Friday, April 9, 2010

FSR1959: the human side.

As always, 1959 ushered in some big things in UFOlogy and FSR. Sociologically, the biggest thing at FSR was that Trench spent only two-thirds of the year as editor and then retired. He was replaced by Waveney Girvan [above]. [I find "Waveney" an improbable name, but after "Brinsley LePoer Trench" I'm up for anything]. Girvan was, with Trench and Derek Dempster, one of the five, or so, founding members of the magazine. His ascent to editorship was not an inconsequential move. Although Girvan was a [fairly unwavering...no really, that unintended pun is too much...unshakeable] supporter of George Adamski's contact claims [he was the publisher of Adamski and Leslie's book], his editorship immediately began to downplay such claims as far as pages in the magazine were concerned. Instantly gone were articles by "believe it or not" claimants like Howard Menger, George Hunt Williamson, Dana Howard, Orfeo Angelucci, Dino Kraspedon, and, most joyously, T. Lobsang Rampa. Unusual new concepts were welcome, but even these had a more "contemplative" air about them. Whatever Girvan believed himself, he was making FSR a more respectable source of information and ideas. It was not perfection, but it was better. So, FSR in 1959 was two-thirds "old" Trench-like FSR, and one third "new" Girvanesque FSR. -------- Perhaps it was Girvan's sense of publishing style, but the magazine's layout looked a bit better as well. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Certain clearly "good" and useful things were reported. Donald Keyhoe and NICAP had become enough of a nuisance to the Air Force with their Congressional Hearings campaign, that the NICAP/USAF war was well joined, and the Air Force had to move swiftly to blunt momentum for open hearings. Some "behind closed doors" discussions were happening and fragments of news of that was leaking like a sieve, and FSR reported some of it. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The "Captain Killian" airlines crew case was still generating an ongoing stink in the media, and a lot of people were talking about it and saucers in general. Much of this talk was happening at surprising places like the von Braun rocket-testing center at Huntsville, Alabama. During this time, one of the high-powered chief technologists at the center, Colonel Lee James [seen in the picture to the left as the second man from the right, at the Apollo 11 launch console] was giving a talk in the Detroit area when the UFO subject came up. James probably stunned his listeners with: "I know they are not from here, and they are not coming from Russia. We in this civilisation are not that advanced yet". ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Admiral Dufek had just returned from his deployment as executive officer of Operation Deep-Freeze in Antarctica and on landing in New Zealand was happy to admit that several of his personnel had reported UFOs during his tenure.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Charles Maney had been meditating about Aime Michel's concept of UFOs exploring the globe using some form of geometrical reconnaissance patterns and found the idea meritorious and exciting. {I, by the way, view Michel's work on this concept as very intelligent, but in the end untrue. Wish it was true, but my reading of the probability arguments involved lead me to the different conclusion. And this does not surprise me; as we have seen, the UFOnauts have been very careful to leave behind few hard "hints", as far as patterns of any kind}.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Russian speculators, including a man who became somewhat famous in SETI circles, Iosif S. Shklovsky, put out the opinion that the mini-moons of Mars were artificially-constructed satellites by some ancient and possibly even current race of extraterrestrial technologists. [this boggler was done due to their opinion that the orbits of the moons were impossible to achieve naturally]. [That's Phobos, looking a little like Star Wars' Death Star, on the left]. Shklovsky was no small-timer, but an expert on solar physics as well as star formation. Such an idea naturally enraged conservative members of the astro-establishment, but not the young Carl Sagan, who later would co-author a book with Shklovsky on the odds of extraterrestrial intelligence, which contained the Phobos/Deimos claims, as well as some strikingly risky comments on ET-visitation by Sagan himself. {Sagan spent many years "repairing" his reputation within the Tribe for this youthful "enthusiasm"}.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------This year was also the year that FSR put the idea that the Tunguska Event [the mysterious shockwave felt at meteorological stations around the world in 1908] was produced by an extraterrestrial spacecraft exploding over Siberia. This was not the actual introduction of the idea entirely, but it was its prominent early presentation to the english-reading world. FSR quoted from a book by Alexander Kazantzev [A Guest from the Universe] which contained some factual information and some nonsense. The nonsense has, of course, lasted almost as long as the facts. Part of the nonsense was the claim that many local people died of nuclear radiation poisoning, and that a Russian scientist had calculated that the ship apparently came from Venus. This hypothesis, that the cause of the explosion was the detonation of a nuclear power plant of an alien vessel, remains with us today, even in the minds of well-known UFOlogists, despite, in my opinion, there being nothing but a now-minimal amount of mystery to keep it alive. But, Hey, if it makes you happy, there's not too much harm in it other than mental pollution. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Because in the minds of FSR it was the contact cases that would [soon?] blow open the UFO mystery, there was a significant amount of discussion of that. One somewhat precocious article sought to clarify what we were dealing with by contrasting two classes of entities, which were labeled [not to be taken literally] the "Angels" and the "Demons". The Angels were those scandinavian-looking good guys, preaching peace and universal love. The George Adamski crowd. The Demons were the other guys who ranged from ignoring us altogether to downright attacking we innocent bystanders. The Scurrilous Skittles come to mind. The author pointed out that while the evidence for the bad guys tended to get stronger and the witnesses tended to have fewer flaws over time, the evidence for the angels tended to become increasingly odorific. He wasn't claiming that this was conclusive yet, but the trend seemed pretty strong.-----------------------------------------------------------------------On the other hand, our British lady with the crystallizing television screen visitors had a visit wherein she was told how her pregnancy was going to come out, and upon delivery, lo and behold, the visitors were accurate [or so she felt]. She referred to her child as her "space baby". ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Editor Trench was completely immune to these directions [that much of his readership and his content were moving away from the contactee nuts], and he graced the pages of FSR with a book review of Dino Kraspedon's book, My Contact with Flying Saucers. Kraspedon [he of the picture and ghastly complexion above] was a world-class liar and most people already knew it [even in Brazil--the good Brazilian researchers, Faria, Simoes, and Perreira had been spreading the facts widely and something should have penetrated FSR]. Trench for some reason thought that the "saucer captain" talking to Kraspedon [even an alias, by the way] predicted the existence of the Van Allen radiation belts, and so could not be fallacious. It turned out that his statement that another Sun would soon enter the solar system was less successful. Nevertheless, Trench ended the review with the words: "You just cannot afford to be without this book." Boy, I sure blew it there!------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, I have to applaud Trench for one moment of his wide open spaces mind as far as contributors though. He accepted an article by the most beautiful UFO writer that I've ever seen, and [I know that I cannot be forgiven for this but] I found it almost irrelevent what she wrote--I liked it anyway. Jacqueline Murray was an aspiring London theatre actress and singer [and if you would have told me that she was Gene Tierney's younger sister, I would have enthusiastically agreed.] The title of the article was "Flying Saucers and Atlantis". In it appeared esoteric and metaphysical allusions alongside an almost ancient astronaut like model hypothesis, and hints that all this is known because we get it from trance mediumship, and now buttressed by some of the messages of certain contactees. At age nineteen I would have looked at her, shrugged, and said "who cares?" It turns out that she was the leader of a group of actors actresses and singers who all held similar feelings calling themselves The Atlanteans [what else?] On "International Flying Saucer Contact Day", she led her band into Ashdown Forest and there established telepathic contact with a spacecraft. {the content of the contact was not revealed by FSR, but......do I really care? Yes, sure, ...a little.}
I'm pretty sure that at age nineteen I would have happily followed Jacqueline Murray on a walk in Ashdown Forest, hoping that a craft would land and out would step Gene Tierney. Adamski could then have my vote. Angels indeed.

4 comments:

  1. Prof: "in my opinion, there['s]...nothing but a now-minimal amount of mystery to keep [the Tunguska Event] alive. But, Hey, if it makes you happy, there's not too much harm in it other than MENTAL POLLUTION."

    Prof, I personally don't favour the extraterrestial spaceship hypothesis either, but - ooh! - that's positively bitchy for you!

    And you're at it again - sort of - with Jacqueline Murray!

    I think you've hit it on the head with your remark about his "wide open spaces mind" why Brinsley Le Poer Trench went with the Kraspedon feature; I suspect, though, he was also intensely aware of the part disinformation has long played in UFO research and felt honour bound, being a chivalrous noble knightly type, to represent the man, (though it probably helped he was fully aware of others' opinions about his own claims of alien descent).

    (Incidentally, the pseudonym Brinsley Le Poer Trench, though it sounds like the name of a Rastafarian beat poet and can be roughly translated as "the use of power to cut through fields of 'brown'", is composed of the sort of archaic heraldic related terms which often turn up in freemasonry, as is Wavney Girvan.

    Girvan can be taken as a homophone for Zurvan - the Avestan 'Time' god - and Wavney - "wave knee" seems the very definition of masonic ritual.

    So, there you have it - the FSR was a front for the Masons all along!

    This piece's been something of an education for me because I'm amazed at how early on it was UFO research became an arena for the Angels versus Devils, goodies versus baddies mentality.

    Yes, indeed, 1959 was certainly a highly interesting year - but mostly because it's the year when I was born!

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  2. To alanborky: regarding Tunguska--I have spent a very great amount of study on the Tunguska event, from the original [admittedly translated] reports of Russian scientific teams to non-Russian soil analyses finding polymeric spherules very suspicious of the debris of a carbonaceous chondrite detonation. The train of evidence on this has progressed over several decades and I have continued to follow it. The alleged Radioactivity effects have been well-explained via the remnant air pollution of early Soviet testing which occurred in the 1950s---this plus the well-known rapid recovery growth of burnt forests explains the so-called anomaly of measurements in the local plant life which were made later. There is no credible evidence that the thing was seen in the sky and that it turned. etc. etc. So I could have been a lot more "bitchy" than I was. And, I refuse to back off the idea that placing errors or even poor assumptions in one's mind is not "mental pollution". Everyone can decide how much of that they want to do to themselves, of course; it just seems to me to be healthier to admit what one is doing when that happens, so one can back easily off it when it becomes a factoid which doesn't fit the rest of the picture which emerges. ------ As far as Jacqueline Murray is concerned, anyone who believes that there is evidence that we can communicate [by trance] with a race of ancient Atlanteans who once inhabited this planet and now live in outer space and are behind the UFO mystery is welcome to do so. I see no evidence of that whatever, and see quite a bit to the contrary. I'm not trying to please people with this blog. I'm trying to hold to some standard of factual basis for historical re-telling of things in the world of the anomalies. Rather than characterize remarks as "bitchy" [which is personal], it is more productive to state some fact-based reason for disagreeing with them.

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  3. Hey, Mike,

    Waveney Girvan's first name was actually Ian. For reasons unknown to me (perhaps his father was also named Ian), he went by Waveney, possibly a maternal last name.

    Girvan wrote a curiosity of a book, Flying Saucers and Common Sense, published in the mid-1950s. It's well written and intelligent, an elegant argument for the proposition that UFO reports are more likely to be significant than not significant. What's disconcerting, though, is that Girvan doesn't leave it at that. It's all a set-up for a full-bore defense of Adamski.

    Yes, that defense is smarter than nearly all of the competition, but that's damnation by dubious praise, like saying somebody's written the most intelligent pro-Lemuria book ever. I have never been able to figure out why the bright, educated Girvan could not see through Adamski. Surely among ufology's more odd minor mysteries.

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  4. Hi, Jerry. I don't have any answers of course, but he must have gotten completely convinced right off and probably by Leslie, whose book he facilitated. While this FSR change from Trench to Girvan takes place, the only contactee whose head is above water as far as FSR is concerned is Adamski and Girvan is continually laying down the gauntlet to everyone to prove [especially the pictures] right or wrong. When Girvan allows, shortly, Leon Davidson to put forward his Adamski-was-a-CIA-dupe hypothesis, Girvan doesn't shy away from that like I thought he would, but says that if Davidson is correct then Adamski is not a liar. [just a very large fool]. Maybe more will become clear as I trudge on through this stuff.

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