“Burnt State” – The Story’s The Thing

“Burnt State”‘s own artwork provided for our Easter day interview

“Burnt State” (or simply “Robert”) is the online alias of a man who has looked deeply into our relationship to the paranormal. After my last appearance on the Paracast, I noticed his comments in their forums and asked him if he would consent to an interview on RM.

Robert is interested in the way that we use storytelling to make sense of the world; particularly the stranger parts. Any witness to something that shouldn’t be has to find a way to make sense of it and in many cases communicate the experience to others. In this  insidious way, weirdness remains locked in a context that we have created.

We started out with Robert’s own dramatic UFO sighting from childhood and how it still affects him. He made the case that trauma can be experienced as abuse, violence, or just something that doesn’t make rational sense. Our brains either cover it up or make sense of it with a story that we can handle. We discussed the problem of schizophrenics and how simple talking therapy may help them and others with buried issues.

Robert is a high school teacher and he described the pressures that children and teenagers are subjected to in an age of almost total digital sitmuli and aggressive marketing. He has some novel ways of making his students aware of this and taking back their individuality. He also had an amazing story about his Ouija board experiments.

There is just a sample of our wide-ranging conversation, so I’ll shut up now and let you listen.

P.S. The audio of UFO witness testimony discussed during the show is available here, track 15. See also the story of “Conjuring Up Philip,” mentioned during our talk.

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27 Responses to “Burnt State” – The Story’s The Thing

  1. Steve Ray says:

    This episode is one of the Radio-Misterioso-est in a long time: good-natured, free-ranging, and inquisitive.

    And the link to the bonus tracks has many a hidden gem:
    Track 15 is where the guy drives over the aliens in his car,
    and Track 13 is Cisco Grove
    and Track 09 is Joe Simonton and the Pancake

  2. Paul says:

    Thanks for the interview with Robert, who was compulsive listening. Personally, you yourself provided two momentary highlights with the phrases “the underpinning above the surface” and “if religion doesn’t EVOLVE it will die”… of course your legendary lack of ego will necessitate a dismissal of such genius as simply happy accidents.

    P.S. Where is the flipping Ira Einhorn interview ?

    • Greg says:

      I decided not to edit that first one out, and the second statement was consciously made. I was thinking of Bill Hicks’ comment about evolving ideas instead of letting them get stuck while the rest of the world moves on.

      Keep reminding me about the Einhorn interview.

      • Paul says:

        Gotcha on the Hicks, Greg, thanks.

        Robert, I’m even more impressed now I know that you’re a Robert Wise and Ann Magnuson admirer!

        Greg, as per… Ira !

  3. John Randall says:

    Another great conversation Greg and Robert . Track 24 on the Wendy Conners link I thought was pretty cool as well. A Vietnam Vet talks about seeing a silver suited being land in front of his car, looks at him, and goes back up the same way. I thought one of the investigators (Larry Moyers ) asked him a pretty astute question for the time which was”How did this experience make you feel” . The gentleman responds was” I saw this being and I still don’t believe it…”.

  4. Burnt State says:

    Very generous compliments. Greg really knows how to facilitate engaging conversations that evolve into unknown spaces, like you’re walking through the off angled rooms in the mansion of the Robert Wise version of The Haunting-that James Wong Howe sure knows how to wield a camera. You never know what strange memory will be unlocked or what ghost you might run into.

    Great to see people listening to the Faded Discs collection. Those interviewers are often quite interesting charcters all on their own. Many great stories are captured there.

    • Greg says:

      Robert,
      Thanks again for a very fun learning experience. I try to get people on the program who will make me think and challenge myself and others to start looking at issues in new ways or at least in ways that have been mostly ignored. No one really knows where the gold lies, but a many-pronged, multi-disciplinary approach can’t hurt.

      • Burnt State says:

        Feelings are mutual. I always learn new things on this show. But I do need to make a correction in my UFO afterlifes for my own faulty memory was at work. As pointed out to me by a trainedobserver, the insignia that Dale Spaur sees on the van, that is filled with active recording equipment while in pursuit of Floyd, read “Seven Steps to Hell” and not heaven. This is the Seventh Army’s logo insignia, though the phrase “seven steps to hell” is an unofficial phrase worn under the primary patch with the main emblem of an ‘A’ with seven steps to its sides. This branch was primarily active in WWII in Europe though it had many relocations, activations and inactivations. Why Spaur saw this on a truck that would later prove to have no insignia on it, let alone be in roadworthy condition, filled with debris, is the bigger mystery.

  5. Red Pill Junkie says:

    Definitely one of the best RM of the year… if not ever 😉

    Robert’s ideas about how to help people dealing with schizophrenia reminded me of an article published last month on the Washington Post, of how the father of a young man diagnosed with schizophrenia decided to seek the help of a West African shaman. The result: The son is now able to function in society, because the shaman acknowledged him as a ‘peer’ instead of someone who is sick and useless to society.

    Speaking of which, it certainly seems as if you regard your flying hobby as some sort of shamanic ritual, Greg 😉

    The discussion about the thin veneer of normalcy in our society made me think of how perhaps the abduction experience is a shock-therapy attempt to ‘free’ the experiencer by way of removing the false sense of safety we’ve come to believe, and show the abductee that even without this belief, survival is possible. The person goes who the worst fear imaginable (being abducted in his/her own bedroom, what is universally considered to be the ultimate sanctuary in our lives) only to find out he/she survived the ordeal.

    Maybe the aliens are the interdimensional version of Tyler Durden 😛

    • Greg says:

      Hey RPJ,
      My friend (and co-founder of Excluded Middle) Peter Stenshoel knew about that article. He brought it up when I mentioned the show to him yesterday.

      I don’t know if the flying is a “shamanic ritual,” but it sure is consciousness-raising/ expanding for me. Even when earthbound, I look up at every aircraft I can and even at clouds.

      Very good idea about aliens as shock-therapy agents. My favorite scene in Fight Club is where Durden visits that guy in the liquor store and says he will come back in a month or so and if the guy isn’t on the way to realizing his dream, he’ll kill him. Now that’s “life coaching!”

  6. Soupie says:

    Excellent episode. The two of you covered a lot of interesting territory. The idea that the we are continuously spinning a unified—and largely fictional—narrative to makes sense of our experiences is fascinating when applied to the paranormal.

    One question to explore re this narrative and the paranormal, is how much is due to the individual experiencing trauma/destabilization and how much might be due to the nature of the stimulus?

    That is, are individuals in a destabilized state unable to spin a “rational” narrative, or are these individuals unable to spin a rational narrative because they truly witnessed something the human organism isn’t fully capable of incorporating into their narrative?

    • Greg says:

      Your last question seems to me to ask the same thing twice. “…are individuals in a destabilized state unable to spin a “rational” narrative, or are these individuals unable to spin a rational narrative because they truly witnessed something the human organism isn’t fully capable of incorporating into their narrative?” If the witness is destabilized, then there is something that caused the destabilizing. I tend to think that we provide most of the narrative, and that the stimulus is not completely knowable to us as yet. One approach may be to try not to interpret from the research end, i.e. when Robert spoke about non-judgmental “talk therapy” I think he was on to something important.

      • Burnt State says:

        Speaking of destabilized states. I woke up this morning from a blistering UFO dream. Usually once every year or so I have just a stunning UFO dream with extra large incredible visuals in the sky that just rock my experiential dream world. My favourite of all time was a dream about standing in the backyard of my childhood home in Sault Ste. Marie and the eastern night sky was just filled with a dizzying array of large luminous seahorse and seaslug shaped UFO’s. They were electric neon multicoloured organic creatures, certainly the best kind of UFO’s.

        Last night i was in a park with an old friend by the waterfront in Toronto – looking up at the stars through a large summer tree canopy. Suddenly an elongated triangular object with three green lights on it starts pinwheeling through the sky. This was then repeated going in the opposite direction from where the first one came. Then an incredibly massive angular UFO shows up – it is impossibly big, taking up incredible portions of the sky despite being obviously high in the upper atmosphere. Then it opened up these large angular wings and beamed electric multi coloured light all around it. Suddenly, in the distance a kind of bright, swirling wormhole of yellow and orange light opens up revealing an absolutely enormous, planetary in size and shape, UFO mothership. This was just an incredible sight as it’s light looks like those crumbling cloud edges of nebulae in astronomy books. And then the large metal moth-shaped electric UFO zaps right into that planet UFO in a blissful merging.

        There is a cataclysmic like effect fact on earth as this unified planetoid disappears. Suddenly the earth itself is spinning wildly out of control as the stars are moving faster and faster creating incredible nausea in everyone standing in the park as the effect of free falling through space just messes with everyone’s senses. It is difficult to look up and so i turn away and then look up again incredulously. The stars are still swinging fast and my brain just can not accept this image. I wonder, can the earth still survive out of its orbit? Is it all over? And then the spinning starts to slow. I am anxious and disturbed. I call my partner, as i feel that this really could be the end times. My phone is the size of a thumb -this is obviously a dream set in the future – and i can’t stop if from accidentally playing music. I dial my partner out of fear and talk to her over the static. “Did you see that?” I ask her excitedly, “did you see that crazy UFO in the sky?! Are you ok?” She tells me that yes she saw something interesting in the sky but it was just a strange flash of light. The static starts to dissipate, and no, the stars were never racing – what had i been smoking, she asks me. And then i look around and i am in a shopping concourse where stalls are selling extra large vegetables. Carrots are about 1 foot wide and 4 feet long. I think about buying one for dinner to make soup. The world is as it was before and i jump up awake, filled with apocalyptic anxiety.

        Just needed to talk that Ann Magnuson inspired dream narrative through, thinking in another era i could see the appeal of life as a contactee, especially if these are the dreams you’re getting. I keep wondering to myself, am i having these dreams because of the UFO i saw or is it because i devote these extra hours to thinking about UFO’s because of the UFO i saw. It’s an interesting loop ,but i still do not understand the source of the original stimulus at all, though it appeared like a 1970’s/1960’s pair of UFO’s. Either way, all the dreams, and the original pair are a kind of sky art, a rare koan humans get to see, that make us contemplate this sky poetry, or as one poet called poems, small machines.

        Robert

        • Red Pill Junkie says:

          I sometimes wonder if some of those extra-vivid ‘dreams’ are actually part of our self that is experiencing life in another sector of the Multiverse –one with multi-color skies and big-ass carrots at a discount 😉

          Did you manage to recognize the music your mini-phone was playing?

          • burnt state says:

            I did not recognize the music at all. I remember that it turned on by accident as the touch sensitivity controls on the device were just far too tiny and close together for me. So i inadvertently activated my itunes, which i rarely use in real life, and then the music would not shut off but soon turned to static and faded, as if communications were becoming clearer in my mind.

            It was a heightened moment of UFO bliss that then descended into the mundanity of making carrot soup. But you’re right, i felt the carrots were quite affordable for their size and looked to see if there was any dinosaur coriander i could use to add to the recipe.

            I also feel that when you are courted by such dreams you are able to see reality the way it really is. The holographic hallucination lurks just beneath the skin of everything. If only one had the ability to peel it back like this all the time, but then that would defeat the whole point of the rarified UFO dream air.

  7. http://nobodbus.blogspot.co.uk/ says:

    A great show. We listen here in the UK. It is a strnge thing to consider what exactly is ‘real’ as opposed to ‘unreal’. There must be a line that separates them, but is there?

    • Greg says:

      Thank you for commenting. My current idea is that we should hold off as much and as long as possible on what we consider “real” or “unreal” in witness narratives. It’s a tough one.

  8. Bruce Duensing says:

    More food for thought in a fascinating exchange.

  9. Phil from Louisiana says:

    Pardon me for interrupting, but I saw a link I thought Greg might be interested in, about the upcoming end of US Hwy 93:

    http://mashable.com/2015/04/17/americas-last-highway/

  10. Chris Anderson says:

    Hey Greg,

    Wow. Amazing show. This interview and Project Core have to got to be pretty much my favorites. I’ll have to relisten to both just to catch everything and let the density of ideas sink in. The crackling of neurons is almost palpable. Narrative construction, discontinuous perception, trauma, and creativity have got to be some of the most exciting clues to turn up in the paranormal in a long time. Not so much the ideas individually as in their interconnection. I get the sense of a deeper web slowly being revealed…

    I was also moved hearing you describe your feelings about flying. You evoked your experiences quite beautifully.

    Btw – I ended up getting a copy of the two CD set Okkulte Stimmen due to your reference a while back! Something like that is too unique to pass up. Funnily enough I asked my Mom to get it for me for my bday as it just happened to align and it was something to say. She was a little disturbed by the foreboding name and creepy case! 🙂 Haven’t had a chance to dig into it yet…

    Take care!

    • Greg says:

      Chris,

      Thanks for your kind words. I do think that the interviews from the past couple of months are part of a deeper effort to try and bring alternative methods to the forefront, and get people talking about new ways to look at the mystery. I’m really satisfied with the recent direction.

      The flying is very important to me. It’s kind of difficult to explain why, because there are so many reasons.

      Congrats on getting a copy of Okkule Stimmen. It’s a rare and important artifact.

  11. zebra or the logos says:

    This is the best podcast, hands down. Excellent interview with Burnt State. Thank you for the great conversations. Your views are highly appreciated.

    • Greg says:

      Thank you. I think this show is not for most people. I am trying to learn more and stop complaining so much about how UFO study sucks, and begin to look for new answers or old ones that have been ignored. I hope that is apparent in these last few shows.

  12. Ariel says:

    I truly adore this podcast – and thank you for giving Burnt State another forum for his ideas. I would love for him to write a book.

    Additionally, this is the only podcast that I listen to that I *consistently* play a second time. Greg seems to not feel the need to make it an introductory lesson for “new listeners” every single time like almost everything else out there. I hear about people, incidents, websites, books, that I often have never heard of before and I go back and listen again to pick up these details.

    Great stuff – wish I could listen live (too much family stuff going on on a Sunday night), but highly appreciate the archives!

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