Conversation with Whitley Strieber

CNI News Presents
ISCNI*Flash 1.4 - May 2, 1995


This issue of ISCNI*Flash is focused upon world-famous author Whitley Strieber, whose 1987 best-seller Communion told the gripping story of his own encounters with “the visitors,” beings that many people today associate with “alien abduction.” Strieber's new book, Breakthrough: The Next Step, which appears in bookstores nationwide on May 21, describes not only his continuing close encounters but also, according to Strieber, offers “proof” that the visitors are really here.

SPECIAL AOL EVENT MAY 16 – Whitley Strieber will make a special 90-minute guest appearance in AOL's Globe Auditorium on Tuesday, May 16, starting at 10pm Eastern Time (7pm Pacific), sponsored by ISCNI. After brief introductory remarks, he will answer questions from the audience on all aspects of his ongoing contact with “the visitors.”

In this edition of ISCNI*Flash, Whitley Strieber offers a glimpse of what he will share during his live AOL appearance. The following “Conversation with Whitley Strieber” is Copyright © 1995 Whitley Strieber. Reprinted with permission.

The Next Step
by Whitley Strieber
Appears in bookstores May 21 from Harper/Collins



Q:What exactly is the “Breakthrough” that you're referring to in your book's title?

It's on two levels. First, it has become clear why the encounter phenomenon has been surrounded with confusion, secrecy and denial for so long. Related to this is a breakthrough in understanding regarding how encounter can be transformed into a genuine relationship between ourselves and whatever is out there.

Q: What is “The Next Step”?

The next step is about facing facts. Most educated people in our culture have a hard time dealing with the idea that someone with a vastly superior understanding of the world could have come here and then hung back in the shadows rather than identifying themselves – like we might do with a primitive tribe. Coming to terms with this reality, and using it rather than rejecting it, is the next step for that part of our society that has heretofore refused to acknowledge the visitors even exist. From my own experience, and the experiences of others that I am aware of, I do not think we should be intimidated by the visitors. They're not more intelligent than we are but simply more knowledgeable.

Q: Who are you trying to reach with this book?

First, it's for people who have contact experiences or would like to try it, so that they can achieve a real relationship with the visitors on their own, without the intervention of any public authorities, religious groups or investigators trying to mold their experiences and control them. I also want to reach people who have not yet made contact, and don't want to, don't believe it or just don't care. I want them to realize they can open their minds to the possibility instead of simply denying that it exists.

Q: You've already written two runaway bestsellers on the subject of alien encounters. What were the questions that remained unanswered after those two books that you've now set out to address in BREAKTHROUGH?

The question has always been “Why am I so afraid of the visitors?” And the only way to find a solution was to confront my fears again and again and again. In reality it was another witness, Dora Ruffner, who came to the insight necessary to solve the fear problem for me. She said that being with them made it feel as if her own reality was being pushed aside. What she said helped me realize that the mind, to a degree that we do not yet understand, constructs the reality in which we live. And when we confront other minds that construct reality in a completely different way, there is a sense of annihilation that is the source of this deeply instinctive and overwhelming terror. Knowing this and being able to communicate it to others means that we will, in the end, find a way to reconcile our mind with the mind of the visitors.

Q: You set up a series of rigorous conditions for each of the encounters described in BREAKTHROUGH. What were these ground rules?

I decided to disregard anything that did not involve at least one, and preferably more than one, eyewitness besides myself. And by that I did not simply mean two people in a room seeing the same thing. Encounters had to develop as real experiences. The structure of each encounter had to be provably nonhallucinatory, and it had to involve numbers of people. Also, no hypnotically derived memories counted. The visitors responded to this consistently over the years by providing the plethora of multiple witness encounters that are described in this book. Even the most extraordinary and unusual events that took place, such as the movement through time that apparently occurred, were initiated by multiple witness experiences. I should also add that all of these witnesses are readily available and willing to go on the record.

Q: Why are the visitors here?

There can only be one possible answer to that question: they're interested in us. The exact nature of that interest, however, is difficult to know. The one thing I'm pretty sure of is that they're not here for negative reasons. If this was a pulp-fiction-like “invasion” from another world, for example, the technological superiority they have shown would suggest that it would have been over in minutes. Indeed, the visitors appear to be moving very slowly and acting very carefully in order to avoid bruising our psyches.

Q: What about all the scary stories?

Some of them appear to be disinformation planted by religious groups, secret societies and government agents, which are designed to spread fear so that people will turn to these groups for help if the visitors ever do appear. However, some of the stories of harsh treatment are entirely true. I have experienced harsh treatment myself, in the past, and some of the witnesses I have gotten letters from have had the same thing happen.

Q: Some of the earliest known UFO incidents date back to 1947-almost fifty years ago. Surely fifty years is a long enough time for the visitors to “move very slowly.” If they really exist, wouldn't they have made themselves known in a broader fashion by now?

Yes, fifty years would seem enough time for them to “get to know us.” But in fifty years the great majority of people in our society – including the most intelligent people, the best educated people, and the people in power – have been in denial. It is true that there does exist a tacit acceptance of the reality of the visitors, or at least the possibility of that reality, among ordinary everyday people throughout most of the world. But parallel to this culture of acceptance is a culture of denial among the more empowered segments of society.

Q: When will the visitors come?

They'll come when we have evolved an effective means for a person of average intelligence to get into a fruitful direct relationship with them, with no authorities or control groups between her or himself and them. They come, actually, all the time. They appeared over Washington D.C. for a period of time in July of 1952, but there was no coherent response from us, so it did not develop into permanent contact. They did this over Mexico in the summer of 1991, and again, there was a lack of response. They will do it again soon, this time over a first-world city.

Q: What kind of response are they looking for?

Our minds operate in three dimensions of reality, and are embedded in a fourth, which we call time. Their minds are extratemporal, and we have the potential to become this way also. Their aim is to help us grow in this manner so that we can enter into a meaningful relationship with them and with others like them in the universe. If large numbers of people all over the world respond to the display when it starts by spending time each day just sitting quietly and sending the message that their minds are now open and they are ready to begin working toward this expansion, permanent contact may well result.

Q: You've received roughly 140,000 letters in response to your two previous books. What sort of things did people write about?

Most of the letters were from people who wanted to tell me what had happened to them. They were not asking for help, but had seized the opportunity to talk about something they had largely kept secret from everyone including their closest family members for fear of embarrassment. I should add that they almost universally demanded, and got, absolute privacy. Many of them feared for their jobs if their experiences were revealed. I did receive occasional letters from people who were deeply disturbed by what had happened to them, but the vast majority of letters reflected puzzlement, interest, and a healthy level of concern. They wrote mostly to clarify in their own minds what had happened to them. In general, people reported great fear during the remembered parts of their encounters and later puzzlement as to why they had been so afraid.

Q: What sort of encounters do people have with the visitors?

The vast majority of contact and encounter experiences take place in the home. About a third of them involve family groups, neighborhood groups, or – on occasion – whole towns. A much smaller number of people report being abducted or carried, usually without their knowledge or will, into a strange environment that they believe to be the interior of a spacecraft where they find themselves interacting with apparent aliens. I received only a few letters that described this type of encounter in detail. Without exception, those who remembered and wrote about such encounters had been hypnotized before their memories emerged. This was also true in my case. I was left unable to determine whether the abduction scenario is an artifact of hypnosis or reflects buried memories that are real. What I do know is that the pattern of encounter much more commonly involves the visitors appearing in the home of the witness.

Q: Why are visitors addressing us on a person-to-person basis rather than trying to contact us in large groups? Wouldn't they be much better off by simply making a slow pass over New York City or Washington DC at midday, remaining visible long enough to force the television networks to react?

As I said, there have been many “slow passes,” and there will be more. But official Washington reacted with silence. Mexico did better, but it did not translate into a change of mind in the first world. The problem is that, even if we had official confirmation that the visitors are real, it wouldn't help. Indeed, by trying to control the relationship, government might unwittingly distort it. Science, by assuming that reality is actually reflected in the structures we ourselves see, might make fundamentally wrong assumptions about the visitors that it would take generations – even thousands of years – to correct. To create a working interface with the visitors, what we need is to learn how to properly include them in our own version of reality, and this cannot happen if we must communicate through the medium of cultural institution like governments that were never intended for this purposes, and are, essentially, too simple to accommodate the enormous amount of information that is necessary to effect the fundamental change in the nature of the human mind that must take place. It has to be built by accretion, through millions and millions of personal experiences.

Q: What do you want the world to know?

I want the world to know how to make individual contact with the visitors as rich as possible on a person by person basis,. It is only through the medium of millions of successful individual relationships being built with the visitors in private, that meaningful public contact will emerge. They will not build their relationship with us on the basis of ignorance and fear. This is clear from the fact that they have not yet done so. The more knowledge I have gained, and the smoother my encounter experiences have been, the deeper my relationship with the visitors has become. This is true for people all over the world. I know of individuals who have gone into this much more deeply than I have but I believe that we all proceed in more or less the same way. Nobody, as yet, has achieved a completely open relationship with the visitors. But it will happen.

Q: You have also had some involvement with Congress on the issue of alien encounters. Can you elaborate?

In the early 1990's I was approached by congressional staffers seeking to find out whether or not the intelligence community had violated the law in regard to UFO investigations. They had two areas of concern. The first was whether or not various intelligence agencies had reported their expenditures, activities, or interest in UFO's to the appropriate congressional committees. The second area of concern was whether or not the American people had been illegally propagandized by intelligence agencies and the military regarding UFO's. The lead staffer involved eventually concluded that there was a cover-up in place. I do not know how the investigation proceeded beyond that point.

Q: Some have suggested that you're mentally unstable. What's your reaction?

My reaction to questions regarding my personal mental stability is very simple: I've been happily married for 25 years and together my wife and I have raised a great son who is now a teenager, very well adjusted, and an honor student. If I really was mentally unstable, unbalanced, or just plain crazy, I don't think I would have the kind of marriage that I do, or raised the kind of son that I have. Also, I've had so many neurological and psychological tests at this point, that the question is really moot.

Q: What about the accusation that you're some kind of cult leader?

I took the cult leader accusation very seriously which is why I opened myself up to reporter Edward Conroy, who is an expert on cults and who edited a book called Combating Cult Mind Control by Steven Hassan. I was particularly concerned that a cultic atmosphere might form around me despite my intentions to avoid any such occurrence. For this reason, just at the point when I could have easily made another mega-best seller by publishing my proof in 1989 or 1990, I withdrew in order to do what really needed to be done. Which was to study this until I could come up with solid answers that would really advance contact. As a result Breakthrough was sold for only 10% or 12% of what Communion received. My 15 minutes of fame are long gone. This is not the action of a cult leader. It is the action of a responsible person who is involved in something that is terribly important, and who knows that he has an overwhelming moral demand being made on him to do all he can to make it come out right. Also, with regard to Breakthrough, it is the book that counts, not the man. As contact advances, people must look to themselves, not to imagined leaders. In contact, every individual is how own leader.

Q: What price have you had to pay for coming forward?

The most difficult part has been the impact on my private life. I have experienced the pain of being called a liar publicly and of seeing my research critically dismissed. I also had to stand by and watch members of the UFO community, some of whom disagree with my conclusions about the visitors, spread rumors and stories about me which, although untrue, were widely believed.

Q: Why then do you keep putting yourself out in front of this issue?

The visitors are real. They are the most valuable thing that the human race has ever encountered and unfortunately we haven't yet learned how to handle it. I'm going to keep fighting until we find out how to do just that.

Q: You mention proof. What proof?

I described an experience in Transformation of nine loud knocks in three groups of three coming on the side of my house in upstate New York. It was a major feature of the book, because it was so extraordinarily clear and had so much symbolic significance for me. When the book was at the printers and could no longer be changed, but before anybody knew its contents, they repeated this action, this time involving an entire town. It created quite a local stir and was reported in the local newspaper in detail. But the town was so small and so far from everything, that I didn't discover the event until 1989. I had the event thoroughly researched, and it was not an accident or a natural phenomenon. It represents an action on the part of somebody very real who knows exactly what they are doing. They are literally knocking at our door, and it is time to answer.

On October 1, 1996, ISCNI*Flash became CNI News
Mike Lindemann, CNI News Editor