American horror novelist Whitley Strieber’s account of an apparent “alien abduction” in Communion: A True Story (1987) was instrumental in bringing the abductee narrative into popular culture. Despite his ongoing engagement with mainstream ufology, in this article I argue that Strieber’s experiences are more representative of a broader paranormal category, here defined discursively. I first examine this claim through an assessment of Strieber’s career, particularly how his experience transformed his understanding of the nature of reality and brought him to challenge epistemic norms more broadly. Then, through ethnographic fieldwork, I consider whether this pattern repeated itself among subscribers at Strieber’s 2012 Dreamland Festival in Nashville. I find that, in many cases, the paranormal experience acted as a catalyst for a larger questioning of epistemic norms—in short, a paranormal gnosis.
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