Steve Hammons is the author of two novels about a U.S. Government and military joint-service research team investigating unusual phenomena. MISSION INTO LIGHT and the sequel LIGHT'S HAND introduce readers to the ten women and men of the "Joint Reconnaissance Study Group" and their exciting adventures exploring the unknown. Both novels are available from the Barnes & Noble Web site, bn.com, and other booksellers worldwide. visit Steve Hammon's website at jointreconstudygroup.blogspot.com/.
The new fact-based fiction movie The Men Who Stare at Goats deals with more than meets the eye. Or at least, we see some subjects touched on in quick and sometimes subtle ways that might trigger more thought.
In other scenes, certain topics are dealt with at length or even hit viewers between the eyes with a cinematic sledgehammer.
Incredibly funny parts of the movie are juxtaposed with the troubling, tragic and frightening.
Besides looking at the concepts of the First Earth Battalion and its real-life outside-the-box leader Army Lt. Col. Jim Channon (played by Jeff Bridges), we also get a glimpse at the Vietnam War years and post-Vietnam U.S. Army. These were dark and difficult times in the military and in America.
Yet, the 1960s and ´70s also brought forth the "human potential movement" which included a variety of touchy-feely human encounter activities, experimentation with mind-altering substances, a renewed interest in planet Earth and the natural environment, as well as the value of peace and human love.
From the troubled years after the Vietnam War to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, moviegoers are asked to consider some basic questions about human beings, the U.S. government and military, and even the forces of good versus "the dark side."
THE HUMAN MIND
The movie, and the book upon which it is based, bring together various subjects in ways that give us the opportunity to reflect further about the larger, deeper and more complex aspects of the real-life material.
For example, the research and operational activities of Project STARGATE, probably the most widely-known U.S. remote viewing program, was not part of Channon's First Earth Battalion.
However, as indicated by the scene when George Clooney identifies the contents of a small closed box as "a man sitting in a chair," remote viewing did turn out to be a real and valid human skill.
Generally speaking, it is a sub-type of ESP, but conducted according to specific and scientific research and operational protocols.
Remote viewing-type skills are related to what we call intuition, gut feelings, instincts and the sixth sense. We probably all have these abilities and can practice and develop them further.
Some of the Project STARGATE personnel reportedly had quite excellent results at times.
On a separate topic, in the movie an entire Army outpost in Iraq is slipped a mind-altering substance, LSD, via the food and water. In fact, during Army and CIA research of LSD a couple of decades ago, unwitting troops, intelligence officers and civilians were reportedly given this substance to test its effects.
The dangers of this and other mind-altering substances is clearly demonstrated in one troubling and shocking scene. This danger is real and was an unfortunate result for many people in the '60s, '70s and beyond. In fact, certain mind-altering drugs continue to cause severe health, social and legal problems today.
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