I recently received a copy of painter and UFOlogist Budd Hopkins’ memoir Art, Life And UFOs to review. I was of a mixed opinion as to whether to review it. The reason is a possible conflict of interest. More than 20 years ago I wrote a lengthy letter, replete with illustrations, of some of the more mystic/supernatural/paranormal/weird events that had taken place in my life until that point because many of my experiences were reminiscent of those described in Hopkins’ two best-selling 1980s books. Missing Time and Intruders — both of which helped popularize the whole claimed UFO abduction phenomenon which, along with the Satanic Cult craze, swept the country at the time.
I did not then, nor do I now, believe in the literal presence of UFOs and Abductions (for reasons I’ll get into), but I do believe that such claims (as with most paranormal claims) can rather easily be explained via the human mind’s perceptions, misperceptions, self-deceptions, willful lies, and unknown aspects of creativity — at least unknown to the masses. That Hopkins, a well-known, if not particularly good nor influential, member of the AbEx generation of painters did not realize this, even decades ago, said something to me about how much (or little) he truly understood creativity and himself. Of course, given that Abstract Expressionism was his choice of creative mode may well explain the general lack of insight.
However, that all aside, I must be up front that my detailed exegesis of my experiences, and my attempts to correlate them to Hopkins’ classic narratives of abductions (which themselves are almost exact replications of centuries old abduction narratives by other supernatural beings from folklore), led to an "event" that needs to be revealed, so that anyone reading further will be able to discern any potential biases in my review which will be a) generally favorable as to the life narrative part of the book, and b) pretty critical of the AbEx and UFO portions of the book. Here’s what happened, all those years ago: a few months after I mailed my package, and followed up with a letter (both sent to his publisher) after no reply the first time, I got a reply the second time. It was a brief handwritten letter, written and signed by a woman, stating basically, "Thanks for writing, but your situation does not fit our needs." While I’m paraphrasing the whole (a bit longer, and which I, in youthful scorn over being patted on the head, ripped up), the italicized portion is a direct quote. It’s always stuck with me, and always seemed to me to be a de facto recognition, however offhandedly, by one of Hopkins’ pals/supporters/assistants, that there was a distinct agenda that Hopkins was pursuing, and that his "pursuits" were not, in any real way, credible science nor journalism.
I repeat this point because, in the memoir, Hopkins many times takes a sort of ridiculous pride in claiming he is a scientific methodologist, although his book clearly shows he does not even understand what that means. One simply does not blithely discard data that does not neatly fit into one’s package. One follows where evidence leads. One does not twist evidence to point to conclusions already reached. One does get the sense, though, that, at least in the memoir, Hopkins sincerely believes all he claims
So, there it is. Again, unlike many other critics, I have been up front about a possible area of conflicted interests. One area, though, to which there is no conflict is the fact that the memoir, published by Anomalist Books, is truly one of the worst edited and most poorly proofread books I’ve ever read. And I got the paperback edition. We’re not even talking about the initial, much less tenth, hardcover print, much less a galley copy. This is the first paperback run.