Like Ed Gehrman, I too have received almost violent responses
from Jan Aldrich recently. The world, in its refusal to be described, appears to be stoning him with great gobbets of
uncontrollable imaginations. Like Toad of Toad Hall (sorry for using an image, Jan, but I don't reason in document box
numbers), people will escape and write big bad books if only for the amusement of seeing the bullying rage of people like
himself. The world is a big bad place, big enough for Corso, and bad enough for his rebel book. The value of this book lies in
showing the number of creatures who poke their sneers out from holes in the river bank as Toad Corso's crazy craft sails
merrily by on its mad voyage to the very edges of the modern perception. Would be those creatures safe in their holes had
Toad Corso's courage and his touch of his divine madness. Many measure reality in terms of things called facts. If only God
were a bourgeois, that would be a good way of doing it. As a show, facts are still prime time, though aging rapidly, getting
a bit thick about the middle, and they always were a bit too middle-aged and respectable to be really cool. For myself, I
measure reality in terms of the number of TV programmes I have missed through never having had a TV set in my life. My doctor
tells me that this means that my reality is increasing by a factor of many hundreds of missed morsels per day, and so very
soon says he, as a non-consumer I will be far more real than dearest Jan Aldrich and all his blessing objectivities put
together, praise the Lord. Eventually, says he again, I will become so real that he will have to inject me with impurities to
bring me down to normal levels of diseased perceptions. This means I will have to get a Doll's House and a license. I am told
that my paid license will give me the legal Right to gorge on junk-rationalism, eat the intellectual equivalents to
Shantyburgers, Umbongo, and Pork Fritters, all juiced up with skeptical panics, logical certainties and carcinogenic common
sense. What with the women who all look like flight attendants, the men who look like men with strange personal inclinations,
and the factual fritters of the "real" documentaries I do not look forward to my reality-adjustment as a new Viewer.
The problem of all philosophy is that the blessed "real" so many
so often like to refer to won't behave itself any more than will alien intelligence when we meet it if we have not met it
already. Human intelligence works by breaking the rules more than anything else. Such intelligence is founded on deviance,
play, often plain silliness and (quelle horror!) the anarchic impulse to turn the apple cart over if only for the sake of it.
This is bad news for both documentation and security classification as well as for the stock markets of belief-
quotas. By the way, Jan, the explanation (as much abused a word as "real") for the MJ12 phenomenon is quite simple. The effect
is busy cloning itself, a la Borges. It happened with Y2K. The reason
for this is because information has now become a form of life. Jan, your great web animal of Project 1947 has broken
loose and is running wild. Congratulations. You will come to love your virtual progeny as it gallops through the
interstices of Fact. The sight of Jan lashing the flanks of his speeding
animal and shouting THIS IS NO METAPHOR! is a good sign for the New Year 2003 An information animal? Now how about that for an
idea to turn your boils red raw on the river bank of our Ufological Wind in the Willows in this last day of the New Year,
Of Coffin Donkeys and Pelicans
I am in receipt of no less than 15 e-mails asking me about what a coffin-donkey is, exactly, and I here explain.
Coffin donkeys are poor wretched stumbling animals, the saddest beasts of this earth. Their destiny is to cart dead supersonic
pelicans from the Headquarters of Magonia Magazine (above a second-hand furniture store) in Brentford to their final resting
place in Brentford Leisure Centre. The better class of dead birds are therein preserved like Vatican divines in the
catacombs. There they join the Bing Crosby table lamps and
Shirley Temple wardrobes, those other consumer equivalents of cosmic certainty.
The worst class of dead pelican who has sinned beyond recall are drawn by the same said coffin donkeys to those toxic pits where
Stealth aircraft are burned at midnight with stakes through their hearts instead of being turned in pots and pans, like all
decent dead aeroplanes. Why do so many die so quickly? Well sir, your pelican is an accident-prone beast. Some die of rationalist
paranoia, some succumb to wing-biting despair at the constant failure of fact, and yet others plunge themselves from Brentford
Town Hall after week-long debates about well-balanced decency, respect for others, and the left-liberal social-democratic view
of drainpipe installation by lesbian communes. Many go mad, pecking their necks raw in an agony of
loneliness, surrounded by the dead lines and empty rooms of mechanical prophecy. Others
break their beaks on certainty and die of starvation. Some, their crop force-fed with document box numbers and security
classifications, explode with insane grief all over Brentford, and are buried as bundles of part numbers that have no name,
like symbols of some terrible cultural atrocity. Others kill themselves through the constant failure of accuracy. These
pelicans self-destruct, suffer spontaneous combustion through an implosion of million 500th decimal places. A few, driven mad by
the constant failure of all certainty, have to be shot under special license from the exotic-bird handling sections of the
Pelicans suffer terribly from reality. This causes them to die young. Reality leads to over-breeding. It is an incestuous
thing. This supposed objective Grail-chase causes pelican feathers to fall out, dietary ailments, lack of plumage sheen,
rapidly failing vision, and anal problems of all kinds. All other birds accept those infinite fantasies by means of which
both societies and cultures keep body and mind together for a ripe old age.
Your British-born pelican in particular has a limited capacity to recover though change of paradigm. Over-specialised, and dull
of brain they have the mundane inspirations of fallen social workers, and often spout fact-parrot like bearded polytech
lecturers of the 1970s, now gone alas as the grandeur that was
Rome and the glory that was Greece.
The Pelican as a fact-eating animal (a too specialized diet) searching for something that was not a part of itself died with
the Official Reality, Donny Osmond, or Mork and Mindy. Most species die of such highly specialized malfunctions. Pelicans
refuse to accept that the capacity for self-deception is the source of all proper moral values. This is a bitter
disappointment to such an exotic bird, whose capacity for adaptation is as limited as the diet of the great Chinese Panda.
Far worse for a pelican is this fall from all grace than even the realization of post industrial obsolescence, and the
realization that he fact-feeding pelican species is as passe as an East German factory, an episode of Starsky and Hutch, or a
Michael Jackson thought.
Poor pelicans. With the onset of virtuality, their factual food swathe is diminishing. Soon the pelican will become a Bigfoot, a
thing of legend, a beast of the twilight zone, briefly glimpsed through fogged film and half-realised by minds of almost-
forgotten part-series than rather old industrial facts.
As the TV extraterrestrial Alf might say, fact as a product as failed. Hallelujah!
Now let us all enter the New Year and as midnight strikes the witching hour, console ourselves with a couple of thoughts from
the past about that much-abused concept called the real.
(1) The philosopher H. H. Price[i] describes a possible Fortean virtual animal as Project 1947:
"A hallucinatory entity, the celebrated pink rat, for instance, is composed of sense data or appearances just as a `real' object
is. What is wrong with it, what inclines us to call it `unreal' is the fact that there is not enough of them. For instance, the
hallucinatory rat can be seen from the front, but not from the back; it is visible but not tangible; it can be perceived by one
percipient but not by more; and it endures only for a minute or so. But some hallucinations do better than this. Apparitions,
for example, are sometimes public to several percipients, can be seen from several different points of view, and endure for
considerable periods of time - though not as long as they would if they were `real' human beings. Now suppose there was an
apparition which was public to an indefinite number of points of view and an indefinite number of observers: suppose there are
tangible as well as visible particulars among the appearances which are its
constituents; suppose it endures for half an hour and then disappears. We should not know whether to call it an
unusually prolonged and complex hallucination, or a very queer `real object'. In point of fact, it would be something between
the two, but not quite complex enough to count as a complete material object. Now imagine this process pushed to the limit.
We might expect that occasionally a complete material object or a complete physical event would be produced by purely mental
This pink rat of Price is a typical Fortean half-form. It is an example of almost-creation that abolishes the category of
"unreal", and exists in the intermediate Fortean Domain. It is also the perfect answer to Enrico Fermi's question: where are
they? The answer is, as Price says, "there aren't enough of them".
Here is A. N. Whitehead as a coda, a short but stiff New Year nightcap before New Year's Day. He too, as distinct from that
great practical bench-experimenter Rutherford (who called metaphysics "so much hot air," and Relativity a "work of art"),
saw science as being equally insubstantial, and he occasionally reflects Charles Fort's much-abused syntax:
"We have only got to look in the sky, towards Percy Lowell's moving point, and we shall see a new planet. Certainly we shall
not. All that any person has seen is a few faint dots on photographic plates, involving the intervention of photography,
excellent telescopes, elaborate apparatus, long exposures and favorable nights. The new explanation is now involved in the
speculative extension of a welter of physical laws, concerning telescopes, light, and photography, laws which merely claim to
register observed facts. It is involved in the speculative application of such laws to particular circumstances within the
observatories for which circumstances these laws are not concurrently verified. The result of this maze of speculative
extensions is to connect the deviations of Uranus and Neptune with the dots on the photographic plate. This narrative, framed
according to the strictest requirements of the Positivist theory, is a travesty."
Thus for Whitehead, as for Fort, "reality" consists of nothing more than layer upon layer of well-managed ideological guano:
the difference between elements of these historical deposits is the difference between a small-scale "fantasy," and some
projection of a much larger one, the endless war between the two being a war to secure the high frontier of an equally illusory
"certainty." Whitehead continues:
"The speculative extensions of laws, baseless on the Positivist theory, are the obvious issue of speculative metaphysical trust
in the material permanencies, such as telescopes, observatories, mountains, planets, which are behaving towards each other
according to the necessities of the Universe, including theories
of their own natures. The point is, that speculative extension beyond direct observation spells some trust in metaphysics,
however vaguely the metaphysical notions may be entertained in explicit thought ...
metaphysical understanding guides imagination and justifies purpose. This urge towards explanatory
description provides the interplay between science and metaphysics. The doctrines of metaphysics are modified, so as to
be capable of providing the explanation, and the explanations of science are framed in the terms of the popular metaphysics
lingering in the imaginations of these scientists."
Happy New Year folks, And goodnight America, wherever you are!
Colin (Bad Man) Bennett
To which Wendy Connors replied:
From: Wendy Connors <FadedDiscs@comcast.net>
Date: Thu, 02 Jan 2003 15:43:41 -0700
Fwd Date: Thu, 02 Jan 2003 22:03:41 -0500
Subject: Re: Combat Diary Number 2 - Connors
From: Colin Bennett <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: UFO Updates <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, 1 Jan 2003 00:15:13 -0000
Subject: Combat Diary Number 2
Keep this up Colin and I'm gonna send you a bill for aspirin, new reading glasses and a new Thesaurus. I mean, come on,
haven't you ever given any thought to imitating the writing style of Hemingway or Lincoln Steffens on UFO Updates, just for
fun? And you wonder why we threw your tea into Boston Harbor! <G>
Here's a breakdown of what Colin is saying in American:
1. Jan Aldrich is being crabby in his golden years.
2. Magonia followers run parallel to themselves and can get neither vertical or horizontal (commonly called anal
3. Pelicanists are like tornados. They both suck.
4. Information is freedom if you pay for it.
5. Forteans are just as weird as the stories they collect.
6. He didn't have a nice New Year's Eve because he didn't get to see the big Green Ball come down in Times Square (he ain't
got a TV... talk about being more primitive than a Mongolian sheep herder).
7. Look up to the night sky and name your next kid, "Percival."
8. Metaphysics is what physics hides in the closet and denies.
To which Panzerben replied:
Hello darling, I know ya like plain speaking, so here's giving it to ya! In case you didn't know, girl, TV is simple-minded doll-talk for the boondocks. You must be the last person on Earth not to know this. Here it is in British, Wendy. Girl, as a regular viewer, you must be more full of propaganda and symbol-manipulation than an organic Pepsi. You must be more full of subliminal suggestions than a genetically modified irradiated bottle of catsup. There is only one solution to your addiction to the electrical Doll's House: throw it into the nearest whole-earth rubbish tip as fast as you can. I guarantee that within a few hours you will spew out the Doll Culture, so keep an environmentally friendly bowl handy, girl, and farm out the kids for the day whilst you go through cold turkey. Withdrawal is no fun. Have a friend standing by with hot and cold towels for the sweats, chills, and the shaking as all the advertisements tumble out from your psyche. Getting rid of the idiot's lantern is what hippies used to call re-birthing. Regular junk culture detox is essential for
existential survival. Mickey Mouse is not so much to be hunted and killed as excreted. Next, kill the
newspapers. After that, you will feel like a young American woman again with an eye on the main chance and ready for anything. You will move along the sidewalk like a tornado. Your mind will feel as big as the planet Mars, and amazing thoughts will pour out like lava from your unclogged mental pores.
Colin (Bad Man) Bennett