Friday, November 21, 2008

Seriously, Don't Be So Damn Serious. Seriously.

Lesley has a great Grey Matters column this week at Binnall of America. “Seriously” addresses the stuffed shirts of UFOlogy; those who think having fun are doing a disservice to UFOlogy. (Just what is "UFOlogy" anyway?)

There are some who just won’t ever get it; that the exploration of the UFO phenomena is for everyone, no one gets to decide who can, and who cannot, join in the UFO mystery chase.

The UFO phenomena is certainly a grassroots, folklore (of the folk type entity) phenomena: while it’s necessary to have all sorts involved, including scientists and nuts and bolts field researchers, etc. to believe that this is the only valid approach is nonsense.

What inspired Lesley to write her column were the recent comments on UFO Updates about the use of the word “Festival” in context of UFO conferences:
Recently on UFO Updates there was a little discussion about the term "UFO Festival." Certain people don't like the word "festival" to be associated with UFOs, the feeling being that this would somehow keep people from taking the subject seriously. They may have been kidding, but there are people who feel that way
The UFO phenomena has always been, at least in modern times, subversive to mainstream society. Its very nature is a huge “bleeeeeeeeech!” in the face of institutions, religions, academia, politics, the media. Dressing up in suits, chiding others for not behaving properly or insisting there be some Official UFO Police are ways to cause divisions, not achieve answers. (at least some of the answers anyway.) Of course, many who advocate for suits and ties, somber tones, UFO Guilds and a UFO etiquette would like this very much. Get rid of the embarrassing riff raff and they can carry on, being coddled and taken seriously (uh huh) by the very institutions that ignore -- and worse -- their UFO quest.

Lesley points out something that I don’t think is pointed out enough; that a lot of people (“the folk”) take UFOs pretty seriously:
I would say that 9 out of 10 people I meet have some belief in ETs or some other intelligence that is not what we would term as a human or Earthling and that may be flying around in the skies. You might not find them posting about it on the Internet or attending a festival or conference, but that doesn't mean that they don't take it seriously or don't believe something strange is going on. Most of them just don't have much extra time to devote to the subject.

The mainstream media may still have a ways to go, certainly academia, politics and science do, but the people are interested. They’re the ones with the experiences (I should say, we’re the ones with experiences; I include myself in that category.)

The purpose of a festival is to have fun of course, but it always serves a cultural need, including one that subverts the mundane. Lesley writes:
By the way, "festival" is a proper term for something like Roswell's annual event. You can call it whatever you want, but it is still a festival. It brings together all kinds of people and all ages and they hopefully have some fun as well as learn a few things. I see nothing at all wrong with that. Frankly, stuffy conferences mostly only attract those that already believe and the people there might take it all very seriously, but I don't see it convincing anyone else that Ufology should be taken seriously.

I hope UFO researcher and author Richard Dolan doesn’t mind my saying this, but both he and Karyn Dolan agreed that the Oregon, McMinnville UFO Festival last May was great. (Richard was the main speaker.) They enjoyed themselves very much, found it relaxing, and yes, fun. This from one of the most serious of UFO researchers when it comes to the work he does.

Speaking for myself, I am very serious about UFOs. This is something I’ve been experiencing my entire life. I have lots of questions about things I’ve experienced. Don’t you think that makes me extremely “serious” -- damn serious -- about this stuff? One way to be “serious” is to maintain personal integrity, and be yourself. If you have a sense of humor, can’t abide suits or pantyhose, or think, like Lesley does, that The Weekly World News is sometimes funny, because that’s who you are, you’d be a liar if you pretended otherwise. Which means you no longer have integrity, and in that case you would’ t be “serious.”

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