Sunday, July 29, 2012

Magus Magazine: Mysterium Tremendum: Why we are to blame for the B...

Magus Magazine: Mysterium Tremendum: Why we are to blame for the B...: Hello everybody, here is a version of the Baltic Anomaly philosophy article. It's a bit heavy  but I think you'll dig on it. Feel free to ...

Mysterium Tremendum: Why we are to blame for the Baltic Anomaly

Hello everybody, here is a version of the Baltic Anomaly philosophy article. It's a bit heavy  but I think you'll dig on it. Feel free to leave comments or come say hello on Twitter and Facebook! Enjoy!!!

Mysterium Tremendum: Why we are to blame for the Baltic Anomaly.

            In one way or another, we are all responsible for the Baltic Anomaly. It’s not far-fetched or absurd to say that the world “happened” to this underwater spectacle. Anybody with even minimal internet savvy has probably stumbled upon the mystery and wondered, maybe in passing, what the big deal is. Over the past couple of months, hysteria has set in as details of the story emerge. But what we hear now isn’t the story that was reported in the beginning of June. So what is the story? What is it about the Baltic narrative that has led to terrible fears of extraterrestrials and government conspiracy? Why does the public prefer a version of the supernatural rather than a pillow rock basalt formation? These are just some of the questions that surround the Baltic Anomaly. And the details continue to fascinate as data streams in. As the object continues to be revealed, our knowledge of the artifact shifts as well. It is this continuous movement that makes the Baltic Anomaly a hybrid of assemblages.
            The Baltic Anomaly is a hybrid of evidence and our understanding of the evidence as it changes through time. Following the lead of Bruno Latour in his study of Horse evolution (see A Textbook Case Revisited-Knowledge as a Mode of Existence. Bruno Latour, Sciences Po Paris, a chapter for the STS Handbook), we can orthogonally study the Anomaly’s context of discovery and justification.
                                     Backward_____-In time-_____Forward

Evidence                    _________
(object)_______(_)__|_______    |        ________
                            |                    |    |____(_)_______
            ________|                    |_______|
What we know of
Evidence through time

                                     Flow of experience

Something odd happens when we plot out the object/subject relationships in regards to the Baltic Phenomenon. In our first intersecting plot point(symbolized by ‘( )’), the discovery of the anomaly and the initial reaction of UFO provide our foray into an arrangement of data and impulse interpretation. As time moves forward, the ‘mysterious pillar’ (second plot point ‘( )’) is discovered which moves the UFO theory into an ancient/lost civilization arrangement. Although the object (evidence) and subject (what we understand of the evidence through time) run on separate currents, their points of intersection are where understanding of the anomaly is attempted. Through a flow of discovery, we ontologize each version of truth. A different world-version then comes into being at every plot point.
            Furthermore, epistemic conduits aid in the anomaly making sense. What we know through time changes as discoveries are made and provide meaning to the new ontological status. Without giving reference to what we know of the anomaly, it becomes impossible to discern the reality of the object. It is what I call the ‘face on Mars’ syndrome. We all remember the face discovered on Mars in 1976. The interaction of light and shadow created what appeared to be a humanoid face on the surface of the planet. As the Viking spacecraft took pictures of the object, theories came into being that suggested the face was created by an ancient Martian civilization. This image then rippled into a network that included crop-circles, alien architects that influenced ‘our’ early civilizations, and utopian ideas of aliens and god. However, the pieces of the puzzle that led to ‘the face’ theory simply had to be reassembled to suggest that the image was an illusion created through an interplay of light, shadow, and geologic formation. For a time, ‘the face’ was real and a long lost Martian was staring back at us from the planet. However, as the geologic nuances, light, and shadow were re-configured into another sequence, they created another truth-version. Is it the most accurate? Depends on who you ask. There are many that nurture ‘the face on Mars’ theory and keep it relevant and real.
This phenomenon might also be applicable to the Baltic Anomaly. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that the object really is a pillow rock basalt formation. And nothing more. If in our context of discovery, we reveal that the object is nothing more than a geologic formation, then this new ontology is given definition through conduits of meaning. What we understand of the object through time is directly connected to its current state of being. This is what makes the Baltic Anomaly a true hybrid. In its status as living theory, it is both object and subject; evidence and our understanding of that evidence. Whether it is of this earth, from the stars, or a result of alien/human interaction, the artifact is alive and made real through a convergence of Being and Meaning.
            Truth and the factors that support each truth-version re-embody and are dis-embodied continuously. As new information is discovered and re-configured, taken apart and put back together, truth is shaped. Perhaps this is why it becomes possible to move backward and forward in time on our orthogonal diagram. As new evidence comes to light we are able to go back to theories that were previously discarded and consider them anew. Perhaps a discovery is made that increases the elegance of our initial UFO theory. By breathing new life into this previous theory, we re-embody an ontology and gauge its usefulness in the current state of affairs. Moreover, as well as moving back to readdress previous incarnations, we can also move forward to predict potential ontologies in the research programme. Now I’m not one to assert the efficacy of prediction or prophesy without some form of experiment or empirical study. However, it really doesn’t take a giant leap of faith to infer where future plot points could appear in our orthogonal diagram. For example, we can see that a truth-version of object and subject occurs when the Anomaly (UFO) is discovered. At that intersection, the evidence and what we know about the evidence produces an ontology. By looking at the surrounding network, we can surmise future maturation and reproductive capacity. The network would include folklore surrounding UFO visitation, supernatural assault traditions, and perhaps even fairy-lore. Taking this surrounding network into consideration, it’s easy to discern a future ontology or ‘plot point’ that involves government conspiracy, and/or cover-ups because of the connections between UFO-lore and conspiracy theory. By being able to anticipate future ontologies, we can anticipate whether the theory is progressing or degenerating. And although studying future intersections might be unnecessary, they may also serve as future conduits to keep the ontology fruitful and growing.
            Could it be true? Is the Baltic Anomaly a hybrid of ontology and epistemic arrangements? Do the object and subject continuously move into assemblages that provide an understanding of being and reality? Following this train of thought, if we grant theories a living status, we must also consider that theories are eligible and even susceptible to rites of passage. Anthropologist Arnold van Gennep did extensive work in areas of liminality and how it pertains to transitional rites. He identified three stages that form the rite of passage. The event begins with a separation from society or family. A period of liminality follows as the initiate experiences the ambiguity and lack of status that accompanies the transitional state. This period of being betwixt and between eventually leads to a reincorporation into society as a changed being. But how does this pertain to our discussion of the Baltic Anomaly? I suggest that evidence and our understanding of the evidence as it changes through time is marked by a liminal period that fills the gap between objective knowledge and subjective experience.
            As a theory grows, it either continues to mature or is disassembled and re-configured into a new assemblage. When this happens, our ontology went through a rite of passage. The new theory experiences a new ontological status where its elegance, simplicity, and reproductive capacity are closely observed. As new evidence is incorporated into ‘what we know’, again the liminal period occurs, the theory is disassembled and reconfigured to include the new information. The problem lays in the separation state of a rite of passage. Can we say that object and subject i.e. evidence and ‘what we know of the evidence’ are truly separated at any time? This is the problem Whitehead called ‘The Bifurcation of Reality’. The bifurcation refers to a distinction between objective knowledge and subjective experience. In other words, it is a distinguishing between things that are able to be observed (i.e. sense-data, rocks, atoms etc…) and things in the mind. A proponent of bifurcation would assert a difference between a strawberry and the subjective experience of tasting a ‘delicious’ strawberry.
            This idea of bifurcation isn’t acceptable when examining evidence and our understanding of said evidence because it is the subjective that brings into focus our Anomaly. Through the use of imagination, inferences, and logic, meaning is ascribed to the evidence at hand. The discovery of the “middle pillar”, the runway, and the EMF shield  knocking out anything close to the Anomaly are all epistemic conduits that give definition to an ever-changing ontology. They help it make sense. Moreover, they change as new data streams in. When the object/subject disassembles, it enters into a liminal period where the plot point has not yet ontologized but is in the process of being created .
The new theory is established when the intersection occurs and evidence coupled with ‘what we know about the evidence’ reassembles into a new ontology. There is no definitive ‘separation’ only a ‘disassembling’ of the theory. The liminal state fills in the gap between the disassembled previous ontology and the reassembling that occurs on account of newly discovered evidence.
            Throughout this article, we have been discussing the philosophical exchanges that accompany the Baltic Anomaly. Through an orthogonal study of object and subject, positions of networks, and dialogues with anthropological theory, we are able to follow various ontological versions. Because ‘our understanding of what we know’ changes continuously, there is no real culmination or end to the ontologizing process. Creation is never complete but always shifting and moving due to refinements in our epistemic conduits. The variants in meaning reassemble constantly with the emerging ontology thus making the Baltic Anomaly a hybrid of Being and Meaning. What we discover and how we interpret these discoveries are arrangements that create out truth-versions. So, in reality we really are to blame for the Baltic Anomaly. If we become terrified or awe-filled it is because of the interpretations we have ascribed to the object. In no way can we say it’s the fault of E.T., lost civilizations, or government conspiracy. “We” happened to the Baltic Anomaly. Whatever is conjured is our own damn fault but at least we can look back with fresh eyes and change horror to admiration at any time. At least there’s that.   

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Magus Magazine: The Baltic Phenomenon

Magus Magazine: The Baltic Phenomenon: THE BALTIC ANOMALY “All things, are full of gods.” –Proclus “The irrational is not necessarily unreasonable nor the incommensurabl...  

The Baltic Phenomenon


“All things, are full of gods.” –Proclus

“The irrational is not necessarily unreasonable nor the incommensurable incomprehensible.” – Patrick Harpur, Daimonic Reality

Indeed. It’s not often that I get genuinely excited by something in the news. Rarely am I struck-dumb, giddy, or overwhelmed by a story. Oddly enough, I had read blurbs about the so-called Baltic Anomaly for weeks. ‘Believers’ were calling it the best UFO evidence since Roswell. There was wild yapping about a submerged ship or even Atlantis. I wasn’t buying into the bullshit. I knew better. The whole bit reeked of a janky, probably bourbon-soaked sea captain screeching through a fit of the bends that he’d found some goddamn saucer. I deemed it about as believable as ‘the face on mars’ or a unicorn.
And then it happened. It was bewildering-like being blasted with soft-ball size hail. I received a text message from somebody my phone could only identify as Mr. Swillers. Feeling uppity, I stared at the message
            All things, are full of gods.
After a couple of minutes of waiting for something else to happen, maybe another message or a sudden explosion, I slowly and deliberately put the phone away. Hours passed without another message, until finally, just as I began to feel safe, Mr. Swillers came calling at 3:33 am. This time the message was:
                        You can’t dance with discord.
Paralyzed in those few stunned minutes before the onset of something hysterical, I shot back, “Who is this?!” Without delay, the phone lit up with:
You’re not wanted in the Baltic. All trespassers will be shot on sight. – Mr. Swillers
I stared in horror at the phone till I was sure no other jolts from the beyond were forthcoming then I phoned my editor in a rage. “You dirty bastard!” I screamed. “How dare you call my home at three am?!” I heard the thump that signaled the poor bastard had fallen out of bed then a snarl on the other end of the line. “What the hell are you talking about- you crazy dumbass?” I paused because I knew he was telling the truth. He hadn’t made the call. It wouldn’t have even occurred to him to make a call of that nature. Not because he was polite or good-natured but because he cared so little about me or the deadline that it was a non-issue. If he had called, it wouldn’t be cryptic or mysterious. I had been contacted by somebody or something else. This Baltic situation was getting heavy. What didn’t they want me to know? What was the secret? And who is this rotten Mr. Swillers?
            I dashed over and jumped on the interweb to glean something of this Baltic nonsense. The more I read the more I began to recognize dimensions and details that reminded me of archaeological methodology. Something approaching the truth was being revealed. There seemed to be not just something there but something magnificent. Suddenly I felt that child-like wonder; those few fleeting moments of inspiration that sometimes-if experienced just right- map out an adult life. It was the mystery again. Artist renditions of whatever rests on the sea-floor became something tangible and real. And there was trepidation as well. What if it is an alien craft? What world would then be reality? Are they gods? Dennis Aasberg was right when he remarked,

“When we went out and saw the walls which were straight and smooth, it was frightening, as in a science-fiction film.”

            It’s still difficult to believe. A completely circular plate-like structure with a 180 meter circumference and 4 meter thick dome on top that rises 40 feet above the seabed is something reminiscent of Ridley Scott or Arthur C. Clarke. Nevermind the visible formations on top of the object that are set at 90 degree angles and strangely resemble a staircase. Or the stone circles i.e. “fireplaces” of burnt looking stone a few inches in diameter that are aligned like pearls in a necklace. The possibility of this being merely a UFO now just seems trivial. We still haven’t got all the pieces and even if we had, putting them in a correct sequence will take months. We’re in it now for the long-haul. Ocean Explorer co-founder Aasberg described during a Swedish radio interview some “features which seem to indicate that the object is man made, or perhaps a natural formation that has been altered or engineered.” (
            Furthermore, there is a long runway or “skidmarks” on the sea-floor leading to the object. And 200 meters away is a second anomaly that also has a sort of runway. The atmosphere of inquiry is now divided between the initial UFO theory, some lost archaeological treasure or a Pillow Basalt rock formation. But nobody really knows. And the OceanX team isn’t saying much. Needless to say, high-powered ocean teams are now following the White Rabbit down into the Baltic.
            We’re diving into some strange nuances as OceanX discusses some of what happened down there. There is no question that strange things accompany sea adventures. Like blasting into space, the deep has a reality all its own. Stories about whirlpools, Bermuda Triangles, Ghost Ships, and USOs saturate this form of folklore. And, frankly, OceanX is also reporting that things went sideways as they descended the 260 ft to the anomaly. The team remarked that a primary objective was to film the object but when they got close, cameras stopped working. And Aasberg wondered: “Why isn’t anything working, anything electric out there and the satellite phone as well stopped working when we were above the object and then we got away about 200 meters and it turned on again and when we got back over the object it didn’t work [sic] so that’s kind of strange. Portentous is perhaps the right word when considering an anomalous something that behaves as though it is equipped with an EMP shield. The folklorists are used to this sort of narrative but what do you tell the scientists? And how long before the government makes the whole mess disappear?
            Not everybody is doing handstands and babbling about the success of the OceanX mission. There is a vocal minority that regard the entire find as stupid and probably a scam. Jonathan Hill, a researcher at the Mars Space Flight Facility at ASU howled that, “Whenever people make extraordinary claims, it’s always a good idea to consider for a moment whether they are personally benefiting from the claim or if it’s a truly objective observation.” He went on to warn: “Peter Lindberg either has let his imagination run wild or has an ulterior motive.” Hill brings up a reasonable point. If it turns out that OceanX is already peddling bootleg low-grade video copies of the expedition or planning for the Lifetime TV movie then something is very amiss. In the context of discovery, the Baltic Anomaly should be an open invitation to multidisciplinary study. Geologists, Archaeologists, and Oceanographers are just a few of the academic milieus to find interest in the anomaly. If we spice up the pot with some folklorists, engineers, and artists, we have the makings for an outrageous and/or horrid network.
            Aside from the academics and professionals falling all over themselves to find an inscription of impending doom or some jangled alien script, internet bloggers are also weighing-in on the Baltic phenomenon. One Blogger quoted

…The furnace-like rock formation on top of that which constitutes the large circle was discovered with a scanner tool last year. Divers images show that the circle in turn consists of several blocks formed by “rolls” or “mushrooms” that are attached to each other, forming the circle…(

The responses are where this thread gets particularly interesting:

Dylan33p- Heh- no UFO. Seems like they are hinting that the rocks might not be a natural formation. 6-15-2012

Dph314- Damn. Was hoping to see some little grey guys down there that had a bit of engine trouble. 6-15-2012

Stealth Pyros- It’s false, they’re hiding the true findings. *tinfoil hat. They found and extracted the UFO already. Maybe not the same team, the government had MANY months to do this after the discovery, before the team finally went back there. In hindsight, we should have totally expected this. 6-15-2012

Marin- I’m not saying its aliens, but its aliens.

            In only a few sentences, these four savvy writers have touched upon every supernatural or UFO folklore theme. We have lost civilizations, little grey men, and distrust of the government. Somewhere this strange collection of motifs are the tentacles of a giant sea-monster bashing its way through Nessie and any other piece of sea-lore. And I’ll tell you why. Rarely, and I mean once in a blue moon does an event happen that captures the minds and hearts of popular culture. It happened at Roswell and at Area 51 but the Baltic Anomaly is different. The romance of the mystery has led not just to UFO speculation but to a myriad of folkloric forms. This won’t end in a hurry. There are too many places to move and too many trajectories it could take. Trying to pinpoint where the Baltic Anomaly will eventually land is a mystery that will leave a massive crater. In a year’s time, perhaps we’ll know the how’s and why’s. Till then, we can only watch while this underwater spectacle streaks through the sky.