The Possible and the Impossible: Reflections on Evidence in Chilean Ufology

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The Possible and the Impossible: Reflections on Evidence in Chilean Ufology

Diana Espírito Santo & Alejandra Vergara


Quote:This article is based on a year of fieldwork with ufologists, contactees, abductees, and skeptics in Chile, using methods including ethnography, media and website analysis, and in-depth interviews. Our argument is that the “UFO” serves as, what Galison would call, a theory machine, a multiplicity generating not simply heterogeneous interpretive frameworks through which to understand anomalous flying phenomena, in different ideological spheres, but thresholds of evidence as well. We take evidence here, not as given but as an ethnographic category. In particular, the UFO as a theory machine in the Chilean context, and the different stakes of evidence found within it, yields a theory of possibility and impossibility, which we have called evidence-as-possibility. This is not confined to matters of the existence of UFOs, but also spatial differences in which one conceives of such manifestations. We pit materialist understandings of evidence against ones that regard alien contact as something interior and embodied. But we also forego this division and explore how different, apparently contradictory facets of the evidence-as-possibility theory actually work together, such that each condition or event creates its own spatial configurations for UFOs. Finally, we explore “absurd” moments in which this theory machine collapses or goes into overdrive, escaping this spectrum of possibility altogether.



Quote:To the first example. Carlos, a nurse and ufologist in Punta Arenas, has had numerous experiences of the “absurd,” or the “impossible,” as he says. “Sometimes I see something, I film it, and it doesn’t appear.” He tells us that it is crucial to understand, “in your inner forum, that there are phenomena that escape rationality. […]. You try and fit it, frame it, but that evidence that you are witnessing just does not fit.” Once, he was called to Tierra del Fuego, south of Punta Arenas, to record some anomalous lights. He and a companion were on a dirt track, where they were suddenly flashed twice. Their car began to vibrate and, looking around, they saw, about a hundred meters away, two large spheres floating, emitting lights from below. He says he grabbed his camera and began to film, but they could not see them on the camera itself. So, they decided to walk to them. They got out of the car carefully, and steadily paced towards these objects. When they were about twenty meters away, the crafts suddenly folded inwards, becoming vertical, in lines almost, and disappeared upwards into the sky. The shock of this was accompanied by the sudden appearance, at that very moment, of tail-lights from an unknown car. They had not been aware that there had been anyone else there. As they began to walk back to their vehicle, the car began to move, to follow them. As they walked faster, the car picked up its pace. As they got in, the car passed by. But as Carlos and his partner looked on, to see the identity of the driver, which in theory you could see with the city lights in the background, they were overwhelmed to notice that no one was at the wheel. There was no one inside at all. At that precise moment, the motor of their own car is suddenly ignited, without human prompt. The radio blasts at full volume, white noise. He describes this as an “electromagnetic shot” to the car. They take off, eager to find the mystery vehicle, but it had disappeared, as soon as it had turned a corner down the hill. The absurd event here was not witnessing the bending UFOs, which could conceivably be in the knowledge base of wider ufology; it was the driverless car, a seemingly very earthly material behaving in a way that leads to no conclusions, and the simultaneity of the two occurrences.

The second example is given by Sergio Sánchez, one of the two editors of a skeptical ufological newspaper La Nave de los Locos, which ran from 2000 to 2010. He alerted us in interview (in 2020) to certain intellectual factions of ufology, especially in France, for whom ufological thought itself was born out of the confrontation with paradoxical structures in UFO-related narratives, with the “absurd.” In his book, Érase una vez en Ovnilandia (2016), Sánchez explores the significance of French ufology and comes up with what he calls “para-ufology,” a kind of meta-ufology which questions the very terms of engagement of a materialist ufology. In a footnote, Sanchez says (our translation), “It postulates the existence of a real and inexplicable phenomenon, but that does not necessarily have to do with extraterrestrial origins” (2016, 33). Jacques Vallée, and also John Keel, are keen exponents of this view, which some have called, the “great trickster” – the idea that there is some superhuman form of consciousness which generates forms according to our cultural ideals, and “plays” us with riddles and absurdities. But, according to Sánchez, other theorists, such as Aimé Michel, Beltrán Meheuse, Jean Bruno Rénard, and Jacques Bergier, all came up with different ways to understand absurdities – to not reduce them to the “psychosocial question,” and to incorporate mythology, science fiction, and larger mass cultural constructions in the apparatuses of the apprehending of (or creating, ideoplastically) the “absurd.” This seems fundamental, as Sánchez believes that in this story, there is a larger work of analogizing, travelling back and forth in history, recovering pieces and ideas, projecting them into fantasies and theories, and having these become real by the force of popular consciousness. However, for Sánchez, the “absurd” also has a real dimension. Availing himself of his knowledge of this literature, he considers it valid, for instance, to hypothesize that, “the absurd is nothing more than a product of an ontological shock” (personal comm. 2020), a crash between realities with different languages, and in which, when one witnesses something one must decode it in terms that often produce paradoxical twists.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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Quote:Jacques Vallée, and also John Keel, are keen exponents of this view, which some have called, the “great trickster” – the idea that there is some superhuman form of consciousness which generates forms according to our cultural ideals, and “plays” us with riddles and absurdities. But, according to Sánchez, other theorists, such as Aimé Michel, Beltrán Meheuse, Jean Bruno Rénard, and Jacques Bergier, all came up with different ways to understand absurdities – to not reduce them to the “psychosocial question,” and to incorporate mythology, science fiction, and larger mass cultural constructions in the apparatuses of the apprehending of (or creating, ideoplastically) the “absurd.”


Call me obstinate, but I think that the types of "nuts and bolts " UFO vehicles seen and interacted with by trained human observers (that I listed a sample of in an earlier post), were physically real and objective, not subjective and illusory, phenomena, "somebody else's hardware". This is a perhaps small minority of the total number of cases. Maybe many others are mental/parapsychological phenomena as hypothesized by Vallee and others. Reality is definitely very complicated, with multiple levels or realms of existence and a multiplicity of "actors", of many existential types of beings.
(This post was last modified: 2022-08-16, 05:35 PM by nbtruthman. Edited 1 time in total.)
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Fully agreed.
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(2022-08-16, 05:01 PM)nbtruthman Wrote: Call me obstinate, but I think that the types of "nuts and bolts " UFO vehicles seen and interacted with by trained human observers (that I listed a sample of in an earlier post), were physically real and objective, not subjective and illusory, phenomena, "somebody else's hardware". This is a perhaps small minority of the total number of cases. Maybe many others are mental/parapsychological phenomena as hypothesized by Vallee and others. Reality is definitely very complicated, with multiple levels or realms of existence and a multiplicity of "actors", of many existential types of beings.

It's also possible we are terribly behind technologically speaking because of the materialist-atheist fundamentalism that sadly dominated much of the 20th century. Other species may, by luck or wisdom, have advanced farther because they weren't so lost.

They may utilize some of this "absurdity" in reality to come here from wherever.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-08-16, 06:00 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 2 times in total.)
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