Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Man Who Found A Door in the World

It's time for Thanksgiving and family, so I'm headed back to GOD's Green Hills in West Virginia. And thus, this is the last post for a while [maybe two-&-a-half weeks]. I'll be passing right by the Grave Creek Mound, so maybe I should tell something about it & its mysterious tablet when I get back. I'll even spend some time in Proctor, but definitely NOT "Out Proctor". But to be sure that we don't lose touch with Out Proctor, here is the story of the man who found a door in the world. The picture above is the cover art of Charles DeLint's wonderful fantasy book, The Little Country, wherein the Men-An-Tol serves as a door between the worlds. The "places where the world grows thin" are alleged to have once been plentiful and easily stumbled into. Today, the interfaces with a parallel reality seem rather legendary at best. Still, once in a while, we get a report of someone who claims to have found such a place and temporarily entered "the other side". So, caveat emptor, and here we go Out Proctor.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is a story that I was going to tell, because it came to the Center For UFO Studies and was about an experience had long ago [1968]. Then I wasn't going to tell it because I noticed that the CUFOS letter was recently dated and maybe the guy involved didn't want the story out. But, three's the charm, and I felt if I kept the fellow anonymous [he didn't even request it in the letter] and not give this exact location [which he seems to have entered a successful mining claim on anyway], perhaps I wouldn't be off-base sharing his experience with you. This affair took place in the very north of Canada, south of the Native American [eskimo] town of Kugluktuk. This is a port of sorts and an exit point from the great copper areas of the Northwest Territories which are called the Coppermine Mountains. I believe that the local people are Inuit. The Coppermine River runs, generally a twisty southern direction from Kugluktuk, and ends up cutting through the mountains about 60-65 kilometers south. There are some camps in the area but for the most part things are pretty wild. This is where our adventurer found the Door. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This took place on August 31, 1968. Our hero in the drama was a successful "down-in-the-dirt" sort of practical minerals prospector working for a Canadian company operating out of Vancouver. He and his partner had flown in from Yellowknife, where after a battle with the elements, they got to their camp at Willow Lake [basically just a cabin in the wilderness]. The two of them moved south a bit and set up a secondary camp which was merely a tent--here is where they would strike out each day in search of mineral signs. They sometimes worked together as a team, but most often they ranged alone. during the two-&-a-half months they were there, the only unusual thing that occurred was the discovery of a strange type of "rock" shaped like a double blade of a fan or windmill, that they [and, later, geologists] were not able to classify. On their last day in the field, this story happened. On that day they were as usual on their own, our reporter exploring around Burnt Creek and north in the hills, but returning to camp empty handed. His buddy wasn't there yet, so he just sat and meditated on the hills. Bored he got up and walked to the edge of a small [still 50foot drop-off] cliff, and looked down into the gouge below. This gouge was peculiar: about 50foot long and only 4feet wide and flat. In it were some "bubbly looking rocks" and a "tubular fog bank". The apparent minerals were odd, but the unmoving fog bank moreso. He felt nervous just looking at it, but decided to go down into the gouge and explore. There he found more of the unusual unidentified mineral and it seemed to be associated with a small-scale mining activity [even though there was supposed to be no such thing in this area.] Puzzled by the rocks, but still in the presence of the unmoving mist, he finally decided to walk into the fog bank.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------His words now: "Approximately two steps into the mist, I saw a grassy field for as far as my vision was capable of seeing at that time. The grass was about one foot tall at that point. The more I advanced towards the grass, the higher the grass became. there was a wind blowing from the grass away from me. On entering the mist, my vision was limited to my left and right. I advanced until the grass, brown colored, was approximately three feet tall. Then I decided to retreat, which I did. I cannot remember what the sky looked like; grey colored seems correct. i decided to go back into the mist and cautioned myself not to walk into the grass. I went as far as the first [time] and things were the same. As I advanced, the grass got taller [but he seems to be now walking beside it, not in it], approximately 4foot now, and my vision left and right got wider. Far off to my right there was an oasis? with medium sized trees in a circle with two tall palm? trees growing in the center of the circle. At that point I had enough. At that time my mind went completely blank except for one little piece of my brain that was fighting the takeover of my brain. Next I was on my hands and knees with my brain powers intact and I got out of there in record time." Our hero told neither his buddy nor anyone else what had happened to him. But he never could shake the thought that he had passed into another dimensional reality for those few minutes. He wondered about the strange stones which should not have been there and the small mining operation which likewise should not have been. As the years have gone, he has gotten more courage, and wants to go back and go through the doorway again, which he imagines as a permanent sort of location. Who are the people on the other side, he wants to know? Why did they visit here? Why are people such as ourselves so interested in going to a dead Moon when a far wider adventure exists right here on the planet? The only people that he had told [and those only recently] about his adventure were the SETI Institute and string theorist, Lisa Randall. You can imagine what they thought. In his letter he writes: "WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?!"------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, we don't know what happened to him, if anything happened at all, do we? "Fairy stories" of people coming in from another dimension are common among the folk tales of the Eskimo peoples, and in 1988, around Nome, Alaska, there was a miniature flap of "little people" sightings [by both adults and teenagers], wherein sudden appearances and disappearances, and glowing entities, changing colors as they went, plagued the locale. I don't recommend that you go hunting in the Northwest Territories for the "door" that our adventurer found, but, if you do, and you discover a sign saying "Area 52", I'd suggest getting out fast. For me, my visit to the Men-An-Tol was only a partial success: the hole was open but the "door" wasn't. We all got through the hole, but there were the same number of us afterwards as began the attempt---one of us of tremendous bulk almost caused an international incident by getting stuck, but things came out in the end. We secretly knew that if we expected to visit the "Little Country", we would have to pass through seven times "against the Moon" while the "Moon" was full---the Men-An-Tol is a tougher Tol-booth [sorry] than the mist our traveler found in the Coppermines. Copper they say is the metal of Magick...hmmm...way Out Proctor now. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Everyday Spirituality: Cycles

Morning prayers, outside...the crows are making a racket, sitting up in separate trees hollering at one another. One of the local squirrels is sawing away at a walnut in a nearby maple ...breaking the night's fast. Another runs across the street with its own walnut. When the humans cut the four big walnut trees down last summer, most of the winter bounty went with them. I hope the few left were filled this year or it will be a longer winter for these furry critters. I'm not sure exactly why I care, but I do. A girl Cardinal sits in her tree peeping at her boy. He's a good fellow and immediately peeps back from the one he's sitting in. As he flies further off, she's not happy with him and peeps more loudly and insistently ["what's that meathead doing now?"]. Finally she flies over to the roof he's perched on and off they go together. Ah, romance... ... I just miss seeing a leaf detach from the nearest maple. It was one of the last five...a yellow-gold star fluttering to Earth. Once I saw such a happening exactly as I was staring at the leaf. It was a bit of a shock to see the actual, permanent change that had, just that microsecond, occurred in the universe. Something had happened that would never be the same. Something had ended. I suppose that it is a matter of ones perspective. Do I personalize the leaf or the tree? The tree "wants" to shed her leaves, to get ready for the cycle of life. The it a "death", or, like a post-teenager, a release? It feels like a death, though, and I can't help a little sadness. Some leaves are obviously tougher than others and hang on against all odds, but "there is a time and a purpose for every season". ... I need to take my morning walk so that this old leaf won't fall any sooner than it has to. Up ahead the old couple and their old black dog are doing the same. Are we the leaves or the trees? Either way we have our cycle.
About a calendar week ago, and many, many years, the universe welcomed me into its glories and I began my grateful cycle. What a privilege to be here. As the fine Minneapolis folk singer and story teller, Peter Mayer, sings: "This year in space together has been fun. What say we make another circle round the Sun?". Blessings on Thanksgiving and all year to you all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Subtle Thumbprint Of The UFOs ?

As we've seen earlier in this blog, whoever is the major agency behind the UFO phenomenon has taken great pains over 60 years NOT to give us anything easy on which to base a "science" of UFOs, and therefore a path to acceptance of their existence by the consensus-reality makers of our culture. This cleverness on "their" part extends to apparently deliberate variation in UFO appearances, the lack of substantial "leavings", and a refusal of "predictability". This makes life tough for the hopeful UFOlogist, wishing to at least have the general culture not call him a fool. Jacques Vallee, always a quick study in these matters, concluded over 30 years ago that the UFO "problem" could not be solved by scientific approaches, and so began to attempt other ways of doing so. Poher's statistical work on the length of time that a real UFO manifested [vs a false one] was a statistical pattern--not enough to convince the National Academy of Sciences, but pretty good evidence for us. Colorado felt early in the game that UFO reality was a no-brainer "yes", but the next step, was it physically/externally present as an "objective" reality, was not as easy to simply admit. This blog is about a wonderful start on a research project that might be a strong indicator of both external/physical objectivity and perhaps even more. For it, we owe an old Allen Hynek associate: Fred Merritt.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have no photo of Fred Merritt or I'd honor him "personally". All I can do is tell you a little of who he was when this work was done. Most folks don't know that when Allen Hynek left USAF consultancy with the cancellation of Blue Book, it was not at all obvious that he could start up a civilian UFO organization. Fortunately in Chicago was an energetic man named Sherm Larsen, who had begun a NICAP affiliate. Sherm argued, successfully, that with the impending dissolution of the parent organization the valuable NICAP files should be brought to Chicago, where they'd serve as the basis of a new research group. [most of these files DID make it to what became CUFOS, thankfully ]. Getting together with Allen Hynek about a new synthesis ultimately got Hynek to agree to a merger of Larsen's group and Hynek's files and contacts under the description of a new more science-oriented operation. One of Sherm's colleagues was Fred Merritt, a Chicago businessman and an unusually science-interested "amateur". Before even meeting Hynek or Vallee, Merritt was trying to do statistical work on the case pile. He reasoned that the "landing trace" cases were the best chance one had of finding the elusive objective reality. For whatever reason he concentrated on those cases where the object seen was undebatably a structured object [to all appearances]. These were the cases where the object had extended "landing pods" rather than just rested on the ground. He began to plot these cases by various size-related properties. And he began to notice a pattern hidden in his pile. That pattern is in the graph above. [I colored the chart to make it stand out. The color labels for the "domains" are also, obviously, mine, but I don't think I'm misleading you there. Those labels are taken directly from Merritt's own descriptions of the case types. This is even true of my word "trickster", as Merritt defines these cases as associated with entities that he describes as the "Mob from Magonia" who play pranks on people.] Before getting further into this, we need to be honest and admit that the case numbers are few. But the pattern he saw is extremely interesting anyway. Notice that the domains, the case clusters, do not intersect. I find that VERY interesting. If I was dealing with an "unreal" phenomenon pushed up by human errors and stupidities, I'd insist on this graph smearing together with much more randomness. This graph, if true, is characteristic not of randomness but of several distinct "behaviors" of things going on in nature--whether artificial or "merely" some nature-produced physical manifestation. In fact, it looks to me like several sorts of UFOs. [but not an "infinite" variety of them]. The disks are a surprisingly tight domain. And, they have [when associated with Merritt's tripod landing traces] significant size [the leg patterns themselves are about 15 to 25 feet in diameter] which could allow "occupants" of a size something like ourselves. Merritt said that these disks averaged about 35 feet in diameter and, when associated with occupants, those occupants were "normal" height. Keep remembering what he is doing: only tripod cases--not everything. If you have enough type cases, though, ALL such graphs should be smeary--not separable into tight domains. If Merritt is correct, and this pattern holds [at least through the times that he did it--remember we have deliberate Confusers at work here too, so they could have later cleaned up this mistake] then he may have found that we have not only physically real presence [rather than only a variety of force projections] but possibly something even more interesting to me. Among the UFOnauts he may have found the "tricksters", the "Mob from Magonia". That green domain is significantly separate from the disks. Merritt was amused by them. He said that the occupants were small pranksters, and often "flew" in "aerodynamically-absurd" shapes. I can't help being a bit thrilled by Merritt's try here. I can't tell you if his pattern plays out either longer or stronger with more data. Ted Phillips' catalogue of traces is a wonderful thing, but doesn't contain the type of detail to test this further. I do have a rare copy of Fred Merritt's original catalogue but it's on loan to friends and I can't tell you if there is more there--probably not as the sheets I have look like summary graphs from that exact data. Maybe someone of you can either find that someone has already advanced this, or will do it yourself. The only time that I ever had a personal conversation with Ted Phillips, he told me, without going into it, that once he heard the witness' description of the object involved in a trace, he knew exactly what the trace would look like before he arrived on the scene. Maybe something like what Fred Merritt found was part of what Ted knew.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
To wrap up the day with a little light fun, let's just tell a few UFO landing pod case stories. I just picked a few of the better ones out of the file cabinets--my opinion, so don't take them overly seriously. Case 1: early May 1971; near Kocevje, then Yugoslavia. A young woman [17] was riding home on her bicycle slightly after 8pm. Off the road was a reddish glow accompanied by a buzzing sound. There was a slight hollow area in the field, and the red object seemed nestled down in there. She showed remarkable courage and stopped to explore closer. The thing was a giant red glowing "egg" standing on three short legs. She watched for a time, but the uncanniness of the thing ultimately unnerved her and she retreated to her bike and rode away. She kept looking back all the way home and finally saw it take off, landing legs now pulled up, and ascending in a spiraling flight. When she got home, she found that her mother had also seen the object from that distance. Later a neighbor reported seeing the thing as well. They were all ridiculed by the local police. The next day, the witnesses went to the site and found traces which were not well described by the UFO investigator. [some 'holes' were described but you can't tell if he means pod traces or something more like soil-sampling holes]. Regardless, here we have a multi-witnessed three pod disk of a size that would have fit Merritt's pattern. Case 2: August 16, 1974; Port Coquitlam, British Columbia. Three young boys were walking in the woods near their homes at about 8pm. Their cat began acting very strangely and they saw above the trees a metal disk flashing colored lights and making a loud noise. The cat ran to its owner and jumped into his arms. The disk moved away slowly and seemed to land in a nearby sandpit. Just before landing it extended three landing pods and emitted a blast of hot air so strong that the resultant sand dust covered the boys, standing 150 feet away. Two boys immediately ran home, but one hung around a moment longer. He said that the disk was bigger than his father's car and had a box-like structure on top. Then he too ran away. Only one neighbor took them seriously, and she went to the site the next day. There she found three indentations from the gear, and a circular spot surrounding them where "carbonized deposits" remained. She collected samples from this area and [coincidentally?] developed a numbness in her fingers, which lasted for a week [this same sort of effect occurred at the Delphos landing trace when the mother of the witness handled the whitish material of the mark]. She called the RCMP. They refused to investigate, but a college prof did and found no radioactivity. Her soil samples were sent to a university lab for analysis. The lab was "baffled" by the carbonization. "A high degree of heat would be required to produce such results, but even simulated conditions would not extend so far into the sandy soil." [translation: he subjected the sandy soil to great heat and still couldn't get the effect to occur below the surface, although the UFO was able to do so]. This is a nice case, not because of the credibility of the young witnesses, but because it has scientific testing with puzzling results.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Case 3: February 5, 1971; near Kinnula, Finland. This case depends only on the witness testimony as researchers weren't informed about it until it was too late to see a physical trace. Also, since this was at an isolated logging camp, there was no chance for an independent witness. But, there are two witnesses and good field workers to do the interview, so what the heck. The encounter took place at about 3pm. The witnesses were near the end of their work day and had just turned off the saws. A domed disk then showed up over the trees, metal-colored and having four landing legs. It was 15 -16 feet in diameter. It settled down only about 30 feet away. An opening appeared in its underbelly an a little being floated out. It was less than three feet tall and clad in a green diver's suit type covering. The thing approached one of the men, gliding rather than sinking into the snow. The man being approached was a high risk kind of guy, and moved towards the "robot" to engage it. The green thing then turned to retreat to the craft. In the windows of the domed disk, other creatures were seeable with humanoid forms but no details discernible. Uncaring about extraterrestrial relations, the guy made to grab and hold the "green man", but as he grabbed its foot, it, which had mysteriously floated off the ground, forcefully moved to the craft--its assailant yelping due to a hand burnt by the heat that was apparently projected right through the boot. The resultant burn scars were still visible when the researchers finally got to interview these fellows two months later. Once the green man was inside, the craft picked up with a slight humming sound, closed the hatch opening, and rapidly sailed away. The forest workers felt "stiff" after their encounter, but nothing else other than the burns. They walked to the landing site and saw the four pod marks with round plates at their ends in a square 2 meters on a side. Earlier that day, someone had seen a ball-of-light-type UFO in Kinnula, but that is the closest thing we have to confirmation. The workers' productivity immediately dropped off as they were constantly distracted over the next weeks, wondering if the thing would return.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I should tell more, but my one-typing finger probably feels like that guy's hand in the last one. So, just one more. Case 4: June 26, 1972; Fort Beaufort, South Africa. --[notice how important it is to pay attention to non-US cases]. There were a bunch of people over the years who investigated and talked about this incident, and someone who wanted to do a comprehensive search on this could do better than I. This took place in farming country at about 8am. [some say 9am]. One of the workers came running to the farm owner to report "an ugly thing" which was present near the farm's reservoir. This "thing" was emitting smoke and fire. The owner left and saw a fiery ball [initially red but later changing colors]. It seemed at about tree-top level. It was less than a meter across. The laborer shouted and the thing immediately moved sideways almost 300 yards and seemed to hide behind a bush. Then it reappeared and continually changed colors from red to green to yellow-white. The owner decided that the only thing to do was shoot it. [ah, the greatness of humanity]. He went back to get his gun and called the police. Police showed and everyone went out to confront the whatever-it-was. The owner then unloaded 8 shots at the thing, feeling that he had heard a palpable hit on the eighth. The police joined the fun with a few shots of their own. Then a round black yet shiny object of the same size appeared. More shots were fired but with no effect. Seeming to appear and disappear without an understandable method of doing so, the thing entered thick bush areas and was heard crashing about in them. The witnesses to this whacko experience were the trigger-happy farm owner, two happy-to-go-along policemen, and four farm laborers. Later, search of the area revealed 9 places where the thing had apparently touched down. The marks in question have been poorly described both by location/proximity to each other and to shape. There's been a suggestion that they came in threes. If so, this is tripod like despite the rest of the weirdness--it would fit Merritt's Mob from Magonia. The pod marks seem to have shown a structure to their flat surface, as if the pods twisted into the wet clay on settling down. All very intriguing and bizarre--quite in line with a trickster. I'll let it go with a quote from the Natal Mercury newspaper: "Incredible isn't it, that policemen and a farmer could have tried to shoot out of the sky in broad daylight what might have been a spacecraft from a friendly planet?...If it was a vehicle from outer space, manned by intelligent beings, do you suppose they now regard the inhabitants of Earth as hostile? Belligerent? Aggressive? Or just plain stupid?" Hmmm...tough multiple choice.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Want to understand UFOs?: Get to know UFOlogy's Founders.

Aristotle told his impatient student, Alexander the Great, "There is no 'Royal Road' to Geometry." There isn't one to UFOlogy either. I can promise you that if you are not extremely perceptive [and a bit lucky], you cannot get an accurate picture of what's known vs. what's responsibly guessed vs. what's full-of-errors vs. what's full-of-worse by merely scavenging about on the internet. The only Road to actually knowing something about this field is to lean heavily on its founders--that means to learn its history. This post is in aid of that. It is lightyears from sufficient, obviously, but it may serve someone as a door. The downside of this is that if one really wanted to know anything about this field, one would have to be willing to put in some real time and some real work [that much anyone can decide to do on their own], but also to have the resources available to them to do so [and that few people, unfortunately have]. In my viewing of the web, the status of UFO information resident here is not quite yet at the level which would support a dedicated "student" in the quest. This is because, even if a report is available in full here and there [as they are for USAF's Project Blue Book on Footnote. com] a relative "rookie" does not have the "historical context" to aid in the interpretation of that report. It is advantageous to be able to read what the past giants had to say about the period, the USAF handling, the "similar cases" to get perspective. This is not to say that the giants were perfect. All of them were/are human and had strengths and weaknesses. But understood as a whole, their cumulative insights and facts are the beginnings of a good guide. This post is one guy's [mine] foggy view on these founders and what they gave to us. It's no history. We can't dedicate 600 pages for that. It's just a window from which to describe [a little] and give praise [a lot] to some folks who made a difference.
Don Keyhoe is, in this person's opinion, the most important person in UFO history. Fiery and adamantly insistent, Keyhoe carried the field through a sustained flak attack from the Air Force, aimed a destroying it. At our distance from him, what we should do for our own benefit is to read his first two books: Flying Saucers Are Real and Flying Saucers From Outer Space. These things are important to the field because Keyhoe had many contacts inside the military and the vast majority of the factual things transmitted to him turned out to be real. A good number of the speculations did not. Reading the whole of the founders makes distinguishing between these two elements fairly easy. As Keyhoe went forward leading NICAP, he wrote other books. The further they get to modern times, the less reliable are his sources, except when he is depending on NICAP's own case files. By the time Aliens From Space shows up, it's caveat emptor. The only way to protect yourself in this is to be a historian. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The next guy in the collage is Dr. Hynek. His whole life was a puzzlement with the phenomenon that apes his expression in the picture. But regardless of what some may wish to think [negatively] about him, he was the second most important person in the field. This is because Hynek was on the "inside", albeit on the outer, naive layer of that "Inside". As scientific consultant to the Project, he watched the circus that was Blue Book across the years, and later gave us his all-to-rare first-hand look. Hynek's critique of USAF handling of UFOs is, taken in whole, devastating. One shouldn't undervalue the importance of obliterating the idea that the military did anything like a solid and honest job. Conspiracy commentary is useless. Facts, such as Hynek gives, are Truth. Then, in the more admirable part of his UFO involvements, [when he no longer hoped that his role with the Air Force would produce real results], Hynek, perhaps more by accident but at least somewhat by design, created many UFOlogically-important things. His two books, The UFO Experience [ the closest thing the field has to a textbook] and The Hynek UFO Report [another invaluable historical insight into military malfunction as well as key cases], should be on must-read lists. He also created CUFOS and a fine magazine [IUR] and a few high-quality symposia and a soft network [the "Invisible College"] of scientists, and generally pointed the way to where we had to go if we were ever to be a real field of study. We, of course, never made the effort. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The third guy in that collage is Edward Ruppelt. Captain Ruppelt was the project head on Blue Book during late 1951 through early 1953. He therefore was "on seat" during the great wave of 1952, a coincidence for which we should be grateful. We should be grateful because Ed Ruppelt wanted to write up his experiences [and others', as he heard of them ] in the UFO field from the government side of the mirror. His terrific book, The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects, was the result. This thing should be read by everyone really interested in UFOs. Ruppelt undoubtedly wrote the book to make some extra money as he began his civilian life [a not uncommon practice ] but that doesn't mean it's not accurate. The great UFO icon, James McDonald, constantly referred to it in his research, and said that his later research into Blue Book records surprised him constantly about Ruppelt's straightforward reporting of the case data as he knew it. But this isn't the whole story on why Ruppelt is important. What Ruppelt's book did was to say to the serious readers of works like Keyhoe's, "My goodness, Keyhoe is apparently right about the reality of UFOs." Even though Ruppelt is astonishingly careful about his own opinions, they don't make any difference in the end. [some have tried to make this a big deal; whether he "really believed" in UFOs himself]. What did make a difference is how the facts as reported by Ruppelt affected young readers of the subject--we were stunned and pleased and captivated--some of us for life. I have met more life-time UFOlogists of my generation who were turned into that by Ruppelt than any other source. It's Ruppelt's inside information AND his unintended "children" that are his contribution to the field.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ted Bloecher. What can you say about Ted Bloecher that isn't good UFOlogically? Ted would probably insist that his great colleagues, Isabel Davis and Alexander Mebane, from the early CSI-NY be with him on this Hall-Of-Fame stage, and I'd not balk at that--they were probably the greatest team of researchers that we've had. Sadly, if you have no access to the CSI newsletters nor their files and correspondence, you'll never know much about Isabel nor Lex. Access to Ted's production isn't much better, alas, but there are a few monographs [like his 1947 wave collection, and his breakout "little people" publication on Kelly/Hopkinsville's case (with Isabel) ] and some articles [like the New Berlin "landing" case in Flying Saucer Review] , but it is his beginning of the Humanoid Study Group which had the biggest impact. The HSG collected the "forbidden" occupant cases from all over the world [work done with Dave Webb] and led to this aspect of UFOlogy emerging from the darkness and ultimately to the HUMCAT catalog [and massive listings like that of Albert Rosales on the web today]. Many of the cases are bunk, and others probably have nothing to do with UFOs, but the philosophy here, at these early stages, was to collect everything that was not a hoax and begin to sift from there. Part of the "sifting" led to the emergence of Budd Hopkins as a colleague of Ted's, and ultimately [amazingly quickly actually] to Missing Time and the whole of modern CE4 ideas. Ted throughout this was the model of discipline and restraint, even in the face of an unmanageable torrent of information.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Beside Ted on the collage is UFOlogy's scientific volcano, Dr. James McDonald. Big Mac brought more depth science and more intensity to the work than any other human. As he was an atmospheric physicist of some repute, he had both skill and contacts to lay to rest many, many erroneous "explanations" for cases [particularly involving radar but many others as well] which had been floated by the deliberate debunking of the Air Force or Uber-debunker Donald Menzel. McDonald was able to show that such debunks were at best overstated, and usually completely wrong to the point that you wondered about intellectual dishonesty by their creators. McDonald's works are also hard to come by since he never wrote a book. Trickles of his analyses appear in Flying Saucer Review or Astronautics and Aeronautics [the AAIA journal] and in the famous House [of Representatives} Symposium on UFOs. Once a collection of his privately-published [often as lecture handouts] papers was made available by the Fund For UFO Research. McDonald destroyed Menzel's dishonest debunkings. McDonald scathingly criticized and cleansed the Colorado "Scientific" Study. His fire also caused a few problems for the field, but on balance he stands like a scientific mountain.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Dick Hall. Talk about being there consistently for the long trek. We just lost him so his active trek is over, but prior to that, Dick ran NICAP for most of its existence, helped originate the UFO Research Coalition and The Fund For UFO Research, made the MUFON Journal, for a while, a respectable, accurate purveyor of, particularly, good non-American case reports..and a lot of else. Fortunately for us Dick DID write books, and they should be read. I recommend NICAP's assault weapon to Congress, The UFO Evidence, and his much-later follow-up, The UFO Evidence Two, and his third case book, Uninvited Guests. Frankly, anything you can read of his will advance your understanding of the field.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Coral Lorenzen, the pretty lady with the no-nonsense brain, who founded APRO way back in 1952, and carried it forward until it and she died together. Coral was a tough cookie who held her organizational power a bit too tightly as the years went by [why APRO didn't survive her] but in her early years refused to cave in to others opinions, whether those of the military [who DID visit her] or other elements in UFOlogy, who thought certain types of cases weren't worth taking seriously. For that we owe Coral what early awareness that we have concerning "occupant" reports and her opening up of the rest of the world's cases [particularly those of South America] for U.S. consideration. Coral, sometimes with her husband Jim, wrote a bunch of books. As with Keyhoe, the earlier the book the better.[try the poorly-named The Great Flying Saucer Hoax, as an example of one her better ones]. Coral's true "best" comes in her APRO Bulletin, where the UFOlogy experience of the world is often displayed. As a side-effect, the "war" that occurred between her and Walt Andrus in the late 1970's led to the growth of MUFON as a national rather than a regional UFO organization.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Aime Michel. Smart. Clear. Intellectually-adept and extremely well educated. Impressive here across-the-pond by us Yanks. I'll leave it to our French brothers to correct our distant impression of Michel's worthiness, but to us he seems a giant indeed. He came into French UFOlogy behind the interesting Jimmy Guieu and between them give the english-reading person a rather full appreciation for the famous [and wild] 1954 European wave from the French perspective. Read Michel's The Truth About Flying Saucers. He also came up with a bold and creative concept which, if true, would clinch not only the reality and intelligent-activity of the phenomenon,but also part of the agenda. I believe, like most of my colleagues, that this brilliant idea turns out to NOT match the facts in the end, but it is none less praiseworthy as a great try. The book incorporating the idea has many useful facts even if the over-all theory is not supported by later analysis. Flying Saucers and the Straight-line Mystery is still a good book and we owe the English versions of both of these to CSI-NY , especially Isabel Davis, and most especially Lex Mebane. Michel wrote many intelligent things for FSR and they stand today as some of the brightest writings anywhere. As a historical aside, Michel's case files blew Allen Hynek away when he visited him in France while still working for the Air Force. And Michel was formative in Jacques Vallee's development, and in his contacting Hynek about him, leading to their collaboration and all that entailed.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Jacques Vallee. The UFO master when it comes to grass-roots science in the field. [ I use this phrase with some thought. Jacques applied statistical analysis to the great pile of individual anecdotes, attempting to squeeze out of them "universal" patterns. If, in my view, the agents behind the phenomenon were not so careful to not allow such universal patterns, in the interest of their desire to remain culturally-covert, Jacques would have found them. This is the application of the beginnings of the scientific methodology--the discovery from raw facts of the behavior of any new phenomenon--i.e. the "How" of nature. ] His work, based in his own attitude towards the value of statistics and some inspiration by David Saunders, led to his two great books, Challenge to Science and Anatomy of a Phenomenon, which can be argued as the two most consistently written scientific books on the subject. Vallee wrote many other increasingly-controversial books, all of which are creative attempts to unlock the ultimate mystery, since he became convinced that science could not do so. My personal opinion is that these theories, while bright and honest, do not explain the mystery, particularly in its majority. But the wonderful Passport to Magonia does, for me, point to a minor fraction of it, and for that guide I am grateful to Jacques. All of his books are interesting, but if you can only read a bit, make it Challenge and Anatomy, and give a peek at Magonia.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Last man standing, or in this case sitting on his couch with his buddy Gordon Creighton, is Charles Bowen. Bowen did not found Flying Saucer Review but he did upgrade it to the flagship journal of the field. FSR did not intend to be an academic journal, but an information-sharing one. If anyone was hoping to learn what was going on with the phenomenon, they had better read FSR. The strength of the journal was its worldwide coverage. Creighton, as an almost universal translator, was mainly responsible for this, while Bowen, as Editor-in-chief exercised an admirable touch---allowing speculation within reason while not succumbing to the temptation to go wildly "native", as the Brits would say. Anyone who does not have access to FSR, and can balance it with the Halls, Hyneks, and McDonalds of U.S. UFOlogy will probably play hob trying to get a proper grip on what has happened in the field. There are a few other great references of course not directly associated with these ten giants. David Jacobs' UFO Controversy in America is one. Jerry Clark's UFO Encyclopedia is another. Barry Greenwood and Larry Fawcett's Clear Intent is a third. I'll stop there. If your own favorite wasn't mentioned, I apologize. This is just a blog afterall. Peace.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dowsing One Step Beyond

My awareness of anything allegedly serious to do with dowsing came from an unexpected source. While teaching college science, my best friend was/is one of those rare professors whose brains were actually impressive. He was and is the most analytically bright guy I have come across. He reminds me of my "distant" buddy, Henry Bauer, in more than one way. Not only are they dazzlingly sharp, and very tough sells on anything paranormal [they smile benignly at me when I talk about these things, doubtlessly thinking "well, it's mostly harmless" and let my "enthusiasms" go], but they also each have ONE [count 'em, one] anomalistic thing that they absolutely believe to be real. Henry's is, of course, the Loch Ness Monster. [I'll give my friend a pseudonym, he doesn't need the publicity] "Bill" believes in dowsing. I was stunned when he told me the first time. No funny-stuff, Physics-trained, super-analytical Bill was sure that dowsing was real. The irony was that I was pretty sure, at the time, that it wasn't. He would loan me his copper rods and tell me tales of success [dating back to when he would follow his father around finding breaks in underground electrical conduits]. I tried them. It became obvious to me that I could make them do anything that I wanted them to do, cross, stay straight, swing wide, regardless of the surroundings---just by the tiniest of movements. [I admit that I wasn't in the right frame of mind for any real test, but it still showed me that dangers lurked in this business]. Bill said that the rods would cross when you walked them close to a person, as if "sensing" some "field" [he, the physicist, wanted this to be a "normal" energy field]. I told him that I could walk right through that "field" and proceeded to do so--the rods remaining parallel right past both his ears. Hmmm...that seemed to surprise him, but did not severely dampen the theory--my manipulative force was overpowering the field involved. Surely if we could devise a test blindfolded, we'd see the truth. Not wanting to poke anyone's eyes out, our speculations stopped there. Now and then he'd tell me of some new experience he'd had with the rods, and, because it was him, I knew that he was telling me exactly as it had happened. More on the strangest of these later.

My next encounter with dowsing came when I treated myself, somewhat guiltily [I am a Catholic afterall] to a wonderful adventure called Magickal Britain. This was a tour to the ancient sites [megalithic and Arthurian] in the west of Britain and Scotland. If Jamie George is still running these things, do yourself a favor and explore. Most of the stuff was magickal All-The-Way-Fool but a bit of it was Out Proctor or worse. The relevant point to dowsing happened at Avebury Circle. Here many of the tour companies apparently arrange for a dowser to show up and lecture the Americans about dowsing, Earth Energies, and the "fact" that you could detect them right in the Circle. {about half the people on my tour already believed this by the way}. The three single guys on the tour stood and watched the guide cleverly manipulate the excited tourists [wanting to participate in a bit of mystery] by suddenly saying something just at the moments that they crossed the line between standing stones, and the rods would obediently cross. I kid you not; he did it every time. Jamie came over to us and asked "why don't you guys think there's anything to this?" I tried to explain what I thought was going on, but one of my new-found friends, Richard Bull, took the issue by the horns. The guide was explaining how the stone's energy would turn away the rods [like the face was supposed to, earlier] and asked for volunteers to demonstrate this. Richard immediately volunteered. I said "Dick, don't do this to them.", but with a bit a devilry he took the rods. While the dowser was trying to program him with what was about to happen, and saying so with increasing volume as Dick approached, Dick stuck the parallel tips of the rods right into the face of the stone [just as I knew he would]. I don't remember how the guy tried to save this situation, so I won't make something up. But it was an awkwardness that didn't really need to have occurred. As Henry and Bill say about me: it's not doing any harm. These anecdotes are mentioned not to claim much of anything. They only point out that if you don't want to go along with the game, the forces involved are not strong enough to overrule you. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
But there are people who believe that if you're in the right state-of-mind at the right place at the right moment, the forces involved can be very strong indeed. In one of John Mullins' cases, mentioned in the last post, the rod tore itself away so strongly that it broke itself. Regarding the megaliths, a person who believed that the powers were real and easily sensible was John Williams of Abergavenny Wales. Williams is apparently known by British insiders in the Ley Line/ Earth Energies community but not much elsewhere [and I gather not even that much overseas--he may becoming a bit of a forgotten man]. I, of course, wouldn't have had a clue if a rough draft of an incomplete manuscript hadn't come into my hands. Entitled "In Search of King Arthur" and dated confusingly, sometimes 1965 and sometimes 1980, it is in an unexpected way about Arthur, but is largely about Stones and energies associated with them. Williams' discovery is of "bands" of energy of different types and potencies which exist at different levels above and below the Earth. I. obviously, have no way of knowing if any of this is true. As Williams goes far beyond this to imagine great, almost-"grids" of energies casting across the landscape, and serving as the Earth's template for the ancients' placement of megaliths country-wide, the concept goes entirely beyond my data, and starts sounding as the potential land use plan for Out Proctor. Williams has, of course, dowsed all this, mostly using a pendulum. As you read his draft, you get the impression of an intelligently sane man who has, he feels, plenty of empirical data for what he is writing. He also tells a story of a British film crew coming out to film his ideas at the locations of the stones. After telling the crew about one of the more powerful energy bands, one of them wanted to "try it". Cameras rolling, she placed her hands on the appropriate "band" and immediately was turned and pushed to the side. Everyone in the crew laughed at this, while Williams was staggered by their casual amusement at the filming of a phenomenon entirely unrecognized by conventional science. The extent of the ignorance and jadedness of the media has no limit.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Williams got paid the massive sum of 20pounds for his trouble, and, as far as he could tell, the film was only shown as part of a mysteries series on Welsh TV. They had shot the phenomenon of the girl being pushed from the stone more than once--once in slow motion with Williams himself, as they wanted to show the directional nature of the force exerted. That's when things got noticeably Out Proctor. Here's the quote [the filmers were concentrating on the action and didn't notice this until they got the show ready for the air.] "On 27th September 1979 I was surprised when Brynmore Williams telephoned me in my office from London and told me that the part of the film taken in slow motion on 16th July 1976 showed an object appearing from a cloud and disappearing behind the prehistoric standing stone just as I was being thrown away from the top of the standing stone with my hands and fingers outstretched above my head. The speed of the object had been calculated by a mathematician in the BBC studios as the incredible speed of 16000 miles per hour" [incredible indeed as there is no way to do such a calculation when you don't have a means of knowing the distance--trust me, I'm a doctor]. Although the speed was a bogus calculation, and not Williams' fault, we can probably accept that some pale yellow oval UFO raced quickly across the sky coincidentally with his Earth energy experiment. Whether we pay any attention to that or not, Williams did. He wondered if he may have discovered a way to contact "another kind of world which is just outside the range of our five normal senses". You can read such in the handwriting to the left. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Maybe we don't like to mix dowsing with UFOs. Some would; some wouldn't. The "Ley Hunters" [I'd define this for you if any universally agreed-upon definition existed] seem to take a creative stand about this: "UFOs" exist but they are some sort of manifestation of these Earth mysteries that we're generally talking about here. Paul Devereux [see the insert on the magazine cover] is the former talented and imaginative editor of the, also-former Ley Hunter magazine. Paul became a relentless debunker of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis for UFOs, though a thoughtful and civilized one [this is something that you cannot say for all such folks, particularly those from "across-the-pond"]. Paul was certain that the ETH did not work for UFOs. I don't know what he felt about ideas like Williams' but I imagine that there was some sympathy there. The particular issue of the LH shown, by the way, contains a major [and concerned] message by Tom Graves distressed over the inability of the big thinkers in the Ley field to be able to come to agreement on almost anything that they had been talking about---shades of UFOlogy. Many dowsers would happily just leave larger concepts like Leys alone and concentrate on the microproblems of what dowsing can or can not do on the site. There have been several archaeologists for instance who have shocked their colleagues by admitting [once their reputations had been established] that the secret to their success in locating buried sites/structures was dowsing. CSICOP no doubt crapped their cumulative pants. I'm going to end by going back to my friend "Bill". He came to me, just a year ago, and admitted that he experienced something with the dowsing rod that boggled him--this is one of the most un-boggleable persons on the planet. As part of his interests in genealogy, he was looking up gravestone markers in a New England cemetery. As he really does have a bit of the adventurer in him--despite no Irish blood, alas--he had taken along his dowsing rods. The rods behaved differently over some graves than others. Was there any pattern? Yes. Being who he is, he saw it after many tries. The rods moved differently over a male grave than they did over a female one. WHOA! I just went Out Proctor.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Everyday Psi ?: DOWSING

I find this an interesting subject from a lot of angles [Good Grief! I sounded like Donald Keyhoe just then---gotta get away from the old UFO history for a while]. Because I have almost no experience with Dowsing, one might expect that I have no business writing about it...but that hasn't stopped me yet so here goes. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dowsing, or something like it seems to have been around for a long time, and, due to extant treatises like Agricola's De Re Metallica [yeh, the head-bangers weren't the first to use this], we're certain that it existed in its traditional form at least from the 16th century. Some people have tried, as they always do, to stretch the Bible out of shape and say that when Moses struck the rock with his staff and produced water, he was the first dowser. Obviously the mediaeval Church did not honor that Biblical precedent, and considered it to be "divination", i.e. magical foreseeing, and therefore the work of the Devil [see the woodcut to the left where the bishop unmasks the dowser to show the Devil beneath. Dowsers get their revenge in the lower right woodcut, when Leviathan belches forth dowsing rods and a dowser tweaks the nose of the bishop in one smaller scene, while in the large scene, he tweaks the nose of a symbol of the whole city.] Yep, it was good old mediaeval thinking: don't trust in dowsing because it is somehow bad. Today we are more advanced: don't even consider dowsing because it is somehow bad...hmmm...wait a minute....--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
As I've adventured across the fields of the anomalies, I've noticed a common failure [maybe necessary, but I don't think so]. There are almost no "texts" in any of these fields which try to do a somewhat comprehensive job of setting out the consensus reality, as shared or potentially shareable, by the serious experts in the field. UFOlogy has no such thing. Even Parapsychology seems to have no such thing. Without a foundational reference upon which the field stands, there is no field of study--just individuals doing what they do and dying off, leaving nothing really built into the consensus. I was pleasantly surprised to find that someone had tried to do this for Dowsing--though it seems not to have "worked", since people rarely cite it and build off it. The text is Barrett and Besterman's The Divining Rod. Quite good as a historical and empirical/definitional attempt at a synthesis. If one wanted a quick and scholarly grounding [albeit old] in this field, I'd recommend it. Huge numbers of publications on the subject exist: the US Government pamphlet shown in the collage lists right at 500 references , 1532-1917. Dowsing has applied everything from the famous witching wands of Hazel or Willow to the copper rods preferred today to shovels, sausage, or personal "sensitivity" alone [that sausage thing boggled me and, right or wrong, doesn't help the field being taken seriously]. Sometime, a fork in the divining occurred, and people began scrapping the rods for pendulums. Abbe Alexis Mermet, a French-born Swiss priest, made pendulum dowsing famous with his exploits saving his parishioners from a drought and using the pendulum to diagnose illnesses and find missing persons. He called the "force" that he sensed "radio-aesthesia" energy, and insisted that this was a physical thing and that he was not performing these feats by "psychic" means. In this, the Abbe was being like most people I know who are interested in dowsing: he was trying to make this mystery the least possible alteration of the consensus reality's comfort zone that he could rationalize. "Just sensing normal forces somehow"---no All-The-Way-Fool for him. The British pusher of the power of the pendulum is/was T.C.Lethbridge, who seems to believe that nothing is beyond the answer-giving prowess of the pendulum [even the real "beyond"... ghosts]. Abbe Mermet was much respected, even loved. Was he really accurate?-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
It's hard to say how accurate anyone is in this business, as, although on paper good controlled variable studies of dowsing are easy to imagine, in reality the complexity of the real world of time, place, and man-power availability make them difficult to pull off. To go to the ridiculous: one Alabama county did a "test" where they reported 100% accuracy for the dowsers. Looking at the geology of the place, it was seen that water lay under the surface within 20 feet in 100% of the area. A miracle, I guess. Less ridiculous was the test that was set up with conditions that all of the participating dowsers said [pre-test] was fair, wherein bottles of oil were buried in sandboxes. Each of the 50 dowsers had 10 tries. Compared with raw chance probability, they were actually worse. But, as the targets were static and "unnatural", maybe a dowser can't do that. John Mullins was a British water system supplier and a dowser. Whereas at several places geologists could not find water, Mullins would do so. Barrett himself watched over one of these tests. The geologists were impressed even if the skeptics were not. Modern hyper-believer-in-nothing Ray Hymen brushed off Mullins' findings as mere "anecdotes". Since Hymen was a founding member of CSICOP we should not be surprised. The Barrett/Besterman book has another test [the Carrigoona test] which is pretty good. This involved one dowser dowsing and the spots were marked on a map. Another was brought in and the same. They both dowsed the same locations. When bores were dug, the spots were all hits. Anecdotal? Just good luck? We have to decide on our own.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My position on this is that some dowsers seem to be able to find water but how they do it is still very mysterious. Are they just in situations where they can't miss [like Alabama]? That doesn't seem to cover it, particularly when persons like Mullins are involved. Do they just have a superior natural knowledge of the water-bearing environment? Maybe, but the geologists couldn't come anywhere near Mullins either. Does an Earth Force "speak" through the device? Lots of folks prefer this answer, whether that force is "ordinary" or a "new-to-science" phenomenon. Well, I might go there if there weren't so many varieties of wands AND NO WANDS, and people claiming to dowse at-a-distance. Nope. Sounds like Psi to me. Clairvoyance with the wand as a confidence giving "occasion" to optimizing the talent. In this I have the support of our favorite Irish girl, Eileen Garrett, who thought exactly that. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------But, last for today, what's this stuff in the picture collage all about? The main guy who sold Frank Scully on the story of the crashed disk in 1948 [a year after Roswell] was a life-time dowser and prospector. As you can see, all did not end well for his plans. I found once, however, in "dusty" old UFO records, that Silas Newton actually believed that he COULD dowse for minerals etal. He tells a whole story of how he was taught the art. So, making up that part of his crashed disk lie was not a big stretch for him. Also, on a different tack, Newton was visited by government agents after he had floated the phoney crash story. He tells the story in his diary which ended up in the hands of Roswell and general UFO skeptic, Karl Pflock. It's to Pflock's credit that he released to the general community the entries which stated that the agents told Newton that they knew what he was doing was a con game, but they were happy for him to go on doing it. The Scully tale was a great diversion from Roswell, and Newton's ultimate exposure cinched that no one would pay any attention to a crashed disk story [even in the UFO community] for 35 years. Accident? Clever plan? Random meaningless data bit? -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In the next post, I want to go a bit more out-on-a-hazel-limb and say a little something about a relatively unknown guy named John Williams, who I learned some things about by, as usual, accident. Till then.

Monday, November 9, 2009

OUT PROCTOR: Where the Dark and Weird Things Go

Today, Mothman. But first I need another state-of-consciousness. We have "conservative", "liberal", and "All-The-Way-Fool". But for today and in the future, I'll need "Out Proctor". When we want to talk about normal and relatively normal things, we're in the comfort zone of conservative/liberal. When we're among friends [like here], and we want to take a risk to speak of strange things that we really think we have a pile of evidence for [like everything on the blog so far], we might be willing to go All-The-Way-Fool. But there are some things that, as John McEnroe would say: You can not be serious. Since those things are often interesting and some may even be true, I am introducing a state-of-blogmind called Out Proctor. When we're in Out Proctor, we're having fun---and just maybe...
Out Proctor exists near a small West Virginia town inhabited by members of my family--one of which even lives in Proctor, West Virginia itself. But this is not Out Proctor. If you drive off the highway to Proctor, that is, for a few miles, Actual Proctor. But as you continue, should you be that foolish, up the road and into the deep holler, the environment begins to get strange. Light dims. People, if so they are, begin to range mysteriously about the landscape, and "things" are on the move. Few people go Out Proctor and fewer want to. Those who have returned tell tales of the Flatwoods Monster being used as an over-sized vacuum cleaner in a home inhabited by Gray Barker. Mothman cowers in trees from the Proctor Predatory Parrot. Indrid Cold is just cool. Out Proctor is a 'pataphysical reality. ['pataphysics being a state of being as far beyond metaphysics as metaphysics is beyond physics---anyone beginning to understand and believe what I'm talking about here should consult a physician---not a 'pataphysician.] Out Proctor is strangely empowering to a blogger. When Out Proctor, no one can tell whether the blog is serious or not, and well, the devil take the hindmost. I am certain that although you have always wanted to know where all these strange entities that we're interested in come from, all I can tell you is where they go. Today we'll go to the dim edge of Out Proctor, where Mothman keeps an alert watch on the dark within. 'pataphysics thy name is freedom. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One of the world experts on Mothman is my buddy, Jerry Clark. If he ever reads this blog, hopefully he will laugh at it rather than cringe. Jerry can tell you far more about Mothman than I--buy his books [shameless plug]. In them you will see that Mothman, although almost unique, is part of a class of mysterious flying impossibilities that date back far into the past. My favorite "Jerry case" is the giant bird with the metallic scales and burning-coal eyes from 1868 Chile. "Our" West Virginia Mothman is, mainly, the hero in a condensed drama or flap of sightings occurring in SW WVA in November of 1966. There were some credible reports and a believable local newswoman, Mary Hyre, who bird-dogged the early investigations. Then of course in came world-class lunatics, Gray Barker and John Keel, and nothing more about the cases can be asserted with assurance again. Woody Derenberger and Indrid Cold [a brilliantly sinister name] were glued on to the flap by Keel, as well as the collapse of the Point Pleasant Silver Bridge [something that I and my family passed over dozens of times in our lives as Point Pleasant residents---just lucky I guess]. In some count, greater than 100 witnesses reported Mothman. Frankly the descriptions have a great deal of variance in them. Some are very "impossibly-big" and bird-like. Some are Out Proctor. Keel and Barker of course preferred the latter, and the composite description of Mothman became 5 to 7 foot tall, brown or gray, wings to 12-15 feet, "human" legs, shuffling walk, flies without flapping its wings, eyes in shoulders and often glowing red. Well, that's plenty Out Proctor for me. What worries me, mainly about my own sanity, is that there is just enough non-Barker/Keel testimony to make me think that this might have happened. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I will proffer one Mothman tale that is probably out in the literature somewhere, but, as I didn't see it at quick glance, maybe it will be new to some of you. I was listening to a UFO witness tape made by my Ohio buddy, Bill Jones. He was interviewing a colleague who worked at Battelle Memorial Institute, William Pickering, who had several UFO case involvements. Right in the middle of talking about one of them, Pickering said: you're not going to believe me about the bird I saw. The interview never could pin down the date, but Pickering said that it was before all the hullaballoo in Point Pleasant, but not hugely before [maybe 1965]. His family was native to West Virginia, and the family home was in Jackson County [see the map]. They had a hunting cabin there as well. This was at the home, quite rural and largely unpopulated. He saw a large thing coming low over the rolling land at no more than twenty feet elevation. It had a 14 foot wingspan, a 3 1/2 foot thick body, 6 to 6 1/2 foot in length. The color was mainly dark brown, though lightening a bit behind the neck [although there wasn't much neck] and down at the lower breast. Sort of like wild turkey color. It was covered with feathers including the head. Its tail came to a point [i.e. was not fanned]. It had "dirty orange" clenched feet beneath of great size. It flew without effort, flapping very slowly as though this was nothing at all to move this bulk. No sound was made even though the thing went directly over his head. As it did, it had its eyes turned and fixed on him. [scared the crap out of him]. The head was roundish like most birds, but the eyes were forward mounted as humans. They were 5 inches in diameter, and amber-colored. The "beak" began above these eyes and curved down close to the face, making an oddly flat countenance. Asked if he knew about big local birds like turkey buzzards, Pickering said that the thing "could have eaten a buzzard in two bites". Well, what do you do with that story? Pickering said that people around Jackson county had seen this sort of giant bird often in that era, and having nothing to do with the Point Pleasant sightings which came later. He appeared not to have known nor cared about Barker or Keel. You can see the relationship of the area Pickering's talking about [near as I can make it out from the tape] to the Mason County area around Point Pleasant and the TNT Area. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So, what, I ask foolishly, are we dealing with here? Many of the reports sound like Big Birds [including one of Barker's {Tom Ury} who talks clearly about a bird not a Mothman], and yet many are way past that and Out Proctor. I don't know what to make of this, but the once scared out of her mind, Linda Scarberry, claimed frequent revisitations of Mothman around her home, even to the point of feeling sorry for it. "We rented an apartment down on 13th street, and the bedroom window was right off the roof. It was sitting on the roof one night, looking at the window, and by then I was so used to seeing it, I just pulled the blinds and went on. I felt kind of sorry for gives you the feeling like it was sitting there wishing it could come in and get warm because it was cold out that night". As John McEnroe would say....well, you know. My favorite longshot challenger for the dramatic lead in this play is the Piasa Bird of the Native American cultures around St. Louis. A mighty fine beast to me, though perhaps better suited to a dragon. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
My family's relation to all this is minor, but perhaps not entirely irrelevant. During WW2, my father was, as a Notre Dame chemical engineering graduate with experience in the heavy chemicals industry, deemed not suitable for dying by overseas shrapnel, but rather to risk his life making TNT instead. His manual is at the left. Glued onto that is an instance of some fancy armament being moved,[although he probably shouldn't have had a picture of that]. Below, Dad is hiding in his and his buddies' "victory garden", where being city boys they grew essentially inedible produce. They grew so much squash that it had to be hauled away and buried--not quite 'pataphysics but still theatre-of-the-absurd. I, as a little kid lived at the Ordnance Works from 1942 to about 1947 when the plant was sufficiently dismantled so that it could be abandoned. Mothman was nowhere in evidence. The biggest scary bird we had was a brown hawk of some kind that Dad and his ne'er-do-well friends shot and brought home--scratching on the window and holding it outstretched across the outside glass, so that when Mom opened the curtains she almost fainted. This was amusing but dangerous, as Mom was the best rifle shot in the plant area, including the military. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Since I haven't seen a really good map of the WVOW, I'm putting one on. The blue line is the public road. Down goes to Point Pleasant. Up goes to northern Mason County and, ultimately, with a bend in the Ohio River over to Jackson County. The yellow oval is the Staff House area, where we lived [as Dad was #2 civilian at the Works]. The red area held two power plants--you had to get past two check points to get in. The purplish-pink area is the heavy chemicals "acid plant". In most ways this was the most dangerous area of the place and where my Dad was, in essence, production boss. It dealt with things like Ammonia, Nitric Acid, etc--NOT "mutagenic chemicals" like some videogame fictionists would like to ascribe an Godzilla-like Mothman to issue from. The danger came from simple explosions and the instant kill properties of ammonia and nitric acid if released and breathed in. My father once had a runaway reaction going in there. The whole WVOW was evacuated to wait for the explosion. Dad told Mom to put us kids in the car and drive far away. He would "see us later". He and one man went back inside that plant and shut the reaction down. [I suppose that not everyone will relate to this, but that last sentence made me stop and cry]. Anyway, the salmon-orange ellipse contained the Toluene which was nitrified to make the Trinitrotoluene [TNT]. That was in the green area. Ready-to-roll-armaments were in the brown area. I've lumbered you with all this description of the Works because I believe that knowledge is better than ignorance, especially when trying to figure out the anomalies. But, what-the-heck, here's what really happened: Dad and his friends buried the multi-tons of squash on WVOW property. Over twenty years, the squash fermented into a mass of swamp gas rivaling even that of Michigan. Occasionally this squash gas would erupt into glowing and red-orange floating masses which were capable of over-exciting ignorant hill-billies like ourselves. This attracted not only Gray Barker and John Keel, but also UFOs wondering what the fuss was about. Seeing an opportunity for communication, the UFOs released Mothman and you know the rest of the story. I just knew Dad had created Mothman somehow. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, seriously, if such words can be used in an Out Proctor situation, I don't know what to think about Mothman. Mary Hyre seems a good local information source. Tales like Ury's or Pickering's seem to clearly say impossibly big birds. Others say no way. Despite the outrageousness of the topic, there seems too much there to just toss this away. Yet I don't have my "best" witnesses types to anchor me firmly. If someTHING went on, it was paranormal either way [that is, we're not dealing with Earth-biological Cryptozoology]. We're All-The-Way-Fool or we're just Out Proctor until more information comes along. I've attached here at the bottom a few of the early WVA newsclippings in case you've not seen them. Hmmm..."Proctor" if you rearrange the letters spells "crop-rot". This is starting to all make sense!!!


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