Hey, you wanted weird...
Food preparation is both an art and a science. It's a science because it's about taking certain elements (ingredients) and subjecting them to various processes of measurement and mixing and exposing these to carefully determined levels of heat (sometimes cold) at determined intervals in order to achieve a desired outcome. It's an art because there are all kinds of variables that cookbooks --or even training-- can't account for or predict.
As with a schoolkid's chemistry experiment, you are often dealing with catalytic agents that change the basic nature of the ingredients you are preparing. Drink-mixing-- a related science/art-- is much the same way. My favorite example is the Long Island Iced Tea, in which you take carefully measured portions of various liquors and end up with something remarkably similar to a can of sweetened Iced Tea, something you'd never guess would ever result if you tasted the individual ingredients themselves.
With cooking it's also important to choose the right ingredients in the best available quality. Sometimes you can make magic with inferior ingredients but only sometimes. Bad ingredients can not only ruin a dish, it can also affect your taste not only for that dish but for that type of cuisine. It's a visceral thing, and doesn't respond to the rules of scientific rationalism. Nor does any endeavor that makes life tolerable.
I find it's best to prepare several different types of cuisine. You'll find that your understanding of one will help you better understand the other. I suppose there are people who stick to one kind of cooking- or dining- but I think you'll find that most people enjoy a variety of dishes, often at a single meal. Only one kind of food can get really boring really fast.
And so it is with the World of Weird: you have the paranormal (which includes topics like Synchronicity and remote viewing), fringe science (which includes psychedelic research) and exopolitics (which includes topics like UFOlogy and ancient astronauts). I'll toss in parapolitics into the mix for good measure, since disinformation and manipulation from outside parties is always an issue for anyone who doesn't want to think like a pasty, horn-rimmed gelding with their nose buried in the mainstream media's starfish.
The problem is that too many people plant their flags in one plot or the other (or the other), and zealously lob grenades at their neighbors rather than focusing all of their aggression where it belongs; the defenders of the corrupt establishment.
Hence you see UFO people arguing with paranormal people (although UFO people seem to spend most of their time fighting with each other) and paranormal people arguing with entheogenic researchers and so on and so forth. And of course that guy is a shill and this one is a plant and come to think of it so are you, at least according to the third guy.
But for me, that's not only a waste of energy, it's also extremely short-sighted and self-limiting.
I realize that I might be older than a lot of people reading this and I've been into this stuff since the 70s and certainly have no shortage of weirdness in my bio. But not only do I not think these things are separate and distinct, I very much believe that you really can't have one without the other: that "it" only really works when you put them all together (in the proper formulation, of course). I have come to see all Weirdness as profoundly interconnected and interdependent.
I have my own biases; I don't believe UFOs are spacecraft filled with Reticulan anthropologists and I don't think psychedelic drugs are the key to human evolution (and therefore should be gobbled at will), but I'm more worried about the mindless drones staring at "reality television" (sic) than I am about forcing someone who's interested in any kind of weirdness at all to agree with me.
I also realize that it's no use trying to distance yourself from any of the other Weird phyla in hopes that you'll be seen as respectable by the mainstream. Why? Well, because the elites are creating a world in which even the smallest deviation from their pronouncements, whether through The New York Times or the conservative media, will not be tolerated. Questioning conventional wisdom in any way at all will brand you as a heretic or woowoo or a "conspiracy theorist". So in for a penny, in for a pound.
I've spent more time than any sane person should working on these blogs. For every article I've posted here there have been hours and hours of research and agonizing you don't see, which is why I can't post with the frequency I used to.*
But it hasn't been time wasted because it helped me realize that all these weird interests I had before I started blogging here were all very deeply and profoundly connected, and figuring how exactly has totally changed everything.
The next step is to figure what to do with this realization in a world that is rapidly becoming a real-time sci-fi dystopia.
I realize that a lot of people want to distance themselves from the UFO question- and looking at the state of modern UFOlogy I really don't blame them. But it's an inextricable part of the puzzle and always has been, no matter what kind of deceiving gibberish that noxious theocratic shills (I don't use that term lightly- I mean literal, bought-and-paid-for shills and conmen) might try to foist off on an ignorant nation of YouTards under the cover of objectivity.
But the beauty of it is that you don't even need to believe in the objective reality of UFOs for the recipes to work. Like so much of the World of Weird, UFOs are a topic you should take seriously but you don't necessarily have to take literally.
Let me retrace my steps here...
In the early summer of 1998 I began printing out a ton of information on UFOs and ancient astronauts and conspiracy theories and all the rest on three hole punched paper and binding it into a book. I had downloaded all of this stuff off the Internet and had intended to use it as reading material for my plane trip out to San Diego for Comicon.
I barely cracked it. By the end of the summer I was using the printouts as sketch paper.
I lost interest- again- just as I had around the same time I got online a few years earlier. There was just nowhere to go with the extraterrestrial hypothesis. At least for me.
It was such a break that when I sat down to watch The X-Files' seventh season premiere "The Sixth Extinction" in early November of 1999 I remember telling my wife, "oh, they're doing the ancient astronauts stuff. I used to be into that kind of thing."
In the interim I wrote the published Our Gods Wear Spandex and the unpublished Ancient Dramas, Modern Myths which certainly mentioned UFOs and aliens in the context of the plotlines of the films I was looking at, but that was about it. My primary target in Ancient Dramas were the ancient sun worship cults, which I didn't really understand at all when I wrote the book because hardly anyone else did (or does).
So I started the blog to promote Spandex and blog about the weird stuff I wrote about in private. But more importantly I wanted to field-test ideas explored in Ancient Dramas. I remember looking at photos of Rockefeller Center and having it click into place- whoever designed this place was paying tribute to what I called the "Heavenly Beam" which manifests itself in the person of "Prometheus", whose statue there is in fact based on depictions of Mithras the Aryo-Persian sun god, not the hoary old Titan of Greek mythology.
Mithras was important because he was the god of choice for the Roman alpha male and his rites and cults were remarkably similar to more recent secret societies. I used to get an eyeful of old Mithras when my wife worked at the old AT+T headquarters, since a giant golden statue of him stood over the main entrance to the site. Back then I thought these symbols had meaning to the guys in the corner offices, but came to realize the real action was with the artists and architects, who were consciously- or ritually- drawing on symbols that their ancient forebears had done.
Or once did, rather, before modernism and post-modernism devastated not only the basic skillset of architects, artists and designers all over the world but also erased any spiritual connection they might feel to the Dionysian Artificers or Medieval stonemason guilds. Anything that inspired- or even entertained- people as they marched to their flourescent-lit cubicles was systematically destroyed.
It was more important to hammer the general public in the head 24 hours a day with dehumanizing CIA-promoted abstract art and sub-Lego architecture that would depress the most committed Soviet, all to serve the true agenda of elevating the cult of Mammon to its present state of unchallenged divinity.
So it took several years for me to decode all of this. I started off steeped in Jung, but didn't quite make the connection that Jung had started his life's work with a headful of the Mithraic Liturgy and ended it obsessively studying flying saucers.
It wasn't until I went back and re-read that Liturgy that it all became clear- this text, which ultimately introduced the term "collective unconscious" in the global lexicon was in fact nearly identical to any number of 50s vintage Contactee fever-dreams, with flying metallic disks with doors and beams and ramps and crewmen and all the rest of it.
Unfortunately for the skepdicks, it was written at least 1700 years ago and was probably based on a text written long before that. They had no science fiction to contaminate their UFO visions.
In between all of this I was invited by Jeff Kripal to lecture about Jack Kirby at the Esalen CTR, where I discovered that despite all the frothing nonsense you hear from little fascist weasels, Esalen itself is about as sinister as (and in fact was eerily similar to) an episode of Portlandia.
Jeff also invited Jacques Vallee and a woman from MUFON and everyone was talking about UFOs. I had just finished working on The Complete X-Files and wondered if they were really taking this stuff seriously. At that point it had been a full decade since I had thought much about the topic. But I didn't really understand that they meant something different than little gray dudes in interstellar frisbees. And as I wrote, I got a real-time immersion into the world of weird upon returning from first trip out to Big Sur.
It wasn't until I let go out of the "nuts-n-bolts" version of UFOs --and the pomade-and-bronzing-spray version of Ancient Astronaut Theory-- that all the pieces fell into place. But there were more pieces to the puzzle.
Like a lot of guys in their early 20s I was into psychedelic research, but Cyberpunk stole me away soonafter. Part of the pitch with Cyberpunk was virtual reality, which my next great fixation- Gnosticism- took a more dim view of.
But at the time I didn't realize that what made William Gibson's novels so interesting --and all the other Cyberpunk writers' books less so-- was how he leavened his take on VR with ancient archetypes from the Mystery religions, albeit through their (direct)Vodou incarnations. I read about the Mysteries when I was up to my ears in Gnosis magazine and so on, but it all seemed like some lost, archaic curiosity, a precursor to more effective systems like Gnosticism and Christianity.
Boy, was I wrong.
Soonafter I returned from Esalen I was contacted by Jeremy Vaeni to appear on his Culture of Contact podcast. I was still extremely leery about the abduction thing; even when I was into UFOs I saw it all as dissociated sexual abuse trauma, if not outright fantasy. But even then I was trying to make sense of it in the context of some kind of induced experience, similar to VR. It wasn't until I really begin to look into the issue that that all made perfect sense. Abduction-as-induced-VR -experience would come to be a major theme on this blog.
VR will remain primarily theoretical as entertainment, because even with our superfast computers it's still devilishly labor-intensive (and if you can brainwash the masses with an attention-starved freak and a video camera, why bother?). The more sensible course would be to bypass the visual cortex all together and go straight to the brain. I'm sure that's being worked on and I'm sure that if it goes wide it will be as porn, not government mind control.
Of course, the mix of Gnosis and VR--and an unhealthy dose of Singulartarianism - went mainstream with The Matrix, but for my money it was more interesting (and sexier) when done as Gnosis/VR/alien abduction narrative the year before in Dark City (ironically the same year I dropped the UFO ball for a decade). The VR in Dark City is a bit more analog, but it's essentially the same concept.
For me the Gnosis/VR/alien abduction/sex was even more interesting in 1964 when it was done as the original pilot for Star Trek and then again in 1967 when done in The Invaders. I'm sure you can go further back still, but both seem to draw from The Outer Limits' ep "Nightmare", which itself was based on The Manchurian Candidate.
And if you read Bruce Rux, you'd know he believes that the real basis of MK Ultra and the rest of the attempts at Manchurian Candidate mind-control (which I would say were all scuttled in favor of EvangeliCIALism and now the brutal control techniques we see being used out in the open today) was not North Korean prison camp interrogation techniques but then-classified "alien abduction" reports.
The common denominator in these televised dramatizations was the men behind them and their connections to people in the military and police, which gave them access to the real currency of intelligence work, gossip. Outer Limits producer Leslie Stevens, Gene Roddenberry and Invaders producer Quinn Martin were the right mix of connected and maverick to tell interesting tales out of school. And all three would have a profound effect on the culture, not only in America but all around the world.
But what also connects the three is a interest-bordering-on-obsession with the strange frontier between weird science and the occult. Stevens wrote and directed the ultra-bizarre Incubus with William Shatner, Roddenberry dropped some serious weirdness into Trek (right under the noses of tedious sci-fi scolds like Harlan Ellison and Isaac Asimov) and later wrote the occult-themed Spectre (with Outer Limits alum Robert Culp) and the original treament for Earth: Final Conflict. Quinn Martin's only feature film was the classic Mephisto Waltz and his final project was The Aliens are Coming, very much an attempt to update The Invaders.
So even though everyone else might be telling you you're wasting your time with this stuff, I'm here to tell you that entire religions have been built on much, much less. The problem is that external conditions have historically inhibited the effective study of these topics.
I'm here to tell you that the people who might mock you for being interested in Weirdness are in fact the saddest, most pitiful creatures you could ever meet. They are desperate self-loathers who hide their existential despair by searching out people who they think they can dump on with impunity.
But the shoe may be on the other foot some day, when the former middle class realizes that all of the scientists and academics we're told to worship as new gods are really nothing else but crackwhores for Mammon's techno-predatory gloryhole. Start preparing for that day now.
The first step to that future starts with you and it starts with one question: is all this worth my time or would I be better off doing something else? Is this all junk culture detritus or very ancient wisdom in disguise?
What is culture after all, and who decides what is junk or not?
And are the hyperprivileged drones and/or paraphiles at CSICOP and TED and The New York Times and PBS and Freethought Blogs qualified to make those kinds of decisions for me?
* I had intended to do the Mystery Hour more regularly until my computer began crapping out post-Sandy (I can't afford a new one at the moment) and experienced delightful surprises such as the port for my headset not working and Audacity crashing every time I tried to open a file in it. I also found that the people I had approached to appear on the show weren't exactly chomping at the bit to cooperate with me. That's show biz for you.