The Art of Playing God -- Lessons from UMMO

2006-12-02 07:38:00

Back in 1955, Jose Luis Jordan Pena was also thinking about paranoia -- he suspected it was a lot more common than people thought, not a "deviation" but a standard feature of the civilized human. He also suspected that humans were easily conditioned and controlled, and basically irrational and emotional beings -- at least that's what I get from his experiment. In 1966, prominent Spanish scientists and media figures started getting mysterious phone calls and letters from someone who claimed to be an extra-terrestrial entity from planet UMMO. They were part of a group that was on Earth to study mankind and they were reaching out to who they perceived to be the intellectual elite.

Not to spoil the mystery right off, but the man behind all this was of course Jose Luis Pena. The mystery is how his hoax took on a life of it's own, spawning cults that exist to this day and integrating itself into the entire tapestry of New Age mythology, along with the Council of Nine, Aghartha and Icke's reptilians.

The Inner Circle

Pena was naturally interested in pushing the envelope. After all, engineering culture on a religious or mythic scale is a power that has only existed less than a century now, and it's probably the single strangest and most important frontier of science right now. (Well, aside from all the other equally important ones, like universal translation, nanotechnology, mind control and neurology. Oh, and genetics and astronomy and urban assault forestry.)

As the legend of UMMO grew, Pena tested the limits of what he could accomplish, especially with scientists and highly educated marks. You have to admire his sense of ethics.

Bioluminescence brainsturbatorThe interest expressed in Kirlian photography by certain members of Spain's "Sociedad de Parapsicologia" prompted Jordan Pena to realize that people, regardless of their educational or economic background, are fascinated by any phenomenon from which light is issued in a strange way. This led him to create the fictitious deity "Pirophos" and gather some twenty-odd persons in a grimy room in Madrid. One of Jordan Pena's co-conspirators, known only as "C," read out a letter (a tool that had worked well for UMMO) to the congregation, from "our beloved charismatic leader Phoros," living somewhere in the United States. As the lights went out, the parties in attendance were startled to see a bluish light issuing from C's mouth - proof positive that the Great God Pirophos had chosen the speaker as the "regional Phoselek" for all of Spain. The hoaxer told his interviewer that the bluish light was "a basic yet uncommon triboluminescent phenomenon which requires the use of habitual and easily digestible substances." But that wasn't the only surprise the master hoaxer held in store for his well-heeled disciples: on a table covered by a purple cloth stood a large glass container which contained a scintillating light which bathed the faces of all present in an eerie glow. Many of the economists, doctors, and engineers present dropped to their knees in the presence of the Great God Pirophos - who was in fact an amalgam of bioluminescent bacteria in a nutrient agar culture. Later on, explained Jordan Pena, "Pirophos" would be created based on a compound of phosphorus diluted in kerosene or toluene.
Anyone asking themselves tribolumiwhaaa? -- get some peppermint Life Savers, stand in front of a mirror, turn the lights off, and chew with your mouth open. Little Crowleys who are interested in researching this further should begin with this bioluminescence FAQ

A Salute to Skillz

Pena did a truly outstanding job. He is still fairly mum about who helped him out -- so perhaps this is not credit where credit is due, perhaps he had an entire staff of younger, more intelligent and creative interns who he never paid. In all accounts of the UMMO phenomenon -- the early stages, when Pena still had the illusion of control -- what shines through is the man's attention to detail, and the way he walks both sides of fence between plausibility and room for doubt. Dig:
do not look at hand. there is no hand. look away from hand."The reception of the xerocopied manuscripts was often preceded by a series of mysterious telephone calls in a monotone voice without inflection inviting questions on distinct scientific themes. The tel -ephone calls were long winded, often lasting more than a half hour! The callers identified themselves as "a visitor to Earth from the planet UMMO". According to civil construction engineer Eririque Villagrasa, - who was one of the first contacted, "The voices sounded like they came from a computer, because of the incredible precision of response to questions I asked. "These conversations often ended with invitation to the person called to request information on a theme special interest to him. In a few days he would receive the information requested in the form of a copied monograph, sometimes accompanied by surprising drawings, tables, graphs, and even photographs and microfilm images, especially prepared for the report, and addressed and mailed to them in ordinary mail. They were always authenticated by a curious seal stamped on the margin of the message."

Best Party Trick Ever?

Hey, Corporate America -- you want market penetration that's deeper than Jung? How about a UFO sighting where the craft is rocking your f***ing logo? Where do you think the bidding starts when Black Triangles finally go public? Smart mutants see a growth industry in Godhood, and we want in. Being able to summon UFOs is about as cool as Kung Fu gets, and I think we can all agree on that. For instance, the greatest living magician I'm aware of right now is the Prophet Yahweh, who has done exactly that, repeatedly, on demand for TV station News crews. I'm not saying it's real, I'm saying it's badass. Hats off to you, sir.
Ummo UFO landing brainsturbator"I maintain that it all began as some kind of joke that later got out of hand," he concludes. "The real mystery is why so many people had believed in them for so long."
Well, it might have something to do with the actual UFO sightings like the image to the left, with large flying objects prominently protraying the symbol of the Ummo group that was sending the letters. On May 20th, 1967 the newspaper Informacsones reported that the UMMO group would be leaving Earth, meeting a ship outside Madrid on the 5th of June. Apparently, this actually happened and got photographed by three different people. Pena, as near as I can tell, has never mentioned this detail in his discussions of the prank. This would appear to be a whole new level of commitment to realism in cult studies --- either that, or something weird. It's also entirely possible that all thre photographers were working together in order to generate more evidence. There is an abundant and entertaining history of faked UFO photos, and it might even be an article someday -- so perhaps there were other agents at work on the UMMO machine.
"Some of you keep saying that we must give you proof. We continue to repeat, until you are tired of hearing, that we are not concerned whether or not you believe us. We can operate much more effectively in anonymity, and we are not going to be so naive as to introduce ourselves to you openly simply to satisfy your need for proof."
There is nothing remotely juvenile or half-assed about this prank -- UMMO was like the Simmarillion, House of Leaves, or the Codex Seraphineanus.
"The most significant physical difference between ourselves and the Ummites is that, during their puberty, both sexes' vocal cords are so severely affected that speech becomes impossible. Adults therefore communicate by telepathy."
Further Reading for Curious Primates
Outstanding article about the Prophet Yahweh, by Jeff Wells of Rigorous Intuition. He pretty much always does outstanding articles, and it's worth spending the week or so to catch up on everything there. Detailed collection of files on the UMMO history, which I stole from abundantly for this article. The best place to start. There is also an English archive of UMMO documents. Brief but quality article from Strange Magazine about UMMO. UMMO's Daughters, dope article about recent developments in the "prank becomes religion" process from Fortean Times.

Oawoolea Uewa Oemm

4 = magnetic field generator 6 = propulsion equipment 10 = the "gelatinous mass"...perhaps a translation snafu. 11 = floating cabin 12 = magnetic cavity 13 = magnetic field generator 17 = exterior wall

The Good Old Days

Pena has been more outspoken recently, even giving an extended and f-f-fascinating interview.

In: Do you, Jose Luis Jordan Peña, believe that the UMMO phenomenon escaped from your control and in a certain way, much harm could've come to people who believed it to the end? JP: Yes, absolutely. My statements saying that it was false, that UMMO was a fallacy, [came about] when I learned that the "Edelweiss" sect had caused some children harm by branding them with the UMMO emblem. Unfortunately, there is no belief that can be considered entirely harmless. In fact, it has harmed some people. I'd say only a few, but yes, it has harmed them. P: Do you regret having staged the UMMO hoax? JP: I do not regret having started it. I regret having made the truth known. Let's see. You have some kids. And you give the kids presents for Three Kings Day, or from Santa Claus if you're in North America. What a delight it is to see the joy of those children who believe in Santa Claus or the Three Kings! Now imagine that an older kid comes along - a jerk, because you'd have to be one - who tells them: "Don't believe it! It's your parents who give you presents! There are no Three Kings or Santa Claus!" It's downright brutal, isn't it?

Humans are like that, huh? It's all fun and games until they start branding each other. This kind of paternal bullshit is something Brainsturbator will rage against for centuries to come, the belief that there's stuff our poor little brains can't handle, so we're best kept in the dark. Even though it's completely true, it's still just another excuse to abuse power.

His recent interview is also especially notable for the hints it drops, but of course, I'm a paranoiid lunatic myself. Although the invisible finger probably points to some sort of Vatican or CIA catacomb, it's interesting to look right next door at France, where Franck Fontaine would get abducted, apparently as part of a French intelligence operation.

In: Yes, the illusions of many people were toyed with after believing in such a strange and controversial matter as UMMO. And to close the subject, Jose Luis, we have always had this question and we've always wanted to ask you: Were you ever aided by any official agency when it came to setting up [the UMMO affair]? JP: Let's see're asking me a very sensitive question. I can already say that no Spanish government agency helped me. CSED, for example, the information service of the old CESID. There was no help from Spanish officialdom, but the question extends to other countries, and I would sooner remain silent.

Take it Away, DEI 98!

In closing, my name in Ummite is "Anaugaa." Only fair to let someone from UMMO have the final words:

"For 30 years we have studied your science, your culture, history and civilizations All this information we have carried from your Earth to Ummo in our titanium crystals codified with data. We HAVE DEMONSTRATED to you our culture and our technology in purely descriptive form - so you cannot convert them or realize them practically. We have done this because we note with sadness that you employ your sciences primarily for war and the destruction of your own selves, your principal objective. You are like children playing with terrible and dangerous toys which will destroy you. WE CAN DO NOTHING! A cosmic law says that each world must take its own path, to survive or to perish. You have chosen the second. You are destroying your planet - annihilating your species, and contaminating your atmosphere and your seas until now this is irreversible. With sadness we contemplate your insanity, and understand that the remedy is only in yourselves. We can not look forward a great distance into your future because your psyche are completely unpredictable and capricious, bordering on paranoia. As your elder brothers in this cosmos, we urgently desire with all our hearts your salvation.Do not destroy your beautiful blue planet, a rare atmospheric world that floats so majestically in space, so full of life. IT IS YOUR CHOICE."

Ummo UFO landing brainsturbator

In: Don Jose Luis, a lot has been written about UMMO, and the conclusion was reached that those letters, sent to a bunch of personalities, scientists and even policemen from the 1960s in Spain, were letters signed under the identity of beings from the planet...

JP: Extraterrestrials, aliens...

In: Exactly, from the planet UMMO itself. The fact is that much was written about that. We even recall that the "aliens" themselves would make phone calls to radio shows and [would agree] to brief interviews. Much has been written, and in the end the conclusion has been reached that it was all some sort of sociological experiment...or a hoax.

JP: Yes indeed. A social experiment to test individuals of a scientific background. And there were many "victims", victims in quotes, due to the fact that they believed it all.

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