A Literature of Comfort

No one talks about this, but I’m willing to drop my usual (probably annoying) reticence and get to the point. While I can’t possibly speak for anyone else, I can admit that a big part of my fascination with UFO/Paranormal “literature” lies in escapism. Like nothing else, articles and books covering these matters “abducts” my attention from cold reality into a wholly other realm—for good or ill.

Simply because I have a vested (literally) interest in writing about such topics does not rule out my human need to “get away” from the mundane (often brutal) facts of day-to-day life. While I claim no belief in either extraterrestrial beings or apparitions of the dead, I DO keep perhaps 2% of my fizzing mind open to the possibilities, and have said as much during recent radio interviews. Though there exist many opportunities for me to criticize “believers,” I rarely do so. Why? Because I recognize the deep spiritual/emotional craving among some to peer beyond Shakespeare’s mortal coil. Even stone-cold atheists must—once in a while—lean back in their easy-chairs and wonder.

Intellectually, I have many reasons to accept that humankind is a useless race churning with useless passion hardwired for biological survival. Sure. No problem. But to what end? Why must we survive, if the black Lovecraftian gulfs beyond are nothing more than freezing vacuum and silence eternal? An optimist might well counter: Grabowski, how do you know humankind is a useless passion? Well, I don’t. No one does. I’m a romantic realist, in that I hope for the best but expect the worst. My British mother, God rest her, drilled that into my head. She did, though, believe in God. For what it’s worth, I have no trouble accepting some form of external intelligence, but doubt (assuming IT is there) any specific focus and/or concern over our existence. It’s a big multiverse, and as someone said, it would be a hell of a waste of space if Earth were the only planet hosting life.

I have read the harshest so-called nihilist philosophies: the Marquis de Sade, Anton LaVey, Nietzsche, and many others I won’t bother to list. To a man (usually these are male), they have had terrible, almost cursed, lives. Even modern thinkers like Thomas Ligotti (author of The Conspiracy Against the Human Race), for all his galactic blackness as a horror writer leaves me afraid and empty. I can’t live like that, and doubt anyone can. None of these aforementioned ended in suicide, so even their worst statements are suspect. I’ve always said to myself: “If you so hate life, then check out.”

What I sense from these writings is a genuine survival instinct, shorn of sentimentality. Between me and me, I am easily as harsh and dark as any of these. Disappointed, actually, in our potential, and seeming default to instant gratification. They remind me of screaming infants, “Comfort me! Or else!”

Of course, there’s more to it than that. These writers were—and are—at least making the effort to “wake us up.” What they don’t perceive (or admit) is that some of us were born with oversensitive nerves. Musician Tom Waits asks: “Why are the wicked so strong?” Because they weren’t born sensitive. Period. All progress is driven by this dichotomy—the crazy creative types advance culture, and suffer the consequences. They don’t consume culture. They make it.

This is why, to return to my topic, I’m able to read books and articles about UFOs and so-called paranormal topics simply because I cannot justify being alive without their comfort. Even the worst among these I enjoy, because their very existence says more about what it means to be alive than any theory about ghosts, UFOs, etc. Even if none of these things are “real,” why do so many think they are?

To me, this fact tells me all I need to know. We’re a living testament, searching for something to tell us what we are, and why we’re here at all.

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