THE GRAYS- Whitley Strieber…a critique
by Soloviev Manukian
The trouble with Strieber is that his pre-release self publicizing of ‘The Grays’, his latest work of FICTION/fact (more of that later) with intimations of the revealing of “secrets” has put him under pressure to deliver, and on that count (and many more) he has failed.
The book, The Grays, is a hodge podge of derivative ideas with clear and contemporary ante-cedants. There are no ‘secrets’ here.
The general plot is derivative of Spielberg’s Taken tvseries -: aliens have been working through genetic engineering to produce a hybrid earth/grayling child named Conner (heard that name before?) who it is hoped will save both civilizations, both on the verge of extinction, though from different causes.
There are the two camps,
- the paranoic and secret-government turned rogue agency which has been monitoring the alien situation
- elements of the secret-government agency who have seen the light and are trying to aid and protect the aliens project and the boy/child/hybrid/avatar.
Basically a ‘time running out’ chase-movie.
Ok, a simplistic and familiar plot – but what about the writing?
I am not familiar with all of Strieber’s other works but on the basis of The Grays he is revealed as a HACK third rate writer. The book ain’t literature unless words and cliche are your definition- in fact in my opinion it is so badly written that the only reason it was published in the first place was in the hope that a movie deal would eventuate, which I understand is almost in the can. It reads like those books-of-the-movies we have seen so many times before.
Ok…the plot is derivative…the writing is third rate. But does the book contain any worthwhile or interesting or ‘new’ ideas within its turgid prose?
Sort of. The problem is that all the ideas are taken from somewhere else! You can sense, almost in slow motion, the plodding author knitting together a group of ideas from various sources hoping to inspire, breathe into some sort of life, the basic one paragraph plot. It was indeed, for myself, almost painful to move through the seemingly stunted intelligence of The Grays.
Correction: One idea- that the Grays are able to move so quickly with correlation to the ‘eye movements’ of human observers that they appear invisible, is perhaps the only original concept of this book.
Now, Mr. Strieber might perhaps counter my comments by simply saying that what he has written is based on life experienced ‘fact’ and therefore the absence of ‘new ideas’ is irrelevant in context of how things ‘are’. However, Mr. Strieber has for many years through his internet broadcasting, his other books and interviews, delivered unto the waiting public his experiences and take on them and the various theories he has worked with and we are also familiar with the many interviewees and books which are disseminated through Dreamland, Strieber’s on line WWW ’empire’. In The Grays one can all too easily see the seams where Strieber has stitched the ideas and “experiences” of others into his own narrative.
In one recent Dreamland episode where he was ‘interviewed’ by Jim Marrs, Strieber was asked whether the child/hybrid/prodigy, Conner, was based on his own life. Strieber actually answered that “yes he was Conner”. But Strieber is not a child, he is a mature and aging adult and yet also by his own admissions he has yet to really understand what was going on in his own life- for example according to him he doesn’t know who or what the Grays really are. And this lack of real understanding seems to be at the base of Whitley’s ‘many’ anomalous experiences. Or in other words, things happen to him without his own volition or self-will.
For those familiar with Dreamland and Strieber’s output in various forms it is common knowledge regarding certain ‘weird events’ such as ‘time shifts’ and so on which he has ‘gone through’, but always these things ‘just happened’ and left Whitley pondering, “What is going on.” This is not the behaviour of an ‘avatar’ but rather the life of an ‘automaton’ blown hither and thither on the winds of some unknown source. Indeed it is not an uncommon ‘story’ in certain paths that various humans have moved on, so to speak, where the Imagination of the individual has become the prime energy source and the individuals sense-of-self the reflective source of phenomenon.
I have noticed that Mr. Strieber has on many, many occasions stated that the Grays were in his life for eleven years. This presumably means that they are now ‘out’ of his life, however almost in the same breath Mr. Strieber is always quick to insert a qualification usually regarding ongoing communication with the Grays. There is a contradiction here but it is not surprising, for the internal pressure or friction of attempting to understand and crystalize an ended experience such as we are referring to is great. To be left ‘alone’ after such a communion would be a difficult octave to move through.
Many in this type of situation, caught between two stools so to speak , one being the initial experience/s and the other being the completing-process, usually remain somewhere in the middle. However this requires energy and this energy is supplied by the imagination- this is supplied by the individual and those who actively feed into the paradigm.
Like a bit torrent, at first there is the seeder and then a swarm of feeders and then the system becomes it’s own entity, growing and feeding upon itself, occasionally a new seeder will enter and become a part of the hive. From the inside it may appear that there is forward movement but from the outside one can see the endless circle.
This is typified by The Grays, where we see the original personal narrative of Mr. Strieber embellished with the input of the ‘swarm’.
The original narrative, Communion had real energy but one must remember that this was fed by Strieber’s years of proximity to the Gurdjieff Work which was reflected in every page of Communion.
It is easy to sense the lack of real energy in this new/old tale- it is tired, gasping for breath, dying- devolving.
Once upon a time Mr. Strieber was involved with the Gurdjieff Work, perhaps it is time he re-engaged and received some fresh impressions.