19 June 2021

LOST IN AN ESCHER PAINTING

Adam Gorightly. Saucers Spooks and Kooks, UFO Disinformation in the Age of Aquarius. Daily Grail Publishing, 2021.


Adam Gorightly takes us on a fascinating exploration of the car crash that underlies and undermines ufology in the USA. He begins with the research of Stanton Friedman into Major Jesse Marcel’s testimony about the recovery of alien wreckage at Roswell. This led to the publication of Incident at Roswell in 1980, co-authored with William “Bill’ Moore, that initiated our obsession from crashed saucers.

Another strand of the UFO mythology began a decade earlier with cattle mutilations associated with black helicopters and UFOs in the area of Dulce. This, again in 1980, resulted in Linda Moulton Howe’s documentary A Strange Harvest. Even decades later she refused to believe the incidents had anything to do with a secret government project, and that a gas mask found at one of the sites was according to her probably planted by ETs to throw investigators off track.

This sets the scene that UFO investigators are incredibly gullible and whatever the evidence, or lack of it, they will stick to exotic beliefs that The Government is suppressing from the public domain.

Moving on we get the story of Paul Bennewitz who in the early 1980s was manipulated by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AUFOIS) agent Richard Doty in secret league with ufologist Bill Moore to believe in an imminent alien threat. Aiding this campaign to keep Bennewitz from sticking his nose into the research activities at the nearby Kirtland Air Base, Dr J. Allen Hynek provided Bennewitz with a computer that was pre-loaded by the USAF with software that told him about dangerous ETs residing at an underground base near Dulce New Mexico.

Doty passed on to Moore and other ufologists information about secret government recoveries of crashed alien craft and that there was an agreement between the ETs and the government to allow for cattle mutilations and abductions. Much of this he fed to Linda Howe who wrote Alien Harvest: Further Evidence Linking Animal Mutilations and Human Abductions to Alien Life Forms.

In the meantime, Bill Moore and Stan Friedman were involved in the release of the secret MJ-12 documents which are certainly a hoax, and the disclosure that there is a secret ‘aviary’ of intelligence personnel researching UFOs.

As can be seen the same names crop up time again, and others have joined the party following the same pattern of holding the key to impending revelations and public disclosure followed by a quick exit or a long depressive slide into a world of delusion and paranoia. John Lear and Bob Lazer for instance in the late 1980s fuelled a belief in aliens and their gear at Area 51, in 2005 the SERPO story surfaced saying astronauts had visited in collaboration with ETs their planet in Zeti Reticuli, which was promoted by Bill Ryan.

This scratches the surface of the intricate network of theories, speculation, disinformation and people with different missions and agendas profiled by Gorightly. The MJ-12 releases, for example, could well have been used to flush out people who were leaking sensitive information to the media or the Soviet Union.

Most of these stories are outright fabrications, hoaxes and lies that take on a life of their own, with or without the guiding hand of the omnipresent Doty and other shadowy figures. Yet, they have firmly established themselves as UFO facts that are constantly being confirmed and re-invented by new witnesses and theories.



Another factor that influences all of us is confirmation bias or what Gorightly calls the Chapel Perilous where events, information and synchronicities seem to be directing you on a mission to a certain goal. In the case of ufology this can lead to the belief that you are getting near to the truth about UFOs and the motives of those who operate them. He tells the story of a friend who thought that Gorightly had CIA connections and that he had spiked his drink in order to brainwash him. When Gorightly said he had nothing to do with this, his friend said the CIA must have been putting false memories into his head as well. When Gorightly said his wife could confirm he had nothing to do with it, his friend said she had her head fixed too. No wonder he felt he was lost in an Escher painting, but it does underline how once you are in a rabbit hole it is hard to get out of it again.

This book is especially useful as it underlines the fact that much of ufology that goes mainstream is brewed in vats of misinformation for the edification of gullible researchers who recycle and embellish it to the heights of revelation. We can see this with the latest excitement about the government release of UAP information, that has been orchestrated by several players in the background who have elevated Louis Elizondo to chief spokesperson, who will ultimately be a fall guy when nothing much is exposed.

As with Doty, Howe and crew, that will not stop him being hailed a UFO hero and celebrity at future conferences and on (non)reality TV. – Nigel Watson.

14 June 2021

THE GHOSTS OF THE ZEITGEIST

Monica Black. A Demon Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors and Ghosts of the Past in Post-WWII Germany. Metropolitan Books, 2020.

Looking at Germany today it is almost impossible to imagine the wrecked and devastated nation described in this book. After the moral collapse of society in the Nazi years, the country was plunged into near-anarchy with the disappearance of all the arms of government, the destruction of the physical infrastructure, and the arrival of millions of homeless refugees.
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31 May 2021

LOSING CONTACT

Alan Steinfeld (editor) Making Contact: Preparing for the New Realities of Extraterrestrial Existence. St Martin’s Essentials, 2021.


It is a useful warning to find this book is "dedicated to brave pioneers such as Budd Hopkins, John Mack, Whitley Strieber, Linda Moulton Howe, and many more..." There are chapters by them and Nick Pope, Grant Cameron and Mary Rodwell, showing this is a mixed bag of the bad and the ugly, that turn up in every mind-boggling and ditch-dull television documentary about UFOs.
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23 May 2021

THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF THE SUPERNATURAL

Jack Hunter, Spirits, Gods and Magic: An Introduction to the Anthropology of the Supernatural, August Night Press, 2020.

Spirits, Gods and Magic is another example of a trend in several areas of academia and the social sciences – as in the work of Jeffrey J. Kripal and Arthur Versluis, to name but two – that calls into question the model of reality on which Western science, and much else, has long been based, chiefly because of science’s rejection of areas of human experience that don’t fit the model. 
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16 May 2021

A MARTIAN TRAVELOGUE

Stephen James O'Meara. Mars. Reaktion Books.
2020.

This is a really excellent book that tells the story of how humans have interacted with the planet Mars from our early civilisations through the dawn of science, and up to modern day space missions that have landed there and crossed its surface digging up samples. This is all told in an engaging and well written manner by an award winning astronomer who even has an asteroid named after him.
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8 May 2021

LOCKING DOWN LOVE

Ceri Houlbrook. Unlocking the Love-Lock; The History and Heritage of a Contemporary Custom. Berghahn, 2021
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Ceri Houlbrook’s previous book examined the phenomenon of ‘coin-trees’, living trees or felled tree-trunks which are decorated by people pressing coins into the bark. This book looks at another way in which people mark their presence at a site, and explores the meanings that such mementos carry.
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23 April 2021

THE OBJECT IS THE SUBJECT

Theresa Bane. Encyclopedia of Mythological Objects. McFarland, 2020.


This book, as the rather overused clichΓ© puts it, does “what it says on the tin”. It is the latest in a series of serviceable reference volumes from Ms Bane on topics such as ‘Demons’, ‘Beast and Monsters’ and ‘Giants and Humanoids, amongst others. This volume looks solely at the inanimate features of mythology, the weapons, treasures, buildings, vehicles and magical garments that form the furniture to the world of myth, rather than the gods, entities and creatures that inhabit it.
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16 April 2021

THE ROCKET THAT BOMBED

Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon. Don Sharp, director. Studiocanal 2021.

Originally released in 1967, this is a new restoration of Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon. Taking enormous liberties with Verne’s original 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, it is set in Victorian England, where a series of scenes of British efforts at pushing the frontiers of science are shown to be comically incompetent.
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11 April 2021

PRE-HAUNTED AND RE-HAUNTED

Merlin Coverley. Hauntology, Ghosts of Future Pasts, Oldcastle Books, 2020.


Hauntology, Ghosts of Future Pasts is a book about hauntings, or more precisely the idea of haunting, and why, since the publication in 1848 of Marx and Engel’s The Communist Manifesto, we, meaning modern English society, have been pre-occupied with the supernatural. The term hauntology was first used by the philosopher Jacques Derrida in 1983 and describes, according to Merlin Coverley, “the ways in which the past returns to haunt the present.”
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6 April 2021

INTIMATE RELATIONS

David J. Halperin. Intimate Alien; The Hidden Story of UFOs. Stanford University Press, 2020.

David Halperin is a true ufologist. Unlike many academics who have dipped a toe into the cold water of ufology, he has done his time deep down in the ‘gutter roots’ of the subject, as Peter Rogerson once so eloquently described it. His first chapter, ‘Confessions of a Teenage Ufologist’ tracks a ufologocal career progression that will be familiar to many of his, and Magonia’s, readers. 
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