‘Alien abduction’ is an interesting phrase. It brings to mind lapses of memory, hushed conversations about government conspiracies, and anal probing. In other words, the perfect weekend. But it shares its syntax with the phrase ‘child abduction’, a phrase which surprisingly does not suggest that you have been awoken in the middle of the night to find a menacing infant at the foot of your bed, ready to hogtie and drag you to a Wendy house to play with a Fisher Price game of ‘My First Vivisection’.
My point is, ‘alien abduction’ for some reason means abducted by aliens, and is a phenomenon I would equate with any paranormal or supernatural belief. Partly because it’s obvious, but also because if I’m espousing the argument against alien abduction on a blog, I must be part of some global cabal eager to silence the truth of abduction. And while I’ve been in bands, groups, collectives and communities, I’ve never been in a cabal, and as a white man I’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to be in some sort of minority. I think that’s how the Bilderberg Group started.
I assume that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, because the other option is that we are in some way special, and I don’t know if you’ve looked at you recently, but if you are the biological apotheosis of a universe which contains supernovae, quantum entanglement and gravity, then someone’s fucked up. There surely has to be a sentient species out there without recurrent back problems or one that doesn’t have a continuing need to dull their existential longing for worthwhile creative endeavours by playing Minecraft.
There is the idea that we are only special in the sense that we were created in God’s image. He wouldn’t make creatures that look exactly like him if he didn’t identify with them in some way. No one watches Star Wars and assumes it’s Chewbacca’s personal story about being a walking carpet who has to find his place among some weird short, bald-bodied people. We identify with what we know. So either we’re God’s favourite, we’re God’s only creation, or we’re just another species in the cosmos, who look like this because we just do, and God is a concept founded on the accumulated auditory hallucinations of long dead kings who were mythologised and amalgamated into an increasingly more powerful and more distant being. It’s that same identifying logic that makes most of our visions of aliens incredibly human, which is an even greater demonstration of self-obsession than when I realise how many times I’ve Googled myself in the past week. The heptapods in the movie Arrival give us a vision of aliens very different to us, specifically with how they view time all at once, like Kurt Vonnegut’s Tralfamadorians. But usually the differences are aesthetic, or just regarding the level of scientific advancement. But the possible variations in how intelligent life can evolve are related more to fundamental laws of biology and physics than just ‘how mental would it look if we had eye-fingers?’ And how exactly could the heptapods even plan for interstellar travel without a linear concept of time? Could the engineers who worked on the ship even claim overtime?
‘There is no overtime, or undertime. There is only time.’
‘Yes but you made me miss Ultimate Frisbee club.’
Interstellar travel is the real reason I don’t think we’ve been contacted. I don’t think it’s realistic to assume any other intelligent species would have the means to have already travelled the huge distance to get to us, based on how far away the closest life-sustainable planet is.
The Kepler space observatory recently discovered a new exoplanet in a solar system 2,500 lightyears away. The reason for the big announcement of it, was that they had discovered a planet which was its solar system’s third rock from the sun, which aside from being a nineties sitcom starring John Lithgow and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s hair, is what Earth is. While I was still watching that programme, I had no idea the title referred to Earth. When I found out, I assumed that it must have been revealed as some Planet of the Apes-style twist. Although come to think of it, Planet of the Apes probably gave its twist away early on by heavily featuring horses, which as we all know, are indigenous to Earth.
They also revealed the newly discovered exoplanet had a surface temperature comparable to Mercury. What a waste of time.
I think our desire to believe in visiting aliens speaks to our need to be convinced that there’s something out there with a better handle on what’s going on than us. If we view aliens as physics-defying, utopian science gods, maybe it’s not our fault that we keep fucking up. We’re just not ready yet. We need to focus on technological advancements we can barely handle, remove everything that makes us stand out as individuals, and invade foreign soil for no good reason. Then, and only then will we have figured out the true meaning of a utopian society.
Next time on the bandwagon, dogs might know what Christmas is, but do they really get it?