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Friday, September 2, 2011

Occam's Razor and Little Green Men




To build the transmitter Andrea needed two lasers and a pair of small diamonds. I imagined she wanted me to fund construction, better yet, take her to Tiffany's.

But no, she did not ask me to fund research. This was a project she was working on slowly. The diamonds she needed were inexpensive, even the smallest industrial diamonds would do.

That evening Andrea told me she had been abducted by aliens, as a child, and taken to a planet near Alpha Centauri somewhere, in a dusty corner of our galaxy. She met the inhabitants, and lived with them for two years. She needed the diamonds to build a device to signal home.

Andrea was really out there. I decided to suspend disbelief, and went along.

She told me details of her life there. The food, the 'people', the beings, the way they moved about on their planet's surface. How we were being studied by them. Ownership, leadership, the kind of society, how many digits did the greys have?

"Three fingers and a thumb."

Aliens have studied us for thousands of years she said.

Andrea spoke like a scientist.

"All natural phenomena are defined by knowledge, and once knowledge becomes a frequency we can dial into the mind of the knower at any time. Just as we live off cycles of moon, sun and earth, something else lives off the modulations within us."

"Like anthropologists studying primates in Africa, there are other species that study us."

They brought her back to Earth. She was ten years old. But according to Andrea her Earth parents denied she was their daughter. She spent a year shuttled about family service agencies, then was adopted by an elder couple from New Jersey. Andrea wondered why they had bothered. Her work here on Earth was finished. She wanted to be picked up by her Alpha Centurion family, and taken home.

They were different from Earthlings, a good bit smaller in stature, more intelligent, less emotional. Andrea's people were green. They lived on a planet which she called X. The 'people' on a neighboring planet, which she called Y, were grey. Andrea said that the aliens that visited New Mexico so many times in the past were grey.

The greens had emotions, but their emotionality was a multidimensional event and difficult to describe to an earthling. The greys were plain nasty, according to Andrea - they frightened her.

"They don't have feelings in the manner of most people."

I had responded to Andrea's ad for an artist's model. She laid naked as an extra-terrestrial on a bed of white paper while I made drawings of her in dark ink. She was simply built, and possessed a head of brilliant dyed blond hair. Andrea is in her late twenties. She has Oriental features, and from a distance resembles Deborah Harry.

I wondered to myself, could Andrea's story be a fiction, unconsciously invented to assuage the pain of loneliness while growing up? An Asian girl adopted into a Caucasian New Jersey family might have issues, particularly if the adopted parents were particularly insensitive.

I asked her about the first time she had seen these people. She had been awakened at night, and carried onto the alien ship. "Huge," she said, "but it never really landed. It just hovered." There were some things she couldn't remember. I was fascinated by the rich detail of Andrea's descriptions. I could probe in any direction, and she would answer, in depth.

What about the transmitter?

"The laser pulses light simultaneously through two diamonds, and the signal is divided. It goes everywhere in the universe, and they have the means to pick it up."

I asked her about the electronic circuitry that modulated the laser pulses. One was a constant frequency, she even told me how many hertz the carrier signal was. The other beam was modulated by her own body, by passing some of the alternating current from one hand to the other, through her heart and chest. A very small current, it nevertheless picked up her body rhythms and altered the output enough for her friends abroad to recognize the signal from her.

It was a lovely concept. Two forlorn tiny diamonds pulsing out the message of her heart.

Andrea's incessant talking about subjects alien would have been off putting to most people so I took it as a challenge, to understand what she really meant. Was this a myth disguising a much larger truth, about her life? Or, could it even be true?

"Human beings must be limited in their perceptions of the universe. After all, if we weren't limited, we would be as Gods, and to not be even slightly limited, we would need a godly perspective. We'd know all things, all places.

Andrea had this way of talking.

"We also know that our perception of reality changes constantly, therefor if it is indeed forever changing, any particular model of reality is necessarily false or incomplete.

"William of Ockham stated that the most plausible of any argument was the one requiring the fewest assumptions."

From the lips of this lonely soul poured forth a scientific vision that was lovely, total, without hostility and rancor. She seemed isolated by her beliefs, and took comfort in my willingness to listen, and hear what she had to say.

Yet from my perspective this was a beautiful vision, created by someone so alienated, that life had turned into an wait for release from earthly bonds.

The limits to Andrea's desires were to be found in two straight beams of light, two lasers, and two diamonds. Diamonds were her mythic crystals, ingredients linking her to an inner freedom, by sending a message to the self.

I took her out for a late coffee. We ate a desert and took out one of the chessboards at the little Brooklyn cafe and started a game. I'm pleased to say she beat me rapidly twice before losing interest.

We wandered back towards my place, and on the way passed Greenwood Cemetery. It was a fairly bright night, the moon was out, and so were the stars. Streetlights shined mysteriously into the dark reserve of graves.

On an impulse, we climbed over the fence and were inside in a split second. We wandered about the lanky shadows of limestone monuments and mossy sculptures of shady death. She took my hand, and I thought, 'How is a girl who has more friends in a distant galaxy than she does here on Earth, so easily able to reach out and grab a near stranger's hand, at night, in a cemetery?'

Where does she find this trust? Her life story seemed a journal of mistrust transformed into unconscious dreaming, and myth.

We sat at the foot of an old New York family monument for an hour, as deep night fell over the city.

She talked about her obsessions, as I listened with rapt attention, and tried to understand her mythology, and come to an understanding of how it had arisen. Myths, in the absence of facts, serve as accepted truths. 

She entertained me for two hours with her command of the mathematics of light and lasers, and I must say she had a very good grasp of the same physics that I had studied in school. Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg, she knew it all by heart.. But in the same breath her little green men were in the grass next to us, sharing reminiscences as she talked, since they never were far from her mind.

Andrea's words 'tied-in' to accepted knowledge. She deconstructed the Arab oil embargo, the Bush invasion of Iraq and Vietnam war in terms of alien manipulation. I tried finding a weak spot where reason could insert a wedge. But though I had inclination to disbelieve her, I lacked the experience to disprove a thing she said. I kept my skepticism under wraps, and the effect was one of acting, I became a believer by method, since she offered nothing in way of proof.

I thought, with her hair and lovely Asian complexion she would look so beautiful in green. With green skin.

Where did we come up with this term 'little green men'? Here was someone who was saying that little green men actually existed. She knew them by name. She told me of her X father and mother. She described the ruler over there on her alien planet X. He was a tyrant, but the people there were in the process of revolting. How did she know? She had many ways of getting news from X, reading words on the margins of newspapers, and picking up discarded tickets at the racetrack.

The most profound delusions must have details to become real.

And now I was sitting on the cold slab of an Earthling's tomb, in a dark cemetery, on Earth, listening to another Homo sapiens talk about people in faraway galaxies.

It became a story. My bedtime story. I was captivated. Andrea had childhood alien friends.

She did her best to describe them to me. So I abandoned my critical adult self, normally anxious to divide fact from fiction. I relaxed, became a child, her child, and let her woo me with waves of memory. She almost lulled me to sleep. I believed everything. She won me over. She told me of a revolution brewing on planet X. She spoke about the economy there, and what was driving the Y's intergalactic exploration and colonization.

I wish I had been taking notes. She had names for the places they came from and the places she had visited. But I was too busy feeling the essence of her mind, to be bothered with spellings.

We laid back in the grass and looked up at the stars.

No longer was the Milky Way a bright disk of depopulated stars. It held creatures, all sizes and shapes, with names, and rulers, and economies with crises on their planets just as on Earth.

She spoke of captains running transport past Earth, and how gold was used in their space ships, and how they left lists and agendas for earth's leaders of tasks they wanted done by the time they got back.

I wanted to kiss her simply to put an end to her rattling on about transmitters and hitching a ride across the galaxy. I wanted to do anything to stop her anxiety, and enjoy the present. The here. The now. The night.

The cool grass with dark shadows all around us.


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