Saucers, Lies, and Reality Boxes: (Let’s Not Fight) The Coming UFO Wars of Meaning

Sunday August 20, 2023

The War of the Reality Boxes

“You know, the truth is we don’t know a darned thing about what this actually is yet.” 

—-Whitley Strieber (on the Weaponized podcast with Jeremy Corbell and George Knapp, June 27, 2023: “Who Are The Visitors & Why Are They Here?”)

They say that what goes around comes around. Yes, and maybe sometimes literally and at just the right time. Serendipity is alive and well. 

I recently opened my email inbox to be greeted by a puzzling message. Evidently someone (who preferred to remain anonymous) liked my comment on a blog post. The only problem was that I couldn’t recall recently making a comment on any blog, but—throwing caution to the wind, I suppose—I clicked on the link, and it brought me to this:  

Beautiful post. We are meaning-making mammals. We want to live in a story that makes sense, that satisfies our reason. We also hope that this story gives us some comfort and makes us feel at home in the universe and at peace with ourselves. Yet we are also truth-seeking souls, and often the truth disturbs our sense of rational order and our desire for comfort. There is randomness and inscrutability. One of my favorite quotes is a line from a poem by W.H. Auden: “We are lived by powers we pretend to understand.” Indeed.

At first, my comment seemed strangely unfamiliar, as if someone else—someone far more articulate and succinct than myself—had written it. But as I came to the end of the paragraph, I clearly remembered authoring the response. It was more than a year ago, on a blog that had absolutely nothing to do with UFOs.

Now, however, my old words seemed to take on a brand new meaning in light of current controversies: the David Grusch claims and revelations, followed by the Schumer legislation, the spectacular congressional UFO hearings, the disingenuous and petulant pushback offered by Dr. Kirkpatrick, all topped off by the despicable smear tactics used to try to discredit Mr. Grusch.

Yet, my mind was suddenly catapulted past the present situation to a disconcerting image of the future. Hard to believe, but even as the current political battle over the facts of Confirmation continues to heat up, it will be dwarfed by the coming philosophical war over the interpretation of their meaning. This conflagration will make current events look like a minor brushfire in comparison.

Which is not to minimize the intensity of the current tug-of-war within the DoD/IC between those who know it is time to reveal long-hidden truths on the one hand, and the inveterate Secret Keepers and their agents on the other.  The latter are terrified at losing their power (or their chances for unimaginable wealth). They remain steadfastly determined not to be held accountable for their lies to Congress and the American people, not to mention other possible illegalities, such as the murders and financial crimes alleged by David Grusch. With all due respect to Tom DeLonge, I don’t buy the notion that the secret is being kept for our own good because it’s too terrible for us to know. We can handle the truth. The question is: Can they?

At the risk of sounding overly sanguine, I suggest that the attempt to smear David Grusch will not stop the current drive towards further revelations. The old psy-op playbooks won’t work. Other whistleblowers will not be cowed by these bullying tactics, and may be even be emboldened. They will come forward, either to Congress or to select journalists.

As for David Grusch himself, his personal issues have no bearing whatsoever on the credibility or truth of his claims, and his public and private testimony before Congress. His actions only reflect positively on both his character and his professionalism. Clearly he had the courage to seek help for his PTS, and the fortitude to get better. His personal struggles did not impact his work performance—the simple proof being that he kept all of his high-level security clearances. The fact that it was not the substance of what he said that was challenged is evidence enough of the validity of his claims. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Once the basic facts are finally, officially Confirmed—namely, that Non-Human (and/or Future Human) Intelligences have been here on Earth interacting with humans for millennia, and that we have the physical evidence to prove it—the next struggle will begin over the meaning of these facts. There will be rival, mutually incompatible interpretations offered from various scientific, religious, and philosophical perspectives regarding the identity, purpose, and nature of the Others. These differences will be reflected in questions about our understanding of our true history, our identity, and our place in the cosmos, not to mention the very nature of reality. A royal ideological donnybrook is a-brewing.

This epistemological “war of the narratives” will have both political and economic causes, as well as political and economic effects. Championing such stories, and the metaphysical theories they embody, is a political as well as a philosophical act involving the struggle for control and power. This includes intellectual and explanatory power, to be sure, but also raw social muscle–the ability to impose a particular story on a culture and disqualify or discredit its rivals, much as Catholic Christianity managed to do in the fading Roman Empire of the Fourth Century, thanks to Emperor Theodosius and Bishop Augustine.

The problem with this control fetish is that it’s precisely what has led to our present civilizational crisis. We are trapped in a cul-de-sac of antiquated belief systems whose continued existence threaten the very future of humanity and the health of the planet. Neither materialistic scientism nor old-time religionism can tolerate genuine ambiguity and uncertainty: the wide open spaces of consciousness in which we wisely don’t pretend to grasp what is beyond our ken. In a word, what is inscrutable. It’s precisely here, in this foggy grey epistemological liminal zone that we learn to abide the direct experience of the unknown and the truly mysterious. We do this by not forcing what the philosopher and psychical researcher William James called a “premature closing of our accounts with reality.” In other words, put all your beliefs aside and remain open to the experience of what is. Send your conclusions packing; make friends with the questions.

Along with scientism and religionism, you could also throw in, for good measure: nationalism, capitalism, darwinism, communism, fascism, globalism, and every other ideological, pseudo-idolatrous “ism” that has been cobbled together in the little shop of human thought down through the ages. These are all species of a common genus that I have elsewhere dubbed “Answerism.” They are essentially closed systems of thought demanding absolute unswerving allegiance to a unitary set of what are actually essentially contestable assumptions or putative first principles; systems which in turn lay claim to a comprehensive completeness of understanding and a monopoly on truth. In short, a neat and tidy Theory of Everything. 

But when it comes to wrestling with the meaning of Confirmation, we must be prepared to recycle all our old “Reality Boxes,” as the late, great psychic and researcher Ingo Swann dubbed these closed belief systems:

“Boxed realities are limited versions of reality achieved by avoiding or rejecting realities that do not accord with the limited version. Boxed realities are usually thought of as complete in themselves, and so there is no awareness or recognition of knowledge that is absent or missing in them. What IS missing or absent in boxed realities is usually more significant than whatever is present in them” (Reality Boxes and Other Black Holes in Human Consciousness, p. xiv). 

Once you are snugly ensconced inside a cozy Reality Box, your perception is obviously greatly restricted. You can’t see outside the box, and whatever anomalous data doesn’t make it inside your epistemic structure simply gets thrown away, ignored, or treated as invisible. Not there! Nothing to see! As with the ancient torture bed of Procrustes, the elements of reality that don’t fit are either cut down to size or stretched beyond their breaking point to fit your preconceptions (see, for example, Mick West’s risible marionette show “explanation” of the Ariel school UfO incident). None of these highly restrictive epistemic containers will be of any help to us once the NHI cat is truly and finally out of the bag.  Once free, it surely won’t suffer being stuffed back into a box. 

Here I’m speaking not merely of the limitations on the questions that may be asked concerning the identity of the Others (extraterrestrial, inter-dimensional, crypto-terrestrial, future human, etc.), their intentions and motivations, as well as their relationships to us. The larger issue concerns the fundamental conceptual frameworks in which such questions can arise and legitimately be asked, as well as in which the answers arrived at are received and understood. In a Geocentric cosmos, for example, the moons of Jupiter cannot be orbiting Jupiter, they must be orbiting Earth; hence they are not moons, they’re stars, and you are not seeing what you’re seeing through that damned telescope. Case closed!

Each Reality Box thus places certain fixed limits on the possibilities of belief and intelligibility, and therefore on what can even be entertained as true. To remain comfortably and deeply burrowed inside any of these antiquated belief boxes, while wrestling with the heady and mind-blowing questions of Confirmation, is to invite unnecessary distortions of perception and restrictions on the free movement of thought. These barriers are what the I Ching, with its typical tart fluency, calls “galling limitations.” None of these bygone stock meanings, or the cultural stories and myths in which they are embedded, are going to prove very useful to us in our struggle to understand and adjust to the coming new reality.

Let’s briefly consider a few examples:

1.) At least some versions of old-time religionism will want to cast the Phenomenon in terms of a Cosmic War between Good and Evil, and use familiar labels like “angel” or “demon” (or perhaps both) to describe the Others. This venerable scheme comes down to us from the ancient Persian prophet Zoroaster (c.1500 BCE), who envisioned just such a cosmic conflict with an eschatological world-ending vanquishing of Evil once and for all by Good. What thus underlies Zoroaster’s thinking is a simplistic concept of linear time–the drama of Creation, Fall, and Redemption of the world–and humanity’s central role in that drama, insofar as our choices will tip the balance in favor of the Good. Following Aristotle, every intelligible story has a beginning, a middle, and an end–always and only in that sequential order.

But even with just our current grasp of the Phenomenon, we can see that it challenges our very concepts of good and evil, even as it undermines any concept of linear time, in which time is envisioned as an arrow fired from the past flying unidirectionally in a straight line into the future. Anything that can manipulate space and time as the Phenomenon does cannot be grasped by such outdated thinking. Not to mention that if Dr. Michael Masters turns out to be correct, at least some of the Others are our time-traveling human descendants from the future who may be attempting to re-shape, or at least visit and play in, their own past. Time loops, anyone? The simplistic old time, linear time-based theologies and eschatologies are just passé.

Angels? Demons? If we haven’t yet learned in the last 3,500 years that everything is far more nuanced and complicated than the sharp dualisms of Ahura Mazda versus Angra Mainyu, God versus the Devil, and angels versus demons would allow, then we really do need a refresher course in life, don’t we? Certainly we may have called Them by many names in the past, including angels and demons. But They are not identical with those names, which belong to us, not to Them.

I confess that I’m old enough to remember the days when you knew the villains and heroes in westerns by the color of the cowboy hats they wore—black and white, respectively. But we’ve come much farther along than that, even in our comic book Hollywood entertainments. Marvel movies have more psychological subtlety and moral sophistication. We know that good people have vices (weaknesses), and that not-so-good people have certain virtues (strengths). If this were not the case, villains wouldn’t be such attractive and interesting characters, and heroes would be as dull as a butterknife. Nothing is absolutely pure and simple. It’s never either/or, but rather, both/and.  White hat versus black hat cosmologies and theologies are as anachronistic as the sappy old-time westerns I used to watch on my parents’ black-and-white TV.

2.) How about Newtonian metaphysical mechanistic materialism? In this claustrophobic Reality Box, only physical matter is ultimately real, and matter is passive, inert, and blind. Gosh, the only problem here is that we’ve known for decades that consciousness is central to the Phenomenon in numerous ways. If consciousness were a mere epiphenomenon of the electro-chemical processes of the human brain, then why would it be of such prime importance to the Others? If they’re superior to us, at least in terms of knowledge, if not native intelligence, wouldn’t they not only be jumping on the Newtonian bandwagon, but leading the parade? Would CE5 ever work if consciousness wasn’t key? Nope, nope and nope. What if, as has been suggested by some experiencers and researchers alike, that the “craft” (including the ones that the Secret Keepers haven’t yet admitted to possessing) are not only conscious beings themselves, but only work in tandem with a certain operating mode of consciousness? You may just want to “kick the tires,” but don’t be too shocked and surprised when the tires kick you back.

Long before the investigations of the bizarre range of “paranormal” phenomena at Skinwalker Ranch by Robert Bigelow and NIDS (and subsequently by AAWSAP under government contracts), it was clear that even the government was aware of the mysterious connections between UFOs and consciousness. Remote viewers in secret intelligence programs were encountering both craft and NHIs in their clairvoyant and temporal travels;  the existence of telepathy as a mode of communication between Them and us was well established; and the psychological and epistemological function of close encounters as what Dr. Jacques Vallee dubbed “reality transformers” was increasingly clear to serious researchers and experiencers alike. Changes of consciousness were both a cause and an effect of contact. The logic-defying  absurdity, riddles, and apocalyptic messaging, among other elements of close encounters, seemed clearly intended to promote changes in human consciousness. These encounters are meaning-making events, and meaning is a function of consciousness. It is subjects, not mere objects, that are of prime concern, both to Them and to us.

3.) Our last Reality Box to consider is good old-fashioned Machiavellian instrumentalism: the ends justify the means. We don’t need no stinkin’ metaphysical or moral badges! It’s all about doing what works for us, what gives us insight into those craft not made by human hands and the unimaginable wealth and power they can bring us–if we can only figure out how they work. We can do whatever works for us. “Can do” is our middle name, after all! What the Others want, who they are, why they’re here–none of that matters. We’re the rulers of the world, and this new knowledge will make us the Masters of the Universe. On to the Moon, Mars, and Alpha Centauri! We are the champions!

Machiavelli wrote his famous (or infamous) book, The Prince (1532), as a handbook for acquiring and maintaining political power in his new, post-medieval age. He was attempting to make politics into a morally neutral, objective “science,” which was then in the infancy of its development. Thus he imported  elements of the classical scientific standpoint, according to which, causes are supposed to be logically and temporally separate from the effects they produce, and hence, are separately identifiable. The ball drops because it’s pushed; the comedian tells a joke and then the audience laughs. If you want to argue that it’s the laughter that makes it a joke (the effect precedes the cause), then there could be no such thing as a bad joke.

This is a very linear, mechanical model suitable to colliding billiard balls and tinker-toy models of reality. Can means and ends—which are not just causal, but also evaluative terms—be compartmentalized in separate silos in just this manner? Typically the “end justifies the means” or “by any means necessary” attitude is taken to mean that a “good” end may be obtained through “bad” or less than savory means, namely those that might have negative or destructive properties–like, say, breaking eggs to make an omelette, lying to protect an innocent person, or stealing some food to feed a hungry family.

But values and attitudes—which are, of course, modes of consciousness–have a way of “bleeding through” putatively solid boundaries. Stealing, lying, and cheating become habits and infect the “goodness” of the ends pursued. Most ancient indigenous cultures recognize this truth by distinguishing between a “sorcerer” and a “shaman,” or someone who approaches the spirit powers with an egoistic and selfish attitude, versus someone who is reverential and altruistic and seeks to heal others. In other words, what you put out, you get back.

Are we so certain that we can have any clear idea of what ends might be produced, if we approach the Phenomenon–or even the craft putatively in our possession–with irreverent attitudes of exploitation and indifferent operationalism? Could we end up like Faust, regretting our devil’s bargain? Or like poor Pandora with her gift box? What disasters might we unleash thereby? Could we even begin to predict? We didn’t do so well with DDT or nuclear bombs. What would make us think we could do better with the Phenomenon?

The problem is that Machiavelli’s maxim subsequently became a virtual universal playbook for the modern mind in just about every cultural field and department, and not just in politics. In fact, you might say it became the basic operating principle of the common moral–or perhaps, more accurately, amoral–consciousness. Figure out what you want, and then do whatever it takes to get it. But what happens when we are confronted with genuine inscrutability (there’s that word again), and we can no longer reliably and reasonably calculate the ends-means relationship? What happens when we come to the realization that we are not the princes of this world? That it is not our oyster? And that we may not be the sovereigns here, as we’ve been taught (and have told ourselves), and may not even be the sovereigns of ourselves, which is what many of the abductees and close-encounter experiencers and witnesses have attested? What then?

The Phenomenon tells us, quite frankly and right to our very faces, that we’re not in charge, perhaps not even of our own bodies and minds. When Whitley Strieber protested to his Gray captor that they didn’t have a right to take him and perform procedures on his person, the being responded, “We do have a right” (Communion, p. 83). The Others can control our thoughts by erasing memories and substituting their own ideas and images for our own, without our awareness or consent. They can make us “forget” to use our smartphone cameras to take pictures of them when they don’t want to be photographed. Or they perform the most astonishing displays of virtuosic defiance of the laws of physics in full view of trained military observers and their sophisticated recording devices, whenever they wish. So, who’s really in charge?    

In sum, to try to capture reality—or rather, dynamic life—and keep it trapped inside a restrictive thought box, is a mug’s game. As the poet said: “We are lived by powers we pretend to understand.” Forget all the old Reality Boxes. Toss them into the intellectual recycling bin. They can no longer serve us.

James’s approach would have us develop an immunity to all forms of dogmatic beliefs and the stories that lie behind them: “Answers” that will be advanced as the patent medicine to cure the doubt and discomfort we will all soon have to face. But, fear not. To paraphrase Friedrich Nietzsche, the questions that challenge us will only make us stronger. Just as Jacob had to wrestle with the angel to receive its blessing, we will have to wrestle with our own doubts and fears in order to come to terms with the complex and cryptic nature of the Phenomenon, and thus find acceptance of our own complex and mysterious nature. 

This will not be easy. We’re going to be forced to surrender many of our most cherished assumptions about ourselves, our origins, our place in the universe (and on this planet), and the nature of reality. It’s going to be a long, tough slog—an exceedingly painful, if ultimately rewarding process.  “Somber” won’t even begin to cover it. But in the end, it may also give us a taste of true freedom, and perhaps even joy.

Most challenging of all, we will be tasked with surrendering and changing the habits of mind and heart that have led us to burrow deeply into our respective Reality Boxes. We will not be able to come to grips with the Phenomenon unless and until we open ourselves up and expand our perspective in order to find something that we lost a long, long time ago.

We will need to recognize that the primary reality behind all things is an infinitely vast, dynamically creative intelligence; a formless consciousness that dwarfs all of our human concepts and the forms of thinking that create them. This ground of being—the ultimate NHI—is what all ancient indigenous cultures knew from their own direct experience, and what we must remember and relearn for ourselves. They sensed the sacredness of nature and the consciousness that lay behind it and imbued it with life. Consciousness is not limited to human beings but is absolutely ubiquitous; it is present in and behind everything, including that which we would regard as “inanimate.” For “animists,” as anthropologists call them, nothing is inanimate. These peoples understood and accepted that they were junior members of a cosmic family of beings. They did not regard themselves as superior or entitled. They felt their roots in earth and their own bodies even as they knew they were related to their celestial family. We will need to recover this genuine form of humility and respect, both for our own survival and for our ability to deal with the Phenomenon and its implications. 

Aren’t many of these same ancient ideas are found in quantum physics, especially at its far reaches? Yes, but quantum physics is still just another theory–a story, a Reality Box, a map of the territory. Since it’s a relatively new and revolutionary box in many respects, it remains useful to a certain degree; that is, to the extent that its status as a self-limiting thought-system is consciously acknowledged and appreciated. Following the Polish-American semanticist and mathematician Alfred Korzybski, the polymath Gregory Bateson declared, in his memorably succinct formulation: “The map is not the territory. The name is not the thing named.” Einstein’s protege, the late quantum physicist David Bohm, was also echoing Korzybski when he stated that whatever we think things are, they’re always something other, and more, than what we think.  Quantum physics is not the last word, because, as Bohm himself well understood, all words are only pointers: road signs pointing past themselves to a destination that is essentially wordless.

The ancients didn’t yet have a Reality Box. All they had was their own experience of Life–of nature in the wild, or what we subsequently labeled, in our conceptually ossified way, Reality–and they lived out of that direct encounter. That will be our task: to rediscover a mode of understanding that is not conceptual and abstract, but rather, directly experiential; a mode that is not instrumental (“how can I understand this so I can take it apart and put it back together?”), but respectful in addressing otherness. This urgent lesson is what UFO experiencers—who thus far have been kept out of the most recent cultural conversations—have had to learn on the fly. These folks have already had their Reality Boxes smashed to pieces, and thus they are far ahead of the rest of us on the learning curve.

Perhaps it is a conscious intention of the Others, and not just a prime side-effect of contact, to crack open what the late Joseph Chilton Pearce called our “cosmic eggs,” our limited worldviews. In this way, we may experience a rebirth into the larger cosmic family that we left behind when we created “civilization” and progressively became more entangled in our intellectual systems of control, further and further estranging us from our primordial experience of life.  Those cracks should not be feared but rather celebrated. They are doubtless key to our future progress. As the legendary poet-singer Leonard Cohen sang:

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in


There is an old Gnostic story, “The Hymn of the Pearl,” which has parallels with the biblical parable of the prodigal son, and may very well have been its original source. In the Gnostic tale, the Son of a King voluntarily surrenders his inherited wealth and position to go in quest of the pearl of greatest price, the Great Pearl of Wisdom. He suffers much along the way on his arduous hero’s journey. But when, at last, he returns to his homeland in triumph to reclaim his patrimony, he realizes with great astonishment and awe, for the very first time, the true significance of what he had lost and now regained; and he is transmogrified.

We need to regain our humanity in order to confront what seems “alien.” As Schopenhauer said, that which we have inherited from our forebears we must win for ourselves, if we are truly to possess it. Not to mention appreciate it. We need the Pearl. In coming to terms with Them, we will be forced to confront ourselves, our own limitations and darkness, just so we might let in the light of a new vision.

This is the only real war we must wage in the coming days: Not an external war to control the narrative and impose our own stories on others, but the inner struggle with our own souls, as we together confront the unknown–and perhaps, the unknowable.


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