Should be noted that the day after I posted my critique of Carl Sagan’s The Demon Haunted World, in which I defended the work of the late Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack, Aeon magazine posted an interesting article by Alexa Clay about growing up with him as her surrogate step dad:
“But as a kid largely ignorant of grander sociological forces, aliens were only one thing: scary. They had large black eyes and androgynous forms. And they were real — like ghosts and witches and monsters. In daylight, I was sceptical (the good little rationalist), but night-time brought with it a tide of magical thinking. I used to lie in bed and worry that maybe I would be abducted. I would even make supplicating promises of better behaviour in the hope of bartering with these outsiders — ‘I’ll be good, just leave me alone.’ In my secular progressive household, aliens offered a moral disciplining authority, an invisible spectator to police my actions.
After many years elapsed without any sign of extraterrestrial visitation, I began to feel ignored. My fears turned to pangs of dejection: ‘Wasn’t I special?’ ‘Shouldn’t I be a chosen ambassador for the human race?’ Or even: ‘If the aliens were really out to create a master race (as I overheard), didn’t they want my DNA?’
John had many of the same laments. They weren’t the ego bruises of a child in pursuit of some fantastical ambassadorial calling, but they were in the same genre. He felt passed over. He longed for an encounter. He was the public face of this movement and yet he had only secondary experience of the abduction phenomena. Having spent more than 15 years listening to other people’s encounters with these mythical beings, he wanted some evidence beyond the testimonials he gathered from his patients. He wanted to be visited. We all did.”
It’s a worthwhile read for fans of his work which can be checked out in its entirety here. The reason I chose that particular passage was because it’s long been my contention that anyone could in fact have one of these “alien encounters” if they so desired. Hell, if mainstream academia took this area of inquiry seriously, we could get this sort of intentional head tripping down to a, errr, science. Now of course, research into this field has the potential to destroy traditional religion as we know it (and atheism, let’s face it) which is why it’s so controversial. I mainly mention this because despite never having a prototypical “abduction” encounter myself or ever having seen a UFO, I’ve managed to replicate these sort of contact experiences by experimenting with things like astral projection and sex magick. Because of these internal encounters, I don’t buy into the extraterrestrial hypothesis that Dr. Mack was largely wedded to at all. There’s a huge difference between being from another planet and existing outside of human time space perception entirely, which is where “they’ve” repeatedly shown me they reside (I chat about this high strangeness constantly on Facebook, friend me). We believe in other planets, we don’t truly believe in other dimensions inhabited by conscious entities unbound by linear time now, do we.
Truthfully, I haven’t actually read any of John Mack’s books in over a decade, but the one thing I’ll always take away from them is the concept of ontological shock. The first time I took psychedelic mushrooms at age 18, I no longer had the ability to perceive the universe in the western materialistic manner that everyone around me did ever again and this wasn’t at all easy for me as a young psychology student. There’s just no explanation for the hyper-freaky transcendent mutating art collage light show that these states produce in me. Reading Mack’s books in my early 20’s helped me understand that not only was I not alone in having a “head stuck running away” as King Buzzo once put it, but also that not everyone who does falls conveniently into the “crazy” camp either. Thanks for that dog.