Kephas and Strieber

A Love Affair

Kephas Continues

@Kephas –

Answering your ‘riposte’ properly would really involve a full review of your original piece. Luckily, an adequate review has already been provided, and you can read it at your leisure by clicking on the link already given.

I’ll summarize my views here though for people who can’t be bothered to read it.

It is in no way legitimate in my view to say in print, for example, that someone is a pedophile, and then in an audio interview some years later to say, “sometimes I exaggerate to make a point. What I really meant to say is that he is fond of children.”

Yet the above is precisely what you did with Strieber. Your original piece called Strieber’s sanity into question a number of ways, as reflected for example in statements like:

“On the contrary, they seem to have unbalanced him to a disturbing degree. This throws into question everything Strieber has had to say until now.”

Now, the many and manifold paths you take to cast doubt on Strieber’s sanity would require too much unpacking to go into here. It is easier to show the basic problem with your piece by simply looking at the way you cite evidence.

In your original piece, you repeatedly take Strieber out of context in order to mislead the reader. Where Strieber asks a rhetorical question in ‘Shedding the Dark Side’ you present it as an affirmative opinion. Where in “The Key” Strieber asks his interlocutor if the visitors were angels or demons, you have him down as calling them demons.

Does this really have to be demonstrated? It is easy enough.

Your original piece:

“More disturbingly, in The Key, Strieber refers to the beings who visited him in 1985 as “demons.” “

Here is the actual passage from “The Key” where ‘demons’ are mentioned in connection with the ‘visitors’:

“Was I in the company of demons or aliens on that night in 1985?”

The above is the only place where the word ‘demon’ appears in connection with the visitors, and it is in the form of a question: angels or demons? Nonetheless, you state that Strieber “refers to the beings who visited him in 1985 as ‘demons’ “. When someone reads the actual passage, it cannot be more clear that you misrepresented what he wrote.

Isn’t that enough? We’re talking about basic fidelity to another person’s words here. In case it isn’t, here is the problem with the first example mentioned above, the rhetorical question from ‘Shedding the Dark Side Part Two’. Here is Strieber:

“Do you see how complex this is? Are you following the forked moral path I am treading along? How can an ‘angel’ rape and kill? Of course, they must be demons. I’ve got it all wrong!”

In your original piece, you start your section ‘Angels or Demons?’ with the above quote. You spend the section advancing the thesis that Strieber oscillates between thinking of the ‘visitors’ as angels and demons and that this is Strieber being ‘distressingly mundane’. To support your view he thinks of them as demons you misrepresent the passage from “The Key”, discussed above. But what about the accuracy of the thesis itself?

Here is Strieber in the very next paragraph of ‘Shedding’:

“First, the whole demon vs. angel analogy is, frankly, too weak and forced to fit the situation.”

I really can’t think of much more to say than this. In the section ‘Angels or Demons?’ alone, you claim Strieber calls the ‘visitors’ demons in “The Key” when he does not in order to advance a thesis on Strieber’s ‘inconsistency’ and ‘confusion’ regarding whether the ‘visitors’ are angels or demons — when Strieber himself rejects the opposition in the very next paragraph of the piece you quote.

This is, of course, also — by the way — the same piece you also use in order to prove that Strieber has an earlier, more sane period and a latter, less sane period. By quoting from different paragraphs. Of the same piece.

Whether because of sloppy scholarship or outright tricks, you present this ‘evidence’ — and there are more examples — to call Strieber’s sanity into question. You assert that he has a “preoccupation” with the dark side that “has colored his writings to a disturbing degree” combined with a “morbid fascination” with “darker undercurrents” that “border on obsession”. You use terms like “fragmentation” and “schizophrenic”. You make statements that Strieber is “unbalanced […] to a disturbing degree”.

Yet, laughably, in your comment above, you say that none of this to suggest he is “mentally ill”.


I think anyone may be forgiven for thinking your original piece is a hit piece. It willfully rips Strieber’s words out of context in a way that is obvious to any disinterested observer. It does so to support a thesis that Strieber is all of the above, not to mention a cult leader besides (but only in the broadest possible sense!). But according to you, this is not to suggest he is mentally ill — or a cult leader!

Illuminatus above hits the nail on the head. You can try to beg off being called a scholar, but basic fidelity to another’s words isn’t required only of credentialed scholars. It’s elementary. Term Paper 101, if you like.



Kephas and Strieber – A Comment on Hidden Experience Audio

However Horsley’s views on Strieber have evolved, he is being more than a little disingenuous in the comments section to the Hidden Experience Audio when he suggests that he was using ‘cult leader’ simply a bit more broadly than normal in his hit piece on Strieber. No doubt the same could be said of its central thesis, i.e. that Strieber’s personality defects owe to a specifically schizophrenic failure to come to terms with a certain level of reality, dubbed the ‘Imaginal’, which Horsley, happily, has named and invented all by himself. In this latter, Horsley obviously meant ‘schizophrenic’ in the broadest possible sense while at the same time going out of his way to convey that it was literally true.

Strieber, naturally, is not a saint; he even has certain obvious limitations including an occasional credulousness, and a high regard for himself that sometimes bleeds through. Horsley’s original piece is so out of place in its many-sided condemnation of Strieber that it seems rather clear: Horsley is projecting onto Strieber his own personality defects. In other words, Horsley is barking mad.

One need only view his YouTube videos, where he sings of his bitter disappointment with a certain cult leader being — of all things — a fraud — to discover that Horsley’s quiet intensity is really the intensity of a crazy person.

Now, one is perfectly entitled to be a crazy person, even a crazy person with fairly weak theoretical positions, as long as one’s cultural interventions don’t drag the aggregate into falsehood. In Horsley’s case, his original Strieber piece served as a rallying cry for all sorts of anti-Strieber actors aching with anxiety over what to do with Strieber in general. But what’s worse, because of the general mental midgetry in the ‘paranormal’ field, Horsley’s theoretical ruminations — which serve as the only basis for his original Strieber piece apart from his more or less ad hominem attack — are considered intellectually advanced, whereas they are simply the usual synthesis of ordinary observations and inspired metaphors, albeit expressed with higher clarity than that achievable by those illiterates who, for example, rail against the straw man of the ‘ETH’. (Those who insist and simultaneously attack the term ‘extra-terrestrial’ for meaning ‘from other nearby planets’ as if  ‘extra-curricular’ automatically meant ‘baseball’.)

Horsley as much as admits that his ‘Strieber’ is a perfect projection in the interview. Horsley’s own frustrations when it comes to Strieber are revealed when he mentions in passing his failed attempts to contact/to converse with Strieber. It is as if Horsley’s subconscious desire to be a believer, to be a cult follower, is something he simultaneously resists and pursues. Strieber, for having been the object of that desire, ends up being a source of intense frustration to Horsley, as is evident in his piece.

The only theoretical contribution that Horsley makes is a retrograde one: the contribution of irrationalism. In this interview, he declares that the experiences such as Strieber’s not only are distorted by what he calls the ‘ego’ — and also the unconscious — but are distorted by default.

There are two basic objections that can be made to this view. One: the idea that otherworldly experience is distorted by the ego or the unconscious (Horsley can’t decide) can be extended to experience in general. In other words, there is no reason why my experience of this moment is not as distorted and constructed relative to agencies as the ego or unconscious as the so-called contact experience.

Two: given that ‘distortion’ can be located in all experience, there is no reason not to take the final dialectical step: all experience is not only distorted — it is distortion by definition. Distorted, synthesized, constituted, etc. (Experience is distortion as such.)

Horsley might object that the so-called ‘Imaginal’ is a real realm outside of experience by definition, but this is just a theoretical sleight-of-hand. If the nature of experience is that it is constructed, then there is no point faulting Strieber or others for attempting to understand ‘what happened’ by way of their experiences because for the human being experience is a fait accompli. Saying something different — that distortion only occurs in this mythic other field — is essentially a gesture of pure mythology: it is to posit an ‘other’ realm by way of classic supernatural dualism that can only be as cartoonish as two-dimensional notions of Heaven or Hell.

Now the unconscious flipside of this desire to qualify all experience as false (even when it is of a circumscribed domain) is the naive insistence that there is a true reality being ‘distorted’, ‘obscured’, etc., ‘beyond the veil’. This fantasy of an undistorted, fully revealed reality is essentially that: only a fantasy — unless there is a mystical union, a direct accession to the All that is so complete, so total that to the extent that it obliterates the ego or any spatio-temporal perspective it is no longer experience. It is being.

If experience by definition is an ongoing construct, a spatio-temporal construct that encompasses both inner sense and outer sense — talking of an ‘actual’ reality outside of the map, as Horsley does, is a contradiction in terms. Faulting Strieber for advancing his experiences — and his descriptions of his experiences — as universal therefore shows itself as the piece of passive-aggression that it is: given that Strieber frequently qualifies the ‘truth’ of his experiences, what his insistence on their universality is, is an insistence on their universal value. Horsley, I would submit, is not unaware of this — unconsciously — in his critique. Horsley, and Mac Tonnies, another intellectual aspirant — both in their criticisms of Strieber have more than a little of the gesture of slaying the father. In other words, Strieber is targeted — as Horsley mostly confesses — in both cases because he is an authority, i.e. represents a place of authority in the paranormal field: a place to which both Horsley and Tonnies aspire.


The bottom line to this bit of criticism by way of intellectual psychobiography by way of internet polemic is: it isn’t enough to amend or ‘update’ his original piece on Strieber to include a more nuanced view, as Horsley has purportedly done. His original piece was motivated by grossly psychological considerations and demonstrated poor scholarship. Its theoretical pretensions failed to disguise that fact. If Strieber’s work is to be analyzed and criticized and understood, the sad or pathetic reaction that some had (e.g. Tonnies) that Horsley’s piece was somehow a first step or an achievement — only reflects the intellectual weakness that characterizes participants in the ‘field’. — Better simply to recognize it as the abortion it was than to dress it up, pamper it, and put it in a crib.

A link to an article that demolishes Horsley/Kephas’ original piece on Strieber: