Review by Eric Hoffman
Edited by Robbie Graham
Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: White Crow Books (May 23, 2017)
Robbie Graham’s collection of essays, UFOs: Reframing the Debate, is a mixed affair, with some entries being of greater interest than others.
The collection begins with a kind of back-and-forth approach between experiencers/true believers and skeptics, prefacing entries by more nuanced theorists, who look at the UFO phenomena from perspectives that are refreshingly different from the mainstream Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH)/abduction/”nuts and bolts” approaches.
Among the essays that merit close attention are Curt Collins’s thoroughly readable and engaging minute-by-minute recounting of the “Roswell slides” debacle, and the always elegant theoretical approaches of Greg Bishop, who here argues that human consciousness and perception inevitably influences both the experience and any subsequent attempts at making sense of UFO encounters, provocatively describing them as a sort of psychotropic “art project.” Red Pill Junkie’s engaging celebration of the ongoing impenetrability of the phenomenon is both thought-provoking and entertaining. Lorin Cutts proposes a “mythological zone” that exists between unexplained phenomena and its experience, while Micah Hanks helpfully unpacks the ideological underpinnings of modern-day UFO skepticism. Joshua Cutchin suggests that we move beyond materialism in our attempts to come to grips with what remains an altogether inscrutable phenomenon, and Robert Brandstetter’s decidedly philosophical essay theorizes that the UFO essentially acts as a mirror for human experience.
Regrettably, editor Graham’s inclusivity makes this collection a bit unfocused and perhaps unintentionally waters down its impact. Given that there is no shortage of writings by either devotees or cynics, of which at least one third of the essays here are curious examples, this volume would have perhaps benefited from less inclusiveness and a tighter editorial focus. Yet, even with these faults, Graham’s volume remains a useful compendium for the more novice reader, providing them with both interesting repetitions of, and welcome alternatives to, the dominant – and unquestionably stale – ETH-based mythology that continues to paralyze and impede progress in the field of ufology.