Unless it is a very convincing joke, Dan Aykroyd most definitely believes in the existence of UFOs. We get on to the subject and his eyes start doing something strange. They bulge from his head, as if to punctuate his thoughts. And they are strange thoughts. "There's this one website I go on a lot," he says, "that just ends all debate about whether they're real or not, and that's Mufon.com."
Aykroyd is the "Hollywood consultant" for Mufon (it stands for Mutual UFO Network), which seems to involve keeping abreast of developments in the UFO-sighting world and promoting the organisation. "Basically, [Mufon are] scientists from all kinds of disciplines that have formed this group to analyse what is real and what is a hoax. Now you could say every one of them is a fake - that footage of 200 whirling white dots in the sky, or the
[a series of lights seen over Phoenix, Arizona, in 1997] - which 17,000 people saw - the Tinley Park sightings in Illinois, where whole suburbs saw these triangles and wedges go over at three miles an hour. Is it a mass hallucination? If so, why is it appearing on digital cameras and film? They're coming and going like taxis."
I wasn't sure about bringing up the UFOs so soon because it makes Aykroyd seem so, well, odd, and that's not the way he comes across. Or not entirely. He certainly has his eccentricities, and I don't just mean the physical oddities to which he has drawn attention in the past: he has webbed toes and eyes of different colours, one brown and one green. He wears his black motorcycle boots everywhere, even on the beach (perhaps because of the webbed toes?) and he is wearing them today, providing an edge to his suit. He always carries his police badge on him, from his time as a reserve officer for the Harahan police department in Louisiana; he pulls the badge out of his jacket pocket to show me. But he is also gentle (he is a man who can fill an armchair - it makes me want to give him a cuddle), articulate, serious even, and doesn't lack self-awareness.
Before meeting Aykroyd in the empty bar of a London hotel, I watched a programme he did last year in which he was interviewed for an hour and a half about aliens by a "ufologist" called
. At the end of it, Sereda earnestly described the actor as "one of the greatest minds in our world at this time" and Aykroyd had the grace to look slightly embarrassed. The whole thing could be a long-running joke, perhaps an attempt to keep people interested in his films Ghostbusters and Coneheads, but it's a lot of trouble to go to just to promote old movies. Does he really believe it? "I do, absolutely, and I'm not alone." He is very serious.
So why are they here? "There's that old theory that humankind and this planet were seen as the centre of the universe. That was thrown away - how could we be so presumptuous? Well, I subscribe to that. I think we are the centre of the universe and that is why they're coming. They're visiting because this is the planet that produced Picasso, the atom bomb, penicillin ... there are so many advances in science, art and culture." But if they are able to travel here, surely they are more advanced than us? "Oh, they have technology better than ours, but they didn't paint like Renoir, they don't dance like Mick Jagger, they don't write like Samuel Johnson or William Faulkner. They are envious of us. We have the most beautiful planet - the Rockies, the purple fields of the United States, the Lake District, the Pyrenees, the turquoise seas of the tropics. They don't have that. They may have gelatinous pools and crystal mountains and they've got the technology to flip from planet to planet or dimension to dimension but, you know, Keith Richards didn't come from there." I'm not so sure about that last bit. Does he think there are aliens living here, among us? "I think there are possibly some hybrids here. I think many are here for good purposes and want to improve our planet but I think some are here for malevolent purposes."
Prabhupada: Institute, you have got sufficient subject matter as I was describing, this original source of life and the planetary system, as you are going to make planetarium. Who can say about so many planets in the sky? Who has got sufficient knowledge?They cannot even give... They think that moon is the nearest planet, but we do not think like that. But still they are unable to give sufficient knowledge about the moon. It is not vacant, it cannot be vacant. We do not find any part of the world vacant. There is living entities. This earth planet is part of the universe, and the moon is also part of the universe. If it is not vacant, how that can be vacant? You have got dust there, we have got dust here; you have got rocks there, here we have got rocks. And why it is vacant? We find in the dust also there is life. When we walk on the beach, it is simply sand, there are so many crabs. They are immediately flying, running, "Here is a man coming. Enter into the hole." So even the dust, in the sand, there is life. So why not there? In the water there is life, within the sand there is life, in the air there is life, everywhere there is life. Why it should be vacant? Hmm? What is the opinion of the scientists? How...? We are layman, talking like layman, but why there should not be life? And in the sastra we get there is life. Not only moon, every planet is full of living entities. Jagat-kirna(?). There is human being, there is animal, everything. How it can be vacant, God's creation?
Svarupa Damodara: They say they cannot see.
Prabhupada: See..., you cannot see your father, that does not means there is no father who begot you. That is no... They cannot see, do they say like that?
Svarupa Damodara: They cannot see that, so they cannot prove by experiment, so...
Prabhupada: What experiment?
Svarupa Damodara: Just from experience also.
Ravindra-svarupa: They want to go and see for themselves, so they say they have gone to the moon planet, and they say we have not found life.
Prabhupada: We say you have not gone. I have not seen you, that you have gone there; you say only. How can I believe?
Vipina: They show pictures and it was on the TV.
Prabhupada: That is also, you have made picture. I have not gone and seen that. How can I believe you? The same argument. You say that you have gone to moon planet, but I have not seen that you have gone there. How can I believe you?
Vipina: Is there some other way we can argue with them, Prabhupada?
Prabhupada: No, no, let us, now just answer this question that you say you have not seen. I say, yes that's all right, because you did not see, therefore you don't believe. But I did not see you also that you have gone to moon planet. How can I believe you?
Ravindra-svarupa: How is it possible to deceive so many people?
Prabhupada: Whether it is not possible or possible, but if you put this argument, that I have not seen, I can say that I have... 760707rc.bal Conversations