The Wheel in the Middle of the Air

Solomon W. Golomb: Astronautics and Aeronautics, p. 16-17, August 1966

And I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures ... their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps; it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning ... Now as I behold the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures ... and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel ... As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about ... and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Ezekiel I: 4-19

Ever since "Ezekiel saw the Wheel, way in the middle of the air" by the banks of the river Chebar some 25 centuries ago, reports have been comming in of disk-shaped objects, other-worldly in origin, with eerie lights and uncanny aeromechanics, and bearing extraterrestrial Creatures. These Creatures represent a race much superior to our own, and they bear an important message for Mankind, which they reveal only to a chosen Prophet, who may even have been privileged to ride in their marvellous conveyance, visit their UFO-rial abode, and stand in the glorious presence of their Leader.

So what if the Air Force declares that after investigating literally hundreds of saucer reports, it finds no conclusive evidence of their existence? Suppose the mineral-assay office were to report that, after testing one thousand samples of ore and finding 97% of them to be dross, it has concluded that there is no such thing as gold? No, we cannot be dissuaded by such fallacious logic. Indeed, many who have never experienced the phenomenon themselves adhere to the Saucer Doctrine with religious fervor.

What we are dealing with here is not mere trick of nature, nor simple mass-hallucination. In the terminology of folklore and social anthropology, the Saucer Doctrine is basix mythos -- not mere fairytale nor legend, but a concept which fills a deep psychological need. Like Oedipus and Faust and the Quest for the Grail, the Saucer Doctrine is a recurring theme in world literature, and fills an important psychological niche. The Visitors are comming, in effect, to conduct a collective puberty rite for the whole human race, to confer on us the wisdom and maturity which we so evidently lack. The flashing lights, the circular shape, the ease of motion are all symbols of perfection and enlightenment. (I will not even allude to the Freudian significance of the Rocket vs. the Saucer.)

Like all myths, the Saucer Doctrine is potentially dangerous if we fail to recognize it for what it is. Never forget the fate of the American Indians who accepted the Spanish Conquistadores as the Divine Visitors promised in their own versions of the Saucer Doctrine. While the Indians were considering how to encode their smoke signals to communicate with a Superior Intelligence, the Spaniards had very different thoughts in mind.

No doubt the Universe contains unnumbered worlds with life, some more intelligent than others, some more intelligent than ours. And perhaps we could attract their attention with radio signals. But those who come to visit need not come as friends. How foolish to expect only the Saucer Creatures of our myth, should we cry "Open House" for all to hear.

Please, folks, let's dim those lights!

Solomon W. Golomb