Tuesday, January 29, 2019, 12-2pm
Conference Room, CSWR, 42 Francis Ave.
After a summary of the UFO phenomenon and its modern histories and interpretations, this lecture will reference four texts: Philip K. Dick’s Valis (1981), Whitley Strieber’s Communion (1987), Kary Mullis’s Dancing Naked in the Mind Field (2000), and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Living with a Wild God (2014). In each case, we will see how the author describes a deeply personal, life-changing encounter with what any earlier culture would have recognized as a deity or demon. Each author engages these earlier religious interpretations but finally moves outside of them to posit actual invisible species in the environment that interact with human beings at their own whims and for their own interests, perhaps, some of the authors speculate, to "feed off" of human emotion or to tame, domesticate or evolve us via sexual communion and interspecies symbiosis. The result is a new set of evolutionary panpsychisms, erotic vitalisms and biological polytheisms that pose a challenge to the reigning materialisms and projection theories of conventional science and the humanities. The lecture concludes by reading at least some aspects of the UFO phenomenon in “eschatological” terms, that is, as dealing with the dead and the destiny of the human soul.
The CSWR seeks to promote the study of the world’s religions in their classical and contemporary forms, serving both as a residential community of students and scholars and an international “think tank” in the study of religion.