Biological Gods: UFOs, Science (Fiction), and Some Emergent Mythologies

Wednesday, February 13, 2019
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM (ET)
PAC (Harriman Hall) PAC 002 (Class of 1965 Classroom)
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Dursin, Sheri

This lecture begins with a brief history of the UFO phenomena, stressing the cold war context and eschatological dimensions of such modern ecstatic visions and encounters. It then focuses in on four texts: Philip K. Dick’s VALIS (1981), Whitley Strieber’s COMMUNION (1987), Kary Mullis’s DANCING NAKED IN THE MIND FIELD (2000), and Barbara Ehrenreich’s LIVING WITH A WILD GOD (2014). In each case, we will see how the author describes a deeply personal, life-changing encounter with what any earlier culture would have recognized as a deity or demon. Each author engages these earlier religious interpretations but finally moves outside of them to posit actual invisible species in the environment that interact with human beings at their own whims and for their own interests, perhaps, some of the authors speculate, to "feed off" of human emotion or to tame, domesticate or evolve us via sexual communion and interspecies symbiosis. The result is a new set of evolutionary panpsychisms, erotic vitalisms and biological polytheisms that pose a challenge to the reigning materialisms and projection theories of conventional science and the humanities.

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