For anyone paying attention, I thank you. The publication of, and fairly good reception to, BLACK LIGHT, has taught me a few things. The response to my “First Read: The Mothman Prophecies” has brought me unexpected praise from John Rimmer at The Magonia Blog, and has ended up the #1 piece in Magonia’s Top Ten for 2014 by a wide margin. I can only be grateful for this. It feels strange, only because I don’t quite “get” this, in light of other pieces I’ve read there that seem far superior. Trust me, though–I’m very happy to be a part of Magonia. When I look back on how much time I’ve spent going over old UFO reports, it almost overwhelms me. There’s no lack of material for anyone interested in the entire phenomenon, in which I include all so-called paranormal events. I was foolish to think–and write–that I could ever simply stop my interest in such matters–I can’t. Even if that’s not “healthy.” Is there a difference between a writer spending huge amounts of time and effort on anomalies, and a reader doing the same? I don’t know, because I’m both, and have been since the late 1970s. I would define “obsession” as that which intrudes upon life and its daily events. And involvement in these things has intruded, however sneakily and once in a while uninvited.
It is what it is: a substitute (like that old song by The Who) for religion. Of course the Who wasn’t singing about UFOs, but you know what I mean if you’re honest with yourself. Sometimes I wonder if atheists really exist. The very idea seems to me a denial of human existence–an unacknowledged fear of what my science-fiction writing (one of which I am whom) pals might call the “meatspace.” Our bodies, and all the miseries they’re subject to simply by existing in a world frankly unaware of us. Or at least indifferent. Whether you believe in God or Satan or Gaia, you aren’t getting out of here alive, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. We’re born bloody and screaming, and most of us will die the same way. What we do–or fail to do–between those harsh poles is all that’s real, unless you read too many Philip K. Dick novels. Then you might question even the reality of the walls that buffer you from life.
I don’t have the slightest clue what life is, what we are, or what it’s worth. Philip K. Dick’s outlook didn’t help, but by God it sure keeps me wondering despite his cursed life and how others treated him. We can read 10,000 books, from The Bible to The Book of the Dead (choose your favorite) to this month’s New Age prophet and his/her recycled nonsense. It’s ultimately up to us what to “believe” or from what to take emotional comfort. My personal “bible” is Colin Wilson’s THE OUTSIDER. Wilson seems to have listed, and given the solutions for, life’s major problems. But the biggest challenge of all is building the super-human discipline to follow the course–as ever. Wilson himself admitted that we cannot long tolerate swimming in the deep sea of consciousness and intellect without heaving for breath to support us. We’re simply not ready for that. But he did clearly state the main barriers, and without the (in my opinion only) turning away from common everyday humanity so mercilessly laid out by the likes of Nietzsche and other existentialists. The fact is, we need comfort. Wilson allows this, while regretting the necessity. Nietzsche despises it, and perished humiliated from visiting prostitutes. This is not a moral judgment–simply an actual one.
My mind sides with him, and Wilson, and especially with my contemporary Thomas Ligotti–but my spirit can’t breathe that black air. Well, not for long. Frankly, as much as I admire Ligotti (Lovecraft’s torch-taker), I see the poison in his philosophy. We are more than what we think–I hope.
What do I mean by all this? Well, that I can take in the worst of the “nihilists” (even de Sade), and find something beyond worth living for. And that’s good enough.
I have found a heretofore (at least in my mind) unrecognized thread dangling through the sheer weight of UFO/paranormal studies, and intend to write about this on the Night Run.
I hope you’ll follow me, and chip in.