We’d place it in the category of “woolgathering”: UFOs, the Loch Ness monster, and bigfoot and like that, the reports, so popular among our young, that mysterious “men in black” are spotted in strange circumstances, dressed sinisterly in dark suits and seeming to monitor and intimidate folks who have seen what perhaps they should not.
Usually, it follows in the wake of someone spotting precisely a “UFO.”
Actually, while currently popularized because of a movie by the same name some years back (actually a comedy, Men in Black, starring Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith; there also have been sequels), the notion has been around at least since the 1950s and 1960s, finding its probable origin in 1947, when a fellow named Harold Dahl claimed to have been warned by a man in a dark suit not to talk about an alleged UFO sighting on Maury Island on Puget Sound in the state of Washington.
That’s somewhat interesting because 1947 was also the year of one of the most famous “UFO” sightings in history, that of pilot Kenneth Arnold, at Mount Rainier, which is in the same state of Washington. (This was before the even more famous case in Roswell, New Mexico; Arnold said their movements were like “saucers” skipping on water: thus the term “flying saucers.”)
Then, in the mid 1950s, a UFO buff Albert K. Bender (beware of UFO buffs) claimed he was visited by men in dark suits who threatened and warned him not to continue investigating UFOs. (Bender concluded the men in black were secret government agents whose assignment was to suppress evidence of UFOs.)
A well-known author of esoterica, John Keel, similarly claimed to have had encounters with men in black and interestingly referred to them as “demonic supernaturals” with “dark skin and/or “exotic” facial features.”
Just this week, the London Express reported that a man “claimed in a report to [a UFO] organization that he, his son and his son’s girlfriend saw twelve strange orange objects in the sky above St. Augustine, Florida, before receiving the visits.” We’ll take it under advisement.
As one follower of this domain put it — interestingly (at least for our purposes) — men in black represent “experiences” that “don’t seem to have occurred in the world of consensus reality.”
This is potentially germane because when it isn’t simple fantasy, exaggeration, or hoax (and there have been clear-cut fabrications), one wonders if it all might be added to the category of modern spiritual deceptions.
We believe that’s the case with at least some of those unidentified lights in the sky: that what they call “UFOs” and “flying saucers” may be the handiwork of deceiving spirits, when they aren’t satellites, space debris, or military tests (Indians even called them “spirit lights”).
Meanwhile, as far as men in black, one might ask: if angels can appear in human form — as flesh and blood, which is so widely reported (the Bible explicitly states that mysterious strangers can be angels in disguise, Hebrews 13:2) — cannot demons (who so often mimic the works of God)?
News websites like Buzzfeed which are closely followed by those of college age have featured men in black, focusing on cases such as hotel manager Shane Sovar and a security guard in Niagara Falls who reported seeing a large triangular UFO outside the building. A group called the Aerial Phenomenon Investigations Team looked into the incident. They (along with three other witnesses) reported that a couple weeks later, two unidentified “men in black” visited the hotel.
While most, supposedly, look human, this time the description was of two tall men with black suits, identical faces, no eyebrows or eyelashes, and extremely pale skin.
Can we really put stock in this?
There are what psychoanalysts call cultural “archetypes.”
Famed psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung posited the concept of “archetypes” in a theory of the human psyche, believing that universal, mythic characters (see sea monsters, perhaps) reside within the “collective unconscious” of folks the world over. (Then again, Jung also closely followed psychic phenomena.)
We report. You figure it out (and let us know when you do).
In another case, in 1967, reported the Huffington Post (caution: tabloid), “Robert Richardson was driving his car at night in Toledo, Ohio, when he hit something, which, he claimed, then vanished.
He found a piece of metal that he believed originated from the mysterious thing he hit. A few days later, two men, wearing black hats and sunglasses and driving a black 1953 Cadillac, visited Richardson at his home at 11 p.m. to ask questions.
A week later, two other men arrived, dressed in black suits, and asked Richardson to turn over the metal to them. When he informed them he had sent it for analysis, he said, they threatened to harm his wife if he didn’t get it back. He never heard from them again.”
Then there’s a doctor named Dr. Herbert Hopkins. The “respected” family physician from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, was home alone on the night of Sept. 11, 1976 when he was visited by a man in a black suit and wearing a derby hat. At the time, Hopkins was studying a UFO incident.
“The odd visitor told Hopkins to take a coin out of his pocket and hold it in the palm of his hand,” reported the Post. “He said, ‘Watch the coin,’ and it started to develop a silver color instead of copper, and then the silver became bluish and the penny was getting quite fuzzy, out of focus, blurred, and then it simply was gone — it slowly dematerialized.”
Certainly, it is “out there” — very far. A supernatural element? Or straightforward sci-fi?
The actor (and comedian) Dan Akyroid, who has a keen interest in UFOs, once claimed that in January of 2002 during production of a series he had sold to the Sci Fi Channel (called Out There; indeed!), “which would break serious ground revolving around topics like UFOs, crop circles, and alien abductions,” says Buzzfeed, “on a break during interviews for the upcoming show, he stepped outside and saw a black Ford sedan with a Man in Black standing outside it. He looked away for a brief moment, and when he looked back…the car was gone.” Two hours, the show, allegedly, at least according to modern legend, was mysteriously cancelled.
It’s a strange place, this earth.
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