As a child, I loved The X Files. I still do.

There was an affinity I felt with the show’s transitory outsiders — the fleeting catalysts of a hundred stand-alone episodes, each plagued by the latest Monster of the Week and deemed insane by those around them, often turning up dead before the episode’s end. I liked Mulder and Scully’s approach to these individuals who had been dismissed by all others, uncovering the truths beneath paranormal experiences. I admired the way they represented a cyclonic relationship between science and faith, a relationship that felt central to my experiences as a childhood science nerd plagued by mental health disturbances.

Binge-watching VHS boxsets that my mother would borrow from a fellow fan whom she worked with, I ended up spending a lot of my time online, via dial-up, very slowly researching secret government projects of my own. 

Whilst researching UFO sightings in my local area, as I was regularly wont to do, I found an advert for HUFOS – Hull UFO Society, few traces of which now remain online — and, with my father as chaperone, began to attend meetings every Tuesday evening. I was grateful to be indulged of my obsessions on a school night.

Around eight or nine years old, I was the youngest member of the Society by at least twenty or thirty years. An eager contributor to discussions, I would always bring a ring binder of printed webpages and press cuttings detailing my research interests: some were blatant science fictions; others documented various kinds of light aircraft that, whilst perhaps familiar in appearance to the layman, were unidentifiable due to their lack of traceable serial numbers, registration numbers and other kinds of military insignia. I found these so called “black helicopters” as fascinating as little green men. In hindsight, I wonder how familiar HUFOS was with the likes of the Ccru. They existed at the same time and their outlook was not dissimilar, although devoid of any readings of philosophy.

As Nick Land argues, it may be useful to simulate the policeman’s perspective every now and then. Revelations about real-life X Files remote viewing suggest that science fiction has always been the blueprint for new military capability. The continuum between fiction and fact has imploded into a fold in time. [1]

The purview of HUFOS was broader than UFOs alone. One evening involved a visit from a hypnotist. After spending what felt like five minutes in a beautiful mental vista we were woken up to be told that we had been “under” for almost three hours. That same evening, my father discussed my night terrors and hallucinations with another attendee. I listened, disturbed, as he described how one night I had sat petrified in bed, screaming at a grotesque severed head floating outside my window, trying to get in. This is the only “event” of its kind I retain a memory of – apparently they were frequent occurrences that generally accompanied excruciating growing pains.

I (quite literally) grew out of these parasomniac hallucinations but a firm grip on reality has nonetheless remained elusive. Later, as a teenager, I was plagued by episodes of depersonalisation following anxiety attacks. I remember the worst incident occurring outside the school library when I was 17. Whilst being comforted by a friend I remember the sensation of withdrawing into my skull, a mess of hyperventilation and tunnel-vision. 

The inward-facing hallucination of the cavernous space of the mind reminds me of Sartre’s “illusion of immanence” — his name for our predisposition for describing the images seen in the mind’s eye in spatial terms when in reality it is very much it’s own “thing”. Sartre’s phenomenological investigation of the imagination only addresses the horror of when this illusion slips one way, into the waking dream of a hallucination. His existentialism offers little in those moments when the self withdraws into nothingness, when the connection between world and self is strained and severed, despite his pretensions to the contrary. There is no analogy good enough for the inner-body out-of-body experience, the sensation of disembodied perception — although I’d argue some tales of alien abduction come close.

I had another episode — the first in many months — a few weeks ago. For a time, existence seemed impossible and the rules of subjectivity no longer applied. The world fell away in front of my eyes like smoke in a vacuum and only light and shadow forms remained.

Sometimes I wonder what HUFOS would make of these tales of the self abducting itself. As for the Ccru, I think I already know.

[1] Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant than the Sun (London: Quartet Books Ltd, 1998), 124


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