Sunday, September 16, 2007

Love from above

It being Sunday, this story has an odd appeal: the gods are back, in spaceships of course (that being the current metaphor), dispensing love and guidance to all of the elect chosen abducted.

Jim Moroney, Executive Director of the Alberta UFO Study Group, had his revelation made contact in 1987. "It's not something I like to talk about, really," he said. Visions are like that, of course: ineffable, transmissible only indirectly, through parables, poetry, ecstatic art and lectures at UFO conferences.

This generation "is living in End Times will become fully aware of the presence of extraterrestrials", he said. These so-called "abductions" [insert something a little more respectful here: how about "temporary assumptions?"] are benevolent, and for the purpose of dispensing loving guidance. Moroney, alas, did not return with tablets, and his memory of the events of that night in 1987 is a little sketchy. He required hypnosis, in fact, to find out what had happened to him, and did not share with his audience the revelation guidance he had received.

Perhaps further hypnosis will be necessary. But not to worry. One participant in the conference put his finger on the nub of the thing. Perhaps we've all been abducted, he suggested, and just can't remember it. The theological and epistemological dilemma posed here is surprising profound. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard wrestled with the problem of revelation without certainty; we have here, perhaps, the limit case of the Kierkegaardian leap of faith.

But back to earth for a moment. Even in the post-modern twenty-first century, too many of us still strive to read the cosmic entrails, to receive our wisdom and knowledge from on high. It's at this point that
the conservative value of self-reliance and the progressive notion of collective democracy should ideally combine into a liberating scepticism. We shouldn't simply question authority--we should reject it utterly. It's an outmoded fetish, one that badly needs to be replaced by democratic, human-centred, non-hierarchical social relations based upon mutual accountability. Any "authority" in our governance must be by permission; any "guidance" should be a collaborative, interactive project.

We must not imagine that belief in alien abduction is a fringe phenomenon. Once we recognize the trope, we can see it everywhere: in jihad, in America's endless "missions," in the benevolent,
dependency-creating state, in the media reliance upon "experts." We see it as well in notions of "objective reality," with which some claim a privileged relationship amounting to yet another form of revelation.

Indeed, we've all at one time or another been "abducted,"
just as the fellow at the UFO conference said. All of us have assented to truth dispensed by high priests. When it comes to knowledge and guidance, we are not encouraged to place confidence in ourselves or in each other, but rather in various incarnations, personal and institutional, of an all-knowing parent, of God, of a benevolent alien visitor.

We will never be truly free, I think, until we can shake off the chains of hierarchy and hierarchical thinking, the latter being, of course, what all of this "abduction" stuff is about. We must take on the formidable responsibility of being our own and each others' guides, mentors and friends. If it's signs we need, we should make them ourselves. Until then, we may as well prepare for many more encounters of the third kind.


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