then psychology or sociolgy.)
Perhaps my motives for increased interest in Space Brother Saints are the same as the likes of Donald Menzel, Phil Klass, and the lot and their pathological efforts to reduce the phenomenon to a narrow field of 20th century science. The problems of alien abduction and the sinister motives behind such a usually terrifying experience may be too complicated and beyond our present understanding to even attempt to understand. Leo Sprinkle, Budd Hopkins, and the others might be our pioneering voyagers into 21st century interdisciplinary psychology, and I'm too scared to jump into the hot tub with them. I don't know. I think the conflict we are still dealing with was spelled out 30 years ago on the Long John Nebel all night radio show when George King, founder of the Aetherius Society, was a guest. Well known (at least among UFO enthusiasts) flying saucer aficionado Jackie Gleason called in to have it out with the Master George, and illustrated how much the argument is still at cross-purposes:
GLEASON: How are you?
KING: Very well, thank you.
GLEASON: Are these people from outer space
friends of yours?
KING: I believe that they are friends of
GLEASON: Could you call upon them for
assistance? For instance, if you were in some sort of legal
difficulty, embeacing some part of their recognition of you, would
they come to your aid?
KING: Under those circumstances, they would
GLEASON: If I were, for instance, to say to
you that you are a bare-faced liar, now you know you could sue me for
KING: Yes yes.
GLEASON: Now you think you could get any
legal assistance from them in a case like this?
KING: No, I don't.
KING: Why should they help?
GLEASON: Well, you're championing their
KING: No, No I'm not. I'm trying to give a
spiritual message, which I believe to be good for all people...
GLEASON: Why do we need a spiritual message
from someone in a flying saucer? Don't we have enough from Christ,
Buddha, Moses, men like that?
KING: Do we live by those teachings?
GLEASON: I do.
KING: You do? Then you're the first
Christian I've ever seen.
GLEASON: You mean that no one lives by the
laws of Buddha, Christ, or...
KING: I never met anyone.
GLEASON: By the way, do you know that
everytime you are uncertain when you say something, you cough? Do you
know what that means psychologiocally? In other words, you cough
every time you tell a lie.
KING: Do I?
GLEASON: Now Geroge, look at the juicy
opportunity you have. Here's a guy that you're talking to that's got
a lot of dough. You can sue me for maybe a million dollars, and maybe
get it. All you have to do to get it is to bring one of your friends
from Mars to OK this thing. And then you win.
KING: I've already answered this question.
There isn't a man on Earth who could do this.
GLEASON: In other words, you have absolutely
no proof from these people whom you are championing? You have
absolutely no backing from anybody in outer space for what you
KING: Just a moment please. Just one
GLEASON: I'm waiting, and cough a little
KING: I shall put this phone down in a
KING: I'm a guest here, you see.
GLEASON: Not in my house, you're not a
guest. I think you're a phoney!
KING: C L I C K ! !