It’s been a long while since I did a “doubt and about” post detailing what’s going on. I’m in a weird space right now. I don’t really feel like talking about anything but I also want to share some things. Going by that last sentence, I am admitting that I am inconsistent. I have internal conflicts. I know something is bad, yet I indulge it – like talking about Bigfoot. I have changed my mind about things. I have discarded previous modes of thinking. I find there is nothing wrong with that and I am enjoying the exploration.
Blogs are dead. Yet, people still write them and others read them. I likely will regret this post and others tomorrow. But it feels natural to write publicly at this moment.
This week I finished 3 books – one of them was extremely worthwhile and provided an example of acknowledging the ambiguous. The Trickster and the Paranormal by George Hansen was a great piece of work. It’s not for everyone (only the serious and scholarly-minded) but I got a lot out of it. It resonated with me on at least three levels – that of the paranormal scene, the current trickster President and fake news landscape, and my exit from a tribe of scientism whose goal is to marginalize the paranormal (through ridicule). Over the past 10 years, I’ve learned that the paranormal is not marginal, not fringe, but normal and belief in it has become mainstream. To laugh at it, or worse, be dismissive of it as stupid, is short-sighted and ignorant. Every successive day, I am glad I cut ties with those who smugly brush off the paranormal. I thank George Hansen for expanding my view of the scope of the paranormal.
And, you know what? I just couldn’t care less what others think about that. I don’t care about followers or likes or clicks. I’m putting my ideas out there and you can read or not, whatever. Writing things helps me think through stuff, so that’s what I do.
Meanwhile, I bought my first set of tarot (oracle) cards. Ummmm … I’m not ready to talk about that yet. It’s my own personal experiment and journey. You should not judge (yet many have). No, I am not slipping to “the dark side” as some hand-wringers say. If one adopts too narrow a worldview, one misses the interesting things happening on the periphery.
I’ve also been reading about Fort. Jeffrey Kripal’s chapter on Charles Fort in Authors of the Impossible was fascinating. I didn’t agree with all his interpretations but it prodded me to rethink my view of Fort. I found my old reading notes from when I first read Book of the Damned. Oh boy, did I HATE it. I read it too seriously back in 2002. So much so that I vowed to not read the next book. And I didn’t until now when I finally picked up Fort’s collected works once again. I think he is still a painfully verbose and pretentious writer but I think I get it better now and even have a laugh instead of a major eye-roll moment of ending read-time. He was on to something new. He had some good points. I have a way to go to plow through the works but I have a new perspective. This new view is very much colored by my breaking away from the scientific framing of the paranormal and adopting a flexible, social- and emotionally-oriented view.
That we may return to this subject.
That the world guides us to find what we need to see.
[That’s how Fort writes; yep, it’s irritating but I’m growing accustomed to the annoying cadence of it.]
I finished Tyler Houck and Colin Schneider’s self-published collection of articles Ramblings of Teenaged Cryptozoologists. It’s head and shoulders better than several other crypto-themed books I’ve read. Sure, there are typos because it’s self-published and the kids need to hit the heavier sources and do some deeper analysis, but that will come in time. The signs are there that their work will reach a scholarly level someday. I suspect the novelty might wear off around the age of 19 when serious career interests kick in. But there is a very good chance they will return to the subjects later on (as I did) with added wisdom and improved proofreading. I felt so encouraged by how much they observe and know already. They are on the (right) track, indeed.
Finally, I picked up from the local library, Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Kevin Paul’s Haunted Hills and Hollows: What Lurks in Greene County, Pennsylvania. It might be entertaining for locals, I guess. Though one person I showed it to, who was familiar with the locations mentioned, was not keen on reading the whole thing. To sum it up: it’s the typical unsourced anecdotal collection that invokes unwarranted conclusions. For example, early on, it’s assumed the weird “screams” people hear are from Sasquatch. No evidence provided, just so. The stories are mostly taken at face-value, the opinions are biased, and deference is given to so-called “paranormal investigators”. This is not my thing so I am unimpressed. It doesn’t take much to put together such books that may be entertaining for some people but I find no use for it when only four references make up the entire bibliography with nearly no citations provided for the claims. As I’ve said many times before, if you present these tales as interesting folklore and legends, that’s fine. But when the observations are heavily doused with speculative conclusions, then it loses value.
The Doubtful News book is in limbo. I am currently digging through just the anomalies category to see if I can make some sense out of it and see where it can go. One potential problem is getting permission to use photos of the events. When discussing a strange event, the photo documentation is key to understanding the story. Perhaps I need an illustrator. Another problem relates to the previously mentioned book without citations. It does bog down a book to have citations. I can certainly list them at the end but citing hundreds of news articles is difficult especially when they may not be accessible online where I first obtained the information. There is that saying about the perfect being the enemy of the good. That is, you strive for perfection instead of getting out something good. There is a distinction to be made between garbage and good. I could crank out a piece of garbage in a month but I will be unhappy with it and with myself. Then again, I can slave for years on a book and still be unsatisfied. I can’t win, but that’s just me.