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The Wingchair Critic
- Publié sur Amazon.com
Jacques Vallee's 'Messengers of Deception' (1979) is an intelligent, complex, and prescient exploration of the UFO phenomenon that focuses specifically on its social aspects and the mysterious UFO cults which have arisen globally around it.
By the time he came to write 'Messengers of Deception,' Vallee had produced five earlier books on the subject, and was fairly confident that UFOs did not represent extraterrestrial craft of any kind ("I believe that UFOs are physically real. They represent a fantastic technology controlled by an unknown form of consciousness...they may not be from outer space.").
Almost thirty years later, Vallee, who contributes a new foreword to the current edition, is, like everyone else in the field, still in the dark about the exact nature of the subject under question.
What makes 'Messengers of Deception' particularly fascinating is that Vallee cautiously sketches out his belief that some agency with enormous power of various kinds is and has been "staging" thousands of technologically complex, essentially 'fake' UFO sightings around the world with the pointed intention of manipulating and guiding civilization, and man himself, in a very specific direction.
The apparent goal of this agency is to encourage mankind, via a belief in the impending arrival from the heavens of the benevolent 'space brothers,' to become anti-scientific, irrational, infantile, dependent, and endlessly hopeful that the essential problems of man---including his mortality---can be permanently overcome through the multi-prismed salvation the [false] "space brothers" offer.
Other goals include 'the reversal of the scale of values,' "leading to a new understanding of social good, the abolition of borders, and the death of nationalism," 'goals' which are certainly becoming the reality in today's American.
Which raises the question: who or what has such enormous, organizational God-like power?
Basing his argument on his own observations, experiences, firsthand investigations, contacts within the military-industrial complex ("Major Murphy"), and excellent brain, Vallee suggests a somewhat complicated two-pronged solution.
The 'real' UFOs are apparently solid objects (or objects of an essentially psychoid nature, able to move between solidity and non-solidity), sometimes lit and sometimes not, frequently observed flying or hovering above the ground, which, while probably not of extraterrestrial origin in the sense that they are interstellar craft, are of a yet-indefinable nature.
They may or may not represent some kind of a "control system," Vallee's term for a sort of spontaneous cosmic socio-evolutionary barometer that acts directly and indirectly on the psyche of man.
The second prong of Vallee's thesis focuses on the 'Manipulators,' which is Vallee's term for the (most likely human) agency which understands the genuine UFO phenomena enough to exploit it, duplicate its effects, and use those effects to control and corral mankind (initially through UFO cults and occult groups, but also by infiltrating civilian UFO investigatory organizations) by methodically reducing it to an irrational, dependent mob without recourse to country or nationality, and, by extension, without recourse to family, community, financial solvency, or spirit of independence.
The 'Manipulators' use "psychotronic" weapons, which harness electromagnetic energy that acts on the subconscious mind, creating hallucinations of aerial and landed 'flying saucers,' visitors from other planets, 'alien abduction,' and amnesia. Some of these weapons are loaded onto flying machines shaped like classic 'flying saucers,' while other such "psychotronic" devices actually create the illusion of the 'flying saucer' itself.
Again: who--or what--has the sort of scientific, technological, financial, and organizational resources required to pull off such a decades-long stratagem?
Vallee again offers two hypothetical scenarios. In the first, a secret cabal composed of military personnel of various Western nations are attempting to convince the masses that an invasion from space may be imminent; their goal is to unify the nations of the earth against a common enemy and thus prevent further catastrophic wars.
But this exact scenario had been used by various writers over the decades, from Theodore Sturgeon to Kurt Vonnegut, and was used as the plot of the third episode of the classic 'The Outer Limits' television show, 'The Architects of Fear,' which originally broadcast in primetime in 1963. The 'mankind-uniting-against-a-common-threat-from-outer-space' was also utilized as the climax of the popular and critically regarded Alan Moore graphic novel, 'Watchmen' (1986-1987), which was in turn adapted into the commercially successful Zack Synder film of 2009.*
Wouldn't the airing of 'The Architects of Fear' have let the proverbial cat out of the bag? Would such an elite cabal proceed with such a stratagem if its essential premise had been co-opted by a widely-watched American television series?
And If this hypothesis is correct, then what should be made of the 'alien abduction' phenomenon that has replaced the benevolent 'space brother' visitations since the 1980s?
Why would such a cabal have bothered with the earlier 'space brother' scenario at all?
While Vallee sees the messages stemming from both various UFO "cults" and "the space brothers" as predominantly right-wing and "totalitarian," isn't it true that such infamous 1950s "space brothers" as Orthon and Ashtar promoted a democratic form of "universal brotherhood," something like a cosmic "league of nations"?
The second, very different hypothesis Vallee offers is a sketchy version of the demonological argument that has been put forth by John Keel, among others, but also involves human practitioners who have discovered a genuine form of occultism, and who are using 'magic' to manipulate both 'reality' and mankind.
However, Vallee rules out very few possibilities completely, so the 'Manipulators' might also be a hidden, non-human race coexisting with man on Earth, or time travelers, while the actual source of the genuine, "control system" UFOs might be an actual deity ['God'].
Towards the end, Vallee rather weakly raises the topic of cattle mutilations, which he considers part of the stratagem of "the Manipulators." Numerous investigations on the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, and the National Geographic Channel (the same channels that have influentially been promoting the idea that UFOs are either 'space craft from other planets, or simply nonexistent' for ten years) over the succeeding decades have shown that for every 'expert' who can be found to validate "cattle mutilations" as a legitimate unexplained phenomenon, another can be found to officially discount it, with both sides offering convincing arguments and 'evidence' to support their positions.
As Vallee's treatment of "cattle mutilations" is rather cursory and poorly integrated into his argument, potential questions can be raised about the accuracy of his judgment and other conclusions.
Vallee also addresses the question of synchronicity: are energy and information actually transmitted via association rather than within a space/time continuum framework? Vallee makes an example of a receipt he received from a taxi driver bearing a highly unusual but extremely significant last name: unfortunately, the reproduced document is not printed on official company letterhead, and is thus useless as evidence of any kind. Vallee himself, or anyone else, could have composed it.
Lastly, since 'Messengers of Deception' contains a decidedly conspiratorial bent, it's worth asking if Vallee himself hasn't been manipulated and deceived by "Major Murphy," who subtly steers much of Vallee's thinking throughout the book, or if Vallee himself isn't an active agent of misinformation and misdirection.
Conspiracy thinking and theory are like all-encompassing quicksand; once suspicions and paranoia become constellated, both are capable of expanding and echoing endlessly ---and irrationally.
* And utilized yet again in Guillermo del Toro's 'Pacific Rim' (2013), in which the nations of the earth have already united against superior beings from another dimension as the film opens.
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- Publié sur Amazon.com
Jacques Vallee's sixth book on the UFO/contactee phenomena was first published in 1979, and an updated paperback edition (including a new introduction by the author) appeared in 2008. Like most of Vallee's published work, `Messengers of Deception' is densely written, contains almost no padding and is backed up by extensive field research and casework by the author, very much worth reading but at the same time problematic with plausible conclusions thin on the ground.
Some of the themes initially explored in the author's 1975 book `The Invisible College' are re-engaged in MoD: the idea that the UFO phenomenon is possibly a super-cosmic algorithm acting as a barometric control system on human consciousness, may not be ET in origin, and that its predominant features are not only physical (he stresses the phenomenon has unmistakable hard, physical aspects) but psychic and social.
MoD reads more like a collection of loosely connected essays than a continuous narrative building a cohesive argument. In the first chapter `The Case Against the Spacecraft' the author outlines his doubts about the so-called extraterrestrial hypothesis. Vallee's objections are confined to the simplistic idea of UFOs being ET spacecraft engaged in `investigative surveillance' originally put forward in the 1950s by writers such as Donald Keyhoe, subsequently adopted by science fiction creations such as `The Day the Earth Stood Still' (1951) and Spielberg's CE3 & ET. Despite what some people mistakenly believe of him, Vallee does not reject the ETH per se: rather, he points out that any hypothesis to explain these phenomena needs to encompass all the data; i.e. why the enormous number of reported contacts? - a question many others have asked and some, researching the abduction issue, had by the late 1990s plausibly answered. Other data include objects reported to appear/disappear and that seem to manipulate space-time, and the destabilising effects on percipients of absurdity and psycho-social elements as principle components; so a sophisticated ETH allowing for very advanced technology and long involvement with the human race might indeed prove correct in the long run. However, Vallee sticks to his control system idea as the back-stop of his interpretation of the phenomenon and this is the major factor in MoD's less-than-convincing conclusions, as he tries to force-fit the data to a seemingly flawed model.
Vallee does not believe that the governments of the world, or the military or intelligence agencies employed by them, necessarily understand the UFO phenomenon or its origins and refuse to disclose to the public what they know. Supported by `information' from an anonymous intelligence-agency contact referred to as `Major Murphy', he postulates instead that ignorance and puzzlement may be the pre-eminent governing factors at play, but that which is understood about the phenomenon is sometimes used deliberately to control and deceive - what he terms `the manipulation hypothesis.' Though the idea is mildly interesting the ends of the string don't quite meet; his case is over-intellectualised and the sum turns out to be less than its multiple, varied and thoroughly researched parts. (Major Murphy, BTW, sounds like Col John Alexander.)
Most of the chapters are filled with detailed investigations into secret societies and flying saucer contactee-cults who in general espouse the idea that benign brothers from space plan to rescue mankind from its errant ways and claim to be, each and every one, the sole repository of divine truth. Vallee's analysis of these cults and their common themes - Melchizedek and its various offshoots, the Urantia-channelling group, the Raelians and others - is insightful:
"Below the attention of academic science, below the dignity of official history, there are groups, cults and sects that serve as leading indicators of mass movements."
The rise of such cults and sects Vallee postulates to be a direct consequence of the action of his `control system' on the percipients, who consequently begin to replace rationality and science with revelatory and messianic belief systems. These cults were in 1979 found not only in the USA but all over the western world. The internet age has forced some into decline whilst others have morphed into looser entities promoting broadly similar conspiratorial ideologies across the web. Vallee saw the trend in 1979 as anti-intellectual and anti-scientific, messianic and authoritarian - for example belief that enlightened ETs plan to guide/civilize the human race towards forward evolution with their superior knowledge, implicitly renders redundant current human political and social structures like democracy. Like virtually all conspiracy theories and messianic cult-thinking, these ideologies infantilise people by creating simplistic alternate narratives with good guys and villains, free from the nuanced complexity of geopolitical realities, sophisticated economic structures and the burdens of investigative science.
Historic parallels are drawn with the decline of the science-based culture of classical Greece and its gradual replacement with superstition and religious mysticism where `revelation' and belief-ideology displaced inquiry, observation and experiment as the governing cultural paradigms, leading to the so-called `dark ages' where the ideology of the Christian Church became the ruling orthodoxy and scientific advances were for a time arrested.
Vallee has a habit of attempting to condense his ideas into lists; five reasons for this, seven types of that, four categories of something else, and in MoD he summarises six potential social consequences of this trend, some of which overlap:
1. Belief in UFOs widens the gap between the public and scientific institutions
2. Contactee propaganda undermines the image of human beings as masters of their own destiny
3. Increased attention given to UFO activity promotes the concept of political unification of the planet
4. Contactee organizations may become the basis of a new "high demand" religion
5. Irrational motivations based on faith are spreading hand in hand with the belief in ET intervention
6. Contactee philosophies often include belief in higher races and in totalitarian systems that would eliminate democracy
MoD also contains a chapter (intriguingly titled `A Cow for NORAD') on the cattle mutilations, fresh in the news in the 1970s following the investigative work of Linda Howe. Vallee does not integrate this disturbing phenomenon into his argument very well, except to suggest his theoretical UFO-contact manipulators may be behind the activity in order to instil fear and panic. He also touches on how improbable synchronicities might reveal the universe to be a kind of information-based matrix - an idea previously investigated in `The Invisible College' and later explored both in Michael Talbot's excellent book `The Holographic Universe' and in Ray Fowler's less well known `Synchrofile' (Vallee has a fine example of synchronicity: taking a taxi in LA driven by the only person in the city who happened to have the name Melchizedek - the name of the cult he was currently researching). These observations bolt on to the end of the book and support the central essay only on the periphery.
It needs to be emphasised that like most (not all) of Vallee's work on the UFO issue, MoD is definitely worth reading. The complex, odd and sometimes over-intellectualised ideas he puts forth deserve attention if only because they are unusual. He is an excellent writer, thorough researcher and a real field investigator who listens to actual witnesses without discrimination; he is not an armchair theorist, and is in some small ways an original thinker.
Maybe Vallee does sometimes exhibit `out-of-the-box' thinking; ultimately though, the thinking is just as constrained inside a different box. Be advised that at the end of MoD although you might emerge with a marginally deeper understanding - especially about the beliefs of contactee cults in the 1970s and the trend away from rationality - you may also, like Jacques, feel even more confused and none the wiser about the true nature, origins and purposes of these bizarre but pervasive phenomena.