Nostalgia creeps forward with the relentless calendar and we are now in the time of 1980s nostalgia, as witness a number of television programmes. JacquesVallée’s latest volume of diaries takes us through that turbulent decade. Ufologists will be able to revisit some of their old stories here and social historians will have an insight into the beginnings of the Internet age, for Jacques Vallée was one of the pioneers in the field. Perhaps one day he will be the only ufologist to feature on a postage stamp!
His work on networks brought him to the attention of the ruling classes of several countries and one suspects that many ufologists will be envious of his circle of contacts, the former prime minister of France one day, a weird contactee the next, followed by the former wife of a Satanist one time lion tamer. There are plenty of vignettes of the world of 1980s California and the often er, em, “eccentric” characters that inhabited it.
Vallée, once the radical is in this period beginning to be upstaged by new, far more radical psycho-social ufologists, particularly in France, and it is clear that he had little sympathy for them, and was perhaps still too tied to the concerns of American Ufology. However he certainly very early on saw through the avuncular face of Budd Hopkins to his dark and manipulative interior; for which he earned the considerable displeasure of Hopkins’ sycophantic followers. There is also extensive coverage of the wild tales told by the likes of John Lear and William Cooper and the strange manipulations of the Richard Doty, clearly a person who never spoke the truth except for when he was too lazy to make up a lie.
Nostalgia is always tinged with sadness and it is sad to read the record of the final illness of Allen Hynek, and how he fell into the claws of a group of people who had all the hallmarks of confidence tricksters and who came close to alienating him from his old friends. We also follow the increasing isolation and decline of Aimé Michel and the death of the Lorenzens, developments which helped American Ufology to fall into the hands of the ghastly Walt Andrus.
These were paranoid days and at times Vallée almost catches it, with his belief that the Cergy-Pontoise hoax was orchestrated by intelligence services. At least today intelligence services presumably have better things to do with their time. Elsewhere we get tales of crashed flying saucers, secret government projects, or if you prefer, the idea that UFOs etc. are all part of the plots by the nasty old boggarts. A view that the American ufologist Richard Haines apparently shared with Gordon Creighton, though it is not apparent as to whether he shared Creighton’s belief that these were card-carrying Communist, feminist boggarts. Like Vallée’s control system or Michel’s belief that a mysterious “they/it” was controlling human affairs all of this seems to operate as a prophylactic against the blind chaos of history. -- Peter Rogerson.