Sunday, March 25, 2012

audio conversation with Jason Horsley

Author and thinker.

Jason Horsley is a writer, scholar, former podcaster and misadventurer. You might know him by his pseudonym Aeolus Kephas, or Jason Kephas, or just Jake. Who and what he might be is difficult to pin down. He wrote a book that I very much liked titled THE LUCID VIEW. And he wrote another that I've yet to read, but I suspect will be right up my alley titled THE SECRET LIFE OF MOVIES.

one-click audio download HERE


one hour / 53 minutes
There is a LONG intro, you can fast forward to the 9:40 time count,
where the interview starts.

Jason's preferred title for this episode is: "What the UFO wants from YOU!"

He hosted a podcast series known lovingly as STORMY WEATHER, linked HERE and HERE. I return to this amazing series again and again and I am continually struck by the depth of Jason’s thinking and bold ideas.

I do my best to keep up with Jason's mind, and hopefully there is plenty to chew on in this interview. We also talk about God, UFO abductions, unconscious filters, Jesus, Dr. Steven Greer, the ego and the metaphoric map. You might wanna follow this podcast up with the one he recently did with DIET SOAP.

Along with all that, her recently wrote a 39-page essay titled: Through a Fractured Glass, Darkly. It’s sub-titled: The Facts in the Strange Case of Whitley Strieber. This was penned under the name Aeolus Kephas. We spend some time on this essay during our conversation. You can read the two part essay at Realty Sandwich, here are Part ONE and Part TWO.

Jason also has a blog; ARKANA ARKADIA.


During our almost two hour discussion, Jason doodled this exquisite work (pen on paper) and it seems to accurately reflect the depth of our existential conversation.
________________________________________________

69 comments:

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

Oddly enough Mike you mentioned that Whitley would like the 'British' actor Geoffrey Rush to play him in a movie version of "The Key".

Geoffrey Rush is an Australian actor,not British.
From Wikipedia;
"Rush was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, to Merle (née Kiehne), a department store sales assistant, and Roy Baden Rush, an accountant for the Royal Australian Air Force.His parents divorced when he was five and his mother subsequently took him to live with her parents in suburban Brisbane.Before he began his acting career".

Rush grew up in Brisbane,were I live...I just had to throw that sync (to me anyway.-)in.

Another sync was my father was born in Toowoomba and moved to Brisbane as a small boy.

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

Another sync I thought worth mentioning was that you guys referenced 'The Abyss' and today James Cameron writer and director of the movie "The Abyss" landed his Australian-made solo submarine on the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean.
So in a way he has reached the bottom of his Abyss.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-26/james-cameron-reaches-bottom-of-pacific/3912486

Anonymous said...

Wonderful interview and something that was important to me because I find Whitley to be of extremes in what he writes and often in what he says in interviews. Were he to have often said, I'm exploring this or that," I would find him credible, but he is often insistent enough that one should be forgiven when chalking his experiences up to the gospel-of-Whitely-in-a-moment.

That said, I find him very interesting as well as insightful often, but I suppose those times are congruent with my "map!"

How on earth does one go off map, the birthplace of epiphany, other than to become brutally honest with one's self? I doubt channeling is the way and may even be a seductive means for distraction, but that is just where I find myself in this moment, granted.

Kudos also on the idea that past trauma may be behind experiences of high strangeness of any sort. It's such a huge topic for exploration that I think Jason could expand on that theme with a deft hand, should he choose one day.

Kephas said...

Thanks Anon... I guess around about the time I mostly withdrew from the Alt. Perceptions Community I started to write more about the subject, but haven't shared most of it. Part of the reason for the withdrawal was the growing distrust in my own map and therefore the maps I was helping to create for/with others. For the record, I don't consider that trauma explains (away) experiences of alt. realities, only that it in-forms them. How can we separate the psychological complexes that give rise to a dream from the dream content itself? Obviously we can't. The same applies to psychedelic shamanic excursions, occult practices, spiritual techniques and experiences, and all the rest.

It's all ways that we fill the Void, but it is the Void that is the true nature of consciousness. Or so I am beginning to sense. Doodling in the void may be all we can do. But they are only doodles.

tinyjunco said...

Hello Mr. Kephas! what a nice treat - i kicked myself for demanding Jeff Wells delete my rig int account years ago when, after i was good and gone from that forum, i saw your thread on Mr. Streiber. c'est la vie :)

i'm wondering how/if your opinion of Streiber as a 'cult leader' is influenced by your own experience with a guru? If i recall an interview with you, that turned out fairly badly....i lived in a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center for a while. People putting people in guru positions is unwise enough, when the guru's been trained in spiritual/occult technology the possibilities for abuse are endless.

i wouldn't mind you and Mr. Clelland discussing the interaction of UFO's and the occult. The more i look into that the more i'm convinced it's, as you intimated, looking at the same process from different maps.

I think trauma can play a role in our estrangement from the imaginal, but i've found that indoctrination into 'normal reality' plays a much larger role. Trauma unmoors, parents telling you what's real and what's not creates the map in your head which shows you where to anchor.

If you look at the physical way people are born, there's pretty much no way anyone is seeing a 'crack of light' prior to birth. Babies come out crown first, your eyes are closed tight and pressed against the side of the vagina until you're pretty much all out. Search 'crowning birth' for a bunch of pictures that show this (needless to say it is not safe for work in our ridiculous society).

UFO's and abduction is very much about sex and interbreeding. Not so sure about the birth trauma thing - i think some guy researched abductees, how they were born (vag way or c section, problems or no) to see if it correlated w/experience and it didn't.

Looking forward to your next talk here, have fun, "moonflower" steph

The Seduction King said...

Listened to the interview twice.
First time through i fell asleep ( i was tired ).
Listened to it again a bit ago and really enjoyed it.

Thanks to both of you!

Cheers,

Mark

Kephas said...

Hi Tiny; the 'cult leader' is certainly part of a larger experience of which WS was just one of the strands, yes. Another, as a touched on with Mike, was identifying these tendencies in myself around my SWEDA work, leading to the ending of that experiment. Soon after I found out things about my 'guru' that initiated an investigation, and right about the end of that investigation, May of last year, the new edition of THE KEY came out and the surrounding controversy about that, which lead to my starting a new thread at Rig Intuition, and which eventually turned into the second part of the WS piece. So forces beyond my ken or control.

Seems I have discussed UFOs and the occult a fair bit already - on SW podcasts and also in my talk 2007 with Adam Gorightly, still online.

I didn't say that trauma caused estrangement from the Imaginal but a distorted relationship with it. And since the source of the trauma and the source of our reality maps (parents, siblings, et al) is the same, I’m not sure it’s possible to separate the two?

As for the birth metaphor – that’s a very literal reading! It didn’t occur to me – any more than I would imagine sperm really “see” the ovum. Nonetheless, logically speaking, the very first experience a birthing fetus would have of the new reality is that of light (unless birthed in darkness, which I suppose happens from time to time).

As for sex and interbreeding vs birth – does it have to be either/or? Who among us can separate sexual desire from infant patterns and early imprints?

Thanks your thoughts!

JK

Mike Clelland! said...

I'll chime in.

First, I quite enjoyed talking and listening to what Jason had to say. He looks at these subjects at a very deep level.

I feel I have studied and researched the UFO abduction phenomenon at a deep level, and there are important ideas that Jason brings to this subject. Whitley Strieber and Jason have this in common, they both bring profound ideas to the table of thought.

I will link that essay Jason wrote when it's available.

Here is a short criticism of the essay.

In 2009 I was interviewed on THE PARACAST, I consider David Biedny a friend, and we dug deep into the subject of abductions for 2 full hours. Afterwords, I was the center of a lot of negative comments in the forums of both THE PARACAST and PARATOPIA.

This went on for a long time, and it got really mean-spirited at times. Some of the comments were way out of line, where they didn't seem to be talking about me at all, they were just ranting.

But, some commenters would use what I said, or what I had written and choose very specific statements (that I did, in fact, say) and interpret them in a way where they would mis-read my intent. They were using my words in a way that didn't match my own meaning.

This was a curious thing for me, because I could tell the commenters were overlaying their own ideas, and using carefully selected words of mine to make their points.

I could see their intent, but it did not match my own experiences.

Some of these commenters weren't being mean, but it didn't fit my reality.

Others did the same thing, but they used my own words to be mean - and that really made my heart sink.

In the essay Jason wrote about Whitley, he was very studious in the way he studied and presented the information. And I suspect that Whitley would recognize that. But I think that Whitley feel that "some" of Jason's comments wouldn't match his own experiences - they wouldn't fit his reality.

I don't think Jason was being mean spirited, although he did use some loaded terms, like "cult leader" in the text.

All three of us (Jason, myself and Whitley) are trying to peer into the unknown, we are trying to define what might be happening in these subtle realms. And this is inherently confusing.

We are trying to use language and the spoken word to illuminate the darkness. All three of us are aiming high, and that means a lot.

Kephas said...

Hey Mike,

In the piece, I qualify the charge of cultism by stating that Whitley is "only doing what all of us are doing in smaller ways."

The word is loaded yes; but I think I do a fair job of unloading it...

Red Pill Junkie said...

@_@

Looking at Jason's doodle, in awe of that Nephilim humongous youknowwhat...

I enjoyed the discussion, and I'm just about ready to listen to it again.

I think Jason's cautions should be heeded. Truly, he points out many of my concerns regarding channeling material, or information received by other abnormal means. The metaphor of the clear water being filtered through a rusty pipe was spot on --as well as Mike's reply that dirty water is always better than dying of thirst.

I wouldn't consider Strieber to be a cult leader, seeing how to me the word is more related to individuals like Marshall Applewhite or Billy Meier.

I do think that using the analogy of the map and the territory, that many people in this field regard Whitley as a trust-worthy guide. Jason's admonitions that his experiences and interpretations shouldn't be extrapolated as a universal answer have merit, but the way we refrain from making the mistake of enshrining a guide into the role of cult leader is by retaining a healthy dose of skepticism, and question his opinions when the territory doesn't concur with the map.

But in the end some form of implicit trust and, yes, even control is relented to the guide. I'm sure Mike can relate to this when he's teaching a new group of campers the basics of mountain climbing or extreme light-packing; the people in his group have reached a point where they trust him to make the right decisions that will ensure their safety, based on either his credentials or recommendations by third parties. I can imagine how annoying it would be for Mike if there was a troll among the group questioning his every order just for the hell of it ;)

Ah! but herein lies the problem: there's no institution in our society who licenses individuals to become guides of the other realms of consciousness that we discuss in this blog.

It is something of a conundrum. But we must keep in mind that Strieber and other individuals have hinted to a grass-roots type of contact with The Other, outside the jurisdiction of institutions, governments or religions. Anyone can go into the wilderness and explore... if they have the balls ;)

tinyjunco said...

Hi Jason, thank you for your responses! I appreciate the birth clarification, "...seeing a crack of light coming thru the vagina..." frankly struck me as an overly literal interpretation, and having taken a # of health classes i couldn't get the contrast with the actuality of it out of my mind! I figured it couldn't hurt to ask, i'm glad i did as you gave a very clear answer!

re:trauma and relation to the imaginal. Again, thank you for the clarification on your meaning! I agree that trauma can definitely distort that relationship, just as it can distort all relationships. However, in my experience i've yet to observe a clear cut connection. Heavily traumatized people may have a clearer relation to the imaginal (very very strange but i've seen it). And choosing to face trauma in a particular way can actually blow away many of those same distortions (look at the shamanic traditions).

Day to day i find just as much distortion from 'normal' indoctrination into Tart's 'consensus trance consciousness'. If you're going to define that process as trauma, well, there we 'agree to disagree'.

"As for sex and interbreeding vs birth – does it have to be either/or? Who among us can separate sexual desire from infant patterns and early imprints?" My friends and family find nothing so irritating as my insistence that nothing is either/or! or, well, practically nothing..... ;)

Again, very interesting and so fun to do some deeper digging into areas that so many avoid in this topic, but which affect people the most deeply.

Mike C!, if any of your comment was directed at me, i try to make my comments on your blog concise and to the point as a courtesy to you and your readers. It's much easier to be 'nicer' on the phone or in person or with unlimited space :)

But i try not to be an even bigger blog-hog than i already am! Sorry if i come across as rude, steph

Mike Clelland! said...

Reply to Tiny Junko:
-----------------
No, nothing to worry about.

I was referencing a lot of downright mean comments that were made on the forums of both THE PARACAST and PARATOPIA in the spring of 2009.

They are all still up and on line.

Mike C!

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

@RPJ
"Anyone can go into the wilderness and explore... if they have the balls ;)"

...or that Nephilim humongous youknowwhat...-)

Red Pill Junkie said...

@ Brizdaz:

Talk about the attack of the Martian tripods

*rimshot*

:P

Trish said...

I don't consider Whitley a "cult leader" either. He's a wonderful writer who has had some inexplicable experiences that have sculpted who he is and what he writes about.

When I first read The Hunger, one of his early novels, I sensed then he had had abduction experiences. You can feel it in the way he writes about these vampires.

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

@RPJ

Maybe this was how the first sundial was invented.This guy might just be telling the time?-)

Maybe this joke is just a bit too corny,although
time will tell?-)

Mike Clelland! said...

Reply to Trish:
------------

I agree completely! I think it is way to simplistic to call Whitley a cult leader.

I recall one interview (it might have been with ME!) where Whitley said: "Some people say I talk too much, but I've got a lot to say!"

And I am grateful for his website as a forum for him to say those things - they are important, especially to me!

That said, Jason wrote (rather eloquently) that anyone who writes is a sort of cult leader. His essay would drift into a kind of grand existential metaphor at times. And he is aware that the term is loaded.

I said as much during the interview.

It's tricky. I disagree with some of the emphasis that Jason wrote in his essay, but I liked it anyway. I might have been hypnotized by his skill as a writer.

Kephas said...

I've only myself to blame, I suppose, for using such a loaded term. However, I always try to call a spade a spade, even knowing the risk that others may have different definitions for their various digging implements. To most people, as I said on the show, "cult leader" means Jim Jones. I used the term in a wider sense.

Here's an online definition:

1 : formal religious veneration : worship
2 : a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3 : a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4 : a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
5 a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
b : the object of such devotion
c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

As you can see, Whitley's following clearly fits into the fifth and last category. Since he is the one they are following, he then fits under a wider definition of "cult leader." This is a more benign use of the word, and overlaps with cult films, cult bands, etc. But the fact we use the same word for such seemingly different things shouldn’t be overlooked. Clearly there is an overlap here.

It's interesting that there is an across the board acceptance that cult leader = "bad," and that there are certain telltale signs for recognizing a cult and its leader(s). This is a mistaken assumption, IMO. The idea that 'cults are bad' and that they have specific characteristics is propagated by mass media, and yet mass media itself is a cult, making those who uphold it - key figures from anchor people to celebrities to politicians - all "cult leaders." Society is a cult, in fact, but since everyone belongs to it, there's no one to point the finger and call it what it us.

(continued in next comment)

Kephas said...

(cont from last comment)

Unfortunately, I can't let my article speak for itself, yet, but my diagnosis of Whitley as “cult leader" is based on observation at his website. Unknown Country is basically a fan site, and fans, as we know, behave "cultishly" —they worship their "leader,” and so s/he can do no wrong. The first indication I had of this was when my first article (which included no mention of cults) was received at UC and by Whitley himself, as an attack on Strieber and as "disinfo" – why? — simply because it wasn't wholly supportive of him. This impression was later confirmed by observing the "love-bombing" of Whitley at his site.

OK so, unhealthy as love-bombing may be (IMO), there's nothing especially sinister about a writer having a place to talk with his fans and enjoying their praise and support. That is strictly in the realm of the benign sort of cult (William Burroughs was a cult writer, for example) in which a small group of followers exhibit unusually strong admiration/adoration for the object of their worship. Where it becomes more dangerous, and less benign, I think, is when the following has a religious, spiritual, or political dimensions to it, and takes the form of some sort of social movement. This is the case when the writer/leader is offering seeming truths about reality, teachings, practices, instruction, prophecy, and so forth, instead of merely entertainment. (There’s not a clear dividing line, however.)

The measure in such cases is what sort of following does the writer or spokesperson attract, how much does s/he encourage (or allow) blind devotion, slavish agreement, credulity, and so forth, thereby failing to encourage independence of thought, and how concerned is s/he on increasing the size of the following, and so on. Questions such as this are essential to determining whether or not a person is abusing their influence and authority, consciously or not.

Whitley has repeatedly implied that subscribers to UC are in an exclusive bracket of people who are tuned into higher/deeper truth and reality, and that, because of this, they are on the front line of evolution and have a more or less guaranteed place on “the mother ship.” He's even suggested that they have been specially implanted with devices to make them immune to mind control! At which point, isn't it naive to argue that Whitely is just a very good writer with a devoted fan base?

Mike: were you aware that your comment about being swayed by my writing was a very pertinent admission here? It indicates a lack of confidence in your capacity to think for yourself? (I can relate, BTW, so no finger pointing at may end. I was just curious if it was a conscious “nod”?)

Mike Clelland! said...

Jason,

Sure enough - I was swayed by your skill as a writer and your arguments. I am funny that way, I have a weird skill (or weakness?) to be able to see clearly things from someone else's point of view.

Mike C!

Mike Clelland! said...

Jason,

Sure enough - I was swayed by your skill as a writer and your arguments. I am funny that way, I have a weird skill (or weakness?) to be able to see clearly things from someone else's point of view.

Mike C!

Mike Clelland! said...

Jason -

Don't sweat the vocabulary word "cult-leader" - you addressed it in a nice way during the interview.

Mike C!

Red Pill Junkie said...

"Whitley has repeatedly implied that subscribers to UC are in an exclusive bracket of people who are tuned into higher/deeper truth and reality, and that, because of this, they are on the front line of evolution and have a more or less guaranteed place on “the mother ship.” He's even suggested that they have been specially implanted with devices to make them immune to mind control! At which point, isn't it naive to argue that Whitely is just a very good writer with a devoted fan base?"

It's called 'marketing' Jason. Obviously the man wouldn't be able to increase the number of subscriptions by which he makes a living if he said things like "people who visit Unknown Country are a bunch of morons" ;)

Should we condemn the profiting of the Contact? I'm not a UC subscriber, and God knows it annoys me that sites like Earthfiles restrict access to their UFO cases, when webizens are always expecting everything to be instant and free. But as Jeff Kripal said to Chris Knowles in the first broadcast of the Secret Sun Mystery Hour, we shouldn't be too harsh on those individuals trying to gather the few paltry dollars that the Paranormal world manages to produce. I seriously doubt I'll ever witness another UFO book best-seller like Communion was, which no doubt sold more copies in its first 5 editions that Strieber's last 5 books' combined sales.

Personally, I think that in this post-industrial digital version of the wild west, many people devote their energies in personal obsessions that emotionally are similar to a cultish behavior. One can only see the rabid rants posted in sites like Blastr about Michael Bay's heresy of portraying the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as aliens in his new movie to see what I mean :P

We don't have zealots any more, we have fanboys.

But that doesn't mean there's going to be an onslaught of massive suicides in response to yet another Hollywood banal exploitation of a 20-year-old cartoon. Nor I believe would Whitley Strieber have much success if he directed his UC minions --who are probably just a couple of thousand subscribers tops-- to enact revenge on Trey Parker and Matt Stone for the many insults he's received in South Park.

For my part, I find Strieber a fascinating and terribly complex individual, full of fears and insecurities whose ambivalence toward the Visitors ("they are monsters... but they are benefactors... but they are evil... but they are also good!") clearly indicates that his stories stem from a real encounter with something.

And it also indicates that he's human, and he's struggled to integrate this aspect of his life as best as can be humanly achieved.

PS: But you are right: 'The Grays' kind of sucked. So did 'Cars', but I'm still a Pixar fan ;)

Kephas said...

I very much doubt Whitley or his fans would approve of the idea that he is propagating certain ideas primarily in order to increase his income. Ironically, such a "defense" paints WS in a far blacker light than I have ever done.

And once again, the extreme criteria for "cult" - having his minions commit murder - only reinforces the narrow parameters I was trying to broaden, man!

The rest I can agree with...

Lord Jim said...

I was preparing a comment when I realized it was too long -- so I turned it into a blog!

I am broadly skeptical of Horsley/Kephas, and I think there is really no way of salvaging his original piece on Strieber. This is not because I am a cultish devotee of Strieber's; rather because I think there's no getting around the basic dishonesty of Horsley's piece.

Here's the blog address, and comments are open:

http://kephasandstrieber.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/horsleyandhisimagostrieber/

Red Pill Junkie said...

"And once again, the extreme criteria for "cult" - having his minions commit murder - only reinforces the narrow parameters I was trying to broaden, man!"

Well, there you go --the same limitations you find in our language that fails to appropriately judge or convey your opinion of Whitley, is the same limitations people like Whitley find to appropriately judge or convey his rendezvous with the Visitors.

The best judge starts with his own house --that's an old Mexican saying ;)

Mirror Man said...

Where do the projections stop?

Lord Jim said...

While I'm at it, here is a link to a piece I wrote in 2008 in response to Kephas' original attack on Strieber:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/87237766/strieber-defense3

Kephas said...

LJ: I was going to follow the links and see what you had to say, but since you used the word "attack" to describe my piece, it's clear you didn't ever read it, so I feel no obligation to read yours.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious Kephas? Judging the merits of a piece by a single word? Consider the words of eminent physicist John Wheeler: “Progress in science owes more to the clash of ideas than the steady accumulation of facts.” If you’re going to treat dialectic as a path to truth, as seems to be your intention, you should engage all comers.

Kephas said...

Sometimes a word speaks volumes.

Should engage all comers? Why would I want to do that? Believe it or not, I have better things to do than to defend my arguments from every opinion that gets hurled my way.

You're assuming you know my reasons for doing or not-doing something. If LJ sincerely believes my article on WS was an attack, then he's too far off-base for me to want to invest any more time and energy into hearing his opinion. That's a fact. Dialogues that are too dialectic only deviate from "the path to truth." Some perspectives are irreconcilable, and my feeling is that this is such a case.

Or to it put more nakedly: I don't need to invite more conflict or disharmony into my life, and that was certainly one of the reasons I was wary about bringing this subject up again. I'm not looking for slavish agreement, but I don't want to waste energy defending points I have already made to my satisfaction. You see, if I read LJ's piece, I might feel compelled to argue with him, no matter how poor his arguments are. I know myself well enough, and I want to avoid that trap. (I noticed LJ's blog is empty of posts, which means i can't check out his personal POV that way.)

The Strieber article will be at RS next week (in 2 parts) and the article speaks for itself. I don't mind helping people to clear up misunderstandings, as I have tried to do here; but when someone comes at me from a 100% negative position (accuses me of dishonesty and attacking), I have no interest in engaging with them. If the guy next to me is in my face AND has bad breath - that's a bad combo. I am gonna move to the other end of the bar as soon as I can.

You're free to do want you like.

Mike Clelland! said...

Over 30 comments!

I'll post the Reality Sandwich thing on this post when the link is up.

And - I feel that Jason went down some roads that I wouldn't have gone down, but (as I've said repeatedly) I don't think he was mean-spirited. But, at the same time I can see how someone might interpret (or react) as if he were.

I feel BOTH Jason and Whitley are thoughtful and careful researchers, and they are both human, so we can factor that in the mix too.

AND - Everyone who's made it this far should read the last chapter in MUTANTS AND MYSTICS by Jeff Kripal!

Kephas said...

Just to add: I do appreciate the opportunity of this dialogue, however, as it's helped me to recognize my tendency to "engage all comers" out of some not-quite-thought-out half-logic which was really a sense of obligation similar to the "should" anon leveled at me. It's only by fending off a fairly continuous stream of hostility combined with not-very-constructive criticism that I'm slowly learning not to engage with everyone - or even with anyone who is manifestly unfriendly.

Did Einstein spend his free time arguing with everyone who disagreed with the theory of reality, d'you think? I kinda doubt it. Neil Kramer doesn't allow comments at his website because he doesn't want to have his time eaten up replying to them. You'll notice no one gives Neil a hard time about that. : D (That was a joke, BTW: we wouldn't know if they did.)

Live and learn. My thanks to anon and all present for helping me to see this more clearly.

Dan Mitchell said...

RPJ writes:
"It's called 'marketing' Jason. Obviously the man wouldn't be able to increase the number of subscriptions by which he makes a living if he said things like "people who visit Unknown Country are a bunch of morons" ;)"

That comment blew me away when I read it. That mindset it frankly shocking. It's like saying Whitley bullshits people in order to further self-promote. I agree with Jason here and I absolutely view UC as a kind of digital cult.

Mike,

I have to say that you're not exactly impartial when it comes to Whitley Strieber. I'd even say you fawn over him quite a bit, and this really comes out in this interview as well as others. I'm not saying that to be mean to you, but I think it's self evident.

These last few comments have been (in my opinion) very mean-spirited toward Jason, especially when a guy devotes an entire blog to speaking out against a perceived attack on WS. If that's not a cultish mentality than I don't know what is.

I also find it very hard to believe what an earlier commentor said that they could perceive Whitely was having encounter experiences by reading his early fiction. For me that's just another example of this fawning that seems to take place around the man.

That's just my two cents and I'm sure it may not be worth much here.

Kind Regards,
Dan

Kephas said...

i posted a follow up to my last - did it get lost?

Red Pill Junkie said...

@ Dan:

Obviously I can't comment on what Whitley Strieber thinks of his subscribers. He might have a high regard for them, or he might just consider them his source of income; I simply cannot know.

What I can say is that IMO when promoting a product --and since UC is commercial-based it should therefore be regarded as one-- you have to find a way to lure and entice the potential customer. How far you go in order to achieve that depends on personal ethics.

Last night I put my iTunes playlist on shuffle mode and listened to an old radio interview Mike linked to when he made the podcast with Whitley. When I listened to it, I got the impression that Strieber started on his path of unelected spokesperson for the abductee community in a very involuntarily way. He started receiving letter after letter of people who claimed to have had the same experience he related in his book Communion. The reason seems quite simple: there was no one else these individuals could go to in order to find answers, or at least a sympathetic ear --Strieber had none of the former, but he seemed to have provided the latter.

So maybe he genuinely thinks that UC subscribers are people who stand out from the rest because (a)they are aware of the reality of the abduction experience (whatever that might be); and (b) they are actively seeking answers.

Is there a (c) he has enough of an ego to feel he can provide some of them? Maybe. The man is a writer, and you can't be successful in that profession if you don't have enough self-confidence to believe that what you write is worthy of being published.

So, Strieber exalts the benefits of UC to potential subscribers. Does he go too far? that's a matter of subjective debate. So far he hasn't convinced me FWIW...

Is there a cultish mentality in UC? maybe in some of their subscribers, sure. There are displays of obsession to be found in any type of collective group joined by a certain affiliation --Soccer fans in Mexico are more devoted to their team than to the Church ;)

But, I honestly don't see Strieber actively trying to garner the clout, shall we say, inside the UFO community as guys like Steven Greer.

But it's OK to dislike Strieber, and disagree with his ideas, just as it is OK to disagree with Jason --or me :)

Why him, we might ask. Why was Strieber the beneficiary of all that attention and prominence; why was Communion and not Intruders the book that became the iconic guidepost of the Abduction mythos, when there have been previous publishings dealing with them, and many more came afterward?

The same thing we might say about Dan Brown and the Davinci Code. What he expressed in his novel had been published years before, but it was HIS book the one that brought the idea of Jesus' descendency with Mary Magdalene to pop culture.

I remember when I back in college a friend of mine brought a Newton. Remember those? ;)

Ideas that come before their time are worthless.

Why are some books, movies and other cultural manifestations destined to change the paradigm and mark the Zeitgest of one era, and not others that might be even more worthy of that position? Why did they arrive at the exact moment and time they needed to?

I cannot answer that. But since I don't believe in coincidences I can only suspect there was a reason for it. Whether that reason was to our benefit or not I cannot answer either.

Saludos,

Miguel

Lord Jim said...

Of course Kephas doesn't want to look at the piece -- though it's possible he already has. His original Strieber piece, and I emphasize 'original' -- I haven't read any later piece, at least in part because no link has been posted here yet -- was a simple hit piece that misrepresented Strieber's views to the greatest extent possible.

Now, what I just typed is easily verifiable. And in regards to Dan's comment above, the 'negative' comments on Kephas sink or swim to this extent. Did Kephas' original piece misrepresent Strieber's views to make its point?

I'll give just one example. One of Kephas' basic premises in his original piece is that there was a dramatic shift in Strieber's attitude toward his experiences from a balanced view to a darker view that signaled Strieber's becoming unhinged. Kephas gives examples from Strieber's writing that display both the 'old' view and the 'new' schizophrenic view.

It just so happens that if you date Kephas' examples, there is at least one obvious instance where the quotes he is using comes from the same piece in December 2003.

In case the above isn't clear: Kephas claims there is a development in Strieber's attitude toward his experiences that shows how he goes off the edge. This development is represented by Kephas in his original piece as chronological. Then when it comes time to give examples, he relies on a pair of quotes which he takes out of context. He does not tell the reader they are from the same Journal article. He presents them without attribution, without date or source, as if they are from two different 'epochs' in Strieber's writing.

Kephas gives only two textual examples of his Strieber-becoming-unhinged thesis. One of them, or fifty percent of his evidence, comes from a piece from which Kephas also quotes to represent the 'balanced' view without telling the reader they are from the same piece. Indeed, in Strieber's two-part piece, called 'Shedding the Dark Side', which you can read for yourself, he is pretty clearly presenting the idea that the 'visitors' are demons, only to reject that idea. Kephas takes a quote where Strieber rhetorically asks whether the visitors are demons to show that Strieber conclusively believes that they are, then uses this quote to show Strieber has become mentally unhinged. (Again, after quoting from the same piece to show Strieber's 'earlier' sane view.)

What's at stake here is very simple. In the usual cartoonish internet terms, Dan above represents the choice as between hero worship of Strieber and crude attacks on him a la Kephas. In my view, this is nonsense. I think real criticisms of Strieber's work can be made. It is even possible to criticize Strieber the man. Kephas' original piece is a hit piece in that it demonstrates very crude scholarship and even intentionally misrepresents Strieber's view -- repeatedly -- so as to criticize Strieber the man. Of course, perhaps Kephas is not able to keep straight in his mind what his old views are and what his new views are. That would come as no surprise. This is the same commentator who in his original piece maintained that Strieber's conservative politics (which are not even consistently conservative) were also evidence of his mental illness. Now, whatever your politics, if you are willing to believe that, empirically speaking, every political conservative is also mad, there isn't much to be done for you.

Careful work on Strieber should be done. If the internet weren't such a wasteland, Kephas' original piece would have been dismissed as the unscholarly piece it was. If ever there was a time and a place to be 'negative' it would be on considering that original piece. His views today may be different, and his comments on air seem to express a more nuanced set of views. But one may be forgiven for regarding the new views as somewhat suspect given the earlier ones.

Dan Mitchell said...

Lord Jim Writes:

" Of course, perhaps Kephas is not able to keep straight in his mind what his old views are and what his new views are"

To be honest, I don't think anyone can keep them straight including Strieber himself. I don't believe that is necessarily a sign that the man is lying. I personally feel that anytime one stares into the gaping maw that is the encounter experience, it tends to radically alter the way people think.

I read the essay this evening and it certainly didn't come off as a "hit piece" to me that meant to attack "Strieber the Man". I felt it asked a lot of the same questions I and others have asked about Whitley Strieber over the years. I suspect you are being a little less than honest when you say,

"This is not because I am a cultish devotee of Strieber's; rather because I think there's no getting around the basic dishonesty of Horsley's piece."

Considering you wrote the original piece in 2008 and are still at it, I find this statement really hard to believe.

It seems obvious to me that you have a dog in this fight for some reason or another. Let's be honest, this is typical when people come out to criticize Strieber. Clearly Jason has made his point very well already. I have seen this happen quite a few times in the past when people percieve "Strieber the Man" being criticized.

Just Sayin,
Dan

Illuminatus said...

I think that Lord Jim is making an important point.

As far as I can remember from Kephas’ podcast, his education comes from taking psychedelics, apprenticing under a shaman, and his own self-directed reading. These are all legitimate pursuits, but I have the impression that Kephas may never have had the simple but powerful initiatory experience of having a paper research paper graded!

Across his whole body of work Kephas meanders between metaphysics and memoir, epistemology and eschatology, blurring the lines between categories with distinct problematics, and which call for different standards of rigor. This isn’t peculiar to sort of thing isn’t peculiar to him, its endemic of our whole “community” here in the paranormal ghetto.

This field has enough problems as it is without its aspiring intellectuals dressing their work up as research when it only really qualifies as musing.

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

Personally,I don't treat anyone's writings as gospel whether it be Whitley's,Jason's,Mike's or even my own (it was hard pretending about that last one.-) .
I just like to sift my gold pan in their thought streams and extract what I think are nuggets of knowledge and throw rest rest back in.Who knows?Maybe I'll just end up with a pocket full of fool's gold,but I'm enjoying the treasure hunt and I feel that I have gathered some valuables in my mental pockets.
I don't think I'm ever going to cry Eureka on any one particular authors website or through reading any one particular author's books and writings...but I do think I'll make my own personal fortune from taking a nugget here and a nugget there.
For the record I do like reading Whitley's books,without putting the man on a pedestal and it sounds like there are some nuggets to be found in Jason's writings, too.
And here's a bit of a sync;
I was reading my Nexus magazine in the lunch room at work today and a fellow co-worker frowned and asked me,"Do you believe everything written in that magazine?"
I said of course not,but there is just as much valuable knowledge in there as trash...but that's up to each reader to decide for themselves.
As I got to the end of the magazine on page 92 the very last book advertised in the Feb-March (Australian)edition was "The Lucid View" by Aeolus Kephas...that sync alone is worth buying a copy,I think.-)

tinyjunco said...

huh.

all this talk of 'cults' is focusing solely on the 'cult leader'. I've had a # of years experience sitting with spiritual gurus, meditation teachers, yoga instructors, living with rinpoches and tulkus....

There are those people who use various techniques to attract and keep a following. But i've found there is just as much, if not more, desire and energy to create a 'cult leader' on the part of the *followers*.

We wouldn't be discussing Mr. Strieber at all if hundreds of thousands of people hadn't bought his books, commented on his website, listened to his talks, defended him in person and online, etc.

I'm more interested in what's up with THAT. steph

Kephas said...

T!rue that! ^^^

A cult can just as easily be created by the followers as by the "leader," even to the degree that the leader may not be aware of the monster he has allowed to come to life.

The delicious (though tragic) irony is that those who defend the leader from cult associations, are as often as not the real perpetrators of the cult mentality! So in a sense, they are correct. It may even be the nature of cults is such, that the leader becomes a kind of puppet/slave to the unconscious desires of its members - like Frankenstein strangled by his own monster.

Kephas said...

Riposte to LJ:

I never stated (I know, because I never believed this or considered it part of my argument) that WS's unhinging and the inconsistency that evidenced it was a matter of chronology, ie, that he started out sane and lucid and became less and less so over time. I never exactly suggested mental illness either - a very loaded term - but psychological fragmentation. Your equating the two ideas indicates your own lack of discernment in this field - and of close reading of my piece. It does seem as though you read the piece with an eye toward defending Strieber, since you came away with a fairly superficial reading that takes an exaggeratedly negative position. It doesn't make sense, to me, why you would do so unless a) you had a bone to pick with me; or b) you felt a need to protect/defend Strieber.

You make a fair point that I could, or even should, have mentioned that two contradicting comments appeared in a single post (I will take your word for that, as I don't have time to follow the references today). I don't remember now if, assuming you're correct, this was an oversight or not. I presume it must have been, since that would be evidence that WS's see-sawing back and forth could occur even more rapidly than I argued. I doubt that it would cause me to make any major reasons of the piece, however, since the main point about the see-sawing is that WS has never (so far as I know) acknowledged this basic inconsistency in his writing. The angel/demon piece you cite surely didn't, or I would have quoted him doing so.

Your suggestions that a) I was attacking WS, and b) that there was dishonesty involved, are equally mistaken, and whether or not they are deliberately intended to do so, they are only likely to create negative friction and bad feeling between us.

Bad scholarship is a charge I can submit to, assuming the evidence is there, without too much sorrow. I never claimed to be a scholar, or at least never without irony or qualification. The other poster who wishes me to keep to the strict parameters of scholarship and leave my "musings" out of it is hereby warned to avoid Part Two of the piece, which more or less stands as my swan song to scholarly writing or deconstruction pieces.

I have no interest at all in competing with other egg-heads in the academic field - and to critize my writing using the criteria of academia is to impose the reader's expectations onto the author's intentions. If you don't like impressionist painting, then you probably won't want to go to an exhibition by Monet, and if you do, you will only waste your time trying to judge it by the standards of realist painting.

My writing is, or at least has generally aspired to be, sui generis - its own genre. That may explain why I tend to take criticism of it personally, and/or why people who criticize my work so often do so in the form of personal attack. This is another reason why I am moving away from this sort of work - who needs that?

Kephas said...

LJ wrote: "This development is represented by Kephas in his original piece as chronological."

This, I think, is an inaccurate statement.

Kephas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kephas said...

here's the article, part one, a slightly revised and updated version of the 2008 article: http://www.realitysandwich.com/strange_case_whitley_strieber_1

Kephas said...

I just skimmed the article and I see that I do try and cite dates to provide context for WS's inconsistency, so there is some semblance of "chronology." Every quote is footnoted with a date, as it was in its original version, so LJ's charge of dishonesty is entirely unfounded. If LJ can provide an exact quote of the part of the article he claims is deliberately confusing the issue, I can respond to that, and if necessary, repair the damage.

Red Pill Junkie said...

"I don't think I'm ever going to cry Eureka on any one particular authors website or through reading any one particular author's books and writings...but I do think I'll make my own personal fortune from taking a nugget here and a nugget there."

True dat. Though I do like to partake in a bit of gold treasure dance from time to time ;)

Your metaphor captured my way of thinking perfectly, friend.

I also wished we stopped focusing so much on Whitley, since there were many other interesting and valuable things that were said during that whole interview!

Anonymous said...

In accordance with that thought, I loved, loooved the interview.All aspects of it and I plan to listen to it again(which I rarely do , I admit) Thank you Mike!
Whitley does not need defending and I feel no offense if an articulate person delves into Whitley Streiber. I am a subscriber to UC because I want to support his efforts but in addition to that I find Jasons ideas are thoughtful and interesting. Not only that, I just ordered his book! I fancy I like thinking and want to listen to other people who do too.

I may come back here after I have listened again and maybe the good folks here will be talking about the other parts of the interview.
Melissa

Lord Jim said...

@Kephas -

I have posted a more complete reply at:

http://kephasandstrieber.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/kephas-continues/

But let me answer your point above re: your chronology claim from your original piece. In that piece, you state:

'In the past few years, however, Strieber has become increasingly preoccupied with what he refers to as “the dark side” of the alien experience.'

That pretty clearly implies a 'before' and 'after'. 'Before' the increasing preoccupation. And after. 'Before' and 'after' suggests a chronological shift.

To support your claim that there is a previous saner period and a subsequent less sane period when it comes to Strieber's attitude toward his own experiences, you cite two paragraphs from the same Journal entry.

That to me is dishonesty. I have tracked down a copy of your original piece, and yes, you do include a citation with date on the above. But even with a date, stating there is a change over time in someone's view and then locating the same before and after views in the same piece strikes me as dishonest.

In other places you do not specify the date and time and nonetheless misrepresent Strieber's view. For example, when you state in your original piece:

"More disturbingly, in The Key, Strieber refers to the beings who visited him in 1985 as “demons.” "

In fact, what Strieber says in "The Key" regarding demons and visitors is:

"Was I in the company of demons or aliens on that night in 1985?"

You do not provide a quote or page number when you refer to the above -- the only place where demons are discussed in connection with the visitors. In failing to do both, you are able to present a dishonest reading.

Your overall thesis -- which is that Strieber's attempt to understand his experiences has caused him to become "unbalanced" and "schizophrenic" and to suffer from "fragmentation" -- rests on your textual evidence like the above. Again, it doesn't take a cult follower of Strieber's to conclude that because of the problems with the evidence you cite, and given your premise involves his sanity, however much you dispute that reading years later, the piece is dishonest. It is a "hit piece".

I hope this comment isn't judged as excessively harsh and makes it to the discussion! This is an important discussion to have, and it is germane to the interview since not only is the original piece discussed, the new and substantially rewritten piece is based off the original.

Kephas said...

I followed LJ's links and while I found something of merit there (and certainly need to check out some of the charges), overall I'm left with the thought, "Even a broken clock is right twice a day."

The more I look into LJs crusade - which is dressed up as an attempt to rescue Ufology and Paranormal research from poor scholarship and woolly thinking, supposedly exemplified by myself - the more I detect a very specific agenda at work. I won't say much more because it could be libelous, but if Strieber had searched the yellow pages for an industrious spin-doctor to help save his image, he could have done a lot worse than Lord Jim.

It' unfortunate, however, that a counterattack strategy has been chosen, since that only prevents the possibility of an honest dialogue.

Lord Jim said...

@Kephas -

I'd like to note how interesting and amusing it is that while on the one hand Strieber has a way of leaping to the conclusion that anyone who criticizes him in a sustained way must be a disinformation agent, your only comeback is that I must be hired by Strieber or somehow working in concert to "save his image". In other words, the same argument.

Of course, this is classic paranoid UFOlogy thinking. It is also a kind of pathetic passive-aggressive ad hominem. As if someone would really be working in that way at Strieber's behest to "save his image" in a random website's comments section. (No offense, Mike.)

So it seems to me here we have dishonesty again: Don't like my piece? You must be hired by Strieber! This raises an interesting question though: why would it even be necessary to "save his image" if all you were doing was gently questioning Strieber's work as you now claim? Doth the lady protest too much?

I find your stated desire for honest dialogue highly dubious precisely because of the way you distorted Strieber's positions in your first piece. I will say that I find your significantly rewritten (not "slightly revised") piece much more reasonable and worthwhile. I also found the chapter on Strieber and Castaneda you wrote (excerpted online) extremely lucid (to use a word that means something to you) and impressively written. These are simple facts. You may continue to think my pointed criticisms of your first piece are personal attacks -- to me it makes no difference.

I'll also state that far from being a Strieber apologist, I am profoundly disappointed with Strieber, particularly as regards his very unique book "The Key". On the same Scribd page where I recently uploaded my own critique of your original piece, I also uploaded two pieces analyzing "The Key" and in particular, Strieber's claims (ten years on) that "sinister forces" had edited/censored the first edition of the book.

You might recall that you even tried to contact me after those pieces went up. No doubt you falsely concluded that here was a person who shared your profound frustration with Strieber -- a kindred spirit! But it wasn't so. I remembered your original piece, knew you had an axe to grind, and didn't respond.

As I have said from the beginning, my criticisms here are of your original piece. The problems with the piece were so glaring, and so basic, and so objectionable, that they are worth pointing out all these years later. That's because in this 'field' things that only add to the confusion should not be celebrated.

It is more than a joke that your only response (like Strieber) is that there are sinister forces at work -- a "very specific agenda" -- when you are questioned too closely!

I have made my point well enough by now. Here's hoping that your talk of seeking "honest dialogue" one days grows out of the false pathos stage into something more honest.

Kephas said...

OK LJ- you may have a point there.

I just found out a moment ago, after reading your original criticism of my piece, that you were the author of the Minority Report, which ironically enough, I quote in Part Two of the article.

So first off, I'd like to formally (& publicly) apologize for my above suggestion.

Now that is out of the way, I was disappointed (? - relieved would be the more accurate word) by your first critique. I found it superficially persuasive, the use of language was "scholarly" - maybe to a fault - and that gave it a semblance of depth. You appear to have done your training in the field. But what i readof the piece I didn't find especially substantial. No Aha! moments and hence no "Oh shit" ones either. There were a number of statements that I would call outright inaccurate, but even if I did have time now, I would balk at going through an old critique of a now obsolete version of an article, line by line, to prove who's smarter than who. Let's just say I find it a pity, personally, that an intelligent reader like yourself took such a hardliner approach and so, for me, that invalidated your argument. I was left not quite understanding what you found so objectionable.

You seem to be angry with the piece and with me, and you attack both of us with (I think) considerably more vitriol than I used in my own piece, even the first version, yet based on so very little, finally. So I can't really 'connect' to your POV (though I very much did in your MR article).

I'll add here that I am at a time in my life, and in my "writing career," in which I am relatively open to criticism, even to the idea that I am or have been on the wrong track, self-deluded, and in fact all the things you suggest in your piece. But your arguments were far too vague and somehow hollow (academic is surely the word) to convince me of that - and despite the fact I am already half-convinced anyway! So epic fail there, heinrich.

It's too bad you didn't reply to my email last year. It seems as though you made up your mind about me and so nothing I had to say was of interest to you. Not very scholarly of you, is it? Apparently your objection to my work has a SUBJECTIVE element to it which you don't admit to (maybe because you aren't aware of it) and which I can't identify or account for. This was why I suggested there as an "agenda" at work. I assumed it was a "protect Whitley" agenda (before reading your longer piece) - which doesn't, BTW, imply (even a little bit) that I consider my piece to be an attack, as you suggest - that's one example of your flawed (and slightly disingenuous) logic at work. (If Strieber considers it an attack, that would be enough for him to want to try and do some spin work around it.) I think, at the risk of inviting your scorn, it has more to do with a sense of rivalry you feel with me, maybe for some perceived influence you think I have that you don't? If so, that would be ironic, since there may well be something of the kind that was unconsciously driving my analysis of WS - a possibility I own to in part 2 of the article.

Maybe if you read the second part and think there's anything constructive to say, you can get back to me.

Once again, apologies for taking the slightly cheap shot above. Honesty is only as possible as we are conscious of our own blind spots, which of course is not at all. In other words, we are all severely challenged when it comes to speaking or writing the truth - about anything.

Lord Jim said...

@Kephas -

In your last comment, you simultaneously apologize for suggesting that I am under the employ of Strieber (a 'sinister forces' thesis) and suggest that there are instead psychological reasons why I could condemn you and your piece so strongly -- in other words, another 'sinister forces' thesis.

It looks again like you are refusing to do an honest analysis.

The psychoanalysis you are conducting from afar is not really very impressive (but then again neither was the faux Freudianism you offered in the interview). You appear to be spinning for yourself a tale that it can only be for reasons of a secret rivalry (!) that there can be any 'vitriol' in my critique of your Strieber piece.

All this demonstrates, of course, is denial. The facts are these: your original piece was motivated by unusual personal frustrations with a person you never met (Strieber). Your central premise was that Strieber's sanity and completeness as an individual was uniquely and thoroughly compromised. To support this premise you took quotations completely out of context. You also made a number of obvious factually inaccurate statements along the way, e.g. that John Mack was removed from his academic post. Other than to call your original piece 'obsolete', you refuse to admit these problems.

Your defense here only amounts to saying that your position today is more nuanced. But it makes no difference as a factual matter what today or tomorrow your views are. The point under discussion is whether your first piece was dishonest enough to call what you are saying generally into question.

I submit that it is, and that your shifting positions here in the comments further support this. In response to pointed criticisms of your first piece, you have separately maintained: a) the only people who could care are Strieber cult followers; b) that the reason why someone could care is because he is coordinating with Strieber to 'save his image'.

Of course, you have apologized profusely for that. But now, when all else has failed, you maintain that these criticisms of your piece can only be because of hidden frustrations -- a secret rivalry! -- with you personally.

I think that there were plenty of more prosaic reasons to be angry with your original piece, and certainly with your performance here in the comments section. To begin with, out of bizarre personal frustration, you wrote a piece that intended to cast doubt Strieber's sanity. Now, whatever his faults, it can be said that Strieber is basically a good man, and writing, for example, that everything he says can be doubted on account of his childish exchange with an equally petulant Daniel Pinchbeck is nonsense. Yet this is one of your main points. Second, you dressed up your frustration-driven attack in an intellectually provocative way. Doing this was dishonest since on a basic intellectual level your piece fails to convince anyone who is familiar with Strieber's work and who also knows how to quote from texts. But worst is how self-serving your main thesis appears in light of your frustrations. Your main thesis (let me remind you) is that it is precisely because Strieber tries to (sanely) make sense of his experiences that he has been driven mad. To which one can only say: how convenient.

I am not very concerned that you don't find my 2008 piece 'persuasive'. That's because my piece was not intended to be 'persuasive'. Unlike yours, which was written to seduce the reader into a faulty regard for Strieber and his sanity, my piece only rather blithely points out your dishonest use of evidence and the self-serving dimension of your main premise. To wit, that because of your frustrations you found it necessary to say Strieber was insane precisely because of the way he was sane.

I think it would be therapeutic for you to admit the defects of your first piece and move on.

Kephas said...

In order to close this increasingly unsatisfying conversation (myself with LJ), i'd like to state, for the record, that I have gone over my piece in both original and latest form and find no evidence to support LJ's charges, regarding my quoting twice from the same post and indicating that this was examples of a shift in Strieber's perspective over time. From what i can tell LJ, aka Heinrich66, is engaged in either mistaken conclusions or deliberate deception. (It's possible I have overlooked something in the rush, but I don't believe so.) His more recent postings have included a long attempt to describe me as insane, which is fairly ironic considering that he accuses me of doing just that, vz a viz Whitley. Based on LJ's last response to me, it's clear that we just don't like each other and probably arent ever going to, nor do i feel as though you, LJ, have anything of any real merit to offer me, despite all your efforts. This conversation is now over. Go in peace or stay to heckle, as you like. You will be the sound of one hand clapping.

Red Pill Junkie said...

I finally had the chance to read Jason's essay (the first part) at Reality Sandwich.

Overall, he presents two very interesting propositions with it: Firstly, that Whitley's documented ambivalence toward the purpose and intentions of the Visitors might be a telling sign that he has failed to adequately integrate his experiences on the non-ordinary state of consciousness in which he interacts with these non-human entities. The parallelisms with Castañeda are inevitable and probably very helpful in this regard; during Carlos' series of books it became evident that one of the main goals of a 'man of knowledge' was to accomplish this integration in order to fully retrieve the memories of his travels through 'Nagual's time'.

In here we are presented with an interesting paradox, for it is precisely this fragmentation of the psyche the one that probably elicits the possibility of contact with the 'other side' in the first place. In the end like all shamanic journeys, it all seems to come down to a test; and whether Strieber has fulfilled it satisfactorily or not remains into question.

Perhaps Whitley's struggle was hindered from the very beginning, the moment he decided to make use of hypnotic regression in order to retrieve those repressed memories. We all like to criticize the employment of hypnosis in abduction research for the dangers in 'contaminating' the experiencer's recollection with the researcher preconceived expectations --whether with leading questions, or maybe even via a sort of psychic transfer as Vallee and others posit-- but what is not often considered is that there *might* be a reason why such a buffer in the experiencer's mind is implanted. Could it be that the abductee is being meant to slowly integrate that other fantastic part of his/her life via a natural process? And viewed from that perspective, might hypnosis do more harm than good?

(Cont)

Red Pill Junkie said...

(Part 2)

The Second argument Jason makes is that Whitley's approach into understanding the reality of the Visitors was not the right approach. Here once again we find comparisons with Castañeda, and the admonitions given by Don Juan that trying to explain or understand what happens in 'the other side' is a futile and even dangerous endeavor. A shamanism is not meant to be a theoretical discipline but a practical one; a 'man of knowledge' is meant to act and approach his experiences from a standpoint of pure perception, without the unnecessary baggage of epistemology.

Because what Jason seems to propose is that all manner of rationalistic conventions when dealing with these entities are utterly pointless, and even deceptive; in that perspective Strieber's personal swinging appraise of the Visitors is the result of this conflict between the rational part of his brain, and his intuitive one. This is what I personally gather when Jason judges Strieber as "not insane enough" --although IMO the choice of words might have elicited some explanation from Jason in order to make clear what he meant.

For at the end of it the biggest flaw in Jason's essay is that his choice of words throughout it reveals a clear level of... resentment, toward Strieber. Since much of his study of Strieber is based on his personal (yet public) online journal, Jason's critique of 'Whitley the horror writer' and 'Whitley the alien abductee' spreads to a direct criticism of 'Whitley the man'.

Evidently none of these 3 characters have risen to meet Jason's lofty expectations.

Perhaps this is an inevitable problem of our current times, when technology has eroded the boundaries between the public and the private facets of individuals, even more-so with those who enjoy or suffer (probably both) a certain level of notoriety. We judge an author's legacy not only by the merits of its published writings, but also by its politics, pastimes, religious affiliations, sexual orientation, and even for what the author had for dinner last Saturday night.

But since Jason willingly chooses to use such a direct approach as a way to try to come to an understanding of who Whitley Strieber really is, the reader is left with he feeling that the writer has departed from the realm of the objective essay and has entered the messy and unrestrained playground of the blog post. This probably is what fuels Lord Jim's comments of a lack of scholarly detachment on behalf of Jason.

In the end, I think that Jason's rigorous study of Whitley's writings deserves to be read and applauded for its merits; but it also needs to be pointed out in its faults.

As for me, like it was said in previous comments I will continue to read Strieber's work in search of things that resonate with my own personal search for answers; but as with anything else, I'll take it all with a healthy grain of salt.

Kephas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kephas said...

(I had to delete this and correct a typo or two)

Thanks for that, RPJ: a much-needed and well-timed voice of reason to restore balance to this space.

I don't disagree with anything you write and you even make some points, the first few, that I'd love to have incorporated into the piece. A writer can't ask for more than that from his readers.

As for the resentment, I think you exaggerate a bit, since there are people who read the essay and find nothing of the sort in it (one reader at RS even called it "lovely"!). So it can't be "a clear level of resentment," and perhaps "subtle undercurrent" would be more accurate? In any event, I am not proud of this, and I try and address it in part two of the piece. I hope I can get your comments on that, at RS, once it's up.

Thanks again.

James said...

Wow... this will be a relatively short comment. I have not even listened yet... but Strieber seems to call up so many different voices it is curious... and fascinating! I havent even been able to read thru all the comments... I was re-directed here from a post on Luminosity...

The obvious things about Streiber are that he is intelligent, articulate, a storyteller nonpariel in more ways than one. I have seen him in person, and used to listen to his interviews on Unknown Country every Saturday... when I had the time.

I have wondered many times whether he is indeed telling the truth! Yet his own vacillations on his own truth, and what that encompasses, well has put my own doubts to shame. His own questioning goes far beyond my own simple wondering... so much so that I have been left behind.

His site is aptly named. Unknown Country. If he is indeed an ambassador of sorts it is to that country... He now seems to me a very unknown quantity with astounding perceptions and many questionable 'valuations' and I cant make heads or tails of... he has often remarked about his capacity for living with uncertainty being stretched... and that is where I find myself when I consider him and his works.

Kudos for an incredible romp on the sidelines of this 'war of souls'...

Lord Jim said...

@Red Pill Junkie -

I'd like to say that I concur with your attitude re: Kephas' piece. My criticisms of it are very pointed, but nevertheless, my own view on it is basically the same: too much of Kephas' frustration bleeds through and that distorts (maybe hopelessly) the way the piece reads.

What's puzzling/bothersome to me is the way that Kephas can't seem to admit that since it seems so obvious: Enough people have commented that the original piece comes off like it has an axe to grind that sooner or later you'd think the author might wonder if it might. Also troubling (to me) is here in the comments, where Kephas has found it easier to say critics are either cult followers or secret Strieber collaborators than actual critics.

Anyway, whether or not Kephas meant the first article to be a 'hit piece', or whether he did but his views have changed, when you read the first piece and put the frustrated tone alongside the skimpy or misleading evidence, a person isn't wrong for thinking it might be a hit piece.

I'm not wedded to this view, though. There's no way to be certain. I observe that Kephas has moderated many of his claims in the new version (though he has not improved his use of evidence). The new piece is padded out with more qualified language, which takes the force out of some of the original buzzwords like 'schizophrenic', 'unbalanced', nad 'obsession'. So it's possible that the new version is a less frustrated piece, and so some of Kephas' claims can be for the first time evaluated on their merits.

To me, an author's claims have to rest on the evidence presented -- not simply because the premises sound reasonable. It isn't hard to claim, after all, that there are inconsistencies in Whitley Strieber's work. But Kephas, perhaps because he wasn't writing for an audience that would scrutinize his work, doesn't really go to much trouble to faithfully represent trends in Strieber's work. He sort of picks and chooses lines and paragraphs that suit his piece's needs at that particular moment. Given that Strieber has such a complex body of work -- and given that there are inconsistencies, even complicated ones in it -- attention to detail is paramount. Kephas' piece on Strieber doesn't really rise to that challenge. Maybe though it is a sign of "what is to come".

Red Pill Junkie said...

@ Kephas & Jim:

[My previous comment got abducted by those dastardly machine elves]

I do look forward to reading the 2nd part of the essay. The UFO field in general and Abduction research in particular are the areas where we find how patently inadequate language as a medium is when trying to apply it not only to the dealings of human beings with non-humans, but also how we judge and characterize those dealings.

Because in the end what we --the people who make use of the Internet as a means to further our knowledge pertaining to these other realms and their denizens-- should really be looking forward to is a way to move the discussion forward.

Like Jason said in the original interview with Mike, that we are always obsessing with the trees that prevent us from looking at the forest, we too tend to put much too emphasis in the persons who claim to have had contact with non-human intelligences, but all the arguments don't seem to take us any further into what we really want to know: who these beings are and what they want with us.

Maybe it's impossible to separate the abduction from the abductee. As Mike and others are fond of reminding us outsiders, this is a communication with a heavily personal and intimate undertone. Maybe the only thing we *can* try to objectively study is how the experience slowly molds the character of the abductee in the long run.

Christopher Knowles wrote one in his blog that the only real difference between the visionary and the lunatic is the outcome. People like Philip K. Dick, John Nash or Van Gogh are clear examples of how the drive of the message can easily erode the messenger if a proper balance is not managed.

From that perspective, and looking at Whitley's documented experiences, I can say only this: I doubt I would have fared any better --and I don't think I would like to find out...

Kephas said...

post at RS:

I have to say I'd love to hear just once that someone who had dismissed Strieber as charlatan/shill/snake oil salesman or crank changed their opinion of him after reading my piece.

That would be the best feedback I could get at this point, because it would counter the charges that the article was meant as an attack on Strieber. More to the point, it would mean that I was successful in what I was attempting to do: not only to cause doubt in those who blindly believe in Strieber's version of things, but also in those who, perhaps also blindly, dismiss it, and him. Part of my intention with the piece (and this is something I may not have acknowledged publicly) was to use the framework of a deconstructive, questioning piece to introduce skeptics to some of strieber's ideas, a bit of a Trojan Horse op. Ironic, eh?

To this end, I was careful to choose quotes by Strieber that demonstrate just how profound a thinker he can be, and how novel and challenging his insights are, as well as choosing quotes for their contradictory content.

It may be that I failed in this, although the fact that people who would rather ignore Whitley, as mentioned above, are discussing him is perhaps the best proof that the piece has been somewhat effective in keeping the Strieber case open.

Anonymous said...

Well I can't provide the satisfaction of a person whose thoughts on Strieber changed because of what you wrote BUT I can say that you have said what I have always accepted about him. I am a subscriber to the website and I have read most of his books and I know that he is like the weather, if you don't like what he is saying, just wait awhile, it will change, and quite often his thoughts are fascinating, often enough that I keep up with what he has to say.Obviously you care what he has to say as well or you would not have examined it so closely. So you did not offend me into wanting to defend Whitley or into wanting to hate you. I look forward to reading the 2nd part of your article and also the book of yours I ordered after listening to this interview.

Brizdaz (Darren) said...

Great essay on Reality Sandwich Jason.And to quote you;
" The solution to being overly credulous isn't to close one's mind but to learn discernment about what we let into our minds, and above all, what we take to heart and what we adopt as our own truth. The poet John Keats wrote, "The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing, to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts." To make up one's mind about nothing means to believe without believing and to disbelieve without dismissing. In the words of Strieber, it entails learning "to live at a high level of uncertainty.
For me, the means to approach the strange case of Whitley Strieber has been to keep in mind that, whatever may be happening to him, it is a reflection and expression not only of his psyche but of the collective psyche, and therefore, of my own. "

That passage could quite easily have been pulled out of my own thought stream,because you have pretty much articulated my thoughts into words,and not just about Whitley,but about everything.
Maybe that's why I experience so many syncs,because that is how I think,I take my que from the flow.
It's not to say that I don't have my theories on how the world works,
e.g. 9/11,moon landings, Kubrick,etc.
But if somebody can truly show me how my theories are wrong,I'm willing to alter them,until then I'll continue building with the Lego blocks of my truths that I've come across.But I'm always willing to discard the blocks I've collected if someone can show me why their blocks are better.

I'm looking forward to reading your book,and don't be discouraged by any criticisms in these sixty plus comments on this post.Your work is just as vital as Mike's,Whitley's,or my own
(not that I have much that I could call work.-)

Red Pill Junkie said...

I finished the 2nd essay, which I enjoyed even more than the 1st one.

There are a great deal of points that should be explored, but I think I need to mull things over a bit in order to elaborate.

What I can say now is how the essay seeks to follow (either consciously or unconsciously) a particular philosophical stance that sadly Whitley doesn't seem to mention anymore: I'm talking about the Triad.

As you say in your comment, your essay was not meant either to please the people who believe unquestionably Strieber's accounts (the positive force) nor to support the debunkers who claim he's nothing but a charlatan or a schizophrenic (the negative force). I perceive in the essay a desire to become the third force that reconciles the opposites of the two in order to form an integrated unity. Like I said, Strieber used to apply this reasoning of reconciling forces in his early work and that resonated with me in the past.

Also during last week I thought about something mentioned at an old Radio Misterioso podcast, of how an amazing experience can elicit very divergent outcomes depending on the person: how on the one hand you have someone like Edgar Mitchell, whose lunar experiences brought him something akin of a techno-induced enlightenment; and on the other you have someone like Buzz Aldrin, ready to punch the face of any annoying philistine and Doubting Thomas. Same experience, very different outcome ;)

And if you're still in the mood to explore divergent conflicting personalities in the UFO-Contactee world, another interesting study case would be that of Ray Stanford; a man who as an adolescent was a bonafide Contactee spreading the Space-brotherly message of universal peace and practicing channeling and spiritual healing, but who know is one of the last 'hard-science' researchers of what he calls AAOs (Anomalous Aerial Objects) using very sophisticated equipment to prove the physical reality of UFOs, yet stubbornly unwilling to share any of his alleged fantastical material evidence until he finally manages to fulfill the dream of submit it for academical peer-review. Stanford too is a person quick to anger when confronting dissent or criticism; whether this is a natural manifestation of his character, or the result of his long career as a contactee-turned-scientist ditching hokey spirituality in favor of materialism is something I cannot say.

Trish said...

I read the article on Reality Sandwich about Whitley- parts 1 and 2. Here's what I find amusing: no writer says to himself or herself, Gee, I think I'm going to write a book that is going to get me an advance of a million bucks. That's not how it works in publishing.

As a writer, you can't write to the market because by the time your book i published the market has morphed. So, sorry, that part about Whitley writing for his huge advance just doesn't cut it.

Something happened to Whitley. Something happened to Betty Hill too.

Back in the 80s, we spent a weekend with Betty while covering a UFO conference for OMNI magazine. I can't say she and Barney were abducted by aliens; I wasn't there. But what I can say is that something happened to her and Barney that defined her life from that moment forward.

The same is true for Whitley. The contradictions in his writings? The material evolves as his consciousness evolves. There is nothing static about abductions/encounters. It's a constantly changing, evolving scenario. It's not some intellectual exercise. It's not something the left brain can dissect.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 at RS is very illuminating. I enjoyed it very much because my particular experiences, few as they are, always seem to suggest that they will be what I make of them in the future. All suggest they come from my psyche (are tailor made for me alone) and all have to do with where I find a level of stress at the time of their occurrences.

Eventually, I always find something wanting inside me rather than with the world at large when I examine the experiences with the distance of time. It's very difficult to find one's own disconnects and personal mistakes in the shadows. but I see no way around looking at the experiences as our personal aids to epiphany, very, very personal epiphany. Maybe the more elaborate they are, the more we have to learn about ourselves.

Kephas said...

RPJ: thanks for noting that, it's encouraging because it underlines my primary intent - to evolve and develop whitley's ideas and encourage him, and others to do so. You may be the first reader who's really done this, to the point i pretty much forgot that this had been my original motivation for writing it.

trish - I never suggested whitley ever did anything for money, so I don't know what you're referring to - maybe a comment from one of the readers?

as for the left brain comment, that's central to the piece's argument, so it's a bit ironic that you use it as a defense of strieber.