Out of Sight

Jacques Vallée. The Invisible College, Dutton, 1975. 

Any book by Jacques Valleé is always something of an event in ufological circles. In some ways though, Valleé's latest is rather a disappointment. Perhaps one reason for this is that in many respects it has been published two or three years too late. In his previous books Valleé has acted as a vanguard in this field. First in directing the attention of the scientific community; then in directing the ufological community to the 'folklore oonnection'. But now Vallee has been outpaced by even more radical speculations, and within the UFO research world his views seem less radical indeed one hears similar suggestions in the most unlikely quarters!

The main purpose of Invisible College is to document 'ultra-high-strangeness' UFO experiences (including those involving parapsychology), and the influence of these experiences and the myths associated with them, on our culture. From this material he concludes that the UFO phenomenon in its totality is effecting a change in the basic myth structure of our culture. The absurd, paradoxical nature of both individual UFO experiences and the whole UFO mythology, effects a transformation in the consciousness of the individual UFO percipient, and then into the general culture.

Vallee provides a wealth of interesting material on such topics as Geller, UMMO, 'AFFA', and the cult studied by Festinger and others. Of special interest is Valleé's revelation that the 'Dr Armstrong' of this cult was none other that Puharich's guru 'Dr Vinod'. The apparitions of the Virgin, and the visions of Joseph Smith are among the other topics discussed.

This reviewer wishes that the first part of chapter six, dealing with the Assyrian cylinder seals, had been omitted. These are by no means mysterious or exceptionable. The winged disc as a symbol of the vehicle of the solar or sky god and his attendants is common throughout the Mediterranean area. Also best omitted would be some of the more obvious historical gaffes, such as statements that the Bible was written by automatic writing, or that pre-Christian Rome was a citadel of rationalism.

It is fairly clear that Vallee is writing rather self-consciously for fellow scientists, and in that light Invisible College will serve a useful purpose. It may persuade otherwise cautious opinion to take an interest in (or at least not dismiss out of hand) the minefield of the New Ufology, as well as stimulate interest amongst the general public. Vallee, perhaps with this in mind, sits on the fence with regard to the nature of the UFO phenomenon. At times he suggests that it is primarily a psyohological phenomenon, a regulating mechanism providing a source of psychological balance. At other times he insists on the 'technologioal' nature of the phenomenon. Valleés's penchant for Skinnerism probably also stems from the desire to keep his technological audience with him.

Despite these reservations, Invisible College is a valuable addition to the literature, and a useful source of material on the 'contactee syndrome' - Peter Rogerson, from MUFOB New Series 4, Autumn 1976.

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