Who is Colin Bennett?

Colin Bennett, born Colin Reginald Bennett (1939–2015) was an English philosopher of Ufology, anomalies, and the paranormal. He was a Fortean and postmodern thinker, and a noted biographer of Charles FortEdward Ruppelt and the UFO contactee George Adamski – this last book is said by Mac Tonnies to “probe the 20th century’s military-industrial-mythological complex with an intellectual and literary fortitude seldom encountered in popular works on UFOs”, which is a common view of Bennett’s contribution held by his peers and contemporary experts…[1] His original views were widely admired and endorsed by prominent contemporary esotericists and ufologists including John Michell,[2] Jacques Vallee, John Keel[3] Jerome Clark[4] Mac Tonnies and Nick Pope[5] as well as the physicist Jack Sarfatti[6] Nobel LaureateJohn Forbes Nash Jr[7] and Uri Geller[8]

Bennett was the author of Looking for Orthon (Paraview Press, 2002), a biography of George Adamski.[9] His next book was on the life, work and ideas of Charles Fort, entitled Politics of the Imagination (Headpress, 2002) which won The Anomalist Award for Best Biography, 2002.[10] His third biography was An American Demonology: Flying Saucers Over the White House (Headpress, 2005), the story of Captain Edward Ruppelt who headed Project Blue Book in the era of unprecedented UFO sightings over the White House in the early 1950s.[11]

Bennett’s very original and seminal essays on Ufology and anomalies were widely published, often as cover stories as in Fortean TimesUFO Magazine (US) and Nexus, and further in Philosophy Now, Paranoia, Phenomena and realityuncovered.net.

Contents

Biography

Bennett was born in Long Eaton, Nottingham on 4 November, 1939, and educated at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was admitted in 1965 as a scholar of English Literature without possessing any qualification in Latin, on the basis of a thesis he submitted and an interview.[12] After graduation he lived and wrote all his life in Notting Hill, London. He died in London on 9 February 2015 of complications from diabetes and a stroke.

Thought

The New Ufology. Bennett was the first to argue for the creation of a New Ufology that should develop far beyond the restrictions of what he called Old Ufology. Old Ufology consisted of the passive cataloguing of endless case-histories and also distinctly mechanistic and absolute “fact versus fiction” analyses. He urged that Ufology be integrated with the latest developments in psychology and mathematics, and with the latest postmodern views on Artificial Intelligence and image processing. Commentators in the field of Ufology identified Bennett and his views as the vanguard of the new movement. [13]: “Old Ufology must be deconstructed from bottom to top. It must transfer from boiler-house analyses to a new Age where transcendental experience is seen to consist of holistic components. In these elements, all information is media, and both language and culture are advertising systems. In such systems, objective “solidity” is the most perfect prime-time performance of all.”[14]

Bennett’s themes (and his targets) identify him as postmodern. While he fully believed in many conventionally-viewed UFO sightings, he also argued with much originality that alien contact would not come “in the form of spindly War of the Word machines spouting laser death rays, but in the cool form of that powerful suggestion virus called the advertisement”.[15] On media, Bennett noted that for most Ufologists, “media does not appear to have arrived. The result is that for the most part, Roswell is usually investigated as some kind of traffic accident”. [16]

Theory of Anomalies and UFOs. Bennett argued the urgent need for a radical new theory of the anomalous event with the trappings and “troublesome apparatus of traditional occultism” all slashed away. He mainly viewed anomalies and UFOs as phenomena suspended between symbol and realisation, matter and spirit, mind and nature, and fact and fiction – as “prototypal products woven out of the mass suggestion concentrate that will eventually replace molecular form.” [17] Such anomalies he termed “Fast Transients” [18]– that is, “half-forms” or “liminals”- [19]that “lack the high performance repetition rate required for continuous appearance”. Anomalies, in his view, take place in a liminal territory which is a conceptual region parallel to our modern idea of internet cyberspace. Within this structure, he suggested, rather than viewing anomalies as simply true or false, it is more effective to view them as parts of discarded world models, or sets of almost-realised instructions, or an array of game possibilities liable to exhaustion and decay.

Cosmology and Story Technology. Bennett modelled the world of experience as a system based on the viral creation, the growth, and the streaming of alive and warring information systems, all operating in a cosmos entirely composed of live fields of advertising structures. [20] In Bennett’s cosmos anomalies, rather like mutations, crop up as viral phenomena whose existence acts as “cultural advertisements” for potential new ideologies: “the cultural advertisement as a social construct has now grown so powerful it may be seen as a complete, meta-biological cyber-animal built of forms of different kinds of story lines.”[21] By so doing they impose system-strains upon the numerous other cultural advertisements that constantly compete in a “bloody war” to grab the “ideological prime time of consciousness.” The workings of these processes he called Story Technology: “the story-teller, with his age-old technology, is still political dynamite.”[22]

Science as Showbusiness Bennett viewed science as just one dour ideological commercial among many, competing for the prime time slot of “reality”: “Just like the Jesus story, Science is yet another over-blown narrative, another engineered framework of perception”.[23] Bennett argued that science is a powerful and censoring political control over the world of appearances, “and as such cannot help but align itself with massive, institutionalised authority.” [24] Moreover science is wholly inadequate as a description of the world of experience and human consciousness: accuracy, objectivity and precision are not adequate to describe the infinities of being human. [25] “Science is about as good at describing non-mechanical events as it is about describing human relationships – namely, nought out of ten.” [26]

Publications

Non-fiction

  • Looking for Orthon – The story of George Adamski, the first flying saucer contactee and how he changed the world. New York: Paraview Press, 2001
  • Politics of the Imagination – the life, work and ideas of Charles Fort. Manchester: Critical Vision, 2002
  • An American Demonology, Flying Saucers over the White House. Manchester, Headpress Books, 2005

Essays

  • “Science as Showbusiness,” Fortean Times No 75, June 1994
  • “Rocket in His Pocket,” Fortean Times, Issue 132, March 2000
  • “Recipe for a Universe,” Fortean Times, October 2000
  • “Manchurian Candy or Big Doll Culture,” Fortean Times, Issue 148, July 2001
  • “Invasion of the Doll People,” Fortean Times No. 156, March 2002
  • “Lee Harvey Oswald as Fortean Man,” published as an appendix to Politics of the Imagination, Manchester: Headpress Books 2002
  • “A Late Disciple of Lucretius,” Philosophy Now, Issue 38, October 2002
  • “Imagine,” Paranormal Phenomena, September 25, 2005
  • “Managing Mystery,” UFO Magazine, August 2006
  • “Skepticism as Mystique: a Fortean Essay in Rationalist Panics and Skeptical Dementia,” published in UFO Magazine, December 2006
  • “Meme Wars: We Have an Agenda,” published on realityuncovered.net. No date given.
  • “Deconstruction of the B-29,” published in Flying Saucers Over the White House. New York: Cosimo Books, 2010.
  • “The Alien is Under Construction,” Paranoia, the Conspiracy Reader, Issue 40, Winter 2006″
  • “Putting the Noise Back into the System: a Postmodern Fortean Analysis of Consumerism, Cargo-cult Belief, and Ufology,” UFO Magazine, Vol. 23, No.3, April 2008
  • “Child Brides from Outer Space,” Reality Uncovered, May 10, 2010
  • “Weaponising the Narrative,” UFO Magazine (US), Volume 24, No. 5, June 2012
  • “Objectivity Means You Have Not Done What You Have Just Done”, UFO Magazine,Vol. 23, No. 11

Novels

  • The Infantryman’s Fear of Open Country. London: Fourth Estate, 1990.
  • The Entertainment Bomb. London: New Futurist Books, 1996
  • The Rumford Rogues. London: Headpress Books, 2009

References

  1. http://posthumanblues.com/mactonniescom/ufobooks.html
  2. Jump up↑ John Michel wrote the Introduction for Bennett’s biography Looking For Orthon, New York: Paraview Press 2001, pp. 8-9
  3. Jump up↑ John Keel wrote the Foreword to Politics of the Imagination, London: Headpress Books, 2002, pp.pp5-9
  4. Jump up↑ Jerome Clark wrote the Foreword to Bennett’s biography Flying Saucers Over The White House, New York: Cosimo Books, 2010, pp. 7-11
  5. Jump up↑ Nick Pope wrote the Introduction to Flying Saucers over the White House, New York: Cosimo Books, 2010, pp.5-6.
  6. Jump up↑ Bennett wrote the Introduction for Sarfatti’s book, Commentaries on Physics, https://www.academia.edu/7363761/Colin_Bennetts_Foreword_to_Star_Gate_Sarfatti_Commentaries_on_Physics_Vol_1
  7. Jump up↑ See The Rumford Rogues by Colin Bennett, London: Headpress Fiction 2009, p.185
  8. Jump up↑ Uri Geller has written the Foreword for Bennett’s forthcoming essay collection, The Alien is Under Construction, New York, Cosimo Books, June 2019
  9. Jump up↑ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Looking-Orthon-Colin-Bennett/dp/1931044325
  10. Jump up↑ https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/606451Politics_of_the_Imagination.
  11. Jump up↑ https://www.amazon.co.uk/AMERICAN-DEMONOLOGY-Flying-Saucers-White/dp/1900486466
  12. Jump up↑ I possess the original letter of acceptance from Alan Montefiore of Balliol College, dated 16 February 1965, which documents this, and can supply that on request
  13. Jump up↑ https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2011/05/a-modest-proposal-the-new-ufology/
  14. Jump up↑ “Putting the Noise Back Into The System” UFO Magazine April 2008
  15. Jump up↑ Looking For Orthon, p.105
  16. Jump up↑ “Putting the Noise Back Into The System” UFO Magazine April 2008
  17. Jump up↑ 9/11 – Did A Fishmonger Do it?” UFO Magazine August 2007
  18. Jump up↑ “Objectivity Means That You Have not Done What you Have Just Done”, p.9
  19. Jump up↑ “The Alien is Under Construction”, p.9
  20. Jump up↑ “Weaponizing the Narrative,” UFO Magazine, June 2012.
  21. Jump up↑ “Weaponizing the Narrative”, UFO Magazine June 2012.
  22. Jump up↑ Looking for Orthon, p.158.
  23. Jump up↑ “Weaponising the Narrative”, p. 5
  24. Jump up↑ Politics of the Imagination, p. 53
  25. Jump up↑ Skepticism as Mystique” p. 9
  26. Jump up↑ “Objectivity Means You Have Not Done What You Have Just Done,” p.11

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