Thursday, September 01, 2005

"The HISTORIAN", "the Rosetta Stone" and me




























Recently I was "interviewed" by a reporter for Flash News about my new book "HAIR of the ALIEN". I found the process and the resultant "news item" rather pointless. Comments from him that my book "could be the next da Vinci Code" or "it should be made into a film", suggested to me he was either being cynical or he didn't get out much or even read much.

Waiting for his call I was reading what some in the publishing game regard as the real McCoy - "the next da Vinci Code"! In my humble opinion that book was rather better than that simplistic label.

The book "The Historian" by Elizabeth Kostova is a best seller, evocatively recasting the Dracula mystique in the era of the Cold War. It has a style rather more literary and elegantly languid than Dan Brown's offering. Kostova's first novel evokes in the reader different reactions depending on your literary sensibilities. For me it was a great read, at times evoking moments of striking reverie, the kind one gets only in those stories that resonate with personal experiences and passions.

For example in "The Historian" (page 239) the following struck a cord with my sensibilities:
"It is a fact that we historians are interested in what is partly a reflection of ourselves, perhaps a part of ourselves we would rather not examine except through the medium of scholarship; it is also true that as we steep ourselves in our interests, they become more and more a part of us."

That short passage evoked in me some of the sensibilities I bring to one aspect of the UFO subject that I embrace. Namely the quest, the investigation and the research, particularly that part that has a deep and profound historical dimension. All of us who contribute to documenting the history of the UFO subject obviously feel those resonances. While you might not experience the questing, investigative and researching senses that I went through to unravel the material, some of my own historical pursuits in the UFO field can be found on my web site:
http://www.theozfiles.com/history_australian_ufo_history.html

A more surprising and specific UFO resonance was evoked in me on the very next page of "The Historian":
"Next Turgut brought out a small book bound in ancient leather. It was difficult for me not to reach for it at once, but I waited in a fever of self-control while Turgut gently open it ...."

I have to admit that directly in the wake of reading the preceding section of "The Historian", this piece made me reflect on a personal "UFO Rosetta Stone" - something I felt a strong yearning to reach out for, but was withheld for the moment. Read on for my take on that moment:

For me it was like touching the Rosetta Stone - an electric moment of discovery which would have wider ramifications - a bridge between mysteries that once seemed insoluble but would become clearer with further research and contemplation. Just as the Rosetta Stone provided a link between cultures (the Egyptian and the Greek) that would be the key to deciphering the mysterious Egyptian hieroglyphs and thus unravel the marvels of ancient Egypt, the document I now held was both a link and a key to discovery and revelation for a journey I had begun long ago. It provided for me a link to evidence that was now missing or only present in tantalising fragments, and it was a key to much wider and more clandestine dimensions to the mystery I was trying to unravel.

I was caught in a frustrating catch 22. Here I was during 1982, in the Russell Offices of the Department of Defence in Canberra, trying to talk Air Force Intelligence into allowing me to examine one of the few files I had not yet been cleared for. Squadron Leader Ian Frame, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) intelligence liaison officer held the Directorate of Air Force Intelligence (DAFI) UFO policy file. It was classified and for the moment I would not be able to read through it, however if I could nominate what I wanted to see then he would review the contents and determine if I could read particular items in the file. While I was unaware of the contents it was difficult to know what was in there?

The file - Part 1 of the RAAF DAFI UFO "policy" file series AF 554/1/30 - had earlier been explained to me as a confusion of miscellaneous material from 1953 to 1959. For me however it had the potential of unravelling the early days of official military involvement in the UFO controversy in Australia. I explained what I wanted and as Squadron Leader Frame leaf through the file in front of me I spied what looked like a lengthy table of data. I said that looked interesting and that it could be relvant to what I was after. Sqd. Ldr. Frame said he would go off to review the contents and return with a decision as to whether I could see it.

He returned with the news that I could look at that particular document. What a find it turned out to be. Folios 8A, 8B and 8C of the intelligence file were related to a classified report compiled by a scientist, O.H. Turner, which studied all the DAFI UFO cases from 1950 to 1954! As a scientist I was fascinated. Here was the first evidence of a substantial review of Australian military UFO data. In my search through their military UFO files I had come across many fascinating reports - military UFO encounters, close encounter cases and other provocative data, but here was a significant scientific study of cases whose files were now mostly missing. One of Turner's conclusions was especially provocative:
"The evidencepresented by the reports held by the R.A.A.F. tend to support the ... conclusion - namely, that certain strange aircraft have been observed to behave in a manner suggestive of an extra-terrestrial origin."
In my new book "Hair of the Alien" I revealed a hidden dimension to Harry Turner's later secret UFO research - a strange odyssey into the exotic and bizarre realms of UFO experience and history.

I had written the above in 2002 the same year I had stood in deep reverie before the real Rosetta Stone in the British Museum. For someone who loves to learn and discovery history, real and imagined, I was caught up in strong emotions - the Rosetta Stone before me and the Egyptian rooms behind me. No wonder Kostova's book "The Historian" had such appeal to me.

(The pictures: Harry (O.H.) Turner and I in 2004; Myself in the Australian Department of Defence Russell Offices in Canberra in 1982 examing military UFO files; the cover of "The Historian")

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