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.
So which ideological “truth” is correct? The question creates another Derridian undecidable regarding Truth itself, official (mainstream culture, media and authority) and unofficial (subversive social media, the UFO subculture, and the “lunatic fringe”), and both exist simultaneously.
Philosophically, Truth is typically tied to an objective reality; the issue arises because we do not have access to an objective reality, instead, we have access to augmented representations of it. The sciences attempt to provide a view into objective reality, but the fields of science are still bound by ideological constructs, such as nationalism, capitalism, and militarism to name of few. While the sciences may have the ability and the power to democratise, they are steadily held in check by political, national, and/or corporate borders. Ufology is no peach either. It is a field that has, at times, fallen off the relativistic slope and has tumbled down quite quickly into absurdity. The UFO subculture is filled with salesmen, con-artists, and enough people who are easily duped in order to buy the snake oil being sold. The mechanisms of capital and politics do drive Ufology and the UFO subculture as much as they drive the sciences; the difference is that the sciences have much more to lose in the democratisation of power, where the fringes have only everything to gain.
“Gotta Catch ‘Em All…”
The “official” truth has no more objective merit than the “unofficial” truth; both are founded out of ideological mechanisms that have no real objective basis. The best any scientist or ufologist can do is to say “I don’t know.” Similar to the Pokémon game, we are left in an augmented reality. The truth is unclear, since actual Truth is inaccessible. I am not suggesting we toss out the scientific method, nor everything that the sciences have done for us, but I am suggesting we question the mechanisms of power that have established the sciences to have complete say over what is considered normal and True. Since the Truth exists in a Derridian undecidability, which version of the Truth compels an answer; the official or the unofficial?
The UFO question is not about whether one believes in them or not; it is not about what star system or dimension they come from; nor is it about propulsion systems, free energy, Disclosure, conspiracies, Area 51 or any of that. The Truth is inaccessible, at least in an objective sense. There is no “one path” towards knowledge, but a sizeable collection of paths that will lead towards what Ufology has been trying to do since its earliest days; democratising human understanding and power. The UFO subculture was first born and nurtured during McCarthyism and the Cold War, the Civil Rights movement, and a historical period that solidified mistrust between the public and the establishments of the powerful. Ufology, even today, possesses no ivory tower or governance. It attempts to open the structures of power, it questions governments, and is made up of members from every walk of life.
Similar to Pokémon Go, the object of the UFO game is to “catch them all”- the problem is that much like the Pokémon themselves, UFOs are elusive. They exist in an augmented reality, a version of the world condemned by the official truth, but to those playing the game, are just waiting to be seen, experienced and hopefully caught.
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