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Revisited: Ancient Aliens Season 2, episode 3

Eric: Alright, I’m back after a temporary hiatus. I’ve got my wetsuit. Let’s go scuba diving and meet some aliens!

Joe: That was last week. This week we are moving underground. These ancient underground sites in Turkey and North and South America are full of mystery and darkness. Also, no one really knows when the Turkish caves were dug, only that they have stood the rest of time. No cave-ins at all is actually very impressive in a part of the world that is notorious for major earthquakes. I don’t necessarily buy that they pre-exist the last ice age and were a kind of Zoroastrian Noah’s Ark. I mean obviously the show is telling me it’s aliens. However, the absence of conventional evidence (as presented by this very biased source!) does not make evidence of the wild alternative viable. I mean, I could spend all day refuting the various points, and it’s kind of a waste of time. What is far more important is that I had never even heard about this vast underground complex in the mountains. The crazy door design was so cool, along with all those air holes. It must have been a volatile time to inspire such an elaborate hideout. I wonder, though, about the notion that it is protection from intruders. It seems like it would be more useful as a kind of underground city where undesirables could be forced to work. Forced to dig, obviously, but also contained such that their craftsmanship skills cannot leave the kingdom. 

Eric: Well, I’ll get my headlamp. I think Tolkien dwarves are the only explanation. In the Hall of the Mountain King was obviously inspired by that cave. Seriously though, I had heard of that, and some salt mines in the region, and I think it is one of the most amazing examples of ancient engineering we’ve seen thus far. Digging by hand in my garden, in the rocky soil of Maine, using a pry bar to move stones to restore rock walls, all of that is incredibly labor intensive. I think the one thing I’ve taken away from this show time and again is that we have a sort of ethnocentrism when looking at the past, where we believe no one could accomplish the things we have and that we’re inherently better. Even if you don’t want to believe in ancient aliens, it helps explain the genesis of such an idea and why it can be so appealing. A labor camp, much like Hebrew slaves in Egypt, makes far more sense.

The link between Apache legend and cave system is fascinating, and the possibility of a land bridge, which I think is commonly accepted as fact at this point, actually makes perfect sense on a timeline. I’d love to spend some more time digging into–pun intended–these legends, if nothing else, to satisfy my curiosity about ant people. 

So much of this show is founded on speculation, which is frustrating, but you have to wonder when they talked about Chinook helicopters and black helicopters flying around in the southwest, that this episode would be very different if they shot it today. The narrator would sound something like this: Could it be that this is the reason for the creation of space force?

What did you think of the Admiral Byrd myth at the end, the guy who flew over the north and south poles?

Joe: I’m not even ready to talk about Admiral Byrd. I had a completely different take on this: Lovecraft. Did he know something we don’t? Last episode was underwater cities. This episode is underground cities. I don’t think Tolkein, at all. Ant people and strange underground lizard people? That’s Lovecraft. Who was a racist. And wrote about these scenarios from a place of fear and loathing. Whereas, I think, the way to approach the story of history when considering these marvelous feats of engineering and art is from a different place. So, let’s say it wasn’t necessarily aliens from space. It was certainly constructed by aliens to us, here and now. But, again, I am driven to imagine and interpret this whole episode from the lens of Lovecraft.

I think the “Hollow Earth” theory is kind of kooky on its face. Where does magma come from in this scenario? I don’t know about that. I do think that the idea of tesseracts and wormholes can provide some interesting insight in this scenario. It’s like the door of Howl’s Moving Castle from the film (not the book). Turn the dial and it’s one city. Turn the dial again, and it’s another. When we think of these underground cities,  and wander among them, I wonder at the limitation of our own perspective in time. From the back side of one of those cool rolling doors, they could just leave it closed and we wouldn’t even know it was there in enough time passing. What is sleeping in the center of the earth may, in fact, be a dragon. But, it is a dragon in a tesseract separated from the magma, itself, by time. When it returns to devour the world, will we even have the tools to measure the way it comes?

Now, I’m speculating, but that’s what this show does to me. I see the iffy angles and corners of the argument they construct, and engage in speculation of my own. Unlike the straight history shows that paint a single story, I’m left drifting into my own imagination, trying to bend and twist logic and ideas around my own way of coming to terms with what I am being told. In one way, it’s a form of mental preservation. I’m consciously rejecting the narrative of propaganda being sold to me by the screen. On the other hand, it also paints me into the corner of the victim because these ideas are still entering my head and I’m playing with them, trying to justify and rationalize them, seeking out the stories that I already know that support the architecture of ideation that led that Scottish adventurer into the wilderness after lost caves that might as well be El Dorado.

Is there anything in your life where you feel you might be a little guilty of that same impulse to adventure and wild story? This man read a book by someone who has appeared on the show, traveled across the world to meet a priest in a foreign city about artifacts that have been lost in time. Now, the artifacts have disappeared, and the man has died without finding his great cave, and his daughter accumulates artifacts and continues to scour Ecuador for ancient signs, imbued with her father’s mission perhaps at the expense of a normal, healthy, quotidian Scottish life.

I wonder if my own urge to art is a little consumed with that same irrational adventurism, and I dive into a word processor looking for aliens. (Note to readers: I write science fiction. Published a lot of it.) I hope my son is able to find his own form of madness, and leave the alien hunting to me.

Eric: I was going to say the same thing about writing. I’m more psychological than sci-fi though. Back when I worked in long-term care, taking care of elderly people on long, 16 hour overnight shifts, I’d often feel as though I would walk through a door and turn around be somewhere else. In someone’s memory palace. Drifting through their dementia. There’s a sort of freedom in allowing your mind to wander and come up different solutions, imagining someone else’s past, and that creativity is what gave us, as a species, an evolutionary advantage. New tools, new solutions for storing food and cultivating. That’s all imagination at work. 

Creative solutions are what led to beliefs such as superstition, myths and Gods. This show has just pushed all of its chips in on aliens to explain misunderstood phenomena that ancient people would have attributed to various deities. I think Lovecraft and aliens speak to that, on some level. 

The ironic thing is, there’s probably a lot of truth to show that’s hinted at, right in front of our noses. Quantum physics theorizes that there are other dimensions for a reason. Your brain went right to it with Lovecraft. So, if Men in Black had it right, that it’s right there under our noses, think the government knows something we don’t?

Joe: I think space force is less important than space colonization, and I’d like to think that we could do that peacefully enough, for now, that we wouldn’t need to blow each other up over endless sky. Honestly, one of the great arguments for peace in space is the eventual abandonment of scarcity. Once one could travel between stars and planets with ease, why would one bother fighting to death over anything? Just find another planet – there’s plenty out there to choose from – and fly on and fly on and terraform with the technology that one has. With enough tools, enough traveling, let the evil empire stand alone, and fight no one. Just fly on. Space force? No. Space colonization! This is my presidential platform in the next election, naturally, and I’m sure my rallying cry will unite the disparate political threads if the secret alien masters move to support my cause.

Eric: What about healthcare? I jest. Colonization is important. This planet is going to shrug our species off like insects and keep right on going in a few centuries if things don’t change. Let’s hope our kids get to see what secrets space holds. 

Joe: The ancient aliens did seem to provide socialized healthcare, of a sort. They were interbreeding and managing us as a species, and it’s hard to do that without some sort of socialized or integrated system of care. Do you think aliens have memory palaces? Nevermind. I think the government knows more and less than what we know. The show is an example of what I mean: The more information you have, the more it is possible to get lost in eratta and see only what you want to see in the data. Someone on the internet quotes somebody as saying the greatest challenge we face as a species is to see exactly what’s in front of our face.

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