The Demon Was an Idea (Part One)
The demon was an idea; the demon is awake - "Unmarked Helicopters"
In The Politics and Experience of Ritual Abuse (highly recommended, by the way, for those who find the field overrepresented by religious agendas and credulous conspiratainments), British sociologist Sara Scott describes her book as "stories speaking to arguments." Any account that contravenes deep assumptions about the world will have a hard time getting a respectful hearing from someone who can argue that it couldn't possibly be. To such people, even if the impossible were to happen before their eyes, it wouldn't happen behind their eyes - their experience would likely be either mediated by denial or suspended by their presumption of nonsense.
Scott writes that according "truth status" to difficult stories involves "ideas of rigour and clarity and a willingness to be hospitable to facts that could be more comfortably ignored." Assumptions and the arguments that support them are typically closed loops which very comfortably ignore facts - or "anomalies," or "swamp gas" - that fall without them. Scott herself for years adopted the dominant "moral panic" position, until her arguments were overpowered by the verisimilitude of survivors' accounts:
I first remember reading the term "ritual abuse" in newspaper reports...in 1989. Allegations of children being taken to "witch parties" and being given "funny drinks" seemed faintly ridiculous. I was annoyed and faintly dismissive - I "knew" what sexual abuse was, who did it and why; I "knew" it had precious little to do with "devil worship"....
I still have those "black magic" moments when I cringe...and have to remind myself that abuse is no less awful because it has such tacky trappings. Indeed, the idea of surrounding child rape with tawdry occultism may be an additional indignity with which survivors must contend.... When I look back towards the early 1990s, it is almost impossible to grasp how much my life was disrupted by coming to know about ritual abuse, or to really remember the fear, anxiety and confusion that enveloped my world.
It's not so long ago for me, so I can still remember how unwelcome this material was, and how unaccommodating my worldview. Because if this were true, it was going to overthrow everything. And a measure of its truthfulness, unlike that of lifeless argument, is its lifelikeness. Scott writes that "what counts as evidence, validity and representativeness in assessing life narratives has to be conceived in terms of the adequacy and authenticity of descriptions." This is, I believe, what Corydon Hammond meant to express in his suppressed address at a 1992 conference sponsored by The Psychiatric Institute of Washington when he said, "when you have people in different states, including therapists inquiring and asking, 'What is Theta,' and patients say to them, 'Psychic killers,' it tends to make one a believer that certain things are very systematic and very widespread."
Survivor "Kate" told Scott how, when she was 10, she was prostituted in army barracks. ("My father was still in the military at that time. Most of my clients were army, army men, and I actually had regulars at that age.") Survivor "Sophie" spoke of trips to Belgium to participate in different levels of pornographic production. ("...a higher class definitely.... It's just completely different stuff and all the equipment that they've got is much posher as well.") Sophie also described the bifurcation of belief states between the outer appearance of Christian form and the inner world of deep-black occultism:
It's a joke. 'Cos on the woods it's like Dagon and Satan and Baal and Malach [sic] and all this business, and then you've got God is wonderful, God is brilliant! It's like, what is going on? It makes you... I mean that's another reason you block it off, you soon realize it's two lives that actually lead and they are both completely separate to one another.
Speaking life stories to argument is the what the witnesses of the O'Hare Airport UFO now find themselves doing. Sometimes that means talking to oneself. One United employee appeared "emotionally shaken" by the sighting and "experienced some religious issues" over it, reported a co-worker. A day after the November 7 sighting, nearly two months before the story broke nationally, an eyewitness posted on Democratic Underground that "a few of our employees were upset about this sighting, but were not afraid. They just had trouble accepting what they just saw and exactly what it means."
An O'Hare employee provided this description of the event to the National UFO Reporting Center:
I am a taxi mechanic. I have the job responsibility of moving aircraft under there own power from gate to gate or the hangar complex for maintenance. We also accomplish the engine run-up testing needed. So I hope that does something for establishing a little of credibility for my report. I am still in absolute wonder and amazement at what I saw that afternoon.
Around 1630 a pilot made a comment on the radio about a circle or disc shaped object hovering over gate C-17 at the C concourse in Chicago. At first we laughed to each other and then the same pilot said again on the radio that is was about 700feet agl (above ground level). The day was overcast with the ceiling being reported at 1600 feet if I remember correctly. I was taxing a Boeing 777 from the Intl Terminal to the Company Hanger on the North side of the Airport. As we passed the C Terminal on the Alpha taxiway we observed a dark gray hazy round object hovering over O'Hare Intl Airport. Is was definitely over the C Terminal. It was holding very steady and appeared to be trying to stay close to the cloud cover. The radio irrupted with chatter about the object and the ATC controller that was handling ground traffic made a few smart comments about the alleged UFO siting above the C terminal.
We had to continue moving the aircraft to the hangar. After parking I noticed the craft of no longer there but there was an almost perfect circle in the cloud layer were the craft had been. The hole disappeared a few minutes later.
For the rest of the night there were jokes made on the radio about the sighting.
According truth status to an extraordinary account is sometimes difficult for those with their own extraordinary life experience, whose interpretations of the world are, naturally enough, contextualized by their own stories. So survivors of ritual abuse and their caregivers may presume UFOs and "High Weirdness" to have no validity beyond the subset of their screen memories, and UFOlogists may be blind to the occultic aspect of both their subject and of earthly power because they're fixed upon the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the O'Hare story is that it is a story at all. Encounters of unaccountable things generally go unreported, because they fall outside of our empirical categories. Richard Dolan remembers the sighting of an acquaintance and a companion outside Syracuse on a sunny day in 1980. ("Silent, hovering over trees, as large as a football field.") In the sky as well were a light commercial aircraft and a TV station's traffic helicopter that had to have seen it. After two fighter jets buzzed it, it took off "like a bullet" without a sound.
"The kicker of the story is this", writes Dolan:
He was sure that this would be on the TV news that night, and stayed up till 11 pm, specifically to hear the much anticipated report about a massive UFO seen just outside Syracuse. But not only was there no story on any UFO, but it seemed to him as though the talking heads...went out of their way to downplay anything odd at all. The news announcer actually said, "another boring day in Syracuse."
When I was very young, one night my mother got out of bed to use the bathroom and was compelled to glance out the window. She saw something she was never able to explain, but she remained steadfast that what she had seen was something that shouldn't exist. It was a centaur-like creature, with the body of a horse and the head of a man, and it was staring up into the bathroom window. She called excitedly to my father to come and see, but he was too tired to get up, and too inclined to believe there was nothing worth looking at. She watched until it turned away and clomped out of sight.
Another boring day.