Flight 370: Conspiracy Theorists’ Latest Pet

I’d be remiss not to admit I’m a fairly “passionate” follower of post-post modern conspiracy theory, much of which never comes close to “theory.” We have plenty of rants, raves, and snarling vows of vengeance. Stone-cold revelations whispered in dark holdouts haunted by suicide; reason and safety stalked by black dogs of paranoia sniffing for logic-bombs. Nightly, the star-frosted sky thrums with machines stabbing down beams aggressively intelligent; watching and watching with infrared eyes. Thermal tongues lapping up secrets. Waiting…waiting…infinitely patient. Scanning thoughts for a nanosecond glitch in your vigilance—your blazing annihilation.Image

If that doesn’t make you feel better, nothing will.

Even a cursory cruise of a few “edgy” websites will provide a representative slice of what the more pensive observers are saying about the apparently enigmatic fate of Flight 370. These remarks range from straight, journalistic-type reportage, to chilly monographs grim with doubt, flat recounting of the original report, and what I am now calling NFM: Nefarious Fear-Mongering.

While I’m not sure who started this, a famous “alien abductee” is hinting that Flight 370 might very well have been sky-jacked and safely landed on dry ground in some remote location. While he doesn’t clearly explain what might have been done to the 239 people occupying the aircraft, he theorizes it might be used by terrorists, and capable of delivering a 10,000-pound nuclear device to any major city within 12,000 miles.

This might be technically possible, if not probable. But it is a theory—an outlandish one. A little research into how weapons-grade plutonium is acquired, and processed, will put such notions to rest.

What I am confused about is the—at least to my mind—inexplicable failure to locate the aircraft’s Black Box. Media reports claim signals have been detected, but finding the actual site so far impossible. Why? We have classified satellites that can identify earthbound individuals, and more. The NSA, by 2018, hopes to have a computer capable of exaflop speed—1,000,000,000,000,000,000 operations a second. That’s one quintillion. Yes, data-collection is one thing; taking time to interpret said data quite another.**

The Black Box (actually, these are orange for easier detection) is fitted with an Underwater Locator Beacon functional down to 14,000 feet—nearly three miles. The devices have been heat-tested, withstanding 1,110 degrees centigrade for an hour; 260-degree C for 10 hours. They can operate between -55 degrees to +70 degrees C. Seriously tough hardware.

If a signal has been detected, and if every signal has a source, why can’t the Black Box be located?


**Thanks to James Bamford, whose The Shadow Factory: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America (Doubleday, 2008) was crucial to this post.

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This past piece from the old print magazine is shattering, considering how long ago it was written. It’s long, but well worth the read (unless you’re a hard-core believer).


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Just When You Thought…

“Things” were okay, you get a mixed message.

I’m not sure what to make of reports of people hearing very strange sounds in the air, so simply will start by telling you what I’ve gathered.

The Internet has produced, as always, strange events. Like you, I have checked these out, and will remain ever impressed by the artful fakes so obvious to anyone with a brain.

However…there are a few things, captured on cell phones, I have a hard time discounting. Chalk it up to my not owning a BlackBerry, or indeed any mobile phone. I hate them, and will never be chained to one. If you must call me, then call me.  Get over your stupid “Apps” I have no use for. If I want a pizza delivered, I know how that’s done. If I want my opinion on Mel Gibson, Barack Obama, or whether I think Flight 370 was hijacked, you’ll read it here. Trust me, I have opinions on all of these topical matters, but they aren’t well-informed. Nor are yours. You’re simply taking in what you’ve been told—just like me.

It took a lot for me even to be aware of these strange, very loud, sounds recently reported.

Have you heard these? A few remind me of those used in WAR OF THE W ORLDS, the Spielberg version. You know, that horrible, terrifying, “trumpet of God,”  sound you never want to hear twice in your life. I saw that movie, and will admit it scared me. No small task. But I was able to put myself there, and take in the horror, because it was so well thought-out. People recently have reported, and apparently recorded, what sounds very much like those same sounds.

I don’t know what to make of these, because none require any visuals. The sound, when recorded in an urban setting, leads to me suspect hoaxing. Another recording, made by people in the middle of nowhere—as they say—has me guessing. The sound itself grates like some vast machine melting down, like metal against metal. And the video I saw came from cross-country skiers, fumbling and natural.  The sound itself is overwhelming, completely unnatural, and mysterious. As disturbing as those gigantic machines in War of the Worlds. In fact, what I heard sounded a bit too much like those, but the people recording them sound absolutely frightened.

I am aware certain “earth-sounds,” pre-earthquake, have been recorded, but they sound nothing like these.  If these recent sounds are not hoaxed, then I have no idea what they might be. Again, I had to be reluctantly made aware of this, because I have seen so-called UFO footage that turned out to be nothing beyond Venus, over-flights of aircraft shining anti-collision lights, rescue helicopters viewed from afar, etc. But the audio, especially in the “skiers” account, is to me genuinely strange. Google this, and you will find numerous accounts of an exceptionally loud, bizarre, and unaccountable sound. Frankly, a very aggressive, threatening chaos.

I’ll go further. Military intelligence has been known to test new tech, as they did on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and in the San Francisco Bay area, long ago. Are these acoustic ruptures an expansion on those? I don’t know. I hope not. What I do know is that military technology has the capability to test whatever they choose on an unsuspecting populace. As one of these “populace,” I am concerned. I have, as you, the “right” to be concerned.

During the 1990s, and frequent reports of black, triangular “UFOs,” I examined official FAA reports. I was not, of course, the first to do this. These inquiries always came back to me, couched in similar language. “Please consult the Air Force. We have no current data on aircraft, employed or otherwise reported, that represent delta-shaped vehicles.”

In short, a Boeing 747, under cloudy conditions, might appear as a “triangle.” True enough, and I have seen traditional aircraft under exactly those conditions.  They can appear strange, especially if viewed at night, when normal anti-collision beacons appear triangular.

Again, and I hate to admit it, any aircraft flying for our benefit (national security) is bound to be taken for a UFO. It isn’t my place to question those employing such craft, but it does make the identification virtually impossible. My guess is that it won’t take long for the delta-shape to vanish, whether from advances in “smart-camo” or some other technology, these facts can’t become known. This is why I no longer claim to know anything about “UFOs.”  These are no longer the gentle 1960s and 1970s, with “flying saucers,” being reported. Perhaps they never were. The Cold War was a very real, very scary, reality. A chess game between super-powers with the ability to destroy us all.  They retain this power, but no one wants to use it. Why would they? The playground bully is alive and unwell. Ready to pounce on the least weakness.

The only aspect working in humanity’s favor, is that this is known. Monitored, sniffed, and considered in a way beyond the simple Cold War game of Who Has The Bigger Bomb. The game remains, but has become a question of survival, not dominance. Life in an explosive, complicated world, where nothing and no one can be fast enough to keep up with the next super-computer’s surveillance; where mountains of data overwhelm the human capacity to sift meaning; where DNA can reveal my ties to someone who lived 900 years ago, whether I like that or not. I am out of the loop. Levels and levels beyond The Terminator, now nearly a quaint notion.

I see it all as a loss of potential. A chance to use what we have to give rare glimpses into where we came from, even why we exist.

But that’s just me.

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Soldier of Fortune magazine published an article recently that claims to have solved the decades-old Mothman mystery. Here’s a link to the issue:


I have (very briefly) commented elsewhere, but feel the need to explore the piece at length. Anyone who reads this blog knows I have written—here, and a series on UFO Digest—a lot on this topic, based on visits to the Point Pleasant area and personal interaction with a handful of older residents, and a thorough review of practically all extant material (in print and online), and a fair amount of back-and-forth with Doug Skinner, a long-time friend of John Keel, author of The Mothman Prophecies.

I mention this background only to verify that I’ve done my homework, and cannot know Final Truth about the events—no one can. So the article caught my attention. What stands out to me is that the author gives no sources, but does lay out what must—in the 1966-1967 period in question—have been a covert, if not classified, military operation. At least one aspect of this involved HALO: High-Altitude Low-Opening, where a soldier jumps from an aircraft at very high altitude, and free-falls until reaching the safety threshold for deploying his parachute, thus remaining hidden for as long as possible from enemy eyes.

As you’ll see if you read the short article, these soldiers were operating near Point Pleasant, probably using the vast abandoned TNT area (a munitions factory shut down toward the end of World War II) as a “target.” I don’t blame them. The dark space is perfect for such practice.

The soldiers apparently were painted with luminous pigment, and (I’m speculating) might have worn early versions of night-vision goggles. They would have looked very strange—frightening, even—to any witness on the ground. But there are questions. Lots of them…

1. The four teenage witnesses (Roger and Linda Scarberry; Steve and Mary Mallette) whose sighting stands as the most noted (it wasn’t the first…there were at least two previous daylight sightings), saw whatever they saw around 11:30PM. This sounds somewhat early for a black-ops project.

2. If the HALO team was meant to go unobserved, why paint them with glow-in-the-dark pigment? A contradiction. This makes sense from a safety perspective—but not a covert one.

3. How did the recovery team plan to hide ground vehicles? The TNT area was, and is, a party paradise. Didn’t the planners know this?

4. The TNT area, despite its nearly 7,000-acre spread, isn’t large enough to contain any “mistakes,” i.e., some parachuting soldier landing in someone’s backyard. What plan was in place in case of any citizen witnessing any part of the HALO ops? Shoot them? Send them scurrying back to the TV with a barrage of harsh language?

5. The high-altitude aircraft would have required FAA clearance to operate in the high-traffic Pittsburgh/Columbus/Cleveland/Lexington/etc. zone. True, these records, if they even exist, probably would be kept secret.

Roger Scarberry, driving his 1957 Chevy that cold, starry, 15 November 1966 night, was passing the desolate North Power Plant (demolished in the mid-1990s) when his headlights reflected off what resembled red bicycle reflectors two inches in diameter and spaced about six inches apart. When these were seen to be attached to a seven-foot-tall, winged form, the two couples exploded with terror—and raced toward Route 62. All four reported the entity pursued them at close to 100 mph, and flew off as the car reached Point Pleasant, where they went to report the incident to Deputy Millard Halstead.

I admit to some doubt over completely dismissing the Soldier of Fortune article. Why?

Linda Scarberry, wizened and visibly shaky on Charles McCracken’s 2009 DVD documentary, Dark Wings: the Mothman Chronicle, told interviewer Travis Shortt more than she apparently shared with John Keel in 1966. The entity near the powerhouse, she said, was tangled in the fence, and trying vigorously to free its arm, or wing. Might this not describe a luminous, night-vision-goggled soldier struggling with a parachute and its lines?

This, of course, does nothing to explain the entity pursuing the car, nor its being sighted perched on a billboard by the terrified teens on the way into Point Pleasant.

So, the Soldier of Fortune article is itself a curious (and poorly-edited) mystery. Is it yet another example of disinformation designed to keep us away from “the truth”? If so, why? After so long, who, in Intelligence circles, really cares?

My final speculations (and, ultimately, that’s all they can be) are these: whatever happened in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, was in part generated by military intelligence. UFOs; Men in Black; telephone harassment; unmarked vans and aircraft. As others—primarily John Keel, Jim Keith, the very questionable Gray Barker, and lately Andy Colvin—have written, something beyond so-called paranormal phenomena was occurring. I cannot rule out the anomalous events, but there is more to the mystery of Mothman….

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In the Name of…

Whoever’s in charge. Is it the Trickster? I think so.

   Nature has not recently been kind to me, and has taken the lives of my car, furnace, and water. The old 1-2-3 punch, valid now as ever. But who am I to complain? After all, I live in a state whose water supply was poisoned by corporate shit-heels. But not mine. I was spared that indignity. 600,000 others were not.

   I was lucky.

   No conspiracy here, just the simple complacency of a structure in place long before I was born, and living in a different state–in many ways.

   This tells me never to trust the EPA, despite their “high” technology and reasoned explanations. Those explanations might very well be responsible for human deaths. In fact, I know they are. But the EPA does not speak to us in comprehensible terms, because that would lay the burden on them of plainly speaking, of which they are incapable. They will never know–or in fact care–how many lives they ruined out of a casual disregard for same. But I’ll do my best to remind them. I’m very good at that.

   The fact that this kind of recklessness is tolerated, until tragedy hits, is an abomination. Those in charge, as ever, are unaffected by their own laziness, and put blame on those already stressed out and broken. And I’m sure the new joke will be (rising above that said about Mexico) something to do with not drinking the water in West Virginia. Ha-ha. How Funny! How sophisticated!

   Pardon my English, if you will, but here’s my intellectual message to the coal-burning bastards of West Virginia (who indeed are supplying the power for this blog): FUCK YOU.

   And good night….

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The New Weird: Four Questions with instructor Alexander Lumans

William J. Grabowski:

In a break from my usual subject-matter, I’d like to share this very incisive piece by Kristin Pazulski. It addresses (indeed answers) some questions posed by those who might not “get” the attraction of science fiction, speculative fiction, horror, and the so-called New Weird. As a writer (fiction and non-) in all these categories, I find it both informative and inspiring.

Originally posted on The Lighthouse Writers Top-Secret Blog:

Lumans in front of Stephen King's house in Maine.

Lumans in front of Stephen King’s house in Maine.

By Kristin Pazulski

As a non-reader of science fiction, when I think of the genre, images of aliens and space creatures invade my mind. But a conversation with our new faculty member, Alexander Lumans, illuminated for me a different perspective on science fiction—one of reflection, post-apocalyptic disaster, and the “new weird.”

He is teaching short story workshops this session, and while he’s off to a writing residency next session, he’ll be back afterwards. Also, his story “All the Things the Moon is Not” is a finalist for the 2013 storySouth Million Writers Award. You can read and vote for his work here.

A lot of his recent work is rooted in the tradition of science fiction, so we chatted about it.

1. Where do you find the inspiration to write science fiction? Do you take real life and spin it into a fictional world, or is it all…

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Chapter 19

What Crashed at Kecksburg (and a clue about the Men-in-Black)

I wish anyone reading this only the best.

As a nosy explorer of things probably Best Left Alone, I wish Those In Charge (pretty much) the same.

Above all (pun intended) I wish the architects of so-called triangular aerial vehicles the strength to admit the reality of their singular product. As a potentially entertaining aside, I offer the following (censored to avoid lawsuit) account.  In early 1999 I moved from Ohio to southwest Pennsylvania, home of my wife at the time. UFOs and similar anomalies were far from my mind, until I recalled that a well-known investigator of such matters lived nearby.  This is a man whose activity (since the early 1960s) makes mine look totally static. We’ll call him Martin. While I’d like to use his actual name, I don’t have permission to do so. Please keep in mind this is a genuine, top-notch, investigator of UFOs, bigfoot (sightings of which Pennsylvania seems to have more than anywhere else), and “entities.” You’ll find his name with little trouble, but I’m not dropping it here, because “Martin” has not read this piece in advance.

Years before moving to Pennsylvania, I had read Martin’s articles regarding the 1965 crash of a so-called UFO in Kecksburg, PA–and was genuinely impressed by his precise report. After all, he went on record with eye-witness testimony, salt-of-the-earth types living close to the site. The “craft” was described as acorn-shaped, approximately 10-feet in height, with a circular rim etched or stamped with odd symbols. These were described–by those on site–as resembling Russian Cyrillic. My first question: how did these people recognize Cyrillic? Answer: they guessed. This doesn’t mean they made up the incident, since (similar to late-found Roswell “witnesses”) it took place in the middle of the Cold War. How did they know what Cyrillic looked like? Easy. They were shown this in school–as was I as a 2nd-grader in Solon, Ohio. Just in case–apparently–we ran across a Russian spy scribbling in his Russian journal.

Only now does this disturb me. The reality that my school took Russian “invasion” so seriously they actually showed us the written language.  How I–attending a Russian (very possible in early 1960s Cleveland, Ohio) birthday or marriage, might have happened upon this odd-looking script, and reported it to local police! The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!

Decades later, reading Martin’s very well-researched report, I concluded that what had crashed in the Pennsylvania outback had to have been a Russian satellite. Until I saw copies of witness sketches of the downed vehicle. Certain officials–to this day–claim the Kecksburg object was nothing more than an extremely bright fire-ball (meteor) entering earth’s atmosphere and burning up. Fair enough, but why did local residents report (shown in news photos) the damage to trees from the object’s path, as well as the rapid response of a military recovery team?  The few still-living witnesses report threats from this group, as well as the armed team carrying the downed object away on a flat-bed truck.

The biggest question: why would residents (assuming any of this is real) go out of their way to lie about something that very obviously disrupted their lives? Fact: a fireball was reported–but many hours before the Kecksburg incident. If the entire matter (as claimed by hardcore skeptics)  was nothing more than hysteria generated by a meteor impact that made it to the ground, why the handful of reports from locals who ran out to see the object and reported it as a solid craft?  The response team had an hour’s drive from Oakland (south of Pittsburgh), and wasted no time.

Part of me does understand critics of this case. The other part is not so sure, since “Martin” has obtained official documents relevant to the matter. These share a common void between local witnesses and what the air force had to say. Even what Russia claimed–which adds a suspicious aspect. By now we all should know that military technology is 15 years (at least) ahead of publicly acknowledged data. This of course doesn’t mean that some Russian craft somehow miraculously avoided being vaporized by re-entry. It could not have, unless controlled by some sweating pilot, who would have destroyed his craft long before it came to ground. We have all sadly witnessed what happens to an out-of-control spacecraft after it enters the upper atmosphere. The “fact” that the Kecksburg craft apparently arrived unscathed tells us it did not enter earth’s atmosphere from space.

It’s anyone’s guess, but here’s mine. America had the U-2 spy plane–often reported as a UFO, due to its silver skin reflecting red from the sun. The Air Force’s brief UFO interest–Project Blue Book–claimed as many as 90% of UFO reports were due to unavoidable sightings of the U-2. I doubt this figure comes close to explaining the many hundreds of close-to-ground and landing reports, but it seemed to have worked for them in weeding out the “nutters.” However, as is now well known, the CIA took the burden, monitoring civilian UFO groups  in hope of finding Communist agents. This program is responsible for many so-called Men-in-Black reports, where government agents (some recruited from prison inmates, magicians, and other “marginal” types) were employed to interview UFO witnesses to sniff out industrial sabotage and even “soft” targets like insurance offices.

Though I have written a fair amount of material regarding the Mothman sightings and attendant Men-in-Black reports from 1966-1967 in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, new data from investigator/author Andy Colvin points toward a far more earthly origin for at least the MIB. It seems the creepy–occasionally absurd–Men-in-Black may have been poking through insurance offices in order to locate blueprints of defense-oriented concerns in Point Pleasant, such as the then-important Naval establishment on the Ohio river. Current reading of John Keel’s THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES will give no hint of this (whether Keel suspected as much or not), but Defense Logistics Agency was there, and would have been a major target for foreign intelligence.

What does any of this have to do with the so-called Kecksburg crash? Perhaps nothing. Perhaps more than anyone can guess. The fact that the reported craft didn’t burn up in the atmosphere is, to me, a telling point. It may have been an early example of a “passive” drone,  designed to confuse anyone recovering it in the event of a crash.  This would not work today, but probably was very effective in 1965. This of course ignores the reported acorn shape of the craft, and how it was able to stay aloft. This  goes back to what has been said about the Roswell debris, that it was an instrument package ahead of its time, and unlikely to be identified.

At best, all that can be said about Kecksburg–like Roswell–is that something came to ground.  The “Cyrillic” symbols reported as seen on the craft don’t bother me, so much as the “recovery” and its reported aggressiveness.  I think that Kecksburg, like Point Pleasant, was a dangerous exercise in military psychological operations. How might people react if they thought an alien craft had crashed in their backyard? Hard to say, but the technology to stage such an event existed as long ago as the 1960s.

I’m not saying this explains everything that happened in Point Pleasant, or even in Belgium’s  “flying triangle” sightings of the early 1990s, or the later UFO sightings in Ohio of triangular craft. But I cannot stop thinking that we are at the wrong end of an earthly design presently passive–perhaps waiting for the next tragedy to unleash its full aggression in the pursuit of some unknown agenda.

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Chapter 18

Mysterious Books

There exist a handful of books which seem to spill into our lives bearing hidden meaning. Whether said meaning was intentional, we cannot know, and the authors—across the board—give us little to work with.

   Obvious examples, most likely to be known by dedicated readers, are James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and Ulysses. Difficult texts that demand attention, they ultimately reward readers with images akin to film—but you’ve got to work for those. Today’s casual reader most likely would lack the patience and—frankly—awareness of post-modern technique. Stream-of-consciousness, where a character’s inner thoughts are given verbatim without much regard to structure.  The dark room the stinking sweat I’m afraid and I step slow into humming vast rage-burning echo of terror blood-spatted and candle-lit.

   My own example, as I cannot quote Joyce—but you get the idea. The stream-of-consciousness was employed to give readers direct experience of life, shorn of commas and literary structure.

   But Joyce’s books are fairly comprehensible compared to 20-Century works like Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren, a science-fictional (Joyce-influenced) night journey through what might be a post-apocalypse urban sprawl. Perhaps sparked by then-recent cinematic shorthand, Delany fascinated and enraged readers by taking science fiction into a place (in 1975) unimaginable to fans of Isaac Asimov (I, Robot) and Arthur C. Clarke (2001: A Space Odyssey)—so-called “nuts and bolts” SF. Delany’s nearly 900-page novel used every post-modern riff available, and invented a few more. There are pages written in split-screen, with Delany’s comments on what he was doing while writing, including scatalogical details some readers felt ought to have been left out. I disagree. After all, hadn’t visionary “monk” Francois Rabelais (in his 16th-Century Pantagruel and Gargantua) written honestly about drinking and shitting and sex? Of course.

   But the accumulative effect of Delany—and Joyce and Rabelais—is indeed mysterious. You can smell the wine, hear the curses, and imagine without too much effort their various worlds, stripped of all things false and polite. Delany combined rarefied intellectual vision with “bawdy” and pungent detail, with no concern whatsoever for readers tagging along.

   Just as potent, but quieter, was British author Brian W. Aldiss, whose Report on Probability “A” (1967) and Barefoot in the Head (1969) took French anti-structure and anti-novelism to striking results. Here was an Oxford-educated writer plucking science fiction from its rest, and injecting it with “Acid Head Wars,” and a profoundly strange slow-motion prose with the effect on readers of hyper-vivid reality. For my money, Report on Probability “A” is a classic work on the possibilities of language pushed to its limit. Unlike the books above-mentioned, Aldiss used Hemingway-simple nouns and verbs in a way that seems impossible—a magic mirror at times hard to bear. It takes a while in this short novel even to realize what’s happening: An isolated, rainy property subjected to enigmatic surveillance by former employees, as well as by other-dimensional beings. The multiple perspective lets us taste and see and smell and hear everything. Rain-drops patting grass…a beautiful woman (seen only when she happens to pass before a window) whose every action is charged with unknowable meaning. The watchers themselves are watched by others in some timeless sunny field, and obsessed with a painting by William Holman Hunt. The combined effect is truly overwhelming, and Aldiss had a hard time finding a publisher.

What is the value of such books? At the very least, the chance to enter worlds brushed upon only in dreams—or nightmares. And to experience the genuine magic of words, when written by those whose unique vision allows them to transform the mundane into the pure terror/wonder/beauty of existence.

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On Colin Wilson: A Few Words…

Colin Wilson saved my life. He never knew this, but that’s not the point.

As a young, inexperienced writer, I was thrilled to receive a letter from him, way back in 1986. Pre-Internet, this was simply a type-written missive, signed by Colin Wilson. I cannot fully express to younger people exactly how much that meant to me, to have this legend of a writer/philosopher/genius respond to my interview request banged out on my Royal typewriter. From the looks of it, this author of numerous works too vast to list here, used a similar technology. How could this be? Surely, Colin Wilson ought to employ something better than that, right? I still have that letter. A type-written missive signed with his loopy signature. I’m sure I pressed it against my face and smelled it for any trace of wine, garlic, or bodily fluids–I know I did.  For me, this was the equivalent of getting mail from Plato. No kidding.

Am I overstating? Probably, but it’s difficult to convey what this meant to a then-overweight 28-year-old writer looking to make sense of an increasingly chaotic world. Wilson, you see, had answered all my most anguished questions: Why live? Why struggle? Is there a “God”? If so, what’s that supposed to mean? If not, what are we lowly humans supposed to do about it? Wilson’s first book, THE OUTSIDER, had much to say about these matters. In fact, I could not–did not–know that critics had chewed him a new asshole on this very topic. How dare this young man make such claims! Who the hell does he think he is?

These same critics tossed Wilson into the “angry young men” pot of the time. Several went so far as to call him a fascist, something I have yet to comprehend, for here was a guy in his twenties taking on sacred cows as if he’d hung out with Socrates on a bender. How dare Wilson question the very basis of philosophy! How dare he stick his sleepless mind into cherished maxims of rock-solid wisdom!

Above all, this is the value of Colin Wilson. He is known, unfairly, for his many works on so-called paranormal phenomena. Let’s be frank. Wilson–like John Keel–had certain ideas about such matters. These never failed to ignite the anger of those who see anomalous events as sourced in extraterrestrial beings, or the easily faked manifestations of spirit “mediums.” Wilson took a very personal–often spit-upon–exploration into these subjects. Rare among such investigators, he visited sites rich in local lore of hauntings, poltergeist activity, and the odd UFO-sighting. Never once did he declare, “You’re all crazy, leave me alone.” No, often at personal expense he could ill afford, Wilson sought–and respected–those who cried out for an answer, no matter if any answer was even to be found.

Wilson was, in his ground-breaking POLTERGEIST: A STUDY IN DESTRUCTIVE HAUNTING, the first to meet with people who had run out of options to deal with whatever the hell was afflicting their homes with anomalous noise, violent intrusions, and seemingly “evil” apparitions. He was the first to suggest, if not confirm, the possibility that human consciousness might have a major hand in manifesting–or projecting–aggressive physical effects. While I cannot find documentation to verify this, he may have been among the first to record so-called “poltergeist voices.”

Disturbing, grating, often obscene, these voices (Wilson found after having them scientifically analysed), displayed a lack of “ramp function,” meaning they shared nothing in common with human vocalizations. These recordings, exceptionally rare, have been lost. Wilson , however doubting, considered these evidence for a non-human intelligence capable of both deception and illumination. Like John Keel, his ultimate findings pointed toward an unknown–potentially ineffable–source of deceptive intelligence alien to humankind.

Whether we choose to accept this doesn’t really matter. Colin Wilson was among the first explorers to apply practical reason to matters perhaps beyond reason.  A mind as fluid and searching as any from ancient tradition.

As a writer, he fearlessly searched.

As a man, he wondered.

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Colin Wilson died Thursday, 5 December 2013.

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