Through a Fractured Glass, Darkly (Part One): The Facts in the Strange Case of Whitley Strieber

Through a Fractured Glass, Darkly (Part One): The Facts in the Strange Case of Whitley Strieber
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Part One: Will the Real Whitley Strieber Please Stand Up?

(Read Part Two here).

are we to make of the strange case of Whitley Strieber? Already well-known for
his horror fiction (Wolfen, The Hunger,
both made into Hollywood movies), Strieber underwent some
extremely unusual personal experiences back in 1985 and wrote a book called Communion, after which his name
became more or less synonymous with alien abduction. Yet Strieber is far more
than just a man who claims that aliens did some highly strange things to him.
Looking at his work so far, from Communion to The
Communion Enigma: What Is To Come
I have not yet read), a picture
emerges of Strieber as the John the Baptist of the alien paradigm — the “chosen
one” of a race of preterhuman, apparently ancient, unimaginably advanced
beings. Crying in the wilderness of 21st century civilization, mocked and
derided by orthodoxy (in this case science rather than religion), he is
nonetheless regarded with awe and fascination by a large number of devoted
followers, all eager to partake of his strange baptism. (Between his website
and his radio show “Dreamland,” Strieber’s followers apparently number in the
hundreds of thousands.)

While many have dismissed Strieber as a
liar, out for a fast buck (Communion was
a best-seller), others, more charitable, merely suggest that he is deluded or
insane. In Communion, Strieber himself claims he was willing, even
eager, to believe his experiences were the result of a brain tumor or some
undiscovered form of mental aberration, but eventually he had to accept that
what appeared to be happening really was happening. Even back in 1986, Strieber
was not alone in his claims of alien abduction. Whether collective
hallucination, hard cold fact, or something that is neither one nor the other,
reports of the phenomena became widespread throughout the ’80s and ’90s
(especially in the US), to the
extent that a Harvard professor, John Mack, even wrote two books about it. Mack
(who died in a hit and run accident in 2004) almost lost his chair at Harvard
as a result of his research, however, and orthodox science continues to regard
the subject as beneath contempt, unworthy even of the time it would take to
contest it.

Strieber started out as a writer of
horror novels, a somewhat dubious pedigree that made it considerably easier for
his debunkers to dismiss him. Strieber, they said, was a spinner of yarns,
pulling the oldest trick in the book and boosting his flagging sales by presenting
his latest yarn as fact. Yet comparing Strieber’s
horror fiction to Communion and
its sequel, Transformation,
one can’t help but be struck by the difference. Strieber’s horror novels are
passable pulp, while his supposedly true accounts are powerfully disturbing;
reading them, there can be little doubt Strieber is sincere in his belief that
these events actually occurred. No less discerning an intelligence than the author
William Burroughs — who was curious enough to pay a personal visit to Strieber in
1989 — spoke out in Strieber’s support. “I am convinced that he’s telling the
truth,” Burroughs said after his visit, “no doubt about it.”[1]

To dismiss Strieber as insane doesn’t
work, either, because there were plenty of other witnesses to testify to the
strange goings-on around his New
York cabin during the period in
which he underwent his experiences. (Ed Conroy even wrote a whole book on his
investigations, called The
Communion Report
.) So if Strieber is neither insane nor lying, if what he
says happened actually happened, the question to ask is: how accurate are his
accounts, and why, exactly, did these beings choose a well-known author of horror fiction to introduce their presence to

Alien Daze

this: earth has given birth to something we call the human mind. But the
visitors view it as a precious resource of innovation and, ultimately, of
ecstasy. They are indifferent to power, but willing to use dark appearances to
give lessons.” –Strieber,
“Summer of Promise, Summer of Danger,” July 12th, 2003.

Rather than trying to sum up Strieber’s
experiences, and his interpretation of them, I will let his words speak for

“The close
encounters I had between 1985 and 1994 were scary, but only because they were
so unusual. The people — or beings — I met were complex and, in the end, gentle.
They had a wonderful, subtle sense of humor. There were many personalities
involved, obviously many different individuals. My life with them was
spiritually and intellectually rewarding. They responded with deep
understanding to the path I was on, and worked with me as true masters work with a student on the journey
toward higher consciousness.. . .[i]
This was an extremely subtle,
paradoxical and complicated experience. I encountered many different levels of
being, some of them openly terrible, others more neutral, others sublime. I
have no way of knowing if they were all the same or different creatures
entirely. . . . The message of my contact experience is, therefore, clear: face
the fear and you will get rewarded by breaking down natural barriers to
perception that impede you from interacting completely with the world in which
you live.[ii]

Having lived with the visitors for many years,
Strieber describes the beings as emanating from

“a world that reaches across space and
time, that penetrates not only this universe and its secrets, but many others
as well, that is ancient beyond belief and, in a way that I can hardly even
begin to explain, impeccable. I’m not saying that they’re pleasant. They’re as
tough as nails, as mean as snakes and as dangerous as plutonium. . . . You
cannot be with them without also being with your own truth. Then you see what
you really are, a little fragment in a vastness so great, so various and so
shockingly, unimaginably conscious that it completely swallows you.”[iii]

This more or less sums up Strieber’s
“objective” (mostly impartial) view of his alleged experiences with the beings:
there is a dark side to them, but one that seems to provide context, or “shading,”
for a far larger experience which includes positive and negative aspects. Overall, Strieber
seems to believe that the effects of his “close encounters” have been
beneficent to him. And although unsure how many different beings — or kinds of
beings — he has interacted with over the years, he is sure about one of them:

“The woman whose portrait is on the cover
of Communion . . . was without a doubt the greatest
master I have ever known. Her being projected devastatingly powerful knowledge. . . . She
has been with me for longer than life itself. I am one of her many projects. In
the world of the soul, she’s rich, on a big journey in the direction of
ecstasy, and seeking to travel there the only way you can, in a great chorus of
free souls.”[iv]

The Dark Side

as a species, we have no escape from this. . . . In fact, no amount of struggle
is going to dislodge them. For whatever reason, I think we have been left to
the exploiters and the scum. Who knows? Maybe the good guys gave up or lost a
war. Maybe those of us who got good treatment were simply being deceived.” –Strieber,
“Shedding Light on the Dark Side, Part Two,” December 7th, 2003.

In more recent years, however, Strieber became
increasingly preoccupied with what he has referred to as “the dark side” of the
alien experience. This preoccupation has colored his writings to a disturbing
degree, and at times his morbid fascination with the darker undercurrents of
spiritual experience seems to border on obsession. Strieber hinted at this dark
side from the very beginning (his original title for Communion was “Body Terror”); but his general
take on it was that, whatever darkness or negativity he encountered, it was
sourced in his own fears of the unknown. Over time, however, he began to
present a more traditional picture of evil, and consequently (perhaps
unconsciously), to return to his roots as a horror writer. “Some of them are
not like the woman I met and her staff. Some of them qualify as what we would
call monsters, in every sense of that word . . What is
happening now is absolutely terrifying, so much so that I have kept it to
myself in hopes that I was wrong, or that it would change.”[v]

Two years later, in 2003, he had this to say:

“I’m a realist and what is now real is
that the only thing that appears to be left of the contact experience is the
dark side. So that’s what we have to face now. … In any case, the experience I
had and what happens now seem to me to be very different things, almost as if
somebody good has left and somebody surpassingly evil has remained here. . . .
There are beings here who are hostile to one another, and some who hate us with
a passion so great that it would be considered psychotic if it was displayed by
a human being. There are some in a very complex and parasitical relationship
with our minds, and some of these seem to me to be close enough to the human to
suggest that they are hybrids of some kind. . . . I believe that this presence
is what keeps us trapped here on earth, what prevents mankind from becoming a
cosmic being, and what has been maneuvering us toward the earliest possible
extinction. . . . something so profoundly evil that it is almost beyond

Apparently not beyond the imagination of
a writer of horror fiction, however, as Strieber’s recent novel, 2012, provided perhaps the most
chillingly convincing depiction of spiritual evil in the annals of occult
literature. So did the shift from the positive to negative aspects of “alien
contact” occur in some actual, objective realm — or only in Strieber’s experience of it?

A Writer Divided

are part of a symbiotic relationship with something which disguises itself as
an extra-terrestrial invasion so as not to alarm us.” –Terence

In The Lucid View, I described the many
pitfalls of translating experiences of Imaginal realities
into actual, nuts-and-bolts events and phenomena. The process of transferring
“data” from Imaginal to actual reality is how the elements
of the collective unconscious become conscious, and thereby assume the
semblance of concrete fact. This occurs via individual experiences that
gradually amass and find a foothold in the consensus. Ufos — and
most especially alien abduction — are perhaps the most profound illustration of
this process, and of the dangers inherent within it.

The nature of Imaginal reality is fluid, subjective,
ever-changing. It shifts to suit the needs of the moment, and of the
percipient. The nature of actual reality is fixed, unchanging, objective, a
take-it-or-leave-it, like-it-or-lump-it affair. While actual reality is always
a question of either/or, Imaginal truths
are quite happy to remain in the twilight realm of both/and. In Transformation, when Strieber’s
young son has his own visitor experiences, Strieber asks him if he thinks the
beings are real. His son replies, “They can be.” Just as religious and
political organizations grow increasingly tyrannical, soulless and mechanical
the more established they become, so it is with Imaginal realities. Alien “grays” are
considerably less protean or magical beings than were the faeries of previous
lore. It is as if the same “beings” (aspects of the collective unconscious) are
slowly reduced to an almost physical, literal presence that can be understood,
encapsulated, and restricted by the human mind, and in tandem with its
increasing reliance upon the faculty of reason.

Whether the Imaginal “beings” resent being limited and
literalized in this fashion, and become faintly malevolent as a response, or
whether (as seems more reasonable) they lack qualities of benevolence or
malevolence to begin with and merely reflect back at us our own psychological
tendencies, the fact remains that alien and Ufo phenomena
has always had a sinister edge to it. I believe that this dark edge comes less
from the phenomenon itself than from a distortion
that results from being filtered through the minds of individual
researchers and experiencers. Faery lore was also dark, but dark in a primal,
sorcerous fashion. Ufo lore, on
the other hand, tends to be heavy, oppressive, and laced with despair. There is
a soulless — I might even say sickly — quality to it that results when writers and
researchers suck all the magical essence out of the Imaginal by imposing their own rigid (and
neurotic) personalities onto it. This usually happens without their even being
aware of doing so: it is an unconscious distortion, and it is unconsciousness
that distorts.

The best Ufo commentators — Jung, John Keel, Jacques Vallee,
Robert Anton Wilson, Terence McKenna, Kenneth Grant — have been aware of this
pitfall, and have managed mostly to avoid it. Freely acknowledging the unfixed,
mythical nature of the Ufo beast,
they have treated it accordingly, allowing it to remain an essentially unknown,
possibly even an unknowable, quality. Yet as a general rule (McKenna and Grant
being partial exceptions), these writers have not been recounting their own
personal experiences but simply interpreting data provided by others; hence
they have had the luxury of distance.

Strieber has had no such luxury. He has
not only had direct experience of alien abduction, he has been transformed and
to a large extent “created” by it; as such, his position as a “researcher” is
severely compromised. He is closer to St.
Paul, struck blind by a divine presence and instantly converted to its
frequency. Strieber talks a lot about objectivity, but for all his insight and
intelligence, he is clearly a man on a mission (a fact he freely admits). His
mission as ambassador to otherworldly beings is to help humanity prepare for
contact. As such, he is obliged to present these beings as actual, concrete,
literal fact, with nothing airy-fairy, pie-in-the-sky, subjective or Imaginal about them. That such a view is at
odds with the nature of the contact experience is testified by the glaring
inconsistencies of his descriptions, and his own almost constant see-sawing as
to whether the beings are benevolent or not.

At times, Strieber seems like a man
caught in a mental conundrum, trying to talk his way out of it and rarely, if ever,
willing to admit that he doesn’t know what
is going on. Strieber presents so many different points of view, at varying
times on his website and in his books, that it is almost as if there is more
than one of him. Perhaps, in a peculiar way, this is indeed the case?

A Tidal Wave of Novelty & Strangeness

you see how complex this is? Are you following the forked moral path I am
treading along? How can an ‘angel’ rape and kill? Of course, they must be
demons. I’ve got it all wrong!” –Strieber,
“Shedding Light on the Dark Side, Part Two,” December 7th, 2003.

Although Strieber’s attempts to define the
beings he has encountered are constantly shifting, even contradictory, this in
no way invalidates his experiences; on the contrary, such uncertainty only
confirms that, whatever he has undergone, it is beyond his ability — and maybe beyond anybody’s — to categorize
it. Strieber often seems to be oblivious to how his theories conflict, and even
cancel each other out. Yet paradoxically, that lack of consistency might be seen
as evidence for the veracity of his accounts, because if Strieber were undergoing initiation into an alien
paradigm, we would expect it to confound all expectations.

In Strieber’s first book, the famous
cover image is of a yellow or tan-skinned being and Strieber never once
describes the beings he encounters as gray. Yet he has been repeatedly referred
to as a “gray” abductee and has never corrected this designation. In 2006, he
wrote a novel called The Grays (a somewhat clumsy work with some
remarkable ideas in it), thereby cementing his association with them. But if
the beings he described in Communion are synonymous with the infamous
“grays,” then why the incongruity of skin color? It seems an odd discrepancy
never to have even referred to.

More strikingly, in his 2001 book The Key, Strieber
refers to the beings who visited him in 1985 as “demons.” Yet, in Transformation and elsewhere, he writes of being in
the presence of angels. Strieber’s explanation for this (in Majestic) is that the beings
are empaths,
reflecting back at us whatever we have inside of ourselves.[2]
So then why designate them either way? In The
, Strieber describes the aliens as a dying race with atrophied DNA, using
humans to regenerate their species. At other times, he describes the visitors
as nonphysical beings,
“midwifing” humanity into a new existence beyond the realm of the flesh. Back
and forth he goes, rarely if ever attempting to explain — or even acknowledge — this
polarity of opinion.

It may be deliberate. Strieber may be
leaving it for us to join the dots and crack the riddle without his help; in
which case, he knows exactly what he is doing. Yet I can’t help but suspect
that, in his profound ambivalence, even confusion, Strieber is torn at a deep
level. Strieber’s accounts of the beings in Communion and Transformation are not only terrifying; they are
delightful and enchanting, full of twinkling humor, mischief, and love. They
are the rarest kinds of works: fairy tales for adults. How could the author
reach the conclusion he was writing about demons?

To give an example of Strieber’s
inconsistency that may seem minor but which I think is telling: in Transformation, he describes
how, after the publication of Communion, a bookseller he knew, Bruce
Lee, encountered two apparently alien beings, clumsily disguised in human
clothing, who came into his bookstore. The beings picked up a copy of
Strieber’s book, made a comment
about how Strieber had got some things wrong, gave Lee a fierce stare, and
left. As he recounted it in Transformation,
Strieber was enormously impressed by this event, which he considered tantamount
to proof of the visitors’ physical existence. He expressed admiration for their
sense of humor, and he they had let him know — via a playful piece of
theater — that his interpretation of the events was flawed, but that at least he
had got some of it right. Many years later, at his website in 2004, he
expressed a very different point of view: “as you may remember, two of the
grays showed up in a bookstore with Wm. Morrow & Co. editor Bruce Lee and
let him know that Communion was a load of mistakes. Naturally,
they were lying. It is not a load of mistakes. It is accurate, and people
sensed that, which is why they responded to it.”[vii]

Strieber’s remark is lacking in humility,
but it’s also inaccurate, according to his earlier account at least — in which
the beings didn’t call the book “a load of mistakes” but merely pointed out
that it contained mistakes. The writer seems defensive
and unsure of himself, and to have no qualms about calling his alien
benefactors liars. To add insult to injury, he dismisses the beings as “grays,”
even though one of them — or so Strieber believed at the time — was the same woman
he referred to (later) as “the greatest master I have ever known.” Such
contradictions in Strieber’s writings are legion, but perhaps most glaring of
all are his occasional lapses into political conservatism, such as when he
expressed support for the Iraq war in 2003[viii],
or, even more bizarrely, when he defended President Bush after 9/11 and
declared himself a patriot. In the post (“Conspiracy Theories:
Should We Listen Now?” October 13th, 2001), Strieber indignantly dismisses any
suggestion the Bush administration had prior knowledge of the attacks on the
twin towers (or a hand in them) as a “crazy imaginary conspiracy theory . . .
bizarre and impossible [to suggest] our current president is evil on a Hitlerian scale.” In the same post, without
mentioning David Icke, he derides a belief in Reptilian beings disguised as
world leaders as belonging to the same class of “crazy ideas.”

Coming from someone who has railed so furiously
against the arrogance, ignorance, derision and dismissal which his own
experiences have met with, this seems an odd position to take. It became even
more peculiar when, without making any overt retractions, Strieber performed a
complete turnaround in the following years. Just six months after defending the Iraq war,
Strieber described the US government as “in effect, the tool of
an occupying power that seeks to sterilize this planet of humanity.”[ix] In late 2005, he admitted how, over
the years, he “began to see government as a machine for the killing of souls.”[x] In “Was 911 a Hoax?” (February 2nd 2006), Strieber finally came clean and
admitted that his dismissal of 9/11 conspiracy theories as “nonsense” had been
premature, and speculated how “I might live in a country run by a bunch of mass
murderers.” Admittedly, this is an example of Strieber admitting his error and
so smoothing out the contradictions in his perception over time. But how many
other contradictions or errors in judgment, perhaps equally obvious to everyone
but himself, has he failed to notice?

That Strieber ever supported the Bush
administration and the Iraq war at all is itself evidence of a drastic split in
his worldview. While on the one hand, he appears to be blessed with a rare
ability to see past the façade of consensus reality and into the abyss beyond, on
the other, he continues to “vote Republican”? To me this suggests that a great
deal of Strieber’s knowledge, insight, and apparent wisdom is largely
theoretical, and that, for all his eloquent explorations into Imaginal realms,
he is still (at times at least) shackled to a distressingly mundane
perspective. Not that this is unusual, and it is perhaps even the rule for
visionary writers and spokespeople. Having profound insights into the hidden
nature of existence doesn’t alter the fundamentals of the personality, nor does
it automatically erase decades of social conditioning. But in Strieber’s case,
the gulf in his psyche seems to be unusually wide. By his own admission, he is
a very ordinary guy (he called himself a “doofus” on one of his audios) who has
undergone a run of truly extraordinary experiences. The struggle to integrate
those experiences without losing his sense of equilibrium (and of identity) in
the process must be immense. One likely result of that struggle might be that
Strieber has clung especially tightly to his old views, as a means to keep
himself from being swept away on a tidal wave of novelty and strangeness.

2012 & the Need for Secrecy

all of this, there is only one thing that we do, and that is that we deny
contact. It is not the visitors who hold back, it is us who make the process
impossible.” –Strieber,
“Christmas Joy: Mankind is Awakening,” December 14th, 2001.

By the time of 2012 (released in 2007), the author seemed
to have stolen a page out of David Icke’s books
and begun writing about Reptilians disguised
as movie stars and leading public figures. 2012 was a dark, intensely disturbing work
that depicted evil as real, terrifying, and blackly understandable. Strieber’s
forecast for the coming apocalypse — the “war of souls” — seemed designed to
reestablish him as a leading spokesperson for the eschaton:
John the Baptist of the Alien Presence. But by now, Strieber’s descriptions of
the aliens (which he called Seraph) were almost entirely negative. There were
no angels to speak of, and — what was even more worrying — no fairies, imps,
goblins, sprites, or trickster spirits. For the most part, the book was
unrelentingly dark (possibly appropriate for the subject matter, and
considering the times), and the spirit of play was almost entirely absent.

If Strieber continues to be unable to
decide whether his nocturnal visitors are angels or demons, it’s hardly
surprising if he feels profoundly ambivalent about his task as bellwether for
the alien paradigm. In his early books, he suggested that, since the beings
appeared to emerge from a nonphysical realm, their reality, for us, might
depend on our belief in them.
In 2012, Strieber stated this
unequivocally: the “aliens” can only enter our realm once they have assumed
sufficient “solidity” via our collective belief, and to emerge from the dark
well of the collective psyche, they require a foothold in our conscious minds. Strieber even stated
that the government cover-up (which he once railed so bitterly against) was a
means to protect the world from that emergence. The day
public awareness of the alien presence reaches consensus, then, alien
“invasion” will not be far behind. Yet for years Strieber has been denouncing
the secrecy and denial shrouding the visitors as the great evil of our times.
Although he has admitted that their undisclosed presence among us would be
catastrophic, he has mostly argued for full disclosure. At times he has even
suggested that awareness of the beings is the only thing that will protect us from them.

“If the people
who know the truth told the
truth, we would, at a stroke, be free. I have written before in these columns
about what they fear — that official disclosure would lead to profoundly
unpredictable and unexpected consequences, even to a change in the nature of
our world. The truth is, if they
had the courage to make the official admissions that would lead the average man
to know for certain that there was a presence here, that presence would become
unable to do its will in our world.”[xi]

which is it? Both, or neither? Perhaps his most persuasive theory is that of a complicity of secrecy and denial between humanity
and the visitors, based on a mutual desire to avoid an overly traumatic
encounter. Strieber has suggested, astutely, that most humans would be utterly
overwhelmed by religious awe in the presence of something as utterly
incomprehensible as alien beings.

“That’s the problem that the visitors are
having here. If they intervene openly, our culture totally refocuses itself
toward them and all human innovation stops. We end up locked in a state of
profound disempowerment that will take many generations to recover, and that
will leave a permanent scar. The visitors cannot reveal themselves to us. We
must reveal ourselves to them.”[xii]

Yet in 2012,
Strieber presented the invasion as a satanic emergence and nothing short of global
apocalypse. There was little if any mention of a positive or divine alien
presence. Had Strieber’s allegiances shifted to the dark side also? Why was he
so busy writing books to persuade people these beings were real if he firmly believed they
were evil and that our belief in them would only empower them? To his credit,
Strieber raised the question himself, indirectly, by including a thinly
disguised self-portrait in the novel — Wiley Dale, a horror writer who has
written about his own real-life alien encounters — and then revealing him as a
Reptilian in disguise! Having thrown the reader for this tangential loop, he
then revealed that Wiley was one of the “good” Seraph (Reptilians). With almost
sinister cunning, Strieber toyed with his readers’ fears and doubts and created
a shifting, kaleidoscopic meta-fiction of parallel universes in which life
imitates art and fiction bleeds into fact, a world where nothing is quite real
and reality is like nothing we had ever imagined before. Yet if, as a writer,
Strieber is comfortable enough with his own ambivalence to play mind games with
his readers, one can only suspect that he is wrestling with far deeper doubts
at a personal level. Who can blame him? If he were not, we would be forced to
doubt either his sanity or his authenticity.

2012 was an intensely personal work that
revealed a depth of psychological self-exploration extremely rare in genre
fiction. It revealed so much about its author, in fact, that it took the reader
beyond mere darkness into chthonic realms of madness worthy of Edgar Allan Poe.
Were it not so lucidly composed and so finely balanced a work, one might
suspect it was the creation of a madman (albeit an inspired one). Was Whitley’s sanity hanging in the
balance? Based on the kind of experiences he has had, and the kind of knowledge
with which he lives on a daily basis, it would probably be stranger and more
worrying if his sanity were not in question. Which raises the peculiar possibility
that Strieber’s weakness may be that he is not insane enough. There can be little
doubt that the burden of knowledge (and foreknowledge) weighs heavily on
Strieber’s spirit, and that it may be threatening to crush the “play” out of
him. Through it all, he has remained stubbornly lucid and reasonable, a
writer’s prerogative perhaps, but not necessary an advantage when navigating
the sorcery kingdoms. In such realms, the stronger and more durable the
intellect, the likelier it is to bring about the traveler’s eventual downfall.

The Pinchbeck Debate

species is in the process of making a deeply spiritual decision about whether
to enter the cosmos or go extinct.” –Strieber,
“Communion 20 Years On,” 26th December,

In 2007, Strieber got into a heated debate
with the writer Daniel Pinchbeck (2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl),
whom Strieber invited onto his radio show “Dreamland.” The argument centered around Strieber’s
conviction that humanity was about to undergo a massive “dieback” as a result
of its aberrational activities on the planet, and Pinchbeck’s assertion that
Strieber was projecting a negative scenario because of his own personal hang-ups.
Pinchbeck then suggested that Strieber was unwittingly being controlled by
alien beings “that do not have the best interests of the human species at
heart.” Reporting on the event later, Pinchbeck commented: “On a subliminal or
subconscious level, Strieber appears to have made a Faustian pact with these
Mephistophelean entities, and unfortunately he is helping disseminate their
negative and destructive frequency into human culture and consciousness, at
this point in time.”[xiii]

Although Pinchbeck mostly kept his cool
(and had the dignity to apologize), Strieber became indignant and professed to
have been wounded in his “very being” by Pinchbeck’s attack.[3]
It struck me at the time that, after two decades of being heckled by doubters
and mocked and reviled by the mainstream media, Strieber should remain so
deeply vulnerable to criticism. Pinchbeck’s perspective was easy to understand,
and was probably one that was shared by plenty of people who took Strieber’s
claims seriously enough to be disturbed by them. Strieber has admitted to
having been implanted by the beings, and has eulogized over some of the “siddhis” which he has
developed as a result of the implant — powers that include interdimensional travel, time travel, and reading
people’s minds. If such accounts are even half true, Strieber’s capacities
verge on the Ubermenschian.
Yet his public persona, as evidenced by his radio show and many of his
interviews, is at times rather unsettling, for me at least.[xiv]
I had been reading Strieber’s books for many years before I heard him on
“Dreamland”; if I’d heard one of his shows before discovering his work, it’s
quite likely I wouldn’t have bothered to look at it. Strieber often comes
across as emotional, brash, facile, and even somewhat embittered, qualities
that belie the depth and perspicacity of his writing (as did his rather
hysterical behavior with Pinchbeck). So evidently, there is far more to
Strieber than meets the eye — or the ear.

Whether Strieber is being controlled,
and whether the forces controlling him are benign, is, as already touched upon,
a question that need concern Strieber far more than the rest of us, and one
which is finally beyond the scope of this piece. It also makes no difference to
the quality of his writings, which can be judged on their own merit and
meaning. What seems to be to be both more relevant and easier to determine,
however, is Strieber’s own character and integrity. This relates to the
question of how fully he embodies his teachings, and therefore how much we, as
readers, should value them. If Strieber doesn’t walk his talk, we should
naturally be less inclined to put stock in what he says. Astral Ubermensch or
not, if Strieber lacks the equanimity to deal gracefully with attacks like
Pinchbeck’s, it suggests that alien initiation and a vast storehouse of
esoteric knowledge have given him little by way of inner peace or detachment.
On the contrary, they seem to have unbalanced him to a disturbing degree. At
base of this, I think, is the degree to which Strieber has assumed personal responsibility for communicating what he believes to
be information of vital importance to the evolution, even the survival, of the
race. Such a personal stake in being “the one” who delivers this vital
information may be both the cause and the effect of a psychological imbalance
in Strieber, and imbalance which, if we are to be fair to Strieber himself,
must throw into question everything he has had to say until now.

In short, how reliable is a witness who
is clearly strongly invested in making us believe his version of events?

Whitley & Mind Control

have really and truly been outside of mankind, insofar as I have treated with [sic]
nonhuman intelligent beings. I have seen what they are, and therefore now see
my own kind to a degree as an outsider.” –Whitley
Strieber, “Communion 20 Years On,” 26th December, 2005

Somewhere around 2003, Strieber introduced an
astonishing new element into his personal saga, one that both deepened and
darkened the waters while at the same time offering a profound clue to understanding
them — and perhaps even the key to the mystery. The revelation centered on
Strieber’s buried memories of having suffered traumatic abuse as a child at the
hands of the US government. Strieber reported at his
journal: “I strongly suspect that the United States has for years been
experimenting on children, among other things subjecting them to extreme trauma
in order to split their personalities and create secondary personalities who
can be accessed by controllers and used as agents, but without knowledge of the
first personality.”[xv]

A few months later, he added more

“Recently, the Central Intelligence Agency
released another 18,000 declassified documents about its mind control
experiments, which included an attempt to induce multiple personalities in two
19 year old girls. Before the 1973 Congressional investigation that led to the
disclosure of the CIA’s notorious MK-ULTRA mind control project, [CIA director]
Richard Helms destroyed thousands of documents. My belief is that what he
destroyed was documentary evidence of such experiments being performed on much
younger children.”[xvi]

There is a great deal of evidence that such
experiments occurred (and may be still occurring), and Strieber’s claim to have
been part of them, to have suffered abuse expressly intended to create
sub-personalities through trauma, opens a whole new can of worms regarding his
other experiences. According to Strieber, the “visitors” were actively involved
in his life from an early age, and selected him at least partially as a result
of the ritualized and systematized abuse he suffered as a child. “They took
advantage of a devastating intelligence program that was leaving some children
emotionally maimed, but was also opening the minds of others to new

What I wish to suggest is that, as a
result of this early trauma (to say nothing of possible later traumas at the
hands of nonhuman
agencies), Strieber may have experienced a splintering of his psyche that to
this day has not fully healed. Without doing him the disservice of premature
psychiatric labeling, it may be that he is not fully cognizant of the multiple
portions of his psyche, and that, through the act of writing, he is attempting
to bring those fragments into harmony. This would explain the many contradictions,
the endlessly see-sawing points of view, the abrupt shifts from guru-like
wisdom to childish and petulant ego assertions, and so forth. If Strieber is seen to be literally divided, his writings become a
painfully honest, both inspirational and infuriating description of the attempt
to come to grips with the broken shards of his psyche as he struggles to put “Whitley”
back together again. As accounts of the slow and agonizing process of
individuation by which we seek to arrive at the totality of ourselves, his
writings may be some of the most profound on offer in twenty-first century
literature, even if not quite in the way in which Strieber intended.

Is “Whitley Strieber” — the writer-merely
the dominant personality that has taken charge of a multitude of selves, at
least one of which is an alien being (“the greatest master I have ever known”)?
If so, it may be through the act of writing that Strieber manages to maintain a
semblance of order, integrity and coherence. It may also be that his dominant
ego-self is only partially privy to the wisdom and insights of those “alien”
selves that are considerably more enlightened than he is. The dominant position
of his everyday ego, then (always an extremely precarious thing), would depend
on a sense of consistency and continuity which writing, above all, could provide
him with. The price of that literarily imposed order, however, would be that
Strieber remained fragmented. So for all the knowledge, wisdom, and spiritual
insight which his writing contains, Strieber may be the very last person to
benefit from it.

The Gray Agenda and Whitley’s Mission

doubt, I won’t be believed, and that’s all right, because, in a sense, it
leaves me free in ways that belief would not.” –Whitley
Strieber, “New Thoughts,” 10th Sept

Strieber’s contention is that a small number
of the children who were subjected to government mind control and abuse were
selected by the visitors (for their own mysterious agenda), and that he was one
of the chosen.

“There were only a few thousand of these
children worldwide, but they were enough to form the nucleus of what is
essentially a communications device made up of human minds that has been, in
effect, ‘implanted’ in our culture. It takes the form of millions of close
encounter witnesses whose experiences are brought into focus by these few
thousand, who comprise the great majority of the witnesses who speak out
publicly about what has happened to them.”[xviii]

In such a scenario, Strieber becomes beyond
doubt the most vocal, well-known, and influential of the “witnesses,” placing
him at the very heart (or head) of the “communications device” which he describes.
He becomes the human avatar of the visitors.

A year or so previous to this
revelation, in 2005, Strieber made the following admission: “I have failed to
link us to the visitors. I have failed to break the bondage of official
secrecy, or to save the souls of the keepers of the secrets. I have failed to
raise the eyes of the average man.”[xix] Despite this sense of failure,
Strieber did not give up. In 2006, coincident with the release of The Grays (which he claimed the visitors helped
him to write), he posted the following statement:

“I will be frank with you about what I am
trying to do with my life: I am trying to create a relationship between us and
the grays. Right now, we do not have a relationship, for two reasons: our
attitude toward them is dysfunctional; and they do not know how to reach into
our culture without destroying it. My ambition is to make the relationship fruitful,
and to enable them to interact with us openly without wrecking our lives.”[xx]

Then in 2007, Strieber made what was in
many ways his most revealing observation, at least in respect to his own work
with, or for, the visitors:

“They will not at first address the
species’ various religious ideas except in very general terms, by communicating with us in triads,
with a positive thrust and a negative thrust, leaving us to evolve the message
by reconciling its two parts
. I know that this is very, very different from
the way we communicate, but it works and if they do show up it will become
familiar enough.” [My italics.] [xxi]

So is Strieber, with his constant
pendulum-like swings from a positive to negative “thrust,” making us familiar
with the visitors preferred method of communication? Is he adhering to their
strange truths about good and evil being not a matter of either/or but of both/and? And could this make
the disorientation, fragmentation, and conflict which Strieber displays in his
attempts to come to grips with his experiences an integral part of the meaning
which “the visitors” wish to communicate to us?

Strieber believes the visitors
intervened to rescue him from abuse at the hands of malevolent government
agents. “[T]he close encounters were real . . . they involved literally
breaking through into another level of reality in order to escape the hell I
was enduring in this one. Modern research suggests that parallel universes may
be very real, and that they may exist all around us.”[xxii]
As Strieber sees it, he escaped the clutches of evil by literally taking refuge
in another reality, which is what abused or neglected children do (it’s called
fragmentation). And since those memories remained buried, under the domain of
another aspect of his psyche, is it fair to say that Strieber also created a
parallel self by which to enter his
conjectured “parallel universe”? I am not suggesting that the psychological
theory explains away the mystical one — on the contrary — what I am suggesting is
that both versions may be equally accurate.
Psychotherapy would say that Strieber’s psyche splintered into multiple selves
and that he fled into fantasy to escape an unpleasant reality. Strieber would
argue that his soul journeyed into other worlds and encountered nonhuman intelligences
there. The two interpretations — while apparently at odds — may simply be two ways
of describing the
same event. Whether Strieber is an enlightened soul-traveler or a paranoid
schizophrenic would depend on whether or not he succeeded in integrating the
various fragmented aspects of his psyche, and in claiming the knowledge and
power which his experiences made available to him.

As Strieber writes, “it is the
foundation of all of my life at the edge of reality, and that I am presently in
the process of rediscovering it [sic], and perhaps learning how to link my
lives in different realities so that I can have a single, integrated set of
memories that includes everything that I have done and known in the years of my
life.”[xxiii] This
implies that Strieber’s experiences — if fully understood — have the potential to
blow open the whole mystery-conflict of subjective/objective, inner/outer,
actual/Imaginal, and to map the process of psychic
individuation by which the two worlds (and the countless aspects of the human
psyche) can be bridged, and so unified into a single, continuous whole, the
creation of a soul-body continuum.

As it happens, this is exactly what
Strieber claims to be doing: “I’m always getting
people asking me not to write fiction. But it is through the fiction that I can
gain access to the memories of the reality I have lived. My fiction, I think,
contains a secret history of a secret life, and, when it is all written, will
be a map, if read with objectivity and knowledge, for journeyers between the worlds.”[xxiv]

Agent Provocateur in the Dream

much importance is given the writer and not enough to his work. What difference
does it make who he is and what he feels, since he’s merely a machine for the
transmission of ideas. In reality he doesn’t exist — he’s a cipher, a blank. A
spy sent into life by the forces of death. His main objective is to get the
information across the border, back into death. Then he can be given a mythical
personality.” –Paul

When it comes to understanding the question of Ufos and alien abductions — and specifically “the
grays” — the essential thing to remember is that none of this is what it seems. And although Strieber has himself been
at pains for years to convey this very idea, for all of that he seems unable to
resist the urge to talk and write about the phenomena as if it were, finally,
apprehensible to reason. Strieber argues against simplistic, literal-minded,
“good or evil, angel or devil” interpretations, even while many of his comments
are either damning the beings as demons or advocating them as angels.
Apparently, this is all part of the aliens’ chosen method of presentation: a
positive perspective (Imaginal), followed by a negative one (actual), leading
finally to a synthesis of both. Yet unless I have simply failed to see the
method to his madness, Strieber follows this approach in such a haphazard,
slipshod fashion that at times he seems unaware of what he is doing. It is
almost as if he was following a hidden program, and that, in order to be
effective as the scribe and spokesman for the visitors, he had been left in the
dark until he achieves a synthesis of his various, fragmented selves.

When Strieber is in negative mode, he
seems wholly convinced by his own rhetoric, and as such, is entirely
convincing. Ditto with his positive mode. The result is that his writings are
alternatively disorientating, confounding, oppressive, uplifting, lucid,
obtuse, a mixture of profoundest insights with garbled nonsense, all presented
with more or less the same degree of sincerity and zeal. In his last work (The
Active Side of Infinity
), Carlos Castaneda described himself as “an agent
provocateur in the dream.” The author Paul Bowles, perhaps for similar reasons,
once defined the writer as “a spy sent into life by the forces of death.” I can
think of no two better descriptions of Strieber than these. After following his
work (off and on) for over twenty years, he seems less like a man to me than a
living, breathing fairy tale, an eerie, unsettling amalgam of diverse
perspectives and outlandish tales, both of this world and the other. A sort of
Frankenstein’s monster, he appears both soulful and freakish, a miracle and an
aberration, a mind as brilliant as it is confused. Like a golem created by
incomprehensible forces, he acts as a host intelligence for alchemical
mysteries, mysteries which he brings across the border, into the land of the
living, yet apparently without ever fully comprehending them himself.

As such, the strange case of Whitley Strieber
must remain, for now, unsolved.

For Part Two of this article click here

Burroughs to Victor Bockris: “I was very interested in his first books and I
have convinced that this was somehow very authentic. I felt that it was not
fraud or fake.  . . . On the basis
of that I wrote a letter to Whitley Streiber saying that I would love to try to
contact these visitors. . . . I had a number of talks with Streiber about his
experiences and I was quite convinced that she was telling the truth. . . . The
strange thing about him is that this part of his face (from the forehead to
below the nose) has a sort of mask like effect.” Bockris: “Does he have a tranquil presence” Burroughs: “No it’s not
very tranquil at all although it’s not disquieting. In the first place he’s a
man with tremendous energy and always busy. Since I’ve seen him he wrote a
whole book, Billy, which is now going
to be a motion picture and soon. He’s always working, always busy, and walks
around the property, a very active person you know, quite clear, quite
definite. He seems a very hospitable and sensible person. I can’t say that I
experienced anything. And he told me this: when you experience it is very
definite, very physical, it’s not vague it’s not like a hallucination, that
they are there, is I didn’t see anything like that.”

for the full interview.

“These others — who appeared to us as aliens — are empaths, but not because they
lack experience. They have returned to the forest, they are not men, they are
beyond that. . . . In the sight of God they are almost angels. . . . We called
them terrible. . . We achieved absolute terror. . . . We have by our lies
created the impression that an excursion of the pure is an invasion by monsters
from the depths of our own psyche. . . . In the eyes of the others we who met
them saw ourselves. And there were demons there.” Majestic

Strieber: “We’re not friends anymore and we never will be. We never really
were. . . But nevertheless, I literally really could not disagree with you more
profoundly as you propose what looks to me like a kind of a miserable fascism
on the human spirit and a future that is enormously dreary even in the unlikely
event that it should unfold.” Pinchbeck: “By the way, Whitley, I just want to
say that I’m capable of having an argument with somebody and profound
disagreements with somebody and still considering them friends.” Streiber: “I’m
telling you right now when you attack my very being and my spirit by saying
that I’m in league with evil entities, as you did say, that’s not, it’s not possible to maintain a friendship
under those circumstances. Because this is so outrageously untrue For those of
you who are subscribers to this website, who listen to our meditations and who
are involved in this you’ll know how unfair and outrageous this attack that
this man carried out on this radio program. It’s just disgusting, and ignorant,
absolutely ignorant, but I don’t want
to go on about it.”

All quotes in this article are from “Whitley’s Journal,” at This one is from “The Coming of the Dark Side and How
We Can Defend Ourselves,” September 7th, 2002.

“Shedding Light on the Dark Side,
Part Two,” December 7th, 2003.

“Communion 20 Years On,” 26th
December, 2005.

“Christmas Joy: Mankind is
Awakening,” December 14th, 2001.

“Christmas Joy: Mankind is Awakening,” December 14th, 2001.

“Shedding Light on the Dark Side,”
December 3, 2003.

“Journey to Another World,” March 12, 2004.

“The Coming War,” 10th Jan, 2003

“Summer of Promise, Summer of Danger,” July 12th, 2003.

“Communion 20 Years On,” 26th December, 2005.

“The Coming of the Dark Side and
How We Can Defend Ourselves,” September 7th, 2002.

“Communion 20 Years On,” 26th December, 2005.

A partial transcript of the discussion can be found at
Both writers reported on the incident. Strieber’s “War in Dreamland” can be
found among his journal entries at his site; Pinchbeck’s can be found at his
blog, at

I am thinking particularly of his appearance on “The Veritas Show,” with Mel
Fabregas, June 26th, 2009.

“The Boy in the Box,” 14th March, 2003.

“The Capture House,” October 11th, 2003.

“The Capture House,” October 11th, 2003.

[xviii]  “Communicating with the Grays,” 7th
June 2006.

“Communion 20 Years On,” 26th December, 2005.

“Communicating with the Grays,”
7th June 2006.

“Are They Coming and If So, What Do We Do?” March 30th, 2007.

“The Capture House,” October 11th,

“The Capture House,” October 11th,

“The Capture House,” October 11th,

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