Friday, June 24, 2016

White Spheres Speak

We went to see Independence Day: Resurgence tonight and emerged from the theater into a midsummer night. A catbird sang as daylight faded and as we talked about the movie we had just seen. It's strange that the film opened yesterday, the same day that the United Kingdom voted in favor of its own independence. I suppose that tonight Britons who love their freedom are having a whale of a party.

The saying is that there is nothing new under the sun. That's as true of movies as it is of anything. I say that to let you know that you're unlikely to see anything new in Independence Day: Resurgence (except that I don't think I have ever seen an American movie so overtly made for a Chinese audience). There are elements of Battlestar Galactica, Aliens, Starship Troopers, Star Trek: First Contact, Cloverfield, 2012, Jurassic Park (look for a chase scene with a rear-view mirror), and other movies in Independence Day: Resurgence. You might object, but that's how movies are these days. Just look at Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Trek Into Darkness.

There are parts of the real-life myth of flying saucers in Independence Day: Resurgence, as well, specifically, the supposed crashdown at Roswell, from sixty-nine years ago this month; Area 51, where we are supposed to have reverse-engineered alien technology, as in the movie; and J. Allen Hynek's terminology of close encounters. In short, Independence Day: Resurgence is a piece of pop-culture fluff that draws from other pop-cultural works, each with its own varying degree of fluffiness.

It also draws from fine art--or seems to. There is a white sphere with a slit in it. That looked familiar to me, and as the movie went on, I asked myself where I had seen it before tonight. Then it hit me. This (the thing on the left):

Looks like this:

The voice of space - Magritte Rene

Those could easily be flying saucers. The curious thing is that they were painted before the flying saucer era. The painting is called "The Voice of the Winds" and it was executed by René Magritte in 1928. Maybe the winds of the title are solar winds. And maybe white spheres speak, as in tonight's movie.

Text copyright 2016 Terence E. Hanley


  1. I really didn't care for the first Independence Day movie, so I have no plans to see the sequel. And based on your description, it doesn't sound like I'll be missing much. The similarity with the Magritte painting is pretty interesting, though.

  2. Yelnak 7,

    Sure I am not, your skepticism UFOs about.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      Although your syntax is imperfect, your attempt to communicate with us in this earthly language has been successful. I trust that your translation device will be equally successful in conveying to you the meaning of my response.

      One of our great scientists popularized the saying, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." It's one thing to say that there are unidentified lights in the sky. It's another to say that those lights represent unknown objects, including spacecraft operated by beings from other worlds. We are now in the seventieth year of the flying saucer era. In all that time, there has not been any sound evidence that we are being visited by spacecraft or beings from other worlds. If we were, the evidence should have proliferated in this age in which everybody and his brother carries a camera. Instead, the absence of evidence continues.

      As I wrote a year ago, flying saucers come from science fiction, not from outer space. It's probably no coincidence that the flying saucer myth, at age threescore and ten years, is dying, just as science fiction appears to be dying. (Isaac Asimov claimed that the Golden Age of science fiction ended in 1950, in which case the current age is nearing its seventieth year as well. Scientology may be next to go.) It's also probably no coincidence that the last great flying saucer flap occurred in 1973, just four years before Raymond A. Palmer and two years before Richard S. Shaver, the men who helped start the whole thing, went to their graves.

      You'll notice that I use the term "flying saucers" rather than your term "UFOs." I don't object to the term "UFOs," but I don't believe it's any more accurate or useful than "flying saucers." I believe the use of the term "UFO" is an attempt to legitimize something that is unscientific or pseudoscientific by making it sound scientific or in some way official. To say that something is a UFO is to say that: a) it flies, and b) it is an object. If something flies, that means it is living or is operated by something that is living. To say that it is an object is to say that it is real and physical. Again, there isn't any sound evidence that UFOs fly or that that they are real, physical objects.

      In summary, Anonymous, if you want us to believe in you, you should show yourself or present some evidence as to your existence.

      As for my other readers: you may have noticed that the syntax of Anonymous is kind of backwards. If you spell the name he has given me backwards, you get "7 kanley." My first name has seven letters. My last name is Hanley. "K" is only two keys away from "H" on our standard earthly keyboards. Potassium--K-- is only two elements down from hydrogen--H--on the periodic table of elements. I can tell you, and I hereby affirm, that I have never knowingly been in contact with Anonymous, that Yelnak 7 is not my alter ego, and that I am a human being who has never once been probed by an extraterrestrial (or anybody else--and I aim to keep it that way).

      Thanks for writing.

      Terence Hanley