I wasn't going to write this. I thought about it, and scrapped it. But then into my inbox comes this article on Medium (does anyone actually subscribe? Will it be worth the $$?) about the subject and author of the first book I ever listened to: The Super Natural: Why The Unexplained is Real by Whitley Strieber and Dr Jeffrey Kripal.
I wouldn't have been interested at all if it hadn't had Dr Kripal's name attached. Not because I have anything against Whitely Strieber, I am a a fan of his early novel The Hunger and particularly of the stunning movie adaption done by Tony Scott. I may have read others of his novels before the whole Communion Episode, I don't really recall.
But then came Communion. I did not then, nor do I now, have any fixed opinions on any of the associated phenomenon. What I have is a studied disinterest, for the most part; I sense, as it were, a vortex with the potential to pull me in if I am not careful, so I avoid it. To say otherwise would prove me a hypocrite, having written about my contact experiences, though... with a somewhat different flavor.
Where I stand has nothing to do with belief. If I may paraphrase the eminent occultist, Jake Stratton-Kent: I don't do beliefs. So, it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not I BELIEVE Whitley Strieber: that does not enter into the equation. The experiences described by Mr Strieber do not enter into my current working parameters for how I interact with reality.
There is a current that draws intriguing parallels between the modern alien contact experience and the larger phenomenon of occult or religious experience. This is the whole point, I think, of Dr. Kripal's participation in the text. These comparisons do interest me, but again they are not part of my working parameters. That may change some day.
Regardless, The Super Natural is an interesting text. You don't have to believe to find value in it. Both Strieber and Kripal's contributions are thought provoking.
In the end however, I like Whitley Strieber less, now, after having listened to the book. Again, not because of any belief or disbelief in the experiences he relates -- that is irrelevant to me. I like him less because he comes off like a douche, by the end. Where he positions himself, as a victim of the press, popular culture, et al rankles me. And the incredibly tone deaf things he says (I can't quote exactly, but paraphrasing: of all the minorities, only the abductee can still be laughed at publicly and humiliated... really, Whitley? Really? How 'bout you come over here, and after I knock that chip off your shoulder I teach you a few things about being a minority?).
I can't wholeheartedly recommend this book. It has moments that are revelatory, some interesting comparisons and some fun and even racey bits here and there. But in the end, I'm disappointed because it becomes less about the experience and more about the experiencer and it turns out: I don't like him very much.
And just in case you were wondering, Mr Strieber's net worth is an estimated $25 million; so being a victim hasn't hurt him all that much.