The first aliens I saw were in the house of my grandmother in Townsville. Constrained safely within the television and the Dr Who universe, they could do very little to me other than give me a bit of a scare. It was the other aliens that lived there that were truly unsettling. Dark emaciated, skeletal abstractions lurking around corners. A quick moving, chaotic fear always in the corner of your eye. Always just out of sight in the dark corridors between rooms. I never figured out what they were but I know what I saw.
As an adult I have never seen a UFO or an alien and even though sensible folk tell me that it’s a ridiculous notion and that there is no evidence and that it’s all based on sloppy, magical thinking, I still believe. I still believe because all the evidence to the contrary is not entirely persuasive. I still believe because I need there to be more than just this ordinary stuff making up this ordinary life and most of all I still believe because I remember. I remember being a child and I remember trips away with my mother. I remember the searing vinyl of the car seat and roast beef, gravy sandwiches. I remember the clock in the car stopping. I recall a bright light. We saw a UFO.
Missing time. I have forgotten so much. Eventually even the most essential of memories become blurred. The razor clarity of certain events dull, reduced to a series of disenfranchised images drowned in a deep puddle of their siblings. Completely surrounded and submerged but somehow lacking context and coupled with a deeply embedded, persistent but purposeless sense of individuality. Up late one night I see an ad for a process that may help. Hypnotic regression therapy. Now I am a patient. I am a specimen for myself to analyse. What knowledge can I possibly draw from this? Do I actually recall or does the process of revelation write its own story? Does the language I use have the capacity to critically examine itself and me or is it bound to just speak and obfuscate never uncovering its motivation or my own? Am I separate from my language? Am I anything?
Aliens are among us. The Reptilians who run the governments of the world, the Greys who steal our unborn children and probe our minds and bodies. The angelic and benevolent Norse types offering us friendship and guidance. Where there are gaps in our knowledge creative minds find a foothold and fill the space. These gaps are how light and curiosity get in but it’s also how the smoke, fire and sulphur of nightmares take residence and for that we should be thankful. You will find no love here for a benign, texture-less, unchanging light filled paradise. To find traction and our place in the world we need the coarseness of alienation and the dissatisfaction that comes with it. In this is where we find the physical and ideological material to make.
The mechanisms that produce our consciousness are hidden from us. Our thoughts and compulsions are an indecipherable multitude posing as a singularity. Are we an ongoing reaction to the universe or is there an intent filled, indivisible force driving us? Are we ourselves? We never truly know why we do the things we do. We are, in perpetuity, aliens, from one another and ourselves.
Written by Christian Flynn
Essay from the group exhibition ‘The Alien Show’ (June, 2016)
Courtesy of Fake estate ARI
Image: Charlie Donaldson, JFK is visited by aliens shortly after his death (2016) watercolour on paper.