Art by Lucinda Horan
(Afore we begin, readers may be interested to know that yesterday Whitley Strieber responded to me for the first time publicly, over here; I replied & my comment was placed into moderation queue. It still wasn’t up the last time I looked. A later comment ~ from Linus Minimix ~ went through, however . . .)
“Does the psychic in general—that is, the spirit, or the unconscious—arise in us; or is the psyche, in the early stages of consciousness, actually outside us in the form of arbitrary powers with intentions of their own, and does it gradually come to take its own place within us in the course of psychic development? Were the dissociated psychic contents—to use our modern terms—ever parts of the psyches of individuals, or were they rather from the beginning psychic entities existing in themselves according to the primitive view as ghosts, ancestral spirits and the like? Were they only by degrees embodied by man in the course of development, so that they gradually constituted in him that world which we now call the psyche?”
—C. G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul
Still grappling for a way to wind up the first part of this work in a satisfactory manner, I checked Strieber’s website for any new subscriber tidbits and saw that the commentary on “Pain” had been posted four days earlier. I filled a hot bath and settled in to listen, with a pen and pad on hand for taking notes.
Strieber talks about rewriting “Pain” during the days after December 26th, 1985, as the memories of his alien encounters began to surface. Strieber attributes his use of UFO imagery in the story to a book his brother gave him for Christmas on the subject of alien abduction (Science and the UFOs, by Jenny Randles and Peter Warrington). He refers to how the character in “Pain” mentions reading a secret government document, about which he—the 2013 Strieber—insists he knew nothing at the time. Once again this contradicts his later admission of having received inside information about government secrecy around UFOS from John Gliedman in 1984/5, through his, Strieber’s, association with MARS Inc. (Mars Anomalies Research Society). What intrigued me more than this, however, was the idea that Strieber, in writing “Pain,” had allowed his imagination to be so profoundly influenced simply by leafing through a book on UFOs.
In Communion, Strieber writes that, when he first dipped into the book, a few days after December 26th, it frightened him so much that he put it down. He picked it up again in January and this time read it to the end, where he found a description of an experience similar to his own.
I was shocked. I was lying in bed at the time and I just stared and stared at the words. . . My first reaction was to slam the book closed as if it contained a coiled snake . . . My blood went cold: Nobody must ever, ever know about this, not even Anne. I decided to lock the business away in my mind. A few mornings later at about ten, I was sitting at my desk when things just seemed to cave in on me. Wave after wave of sorrow passed over me. I looked at the window with hunger. I wanted to jump. I wanted to die. I just could not bear this memory and I could not get rid of it (p. 40).
Such extreme impressionability is one of the symptoms of a disembodied mind. I am extremely impressionable myself, so I speak from experience, and I would never have been so impacted by Strieber’s work—or been compelled to try and separate his fiction from my truth—were it not the case.
A writer lives much of his life in a virtual realm of language-generated imagery. In such a realm, words can often seem more real than direct experience. The stuff of dreams—especially if a person makes a living from it—can start to seem like the substance of reality. In that context, it makes sense to me that a book given to him by his brother (the person closest to Strieber’s own background) could have provided context for understanding his experiences. A writer’s business, after all, is using words and images (narratives) to translate unconscious material into rational form. If UFO-imagery gave Strieber a framework through which to access suppressed memories and allow them to come into consciousness, as he himself suggests, he would, in effect, have re-imagined the memories into being.
I am now fairly sure I did the same thing, using Strieber’s works. What goes around, comes around, and in an odd way this relates not just to Strieber but to my own father, who aspired to being a writer before he met my mother. Enchanted—or entranced—by the comforting delights of the female body and mind, he promptly gave up the writer’s quest of self-invention and returned, dutifully, to the family fold. Perhaps his failure to develop his “tool” left him powerless to resist the pull of his own past? Was joining the family business an unconscious way of allowing himself to be reabsorbed into the mother’s psyche? Certainly by doing so, eventually, inevitably, he turned himself into his father’s image—which is an unconscious way to repossess the mother.
On the “Pain” commentary audio, Strieber makes a remarkable admission: “Nobody who knows the past truly,” he says, “can really know themselves. They can’t act spontaneously.” The statement is an exact reversal of the psychological wisdom that says becoming conscious of our past is essential to knowing ourselves, to getting free from the mind-generated images which control and direct our actions. Strieber’s point of view is sourced in mystical beliefs that appear to be at odds with psychological principals. He sees the body as “a filtering device that lets us experience life,” by shutting off awareness of the past and the future, giving us the illusion of free will. Paradoxically, he stresses the need to escape the timestream and enter into worlds beyond death. He describes his experiences of doing so on the audio as “a leaving of time as well as space, and you feel it that way, conveyed in a machine that takes you into other worlds at other levels of reality but which is in essence a conveyance, perhaps one that is itself a brilliant and living being.”
A conveyance that is itself a brilliant and living being, the words evoke an infant carried by its mother. Freud wrote that “the ego is ultimately derived from bodily sensations, chiefly from those springing from the surface of the body [and] may thus be regarded as a mental projection of the surface of the body.” So what becomes of that mental projection when the body is imprinted—and the soul wounded—by trauma? A life beyond death, as Strieber imagines it, is a life free from sex, in denial of the body, divorced from life force, a phantom existence that is eternal only so far as it is immaterial, ungrounded, unreal. The only infinity which the ego can imagine for itself is a prison, not of the body but of the mind’s image of the body. Maybe the homunculi of the gray alien is that image, complete with bulging eyes and withered limbs? It would be difficult to imagine a less erotic body image.
Greg Mogenson (p. 56) describes trauma as “the body of the world and the body of man.” He pictures a self that “splits off from the body and hovers above it—a false self. World becomes mere worldliness, and a transcendental, heavenly world is split off and affirmed.” The projected “heavenly world” of the false-child-self is an image of the mother’s body, and of itself becoming its own father and conceiving itself. It is an imaginary future projected from a traumatic past, recreating itself in its own image, mirrors within mirrors, gazing, abysmally. The image of the mother-bonded child projected outside the reach of the mother, incorporeally, is eternally rejecting its own body in order to escape the body of the mother; yet paradoxically, the attempt only ensures it remains forever bonded to her.
“I will never really understand the relationship between mother and son. I will never part easily from her.”
—Whitley Strieber, Transformation
Unlike my father, Strieber did develop his writing ability. In 1986, when he embarked on the writing of Communion, he also initiated a new career for himself as a non-fiction writer and became the Chosen Scribe for “the visitors.” Superhuman beings dictated to him (literally, by the time the Master of the Key came along) what to write. They admonished him when he got it wrong. And Whitley’s “Greys” have a clear literary precedent in Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Brownies,” as described by Stevenson in “A Chapter on Dreams”:
Who are the Little People? They are near connections of the dreamer’s, beyond doubt; they share in his financial worries and have an eye to the bank-book; they share plainly in his training; they have plainly learned like him to build the scheme of a considerate story and to arrange emotion in progressive order; only I think they have more talent; and one thing is beyond doubt, they can tell him a story piece by piece, like a serial, and keep him all the while in ignorance of where they aim. . . . And for the Little People, what shall I say they are but just my Brownies, God bless them! who do one-half my work for me while I am fast asleep, and in all human likelihood, do the rest for me as well, when I am wide awake and fondly suppose I do it for myself. That part which is done while I am sleeping is the Brownies’ part beyond contention; but that which is done when I am up and about is by no means necessarily mine, since all goes to show the Brownies have a hand in it even then. . . . My Brownies are somewhat fantastic, like their stories hot and hot, full of passion and the picturesque, alive with animating incident; and they have no prejudice against the supernatural. [M]y Brownies have not a rudiment of what we call a conscience. (Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Martin A. Danahy, 2005, Appendix, “Stevenson’s ‘A Chapter on Dreams’” p. 95).
Stevenson also suffered from night terrors as a child and visitations by the infamous night hag. “[He] would be haunted, for instance, by nothing more definite than a certain hue of brown, which he did not mind in the least while he was awake, but feared and loathed while he was dreaming” (hence “the Brownies?”). If both Stevenson and Strieber found their early experiences terrifying and traumatic, was writing the events down a way to placate the beings (the forces of the unconscious) and keep them at bay? At the very least, by writing and doing what they did best, they were able to flatten those forces out and turn them into (non-)fiction, thereby exercising temporary control over them. (Writing is a great way to gain a feeling of control over one’s existence by reframing one’s memories. A select and delete here, an addition or alteration there, and the whole shape of “reality” is magically altered.)
In the afore-cited passage from Oz magazine about The Process, we were told that “no one is actually very keen on mingling with the ‘greys’ in order to put across the message. Thus a Process magazine is born.” Writing is a way to reach people without having to interact with them, to stay safely ensconced inside a bubble and project—via language—an image of the self into the world of “the greys.” It is also a means to recruit the elements of the world that meet the desires of the projected image-self (and create one’s own cult).
Was Whitley trying to write himself beyond the reach of the visitors by giving them what he believed they wanted, simultaneously drawing others into his bubble to support his version of reality? At a deeper level, this would be an unconscious way for Strieber-the-writer to act out Whitley-the-child’s desire to break free of the mother’s influence and become his own father—by wielding his “weapon” (mind) and using his “tool” just as the Master (good father) proscribed. The pen may be mightier than sword, but mind is no match for mater. The visitors even came to check up on him: two of them (mom and dad) were seen in a bookshop by Strieber’s publisher, Bruce Lee (the great martial artist?), clucking and pointing out the bits he got wrong. Strieber describes the incident as a theatrical enactment of parental interest in a child’s activities. The child needs validation from its parents, as the only way to develop an internal sense of right and wrong, true from false.
Back in the bath tub, I heard Strieber read the following part from “Pain”:
She came to me and supported me while one of the others loaded a high powered rifle. I was slack with terror. The bullets clattered into the magazine, and one of them clicked into the breach. She held me under my arms, keeping me erect so that the bullet would pierce my chest in the right place.
This is the failed Oedipal enactment in miniature. Janet—the angelic initiator-dominatrix—holds him erect (obvious sexual connotations, linking mother with lover in later life); she holds him like a mother holds a baby that can’t stand on its own power, teaching it to walk. Those first few steps are the beginning of the end of symbiotic union with the mother. While still enmeshed in the mother’s psyche, the baby experiences itself as all-powerful: the mother’s body is an extension of its will and she seems to move according to the infant’s every desire. To begin the process of leaving the mother’s body is to experience the exact inverse of that feeling: total powerlessness—like a bullet to the heart. If the child is overwhelmed by this feeling, it will desire one thing only: to be enveloped again in the mother’s embrace.
I found a degree of possible confirmation for this complex in Strieber’s latest work, with Jeffrey Kripal, The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained. On page 242, Strieber describes a vision he had which he interprets as a memory of entering into his mother prior to his birth. It begins with his disembodied form hovering over her, leading to “a violent embrace, as if her soul was coming around me, drawing me to her. Then, in an act beyond anything I have known since, I penetrated into her.” Strieber is aware of the Freudian connotations of his account when he adds:
[P]erhaps coitus, in its desperate urgency, and in the sense of annihilation that accompanies it, is a striving to return to this extremely secret moment that is hidden within us all. . . . Ah Oedipus, sweet child of longing, and dear Dr. Freud, peering with his crystal light into these dark, uneasy halls. Even if it unfolded only in my imagination, that penetration of the womb exposes, I think, a deeply human and probably universal longing.”
It is a longing that appears to have remained unsatisfied in Strieber. A few pages later (p. 246), he goes on to state: “My mother did not leave me when she died.” He then describes how he became aware of her presence after her passing, watching over him. “My mother was my advocate,” he writes. “She understood that my mind needed food.” His father, he adds “felt that I should stay with children’s books, but she defied him. I was so grateful to her, and I still am. . . So we were very close, and I just cannot tear myself away from the belief that it was her on that night, doing her part to help me awaken to a very real world that continues to seem to me to be entirely impossible” (emphasis added).
Strieber is stating here a strongly held belief: just as his mother brought him into physical existence, she is now performing a similar role on the other side, drawing him into a new existence, that of “the super natural.” Strieber views the visitors in a similarly maternal light: in his introduction to the 2008 edition of Communion, he recounts the painful moment in 1988 when (in his own estimation) he failed to “cross the threshold” and enter into a conscious, fully consensual relationship with the visitors:
The moment I turned away from them that morning, I entered into a school, which I have been in ever since. My matriculation was symbolized a few moments after I retreated, when I found myself vividly recalling something that had been lost for many years in the natural amnesia that surrounds our childhoods. I remembered—or they gave me to remember—the first steps I ever took in my life. For a couple of wonderful and profound moments, the glorious experience of walking from the edge of my mother’s bed to the towering leg of her desk was returned to me as vividly as if I were re-experiencing it, but with my adult’s mind. So I knew, at least on that bitter morning, where I actually stood (2008, HarperCollins, p. xviii).
The word “matriculation” is striking in this context. It means to be enrolled or registered in a university or college, but it comes from the Latin matrix, meaning womb, which shares a root with mater, mother. Strieber’s professed inability to take those final, decisive steps towards the visitors leads to his being matriculated and returned to the matrix of the mother’s psyche. The same thing appeared to be indicated by “Pain,” following the piercing ritual.
As the ritual moved slowly along, she spoke kind words to me.
“Is there anything we can do to help you?”
“Somebody could hug me.”
“Oh, ok, I can do that.”
As Strieber points out, this passage directly echoes a scene with the visitors which he later reported in Communion, when the female “master” asks him what they can do to help him stop screaming, and he replies that she can let him smell her. “What can [I] do to help you stop screaming” is a question every mother (internally) asks her infant child, a hundred times or more. Strieber’s desire to smell her may not be “a normal request” for a grown man, but it is perfectly normal for a baby seeking reassurance of the presence of its mother. In Strieber’s account, he first describes a male visitor putting its hand against his face; in the transcript of his second hypnosis session, however, it is the female being who puts her cheek up by his face. (Communion p. 28 and 83.) This discrepancy is never addressed. Nor is the still more disconcerting moment in which Strieber realizes that the being he thought was female has a penis, which he then experiences being punched into him repeatedly.
After his own penetration by the bullet, Alex, Strieber’s fictionalized counterpart in “Pain,” experiences an infantile immersion into the mother’s body:
As we remained there together something quite unexpected happened to me. My will, the core of my identification as a separate self, ebbed slowly away. The ebbing of will was like black water revealing a drowned cathedral. . . . My whole will was in her hands: I was so free of myself that I even lost the wish to beg her for my life.
The experience is comparable to how Strieber describes his first reaction to the visitors in Communion, albeit in far less blissful terms, when “‘Whitley’ ceased to exist. What was left was a body in a state of raw fear . . . I do not think that my ordinary humanity survived the transition to this little room. I died, and a wild animal appeared in my place.”(p. 26, 29). A wild animal or a wild infant? Later in the same work, Strieber describes being held in the beings’ arms, “as helpless as a baby, crying like a baby, as frightened as a baby” (p. 106). And in a conversation with Ed Conroy reproduced in Report on Communion (p. 340), probably from 1989, Strieber recalls his “impression that one of the beings was my mother and another was my sister. I had that impression, even though I don’t mean my human mother and sister. I didn’t say anything about it at the time because it seemed so bizarre, but now it’s beginning to make a little sense.”
In Strieber’s fantasy account “Pain” (as compared to his non-fictional one in Communion), having been overwhelmed by the ritual enactment of separation-individuation (which he experiences as an execution), Strieber’s alter-ego returns gratefully to oneness with the mother. He no longer even has a life to lose because his life is hers. The fictionalized Strieber then describes a bizarre picture of “heaven” in which he is on a bed with children, animals, and stuffed toys.
It was Sunday morning and here came Alex Jr. and Patty and Ginger along with assorted cats and dogs and stuffed toys. Sally moaned and laughed as our bed filled with children and animals. [Strieber then adds his own commentary:] For a guy like me that is literally a moment of heaven. I love kids, I love dogs, I love cats, and I love stuffed toys! And I love ‘em especially when they are all together and jumping up and down on my bed on a Sunday morning!
This Neverland fantasy of a return to an infant state of being would be peculiar enough coming from a man in his late 60s in any context; but in the context of the rest of “Pain,” it’s deeply disturbing. Strieber follows his infantile heavenly scenario with a long quote from the story:
Over it all there was a soft and gentle song. They love us. They do. We are their grass, their trees, their rooting piglets. They have grown immense on us, sapping us, whipping us with war and famine and pestilence, designing brain and body for more and more breeding, until the world is choked with billions upon billions of shining, brilliant human souls ready for the slaughter. Ready also, for growth.
Strieber then interjects a comment: “We are harvested here. And it’s not a bad thing!” “The point of a sacrifice,” he continues reading from “Pain,” “is that it satisfies the need of a higher being. This need is not for suffering, though, or death: it is for the enrichment of the soul. . . . The horror of the sacrifice is an illusion, for the end beyond—the soul absorbed into the breast of these mighty beings—is rapture as well as oblivion.” Janet, he says “comes not only for me, but also for those yet unborn, for the old upon their final beds, and the millions from the harvest of war. She comes for me, but also for you, as in the end for us all.” Strieber winds up the audio (before quoting a favorite poem of his grandfather’s) with the words: “All of my life up until that time I had been fleeing Janet; and it has taken all of these years for me to understand truly what I was fleeing.” The indication is that what Alex/Strieber was fleeing was death, or the fear of it. The Nietzschean passages in “Pain” which wax lyrical about mass slaughter and then frame it within a quasi-Catholic context of redemption through sacrifice, illustrate how Strieber reconciled the horror of his experiences—whatever their actual nature—and his fear of death and/or damnation, with his faith in the goodness of God. At the same time, they offer grisly rationalization for, and glorification of, war and destruction, via a spiritualization of it.
Yet what Strieber has been fleeing from, in my estimation, is the all-consuming reach of his mother’s psyche. This is the psychic womb that so few men ever identify, much less pull free of, which he represents in “Pain” via Janet’s devouring sexuality, and in Communion via the psychic caresses (and brutal penetrations) of the visitors. The visitors, and Strieber’s own metaphoric re-enactments in the form of fiction and non-fiction and every variation in between, underscore this one truth, which is the most threatening realization of all to the infantilized psyche: that of the “killing mother.”
“The hero is therefore symbolically a mother-killer, inflicting our revenge for early traumatic experiences. At the same time, by restaging early traumas in wars the magical goal is achieved of merging with the mother in a defensive maneuver to deny her as a dangerous object. Giving one’s life for one’s Motherland means finally joining with her. The soldier who dies in war, says one patriot, ‘dies peacefully. He who has a Motherland dies in comfort . . . in her, like a baby falling asleep in its warm and soft cradle.’”
—Lloyd deMause, “Restaging Fetal Traumas in War and Social Violence”
If this is the unspeakable secret of “the dangerous sacred,” then Strieber is right to insist that “this is not a sex story,” because the life and death struggle of the infant to individuate from the mother’s psyche is not about sex but about survival. Yet, since the libido is also the life force, at a certain level it is about sex. It’s also about war. In the last chapter, I uncovered what seem to be irrefutable ties—psychologically if not politically speaking—between Strieber’s “visitors” and alleged government agendas to create programmed killers, or “Manchurian Candidates.” Now, at the next level down, unnatural mother-bondage appears to be the underlying condition that gives rise both to the “divine” intervention of “aliens” and the diabolic manipulations of government. The shadow government is an obvious stand in for the absent father, just as, in Strieber’s accounts at least, the visitor presence is a clear stand-in for the devouring mother. Throughout history, warlords have invoked the image of a “Motherland” to inspire soldiers to commit acts of violence and go gladly to their deaths. With his strangely religious eulogizing of slaughter, Strieber appears to be unwittingly catering to this same dark impulse. “Pain” recounts Alex’s initiation into spiritual truth and higher reality via suffering and sexual submission to (and submersion within) the superior feminine. With this comes an awareness of “the prime aesthetic of death,” which Strieber ecstatically places in the cosmic context of a planetary birthing process.
Taking a very different perspective, the little-known psycho-historian Lloyd deMause describes the relation between war, sacrifice, and the feminine in gory and grisly detail. He writes of how “Hallucinating dangerous feminine characteristics in one’s enemies” dates to antiquity, and how the “earliest battles were imagined to have been fought against female monsters, often the mother of the hero.” The Aztec mother-goddess Huitzilopochtli, for example, had “‘mouths all over her body’ that cried out to be fed the blood of soldiers.” Indo-European warriors passed through initiatory rituals to attain full status, “in which they dressed up and attacked a monstrous dummy female poisonous serpent, complete with three heads.” Early warriors “often anally raped and castrated their enemies, turning them into symbolic women; from ancient Norse to ancient Egyptian societies, heaps of enemy penises on the battlefield are commonly portrayed.” The opportunity for “wholesale rape” was not only a reward of successful war, but “one of the cardinal objectives” which soldiers fought to enjoy. In short, these old accounts—as well as less publicized incidents all the way up to the present—indicate that war was an expression of rage against the feminine. The idea that “war might be a battle against a dangerous mother,” deMause admits, “is difficult enough to believe. That it in addition includes fantasies that you are hacking your way out of the engulfment of your own birth is infinitely harder to accept.”
It also provides a much-needed context for Strieber’s gruesome cosmological literary contortions. In his “Pain” commentary from 2013, he fervently anticipates the “transfiguration of mankind”—starting with his own. In a transparent piece of wishful writing, by the end of “Pain” the narrator’s marriage has been similarly transfigured. Through an awareness of his mortality, Alex has become “a tower of sexual urgency.” He anticipates fondly the day when Janet (death) will come for him and tear his heart from his chest, like an Aztec priest performing ritual sacrifice on top of a holy pyramid (and like the Processeans back in 1968!). Of course Strieber means it poetically and not literally—or does he? The trouble is that, since Strieber’s fiction overlaps not just peripherally but centrally with his alleged non-fiction, poetic metaphor becomes cold, scientific “fact.” He is not arguing that his abduction in 1985 and his rectal probing are just metaphors. On the contrary, he is insisting they are real. We can only assume that, with “Pain,” he is not talking about metaphorical slaughter and sacrifice as the peak experience of the human soul, but literal acts.
Birth is literally a bloody painful process. Strieber wants to remind us that it can also be ecstatic. With “Pain,” however, he is applying the metaphor of birth to the facts of natural disasters and mass-death events, events which he has predicted throughout his career (from Nature’s End to The Coming Global Superstorm, on which the movie The Day After Tomorrow was based; and also with The Key). “Pain” eulogizes “the harvest of war” and uses a farming metaphor to “magically” transform a horrific geopolitical reality into something wholesome, life-giving, and spiritually uplifting! One thing is clear: Strieber wants to seed a new world. But, like the great mother-bonded warlords of history, he appears to want to use blood in lieu of semen, and at a certain point, his literary metaphors break down and his grand vision of transcendence begins to resemble the recurring nightmare of history.
If Lloyd deMause is right, war isn’t a soul-birthing process but the result of an unhealed birth trauma and the subsequent mother-bondage, an expression of infant rage against the killing mother, and a failed attempt at individuation/birth (i.e., to escape the psychic womb of the mother). If the father is required to fish the child out of the mother’s psyche and set it firmly on the path to individuation and self-awareness, then it is the absence of a strong or “good” father that keeps the child in that infant state and prevents maturation and autonomy. Logically, this would give rise to the need for a surrogate form of individuation, on the one hand through the misuse of the intellect (the pen, as in Strieber’s case—and my own), and on the other, through a mis-appliance of force, through violence (the sword). A surrogate kind of paternal authority is then created in the form of tyrannical governments or Empires, the agencies that make war necessary. Nietzsche considered war an essential part of existence; apparently Strieber’s “angels” do too. DeMause’s model indicates that this is not poetry but pathology, plain and simple.
If birth is the trauma which none of us fully recover from and which informs all traumas that follow it, it can be argued (as deMause does) that our attempts to reenact that original trauma, individually and collectively, and to get free of its psychic imprint, are very much the driving force of history. This need for traumatic reenactments can be found not only behind the crucial fictions of Strieber (or of Nietzsche), but in genocidal agendas fueled by such quasi-spiritual notions as that the birth of a new humanity can only come about through the ritualistic sacrifice of the old. In every case we find the same thing: a collective psyche unable to come to terms with its own trauma—and with its formative experience of powerlessness—trying to undo the wrong done to it by proving its own potency over everyone and everything. Naturally, it all comes back to the mother in the end. The killing mother is projected onto the enemy, as a surrogate receptacle for infant rage. The loving mother is projected onto the Motherland which both warrior and warlord are killing and dying to defend. Failure is inevitable, because the mother’s psyche can’t be escaped by physical means, and individuation can’t ever occur through violence.
On the other hand, in this very failure, in the defeat which equals death, the fallen warrior can achieve his unconscious aim, which is to finally lay down his sword (or his pen) and return (like Strieber’s Alex shot through the heart) to the mother’s embrace, where blissful unconsciousness can be regained.
 At this point, Strieber remembers the name of Budd Hopkins, mentioned in the book, and in this desperate state decides to call him as the only alternative to going “out the window”(p. 40). Strieber recounts how he could not get rid of the memories that were surfacing nor could he bear them. He felt he “owed it to the family that loved and depended on me to try to help myself” (ibid). For Strieber, helping himself entailed going to Budd Hopkins, one of the leading UFO researchers at the time, with whom he found a paradigm within which to fit his experiences.
 Mac Tonnies made this comment about Strieber: “Strieber inhabits a universe of boundless subjectivity built upon a substrate of engaging memes. But his relevance to the disciplined UFO research he champions is increasingly tenuous.” http://posthumanblues.blogspot.ca/2005/07/whitley-strieber-has-written-his-most.html
 “Richard A. Strieber focuses his practice in the areas of Entertainment Law and Education Law. He has represented public sector and private clients since 1985. He has represented clients in the entertainment industry since the 1980’s. Clients have included major authors, musicians, major screen writers and motion picture producers. He has experience in negotiating a wide range of agreements in the entertainment industry, including multi-million-dollar recording and motion picture agreements. He served as a producer on the major motion picture Communion, starring Christopher Walken, and as president of independent blues label Palindrome Records. He has extensive experience in Education Law and has extensive experience in assisting local governments in property tax matters and matters of general governance.” http://www.epc-law.com/Bio/RichardStrieber.html
 Strieber also talks on the audio (as he often does) about having an “open mind.” It occurred to me while listening that, when someone talks about an open mind, they are often talking about the opposite. It usually means not only letting ideas in but taking them to heart, which is to say, turning them into items of belief. Taking ideas to heart allows an external virtual reality (words and images) to be internalized. The phantoms which the dissociated psyche generates in response to unbearable trauma can then be allowed to possess the body. This is the religious impulse in a nutshell, and people who talk about having an open mind are almost always believers of one sort of another (even when they are non-believers, like my father). An open mind is a poor substitute for an open body.
 “The connection of senses in the Latin word seems to be via confusion of Greek metra ‘womb’ (from meter ‘mother;’ see mother (n.1)) and an identical but different Greek word metra meaning ‘register, lot’ (see meter (n.2)). Evidently Latin matrix was used to translate both, though it originally shared meaning with only one.” http://www.etymonline.com
 “One of them, I think it was the one I had identified earlier as the woman, said, ‘What can we do to help you stop screaming?’ This voice was remarkable. It was definitely aural, that is to say, I heard it rather than sensed it. It had a subtly electronic tone to it, the accent flat and startlingly Midwestern. My reply was unexpected. I heard myself say, ‘You could let me smell you.’ I was embarrassed; that is not a normal request, and it bothered me. But it made a great deal of sense, as I have afterward realized” (p. 28).
 Once again, there is a certain similarity of flavor with Process church doctrine: “As long as the self seeks survival within human terms of any kind, it must be destroyed; just as humanity must be destroyed. . . . If a being identifies itself with GOD, and therefore seeks the salvation of GOD in order to ensure its own survival, that is true awareness. That is seeing and knowing the ultimate scope. Self becomes GOD, and GOD becomes self. Thereby self becomes invulnerable and indestructible.” Robert Grimston, “Exit.”