Guest Commentary

This Meme is Selling Well
Ref: Linda Moulton Howe site, etc

By Colin Bennett

This is almost certainly our old friend Bill Ryan and SERPO at work again, but this time he has surpassed himself. Usually his efforts at Ufological disinformation are terribly crude and are now accepted only in areas where cornball spit-and-sawdust boondocks Ufology rules. His so-called "interviews" are wonderfully amateur cod-theatre, with disguised voices, dark glasses, scarves around head, and he asks leading questions which one should ever do under any circumstances). I don't know anyone who is taken in by such embarrassing circus antics and wonderful claims about Americans being abducted to other planets. An otherwise able and intelligent man, Ryan is an example of a mind ruined by Scientology. He should cut his losses, write SF and make a fortune.

If we think that aliens make castings, windings, and machine-tool objects which look like Grand Prix super-carburettors, we are fools. They will have long past such practical-looking mechanisms. As far as light electro-mechanical engineering is concerned, this particular "motor" looks very low-tech indeed. They were making and selling such things in 1890.

On the other hand, these bits and pieces could be concept-art from a Photoshop expert. Alternatively, objects like this can be made up easily from sewing-machine parts by any SF film studio. In any case, the item seen is an image from an electro-mechanical Past. If real, it probably smells of graphite bearings and 3-in-one oil. Such technology will have long gone from extraterrestrial cultures as sail and steam have gone our own. As someone who has had a profound UFO experience I can tell folks here and now that such 'ain't anything to do with mechanism as we know it.

If this is truly an alien object then it is part of a deception within a deception, and it may even be an alien joke. We discount that possibility if only because we like things we can cope with, and being laughed is not one of them.

But trying to work out what these things are is far less important than to realise what is the object of such probable disinformation. This object is explained completely in Borges' short story "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," and here no less than is a hint at a Tlon device in the manner of the "impossible" objects of Escher.

I have a thought that this Chad manifestation might well be beyond Bill Ryan's mind and imagination and his dog-bollock stories about bionic warriors from the Pentagon and the adventures of Dan Burische. It is far more sophisticated. But try to talk about concept art metaphysics and literature to Victorian Station Masters and tool-room Commissars of MUFON for example, and their eyes go glazed. Most of them still think that aliens tighten bolts and grease gears on Planet X or Dimension Y. Most Old Ufology as I call it is still stuck in a mechanistic age when Bob Hope was on the road to Morocco. Extraterrestrial aliens will have long left mechanism behind and transformed to pure media dimensions, as in the film the Matrix. In other words we shouldn't compliment ourselves by looking for the kind of cleverness of our kind, we would be far better off looking at Paris Hilton and her kind as Prototype Control, whose power, form, and existence is mechanically structureless as far as information-memes are concerned, being built of advertisements and mass-media software rather than being molecular. This is the New Ufology, and the Iron Age Station Masters won't like it.

Here I would like to make a very brief analysis of the accompanying text. It is far too well sculpted for someone who claims he is not a writer. He takes his time, unfolds the story in skilled fictional terms, frequently hesitating in relaxed professional narrative style. He uses rhetoric, self-questioning, and complex irony. The voice is warm, assured, and very human as if he is used to narrating before a studio microphone with a well-modulated voice at just the right distance from a studio microphone. Despite his protestations of innocence, this is well-rehearsed with a detectable (and betraying) polish. This piece could be done as Radio talks-feature without any changes.

The line drawings are equally skilled as the narrative voice, reminiscent of someone who is under the influence of Miro. The whole is not knowledge so much as a display of various highly professional skills. For instance, the inscribed font and alphabet are beautiful pieces of work, done by someone with great skill. It is not easy to do this if you do not have such honed skills, plus expert typographical knowledge. If this came from a working workshop, the letters would not be so beautifully done, they would be scratched on with an electric scribe. Again following Borges Law of Tlon, Compare the remarks about the inscribed alphabet of Tlon in that story!
No, this alphabet is not instruction it is theatre. It is too proud of itself to be anything else. We could call this whole manifestation the Meme as Art Form. I think the creators of Chad-like objects might just appreciate that. Here is the end of the Tlon story:

"Princess Faucigny Lucinge had received her silverware from Poitiers. From the vast depth of a box embellished with foreign stamps, delicate immobile objects emerged: silver from Utrecht and Paris covered with hard heraldic fauna, and a samovar. Among them -with the perceptible and tenuous tremor of a sleeping bird- a compass vibrated mysteriously. The Princess did not recognise it. Its blue needle longed for magnetic north; its metal case was concave in shape; the letters around its edge corresponded to one of the alphabets of Tlon. Such was the first intrusion of this fantastic world into the world of reality."

With this example in mind, the display of many skills involved in what might be called the Chad Complex of Escher-like machines indicates that the whole package is designer-stamped. They leave us a nicely balanced trail of clues with still photographs, video, turned, cast, and milled parts (probably in light alloy or high-impact plastic) laid out in kit form. In taking all this in, at times I expected Special Offers for mobile radios and chocolate liquors, and free Tiger Newman badges for the kids in washable non-toxic plastic.

This suggests to me a group of top professionals in high-tech arts and media as part of a complete package to be released rather like blown seed-pods. Some might object, they might say that several Chad-like flying objects have been seen by other people at different times and places. Of course they will be seen! This is the entire object of the exercise! We must remember that the folk who panicked during Orson Wells' famous broadcast swore that they saw and heard the Martians! This was/is not so much a demonstration of fact versus fiction so much as demonstration of the interpenetration of minds and worlds.

Referring to the documentation enclosed by Isaac, I would also like to say that the sophistication here reminds me of the beautifully sculpted MJ-12 documents, but of course that is entirely a separate matter which I suppose the Blessed Brother Friedman as MUFON Man would not like at all!

Colin Bennett
Author, London,
The New Fortean Times

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