Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Examining the UFO controversy from a historical perspective
Here I begin what I hope will be an informative and entertaining examination of UFO history using a number of different keys. These diverse entry points will open a number of different doors, and thus will lead to different ways of embracing, understanding and hopefully solving aspects of the UFO controversy.
I take my key perspective unashamedly from the outstanding book “History in Three Keys – The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth” by Paul Cohen (Columbia University Press, 1997). Anyone who contemplates the recent history of China knows that the so-called Boxer rebellion of 1900 was a dramatic watershed event in the much larger tapestry of Chinese history. Paul Cohen approached his subject in a superb way. He examined the Boxer phenomenon through three main historical keys – as event, experience and myth. To elaborate, as event he was representing a particular reading of the past, by experience he was revealing the lived or experienced past and lastly he examined his subject as myth – “an impressing of the past into the service of a particular reading of the present.” (Cohen, xii) Each of these keys in turn approached the gaol of explaining the phenomenon and how it was connected with earlier and later historical developments; offering “the thought, feelings, and behaviour of the immediate participants in different phases” of the experience; and finally exploring of the myths that have grown in response to the event, which are often “symbolic representations designed less to elucidate the (phenomenon) than to draw energy from it and score points, often (but not always) of a political or overtly propagandistic nature, in the post-(event) present.” (Cohen, xiii)
These keys help inform my historical takes on the UFO phenomenon and the controversy it has produced. I hope you enjoy this journey through the UFO mystery.
I will be using as a backbone for this site my UFO HISTORY KEYS column in the UFOLOGIST magazine from Australia which began in back in the middle of 2006. This will make the issues and information from that column more widely available and will act as a catalyst to develop the topic touched in them.
I look forward to feedback on these matters of UFO HISTORY.
Photo: At one of my own historical keys - the historical plaque at Mittagong for William Charker/Chalker (1775-1823) - my first ancestor to come to Australia (in 1802) and the first settler in the area which was originally called "Chalker's Flat" (Photo - copyright B. Chalker)