Doug Curran «In Advance of the Landing : Folk Concepts of Outer Space» 2001.

submitted on Tue, 2006-04-11 16:42. | | | | |

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«As you are about to see, Douglas Curran is not only a photographer but also a reporter, and an extremely gifted one. I am tempted to suggest that he also qualifies as an anthropologist, but I think I will leave it at 'reporter'. To be a reporter of Douglas Curran's caliber is a lofty enough achievement. He has discovered an exotic world, and for eight years he has traveled remote terrains throughout the United States and Canada exploring it. This book is the culmination of a quest that, by terrestrial standards, is as extraordinary as that of the people he brings to life in the pages that follow.» ~ Tom Wolfe, from the foreword to In Advance of the Landing: Folk Concepts of Outer Space, Abbeyville Press.

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«In Advance of the Landing is a fascinating book that shows with compassionate insight how deeply man's longing for extraplanetary contact is felt.» ~ William S. Burroughs.

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Doug Curran's Postscript to Introductory Essay October 2000.

«The flying saucer movement has changed a great deal since I first began my travels with Giselle - long gone in a highway rollover- but that's another story. The belief in extraterrestrial visitation has grown in this time, from a marginalized faith of a small group of hardcore visionaries to being fully incorporated and accepted into the cultural milieu of mainstream North America. John Shepherd of Bellaire Michigan, once held to be an eccentric for converting his grandparent's home into a UFO detection station, came to be viewed as a source of civic pride. In another light, Johns' work with trying to detect physical nuts and bolts spacecraft contrasts sharply with the current fixation with aspects of alien abductions and tales of repeated experimentation, rape and programmed behavior conducted on humans by the alien visitors. The field of ufology has taken a decidedly paranoid turn. Likewise, a movie such as Independence Day depicting aliens ray-blasting the White House to smithereens, marks a decided shift from Richard Dreyfuss's rapture at the sight of the alien spaceship in the Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The popular media have actively promoted the belief in extraterrestrials and flying saucers, sometimes out of cynical self-interest and to satisfy the public desire for sensationalism. There has yet to be a newspaper carrying the headline NOTHING SEEN IN NIGHT SKY!! Along with most of us, the media can be lazy and unquestioning, calling up some aspect of common knowledge in order to bolster a topic at hand. As a lead-in for their story on the fiftieth anniversary of The Roswell Incident, PBS’s nationally televised McNeil-Lehrer Report advised that even President Jimmy Carter has reported seeing a UFO. The fact that what Carter perceived has long ago been conclusively proven to have been the twinkling of the planet Mars was a detail either deemed inconvenient or of too little importance to require firsthand investigation.

It is now 50 years since the powerful icon of the flying saucer entered our cultural consciousness and we have not seen the quintessential expression of extraterrestrial contact — the otherworldly flying saucer landing on the White House lawn. The story of the nine, smooth oval-shaped objects first reported by Kenneth Arnold in June 1947 gave an eager public a raw canvas on which to paint its deepest fears and anxieties following the end of the Second World War and the emergence of the threat of nuclear annihilation.»

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«My intention was never to prove or disprove the truth of whether or not flying saucers exist - it was sufficient for me that the idea of flying saucers and extraterrestrial life had a profound impact on and directed peoples lives. The UFO phenomenon defies conventional proofs and yet persists. My friends often comment on my fondness for aphorisms and one comes to mind now, a comment attributed to an early Christian philosopher, I believe, because it is absurd.»

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«I ran into such people many times when I was working on The Right Stuff, a book about the astronauts, but I never got to know them the way Douglas Curran has. They gravitated to Cape Canaveral, Houston, California, to wherever NASA prepared to probe the heavens. They were not interested in NASA’s space race with the Soviets. Nor were they interested in lunar geology, solar energy stations, or the psychology of the astronauts, which happened to be the subject that interested me. They looked upon astronauts not as extraordinary adventurers but as agents who might unwittingly help discover the path to a universe far more cosmic than any that astronauts or the engineers who dispatched them had ever dreamed of.

They were interested in UFOs, flying saucers, to be sure. But to leave it at that is to consign them to the oatbin of history reserved for those who succumb, in the words of the title of Charles Mackay's famous book, to 'Extraordinary popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.' As you will sense immediately from Douglas Curran's own words and pictures, these people are in fact part of a religion. And that religion is, at bottom, not terribly different from most other new religions of the past two millenia. Most of them, the successful ones as well as those that have vanished, have been based on the belief that there exists Another Order, invisible to the great mass of humanity. It is this Other Order, and not merely the physical order of the physicists, astronomers, and economists, that determines the fate of man and creates the music of the spheres. The revelation of this Other Order has typically come from the sky. The flaming archangel of Ahura Mazda descends from above to speak to Zoraster...The heavens open and light shines upon Saul on the road to Damascus and a voice booms down: «Saul, Saul, why persecuteth thou me?»...By the logic of these precedents, what could be more natural than to assume that today Another Order would be at least as technologically advanced as man here on Earth and a good bit more inspired and ingenious in its heavenly revelations?» ~ Tom Wolfe.

sources: dougcurranphotography.com, abbeville.com