Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Interpreting the UFO phenomenon and Non-human Intelligence

Recent discussions here and elsewhere about how a non-human intelligence might interact with us in an artistic or cultural sense got me to thinking about how art, in all of its many forms, serves as a useful metaphor for the very idea of how we should seek to understand and interpret any non-human intelligence we might come into contact with.

Take the example of the UFO phenomenon, and the idea that it might represent in some way a non-human intelligence. For decades now, most UFO researchers, and our society as a whole, has looked at "them" from a realistic perspective, much the way that artists used to do with their paintings, which were used to portray a specific event. The death of Nelson at Trafalgar is a good example - here is the famous painting The Death of Nelson, 21 October 1805 by Arthur William Devis, who sought to recapture that historic moment.

Devis' version was painted in 1807, and of all the major portrayals from the time is the most accurate (although definitely not without its historical flaws). The Death of Nelson, a far more idealised version offered by Benjamin West, was painted in 1806. West himself admitted that this was a representation of "what might have been, not of the circumstances as they happened."

In either case, regardless of the historical accuracy, the scene is recognizable, and easy to understand. It is based on the interpretations by the artists of events that they did not actually experience, filtered through their own perceptions and ideals.

In many respects, this is exactly what pro-ETH UFO researchers have done over the past six decades. The UFO phenomenon has been reduced to the most "realistic" interpretation possible, and then put forward as a narrative that may vary in particular details and interpretations, as did the paintings of Devis and West, but in all cases stays true to the central theme. They know that we are dealing with flesh-and-blood aliens in nuts-and-bolts spacecraft, and if one person's version of the aliens or their supposed spacecraft varies from another person's version, the big picture remains remarkably constant.

In other words, it is art based on certainty - regardless of the details of how Nelson died, there is no doubt that he died on board the Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar; Similarly, to most UFO researchers, regardless of what UFOs might look like, they are physical craft that are extraterrestrial in origin.

They know...

The problem is that with UFOs in particular, and non-human intelligence in general, we don't know what is happening. All that we can do is guess... theorize... speculate... and imagine...

Which is why we should be looking to the surrealists, and the abstract artists, and anyone who has offered a view of the world, and of reality, that is open to myriad interpretations, as the artistic model for understanding any interaction we may have with a non-human intelligence. 

Salvador Dali is an obvious choice.

Jackson Pollock is another:

Whereas the paintings by Devis and West clearly show interpretations of something that remains easily identifiable, and are wonderful within their own limited terms, the works of Dali and Pollock offer something much more difficult, and challenging, and personal to the viewer.

In other words, while Devis and West give the viewer answers, Dali and Pollock offer questions, and open the door to myriad possible interpretations. I'm convinced that the latter approach is the best way to try to understand the nature of a possible non-human intelligence that may be interacting with us.

Paul Kimball


Ryan P. said...


Having followed your blog from the beginning, it's interesting to see how your thinking has evolved. Early on it was mostly all about cases, evidence, personalities within ufology, and the occasional foray into pop culture. That was all fine (your deconstruction of the Aztec case stands as one of the best work in recent UFO research), but a bit limited in scope. I don't know if you've broadened your horizons, or whether you've just decided to change our focus, but I'm really enjoying your material from the past year or so, which has stretched into more theoretical and speculative spaces. Maybe it's the influence of your friends Mac and Greg, or maybe it's where you always intended to go, and it's all been part of a well-told and evolving narrative. But I just wanted to say that I've enjoyed every bit of it, and look forward to seeing where you take us next!


Frank Stalter said...

We can't really be sure a surveying ET would even be aware of the significance of a masterpiece hanging on a wall in a museum. Have they read Moby Dick or The Odyssey too? It seems certain to me that (if happening) they've seen some marvelous examples of human expression in many great structures spread across our planet and I really can't imagine, no matter how advanced they are, their not being admirers of them.

The Great Pyramid, Chicken Itza, the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, the Gateway Arch, the Sydney Opera House. These are the structural expressions that are most likely to attract ET attention, I think, for obvious reasons. It's hard to miss them. Some less ambitious statues are more spectacular because of their placement. The Statue of Liberty and Christ The Redeemer in Rio come to mind. Or maybe they're really impressed by our commercial billboards. You never know.

dia sobin said...

Interesting, Paul, especially in the light of the fact that many Surrealist, Abstract, and Symbolist artists derived their inspiration from unconscious sources. Many worked in a mediumistic, trance-like state, and a few described their "muses" as other-worldly, trans-dimensional beings. Artists like Yves Tanguy, Matta, and yes, Dali, specifically cited ET figures as their guides... Dali, in particular, (jokingly?) claimed they communicated with him through his infamous mustache!

So, what does this mean? I have no idea... but, perhaps, we aren't merely talking about extra, ultra, or crypto... but intra-terrestrials... trans-dimensional intelligences of a different order... in which case, they always have been communicating with us on some sub-liminal level.

Paul Kimball said...


You wrote:

perhaps, we aren't merely talking about extra, ultra, or crypto... but intra-terrestrials... trans-dimensional intelligences of a different order... in which case, they always have been communicating with us on some sub-liminal level.

My thoughts exactly! I think that we're dealing not with a phenomenon that manifests itself in the physical world, but one which manifests itself, in many ways, in our subconscious (for lack of a better term at the moment). It is a non-human intelligence (call it "supernatural", "paranormal", "alien" or "godlike"), and it has interracted with us in many different ways, forms and guises throughout human history. Again, however, not in a physical way - through our dreams, and thoughts, and visions - our higher selves.

I'm thinking of calling it my Unified Field Theory of the Paranormal. ;-)


Red Pill Junkie said...

It's interesting to consider that perhaps for an alien intelligence, some of our cultural manifestations that are complete unintentional byproducts of our society might be interpreted as a deliberate act with some artistic message.

Take for instance your example of Jackson Pollock's painting. if an alien being detects that we keep these abstract displays of color in our museums as a sign of admiration for the artist, couldn't they conclude that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is some kind of giant artistic installation as well? ;)

dia sobin said...

Hah, yes: Unified Field of the Paranormal - I like that.

But, then again, I don't feel it's prudent to totally discount the physical aspects of paranormal experiences - and that includes UFO sightings and abductions... For a true "unified field" all aspects must be accounted for.

Which kind of intimates that "blur" I mentioned in another comment... perhaps in the long run (and this is definitely a subject to run with) that long-coveted "Theory of Everything" searched for by the physicists, inevitably dove-tails with the unified field we're discussing. Well, it would have to , wouldn't it? ;-)

Note to RPJ: Oh, I don't know, babe, I'd say garbage is garbage wherever you go... well, that is, unless it's part of your cuisine! ;-)

TLC said...

These strange phenomenon, like UFO's, can best be interpreted as psychological and social conditioning tools. Some of that conditioning comes from terrestrial sources, while others the source is yet unknown. I kind of think of it like neuro-feedback (aka, biofeedback) where the percipient is being engaged by something in order to condition their mind and whole physiological system. On the surface they see something quite absurd and often report they are taken into another reality of sorts. Under the surface though something else is going on that we can't put our finger on. It lives in the unconscious processes of our minds. I think that's why many encounters occur at night, when the conscious mind starts to sink below the surface. There's a moment when we live in both the real world and the world of dreams. I think that's where it's power lies, in the middle.