“Is it possible for us to actually disappear into our own imagination?” Strieber asked his interviewer in 1988.
Strieber’s bondage (which is our human bondage) is that of the infant who wishes to please his caregivers by doing what he is told, but who is being pushed into going his own way. So far he has been unable to reconcile that contradiction—the oldest human dilemma of all, fate and free will—and obey the imperative of autonomy. He is forever falling back into the mother’s breast, even as he picks up the pen, the surrogate phallus, of his emasculated manhood—to prove that he is free to write his own life story. Yet all the while, silently and in secret, he continues to receive dictation. He has yet to recognize the metaphor which the visitors have presented to him (that he was mothered and fathered by trauma), and so he remains enslaved to the fantastic and horrifying fact of their existence.
The understanding I was reaching was that Strieber’s writing (and my own) was a way to allow “suppressed memories” (events too large for us to register consciously) into awareness. But there was more. Judging by the evidence of his own narrative, writing was also a way for Strieber to re-traumatize himself, in a (possibly misguided) attempt to “desensitize” himself to the traumatic material in his unconscious and make room for the past events to be re-cognized by his conscious mind? If so, then I wondered if this had inevitably and tragically overlapped with the child’s compulsion to self-traumatize, as a way to dissociate and enter into a blissful, fantasy space free from the pain of differentiation—to be re-immersed into the mother’s body?
As I arranged the recently found mirror shards into some sort of shape, I began to see a distinctly familiar form staring back at me. Had Strieber started turning his unseen trauma-parents (and parental traumas) into fiction unconsciously, “imagineering” the events which he then recounted as his first non-fiction best-seller? Communion (for which he allegedly received a million dollar advance) turned out to be his most financially successful work ever, even if it came at a considerable cost to his reputation. A popular horror writer whose sales are flagging and who comes out with an incredible, horrifying account of alien contact—insisting that it is a true story—is inevitably going to be met with a degree of skepticism, and even hostility. At that precise point in his life and career, metaphor irretrievably and forever crossed over into the realms of fact. Strieber’s horror fiction spilled over into his life, and his life turned into a non-fiction horror novel. Literally.
Final Audio, Solo Session, “Writing Wrongs (Prepare for Contact)“