Friday, September 10, 2010

Fun with Conspiracies

Reading about conspiracies is something I get a lot out of – a lot of fun. I do not believe in most conspiracy theories I’ve read (I could, just, believe in the whole “Area 51”-shebang, though), but I find reading them very entertaining. They tell you so much about mankind and how the human mind works.

I have always loved literature that’s somewhere on the fringe, among fiction as well as non-fiction. I just loved “The X-Files” from the very first episode I saw. I’ve read the books by von Däniken as a teen (and seen his documentaries which were then shown on some TV stations here in Germany). I’ve also read other books about prehistoric astronauts, alien abduction and other topics like that (yes, one could say I was pretty much at home with the fourth Indiana Jones movie). I knew about Rennes-le-Château and ‘Le Serpent Rouge’ even before I read anything by Dan Brown (though mostly through the third “Gabriel Knight” game … “Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned”). I’ve known about Oak Island long before I read “Riptide” for the first time. I’m pretty well acquainted with the “Mothman Prophecies” and other cases of the “Men in Black” and alien abduction. In fact, I’ve belonged to a forum dealing with all of those stories for quite some time (until they kicked me out for reasons I still don’t understand – I didn’t do anything wrong at all).

But conspiracy theories are different. I’ve fought my way through the three volumes of “Illuminatus!” (and it was hard, believe me, that fractured writing has almost got me to admit defeat). I’ve read Robert Anton Wilson’s “Everything under Control. Conspiracies, Cults and Cover-ups” various time and always enjoyed myself tremendously. I’m currently reading another book on that topic, a German one titled “Elvis lebt! Lexikon der unterdrückten Wahrheiten” (Elvis lives! Lexicon of suppressed truths). But, very much like the author of the latter book, I do not believe those theories (or suppressed truths). I find them amusing and I like reading about them so I can put parts of it in my own stories. By looking at what people believe in, you can generally learn more about the people than about the thing they’re believing in.

Take, for instance, the best-known conspiracy theory of all: Area 51. What does the theory that the American government deals with aliens in there tell us about the people in the US who were the first (but are no longer the only ones) who believed in it? First of all, as the military always denied there is an Area 51, although there is a military instalment in that area, the theory tells us the people in the US do not trust the military (and haven’t since the end of the 1950s, when the first rumours broke out). It also tells us that those people believe (or at least find it possible) that mankind is not alone in the universe. Otherwise, where would those aliens come from? They also believed the military was capable of shooting down an alien spacecraft at a time at which they could not launch one themselves (do I really have to say it? Right … Sputnik … there, I said it).

(Well, that works in the comic four-parter “Area 52”, because the aliens are so far advanced in their technology that, simply do not expect to be attacked by simple missiles. But in that comic, there’s a secret base in Antarctica which serves as Area 51’s attic. Everything the specialists there are through with is shipped to the enormous warehouses of Area 52 where a few military people have to take care of it. Nice comic, though, and doesn’t take itself too serious, so if you stumble over it somewhere, give it a try, it’s both gruesome and funny.)

So, is there a secret base in that area, dealing with aliens? Well, “Roswell Conspiracies” says so, but that’s an animated series, so it can hardly hold up to a serious test. (The series also states werewolves only live for eight years and vampires really are big, dangerous alien snake creatures that use technology to appear human.) It seems from far more realistic evidence that Area 51 (let’s stay with that term, because everyone knows where to put it) really is a research center and possibly used to test new prototypes of fighter planes. The place is ideal for it – dry dessert climate, so no missed flights due to bad weather, and a lot of uninhabited space all around, so not too many people will see the fighters. Today, it is also a semi-official airport for emergency landings in this area (since 2008, ICAO-code KXTA).

But enough about Area 51. There are loads of other conspiracies out there, if you can believe the internet (and we all can, can’t we?). There’s a conspiracy about Elvis, about Vitamin C, about the Illuminates and about one-hundred-and-twenty-thousand other things (number is an estimate). If only a few of them are true, mankind is in deep, deep trouble, indeed.

Conspiracies are true – from a certain point of view, as Obi-Wan Kenobi would have pointed out (and there’s even a Jedi Knight Conspiracy out there). Apart from that, they’re also fun – from every point of view, at least for me.

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