THE INTELLIGENT SINGAPOREAN

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Are We All Alone? – [A National Week Message]

Posted by intellisg on August 9, 2007

alone.jpgSomewhere in Middle America on a spring June in 1947, a traveling salesman by the name of Kenneth Arnold proclaimed to the world; he spotted the first flying saucer in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. At first everyone brushed him off as a Looney. But this didn’t stop Arnold and his motley crew from spreading their message through out the American radio circuit. No one really took them seriously beyond regarding them as freak shows in between advertising slots for detergents and soda pops.

But it was just after WW2 and most Americans were tired of looking down, flying saucers offered a good excuse as any to lift one’s head towards the heavens. Today – ‘UFO’ ranks as the second most Googled word and scores the second highest hit just after ‘porn’ – three in every five people believe our planet has been visited by an alien civilization – there’s even an US government funded program (SETI) to look for little green men.

I wonder are they all delusional? Perhaps they know something, you and I don’t know….

These days anything to do with UFO’s is serious business. Gone are the days when the likes of Arnold and his motley crew were treated like inbreeding cretins paraded around like circus freaks. These days UFO believers make the Freemasons look like a consortium of bus drivers. Don’t believe me –check it out yourself;

http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1358.htm

Reads like a who is who’s list. Right? Still think we’ve crazy? Not so sure now are you?

What many people don’t realize is UFO mania is the stuff of cult churches where the pastor goes around in a sports car – it’s is big business! The trade in UFO paraphernalia alone runs into mind boggling figures exceeding USD$3.5 billion per annum and the underground figure is at least 3 times bigger! Hey and just like cult churches, they don’t even need publish annual accounts! The UFO movement has even managed to stake a claim on their own Jerusalem in Roswell. A fabled site where flying saucer historians rant no end about how once upon a time “this is was the place where an alien space craft once crashed complete with five green men.” (maybe this is another case for agent molder and Scully?). Nevermind that Arnold was once diagnosed as clinically delusional – nevermind that he had an imaginary cat called “Dorothy” – nevermind that he had a bizarre habit of driving naked in his pick up. These are just minor kinks in the surreal UFO footage.

What surprises me no end, is how the vast majority of UFO adherents universally reject any evidence based, rational way of either empirically proving or debunking their beliefs. In fact, the mere mention of the possibility that flying saucers might not exist is so heretical. The reaction it usually provokes suggests one should immediately shred one’s brain in anticipation of the looming darkness.

One reason accounting for UFO fundamentalism is it’s entirely a matter of faith, just like cult churches i.e just because you can’t disprove means – it has to be true!

I say this rather sheepishly as having once traveled during my university days 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 supremo, Eric Von Daniken – our aim was to establish ‘contact’ with an alien civilization.

Eric Von Daniken was widely known as the veritable Mahatma Gandhi in the UFO fraternity.

So there I we were all standing on a side of a hill with other similarly confused kids in a circle holding hands and gripping TV antennas in between our teeth trying our best to ‘conduct’ our energy towards the far reaches of outer space – to make contact. (Retrospectively, I can’t imagine a more frightening way to greet an alien civilization – seems akin to me like future pot in the missionary sort of greeting.)

We were even promised a visitation complete with a 7 day space trip that in space time roughly equaled 20 earth days, just dandy for me to stop paying my rent. But when the space ship didn’t arrive and it started to rain. Most of us realize the only thing we were going to ‘conduct’ was lightning. By then, Eric Von Daniken’s agent (a moonlighting intergalactic tour guide whose day job was a milk delivery man, that should have rung big Ben till it was a bengkok) packed off like a traveling circus along with our money.

All of us realized that we had been duped, including 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!).

I spent a whole week living in a friend’s station wagon only because my landlord has rented out the room (that was the closest I ever got to space, only because it was a banged up Nissan Space Wagon).

I often tell myself, when one goes through these sort of experiences, it’s supposed to make one wiser (well its supposed too) – in the years that followed, slowly the posters of the flying saucer disappeared slowly followed by other space paraphernalia and curios which is probably making their rounds in ebay. For a time, I even suffered an aversion for all things remotely sci-fi and preferred down to earth Merchant & Ivory flicks like ‘room with a view’ which looked out to rolling green hills in terra-firma.

When I look back at my youthful preoccupation with UFO’s – my mania, 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 the myth of UFO remains so compelling is because it taps into the very root of human yearning – it’s the same one that I realize religious hucksters and charlatans leverage on whenever they ask us all to deep deeper into our pockets – deep down, all of us yearns for a sense of belonging, where we can make sense of who we are in relation to the broader community.

All too often our crie de couer is so strong, it even denies the possibility of the truth. It’s a play of course on the classical Rousseau-lian theme, “I think, so I am.” That just means the possibility that all there is to life is just the vacuum of a Copernican universe where we may just be the only ones out there is simply too repugnant to handle.

Neither does the notion of the human species being merely an accidental by-product sit too well with our sense and sensibilities either – for one it fills us with the morbid fear there’s 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….”

My friend, Darkness once told me: all of us are genetically predisposed to always seek out meaningful connections with others. We can no more run away from this tendency any more than we can step out from our skin and bones, that’s how strong the desire to connect is, that’s something ants can’t do.

Could this be the reason why against this existential vacuum called space – so many of us look out endlessly to search for flying saucers whirling happily away? Really, I want to believe, I really do, that we are not alone.

It’s something to think about this National week, you, I and the greater ‘we’ could well be all there is to life on this side of the galaxy for a very long time to come. So let’s try our best to make the best of it in this little desolate rock called home – happy National day!

“We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

[This has been brought to you by Aurora written by Astro Boy & Scholar Boy / Space / Musings / Brotherhood Press 2007/ ES (Recycled) 983723 ES The Brotherhood Press 2007]

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2 Responses to “Are We All Alone? – [A National Week Message]”

  1. nycjeff said

    uhh, who funds SETI?

  2. sitis said

    Dynamics of An Emerging Field.

    In our normal experiences, a location in which a certain activity is taking place (e.g. the Marina Bay Area where NDP 2007 took place) has a particular distinctive atmosphere. Walking into the gathering, we may notice an emotional tone in the air (e.g. the crowd, the cheers and the fanfare). It has a dynamic and pervasive quality. Such an experience is an example of a specific FIELD in operation.

    Supposing we have a particularly powerful experience of some sort, and later, when we remember that experience, we remember not only the relevant particulars, but something of the setting: how things looked, felt, smelt, or the quality of light and the glitterings. We may remember events associated in time, or remember even a particular sense of time and space. Such examples suggest that at the time of the original experience, the various elements present shared and participated in a FIELD. In the same way, we could consider that all appearances, all existences and all experiences share in an all-encompassing FIELD.

    How would such a FIELD establish itself and become all-encompassing? Find out at: http://sitis.wordpress.com/

    I remain yours always:

    AS IT IS!

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