Parallel Gallery
and Journal

Alien Sick

Simon Robb

1. What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature is it in the semblance of man? I feel the dread of this horrible place overpowering me; I am in fear,in awful fear, and there is no escape for me; I am encompassed about with terrors that I dare not think of. . . .

2. He's looking down at me. He's got a ruler in his hand. Has a tip of silver. Touches me. I see pictures of the world just blowing up (Long pause). I see pictures of the whole place just blowing up when he touches my head with this thing (Weeps).

3. Looking implies that the object viewed covers and uncovers itself, that it disappears at every instant, for looking involves a kind of oscillation. These images however, are not caught in a game of emergence and disappearance. The body is already there without even the faintest glimmer of a possible absence, in a state of radical disillusion; the state of pure presence.

4. Shuddering at the memory, Kelly says that out of nowhere a tall, black figure began moving toward them. "I had expected to see a human being, but this was not human - its shape was all wrong," she says. "I was overwhelmed by the most horrifying fear. The creature's eyes seemed to turn to a red fire." Suddenly there were many more creatures, a mass of glowing red eyes gliding across the field towards them. "I was transfixed. Their power or energy was unfathomable. Then I felt a whoomph in my stomach and I was on the ground, winded. I couldn't see. I heard my husband scream; 'Let go of me'. I heard a clear male voice respond: 'we mean you no harm'. My husband said: 'Why did you hit Kelly then?' and the thing said: 'I wouldn't harm her. After all, I am her father'. I heard a chuckle and I thought, this is evil. I threw up, and began sobbing. The next thing I knew I was sitting in the car."

5. These are the couplings which make Man and Woman so problematic, subverting the structure of desire, the force imagined to generate language and gender, and so subverting the structure and modes of reproduction of Western identity, of nature and culture, of mirror and eye, slave and master, body and mind. "We" did not originally choose to be cyborgs . . . .

6. I felt embarrassed . . . but I wanted a record of some sort . . . . if I had told the reporters that alleged visitors were in any way involved, it seemed to me that there was a probability that my credibility would be destroyed.

7. The subject is named by being tagged or branded on its surface creating a particular kind of "depth-body" or interiority, a physic layer the subject identifies as its (disembodied) core. Subjects thus produced are not simply the imposed results of alien, coercive forces; the body is internally lived, experienced and acted upon by the subject and the social collectivity . . . the subject is marked as a series of (potential) messages from/of the (social) Other . . . .

8.They're wearing blue uniforms. Dark blue uniforms. They're sort of grey. They look like they haven't been out in the sun in ten years. Sort of mushroomy grey. Smell funny too. Like a burned match head. Just totally expressionless faces . . . This has to be a dream, because the dog is sleeping like the dead. Why do you feed a dog?

9. Then, almost three months later to the day, her questions were answered. Once again the couple were driving on the same stretch of road to their friend's house, when a gut-wrenching dread swept over Kelly. In a flash, vivid memories came flooding back.

10. On the TV monitor, rigid on a laboratory slab, is a childlike creature whose big bald head is pear-shaped, nose and ears tiny, and mouth a lipless slit. . . each hand and foot has six digits . . . . One of the three men in white bio-hazard suits, gloves and visored hoods makes a scalpel incision in the top of the creature's chest and draws the blade down its thorax and abdomen. He cuts to the top of the chest and the skin is peeled away to reveal the main body cavity. A dark blood-like substance oozes. Fleshy organs are removed and placed in surgical trays. One spherical organ in the stomach resembles nothing in the human anatomy. Next, dark, flimsy lenses are plucked with tweezers from the creature's eyes, revealing pupils. The skull is sawn open, a 'brain' removed.

11. Biological, anatomical, physiological and neuro-physiological processes cannot be automatically attributed a natural status. It is not clear that what is biological is necessarily natural . . . The raw materials themselves are not "pure" in so far as culture, social and psychological factors intervene to give them their manifest forms. . .

12. I can't wait to get home, to wash, wash. Scrub, scrub. The formalin must have crystallised in my nostrils because I smell it all the time. I've stopped eating corned beef. The colour reminds me too much of the cadaver. One night I vomited after dinner when I realised I hadn't been scrupulous enough to lift bits of flesh from under my finger nails. I ate an infinitesimal bit of him and I spewed months and months of dissection. I find it difficult to touch food with my hands. I'm never sure if my hands are clean enough . . . I pretended not to hear when asked if I would work some more on Tom-Dick-Harry. I made up my mind that "he" was an IT.

13.The foreigner is within us. And when we flee from or struggle against the foreigner, we are fighting our own unconscious - that "improper" facet of our impossible "own and proper." Delicately, analytically, Freud does not speak of foreigners: he teaches us how to detect foreignness in ourselves. That is perhaps the only way not to hound it outside of us. After Stoic cosmopolitanism, after religious universalist integration, Freud brings us the courage to call ourselves disintegrated in order not to integrate foreigners and even less so to hunt them down, but rather to welcome them to that uncanny strangeness, which is as much theirs as ours.

14. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder, and heard the Count's voice saying to me "Good morning." I started, for it amazed me that I had not seen him, since the reflection of the glass covered the whole room behind me . . . Having answered the Count's salutations, I turned to the glass again . . . The whole room behind me was displayed; but there was no sign of a man in it, except myself.

15. In the widespread paralysis of the collective or social imaginary, to which "nothing occurs" (Karl Kraus) when confronted with the ambitious program of fantasising an economic system on the scale of the globe itself, the older motif of conspiracy knows a fresh lease of life, as a narrative structure capable of reuniting the minimal basic components: a potentially infinite network, along with a plausible explanation of its invisibility . . . .

16. Still shaken from the experience, they decided to try to forget about it and go to bed. But when Kelly went to the bathroom she was shocked to find she was bleeding menstrually, even though she had finished her period the week before. She also discovered a small triangular scar on her abdomen. Kelly's bleeding continued for three weeks and she was finally hospitalised with an infection in her uterus. A pregnancy test proved negative.

17. The conquest of space constitutes . . . an irreversible threshold which effects the loss of terrestrial coordinates and referentiality. Reality, as an internally coherent and limited universe, begins to haemorrhage when its limits are stretched to infinity. The conquest of space, following the conquest of the planet, promotes either the de-realising of human space, or the reversion of it into a simulated hyperreality.

18. The human shape I can get now, almost with ease, so that it is lithe and graceful, or thick and strong; but often there is trouble with the hands and claws - painful things that I dare not shape too freely . . . These creatures of mine seemed strange and uncanny to you as you began to observe them, but to me, just after I make them, they seem to be indisputable human beings. It's afterwards, as I observe them, that the persuasion fades. First one animal trait, then another, creeps to the surface and stares out at me . . . But I will conquer yet. Each time I dip a creature into a bath of burning pain, I say, this time I will burn out all the animal, this time I will make a rational creature of my own.

19. For Haraway, cyborg does not necessarily name the tragic confusion of identities that follows on scientific hubris. On the contrary, it may name the condition of freedom from the illegitimate categories of "nature" race, gender, species, kingdom) - a freedom that can only emerge with the destruction of those rationalities and of the mythologies of essential unity .

20.That story began back in the US summer of 1947. Dates and witness reports are contradictory, but the alleged close encounter happend early in July, as a night of storm raged around the farming and oil-and-gas producing town of Roswell on the Pecos River. Some locals saw a flash of grey-blue light in the sky they swore were neither thunder nor lightning. Simultaneously, according to some accounts, radar operators...who had been tracking a mystery object in the sky saw it disappear from their screens. The army investigated and next morning whisked away debris of a crashed flying object and - vow some witnesses - alien bodies . . . civilians who saw the clean-up say they were sworn to secrecy . . . .

21. Listen, baby, I've been coping with this for so many years. I know this invasion gets in. As soon as you get close to something important, that's when you feel this invasion, and that's the way you know something's there. I've felt myself just marched up like a puppy to go and do something that would get me insulted or humiliated. I was not in control. Then the ultimate dream I had, I saw my body walking out of the room - this is in Chicago - bent on some deadly errand, and I'm just up on the ceiling sort of fading out, with no power at all. That's the ultimate horror of possession. There are all degrees of possession. It happens all the time. What you have to do is confront the possession.

22. In the following days, Kelly tried to discuss the issue with her husband, but although he agreed that he had seen a UFO and remembered smelling vomit during the drive home, he doesn't agree that they blacked out, or that any time was unaccounted for, or that they met aliens. The couple began to fight constantly - he was determined to forget the experince, which left Kelly traumatised, depressed and afraid of going insane.

23. Medicine is built up on examples and experience; so is my theory.

Simon Robb is a postgraduate student at the English Department, University of Adelaide.