EXPLORING THE OUTER EDGES OF SOCIETY AND MIND

Outer Phenomenon and Inner Journey – A Review of David Halperin’s Journal of a UFO Investigator

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on February 2, 2019

This review was originally published in 2011 through The Revealer, New York University’s online journal of religion and media.

Riddles chased mysteries, were chased by enigmas, around and around my brain.

–from Journal of a UFO Investigator (Viking Press, 2011)

On June 24, 1947 the U.S. Air Force pilot Kenneth Arnold witnessed a series of angular, wedge shaped objects skipping like saucers across the sky near his plane. Although he described them as angular or wedge-shaped, from his statements about “a pie tin cut in half” the news reports gleaned the word “Flying Saucer.” The media’s misrepresentation of his description stuck, defining the iconic image of the UFO for decades to come.

Journal-of-a-UFO-InvestigatorAmbiguity from eye witness accounts, media misrepresentations, ‘expert’ analysis, and the phenomenon itself, pervades UFO culture at every level.  On this unstable ground David Halperin builds his debut novel, Journal of a UFO Investigator, weaving the tale of young Danny Shapiro as he experiences alienation and personal growth inside the shifting realities of 1960’s UFO research and its heretical place in the cultural struggles of the mid- to late-20th century.

As a noted religion scholar specializing in traditions of heavenly ascent and the heretical messiah Sabbatai Zevi, Halperin may seem like an unlikely candidate for authoring a debut novel about UFOlogy. In truth, however, his expertise allows him to uncover some of the more perplexing and valuable aspects of the UFO narrative, and show how even at its most flimsy, the cultural phenomenon surrounding UFOs can provide real insights into the human condition.

UFO encounters, like apparitions of the Virgin Mary, have in themselves very little effect on the culture at large until they become woven into the fabric of our shared experience. The event itself is usually deeply subjective and, if any outward effect is seen, the changes they produce in the culture are based on fueling individual action and response.  While the Virgin Mary often unites Catholic communities with her appearance, alienation soon follows anyone whose experiences move outside of cultural norms. UFO’s don’t share the orthodox dignity of Marian visions.

Halperin skillfully develops the complex interplay of experience, belief and expression that comes from investigating the unknown against a backdrop of Cold War nuclear fears and the dramatic social changes of the 60’s. As a religion scholar Halperin finds UFOs as harbingers of mystery and personal transformation.

Although there are passing allusions and nods toward genre tropes, this isn’t a book about a super team of UFOlogists encountering astounding alien life, there’s no rogue intelligence agents on the hunt for the truth against global conspiracies, no well funded establishment society dedicated to uncovering the secrets of nature, there is just a boy and his descent into the mystery of life.

At play here is Halperin’s understanding of spiritual traditions, specifically the traditions of divine ascent within esoteric Judaism. While most of us are familiar in some way with the nuts and bolts concept of UFOs as extraterrestrial air craft, there exists a much more varied study of the phenomenon in regards to transpersonal experience. Halperin’s skill is to take the most popularized outward expressions of UFOlogy, the hollow earth theories, contactee narratives, time travel, abduction phenomenon, and show their connections to much deeper, and more respected, traditional narratives of life, death and visionary experience.

These concepts provide insight into the real life phenomenon itself through their interplay in the narrative.  Danny’s journal and his investigations are spurred on by the literary influences in his life, the spurious Shaver mysteries published in Fate Magazine, Gray Barker’s dubious investigations of the ‘Men in Black,’ the early accounts of the Roswell incident, all set against his Jewish upbringing and an increasing interest in biblical studies. As his focus shifts from UFOlogy to the Bible, so too does his interpretations of the strange experiences he relates.

These influences affect how his creative imagination encapsulates the very real emotional pain he faces through his dying mother, and the self effacing alienation of growing up Jewish in the Anglicized society of 1960’s America. In the mirror world of his journal, Daniel experiences a Dantean descent into hell with all the trappings of his UFOlogical career.  The novel presents a powerful, fictionalized exploration of the same psychological mythopoesis that occurs in real life encounters with strange phenomenon.

Halperin’s use of some of the most popularized and cartoonish aspects of UFOlogy to frame what is essentially Daniel’s initiation into life, allows the novel to address wider questions on the legitimacy of the UFO phenomenon itself. Serious studies such as Jung’s psychological analysis of the phenomenon, or Jacques Vallee’s methodical investigations, are left as unspoken influences allowing the narrative to develop a valuable philosophical meditation set against the most trivial aspects of the UFO culture.

Much can be learned from how we conscience the unknown. The Cold War framed UFOs against fears of advanced technology in the hands of enemy forces. As political negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States pressed on, and the possibility of space flight became a reality which altered the nature of international relations, UFO’s became a third party overseeing a globalized vision of humanity.

For some Evangelicals who address the phenomenon, UFOs are demonic entities signifying the End Times.  For some occultists and esotericists UFOs are transdimensional entities capable of being called up through ritual and intent. For psychologists they represent mass delusions and the power of suggestion.

In all cases the unknown nature of the phenomenon provides ground for ideological development. Something happens, an event is witnessed or experienced, either individually or within a group, and due to the inexplicable nature of its occurrence a potent narrative can emerge that channels all of the unconscious pressures latent in the participants’ lives.

When this process is put through the mass media the effects are much more pronounced. Halperin is well aware of this, and uses the novel to explore how something like the Shaver mysteries, a fictionalized account of subterranean demons called the Dero and their war with the Elder Gods that was published in Fate Magazine during the late 50’s and early 60’s as an ostensibly true tale, can lead to people perceiving real encounters with these beings.

Here one can sense his understanding of heretical movements coming to play. Halperin’s study of false Messianic movements gives him a wonderful understanding of how charismatic visionaries can lead mass movements with signs and wonders. The subtle application of this understanding of the UFO phenomenon, and the gentle respect for the heretic, allows the book to explore some of the more absurd aspects of UFOlogy while fostering an atmosphere of existential dread suitable to the reality of Danny’s emotional development.

It also allows Halperin to address the very real personal transmutation that can occur, even when the impetus for it is based on false assumptions. As a nexus for the interplay of fact and fiction, UFOlogy provides a very potent ground of study. Danny works through his hardest youthful trials in the inner world woven around his UFOlogical career. Life’s ever present pain, which finds no answers in his mundane existence, becomes the impetus for a fantastic quest in the phenomenal world of his imagination.

Halperin’s novel shows how understanding this relationship provides a way to move around the stalemated arguments of religious fundamentalism and atheism, by addressing the manifestation of central mystery that both science and religion seek to answer.  For him the essential struggle with our mortality and the mysteries of death provides a common ground between the paranormal, science and religion. In the imaginal interstices of the outer world and inner world we find the expression of this mystery, and it is this interstice that is often ignored by mainstream science and religion.

This is a novel about the power and emergence of new myths, and the growth of contemporary narratives around timeless phenomenon. It is also about our relationship with the mystery of death, and the constant, subtle reminder that our transience “will always be inside.” More than a mere fictional flight, Halperin has given us an interpretive methodology for approaching anomalous phenomenon, and a touching reflection on the painful rewards of awakening to the beauty of our mortality.

David Halperin’s website: https://www.davidhalperin.net

To read David Halperin’s “The Myth is the Mystery: Reflections on Annie Jacobsen’s Area 51,” posted at The Revealer, click here.

Mediating the Mystery – A few thoughts on Irish UFOs, Sloppy Journalism and Questionable Experts

Posted in > ANALYSIS by David on November 13, 2018

IrishUFOIf you’re trying to tease out truth from the recent Irish UFO sighting that’s been making the news rounds – don’t forget to relish this beautiful opportunity to watch as an anomalous report gets MEDIATED!

Let’s hold off on trying to explain the event and take a look at one example of the story becoming muddied in just 5 days since it was first reported:

The Washington Post published an article on November 13th, 2018 which says:

“Aircraft experts told the Irish Examiner that the lights were probably meteorites entering Earth at a low angle. “(1)

Actually if we look at the Irish Examiner article from November 12th that’s being referenced it was a single ‘expert’ – ie. a pop science writer/spec writer focusing on the aerospace industry and a bit of astronomy/cosmology.

The Irish Examiner article (which, it should be noted, was written by a contributor listed as Health Correspondent) has this:

“Aviation journalist Gerry Byrne said: “In all probability they were meteorites and it’s not uncommon for meteorites to come in at a low angle, a low trajectory into the Earth’s atmosphere.”(2)

Meteorites it may have been* – but media outlets like WaPo and the Irish Examiner aren’t looking up to the task of finding out if the best they can do is grab the nearest Irish aviation writer for some rough speculation.  At least the first round of reports – like the BBC’s coverage (3) – skipped the giggle factor and just presented the information that was available. The BBC even included an actual astronomer working at an actual observatory for their stock meteorite quote.

For some reason the Washington Post journalist decided to go with the questionable contemporary practice of drawing on tertiary sources for an article – pro-tip for new journalists and bloggers, this isn’t the best choice for mature or accurate reporting.

Also of note – and unmentioned by these truth seeking servants of the 4th estate – the UK military is running their largest field test of autonomous aerial drones at the moment.(4) Something that should be considered and investigated if the purpose is actually to figure out what the pilots saw.

If you’d like to make up your own mind as to the source of this mystery, based on as much evidence as the journalists and ‘expert’ have to go on, The Drive’s WarZone has uploaded the audio from the pilot’s that reported the incident:

Listen As Multiple Airline Pilots Report Very High-Speed Unidentified Objects Over Ireland (Updated): http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/24849/listen-as-multiple-airline-pilots-report-very-high-speed-unidentified-objects-over-ireland

For those curious as to the expert in question in the Irish Examiner and Washington Post articles, here is Gerry’s (or Gerrys’, since WaPo has him as a plural persona*) Amazon.com author profile to get a sense of his expertise on meteorites and anomalous reports:

“Prize-winning writer Gerry Byrne is a noted broadcaster and writer on aerospace and science topics in Ireland and the UK. Twice voted Science Journalist of the Year in Ireland he also won a popular journalism award from the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division for a story on the sunspot cycle.

A former staff writer with the Sunday Tribune and The Sunday Press newspapers, Byrne has contributed extensively to New Scientist magazine and the Daily Telegraph on a variety of science issues in addition to featuring on most Irish newspapers, radio and TV stations as a commentator on science and aviation issues.

His next book will be The Barefoot Sailor, a biography of Irish gun runner and yachtsman, Conor O’Brien, who, after supplying guns used by Irish rebels in 1916, became famous for an epic circumnavigation, the first by an amateur yachtsman following the great clipper ship route. O’Brien’s grandfather was sentenced to be hung after leading an ill-fated rebellion in 1848 but his own father supported the British in putting down a subsequent rebellion.

Byrne is also a keen yachtsman and sails regularly from Skerries. He plans a website for adults aiming to take up sailing. In 1999 he sailed part of the Whitbread (now Volvo) Round the World Yacht Race from Uruguay to Florida and co-authored a book on the race. He lives by the sea on Ireland’s scenic East Coast and enjoys views of the Mountains of Mourne. Prospective agents (he seeks US representation) and publishers may contact him on…”(5)

References:

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/pilots-saw-very-bright-uf…/

2. https://www.irishexaminer.com/…/update-ufo-seen-off-irish-c…

3. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46181662

4. https://www.gov.uk/…/army-start-biggest-military-robot-exer…

5. https://www.amazon.com/Gerr…/e/B001HCZQ8G/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0


Notes:

* Anomalist News (Nov. 15) points out that the use of the term ‘meteorite’ in itself is also a sign of confusion in the reporting:

“As expected, numerous people not involved in last Friday’s aerial event over the Irish coast have pronounced upon its origin. “Meteorite” seems to be the favorite explanation, though technically the light is a meteor caused by a meteoroid burning up in Earth’s atmosphere and “meteorite” applies only to those fragments of the meteoroid that actually get to the ground.”

* I’m in no way intending to insult Gerry Byrne’s writing career – the purpose of highlighting the details from his Amazon Author Page is to simply to point out that he is perhaps not the best person to pull in for this particular story or to offer this particular type of analysis. 

 

Etherian Contact – Cult of Golgotha Series (5 of 8)

Posted in > ART by David on October 7, 2018

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“The contacts from the dimension of Etheria have expressed a great desire to inspire the expansion of human awareness beyond the limitations of the mechanistic model of reality, into inner spaces so they may explore the quantum potentials inherent in the enlivened flesh and blood of one who possess the Sacramental Vision.”  

– Craig Williams, Cult of Golgotha (Etherian Physics), p 87 (Anathema Publishing, 2018)

Etherian Contact (Acrylic on Cardboard, 2018) –  created on July 7th, 2018, the 71st anniversary of the Associated Press article featuring quotes from Kenneth Arnold on the possible extraterrestrial origins of the unidentified flying objects that he reported seeing on June 24, 1947.

This piece is 1 of 2 in a ‘Post Human Futures’ series focusing on the evolutionary themes inherent in the post-nuclear era UFO narrative, which are becoming increasingly pertinent as we approach environmental collapse, drastic technological advances and the humanity’s potential future in space.

 

“The coalescence of elements and the coalescence of stems, the spherical geometry of the earth and psychical curvature of the mind harmonising to counterbalance the individual and collective forces of dispersion in the world and to impose unification — there at last we find the spring and secret of hominisation.

…Really I can see no coherent, and therefore scientific, way of grouping this immense succession of facts but as a gigantic psycho-biological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the ‘super-arrangement ‘ to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves today individually and collectively subject.” 

– Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, p. 242-243 (Harper Collins, 1976)

For inquiries on availability for any of the pieces feel free to contact me directly at davidbmetcalfe @ gmail.com

Or visit our Ebay page to check for active listings – CLICK HERE

To read more about the series check out my guest post on Craig Williams’ blog:
Contact with Alien Intelligences – 8 examples from an ongoing series of painted trance-missions