In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry

Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close
Vol. 17 No. 18 · 21 September 1995
Diary

Boys’ Aliens and Girls’ Aliens

Anne Enright

In Ireland we don’t need aliens; we already have a race of higher beings with strange powers who gaze deep into our eyes and force us to have babies against our will. We call them priests. A loopy Protestant, on the other hand, has to make it up as she goes along. And no one makes it up better than your American Protestant, driven mad by all that sky. I am talking about the alien-breeding programme affecting ‘up to two million’ carefully selected Americans. You have to be white to qualify.

Just after the Secret Histories documentary, broadcast on Channel 4 on 28 August, which showed autopsy footage of aliens who crashed in New Mexico in 1947, Michael Moore’s TV Nation described the Jerusalem Syndrome, which affects a similar kind of banana, in a different kind of way. Visitors to the Holy City dress up as characters from the Bible and stay on in town waiting for the end of the world. ‘The Lord spoke to us when we were in a back room of the Ramada Inn.’ ‘I saw the resurrection of the dead outside my efficiency apartment.’ There is a corner of the Middle East that will be forever Boise, Idaho. Of the 42 Syndrome sufferers currently hospitalised, one is a Jew, one a Catholic and 40 are Protestants.

Not that I am smug about our tribal Irish Catholic lack of credulity – personally I would rather see a flying saucer than the Virgin Mary and not only because they move faster. The alien-breeding programme that leaves strange bruises around the genitals of middle America, though spooky, may be just about preferable to the very real fight in Ireland over who owns your insides. ‘Get your rosaries off our ovaries’ was the battle cry, but the pro-life louts are still hanging around the Dublin streets, with their short hair and jars full of dead baby. They aren’t there this morning, in their usual spot on my way to the shops, and so I amuse myself instead with shafts of light and floating, and small putty-grey creatures with rubbery fingers and blank shiny eyes. Whoops. Nothing looks more like a foetus than your average small grey from beyond the Horsehead Nebula.

I watched the autopsy footage in a friend’s house, trying to remember how to spell ‘hooey’ and wondering why they didn’t just use a bad cameraman instead of a good cameraman trying to look bad. But what annoyed me most was not the MTV white-outs, when the editor lost his nerve and tried to get fancy – wasn’t the guy who provided the footage working in the music industry? – or the fine gestural rubber-glove-acting of the surgeon, hampered, the way an actor can be, by trying to act in a white sack. What annoyed me was the way they got their aliens wrong.

I sort America aliens into two types – boys’ aliens and girls’ aliens. Boys’ aliens are the ones that everyone knows about. They fly around the place in different-shaped craft, many of which can turn on a dime. They come from big mother-ships that are so big you just couldn’t say how big they are. Their spacecraft appear over long roads and in big skies, glow strangely and don’t do a lot – a few scorch marks in the grass, some mutilated cattle. The CIA know all about boys’ aliens, the radar blips and the pilot’s black box, because boys can not only verify their aliens scientifically, they also conspire to cover this scientific proof up. Hence the 1947 Roswell Incident, the subject of the Channel 4 programme, in which the Air Force covered up the fact that real (boys’) aliens were recovered from a crashed spaceship in New Mexico, until footage emerged of the autopsy.

The people who made the hoax autopsy footage should have listened to the girls instead, because the girls actually get to meet their aliens – not that they remember this, until they go into hypnotic regression therapy. There are enough transcripts of women weeping as they recover the details of their alien abductions: all they had to do was read them in order to get the anatomy right. We’re talking three fingers here, not six; aliens have no knuckles, no knees and no muscular structure. Their mouths never open. Above all, aliens never ever have sexual organs and a pregnant alien, like the one we saw on the pathologist’s table, is a contradiction in terms.

Things move fast in this business. These days, abductees are well-informed about the beasts that float them out of their cars and beds on shafts of light. ‘There was just this usual grey crap,’ says one woman, recovering her first memory of being on board an alien craft. When they are walking around on our own planet, aliens may employ strange props, something slightly ‘off’: a stetson hat of unnatural size, a miner’s lamp, a false moustache pinned beneath a non-existent grey nose. The silver suits of the Fifties are all gone, as are the space-bitches of the Sixties. (‘I am Lamxhia and I need your earth sperm.’) When you’re on the ship these days, with your clothes in a heap on the floor, lying on a one-legged table with your ankles in (optional) stirrups, there are only two types of alien – small greys and tall greys. Small greys move you around despite your protests and the fact that your legs don’t work; and when they have attended to all those little surgical details – taking tissue, scraping out eggs, putting in foetuses, or nasal implants, or that small implant that goes in the back of your calf – then it’s time for the tall grey to come in, wave them off, and gaze deep into your eyes. This is the priestly moment when it all makes sense. Aliens’ eyes are large, lanceolate and black; they are non-reflective and have no pupils. It is a terrifying thing to look into an alien’s eyes, but, against your will, you may find yourself saturated with emotion and a sense of meaning, helpless with love.

Not surprisingly, different hypnotherapists produce different kinds of alien. The physical details are roughly the same but the emotional effect on the abductee varies. According to C.D.B. Bryan’s incredibly lazy book, * in which he details the findings of a recent conference on the phenomenon, abductees are 94 per cent Caucasian, 75 per cent female, and have 1.9 children. All of them arrive at the therapist’s frightened, distressed, and with a story about missing time. They sensed something strange at the foot of the bed, they saw something strange at the side of the road – then it’s two hours later and they are in the wrong place with no idea how they got there. They are heading south on the wrong highway and the tank is still full of gas. They wake with the sheets awry and a husband who is sleeping too soundly. They arrive for work two hours late with their blouse on the wrong way around. You see? It’s happened to you.

The main practitioner in the abductee-hypnotherapy field is Budd Hopkins, a New York artist who stumbled into the aliens business when an article he wrote for the Village Voice, ‘Sane Citizens See UFO In New Jersey’, won him a postbag of frightened people who wanted to know what had happened to them after they too saw a strange light in the sky. He is now experienced in the techniques of hypnotic regression, or assisted imagination – ‘Let’s allow it to start getting dark in the room ... I want you to get the feeling of getting into your bed.’ His abductees attend group therapy sessions to deal with their feelings of helplessness and overwhelming anger. They are now abducted so regularly, they don’t know what to do. Their children are abducted, their parents are abducted, and their grandparents feel a bit off-colour.

Bryan says that Hopkins has regressed, or helped in the regression of, 1500 people. Hopkins’s favourite story concerns Linda Cortile, one of his abductees from New York, who was floated out of her apartment in a shaft of light, wearing a nightie. This incident was witnessed by a sixty-year-old woman driving across Brooklyn Bridge who subsequently wrote to Hopkins. It was also witnessed by Dan and Richard, two security officers who were driving to the airport when their car inexplicably cut out. Their passenger, they claim, was none other than Pérez de Cuéllar. Serious believers might wish that Hopkins would stop telling this story after Jim Schnabel described the follow-up in his book Dark White. Richard and Dan started following Linda around and finally abducted her themselves. They brought her to a beach house, forced her to wear a nightie, ducked her in the surf, threw away her wedding ring and worshipped her as ‘Our Lady of the Sands’. Linda herself claims to be descended from Joan of Arc, so – pace Bryan – you don’t really care when she sees UN number plates on Richard and Dan’s car, or CIA notepaper in their beach house. Nor do you think that Dan’s sojourn in a mental hospital was part of a CIA double-bluff. Pérez de Cuéllar never made a statement, but this didn’t stop several abductees from seeing him on space ships.

Other ‘therapists’ muddy the waters by being abducted themselves after a year or so of helping others. Leo Sprinkle, one of the first guys in the field, lost his job as a professor in the University of Wyoming’s department of psychology when he came out as an abductee in 1989. Richard Boylan PhD was snatched only recently; his subsequent travels around US military facilities have convinced him that they already have their own flying saucers. John E. Mack is, however, the jewel in the abductees’ crown. He is a Harvard professor who says that ‘you can’t say this phenomenon shatters our notions of physical reality and then treat it entirely literally in terms of our physical reality.’ Quite. At least his psychological training seems to ensure that his patients don’t end up feeling so bad; most believe that the aliens are here for a higher purpose and many change to careers more suited to ‘cosmic citizens’, like Shiatsu massage.

The therapists all seem to be nice men, concerned by the very real grief and rage experienced by their ‘patients’. Many are handsome in a rugged kind of way and admit to being brought up as ‘strict materialists’. They really do want to do something. They really don’t know what is going on. Their world-view has been exploded by a series of highly distressed women whom only they can help. The women’s sincerity, the weirdness of their accounts, the fact that they seem so normal (read ‘stupid’), convinces the therapists that they ‘couldn’t be making it all up’. How, for example, could you make up the detail about a small grey trying on your shoes? (Speaking as someone who makes things up for a living, who can spot a ‘strict materialist’ from five hundred paces, I think the shoes are a nice detail, as is the green elevator shaft with eyes and the man in blue striped pyjamas.)

It’s funny the way Americans think that a PhD is a badge of sanity, given that all the anecdotal evidence points the other way. It’s also funny the way they talk about ‘normal’ Americans as a moral category of people who are honest, and therefore devoid of imagination. A tendency to fetishise the normal is central to the whole abduction phenomenon. Nine of Hopkins’s abductees were tested blind by an independent psychologist who found that they were ‘of above average intelligence’, with a ‘considerable richness of inner life’, which is tied to a ‘risk of being overwhelmed by the urgency of their impulses’. They suffer from low self-esteem and relative egocentricity. Under stressful conditions, ‘at least six of the nine showed a potential for more or less transient psychotic experiences ... with confused and disordered thinking that can be bizarre, peculiar, or very primitive and emotionally charged.’ These people are considered incapable of confabulation because they are not pathological liars, paranoid schizophrenics or hysteroid characters subject to fugue states and/or multiple personalities. They are normal.

The inexplicable thing (it must be true!) is the way all their different accounts tally. Time was, people who suffered childhood sexual abuse were accused of ‘making it all up’. As many as 35 per cent of abductees were also abused, yet they are ‘making up’ something else entirely. Regression therapy, the well-intentioned Mack likes to point out, moves through dissociative strategies and false memories to approach the real facts of a patient’s past. The difference with his patients is that some of them have a false memory of sexual abuse, which in fact covers the real story of alien abduction. It is only of limited use asking whether this man should be in gaol.

There is a considerable amount at stake here; the word ‘hysteric’ is as charged and as complicated as the women it tries to identify. Besides, what about all those, to quote an abductee, ‘baby things. Baby here. Baby there. Baby everything. Everything is babies. Oh God, I mean like babies, OK?’ As Kristeva says, via Mallarmé, ‘ “What is there to say concerning childbirth?” I find that question much more pungent than Freud’s well-known “What does a woman want?” Indeed what does it mean to give birth to a child? Psychoanalysts do not talk much about it.’

Well, yes. At least in Ireland the imagination is still held in high regard. ‘Making things up’ is a normal and often social activity. This has its drawbacks, of course. There are always the priests, some of them abusive – and the babies. In Ireland we have babies all the time. We have them just like that. ‘I think you should forget about aliens,’ says Gerry, my friend. ‘All that nonsense. Have a baby instead.’ And I say: ‘Watch the skies.’

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Letters

Vol. 17 No. 20 · 19 October 1995

Anne Enright seems overwhelmed by the social tyranny of Ireland, with its apparent production line of children (LRB, 21 September). She must come to Los Angeles – it is so on considerate of women and so enlightened. We have four seasons – fires, floods, riots and earthquakes – but abortions continue through them all. Better still, China would be a good choice: one baby only – not by choice, but by command. The trials of our present-day women and their reproductive rights: how did Queen Victoria manage with all those babies, and an empire as well?

Francis Macaulay
La Habra Heights, California

send letters to

The Editor
London Review of Books
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address and a telephone number

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.