The Creative Fire

Martin Kottmeyer
Magonia, No. 29, April 1988

The theatre of the UFO phenomenon is a manifestation of the drive for creative expression. This should have been obvious to me when I wrote Break a Leg; but somehow it slid by me and I ended up saying applause was the driving end of the UFO phenomenon.
The error is forgivable. John L. Caughey in his illuminating study of the prevalence of fantasy in Everyday Life, Imaginary Social Worlds, points out that recognition as a media hero is one of the Great American Vices and a repeated theme running through the fantasies of most people. Even if UFO percipients are merely ghost-writing for the ufologists and retain their customary anonymity, the knowledge that their stories received acceptance could safely fill the needs of such a fantasy.

I accept this was unduly cynical. I forgot the creative urge can exist in a vacuum. John Rimmer’s recent essay “Levels of Mystification” [1] reminded me how novelists and artists continue to create in the face of scant rewards, virtual silence, and even critical rejection. Artists themselves attest to the primary role of pleasing their own aesthetic sensibilities as a measure of greatness. The work comes from deep inside, sometimes fully formed, sometimes fighting to shape itself as it finds expression in the outer world.

Rimmer conjectured that abductions might be a manifestation of this compelling drive to create. Discussing the Aveley abduction he remarked on how the incident seemed to unleash repressed creative impulses in the central characters. John became a sculptor; Elaine rekindled an interest in learning she had before she married. This observation suggested a testable hypothesis. If abductions are the result of a seething desire for creative self-expression, we might see this desire manifest itself in other aspects of the lives of abductees. We would predict a tendency for the abductees to be painters, writers and involved in creative enterprises more often than the general population.

I did a casual survey of published abduction accounts to see if this could be true. I came away with an impressive tally of 18 abductees having artistic backgrounds out of a population of 55. This does not even take into account that some of those 55 lack any personal backgrounds in their description and, on methodological grounds should probably not even have been included.

Betty Hill, in her youth, was a voracious reader and won contests, spelling bees and even dramatic roles in school. Betty Andreasson won prizes in many art contests. All three ladies of the Liberty, Kentucky abduction had made art a hobby, and Mona Stafford, in particular, owned an art store. Steven Kilburn from Missing Time was said to be dedicated to a career in the arts.

There is a fire to create in the souls
of the abductees. Ufologists unleash it
at their own peril

In the same book “Mary” was said to be a painter. Kathie Davies from Intruders we learn is an autodidact with considerable talent as a visual artist. Also from Intruders, “Pam” is described as a dancer. A more recent case reported by Budd Hopkins in the International UFO Reporter, “Christie” is a successful graphic artist. Sandra Larson was a country and western singer. Whitley Strieber, as everyone knows by now, is a successful writer. Strieber’s “hidden choir” of eleven includes a dancer, a museum curator/artist and a musician. Finally from Direct Encounters there is Ellecia Gruen, who is a painter and pianist,and Jessica Wolfe who is an actress and writer.

This undoubtedly underrepresents the percentage manifesting creativeness. Several accounts, without going into details, refer to literate backgrounds and brilliant minds. Antonio Villas Boas eventually achieved the title of Doctor and became a respected lawyer. Further hints are peppered about the literature, but I would not want to get lost in arguments about interpretation. It would obviously be contentious to conjecture that creative power generates every abduction experience. there are some cases which clearly resist fitting into this neat picture.

Independent of the creative elements of the Pascagoula account itself there is nothing in either the background or psychological profiles of Charles Hickson and Calvin Parker to suggest they were possessed of creative fervour. Hickson’s psychological profile showed only average levels of intelligence and imaginativeness. Unless, on no authorisation, we read significance into the moderately radical aspect of his personality shown on the conservative-experimental scale, there is nothing in his oil worker/outdoorsman background to indicate a compelling need for self-expression.

Some justification for generalisation can be found in Dr Slater’s psychological testing of nine abductees. While abductees may be “normal” in the sense of lacking pathology, they clearly emerge as not average. Slater found the group to be not only highly intelligent but in possession of a rich inner life. Slate describes this inner life as acting not only favourably in terms of creativity but negatively “to the extent that it can be overwhelming”.

It is also notable that the nine abductees chosen for study include some careers not to be described as mundane: actor, commercial artist, audio technician, college instructor, corporate lawyer, chemistry lab director and electronics expert.

It would be tempting to drag in evidence of the creative impulse in contactees (George Adamski’s pre-contact writing, Orfeo Angelucci’s movie script, the Shaggy God Story Syndrome) as further proof of creativity being the driving force of the UFO phenomenon but there is really no need to belabour the issue. The central point is too important to risk obscuring it in trivialities.

There is a fire to create in the souls of the abductees. Ufologists unleash it at their own peril.

Evans, Hilary (ed.) UFOs 1947 - 1987: The 40-Year Search for an Explanation. Fortean Tomes, 1987.