In an article written for GeekWire.com, Alan Boyle, makes a fundamental connection between the upcoming X-Files mini-series and the "renewed attention" UFO's will be given by the general public.
Interestingly, he interviews a few names that pop up pretty regularly in the ufology field, including Seth Shostak of SETI and Peter Davenport of the National UFO Reporting Center. Boyle presents Davenport's "laissez faire" attitude towards shows like The X-Files. Boyle writes, "What Davenport can’t figure out is why it takes something like The X-Files to get the broader public interested in UFOs."
Davenport can not figure it out because he does not value the fundamental desires present in our collective cultural consciousness; that is, the broader public is interested in UFOs because of something like The X-Files.
Jacques Lacan, the famous psychoanalyst and theorist, posited a simple concept concerning our drives to desire physical objects and even ideas. He referred to this as "objet petit a"; or "small object a" in English. In simple terms, it is not the object we desire or the idea we want to be true which truly motivates us, but rather the desire itself. We often hear the expression, "the chase is better than the kill"- what this means is that we often end up disappointed when we get what we want; the thing we desire does not fulfill us like we thought it would. The true "happiness" (for the lack of a better term) exists within desire itself. We are always driven to desire more, because it is the lack of the objects of our desire that make us happy.
So how does this link back to our article, ufology and our modern collective culture?
Many of us seek out the paranormal in some way, to know what goes on beyond our everyday regular world. Some exercise this desire for the paranormal through the mainstream religions (going to church or temple, praying, meditating, etc), some through science (Enlightenment, Theoretical Physics, etc) while others engage in slightly less mainstream outlets, such as "ghost hunting", Wicca, tarot cards, New Age cults and yes, you guessed it- aliens.
However, all religious and paranormal ideologies, dogmas, and cultural constructs exist just a little bit out of reach. Christians will always wonder if God is really and truly listening to their prayers. Ghost hunters will always wonder if today will be the day they see a "ghost" with their own eyes. Ufologists will hope that one day, they find real and incontrovertible evidence of intelligent alien life.
Cultural texts and media, like The X-Files, feed this desire. It provides tastes of what that evidence would be like, an "amuse-bouche" that propagates the thrill of the chase for the paranormal. The cultures of ufology, alien believers, conspiracy junkies and the "Disclosure movement" need mainstream media to keep the idea of "the alien" in our collective cultural consciousness. Is this to say that UFO sightings and evidence are all in our minds, nothing more than fantastical shadows of our own desires? I do not know. What I do know is that after The X-Files airs on Sunday night, reports of UFO sightings will increase significantly. Does this mean that E.T. is waiting for us to see what happens to Mulder and Scully before presenting himself? No. It means that an idea, a fantasy, many desire will be pushed into the conscious minds of millions of viewers in multiple countries. In essence, FOX will serve up the paranormal "objet petit a" to its audience and the desire for "the truth" concerning aliens will continue.
Davenport must recognize that it is not the science behind ufology that the general public desires or fantasizes about- it's the idea of the unknown, the thrill of learning "the truth" (even if there may be no "truth" to be had). It is telling when the famous poster hanging in Mulder's office clearly states, "I WANT to Believe."
Click here for a link to the original article from GeekWire.