"Which logically leads us to realize something else: If UFOs and physical reality are incompatible, maybe the time has come to re-negotiate physical reality. Because, as we all know, these impossible UFOs that don't exist are not going away."
--Jacques Vallee, Foreword to Sekret Machines vol 1: Gods
This piece will be a very experimental one, an attempt at what William Irwin Thompson dubbed “mind jazz”. I’m going to explore the implications of applying Hegelian philosophical thought to the UFO (“alien”) phenomena. Hence the title of the piece Hegalienism: Hegel + Aliens. I’ll proceed largely by inductive means showing some examples that to me reflect Hegelian dialectical insights in life. From there I’ll explore how placing Hegelian thinking in tension with the Contact/UFO phenomena reveals some interesting possibilities.
For the record, I’m not arguing that Hegelianism is the final and most perfect philosophical system. Hegelianism has its own internal tensions, limitations, and arguably even contradictions. Hegel himself wrote massive tomes seeking to elucidate his philosophy. After Hegel’s death his lineage immediately fractured into two camps the Young/Left Hegelians (e.g. Karl Marx) and the Right Hegelians who argued with each other of key aspects of how to interpret and understand and apply Hegel’s insights (which lines up with something I've called elsewhere Wake vs/and Woke.) Consequently there is no way to claim in a short piece like this to cover anything remotely resembling the fullness of Hegel’s system. Again this is mind jazz not a systematic treatise.
I’ll begin with some examples because Hegelianism is as much a method of thinking as it is a system of thought. The Hegelian philosophical praxis in it’s own strange way is a kind of mind jazz. It’s a practice of thinking and analyzing and synthesizing and holding in tension and paradox disparate strands of information. This approach I think is a very fruitful one when applied to the Contact/UFO phenomena as it is very easy to get caught into flawed ways of thinking when seeking to understand what is, at root, such a mysterious, weird, anomalous phenomena.
So what follows are a few completely non-UFO related examples to get us thinking in a Hegelian way.
First is the history of yacht rock, which as Ezekiel73 has pointed out yacht rock is essential medicine in these chaotic times. Yacht rock as a term came from a mockumentary series created in 2005 concerning the smooth music sounds of 70s and 80s performers like Steely Dan, Kenny Loggins, Michael McDonald, Seals & Croft among others. The key point is that during that decade of music no one ever called it yacht rock. It was known at the time as adult-oriented rock or The West Coast Sound. But after the Yacht Rock series came out everyone now (correctly) refers to that genre of music as yacht rock. It’s only retroactively that the term came to reveal what was always there from the beginning, just like Paul McCartney over time morphing into Dana Carvey's impression of him.
That is a very Hegelian point in that something after the fact comes along and re-writes the history of the original event to change not only the present interpretation or understanding of the event (in this case the music) but actually changes the very nature of that previous existent into what it always was but wasn’t yet recognized to be at the time, even and perhaps especially by those who were actually doing it (in this case the musicians themselves).
That’s precisely the role that Hegel argued philosophy takes in that it retroactively reveals what was always there. In other words, with a frame like yacht rock it's not just the mind of contemporary subjects listening to the music that has been changed but the actual object (the music) itself is changed by our thinking about it. I'll come back to this point in relationship to UFOs because it's a crucial one.
As Hegel famously said “the owl of Minerva flies at dusk.” The owl of Minerva (Wisdom) represents philosophy and it only flies at dusk for Hegel because it can only come to understand the movement of spirit (geist) through history after the fact. Just like yacht rock. (I’m going to return to the owl of Minerva quotation later as there’s a highly strange synchronicity there in terms of the UFO phenomena). But the point here is that only after the fact do we come to change/reveal the thing as it always was.
As a second example to reveal Hegelian thought consider the O.J. Simpson case. Two core facts in particular are most relevant in the OJ case. First, O.J. committed double homicide. There is substantial and nearly overwhelming evidence pointing to his guilt. Second, elements of the LAPD tried to frame him. Recall that at the time of the case two camps emerged: OJ was framed (true) and OJ was guilty (also true). Each side of course only claimed one side of the fuller truth: the police framed a man who was already guilty. This is a very Hegelian insight—the over-determined nature of the situation.
Which leads to this Hegelian formulation:
O.J. was guilty of double murder
The police framed him but botched the frame job The frame job created the opening necessary for Johnnie Cochran to show that there was at least a shadow of doubt. Ergo O.J. should have been found not guilty.
Hence OJ was guilty and yet was correctly found innocent in his trial.
BUT as shown in the magisterial documentary OJ Made in America the jurors made a prejudiced decision to back O.J. due to racial solidarity issues as an attempt to stick it to the system.
Consequently the jury ended up making the right decision by completely improper logic therefore invalidating the correct decision that it came to.
Hence a mistrial should have been called for a correct innocent verdict in the case of a framed guilty man.
That’s about as Hegelian as it gets. Or to be more precise that’s about as Left Hegelian as it gets. Left Hegelian in that the tension, conflict, and stress of history gets expressed but never brought to a harmonious conclusion (See Zizek’s parallax view reading of Hegel for more on this point).
It also reflects another core Hegelian motif—namely that universal movement is expressed through particular manifestations. In the OJ example one singular case (as eloquently shown in the Made in America documentary) revealed the corruption of the US judicial system, the pathological celebrity-sports culture, the brutal nature of law enforcement, the core racism at the heart of the US, as well as themes of gender imbalances and misogyny. The universal is particular. This point also will also come back around in the UFO topic.
A third and final example to understand Hegelianism comes via Carl Jung, this time more from the right Hegelian tradition. I’ve already written on Jung’s approach to the UFO phenomena elsewhere so I won’t recover that ground here. Rather I want to focus on Jung’s notion of the shadow and it’s resolution as a kind of (right) Hegelianism.
For Jung the shadow is the part of the psyche that gets repressed or marginalized (“alien-ated”). Once it lives in the margins the shadow takes on a covert problematic form. A person might suppress legitimate anger they have towards another and mistakenly project it onto themselves which becomes self-loathing. In that case they believe they have a problem of low self-esteem/self-loathing and they seek to work on their esteem when in actuality they are angry at someone else (a spouse, a friend, a parent, etc). If instead they just owned their anger and set up clear boundaries the self-loathing would disappear because they never actually had self-loathing in the first place.
In other words, Jung argued paradoxically that the way to deal with the shadow is to befriend it and welcome it. The shadow for Jung always held a partial piece of truth, a light that had gotten warped or lost in its repression. Rather than trying to keep the shadow locked away or simply letting it escape and run amuck, Jung argued for the third position of embracing the shadow and transmuting it into power and light through love. In (Right) Hegelian terms this is aufheben. Normally thought of as the “synthesis” in the famous thesis-antithesis-synthesis triad, aufheben means simultaneously negating, overturning, preserving, transmuting, sublating, and transcending all in one. In the Jungian example the shadow after it has been integrated is no longer shadow (negated) yet the truth of it is retained (preserved) while simultaneously being expressed as new form (sublated) which leads to a greater overall expression of individuation and integration (transcending). Yet again we’ll see this dynamic also play out in the UFO topic.
Those are three examples to highlight some key Hegelian insights. It’s by no means a full comprehensive read of Hegelian thought but simply some initial thoughts to get the ball rolling. When we then apply Hegelian logic to the UFO phenomena (“Hegalienism”) we see a number of crucial insights.
The first and most crucial is the union of the real and the impossible in The UFO Phenomenon. It’s a real impossibility or, if you prefer, Impossible Reality. In Hegelian-ese that’s the “synthesis” of two seemingly opposed dynamics. Recall Jacques Vallee's words quoted earlier, "these impossible UFOs that don't exist are not going away." That's pure Hegelian logic at play there.
UFOs are impossible in simply the sheer weirdness, incomprehensibility, and strangeness of the phenomena. People experience being taken (willingly or unwillingly) into a highly strange encounter which may involve scenes of medical experimentation, genetic hybridization, sexual/erotic encounters (again willingly or unwillingly), shown maps of the stars and secret esoteric wisdom, provided predictions of apocalyptic ecological futures, be healed, and/or be left with physical marks and/or implants from the encounter. On the other hand we have hundreds and hundreds of cases of aerial encounters with craft (of some kind) that warp space-time, fly in and out of radar contact, make maneuvers not understandable by contemporary mainstream physics, and seem particularly interested in nuclear weaponry sites. And that only scratches the surface of the immense high strangeness of encounters.
Two significant errors tend to accrue in such a situation. One is to only emphasize the impossible to the exclusion of the reality: i.e. debunk the phenomena entirely outright. Everyone who has a contact experience must be having some kind of hallucination, psychological disorder, or mental breakdown. Or when it comes to the hundreds of reports of encounter with military aircraft, take the Project Blue Book approach and just claim, “nothing to see here folks. Case closed.”
The other mistake is to accept the reality but then seek to explain it and thereby reduce the impossibility and high weirdness involved. New Agers with their classification schemes of all the supposed different types of identified alien races with their various neat and ordered taxonomies comes to mind in this regard. As do the early abduction researchers tendency to push people in the direction of a pre-scripted abduction narrative. Ancient alien theory, Ascension channeled ET texts these are also too tidy systems of interpretation. Everything is already figured out in a sense.
Here we see a classic Hegelian double bind where both sides are flawed and the missing third option is the key to a new way forward. The third (“synthetic”) position here is weird naturalism which I’ve written about before. In weird naturalism the phenomena is understood to be both real and unreal in certain ways simultaneously (that is Charles Fort’s notion of “intermediate” reality discussed here). The phenomena is given (partial) reality while at the same time retaining its inherent elusive, mysterious quality.
I’ve previously mentioned the work of George Hanson on the Paranormal and the Trickster. Hanson’s insights are deeply Hegelian and directly relevant to UFOlogy. Hanson’s text looks at the history of parapsychological research. Hanson’s research established that there was much more hucksterism, chicanery, high strangeness, even deception going on in the study of psychical research than originally thought. Skeptic debunkers of course take these data points to mean the whole field is a fraud. Psychical research advocates tended to downplay that data and tried to cordon it off in the corner somewhere out of sight. Hanson offered the brilliant Hegelian twist: the magic, deceptive, slippery nature of the data is itself deeper proof of its reality. Those trickster-y elements were for Hanson core to the nature of the phenomena itself.
With the UFO/Contact phenomena we have the same thing. The weirdness, the at times pure absurdity and surreal nature of the phenomena is not proof of a fraud nor a thing to argued past or “figured out” but is actually the core to the entire thing. The medium is the message said McLuhan. The medium is total bizarro weirdness, hence that is the message.
A variation on this theme would be the separation of various highly strange phenomena from each other. “Paranormal” research tends to treat Near Death Experiences (NDEs) as one utterly distinct category whereas Psi capacities exist in an entirely other box, with UFO contact encounters in a third totally different box still. The same goes for mediumship, plant medicine or psychedelic journeying, communication with animals, as well as encounters with fairies, jinn, or elementals. Each one gets treated as entirely separate phenomenon. Instead consider the argument (backed by significant research) that all these phenomena are interrelated at their core. That all of them are variations of one basic theme, distinct branches of one animistic tree. The upshot of that view is that it reinforces the earlier point that the numinous and highly strange nature of the phenomena needs always to be respected and retained. When we start thinking about the interrelationship between fairies, the dead, and “aliens” we’re definitely deepening the weirdness. Or when exploring the strange synchronicity and overlap between cryptids and UFOS or UFOS and apparitions of Mother Mary, we again are deepening the weirdness.
The classic binary within UFOlogy between the “nuts and bolts” school and the consciousness school is yet another example. Jacques Vallee’s Hegelian move of arguing that the UFO is a conscious technology was true aufheben: sublating, transmuting, transcending, negating, preserving, and re-positioning all of UFOlogy in one move. Just as with Yacht Rock, Vallee’s work came along and retroactively changed the prior subject matter of UFOlogy itself (not just our way of perceiving the subject matter). It revealed what was there already but not yet recognized or properly made manifest. It actually changed the object of study (UFOs) themselves.
Vallee is central not only because he argued the conscious technology angle of UFOs but also because he established that the UFO phenomena is itself a contemporary variation of an ongoing phenomena. His comparisons between the UFOs and the lore concerning the fairy folk as well as Marian apparitions and later all manner of unidentified, anomalous aerial phenomena (“lights in the sky”) going back thousands of years was (and still is) a major breakthrough in the field. That perspective has its own Hegelian flare insofar as Vallee was arguing for an ongoing (evolutionary?) unfolding of a singular phenomenon across a multitude of cultures, languages, epochs, while retaining its core distinctive attributes, most especially it’s numinous quality. This is very similar (if not identical to) Hegel’s notion of the Phenomenology of the Geist (Spirit).
Which brings us, as I like to say, full saucer back to Hegel’s quotation concerning the owl of Minerva. What is peculiarly strange and interesting in this regard is the work of Mike Clelland, himself an experiencer. Clelland's book (The Messengers) explores the utterly fascinating, at times frightening, and even beautiful interrelationship between anomalous events–particularly UFO/contact encounters—and owls. Owls are themselves highly strange creatures with soundless flight, huge eyes, panoramic vision, etc. As birds they can also of course be seen as harbingers of the strange, messenger beings traveling back and forth between the upper and middle worlds as in shamanic traditions.
Furthermore, Hegel said Minerva’s owl only flies at dusk. Dusk is a liminal space, not yet fully nighttime but neither daytime. It is something like nature’s version of a hypnogogic or twilight state which is a state strongly correlated with psi and highly strange phenomena. Owls flying at dusk allows us to unite the threads of hypnogogic states, Hegel, Mike Clelland, owls, synchronicities, and UFOs.
Along those lines a fascinating though oft-forgotten side note in Hegel’s early writings is that he incorporates a form of ether theory to understand space and time. He later left that part of his theory on the cutting room floor (i.e. “occulted”). What’s very intriguing in that regard is ether theory has points of contact with Vallee’s alternative physics I’ve written about elsewhere as well as explicitly in the work of Nassim Haremein. The result of which is that UFOs and ether have their own strange synchronicity particularly around possibilities of zero point/free energy.
I cited earlier Hegel’s counter-intuitive notion of the concrete universal, where the concrete is neither simply another effaced variation of one ultimate universal theme nor is it some completely isolated fragmented reality unto itself but rather the concrete is the universal and the universal is concrete (again: a third, Hegelian position). The example cited earlier was OJ’s case being all of America refracted through one experience.
The UFO is similarly a concrete universal. As Richard Dolan has pointed out the UFO phenomena is the core hidden factor driving the creation of the national security (and now surveillance) state. Joseph Farrell and Catherine Austin Fitts have expanded on Dolan’s point showing that the UFO phenomena is the core motivating factor in the secret economy. In much the same way, the UFO phenomena has been core to the realization off the previously mentioned interrelated nature of NDEs, psi & precognitive realities, psychedelics as detailed in the Edgar Mitchell Society’s FREE research with experiencers/contactees. In terms of a concrete universal, what seems on the surface like a totally marginal weird pastime (UFOs) is actually core to understanding the geopolitical and economic realities of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Furthermore, Whitely Strieber’s reflection on his encounters with what he called The Visitors led him to some very Hegelian dialectical positions. As for example Strieber’s argument that the Visitors were in some ways an evolutionary window into humanity. For Strieber humanity was learning about itself through its encounter with the Visitors which is eerily reminiscent of Hegel’s Master-Slave dialectic.
Hegel famously argued that the human mind objectified itself in thought thereby recognizing itself outside of itself retrieving it’s identity while simultaneously uniting with the (seemingly) Other. Hegel called this identity-in-difference. Strieber at points in his writings seems to imply that the Visitors are similarly learning about themselves through their encounters with the human.
For Hegel the finite universe is infinite. Or said the other way around the infinite only exists in and as and through time—as opposed to earlier notions of the Eternal as separate from the world of time (think Plato’s notion of Being vs. Becoming). The UFO phenomena is perhaps the clearest example of this position where individuals are encountering a millennia-old phenomena that is ever just outside our grasp of understanding. Time often becomes fluid in these experiences (“time loss” episodes). UFOs express anomalous tendencies which reveal themselves to be both finite (recognizably distinct craft) and yet infinite simultaneously (“free energy”, anti-gravity propulsion). Weird naturalism, in other words, is itself an intrinsically Hegelian position in that it seeks to sublate the traditional divide between spiritual metaphysics and materialist empiricism.
Bringing a weird naturalist perspective—especially in the discriminating reflections of experiencers like a Strieber and Clelland—helps to overcome yet another classic dualistic bind on this subject: close encounters as entirely of the pure love and light variety or as entirely traumatic and horrifying. A situation brilliantly and hilariously spoofed by two all-time great Saturday Night Live sketches with Kate McKinnon.* (McKinnon has her own synchronicity here as a member of the all-female Ghostbusters reboot which I wrote about here, especially in its depiction of the astral plane and psychological operations concerning the psychedelic in our time). Sublating the all love and light vs. all evil paradigm of encounters allow us again to see forward into a much more subtle, ambiguous, mysterious nature of the phenomena.
In this experimental mindscape, we’ve encountered many key concepts in the Hegelian corpus: aufheben, identity-in-difference, concrete universals, Master-Slave dialectic and seen how they have revealed a way of approaching the UFO phenomena that in particular keeps one on the alert from falling into mental cognitive traps but finds creative ways consistently to spring those traps and locate alternative ways forward (or rather deeper). In true Hegelian fashion this exploration has even revealed a high weirdness strain within Hegel himself (owls, ether).
*Supporting the research of the Edgar Mitchell Foundation SNL did follow up sketches on Paranormal occurrence, Christmas Miracles, and Near Death Experiences, showing yet again all of them as variations of a singular theme.