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High Strangeness

April 10, 2018 • Los Angeles

Penstock CanyonThe late author Anne Strieber had a simple way to evaluate a UFO report: “If it’s not weird, I don’t trust it.” This reflects the experiential side of the UFO phenomenon rather than the nuts-and-bolts approach to research in the field. In the 1950s, and among many saucerheads today, the assumption was that UFOs were spacecraft from other planets, and inevitably we would gather enough hard evidence—photos, Geiger-counter readings, bits of otherworldly metal from crashed saucers—to figure out where they were from.

Sixty years later, evidence is still tenuous, and there are a lot more varied opinions about what’s going on. The most compelling thinking, to me, comes from writers like Strieber and her husband, Whitley Strieber, who wrote Communion in the 1980s. That book was a huge best-seller that resonated with a lot of UFO experiencers to whom weird things had happened that didn’t boil down to nuts-and-bolts ETs.

Other writers who have explored this high strangeness are Greg Bishop, who has theorized that our senses and brains are not adapted to perceiving reality as it is, rather to navigating our environment, and so we’re not built to get what these strange encounters are; and Mike Clelland, who has written about symbolism and synchronicity in these experiences (Clelland’s blog Hidden Experience provided the thought-provoking opening quote from Strieber). Personally I love that none of these writers has come up with a simple pat explanation, which means we can dig deeper without the misleading filters of a foregone explanation.

These ideas inform the plot of Mason’s latest blunt, Penstock Canyon. Mason encounters several variants of liminal entities, and actually goes to work for some of them. He doesn’t really find any pat answers about who they are, but the journey is the point. As his psychic colleague Anna says, “Keep your eyes on the skies.”

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