Alien Rhythms

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Given the apparent mass diffusion of belief in UFOs—especially among the wealthy and the tech-savvy—these words from Jacques Vallee, penned in 1977, appear as staggeringly relevant:

Time and again in the history of civilizations, there arises some wonderful untruth around which magnificent energy crystallizes, and great deeds are done. Such a time has come again. It has become very important for large numbers of people to expect visitors from outer space.

As I was discussing Uri Geller’s abilities with British scholar Gordon Creighton, driving through the midst of London in the winter of 1973 – a winter plagued by strikes and the energy crisis – Creighton gave me a definition of myth that clarified the confusion of many approaches to the contemporary problems of UFOs. ‘People mistakenly believe,’ he said, ‘that a myth is an untruth. But myth is not that. A myth is that which is TRUER THAN TRUTH.’

It may not be true that flying saucers represent visits from outer space. But if large enough numbers believe it, then in some sense it will become truer than true , long enough for certain things to change irreversibly.

Some of the best informed sources of gossip in Washing- ton are convinced that UFOs will be increasingly prominent in coming years. There are persistent rumors that highly placed officials in the U.S. government have long had evidence that another form of intelligence was contacting us. The stage is set for another UMMO. A former aerospace engineer turned UFO lecturer even believes that at the occasion of the Bicentennial the government will announce that there is life on Mars, and that a meeting between U.S. representatives and extraterrestrials is imminent!

These people are going down an interesting path, one that Puharich has already traveled with enthusiasm. He predicts a mass landing. Ten years ago such statements would not have been taken seriously. But today they are eagerly listened to, evoking fear or passion in their audi- ences; tomorrow some higher officials may join the ranks of the believers. The UMMO affair, the case of AFFA, and the predictions of Mrs Keech (of When Prophecy Fails) have involved sincere people, holding responsible positions. Slowly a climate has been created in which a much larger number now participate in the myth-making. The belief is reinforced by successive waves of sightings. Skepticism is eroded. The cases are giving more and more evidence of the reality of the UFOs – but this evidence is so constructed as to elude classical analysis by scientists. Perhaps the UFOs are not behaving according to our laws of causality. Perhaps their time flows differently from ours. Perhaps their logic is a meta-logic.

[Given the mention of Uri Geller, we could not pass up the chance to draw attention to this Vortex Note-worthy reporting from The Jewish Chronicle: “Uri Geller: I’ll Use Telepathy to Stop Brexit”.]

Vortex Notes (2)

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via the Outline:

 A new book by D.W. Pasulka — professor and chair of the department of philosophy and religion at the University of North Carolina Wilmington — American Cosmic: UFOs Religion, and Technology, focuses not on grassroots investigative societies or marginal cults, but on UFO believers in the halls of power.

Her narrative begins on a drive through the hills with pioneering computer scientist, venture capitalist, and ufologist Jacques Vallee. “Silicon Valley is full of secrets,” he tells her. It ends in the Vatican Secret Archives (alas, not because the Ultimate Clue lies steganographically hidden in a Templar codex).

[..]

If media experiences of the UFO account were limited to a few blockbusters, it’s hard to see how it could have the effects Pasulka claims. But the advent of micro-media platforms like YouTube and the rise of faux-documentarian investigations in the style of the History channel have compounded the Hollywood effect by orders of magnitude. Any scammer with a camera or hustler with an eye for the weird can simulate strange lights and speeding objects, or cut together unsourced footage glossed with their own theories. And they do, in spades, to the endless dismay of serious investigators.

All religions depend in some way on technology: The relationship between the Protestant reformation and the Gutenberg printing press is a historical cliché. American Cosmic argues that for an alien religion to succeed, the screen is not merely an incidental component. It is both the organizing structure that defines the content of the religion, and the point of contact between believers and their object of worship: It is the synagogue, the madrasa, the tabernacle, the church.

There is, however, another way that the UFO religion may be a religion of technology. More than one person has pointed out that alien accounts have some odd similarities with older fairy folklore: the strange lights, the miniature people, the domestic disturbances, the appearances and disappearances.

Related:

 

 

 

Beliefs and Desires

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In homage to Gabriel Tarde (1843- 1 904): his long-forgotton work has assumed new relevance with the influence of American sociology, in particular microsociology. It had been quashed by Durkheim and his school (in polemics similar to and as harsh as Cuvier’s against Geoffroy SaintHilaire). Durkheim’s preferred objects of study were the great collective representations, which are generally binary, resonant, and overcoded. Tarde countered that collective representations presuppose exactly what needs explaining, namely, “the similarity of millions of people.” That is why Tarde was interested instead in the world of detail, or of the infinitesimal: the little imitations, oppositions, and inventions constituting an entire realm of subrepresentative matter. Tarde’s best work was his analyses of a minuscule bureaucratic innovation, or a linguistic innovation, etc. The Durkheimians answered that what Tarde did was psychology or interpsychology, not sociology. But that is true only in appearance, as a first approximation: a microimitation does seem to occur between two individuals. But at the same time, and at a deeper level, it has to do not with an individual but with a flow or a wave. Imitation is the propagation of a flow; opposition is binarization, the making binary of flows; invention is a conjugation or connection of different flows. What, according to Tarde, is a flow? It is belief or desire (the two aspects of every assemblage); a flow is always of belief and of desire. Beliefs and desires are the basis of every society, because they are flows and as such are “quantifiable”; they are veritable social Quantities, whereas sensations are qualitative and representations are simple resultants. Infinitesimal imitation, opposition, and invention are therefore like flow quanta marking a propagation, binarization, or conjugation of beliefs and desires. Hence the importance of statistics, providing it concerns itself with the cutting edges and not only with the “stationary” zone of representations. For in the end, the difference is not at all between the social and the individual (or interindividual), but between the molar realm of representations, individual or collective, and the molecular realm of beliefs and desires in which the distinction between the social and the individual loses all meaning since flows are neither attributable to individuals nor overcodable by collective signifiers. Representations already define large-scale aggregates, or determine segments on a line; beliefs and desires, on the other hand, are flows marked by quanta, flows that are created, exhausted, or transformed, added to one another, subtracted or combined. Tarde invented micro sociology and took it to its full breadth and scope, denouncing in advance the misinterpretations to which it would later fall victim. [Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 218-219]

See also: D/G: Capitalism/The Thing/Fictional Quantities.