American History X

Richard Hall. Uninvited Guests: A Documentary History of UFO Sightings, Alien Encounters and Coverups. Aurora Press, 1988.
This is an example of the better type of UFO book of say 20-25 years ago, The early chapters examine various examples of UFO behaviour - vehicle stoppages, lightbeams, humanoids; and in subsequent chapters rival exotic theories are examined but ultimately rejected in favour of a somewhat more sophisticated version of nuts and bolt space ships. Appendices provide chronological summaries of representative cases and examples of US government documents. To the European ufologist the result - and let us remember that Hall is far more thoughtful that most US ufologists - the result appears anachronistic, provincial and credulous.

The anachronism and provincialism lie not in the wide range of cases presented, which have global scope, but in the seeming lack of any appreciation of modern, non-American thought on the subject. We are back in the days before Hendry and Monnerie, when eyewitness testimony was taken at face value. Significantly Hendry, although an American researcher, is not mentioned once. He is now a non-person in the USA, Once again one gets the impression that American ufologists in their conspiracy theorising really act as if the United States is the only country in the world, and that the CIA could maintain its conspiracies across the globe,

It is in Halt's at least partial acceptance of the Majestic-12 documents and crashed saucer stories that he displays a surprising credulity of which he would have been one of the harshest critics himself, twenty years ago. Is he not suspicious that all the people named in MJ-12 are dead? Or that the supposed medical man who conducted the alleged autopsies on the aliens does not use a single medical term in his description of the bodies? Indeed the descriptions sound like a cross between Hal Crawford's UFO drawings, popular SF speculation, and super-cerebral Mekon-style aliens. Does he not find it odd that UFOs never crash in Libya, Panama, North Korea, or New York, but only in Arizona and New Mexico conveniently close to US Air Force bases.

This is truly a picture of state-of-the-art American ufology, dominated by the crashed saucer and abduction themes. This is a folklore in which the man and woman in the street is threatened by both the limitless power of the `wholly other', from which not even the bedroom is safe, and the arbitrary power of a state bureaucracy widely believed to go round assassinating and intimidating those who have discovered its appalling secret, Beyond the crashed saucer stories lies the fear that passionless symbols of pure reason are in command, and somehow need to steal our passion and our physicality in order to survive and reproduce. The atrophied 'animal parts' of the alien cadavers have their psychological counterpart to the 'glacial indifference' of the abductors, These are, of course, literal 'eggheads', the antithesis of the 'red-blooded American male', and thus the ultimate symbol of un-Americanism,

Hall's defence of the ETH turns out to be less of a definite argument in its favour, than a victory by default. Non-exotic theories are dismissed with the sort of hand-waving that the sceptics are accused of employing, and the exotic alternatives tend towards the God's providence argument, or to be essentially meaningless (though some varieties of super-string theory do seem to involve a rehabilitation of 'etheric matter' of an almost Theosophical kind, and quantum physics has many surprises.

However, the book remains an accessible account of what many US ufologists believe; one does not have to be an ETH fan to find food for thought in the case list appendix, Magonia readers may find the book rekindles the nostalgic glow of youth! -- Reviewed by Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 35, January 1990.

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