The Men in Black and Other Terrors

the MIB

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When the Condon Committee was sampling public attitudes toward UFOs they gave this statement to a cross section of the American Public: "A government agency maintains a Top Secret file of UFO reports that are deliberately withheld from the public." The respondents were supposed to answer TRUE or FALSE. A substantial majority, sixty-one percent, thought that the statement was true while only thirty-one percent said it was false. Among teenagers, the credibility gap was even wider -- 73 percent believed the statement to be true.

General opinion studies conducted by the Condon Committee, and other surveys about UFO's came up with the rather paradoxal fact that there were more people who believed in a conspiracy of silence about UFOs than believed in UFOs in the first place.

It has often been said that we Americans today are a bit paranoid; that we always tend to believe that something is out to get us, or something is being kept from us. It certainly seems that we were a bit paranoid about UFOs.

Most people thought vaguely in terms of an Air Force conspiracy or a CIA conspiracy or even of a world-wide scientific conspiracy. It was generally acknowledged that the reason behind such a conspiracy was a desire on the part of those in power to hide the "truth" fro the public because people would panic if they knew that we really were being visit by superior creatures from another world. Conspiracy theorists constantly harkened back to the old "War of the Worlds" broadcast, and the panic it started. Such a belief, however, is rather too simple for the true connoisseur of conspiracies. He has long ago rejected the simple, straightforward Air Force - CIA - science establishment - cover-up as too obvious, and really rather ridiculous. The conspiracy connoisseur pointed out quite correctly that no government or group, no matter how powerful, could possibly suppress so much sensational information for so long -- no earthly group that is.

If the extraterrestrials WANTED to make themselves known then they would land in a central place, and all the feeble earthly cover-up would simply be blown away. It is out of this sort of background that the legend of the Men in Black arose. It concerns strange little men in dark suits who drive around in big shiny cars and harass people who claimed to have seen a UFO. The origin of the Men in Black legend can be pin-pointed fairly exactly. Back in 1953 a man by the name of Albert K. Bender was running an organization called the International Flying Saucer Bureau (IFSB) and editing a little publication called Space Review that was dedicated to news of flying saucers. The IFSB had a small membership despite its rather grandiose title, and Space Review reached at best, no more than a few hundred readers. But they were all deeply devoted to the idea that flying saucers were craft from outer space. In common with other true believers, these saucer buffs were convinced that they were in possession of a great truth, while most of the rest of the world remained in darkness and ignorance. They felt very important , and thus it was with a sense of surprise, even shock, that they opened up the October 1953 issue of Space Review and found two unexpected announcements:

"LATE BULLETIN. A source which the IFSB considers very reliable has informed us that the investigation of the flying saucer mystery and the solution is approaching its final stages."

"This same source to whom we had referred data, which had come into our possession, suggested that it was not the proper method and time to publish the data in Space Review. The second and more shocking item read:

"STATEMENT OF IMPORTANCE: The mystery of the flying saucers is no longer a mystery. The source is already known, but any information about this is being withheld by order from a higher source. We would like to print the full story in "Space Review", but because of the nature of the information we are very sorry that we have been advised in the negative." The statement ended with the ominous sentence, "We advice those engaged in saucer work to please be very cautious." Bender then suspended the publication of Space Review, and dissolved the IFSB. The tone of the announcements would have been familiar to anyone who had much experience with occult organizations. Occultists often claim they are in the possession of some great secret which, for equally secret reasons, they cannot reveal. Even the appeal, "please be very cautious" was not unique. It made those engaged in "saucer work" feel more important . After all, who is going to bother to persecute you if you are just wasting your time? Shortly after Bender closed down his magazine and organization he gave an interview to a local paper which he asserted the he had been visited by "three men wearing dark suits" who had order him "emphatically" to stop publishing material about flying saucers. Bender said that he had been "scared to death" and that he "actually couldn't eat for a couple of days." Some of Bender's former associates tried to press for a more satisfactory explanation, but to all questions he replied either cryptically or not at all.

This state of affairs created considerable confusions among the flying saucer buffs. What were they to think about such a strange story> Some were openly skeptical of Bender's tale. They said that his publication and organization were losing money and the tale of the three visitors who "ordered" him to stop publishing was just a face-saving gesture. Yet, as the years went by the "three Men in Black" began to sound more respectable and they took on a life of their own. Some of Bender's friends first thought that the Men in Black were from Air Force or the CIA, and indeed Bender's original statements do seem to sound like government agents. But after a while the Men in Black begun to assume a more extraterrestrial, even supernatural air.

Finally in 1963, a full decade after he first told of his mysterious visitors, Alber Bender elaborated further in a book called Flying Saucers and the Three Men in Black. It was a strange, confused and virtually unreadable book that revealed very little in the way of hard facts, but did significantly enhance the reputation of the Men in Black as extraterrestrials. The book also introduced into the lore "three beautiful women, dressed in tight white uniforms." Like their male counterparts in black, the women in white had "glowing eyes."

But even before the publication of Bender's book in 1963, the Men in Black (or MIBSs as they are know to insiders) had already been reported to be visiting others besides Albert Bender. By now they have been reported so often that they have become an established part of the UFO history. The Men in Black, naturally enough, wear black suits. They also usually wear sunglasses, presumably to disguise their "glowing eyes". Most of them are reported to be short and delicately built with olive complexions and dark, straight hair. They are often described as "Gypsies" or "Orientals". Most MIBS are reported to travel in groups of three and usually ride around in shiny new black cars -- often Cadillacs. These cars are even supposed to "smell new." Sometimes the MIBs pose as investigators from the CIA or some other government agency. They may flash official-looking credentials, but these can never be checked out. Occasionally the MIBs display badges with strange emblems on them, or have unrecognizable symbols painted on their cars. The purpose of the visits seems to be to get people who have seen UFOs to stop talking about them, or somehow to confuse and frighten the witnesses. People who worry about MIBs tend to lump all sorts of mysterious visitors into the category, even if they don't wear black, have glowing eyes or show any of the familiar MIB characteristics. The primary qualification for the Men in Black is that they be of unknown origin, and that they appear to act oddly and vaguely menacing. Some of those who write about UFO's and other strange phenomena rather casually mention "countless" cases where people have been visited by Men in Black. In reality these "countless" cases are difficult to pin down. In fact, there really seems to be a rather small number of MIB cases where there are any details available at all.

The impression given by the writers is that the publicized cases represent only "the tip of the iceberg." Beyond these, say the writers, are many "more sensational" cases, the details of which cannot be revealed for a variety of reasons. In any event solid evidence for a vast number of MIB cases is lacking. But we are, after all, dealing with beliefs as much as with reality, and impression is an important one. Often the MIB cases that we know of are not quite as sensational as Albert Bender's three visitors, but they are unsettling nevertheless.

Take the case of California highway inspector Rex Heflin. On August 3, 1965 Heflin claimed to have taken a series of Polaroid photos of a UFO from his car while parked near the Santa Ana Freeway. The pictures were quite clear and they showed an object shaped rather like a straw hat apparently floating above the ground. These pictures got a great deal of publicity, and are still among the most recently reprinted UFO photos. Heflin's story was investigated by the Air Force shortly after it became known. It was also looked into by investigators for the Condon Committee during their inquiry. (The committee investigator produced a pretty fair imitation of the photos by suspending the lens cap of his camera in front of his car with a thread and photograph it through the car window). In addition, a host of unofficial UFO groups tackled the case in their own way. There was considerable suspicion on the part of official investigators that the photos had been faked, but this was difficult to prove or disprove without the original prints. Being Polaroid photos there were no negative.

Heflin said that he had turned over three of the four originals to a man (or two men, the stories differ) who claimed that he represented the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). NORAD denied that they had ever sent out an investigator or indeed that they had the slightest interest in the photos. The mysterious person who is alleged to have taken the photos has never been identified. On October 11, 1967, over two years after Heflin's original sighting, but while the Condon investigation was going on, Heflin reported another encounter with mysterious visitors. A man who said that he was Captain C. H. Edmonds of the Space Systems Division, Systems Command, a unit of the Air Force that had been involved in the first investigation of his UFO photos, came to his home. During the interview the man who called himself Captain Edmonds asked Heflin if he wanted his original photos back. When Heflin said no, the man was "visibly relieved." Inexplicably, the man then began discussing the Bermuda Triangle. This is an area near the island of Bermuda where a number of mysterious disappearances of airplanes and shops have been reported. These disappearances have been linked by some to UFOs, though the connection does not seem very convincing. While this strange interview was going on Heflin said that he saw a car parked in the street. It had some sort of lettering on the front door but he could not make it out. To quote the Condon Report description of the incident, "In the back seat could be seen a figure and a violet (not blue) glow, which the witness attributed to instrument dials. He believed he was being photographed or recorded. In the meantime his FM multiplex radio was playing in the living room and during the questioning it made several loud audible pops." All attempts by the Air Force, various civilian researchers and the Condon Committee itself to find "Captain C. H. Edmonds" failed. As far as can be determined, no such person has ever existed.

A much more bizarre story was supposedly told by an unnamed family who had sighted a UFO. Sometime after the sighting they said that they were visited by a very strange individual. Ivan Sanderson, who reported the incident in his book Uninvited Visitors, described the individual thus: "almost seven feet tall, with a small head, dead white skin, enormous frame, but pipe stem limbs." This oddity said he was an insurance investigator and that he was looking for someone who had the same name as the husband of this family. He indicated that the man he was looking for had inherited a great deal of money. Continued Sanderson, "This weird individual just appeared out of the night wearing a strange fur hat with a vizor and only a light jacket. He flashed an official-looking card on entry but put it away immediately. Late on when he removed his jacket he disclosed an official looking gold shield on his shirt which he instantly covered with his hand and removed."

The strange visitor asked some personal questions about the family, but nothing at all about the UFOs. The creepiest part of the whole affair came when the eldest daughter of the family notices that the "investigator's" tight pants had ridden up his skinny leg, and she saw a green wire running out of his sock, up his leg and into his flesh at two points. After the interview the "investigator" got into a large black car which contained at least two other persons, and seemed to appear on an old dirt road that led from the woods. The car drove off into the night with its headlights off.

In addition to scaring and intimidating people, visits of MIBs are also supposed to produce a variety of unpleasant physical symptoms. Bender said he suffered from headaches, lapses of memory and was plagued by strange odors following the first visit of the Men in Black. Others who say they have had similar visitations have made similar complaints. Another eerie thing attributed to MIB types, it the ability to look like anyone they want to. Some UFO researchers claim that MIBs have bee posing as THEM in order to silence potential witnesses. John Keel, who has written a number of UFO books, said that he had encountered people who refused to believe that he was who he said he was.

Later contactees (those who say they are somehow or another in contact with the space people) began to whisper to local UFO investigators that the real John Keel had been kidnapped by a flying saucer and that a cunning android who looked just like me had been substituted in my place. Incredible though it may sound, this was taken very seriously, and later even some of my more rational correspondents admitted that they carefully compared the signatures on my current letters with pre-rumor letters they had received.

Each era tries to explain strange encounters in terms of its own system of beliefs; there is a similarity of some of these MIB cases with medieval tales of encounters with the devil or some of his demons. The devil, for example, was very often described as a man dressed in black. The ability to change shape and appear in any form was commonly attributed to demons, who were able to take the shape of a victim's friends and neighbors and even assume the likeness of angels and saints. Many of those who said that they had met the devil complained of the same range of physical symptoms reported by those who encountered the MIBs. The shiny new cars associated with MIBs is reminiscent of the Haitian belief in an evil society of sorcerers called "zobops". Haitians say that if you see a big new car going along the road without a driver is under control of the "zobops", and you had better not try to interfere with it.

This is not to imply that the MIBS are agents of the devil, or vice versa, anymore than the little green men from Mars were really the fairy folk of past generations. It is just that our visions and fears often remain the same over the ages, and only our explanations for them change. Of course, encounters with the devil during the Middle Ages were generally more frightening and overpowering experiences than current experiences with MIBs. Everybody believed in the devil, while today everybody does not believe in the creatures from outer space. Medieval society took devil stories in dead earnest, and anyone who made such a report might find himself facing a painful death at the stake. The worst one can expect from reporting an MIB encounter is a certain amount of disbelief and ridicule. In general, MIB tales are considered too bizarre even to be reported in local newspapers. They are published only in magazines and books put out for and by UFO enthusiasts. Usually such publications are privately printed and are read by only a few hundred. A few book, however, have been issued by major publishers and have reached a far wider audience. These cases are also occasionally discussed on radio and TV talk shows, so the information gets around more widely than one might think. A lot of people of heard of "something" about MIBS without really knowing any of the details.

There is one incident which bears certain similarities to the traditional MIB case that did receive very wide publicity. This is the story of the "kidnaping" of Betty and Barney Hill. While most of the MIB cases do not appear directly to involve a UFO, this one does. The couple was driving to their home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from Canada on the night of September 19, 1961. They were on an isolated stretch of road when they spotted what they thought was a flying saucer above them. The followed two completely blank hours in their lives. They could remember nothing from the time they saw the UFO until a time two hours later when they found themselves in their car several miles down the road from where they had seen the UFO. For months after this experience both of the Hills suffered from severe psychological distress. Finally they consulted a psychiatrist, who hypnotized them, and under hypnosis the Hills revealed a strange story of being kidnapped and taken aboard a flying saucer. The Hills didn't rush out and try to get publicity about their experience or write a book about it. In fact, they were remarkably quiet. But the incident did ultimately come to the attention of author John Fuller, who had already written an extremely popular UFO book. With the co-operation of the Hills and of their psychiatrist, Fuller produced another best seller, The Interrupted Journey" which was first serialized in the now defunct Look magazine. Though the book is carefully hedged with qualifications that the experience described might be a hallucination or a dream rather than a "totally real and true experience," the distinct impression left by "The Interrupted Journey" on thousands of readers was that the experience was a "totally real and true" one. The people or entities that were supposed to be controlling the spaceship that kidnapped the Hills can be squeezed into the Men in Black lore. Barney Hill described on of his captors as looking like "a red-headed Irishman," hardly an MIB type. But another wore "a shiny black coat," with a black scarf thrown about his neck.

Under hypnosis Hill drew a picture of "the leader" of his abductors. It is a strange insect-like face with a wide, thin mouth and huge slanting eyes that seem to go halfway around the creature's head. The eyes were the most frightening part of the saucer inhabitant's strange physiognomy. Once during a hypnotic session with the psychiatrist Barney Hill cried out in terror, "Oh, those eyes! They're in my brain!" Glowing eyes, you will recall, are considered one of the key characteristics of the typical Man in Black. Unlike many of the books written by or about people who say that they had encountered the inhabitants of UFOs, The Interrupted Journey carries real conviction. One gets the feeling that the Hills and Fuller are intelligent, sincere and sane people who really believe that what they described is what actually did happen. So this idea was planted in the minds of thousands of readers of The Interrupted Journey" UFO's can land, the extraterrestrials can kidnap ordinary people, subject them to a degrading and almost brutal examination and then wipe all memory of the incident from their minds, leaving behind only an unexplained sense of anxiety bordering on panic.

Well, what does all of this mean? Are we being invaded by some weird bunch of extraterrestrials who have, in the words of the old "Shadow" radio show, "the power to cloud men's minds"? Frankly the evidence does not support such an alarming conclusion. Are all the stories hoaxes and hallucinations? Psychiatrists could certainly have a field day with many of these accounts. Symptoms such as loss of memory, severe anxiety and other unpleasant reactions strongly suggest that many of those who report such experiences are in a disturbed psychological state, though they would claim the disturbance was caused by the encounter with the strange visitor. In any event they do not make the most reliable of witnesses. Some of the other stories are almost certainly sheer fiction, made up either by some practical joker or by a writer of sensational books. Whether all the stories are real or unreal is not a question that we can answer conclusively here. The point is that we Americans are building a mythology for ourselves, just as the Europeans did with their tales of dragons, ogres and elves, and just as all people have done in all parts of the world in all ages. We have often prided ourselves on being a practical hardheaded, no-nonsense sort of people who were immune to the irrational fears an superstitious notions of less clear-sighted and realistic folk. This proposition is demonstrably untrue. And perhaps we are better off for it. Our monsters, our space people, even if they don't exist, if indeed they are rather silly, also make life more interesting and exciting.

The Mythology of Ufo Events and Interpretations: A New Examination
Peter Rogerson

During the last few years or so there has, within ufology, been a growing complexity of phenomena, accompanied by a rise, which is also a transformation of mythological statements.

One of the basic myths behind the UFO interpretations until recently was that of the deus ex machina , which would bring an end to history. (1) In [John] Michel's latest article (2) we can see this theme repeated; the UFO is the precursor of a new mutation of the human species, which will produce an irrevocable discontinuity in evolution, the final, oceanic, unbridgeable generation gap.

These early myths were nurtured, not primarily by the absurd UFO cults, but by the professional myth makers, the comics, films, science fiction writers, even advertisers. The first great contactee came, not from the Californian "saucerites" of happy memory, but from Hollywood; in the form of the allegorical science fiction drama The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). This concerns the coming of a prophet, Klaatu, in a flying saucer. His arrival interrupts the electrical supplies of the world; the weapons of his assailants melt away. He brings a message of universal peace, and is martyred for it, releasing the robot Gort, who begins a campaign of destruction. Only the actions of two ordinary citizens, a widow and her young son, save the world and by their love temporarily resurrect Klaatu. But now only the threat of the destructive power of the robot remains to prevent war.

As with the later contactee stories, this film was conceived as a warning against nuclear war. (3) Its symbolism is powerful. If men of humanity are ignored, then humanity will be at the mercy of the elemental forces of blind technology. If peace by love is rejected, then there will inevitably be peace by terror. In the dark days when it was made The Day the Earth Stood Still made a deep impact. In its wake the contactee cults grew and flourished. Few if any possessed the vision of the original. Many degenerated into whimsy and were lost completely.

Established science fiction writers also used the UFO legend as a basis on which to build mythological statements. Among the most important of such tales was Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End, another allegorical work. The Overlords, symbolic of scientific rationalism, arrive from space to end men's squabbles and create a rationalistic utopia on Earth. In the closing chapters it is seen that this utopia is sterile, its rationalist materialism a defence against aspects and powers of the human personality which must be hidden until man has gained wisdom. The release of these powers comes in a generation of divine children, whose arrival means the end of the world, the final collapse into futility of man. The vision of Alpha and Omega at the close is one of the most remarkable passages in science fiction. It is a vision of science as creator and destroyer. The myth of the super-human child is also seen in John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos. In both we are confronted with a generation of "changelings" who possess the wild talents and threaten the end of history.

The growing power of the myth of the changeling can be detected in a variety of literature. An idea which undoubtedly began as a primitive interpretation of the birth of a subnormal or deformed child has achieved a new significance. The growing rumour of a coming generation of children possessed of strange and supernatural powers occurs in a variety of guises. The so-called "cross-correspondence" scripts of the early years of this century, allegedly dictated by the post mortem Myers, Gurney and Sidgwick (the founders of the SPR), make much of a coming mutation of the human race engineered from "the other side". (4) Such myths also occur in UFO situations (e.g., the Appleton case) and black magic cults have talked of children of Satan. These myths suggest a subconscious fear and awe of children, who are seen as a repository of the dark powers within man, unrestrained by culture.

Similarly the myth of the adult taken to Magonia is growing. Those taken are either destroyed or, like Monsieur Vincent, (5) possessed of new powers. There is a reorientation and men change, draw apart, or are set apart by strange incommunicable knowledge. We can sense this in the case of Dr X, (6,7) with the appearance of the strange stigmata, not only reminding one of the markings used to identify birds, but also forming, as John Rimmer has pointed out, (8) a symbolic figure of a third eye in a triangle. The third eye as a symbol suggests both an increased inner awareness, and incipient splitting of the personality.

During the last few years, as noted before, there has been a movement away from these simple images towards more complex patterns. The first hints came with the study of the 1897 Airship Reports, similar legends to which may have provided the basis for the airship tales of Jules Verne. (9) In these, as with some of his other works, Verne is concerned with the corrupting effect of scientific power on the idealist. The power originally intended to liberate mankind corrupts and then destroys its creator. An apt symbol of the science behind the railroads, threatening the survival of the Mid-western farmers.

It is the work of John Keel and his supporters from which the elusive turn in the myth developed. The basic theme of Keel (and British counterparts such as Gordon Creighton) is that a dark force threatens man, prevents him from developing his faculties to the full, and can destroy him. In an effort to comprehend this force, both Keel and Creighton have turned to the primitive belief in "elementals" the impact of which seems to strike some deep chord in the unconscious. How did this myth arise?

"Primitive" man (as with modern children) had no conception either of the distinction between animate and inanimate nature, or of causality. All nature had spirits, who directed the natural order of things, and who possessed the qualities of the aspect of nature they represented. These qualities were anthropomorphisms, projections of aspects of the human personality on to the environment. With the arrival of the new intellectual religions, the old myths were driven underground, becoming symbols of the dark instinctive side of man which the new faiths had rejected.

The very name "elemental" suggests an identification with the dark instinctive aspects of man's personality. The childishness and general hostility to man, which are said to be attributes of the elemental, confirm this identification. In the case of the poltergeist there is evidence that this is so. (10) The poltergeist is the projection of emotional conflict from the interior reality of the mind to the external reality. The poltergeist allows anti-social actions to be committed without guilt. In a similar manner the violent and sexual "messages" received during "automatic writing", etc. can be accepted by projecting them on to "evil spirits", thus allowing repressed desires to be expressed.

The term "elemental" also gives a vision of terrifying mindless power, an apt symbol of which can be found in numerous reports of "monsters", "robots", etc. reminiscent of "Gort" in The Day the Earth Stood Still. The reports of one-eyed giants from South America are also an aspect of this symbol. The Cyclops is totally mindless and instinctive, the lowest depths of mental deficiency capable of post-natal existence. There is also a hint of blindness, and the robot-like behaviour suggests a de-humanised humanity. The totality is a symbol of great but mindless power.

One of the most important, powerful symbolic figures in the new ufology is the Man in Black. The wealth of possible interpretations is great. The popular descriptions of the MIB are, self-evidently, a projection of all the images of the comic-book villain; spy, foreigner, gangster, anarchist, devil. He is the universal scapegoat on to which men project their undesirable qualities. Such projections in the past, on to various minority groups, have led to the great tragedies of human history, the attempts to exorcise the Man in Black merely confirming his existence. In the European witch tradition the devil is portrayed as the man in black. Black is the colour of the night, death and the hidden side of things. That the MIB is an aspect of ourselves, not an external "thing" is evident from much of the earlier tradition. Mrs Jones mistook the MIB for her brother, emphasising the close relationship. On her prayers the vision changed to that of a dog (11) - the phantom dog, which is both a folk tradition of the wolf, and a projection of the symbol of the dog within. (The dog possesses several symbolic significances.) (12)

To have too close a relationship with Magonia is dangerous. The MIB has thus an element of taboo; by observing UFO events man has encroached upon the territory of the gods and retribution follows.

The MIB is also the "censor", preventing men from obtaining knowledge which will destroy them, the knowledge and power of the gods. Similarly, those "taken", such as AVB and the Hills are prevented from taking artefacts. Paradoxically, the same symbol portrays the MIB as the elemental force within, preventing the discovery of precious secrets.

The MIB features in many ghost stories. It is a "stock apparition" often interpreted as an undertaker, a monk, in female form as a nun or a widow. The persistence of such traditions suggests the power of the symbol. In a recent folk song, the MIB is explicitly presented as the dark hidden side of man, which men desperately attempt to avoid seeing.

Closely associated with the MIB in some aspects of UFO mythology is the Dero. The Dero has several important symbolic aspects. Clearly the Dero, a terror from the interior responsible for human tragedy, is a symbol of the dark atavistic forces in the unconscious; it is also a symbol of dehumanisation by the wrong use of knowledge, a theme often expressed in science fiction.

Yet these dark aspects of Magonia are not the whole picture. We have already seen the symbol of the sun maiden (13) and there are other symbols of a similar nature. Keel created a great deal of amusement in some quarters with talk of "hermaphrodite angels", yet the hermaphrodite angel is a symbol in many cultures - a symbol of primal unity, a reconciliation of opposites. It is a not infrequent dream image, and has great prominence in alchemical lore.

Thus the UFO myth is of a dual nature, capable of creating or destroying, thus mirroring the power of science, and knowledge in general. It echoes powerful symbolic themes which are also to be discovered in literature, especially science fiction. It also serves as a "translation" of older universal myths in modern terms.

The Myth of Magonia is total and universal to human experience. It is difficult to present a total meaning of it. Magonia seems to be the symbol of the impersonal, totally alien forces of the natural world, and its duality represents the varying moods of nature. It is these aspects of man which identify him with the natural world, the unconscious, archaic part of ourselves, that is suppressed in civilisation. It has given us our greatest visions and most terrible nightmares, the extremes of beauty and hideousness. The conservatism and timelessness of Magonia symbolises the timelessness of nature, the slow passage of geological time, compared with which the lifetime of men is insignificant. Its capriciousness is that of nature and the instinctive part of ourselves; its power dwarfs our achievements, rendering them powerless.

At its best Magonia confirms an identification with man in the universe, giving meaning to an otherwise sterile existence, providing great leaps to our culture. At its worst Magonia gives an escape from the real world, a retreat to the womb, preventing men from achieving true self knowledge and maturity, or allows the darkest and most irrational impulses. The two aspects appear inseperable. The myth of Magonia presents great dangers if it is not channelled, and an examination of UFO literature can be something of an unnerving experience, for one can see through the cracks in the surface rationality to the dark elemental forces in all of us, what Lionel Chassin called "the credulity of the savage". It is a mistake to deny the existence of Magonia, as does Alan Sharp. It is also dangerous to regard Magonia and its legends as having a literal reality; that really is a misunderstanding of the nature of myth.

Our comments should not be interpreted as necessarily indicating that the UFO phenomena0 are wholly internalised: Such a view, despite great scientific difficulties, should not be dismissed out of hand, but the mythological nature of the UFO reports holds true whatever the physical nature of "real" UFO phenomena. The relationship between the "real" and "mythological" UFO phenomena is a field fertile for speculation, speculation best left to science fiction writers however.


1. Rogerson, Peter, "The UFO as an integral part of the apocalyptophilia and irrationality of the mid twentieth century", MUFOB , Vol. 4, No. 1, 5

2. Michel, Aimé, "An enigmatic figure of the XVII century", Flying Saucer Review , Vol. 18, No. 2, 3

3. Baxter, John, Science Fiction in the Cinema , Barnes, 1970

4. Salter, W.H., Zoar, London, 1961

5. Michel, Aimé, "The UFOs and history", Flying Saucer Review, Vol. 18, No. 3, 3

6. Michel, Aimé, "The strange case of Dr X", UFO Percipients, Flying Saucer Review Special Issue No. 30 , 3

7. Michel, Aimé, "The strange case of Dr X" (part 2), Flying Saucer Review , Vol. 17, No. 6, 3

8. Rimmer, John, private conversation with the author

9. Clark, Jerome and Loren Coleman, "Serpents and UFOs", Flying Saucer Review , Vol. 18, No. 3, 18

10. Owen, A.R. George, Can We Explain the Poltergeist? , Helix Press, 1964

11. Sandell, Roger, "More on Welsh UFOs in 1905", Flying Saucer Review , Vol. 18, No. 2, 31

12. Dale-Green, Patricia, Dog , Hart-Davies, 1966

13. Rogerson, Peter, "The sun maiden", MUFOB , Vol. 4, No. 2