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Part Two

       As I said, this was in 1977. Spielberg raised the question, in the inimitable way only fiction can convey such heavy philosophical questions. In the film, Indiana electrical lineman Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfus) is drawn by an inexplicable inner force towards Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, where eventually he has his close encounter of the third kind.

       What makes the film so interesting is that we are drawn just like Richard Dreyfus is drawn. We are compelled by our own curiosity to see where the trail of clues will lead. And as the audience, we expect to be led to something meaningful, something substantial— some kind of resolution that will make the promise of the film real. And of course, thanks to Steven Spielberg, we are not disappointed. We get what we expect from a great American filmmaker— a plausible, tangible resolution— which we FELT afterwards. We KNEW it was fiction, but we FELT as if it was a premonition of something that that would or should happen in our own lives.

    One of ANALOGYMAN’S moniker’s is Premonitions of Eternity. That’s because for most of my life I always felt as if something was tugging at me, some invisible force drawing me to expect a sensible, satisfying resolution to my life’s search. Haven’t you ever felt the same thing?

    I’ve always felt about life, how I’ve felt about great films. I’ve always expected the filmmaker to lead me through some great conflict to a great resolution. And for most of my “everyday life” I’ve been was bitterly disappointed.  Like great resolutions only happened in fiction — in films.

    But three years after seeing Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I really did have a close encounter of the third kind.  That’s precisely why I’m writing this analogy. What happened to Roy Neary happened to me. I was  led to a conclusion to my life’s quest. And the process was very much parallel to what happens in the film. Let me try to explain.

     A close encounter of the first kind is when for some strange reason you are led to suspect or expect the existence of something way out of the ordinary. To suspect the existence, for instance, of aliens is a close encounter of the first kind.

    The next possible step is a close encounter of the second kind — meaning you are lucky enough to latch onto a substantial piece of  evidence— a thoroughly reliable eye-witness account, an actual substantiated artifact, or a thoroughly-vetted NASA photograph of anything that looks  technological in origin (like the alien equivalent of something man-made).

    But even such a substantial close encounter of the second kind isn’t enough.  It’s not the obvious end of a lifetime of searching. A search can only be at the END when you make a close encounter of the third kind, an actual encounter with the thing you’ve been compelled to seek out— in the case of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS,  an extraterrestrial. Nobody has ever done that in a way sufficiently convincing to answer the question once-and-for-all for everybody, for all time.

       I’m using the concept developed in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS to point out that this internal premonition, this compulsion to find out the truth— especially when you suspect the truth is being suppressed by some group— needs to be followed-through if you’re ever going to be led to discover the reason for the “premonition”.  In the film, Roy Neary is compelled by some strange inexplicable inner force to follow-up on every hint, every clue, to the point that he appears demented. (It’s only later in the film we realize that news of this “landing” has been kept secret for reasons of national security.) The point is, Neary is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery even if it costs him his job and his self-respect. Would YOU follow through on a quest like this if it meant major opposition?

      Of course, I’m not talking here about a possible secret plot to suppress news of an imminent landing of extraterrestrials. I’m talking more in general about anything that is suppressed by the culture— anything the individual is systematically prevented from discovering because of a policy or a philosophy or an agenda “in high places”.  Ideas that such suppression could even happens sounds like paranoia. Makes us feel like we’ve encountered a bunch of conspiracy theorists.  But we know it’s gone on throughout history in various societies. I’ll bet the people behind the Iron Curtain didn’t know about all the freedoms we have here in the West until they discovered it for themselves on the Internet. The same holds true for the totalitarian state holding the North Koreans hostage.

       What sets people free of suppression and manipulation is information. Once the man-in-the-street gets enough information to confirm to him that he’s being manipulated, the sensible man will rise up and do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of the situation.

       Are you that kind of sensible man? A fellow like Neary who will not stop until he’s reconciled all the facts?

       Throughout ANALOGYMAN I’ve consistently tried to approach my readers with the suggestion that art anticipates life.  A film that rivets our attention is so much more effective than a dry lecture at school or a sermon at church. I’ve never suggested that the details in a film like Close Encounters (or other films I’ve done, The Matrix, Logan’s Run, District 9, etc) correspond to actual events in real life. I’ve simply suggested that these films develop ideas that help us back away from the details just long enough to see the Big Picture.

          And it’s the Big Picture that’s really important. Do you know that we rarely get to see the Big Picture in life? (I think of the familiar saying, “what’s the big idea?”— the concept is not too far from the truth. We usually ask this when people try to dazzle us with details.)  Usually the only time we get a grasp of the Big Picture is in films.  That’s why my wife and I  left the theatre so thrilled and elated after seeing Stars Wars for the first time in 1977. (“So that’s what the FUTURE may be like!”)  That’s why we were in a state of sock after seeing Alien. (“What if we encounter creatures like THAT in the future!”)

         My point is that we need to get a glimpse of the BIG PICTURE before we can sort out all the details. The problem is, we are all drowning in details—and it’s hard to put matters into perspective when you’re lost in the details. The only way I’ve found to give people a taste of the big picture is by analogy— let them see their situation from another perspective.


Watch this material from link to link until the “lights” come on.