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Reply To: UFO: A Living Myth of Transformation,” with mythologist Norland Têllez”


Thank you for your responses Norland!
First my apologies…I remembered things both you and Stephen wrote, which I liked…but scanning back for them, unfortunately made an oops on who contributed what.
And you did say Campbell would have welcomed the challenge of the ambiguity. I can see that now. I was perhaps thinking how all the public reaction for proof and evidence might turn him away… but you put it more succinctly, that if a contemporary within Campbell’s field or if more besides Jung had written about the subject…he would have been more willing to dig into it.

You write: I don’t think that UFOs are, phenomenologically speaking, outside the realm of religion and science. In a way, they represent the possibility of an absolute synthesis of the two.

That makes sense. Perhaps I was taking too literal an approach in imagining Campbell searching for how a UFO symbol could relate to the symbols of old and balking from any views of physical proof. Should give Joseph Campbell more credit for being open to such an adventure of exploration. Even if he might have preferred other peers of renown and expertise to tackle it before daring a “Parzival” himself. Sorry Joe!

And I think you are right, because the UFO subject has such potential as a modern myth. You mentioned how the UFOs both have the dark and light side…and a new sort of “Savior symbol” as well. A synthesis of science and religion into something fantastical, numinous as well as potentially terrifying.
After all going into Space…I seem to recall Campbell’s fascination with that…and I had the impression in Power of Myth…that Campbell was looking towards space as what would birth the New Myths.
So to give him credit…perhaps I should say he would not be surprised by this Public Dream of the UFO!

the quote: “news affirming the existence of UFOs seems welcome, but skepticism seems undesirable” which says belief in UFOs “suits the general opinion” whereas disbelief is to be discouraged.

I have a little different perception of THIS. Even with the whole Roswell episode…the reaction to UFOs seemed to be divided with those who did talk about existence often getting the labels “of kooks” and “little green men ha ha”

even though the symbol by then was really “Gray” beings.

There was an “underground” following of all UFO details

BUT that over the next decades mentions of UFOs even among regular people (not just Roswell UFO enthusiasts) became quite common.

There were those who thought UFOs would make traditional religions uncomfortable, maybe the strict ones…but I have found that even those who consider themselves to have a strong Christian faith…see no reason God could not have created beings on other planets as well. So that’s sort of interesting.

I know that you and Jung were emphasizing a potential “break in the human psyche” in regards to the birth of the UFO phenomena…

But I also wonder if there is a certain kind of allure and draw to this as well?

To be fair that sense of “dissociation,” that Jung mentions might also reflect that NEED.

The DRAW I’m thinking about is “WHAT IF?” Looking at UFOs from this perspective of PLAY. The classic suspension of disbelief and the engagement of WONDER and IMAGINATION. Maybe the soul or psyche has felt a drought…and looking up to the Stars…births this WHAT IF? Game. Because it’s in the form of questions could it not still retain that numinous quality? Wondering what a UFO could be? How it flies? Wondering if there are ETs or what they might look like? Friendly or grumpy? Tall or Short?
Wonder is more open ended than belief…I know it’s a contradiction to letting definitions slide before the mystery. But this shows to me you are exactly right…and it is a way of longing for that wonder and imagination and rapture of mystery, which all the myths have talked about. And it reflects that “play,” that is often the key to the threshold of experience.
Of course if one has heard ufo culture references then alas the game becomes a bit more defined: Are “Grays real?”
If so? Are they nice or mean or indifferent? What kind of ships do they fly?etc. (Getting a little too concrete for Joe Campbell at that point heh heh)

But I can see what you mean about UFOs having that almost ephemeral quality…whether an object of light (interestingly some have suggested some UFOs are like holograms which gets back to that insubstantial vision appearing and disappearing)

Or whether an object that moves in an odd manner.
You made good points too about our own tech (whole other branch of the subject)

I have no idea what we were seeing that night when those 8 lights didn’t move for 30 mins. We were watching them from a deck and my Mother looked at them through the telescope too. All I know is it was fascinating!!

The other one Mother saw…maybe before I was born…she described as a big orange ball of light, which slowly went behind a mountain (laterally)

She was driving home at the time.
Who knows but it definitely leaves the Wonder dancing in the in-between!!