Magonia 49, June 1994
Does free will exist? Is Man a meat puppet dangling on strings controlled by higher powers in the universe? Variations on these questions have fascinated thinkers throughout history. Arthur Koestler believed the dramatic motif of Volition against Fate and Puppet on Strings is one of the most powerful archetypes in literature and has appeared in countless forms. (1) Threats to individual or collective freedom arouse very primal human fears and can yield a drama of intense emotions when free will is affirmed.
Conversely, when free will is denied, the effect is coldly distancing and allows contemplation of humans as blameless concoctions of organic chemicals stuck in a web of impersonal forces. Because you cannot have heroes without a powerful adversary, paranoia is virtually de rigeur in great literature. (2) In recent times extraterrestrials have joined the pantheon of gods, demons, superior races, secret societies, and power elites which have been pulling the strings.
It would not surprise me if stories of extraterrestrials messing with men’s minds pre-date our century, but the earliest instance I’ve seen is in H.P. Lovecraft’s 1928 work The Call of Cthulhu. It speaks of a race called the Great Old Ones which came from the stars and spoke to men by “molding their dreams”. The emergence of Cthulhu from beneath the seas is accompanied by sensitive individuals going mad. The cult which sought to liberate him warned he would bring the Earth beneath its sway. (3) A first appearance in Lovecraft’s corpus would be appropriate given the mechanistic supernatural perspective that he consciously cultivated of a cosmos totally indifferent to the wants and ultimate welfare of mosquitoes, pterodactyls, fungi, men, trees or other forms of biological energy.
As he wrote in a letter a year before this story: “To achieve the essence of real externality, whether of time or space or dimension, one must forget that such things as organic life, good and evil, love and hate, and all such local attributes of a negligible and temporary race called mankind, have any existence at all”. It has been said that Lovecraft was the first SF writer to cultivate this stark aesthetic in the service of horror. (4) I’m hesitant to endorse this assertion given its obvious roots in the metaphor of “deep time” which geologists like Charles Lyell had made popular in the prior century. (5) That Lovecraft’s aesthetic led to a proliferation of amoral aliens in later decades is a far safer contention.
H.G. Wells did a couple of works involving the idea of extraterrestrial influences in 1937. The Camford Visitation has a vicar use a case of a person troubled by a disembodied voice in a book he is writing called Extra-Terrestrial Disturbances of Human Mentality. The case is said to demonstrate “an upthrust of the subconscious through some sort of space-time dislocation”. (6) Better known is the occasionally reprinted Star-begotten: A Biological Fantasia. It tells the tale of a gentleman discovering a generation of humans who are stranger than prior generations. They possess unaccountable intuitions, mathematical gifts, strange memories and exceptional abilities. He becomes enamoured with the idea that aliens of higher development are manipulating cosmic energies and firing away at human chromosomes with increasing accuracy and effectiveness through the ages. Martians were acting as a sort of interplanetary tutor quite unlike the invaders of War of the Worlds. The book affects an ambiguity over whether the narrator was deluding himself with pseudoscientific nonsense or making an actual discovery. At the conclusion, the narrator realises with a start that he himself was one of the “strangers and innovators to our fantastic planet who were crowding into life and making it over anew”. (7)
The pulp writer Raymond Z. Gallun utilised the extraterrestrial influence motif in several stories. In Godson of Almarlu a machine was devised which was said to now and then influence terrestrial life. Hotel Cosmos revolves around a globe which sends out invisible radiations of madness which affect nervous tissue and is used to sabotage a Galactic Conference. The Magician of Dream Valley and The Lotus Engine develop the idea of aliens able to generate radiations which totally envelop humans in a hallucinated reality. (8)
Arthur C. Clarke used the motif in two widely acclaimed works. In Childhood’s End (1953) an Overmind “attempted to act directly upon the minds of other races and to influence their development”. It failed with prior worlds, but Earth’s youths are successfully adapted to alien consciousness and the reader experiences them leaving the cradle of the Earth as they evolve towards the Overmind. (9) Even better known, if less understood, is the film 2001 – A Space Odyssey. The monolith of an alien culture appears before a tribe of apes and invests a new awareness in them which is to set the course of human evolution towards cosmic ambitions. As originally conceived, the alien artifact was to create a hypnotic teaching effect. In the film it was wisely rendered as a mystical moment of enlightenment as the ape which touched the monolith realises the extension of power capable with a tool. A bone becomes a weapon for hunting and murder which inexorably leads to atom bombs and space travel. (10)
Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan is another acclaimed work which was the motif to particularly enjoyable distancing purposes. Humankind was caused to evolve solely to create and transport a tiny repair part for an alien vessel stranded on the Saturnian moon Titan. The aliens, called Tralfamadorians, sent messages to the stranded alien by having humans subconsciously form them. Here is how the process is explained: “Tralfamadorians were able to make certain impulses from the Universal Will to Become echo through the vaulted architecture of the universe with about three times the speed of light. And they were able to focus and modulate these impulses so as to influence creatures far, far away and inspire them to serve Tralfamadorian ends”. Civilisations bloomed and crumbled as humans built tremendous structures to relay messages to Titan. “The meaning of Stonehenge in Tralfamadorian, when viewed from above, is: Replacement part being rushed with all possible speed.” (11)
Sites of his brain were being selectively stimulated
by tight energy beams from far off, perhaps
millions of miles away
Also notable, particularly in light of interviews where the author claims the book is based in part on his actual experiences, is Philip K. Dick’s Valis (1981). The title refers to an influencing machine from the star system Sirius. The protagonist explains its operation by saying: “Sites of his brain were being selectively stimulated by tight energy beams from far off, perhaps millions of miles away”. The narrator is convinced of the insanity of the idea of Valis and is struck by the oddity of “a lunatic discounting his hallucinations in this sophisticated manner; Fat (the protagonist) had intellectually dealt himself out of the game of madness while still enjoying its sights and sounds”. The belief that long-range, tight, information-rich beams of energy focused on his head allowed him to recognise his hallucinations as hallucinations. “But…he now had a “they”". Not much improvement, in the opinion of the narrator. (12)
Movies involving the motif of alien influence are common. Dramatically, the best was probably Five Million Miles to Earth of the Quatermass series. It is discovered that insectoid Martians once psychically enslaved humanity at the dawn of history. A buried space ship is discovered and explored by scientists. The Martians inside are dead, but the ship is awakened and starts to take control of humanity once more. Invasion of the Body Snatchers is also revered by critics for its rich metaphor of the pod people. Technically this is probably a better example of the Capgras syndrome form of paranoia than influence, but is understandably lumped together with the pandemic of alien possession in fifties films: Invaders from Mars, It Came From Outer Space, Earth versus the Flying Saucers, Kronos, Beast with a Million Eyes, Enemy from Space. Control by implant is found in Invaders from Mars where the operation to insert it is utilised as a dramatic peril.
It recurs in Battle in Outer Space, but here the operation is done within a strobing beam of light as the victim is driving a car. After the radio-control apparatus makes him a slave of the glorious planet Nehtal he experiences a time loss and discovers a trickle of blood on his forehead. In Cat Women of the Moon a beam of light is alone the force of influence. In Earth versus the Flying Saucers the beam of light makes the skull go transparent while knowledge is sucked out. A cruder form of mindscan involving a TV monitor can be found in Invasion of the Star Creatures. Zontar – The Thing from Venus offers an amusing variant by some very unconvincing “injecto-pods”, vampire bats with lobster tails, that gain control when they bite you in the neck.
Television can probably consider alien influence a staple item. Star Trek, Lost in Space, The Invaders, The Outer Limits, Space 1999, Dr Who, all immediately come to mind with episodes. It has prompted caricature such as a Dick van Dyke Show in which Zombies from Twylo import walnuts which Rob feels are stealing his imagination. The final episode of The Monkees titled “Mijacageo” masterfully invokes the motif for satirical purposes. Humanity becomes controlled through the agency of television sets broadcasting frodis energy directed by a mad scientist, Rip Taylor at his best, and originating in an extraterrestrial bush whose space ship crashed on Earth. By any measure, the idea that aliens influence or control man has shown itself to be a durable and seductive feature of our image of higher powers in the universe. Their intimate concern with the mental life of humans is an unconscious given.
As a dramatic device, the mind-bending alien cannot be faulted. Fiction is always granted licence in the matter of gimmicks helpful in generating conflict and disparities of power or in generating philosophical moods and ambiances. Questions of plausibility would be invalid in such contexts. Yet, it is a question worth asking in other contexts. As we will see later, some people think aliens and their kin can influence the human mind and direct our destiny. Are such things possible?
While we know that science fiction has a way of anticipating future developments in technology – rocketry and nuclear weapons are usual successes cited – its track record is not without problems. Elliot Valenstein notes the idea of the pre-frontal lobotomy was prefigured in a 1924 novel by Eugene Zamiatan titled We:
“The latest discovery of our state science is that there is that there is a centre for fancy – a miserable little nervous knot in the lower region of the frontal lobe of the brain. A triple treatment of this knot with X-rays will cure you of fancy.”
Before hailing this as a marvel, we must, however, recall that pre-frontal lobotomies are no longer done because they represent a tragic delusional fad within the history of medicine. The neurological theory behind the practise was not simply flawed, but wholly wrong. They didn’t do what they were advertised to do and ultimately only added misery to already suffering humans. (13) By analogy, prefigurements of alien mastery of human mental mechanisms in SF may only be prefiguring modern delusion and not real alien activities.
Direct material control of the mind by external forces can be placed near the bottom of any list of science fiction notions likely to become reality. It may be more probable than invisibility, teleportation, and force barriers, but faster-than-light travel, time travel and utopia probably have better odds and they seem overly paradoxical to give them much credence. Many factors contribute to such an assessment. How does one generate minute but precise potentials of energy across microscopic distances at specific points within a mass of biological tissue possessing changing electrical potentials in overlying areas? To do this without electrodes to insulate and guide the energy to the points desired would require a fabulous degree of finesse. Particle streams would be defocused by varying tissue densities. What prevents interactive effects in the tissue above the sites of manipulation? Worse, brains do not map precisely one to another. Knowing how to control one mind does not immediately gain you the ability to control a different one. (14)
Another problem underlying external modes of influence is that the brain, contrary to popular metaphor, is not like a computer with switches that can be flipped or wires that can be inductively given an electrical charge. Electricity is probably only a superficial feature of brain activity overlying systems of molecular interactions which are the primary modifiers of consciousness. There are hundreds of hormones, maybe even thousands (their science embryonic at present), involved in brain function and there must be a careful orchestration of these chemical reactions for the brain to do its work. Once comprehended one can easily understand why efforts to use electricity to control the mind are about as effective as hitting a person on the head with a hammer. Our hypothetical mind ray would practically have to be able to change water into wine from a distance and possibly into a stable of far more complex molecules. You are asking for miracles. (15)
Electrodes implanted in the brain remove some problems inherent in the ray, but not the fundamental one that the brain is more gland than computer. Wilder Penfield’s work with electrodes that yielded some reactions is sometimes cited by mind controller wannabees as evidence that there is a future in brain stimulation. Penfield himself, however, regarded his work as eliminating the possibility of mind control. Pleasant sensations and some modifications of emotional states were elicited in a few instances. Compelled behaviour, however, was totally absent. The brain proved to be a remarkably plastic biological entity with behaviours regulated through many sites. For all practical purposes, the human will remains autonomous. (16)
The dream of controlling human thought and action with less fabulous technology has been a notoriously hit-and-miss occupation. Threats and torture, crude as they are, worked well enough for most social engineers in the past, though the downside risks of revenge, intransigence, and low productivity must be factored in. Social persuasion techniques like advertising do not compel buying behaviour, but rather try to generate attention to product existence followed by the evocation of pleasurable mental associations to make purchase of the product a rewarding experience.
Drugs can elicit rewarding sensations of power, ecstasy, excitement and tranquillity which seemingly provoke compulsive behaviour in the form of more drug-taking, but do not force one to do the will of others in an absolute sense. You can find other drug sources and the option of quitting is usually chosen at some point. Hypnosis, as the alternative term indicates, is more a case of suggestion than a bending of wills. Even the bugaboo of brainwashing has on critical analysis showed itself to be less imposing than the myth indicates. Humans do pretty much as they darn well please. (17)
These considerations force a high measure of scepticism towards any claim that human minds are being manipulated by mind rays or other advanced technology wielded by extraterrestrials or indeed any mythic power. The alternative that humans, inspired by the literature, media, and cultural myths surrounding them, can convince themselves that such fantasies are reality, has to be given a higher order of probability. There are several UFO cases involving people claiming such things.
In May 1945, Ray Palmer’s magazine Amazing Stories published a story “I remember Lemuria” by Richard Shaver. Though appearing in a magazine for science fiction, Shaver and Palmer professed it recounted true occurrences. That story and others serialised from it started a controversy which became known as the Great Shaver Mystery. The tales built up a cosmology steeped in cult conspiracy notions, hearkening to ancient wisdom, and lost continents. Among the elements of the cosmology was something called the “dero”.
They experienced a fantastic sparkling beam projected
from a hovering UFO which raised their
consciousness above Earthman’s delusions
In Shaver’s words, the dero referred to a “concept of electronic surveillance, through mind-contacting and mind-influencing machinery”. He believed the mind was capable of inducting influences “magnetically from the destructive forces of nature” and that opened up the possibility of a world-wide “telemach” which would be like a radio telephone into the mind. With this device, degenerate beings infiltrating old service chambers of a previous civilisation were trying to rule men’s minds. Among the signs demonstrating someone was being affected by dero was a person’s tendency to talk contradictions and cliches. The dero speeds up the thoughts of emperors and czars to impel the world towards destruction. Shaver’s views struck a chord with many readers. Hard-core science fiction fans viewed the Shaver Mystery with disdain and probably helped contribute to the science fiction community’s distrust of the flying saucer mystery which Palmer also promoted and linked it with. (18)
Mind control motifs turn up sporadically among the early contactees. Howard Menger was among the most prominent examples. His aliens were distributing devices over the landscape which were designed to open brains up to the possibility of space travel. On the darker side, another alien group called The Conspiracy possessed the capability of advanced brain therapy. The aliens were locked in ceaseless battle for men’s souls. (19)
The Stanfords, whose writings have roots in George Hunt Williamson’s contactee/ ufological speculations, experienced a fantastic sparkling beam projected from a hovering UFO which raised their consciousness above Earth man’s delusions. This illumination swept them into a whirlpool of ever expanding consciousness till it reached a numinous state of KNOWINGNESS. It was felt to possess a very high resonant frequency or vibration. It was said to be more visible with the third eye than with the physical eye. (20)
Eugenia Siragusa, who gained some fame as a European contactee, similarly has reported an encounter in which a beam of light created a “redimension” tied to a large machine which had tapes which transmitted ideas into his brain. After three hours he was transported back to where he was before. He learnt eighteen days had actually passed. It was claimed the student developed psychic powers, an improved memory, and a sense of mission after the encounter. (21) In May 1975 Cuck Doyle encountered a manta-shaped UFO that was probing the area with a green laser-like beam. The beam hit him and he felt paralysed. Strange thoughts came into his mind like mathematical equations that made no sense, the omega symbol, a landscape with a red ocean below a green sky and blue ground underfoot, and sensations of floating in space with stars of many colours. When the beam went out, he fell on his face. (22)
Eugenia Macer-Storey, in her charming autobiography about the craziness of her life after becoming a UFO buff, reported an altered mental state following a telepathic contact with a ball of light. She feels it made her a different person not fully in control of her personal mind set. (23)
Abductees have claimed a notable variety of alien influence episodes. Patty Price claimed aliens hooked wires to her head and her thoughts, impressions and emotions were taken and recorded. (24) Charles Hickson, of the Pascagoula classic has complained: “They took my mind”. He couldn’t remember things or think straight. He was clearly distressed. (25) Charles Moody was told by aliens he had been “absorbed”. The Lorenzens, who investigated, took this to mean information was extracted from his mind. Trekkies familiar with Return of the Archons will take a slightly different meaning. (26) Aliens in the William Herrmann case utilise “inoculation” bars and chambers to enhance mental abilities. (27)
One of the wildest variations was provided by the Sandra Larson case wherein aliens physically removed her brain from her body. She asserts that when they placed it back they reconnected it differently and she lost control of her speech. Trekkies may think this a rewrite of the comic episode Spock’s Brain, but that is probably just their imagination. She believes her aliens can press a button and know whatever she is thinking wherever she happens to be. (28)
Recent years have seen a proliferation of claims about implants inserted into humans by aliens. Particularly remarkable is one set of claims involving implants shoved up abductees’ noses – the notorious alien booger menace. The bizarre patch of insertion, bizarre because of the septic nature of the sinus cavities, marks the experiences as indisputably fantasy. James Gordon notes that while talk of implants would almost certainly seem to point to paranoia, the claimants seem to recognise how crazy it seems and are less sure of what it means than most paranoids. In the case of the alien booger menace what is going on is a shared imaginary social world.
The implants are a sign of involvement and sympathetic corroboration. It started with a curious detail in the 1976 Sandy Larson case. In addition to the brain removal performed by the space mummy, the alien operation included having her nose scraped with something like a knife or cotton swab placed inside. The investigators noted that prior to her UFO sighting, Larson had undergone a similar operation for a sinus condition. It was painful and she was scheduled for additional treatment. Betty Andreasson, who was well versed in UFO thought, reported a similar alien nose operation with the swab turned into an implant on a rod. She included drawings of it which gave it a visual elaboration and concreteness which helped it to return in still later cases like those of Meagan Elliot, Virginia Horton, Kathie Davis, Casey Turner, and so on. (29)
Excluding the booger menace, these people are presenting themes familiar to most students of abnormal psychology. Malcolm Bower’s study of the nature of emerging psychosis notes that fragmentation of self-experience, the loss of the sense of self, is common. The very first case he speaks of involves a gentleman who believed his thoughts were stolen or removed. “Thought-stealing”, we have already seen, is repeatedly found in abductee accounts. The sense of mission which follows some UFO contacts also frequently accompanies the onset of psychosis. Ideas of reference – a term given to notions that others are responsible for the thoughts one is thinking – is the most common delusion shared by schizophrenics. Some diagnosticians speak of it as a “first-rank” symptom of schizophrenia. (30)
In trying to explain how his erstwhile persecutors inject thoughts into his mind, the schizophrenic frequently develops a belief in the existence of influencing machines. Viktor Tausk presented a description of this phenomenon of belief in influencing machines among schizophrenics back in 1918. Tausk found the belief appeared to evolve from an originating sensation of inner change accompanied by a sense of estrangement. The need some people have for causality yields belief in a persecutor.
As the delusion develops over time it focuses first on one person and then to a circle of conspirators. The mechanism used by the persecutor at first is grasped only vaguely but, in time, buttons, levers and cranks become part of the picture. It is felt the machine manipulates magnetic or electrical forces or air currents, or uses telepathy or some mysterious radiations beyond the patient’s knowledge of physics. In identifying their persecutors, schizophrenics commonly point to ex-lovers, employers and physicians. However, the persecutors are also picked from the culture around them – the CIA, Einstein, movie characters, computers and, of course, extraterrestrials. (31)
These fantasies can become quite elaborate. Two recently available autobiographies of schizophrenics can be pointed to in illustration. In one, a girl began fantasising about an electronic machine capable of blowing up the Earth and which would rob all men of their brains, thus creating robots obedient to her will. She called it the System. As her delusions progressed she discovered the System had become “a vast world-like entity encompassing all men”. Subsequently it turned on her and forced her into self-destructive acts like burning her own hand and refusing food. At the end, the System was involved in saying silly and innocuous things and finally just sunk “beyond thought” with the loss of the delusion. In the second, a corps of Operators armed with stroboscopes plagued the victim. They would probe minds, feed in thoughts, and take out information. They were a gabby lot and had a whole vocabulary to cover aspects of their jobs. Their motive was purportedly one of sporting. He who gained the greatest influence over something was the winner. (32)
Everywhere Lilly began to find evidence of the
control of human society by these networks of extraterrestrial communication
The novel autobiography of the scientist John C. Lilly presents another illustration of the marvellous nature of influencing machine fantasies. Lilly helped to advance brain electrode technology in a desire to help ferret out the brain/mind duality problem. He dreamt of the possibility of lacing the brain with electrodes and seeing if playing back its own impulses would yield a difference in experience. When the secret intelligence possibilities of mind control created an ethical conflict in him, he abandoned his work for dolphin and isolation tank research. In time he became involved in taking the drug ketamine.
He experienced a startling hallucination about the comet Kohoutek, then passing near the Earth, wherein it spoke to Lilly and offered a demonstration of “power over the solid-state control systems upon the earth” by shutting down Los Angeles Airport. Lilly reports the demonstration was successful. As the delusion developed over the ensuing months, Lilly lived within a cosmology where computerisation would take over the Earth and remove its corrosive air and water. Solid-state civilisations roamed the galaxy and they tried to convince Lilly to develop machines to “take care of” man. Everywhere Lilly began to find evidence of “the control of human society by these networks of extraterrestrial communication”.
As Lilly became seduced by ketamine’s effects, he shot up every hour and became convinced of solid-state intervention in human affairs to the extent that he tried to contact the President to warn the government. Lilly came to believe Elliot Richardson was being controlled by these alien forces, then the television networks as well. Lilly felt he himself was being controlled by these solid-state entities to see messages in things like a film on the Kennedy assassination. Use of the drug led Lilly to two brushes with death. Once he nearly drowned after passing out in a pool of water. As he was whisked to a hospital he believed himself to be in the year 3001.
The second time, he punctured a lung in a biking accident. He swore off the drug. Back to dolphins for Lilly. He hedged on admitting the unreality of the experiences while on ketamine, but it is a model of psychosis from the precipitating shame of helping spies, the withdrawal from society, estrangement and encroaching death, the conspiratorial pseudo-community relating real to fictional entities, over-interpretations of events as encoding messages to oneself, manic thought, to of course the motif of the influencing machine. It serves here, as it usually does in paranoia, the function of disowning or alienating (in the archaic sense of the term) his unwanted hallucinations and those aspects of modern technocratic civilisation he senses are running out of our control. (33)
It should be emphasised that influencing machine fantasies and ideas of reference are defencive strategies to retain some measure of self-esteem against crazy thoughts and shameful impulses and actions. The individual does not want to call himself crazy and blames others for the unwanted situation he is in. Though it is a primary sign of schizophrenia because it is an indicator that the mind is misbehaving and flooding the consciousness with primitive thoughts, loose associations, or blocking mechanisms, it is also indicative of a positive prognosis. The mind is at least defending itself and not passively giving in. It is in this sense equally a sign of normality. It is a defence potentially available to most people and can be called upon for less challenging mental dilemmas than schizophrenic episodes. As we saw up front, fiction writers call them up frequently for dramaturgical purposes. They have licence to use fantasy mechanisms and retain the presumption of normality. Some UFO cases earlier probably involved psychotic episodes (some organic, some reactive in origin) and some are just stories. Either way, the presence of these motifs justifies the presumption of unreality unless VERY extraordinary proof is marshaled against its likely impossibility.
Out of control
In the course of paranoid psychoses, influencing machine fantasies and ideas of reference generally appear after the hypochondriacal phase and the beginning of the reintegration of the ego. Their appearance defines what workers call the projection phase. The term unfortunately invites confusion with everyday forms of psychological projection wherein one’s impulses are mirrored on to someone else. Though this is undeniably part of what is seen in this phase, the salient features are more concerned with the disowning of unwanted mental content and blame being shifted on to an external agent or locus of control. Externality might be a better term, but it also has milder everyday counterparts.
We have demonstrated elsewhere that the history of ufology exhibits features reminiscent of the way paranoia changes over time. Delusions of observation, world destruction fantasies, and hypochondriacal fears cluster in the early years. In what follows we will chronicle the appearance of influencing machine fantasies in the writing of ufologists. If you’ve been paying attention you already know when they clustered, but this exercise in nostalgia has value beyond proving something obvious for those for whom this isn’t obvious. Understanding why ufologists think in these ways allows one a deeper appreciation of the nature of the UFO mythos.
Nearly every significant speculation in ufological thought seems to be prefigured somewhere in Charles Fort’s writings and there is no exception in the matter of influencing machine fantasies. Sometime before writing The Book of the Damned he wrote a work titled X which was organised on the idea that our civilisation was controlled by certain rays emanating from Mars. The process was akin to the way images on photographic film are controlled by light rays. To the X, Earth is a sensitive photographic plate and all of our reality is an artistic medium. Theodore Dreiser saw it and thought it an amazing and new idea. Publishers rejected it and Fort later destroyed it. (34) Fort probably did not totally abandon the notion, since a decade later in a letter to the New York Times in 1926 he opined that “for ages Martians have been in communication with this earth and have, in some occult way, been in control of its inhabitants”. (35) A subtler variant passingly mentioned in his books was that aliens communicated with esoteric cults which sought to direct humanity. In this respect and many others, Fort is the veritable Lovecraft and H.G. Wells of ufology.
The first generation of ufologists following the Wave of 1947 was dominated by ideas of reconnaissance and eventual material contact. None of what could be termed the major authors held notions about alien influence: Keyhoe, Heard, Scully, Wilkins, Jessup, Girvan, Ruppelt, Michel, Stringfield and Barker. Some lesser figures of course had fantasies of influence as we already saw in connection with the contactees. One figure is a notable standout and that is George Hunt Williamson. He was one of the first contactees. Whether one can term him a ufologist is debatable, but I include him in this section because there is a philosophical and mythological elaboration in his thinking that goes beyond the raw claim of contact.
The Saucers Speak was Williamson’s first effort. It relates alien communications to Williamson and his group by means of radiotelegraphy, ouija boards, and automatic writing. It would be difficult to find a more bizarre collection of misinformation about the Solar System. The sun is cool. Pluto is not. All the planets are inhabitable. The motif of influence emerges in an episode of sublime inscrutability. Williamson’s group was “impressed” to go and see a Bugs Bunny cartoon at the movies since it held the date the aliens planned to appear in person. They all find this a rather foolish way to go about things and they get lost driving around on the revealed date looking for the contact site. We note in their defence that while aliens claimed they could turn brains into receivers, they warned: “Too much mind-probing will fuse mind”. (36)
Continue to Part Two
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