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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 11

Clark, psychosocial or paraphysical approach?

From: Edoardo Russo <edoardo.russo@torino.ALPcom.it>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 1997 15:17:18 +0100
Fwd Date: Tue, 11 Nov 1997 20:24:02 -0500
Subject: Clark, psychosocial or paraphysical approach?

>From: clark@mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
>Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 10:27:32 PST
>To: updates@globalserve.net
>Subject: RE: UFO UpDate: Re: ETH &c

>Remember, there was a
>time when I adhered to psychosocial speculations which I now
>consider nonsense (I have never been forgiven for that heresy in
>some quarters.)  In fact, my and Loren Coleman's 1975 book was
>the first book-length treatment of this particular approach.

Hello Jerry!

I remember your 1975 book (which I did like at that time, when -
me too - I was fascinated by the paraphysical mumbo-jumbo =E0 la
John Keel) but I cannot understand why you are putting that kind
of approach together with the psycho-sociological reasoning.

Let me explain my viewpoint.

Since the late '60s and well into the mid-70's the so-called "new
ufology" flourished in the USA  as opposed to the more classical
ETH. John Keel (Operations Trojan Horse) and Jacques Vallee
(Passport to Magonia) were its main champions, though along
slightly different approaches: Keel seemed to favor a sort of
intrusions from parallel universes or the like, intentionally
camouflaged according to the cultural "frame of reference" of the
moment (aliens in the present-day space age); Vallee looked like
more oriented toward a cultural adaptation by ourselves of a sort
of numinous (thence instrinsically ineffable) experience with the
Otherworld. Then-younger Jerome Clark teamed with cryptozoologist
Loren Coleman and wrote a book (The Unidentified) taking it all
ot its farthest limits, trying to incorporate all sort of Fortean
phenomena under a common umbrella of parapsychologically-oriented
Jungian concepts akin to the "collective unconscious"
materializing somehow in our physical world. "Paraphysical
hypotheses" was the common description of all those (and other)
authors, since they all postulated UFO and strange phenomena were
originating from some "other" reality parallel to our physical
world and sometime interferring with it.

Such "stewpot ufology" (as somebody called it) died by
auto-consumption in the late '70s: Vallee gradually changed to
more complex (though always stimulating) structures (be it the
intelligence community use of UFOs and ufologists for
psychological warfare or the physical effects of energy packets);
Keel's though became more and more un-understandable (though
always pleasant to read in his prose) in each new book of his;
Clark reversed his approach and came back to ETH; and so on.

In the meantime, here in old Europe, two similar yet very
different approaches were developing:

- the "humanistic ufology" of the UK MUFOB/Magonia editorial team
(mainly John Rimmer and Peter Rogerson), giving more attention to
human (cultural) reactions to UFOs than to the physical aspect
(from 1970 onwards);

- the "parapsychological approach" by a growing number of French
ufologists (mainly the "Ouranos" team, plus authors like Pierre
Vieroudy, Jean Giraud a.k.a. GABRIEL group, and Jean-Jacques
Jaillat), taking their initial inspiration from the "second"
Vallee (Passport to Magonia) but also from the evolution toward a
"second-degree ETH" by the late Aime Michel (say 1975-1979).

The "socio-psychological" hypothesis was a very different affair.
It was born in France, in 1977, with the first book by Michel
Monnerie (What if UFOs did not exist?), which was a REACTION
against the parapsychological attitude as well as against the
classical ETH. On the  "ideological" side, It correctly
recognized that the parapsychological deformations of ufology
were but "superstructures" superimposed upon the UFO phenomenon,
but it also (wrongly) concluded that under them there was no
"structure" (no real UFO phenomenon) left; on the concrete side,
it posed real and valid questions as of investigation
methodology, perception and memory studies, and contamination of
the real phenomena by the will-to-believe of most ET-proponents.
It gained a growing attention in France and French-speaking
countries (converts included well-known investigators like
Dominique Caudron, Jacques Brucker and Gerard Barthel), and
flourished in the 1978-1981 years (I can remember dozens of
articles and learned debates, plus whole special issues devoted
to the "nouveaux ufologues" by such French journals as LDLN,
Ovni-presence and Inforespace, not to mention a score of local
groups' bulletins), then died because  the ufology environment
divided itself into two opposing camps in a sort of "religion
war":  such radicalization took the "sociopsychologists" more and
more toward the French equivalent to CSICOP, thus sterilizing
them as "anti-UFOlogists" and the debate was closed. There
followed indeed a  vital "post-monnerist" legacy (John Rimmer
called it "post-modern ufology") mostly around the Paris group of
Thierry Pinvidic, Jacques Scornaux, Claude Mauge', Pierre
Lagrange, which tried to save the positive aspects of that
approach without spousing its radical reductionism, but in the
long run they did not succeed.

Now I'm asking you the question: what the heck has such (strictly
reductionist) psychosocial or sociopyschological approach (mostly
limited to French-speaking countries in the '80s) to do with the
(wildly speculative, mostly USA-oriented) paraphysical hypotheses
of the '70s?

Let me ask it otherwise: when you write "there was a time when I
adhered to psychosocial speculations which I now consider
nonsense", are you meaning that you were ever OK with a
CSICOP-like reductionism?

I guess you never meant that. Thus I wonder why mix the two,
unless you just choose consider all anti-ETH approach in the same
and one bag (and it would be highly unfair for me to hint that).

A second possibility may also be guessed: that while you did (and
do)  know well the paraphysical issues as well as the "humanist
ufology" of those cunning British bad guys, you may have been
less documented about those non-English-speaking heretics. I dare
to suggest that because the bibliography you quoted on that
specific subject in your masterful Encyclopedia first volume
(UFOs in the '80s) was sadly lacking as of French sources, and my
rusty memory keeps on telling me you once admitted (to Pierre
Lagrange at the 1987 MUFON Symposium?) that you couldn't (can't?)
read French.

Well, I'd better stop the guessing and remain waiting for your
own voice on the above.

Thanks for your attention.

Edoardo Russo                             Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici
CISU, Casella postale 82, 10100 Torino - tel 011-3290279 - fax 011-545033
http://www.arpnet.it/~ufo          e-mail: edoardo.russo@torino.alpcom.it

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