Alien | Fiction | Watch The Skies! Also, The Twilight Zone.
"The trigger gave, I felt the underside of the polished butt and it was there, in that sharp but deafening noise, that it all started. I shook off the sweat and sun. I realised that I'd destroyed the balance of the day and the perfect silence of this beach where I'd been happy. And I fired four more times at a lifeless body and the bullets sank in without leaving a mark. And it was like giving four sharp knocks at the door of unhappiness." L'Etranger
"And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass." The Prophet Ezekiel, describing with extraordinary accuracy the featureless lozenge-shape of a flying saucer.
In Albert Camus' L'Etranger, the protagonist Meursault shoots dead an Arabic man. It may be in retaliation for an earlier act of violence. It may also be a longer-term build-up of racial tension relating to Meursault's aiding and abetting a friend of his, Raymond, beating an Arabic girl and being allowed to get away with it, largely thanks to Meursault's public support of his buddy. But, more likely, the murder has less to do with any righteous emotion of Meursault's and more to do with his sense of detachment from other people around him and his absolute lack of concern about whether or not the world sees him as a criminal.
In other news, Thor came out this week, directed by a man who understands the problems of making one's own mark on a piece of adaptive art while maintaining the original piece's integrity and the author's meaning (I'm thinking in particular of Henry V, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Sleuth, and Wild Wild Wild West). Thor is of course itself an adaptation from the much-beloved source piece, Douglas Adams' The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul, in which the Norse God Thor, a hearty, roaring, slightly stupid fellow with mighty abs and a propensity for violence, comes to earth from another dimension and romances an attractive American woman, having lost his hammer Mjolnir.
The Long Dark Tea-Time Of The Soul, much like aforementioned brazen rip-off Thor and very much like Adams' equally bizarre original Dirk Gently novel, which saw an alien inspire Samuel Taylor Coleridge's 'Rime Of The Ancient Mariner' with the first moments of evolution - "slimy things did crawl with legs upon the slimy sea!", deal with the notion of ancient astronauts; the suggestion that the mythology of the supernatural - and in particular mankind's creation of sky-based deities - in fact refer to alien life-forms who chose to nurture certain of our civilisations. This theory found itself popularised by convicted fraudster Erich 'those pyramids with a flat bit on top were landing pads! Ezekiel didn't see God - he saw aliens!' von Daniken. It can also be found in the movie Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, which is itself a rip-off of the disquieting Tintin adventure Flight 714.
More intriguingly, von Daniken's ideas were spread across the US by Rod Serling - whose classic series The Twilight Zone is apparently out in a new DVD boxed set. I plan to pick mine up as soon as I can. I'm also intrigued by the existence of a Dirk Gently radio series, which apparently starred Harry Enfield. I plan to stay as far away from the BBC4 adaptation as possible, which sounds dreadful (you can hear the brainstorming session now. 'Pudgy and short? Unfashionably dressed, with thick spectacles? Why can't we just get Stephen Mangan in instead? He's floppy-haired, awkward and he's good-looking. He's basically Hugh Grant, only he's been in Green Wing which gives him an edgy points.'). Anyone heard it?