Over at Silver Screen Saucers, the always-interesting Website about Hollywood’s long-running engagement with UFOs, you’ll find a very long and totally absorbing essay by author and illustrator Mike Clelland about “a deep dark hole of synchro-weirdness” that opened up for him when he rewatched the 1974 television movie The Stranger Within, which he first saw as a child.
Clelland begins by noting that
Something extremely strange is interwoven into the UFO phenomenon. There are weird coincidences and synchronicities that seem to merge with the overall topic in ways that defy any easy explanation. This includes a kind of predictive manifestation in our pop culture. If you dig just a little bit you’ll find that movies, radio drama, literature and (especially) comic books all have a way of anticipating the plot points of the unfolding UFO drama.
Then he goes on to examine the multiply entangled weirdnesses of the movie’s resonances with the djinn motif of I Dream of Jeannie (since both the movie and the series featured Barbara Eden in the lead role), the basis of The Stranger Within in a short story written two decades earlier by Richard Matheson, Matheson’s own synchronistic nest of ingoing and outgoing creative and philosophical influences, the role and reality of hypnosis and channeling in alien abduction research, the birth and evolution of the human/alien hybrid meme, its thematic links to Egyptian and Christian religion and mythology, and his own personal experience of “missing time” after witnessing an aerial light flash when he was 12 years old in 1974 — the very same year, again, that The Stranger Within aired on ABC.
Especially fascinating in the midst of this thoroughly fascinating long-form exercise in creative synchronistic reflection are Clelland’s musings on the implications of these matters for the experience of creativity:
Richard Matheson’s output over the last 62 years has been astounding. The consistency and breadth leaves me dumbfounded. His first short story was published in 1950 and for the next decade he really cranked ‘em out. The short story Trespass (the basis for the movie) emerged during that creative frenzy. Like his other early stories, it was printed in a pulp sci-fi magazine.
I am convinced that there is a very real power in the creative process, and when abandoning (or disciplining) oneself to this kind of artistic inspiration, something mysterious can unfold. The artist can somehow tap into deeper truths. The work-a-day routine of sitting in front of a typewriter (or canvas, or 2-ply Bristol) can be seen as a ritual act, very much like the forgotten alchemist who sits before his candle. Matheson must have been on fire during those early years, and something weirdly predictive seems to have been manifested in this tight little story.
These ideas have been explored magnificently by Jeffrey Kripal in his book Mutants and Monsters [sic] and by Christopher Knowles on his blog The Secret Sun. Both these authors have examined the strange emergence of mythology in the tawdry pages of super hero comics and low-brow magazines.
— “The Stranger Within: Foreshadowing, Unexplainable Pregnancies, Hybrid Children and the Creative Process,” Silver Screen Saucers, October 11, 2012
Note that Clelland has also made a longer version of the same essay available as a freely downloadable PDF (via Scribd).