Occultist Peter Levenda Defends Musician and Ufologist Tom DeLonge's Use of Fiction to Deliver UFO Disclosure
This week occultist Peter Levenda appeared on the UFO Modpod podcast with Jason McClellan, Maureen Elsberry, and Ryan Sprague to discuss his involvement with ufologist and rock musician Tom DeLonge’s “Sekret Machines” UFO disclosure project, in which DeLonge and a cast of novelists, occultists, and ufologists say they will disclose U.S. government UFO secrets provided by shadowy “insiders” through a series of novels, nonfiction books, documentaries, and scripted entertainment. Levenda’s contribution is looking to be a masterclass in postmodern obfuscation. But to understand this, it’s probably a good idea to give a little background on “Sekret Machines” world.
“This project is about changing the cynical views of youth towards government,” Tom DeLonge told former Democratic political operative John Podesta in a leaked email published on Wikileaks, alongside many others discussing all the ways DeLonge planned to monetize UFOs to produce profitable entertainment aimed at the youth market. Because that’s how you disclose mind-shattering truths. For cash. With Steven Spielberg and Vice News. “Please understand the teaser is made to ‘pander’ to a youth audience, and then we will change their views in the actual film from a conspiratorial one, to a new non-cynical and supportive one,” DeLonge wrote, echoing claims he made in a less condescending way in the introduction to the first novel in his “Sekret Machines” series, Chasing Shadows.
In that introduction, DeLonge defends using fiction to tell the “real” story of the UFO conspiracy: “The events, locations, and moments of wonder are all true. We weaved them together in a way that echoes what really happened to those who stumbled across something spectacular, wondrous, and a bit frightful. The glue is fiction. The building blocks are not.” But then he twists the lucrative knife of financial exploitation: “And by design, we are not answering all the questions that may be posed. A lot of these answers will come in later books, over time.” Translation: We’ll keep milking this cash cow until you get bored giving us your money for books we admit have no real revelations.
The jacket copy for Levenda’s first “Sekret Machines” nonfiction book, Gods: An Official Investigation of the UFO Phenomenon, due out in March, reads like P. T. Barnum’s efforts to show patrons the fabulous egress: “Sekret Machines is the result of input from scientists, engineers, intelligence officers, and military officials -- a group we call the Advisors -- and transcends the speculation of journalists, historians and others whose conclusions are often either misinformed or only tease around the edges of the Sekret Machines. […] If nothing else, readers will come to the conclusion that the Phenomenon is not what they think it is.” Be wary of anyone who tells you that world-shattering truths require a cash payment for access. One would think that such important facts wouldn’t come with a fee.
You will remember that yesterday I mentioned that a Trump surrogate declared that facts don’t exist anymore because truth is relative. The echo with Levenda’s discussion of why “Sekret Machines” crosses promiscuously between the realms of fact and fiction was frighteningly clear. This is how Levenda described and justified DeLonge’s claim that some aspects of his “disclosure” would only be revealed in fictional narratives, while Levenda will provide a nonfiction book that offers supplementary documentation and research:
Sometimes you can’t tell a story really clearly using nonfiction. Sometimes you have to use fiction. You have to give a kind of context for what’s going on and show the emotional content of what you’re doing. And I think the division between fiction and nonfiction is something we’re very familiar with in the West—it’s part of our scientific worldview—you know, there’s science over here and there’s religion over there, for instance. But there are some countries where, for instance, the biographies of famous people will be put in the fiction section of a bookstore, or of a library, as opposed to a nonfiction [section]. There are some cultures that believe nonfiction is strictly nothing more than dates and facts and figures, but once you start to tell a story, once you start to tell a narrative, a fictional element comes in. […] It doesn’t mean when you’re telling fiction that you’re lying, you know. You can tell a truth in fiction just as much as you can tell it in nonfiction.
No. No, no, no, no, no—a thousand times no.
I think we had better start at the beginning, with Levenda’s pernicious conflation of two different versions of “truth.” The first is the common definition of truth—“the body of real things, events, and facts.” The second is the spiritualist and the occultist’s view of truth—“a transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality.” By running these together Levenda falsely alleges that one must use parable, allegory, and lies to describe that which is real. Fiction is by definition lies, and while it can reveal the second meaning of truth, the transcendent spiritual meaning, it cannot be trusted through its nature to report the body of real things. The skeptic might with reasonable logic argue that the second definition of truth can be accessed through fiction because spiritual truths are themselves a fiction. But it is not my place to insist on that point, nor is it necessary to evaluate Levenda’s.
The larger problem is this: If you cannot or will not relate what is happening in the real world without resorting to fiction, then you are a bad writer and researcher, a moral coward, or a fraud. The bad writer and researcher lacks the data to craft a compelling narrative. The moral coward fears stating truth as unadorned fact will cause trouble for him and so shies from doing so. The fraud disguises the lack of reality for his claims by dressing them up in an ersatz puzzle box, à la the Shaver Mystery, where Ray Palmer claimed Richard Shaver’s novels about a subterranean civilization contained hidden facts, which he encouraged readers and other writers to investigate, conveniently generating publicity and cash. Now, granted, in the middle twentieth century Truman Capote led the charge for the “nonfiction novel,” in the mode of his own In Cold Blood, but in theory the nonfiction novel was to be purely factual, literary only in technique not fictional in content. Also, we learned much later that Capote was to an extent a fraud, fabricating parts of the book.
Did you notice, too, that Levenda quietly equates science and religion with nonfiction and fiction? He swaps to the two sets of terms in order to subtly imply that if science and religion are, in Stephen J. Gould’s famous phrase, “nonoverlapping magesteria,” then so too are nonfiction and fiction coequal truthtellers. It’s a clever bit of rhetoric, playing on the audience’s respect for faith, but the faith one places in God is not the same faith that the reader should place on the honesty of Peter Levenda or Dan Brown.
I also wasn’t too much of a fan of Levenda’s appeal to cultural relativism as a defense of deceiving the reader. So what if some cultures declare all narrative to be at least semi-fictional? You are allegedly reporting a series of bald facts about U.S. government knowledge of space aliens. This is not an emotional issue; it requires no narrative. The facts, should they exist, are facts and should be given as such, with the documentation needed to evaluate their accuracy. But Levenda wants to wrap the facts in a cloud of mysticism, like Athena hiding Odysseus in a sea mist on his return to Ithaca, except that in Levenda’s cloud, we might never find Odysseus, or distinguish him from any other man wandering blindly about.
Here is the real genius of Levenda’s and DeLonge’s stances: It allows the “Sekret Machines” project to make the most outlandish and ridiculous claims under the cover of fiction, while providing only incomplete and partial support in the “nonfiction” volumes because they can allege that some “truths” can only be told in fiction—while leaving it to the reader to make (false) assumptions about what parts of the novels are true or false. The “supporting” nonfiction need not prove its case because the novels “prove” any leaps of logic in the nonfiction through appeal to higher emotional truths and secret material that can’t be officially revealed. Levenda conceded that his nonfiction material supplements material “Tom has access to,” but which Levenda did not independently verify. It’s simply faith.
Levenda praises himself for having “credibility” in the “writing of history,” and he offered that DeLonge is working with him because DeLonge wasn’t able to do basic historical research. Levenda claims, though, that he isn’t able to determine whether various UFO researchers are credible, so he chose to “massage” information from all of them. He also makes a logical error: that DeLonge’s sources are too diverse and too consistent in their message to be lying. He underestimates the pervasiveness of the UFO myth and how easy it is to concoct a story to fit it using the fake material available now. But here he gives the game away a bit—he heavily implies that some things are given as fiction because there’s no way to confirm the wild tales DeLonge’s sources spin. Similarly, the credulous Levenda alleges that a “space program” source confirmed that the Majic-12 myth is “real,” but, sigh, Levenda simply can’t reveal this earth-shaking information because the source said it’s only “background” and can’t be used. Uh-huh. He can tease it and talk about it as fiction, but he can’t give the facts. How convenient.
Let me give an example: What if I said “I have a secret source I’ve met with—a very credentialed, serious source—highly placed in the U.S. government who confirmed that unicorns are real and the government has a secret breeding program in southern Florida. Unfortunately, he won’t let me tell you his name, or where the unicorns are, or show you a picture of them. You have to trust me, but I wrote a novel about it that might (wink, wink) have some details for just $19.99 plus shipping.” The only thing that gives Levenda’s version the illusion of credibility is the preexisting belief that the government is hiding things. Substitute a more ridiculous MacGuiffin and the artifice begins to show through.
This is not to say that Levenda is intentionally lying, or that DeLonge is. For all I know they have fooled themselves into thinking that there is a vast and secret occult world all around them, something that all of the documentation I have ever seen argues against. Heck, they might even be telling the utter truth, but still they failed to offer the evidence needed to prove it. Levenda’s and DeLonge’s particular approach to blurring the lines between fact and fiction undermines the case that there are actual facts beneath the layers of speculation and fantasy.
Essentially, “Sekret Machines” is a modern version of the Shaver Mystery (complete with sub rosa government involvement—cf. the Shaver fiasco to DeLonge and Podesta’s Wikileaks emails), and it’s no wonder that Levenda—active and purposely obfuscating participant in the partly fictitious Simon Necronomicon affair—would be happy to play along. It is probably telling that Levenda lavishes praise on Jacques Vallée, who writes the foreword to Levenda’s new book: “he approaches it (UFOs) in such an intellectual way—and intelligent way!” Vallée, as my readers will remember, is a slipshod, credulous researcher who repeated many of the same lies for five decades until I called him on them. He coasts by on his reputation as a French intellectual, and his air of Continental glamour, but in the end, he is simply a speculator talking grandly about subjects he never bothered to understand at the granular level needed to draw solid conclusions. It’s a match made in whatever occultists hold for heaven.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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