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.
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.