Thursday, November 2, 2017

The Meade Layne - Roger P. Graham Correspondence

Readers of my blog are aware of that in the Summer 2016 the very extensive archive of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF) was donated to AFU. As my colleague Anders Liljegren is working hard to get the Flying Saucer Review (FSR) archive in order we decided that I concentrate my time and efforts on the BSRF archive. This is a huge undertaking and it will probably take me at least one or two years of concentrated work to get all the files reviewed and organized.

Studying with the BSRF collection

As the work proceeds I plan to regularly present interesting data from the archive on my blog. For an archive aficionado like me it is exceedingly fascinating to delve into the files and folders of this unique collection of material. In one of the folders I found a treasure trove of old letters. Correspondence between Meade Layne and science fiction writer Roger P. Graham (Rog Phillips) covering the period July 1946 – January 1948. So far I have found 60 letters. 12 from Meade Layne and 48 from Roger P. Graham. What is especially unique with this collection is that it gives behind the scenes information and comments during the early days of the UFO era and insights into the founding years of BSRF. The correspondence is of special interest to ufologists, Forteans, esotericists, investigators of paranormal phenomena and of course to fans and historians of science fiction.

Meade Layne

Roger P. Graham (1909-1966) was an American science fiction writer, often using the pseudonym Rog Phillips. During his active years he used more than twenty different pseudonyms. Graham became a full time writer after World War II. In 1946 he moved together with his wife to Evanston, Illinois to work for Ray Palmer´s Amazing Stories. They became close friends and Graham received first hand knowledge of the controversial Maury Island incident. He also developed a close friendship with Meade Layne, whom he visited several times at his home in San Diego, California. There is much information on the internet about ”Rog Phillips” as a science fiction writer but nothing is mentioned of  his deep interest in spiritualism, esotericism and paranormal phenomena. The quotes and comments I present here from his correspondence with Meade Layne gives an deeper insight into Graham´s spiritual quest, his theories and writings.

Roger P. Graham

The first letter found in the Layne-Graham correspondence file is a long (five pages) undated letter with much personal information from Meade Layne, written in June or July 1946. It is a reply to Graham´s introductory letter: 
”Your letter is unusual, and interesting, and very welcome. As you know, I just don´t and can´t write long letters except on very rare occasions. I am writing one to you for the same reason you wrote to me – because I want to.”

Graham´s first letter must have struck a deep chord in the 25 years older Meade Layne. In fact this long, personal letter was so unusual that Riley Crabb printed the entire text with comments in Round Robin. The Journal of Borderland Research, vol. 31, no. 2, March-April 1975. The reason was that in this letter Meade Layne stated much of the purposes and principles of Borderland Sciences Research Associates and he also was unusually open minded regarded his own life:
”A few words about myself, since you have given me considerable insight into your ways of thought. I´m not a scientist or mathematician. I have an earned Doctorate in philosophy, tho the thesis for the degree was actually done in comparative literature. I taught in various colleges and universities, also in high schools for several years. So, I´m only an academician who has strayed into borderland sciences and psychic research… My occult background is in what is called esoteric Qabalism – which is no child´s play, I assure you”

The affinity was obviously mutual as in his reply Graham wrote:
”You know, I think I like you very much. I like your not having a religious organization to rake in the suckers money with. I like your attitude. I am only thirty-six and just starting out in life in many ways.” (Letter to Meade Layne, July 13, 1946).

Graham had because of his move to Evanston been influenced by the ideas of Ray Palmer and studied the complicated channeled ”Bible” Oahspe, a favourite of Palmer. Although Graham kept an open mind he was by this time more of an agnostic and soon entered a kind of student – teacher relation with Meade Layne, who was an erudite esotericist and former member of Dion Fortune´s The Society of the Inner Light:
”Then, if we are really immortal as phenomena strongly indicates, we will at least have gained a start in the right direction by the time we cast off this body. It is much better to die not believing anything, and with a well ingrained system of analysis, than to die believing a mass of phantasies and exalted theories based on meaningless words.” (Letter to Meade Layne, August 28, 1946).

Inspired by his new correspondent Graham began reading classics like The Mystical Qabalah by Dion Fortune and The Secret Doctrine by Helena P. Blavatsky. These studies resulted in a manuscript for an article, Existence, A Discussion, which he sent for publishing in Round Robin:
”The general trend of modern study and research is to bring the supernormal into the fold of the normal and the understood. This trend should be accompanied by a serious attemp to clarify terms, and weed out the obsolete and discredited meanings, either by coining new words and restricting their meanings, as is done in mathematics, or by specific definition and tabulation of terms… Another example, to many people soul and spirit are synonimous terms. To me the soul is the vehicle, the permanent, material vehicle of the spirit.” (Quote from manuscript enclosed with letter to Meade Layne, October 30, 1946).

Coming from a beginner in esoteric studies this was certainly very insightful comments on the problems encountered when trying to understand Theosophy or the Qabalah of Dion Fortune. In his manuscript Graham tried to formulate Hylozoism, that all matter have consciousness, a basic concept in esotericism and also criticize the abstruse terminology used, usually a stumbling block to understand what the author is talking about. Both these problems have, in my view, been brilliantly solved by the Swedish esotericist Henry T. Laurency.

Surprisingly Meade Layne appears to have misunderstood Graham on these points and declined to publish the article. In his reply he wrote:
”Since you are a friend of mine, (and I wish to be yours), I suppose I can criticize your article rather freely… On several points I feel that you are misinformed. I don´t know of any serious study being made, to determine whether astral bodies are material. So far as I know, no one in the whole history of occcultism ever denied that they are material. All informed spiritualists understand that matter. All the five vehicles of the Theosophical teaching are ”material” – finer grades of matter” (Letter to Roger P. Graham, November 22, 1946).

In a letter written in January 1947 Graham gives a rather uncanny ”prediction” regarding future conflicts between nations:
”One of my definite convictions is that we will not ever have a war with Russia. Another is that the next war, which will not come for many years yet… will be between Christianity and Islam, - a federation of Moslem states which is not yet completely crystalized, against Europe, and opened by the moslems.” (Letter to Meade Layne, January 19, 1947).
There is no information about how he arrived at this conclusion, which certainly is something to consider looking at todays political and religious clashes. Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain speech at Fulton, Missouri in March 1946 so speculation of a war with Russia would have been more logical. And the Middle East conflict resulting from the founding of Israel didn´t begin until 1948.

After the Kenneth Arnold sighting June 24, 1947 Graham made these comment in two of his letters:
”Your card came this morning. Also the morning newspaper which looks like an edition of the Shaver mystery, with people lost in caves, and flying pie plates seen all over the United States. What a world!” (Letter to Meade Layne, July 5, 1947)
”The note just received on the saucers is interesting. Of course you have now read the army interpretation. To accept it means calling a lot of people who are undoubtedly reliable and experienced in observation, with the added advantage of being in a plane at the time, of being outright liars.” (Letter to Meade Layne, July 10, 1947).

Working with Ray Palmer it was only natural that Graham would also become involved in the controversial Maury Island incident of June 21, 1947. He makes several interesting comments on this case in his letters to Meade Layne:
”Am wondering how you got hold of the information? Here´s the dope of it.Working out of Tacoma Washington is a tug boat outfit or some kind of boat outfit (not sure of the type). One of the men on this wrote Ray that about twenty tons of stuff fell from the sky, - not necessarily from a flying saucer, since he didn´t see where it fell from. He sent Ray about five pounds of the stuff. I took a small piece and subjected it to a few tests. It is an oxide of some kind. It has a high electrical resistance indicating that it may be the oxide of some metal. Heat did not affect it in any way, though I did not have facilities for intense heat. It looks like hard coal, but fifteen minutes over a gas flame turned the edges of it white hot without any signs of burning, so it isn´t coal. It is heavy and black coming in pieces with glistening black surfaces and from large sheets, apparently, that are about an inch thick.” (Letter to Meade Layne, July 26, 1947).

”The FBI called on Ray Tuesday and grilled him, trying to get him ”confess” that he started the flying saucer stuff as a hoax to increase circulation. That after the official army announcement that it is a hoax and all investigation of it has been dropped. Oh yeah?... The FBI entertains the idea that Arnold, under the pay of Ray, took the stuff up and dumped it from a plane. (At least twenty tons of it!)… Ray believes the flying saucers are here to prevent another war, and that a war cannot be fought so long as they are in the sky and not accounted for. (Letter to Meade Layne, August 14, 1947).

”Ray plans to send you some of the sworn statements for your files as soon as he gets through with them. In that way they will not all be in one basket. The F.B.I. has their eyes on him, and if they knew of the plans we have they would stop them, because the saucers are squelched now in the news. They exist and the government knows they exist, but doesn´t want that known to the public.” (Letter to Meade Layne, September 6, 1947).

Ray Palmer

Whatever is the reality regarding the Maury Island case, these statements from Graham must be one of the first assertions that the government is covering up the truth about the flying saucers. Interesting is also Ray Palmer´s belief that the saucers are here to prevent war on planet earth. A view very much different from Richard Shaver´s dark visions, also presented by Ray Palmer.

In several blog entries I have written about Millen Cooke, who wrote the remarkably prophetic article Son of the Sun in Ray Palmer´s magazine Fantastic Adventures, November 1947. From the letters of Roger P. Graham I learned that he actually was a good friend of Millen Cooke. This was a fascinating co-incidence as I have tried to find more data on Millen Cooke from various sources, without much success. Graham introduced her to Meade Layne in 1947 and she became a member of BSRA, writing several articles for Round Robin. That she was an intriguing woman is attested by Graham in one of his letters:
”Anent Millen Cooke, I can´t say that I ”know” anything. Everything up to and including the present moment convinces me that she is a genuine adept without very many illusions. The thing that counts is that she is completely honest and reliable in her utterances, and also very cautious about them. She has asked me about you and your policy, and that was the reason I had you send her RR, so she could find out. (Letter to Meade Layne, December 28, 1947).

Roger Graham gave regular and generous economic support to Meade Layne for the printing of Round Robin, The Flying Roll and the Seance Memoranda from the Mark Probert seances. Graham sometimes participated in these sessions and in several letters they discuss the origin and validity of the persons (The Inner Circle) coming through Probert. Graham presented different theories but eventually came to the conclusion ”that the phenomena through Mark are genuine, and that there is no faking, conscious or subconscious, involved”. (Letter to Meade Layne, January 13, 1948). One theory that neither Meade Layne nor Roger Graham seems to have considered is that the names of the Inner Circle members could have been personas, fictional characters used by a secret lodge to hide their real identities.

The sixty letters between Meade Layne and Roger P. Graham 1946-1948 are historically important source documents that give in-depth knowledge of the first years of the UFO era and the personal lives and views of the fascinating writers and researchers of that time.