The Alien Is Under Construction

The Answer to Fermi’s Paradox

Published in Paranoia, The Conspiracy Reader, Issue 40, Winter 2006

Referring to alien life, physicist Enrico Fermi (1901–1954) reasoned that extraterrestrials have had more than enough time to seed the cosmos. If I do not see them, he proffered, it follows that they do not exist. [1]

Where are they, Fermi asked?  The answer is quite simple.  The alien has not yet been assembled within the system of cultural allowances.

There is nothing like the word metaphysics to raise fire and steam from the nostrils of the “nuts and bolts” gurus of the Old Ufology.  The Victorian station master mechanical “scientists” who think they are preachers of the word of god hardly ever refer to literature, philosophy or the arts for conceptual modelling, if only because today a degree in science or a training in engineering or technology offers little or no knowledge of metaphysics, and can therefore hardly be called an education. 

The concepts of most of the “scientists” of the Old Ufology (with brilliant exceptions such as The Tao of Physics) [2] are on average limited to that of the mid-nineteen-fifties garage, factory or workshop, where documents, dates, times, and angles were put together in superficially “rational” production sequence with hard-wired calculable inputs and outputs. Putting your head into the Old Ufology is like putting it into a modular workshop full of earnest, sober, and superbly dull engineering project managers and scientific civil servants.  They all appear to be banging away with hammers on various documentary anvils of old-fashioned bureaucratic mechanical science.  Like the characters in Kafka’s novel The Trial, many are obsessed with the minutiae of old case histories and archives in a manner also reminiscent of the anonymous author of the fourteenth century magical treatise Schwester Katrei, who considered how many angels could sit on the point of a needle. 

When a future society digs up the Old Ufology “skeletons” from the nuclear dust, the first thing to be seen will be databases as big as the Ritz. These will be confused with ant hills, which they are, indeed, for all practical purpose.  They will probably think about them in the same way we stare at suddenly deserted Mayan temples, wondering what they were for and why they were abandoned so rapidly. 

The Old Ufology is an unusual case. While the phenomenon studied is becoming increasingly evident, the numbers within the various study groups are declining.  Despite the efforts of a few valiant gifted individuals, the Old Ufology, as it stands, is a very crude affair.  Its intellectual sophistication is not great and it spurns higher studies such as Postmodernism.  Yes, the waters of Postmodernism and other advanced international multi-disciplinary studies are lapping roundits tiny nineteenth century island. 

In addition to being rooted in nineteenth century mechanical concepts, at the grassroots level the Old Ufology is perversely anti-modern and anti-intellectual.  The mere mention of Barthes, Borges (or Vallée or Sontag) on UFO discussion lists (such as the MUFON-dominated UFO Updates List) angers the Old Ufological bureaucratic ledger clerks, who appear to think that the mere making of countless long lists of past cases is what “research” is all about.  Many such “investigators” (almost none of whom have had a UFO experience) pile up more case histories, documentation lists, and security classifications than pancakes on a Shrove Tuesday.

Spurning rich connectivity, Old Ufology has fallen into that classic form of decadence that affected late Rome and Byzantium alike: it has become little more than a bureaucratic document cult dominated by office memorandum classifications and vast, intellectually passive, Victorian-style lists and databases.  These are often used as an excuse for not thinking analytically.  This extremely unsophisticated and limited mechanical view is hopelessly entangled in the trivia of times and dates, places, angles, and office nomenclatures of government documentation.  This garage view is probably the reason why the Old Ufology has not entered a single University Department:  some Old Ufologists still believe that scrambling around in countless old archives will suddenly reveal the key “solution” to the UFO problem. 

Such garage rationalism rules for playing the great cultural “physical evidence” game has resulted in some of the most amazing spare parts directories in all human history, with many books on UFOs rivalling the great Baedekers of the nineteenth century.  This was a time when major social-scientific processes were thought to be fully understood; the world of appearances was safe and well.  It was a world in which doctors cured people, policemen arrested criminals, and governments defended freedoms. 

If Charles Dickens would have problems understanding such aspects of the early twenty-first century, he would certainly have recognised the nuts and bolts school of Old Ufology.  Measurement as Truth is an Orwellian dictate if ever there was one.  Scientists who still see the Universe as a well-oiled machine running on regular number sequences are like a sea of wall-papering circus clowns trying to seal leaks on the walls of the Grand Coulee Dam.   Many people, particularly those who have had a UFO experience or a mystical experience relating to such a thing, are quite rightly refusing to let the Cartesian mechanics of Old Ufology hijack the experience. 

The Cartesians themselves are in trouble:  no longer are social and scientific processes described by visible, hard-wired, flow diagrams in which one thing was seen to be quite mechanically connected to another, each stage of which could be project-managed, measured, and predicted.  A radio and TV engineer of a previous generation would check for voltage levels and current flow; he would “look” for a leaky capacitor or a burnt-out coil.  Such visible connections have long ago vanished into a VLSI chip alone, and discussion of current flow and voltages inside such a device is now almost meaningless information. 

Almost no one can know what happens inside a chip in the finite sense, just as we don’t know what we’re eating, or any more than we know what happened on 9/11, or indeed who governs us.  Despite the best efforts over forty years, we are still unable to put together a single “factually correct” twenty-four-hour frame of a single Lee Harvey Oswald day.  As the film The Matrix shows, the deeper we go into a system the more complicated it becomes.  This is because it appears that Nature does, indeed, move the goal-posts and appears not to like being observed too closely. 

There is no doubt that the point-to-point wiring, Legoland Universe of the strict Cartesians has slipped from us. When we cannot possibly conceive an impossible number of finites as are in the chip, we create an image.  The chip is now only meaningful as an image of control and complexity; its vast inner connectivity is quite beyond finite conception at any one time by any individual.  The situation is getting worse (or better, it depends on the point of view!) by the day.  As chip density increases, “knowledge” of finite processes in the traditional sense will slip from us. 

Thus have we become controlled by such image engineering rather than “facts.”  We reason by images; they possess almost our entire consciousness.  There is no OFF switch for television and its stream of images.  Whether we possess a set or not is now irrelevant.  As such, situations and events are no longer seen as factual or objective.  They are seen as reflections of groups and personalities, performances, and theatres.  Current Western metaphors are essentially consumer-orientated.  Most are derived from showbiz and entertainment, media, personality cults, advertisements, and the glamour industry.  By comparison the scientist rates zero, and few metaphors are minted from scientific ideas.  Despite massive cultural propaganda, scientists in general are still regarded as vaguely B-feature threatening, with the white coat and the hypodermic needle never very far away from the subconscious.  To many, the phrase “facts and statistics” sounds vaguely like an old Communist threat from the grim cardboard suits of the old Leonard Brezhnev commissars.

The iron-age “science” of MUFON, for example, is positively retro-cult Soviet. Some MUFON “research” papers are reminders of clogs, jute-sacking shirts, and thick grey toilet paper on which a Commissar could scribble an essay on Dialectics of the Industrial Collective before putting such a thing to its proper use.  Having had a UFO experience I, for one, refuse to let such Victorian station masters take over the UFO experience and stalk the planet as if they were lords of all creation.

Seeing is Believing

Such impressions came to mind while watching a Peter Jennings television documentary called “UFOs:  Seeing Is believing,” which aired on February 24, 2005. The reactions by Ufologists show that, even after fifty years of an intense presence, TV is little understood as a visual medium.  As such, “fact” relates to TV as much as “fact” relates to a distorted Picasso face or a Dali landscape.  Each and every TV appearance is necessarily a performance, not a telephonic analogue communication designed to impart scientific, “factual” information.  TV is essentially a non-cerebral medium: it is about what things look like and sound like, not their “objective” worth. 

For better or worse, if you are not on TV regularly you are nobody.  Style and performance are the keys to success on TV, but Carl Sagan, the John De Lorean of Ufology, is no longer with us (R.I.P.).  Ufologists and scientists score zero on style and even less on performance, and the lacklustre result is predictable.  On this program, the role of Ufologists was predictably that of rather dismal small-town solicitors full of MUFON common sense and practicality.  Like MUFON, they came off as sober, reliable, and supremely boring.  The sceptics “performed” as usual: acting the role of rather faceless, mediocre, and plausible “hard working” folk.   On this TV show, scepticism fared no better.  Like MUFON, scepticism was very much the baffled granny in the disco, with time and era strobing over her face. 

None of these pseudo-credible images had anything to do with “fact.”  TV is no more able to deliver fact than a stills photographer is able to deliver the “truth” about a face.  What we got was grainy images struggling for prime time, not facts at all. 

Not even communists in their heyday could make TV deliver information in this old, hard-wired sense of “facts.” This is an old communist pre-consumer language game in which there are no similes, metaphors or images: just archive box numbers, security classifications, and collective farm production statistics from “way back when.” As Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon shows, this was the language of Soviet Commissars in the 1950s.

Nowhere in this palsied Cartesian machine is there expressed a sense of awe, wonder or magic.  The commercials during the Peter Jennings show were of a lot more interest compared to all those dour faces giving us low-grade commercials from their own culture, which were highly suspicious accounts of “how the universe works” and what is “real” and what is “fantasy.”  Yes, like TV, Old Ufology is dead in the advertising water.

The phenomenon of the UFO is worth more than this tatty TV.  It still represents an exciting, romantic, and deeply mystical phenomenon; it is intellectually erotic and powerfully inspirational.  Its analysis involves disciplines of many vital cultural sectors.  As far as being a symbol, its history and effects, its scandals and associated conspiracies all have a glamour that rivals the greatest stars of stage and screen.  After some fifty years, the UFO remains a futuristic star performer, and this irresistible fascination is still with us.

We heard nothing of this on the Jennings show.  We heard old men, old ideas, old science, and very much old Ufology.  This TV show was a fine expression of Spengler’s Decline of the West in terms of the fall from ethos to technos.

Orthon: Noise in The System

A great deal of the energy of old Ufology is expended on casting out those reprobates who dare to go near the borders of the absolutely ridiculous by claiming they met a man from Venus, such as George Adamski in the California desert on November 20, 1952.  Traditional Old Ufologists in general say that such people are “bad for the image” of Ufology.  The strange thing about so-called “fantasists” like Adamski is that they arouse fear out of all proportion to the actual physical and intellectual threat they represent.  Of course, Adamski and others are plain liars to simple-minded mechanicals.  In their binary colonisation, the only shades are black and white. 

Some future computer, if asked to design something that aroused maximum bourgeois outrage, might come up with Adamski’s long-haired Venusian, Orthon, as a good candidate.  The mechanism for the rejection of such “absurd” figures is built around the need, not so much to deny Orthon, but to bring him back to the garage proportion of the lower middle class in order to preserve proper trading relations. Most scientists are from this social group and often exhibit paranoia of the worst kind, as concerns “odd” folk with “kook” claims. 

It might come as a surprise to outsiders that UFO groups do not consist of the mad, but of those often too sane to think properly.   These people often carry out the Maoist-like “outing” of what they term eccentrics, weirdos, and oddballs. These are described usually by the mechanical metaphor of “noise in the system.” Roswell witnesses, for example, have been threatened, pressured, and interrogated as much by believers as by sceptics.  This is a typical bourgeois filter as applied by respectable traders who have earned their first money the hard way. 

The Fortean, or holistic or Postmodern view, is that the claim for the “reality” of Orthon is neither “true” nor “false,” but is a kind of intermediate form of information.  The function and “reality” of such a form can be defined in terms of the level of profound disturbance such elemental figures as Orthon cause within the focus of the mainstream UFO investigating groups.  This is sufficient for Orthon to be judged as a candidate for rejection as regards most levels and frequencies of perception.

When we imagine we create a form of life.  Such forms are a vital functional component of all thinking but, unfortunately, due to the decline of older systems of education and their replacement by little more than technical training, the great imagination, or “shaping spirit” as Shakespeare and Coleridge knew it, is now little understood as part of the process of cultural construction. 

We all live in a fluid of inspirations supported by the most outrageous of individual and national fantasies, without which we would all be spiritually dead.  A man claims he has seen a moth-winged fairy in traditional doublet and hose.  A woman says such things do not exist.  In the subtraction between the pushes and pulls of belief claims, a little something is always left over.  This we might call a liminal, or half form. It “lives” in the liminal region between fact and fiction, a kind of information life we are encountering more frequently in our Postmodern age. 

Orthon exists in this liminal region, together with countless other forms, such as Bigfoot, or indeed a performance by Marilyn Monroe.  The half-life energies of these partial forms are rarely sufficiently strong to make a fully scheduled appearance, but occasionally these shadow figures summon up enough energy to make a raid on the mechanical world sufficient for a kind of momentary appearance described by Jacques Vallée in Passport to Magonia. [3] Such fast-transient events also shed light on the puzzling lack of both predictability and stability in psychic experimentation discussed in books like The World of Ted Serios by Jules Eisenbud [4] and Mind-Reach by Puthoff and Targ.[5]

In the various Field Guide series of books by Loren Coleman and Patrick Huyghe (such as The Field Guide to Bigfoot, Yeti, and Other Mystery Primates) [6] the various animal forms reported are bewilderingly incomplete.  There is no food swathe, no evidence of fights, illness, urine, fur, or faeces. There is no mass of DNA from saliva, sweat or wounds, and there are no corpses or evidence or lairs or nests.  Yet Bigfoot variants are seen.  This quite defies the Rationalist hubris in the embarrassing titles of books such as The Road to Reality and The Theory of Everything, in which determined, numerical completeness is verified and predicted.

Such partial anomalistic forms appear as a kind of life within what might be termed an Octave of Appearances.  The discovery of liminal events along and within this Octave is as spectacular as the discovery of radiating materials, and is as little understood as radiation was at the time of Curie’s great discovery.

With momentary images, we are into an infinity compounded of mind and invention whose complex may well be a good model of how advanced alien consciousness and intelligence works.  It is unlikely that our “alien” will be some version of a good bourgeois holding some kind of “super-spanner” in the MUFON sense.  Should we see such a spanner it is likely to be a deception within a hoax within a quadruple-take, as most likely happened to Adamski.  The idea of an alien hoaxer, a criminal alien, an alien psychopath, all on different cultural levels and mostly unaware of one another, gives us pause for thought, as does the idea of a sceptical alien! 

Alien life at an advanced stage may well have fled to a limitless media set such as this form of half disembodied Escher-life.  As such, it will be capable of every kind of metaphysical transformation.  Mere mechanism will never express or comprehend the rules of a god game such as this. The idea of a good bourgeois alien signalling with some kind of Morse key from a distant planet (in real time) is an expression straight out of Wells or Verne, both essentially pre-Einsteinian mechanists.

What we must always bear in mind is that the really great thing about human beings is that they will never behave themselves.  We must not expect the alien to do otherwise.  One of the few certain things about the universe is that, whatever it was designed for, it was not designed for that bourgeois conceit called good, clean, mechanistic behaviour. 

Let us not let these Ufological Stalinists make us think that the scientific view is the only way to truth.  Science is a mode of seeing; a media channel.  It will get rid of Orthon as “noise” in the system, a steam age concept borrowed from mechanical engineering.  We must refuse to have Ufology taken over by the document accountants and ledger clerks of Old Ufology.

The Alien is Under Construction

By analogy, the structure of the alien follows a similar path to that which led to the creation of steam locomotive power, which in turn was the same path that led to the discovery and application of nuclear energy.  We run our historical film backwards, and the steam engine assembles itself from a hint in a letter, a coincidence, a fragment of inspiration, inference from mistakes and confusions, good and bad guesses, dreams and reveries, and not a little self-deception and downright chicanery along the way.  Thinking is essentially a disreputable process.  It is anything but the clean machine of the rationalist view. 

Arthur Koestler’s The Sleepwalkers [7] shows that the history of scientific discoveries is often found to be strewn with cheating, lying, and fraud, not to mention fortuitous mistakes and gross self-deception.  The idea that the shining truth will be revealed once the “noise in the system” lunatics are disposed of is the very worst kind of commissar-mechanical thinking that leads inevitably to the Gulag, or destinations a million times worse.

In such an anarchic manner are history and experience assembled.  Doubtless, the alien is gradually being constructed in a similarly disorderly way.  The idea started off as an absurd impossibility, a thing of scornful comedy.  Then, like the steam engine again, (which was an equally frightening possibility to many late eighteenth century minds), the UFO went through a transformation by means of a series of well-managed but often painful collective allowances up to the present day. Even now, the half-dead scientific bureaucrats are trying to convince the half-dead stationmasters of the “reality” of the UFO phenomenon.

At first the alien was a hopelessly distant possibility, fit for daft films and schoolyard jokes.  Then interplanetary life became possible, but was kept amidst the distant stars so as not to be of great importance.  Then it became acceptable to view “alien life” in the form of water vapour in planetary systems and “possible” molecular fragments in meteoric debris.  Then the Roswell story emerged.   A further stage has now been reached by means of images in webcams and the family camcorders.  Now, even a few dour sceptics are saying, “Yes—but not here and now.”  Thus, gradually, is a curtain raised with a wink and a nod.  The amount of light we allow to flood in is the amount we (“they”) think we can handle. 

In this Fortean sense, both belief and scepticism are reality controls. Their pushes and pulls sculpt, program, and eventually construct what we choose to experience.  They are differentials which generate our systems of mental navigation.  They can vary their power, nature, and scope as well as the belief system that becomes the constellated prime time “real.”

Already the alien is almost allowed to “exist.”   As such, it is approaching (gingerly) the threshold of distinct perception and experience.  Precisely because we now think we can just about cope with the concept, any time now the alien will make an appearance within the allowance / acceptance threshold of the construction.


  • ly/2mY4XtD
  • Capra, Fritjof The Tao of Physics. Boulder: Shambala Publications, 1975.
  • Vallée, Jacques, Passport to Magonia. New York: Contemporary Books, 1969.
  • Eisenbud, Jule, The World of Ted Serios. New York:  William Morrow, 1967.
  • Puthoff, Harold and Targ, Russell Mind-Reach. London: Jonathan Cape, 1977.
  • Coleman, Loren and Huyghe, Patrick, The Field Guide to Bigfoot and Other Mystery Primate. New York: Anomalist Books, 2015.
  • Koestler, Arthur, The Sleepwalkers. London: Hutchinson, 1959.b