Thursday, December 02, 2010

Alien Dreaming and the Widening Gyre: Break on Through

Have you heard about Dark Jupiter? It seems that we're closer to isolating the Sun's "companion," a giant planet that is hurling comets toward the Sun, like some great mythic war in Heaven. Scientists seem to believe there's something out there- something huge- but there's no agreement on what it may be.
Our sun may have a companion that disturbs comets from the edge of the solar system — a giant planet with up to four times the mass of Jupiter, researchers suggest. A NASA space telescope launched last year may soon detect such a stealth companion to our sun, if it actually exists, in the distant icy realm of the comet-birthing Oort cloud, which surrounds our solar system with billions of icy objects.

The potential jumbo Jupiter would likely be a world so frigid it is difficult to spot, researchers said. It could be found up to 30,000 astronomical units from the sun. One AU is the distance between the Earth and the sun, about 93 million miles (150 million km).

The distances here are staggering- the Solar System is said to be two light years in diameter- that's something like 20 trillion kilometers, or almost 10 trillion miles. And the closest system to ours in something like four and a half light years away. Remember this is in a galaxy composed of billions of stars and an infinite universe filled with trillions of galaxies.

I know these numbers can make some people feel insignificant but they make me feel grateful- grateful to be alive at a time when we're beginning to appreciate the enormity of temporal reality. Maybe I'll live long enough to be able to see some live footage of alien planets and distant suns.

But there's a larger point here. We are stuck in these extremely fragile and short-lived shells, and what little time we've spent outside the atmosphere has shown us how poorly-suited we are to living in zero gravity. I'm sure we'll eventually find our way to Mars, which we'll probably figure out how to terraform along with Venus and maybe even camp out on a Jovian moon or two. But will these shells make it outside the Oort Cloud, even in the event we can create a warp drive or a stargate?

I think these units we're operating are meant to serve old Sol alone. Like Jack Kirby I think any extrasolar exploration will be done by robots, with relays and remote control. As I've said before the more I think about it the more I think that if there are aliens zipping around currently, they are extraterrestrial but not extrasolar (that's a whole other post). Call it a vibe but I just feel quiet and darkness once you pass Saturn or Neptune, at least as far as we're concerned.

But those robots will probably be controlled by something a little more exotic than radio waves, maybe neutrinos or lasers or something crazy like that. I lose radio signals in the Holland Tunnel, Seth - I can only imagine what all that radioactive violence out there does. But we may also transcend even our current genetic obsessions and discover that consciousness is an electrical or an atomic process and that we can be perfectly comfortable on Earth or Mars and send our consciousness out into Galactic Center via whatever bizarre and exotic means we will surely discover one day if humanity doesn't fall apart to shit like it's trying its damndest to do now.

Now we're talking about transmission- until there's a receiver it's just a signal. We'd have to send probes out to wherever we want to virtually travel, at least by my reckoning, probes which would have to be able to transmit a signal back as well. But what if brains come equipped with that capacity? The Monoliths in 2001 were transmitter/receivers that were able to interface with the primate brain, just like the probes in question here. Terence McKenna speculated that psychotropic fungi could possibly be transmitters as well - a real-life Monolith, in other words- but that's all highly subjective. Not every brain has been turned on and tuned in by hallucinogens. In my experience, a lot aren't at all. They just pretend to be.

Now, if we are to make scientific conjectures about other solar systems based on our own, it's fair to say that can also apply this principle to higher intelligence. If an alien race were to bother to make contact with our own (and spend an enormous amount of time and energy to do so), there'd probably be two motivations- either scientific curiosity (coupled with a possible desire to show off their superior knowledge) or colonization. The former (as well as light-body travel) is a theme in the very first episode of The Outer Limits, and in other episodes such as the drop-dead classic, "The Bellero Shield." In other words, the transfer of consciousness through energy, all at a time when most other scifi was still concerned with flying saucers and bug-eyed monsters.

Colonization would come if a race had depleted its own biosphere, decided our own would make a dandy replacement and came in force to evict us and take it for themselves. So unless we see a fleet of motherships hovering over our cities, we're probably safe for the time being.

Or are we? Outer Limits creator Leslie Stevens wrote and directed a powerful and extremely resonant episode entitled "The Production and Decay of Strange Particles," in which an alien race takes over human bodies through some kind of interdimensional energetic transfer. Who and what this race is never explained but they use the splitting of atoms to invade our own dimension. The fact that Stevens was the son of a powerful Naval Admiral (Philadelphia Experiment, anyone?) and was himself involved in intelligence during the war adds an extra kick to the proceedings. I can only imagine the impact this episode had during the height of the Cold War. It's pretty scary as it is today.

This episode also reminds me of the debate over the theofascist Collins Elite, who wasted untold taxpayer dollars trying to prove that Jack Parsons summoned "demons" with his ridiculous masturbation rituals. I believe a reader noted that if something did break through, more likely it was the doing of the armies of scientists all over the world who've been tearing apart the very fabric of reality from the Manhattan Project all the way up to CERN. In an infinite universe of eternal provenance, who knows what kind of sentient energies are floating around out there looking for new homes to implant themselves in? Scientists are warning us about sending signals off into the cosmos, but are they being equally careful about their meddling with the microcosmos?


Researcher Bruce Rux is a huge fan of The Outer Limits and is convinced that Stevens was taking classified material from military UFO research and incorporating it in the series. Were analysts concerned about these transmission scenarios?

Trapped between dimensions in Stevens' "The Borderland"

In addition to the possibility they were leaking UFO reports in their stories, I'm certain that Stevens and his partner Joseph Stefano had some kind of experience with hallucinogens, and might have also undergone a particularly effective kind of psychoanalysis, because their stories are absolutely drenched in the power of the Unconscious mind even when they don't make literal sense. Maybe especially when they don't. Either way, I get the feeling that these guys had extraordinary experiences of some kind.

There's also a very, very powerful resonance kicking around the entire first season of the show, a resonance that borders on the numinous even with the bargain basement effects. I also realize that this show insinuated itself into my own subconscious around the time I was hallucinating leprechauns and giant chevrons and all of the rest of it on a regular basis thanks to 105ºF fevers.

This shit vibrates inside my head on levels I can't explain, especially if you're younger and have no patience for the low-rent production values. Whether those other worlds are inside our heads or out, I have a feeling Leslie Stevens spent some time there.