Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky: review

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Believe it or not, Jung wrote a book on UFO’s and it took me a couple years to find it, but I finally tracked down a copy here in the Newfoundland University library, to which I left quite happily with. It’s a short book, only 145 pages with the epilogue but it is a worthwhile tome, and reads like a full book. There are copious mythological and archetypal references in here and a full dose of symbolical language, that I found I had to read several times over before getting a grasp on it. It is one of these books that require its readers to be familiar with several others of Jung’s work before really diving in, and is worth its weight for any scholar or amateur researcher to pick it up.

The first chapter which I found most useful and helpful is ‘UFOS in rumors’, which Jung in his traditional verbose language dives into the psychological and analytical nature of these flying saucers, touching on the links to a post-war collective consciousness, but also digs into random anomalies like the diversity and variance of how these UFO’s have been experienced through time at different geographies, set and settings, through those both with former knowledge of them, and without. Jung talks about how the rumor mills came to take an empirical existence in the form of these archetypal flying saucers, and why they mean what they mean to us even today. Then he goes on to talk about the early radar stations that were set up, the influence of George Orwell, and the involvement with military aircraft sites in building up the mythos of the UFO. I found all this information intriguing, and easy enough to believe. The psychic aspect he postulates is quite convincing, and though he was not going out to prove or disprove anything, he offers the clearest window into the phenomena the world had at the time in the late 1950’s. So this was quite novel, written over 5 centuries ago, and really captured people’s imagination. Jung goes into all the metaphysical reasons why they can and should exist, in his sort of psycho-analytical praxis, as if these flying saucers were part of a universal language of emblematic symbols, belonging to humankind, which they actually are.

The second part is about UFO’s in dreams, and for it’s worth is a study not only of the dream evidence of flying saucers and everything that comes with it, like little men, voices, sexual imagery, and strange lights, but also a mine of symbolic figures, historical reference, psychology, cultural mythology, and mathematical genius. A lot of it went over my head, no joke intended, as my insight and knowledge of all the worlds different archetypal pantheon of gods, deities, religions, metaphysics and such is shallow compared to anyone like Jung, and he really goes deep with it, to the point of it seeming like fantastical association. After the dream, he goes into the commentary, where the big words and references come in, and where the reader needs to know about his other works; to which I would suggest Man & His Symbols, his Black Books a.k.a. Dream books, and perhaps the Red Book. So he relates the dreams through these filters of information of what they represent. For this part I find even reading the dreams alone, stimulating in a more sensual, imaginative way. Some of the interpretations are quite bizarre

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The third part looks at some UFO’s in paintings at the time, and talks about the artwork which is a nice part if you are artistically inclined, they are what I would call psychedelic paintings, for the way in which they were painted. Printed here in black and white, but still capturing the imagination in very obscure and provocative ways. The intentions behind the paintings are very peculiar and worthwhile to read if you have interest in art history.

The fourth part is the previous history of the UFO phenomenon and looks back at some documents, literature and engravings that hint at things that relate to UFO’s though they may not have been called such at the time. Some of these are from well known medieval works, and I found this to be kind of a testament that this is not some just a science fiction illusion of the 21st century but something as well our ancestors experienced, and preserved the memory of through writing about it, or making emblematic art directly inspired by the experience. These engravings and representations of the UFO come from an age that to us seems less learned, but actually it was a time in which things like flying saucers were observed without the same criticism we see today.

The last part before the epilogue is about the flying saucers in a non-psychological light. So if there is any physical evidence, than what are they? Jung kind of ask a lot of probing questions and leaves it open ended. I will probably give sections of this book a re-read, because it is fascinating, and I know there are a lot of hidden gems of information in there. The epilogue is about another experience, by someone named Orfeo Angelucci, written in rather a prosaic style, I don’t know if it was the mood I was in, but this account really felt involving, and made me think of a couple scenes from Fantastic Planet, for it’s strangeness, contact with the Other, and then the kind of psychedelic come down into mundane humane routine, and talks about Orfeo’s re-experiencing of contact, and willingness to talk about it, for which he is ridiculed of course. Jung’s work also forced me to think about my experience with some kind of ‘unidentified flying object’ that I saw over a jungle in Yucatan, to whom I haven’t really related to as a story to anyone outside the country, for it is a rather local phenomena.

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The value of this book I think is underrated, and has a lot of relevance for the whole conspiracy theory movement of today in which to understand it by. This is a tool for those seeking to settle with the unknown, and as Jung calls it, the collective union with the subconscious into a self that is whole.

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