Monday, August 22, 2011

Dark Season

It may be the heat-of-summer but for the world of anomalies it has been Winter. In a fairly short period of time, five significant figures in our world have passed away. I place no anomalistic/mysterious meaning to this unfortunate cluster; it has happened because "our" cohort of ancient warriors-for-the-cause has simply grown old. But, because there were so many, it moves me to break "silence" for a moment [I still don't know when I'll fire up the engines on this blog, but I'm hopeful for it to be soon]. A few words about each of my colleagues is proper.

Hilary Evans. In some ways I had the least in common with Hilary and in some ways the most. We met only once in person but someone thought to take a picture of it, as you see above. That's Hilary on the right, Jerry Clark on the left, Peter Rojcewicz partly hidden by Jerry, and myself. And who is doing the talking?? Hah! Jerry of course!

Hilary Evans was to my experience an intelligent and very civilized man. I believe that he went into his studies with an open mind, and came out believing things that I did not. We had many similar interests [not only UFOs but strange creatures and hauntings and all those wonderful olden "British" things]. But Hilary ended believing that it was we humans who made them all up. He was a proponent of the "psychosocial theory" of anomalies, although perhaps its most gentlemanly, non-slandering advocate. I could have no respect for the theory while having much respect for him.

Strangely, if I was to try to predict what his "legacy" was to be, I'd say none of that. His legacy, to me, is the Picture Library of illustrations for stories about the anomalistic and paranormal. That library, created by him and his wife, empowers the writing and knowledge-transmitting process and will expand consciousness for ages.

William Corliss. I never met William Corliss in person. When the Society for Scientific Exploration gave him our "Dinsdale Award" for a person giving outstanding service to the exploration of the anomalies, I'd missed that meeting. Oh well. As one of Bill's earliest buyer-subscribers, I think that I've the right to call him by his first name anyway. And I probably own thirty or more of his publications.

Those publications, going by the name of The Sourcebook Project, give Bill the distinction of being the modern [and more organized] Charles Fort. Bill, like Fort, held the Thing-which-does-not-fit as a sacred object. Like Fort, he refused to let it be forgotten. He was a sort of hero-warrior for the Truth.

He was also outlandishly overworked trying to keep up with a whole world of mystery-producers and deniers. He and I once thought that we might take six 19th century "treatises" on alternative North American history [most of it "Was Columbus the First?" types of things], and if I could provide him the nice clean page copies, he'd work them into a sourcebook publication. He was all fired up for this, and if we pulled it off, we'd do another set of six or so. Well, I did [using my prof's interlibrary loan muscles] and he didn't. I couldn't blame him. His side of his own work was ridiculous for one guy. Just another example of why we get nowhere fast.

Bill's legacy is obvious. If you are interested in the anomalies and don't have a nearly complete set of his sourcebooks, well, you're crippled.

Stuart Appelle. Because we were both members of the Center for UFO Studies executive board, I knew Stuart very well. The picture above is from a CUFOS meeting. MIT professor David Pritchard happened to be visiting that day, so we lined up while George Eberhart took a picture. Pritchard is in the center. Stuart's beside him on our left with me on the left edge. Jennie Zeidman is on the far right with a beaming Don Johnson [who made UFOCAT] next to her. Peeking out from the back is CUFOS President Mark Rodeghier. I think that George took the picture fast to try to freeze Mark out of it [those two being very old friends].

Stuart was an intellectual. He wrote perhaps the clearest and unflaggingly toughest-minded essay on abductions ever composed. [It was published in the University of Kansas book, UFOs and Abductions, edited by David Jacobs --- if anyone wants to cut through the crap in this field, you should read Stuart's essay [and maybe the correlated writings of Eddie Bullard]. Stuart also replaced me [Thank God's good blessings!!] as the editor of The Journal for UFO Studies after I'd established it for five years. I got to sit back and write and loaf instead of bug authors about their poorly-written or overdue papers. For that I am eternally grateful to Stuart.

Stuart's legacy?? JUFOS and that essay and several presentations at scientific psychology meetings, when others were too cowardly to present. He represented UFOlogy at a MUCH higher level of discourse than found down in UFOria.

Bob Girard. Well, what was our relationship?? I was a very long time buyer of UFO resources from Bob, who very slowly began to have a peculiar correspondence --- sentences attached to e-mails or the bills that I paid. That gradually developed into an understanding of what was important to each of us on a level far beyond a check or book in the mail. Bob and I eventually discussed in this clipped cryptic way "Life, the Universe, and Everything".

What few realized about Bob [due to his angry flamboyant prose that filled his booklists] was that Bob Girard had a big heart. Yes he was an angry guy. It was because he cared about important things. And you didn't have to agree with his "solutions" in order to see this. Bob's "ontology" and my own were very different. But I could still see in him a sort of Old testament-style Prophet, railing in our streets for us to wake up, expand our minds, and make our world a better freer place. That part of what he was "preaching" any thinking person could relate to.

What's Bob's legacy?? Bob has left the largest legacy of any of these five fellows. He was a dispenser of Magick. His books have spread around the world, opening uncounted numbers of minds to hidden, unpopular, or forbidden thoughts. His books that he sold to us cast their strange light in our minds and, yes, wake us up. Maybe we write something. Maybe others read it. Bob has dropped pebbles into the MindPond of the species, and the ripples from them will ride the surface for a very long time.

Budd Hopkins. Budd was a friend. He was also a very nice guy. That's him, of course, on the right above, with Eddie Bullard in the middle. You will notice that Eddie and I had to wear our badges, but with Budd there was no need. I knew Budd pretty well. He asked me to serve as the introducer.facilitator on the weekend workshops set up by him with Bob Bigelow funding to inform psychology and counseling professionals about the abduction phenomenon. Budd would speak, as would David Jacobs and John Carpenter, and I'd do the introductions and facilitate the Q&A. I did two of those for him [NYC and LA], and I think that they did two more [at least one with John Mack].

Budd was a very intelligent man. He COULD if he wanted to, think like a scientist, despite having no training. He often relied on folks like myself to bring him up to speed on what science said, although he didn't always in the end buy it. At heart, and in the part of the "heart" that is in the mind, though, Budd was an artist and an intuitive. Science was NOT going to rule the day with Budd when he just somehow "knew better". That's where we always parted company on his theories, but we always retained our friendship and respect. And, I have to admit, I have never been as hard on Budd's theoretical vision of what is going on with CE4s as I could have been --- it just never felt right to be that critical of a friend.

What is Budd's legacy?? It could be significant, if the future of CE4 research produces more quality forms of evidence than it has so far, but it could be one of those things in anomalies that very slowly withers away. I'm really hoping that the latter is not true. I believe that no matter what direction our scholarship and investigation might go in this area, Budd's priority in gathering mountains of data [My Lord I hope that he really HAS saved the initial tapes from the late 1970s as he always told me he would] should serve as the foundationstone for what progress we make. Budd's legacy might well depend upon those old original audiotapes which he used to set the pattern of his book Missing Time. Unless some independent analysts can some day take those sessions apart, the whole work may dissipate into fog.

I very much dislike that thought. I suggested that he MUST get the early tapes analyzed objectively many times. He always agreed with me ... but upon turning away, there were two dozen more alleged abductees wanting sessions with him. The only project that really mattered never happened.

Well .... Goodbye to old warriors and old friends.

I am not sad. In my ontology [whether they believed or not] they have passed into the "heaven-stage" of life and now know far more than I do. AND far more than they did too. Hopefully they all have a good sense of humor.

I say goodbye with a cloud which Bill Corliss would have loved. God Speed, brothers.


  1. Just saw that Budd passed away 2 days ago, but hadn't heard that Girard had passed. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  2. Thank you for your review of Bill Corliss' work. We spoke in May re changing my SF and AR subscription address to Thailand. True to form, I had to send him a letter and he replied with a post card. It said mail delivery to Thailand was risky and I would accept non-delivery. During my brief call I thanked him for his work. Also, I said that in my opinion some Forteans/forteans were not happy with his writing style. He didn't say much about that.

    Terry W. Colvin

  3. Thank you for the review of Corliss' work. I spoke with him in May re changing my address to Thailand. True to form, I had to write him and his post card reply said mail delivery in Thailand was risky and that I would accept the chance of non-delivery. I thanked him for his work. Also remarked that some Forteans/forteans did not like his writing style. He didn't say much about that.


  4. Mike, thank you for summarizing each of these gentleman's legacy and his contribution to the UFO phenomenon. I did not know Stuart Appelle but your epitaph caused me to read his paper, Abduction Experience. A very well written, scientific treatise on the subject.