Book review: A New World

A New World

A New World by Whitley Strieber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Much like The Afterlife Revolution, this book is pretty bonkers when viewed through the lens of the world most of us see and know. There is always the chance that Strieber, for reasons unknown, is pulling a very long con (dating back to Communion, published in 1986) or is merely delusional. But while it might make one feel smug to dismiss this as nothing more than crackpot theorizing, there is enough evidence to suggest something is going on.

I’ve long felt that there is a lot in the world and the universe that we don’t understand, that for all our advances and (alleged) intelligence, humans are still pretty primitive. As explorers, we don’t know what is in most of our own oceans. We have only seen our solar system on a limited scale (albeit with some fantastic results) and have ventured no further than the moon when travelling off the planet. We have exploited said planet to the point where we may be accelerating drastic climate change–global warming–and when we need them most, it seems more of us are turning away from science, rational thought and logic, especially those in positions of power, both in business and government.

It’s kind of depressing.

Against this backdrop, A New World is both a summary of Strieber’s previous books recounting his experiences with what he calls the visitors, and a call to action for the visitors–and the reader. For the first time Strieber puts emphasis on having as many people as possible seek out the visitor experience, believing that open communication between us and them may be the only thing that will prevent humanity from being all but wiped out as climate change accelerates (because the visitors will share knowledge that can help us, but won’t do so until we are “ready.”)

In presenting his case, Strieber recalls past experiences, putting them into new perspective, then builds on them by detailing a new chapter with the visitors that began in 2015 and continues now (the most recent events are from a scant month ago as I write this, in November 2019). What it basically comes down to is time is running out and Strieber believes that the more people that join in the communion (sharing) with the Visitors, the better our odds of achieving a communication breakthrough and getting help in literally saving the world.

Again, this sounds bonkers, but Strieber builds his case piece by piece, drawing from experiences he had that feature credible witnesses, to citing other incidents and examples–such as the recent admission from the U.S. Navy that objects captured on video by Navy fighters are actual unknowns. He makes connections that may surprise those who are only familiar with movie aliens. While never stating firmly–as he claims he doesn’t truly know–Strieber posits that the visitors may actually be some form of human from a parallel or mirror universe that is overlapping ours, that they experience time differently, able to see the past and the future, and are attracted to us because we get to experience things in the moment, with a spontaneity they lack.

Also, the dead may also be in this mirror universe as energy beings, and are only able to manifest in the physical realm in very limited ways. While noting that some of the visitors may have ill intent, Strieber says it is only in the same way that some humans are criminals or otherwise operate outside of society’s norms.

As for why they have been so reticent to present themselves openly to us (by landing on, say, the lawn of the White House–and hoo boy, would that be interesting right now), despite possibly having been around for thousands of years (picture Georgio Soukalos leaning forward and saying, “Aliens!”), it’s that they experience reality so differently than we do that just trying to wrap our minds around it can overwhelm us. The visitors can’t chat casually with us because they are fundamentally non-physical beings, so they use imagery and symbols and it all comes out cryptic and weird. We just want to sit down at a table with them, have some tea and get to know each other. They can control things–including themselves, perhaps, at a sub-atomic level. Idle conversation isn’t really possible.

There is a chapter that actually goes into the possible science behind this, referencing everything from Schrodinger’s cat to decoherence and the fine-structure constant. The very nature of reality is brought into question, that the information our senses provide may not be exactly reflective of what reality really is. Strangely, the tone in this chapter is a lot less serious than the others, possibly because the entire thing is framed as trying to prove how something so bizarre can be real.

The book ends on an urgent note, calling on the visitors to more openly present themselves, to “open the doors of their school wide, to us all. We have a planet to lose and our lives along with it, or we have a journey to take.”

As always, Strieber writes clearly and with a sober tone. More than usual he confesses to how strange everything sounds, imploring the reader to make a leap of faith (not necessarily a religious one, but with a spiritual component). He also provides good news to lazy, but generally decent people–you don’t need to believe the visitors are real or that the soul is a thing to contribute positively to the communion process, you just need to be a fundamentally good person.

Any book that ends with that kind of promise can’t be so bad.

As I’ve said, it is difficult to buy into what Strieber talks about, especially if you’ve never experienced anything even tangential to what he talks about, unless you have a very open mind and are willing to think way outside the proverbial box. I keep an open mind (some might say downright vacant) and I find the theories and ideas presented in A New World to be interesting and intriguing. This is in a way a hopeful book, and in these dark times, that goes a long way.

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Ubiquitous Flying Objects

I’ve always been intrigued by UFOs. I loved Close Encounters of the Third Kind when I saw it at the age of 13. I wrote my own spin on the subject after seeing the movie, cleverly calling my story “The UFO Experience.” I watched every episode of NBC’s ill-fated Project UFO series in the late 70s, which was based on Project Blue Book and came about after the success of Close Encounters. I read books about the subject and continue to do so to this day.

The fascination has several sources. One is simply the tantalizing mystery of the unknown. Another is that UFOs–or at least some of them–carry the possibility of confirming the existence of extraterrestrial life. With our pop culture inundated with science fiction and its depiction of aliens in all forms, the idea of not being alone in the universe may not seem as immediately striking as it once was, but getting actual proof would still result in a profound change in how we view our world and everything beyond it.

Mostly I think it would freak a lot of people out.

In recent years it seems the number of UFO sightings has exploded. Smartphones have made it far more likely now that people will capture footage of sightings, even if that footage typically remains grainy, blurry, shaky or otherwise iffy. Maybe in another ten years Apple will have a super-amazing camera in the iPhone 15 that will capture shots of UFOs with such clarity you’ll be able to clearly see the little green men waving from the windows.

Along with the increase in the number of sightings has come a parallel increase in UFO TV shows. Where Project UFO stood out due to its subject matter, you can now watch Hangar 1: The UFO Files, Close Encounters, UFOs Declassified, Ancient Aliens and a bunch more than have come and gone or feature UFO incidents as part of their regular subject matter (The Unexplained Files, etc.) The approach of these shows ranges from relatively serious and sober (Hangar 1) to completely bonkers (Ancient Aliens, or as I refer to it, that show where you hear the phrase “ancient astronaut theorists say yes” roughly a billion times per episode).

All of this activity and interest has been greatly entertaining for me, even if much of it happens outside of mainstream media (though the TV shows do appear on channels like Discovery Science, of all places). The one thing that puzzles me is how some still deny the existence of UFOs.

I think it goes back to the freaked out thing.

A UFO is literally an unidentified flying object. If a runaway weather balloon is seen in the night sky but is never positively identified as such, it is by definition a UFO. Even if only a handful of sighting remain truly unknown, that’s more than enough to definitively state that UFOs are a real phenomenon. There are objects in the sky that we cannot always identify. So why deny the possibility?

It’s commonly (and logically) thought that any extraterrestrials that have made it to our planet would be technologically advanced and that frightens a lot of people. They think of Martian death rays, planetary conquest, enslavement, basically all the horrible things we humans have always done, just on a grander scale and with more sophisticated tools. And done by evil aliens instead of us.

I think if aliens were here and they wanted to turn us all into soylent green, they’d have probably done it already. But that’s part of what makes all of this so interesting for me–the possibilities are endless.

I couldn’t say what is behind most UFO sightings, whether they’re ETs from across the galaxy or from a parallel dimension, or even humans come back from the future for whatever reason. Or maybe they’re all runaway weather balloons. I keep an open mind on the subject. The universe is a strange place and we know very little about it. Heck, it’s been less than 50 years since we started wearing digital watches*. We’re still taking baby steps when it comes to technology and getting out to check our cosmic neighborhood. We have only ever had a single spacecraft leave our solar system–Voyager–and that was never the probe’s purpose, it just happened to keep on truckin’ after it completed its mission.

Having written all this, I’m not hoping for some weird abduction experience or implants or anything. I’m mostly content for the world to remain predictable and stable. I don’t think either is true anymore, if it ever was, so I’d like to think I’m prepared for whatever comes. I’ve got a smartphone with a decent camera, anyway.

* remember when digital watches were cool? Smart watches are the new digital watches. I’ve owned both because that’s what a good nerd does.

CNN: Your Most Trusted Source For Inane Polls

It is fashionable to poo-poo the mainstream media these days. The reasons range from the old and unsurprising — news companies are increasingly owned and controlled by larger and larger corporate entities that have a vested interest in pushing a narrow, specific point of view across not just editorially but in how they present every aspect of the news, from what gets covered to how it gets covered. The favorite media punching bag is probably Fox News, a phrase that almost works as an oxymoron depending on the particular story in question — to the more modern, as blogs, Twitter (shudder) and other web or Internet-based media provide a more immediate and less corporate view of events around the world.

This is all a big and serious-sounding buildup to me making fun of CNN not because they are beholden to their coporate masters or because they slant the news in disingeuous and even dangerous ways, but because they are silly. Two examples below.

Many news sites offer “non-scientific” polls on popular issues of the day, sort of the online equivalent of the “man on the street” interviews of yore. And you know how thoughtful and articulate those men on the street were! CNN has preserved some of this in its polls by asking questions that are at times utterly inane. A short time ago George Bush Sr. turned 85 and celebrated by making a parachute jump, a tradition of his. He jumped with a buddy in case something went wrong. Or maybe it was a Secret Service agent. Details. Anyway, here is the poll question:

cnn_poll1

One can only imagine the polls that got vetoed to let this one in. “Would you ride in a boxcar with a hobo?” “Would you collect shellfish with a B-list movie star?” “Would you limbo with an NBA team?”

Here were the results later that day:

cnn_poll2

45% of the people who took the time to participate in this non-scientific exercise in voting said NO, they would not skydive with a president. If I was a president, I’d be feeling a little hurt. America, why do you hate your presidents? Look for CNN to follow-up on this.

A recent story on CNN concerned the appearance of a UFO. The particulars of the story don’t really matter but here is the summary as it appeared in their headlines section:

cnn-ufo

UFO is an abbreviation for Unidentified Flying Object. We all know this. CNN knows this. Skydiving presidents and the people who won’t skydive with them know this. For most people, it is thought of as a term to describe “flying saucers” — extraterrestrial craft from outer space or dimensions unknown that may be ferrying aliens who may find us curious or delicious. But while this is the most common usage of the term, it literally means any object in the sky that cannot be properly identified. The fact that CNN put quotation marks around UFO suggests either the object was not really a UFO — which is not the case — or they have chosen to effectively mock the whole thing by suggesting that UFOs (flying saucers!) are silly and not real. All of them, you dummies! This comes during a time of unprecedented UFO waves appearing all over the world, so it dovetails nicely with the idea that mainstream media automatically rejects anything that doesn’t conform to their take on things, whether it’s UFOs, the “war on terror” or who won American Idol.

Oh, and the little short symbol next to the camera (the camera means it’s a video story)? It allows you to conveniently buy a t-shirt related to the story, like all important news, you know.