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The Phenomenon : Control System, or Developmental Driver?


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Abnormal compulsion for wandering
Stuart Davis

The Phenomenon:

Control System or Developmental Driver?


I wanted to take a look at two ways the Phenomenon can be viewed. As a control system or, as a developmental driver. Quick note in what follows, when I say Phenomenon, it’s with the big 'P', it includes all the phenomena from UFOs, UAP, abduction, contact, the presence of highly advanced non-human entities, all the spokes in the wheel.

Jacques Vallee has long proffered that the Phenomenon is a control system. I have gradually come to feel the Phenomenon is a developmental driver. These are but two interpretations, and they could actually both be true, given that we are dealing with a multiplicity of entities and anomalies. But I thought it would be interesting to explore some distinctions between them. So what follows is simply my own personal, informal look at each. For sake of convenience, I’d like to look at ten points which indicate the Phenomenon is a control system, and then ten points which suggest it’s a developmental driver. To be clear, the ten points arguing for it being a control system are pulled from my head, not Jacques Vallee. I’ve read everything he’s written, but this is not meant to represent his views. It’s more of an illustration of the thought experiment which has, over time, tipped me toward my present views.

So. The Phenomenon:

Control system versus developmental driver.

First let’s define terms.

What is a control system?

A control system is a means of providing a desired outcome, or result from a set of conditions. Some control systems are simple and regulate material processes, while others are vast and pertain to social, spiritual, or cultural outcomes. A control system is about effecting the desired objective. A control system includes a number of components. Let’s look at them;

The controlled, which in this case would be us humans,

The controller, which would be the non-human intelligences behind the phenomenon, then there are other features such as;

Input, which is the signal or event modifying or impacting the experiencers, and

Output, which is how the overall system responds once the input is executed, and,

Disturbances, which are kind of the wild cards of a control system.

When an input has been delivered, and the right output has not been achieved, then a disturbance can occur either from within - which we could say would be from us humans, or the disturbance can occur from without, which we could say would be from the non-humans.

Control systems are often of a technical or engineering nature. Given that, it actually makes a lot of sense as to why Jacques found the model of a control system appealing, as he himself is a computer scientist, and no doubt early on he had a lot of intimate knowledge of how control systems operate in those physical domains. When can imagine that when he later began to investigate the Phenomenon, the analogy felt like it applied. Perhaps, as he tried to get a sense of the 'Reality behind the Appearances' as it pertained to anomalous events, it felt like a good fit to extrapolate the control systems of science and engineering. Ostensibly, Vallee felt, or feels, a control system best accounts for the trans-rational theater on display with UFOs, UAPs, non-humans, and so forth. So that’s a broad definition of a control system, and some conjecture as to why Vallee feels it to be a fitting description of these enigmas.

So, in contrast, what is a developmental driver?

A developmental driver is force, which is intentionally introduced, in order to accelerate or expand human evolution. It is a power, sourced outside of our own nature, which amplifies and deepens our growth. It is seeded by another highly advanced presence, with the goal of transfiguring us, the recipients.

Human development is a multi-faceted unfolding which includes spiritual, biological, psychological, cultural, and many other modes of being. There have been many models which articulate the stages humans go through as they develop, from

Erik Erickson’s psychosocial development, to

Piaget’s cognitive development, to

Spiral Dynamics, which tracks movement through world views including; archaic magic egoic, mythic, rational, pluralistic, integral, and beyond.

In any of the many developmental models, the more deeply we develop, the more we include, inhabit, and care for. So, a developmental driver is an external force or presence introduced in our growth process in order to magnify the outcome.

Now, having defined those terms, let’s move on and explore ten reasons that one might come to feel, as Jacques Vallee does, that the non-human presence is a control system.

1. Let’s start with the military interactions as indicators the Phenom is a control system. The phenomenon has a history of disarming our nukes, antagonizing our pilots, and aggravating our warships with impunity. These repeated demonstrations of total superiority of our very best tech can easily be interpreted as some pretty alpha male behavior. For some reason, the phenomenon seems to want it to sink in deeply that the divide between our force and theirs is incommensurate. But sometimes, me thinks the man protest to much.

2. The phenom is a control system because it causes both healing and harm in the population of experiencers. And in a fucked up way, this conforms with abusive relationships among humans. Physical trauma, followed by care, concern, and love. Well among experiencers, there are many instances of non-humans committing vile transgression, unspeakable injury, and permanent wounding to humans. Alternately, a great number of healings, transformative love, astounding tenderness, protection. The dichotomy goes deep, and one way to read the contradictory nature of it all is that it’s part of a control system. Just like an abuser keeps the abused guessing, confused, off-balance, and in-need, exploiting the cycle for power.

3. The Phenom is a control sytem because of its cool remove from those it exploits. There’s an aloof, distant quality that comes with much contact which is hard to parse. Why do the entities allow experiencers to suffer at all in abduction, for instance, when they routinely later demonstrate they can eliminate pain in a moment? Why the incongruent lack of empathy in some of the scenarios that seem to most demand it? Some of the Others seem to look down on humans, and deign to involve themselves with us. Beyond that, the obfuscation, the absurdity, (this one goes for both). They seem to toy with us in ways that make it unclear whether a sense of humor is in play, or a sociopathic entertainment. Do they lack love, or do they simply live a form of it we don’t or can’t know?

4. The Phenom is a control system because of its innate Doubleness, which is a term Sean Esbjorn Hargens came up with to characterize the Phenom’s paradoxical nature. This is the Phenomenon’s tendency to simultaneously display contradictory qualities. So, for instance the entities are physical and tactile, and yet also pass through solid objects, and in fact, guide humans to pass through solid objects. Or, the craft are objectively real, show up on radar, but also dynamically morph into different shapes and sizes, and are trans-medium, flying into solid mountains. The Doubleness creates a lot of dissonance as we shuffle through a deck of interpretive lenses, and find no single one adequately accounts for the data, the behavior, and the wake these events leave in experiencer’s lives. Doubleness undercuts our epistemologies and parades them as lesser caricatures of the deeper Reality, which seems to recede as we chase it. To be honest I could see Doubleness as evidence for the Phenomenon as a control system, but also as a developmental driver. And I’ll say more about that later when we touch on the trans-rational nature of the Phenomenon.

5. The Phenom is a control system because the Others don’t tend to ask questions or provide answers. Why is that? One way to see a human being is as a living question, an insatiable curiosity. We seem born into questioning. Is the disparity between our inner world and theirs so vast it’s beneath them, or is it just if they do, the non-anthropomorphic nature of its curiosity or inquiries, is lost in translation

6. It’s a control system because the Phenomenon lies, deceives, misleads. Says A, does B. It also confers ‘chosen’ status on select humans, then hangs them out to dry. This goes beyond the trickster element. The continual dire predictions, even threats, going back in human history, the incalculable number of wild goose chases it has sent experiencers on, the unbidden missions assigned to random witnesses, the relationships, careers, and lives it has left on the side of the road, the manner in which it manipulates perception and memory. In a word, would you let your daughter date a boy who exhibited such character?

7. The phenomenon is a control system because we are a control system. In some meta way, is it mirroring or reflecting our very own nature? We control each other, our selves, the environment, its inhabitants. We attempt to control reality itself, pain, loss, the future. Perhaps there is a sympathetic resonance in the phenomenon that is simply meeting us where we live, how we live. It sees us controlling All, and meets the controllers with more of the controlling game. Its simply scaling up our order of the game of being.

8. The Phenom is a control system because it is resolutely interventionist. Intimately so. It modifies our genetics. It harvests us biologically. It doesn’t ask our permission to do so, or in other cases feeds us the convenient narrative that ‘we agreed to this treatment before we incarnated’. It exerts influence over who we have sexual relationships with. It invasively transgresses and extracts our personal histories, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. It punctuates human existence with theatrical events that alter our collective course. It erases and adjusts our memory and perception.

9. It’s a control system because obviously it has the upper hand. It is plainly in control. We have no upper hand, maybe no hands. We can’t really point to any arena where humans have had the clear advantage with any consistency or sustainability. The exception possibly being spirituality and creativity. Generally, it seems we have to be granted any latitude we obtain, and obviously we are not the ones granting it.

10. It’s a control system because so much of its essence is predicated on confusion and fear. So often -literally- working in the shadows, skulking in the periphery of mind, perception, and meaning. Coming and going in the witching hour, havinig great command of our conditions, paralyzing us, or suspending in animation a group while removing an individual. Having incrediblle facility with manipulating the very environment the events take place in so that owls, coyotes, and deer become the avatars of this wholly Other presence while all other insects and animals go DEAD silent. Dilating and compressing our experience of time. Masquerading as other entities, enlisting artificial forms of hive-minded life, entraining the will of unwitting participants. Creating hybrid beings who are themselves utterly liminal. This is all the stuff straight out of horror films but sadly it is not fiction. It is the day to day landscape of so many experiencers lives, and this list is but a glimpse of the overall picture. All of it informs human confusion and fear. These features braid into trauma, and make pliable so many souls feeling they have no recourse to such inexplicable and unsettling realities.

Now, moving on to the reasons I personally feel the Phenomenon is less a control system and more likely a Developmental Driver.

1. The phenomenon is a developmental driver because it alters the world views of the experiencers. That’s a key characteristic of a developmental driver. If you’re hunting for drivers, the clues are in its effects on our World views. These events change the witnesses. This is true not only of abductees, contactees, but also people who have sightings, including military pilots, astronauts, and institutional officials. Here on Aliens and Artists we’ve devoted a lot of attention in particular to how contact impacts in human creativity. Its effects are varied, but in general we see that contact amplifies creativity, often radically so. It also seems to activate new capacities, including those under the umbrella of PSI. So if we pull back to a 30,000 foot view of these phenomena over decades, millennia, across cultures and continents, it can appear that the events are administered in a way which radically alters the percipients over time, and specifically in ways which have accelerated human development. That is exactly what a developmental driver is, not a control system. Unless of course the desired outcome of said control system is human evolution.

2. As a corollary to #1, the phenomenon is a developmental driver because the entities seem to employ ontological shock in measured doses at every developmental level, creating a discord in the experiencer. The discord of ontological shock is when the experiencer’s current world view is insufficient to make sense of the anomalous experience they’ve had. The cognitive dissonance functions like an energy source. Sometimes it is destructive, many times it is transformative. Other times what begins as destructive slowly transmutes into transformation. But an essential clue in ontological shock is that arguably, the Others often seem less concerned with which interpretation an experiencer has of the phenomenon, and more concerned with changing the interpreter him or her self. In a nut shell we could argue the Others are not loyal to this or that World view, but to the development of the percipient at any World View. They are less concerned with this or that interpretation a witness may have, and more concerned with the transformation of the witness herself. And that may be how ontological shock is used as a tool by the developmental driver.

3. The phenomenon is a Developmental Driver because it’s sticky. It’s magnetic. This calls to mind the scene with Richard Dreyfus sculpting Devil’s Tower out of mash potatoes as his family looks on, worried. Over and over again we’ve seen how one brief event becomes the defining event in an experiencer’s life. These brief incidents send us down a rabbit hole, and so often become the unshakable koan we must solve with our very own lives. The intensity they usher ends relationships, and also forges them. The events adhere to us in myriad ways, from the hitchhiker phenomenon on the shadowy end of the spectrum, to more transfixing echoes that figure our dreams, contemplative practices, and lead to changes in careers, the places we live, and what we believe the purpose of our life is. If this were merely a control system, why would it constantly cajole and beckon us to profound shifts in the most meaningful areas of our lives. The stickiness ensures we can’t just shrug it off -although some do- most cannot.

4. The phenomenon is a developmental driver because the messaging is so clear and consistent. The message is ‘You’re killing your planet’, which is inconsistent with a control system, but fits with a developmental driver. There is much that is inconsistent about the manifestation of the phenomenon and the intelligences behind it. But one area of seeming consensus is the messaging ‘You’re killing your planet, you’re killing your selves.’ Attending that message are all the details we would expect. Humans have to wake up, have to grow up. Nuclear weapons are collective suicide. Time is running out. This is a paradise world, you are supposed to be its stewards, not its murderers. A great change is coming, and humanity’s station on Earth will be radically altered by its own choices. A control system cannot account for this amount of planetary ethical urgency in the messaging. In fact, nested in this prompts are literal developmental imperatives ; Grow up. Evolve. Elevate and deepen your consciousness. These are flat-out calls to develop, and are simply the explicit calling cards of a developmental driver.

5. The phenomenon is a developmental driver because the Others are far more obsessed with us than we are with them. And this would indicate the relationship is driving development for them, as much as it is for us, or more. When we look at human cultures around the World, we do not see them organized around non-human intelligences, or aliens. On a planetary scale, we have not formulated our existence to be devoted to the non-human presence. It’s a small and idiosyncratic part of our population that spends a serious amount of time on this puzzle. However, when we look at the Others, the non-human presence engaging humanity, it seems the other way around. They have dedicated a breath-taking amount of time, energy, and resources in order to ensure they have the contact and intimacy required for whatever ends they are seeking. If we pause for a moment, and with a sober mind consider the infrastructure required in order to abduct millions of human beings around the world over decades and generations, following family blood lines, doing so in a clandestine manner, factoring that into whatever is required to produce and perfect a hybridization program, and then we calculate the resources and infrastructure required to do so, the picture is staggering. Absolutely staggering. And that is but one facet of this very prismatic enigma. This isn’t even bringing the incalculable number of craft from cigar shaped mother ships to tic tacs, and innumerable apparitions that defy categories. It’s been clearly demonstrated the non-human presence is organized around us, not the other way around. Which is not to say all non-humans are organized around us. I’m talking about the ones we are engaged by. Now does this accord with a control system? I don’t think so. To me it looks a lot more like a desperate dance to work with precious resources before time runs out. We are one of those precious resources, and for whatever reason, they very much need us. It may be that we need them too. I believe we do. But that is not what a control system is. This fits much better with developmental drivers, racing to achieve growth in time to outpace catastrophe. They have structured their reality, their reason for being, around us. If they cease to exist, our reality largely remains in tact. If we cease to exist, what would it mean for them?

6. It’s a developmental driver because it transgresses categories: It blurs into death, reincarnation, the nature of the human soul, and any number of metaphysical questions. One cannot take a long, deep look at these mysteries without them making a mess of our categories. Like it or not, human mortality and immortality are folded into the non-human presence. For better or worse, the phenomenon mingles with our deep shamanic past, and suggests an inconceivably subtle future. One in which our cosmological conventions dissolve like dust in a cauldron. The reason the nuts and bolts approach alone is a dead end is because there is no such thing as objects without subjects. When you study objects, sooner or later, you end up studying the subjects that created those objects, the subjects that pilot those objects. And those subjects end up studying you. And then you are in an inter-subjective dance that includes high-strangeness, non-ordinary states, exotic capacities, new epistemologies. In a nut shell, you begin to meet the Phenomenon where it lives, in its Reality, instead of merely collapsing it to the consensus reality humans have heretofore taken refuge in. And that just doesn’t comport with how a control system works. The phenomenon invites us forward, inward, outward, into a radically expanded Cosmology which at once us how tiny we are, and how vast we are. That paradox is no flaw, but is in itself the Point. That paradox, like a koan, is resolved when we grow big enough to include all of it. When we become a new unity which houses the complementarity of opposites. And again, that’s just not what a control system is about. That is very much what a developmental driver is about. The third which transcends and includes its preceding division of two.

7. It’s a developmental driver because it’s trans-rational. Or at least because it intrinsically involves the trans-rational as part of its native anatomy. One of the simplest models of human development is the triad of pre-rational, rational, and trans-rational registers of consciousness. An infant inhabits pre-rational modes of awareness. A physicist relies on rational methodologies. A deeply developed mystic explores trans-rational ontologies. To a rational mind, both the pre-rational and the trans-rational appear to be merely irrational. But they are not. Pre and Post are as distinct as night and day, and the phenomenon not only knows that, but delights in the fact. That is why we experience it again and again making soup of our conventional categories and ossified methodologies. It seeks to expose the limits of our empiricism, and prompt us to new epistemologies. Ones more capable of -again- meeting the phenomenon where it lives, as opposed to collapsing it to the dimensions we find palatable. Whether we consider the Doubleness the phenomenon displays, so elegantly described by Sean Esbjorn Hargens, or the poetically cryptic symbology non-human entities often prefer when engaging us, there is abundant indication the intelligence hovers in the Liminal, the borders at the edges of our being, at least in part to draw us toward our unrealized potential. If the Others find a pre-rational mind, they will suggest rationality. If they encounter a rational being, they will offer a trans-rational glimpse. Here again, this doesn’t accord with a control system, unless the desired outcome is a Cosmo-centric awareness. And if that’s the case, the control system is actually a developmental driver. The trans-rational is simply too great a disruptor to conventional consciousness to make sense as a control mechanism. The trans-rational is a disruptor, but is not merely chaos. The trans-rational is the unity beyond the opposites. It is the reality behind the appearances, cohering paradox. It does not seek to undo the rational, but to grow beyond it. That makes it a key tool to any cosmic developmental driver.

8. The phenomenon is a developmental driver because it is more symbol than sign.

Signs communicate certain information. They are meant to regulate those who read them. They’re unambiguous, informative, and often warn us of danger or prohibit certain activity. Signs are meant to be followed, obeyed, as it is. They are not meant to be interpreted, they are meant to be explanatory and clear.

Symbols on the other hand, often have deep meaning, and can contain encrypted layers. They can be interpreted many ways, often by design. Signs are dead, symbols are alive. Symbols are fluid enough to have different kinds of meaning to people at various stages of their lives, and to also have diverse interpretations by different groups of people, which are all valid. A sign says ‘Do this’. A symbol says ‘What’s that?’ A symbol can be a visible mark of the invisible. As such, it provokes the percipient toward that invisible magnet. A sign instructs, a symbol evokes.

Now the phenomenon is not without its signs. The most salient example being “You are killing your world. Stop killing your world.” But beyond that, many non-human intelligences seem to prefer a lexicon that is rich in pregnant symbols, and light on signs. The symbology is confounding by design, because the symbology of the phenomenon is escorting us toward our deeper, higher selves. Again, symbols drive development. Humans know this, innately. Our mystic, esoteric, occult traditions use the very same strategy. Initiation into and progression through the great mysteries has always been replete with this gestating symbolism, crafted to act on the consciousness of the percipient like sunlight on seeds. Perhaps the activating force of symbols is universal and non-humans employ them in the same pragmatic fashion that alchemists, sorcerers, and shaman do. They transmute the subject. Again, makes more sense as a developmental driver than as a control system.

9. The phenomenon is a developmental driver because things are out of control. If the phenomenon is a control system, it has never really worked. Do things seem to be in control to you? Have they ever seemed to be in control? Sure, we are in a particularly acute period of upheaval and instability. Covid. Ukraine. Insect collapse. Ocean acidification. Climate change. Fertility crisis. On and on. But let’s face it. Humanity has always been a shit show, going back tens of thousands of years. We’re a cacophony. And if the phenomenon is a control system, it doesn't not seem to be, nor does it ever seem to have been, working particularly well. Unless the control system’s desired output is chaos, which seems an absurdly adolescent objective for a phenomenon as subtle and ingenious as this one is. Human history is, again, much more of a paradox. We seem to be always winding up and falling apart at the same time. For millennia, we’ve seen the steady advance of not only technology, but more importantly of world views. The diminishment of slavery. The ascendancy of human rights. The stabilization of plurality. But we’ve also seen two world wars in a century and are presently worried about a third. There has been tremendous human development, both on the interior and exterior. But do things seem to be in control? Any more than they 3,000 years ago? That’s debatable, and to me seems much less clear than the fact that development has occurred. Which is why I feel the absence of controls points toward the phenomenon being more likely a developmental driver than a control system. If it’s a control system, it’s broken. If it’s a developmental driver, it’s working, at least to an extent.

10. The phenomenon is a developmental driver because of its clear preoccupation with the twinship of Human potential and latency. Let’s define those terms quickly.

Potential : Existing in possibility : capable of development into actuality

Latent : Present and capable of emerging or developing, but not presently visible, obvious, active.

Here, in this twinship of human potential and latency, so much about the phenomenon and how it interacts with us begins to make more sense. In a way, this is the left and right leg the enigma walks on. Potential and Latency are twin stars the preceding nine points orbit. And again, I think it’s fair to argue here that it’s not merely human potential and latency, but non-human potential and latency that is in play. What human potential?

The potential to become deeply ethical, moral beings who are advanced enough to steward a paradise world into the cosmic community.

The potential to both claim and defend our sovereignty while also entering into communion with other advanced being.

Unfolding our latent capacity for intimate mutuality with our environment, and all sentient beings.

Perhaps cultivating latent capacities of high intuition, and acute sensitivities to the planet’s magnetic system, and subtle fields.

Maybe potential capacities for telepathy, astral travel, and remote viewing, or instantaneous union-at-a-distance with other beings around the Cosmos.

The potential even, to transcend the cycles of birth and death, and seek the liberation of all beings.

And what about for the non-human entities?

What potential or latencies might they be seeking to include, or re-member in themselves? The explosive, primordial creativity that human beings possess? The passion, curiosity, and raw life force which courses through our species? The unfathomable surprise and unpredictability in our humanity, our incredible emotional bond to one another? I can imagine a great many gifts we possess that would enrich the Others, and vice versa. The potential and latency in us and them seems somehow at the center of this mysterious We. We’ve seen it bloom again and again as a result of contact. It doesn’t make much sense as a function of a control system. But the way in which great attention has been held over our shared potential and latency sure fits with a developmental driver.

That, in a nut shell is why my gut tells me the Phenomenon is more a developmental driver than a control system. Although there is certainly room for both, and it’s important to remember we’re dealing with a plurality, a multiplicity of presences, and both of these could be true for distinct contingencies of the phenomenon, and the intelligences behind it.

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