Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Encounters with Unidentified Flying Objects have been categorized into seven groups. When a person sights one or more UFOs at a distance of 165 yards, or 500 feet or less, nocturnal lights moving in the night sky unlike planes or planets, traveling in a discontinuous trajectory, exhibiting vertical drops, wild maneuvers or doing loops, and the lights are most often red, blue, orange, or white in color, or this could be oval daylight discs that disappear with astounding speed, something visual on radar constituting a significant blip that doesn’t interact with the witness or environment, this is classified as an encounter of the first kind.  When an encounter with a UFO in the sky or on the ground leaves physical evidence behind such as scorch marks on the ground or indentations like crop circles, physical effects like heat, electrical interference, radiation, it’s of the second kind.  When an encounter happens where occupants can be seen inside the UFO, it’s of the third kind.  The fourth kind involves human abduction where a person is taken and experimented on inside the alien craft and this usually involves anal probing.  The fifth kind involves direct communication between aliens and humans.  Death of a human or animal associated with a UFO sighting is classified as a close encounter of the sixth kind and this category is where cattle mutilations fall into.  The creation of a human/alien hybrid, either by sexual reproduction or by artificial scientific methods is the seventh kind.

The persistence of sightings along with the phenomenon that an overwhelming number of UFO sightings have refused to dry up and blow away, has led many to believe that aliens are real and that ET is here.  I see the belief in UFOs as not being all that much different from the belief in God, as they are both about having faith in a higher power that has a greater intelligence, except for the anal probing part, as I never understood that.  Spielberg’s story was based on the premise that UFOs are real and he gathered evidence from the government report known as Project Blue Book, conducted by the Air Force along with research done by the civilian scientific advisor Dr. J. Allen Hynek, to study UFOs in the 1950s and 1960s.

Fandango asks, “Do you consider music to be a ‘universal language’ that transcends national borders and resonates across different cultures?  Why or why not?”  I wonder if all the beings on Earth spoke the same language before the Tower of Babel collapsed and it makes me think why distinct languages are still a thing.  Every child must learn communication to survive in the world, as they need to convey messages that they are hungry, or that their diaper needs to be changed, so they learn ways to express meanings that can be mutually understood, whether this is done with signs, symbols, facial expressions, or a formally spoken language with systematic rules.  I don’t think that there ever will be such a thing as a universal language, but mathematics and music may be the closest thing to it.

In the 1977 movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, scientists used music as a way of communicating with the alien mother ship.  I guess scientists have always thought that music could be a universal language, as the Pioneer missions 10 and 11, which were able to achieve the escape velocity that allowed them to leave the Solar System, both carried small metal plaques identifying their time and place of origin for the benefit of any other spacefarers that might find them in the distant future.  NASA took this a step further for Voyager 1 and 2, placing a more ambitious message aboard, a kind of time capsule, intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials.  The Voyager message is carried by a phonograph record, a 12-inch gold-plated copper disk containing sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth.

This Golden Record provides greetings to the Universe containing pictures of life on Earth, showing a woman in a supermarket, along with music that reflects the diversity of humankind’s creative capabilities.  Bach was on there, along with Mozart, Beethoven and Stravinsky, as well as Azerbaijani folk music and Chuck Berry’s song Johnny B Goode.  The discs come with a diagram of how to play them, in the hope that extraterrestrial life might come across the Voyager spacecraft and discover the record.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #53 about music being a universal language.

15 thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Third Kind

    1. It was a crazy film with all types of people creating images of the mountain where the aliens were going to land. I did enjoy the sculpture made out of potatoes. I never understood that if aliens do exist why the government would have to go to such extreme lengths to protect this information from being released.

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  1. “I wonder if all the beings on Earth spoke the same language before the Tower of Babel collapsed….” Do you really wonder that? Why would evolving civilizations in different continents across the globe have developed using the same language as this on the other side of the globe. The whole Tower of Babel story is just another bit of babble to show the “power” of a mythical, supernatural being. (Yeah, I know this comment has nothing to do with music as a universal language, but I’m tired and in a bad mood. Sorry.

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  2. A very interesting post Jim. I think the musical close encounter was an inspired piece of cinematography. It seems to me that, although we may be alone in this vast universe, it is most likely that there are “others” out there.

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    1. McQueen’s last two film performances were in the unusual Western Tom Horn (1980), then he portrayed real-life bounty hunter Ralph “Papa’ Thorson (Ralph Thorson) in The Hunter (1980). I think that Richard Dreyfuss made the movie funny and I don’t think McQueen could have pulled that off as well.

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