On November 11th, Denis Villeneuve’s The Arrival (2016) hits theatres. The film clearly touches upon many facets of the UFO discourse, and delves deep into the fundamental principle that the UFO phenomenon is more of an exploration of the self, than that of physical or metaphysical objects occupying our skies. The UFO question is not about an objective other, such as flying saucers, ET or “light beings”, rather, it is subjective - the real phenomenon is within ourselves.
It must be noted that I am not suggesting that there is no physical UFO phenomenon. There is enough evidence, at least in my own opinion, to suggest something strange is occurring in our skies. What that strangeness is, I can only speculate. Even though there may be a physical UFO phenomenon, we can only truly begin to understand how it affects us, the subjective self, as the actual objective cause of the phenomenon may be forever out of reach.
So why is The Arrival, potentially, an important film? It calls into question one fundamental principle of Ufology; how much does our subjective interpretation shape the objective UFO?
Listen to MJ Banias of Terra Obscura hang out on Euphomet with Jim Perry as they talk with Ryan Sprague about his new book, Somewhere in the Skies.
Are we knocking on the door to the future of UFO discourse? Is this the beginning of a Ufological renaissance? Listen and enjoy!
The last few days has seen the explosion of an internet meme where participants post three pictures of fictional characters that they believe describe them best. Ufologists, UFO investigators, researchers, and many others involved in UFO discourse who have a life on social media have also played along, and you probably guessed it, Fox Mulder from The X-Files was a popular choice. There seems to be a recurring theme in the UFO subculture, a discursive element, that links those who explore the UFO phenomenon to television's most famous paranormal investigator. As an active field investigator with MUFON, researcher, writer, and blogger- I am not, nor ever will be, Fox Mulder. Nor will you. It is interesting, however, that many in the UFO discourse think they kind of are…
The agents of UFO discourse, the men and women who make up the various ranks, cliques, and groups, tasked with debating and examining the UFO question carry a sort of mystique, a mythological sense of self that heals some of the wounds caused by the discourse itself.
Disclosure, Aliens and The Catholic Church; Or, how the "Disclosurists" are opening their mouths without thinking (yet again).
Over the last month or so, I’ve seen several articles and social media posts concerning the Disclosure movement and the Roman Catholic Church. Due to a few comments made by Pope Francis and the former Director of the Vatican Observatory, Father Jose Funes, several years ago, there seems to have been a recent resurgence of the idea that the Vatican’s inner circle is aware of an extraterrestrial presence on Earth.
As with most things uttered in the name of Disclosure, this claim is ridiculous and has no evidence to support it. To be clear, I support the disclosure of information to the public, not just about the UFO phenomenon, but about all things. The democratisation of knowledge, which in turn becomes power (to borrow from Foucault), is essential to fair governance.
However, many “Disclosurists” are not interested in furthering equality of power. They use the guise of open governance to line their own pockets. Here's a nice a gem for your reading enjoyment that supports my claim.
Being born and raised a Catholic, I feel that I have to clear the air here. Is the Vatican, or any authoritative body for that matter, participating in a conspiratorial Disclosure campaign? I highly doubt it. Does the Vatican believe in extraterrestrial life? Well...for an institution that has been around for nearly two millennia and has a perceived image of being conservative, the Roman Catholic Church is very forward thinking on the matter.
Part 2 of 2 for this series. For Part 1, click here.
We must begin by examining how we culturally "understand" the UFO phenomenon, as objective reality is fundamentally unreachable.
The Cultural UFO
When we examine the existence of an object, a physical UFO, and a subject, an intelligent other piloting said UFO, we slam into a wave of ideological constructs. We, as creatures of the social world, are entrenched in cultural messages, experiences, values and ideas. There is no way for us to see or experience an objective base reality. Similar to Pokémon Go, we view the world through a screen that presents us with an augmented reality. The difference is that we cannot shut the game off. In simple terms, there is no place one can stand to see actual unfiltered, uncultured, unsocial, un-ideological truth. Science, like all other human endeavours, is also trapped in this ideological prison. We perceive the Wendt and Duvall object/subject dualism of the UFO then in purely cultural terms, void of any actual objective truth.
UFOs are undecidable, much like the in-game Pokémon, as they both exist and do not exist. In “official” popular culture, the mainstream, UFOs, as Hynek repeatedly reminds us, “do not exist because they cannot.” To the general public, UFOs are not real because they are told they are not real. The ideologically constructed state of UFOs, fashioned by governments and the human need/desire for anthropocentrism, is that they do not exist. However, people have reported seeing UFOs from far away and up close, being aboard them, etc. An entire subculture has been born out of the UFO phenomenon. To a certain minority, UFOs do exist. Scientists have yet to prove that UFOs do not exist, and UFO believers have not been able to prove that they do; we are left in a quagmire of ideology. Scientists, stuck in their own potent ideological dogmatism, typically fall back upon the social construction known as “common sense” in regards to the UFO question, but possess no actual evidence to disprove their existence. While the onus may be on the UFO believer to prove the existence of UFOs, for a scientist to state that UFOs (or an intelligent other for that matter) do not exist is a scientific error. What occurs instead is a curious pseudo-theological debate over which ideology is believed to be more true.