Friday, January 14, 2011

A Synchromystic on UFOMystic

There's a brand spanking new interview up with yours truly on UFOMystic. 

The theme is the sadly shrinking common ground between sci-fi fandom and the Weirdness communities, and a review of some of the most powerful collisions between the two (PKD, Quatermass, etc.). Read on...

UFOMystic Exclusive Interview With Christopher Knowles

Are The Lone Gunmen pilot and the Doctor Who serial “The Pyramids of Mars” examples of “Precog fiction”? Did the writers of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner incorporate “Illuminati symbolism” into that film? Is there a secret government program to gradually acclimatise the public to the reality of extraterrestrial life? 

What follows is an exclusive interview with the author of The Secret Sun blog Christopher Knowles for UFOMystic about all this and more.

Richard Thomas: Thanks for agreeing to this interview Christopher, I know my own interest in the paranormal, UFOs and conspiracy theories etc. was largely an offshoot of my interest in sci-fi, was your own interest in comic books the spark for your interest in Fortean type subjects?

Christopher Knowles: I don’t know if one follows the other. I’m a child of the 70s and weirdness was mainstream entertainment, certainly in the first half of the decade. I remember UFO and paranormal stuff being everywhere, and certainly stuff like Chariots of the Gods was very popular. Comics definitely picked up on all of that, particularly a lot of the occult and cosmic themes that a lot of the hippies who entered the business brought with them from the fanzines and undergrounds.

Richard Thomas: Do have any thoughts on why so many people in the paranormal and conspiracy fields seem to start out with an interest in sci-fi, comics etc first? Is it just that the two parallel somewhat, the only difference being one is presented as fiction and the other as reality? Or, is it something more like the kind of people who enjoy sci-fi tend to be the kind of people who also enjoy to ask questions and speculate about the world around them?

Christopher Knowles: Do they? In my experience, most sci-fi and comics fans look down on paranormal and conspiracy stuff, since a lot of your arch-skeptic types like Issac Asimov and Harlan Ellison were so aggressive in their attempts to denigrate and ridicule anything they decided was “irrational,” quote-unquote. You see a lot of sci-fi fans who fetishize conventional government/corporate science, even though none of them really understand it. On the flipside of that, you have a lot of the conspiracy types who think sci-fi is all government brainwashing. But again, I’m a child of the 70s when things weren’t so polarized and people were a bit more curious and open-minded, which was a byproduct of the Sixties counterculture.

Richard Thomas: How did your blog first come about and is their any reason in particular you choose the name “The Secret Sun,” I thought it might be a comic book reference or something like that perhaps?

Christopher Knowles: The blog came about because I was promoting my book Our Gods Wear Spandex and wanted to field test some ideas I’d developed in a manuscript on sci-fi movies. The name itself comes from a recurring dream of mine in which the sun comes out in the middle of the night, but only certain people know about it.

Richard Thomas: I know like me you’re a Doctor Who fan, do you have a particular favourite story and/or writer, and why do you think the writers seemed to borrow so heavily from the paranormal genre, for instance most notably in serials like “The Abominable Snowmen” and “The Daemons”, and in the new series there was even a reference to the Roswell crash and another one to the bees disappearing?

Christopher Knowles: I watched Doctor Who in the 70s in the Tom Baker days, but kind of lost touch with it for a very long time. Then my wife and I watched the William Hartnell pilot at a convention and got hooked all over again. We love those early Hartnell serials, but we’re both really big fans of the new series. I could never get into the Eccleston or Tennant stuff.

As to your second question, I think writers will borrow from anything since story ideas are hard to come by, especially with a long-running series like that. But here’s the deal — most sci-fi has nothing to do with science. It’s really about magic, so any kind of paranormal or occult theme is going to fit right in. Radioactive spider bites and warp drives are as magical as anything you read in a Harry Potter book.

Richard Thomas: A poster on the Fortean Times forum actually pointed out to me that the 1975 Doctor Who serial “The Pyramids of Mars” actually pre-dated the famous 1976 Viking 1 photos. Of course, there’s also the pilot episode of The X-Files spin-off series The Lone Gunmen broadcast in 2000, which seemingly predicted the events of 9/11. Do you think this kind of thing is just coincidental or might there be something more to it than that perhaps? Some kind of remote viewing maybe?

Christopher Knowles: Oh yeah, I cover a lot of examples of precog fiction on The Secret Sun, including both of those examples you cite there. The mind is magic, and the creative mind all the more so. I do believe that the same part of the brain that pulls these kinds of stories out of the ether has something to do with remote viewing. It’s about entering into a state of consciousness in which time and space are relative in the extreme.

Richard Thomas: What are your thoughts on Bruce Rux’s theory as outlined in his book Hollywood vs. The Aliens: The Motion Picture Industry’s Participation in UFO Disinformation that the US Government are using sci-fi TV shows and films to gradually acclimatise the public to the existence of extraterrestrial life?

Christopher Knowles: I do think there are elements within the government involved in doing so, but by no means the government as a whole. There are probably a lot more people within the government who want the issue to go away entirely. But it’s hard to argue that there isn’t some program going out there, seeing that articles on alien contact are running in The Guardian, of all places. A lot of this might have to do with the rise of countries like China and India, who don’t see the issue in the same light that the conservative and religious elements within the US do.

Richard Thomas: You’re also a fan of Nigel Kneale’s third Quatermass story, “Quatermass and the Pit,” what do you think it is that makes Quatermass and the Pit stand out from The Quatermass Experiment and Quatermass II, and why do you think so many sci-fi and UFO authors have borrowed from Kneale’s third Quatermass script?

Christopher Knowles: It’s a classic initiation narrative, at least the version that most people are familiar with. You have an underground cavern where you go to discover who you really are and it changes everything. You find out that you’re the descendant of heavenly beings who came to earth and created men in their own image. You have Quatermass as the hierophant and Barbara as the oracle and Roney as the self-sacrificing savior. You have mystical visions, you have the authorities-slash-archons who seek to prevent the alien gnosis from spreading and then to top it all off, you have an apocalypse. It’s classic stuff, straight out of the Mystery cults of Alexandria.

Richard Thomas: Nothing to do with UFOs per se but back in 2009 I wrote a column for Binnall of America entitled “Blade Runner: Electronic Owls and Illuminati Symbolism,” pyramids, the All Seeing Eye, Owls, have you ever noticed the abundance of “Illuminati Symbolism” in Blade Runner and what, if anything, do you think it could mean? I know Philip K. Dick had an interest in paranormal type subjects, did he have much input into the film? 

Christopher Knowles: Well, we know that Dick was all over anything weird or mystical, but I don’t think he had much involvement in the movie itself. Blade Runner kind of presents us with this kind of technocratic dystopia that some of these elite cult types would see as the paradise of their apotheosis. The cognitive elite in their penthouses and the poor, teeming masses huddled in the streets and the middle class a distant memory. The constant rain is kind of like the piss of the new gods in that regard. Maybe Scott incorporated some of those symbols as part of the overall social critique of this world that runs throughout the film. Maybe it was the screenwriter David Peoples, who also did similar films like Twelve Monkeys and Soldier.

Richard Thomas: Thanks for answering my questions Christopher. How can readers purchase your books and get in touch with you?

Christopher Knowles: The best way to get the books is on Amazon. You can find my blog at The Secret Sun.