Alternate Perceptions Magazine, July 2021
When Archetypes Land
by: Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos
The tradition of using flying saucer landings and too-good-to-be-true photographs as journalist illustrations for April Fool’s Day is large in the USA. Newspapers have been carrying these type of photographs repeatedly, April 1, 1950 being probably the most recurrent date in the world-wide history of journalism. Surely the most original picture of this kind, hardly known in UFO circles, is that published in the Lexington Leader (Kentucky) of April 1, 1950. Not merely a single shot and a short caption but an elaborated story, a true tiny novel and two flying saucer photographs, one depicting the image of a big disc-shaped spacecraft closing to land “at 7:03 a.m. today,” preceded by the dropping of two transparent bubbles embedding one lady from Saturn each!
Cropped image, borrowed from https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_jardín_de_las_Delicias_El_Bosco
To give you a cursory idea of the tone of the narration, I am copying the main picture’s legend: A large, silver disk swooped across the sky, nearer and nearer. When it was some 20 feet above the earth, a section of the bottom slide aside and two objects that looked something like bubbles dropped out. As soon as the bubbles reached the ground, they collapsed, revealing two women believed to be from Saturn. This is what four people said they witnessed in a Fayette-county field this morning. Photographer Ralph Rooney said he was prevented from taking more pictures by four men, obviously from the same planet, who arrived in a kind of helicopter and spirited the women away. In regard to this, I have a double commentary, both on precedents and on influences. On one hand, to highlight how this theme of small-sized spheres with male, female or robot characters inside has multiple precedents in the fiction literature. We see it even in art of centuries ago, like the famous Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly
Delights triptych (circa 1500-1505), exhibited in the Prado Museum, Madrid:
Even Mother Nature conspires to produce optical effects extremely similar to a globe with a person within. This is the Brocken Spectre, a form of light refraction:
Image borrowed from https://www.encyclopedie-environnement.org/en/zoom/brockens-amazing-spectrum/
But, most importantly, the “inhabited” bubble pictorial concept is part of the American science fiction painting universe from, at least, the thirties of last century, as we can observe in the following illustrations from a variety of magazines and cartoons:
Thrilling Wonder Stories, May 1940 - Flash Gordon comic strip, 1939
Super Science Stories, November 1949 - Astounding Stories, “Entropy”, March 1936
Wonder Stories, March 1939 - Amazing Stories, March 1935
Astounding Science Fiction, May 1938 - Brick Bradford, 1938
Yet the truly amazing thing, as far as UFO research is concerned, is that this motif took later the form of actual narrations reported by normal citizens in the years to come…which proves that the graphic imagination of pulp magazine illustrators is of the same order as the imagination of tale-spinning individuals all over the world. This reflection has the capacity for further academic study. In my view, after 50+ years of non-stop dedication to UFO investigation, I can safely conclude that all incidents of landings and humanoids that have been related over the past seven decades are false visions of the mind, some due to misidentification, some due to ad hoc hallucination or false recall and, probably, in a proportion higher than expected.
Raveo, Italy, August 18, 1974. A. Chiumiento, Alien Tra Noi, pp 41-46 - Medulla, Florida, USA, October 18, 1968. FATE, May 1969, pp 44-50
Belo Horizonte, Brazil, August 28, 1963. Gordon Creighton, FSR Special Issue #3, UFO Percipients, 1969 - Maspalomas, Gran Canarias, Spain, June 22, 1976
Edinburgh, Scotland, July 1947. © David Sankey/Spectre Artwork Studio - Gran Canaria, Spain, August 1959
La Serena, Badajoz, Spain, June 26, 1987. Credit: P.M. Fernández - Sommerécourt, France, July 17, 1983. Credit: Raoul Robé
San Francisco Solano, Argentina, July 20, 1965, Credit: Cuarta Dimensión - Feignies, France, August 26, 1973.
In short, archetypes land…in people’s minds. This figuration rests in the collective unconscious, a sort of Jungian mandala, common in the subconscious inspiration, unreal, naturally, strictly creative, and imaginative, in which graphic artists and paperback writers, as well as narrators of close encounter experiences, coincide. Everything is in the mind. It is the fantasy expressed in comics, futuristic illustrations or stories of flying saucers and their humanoid passengers. The researcher of these alienating odysseys, of such aberrant stories of spaceship landings and the descent of their crews, must not succumb to ingenuity but confront with skepticism what it is told to them. Otherwise, the UFO student will only get to believe these fables and to deceive himself, entering, like those images I have shown here, into a bubble of vain illusion and spurious conviction, that is, a question of Faith. The opposite to Science and Certitude.
I cannot resist the temptation to include another newspaper prank from that April 1, 1950. Because it possesses another unusual feature: a landed object photographed from the air. That Saturday, The Carey Progress of Carey, Ohio, carried two exciting pictures of a flying saucer in flight and also grounded, wrapped with a story headed with this statement: “May Be Best Sighting Ever.”
The tale surrounding the two photographs published to prove the true occurrence of the UFO event, said that Project Blue Book officials at Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio, informed the newsmen that the object spotted by various National Lime and Stone Company employees last Friday [March 31st] was “the most confirmed flying object that has ever been reported.” The account continued as follows: 25 N.L. & S. workers, who have all asked to have their names withheld from publication, have undergone questioning and, according to officials at Wright-Patterson, have given stories “remarkably similar for an observance of this sort.”
The journalistic article disclosed that the observers underwent psychiatric examination at the USAF base as well as intensive grilling on the details of their sighting. According to the military, they did actually see the saucer-shaped object. But fate seems to be playful and Progressor editor Stephen C. Zender was at the time and place riding aboard an airplane piloted by a friend when they spotted the strange craft. The story evolved like this: A chase in the small aircraft proved futile as the UFO sped away from the plane at will. The two men lost sight of the craft at N.L. & S. and saw the craft land. The National workers who saw the strange object viewed it from the pit. For Wright Pat officials, the spacecraft must have been having mechanical difficulty which forced it to land. Other sources reported that a strange object hovered over a power station near Crawford only minutes before it was sighted at Carey at 2 p.m. Typically, residents in that area had complained that their power had weakened Friday afternoon too. Obviously, the craft being extremely heavy crushed rock at its touch down site in a quarry. Huge, charred areas were also left at the place. Remember dear reader: this is literature of 1950, many years before the waves of “real” UFO close encounters allegedly leaving marks and electromagnetic effects.
I will shorten the narrative with its ending: One of the men who made the sighting stated that none of them were frightened. “We just couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” he explained. “If it had been April 1, we would have probably believed it was just an April Fool’s joke,” he concluded. It probably would have been, added the editor. Which speaks for itself. It is plain to see that in those years, journalists unleashed their talents as fiction writers with stories around the flying discs that were so swarming in the press. The April Fool’s Day was an excellent opportunity and many did not waste it, even anticipating the core of future UFO reports.
Miraculously, 18 years later a twin flying saucer appeared in a photo supposedly taken by the daughter of the infamous contactee Daniel Fry, in Merlin, Oregon. There is nothing new under the sun.
© Tahalita Fry. Credit: AFU, Sweden
Kay Coggin has sent me this identical type of archetypal scene to what we’ve been discussing found in a comic strip published in The Palm Beach Post of Sunday, July 29, 1945, and I am including it here with delight.
Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos (Valencia, Spain, 1948) has been employed by Ford Motor Company for 30 years, 15 as Manager, Insurance Labor Cost & Pensions in Finance, up to his early retirement in 2005. Mr. Ballester Olmos is a UFO researcher since 1966 and is the author of 11 books and over 500 articles and papers: http://cdufo.info/bib/bibliog1.pdf
He played a key role in the process of declassification of the Spanish Air Force UFO files. He is the only civil ufologist interviewed by the official journal of the Spanish Ministry of Defense and the only UFO researcher to post a review article in the MoD web site. He has delivered speeches in Spain, France, England, Germany, Italy and the United States. He is an active promoter of scientific-oriented ufology and he is proactively focused to team work. A correspondent and friend to the most noted figures in the field in the last 50 years, his blog UFO FOTOCAT illustrates a major project that has created the largest database in the world devoted to photographs and footage of UFO phenomena, with close to 13,000 entries as of August 2020: http://fotocat.blogspot.com/
As is a natural, expected process, my assessment of the UFO problem has evolved during 50 years of non-stop research. From an initial estimate sympathetic to the concept of an extra-terrestrial origin, my present view is that the probability of an alien nature of UFOs is practically zero. Misperception and bad case evaluation contribute to the existence of a residue of unexplained sightings, in addition to atmospheric optics phenomena and undisclosed military weapon tests. The phenomenon of UFOs behaves rather like a myth in the making, a false belief fueled by media, publishing, movies and television.
UFO phenomena is subject to scientific study and many disciplines can be successfully applied to the investigation of this extremely important social and cultural phenomenon. Serious researchers can do a valuable work in compiling, organizing, and analyzing the best available evidence.