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|BoA:Audio welcomes historian and writer Aaron Gulyas for a discussion on his book The Chaos Conundrum, a refreshing collection of essays that looks at a variety of paranormal genres from an observer's perspective. Over the course of this highly informal conversation, we delve into the emerging realm of archeo-acoustics as well as the promising future for cryptozoology and spend quite a bit of time smashing the 4th wall of UFO 'research' and talking about the challenges of studying a 60+ year old field that has no discernible officialdom and a very sketchy history. Plus, we'll discuss the insanity of exopolitics, Bill Cooper and the infamous Behold a Pale Horse, contactees v. abductees, and Roswell. And, as always, tons and tons more.
In total, it is a thoughtful edition of the program reminiscent of our frequent conversations with BoA:Audio's regular circle of friends as we look beyond the 'here and now' in favor of the 'then,' both in the past and speculatively towards the future, with Aaron Gulyas.
Full Preview: We kick things off with the standard bio / background on Aaron Gulyas and find out how he became interested in the world of the paranormal. This leads to some talk about Aaron's status as an outside observer of the esoteric and how that presents a challenge as a writer because, paradoxically, once you produce work then you become a part of the field. This leads to some meta discussion on needing a break from the paranormal, at times, as one spends a long period of time looking at it. We also reflect on the true nature of paranormal 'celebrity' and how it is unlike what many may expect.
Next we learn about the emerging realm of archeo-acoustics and how it may be applied to ghostly phenomena or historic landmarks in order to gain previously untapped or unattainable information. In light of the promising nature of archeo-acoustics, we find out why it hasn't been widely adopted or exploited by paranormal groups in search of ghostly answers. The conversation then turns to us reflecting on the lack of 'new ideas' in the world of Ufology and how it seems to be suffering from an oft-lamented 'malaise' as discussed on BoA:Audio in the past.
Aaron reflects on how mainstream UFO interest seemed to peak with the Roswell 50th in 1997, leading to a downturn accelerated by 9/11 and the buoyed by the reality TV boom of recent years. Looking at the paranormal as a whole, we muse about how it is akin to an episodic TV show or a comic book series, where longstanding interest and dedication are required to follow the 'story' and the 'fandom' consists of a wide range of people with varying levels of dedication to following the 'product.' We also talk about how the paranormal, for the true die hards, seems to require an inordinate amount of time and research just to 'catch up' with the present state of affairs.
From there, we look at the Exopolitics field, which Aaron expertly dissects in The Chaos Conundrum, as possessing little to nothing 'new,' when it is observed against the greater history of UFO studies. This segues into talk about the Citizen Hearing on Disclosure and what it really revealed about the state of UFO research and interest. Additionally, Aaron reflects on the cyclical nature of 'disclosure' claims as well as how good and strange events are often unfairly lumped in with the UFO phenomenon. We then talk about the exopolitical movement relies on the assumption of the ETH being fact without actually proving this to be true.
Staying on the topic of the influence of expolitics on ufology, we talk about how old school or scientific research has been forced to work with or has been co-opted by the disclosure activist movement, since that seems to be where all the money and publicity is in today's ufology. Rather than completely tear down the system, we also ponder ways in which ufology can improve upon its central goal: solving the UFO mystery. Aaron responds to Binnall's call for statistical research on UFO sightings and suggests some potential improvements towards that approach.
Going down another path, we muse about how, decades ago, UFOs made their 'first impression' on the human race, which is a challenge that faces ufology today: overcoming whatever initial impression the phenomena made on society. This brings up Roswell and Aaron shares his thoughts on the event and the meme that has sprung out of that mysterious day in July of 1947. Next we discuss the infamous Bill Cooper, who is covered at length in Chaos Conundrum, and Aaron details the remarkable evolution of his work as well as the stunningly enduring nature of Behold a Pale Horse. Aaron details how Cooper managed to transition his work from pro-UFO to anti-NWO over the course of his dubious career.
Aaron also notes the incredible design of Behold a Pale Horse and how the rudimentary layout of the book seems to have helped the book gain a following, to this day, as an 'underground classic.' Venturing into another realm of esoterica, we get Aaron's take on Bigfoot and the Bigfoot research community. This leads to some talk about how cryptozoology seems to be the most 'non-paranormal' of the big paranormal genres and we speculate on how the field would react or be affected by a positive solution to the Bigfoot mystery.
Nearing the close of the conversation, we ask Aaron, who has done extensive work researching contactees, why there seems to be a discernible divide between the contactee and abduction era. Aaron explains how a number of elements came together to result in the contactees evaporating in the minds of paranormal researchers of the era. Aaron also discusses an almost forgotten intermediary period between the contactee and abductee eras. Wrapping up the conversation, we find out what's next for Aaron Gulyas as 2014 and the future unfolds, including a new book on conspiracy theory and paranormal research influenced pop culture in the 1990's.
Gulyas's newest publication is The Chaos Conundrum: Essays on UFOs, Ghosts, and other High Strangeness in our Nonrational and Atemporal World from Redstar Books. Previously, he has written In Fandom's Shadow: Being a Doctor Who Fan from the 1990s to Today-- a brief ebook exploring aspects of Doctor Who in light of its 50th anniversary. His first book, Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950s was published by McFarland Books in May, 2013. He contributed the introduction to the first volume of Posthuman Blues: Dispatches From a World on the Cusp of Terminal Dissolution, a collection of writings by the late Mac Tonnies edited by Paul Kimball and published by Redstar Books. Recently, he had a chapter appear in Gillian I. Leitch's Doctor Who in Time and Space.
He is currently working on a study of paranormal and conspiracy-themed science fiction television in the 1990s.
When he is not teaching, writing, or being a husband and dad,you will find him reading comic books and brewing beer (often simultaneously).
His website is ajgulyas.com