The UFO as an Aesthetic Object: a note

Rich Reynolds over at UFO Conjectures started the year with another salvo aimed atwhat he calls the “madness” of Ancient Astronaut theorists, UFO enthusiasts fascinated with Disclosure, and other members of UFO community titled “How the arts don’t explain UFOs but do explain the UFO community“. I’m the last one to maintain that the arts might explain UFOs, but that throw-away first half his post’s title sparked a reflection.

To say too much too briefly, the UFO is more like an aesthetic object than an object amenable to or explainable by the natural sciences. The latter is ultimately in principle explainable by or reducible to what Descartes called clear and distinct ideas. An aesthetic object, however, that is exhausted by a particular explication (rendered in clear and distinct ideas) ceases to be an aesthetic object, the object itself becomes thereby disposable, replaceable by its explanation. Aesthetic objects, though produced within concrete historical contexts and subject to myriad receptions, never succumb to being fully explained. They are open-ended, endlessly suggestive mysterious objects that resist identification with any one explanation.

What, then, might the arts teach us about UFOs?….


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