In a brand new ebook, printed by means of my August Night time imprint, MJ Banias presents a nuanced exploration of the UFO phenomenon and the group that seeks to grasp it. MJ’s ebook, The UFO Individuals, is distinct from the majority of UFO literature in that he approaches his topic by means of the lenses of cultural research and philosophy. However MJ is not any armchair researcher. A former MUFON investigator in his native Canada, he has interviewed many witnesses to UFO phenomena and has not shied away from throwing robust questions at among the most enigmatic and controversial figures in and across the subject of UFOlogy. MJ has been interviewed on quite a few podcasts and radio exhibits, and his work has been featured in Fortean Occasions and FATE magazines. He maintains a preferred weblog, Terra Obscura, which critically examines the tradition, folks, and concepts that form how society responds to the inexplicable.
Right here, MJ talks to me about UFOs, the individuals who see and imagine in them, and the group of outsiders whose identities are sure up in a relentless seek for a “fact” that appears tantalisingly and eternally past our attain and understanding…
RG: Is it attainable to separate the UFO phenomenon from UFO tradition, or is the tradition intrinsic to our understanding of the phenomenon?
MJB: It’s unattainable to separate social and cultural ideologies from “goal” phenomena. All information, understanding, concepts, and objects are topic to the which means imparted upon them by our collective cultural milieu. The UFO phenomenon is not any completely different. Our techniques of language, values, beliefs, political and financial constructions all lend to what we perceive the UFO phenomenon to be. Furthermore, once we take a look at the UFO narrative, it’s clear that the cultural and social zeitgeist of a given time appears to form the UFO phenomenon itself. UFOs are part of us, and we’re part of them.
RG: What excites you most in regards to the UFO subculture, and what frustrates you about it?
MJB: That could be a humorous query, as a result of the reply is similar for each. The UFO subculture is thrilling as a result of it’s a excellent anarchy. It has no locus of management, no established hierarchy or construction of energy. There isn’t a ivory tower which governs what’s and isn’t UFO discourse. Fairly, the UFO subculture is completely democratized. Concepts and meanings, and, maybe most significantly, energy, floats round between completely different gamers and teams. It’s utterly counter-cultural. By its very nature, it challenges established mainstream techniques (corresponding to academia or capitalism, for instance). There’s a magnificence in chaos. Nonetheless, this chaos can also be problematic. Since there is no such thing as a set construction, since it’s complete anarchy, little or no can ever be achieved. Our present understanding of “progress” doesn’t match into the UFO discourse or group. Nothing has actually been solved. If something, the thriller is just higher now.
RG: Do you see any similarities between the UFO subculture and different anomalistic communities, corresponding to cryptozoology and the paranormal? To what extent do these communities overlap?
MJB: There’s vital connection between these communities. John Keel introduced this notion pretty early on in his books Operation: Trojan Horse and The Mothman Prophecies. When one takes a step again to take a look at the complete UFO narrative, there are lots of connections between cryptozoology, paranormal analysis and basic Forteana and anomalistics. Whereas there could also be some inside these communities who don’t prefer to be lumped collectively, there’s vital lore throughout all these narratives that threads them collectively.
The place I believe UFOs are uniquely attention-grabbing is how they have an effect on political and financial energy techniques. Nobody worries about Bigfoot invading the planet or ghosts presenting know-how which is able to undo the foundations of contemporary Capital. UFOs create a form of political disruption which ends up in usually ridiculous conspiracy theories. Furthermore, there are vital hyperlinks between fashionable conspiracies political actions and proper wing Neo-Nazism, amongst different comparable ideological teams. I contact on this in my ebook, however I believe it warrants far more research.
RG: In your ebook, you interview among the most attention-grabbing and controversial figures within the UFO scene, albeit they’re a number of steps faraway from the scene, observing from the sidelines as they pursue their very own analysis and agendas. Who’re these people, and what did your study from them?
MJB: We regularly hear about this shadowy group dubbed “the invisible school” or “the insiders” or “the invisibles.” They’ve change into as mythologized as UFOs themselves. This “school” is a free assortment of people, a few of whom know one another, however most don’t. All of them pursue the “paranormal” indirectly, however they achieve this in secret, primarily as a result of their skilled careers could be affected. I spoke to a number of such people for my ebook, however solely three allowed me to publish their names. They’re Dr. Christopher “Equipment” Inexperienced, Dr. Hal Puthoff and Dr. Garry Nolan.
The work that they do pushes science to the outer fringes, however they do it as a result of they, like the remainder of us, need solutions. My ebook offers a deep look into their tasks and their ideas on the UFO enigma, in addition to the UFO group itself. The ebook explores the navy and intelligence pursuits of their work, how human well being has been affected by the phenomenon, and the way their work could reshape our understanding of what it means to be human. Whereas their work is spectacular, and is gaining vital consideration inside UFO circles, they’re simply folks. Most of them need to be left alone to their work, and stay within the ghostly realm in between their skilled careers and their private pursuits.
RG: Why ought to UFO researchers learn your ebook? What does it contribute to the information and debate?
MJB: Many UFO researchers will undoubtedly be offended by my ebook as a result of it calls into query the very ideology which drives them. The ebook will not be a lot about UFOs as it’s about folks. It challenges what we imagine UFOs to be and highlights one key fact: nobody has any clue what’s going on.
The ebook explores how we make which means, and that UFOs appear to form themselves to our interpretation of them. Relating to UFO analysis and “information,” the ebook makes use of up to date philosophy to problem our ufological assumptions. UFOs, in easy phrases, are ghosts in our society. They’re a symbiotic mixture of actuality and mythology—they exist and don’t exist. Furthermore, UFO researchers fall sufferer to this spectrality. In chasing ghosts, we change into ghosts.
RG: Your ebook options authentic essays by plenty of revered researchers. Who’re they and what have they contributed?
MJB: My ebook options three contributions from 4 writers. The primary is a chapter by A. J. McCormick, who’s an experiencer. She is featured prominently within the first a part of my ebook. I’ve additionally included a groundbreaking essay by Allison Jornlin, which presents her present analysis into the historic roots of paranormal research within the context of gender politics. Lastly, a joint essay by Paul Dean and Barry Greenwood — two of the very best UFO historians alive right now — offers a concise and important historical past of the UFO phenomenon, and particularly the Extraterrestrial Speculation (ETH).
RG: Do you think about your self a part of the UFO group, or are you a eliminated observer?
MJB: Maybe that is actually what the ebook is about. Is the UFO group actual? Does it exist? Or, are we merely phantoms wandering in between our each day official actuality and a few counter-cultural netherworld?
I’m a member of the group. I’m unsure how or the place I match although. I’m not a ufologist. I’m not a UFO researcher, per se. Whereas I do research UFOs and the paranormal, I focus extra on the folks, and the way they work together on a cultural and philosophical degree with unusual phenomena.
RG: What do you hope to realize by means of your work?
MJB: I need the group to assume critically. Furthermore, to have the group replicate on the philosophical nature of the UFO phenomenon and discourse. I need to start chipping away at the concept that UFOs and different related phenomena are ghosts throughout the human machine, and vice versa, this paranormality is inherently part of us.
RG: Have you ever drawn any conclusions in regards to the underlying nature of the UFO phenomenon? Is there an ontological actuality behind UFOs, or is it purely a sociocultural phenomenon?
MJB: The one sane reply right here is “I don’t know.” Do I imagine that individuals expertise anomalies and weird occasions which might be goal, that’s, exterior of their very own minds? Sure. One thing unusual is occurring. Past that, the info is much too chaotic to establish any knowable details. UFO discourse is a spectrum of prosaic lights within the sky to episodes of unbelievable excessive strangeness.
As I discussed earlier, UFOs and different paranormal phenomena are inherently tied to humanity. We give UFOs which means, we offer for them a spot and area to manifest and “be.” Nonetheless, that’s not the entire story. These phenomena come from someplace, from some unknown supply. One thing is made actual so it may be seen or offers of a radar signature. One thing should depart touchdown hint marks. Clearly, one thing tangible is popping out and in of our consciousness.
We have to be cautious to not oversimplify the phenomenon. I’m usually requested what I imagine in relation to UFOs. That is tough as a result of my beliefs, and even “what I believe I do know,” will not be factual or true. It’s merely hypothesis. All claims relating to the UFO phenomenon are pure hypothesis. If anybody claims to KNOW what UFOs are, then they’re almost certainly delusional or attempting to promote you one thing. The most effective we will do is to maintain looking for solutions, and never belief anybody who says they’ve them.
The UFO Individuals is accessible now from all good on-line bookstores. For extra of MJ’s work, go to his weblog, Terra Obscura.