Missing Time, Missing Links.

Dennis Stillings
Magonia 28, January 1988

After the first day’s sessions of the fourth annual meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) several ufologists and I repaired to the motel bar to continue a variety of discussions begun earlier in the day. After a few minutes it became quite clear that I was the only one present who did not accept the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) to account for certain aspects of the UFO phenomenon.

I brought up a few of mu arguments against the ETH with the result that the rest of the group tended to shuffle their chairs away from me and lean in toward one another to exchange meaningful anecdotes. I got the impression that I was odd man out in a living replay of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (‘Go back to your room. Dennis, your pod is waiting for you!’)

Perhaps my reference to Lawson’s ‘birth memory’ theory [1] amounted to a kind of intellectual B.O. Lawson proposes that UFO ‘abduction’ cases are ‘…archetypal fantasies] involving belief or deception in which an individual’s birth memories play a central role’. Mentioning this theory provoked loud scoffing and snorts. (In my experience, the mere mention of Lawson’s theory has provoked, without exception, excessively emotional responses from ETHers.) I replied that name-calling would not suffice. In what way, precisely, was Lawson incorrect? f was ignored.

As I sat there in my self-induced loneliness, I heard, from the corner of my ear, references to Budd Hopkins Missing Time. I have the book, which I obtained at the last Fortean meeting in Nebraska. I decided to read it through.

Hopkins’ book is quite readable. He believes in the ETH, and his thinking clearly reflects his choice of position. One of the mainstays of the ETH rationale is that the ufonauts are so far beyond us in their advanced thinking that what to us appears as absurd [2] is merely the result of our intellectual inadequacies in the face of overwhelming mental superiority – rather like confrontations with cosmic Zen masters.

Such thinking, of course, has its analogies in religion (Q? ‘Why were the innocent children killed?’ A: We cannot understand such things. Only God, in His infinite wisdom…’) and in politics (‘You can’t question LBJ’s policies on Vietnam. He has access to special information…’). In other words, this argument might be true, but it gets us nowhere. We have to operate with the information we have – what you see is what you get.

Actually, there is a symbolic reason for the popularity of the ‘higher reason’ argument. Khidr is an important figure in Islamic mysticism. [3] He appears in the Eighteenth Sura of the Koran, entitled ‘The Cave’. Interestingly enough for our discussion here, the entire sura is taken up with a rebirth mystery. The ‘cave’ is a place of transformation where people experience ‘missing time’. Khidr, also known as ‘the Angel of the Face’, who is a symbol for the self, takes the form of a ’round fish lacking bones and skin’.In the legend Khidr changes from the fish form to his original form and sits on an island on a throne consisting of light. [4] Khidr indulges in ‘incomprehensible deeds’ that are meant to puzzle the observer. In the end, his mysterious behaviour is explained by him in reasonable and comprehensible terms.

The symbolism of Khidr is replete with analogies to the UFO phenomenon
and to the mental states of ETH believers

Jung remarks that these “… incomprehensible deeds.. show how ego-consciousness reacts to the superior guidance of the self through the twists and turns of fate. To the initiate who is capable of transformation it is a comforting tale; to the obedient believer, an exhortation not to murmur against Allah’s incomprehensible omnipotence. Khidr symbolises … the higher wisdom …”

The symbolism of Khidr is replete with analogies to the UFO phenomenon and to the mental states of ETH believers. One may scoff at the reasoning of those who hold to the ETH, but their attitude is one of piety and submission [5] in the face of what appears to be transcendent power and wisdom — qualities never far from foolishness and the absurd. It is even probable that the UFO phenomenon is related to the resurgence of Islam. [6]

The second linchpin of typical ETH reasoning is the ‘anthropocentric argument’. When people raise the question: ‘Why don’t the ETs land on the White House lawn and ask to see the president?’, this is anthropocentric. When the ETHer comes up with his own ‘explanation’, it is not. Let me give you just one example from Hopkins (page 218): “It is irrelevant to raise the kind of objection that goes like this: ‘If extraterrestrials are really here, why do they bother with six-year-old children when they can land publicly and talk to our presidents and our scientists?’ [7] As if Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter, or, for that matter, Carl Sagan or Robert Jastrow, must inevitably be central to their concerns. Maybe yes, but equally conceivably, maybe no. Perhaps their kind of preliminary investigation requires monitoring a wide range of people over their entire lifetimes…”

As you can see, the relatively commonsense notion of the ufonauts contacting our heads of government is considered anthropocentric and worthy_ of sarcasm, while Hopkins’ pro-ETH ‘explanation’ is not.

We have to start somewhere, and – inadequate though they may be – our own reason and experience must be applied to such problems before we go soaring off into the ozone or endless speculation. Hopkins’ book is full of this kind of double standard. There is no need to multiply examples. Suffice it to say, the logic of the matter is this: if you object to an argument because it is anthropocentric, you automatically remove the subject from discussion. All human explanations are ‘anthropocentric’, strictly speaking. Again, a useless approach.

I am convinced that, for many people, concern with the phenomena of UFOs induces a non-rational state of a typical sort. Let me give you an example. Hopkins’ book ‘documents’ several cases in which people have been abducted against their will, hypnotised, operated on, scarred for life, terrorised and subjected to the investigations of ufologists. To all this, Hopkins remarks: “For all any of us knows the whole UFO phenomenon may be ultimately, blissfully benign – there is firm evidence for this position – and so having been abducted may have turned out to be a peculiar privilege. No one knows”. Damned peculiar privilege, I’d say.

The ‘absurd’ birth memory theory

Of course the ‘birth memory theory’ is ‘absurd’. When Hopkins subjects, under hypnosis, report “The walls around the room are curved … It’s like a big oval. It has a really calming effect, being in this room … It’s almost like being hypnotized…you feel as if you could float. It’s very peaceful. And there is not a sound. Nothing. I think it’s the quietest place I was ever in. This table … grows out of the floor. And … it’s a perfect temperature, so I’m perfectly comfortable’ (page 80). And, on Page 173, “BH: You say this face had a foetus-like look? P0: Yes … sort of like an embryo … and also, I did have the impression of blood vessels…’”

And on page 139 we have the following abductee report of sensations in the UFO laboratory: “I have a visual image of soft colours, pearl-grays with some blue or mauve … but a kind of textured feeling, like leather and velvet, you know those kinds of nice, smooth comfortable textures, but I don’t have … it could be that somebody was in a different room and talking to me but, um — it was though I was in a room by myself…”

Now, Lawson may be wrong, but his suggestion that birth memories might be involved is not absurd and deserves consideration.

The surgical skills of the ETs

The surgical skills of the ETs are poor. For all their advanced science, they seem to be unable to perform the simplest procedures without creating severe pain and anxiety. They scar patients for life, both emotionally and physically. Yet they are to be considered ‘benign’. According to Hopkins, ETs may have a ’20,000-year’ jump on us. Considering the advances we have made in less than 100 years, an uninterrupted 20,000 years of technological and spiritual progress should produce surgical techniques of the order of teleporting of tissue.

The putative ETs have all the earmarks
of human psychic components in
symbolic form
Certainly pain-free surgery should be old hat. Even we poor benighted humans can perform quite serious surgical procedures with little or no pain. The implantation of a cardiac pace-maker, for one example, can be accomplished with local anaesthesia on an outpatient basis. The stories of bleeding cuts on the bodies of abductees after the experience do not impress me. I have received cuts on many, occasions, even deep, ‘surgical’ ones, that were painless and without apparent cause. I simply assume that I came in contact with something sharp while my attention was elsewhere. On one occasion, when there was a particularly long, deep, mysterious cut in my elbow and forearm, I figured out the cause – it was not obvious, but it was not anomalous either. In the profoundly altered states in which the ‘abductees’ experience their ‘encounters’, it requires no great strain of the imagination suppose that these ‘stigmata’ are self-inflicted, either accidentally, or in such a way as to correspond to the symbolic nature of the experience.

The putative ETs have all the earmarks of human psychic components in symbolic form, which are in the process of manifesting in the psychic economy of a person undergoing a psychological transformation of a typical sort — perhaps that very transformation traditionally referred to as ‘rebirth’.

The ancient and collective nature of this type of experience is symbolically indicated by the uniformity of the physical appearance of the ‘ETs’ (they are quasi-instinctive). Their constant dingling around with the earth and with human (and plant and animal) bodies is symbolic of the fact that they have not attained full manifestation ‘in the flesh’ and have not as yet entered into the individual’s new adaptation to the world. The ‘ETs’ are, metaphorically speaking, testing the new, unaccustomed waters of physical existence in space and time.

Such ‘births into the body’ may be compared to the image of Christ in the manger — the cave, the abode of animals (instincts). This timeless image for the birth of a new principle in the human psyche precisely corresponds to much of the symbolism of ETHer ufological speculation, hence the ‘birth imagery’ and all the glorious crank speculations about Christ being an extraterrestrial. Since these ‘components’ come from a region where ordinary concepts of space, time, pain and death do not exist, they have no way of relating to the problems of the ‘abductee’. This is a symbolic process at the deepest level.

Anyone who finds himself a centre for this kind of attention will be in the midst of some remarkable events. That stigmata may be produced would not be too surprising.

The ‘abduction’ fantasies: dreams and ‘active imagination’

The accounts of the ‘abductees’ are replete with descriptions of the ETs silently acting out scenes without paying particular attention to the observer. This is a characteristic of dreams.

There are distortions of time and space, often accompanied by lacunae in the sequences of events. In describing his tour through the inside of a UFO, one subject remarked (page 78): ‘It’s funny, this thing didn’t look that big from the outside’. One is reminded of the Charles Finney story of the Circus of Dr Lao. The circus tent (= UFO?), from the outside, is of quite modest proportions. Inside, it becomes almost a small cosmos. Hopkins cites one of the lacunae in a sequence of events: “When he first entered the … room, he walked towards the table. …The next moment, he was seated on the table nearly naked, and his clothes were nowhere to be seen. One can speculate either that he has repressed the disturbing experience of being stripped and lifted onto the table, or that he may have been, in fact, unconscious during that operation. (page 85)

My explanation would be that we are dealing with a dream mechanism where such sequences are quite common. I need scarcely point out the relevance of this scene to the ‘birth memory’ hypothesis. It is of special interest that the subject in this abduction case reported: ‘I feel like a frog’ (page 84). One is reminded of the foetal leg positions as well as those of the neonate. Women often refer to infants affectionately as ‘little frogs’. The subject also felt ‘physically dirty, and wanted very much to shower’ (page 86). Hint. hint. One of Hopkins’ subjects even says: ‘It seemed like a dream sequence. That’s what it seemed like. It seemed like a dream sequence. It didn’t quite oil come out together’. What you see is what you get. You have here a remembered dream. Let’s give the abductee some credit and take what he reports for what it is.

It should be pointed out, however, that these are not average dreams. They are archetypal dreams, or ‘big dreams’ as primitives call them. Therefore, the subjects who have these very strong and impressive dreams feel them to be different in quality from ordinary dreams. They are quite right. Another of Hopkins’ subjects puts this experience this way: “It’s almost like it’s a dream. In fact, maybe I thought it was a dream except, except – I’d never had a dream like that! … The place is like a dream…”

Dozens of examples of dreamlike qualities can be found in the accounts given by the abductees examined by Hopkins. Nevertheless. Hopkins refuses to entertain this quite obvious alternative explanation. That many people present essentially the some dream is no problem. The meaning of UFOs and ETs is archetypal and may be expected to repeat a very similar pattern.

Some of Hopkins’ subjects appear to have hit upon the technique of ‘active imagination’. This techniques [9] allows one to go into a kind of ‘waking dream’, in which an imaginary play is carried out before one’s eyes, having the same sort of autonomous character as a movie or living diorama. One of Hopkins’ subjects, giving his impressions of an ET medical examination. reports on an ‘eye-like’ device as follows (page 171): “I never have just a stationary image. but I get a sort of initial quick impression and then it starts degrading into all other kinds or things”. This is a typical subjective experience in active imagination.

The subject continues (page 175): “I was just trying this time to tell you wherever just sort of popped into my mind. It was very much just kind of a collage of impressions … There was not any kind of sequential thing … There was not any involvement, really, or the feeling I was reliving anything … rather that I was acting as an observer”. And, further on: “It was not a bright room, and, ah, I don’t recoil any brightness at all, but that’s the image my mind is creating now”. This is active imagination pure and simple.

The experience of active imagination is initiated by a sort or abaisssement du niveau mentale, a lowering or ‘relaxation’ of consciousness. Certain exterior conditions are very favourable for the production or such states. Waking through the area where one ‘abduction’ took place, Hopkins himself remarks on the ‘eerie, slumbering quality’ of the grounds (page 183). A second subject of Hopkins reports on hearing her name called in the woods [10] (page 202).

I have had this experience myself in the deep woods of Montana. The ‘unconscious' is, in compensatory fashion, reaffirming the person’s identity. This reaction is brought forth from the unconscious to counteract the well-known tendency for consciousness to fragment under conditions of isolation. Such a reaction, and its strength are relative to the degree of isolation experienced and to the strength of the individual ego-consciousness. These conditions cited by Hopkins are optimal for inducing active imagination.

Once one becomes familiar with these altered states of consciousness, the ETH as supported by cases such as those presented in Missing Time loses considerable credibility. Anyone who stumbles onto this technique is very impressed by it. I know I was at first, and I spent one whole night just recording the incredibly vivid images that forced themselves on my mind. You con do active imaginations about dragons, unicorns – what have you, and you will find that they are very typical and a slight personal variation on something that can be looked up in a fairy-tale book. Nowadays we have high-tech fairy tales.

ETs: cockroaches of the cosmos, or, when the world gets the DTs we start seeing ETs

The UFO phenomenon, broadly speaking is a monstrum compositum. Within the range of UFO phenomena, we see the organic, the inorganic, psychic events, and physical traces: also myths and fairy tales. The UFO phenomenon covers the full range of meaning and aesthetic appeal from the banal and ridiculous to the highest spiritual levels. At times aspects of the phenomenon can be described as fish-like, [11] birdlike, [12] insect-like, [13] and any combination of these features. It is of no avail to try to find out which of these things the UFO is. It is all of them. The composite nature of UFO imagery indicates that it arises from the deepest layers of the collective unconscious. [14]

This does not mean it is merely psychic. At some point in the collective unconscious the psychic meets the hylic. [15] and the usual categories disappear. Someone once said: ‘A trick, if it’s done right, doesn’t look like a trick, it looks real’. If the UFO phenomenon were exclusively psychic or exclusively physical in nature, it would not capture our attention the way it does. It is part of ‘the message’ that the phenomenon cannot be clearly categorised. When one does clearly categorise the phenomenon, one begins to suffer from UFO-lobotomy: one loses the ability to think critically about the subject, one falls into self-contradiction, forgets contradictory data, develops quasi-theological sophistries to ‘explain’ the absurd behaviour of the UFOs — in effect, one meets his pod. In my opinion, there is no small evidence that this fate has befallen the ETHers.

If we look at the ETs with any kind of objectivity at all, we see them as buzzing, expressionless, more or less indistinguishable creatures with little or no feeling for their human victims — like large insects with rudimentary tools for probing the bodies of the abductees as the probe the ground for soil samples – leaving their peculiar insect bites and ‘traces’.We are living in stressful times, not just for us, but for the whole planet. If nature has access to our minds – and she does — would not consciousness be the most vulnerable point at which to attack and disable the species threatening the entire natural world? For the first time, perhaps, in the history of the world, there is a universal threat of extinction. We should expect the strongest sort of evolutionary response to this emergency.

This response cannot extend over the long periods of time usually available for such changes. The changes must occur within decades. The vulnerability of consciousness makes it the prime target for fast evolutionary change, a change so rapid that it has to overload the circuits, producing a vast array of overdetermined imagery with a wide spectrum of effects. The effects produced may result in higher consciousness, but not necessarily.

When I see some of the responses to the UFO phenomenon like, for instance, the ETH, I suspect that nature may be creating false fascinosa that keep our eyes glued upward until we fall of some cliff into the sea. Then the world will once again be at peace.

  1. Alvin H, Larson, ‘UFO abductions or birth memories?’, Fate, March 1985, pp, 68-84, See also Magonia 10.
  2. The behaviour of UFOs and their pilots is truly a ‘dance of the absurd’, for important comments on the function of the absurd in general, see my ‘Note on the function of nonsense’, Archaeus, 3, 1 (summer 1985), and for observations on the ‘absurd’ in relation to UFOs, see Jacques Vallée, Messengers of Deception; UFO Contacts and Cults, Berkeley, And/Or Press 1979, passim.
  3. For a full discussion of the Khidr legend see Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Collected Works, 9,1. New York, Pantheon Books, 1959, pp, 135-147.
  4. Jung’s Sufi headman of his safari through Kenya told him that Khidr might appear to Jung as a ‘pure, white light’. The headman himself reported he had dreamt of Khidr as a ‘bright white light near the door’, Ibid., p. 143.
  5. As the nuclear crisis is a backdoor reinstillation of the original ‘fear of God’, the UFO phenomena seem to be designed to reacquaint us with a wide range of other religious virtues.
  6. Undoubtedly, Islam is possessed of a new dynamism, This is negatively expressed in Khomeini but Islam, as the youngest of the world’s great religions, has its fulfilment still in the future, Jung has commented on this, and Anthony Burgess in his novel 1985 predicts an Islamic Britain by the end of the century, Wild, you say? Have you noticed our change in attitudes towards virginity, pornography and alcohol?
  7. That UFOs do not manifest definitively to the organisational power structures is part at the archetypal myth, there is no room for the, ‘principle of salvation’ in the Inn. It appears first to shepherds in the fields.
  8. See also Stanislav Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious, New York, Viking Press. 1975, The possibility of the remembrance of the birth process, especially in connection with violence, is supported by Edward C Whitmont in his book Return of the Goddess, New York, Crossroad, 1982, pp, 17-18.
  9. For the original discussion of the concept of active imagination (term not used), see C. G. Jung, ‘The transcendent function’ in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Collected Works, 8. New York, Pantheon Books, 1960, pp, 57-91) Discussion of the nature and function of active imagination can be found throughout the Jungian literature.
  10. A book was written years ago on this subject: Max Lowy, Uber sine Unruhe erscheinung; die Halluzination des Anrufes mit dem eigenen Namen (ohne und mit Beachtungswahn), Separatabdruck aus den Jahrbuchen fur Psychiatrie und Neurologie, XXXIII Band, Leipzig u, Wien, Franz Deuticke, 1911. The title translates: On an Anxiety Manifestation; the hallucination of being called by one’s name without and with pathological disturbances of attention).
  11. UFOs have been seen rising from and returning to the sea, Jung discusses the UFO as fish in Flying Saucers: a modern myth of things seen in the skies, in Civilization in Transition, Collected Works, 10, New York, Pantheon Books, 1964, See also Lyall Watson’s highly suggestive ruminations on underwater lights, squid and their large eyes and ETs in his book Gifts of Unknown Things, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1976, pp, 18-37.
  12. Greta Woodrew, On a Slide of Light, New York, Macmillan, 1981 – Hawks
  13. Gerald Heard. The Riddle of the Flying Saucers, London, Carroll and Nichdlson, 1950. – Bees.
  14. At the deepest levels of the unconscious, everything is everything
  15. The region currently under investigation by several leading quantum theorists.