And so we come to the end of our time-warping, matter-dissolving journey through the Philadelphia Experiment mythos. As we power down the Varotron, I’d like to ask anyone who has ‘gone blank’ to remain calm, and stay put (as if you’ve got a choice); we’ll be coming around for the laying-of-hands soon.
For each entry on The Mask Sign, we’ll conclude with a three-part finale. First will be The Wet Blanket Revue, wherein I’ll round up some of the various reasonable counterarguments to “Aliens did it” or “the Loch Ness Monster is real.” Next, The Venusian Conclusion, in which I’m going to posit the most outlandish possible theory I can think of, mainly in an effort to piss people off and get angry emails. And then finally we’ll have a select bibliography of sorts, so that eager conspiracy nuts can do their own research (trust no one, man.)
THE WET BLANKET REVUE: PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT
So let’s get started on ruining all the fun.
Surprisingly, perhaps the biggest wet blanket on the Philadelphia Project topic is a man we’ve come to know and love. Unable to hide forever from the phenomenon that was sweeping the UFO community, Mr. Carl Meredith Allen (alias Carlos Miguel Allende) was finally tracked down to a small town in Colorado. He claimed that he was the sole author of the Varo annotations; Jemi and Mr. B were simply a smoke-screen. He apparently demonstrated his ability to write in three different handwriting styles. Robert Goerman wrote a piece about his discovery of the man himself in the 1980 issue of FATE magazine (link here.)
Despite freely admitting that his annotation was a bit of a sham, he stuck to his story about the Philadelphia Experiment until his death. In August 1986, when I was six months old, Carl Allen met with a reporter from “THE NEWS of Colorado Centennial County” for what would be his last interview. Barely 61 years old and looking 90, Allen was living in Greeley, Colorado. He was penniless and fraught with suspicion, still fervently scribbling and mailing his ideas to various family members and associates. Discussing the original experiment, he says:
“The force field was under my nose, you might say, really it was under my chest and neck. It had spread out from the target ship. I reached into it with my right arm. It kicked. Curiosity — they say. That’s why I did it. You might say I was satisfied. I had my question answered — for the moment.”
After better than four decades in the game, Allen was not going to backtrack from his story. And, while it’s probably the easiest thing to say that Carl Allen was simply a complete lunatic, that everything that happened as a result of people taking him too seriously was a waste of time, a waste of money (reasonable points), let’s not discount the fact that Carl Allen really gave his life to this story. For him, at least, it really meant something. He wasn’t trying to get rich, or earn fame (he was a compulsive hider, in fact). He wasn’t doing this for some sneaky, underhanded, con-artist reason. He found something he was passionate about, something he needed other people to know, and he followed it right through to the bitter end. He did it for curiosity. Or so they say.
But what about the Eldridge? Even if we accept that Allen was a madman, plain and simple, what was it about that ship in particular that had so seized his imagination? There had to be something, right? As it turns out, there was. Around the supposed time of the Philadelphia Experiment, the Eldridge really was taking part in top-secret Navy research, but of a distinctly less otherworldly nature. She was being tested with an experimental new technology called degaussing. You may be of the age to remember the old CRT computer monitors, with the button that showed a magnet with a line through it, and when you hit it the whole screen would go all warped and crazy for a few seconds before settling back in. That’s degaussing; it removes the net magnetic charge from an object, leaving it magnetically neutral. For a computer monitor, the degaussing process makes the display sharper by removing unwanted charge buildup on the display end of the cathode-ray tube (modern LCD monitors therefore don’t need degaussing). For a Navy ship, degaussing was used to cancel the magnetic signature of a metallic hull and thereby render it ‘invisible’ to magnetic mines.
So, the sceptics will tell you, Carl Allen must have picked up on some chatter about the experiment and somehow failed to realize that the ‘invisibility’ pertained to the ship’s magnetic signature, and not actual invisibility in the light spectrum. Everything else developed from there. There’s even a possibility that the Engstrom, one of the sister ships of the Eldridge, was undergoing the same experiment at the same time in Newport News, and the ‘teleportation’ theory arose when Carl Allen got wind of that and assumed it must have been the same ship.
In an age of science that was looking a lot like science fiction, we can probably forgive Mr. Allen for his mistakes about the experiment. As we’ve seen, he was living in a time of immense scientific upheaval and nobody really knew exactly what the new physics could do. Hell, we still don’t. If people in 2016 can still believe that physicists could make a ship invisible, we don’t necessarily have to classify Allen as an uneducated simpleton for making the same assumption in 1943, while there was literally a ship in harbour that people really were trying to make ‘invisible.’ If you saw a destroyer in the Halifax Harbour and somebody in a uniform muttered to you that government scientists were trying to make it go invisible, you know damn well you’d have a moment of pause, and unlike Carl Allen in 1943, you’ve had plenty of time to get used to the basic concepts of particle physics. Don’t judge.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether Carl Allen was a crackpot or a savant, a schizoid lunatic or a persecuted defender of the truth. His story ignited a shared cultural experience among a certain weird group of people that keeps burning to this day. The world’s a more interesting place because he was in it. Deep freezes, walking throo walls, and teleportation aside, I think that’s enough for a life well lived.
THE VENUSIAN CONCLUSION: PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT
Carl Allen was a fuckin’ alien.
Wait, wait. Bear with me on this one. As I noted in section 2, the Varo annotation often refers to the fact that Jessup has some kind of secret to reveal to humans, a secret already known to the annotators. If they know something that hasn’t been revealed to humans, they’re not humans, right?
As seen in the last section, the writers sometimes refer to normal people as ‘gaiyars.’ This is close to ‘gaia,’ the Greek word for ‘Earth.’ So maybe ‘gaiyars’ really means ‘Earthlings.’ This is another way in which the writers refer to humans as if they are somehow different from themselves. At other places, the annotators speak of themselves as ‘gypsies,’ despite the fact that they don’t appear to be gypsies as we would understand them (Romani, for example). The connotation of ‘gypsy’ is one who moves around a lot; from town to town, sure, but maybe from planet to planet, galaxy to galaxy.
But wait, why would aliens write to each other in English? The writings may not be what they seem at first glance. Aside from the notes, there is extensive underlining in the annotation, from all three participants. Some have suggested that the underlined sections, when read in some unknown way, could constitute a much deeper code. Much like a Soviet agent might plant a code-phrase in an English language newspaper for the benefit of a spy, the underlining and the strange English used in the annotation could be operating according to the principle of plausible deniability; something that looks more or less innocent on the surface while concealing a wealth of information to the person who knows how to look for it. In a similar vein, Mr. A at various places writes things like “Boe da lograni tash na Stendic og daeli mork ‘Pielidismacraeli!'” This doesn’t appear to be any kind of human language; Google Translate just shakes its head at it. Maybe I’m wrong. But could it be that this is untranslated Alienese? Or some other kind of code?
But if he’s an alien, is he an “L-M” or an “S-M”? Neither. Like their approach to humans, the writers discuss these two groups as if they too are strangers. They speak with a certain disdain of both, and particularly of the war between the two, which they seem to regard as somewhat silly. Their race, apparently, has transcended warfare, and now engages primarily in leisure, observation, and speculation:
“We have no inclination to fare-forth to other things & other Ways. our is Way of Life, time-proven & Happy. We have nothing, own Nothing, except our Music & our Philosophy & are Happy.”
“If then he has seen so ancient writs, then he KNEW Why we do Not War. Nor ever Worry & Why each of us knows or Day of Death AND THAT WE ONCE RULERS THEN WERE SLAVES.”
‘We, once rulers, then were slaves.’ Now, presumably, they are neither. They “have nothing, own nothing, except our Music & our Philosophy & are Happy.” The writers are a third alien race, traveling about the universe to observe lesser intelligent life-forms evolving. Maybe it’s not even something they’re all that serious about. Maybe they’re just on vacation.
But what of the real Carl Allen? He could be a government plant, or maybe his human body was a clone, or he was what the UFO community calls a ‘walk-in,’ an alien intelligence that has seized control of a human body. In this last case, maybe ‘Jemi’ and ‘Mr. B’ were in there too, and all three of them observing humanity’s tribulations through eyes that had once belonged to Carl Allen. It would explain why he could write in each of their distinct handwriting.
The idea of a species transcending war and pointless in-fighting is a hopeful note to go out on. Maybe we’ll get there too, once we find a way to drive off the S-M’s and / or overcome our own destructive nature. Maybe “people” like Carl Allen can give us a hand. Until then, we’ll keep our eyes open.
Contains the Allende Letters, the articles about the ‘real’ Carl Allen, and a good deal of other information about the man behind it all.
Varo Edition – Cassiopaea [direct link]
A PDF of the Varo Annotation, the sacred text of the Philadelphia Experiment religion.
Varo is still kicking, now as “Varo LLC”, still in Garland, TX. Google street-viewing the address gives a distinctly ominous-looking building with no signage and no corresponding entry on Google maps showing you what’s at that location.
Outlines some of the work done by the Varo Company, and particularly W.W. Salisbury, through the 40’s and 50’s.
David Halperin: “One Can Go Nuts”
A little insight into the late Morris K. Jessup. Mr. Halperin has a whole series of posts about the Philadelphia Experiment which contributed greatly to this project.
Kevin D. Randle: The Allende Letters: A Different Perspective
A sceptic’s appraisal, if that kind of thing is your bag.
Thanks for taking this ride with me, and if anyone has any questions or comments I’d love to hear them. I’ll respond with follow-up posts if there’s more that you guys want to hear, or if you’ve got something you’d like me to put up regarding this legend.
Next month, we’ll take a look into the Lead Masks Case, another of my favourites. I hope you’ll tune in again.