Where Art Meets Mysticism
For anyone following these posts, I apologize for not writing. Life has a bad habit of not caring whether we write or, indeed, whether we do anything.
I hope it’s obvious that The Night Run is at once personal and also an attempt to share matters some may be intersted in reading. I would be a fool to claim otherwise. What I’m attempting is a sort of deconstruction of so-called paranormal phenomena. No, I am not the first to possess such “ambition.” Hardly. I may however be one of the last, in a world with no attention-span.
So it goes.
I have noticed that, for some reason, the wisdom of Carl Jung is dismissed by many earning their bread in the same field. I don’t know why this is, but it hurts, for I think that Jung was on to something. Perhaps his arrow came too close to striking the target of what it means to be human. Many of his critics seem to overlook the workman-like precision Jung employed. The difficult, sheer repetitiveness necessary to establish testable results. Yet Jung carried out the heavy-lifting no one else, at the time, was willing to do.
What does this mean? Jung discovered, through thousands of sessions, that there exists an undeniable continuum in the dream-lives of all people–regardless of background, income, or race. He pursued this to his death in 1961. Jung’s Man and His Symbols was the last work undertaken by a man who wanted general readers to understand that the imaginative life must be taken seriously in its own right, as the most distinctive characteristic of human beings. Beyond any doubt, Jung was the first authoritative figure even to consider paranormal phenomena.
His work has since been beaten down, mostly by those promoting “external” (i.e. demons, ghosts, extraterrestrials) influence as an explanation for anomalous events. I must admit he may have been wrong–but not completely. Jung himself experienced a number of uncanny, even agressive, “weird” happenings. The most well-known being his meeting with Freud, during which poltergeist activity splintered one of Jung’s bookshelves. Talk about synchronicity. That incident alone ought to establish that we have much to do with “paranormal” frights. Jung himself remained unsure, but knew there must be a connection, that the spectrum of our consciousness was more powerful than previously known.
If only he’d had another decade, he may very well have figured the paranormal. Sadly, his research failed to withstand the occult pop-culture of the 1960s. Or did it really fail? I urge you to read Jung. He didn’t fail, because he set others on the same path. Here is where Jung’s extensive work pays off. Undoubtedly others were pursuing the “unconscious” line as being in charge of the paranormal. One aspect of this always leaves me asking: why? In recordings of so-called spiritual mediums, what stands out are the messages from the “dead.” Across the board, these are absurd, even boringly repetitive, yet believed as proof of life after death. If the “ghosts” knew so much, why did they repeat the same ridiculous dialogue (as they do still)?
Could it be these voices came from the human collective unconscious? This would explain how “they” know certain facts, yet get unnecessarily confused. Jung knew this was far more interesting than “ghosts,” but few wanted to accept it. Given present-day access to the literature of so-called seances, anyone can read transcripts and see that “spirits” often repeated themselves with unvarying predictibility. When asked “Is there a God?”, the response often was, “Do you want there to be” or “If there were, wouldn’t I tell you?” Never an absolute answer. Hard as it may be to accept, this continues today. But TV producers don’t want that.
Fact: the voices are real. Fact: they are predictable. This hasn’t changed, nor is it likely to do so. The entire tradition of exploitation (unchanged for hundreds of years) is too strong, banking on simple human sadness and pain. To the “medium” or “channeler” it’s all the same. An easy income. The few authentic “voices” that come through make no sense, and terrify the receivers. You don’t need me to recall TV shows wherein “ghost-hunters” claim to have captured voices. “I died in the war,” etc. I have heard these. So have you. But what are they, really? Any specific request comes back nonsensical. So it has always been.
Those who know of this are not out there to exploit (well, a few probably are). And those who do know one thing: we are haunted by memory alone.
Here is where art meets mysticism. Charlatans back off. This is one more aspect Jung (and his students, most prominently Aniela Jaffe) noticed. There will always be a fascination with the unknown, but Jung died convinced most of this comes from us. I think he was on the right track which, to my way of thinking, only exults the profundity of humankind. I would like to have the answers. Who wouldn’t?
It wasn’t until I read Man and His Symbols that I felt Jung had nailed the essential question: why do paranormal events carry such absurd weight?
I am honor-bound to say that if your knowledge of “the paranormal” comes from TV and the movies and novels, well, you’re on the wrong track. The reality–such as it is–has nothing to do with these. Paranormal events are both more disturbing, and mundane, than most will ever know. But we live in a world addicted to sensationalism and vapid drama. No screen-writer wants the “facts.” Simply, they are boring. Such is the reality of paranormal phenomena.
Though it has taken a long time for me to get here, I couldn’t fairly have done so without relating the previous material. Reading Jung, and how he connects abstract art (Pollock, Miro, etc.) to mysticism began as quite a stretch. Not for long. What I most admire about Jung and his students is that not one claimed to have “the answer,” but he must have known how close they came.
For instance, there is in Jung’s last book a photograph of a Jackson Pollock painting. You may think you don’t know Pollock, but you do. He started the “spatter put paint anywhere and call it art” argument. Non-representational. Different from early work, Pollock’s famous paintings are chaotic, seeming throwing colors anywhere in layers, as though done by a child. The truth is that Pollock was working from his own unconscious, beyond intellect. Jung’s book gives us a photograph of a metal vibrating plate where soundwaves are visible. They precisely resemble a Pollock. How did he know this? Answer: he didn’t. It just turned out that way.
Here is where the line between paranormal and creativity meet. That it exists at all is profound. I’m not the first to notice resemblances between reported UFO entities, or occupants (no one uses these terms today), and figures displayed in both abstract and surreal paintings. On the other hand, maybe I am. Only Jacques Vallee has noted the “poetic” strangeness of some reports. But you will not find such reports coming from America or England. What does that tell us?
I know what this tells me. There must be, for lack of a better term, a connection between human consciousness (meaning dreams, fears, hopes, etc.) and how UFO entities manifest themselves. It took all of one hour for me to read Vallee’s Passport to Magonia (which lists UFO landing reports from 1868 to 1968) to conclude that these things appeared in accordance to the “accepted” culture of the times. Witnesses described robot-like humanoids, often faceless, who, when they spoke at all, said absurd things: “What is your time?”, and “We only want to take you to a different place,” and countless more nonsense.
There are descriptions of beings “wrapped in plastic, with green glowing eyes.” Anything one might imagine. Again, I am not the first to notice this, but genuine beings “from another planet” would not breathe our air and walk on two legs. The odds against this are too extreme even to consider. Many witnesses spoke of the entities: “They seemed disoriented, like ghosts. They didn’t walk well.”
The “faceless” aspect is most reported in the late 1950s through much of the 1960s. A period that saw many abstract painters giving us mysterious figures seemingly in charge of gray, bleak landscapes. A brief search of “surrealism” on Google will easily conjure many examples of such forms from Dali, Miro, de Chirico, etc. I noticed this, in ignorance, on record-album art from electronic musicians such as Klaus Schulze, Gong, Hawkwind and others.
My point is that these images, unnoticed by most, existed in underground scenarios. Whether the UFO entities inspired this or vice versa really doesn’t matter. The real question is why.
My un-humble answer: these faceless figures represent a collective spiritual despair, a fear of the individual being submerged in the mindless masses. I cannot claim I want this to explain every weird event, every UFO-occupant, because that is not enough. But it takes me back to Carl Jung and his idea that we create our gods, and ghosts, for good or ill.