Welcome To My World
As a sometime professional ghostwriter, I like to say that everybody has a story in them.
An early encounter in my research into consciousness – a field that has been a developing interest over the past decade and is now a professional interest – was with the works of Joseph Campbell, whose 1949 book The Hero With A Thousand Faces went on to sell a million copies. THWATF set out the idea that all the great stories of the world come from a single ‘origin story’ linked to the birth of conscious humanity. Connecting myth also to the great psychoanalyst Carl Jung’s ‘collective unconscious’, the book also laid out Campbell’s model for The Hero’s Journey, a 12-point arc to any narrative that holds as true today as it did for the myths of Homer and Virgil.
The template of The Hero’s Journey, indeed, allows us to decode human psychology at its deepest, most fundamental level.
The heroes and villains of ancient myth turn out to be archetypes of human behaviour. These archetypes – the monsters, tricksters, enemies and allies encountered by our Odysseuses and Aeneases on their epic journeys – also turn out to be facets of our psyches. Myths are narrative representations, in other words, of the struggle to understand ourselves.
Viewed through this prism, every life on the planet becomes meaningful. Each day, we wrestle with our demons in the fight to notch up the little victories that permit us to put food and drink on the table – in essence, to survive for another day. And then, the very next day, we go and do it all over again. In Campbell’s ‘hero’s arc’, the prize – or ‘boon’: the thing that he or she brings back to the ‘real world’ at the end of the quest – is the thing that sets them and everybody else free. The prize can be a material thing (the destruction of the ‘Ring of Power’ in The Lord of the Rings) or an abstract thing (the revelation/message at the core of a religion or what the Holy Grail is revealed to be at the heart of the Arthurian legend: a representation of the fulfilment of the highest potentialities of human consciousness).
So, why call this blog ‘Rogue Icons’?
Before I was a ghostwriter, I was a defence journalist, then wrote a couple of novels, then a somewhat heretical non-fiction book about the ultimate defence secret, The Hunt For Zero Point, went on to consult to some of the world’s biggest aerospace and defence companies (about getting them to use some of their opaque technologies to act on global challenges – from climate change to food/water security to connected cities to environmental pollution) – before returning to novel-writing (The Grid) and corporate ghostwriting – working with companies to tell their stories, using techniques I’ve honed from four decades of storytelling. I’ve also just been made a director of a newly formed institute dedicated to investigating consciousness. If you’re wondering, I am, too: how did a former defence reporter end up working with some of the world’s leading consciousness experts?
As a journalist, I was never happier than when in the field, investigating ‘frontier’ stories.
Sometimes the frontier was physical (e.g. bringing stories back from the newly opened-up defence industrial complex of the former Soviet Union, or probing the edges of Area 51 for evidence of top secret, black world aircraft projects); sometimes, though, it was more, well … non-physical.
In my travels, I met people who were working on what one theoretical physicist referred to as ‘the frontier of a frontier’ – science so strange that it had been consigned to outer darkness by the science mainstream (what the mainstream dismisses as ‘fringe science’) – there never to be acknowledged, let alone discussed, in polite company or peer-reviewed science journals.
This science often underpinned novel, exotic forms of energy and propulsion, but not always.
Sometimes, it touched on other heresies – UFOs, for example.
As an aerospace and defence journalist (I worked for Jane’s Defence Weekly, the world’s premier defence journal), I had maintained a kind of weather-eye on UFOs but had avoided the subject in print because of the stigma.
That stigma evaporated overnight, on December 16th 2017, when the New York Times published a story about a top secret Pentagon unit that had been studying UFOs since 2007. Three and a half years later, the DoD and US intelligence community admitted in a report to the US Congress that UFOs were ‘real’. It stopped short of saying what they were, but the possibilities, it said, ranged from ‘adversary tech’ – i.e. China’s or Russia’s – to something unknown and in need of deeper study. The old trope about UFOs being swamp gas, flocks of migrating birds or attributable to mass, psychotic delusions had gone.
UFOs have been with us in the so-called ‘modern sightings era’ since 1947, when the first ‘UFO wave’ was openly discussed. In the 75 years since, flying saucers have eluded any meaningful explanation. They might be real, but we still don’t have the first real clue what they are.
While the Pentagon hasn’t gone so far as to say this yet, one thing is for sure: though some sightings might be adversary tech, the stuff we really want to know about – the exotic stuff that involves UAPs (‘unidentified aerial phenomena’ to use the Pentagon’s own jargon) that can cloak and uncloak and/or go from hovering to hypersonic speeds in the blink of an eye – very definitely ain’t us. There is no technology on Earth that can do some of the things these craft are reported to do (by credible witnesses, to boot) – and I like to think I know what I’m talking about, having spent 20 years as an aerospace and defence hack investigating the secret stuff that does get built by the likes of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Coming from a tech background, my first instinct was to explore the issue from a tech perspective. But this has been the approach adopted by most of those investigating the phenomenon from the outset, and it’s hardly got us anywhere in more than seven decades.
The rudiments of an altogether different approach were first promulgated by some real pioneers in the field, amongst them the US-based, French ufologist Jacques Vallée, who persuasively put forward the idea that there was a ‘consciousness component’ to the phenomenon that couldn’t be ignored. This is manifest in the fact that witnesses (including some of those frontier scientists mentioned earlier) have reported anomalies in conjunction with some sightings that can best be described as ‘weird’ – and slightly more scientifically as ‘psychic’: e.g. instances of telepathic communication and ‘missing time’, for example, when people come into contact with these things that point to shifts in how we perceive reality.
At the same time, whatever UFOs are, they also make real impacts in and on our environment: they are visible on radar and military infrared search and track systems, and they make dents in the ground when they land.
To research consciousness is to research the nature of reality. We tend to think that our 3D/4D world is solidly real, but it isn’t; we only perceive it as real. Atoms, the building blocks of solid matter, are 99.9 per cent empty space (Although, technically, nothing is empty space – space being filled with a seething mass of particles and fields).
The appearance of solidity – and the separation of things in the realm of our five senses – comes from the fact, if a US Army report on the subject is to be believed, that solid matter is made up of vibrating energy grids at the primal level of existence. Different sub-atomic vibration rates give rise to different types of matter – and, in the process, to rocks, trees, plants, amoebas, insects, animals, you and me … and, ultimately, to what we interpret as the physical universe.
One of my big problems with science is that most scientists aren’t good at putting it into language most of the rest of us can understand. And when we reach the frontier of the frontier, that’s a huge problem – because some of the stuff that crops up on it is so strange, even the DoD – if we acknowledge that UFO report to Congress – had all but washed its hands of things it definitely ought to know about – to wit, objects that have penetrated and interacted with its aircraft and systems in protected, highly secure airspace.
Given that UFOs have been reported over, and in some cases inside US nuclear facilities, this shouldn’t have been dismissed in the way the unclassified version of the report wanted us to believe it had been. But few people I know accepted that part of it as fact. The DoD – the highly secret parts I’ve occasionally brushed up against, at least – has been studying the hell out of UFOs for most of the 75 years of backstory the UAP report to Congress categorically dismissed. But that doesn’t mean to say it knows what the phenomenon is. The evidence, in fact, says it hardly understands it at all. This is because neither the military nor science has a handle on the real, underlying mystery of the UFO phenomenon – the nature of reality itself.
For as long as science continues to use arcane formulaic and mathematical descriptions of high-level ideas and concepts when briefing to a high level – or to us mere mortals – this issue is going to persist. Which is how and why I came to appreciate the model of reality put forward a few years ago by a professor of cognitive science at the University of Southern California at Irvine, Donald Hoffman, because he makes it relatable to something we do understand – the way we interact with a device most of us use every day: a computer.
In Hoffman’s ‘conscious realism’ model of reality, we don’t need knowledge of the ‘guts of the machine’ (a laptop, for example) – the workings of its hardware and its software – to interact with it. Instead, we forge a relationship with the icons and apps that it displays on-screen. So too with reality, Hoffman, tells us. We interface with reality via relationships with an infinite number of icons – governing our need for everything: from eating, to the way we learn, to making friends and falling in love – our brains, he informs us, act as ‘reducing valves’ to give us ‘no more than the reality we need for our everyday survival’. If we saw reality as it really is, it would (to coin David Bowie) ‘simply blow our minds’, Hoffman says.
It’s this screen – this interface – I’m interested in because it’s this that allows us all to play the same game – what we experience, for the most part, as ‘everyday reality’. Occasionally, however, there are apparent ‘glitches in the machine’ that give rise to anomalies on the interface that can take on material and immaterial form – i.e. things that are real and unreal. Sometimes these anomalies – UFOs, for example – are both of these things. One minute they’re there, the next they’re not. One minute they’re physical, the next they’re so ethereal, so other worldly, they can go through solid objects. As well as telling us something about them, this also tells us something about the interface – it, too, appears to have physical and non-physical properties. Our reality, in other words, isn’t what we think it is.
Given these fundamental observations, why isn’t science – mainstream science, that is – more on this? Good question, and one that I’ll be exploring in this blog. On the frontier of the frontier – the frontier of the known and the unknown – I’ll be looking at all kinds of ‘rogue icons’, including those that manifest in ‘everyday’ form: inter alia via a focus on the history, politics, geopolitics, tech, psychology and science of the ‘real world’.
But it is consciousness, especially, that I’ll be putting my attention on.
Because, as even mainstream science is increasingly acknowledging, we don’t live in a material world, but one that is infinitely more complex and more subtle – with that elusive thing, consciousness, underpinning everything; not, as science has insisted for the past 300 years, but the other way around. In this brave new world – what appears to be the actual world – matter emerges from consciousness, not vice versa. To visualise this, we need to accept what looks more and more to be the truth of the evidence: our brains don’t produce consciousness, as the mainstream says, but download it much as a radio receives a signal.
And, on the frontier of the frontier, people are downloading all kinds of ‘new realities’.
I wrote about this in an essay competition last year that carried a $500,000 top prize. The winner of that prize, Dr Jeffrey Mishlove, interviewed me on my runner-up submission, which, though ostensibly about the best evidence for the survival of our consciousness after death, was actually about how different ‘experiencers’ – from those that encounter UFOs to people who have near-death experiences – are ‘hacking the interface’ every single day.
What we learn from the experiencers’ experiences, I believe, is providing us with clues to a revolution in science that will make the Copernican revolution – the paradigm that gave us Galileo, Newton and our era of modern science – trivial by comparison. In short, reality is about to get a lot stranger and we need to be ready for it. Welcome, then, to Rogue Icons; welcome to my world …