Okay, I spent all of lunch catching up on all of the alien news I missed last month, and I put together a little digest for you: Three dudes said they’ve Seen Some Shit but can’t get into it, but trust them, it would blow our minds. This, to me, puts them roughly on the same credibility level as the guy in the forums who says he got to test the unreleased hoverboard prototypes from Back to the Future II: I don’t care how cool it was, I don’t care how many sick jumps and flips you did or how many of your arms you broke trying to ride it across a pond full of crocodiles like in Live and Let Die1; as we used to say in the elder days of the modern internet, pics or it didn’t happen.
Now, to be clear, I 100% believe there’s life out there; it is, to me, a much weirder idea that life would only happen once (and specifically here), although admittedly as cosmic experiments go we’ve had mixed results so far. My thing is that like–all art is self-portraiture, and ‘art’ in this case extends to our ideas of what ‘life’ is; the shape of the hand determines what kind of brush-strokes can be made, and similarly we can only imagine non-human life through the lens of our limited, anthropocentric perspective, which (along with makeup budgets) is why most “aliens” in our media are basically just a kind of guy. Even some of the more outlandish conceptions tend to fall, ultimately, along those familiar lines, just in unfamiliar pants; Douglas Adams famously described one alien in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy as ‘a superintelligent shade of the color blue’, which is incredible and mind-blowing, but is also just Guy Made Of Photons when you get down to it. Part of the problem is that we have no idea what “life” actually is or what does or doesn’t count as it, even in the context of our own planet (do NOT get people started on sponges and virii and mushrooms and the less said about possible artificial life-systems the better), much less what could count in other biomes and ecological systems, so for all we know we might’ve already encountered life and just not recognized it.2 Dreamy sigh! What a thing, to be alive in a time and place like this, what beauty, what wonder. Hm? Oh right, those lying bastards in Warshington.
Okay so I’m pretty sure there are aliums, and I’m pretty sure they’re not just Space Daves, although in fairness there’s speculation that the anthropic biological model we represent–bilateral symmetry, vertical orientation to minimize sun exposure, omnivory, visual acuity, and manual dexterity–might actually just be broadly well-suited to survival in diverse biomes, so for all we know the elemental Dave Archetype might just be some kind of common evolutionary model and we fit it, not the other way around. REGARDLO, people all over the world have been seeing (and, following the invention of flight, interacting with) strange things in the sky literally the entire time we’ve been here, it’s not a secret and I’m entirely certain the Powers That Be throughout the world have more data than they’re sharing, which is not necessarily the same as knowing more.
But for the above-listed reasons and more, as much of a Believer as I am, it’s hard to dip your toe into UFOlogy without immediately drowning in conspiracy theories, most of which are just thinly-veiled antisemitism and white supremacy, and it’s even harder to hard to pose any of the spiritual questions without immediately hitting either the obnoxiously atheist All Supernatural Phenomena Are Aliens people (again, see white supremacy3) or the All ‘Alien’ Phenomena Are Demonic (And So Are All Churches But Mine) people; the first is self-evidently unpleasant and dangerous, and as a Baptist School Kid I grew up with plenty of the second, so nothing on this menu catches my eye. My worldview has room for Space Daves, I feel like there should be a third thing, like when Immortal Hulk proposed that maybe Gamma Radiation had a secret non-wave, non-particle form, which I suggest should be called the Gamma jamma4.
One of the things I love about Twin Peaks, especially near the end when it really starts going off the rails and talking a lot more about Blue Rose and what Garland Briggs saw, is that there is very strong evidence on both the Aliens and Magic sides of the question, which was intentional: If you were asking “Is it aliens or is it magic?”, you were missing the point, and I’m not entirely sure how I think that applies here, but I think it’s important and true. It’s also possible that I’m simply being contrarian and convinced I deserve a Third Thing simply because I don’t like Things One and Two, but dammit this is America, and if I want one there should be one. Why has an entrepreneur not stepped in to fill this need. WHY HAS THE INVISIBLE HAND OF THE FREE MARKET FORSAKEN ME5.
#16: If you could change anything about
one of your core fandoms, what would it be?
Oh BOUNCING BABY BOWSER would I like to get rid of the racists in, y’know, anywhere, but specifically in speculative fiction, meaning here the big ur-genre from which sci-fi, fantasy, horror, and basically any other non-mundane genre6 descend.
Doesn’t even matter what medium! Comics? Everywhere. Video games? A recording of any Call of Duty voice-chat would be a solid argument for destroying the internet. And for the love of Store-Brand God do not engage with anyone talking about how they miss the “real Star Trek” or that it’s gotten ‘too political’. And all of this, of course, can’t be fairly or accurately discussed without accounting for the ways that this racism overlaps and interacts with misogyny, homo and transphobia, ableism, and a dozen other circles that you’d THINK people who claim to like stories about better worlds or fixing bad ones would prefer to leave behind7. One would think! One would be a fool. A fool who had worked too long on the first part of the post, and whose jazz gummy was making him easily distracted by the unreasonably delicious-looking pancakes in Mr. Harrigan’s Phone. This is the hazard of the jazz gummy; it bestows charms that vanish in the night, reabsorbed into the dark sea of possibility like so much syrup. They’re just stage-cakes! There’s no need to make them look that good! I’d argue they didn’t even need to be in the scene! TELL YOUR DAD ABOUT GETTING A TEXT FROM A DEAD GUY BEFORE HE MAKES YOU BREAKFAST, CLARF. He, like all people, should be breaking fast with me in mind.
GOOD NIGHT, GOOD LUCK, AND MAKE YOUR PANCAKES FROM FLOUR, IT ONLY TAKES A LITTLE BIT LONGER AND YOU CAN ALWAYS TELL PRE-MADE BATTER-CAKES, YOU CAN LIE TO YOURSELF BUT YOU CAN’T LIE TO ME.