Could we consider Kenneth Arnold's experience, regard- less of its nature, as an unprecedented trigger within human imagery for the ideo- graphic transference of a modern folklore?
Let me explain. In almost all the cul- tures of the planet there are old chron- icles of encounters with unknown beings and entities that apparently inhabited invisible paradises, celestial realms or the very beyond. These experiences have a singular and indisputable cognitive reality that has led to the elaboration of complex mythologies including religions. No one doubts that these stories were in many cases due to the existence of an unknown phenomenon, but with broad psychic ramifications. In many of these manifestations we have noted that there is an endemic characteristic, which makes that certain apparitions, as in the case of the Santa Compaña in Galicia (Spain) have no repetition in other parts of the planet. But how is this possible?
Do these phenomena not have the capacity to move from one place to another?
Apparently many apparitions with unknown entities have needed cultural sustenance, that is, oral or written transmission, to move from one area to another. This does not mean that these appa- ritions have as origin the "psychic contagion" as the psychosocial theory defines it, since very probably in other places there exist cults or beliefs in very similar things but that nevertheless have a different aesthetic. And here we find an important clue. The majority of apparitions with entities of all kinds have a very similar narrative background (communicative and informative), since they are elusive, elusive beings, or in a few cases very talkative. But in their external form, in their aesthetics, these beings and entities can offer wide divergences, even among what are considered the same enigma with little space for change, such as extraterrestrials or the Virgin Mary (and bigfoot).
The researchers have noted ad nauseam that the manifestations are usually very unstable in their aesthetic aspect, and surprisingly, the scenography presented to the witnesses offers many changes from one event to another. As if each witness decodes this cognitive reality differently. But I am not referring to a simple cultural bias as psychology defends, product of a natural reaction of our psyche before an unknown stimulus (and that he is trying to put back together as best he can). But rather, the manifestations seem to react differently to each person presented with aesthetic characteristics that we will never encounter again in another event. Until now, scholars have considered that, for example, the approaches of the UFO phenomenon to witnesses (close encounters) caused a good number of collateral effects (epiphenomena); buzzing, trances, sensory isolation, poltergeist phenomena, development of paranormal faculties, etc. Perhaps as a consequence of extraterrestrial technology or the incursion of these manifestations from other dimensions. But nevertheless, what we have to value, is that both the visionaries of the Virgin, as well as the witnesses of other fortean apparitions, very different in appearance (aesthetics) to our flying saucers, have also noted these "secondary" effects. Then we might reconsider our initials approaches to the UFO phenomenon, at least in its facet of close encounters.
And if the aesthetics of these apparitions were actually the least important aspect of the phenomenon?
And if what we see is the result of sensory interference caused by our psyche in trying to shape this cognitive universe? And if the stories of flying saucers and multiple ufonauts were simply "back- ground noise" that prevents us from properly delving into this phenomenon?
We cannot overlook the fact that altered states of consciousness, personalization and subjectivity of the experiences are a hallmark shared by almost all encounters with unknown entities. Therefore, there are two aspects to take into account:
1.- If we are dealing with invented experiences, why do the witnesses not "copy" the aesthetics of the encounters that appear in books or in the press to ensure the credibility of the media and researchers?
2.- If it is a real phenomenon, why is the aesthetics not maintained from one event to the next? Does the paradigm not have a memory of its previous appearances?
The strangest thing is that the only uniformity presented by the close encounters can be found in the so-called epiphenomena, so we could conjecture that we have most probably mistaken our initial approach. Why do the witnesses not agree on the aesthetics of the phenomenon, which is widely publicized and drawn, and for example if they are able to talk about those collateral phenomena that are much less known?
What if the trances, the buzzing, the OZ factor, the paranormal phenomena, the development of PSI faculties, the premonitory dreams were the fundamental axis of the phenomenon we are studying?
What if this is a clear sign that we are dealing with apparitions widely related to the human psyche? It has always been striking that flying saucers and their occupants were in fact a reflection of what our own astronautics or science fiction had previously offered. Levers, ladders, ray guns, self-contained respiratory equipment, luminous button computers, etc. have composed the scenery of a scenography that seemed to us all too human. In fact, any other supernatural or unknown apparition always has been somehow wrapped by socio-cultural factors, indicating that whatever it is, this elusive phenomenon is projected on our reality using the human imaginary, or in other words, the unconscious of the witnesses. Also if we observe these apparitions about a timeline, we will realize that UFOs are nothing more than a modern folklore that draws from older sources, and that they are probably the latest reflection of an ancient phenomenon that has always been present in the history of mankind.
UFOs, at least in their facet of close encounters, are the natural replacement of angels, fairies, elves, and other anomalous creatures. The only difference is that, contrary to other more local folklore, their repercussion in the general media in the middle of the 20th century (unprecedented in the history of humanity) allowed, for the first time, the existence of this cognitive reality to have a wider impact in different countries.
So I wonder what would have happened if in past centuries the encounters with the Santa Compaña in Galicia or Springheel Jack had been publicized with the same means as our modern flying saucers? Would we have found encounters of this retinue of the dead or of the jumping ghost in Mexico, Sweden or Italy?
This would demonstrate that on the one hand the phenomena we study have an origin external to the human being, that it is not a purely psychological phenomenon, but on the other hand, it needs a transmission belt, the expansion of certain supernatural beliefs to probably support its ephemeral life. Without the sum of these factors, the phenomenon would not have the necessary ingredients for its development, demonstrating that on their own initiative, the Fortean apparitions also need of an appropriate environment in society to propagate. UFOs and Fortean apparitions live in a liminal zone, beyond the reach of our ordinary state of consciousness.
JOSE ANTONIO CARAVACA