Crash Landings

Stuart Holroyd. Prelude to the Landing on Planet Earth. W H Allen.
This is a sad book, chronicling the very limits of human credulity and gullibility. It is largely the account of a series of trance-state 'communications' with alleged representatives of a galactic civilisation. The principle figures in the events are Andrija Puharich, the former associate of Uri Geller, Phyllis Schlesser, the psychic channel for the messages and Sir John Whiteacre, an Old Etonian and former Sandhurst cadet.

Brought together at Oesining, a farm-commune in New York State sponsored by Puharich, they begin to receive messages from an entity identifying itself as 'Tom'. There is nothing in the book to suggest that these are anything other than projections from Phyllis's unconscious mind. Holroyd attempts to make out a case to prove that information in the messages could not be known to Phyllis, and must come from some outside source. He is less than convincing, the messages are the usual collection of vague pseudo-science and rag-bag philosophy, that is common to contactees, automatic writing, etc. In fact he seems impressed that the messages are similar to other 'esoteric ' revelations, concluding that this is evidence of their external objectivity rather than realising that all these messages are based on the same collection of subconscious imagery and archetypes.

Even so, some of the messages are so much a projection of Phyllis's personal attitudes and morality that it is difficult to overlook. At one point Puharich brings a girl-friend into the 'seances'. This obviously offends Phyllis's middle-class, middle American morality the girl is denounced by Tom as a disruptive influence, and she has to go. Any criticism of the role that Phyllis plays in this little drama is at once slapped down in imperious tones by 'Tom'. The other two may be doubters, negative influences or whatever, but Phyllis can do no wrong.

But the most remarkable, and the saddest aspect of the whole affair is the painfully literal way that Phyllis's messages are interpreted. We are therefore entertained by a vivid description of trips across Europe and the Middle East, on a mission of meditation to try and prevent the outbreak of another Arab-Israeli war. We are presented with a picture of a once-reputable scientist standing in the Red Sea, halfway between Egypt and Israel so that the psychic energies will be conducted through the water from his feet, equally to both countries . In the tradition of the Atherius Society, they point out that there was no war after their visit, so they must have succeeded.

I said the book was sad; we are shown a group of people who have totally retreated from reason and a coherent view of the world. Adults who have thrown themselves into a child-like dependence on the whims of a 'superior' being. There is nothing novel in this; it is the plight of the acolyte in any esoteric cult. It is just rather shocking to find intelligent people who are able to describe their thralldom is such a literate manner.

It may now seem rather contradictory if I say that I strongly recommend this book. It is certainly well-written. Holroyd has a good style and is not as totally taken in by 'Tom's' antics as the subjects of his book, but he still views it in entirely literal terms. But the book has great value as a warning of how far the retreat from reason can go, once the mind's critical abilities are dulled by wishful thinking, or the complexities of personal relation hips. Read it and think: 'Could it happen to me?' – John Rimmer, MUFOB New Series 10, Spring 1978.

No comments: