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BOOK REVIEW: "American Cosmic" by D.W. Pasulka

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BOOK REVIEW: American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology by D.W. Pasulka (Oxford University Press) 2019

A few days after a series of synchronicities involving author/experiencer Whitley Strieber, I received a copy of D.W. Pasulka’s new book, American Cosmic.

Looking at the cover, I randomly opened it up – to page 11 (today is the 11th, btw) – and read the following paragraph: “This is one of the reasons scholars of religion are comfortable examining modern reports of UFO events. Jeffrey Kripal, working with author Whitley Strieber, articulates this well. In his work he has sought to reveal ‘how the modern experience of the alien coming down from the sky can be compared to the ancient experience of the god descending from the heavens.’”

I was rather stunned by this, having, the day before, written a piece for my synchromystic forum “Dust Devil Dreams” (on titled “On approach,” where I talk about being compelled to purchase the film Communion, based on Strieber’s alien encounters in upstate New York in late 1985, and trying to come to terms with these events.

Shortly thereafter, I read that synchronicities were bombarding Pasulka and folks connected to American Cosmic, although the details were sketchy. All the while, Strieber himself was undergoing some hairy experiences at his home in Texas, “visitors” seemingly compelling him to stay on track and finish his next book by the end of March.

So, it would appear that a lot is taking place behind the scenes. I feel it. Many people I know feel it. And I suspect University of North Carolina-Wilmington religious studies Professor D.W. Pasulka is feeling it, if what I’m hearing through the grapevine is true.

And let’s face it. Once you dip a toe in the synchromystic pool of high strangeness, all bets are off. Myself? I’ve just sort of allowed the ride to take me where it will. Note my first sync piece of 2019 - "Tomorrow never knows" - where I had a very powerful dream involving owls, Dr. Jeffrey Kripal (noted above) and the 33rd anniversary of Strieber's encounters on Dec. 26, 1985. 

As I wrote in the January 2, 2019 post: "For Strieber, the event on December 26, 1985 had been preceded by strange events, beginning in earnest in October. I note that because on October 17, 2018 I had a strange experience where I was thinking about when I would have my annual viewing of the spooky Disney film Something Wicked This Way Comes (the aforementioned Bradbury story made into a terrific 1983 film and taken from Shakespeare’s Macbeth). As I did that I slung a backpack over my shoulder and the strap caught onto a button I was wearing (“I Need a Nap”) and the button came loose and managed to “prick” my thumb, drawing blood. It was a decidedly odd moment."

And in this case it was reading American Cosmic, a truly heartfelt and oddly upbeat book where Pasulka takes us on a journey with familiar folks like writer/researcher Jacques Vallee and lesser-known but important science types like her new friend “Tyler ”, a seeker and brilliant mind who takes the author to a remote location in New Mexico (along with a well-respected professor) to find a possible alien artifact. This kicks off Pasulka's synchromystic journey (my definition) that includes Catholic mysteries, alien abduction stories, and humanity's place in the cosmos. 

Talking about synchronicity, specifically, in relation to a person in her book, Pasulka acknowledges that it happens not just to those aware of the paranormal. She has her own "uncanny" experience involving a Friedrich Nietzsche book that helps further confirm the very real nature of synchronicity.

"Synchronicity, as defined by Carl Jung, is the coming together of inner and outer events that are not causally linked but are very meaningful to those who have the experience," she writes. "The UFO community is not the only community that experiences synchronicity. In my research into Christian communities, I found that many people interpret synchronicities, or meaningful coincidences, as signs from God, or meaningful events that show them that they are on the 'right path in life.'" 

Pasulka's observations on the Stanley Kubrick film 2001: A Space Odyssey are very insightful, and references the investigations of writer Robert Ager, who notes that the monolith in the film is "a metaphor for the cinema screen," something I had been aware of for some time now and inquired about during a recent screening of the 1968 classic film at the Tower Theatre. Quoting Ager, Pasulka writes: "Ager notes, 'After the release of 2001, Stanley Kubrick openly stated that he created a film that was intended to bypass the conscious rationalizations of its audience and sink straight into the unconscious." I can certainly agree with that, as 2001 opened my eyes to the creative possibilities in my own life, leading me to a life of writing and investigations into the cosmic wonders of life. That makes sense, as the enigmatic, obsidian-black monolith seems to appear when humanity is facing great change in its evolution. 

And like the aforementioned Vallee, along with the late John Keel, Pasulka seems to allow the story to take her along, wherever it may lead. Along the way she makes some remarkable discoveries, and her friend, Tyler, accompanies her to the Vatican, only to have a deep conversion experience and the realization his work/research may be linked to Spanish Catholic nun from the early 17th century, Sister Maria, who claimed to travel the astral plane and go to the Spanish colony in present-day New Mexico and help convert the indigenous people there to Catholicism. 

It is all very strange, synchronistic and wondrous. I could hardly put this book down.

Pasulka is a fantastic writer, thinker and a very empathetic person, from reading her work. She does not come off like a jaded academic who has 'seen it all.' It's all very genuine and open and honest. In a field like UFOs and the paranormal, the world needs to embrace people like D.W. Pasulka, who actually listen to people and their stories. Sure, they may not actually be "alien abductions" or saintly encounters of a religious nature, but at least Pasulka is documenting what she learns in fantastic books like American Cosmic.

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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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