Will Bueché



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Looking to Mars for a Reflection of Ourselves

Posted in Personal by Will on Monday, August 2nd, 2004 ~ 9pm

I found an essay I’d written earlier this year, still in draft form, that frankly says what I’d like to say to ABC News better than I will able to speak it. (This was written off the cuff for a newspaper columnist who was planning to write a piece about how the apparent lack of life on Mars erased all possibility that life existed elsewhere in the universe …which accounts for my somewhat feeble attempt at using comments about Mars as the framing device for the essay. By the way she never wrote the peice…maybe I convinced her she was being too cynical.) This text is copyright (c) 2004 Will Bueche:

Rough draft, essay, 01/06/04 Will Bueché

Looking to Mars for a Reflection of Ourselves

Percival Lowell, of Harvard University’s class of 1876, peered through his telescope at Mars and saw “canals” across the red planet’s surface which he took to be signs of life. It later came to be generally recognized (as first reported in the July 2003 Sky & Telescope magazine) that Lowell was actually mapping shadows cast by the blood vessels of his own eyes. His telescope trained on Mars was an accidental mirror.

Our nearest neighboring planet has served as a mirror for ourselves in another, more intentional way. We see it as a world like our own, one that may have had oceans and life, continents full of people. In Lowell’s time we hoped to learn from those people; perhaps gain some perspective on our own world from them. Cultural enthusiasm for the concept of life on Mars continued for many generations, indicating we certainly wanted to meet them if they were there, and we hoped they were friendly.

But those people are not there, not if the latest pictures from Mars are any indication – and the aliens that people report seeing here on Earth are much more “alien” than some people expected.

Where Are Aliens From?

The aliens described by “experiencers” of alien contact seem to be rather theatrical in the way they communicate; one must make an effort to suss what they mean when one is seeking an answer to a seemingly simple question such as “where are you from?”

A few decades ago, if asked, they may have replied that they came from Mars. One woman recalls that when she was a young girl an alien answered her question by saying he was from Mars. Then, in a manner which young girls are known for, she protested, saying that his answer didn’t seem likely since she’d learned at school that there was no intelligent life on Mars. The alien did not seem to mind that his white lie had evidently been called, by a child no less, but neither did it offer a better explanation to her. [get citation – where’d I read this?]

Today, they seem to have taken a cue from surrealist filmmaker David Lynch and might answer that they come from another level of reality, outside of our space and time, even as they may speak of an ancestry of another world or worlds which we’d assume could be orbiting another star.

As our understanding of the nature of the world deepens to include other dimensions, perhaps we are coming into a language that will enable us to form a more proper understanding of where the aliens come from, or how they come to appear on Earth in defiance of what we believe about traversing distances.

But even to this day the apparent theatricality of the aliens’ explanations leaves most everyone unsure about where they are from, or if they even exist at all.


Many expected that if we were ever to meet alien life, it would be found out there, after we ventured out across great distances to other nearby worlds, such as Mars, or across the exponentially greater distances to worlds at home by other stars.

But what if alien life took the lead and reached us here?

And what if we did not even recognize it as life?

Hearing people’s descriptions of their rooms being filled with light, of strange beings emerging through solid walls, rendering them helpless and communicating with them telepathically, one must ask: What sort of life seems materially real in some ways, yet seems more like a fantasy in other ways?

Unless you believe reality is a continuum that also includes what religions dubbed the “spiritual world” or “spiritual plane”, then you may be of the mindset that existence is only what one can touch…and touch again, replicating a sensation for the physical senses to establish that something is real. But the aliens seen on earth seem to leave nothing physical behind, raising a question: Could there be a plane of reality which sometimes touches our world, but which by its very nature cannot leave anything more than memories?

We know that the world is more than the material, as any theoretical physicist will tell you with as much conviction as an “experiencer.”

The aliens people report here on Earth may be as much “interdimensional” than “interstellar”, but many people are still — despite the detailed reports of hundreds of thousands of reliable “experiencers” across the world — expecting aliens to be from other planets or other star systems in the most literal sense.

“Canal diggers from Mars,” we feel we could relate to. Beings that can appear in our reality from seemingly out of nowhere, and leave without a trace… that, we hesitate to accept.

What “Experiencers” Learn

Dr John Mack, a pioneering Harvard psychiatrist whom I have worked for since 1999, did not study aliens per se, he studied people; the ways in which men and women were affected by extraordinary experiences such as alien encounters. Not simply the kinds of encounters depicted with great sensationalism and little subtext on television, but recurring, life-long contact experiences which deeply affect their lives. By focusing on the people rather than the aliens, it has been Dr Mack’s hope that even those who disavow the possibility that alien contact is real may still come to recognize the value in what the experiencers have learned from their encounters with apparent aliens.

What these people convey again and again, what they’ve learned from their experiences, is the sense that human lives are connected to every other life — not only to our fellow man, but to nature, the Earth itself, and even other life in the cosmos that we would expect — erroneously, it seems — to be unaffected by our lives.

This is not necessarily a message given in words; it may be that simply encountering another sentient species moves one towards a newfound respect for other life, similar to the commonly described transcendent experience of swimming with dolphins or whales. Though many experiencers do report efforts on the aliens’ part to communicate these themes to us directly — warning us of the desolation that comes to worlds that lose their sense of connection to their environment. A kinship of sorts with the aliens is a subtext present in many encounters, which is difficult for experiencers to define, though one described it as indicating that humanity has a reciprocal relationship with the aliens, one that may not be apparent.

This sense of connection to and appreciation for life, our potential (often unfulfilled) to actively embrace and respect the beauty and diversity of life around us, including most of all that which we have on Earth, is a point that should be driven home forcefully when one listens to experiencers relate with sincerity how they have been affected by their experiences, for it is a decent message not far from most people’s own stated (if not practiced) ideals.

But one need not believe in alien contact to appreciate our connections to life in the universe. Though it is a value learned by some through the experience of contact, it can also be learned through the experience of stark contrast — the contrast of worlds which we see when we look at Mars through close up photographs today.

These images of a barren and mostly lifeless Mars, so unlike what Percival Lowell expected we’d find, can still serve to remind us to appreciate our connection to the life that exists all around us here on Earth.

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