Â The X-Files and the Breakdown of Our Cultural Immune System
By John David Ebert
By now, Mulder and Scully have become almost as famous as their literary prototypes Holmes and Watson. Indeed, in many ways, they strongly resemble this earlier pair of detectives who stand at the threshold of the birth of the forensic genre. Watson, like Scully, was also trained as a medical doctor, and Holmes, like Mulder, was the man of genius for whom solutions to any given mystery would come in a flash of intuition like a revelation from the gods, leaving a bewildered Watson struggling to keep up. But unlike Watson, Scully normally offers an alternative explanation for the given mystery, one that, she typically boasts, is based upon a scientific and rational view of the world. In this respect, she resembles Holmes rather more than Watson, for Holmes was bent upon sterilizing the grimy streets of Victorian London of its human bacterial infections of irrationalism and emotionalism, whereas Mulder applies his intellect to the task of bringing demons and devils, rather than bacteria, into focus.
And therein lies the basicÂ — and rather obvious — tension between the protagonists of The X-Files that gave the show its momentum, for the conflict between science and spirituality is one of the primary reasons why the show attracted so many viewers. Of course, it is on the side of spirituality that the show’s creator Chris Carter weighs in, for The X-Files is all about how the hypertrophic development of science has unduly restricted the purview of modern Western man, causing him to exclude the realm of the paranormal from serious consideration. Detractors of the show will wave their hand at this sort of thing and dismiss it as the product of New Agey California kitsch, but Carter’s vision is an important and, I think, accurate assessment of the sorts of conflicts that are currently struggling within the two souls of Western man.
Since about the middle of the nineteenth century, our society has been undergoing a metamorphosis, brought on largely by the effects of its own technological evolution. The development of electric media — telegraph, telephone, radio, cinema, television — have accelerated the metabolism of the culture to lightspeed and this has resulted in the meltdown of both literacy and Newtonian science while a new kind of spatio-temporal awareness, much more akin to the spatio-temporal awareness of tribal man, has come to replace the old visual bias upon which rationalism and three dimensional space alike are predicated. The acceleration of culture to lightspeed, in other words, has flattened out our world into an aperspectival wilderness populated by two-dimensional beings out ofÂ ancient myth and the masked apparitions of tribal man.
The end result of this shift has been to open up the floodgates of Western man’s repressions, and to unleash an avalanche of demons, devils and astral spirits, which are now loose and flitting about, looking for warm skulls within which to build their nests.
The X-Files is merely a documentation of this process.
While it is true that the show’s protagonists, Mulder and Scully, largely embody the opposed points of view of science and the paranormal, this simple dichotomy is a bit more complicated by the fact of Scully’s Catholicism. To Mulder, organized religion is a put-on for the gullible and so this places him in the role of the skeptic vis a vis Scully, who is a genuine believer in her own faith. Thus, the opposition commonly formulated between Scully and Mulder as that of science vs. superstition ought really to be reformulated as that between organized institutions (for both science and religion are highly organized and bureaucratic) vs. maverick eclecticism.Â Â Scully has a faith in authority that Mulder does not share, and it takes a long time for her to become convinced that the government she works for cannot be trusted.
It is worth pausing for a moment to consider the implications of Scully’s background as a Catholic for her role in the show. Catholicism may be classified as an iconophilic religion,Â Â one that — like Hinduism — relies heavily for the communication of its ideas upon pictorial imagery. And when one considers that most of the imagery which haunts the Catholic imagination is brutal and violent, with punctured, bleeding representations of Christ, and twisted and torn saints, one wonders to what degree growing up around such imagery may have prepared Scully to accept that badly damaged bodies are a “normal” occurrence. As a medical doctor, she is forever carving up dead bodies in autopsies for which Mulder eagerly awaits proof of his, to her, rather bizarre theories. Perhaps, then, Scully’s childhood exposure to the Catholic imagery of sadism and torture prepared her to accept that such mangled corpses are “normal” and therefore do not require exotic or bizarre explanations for how they got that way.
In addition, such an upbringing may help to explain her lack of interest in metaphysical explanations of the world like those which preoccupy Mulder, for her religion has already given her ready made answers for such complex cosmological issues as the origin and destiny of the universe, the intervention of the divine in the form of angels (rather than extraterrestrials), and so forth. She has no more interest in occult or paranormal explanations for such phenomena than had Marshall McLuhan, who was also a practicing Catholic with little interest in mythology, the occult or the paranormal. His main concerns were the same as Scully’s: science, technology and the media.
If Scully’s Catholic background helps to explain her skepticism regarding Mulder’s theorizing, it is possible that Mulder’s Jewish background sheds some light on his particular orientation to the world (although Mulder, unlike Scully, is lapsed). For Judaism is as iconophobic as Catholicism is iconophilic. In Mulder’s past, then, there would have been no imagistic preparation in his subconscious for accepting all these twisted and torn bodies as in any way “normal.” Lacking such a background, they seem anything but normal to him, so he goes in quest of other explanations than those which are obvious to the eye, explanations which are part of larger, grander plans for the working out of time and history. Mulder’s quest leads him into an apocalyptic vision of aliens about to invade the earth and wipe out all human life, and a cosmogony that begins with the aliens present on the planet before the advent of human beings. “In the beginning was the Word,” is how the Old Testament puts it, for the Word is the Logos, which means a pattern or structure, and implies a masterplan in accordance with which all things are shaped. Mulder is searching for a means of making Time into a linear, connected story, just as the Jews interpreted everything that happened to them as part of a larger narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end. The Old Testament is really one big novel with the Jews themselves cast as protagonist. It is a linear, connected vision of history that is the product of an alphabetically minded people with a strong written, exegetical tradition.
To everyone else around him, however, including Scully, Mulder is a paranoid. He is forever suspecting his supervisors and colleagues in the F.B.I. of withholding, and covering up, evidence that might prove the existence of extraterrestrials.Â Â But in fact, he is really a metanoid (from metanoia, meaningÂ Â “conversion, or change in one’s beliefs”) who is sifting through the detritus of the past, with all its sloughed off spiritual environments, looking through a rubbish heap of broken dreams, archaic theories, and myths for the One Vision that will make sense out of the chaos of modernity. He is questing for the Great Myth that will eliminate the cognitive dissonance at the root of all our paranoia and bring about a metanoiac shift in our civilization from one mental bandwidth to the next.
If it is true, as McLuhan pointed out, that electric culture has exteriorized everything that Western man has repressed since the Renaissance, then Mulder is the lightspeed hero who is the very conduit of this electric reversal, dedicated to putting back into the center of waking consciousness the monsters and demons repressed for the past five hundred years. For the moment in which this repression took place can be pointed to symbolically in the work of Hieronymous Bosch who, right around the year 1500, collected all the goblins and gargoyles from the walls of Medieval cathedrals and dumped them into the new three dimensional spaces of his paintings. It was at that moment that the monsters disappeared, as it were, through a crack in the earth that then sealed itself up for five centuries.
Bosch’s gallery of demons did not fully resurface in our culture until Forrest J. Ackerman in the late 1950s established a fan magazine known as Famous Monsters of Filmland, upon every cover of which some monster out of the previous three or four decades of horror films was represented in lurid oil paint. To ponder a gallery of back issues of this magazine, all lined up on a single page, is to gaze at Bosch’s monsters resurfaced anew inside of electric culture. And it is precisely such a galley provisioned with monsters that The X-Files as a 1990s television show drew upon for its reserves.
Mulder’s role in The X-Files is to act as a sort of medium for conducting the demons and devils of mythic, and especially tribal man, back into our culture. And since tribal man is also oral man, in the sense that his knowledge is patterned into orally told tales which must be kept in existence through the simple act of recitation, it is no exaggeration to say that tribal man is also ear man, for his entire world view is based upon acoustics. Hence, in Finnegans Wake, the name of the central character, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, whose initials stand for H.C.E., or “Here Comes Everybody,” is Joyce’s way of demonstrating that in electric society, Western man has traded an eye for an ear, and that it is now the ear which is the central organ of symbolic significance.
Mulder, then, is the man of the ear, whose head is perpetually cocked, listening for the scuttling sounds of one or another creature hiding in the shadows, while Scully, who is forever opening up corpses to see what is inside them, is attuned to the eye (notice that she wears glasses, whereas Mulder does not). Scully’s world is that of western science, a world built around the eye as its center of focus, aÂ cosmos of dissected corpses, Vesalian woodcuts, Cartesian grids, Rembrandt’s anatomy lessons, and the erection of a mechanical view of the universe as a series of moving parts. The study of the physical body alone, upon which the image of the universe in western physics was based, led to the exclusion of the etheric body which animates it as well as to the exclusion of the anima mundi which, up until that time, had been the indwelling soul animating the planets. All of these scientific achievements were inspired by the idea of a corpse, which is incapable of any movement beyond the pushings and pullings of its limbs during an autopsy. Thus, this intensely visual world led to the triumph of mechanism, capitalism and three dimensional visual space as a container within which objects rested. It is also a world in which the role of sound is muted, for once the music of the spheres had been shut off, Pascal was inspired to say: “The silence of these eternal spaces terrifies me.”
If you want to see into the interior of something you have to cut it open and turn it inside out. Sound, on the other hand, is a sense that is used to fathom the interior of something. If you want to know whether a wall is hollow or not, you bang on it. Mulder is attempting to restore the ancient world of sound, of acoustic phenomena associated with tribal man and his masked apparitions.
To clarify this, consider as a contrast to the Western development of the sense of sight, the world created by India. Here we find a society in which the eyes are closed, a world in which a philosophy of sound vibration builds up an entire cosmology based upon acoustic resonance, of mantras and chants, of prayers and oral recitations of sacred texts. Writing came late to India, and even then, most sacred texts were not immediately written down, but held in the memory and passed along orally. And these are incredibly intricate texts, so India’s feat of memorization and oral transmission was a prodigious one. The exploration of the physical body in India began with yoga, in which the eyes are closed and through deep breathing techniques the inner world is sounded. Hence, by unplugging, as it were, the sense of sight, and plugging in that of hearing, the Hindus were led to the discovery of a complex cosmology of a chain of supernatural beings which inhabited the universe on its inside. Hence, all the asuras, rakshasas, danavas, gandharvas, apsarases, yakshas, kinnaras, nagas, etc, which compose the Indian chain of being from Brahmaloka at the top of the universe to Naraka at the bottom, is a world discovered through the closing of the eyes and listening. (Indeed, the rishis were said not to have composed the vedas, but to have heard them).
This is precisely the world that Mulder is attempting to revive within the West by banging his hand against the walls of the cosmos in order to awaken its interior devils and demons, asleep since the Renaissance. So The X-Files, from this point of view, is an interior reawakening, through Mulder’s sonic applications, of the world of tribal man and his mythic chains of beings running through the cosmos which our Western amplification of the sense of sight at the expense of all other senses forced it to exclude from consideration.
All of this may seem as though we have taken a left turn into madness. And in a sense, we have, for in madness lie the very demons and astral spirits which kidnap the soul and make off with it, and that is precisely what The X-Files is all about.
The various monsters, beasts and goblins of The X-Files are a retrieval of an ancient cosmology, common to all the high civilizations, of a great chain of being of astral spirits. In the Christian tradition as epitomized for us by Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite in his Celestial Hierarchy, we find these beings laid out into a hierarchy of angels descending from the most sublime at the top — Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones — to those progressively further away from God and closer to earth — Powers, Virtues, Dominions, and finally to Angels, Archangels and Principalities. In the imagination of nineteenth century esoteric societies, this cosmology was revived by the German mystic Rudolf Steiner in his vision of elemental spirits inhabiting the various rocks and stones and waters of the earth at one end, while a complex hierarchy of angelic beings mounted up toward the heavens at the other. Unlike the traditional Christian hierarchy, however, all these beings were involved in a process of spiritual evolution, the beings of one level striving to rise up in the course of time to occupy the level immediately above, in good nineteenth century evolutionary fashion.
Such a chain of beings exists also in The X-Files, but one must watch a great number of the show’s episodes to become aware of this. The hierarchy is not formally and consciously organized by the show’s creators, and in this respect the show differs from that of the tradition, but the hierarchy is there nonetheless, evident to the discerning eye.
The leading theme of the show is the invasion of the human being by occult entities, both astral (i.e. of the soul) and physical (of the immune system). For the mind has an immune system, too, which is a normal and logical extension of the body’s and if it is not strong enough to defend itself against attack, then it will be abducted by one or another of the various creatures which appear on the show in order to make off with it.
According to traditional esoteric theory (going back to the Egyptians), the human being is not just comprised of a simplistic body and soul, but is a sort of nest of Chinese boxes of subtle bodies, each one more refined and complex than the one below it, in imitation of the heavenly hierarchies, which grow more refined the further they ascend. In the parlance of Rudolf Steiner (which I use here not because I am an Anthroposophist, but simply because it is ready to hand) the physical body is the lowest, something that all animate beings share in common with the world of rocks and minerals. But in the next level up, the human being also possesses an etheric body, the motivating principle of all animate life. It is the presence of an etheric body which makes plants plants and not rocks. Likewise, in humans, the etheric body maintains and organizes the physical body and also repairs it when it falls sick (especially during sleep). The etheric body also includes the function of memory, in a mysterious way. In the next level up, human beings possess an astral body, which is what they share in common with all animals.Â Â This is simply waking consciousness and it is what differentiates animals from plants. But humans, in addition, also have a mental body which animals do not have, and this is yet another complex series of nested functions which we need not get into here, for we have sketched enough of Steiner’s view to make it clear that there are four main bodies: physical, etheric, astral and mental.
Now, the monsters that we meet in The X-Files are not just random, for each of them preys upon one or another of man’s subtle bodies. Many of the most memorable, in fact, prey upon the physical body. In the episode known as “Squeeze,”Â for example, a man with an elastic body named Eugene Victor Tooms is really a creature who must hibernate every 30 years, but he can only do this after killing five people and eating their livers. In “2Shy,” we encounter a serial killer who meets overweight women online and must eat their fatty tissue because of some genetic anomaly. In “Hungry,” a fast-food restaurant employee kills people and sucks their brains out through a small hole in their heads. In “Teliko,” an African man who is slowly losing his melanin can only survive by preying upon other black males and stripping the melanin from their skins, turning them ash white in the process.
The extraterrestrials which concern so much of the show’s main “mythology,” seem to be preoccupied with the etheric body, for they often tamper with both the human immune system as well the memory. Abductees who have returned with microchips implanted into the backs of their necks will develop cancer if they attempt to remove the chips. Eventually, the aliens plan on colonizing the earth after they unleash a black virus plague that will wipe out all of humanity. Also, one of the common experiences of an abductee is a sense of “lost time” in which certain lacunae cannot be filled in with memory. The aliens frequently erase their victim’s memories as a routine part of their operations.
Then there are those episodes in which certain beings prey upon the astral body. In the show called “Via Negativa,” a cult leader who has the ability to project himself into the dreams of his worshippers, in which he appears floating in yoga posture with a third eye upon his forehead, kills his dreaming victims by crushing their skulls with an axe (that is to say, a thunderbolt, just as in Indian mythology, the god Shiva fires bolts of thunder from his middle eye, for axes and tridents have traditionally been symbolic of the thunderbolt of the monster-slaying warrior hero); in “Tithonus,” a crime scene photographer who is somehow always first on the scene when a person has died (for he has premonitions of their deaths) photographs them in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Death making off with their astral bodies, for he himself is over one hundred and fifty years old and seems to be incapable of dying. In “Sleepless,” a military experiment conducted during Vietnam involving the creation of soldiers who never need to sleep by performing brain surgery on them has resulted in the production of a man named the Preacher, who hasn’t slept in 24 years, and who has developed the ability to project his waking dreams into 3D holograms of aggression which result in killing off the other sleepless soldiers who were part of the experiment. In “Avatar,” Agent Skinner is preyed upon by a succubus who causes him to think he is murdering women, and so forth.
At the mental level, there are the mind parasites which feed off of human confusion, like the doll in Stephen King’s episode “Chinga,” which causes people to kill and maim themselves. In “Pusher,” a serial killer is able to get people to do what he wants, since the presence of a brain tumor has given him special powers, includingÂ Â the ability to convince people to kill themselves in inventive ways. In “Wetwired,” people become paranoid as a result of a hidden signal that is beamed to them through their television sets, and in a similar episode called “Blood,” Mulder and Scully discover that a group of people who go on killing sprees are driven to do this as a result of poisoning by an experimental insecticide, LSDM, with properties similar to LSD, which causes them to hallucinate that electronic devices are telling them to kill people.
Thus, the creatures of the show are ultimately ancient monsters — like the various succubi, vampires, and ghouls distributed liberally throughout the episodes — which have been preying upon one or another of man’s subtle bodies throughout the millennia, and for which special measures must be taken in order to insure that one’s psychological and biological immune system is strong enough to resist such beings (for example, in the episode called “Millenium” we find out that one can protect oneself against zombies by standing in the middle of a circle made out of salt).
But the show makes clear that the overarching vision of such predation is one of a vast immunological breakdown that is taking place in our society on a mass scale. The X-Files suggests that we are suffering from this mental and biological breakdown as a result of the weakening of our immune systems by techno-chemical oversaturation. On a daily basis, we are unwittingly soaking our bodies in radiation and chemicals: exposure to ELF fields from computer monitors, cell phones and radio and TV towers; EMF’s radiated by powerlines, substations and transformers; carcinogenic chemicals like PCB’s, PBDE’s (found in flame retardants and known to interfere with thyroid function and neurological development); dioxins from paper mills, chemical plants and incinerators; bizarre chemicals known to cause reproductive system abnormalities in animals like phthalates (found in fragrant shampoos) and Bisphenol A (found in plastics); prefluorinated acids found in nonstick and stain-resistant coatings and known to cause birth defects and liver damage in lab animals; mercury-soaked fish; and the list goes on. Taken in isolation or small doses, these toxins might be innocuous enough, but in the kinds of daily chemical baths within which we immerse ourselves, it all adds up to a weakening of both mind and body. A weakening that makes it easier for malign spirits to take advantage of the body’s lowered defenses.
The writers of The X-Files are attuned to these happenings, albeit subliminally, for such happenings float through the ether like radio waves where they are picked up by sensitive writers whose minds download them into the imagery of science fiction. Hence, viruses and bacteria appear magnified through the distorting lens of television as evil spirits invading the body. Disease turns up transformed into the strange, Kafkaesque vision of episodes like “S.R. 819” in which Agent Skinner is infected by microscopic nanotech machines which slowly destroy his body by making it as rigid as an exoskeleton.
Taken as a whole, these episodes all add up to a frankly pessimistic commentary about the state of the present health of Western man, for such a vision of spiritual predation is akin to a nightmare in which shadowy entities creep into one’s bedroom at night in order to kidnap one’s astral body and make off with it. Sometimes, these dreams are mistaken for reality and said to be the result of extraterrestrial encounter and abduction, with attendant physical phenomena, such as micro implants and scars held up as “proof.” But as the phenomenon of stigmata proves, what the mind imagines or fears can indeed materialize itself in the body.
If The X-Files is pessimistic about the current state of Western man’s mental and physical health, it is even more bleak about where he is headed, as a consideration of the show’s overarching mythology reveals.
Television is a medium that confers a certain elasticity upon narrative forms, stretching them across the space of many seasons and years until the story threads begin to exhibit signs of fraying. Consequently, in considering the overarching “mythology” (which in older written narratives would be known simply as the “frame”) or plot that provides The X-Files with its narrative continuity over nine seasons, it is impossible to give a tidy summing up. However, the show’s plot becomes increasingly coherent, and less ambiguous, as the seasons unfold, and so, in extremely compressed form, its narrative runs something like this:
Fox Mulder’s sister was abducted, apparently by aliens, when he was seven years old. The desire to solve this mystery is what motivates him to hunt down, and prove, the existence of extraterrestrials, despite the scorn and resistance put up by the very government organization for which he works. He is convinced that the U.S. government knows that the aliens are real, but has lied about this to the American people and covered it up. In the early episodes, we are never quite sure whether the aliens are real or invented by the government as a smokescreen, for we only catch furtive glimpses of their disappearing ships or hidden caches of their dead bodies which mysteriously disappear. It is possible, and at one point Mulder becomes certain, that the aliens are indeed a cover up invented by the government to disguise a more disturbing project involving experiments in human cloning and genetic engineering.
At one point, Scully herself is abducted, but when she returns, she has only hazy memories of her experience. Later, we learn that she had had genetic material extracted from her during the abduction, material that was used for the purpose of creating a child as a synthetic hybrid of human and extraterrestrial DNA. Scully discovers that a tiny microchip has been implanted in the back of her neck, and when it is removed, she contracts a form of nasal-pharyngeal cancer.
The show’s primary villain is a mysterious figure known only as the Cigarette Smoking Man, for he is never seen without a cigarette for very long. He is an older man, apparently a high level government employee, and always seems to be behind the attempts to destroy any evidence that would confirm the existence of extraterrestrials. But he happens to have in his possession the cure for Scully’s cancer, and at one point, several seasons in, he cuts a deal with Mulder and Scully’s boss, Agent Skinner — whose loyalties are always divided between the X-Files and the shadowy higher ups from whom he takes his orders — to produce the cure in exchange for Skinner’s doing a favor for him. Skinner agrees. Later, the favor turns out to involve the covering up of an episode in which a swarm of deadly bees gets loose and stings a few people to death. The bees are a central part of the show’s iconography, for they are genetically engineered to carry a strange alien virus with which the government is planning to infect the population. Cigarette Man, however, produces the cure for Scully’s cancer, another microchip, which is then reimplanted at the base of her skull, and her cancer vanishes.
In later seasons, as the mythology clarifies itself, we begin to learn what all this has been about. There is a war going on between two races of alien beings (for midway through the fifth season, the show’s creators decide to make the ontological commitment to the reality of the aliens). One race has plans to invade and colonize the planet. The other, however, is a resistance force which does not agree with this idea (we are never told why). An internal, and high level group of government conspirators known as the Syndicate — which includes the Cigarette Man — has indeed been attempting to cover up their involvement with the colonizing race of aliens ever since Roswell, for they have been conducting a series of genetic experiments upon human abductees in order to create a race of alien-human hybrids to be used as slave labor for the colonizers when they arrive. The colonizers, whom we never really see clearly, except only in quick glimpses, have black blood, and with this blood, they are planning upon spreading a viral plague in order to wipe out the human population prior to their arrival. The Syndicate has agreed to help spread this plague using their genetically engineered bees.Â Â The alien-human hybrids, as well as the rebel aliens, have green blood, but otherwise look human, although the rebels are shape-shifters who sometimes sew up all the orifices of their faces to prevent their being infected by the black virus. The rebels have committed themselves to hunting down and destroying all the alien-human hybrids, one by one, most of whom, however, are sickly anyway. While cooperating with the colonizers all along, however, the Syndicate changes its mind and begins to develop a vaccine against theÂ “black oil” that will render them immune from the plague. But the rebel aliens manage to lure all the members of the Syndicate, together with their families, into a trap — with the exception of Cigarette Man — and murder them. It is uncertain whether the colonization will proceed or not.
The show, then, becomes more apocalyptic as it goes along.Â Â There is a pessimism evident here regarding the human relationship to the spirit world, for that is what aliens and extraterrestrials in popular imagery always signify: they are the gods of old returned anew in the vestments of science fiction cosmology. This is confirmed by the aliens’ intention to use humanity as a slave labor force, for this is a cryptic allusion to the Mesopotamian myth of the creation of human beings as slaves for the gods, who did not wish to work for a living anymore. So they brought humans into being, who then set promptly to work in order to build cities with magnificent temples that would act as gigantic hotels to invite the gods down from heaven to stay with them. In some variations of this myth, moreover, the humans are created using the blood of some of the lower gods, so they are a sort of hybrid of human-divine DNA.
But the spirit world as pictured in The X-Files is ominous and threatening. Humanity, the show says, is on the verge of being stricken with a divine invasion in the form of a viral epidemic that will wipe out most of the population. Such terrifying imagery is typical of apocalyptic epochs in which, for one or another reason, the human relationship to the gods has been knocked out of alignment. During the late Hellenistic age, for example, in which the first apocalyptic writings of the Hebrews appeared, the Jews were not allowed to worship their god in their own traditional manner, due to the prohibitions placed upon them by the Greek ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes. In response, the Maccabean revolt broke out, and the Jews expelled the Greeks and took over Palestine to run it for themselves until the coming of the Romans. This is the period from which such apocalyptic texts as the Book of Daniel and 2 Esdras date.
In the present case, it is the development of a hypertrophic science and technology that has disturbed the axial human-god alignment and done so much damage to the functioning of the earth’s ecosystems that it has caused the planet to come down with a fever. The crisis is such that it calls for divine intervention. The neglected gods, once associated with the shrines and dolmens of this forest, that hill, or yonder river, no longer receiving their proper due, are about to intervene in the human condition in a big way. With their diminished status, they are only visible to us now in science fictional form as races of battling extraterrestrials contending for possession of the human soul. But as The X-Files shows us, the human soul is suffering from an auto immune disorder that will not allow it to resist these spiritual kidnappings and hi-jackings which we term “abductions.” Such abductions and invasions are the result of enraged divinities who are tired of pesky humans making a mess out of their planet, for the gods of ancient myth — and hence, the aliens — are the earth’s immune system, and when they perceive a threat to its proper health and functioning, they will send in their white blood cells — or in this case, the Grays — to take care of the situation. If it takes a plague to work as an antihuman biotic to rid the earth of its fever, so be it.
According to The X-Files, then, we are headed for a disaster, unless we can reprioritize our priorities. We must come, one way or another, to a recognition of a real spiritual dimension that lies both within us as well as in the outer world around us, and take the time that is necessary to cultivate and care for that dimension. Otherwise, the human species does appear to be headed for the period of the earth’s Sixth Extinction and may not make it through to the other side.
This, then, is Mulder’s task: to descend into the electron bath of our television sets and to return to us, the viewers, with a message from the outer darkness.