There are very few extraordinary writers on anomalies—and Colin Bennett is one of them—whose forceful brilliance of vision mutates and transforms our understanding just as irrevocably as bent metal. This is a book about Ufology and anomalies by an important thinker who achieves just that.
Whether we witness—or indeed generate—anomalies very often or whether the anomaly is a single, unforgettable experience in our lifetime, we all crucially need a warrior-philosopher with the true bravery of intellect to further our understanding—and thus our experience—of the impossible things that are clearly possible.
How do we even begin to understand and articulate our anomalous experiences? It is often assumed that people like myself who generate anomalies must somehow have some esoteric, complete, omniscient understanding of how we do what we do. Not so—and Bennett conveys the challenge to our understanding in a brilliantly original way.
He compares the difficulties we face with the difficulties of isolated Pacific islanders who, after millennia of primitive simplicity, suddenly encounter the invading forces of World War Two with their astounding flying planes, materiel, food and cargo. The impact on them is immense and generates powerful cults. But that’s only the beginning. For later the same isolated tribes must try to understand a new, much more bewildering invasion: the arrival of modern Hollywood film crews recreating the same battles, mixing both cutting-edge and dated equipment, with actor “corpses” that rise from the dead to walk again.
This is the unimaginable complexity of experience that Bennett aims to convey and articulate. Bennett proposes a system of infinite, intermediate states of “reality” along a sliding scale. Here, you can have an experience that is part-real, almost real, or almost, but not completely, false—and so he offers a new understanding of the anomaly. He provides these new differentials to process our systems of mental navigation.
Without doubt Bennett’s call for a “New Ufology” has added a vital revolutionary strand to the field. He has moved it away from the banal recitation of endless case histories without holistic or insightful interpretation. Bennett, by drawing on all that we as a world have recently learned about systems analysis, media persuasion and saturation, and quantum theory, has greatly expanded our understanding of all that anomalies can mean.
But what strikes home most to me, with my unique experiences of the interaction of mind and nature, is his spiritual bravery. The willpower and the strength of mind with which Bennett never stopped insisting that literally, “when we imagine, we create a form of life.”
He argued that, somewhere and somehow, our minds have the autonomous, imaginative power to physically mutate and affect our natural world and cosmos. He argued this idea forcefully, again and again—and in an age where it has long been lost as a cultural belief, where our imaginations are only used passively to process infinite vivid media images, where we are locked in what he called the “prison system” of the scientific view. And as he voiced these convictions, he laughed that many would regard them as “a gross intellectual indecency.” But Bennett did not chase the cheap prize of recognition, he pursued the truth at any personal cost.
Time will prove that the most naive assumption of our era has been the rationalists’s insistence that the mind and the imagination have no causative effect on the material world. Then we will recognise that, as Bennett argues, “a rationalist is another mythological performer just like everyone else.” When that time comes, and through these fascinating essays, Bennett will be recognised as a man who fought his own age for the sake of a greater cosmos