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Shockingly Close To The End - Jim Moseley

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <post.nul>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2012 13:31:21 -0500
Archived: Mon, 26 Nov 2012 13:31:21 -0500
Subject: Shockingly Close To The End - Jim Moseley

Source: Magonia Blog



Shockingly Close To The End
Jim Moseley 1931 - 2012
by John Rimmer

A day or two after I heard the sad news of the death from cancer
of Jim Moseley - the 'Supreme Commander' of Saucer Smear
magazine - I saw an item on the TV news about the last ever
typewriter to be manufactured in Britain, by the Brother company
of North Wales. The machine is to be donated to the Science
Museum. What could be the connection between these two events?
They represent to me the passing of an era.

Saucer Smear was probably the last UFO 'zine in the world to be
hammered out on a typewriter. Every month or so, less frequently
in later years, Jim's eight-page newsletter would turn up in the
post. It was an almost stream-of-consciousness thread of
satirical comment, insider gossip, ufological grudge-bearing,
gentle character assassination, and the well-aimed demolition of
some of ufology's sacred idols. Sometimes there were even the
odd bit of UFO news. Interspersed with the text you would find
odd newspaper cuttings and illustrations (often involving well-
endowed young ladies), cartoons, amusing headlines and anything
else that captured the editor's fancy. You couldn't subscribe to
it, the readers were defiantly described as 'non-subscribers',
but it was always open for you to send the editor a 'love-
offering' or contribute a letter to 'Missives from the Masses'.

Moseley was involved in ufology from the beginning, his interest
piqued by the Mantell incident. He starting publishing Saucer
News in 1954, and eventually selling it off to his friend Gray
Barker. In 1976 he started a new Saucer News, which would
occasionally morph into Saucer Booze, Saucer Jews, Saucer Glues,
and any other title which came to mind before settling down as
Saucer Smear. The copy I have before me, which looks like it
will be the last one ever, is numbered volume 59, number 8,
whole number 454. Has any other UFO 'zine got anywhere near that

Although almost a founder member of the so-called 'UFO
community', the relationship became strained early on, with his
expose of George Adamski in 1957, which was not universally
welcomed. Although at one time a MUFON 'Regional Director' or
whatever the title was at the time, he moved away from the party
line on the ETH, towards a more 'alternate reality' - or as he
described it "3 1/2 dimensional" - explanation, and was
gradually downgraded in the MUFON hierarchy, finishing off
proudly displaying his position in the organisation with the
letters 'J.S.' after his name - 'Journal Subscriber'.

He was a prankster and loved other peoples' pranks, giving him a
relaxed attitude to hoaxers which sometimes grated with the
'Serious Ufologists' - always with capital letters - whom he
enjoyed taunting. His 2002 book, Shockingly Close to the Truth;
Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist, told of his life in
ufology and as a sometimes rather over-enthusiastic amateur
archaeologist in Peru. It got off to a bad start with many
ufologists through being issued by Prometheus Books, publishing
arm of the arch-skeptical CSICOP, and received a six-page
drubbing in the pages of International UFO Reporter.

A Serious Ufologist pronounced "Moseley has spent the last five
decades engaged in thinking as little about UFOs as his brain
can be lulled into =85 Over the years he has entertained about
every view it is possible to hold about UFOs, without ever
managing to say anything especially interesting or memorable
about any of them". Later the Serious Ufologist proclaims,
"Moseley insists he is no debunker though anyone who has
followed his career will have no trouble discerning why he is
every debunkers favourite UFO personality... Moseley's
obsessions... have the effect of rendering ufology trivial to
outsiders' eyes and making even its most intellectually
restrained participants look like dolts."

Surprising then, that commenting on Moseley's death, this same
Serious Ufologist announced "Moseley, whom I knew well and with
whom I corresponded up till the end, was not a skeptic by any
definition. He thought UFOs to be some kind of extradimensional
phenomenon, and he did not like skeptics, whom he regarded as
bores and worse, all that much." I think it's truer to say he
had a sort of love-hate relationship with some prominent US
'skeptics', certainly he seemed one of the few people in
American ufology to have a civil word to say for Phil Klass (or
'lovable old Uncle Phil' as he sometimes called him), and his
dubbing of James 'the Amusing' Randi suggest that not all were
seen as bores. He certainly seemed comfortable with the European
brand of sceptical ufology.

Perhaps the key to Moseley's approach to ufology is also
revealed elsewhere in that IUN review, and also why he was
regarded with suspicion by the ufological 'establishment: "Well-
edited and lively, Saucer News is still eminently readable and
informative, evoking a lost 1950s world of fringe characters and
pursuits. More focussed UFO researchers - meaning those who
sought to document sightings, not the saucer craze they
generated - were making a point of keeping this sort of stuff
off the record"

You bet they were! But Moseley saw very early on that the so-
called "saucer craze" and its fringe characters were as much a
part of the UFO phenomenon as any neatly documented list of
sanitised and cleaned-up sighting reports, becasue these were
the people who gave the phenomena its meaning.

The Magonia team met Jim at the Fortean Times UnConvention in
London in 1997, where he spoke on his own 'fortean' experiences
and was part of a UFO Brain's Trust Panel along with Phil Klass,
Jenny Randles, Dennis Stacy, Patrick Huyghe and a rubber alien
head, standing in for Budd Hopkins, who was mysteriously
indisposed. He was, as we had expected, an excellent raconteur
and great company in the bar after the show.

The arrival of the latest Saucer Smear was always the highlight
of Magonia editorial meetings which usually descended into
helpless laughter whilst reading it, and it's hard to imagine
never seeing one again. I suppose it's possible that one of the
people who have been helping Jim with Saucer Smear over the last
few years, largely as his link with the "dreaded Internet", may
carry on with publishing it. But even if they do, this really is
the end of an era. The last link with the early years of the UFO
phenomena has been cut, and I doubt that any revived Smear will
still be produced on that old typewriter, which really should
now be donated to the Smithsonian.

Looking at my copy of Shockingly Close to the Truth, Jim has
written a short inscription on the title page: "To John Rimmer,
a truly intellectual gentleman. (I hope this assures a
favourable review)".

It did, but he didn't really need to ask!

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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