Tuesday, June 15, 2010

An introduction to my brief early UFO experiences

Beginning at about the age of 10, and ending a few years later, I witnessed quite a few objects in the sky above my rural Tennessee home that I could not explain. I actually went through the trouble of drawing the objects at the time, but I have no idea where the drawing is, now, or if it is even relevant. Many people witnessed these objects in those days; one could make the argument that my local area was a bit of a hotbed of UFOlogical activity.

Though the subsequent decades have caused me to second-guess my experiences, I am left with one vivid memory of a series of sightings from the early '70s: that of the ubiquitous metallic disc, floating--and on one occasion--falling, though the crisp blue Tennessee sky.

A recent Paracast interview with Scott Ramsey regarding the "Aztec Crash" (or landing) actually caused me to make a connection or two with my experiences. I bothered to listen to Mr. Ramsey because he struck me as extremely level-headed, diligent, and--most probably--correct in arguing that the object that descended over Aztec, New Mexico in the late '40s was nuts-and-bolts in nature. But it was his singular description of the object that resonated with me--the metallic, circular object falling like a leaf from the sky. Because this is exactly what I saw. Once seen, it's never forgotten.

Any student of the literature knows that this was a common description of UFO behavior in those years. Despite the peculiarity of this behavior, it's also quite tangible and consistent in a field where there's little consistency.

So for every argument that can be made that most UFO sightings are "most probably" non-physical manifestations (because they leave no physical trace and behave in a distinctly non-physical way), I still believe that what I saw those years ago--and what many others also saw--were arguably physical objects (I hesitate to use the word "craft"). If, indeed, one of these landed in Aztec, and was scooped up by the "military," so much the better.

This was neither the beginning, nor the end, of my relationship with the UFO subject, but I consider it the nexus. I stopped seeing unidentified objects around the age of fifteen. For a long time, I wondered why they no longer appeared. My rational mind assumed that with the growth of Nashville, and the increase in aircraft in the area, the UFOs simply were afraid to show up. I finally realized that the UFOs were probably still "there"--I just could no longer see them.

As a side note, I'm just now finishing up theblackfridays podcast with Jeremy Vaeni. I think that his kundalini-type experiences are common; I've had them, and I've read of many other accounts. But I think that Jeremy is smart to re-contextualize his early religious experience in light of his later kundalini encounters. Most people who encounter these types of forces or energies don't stop to critically examine them, but rather allow themselves to be imprinted with their first impressions. Hence, the experiencer who encounters the extreme bliss state while reading Ramtha might fall headlong into Ramthaism, or whatnot. Many converts to charismatic branches of Christianity became adherents for this reason. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for me, I have the happy experience of having been disillusioned a lot by belief systems, so I always find myself saying, "This is quite an interesting experience; and I think it's real; but I'm not ready to 'believe' in it, and I'm open to being persuaded, later, as to what it might mean." And in this field, I think that's the only way to ride.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

In praise of George Hansen

One major regret that I will have for the (apparent) pending demise of Paratopia will be the lost opportunities to hear George Hansen again, at least in this type of forum. He's been featured on Paratopia three times, and each time, his ideas seem to make more sense to me. Perhaps if I were in my mid-20s, I would have "gotten" him more quickly, but I'm glad that Jeremy has had the foresight and patience to stick with this line of inquiry for three very good episodes.

Lately, I've decided that theories of the paranormal don't really work. They fall apart on scrutiny. The whole field is like this, be it crop circles (no pun intended), animal mutilations, ghosts, leprechauns, hybrids. Instead, what I've decided is that the best paranormal theorists offer, instead, models of reality. Some models are more encompassing than others. Others work in a very limited way, and seem to explain some of the phenomena, but not all. The ETH might explain a few UFO sightings, but not most; whereas the "inter-dimensional-time-shifty" ideas don't explain the arguably very nuts-and-bolts sightings (and crashings).

In a nutshell, however, George Hansen's trickster model just fits. It fits it all. It acknowledges the reality of paranormal phenomena without feeling compelled to explain it; it predicts the phenomena's behavior; it predicts (and explains) our reactions to it; and it explains the chaotic effects such phenomena have on the lives of those who pursue the paranormal. Perhaps it's because Hansen is a sociologist, not a psychologist, a physicist, or a psychic; he is a true outsider, looking in. It would be really cool if a paranormal researcher took Hansen's trickster model and ran with it.

BTW, I was glad to hear Hansen acknowledge academia as the most status-conscious hierarchy there is. I dropped out of academia as a youthful 24-year-old, disillusioned by the cut-throats and the back-stabbings, the compulsion to succeed at any cost. And I was just a lowly English major at a land-grant university. He reminded me of why I left. Or perhaps, why I never had a chance of fitting in to begin with.

So, I have two and a half more episodes of Paratopia left on my iPhone, and I should finish them just about when I get my new iPhone 4th gen. While I expect to hear more from Jeff and Jer in the future, I will not be surprised if it's not soon. In a little over a year, they have smartly cleaned UFOlogy's clock while extending their line of inquiry about as far as it can go, for the time being. I can truthfully say that there hasn't been a paranormal podcast that has been as enjoyable. As partial payback, I am still planning to write about my modest paranormal experiences / sightings. although finding the time to do so has been difficult lately. So Jeff and Jer, if you're reading, thanks for all that you have put into the show. Have a good one.