We Are Not Alone
Posted by inspir3d on January 14, 2007
9 January 2007 at 7.30pm somewhere around Siglap in the Republic of Singapore.
Two men in a petrol kiosk in Siglap, high above them a mysterious greenish rocket shaped unidentified flying object heads south.
Mr A: “UFO! UFO!”
Mr B: “Yeah I know all cars these days take only unleaded fuel even your ten year old boneshaker. I am not stupid!”
Mr A: “Not that UFO, the other one.”
Mr B: “OMG that’s a UFO! A real UFO!”
Mr A: “No doubt about it’s an alien space craft. One of those long range reconnaissance deep space shuttles.”
Mr B: “Shouldn’t they be flying over the white house or somewhere important instead of the padang?”
Mr A: “No they’re too smart to talk to Bush.”
Mr B: “You mean those green men consider our PM more important than Bush?”
Mr A: “Well last time an intelligent civilization had a conversation with a Bush, they ended up wandering the desert confused for 40 years…….Alamak, look its changing direction.”
Mr B: “Magnetic ion silent drive right?…….hey it’s gone!”
Mr A: “More will come….just you watch and see…more will come.”
If you are all wondering whether this is a classic case of an author being so open minded his brains falls out, you are probably expressing exactly the same sentiments on June 24th 1947, when a traveling vacuum cleaner salesman called Kenneth Arnold declared to the world how he spotted the first flying saucer in the Cascade mountains of Washington state. The early UFO witnesses always looked ridiculous as they were paraded like freaks on American TV usually as side shows in between commercials in game shows and talent times. At best they were at first regarded a delusional by the general public.
Gradually public interest in UFO’s took on a life of its own – within a few years, UFO spotting had adherents all across the US eventually spreading right across the world, and it even discovered it’s Mecca in Roswell, a mythical site where flying saucer cognoscenti’s proclaimed an alien space craft once crashed complete with five green men. By this time, Kenneth Arnold was advertising everything from modern stoves to TV dinners – nevermind that he was prone to paranoid delusions – nevermind that he had an imaginary pet cat called “Dorothy.”
By the end of 1950’s there were over 500 UFO clubs all over the world and today over 300, 000 Americans believe they have been abducted by aliens and ten times this figure claim to have either seen or being part of a UFO experience.
What’s surprising about UFO mania is how most adherents universally reject any evidence based, rational way of either empirically proving or debunking the myth. One reason accounting for its continued allure and mass following second only to porn in the internet is because it’s faith rather than evidenced based.
I say this rather sheepishly as having been one of those who once traveled during my university days dressed in a home made kitchen foil shiny suit to stone hedge in England along with a bunch of UFO enthusiast. It was supposed to be a group event led by then extraterrestrial guru supreme, Eric Von Daniken, to,
“Make contact with an alien civilization.”
Eric Von Daniken who wrote paper back books and sold over 60 million of them with catchy headings like “return to the stars” has been living off a sound bite for over four decades, and a wrong sound bite at that: there is intelligent life out there and we are not alone. Von Daniken famously declared that it was possible to communicate with aliens, by harnessing a collective force he referred to as universal tempo. Generally it’s a poly got mish mash of astral projection with elements of pseudoscience that requires all of us to stand in a circle holding hands and gripping TV antennas with our teeth while trying to harness our inner force. (I can’t really imagine a more frightening way to greet an alien civilization – seems akin to me like future pot in the missionary sort of greeting.)
If it were all true, something would have appeared about the horizon by midnight that rain soaked night so many years ago, but nothing really happened. We were even promised a visitation complete with a 7 day space trip that in space time roughly equaled 20 earth days, just enough for me to stop paying my rent. But when the space ship didn’t arrive, Eric Von Daniken’s agent (a moonlighting intergalactic tour guide whose day job was a milk delivery man, that should have rung big Ben a few times!) disappeared along with the proceeds of our money. All of us realized that we had been duped, including me and this other Singaporean chap from Holland village, whom I vaguely recall as Homer (you would have thought someone with a name like Homer would be able to think for both of us).
By morning, as we all dispersed, I realized I had been kicked out of my room by my landlord. He didn’t even bother to hear my story not that I sounded the least convincing with my kitchen foil suit and perplex fish bowl helmet. I spent a whole week living in a friend’s station wagon (I still have backache from having to sleep in an upright position, because Homer shared the living quarters with me. This could probably explain why he’s two inches shorter than me, though I distinctively remembered him being much taller.)
I guess when you go through this sort of experience, it makes one wiser – in the years that followed, slowly the posters of the flying saucer disappeared followed by other space paraphernalia and curios. For a time, I even suffered an aversion of everything sci-fi and preferred the flicks of Merchant & Ivory where the room with the view looked out only on placid rolling green hills in terra-firma.
When I look back at my youthful preoccupation with UFO’s – my mania, so to speak, wasn’t so different from the rest of those people who still continue to believe in the existence of flying saucers and little green men. One reason why UFO’s still have such a compelling allure is because they tap into a very deep rooted human yearning – we don’t want to live in a Copernican universe or anything resembling the real world where we may even have to reconcile ourselves with the prospects of being the only rock in space that supports intelligent life – we simply cant bear the idea of being alone.
Neither does the notion of the human species being merely an accidental by-product sit well with our sensibilities either – for one it fills us with the morbid fear there is perhaps only, in the words of Blaise Pascal, “the cool eternity and silence of space…as it goes on and on….and on and on…into the depths of eternity…on and on and on….”
As with blogging or any form of preoccupation like UFO spotting, gardening or simply being a member of a book club, I am beginning to realize being merely a subset of the online community either as a writer, reader or even a surfer, connects one with a deeper philosophical meaning to make sense of our existence in relation to one’s community – man’s yearning to seek new frontiers in exploring new life forms and distant civilizations is encoded into our genetic being to always seek out meaningful connections with others. We may be different in every conceivable way, but the desire to connect is very much a part of being human.
That perhaps is why against the dark morose backdrop of this existential vacuum called space so many humans need to conjure up the imagery of the wobbly flying saucer whirling happily away. The human species simply needs and wants to believe – in the existence of those little green men who always manage to walk perfectly balanced and straight when they emerge from their aircrafts – after being tumbled and spun around so many times.
Now I really wonder – how do they manage to do that?
“Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Astroboy. I am a cartographer mandated by the Scientific Interstellar Federation, my ensign No: 990287982 E. It’s a pleasure to come into contact with you all!”
by Astroboy / Commentaries / Space / Brotherhood Press 2007/ Personality Intro E
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