“The Case of Kirk Allen,” by Jacques Vallee
Today I’m going to type out one of the most illuminating passages from one of Jacques Vallee’s best books, Revelations. It comes at the conclusion of his case study on UMMO, a UFO cult the existed in Europe and Latin America. (If you’re not familiar with UMMO, start here and I’ll get you up to speed.) It is the story of how one man, by the name of Kirk Allen, fabricated an entire cosmology in fantastic detail of an alien world. His inventions had such intricate detail and internal consistency that he nearly drove his therapist insane.
I will be referring back to this repeatedly over the next month, because it’s an important point in this information age: you need to be more cynical. I don’t mean bitter and constipated, I mean too informed to fall for bullshit. I mean able to instinctively recognize when someone is lying to you. The Overload Maneuver is a classic cult technique. Who are you to judge the Urantia Book until you’ve read all 2097 small-type pages? It could be the answer to everything and you won’t know until you’ve read it, right?
There are many similar cases, of course. Consider the Codex Serpahinianus, an entire illustrated encyclopedia about another world, written in a completely unique and still undeciphered language. Consider the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, who created Middle Earth in such detail that today many people suggest he was actually describing the secret history of the planet Earth, based on some occult sources he uncovered at Oxford. And consider the case of Kirk Allen—I’ll turn the microphone over to Jacques Vallee for the rest of this article:
If we listen to the adepts of UMMO, like Jean Pierre Petit, a jamor argument against the idea that a single man, or even a small group, could have manufactured the UMMO material resides in the very weight of the documents. How could one person have manufactured the hundreds of reports, some containing hundreds of pages, which comprimise the UMMO corpus? What about the maps, the tables, the mathematical system, the formulas, the codes? Clearly, the believers say, what we have here is the product of an entire civilization.
The people who say this have never studied the psychiatric literature. They have never heard of Kirk Allen.
On a sultry June morning in Baltimore a successful psychiatrist named Dr. Robert Lindner recieved a phone call that would initiate the most remarkable case of his career, a case ht would later summarize in his book The Fifty-Minute Hour: A Collection of True Psychoanalytic Tales.
The phone call was from a government physician at a classified installation in New Mexico, an installation where reserach on the H-Bomb was in progress (although Lindner does not mention the fact). The physician wanted to refer a patient to him. He was a brilliant research scientist in his thirties who was “perfectly normal in every way” except that he seemed to have acquired an amazing amount of detailed information about another world—a world with which he seemed to have become increasingly preoccupied to the point of neglecting his work.
When asked by his superiors about the drop in the efficiency of his department, Kirk apologized profusely and said he would “try to spend more time on this planet.” It is at that point that the government decided he needed expert help. They would fly the scientist to Baltimore as often as nescessary, all expenses paid.
Kirk Allen arrived in Dr. Lindner’s office three days later.
“Any speculations I had about him as a mad scientist evaporated when I saw him in my office,” writes the physician. “A vigorous-looking man of average height, clear-eyed and blonde, his seersucker unwrinkled despite the long trip and the humidity...he looked like a junior executiv. He spoke with just enough confidence to let me know that the situation he now found himself in was slightly embarrasing.”
During the first session, Dr. Lindener elicited detailed information about his patient’s background and childhood. He learned that Kirk Allen was an avid reader of science fiction and had somehow become convinced that a series of stories in which the main character had the same name as himself were really parts of his biography! The stories had to do with the faraway world of other planets. It became an obsession with him to complete this biography, to establish the continuity of his life, to resolve the contradictions between the various parts of what he called “the record.” The succeeded in doing it when he discovered that he had the power to travel psychically to the world of the other Kirk Allen.
Dr. Lindner soon realized two things—first, that his patient was utterly mad; second, that his psychosis was life-sustaining and would be very difficult to manage. He requested that Kirk turn over to him the documents on which his research was based.
It is impossible to convey more than a bare impression of Kirk’s records. These were, to begin with, about twelve thousand pages of typescript comprising the amended biography of Kirk Allen. This was divided into some 200 chapters and read like fiction. Appended to these pages were approximately 200 more of notes in Kirk’s handwriting, containing corrections necessitated by his more recent “researches,” and a huge bundle of scaps and jottings on envelopes, recipeted bills, laundry slips, sheets from memo pads, etc. These latter were largely incomprehensible since they were written in Kirk’s private shorthand, while some of them were hasty designs and sketches, mathematical equations, or symbolic representations of something or other. Each, however, was carefully numbered and lettered with red pencil to indicate where it belonged in the main script.
In addition to this bulky manuscript and its appendages there were:
1. A glossary of names and terms that ran to more than 100 pages.
2. 82 full-color maps drawn to scale, 23 of planetary bodies in four projections, 31 of land masses on these planets, 14 labeled “Kirk Allen’s Expedition to ____” and the remainder of cities on the various planets.
3. 61 Architectural sketches and elevations, some colored, some drawn only in ink, but all carefully scaled and annotated.
4. 12 genealogical tables.
5. An 18 page description of the galactic system in which Kirk Allen’s home planet was contained, with four astronomical charts, one for each of the seasons, and nine star maps of the skies from observatories on the other planets in the system.
6. A 200 page history of the empire Kirk Allen ruled, with a three-page table of dates and names of battles or outstanding historical events.
7. A series of 44 folders containing from two to twenty pages each, dealing with some specific aspect of the planets. Typical titles, neatly printed on these folders, were “The Fauna of Srom Olma I,” “The Transportation System of Seraneb,” “The Application of Unified Field Theory and the Mechanics of the Start Drive to Space Travel,” and so on.
8. Finally, 306 drawings, some in water color, some in chalk, some in crayon, of people, animals, plants, insects, weapons, utensils, machines, clothing, vehicles, musical instruments and furniture.
It is a catalog that dwarfs anything in the UMMO literature, anything in Urantia or the other fringe areas of the UFO field. As Dr. Lindner writes:
The reader can imagine my dismay at the sheer bulk of this matter: I do not know if he can appreciate the misgivings with which I approached the task of weaning this man from his madness.
The roots of Kirk Allen’s fantasies were evident from the story of his childhood and adolescence. The son of a naval officer who was assinged as governmor of a remote Pacific island where they were the only white family, his mother abandoned him for a series of governesses, one of whom seduced him when he was eleven years old before running away with the husband of the island’s only schoolteacher. From then on the boy, who was gifted with unusual intelligence, spent his time reading every book he could find and fantasizing about remote worlds.
Dr. Lindner considered several strategies to try and cure Kirk Allen. He rejected shock therapy as inhumane and extreme. He also rejected the use of hypnosis, a technique which he had used often in other situations, for reaons that today’s UFOlogists would do well to consider:
Kirk’s hold on reality was tenuous enough as it was, and I frankly feared to break the thin thread by which his connection with the world was maintained.
Dr. Lindner decided the only alternative was to enter the patient’s fantasy and to try and pry him from the psychosis from that position. By then Kirk Allen had moved to Baltimore. The physician steeped himself in his records and and became increasingly fascinated as he worked through them, hour after hour, with Kirk Allen as his mentor. Whenever he would detect some gap in his data, he would “send” his patient to get the missing information psychically. At first this was just a convenient technique for Dr. Lindner—but he became increasingly caught in the game and often found himself anxiously awaiting the requested answers.
One day the doctor noticed a major discrepancy in the star maps, which used a scale measured in ecapalim, an Olmayan unit equivalent to a mile and 5/16ths. They worked on the discrepancy, and Dr. Lindner insisted that Kirk go back to his interplanetary institute to check the original records.
There were several such incidents, in which the therapist sought to displace Kirk’s obsession by sharing it with him. As he did so, however, he found himself increasingly immersed in the fantasy. He actually reversed roles with Kirk, often solving by himself the discrepancies and errors he found in the Olmayan records!
One day when Dr. Lindner was expecting Kirk Allen with a special anxiety because he had sent him on a key mission to retrieve more data, he found his patient strangely uninterested in the results. When he queried him eagerly, Kirk shurgged and finally confessed that for the last few weeks he had been lying to the physician.
“I’ve been making it up,” he sputtered, “inventing all that...that...nonsense!”
“What about the trips?” asked Dr. Lindner with what he describes as a mixture of disappointment and triumph, of concern and relief.
“What trips?” asked Kirk Allen. “Why, it’s been weeks since I gave up that foolishness.”
The patient in this case has continued to pretend that the trips were real for the sake of his therapist, who was not so utterly caught up in the fantasy that he was fulfilling a need in his own life.
Kirk Allen returned to his research work with the government, leaving Dr. Lindner with the problem of curing himself. That section of the book is probably the most remarkable part of the record:
Until Kirk Allen came into my life I never doubted my own stability. The abberations of the mind were for others. It has been years since I saw Kirk Allen, but I think of him often, and of the days when we roamed the galaxies together.
On long summer nights on Long Island when the sky is filled with stars, Dr. Lindner would look up, smile to himself and whisper “How goes it with the Crystopeds? How are things in Seraneb?”
It’s me again. I hope you enjoyed that.
Vallee assumes that Kirk Allen was delusional. I can understand why many readers would question that assumption. In terms of true believers of the American UFO Faith, from the Greys to Majestic 12 to underground bases, the fact that Kirk Allen worked at a highly classified military installation in New Mexico will appear to be exceptionally signifigant.
As far as what science fiction books Kirk Allen found himself in, I have not been able to figure out what those were.
You might be interested to know who Kirk Allen actually was—most people who have researched this concluded he was Paul Linebarger, who wrote science fiction under pseudonym of Cordwainer Smith. (wiki link) Linebarger is a curious fellow—he literally wrote the book on Psychological Warfare and was responsible for the formation of the first military unit devoted to that art.
That’s pretty darn weird, huh?
All of the illustrations in this article were lifted from the Codex Seraphinianus, not from “Kirk Allen’s” actual manuscripts, which so far as I know have never been made available to the public. Thanks to Brainsturbator Forum member prunesquallor, we have recieved a PDF of the entire Codex Seraphinianus, available here:
Codex Seraphinianus—150 MB PDF
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