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28 February, 2011

Beings in NothingDrive

An Existential Analysis of the Travis Walton UFO Abduction

By Joan d’Arc

On the thirty-year anniversary of one of the most compelling UFO contact experiences, I present my interpretation of the Travis Walton abduction case of 1975. This admittedly kitsch interpretation is unlike any other, either of the skeptic or non-skeptic variety, and its intent is not to prove or disprove the facts of the case. Rather, the intent is to marvel at the sense of wonder that embellishes the human condition and to convey the idea that we have a choice about how we look at the world. I hope it will add to our understanding of this profound human experience as we subconsciously try to become more comfortable in the skin we find ourselves in.

On the evening of November 5, 1975, a crew of men working in the forests at Turkey Springs, Arizona jumped into their pick-up truck and headed home to Snowflake for dinner. All at once, a brilliant yellow light blared through the trees. Upon coming to a clearing that afforded them a better view, the men realized the source was a flying saucer.

Travis Walton got out of the truck for a better look at the "golden machine," which hovered silently about 15 feet above the ground only 90 feet away. As he later described it in The Walton Experience (1978), the object was estimated to have an overall diameter of 15 to 20 feet and was shaped like two deep pie pans, one inverted on top of the other, with a "small round bowl upside down" on top of that. The dome on top was luminous white with darker strips of dull silver outlining the glowing panels. The surface of the ship had a "luster of hot metal." There were no seams, protrusions, antennae, windows, ports or hatches on the silent craft.

Walton approached the craft as the other men called out to him to come back. About six feet from the craft he got into a half-crouched position, staring up at its smooth surface. Suddenly the ship began to vibrate and wobble, giving off low- and high-pitched mechanical tones. A blue-green beam of light about a foot wide shot out of the bottom of the craft, with a sharp, cracking sound, striking him in the head and chest with a force he later described as "a high voltage electrocution."

The men in the truck watched in terror as Walton's body arched backward and was hurled about ten feet in the air. His body landed motionless on the ground. The driver sped off quickly, crashing over bushes and small trees until, through a clearing, the men watched the ship rise above the trees and take off at incredible speed. The men returned to the scene to pick up Walton, but he was nowhere to be found. Police authorities interrogated the men, thinking they had concocted this fantastic tale to cover up Walton's accidental death or murder.

Only in Hollywood?

The Travis Walton story is one of the most well known UFO contact reports since it was brought to the silver screen in the film Fire in the Sky. Problematically, Hollywood did a bad job of explaining what Walton actually remembered about the incident aboard the spacecraft where he purportedly spent the next five days. As a result of the film, most people know only of the drama surrounding the ordeal his co-workers were put through concerning his absence. In order to fill in the void left by Hollywood, more pieces of the bizarre tale recounted by Walton follow.

As consciousness returned, Walton discovered he was lying on his back on a table. He initially had no recollection of the spacecraft. He had a burning, "crushed" feeling in his chest and a splitting headache. He was remarkably weak. He recalls a bitter, metallic taste on his tongue, as well as intense thirst. His eyesight was blurred. He had no idea where he was but could hear a quiet shuffling. An odd light fixture hung down from a "triangular" shaped ceiling. He suddenly recalled being in the woods looking up at the glowing saucer. He reasoned that "maybe that thing had hit me with something" and he had been rushed to the hospital. He tried to move but he couldn't. He tried to call out, but no sound came.

Walton became aware that he was still wearing his shirt and jacket, which were pushed up under his arms. He reasoned that he must have been injured so badly there was no time to remove his clothing. He then looked down and noticed an unfamiliar technological artifact lying across his bare chest:

A strange device curved across my body. It felt cool and smooth. It was about four or five inches thick... [and] extended from my armpits to a few inches above my belt. It curved down to the middle of each side of my rib cage. It looked like it was made of shiny, dark gray metal or plastic.

Walton then tried to focus on the "blurry figures of the doctors" he suddenly realized were standing over him. Once his vision returned:

The sudden horror of what I saw rocked me with the realization that I was definitely not in the hospital. I was looking squarely into the face of a horrible creature! My senses were instantly electrified into a new keenness. Everything clicked. The weird-shaped room, the strange device, the odd clothing, all added up to just one thing. 'Good God!! I must be inside the craft!!" [Emphasis his!!]

Emotion and the Horrible

The double exclamations Walton uses in his chronicle might perhaps represent his profound horror upon realizing the world has just shapeshifted beyond the predictable reality fixed squarely between the edges of his comfort zone. It has been noted by researchers that fear is the most common human reaction to meetings with extraterrestrials. In his writings on the supernatural in Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, Carl Jung wrote that mankind "feels an almost instinctive aversion to this kind of knowledge, for he fears its paralyzing effect." As Jung noted, humankind may admit that unknown powers exist no matter what they are called, but one "turns away from them as speedily as possible, as from a threatening obstacle."

Why is fear so automatic when one is confronted with the supernatural? From a purely phenomenological point of view, why does this constitute a threat? We might consider Martin Heidegger's suggestion that our first sensory assessment produces a logical comparison or correspondence between subject and object—an assessment of facts devoid of meaning. He proposed that perceptions are logically distinguished when an object is isolated out of the stream of experience and held up to that which it is not. However, the second assessment will move beyond this correspondence to the "meaning of the ground of the investigated beings," revealing the nature of the relationship between them. If no meaning is revealed, if there is no melding of subject with "brute object," we could surmise, as Jean Paul Sartre might, that an instance of existential nausea might follow.

A Science of Experience

Phenomenologist Edmund Husserl believed that in order to maintain its meaningfulness and integrity, the quantitative sciences developed by man should acknowledge that its roots are in the same sensory world which it studies and measures. He hoped that a new Science of Experience would someday re-establish "lived experience" as a basis of scientific method. Husserl spoke of the "phenomenal world," the world of subjective experience, as being pure transcendental consciousness.

As David Abram writes in Spell of the Sensuous, each of the human senses lends its own unique mode of perception, which diverges, intercommunicates and overlaps with the others. In order to comprehend a particularly novel sensory experience, you must use all your senses in "dynamic participation." These are the tools of a different type of science; one that we all know instinctively. Your tools in the Science of Experience are your naked humanness. Abram explains:

The relative divergence of my bodily senses (eyes in the front of the head, ears toward the back, etc.) and their curious bifurcation (two eyes, one on each side, and two ears, two nostrils, etc.), indicates that this body is a form destined to the world; it ensures that my body is a sort of open circuit that completes itself only in things, in others, in the encompassing Earth.

In this novel situation, as Walton has noted, your senses are "instantly electrified into a new keenness." Everything begins to click, and it all adds up to "one thing." You have no trouble isolating this object out of your stream of experience, since it's in your face and you cannot move. You feel like an animal being hunted and you begin to think like one. You attempt to categorize the nature of the beast exhibiting predatory behavior toward you. You deduce that it is like me, in that it has the same basic morphology, locomotive stride, number of limbs, body symmetry and other features; but it is not like me in a most disturbing way.

Walton has the existential creeps upon coming face to face with an outwardly humanoid entity whose mode of perception is completely alien to the Earth environment. He knows instinctively that these beings do not belong to this world. As he looks for some human qualities or even a counterpart to mammalian forms, his first assessment is that these beings gather information in a novel manner. These entities make no use of the five senses taken for granted on this planet, the senses which define us as human, the very senses we are using in the moment to comprehend this situation.

A World That Speaks

The conventional view of language is that it is a set of mutually agreed-upon signs, or representations for things, linked by a formal system of rules. Phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty disagreed with this assessment, believing that human language is rooted in our sensory experience of the "life-world." He believed that meaning is spontaneously gestured with the body. We learn our native language, Merleau-Ponty pointed out, not mentally but bodily. He suggested that the conceptual meaning of words "must be formed by a kind of subtraction from a gestural meaning, which is immanent in speech."

A gesture is not arbitrary or meaningless behavior accompanying language, but is linked with the particular words being used. In essence, gesture is the "bodying-forth" of emotion ("a motion emanating") into the world; the tangible, visible aspect of a particular feeling. Speech is vocal gesture that communicates meaning, and is rooted in the sensual dimension of experience. It is born, writes David Abram in Spell of the Sensuous, of "the body's native capacity to resonate with other bodies and with the landscape as a whole," and is "a particular way of singing the world." Further, Merleau-Ponty proposed that no phenomenon presented itself to humans as passive, but as dynamic and engaging. He believed that humans are part of "a gesturing landscape" — in essence, "a world that speaks."

Yet, if human perception is an open circuit that completes itself via its environment, what type of environment does this entity come from? What type of being does not require food? What type of being does not need to hear? Clearly, its home environment is highly technological. As Sartre indicates, it is the things to which I cannot give meaning which cause the phenomenological experience of what he has termed nausea. Human beings can only place this experience in the realm of the supernatural.

As Walton later wrote, the creatures were under five feet tall with the normal arrangement of features. They had five fingers on their small hands. Other than that, he recalls, "their similarity to humanness quickly became terrifyingly obscure." The skin was pale, chalky and slightly translucent, and had a tight doll-like fit. They had "bulging, oversized craniums" and an infantile appearance. They had huge eyes with irises nearly an inch in diameter. Not a sound came from their tiny narrow mouths. They wore soft orange-brown overall suits and pinkish-tan footwear.

It doesn't take Walton long to conclude that these beings are not from around here. They are visitors from a landscape that does not gesture, a world that does not speak. They are techno-wizards who somehow project thoughts into the mind from a distance. They exhibit no emotion as they go about their work. The physical qualities possessed by this novel entity seem to incorporate that of reptile, insect and machine. Although they are overtly humanoid, in no sense are they mammalian. In some sense we feel that these are not "free will" entities: the lights are on but there's somebody else at the wheel. They are "Beings-in-NothingDrive."

As H.V. Ditfurth wrote in The Origins of Life, "a living being that does not engage in a continual exchange of energy with its environment is simply unthinkable." What sort of being is this? Writing in The Day After Roswell, Col. Philip J. Corso suggested the grays are the biological robots of a highly advanced visitor race. Psychologist John Mack further wondered if the traveling biochemists are on a mission to relocate a doomed human race to new homes in other planetary systems. Mack suggested we are but tagged animals in a cosmic trail of tears…

Magic: The Mind Dragging Among Things

Important to this assessment is the idea that magic, and its relationship to reality, may be a wholly different phenomenon than we understand it to be. Merleau-Ponty suggests a preconceptual relationship between the body and the sensible realm when he writes: "I give ear, or look, in the expectation of a sensation, and suddenly the sensible takes possession of my ear or my gaze, and I surrender a part of my body, even my whole body, to this particular manner of vibrating and filling space known as blue or red."

Sartre proposed that the world is in effect "a world of emotion," and the various human emotions have something in common, that is, "they make a same world appear, a world which is cruel, terrible, gloomy, joyful ... but one in which the relationship of things to consciousness is always and exclusively magical." He provides an example. Let's say a grinning face appeared in the window, sending a reaction of horror throughout your entire body. Phenomenologically speaking, your body is invaded by terror. Sartre explains that in this emotional moment, "consciousness is degraded and abruptly transforms the determined world in which we live into a magical world." Think about that. You haven't changed; the world has! As P.D. Ouspensky notes in Tertium Organum, "the mystery of thought creates everything." He writes:

As soon as we understand that thought is not a 'function of motion' and that motion itself is a function of thought; as soon as we begin to feel the depth of this mystery, we shall see that the whole world is a kind of vast hallucination which does not frighten us and does not make us think we are mad only because we are accustomed to it.

Sartre proposes that the world sometimes reveals itself to consciousness as magical (open-ended, subjective) instead of determined (solid, objective). Your survival response is to bring the world back to the confines of your safety nest: consensus-reality. But sometimes there is a lag in doing this, during which your heart feels like it could have jumped out of your skin. When the gag is over we can laugh, but while we're suspended in Magical Existentia we have seemingly entered an aspect of the world that contains possibilities we would normally not entertain. As Sartre clarifies, we need not believe that "the magical is an ephemeral quality which we impose upon the world as our moods dictate. Here is an existential structure of the world which is magical..." (Essays, 243)

The category "magical," in effect, governs our interpsychic relations and our perception of others; the magical is "the mind dragging among things." Sartre sees magic as consciousness rendered passive. In this posture, "man is always a wizard to man, and the social world is at first magical." The rational superstructures which make up our consensus-reality are actually "ephemeral and without equilibrium." They "cave in when the magical aspect of faces, of gestures, and of human situations, is too strong." (Essays, 244)

Indeed, this may explain why nobody is a true believer until they have experienced strange phenomena first hand. Perhaps imagination is not a separate mental faculty, but is the way the senses have of throwing themselves beyond in order to make tentative contact with the other sides of things that we do not sense directly. P.D. Ouspensky has suggested these may be the manifestations of the fourth dimension into the phenomenal world.

David Abram writes in Spell of the Sensuous that debunkers of magic, putting a premium on detached objectivity, attempt to "halt the participation of their senses in the phenomenon" by imagining other phenomena (wires, threads, mirrors), or by simply looking away. We always retain the option to suspend any instance of participation, he writes. There will always be people who "simply will not see any magic, either at a performance or in the world at large."

What happens when, without sufficient notice to halt sensory participation, we are plunged into the irrational alternate universe lying on the other side of our rational superstructure? Sartre guesses: "consciousness seizes upon the magical as magical; and forcibly lives it as such." Let's see how Walton deals with his existentially horrible situation:

A creature was looking steadily back at me with huge, luminous brown eyes that were the size of quarters! I recoiled at the sight. I looked frantically around me. There were three of them! Hysteria overcame me instantly. I struck out at the two on my right, hitting one with the back of my arm and knocking it into the other one. … The one I touched felt soft through the cloth of its garment. The muscles of its puny physique yielded with a sponginess that felt more like fat than sinew. The creature was light and had fallen back easily.

I heaved myself to a sitting position. The exertion caused beads of sweat to pop out on my forehead. I lunged unsteadily to my feet and staggered back. I fell against a utensil-arrayed bench that followed the curve of one wall. My arm sent some of the instruments clattering against the back of the shelf. I leaned heavily there, keeping my eyes riveted on those horrid entities!

Human emotion is a "quality which penetrates us" and "exceeds us on every side," explains Sartre. He writes, "the emotion ceases to be itself; it transcends itself; it is not a trivial episode of our daily life; it is intuition of the absolute." With regard to the specific emotion of horror, Sartre suggests, it is not only the present state of the thing that is transcended, but it is "threatened for the future; it spreads itself over the whole future and darkens it; it is a revelation of the meaning of the world."

Future Shock

Walton's terrific fear quite possibly stems from something we might call future shock. If culture shock is the result of an unprepared confrontation between two entirely different Earth cultures causing "bewilderment and disorientation, a misreading of reality, and the inability to cope," it may be relatively mild, suggests Alvin Toffler, in Future Shock, compared to the ravages of future shock, "the dizzying disorientation brought on by the premature arrival of the future."

Existentialists tend to see the essence of human existence as a journey; as being "between that from which the journey comes and that to which it proceeds." The German word dasein (human existence) describes life as a project in which human existence projects itself toward the future. As Heidegger says, man is always "engaged in projects to realize himself in the future"; care for self means "care for the future." Yet, while we are always preparing for the future, we glide toward it slowly, marking it with various anniversaries and rites of passage. We do not expect it to arrive overnight.

Walton's fear may arise from the sudden realization that we are not alone in the world as we've always been taught; that our plane of existence might be shared with an ultra-life form we had not known about, if only due to our perceptual limitations or an enormous reality hoax. It would seem that this realization effectively transformed the world as he thought he knew it; and did, in fact, spread itself over the future as "a revelation of the meaning of the world" — a world which we as technological beings thought we owned and managed. But as that surety slips away, the horrible begins to hold a "substantial quality," which spreads itself over perceptual space-time as "horrible in the world."

Walton has seen various unknown technological devices, including the flying saucer itself, which must surely have his mind reeling with fright. For, although the humanoids are short, spongy and slight of build, he is technologically overpowered by the Goliath contraptions of a futuristic society. He has entered a magical realm without his slingshot! Physically unarmed and mentally disarmed, he tries to overcome this existential situation using caveman ingenuity:

My action caused the device on my chest to crash to the floor. No wires or tubes connected it to me... Greenish rays came from underneath the overturned machine. … My legs felt too weak to hold me up. I leaned heavily on the counter. The monstrous trio of humanoids started towards me. … With the superhuman effort of a cornered animal, I ground out the strength to defend myself. ... I grabbed for something from the bench to fend them off. My hand seized upon a thin transparent cylinder about 18 inches long. It was too light to be an effective club. I needed something sharp and tried to break the tip off the tube. I smashed the end of the glass-like wand down on the waist-high metal slab. It would not break.

There seems to be trouble in Magical Existentia. How might Sartre explain Walton's reaction? Sartre distinguishes the concept of anguish from the concept of fear in that "fear is fear of beings in the world whereas anguish is anguish before my self." He further distinguishes the concept of vertigo as "anguish to the extent that I am afraid not of falling over a precipice, but of throwing myself over." He clarifies: "A situation provokes fear if there is a possibility of my life being changed from without; my being provokes anguish to the extent that I distrust myself and my own reactions in that situation." (Essays 120-124) Sartre gives an example:

Vertigo announces itself through fear; I am on a narrow path—without a guard rail—which goes along a precipice. The precipice ... represents a danger of death. At the same time I conceive of a number of causes, originating in universal determinism, which can transform that threat of death into a reality; I can slip on a stone and fall into the abyss ... If nothing compels me to save my life, nothing prevents me from precipitating myself into the abyss ... the decisive conduct will emanate from a self which I am not yet.

This is an important facet of phenomenology. A human being is essentially a changeling. Although we remain outwardly the same person throughout our lifetime, our interactions with people and with the world cause us to change inwardly. We do not react in exactly the same manner to each situation, unless it's required, nor do we get the same results each time we do react in similar manner. Each situation constitutes a different set of possibilities. Our actions and engagements must be constantly adjusted to a world that is constantly changing as well, making each interaction and experience a novel one.

In The Spell of the Sensuous, Abram writes that from a sensory perspective there is no thing that "appears as a completely determinate or finished object." Every thing I see "presents some facet of itself to my gaze while withholding other aspects from view." Figuring out what constitutes this unknown factor is part of problem solving. If a particular situation is exemplary in its novelty, we become excited and ask others for their opinion. Our lives are largely spent as intersubjective problem-solvers.

Second, because we are temporal beings, the self is a flowing entity existing over time. If you concentrate on your inner monologues you will have to agree that you are suspended in a built-in past, present and future. We all create mental pictures of ourselves in possible future scenarios. We project ourselves into the future in order to define ourselves in it. We know from experience not to depend too much on the pictures because life tosses banana peels in our path.

Sartre explains: "At this moment, fear appears, which in terms of the situation is the apprehension of myself as a destructible transcendent in the midst of transcendents, as an object which does not contain in itself the origin of its future disappearance." In other words, I don't know when I will no longer experience this self as subject, nor do I know the circumstances by which my death will occur. Sartre continues:

I realize myself as pushing away the threatening situation with all my strength, and I project before myself a certain number of future conducts destined to keep the threats of the world at a distance. These conducts are my possibilities. I am in anguish precisely because any conduct on my part is only possible … while constituting a totality of motives for pushing away that situation, I at the same moment apprehend these motives as not sufficiently effective. (Essays 123)

This leads to the third point, that we do not know what decision we will make with respect to the next banana peel thrown in our path, and we do not always trust ourselves to make the right decision. Humankind is always in a posture of questioning, of expectation, of not knowing what comes next or why. This is what Sartre called contingency. Thus, he suggests, "my decisive conduct will emanate from a self which I am not yet." Therefore, while my momentary self and my past self contain known qualities, my future self—that which I am not yet—is suspended in limbo. It is, in quantum physics terms, a possibility wave.

So we see that man's subjective world deals with potential threats, and survival tactics are at all times part of a repertoire of possible responses to the threat of bodily harm or death. We can try to "push away" this threat, but there is no promise as to the effectiveness of that action. According to Sartre, this risk constitutes mankind's absolute freedom in a free will universe.

Freedom: The Brute Resistance of the World

Back in his magically transformed world, Travis Walton is apparently lodged between fear and anguish, the proverbial rock and the hard place. He has just awoken from a long nap, like Rip van Winkle, and this magical place doesn't have any familiar tools at his disposal. There are no hammers, buzz-saws, and unfortunately no "two-by-fours." There is no Sartrean toolness about this reality, which is a situation that would surely cause any Earth man considerable angst.

On the face of it there aren't a lot of possibilities, but Walton is profoundly free to come up with some. As Sartre says, an obstacle is neutral; one is free to "go around it, or climb it, or to ignore it." The "brute resistance of the world" is worked into the overall pattern of solutions afforded to us by our existential freedom. Important to Sartre's position on the matter, freedom is a given which constitutes the framework of possibilities.

Walton's dilemma can be seen as an exercise in free will. What are his options in this novel situation? As always, when the going gets rough, a human being is free to wing it. With amazing suicidal grace, Walton chooses vertigo. He tries to throw himself over the edge. He manages to scare the pants off the perplexed gang by trying an alternate possible historical configuration; that of a screaming wild banshee:

I lashed out with the weapon at the advancing creatures, screaming desperate, hysterical threats at them... 'Get away from me!!! What are you?' Then I shrank away in revulsion. The creatures continued towards me, their hands outstretched. 'Keep back, damn you!!' I shrieked. They halted. In a snarling crouch I held the tube threateningly behind my head. …

Their sharp gaze alternately darted about and then fixed me with an intense stare ... I felt naked and exposed under their scrutiny... Their mouths never made any kind of sound... Just as I girded myself to spring at them, they abruptly turned and scurried from the room! They went out the open door, turned right and disappeared... I collapsed back against the bench and struggled to slow my racing heart.

The Beings-in-NothingDrive backed off for a pow-wow and Walton won the first round, but all humankind is ever required to do is to win one round at a time. "I need only," Sartre says, to "make an appointment with myself on the other side of that hour, of that day, or of that month... [for] ... anguish is the fear of not finding myself at that appointment, of no longer even wishing to bring myself there."

To Sartre choice and intention are both acts; it is not the result that constitutes freedom, for all possibility is the consequence of existing, and all of my choices and acts are free. Even choosing to do nothing is an act. But, Sartre explains, "it is for the sake of that being which I will be there at the turning of the path that I now exert all my strength, and in this sense there is already a relation between my future being and my present being."

Through that last-ditch effort, posits Sartre, that last ounce of strength which constitutes the threat of my final annihilation, I am saved. He states, "It is through my horror that I am carried toward the future, and the horror nihilates itself in that it constitutes the future as possible. Anguish is precisely my consciousness of being my own future, in the mode of not-being." (Essays 141)

Strangely, Walton was left to wander the craft unescorted. He came upon a chair that had controls on its arms and tried it out for size. From across the room he saw a muscular human being about 6 feet, 2 inches tall, wearing a tight blue suit, and was relieved to see one of his own kind. The tall blonde man wore a transparent helmet that opened to a wide rim over the shoulders. Walton chatted animatedly with the man, asking him questions, but the man gave him the silent treatment. He led Walton down a narrow hallway to a door that slid open, and they disembarked from the ship down a steep ramp.

Walton was dismayed to discover they were inside an even larger mother ship that contained flying disks of various sizes and shapes. Entering a room where there were other humans, who looked alike in a "family sort of way," a man and a woman lifted Walton onto a table. The attractive blonde woman held an object that contained a "golfball-sized sphere." She pressed it over his mouth and he lost consciousness.

Travis Walton awoke on the side of the highway outside of Heber, Arizona, five days after he had been abducted by the craft. He had kept an appointment with a future self that was radically changed. He later wrote, "When I made that fateful choice to leave the truck … I was leaving behind forever all semblance of a normal life, running headlong toward an experience so overwhelmingly mind-rending in its effects, so devastating in its aftermath, that my life would never — could never — be the same again."

Walton looked up in time to see the yellow center-line of the highway reflected in the bottom of the spaceship's "gleaming hull" before it shot vertically into the sky. "The most striking thing about its departure," he wrote, "was its quietness."

Abram,David. Spell of the Sensuous.
Corso, Philip. The Day After Roswell.
Ouspensky, P.D. Tertium Organum: A Key to the Enigmas of the World, 1920, 1982, Vintage.
Sartre, J. P. Essays in Existentialism, 1965, 1993, Citadel.
Sartre, Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology (French: L'Être et le néant : Essai d'ontologie phénoménologique), sometimes subtitled A Phenomenological Essay on Ontology, is a 1943 philosophical treatise by Jean-Paul Sartre. Its main purpose was to assert the individual's existence as prior to the individual's essence. “ Sartre's overriding concern in writing Being and Nothingness was to vindicate the fundamental freedom of the human being, against determinists of all stripes. It was for the sake of this freedom that he asserted the impotence of physical causality over human beings, that he analysed the place of nothingness within consciousness and showed how it intervened between the forces that act upon us and our actions.
Walton, Travis, Fire in the Sky, Marlowe & Co., 1997.
Walton, Travis, "The Walton Experience – An Ordinary Day,", relays much of the abduction experience itself.

(Note: Joan d’Arc coined the term Beings in NothingDrive in this article published in Paranoia Magazine in 2005; it is not quoted from any other source. It is a reference to the existentialist manifesto, Being and Nothingness, by Jean Paul Satre.)

Joan d'Arc is the co-editor of Paranoia: The Conspiracy Reader, at

17 February, 2011

An Overview of The Cloudbusting Situation

By Joel Carlinsky

Joel Carlinsky writes on the irresponsible use of cloudbusters at his blog:

February 17, 2011, posted to

Dear Dr. ................,

You ask a lot of good questions, but unfortunately there are no good answers. I will try to summarize the background to the situation.

1. I have been involved in orgonomy for over 40 years, have done most of the basic experiments first done by Reich, and some original ones, and was a student in the only seminar Eva Reich ever taught on orgone biophysics. My experience includes the first cloudbusting expedition in Australia, in 1971.

2. As the internet has made spreading information around so much easier that it was before, more and more people have found out how to construct a cloudbuster. Hardly any of them have a clue to how to use it properly. The result has been a lot of erratic weather, and numerous deaths have been among the results. I have documented many of these cases on my blog,

3. My role has morphed into that of a crusading cyber-journalist, blowing the whistle on incompetent irresponsible misuse of the cloudbuster. In this capacity of environmental activist against Cloudbuster Malpractice I have made many enemies among the Atmosphere Abusers. Not surprisingly, some of them have attempted to retaliate by posting defamatory articles about me on various internet venues. This is the normal spate of personal attacks any environmental activist regularly undergoes from those he criticizes. The more effective the criticism, the more vehement the attacks.

In most cases, it is harmless enough, since the people I am trying to reach are not likely to fall for such obvious slander of an environmentalist, and the people who are likely to believe the lies told about me are not likely to become active against cloudbusting anyway.

In particular, conspiracy theorists and free-energy advocates are seldom environmentalists and could not be expected to become active in a campaign to obstruct use of what they think of as a new technology. The free-energy believers are almost always in favor of any new technologies and expect new technologies to save the world from environmental problems, while the conspiracy-believers think the corruption of few bad eggs in positions of power is the real problem and expect to solve it by political means. Neither is a potential activist against a mass movement of well-meaning but incompetent middle-class backyard hobbyists irresponsibly playing with a new technology.

4. I am not against all cloudbusting. On the contrary, I consider properly-done cloudbusting to be a much-needed adjunct to the environmental movement, with the potential to at least partially off-set the harm being done to climate stability by nuclear technology.

The wide-spread use of radioactivity is the most serious problem facing this planet, and the cloudbuster, while certainly not a panacea, could do a lot to help keep the earth habitable until the Atomic Age is over and the atmosphere can start to recover from the damage that the use of nuclear power has inflicted upon it.

The issue is not cloudbusting, per se, but improper cloudbusting by persons who do not understand the principles involved, the most important of which is atmospheric self-regulation, a concept that authoritarian personalities seem unable to grasp.

5. Cloudbusting can be taught, but it is more like a neuro-muscular skill, like swimming or riding a bicycle, than an intellectual subject of study, so it cannot be taught or learned via the printed word, over the internet. The ability to recognize proprioceptive sensations is much more important than any book-learning in subjects like meteorology or atmospheric physics. In fact, formal training in such subjects is not only irrelevant, but a positive drawback.

Another major drawback is mystical thinking. Many people who are attracted to cloudbusting suffer from habitual mystical distortions of their thinking processes, which can become dangerous if they are allowed to manipulate the weather.

6. The people who do the best work in cloudbusting come from a background of kindergarten teaching, animal training, gardening, and artistic pursuits. The ones with the worst record come from a background in physics, engineering, especially electrical engineering, and meteorology.

There is even some doubt if cloudbusting can be properly learned by adults, and it is likely that only young trainees, under the age of 17 or so, should be accepted for training. A proper training program for adolescents would take about two or three months of full-time personal instruction, and would not include meteorology, which is largely irrelevant.

7. The cloudbuster is based on a fundamental breakthrough, and is not just an extension of current scientific knowledge, and the most important lesson to be learned from it is that it renders the prior scientific model of the atmosphere obsolete and all previous concepts of atmospheric functioning must be abandoned. This strikes some persons with formal scientific training as heresy and they strongly resist it. But no progress will be made until the current model of the atmosphere is dropped from consideration.

The orgonomic model of the atmosphere certainly does not exclude the well-attested role of naturally-occurring cycles based on astronomical factors, but superimposes upon those natural cycles two additional factors of human origin. One is a global, ongoing, generalized deterioration of atmospheric stability, a breakdown of the coupling between the atmosphere and the underlying orgone field that is the ultimate Prime Mover of the material components of the atmosphere. This global oranurization is behind most of the long-term changes in climate that are being conventionally --and wrongly-- ascribed to greenhouse gases.

The other factor taken into consideration by the orgonomic model of atmospheric functioning, but ignored by the conventional model, is the genesis of specific weather events in cloudbusting operations. Many severe storms, floods, etc., are known to have been caused by poorly-done cloudbusting operations. The recent disastrous floods in Queensland, Australia, which were caused by a series of bungled operations by a Mr. Ash Palise, of the Brisbane area, are only one example of this added factor that must be taken into account to form a complete picture of what is happening in the atmosphere.

8. A basic miscalculation by many people who do not understand the concept of cloudbusting it that there is some way to improve the cloudbuster. There is not. No improvement on the original design is possible. There are many claims of better forms of equipment than the original cloudbuster, as designed by Reich, but on close examination they all turn out to be either outright lies for commercial purposes or self-deception by individuals who do not understand the way a cloudbuster works.

There is certainly much room for research, and much research should be done, but inventing new forms of equipment is not the direction research should go. What is needed is more information on how the atmosphere functions, and how the operator functions while interacting with the cloudbuster. We need better operators, not better equipment.

Another miscalculation is the blind faith in electromagnetism that misleads some people into thinking some electrical form of weather manipulation is possible. Since electromagnetism is a secondary form of energy, and such secondary energies interact with the primary energy of the atmosphere, irritating it into a toxic and more randomized state of activity, all any electromagnetic device can do is add to the disruption of an already damaged atmospheric energy substratum. There is no way any electromagnetic device could ever do any good in terms of helping to restore a damaged atmospheric energy system to normal functioning, which is the point of a properly-conceived cloudbusting operation.

9. There is no law specifically against cloudbusting yet, but there are numerous laws that could be used to put a stop to free-lance cloudbusting by individuals. Activists should have no trouble convincing the authorities to take action against independent cloudbuster operators under already existing laws that were intended for other purposes.

In case where the authorities prove unconcerned, there might be other ways to trigger some action. An insurance company, for example, might be persuaded to use their considerable influence to instigate legal action against persistent cloudbuster operators to protect their profitability. Or a civil suit for storm damages could be filed, which even if not ultimately successful in a trial, would drive up the cost of cloudbusting beyond what most people interested in it could afford.

10. The most urgent need right now is for a Code Of Ethics for cloudbuster practitioners, and a set of standards that can be agreed upon for what goals to attempt. Since at this moment, such considerations seen hopelessly Utopian, my role of investigative journalist, cyber-activist, Nemisis, and Jiminy Cricket to the growing cloudbuster movement, seems assured.

Joel Carlinsky
( Former orgone biophysics student of Dr. Eva Reich )

Permission to post hereby granted. Please forward this message to any person or group you think might be interested.

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13 February, 2011

Left-Leaning Despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement: Do You Really Believe in Miracles?

David Ray Griffin asks the important question: Which 9/11 conspiracy theories are profoundly irrational and unscientific? Those of the government or those of the 9/11 truth movement? Which one reflects a belief in the miraculous? Which one is based on real science and has the backing of real scientists?

By David Ray Griffin

An Open Letter to Terry Allen, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, David Corn, Chris Hayes, George Monbiot, Matthew Rothschild, and Matt Taibbi

Originally posted at Global Research, July 6, 2010

See also at 911blogger here:

According to several left-leaning critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, some of its central claims, especially about the destruction of the World Trade Center, show its members to be scientifically challenged. In the opinion of some of these critics, moreover, claims made by members of this movement are sometimes unscientific in the strongest possible sense, implying an acceptance of magic and miracles.

After documenting this charge in Part I of this essay, I show in Part II that the exact opposite is the case: that the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center implies miracles (I give nine examples), and that the 9/11 Truth Movement, in developing an alternative hypothesis, has done so in line with the assumption that the laws of nature did not take a holiday on 9/11. In Part III, I ask these left-leaning critics some questions evoked by the fact that it is they, not members of the 9/11 Truth Movement, who have endorsed a conspiracy theory replete with miracle stories as well as other absurdities.

I The Charge that 9/11 Truth Theories Rest on Unscientific, Even Magical, Beliefs

Several left-leaning critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, besides showing contempt for its members, charge them with relying on claims that are contradicted by good science and, in some cases, reflect a belief in magic. By “magic,” they mean miracles, understood as violations of basic principles of the physical sciences.

For example, Alexander Cockburn, who has referred to members of the 9/11 Truth Movement as “9/11 conspiracy nuts,”3 quoted with approval a philosopher who, speaking of “the 9-11 conspiracy cult,” said that its “main engine . . . is . . . the death of any conception of evidence,” resulting in “the ascendancy of magic over common sense, let alone reason.”4 Also, Cockburn assured his readers: “The conspiracy theory that the World Trade Centre towers were demolished by explosive charges previously placed within them is probably impossible.”5 With regard to Building 7 of the World Trade Center, Cockburn claimed (in 2006) that the (2002) report by FEMA was “more than adequate.”6

Likewise, George Monbiot, referring to members of the 9/11 Truth Movement as “fantasists,” “conspiracy idiots,” and “morons,” charged that they “believe that [the Bush regime] is capable of magic.”7

Matt Taibbi, saying that the “9/11 conspiracy theory is so shamefully stupid” and referring to its members as “idiots,” wrote with contempt about the “alleged scientific impossibilities” in the official account of 9/11; about the claim that “the towers couldn't have fallen the way they did [without the aid of explosives]”; of the view (held by “9/11 Truthers”) that “it isn't the plane crashes that topple the buildings, but bombs planted in the Towers that do the trick”; and of “the supposed anomalies of physics involved with the collapse of WTC-7.” He had been assured by “scientist friends,” he added, that “[a]ll of the 9/11 science claims” are “rank steaming bullshit.”8

Chris Hayes, writing in The Nation in 2006, did not stoop to the kind of name-calling employed by Cockburn, Monbiot, and Taibbi. Also, he knew, he admitted, of “eyewitness accounts of [people] who heard explosions in the World Trade Center.” And he was aware that “jet fuel burns at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit [whereas] steel melts at 2,500.” He asserted, nevertheless, that “the evidence shows [a 9/11 conspiracy] to be virtually impossible,” so that the 9/11 Truth Movement’s conspiracy theory is “wrongheaded and a terrible waste of time.”9

Noam Chomsky has also declared that the available facts, when approached scientifically, refute the 9/11 Truth Movement. Speaking of evidence provided by this movement to show that 9/11 “was planned by the Bush Administration,” Chomsky declared: “If you look at the evidence, anybody who knows anything about the sciences would instantly discount that evidence.”10 In spite of his dismissive attitude, however, Chomsky in 2006 gave some helpful advice to people who believe they have physical evidence refuting the official account:

“There are ways to assess that: submit it to specialists . . . who have the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering, materials science, building construction, etc., for review and analysis. . . . Or, . . . submit it to a serious journal for peer review and publication. To my knowledge, there isn't a single submission.”11

In These Times writer Terry Allen, in a 2006 essay entitled “The 9/11 Faith Movement,” assured her readers that “the facts [do not] support the conspiracists’ key charge that World Trade Center buildings were destroyed by pre-positioned explosives.”12

In an essay posted at AlterNet a few months after 9/11, David Corn used a purely a priori argument to demonstrate – at least to his own satisfaction – that 9/11 could not have been an inside job: “U.S. officials would [not have been] . . . good [capable] enough, evil enough, or gutsy enough.”13 In 2009, after having been silent about 9/11 for the intervening years, he addressed the issue again. Referring to “9/11 conspiracy silliness,” “9/11 conspiracy poison,” and “9/11 fabulists,” Corn declared:

“The 9/11 conspiracy . . . was always a load of bunk. You don't have to be an expert on skyscraper engineering . . . to know that [this theory] make[s] no sense.”14
Corn thereby implied that, whereas anyone can know that the 9/11 Truth Movement’s conspiracy theory is false, those people who are “expert[s] on skyscraper engineering” would have even more certain knowledge of this fact.

As to how people (such as himself) who are not experts on such matters could know this movement’s conspiracy theory to be “a load of bunk,” Corn again employed his three-point a priori argument, as re-worded in a later essay, according to which the Bush administration was “not that evil,” “not that ballsy,” and “not that competent.”15 Corn even referred to his three-point argument as “a tutorial that should persuade anyone that the 9/11 theory makes no sense.” Although this “tutorial” does not, of course, convince members of the 9/11 Truth Movement, Corn explained this fact by saying: “I have learned from experience that people who believe this stuff are not open to persuasion.”16

In any case, although his argument against the inside-job theory was almost entirely a priori, he did make the above-mentioned suggestion that one’s a priori certitude would be reinforced by people, such as “expert[s] on skyscraper engineering,” who have relevant types of expertise to evaluate the empirical evidence.

A fuller statement of the general claim made by these authors - that the 9/11 Truth Movement is based on unscientific claims – was formulated by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive. In an essay entitled “Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Already,” Rothschild wrote:

“Here’s what the conspiracists believe: 9/11 was an inside job. . . . [T]he Twin Towers fell not because of the impact of the airplanes and the ensuing fires but because [of] explosives. Building 7, another high-rise at the World Trade Center that fell on 9/11, also came down by planted explosives. . . . I'm amazed at how many people give credence to these theories. . . . [S]ome of the best engineers in the country have studied these questions and come up with perfectly logical, scientific explanations for what happened. . . . At bottom, the 9/11 conspiracy theories are profoundly irrational and unscientific. It is more than passing strange that progressives, who so revere science on such issues as tobacco, stem cells, evolution, and global warming, are so willing to abandon science and give in to fantasy on the subject of 9/11.”17

However, in spite of the confidence with which these critics have made their charges, the truth is the complete opposite: It is the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center, which has been endorsed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), that is profoundly unscientific (partly because it ignores a massive amount of evidence pointing to use of explosives18 ), and it is precisely for this reason that the 9/11 Truth Movement has come up with an alternative explanation – namely, that the WTC buildings were brought down in the procedure known as “controlled demolition.”

Continue reading at 911blogger:

07 February, 2011

Godspeed (Nazis in Space)

This is a (very) short film I made about the Nazi roots of the U.S. space program. The guy in the last two scenes is Wehrner von Braun, who went from designing V2 rockets for Hitler to leading America's race to the moon.

04 February, 2011

Who is Monkeying with a Cloudbuster in Australia?

The title is the link

Joel Carlinsky writes on the irresponsible use of cloudbusters at his blog:

By Joel Carlinsky

February 2, 2010

This storm ( link to news story below ) looks like it is being augmented by a foolish attempt to weaken it by someone in South Queensland pointing a cloudbuster at it. While it is often possible to divert a storm with a properly/designed cloudbuster operation, there is no case on record of anyone ever succeeding in weakening a full-blown hurricane by drawing from it.

Such a draw would be more likely to increase the strength of the storm since by the orgonomic potential, a very strong storm system would draw energy the other way, from the water the cloudbuster was grounded into, into the storm,via the cloudbuster.

I have seen this happen on a small scale. Once, when I was using a small DORbuster ( a miniature of the cloudbuster ) grounded into a bucket of water inside a small accumulator to experiment on breaking up jet aircraft contrails, I pointed it at a small, but apparently strongly/charged cloud. Instead of the cloud breaking up, it grew! There was more water in the cloud than in my bucket, so the draw went the other way, and the DORbuster acted as a conduit for the cloud to draw energy out of the bucket.

But some people do not know that. And if someone draws from a strong storm system, the likely result would be to greatly strengthen the storm, which is what seems to have happened in this case.

A Mr. Ash Palise, who happens to live in Queensland, has been engaged in cloudbusting operations lately and judging from the incredible level of stupidity involved, this looks like his work. Investigations to confirm this suspicion continue. Mr. Palise can be contacted at if you want to send him an e/mail and express your opinion of his experiments in weather control.

Please forward this message to everyone on your list. The people of Australia need to be warned about this incompetent individual monkeying with their weather.

Australians flee massive storm racing to NE coast - Yahoo! News