TODD MAN OUT – thoughts rattling around in the brain of Todd
The Modern Destruction of Myth
About 30 years ago, before I officially developed my addiction to D&D and role-playing games, I was always strongly attracted to anything that related to ghosts, supernatural phenomenon, UFOs, Bigfoot, Loch Ness, historical legends and so forth. In those days, such things were not considered real by any stretch, but there was definitely enough “what if” that should you have any modicum of an open mind, you couldn’t completely dismiss them. Now-a-days, generally speaking, I have found that this not the case. With the advent of technology and its powerful amplification on fields of research it would seem that such things, one-by-one, are being debunked quite easily. The skeptics, who always seem to be the villains in these discussions, now appear to be wining. This is fine in my opinion, they can have it because in light of these new arguments and revelations, I seem to be joining them – something I couldn’t have imagined many years ago.
Here’s my primary thought on all things supernatural and strange: “If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?” The standard trick answer to this is “no”, unless there is someone there to hear it. That’s the literal answer. However, this is not what the question is trying to infer. It’s actually making a comment on cause and effect. In other words, the event is only truly real if there’s something present to interpret it. Simply put, a ghost is only a ghost because there was someone there to witness it and interpret it as such. So, obviously, the biggest obstacle is proof. You don’t even have to see the tree to hear it fall, but if you where to head in the direction of the sound it made one would expect to find a fallen tree. But what if you didn’t? Then you suddenly have a mystery on your hands.
In light of this, seeing as the majority of proof falls (pun intended) on eye witness accounts, one now becomes skeptical of the witness’s interpretation of what they actually experienced. In the quest of proof for the supernatural, single witness accounts mean very little to me. I only pause at the stories that have several witnesses – the more, the better. A skeptic may cry “mass hysteria” in his best Bill Murray voice, but it’s difficult to dispute a number of people, especially if they’re all strangers, who separately convey that what they thought they saw was something akin to a Bigfoot.
And then, there’s visually recorded proof. Given that special effects are at an all time high for expressing events realistically, the chances of a hoax are equally real. In fact, only an extremely few and highly unique examples of recorded proof actually pull it off. Our natural sense of what’s real and what’s not is very sophisticated. Even then, when we’re at a loss to interpret such phenomenon as being something less then real, our natural reaction is to still leave room for a hoax.
So, unless a Bigfoot is captured alive, or even its remains freshly recovered for scientists to examine and prove it to be so – they’ll still only classify it as an anomaly of nature, while skeptics will still cry hoax. And this is the frustrating part when trying to interpret modern myth as fact; it isn’t that the idea of it is believable, but that no one can believe it.
To this, I only have to site the coelacanth. Yes, it’s become a bit of joke in popular culture, but the proof of existence of the coelacanth is a strong precedent that life will not allow us to assume anything. If you’re not familiar, the coelacanth was a fish thought long extinct until one was amazingly caught back in 1938. Since then, there have been several instances of the fish surfacing in fishermen’s nets as recently as May of this year. Here’s an example of something we thought never existed, and yet, it’s still alive and kicking 65 million years later. Even though we never actually saw it, we assumed it was dead and gone, but, boy were we wrong. Now, if someone said they only saw the coelacanth, they would have been written off as delusional, however, because we actually got one, we only have to believe it to be true, no matter how crazy it is to think how it came to be. The Coelacanth proves that anything can happen on this huge and mysterious planet we live on.
So, without further ado, here’s a list on my recent conclusions on the present state of various modern myths. Witness!
Loch Ness: Totally fake. The whole Loch Ness mystique evaporated for me when the following iconic picture was finally proven to be fake. Still, there really haven’t been any definitive photos or footage of a creature that has had thousands of eye witnesses…
The reality is, Loch Ness the location is a very inhospitable body of water for anything that is said to be the size of Nessie, no matter what theory you subscribe too; And if you go by the original reported sighting back in 1933, it’s pretty much dead now, if it ever existed at all. However, like Roswell, the site of Loch Ness is very dependent on “it” as a tourist attraction, which means, “it” will never actually die. The other thing that you have to consider about Loch Ness is that if you’re walking by a random body of water and see something cresting along its surface, it’s a mild point of interest, but the shadow of bird along the surface of Loch Ness is the stuff of legends. The coelacanth rule doesn’t apply to Nessie either because the coelacanth was found in its natural habitat, while the Nessie dinosaur theory doesn’t hold the very cold water of Loch Ness.
Bigfoot: The thing about Bigfoot, unlike Nessie, is that “it” seems to be just about everywhere where there are trees – or snow. Sasquatch and Yeti are part of an ancient people’s culture. The sighting of these creatures has existed for thousands of years, but nothing has defined Big Foot the way the 1967 Patterson film has. To be truthful, I’m still a big fan of the film. I’m not saying that it is completely conclusive – most footage of big foot, and 99.9% are clearly fake, either happens from several to lots and lots of yards away, or obscured by some thick foliage – but at the very least, the Patterson film is easily the most realistic of anything to date.
Assuming it’s a hoax, it should be considered the best hoax film of all; shot out in the open in brilliant daylight conditions? Balls. Despite skeptics, I do subscribe to what many experts point out in the film, and likely the most compelling aspect of the subject, is that muscle structure is plainly actuating through a very confident stride. Furthermore, the creature looks heavy, beyond a fat guy in a homemade gorilla suit. On the flip side, why some Hollywood professional hasn’t stepped forward and made an honest attempt at simulating this film is baffling. And yes, some guy has come forward to say he was the guy in the Bigfoot suit, but whose to say that he isn’t the hoax? Having said this, if it wasn’t for this perplexing footage, I don’t think I would give Bigfoot a chance. Explain this to me, Patterson film included, but of all of the footage out there, you would think that at least one of these visually recorded sightings would prompt the recorder to actually chase the thing. They’re not cheetahs y’know, and this has always been my problem with big foot footage, up and above the quality of the film/video, the quality of the sighting, or how realistic the thing actually looks – not once does someone run after it. Why? So, for me, large, hairy, Neanderthal like creatures roaming the deep, unexplored forests of our vast world does seem possible in light of the coelacanth rule. And given the Patterson film, my mind is still open on this one, but barely.
JFK Assassination and Modern Conspiracy Theories: So, for “laughs”, look at the Patterson film, and then the Zapruder film. Unlike the Patterson film though, Zapruder’s is of a real event but still, when I watch it, it feels just as surreal. However, if I’m going to talk about modern myth, then the modern myth of conspiracies has to be included, starting with the assassination of JFK and the Zapruder film. One has to ask that if it wasn’t for the Zapruder film, would the JFK conspiracy theory exist the way it does. It’s no secret that the recreation of events surrounding the assassination is disjointed, and at times illogical (magic bullet theories and such), but it’s the Zapruder film that gives credence to the suggestion of a second shooter. And if you’ve got a second shooter, you’ve got a conspiracy. Unfortunately, after that, trying to reconstruct the conspiracy and the specific motivations behind it becomes circumstantial and suspect. Given the Zapruder film, its clear to me that there’s a second shooter, and yes, I believe that certainly some kind of conspiracy had occurred, but I’ve given up on trying to figure out anything beyond that. If I was a betting man, I’d say it was the mob. The point is, is that since this mystery, conspiracy theories of all kinds now dot the modern myth landscape, whether they’re founded or not. And no, Bigfoot was not the second shooter.
UFOs/Roswell/Area 51/Crop Circles: So, from conspiracy theories, to Roswell – likely the most famous non-conspiracy. I say non-conspiracy, because most conspiracies have to have fact and motive to suggest that they exist. Roswell is based strictly on eye-witness accounts, but none of their testimony really points in any discernable direction, nor is it very consistent.
Furthermore, the so called proof is pretty weak – even Mac Brazel, the fella that found the crash site, initially described the debris in very mundane terms. All we really know is that something fell from the sky on farmland in New Mexico. Period. I suppose what has people second guessing the incident is the Military’s apparent reaction to it all, which appears to be a high level one. To me this sounds like an over zealous American military behaving so during the height of the Cold War. None of this matters though, real or not, because Roswell is now a cheesy tourist town that depends on the story. So much for credibility.
Moving on to Area 51…let me see, a super secret military installation that will kill ya if you try to get in…which means that the stuff they test there must be pretty, pretty secret…which means that the technology their using must be super cutting edge…which means if you saw it floating around at night you’d probably have no idea what you were looking at and consequently, you’d think it’s a UFO. But, since it’s super cutting edge, it’s not. I like the theorists who suggest that Area 51 is housing a fallen UFO and therefore, the reason we have all this quick advancement in technology. So, what they’re saying is that aliens were using cell phones with Snoop Dogg ringtones?
Here’s the funny part, aside from my disdain for Roswell and Area 51 exaggerations, I don’t completely discount the idea of UFO’s. Ninety-nine percent of the sightings are complete crap, but on the other hand, there are a number of incidents that are interestingly credible. A couple of my favourites in this department are the 1996 Yukon sighting and Rendlesham Forest. Both are an excellent examples of what I mean by credible evidence. You can look them up yourself, of course, and there’s actually a few more worth noting. The Yukon one is exceptional given what I was talking about with respect to witnesses. A chain of witnesses, 22 in all, spotted an obvious UFO heading down the Yukon highway. There were even moments where the witnesses encountered one another and stopped to talk about what it was they were seeing. To top it all off, all their stories were extremely consistent. No matter what is to be believed here, these people truly saw something unexplainable. Rendlesham is cool because is makes Roswell look like the cheese it is. For me personally, I think you’d be kidding yourself that you were to assume that we’re the only possibility of life in this unimaginably huge universe of ours, but in the same vein, I can’t imagine them visiting us. Despite this thought, there does seem to be enough incidences to make one wonder.
As for crop circles…completely man made.
Ghosts/Hauntings: This one…is a tough one – for me at least. First, you have the more famous accounts of ghosts and hauntings. Second, you have the advent of a number of ghost sighting documentaries and shows, based mostly on the fact that everyone owns a video camera to fill them with content. But lastly, and more importantly, there are a number of people I know personally, with whom I respect completely, who have extremely interesting stories of their own personal experiences with supernatural happenings. Of all the topics that I’m talking about here, this is the one where I keep a definitive open mind on. Speaking of the mind though, the power of suggestion and the hyper-sensitivity of one’s imagination can be extremely self-manipulative. And as we all know, things that go bump in the night are open for a wide level of interpretation because, well, they’re happening in the dark. But again, even though I haven’t personally experienced something that I couldn’t explain, I know enough people who have, and many of these stories are very compelling. The ones that I would tell have the criteria that I like to look for in all of these kinds of things – multiple witnesses, different points of view from these witnesses, and what is generally unique to ghost stories – several coincidences. It is difficult to discount these stories, because the people that tell them are even perplexed by what they have seen, but they know they experienced something, and it wasn’t to be easily explained away.
There are some patterns to modern sightings that I would like to just bring to light however. First would have to be this globular light/mild light tracer thing that never existed before night vision digital cameras. So, like, the air around us is full of teeny-tiny debris that we don’t readily see in the light, but contrast it with night vision, and its gonna reflect. Somehow, these little globular light things have turned into the cat’s meow of ghost footage. Why? I wear contacts, and there have been tons of times when something microscopic will be caught on the lens that looks like something floating just out of site. Looks just like these objects.
Second, why do all hauntings have to happen at night? What makes the night so special? Of course, there’s stories that happen during the day, but 99.999999% happen at night. Again, I think much of this has to do with things being much more fuzzy at night, and thus, makes us much more susceptible to our imaginations. Plus, night vision looks waaaay more cooler capturing creepy footage then conventional lighting.
Lastly, I’m done with “cold spots”. It really should be called “poor circulation”, whether it is in the rooms of a house or in one’s nervous system. In a large percentage of hauntings there’s always someone suddenly feeling cold. This, somehow, is equated to the presence of ghosts. Next time you happen to be doing something mundane, like driving in your car and you get a sudden chill, whatever you do, don’t look in your rear view mirror…
Ancient History: Erich von Däniken partly in mind, the idea that some of the remarkable engineering achievements that the ancients managed are somehow related to extraterrestrial influence is ridiculous. I remember when the construction of Stonehenge was portrayed as being such a mystery that it would never be solved, unless you wanted to play the alien card. In the same vein, Easter Island was so perplexing that even news related specials would mention the theory of alien application. And the patronizing continued with the lines of Nazca; that they were so spectacularly hard to do that they must have been inspired to be UFO landing strips. Well, in these cases, and of all the ancient monuments, they’ve all been fully theorized and explained. Sorry, no aliens.
What really, really annoys me of late is this Royal Blood Line thing. Where as the hows and whys behind Stonehenge went from fluff to scientific fact, and much of ancient history is beginning to be revealed for what it truly is, it pains me that they are now turning around and trying to staple “facts” to something like, for example, the Bible. Whether you believe in religion or not, it is the dynamic of faith that fuels one’s beliefs. So, attempting to attach historic fact to the life of Jesus is sorta missing the point. It’s what it’s teaching that matters, not whether it’s specifically real. So, as much as we are slowly beginning to see modern myth begin to wane in the wake of scientific and technological revelation, having to prove that Jesus was just some dude who was actually married and had kids, or explaining the 7 Plagues as environmental happenings, or that the remains of Noah’s Ark is on Mount Ararat is completely unnecessary. In many respects, such theories have become the new Chariots of the Gods, ironically enough.