Adelaide's changeable autumn weather is here! 31 degrees C yesterday and sunny; 21 degrees today and raining.
Today's post is about the book "The UFO diaries:travels in the weird world of high strangeness" by Australian Martin Plowman. 2011. Arena. Crows Nest, Sydney. ISBN 978-1-741-759-815.
Plowman undertook his PhD at Melbourne University and wrote "...a comprehensive history of the belief in UFOs, as seen through the eyes of the world's true believers." (p.xi.)
Is Martin a ufologist? "I'm not a ufologist myself, but I am fascinated by their fascination with UFOs." (p.x1.)
Interestingly, Plowman announces here "If you are looking for answers, talk to a priest or a psychologist, for you will not find them in this book." (p.xi.)
Research for his PhD commenced with visits to the State Library of Victoria to digest their UFO book collection. Then it was off to visit the Victorian UFO Research Society "...to actually meet ufologists, to walk among them and interact openly in their natural habitat..." (p.19.)
The audience viewed a video taken in Melbourne. "UFOlogists absolutely live for moments like this; for them, the next 'unexplained sighting' could be the one that finally proves the existence of UFOs." (p.23.)"...after this brief immersion in the UFO subculture I wanted to see more of the world of high strangeness." (p.31.)
Plowman decided to travel (in 2002) first to the USA and Roswell. He spent a week at the International UFO Museum and Research Center. (Click here.) He was presented with the opportunity to read rare UFO books and he interviewed Walter Haut, co-director of the museum
From Roswell, he went to the White Sands Missile Range. "I wanted to compare the official story of how the V-2 missiles were brought to America with the findings of my research, which drew intriguing parallels with conspiracy theories explaining what happened to the crashed Roswell flying saucer after it was captured by the US Air Force (p.62.)
The next stop was Area 51. "Nuts-and-bolts ufologists never did prove the existence of UFOs. And yet...they were not alone. In the 1950's their greatest rivals in the search for the Truth were a motley bunch of mystics, charlatans, false professors and self-appointed gurus known collectively as the contactees." (pp77-78.)
Plowman reviews the accounts of George Adamski; takes a swipe at Theosophy; George Van Tassell and the contactee group led by Mrs Marian Keech. "Such were the contactees...No, I don't believe any of it either..." (p.97.)
He moved on to Argentina, then Chile for a visit to the Elqui Valley- "...the valley is famous for its UFO sightings. My research led me to believe that latter-day contactees had colonised the Elqui's upper reaches in an effort to get closer to the space brothers." (p.103.) (Click here.)
More adventured followed in Bolivia, to Samaipata "The ruins of a pre-Inca temple...ufologists believe, it's an ancient astronaut landing site." (Click here.)
Peru was next on his itinerary, to see the Nazca lines. Finally, after seven months in South America he returned home to Melbourne. Here we find out more about his UFO interests. "I'm not a believer or a sceptic...I'm more of a historian of the strange, and analyst of the improbable. The stories about UFOs are what I'm interested in, not the things themselves.(p.200.)
After completing his PhD, he travelled to Mexico. The chapter detailing his Mexican saga is about abductees. "What we saw in Mexico, and what I encountered in my earlier travels in Chile, Bolivia and Peru, was a folk ufology that drew upon pre-Hispanic legends...Catholic imagery...and modern ufology in the attempt to make sense of UFO sightings." (p.280.)
"Lets face it, despite ufology's enormous output-surely it must be one of the longest-lived and most popular alternative cultural movement of the last century-it's as far from proving the existence of UFOs as it has ever been. (p.287.)
I did find this a different sort of UFO book. The author extensively travelled parts of the world, talking first hand to people who had either seen or researched UFOs. The author's style of humour put me off in parts, but overall it should be read from the point of view of an anthropologist' study of the UFO tribes.