Friday, January 18, 2008

Jacques Vallee's Integral Approach to UFO Phenomena

UFO Genius While looking into an upcoming remote viewing conference for possible WIE coverage, I was excited out of my head to learn that my hero since I was about 14, the one and only Jacques Vallée, was giving the keynote address! For those who aren’t up to speed on the field of ufology, Vallée is probably the world’s most highly respected UFO researcher, having pioneered the first empirical studies of the phenomenon in the 1960s as well as casting the first truly integral lens on the subject. In an interview conducted by ufologist Jerome Clark for Fate magazine in 1978 (who aptly described Vallée as ufology’s “most original thinker”), Vallée proposed that the UFO phenomenon needed to be studied across three broad areas:

I don’t think there is such a thing as “the flying saucer phenomenon.” I think it has three components and we have to deal with them in different ways.

First, there is a physical object. That may be a flying saucer or it may be a projection or it may be something entirely different. All we know about it is that it represents a tremendous quantity of electromagnetic energy in a small volume. I say that based upon the evidence gathered from traces, from electromagnetic and radar detection and from perturbations of the electromagnetic fields such as Dr. Claude Poher, the French space scientist, has recorded.

Second, there’s the phenomenon the witnesses perceive. What they tell us is that they’ve seen a flying saucer. Now they may have seen that or they may have seen an image of a flying saucer or they may have hallucinated it under the influence of microwave radiation, or any of a number of things may have happened. The fact is that the witnesses were exposed to an event and as a result they experienced a highly complex alteration of perception which caused them to describe the object or objects that figure in their testimony.

Beyond those — the physical phenomenon and the perception phenomenon — we have the third component, the social phenomenon. That’s what happens when the reports are submitted to society and enter the cultural arena. That’s the part which I find most interesting.

Now, for those familiar with integral theory, what Vallee is hitting on here are simply the “Four Quadrants” of reality, or what philosopher Ken Wilber typically simplifies as Plato’s Big Three — the three fundamental, interlocking dimensions of reality that need to be taken into account when we look at any person, place, thing, or event (including close encounters, of any kind). These three dimensions are variously described as:

  • I, We, and It.
  • The Beautiful, the Good, and the True.
  • Art, Morals, and Science.
  • Self, Culture, and Nature.
  • Subjective reality, Intersubjective reality, and Objective reality.

  • In the tagline for What Is Enlightenment? magazine, we call the Big Three: Consciousness. Culture. Cosmos.

    According to integral philosophy, any inquiry that fails to take all three of these dimensions into account cannot be considered complete, whole, or “integral.” I suspected a decade ago — when I first started getting into Ken Wilber’s work — that Vallee was an integral thinker way ahead of his time. And a couple of years ago, when I saw his precise breakdown of the UFO phenomenon into those three integral categories, that confirmed it for me beyond a doubt.

    I hope to have the opportunity to interview him someday (even though I always have to stretch to find a way to mention UFOs in WIE :), but in the meantime, Coast to Coast AM’s George Noory seems to have done a good job of it last Monday, when Vallee made what’s probably his first radio appearance in years (and the first I’ve ever heard). If you have a Coast to Coast subscription, you can download the mp3s here (or pay the $6.95/mo. if you don’t have a sub). Or you can go the cheaper route and listen to the interview, in twelve parts, on YouTube. Part 3 is particularly good, giving a clear overview of why Vallee has strongly felt, since the late 60s, that UFOs can’t possibly be merely ET spaceships come to probe us all…

    Like any good integral, evolutionary thinker, Vallée is convinced that how we perceive and interpret the flying saucer phenomenon — whatever its true origins might be — is highly skewed by the cultural, social, and historical context in which we experience it. The biblical prophet Ezekiel saw metallic “wheels” in the sky and was abducted by four-faced cherubim; the 17th-century Scottish folklorist Rev. Robert Kirk went around recording tales of close encounters with elves, piskeys, fauns, and faeries (who, naturally, liked to abduct people and take them into their mysteriously illuminated fairy-homes); and in the 20th-century “space age,” we had no shortage of abductions by aliens in spaceships from Zeta Reticuli. Now, I personally suspect we’re probably dealing with interdimensional beings with steady-state access to the subtle realms, who have been working, over millennia, to subtly steer and provoke the evolution of human consciousness, as any good kosmocentric beings would do (hey! stop laughing!). But I also think that contrary to popular convictions, nobody really knows what the hell they are.

    My biological father, Don Dixon, recently posted about his own encounters with UFOs on his Flatfile blog. He remains skeptical about the reality of the phenomenon, but in my UFO obsessive teenage years (when I spent my weekends photocopying old flying saucer newspaper articles at the Seattle Public Library, or filing FOIA requests for declassified UFO documents from the NSA [yes, the FBI now has a file with my name on it]), I tried to persuade him to at least consider the evidence. To be sure, there’s a hell of a lot of it to consider…

    And the truth, as always, is out there. :)


    Contributed by Tom Huston; originally posted on his Kosmic Tom blog on September 27, 2007.

    The Integral News and Views blog aims to explore accessible and practical integral perspectives for people who are interested in getting beyond fragmented worldviews, who desire intimacy with all that they are, and who wish to help the world, themselves, and others evolve and thrive in a mutually beneficial and sustainable manner.

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