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BOOK REVIEW: "The Invisible College" by Jacques Vallée

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BOOK REVIEW: The Invisible College by Jacques Vallée (Anomalist Books) 2014/1975

We suspect that in coming months, when The History Channel’s Project Blue Book, a new drama series based on the U.S. Air Force’s very real (and top secret) investigations into UFO sightings between 1952 and 1969, and starring Aidan Gillen as officially-sanctioned saucer seeker J. Allen Hynek, there will be an uptick in sales of “books about UFOs,” to quote Hüsker Dü’s Grant Hart (RIP) on the 1985 love song of the same name.

Screenshot of J. Allen Hynek (Aiden Gillen) from History's upcoming series Project Blue Book. (History)

And one still-living UFO investigator of note – French astronomer and UFO researcher Jacques Vallée – is widely admired in the oft-derided and misunderstood field of Ufology (of which actor Dan Aykroyd is a part of).

And here at Red Dirt Report we have taken great interest in Vallée’s research and writings over the past 50-plus years (Passport to Magonia still packs a wallop) and his conclusions that “UFOs are physically real” and “represent a fantastic technology controlled by an unknown form of consciousness” as he would claim in Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults, another classic from the 1970’s when Vallée was portrayed in fictional form in Steven Spielberg’s alien-contact classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977).

But the earlier book, The Invisible College, treads on territory already familiar to journalist and paranormal investigator John Keel and is a reference to Hynek’s name for the informal network of scientists who were working to unravel the UFO mystery from a decidedly scientific perspective.

Yet, all these years later, as Vallée admits, many of the same questions remain unanswered. In fact, the mystery seems ever deeper with each passing year.

Which is why a book like The Invisible College is an important one to have on your bookshelf, particularly if you you acknowledge – as Vallée did back in 1975 – that “a powerful force has influenced the human race in the past and is again influencing it now,” then The Invisible College will provide added perspective to the puzzling phenomenon.

That said, I won’t claim to fully understand Vallée’s approach and methodology, only to say that he offers some varying approaches to the mystery and the ongoing influence UFOs have on the human race.

He delves into psychic phenomenon (with Uri Geller, famed “spoonbender” of some renown), the vision at Fatima, Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith's celestial encounter with an angel,  and classic UFO encounter cases like the November 1971 report that a UFO landed near a home in the remote town of Delphos, Kansas. The fact that the evidence left behind – a ring in the ground thought to be from a fungus – was left at the site reminds one of the trickster nature of this whole phenomenon as Keel and others have noted.

Just as ancient peoples believed in their folklore that fairies were accessed via “fairy rings” of mushrooms (usually left behind, following a steady rain), the flying saucer had a more modern approach, while still leaving rings behind. It’s as if all this unexplained stuff is connected on a deeper level of consciousness presenting itself in the physical world, baffling brilliant minds like Jacques Vallée.

In fact, as I write this review, it has been reported tha Vallée is taking a step back from the UFO field after all of these years, reportedly saying that he wanted to “go out and do something else” and that even today Ufology is “too superficial to really get into the roots of the problem.” Harsh words that needed to be said.

As someone who has kept tabs on the UFO mystery since the early 1980’s and read nearly every mainstream book on the topic (and many not well known), I can say that I understand Vallée’s apprehensions. I read Keel's The Eighth Tower and he gets into this notion of a "superspectrum" of existence that we only catch glimpses of when humans encounter something they do not understand. As I wrote in my review of Keel's classic (released the same year The Invisible College was published), "While its (the superspectrum) motives are unclear, it has certain patterns it follows." The aforementioned fairies and "wee folk" of the Middle Ages revealed manifestations and "medical effects on the human percipients" that would be "identical to those in the later spiritualistic period and the modern flying-saucer period." 

The key line closed out the paragraph, with Keel writing: "While the games change, the basic phenomenon remains the same." 

In Chapter Six, “The Winged Disk,” Vallée starts off with a bit from Sir James Frazer’s The Golden Bough, which reads: “In the last analysis magic, religion and science are nothing but theories of thought; and as science has supplanted its predecessorss, so it may hereafter be itself superceded by some more perfect hypothesis, perhaps by some totally different way of looking at the phenomena - of registering shadows on the screen - of which we in this generation can form no idea."

Essentially, if the UFO phenomenon is both physical and psychic, it then may "represent a universal fact" one that has been witnessed throughout human history and may have been understood more widely for what it was in the ancient time of the Phoenicians, for instance, more than in our hyper-scientific, nuts-and-bolts world of the early 21st century. 

As Vallée concludes, hands upraised as if : "Is the mechanism of UFO apparitions, then, an invariant in all cultures? Are we faced here with something more than a projection of Jung's archetypal images, a psychic technology whose applications know few if any limitations in space and in time?  I see no better hypothesis at this point of our knowledge of UFO phenomena."

And while 1975 Vallée suspected we were close to figuring out what UFOs are, back then, in the waning years of the 2010's we still don't know and Vallée would be the first to admit that fact. It remains as perplexing as ever and The Invisible College gives the reader some historical perspective while pushing a new generation, today, to continue the tireless research into uncovering the roots of this ongoing global mystery.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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