Arts & Culture

Alien Love

In the end, the play did have its premiere last night – and it went well, I think. At least the audience seemed to think so. The lead actress was on a ton of painkillers and could barely stand up, … Read More

By / October 21, 2008

In the end, the play did have its premiere last night – and it went well, I think. At least the audience seemed to think so. The lead actress was on a ton of painkillers and could barely stand up, but she made it through rather bravely. The interesting thing was the humour didn’t seem to fly – Nazi jokes especially (Ooh. You could hear the walls breathe). I was told by the company dramaturge that German audiences don’t laugh very much and this evening was no exception. But I also think that people found the absurdist comedy aspects of the play to be taboo – Israel and Palestine are not something that is discussed in Germany in a critical way, and certainly not with screw-all humour. Theatre aside, I was reading BBC online this morning. Apparently the UK Ministry of Defence has recently released secret files pertaining to UFO sightings in the late 70s and 80s. According to one report, an Alitalia flight narrowly collided into a strange, brownish metallic object while ascending the British skies in 1991. It was deemed to be neither missile nor enemy aircraft; the authorities classified the strange sighting as a UFO. And so those bound for Rome nearly collided into inhabitants of Sirius, inches away from making the first interplanetary accident this side of Mars. This article is the top hit on the BBC website today. I admit it, as soon as I saw the headline – “Airliner had near Miss with UFO” – I went right to it. American elections, World Series results, business updates, forget about it – UFOs are a number one priority. Let’s face it. UFOs are interesting, not because of their unoriginal design (they seem so clunkily human, so right out of a 1970s sci-fi movie – see the drawings on the BBC website), but because of what might be inside them. Granted, I’ve never seen a UFO. Once I was lying on top of Mount Royal on mushrooms and I thought I saw one. But those were just very quick moving clouds. Maybe instead of talking about whether or not we’ve seen UFOs, we need to start asking the bigger questions: like what we’ll do if we ever meet the pilots of those mysterious ships. So when the aliens do come, how will we greet them? More importantly, what will we feed them? Do we go Mediterranean or Chinese? Continental or Sushi? I think there should be an International Aliens Greeting Committee, one that considers these and other important matters for when they arrive: what to wear, how to say “hello”, what sort of entertainment we’ll offer the aliens, where to show them around. And accommodation is really important. I think the aliens should be given an A-1 hotel with a spectacular view of things. Really zing them out, show them a good time on our planet. Of course, the UK, Chinese, Russian and US military likely have other plans for when and if the aliens do arrive. It’s unfortunate that some of us assume we’ll be under attack if a grand foreign envoy were to ever land on our planet. Maybe it’s a product of my willful ignorance but I assume the best in the universe. Somehow I can’t help but think that anyone who’d travel all this distance wouldn’t be doing it to blast the shit out of little us. Especially since we’re doing a fairly good job of that by ourselves.

The more I think about it, the more I think we need to believe in UFOs, in the possibility of life from elsewhere wanting to make contact. I don’t know whether we’re alone in the universe or not, but perhaps all of these UFO sightings aren’t about that anyways. Maybe these reports are more a product of a collective willful longing. It’s human beings crying out for something other, something different than this mess of a planet. We need something from out there to contact us, to reassure us, not only that we’re not alone, but that everything will somehow be all right.

Jonathan Garfinkel, author of Ambivalence: Adventures in Israel and Palestine, is guest-blogging on Jewcy, and he’ll be here all week. Stay tuned.