As some readers of Mysterious Universe will know, one of my big interests is the Contactee/Space Brother phenomenon, which was most prominent in the 1950s. It's a subject which is very often derided by many in Ufology (and, at times, with good reason...). But, that doesn't take away the fact that the issue is an important one. Of those who tackled the whole controversy, certainly one of the most knowledgeable was the late Colin Bennett. He wrote what - in my opinion - remains the most important and insightful book on contactee George Adamski. The title of Colin's book? Looking for Orthon - Orthon being the alleged name of the equally alleged alien that Adamski claimed to have met in November 1952.
Back in 2009, I interviewed Colin about his ideas on Adamski, the Space Brothers and the Contactee crowd. And, today, I thought I would share with you - and without interruption - Colin's observations on those long-gone times of the 1950s when the Contactee movement ruled the ufological roost. Colin, who died in 2014, told me:
“Many Orthons have appeared throughout history. The equivalents to Adamski’s Venusian ‘space brother’ have appeared on mountain tops, in deserts, and have appeared to walk on water, or fly in the sky. Their sole function is to sow seeds in the head; just as a farmer grows a particular crop. These seeds act on the imagination, which replicates and amplifies whatever story-technology is around at the time. People such as Adamski and the rest of the contactees were, and still are, like psychic lightning-rods for certain brands of information. Undoubtedly, rich or poor, clever or dumb, they are possessed by a kind of higher cerebral disturbance, and like Moses, they are as prepared for the 'visitation' as they anxiously await for a new product brand, for the equivalent to RFID-type branding is what 'contact' is all about.
“Contactees are host-nutrients for whatever cultural sales lines are on offer from visions conjured up by clouds, sea or sand. The message is 'consumed' and thoroughly processed exactly as a viral product is absorbed. The incomprehensibility of the received stories is irrelevant. They represent a heavily codified branch of postmodern intellectual consumerism. In receiving 'messages' at all, Contactees are bar coded as it were, and elements of the induced story-technology are ready to crystallize out into that final alchemical stage called the mechanical real. But we must be careful here. As the alchemist said to his apprentice, 'The game may be rigged, but it’s the only game in town.'
“Deception and all its ramifications is the key to this whole business. This does not burst the bubble of the mystery however, for manipulative levels of faction may well be our first clue as to how a possible alien mind might work. If the levels of deception of all kinds in human culture are anything to go by, the range of such within an alien culture must be both multiple and profound.
“The ‘space-folk’ are sculptured by wars between rival viral memes competing for prime-time belief. It may be that, as an independent form of non-organic life, memes as active viral information can display an Orthon entity at a drop of a hat. They come complete with sets of cultural agendas. After they have rung the doorbell as it were, and the goods are sold, these metaphysical salesmen disappear like the traditional Men in Black, no doubt traveling on to seed other dreams in other towns and other heads. The goods we have unwittingly bought are half-formed memories of having met someone from another world.
“Over a half-century later, we can no more erase the legendary Contactees from our heads than we can erase Elvis Presley or Marilyn Monroe. Once induced by mere transient suggestion, these powerful images become permanent fast-breeders, turning out scripts and performances in all our heads - for no-one can escape - even as we sleep. It might come as a disappointment to extraterrestrial nut-and-bolters, but as [Jacques] Vallee says in Passport to Magonia, Orthon and his brood may be a form of ‘alien’ life that has been with us for a long time. Such ethereal beings are part of the structure of that much-despised and rather unfashionable idea described by the phrase mystical experience.
“A man says he has seen a fairy being. Another man says that is impossible, because fairy beings do not exist. When we subtract the two beliefs we do not get zero as an answer. We have the thinnest of belief-tissue remaining, but perhaps mechanical quantity is irrelevant. The smallest part of an HTML address contains the whole address, rather like a fractal. These creatures, though seen and photographed, leave no trace of fights, no food swath, no blood, no sweat. They appear as partially formed displays rather then flesh and blood as we know it. As soon as we are into display we are into Media. It is somewhat chilling to think that if an Orthon or even perhaps a Jesus can appear in this manner, then so can many things else, including objects and even situations. In this it is possible that we are host-receptors of skunk-smoke from life forms not yet known to us.
“There is no doubt that Contactee claims allow access to a refreshing world which includes humor, and inspired absurdity. They allow humanity to breathe and access a Matrix world in which anything that can be imagined can happen. It might be denied by social-scientific left, but the truth is that dreams, fantasies, and mystical experiences of all kinds play an absolutely essential part in all human mental operations.
“George Adamski played a significant part in establishing New Age thinking. It might be well to remember that the entire body of our moral philosophy and spiritual life is formed by visions and inspirations. It does not come from science or technology. Those who thoughtlessly dismiss mystical experience cut themselves off from all art, literature, and no small part of all thought and philosophy. As mystics and prophets know, when desert light strikes the retina, anything that can be imagined can happen. The greatest tribute that can be paid to Adamski is that through both foul means and fair, he helped to create one of the very few routes to the unconscious that we have.”