"What I'm dealing with is so vast and great that it can't be called the truth. It's above the truth." - Sun Ra

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bertolt Brecht Vs. The Aliens

Preface: The idea of addressing the question of a pre-existing extraterrestrial presence on our planet in a journal with an aim of some academic integrity may put some readers off. If so, may I preface with the suggestion that this piece is not so much about aliens and whether or not they're here in any form, and instead about knee-jerk reactions of fear and rejection such as some skeptical readers may or may not have? Mention flying saucers and greys in an average college classroom and the teacher will have a fit. So this article is perhaps about why that is,  this reaction of outrage and dismissal is akin to what a 13th century Christian missionary might have towards some Mayan priest telling him the Earth revolves around the sun and not vice versa. The issue isn't whether or not it's true, even, but the motivation behind the violence of the rejection. If a child tells her mother that she thinks flowers are born on the moon, the mother wont have her burnt at the stake for a heretic, presumably. A kid who believes Santa Clause is real won't be booed out of his Kindergarten class. So why does the alien issue so terrify modern academia unless there's something to it?
The issue of secrecy is one counter to the entire flow of media in our media saturated culture. We're so used to news feeding on itself, making public every last thing about everything that when news goes in the opposite direction it becomes automatically discredited. We're told flat out not to believe everything the news and those in power say--new scandals erupt all the time--and yet we still back off of any topic the media belittles, as if we're still struggling with school yard taunting trauma, we don't want to be considered crazy by mentioning we think some high powered cabal in the corporate-governmental substrata is keeping the truth about aliens from us. We can't handle the truth, therefore the truth is the truth isn't.

 And yet, UFOs are a part of the culture. Everyone knows about them and jokes about flying saucers  and yet through the joking about it, they believe it even as they doubt it. Is this perhaps some slow burn acclimation process? When we're still stuck on square one - do they exist? Then we're not freaking out about square three - what do they want from us and square four - there's nothing we can do to stop them. 

So-- what if the upper echelons of a black ops government used Brechtian post-modernism to simultaneously educate and placate the world on the subject of UFOs, aliens, and our spiritual future. And the worst part of all? You already know this to be true.  Read all about it in Bruce Rux's classic book, Hollywood Vs. The Aliens!

There's two schools of thought on this issue, one of which is that the alien issue is a fabrication by black ops military to cover experiments with saucer-shaped craft pioneered by the Nazis, funding for them illuminated by Project Paperclip via the Thule Society. Another is that the truth of an alien presence is deliberately muddied via the tactics of post-modern Brechtian theater.

A classic way to imagine this would be via the films of Godard. There's a scene in First Name: Carmen (1983), for example, wherein a shoot-out between sexy young terrorist bank robbers and French police is going on in a hotel wherein elderly residents read newspapers in the various seats around the lobby. As the gun melee goes on around them, the elderly register the events the way tolerant grandparents might react to their grandchildren running through the living room with toy guns, shrieking in their own private play world.

So are we meant to assume they also see the film cameras and know this is just a movie? How can we tell which is which as far as what's supposed to be 'real' within the film? By interjecting chaotic, comic but pedestrian elements into real-life bank robberies, for example, the situation can become confused. If you rob a bank dressed as clowns with someone filming like it's a Hollywood action film, how would people react? No one knows how to react in those situations. There is no correct response. A play or real life? Are we supposed to just know which is which? This confusion puts reality into a realm known as Brechtian post-modernism, where all these differences are transcended.

Now apply this to a UFO crash, something so unbelievable in and of itself, so out of the realm of normal experience that it makes a bank robbery look like a traffic light. Naturally as the Big Other government it's your job to placate the public, to keep them in the dark about the true nature of the universe so they can go about their business without panicking and starting a stampede.  If you were to bring a psy-ops agent to a real alien crash scene and have him drop a Martian dummy nearby, something alien-like yet obviously faked, then  the whole believability of the 'real' crash over the hill would be called into question, without you having to do anything about hiding the true evidence. By making a mask of an alien face and pulling it off a human being, you instantly relegate all alien faces as mere masks. If you know what the aliens look like, slip a picture or drawing to a reliable Hollywood producer, to make a film where the aliens look and act exactly like they do in 'real life,' Now if anyone sees them there's no need to worry. Credibility is gone.

At the same time, the intruding element would be removed from our conscious plane and shown a comfortable niche for itself below, in the realm of collective archetypal myth. Couldn't this also be a root reason for the demonic masks of tribal ceremonies throughout the world? In creating masks of demons, the actual demon is contained in the realm of fiction. Anthropologist called it mimetic magic. You can call it 'razzle-dazzle'!

While films like Hangar 18 (1980) retrofit the truth with unbearably crappy special effects (the saucer [below] looks like a bunch of suitcases and the aliens look like they were kicked out of a Star Trek Next Generation audition room) their very cheapness actually makes their message more authentic. We're conditioned to associate 'education' with bad, faded film stock and crappy special effects because of low budget 'safety' films from elementary school, splice-ridden film strips, faded educational documentaries, and outmoded bus safety films. HANGAR takes its ideas from 1970s paranoia films and its look from 70's TV like the Rockford Files: everything from NASA to the press to Air Force HQ to the president seems to all take place in a single low budget set. The titular hangar is just hanging out there in the wind, instead of deep inside rock like so many other things.

In HANGAR 18, the military crew under Harry Forbes Darren McGavin are excited about the recovered alien craft but as it's classified top secret not long after being discovered, those who discovered it are left out of the loop via some hilariously dissociative language from Harry. He tells them it's all being taken care of on a need to know basis, and then that's all he tells them, never even mentioning they're no longer in the know: "It's not necessary... it's all going to come out in the report. That's all you have to know for now... everything's going to be all right."

That's all the public needed to know: everything was going to be all right. The extreme cheapness of these science fiction films about UFOS serves the same ingenious propaganda purpose: "Everything's going to be all right. Look at how under funded and ugly those aliens are! Nothing to worry about, ask us no questions, just go about your business."


The whole issue of belief is central to American thinking, to the point where even atheists feel the need to trumpet loudly all they do not believe in. In Russia, Hangar 18 was the first western movie shown on TV ever, and a whole generation of Soviet kids grew up to be diehard Hangar fans. They know the events are true! Belief never even enters into it. Maybe that's part of their heritage vs. ours, and is something so eloquently discussed by Slavoj Zizek, that in life under communism everyone knew they were just pretending to believe in the communist system. They celebrated and marched in solidarity purely as a performance for the Big Other. When communism fell and the wall came down, it was a tipping point moment --everyone just stopped believing and suddenly there was nothing there. In this way tyranny can set you free, because it shows you the folly of belief itself, leaving you free to just know.

If you look at the anti-implementations of Godard, and of Brecht of course, we see this 'just knowing' throughout, the narrative post-modern disruption as divine wake-up call, and not just to political action--a rejection of capitalism or Vietnam or communism or whatever is oppressing you--but consciousness itself. The narrative disruption signifies a chance to wake up into the real even if just for a moment as the egoic brain scuttles to find another illusion to bury itself in. The UFO equivalent might be seen in the 1947 Roswell crash. The first newspaper account said "Flying Saucer crashes in New Mexico" - but then the 'ego' - government officials- rush in to bury the 'reality' of alien visitors with a fabrication about a weather balloon. The disinformation boys have been hard at work ever since, but is this really a bad thing? Granted they are keeping us in the dark, but truly, as a global population, do we really need to know?

Another example would be, perhaps, the 'where do babies come from?' question of many children. It's the parent's job to keep them wondering, or pacify their mind with some idea of a stork. But the children aren't going to be satisfied with any answer but the real one. That's okay, they should be curious, intrigued, if they find out all the grisly biological details too soon it could skeeve them out. In short, the kids need a mystery, we all do. The trick of narrative disruption in Godard and Brecht is to expose the mystery, to show the pregnancy or at any rate burst the bubble of the mystery. Now that we know, that anti-narrative shock can either wake us up to a divine knowing freedom or give us a ringing fearful headache.

Godard and Brecht aren't for everyone. I can't imagine the average middle American getting much pleasure out of First Name: Carmen.  Not to sound snobby, but the breadcrumb trail is there should they want to learn more.. they can get a Godard book from the library and study up on the French New Wave, rent Breathless from Netflix and get started. Similarly the military industrial secret stasi of the UFO secret have been threatening and violent to witnesses only in situations where they perhaps saw too much--such as alien bodies at a crash site (at Roswell). They have no issue, apparently, with those on the fringes who are still following the loop de loop breadcrumb trails, still chasing Bigfoot through the woods or delving down for the Loch Ness monster. We need these mysteries. These mysteries get us ready for bigger things. Once we found out where babies came from, that sad shock of awareness signaling the beginning of the end of childhood, was both a let down and terrifying. Maybe that's what awaits us with the coming slow motion disclosure... as long as we were curious little detectives snooping through declassified documents, we were innocent and excited about the mystery. Once there can be no doubt, once we learn the whole story, then our innocence is gone forever. Tragic as that is, we're better off being the freshman in high school than the upperclassman in elementary. We're better off knowing the boogeyman is real, no matter how much sleep we lose.


muzuzuzus said...

yeah cheap and gaudy like a 'Reefer Madness film' or one of those that warned of the
'HORRIBLE DANGERS OF L S D' said in one of those ridiculous 1950s voices---like the ones which would advertize pathetic films like 'The BLOB' 'The THING' lol etc

I wonder...has there been ONE 'ET' film thats been done in a deep, artistic way---where say the ET would warn about the terrible human behaviour affecting life on planet Earth?

I am guessing not, because it is so obvious that the same mindset which tries to SET the propaganda to do with UFO phenomena is the very same that LIES about and wants covered up their actual actions in the wars they do, and hence if it cometh out their persecution of Julian Assange and Wikileaks, and Bradley Manning, a young man who is still currently being held in solitary confinement and being tortured.
I hope this is not seen as me trying to change topic. My view is to see all the interconnections
That film you mention where the old folk look at the bloodshed around them as like kids playing is what I feel mass media news propaganda creates in people-----that the most terrible horros are going on, and yet to have their viewers JUST wince---not really CONNECT, FEEL directly. That of course is what the 'education' system is for of course. mass media just maintains that deadness.

C. Jerry Kutner said...

For anyone interested in this sort of thing, Bruce Rux's book (Hollywood vs. the Aliens) is a must-read.