Those Men In Black—A Review of "High Strangeness"
Wendy Connors' Second Volume Of Her Ongoing Ufological Audio History
by Alfred Lehmberg
On my overview of her first captivating volume, Ufology: A Primer in Audio 1939 - 1959, I wrote that it's not the beginning of the end or even the end of the beginning. It's the beginning of the beginning! "... And you are there...," reader! There was precious little hyperbole in that statement or its parent review.
Ms. Connor did it, almost immediately, again with this Volume II and providing a substantive indication (...a very exciting Volume III was almost as quickly available!) that the end is not even in sight! In this second disc in the series, she provided, again, nothing less than the unvarnished aural history of a subject that won't be remotely treated as well anywhere else.
This time, while performing the same service in the same fascinating and convenient way, she gives voice to one of the most unsettlingly dodgy facets of the UFO conundrum—those cloyingly ubiquitous Men In Black. Why?
Men In Black ARE dodgy and unsettling. They are dodgy because their historical roots are suspect, abstruse, and dominated by the unflattering stories regarding the suspected hoaxes of Gray Barker and Albert K. Bender ...and the admitted ones of CSIcopian John Sherwood (practicing his 'Robertsian' duplicity as one Dr. Richard H. Pratt)... and that all too well known ufological curmudgeon if conflicted commentator, hizzoner, the late James W. Moseley. Even Howard Keel (of "Mothman Prophesies" fame) is listed heavily in this divergent research as a purveyor of alleged MIB hoopla.
The debunking of the MIB is "thorough" and "convincing" and might even put an end to the matter, but that the debunking effort is plied by persons of CSIcopian persuasion and so then worthy of, at least, a second look for that reason alone. CSIcopia, as I've argued before, has its ironic sectarian (not secular) ax to grind.
More convincing, regarding these MIB issues, is one UFO researcher decidedly bereft of axes, Jerry Clark, who writes: "First-generation American ufologists' experiences of men in black—as opposed to the MIB who came along later—were the extremely dubious cases of Maury Island and Al Bender, along with the even more questionable Edgar Jarrold "mystery" and the Stuart/Wilkinson affair (in both senses of the word "affair"). Messy in the wash your hands sense.
In retrospect, the bulk of what Gray Barker wrote in the one men-in-black book of the 1950s (They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, 1956) has been discredited. Beyond that, contactee writers such as Adamski and Williamson were using men in black to weave conspiracy theories, based in anti-Semitic literature, about the so-called Silence Group. No wonder sensible ufologists were sensibly suspicious of men-in-black sensibility."
Why, then, pay attention to MIB stories at all? Well, we pay attention because rational ufology doesn't close the book on them altogether, they may be a device to screen other activity, and (as mentioned before but worth repeating) anything discounted stridently by the CSIcop cult of obdurate personalities deserves a re-look as a matter of standard operating procedure!
Moreover, the history of the phenomena may predate all recent (post-1950) accounting of them and so further preclude easy dismissal of same!
In the March 30, 1905, edition of the Barmouth Advertiser, a Welsh newspaper, it was reported that over a period of three nights a "man dressed in black" appeared in the bedroom of an "exceptionally intelligent young woman of the peasant stock.... This figure has delivered a message to the girl which she is frightened to relate..." whatever one may make of that...
In 1864 a gaunt and weirdly accented man, dressed all in black, tried to purchase unusual metal parts dropped from a mysterious flying machine that were only on display and not for sale. He departed, and then that building the 'parts' were stored in subsequently burned to the ground. Ashes, sifted for the parts, failed to turn up them up. The man in black was never seen or heard from again.
In 1730, a 13-year-old Norwegian girl told priestly Inquisitors an astonishing tale. Six years earlier she and her grandmother had flown on the back of a huge pig (?) to attend a meeting with 'Satan'. On the way, the clerics wrote in their report, "they met three men dressed in black whom the grandmother referred to as 'grandfather's boys'. Once arrived at the meeting place, they all went in and sat down at the table next to the 'devil'. Her grandmother addressed the demon as 'grandfather'.
These "Three men dressed in black" would be a recurring theme, echoing down to present day. Additionally, prior to the modern automobile, these men in black were sometimes seen to arrive and depart in silent black carriages, an antique precursor to quiet black Cadillacs, perhaps... who's to know in these days of easy dishonesty, ready duplicity, and dark subterfuge.
Howard Keel has written that MIBs had interacted with such historical figures as Julius Caesar, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, and Malcolm X. Ominously, Keel has written that "the general descriptions of vampires ... are identical to the 'men in black'." The danger of MIB visitation to those interested in UFOs, especially "the neurotic, the gullible, and the immature" is such, Keel warns, that parents might "forbid their children from becoming involved [with UFOs], and that teachers and other responsible adults should not encourage teenagers to take an interest in the subject." This degradation of a product line is curious and unsettling.
Mr. Keel can't be discounted out of hand. Jerry Clark seems to believe he has a degree of respectable seriousness to him, whatever the debated quality of Mr. Keel's scholarship, on the one hand, and that this writer lost a teaching job largely for indulging ufological interests on the other.....
MIBs, as previously mentioned, are also... unsettling. Men in black portray an association with the shadow government (?), are the government extant (?), are a black agency of government (?), are ETs who mimic the government (?), or are of a 'larger' government, and 'so', in fact (?), then, a government of some indeterminate and unsuspected kind! I don't mean that, of course, in a good way.
They are an indication that individuals, at best, only have the illusion that they captain their own corporeal ships? That we can be removed from the equations of our societies by unaccountable shadows or excised, by them, without due process of any type? Finally, MIBs are, at least, a face to be put on the arbitrary manipulation and convenient control by shadow agencies of non-admitted and closed institutions we suspect is otherwise going on? I mean, given the reality of UFOs controlled by a self-aware intelligence of some type, groups reacting to that reality must be pretty evolved by this point... or perhaps humanity is as stupid as it is psychopathic.
In these days of ever more repressive 'government' - reproductionist, rightist, and religiously fundamentalist ... where liberty dwindles, human rights sublimate, and due process is airily abandoned altogether as a luxury that cannot be afforded... the MIBs are an uneasy metaphor of our troubled times.
They are another kind of metaphor.
They are a metaphor for the hurdles alluded to earlier and encountered in coming to grips with the ephemeral phenomenon of UFOs and all their related sister subjects. These hurdles are of a totalitarian social fabric threatening "unusual individuals" compelled by their rationality (and their experience!) to search behind suffocating curtains for the obligatory (and self-serving) "wizards" we suspect are there! How does one turn one's back to a sucking information hole in time and space? It's a threat after all, or could be. Why, it could even be a cornucopia to an efficacious heart's desire! I digress.
These aforementioned individuals, by the way, are unusual only in that they have "encountered" an "unusual"... for which their proud culture refuses to provide an explanation, and, in fact, punishes them, in some real-world way, for their lawful interest! Reader! It happened to me.
Left to our own devices, we grapple with the problem on our own and as we can. Some of us are lost in the challenge to struggle with the unadmitted unknown...
At the same time, these individual persons are sisters and brothers, wives and husbands, parents and children... IF they are not friends and acquaintances, neighbors and fellow citizens, or others persons we'd otherwise hold in respect and regard. They are us, and we are threatened individually.
Men In Black are an obstacle of indeterminate matter that seems to glue the blinding scales to our eyes and otherwise buttress our cultural blinders... perhaps for our own good? No, not for our good. Decidedly, no. They'd only be agents for those thinking only of themselves.
Our contrived and over-manipulated corporate-driven culture is just not set up for officiating a society doing the greatest good for the greatest number, is this writer's contention. Little, if anything, is (and has ever been) kept from us for "our own good." Much is kept from us that would advantage us individually at the expense of our present manipulators, is the suspicion. Consider medicinal cannabis by way of example.
Individuality, personal autonomy, creative freedom, and freedom of expression... these are the bane of an elite and repugnant, reproductionist, reactionary, and intellectually uptight (...intelligence hating, actually!) fundamentalist culture... trying to return us to the thirties in the case of fundamentalist Christianity, or to the thirteen-fifties as is the case with fundamentalist Islam.
Hell IS better.
Besides, if the "aliens" were the threat of popular "head-eating" conjecture (or otherwise complicated the elitist's game plan...?), our culture would mobilize us against them the way they have against the (almost as nebulous!), Islamic terrorists! They wouldn't be shy! Consider Pearl Harbor and 9/11.
No. Our culture would have us bristle at THAT brand of alien threat! Instead, our culture (and their lap-dog CSICOPian apologists!) paints an interest in the ufological as the activity of the stupid, the product of the duplicitous, or the production of the mentally ill—as baseless and nonsensical! ...Ironic when the opposite seems to be true: that the "M" cubed misrepresentation of the Misleading corrupting the Mislead into their Mental illness is, ITSELF, baseless and nonsensical!
What UFOs are, really, as Richard M. Dolan has pointed out, is the purest of pure seditions! They are an alternative, and perhaps even better, idea (perhaps decisively so!)! Would you like to find out if that is true? Could you be safer, freer, smarter... stronger?
Yes, of course. The preceding paragraphs are a justification for reviewing Connors forbidden index of forgotten ufological lore! To gain access... to mine that history for enigmatic facts those folks in the past didn't really know they were giving away, decades ago!
Listening to Wendy Connor's ardent compilation, the listener can sift the expressions of the principals on their own regarding the subjects of MIBs and many other themes in the ufological tradition. Grains of ufological truth may surely be gleaned in the exercise! Moreover, Ufology has always had its share of inimitable strangeness, cultivated or otherwise, as it has evolved, and this volume of Connors' aural history is every bit of THAT! Her compilation amply covers the (ufologically silver?) years 1952 to 1976, when hairy anthropoids shambled out of flying saucers (?), Men in Black silenced witnesses to UFOs (?), and other monsters prowled the unsettled countryside. Curiouser and curiouser...
Something was going on... whatever the debated 'provenance' of all this "high strangeness."
There are lectures, personal experiences recounted, and the fall-out of those early reports linger and compel even today. Listen to the accounts and presentations of Gray Barker, John Keel, Norman Oliver, Stan Gordon, Dr. Herbert Hopkins, Hayden Hewes, Dr. Ivan T. Sanderson and Albert K. Bender (in their own words) as they flesh out the real and imagined activities of MIBs and other monsters found in an all too real ufological reality. You won't be hearing it (or finding it) anywhere else.
Remember, also... it IS the future. Spinning up on the primary references of the past is always a good idea, and provides scant disservice to that future as it provides foundation for it. Truth is better than fiction even if a fiction IS found to be the truth!
Hear it here: https://archive.org/details/HighStrangenessGuide