In many ways we are very lucky. We get to travel around the world looking for mystery animals, and then write books about our adventures. Of course it isn’t quite as simple as that, because there is a whole slew of mundane administration and stuff, but on the whole doing what we do is a heck of a lot better than having a proper job. We live in Woolsery and we run The Centre for Fortean Zoology – the world’s largest mystery animal research group, and once a year we invite devotees of the weird and wonderful here for the internationally famous Weird Weekend.

We also write a monthly column for The Bideford Post and we decided that it was about time that we introduced Weird Torridgeside to the blogosphere..

Monday, 9 March 2009

GUEST BLOGGER COLIN HIGGINS: Rants - Right on Brother!

One of my favourite guest blogs over the last few weeks has been Colin Higgins from Yorkshire, who - incidentally - was the winner of the compy in January's `On the Track`.

One of the things I most value about the CFZ is the open-mindedness with which it approaches its subjects. It’s an increasingly rare quality in a discipline, indeed a world, where an open mind is often seen as a flawed one.

Two of Jon’s recent posts found me nodding like those dogs in the back window of a Ford Anglia - his response to the diabolic footprints and his Darwinist blues refrain. My agreement shouldn’t be remarkable, he was stating an entirely mainstream view that science and evolution shouldn’t be seen as antipathetic to systems of belief and yet his position is becoming increasingly exotic.

Religious beliefs and testable hypothesise are orthogonal, which is to say they have almost nothing to say about t’other but even hinting that one may subscribe to a view about either puts you bang in the firing line of those who would see them as polar opposites.

I have no difficulty in seeing Jon’s use of the Devil’s Footprints as a euphemism, a metaphor, a narrative trigger, a historical reference and a cultural trope, even if pushed a synecdoche, so why has a linguistic inquisition developed - or a verbal Puritanism to be even-handed - that states words only ever mean they say and nothing else. Ergo, the Auld Lad has been on a jolly to North Devon: go prove it Mr. Downes!

Popular Darwinism also exercise me to the point of dancing from foot to foot like Yosemite Sam, firing off my six-shooter (all allusions for the figuratively challenged; I neither dress in a large hat, own a revolving pistol or resemble a two-dimensional Looney Tunes simulacrum).
A bit of wordy legerdemain assumes science suggests evolution, equals atheism, means humanism. Aaagh, as the teenagers say.

Most thoughtful grown-ups have no trouble in accepting Darwin’s ideas, Islam and Rome have long maintained evolution as the tool by which stuff gets done (whatever reservations one may have about some of their other tenets) and yet even a willingness to entertain a ‘more things in heaven and earth’ discursive liberalism to Fortean phenomena marks one down as a swivel-eyed Creationist book burning new-earther who handles strychnine, drinks snakes and prepares for the rapture from his heavy armed local authority maisonette. It cheeses me right off! Grow up people.

If one is serious about cryptic animals it seems entirely reasonable that one should if not embrace native transformational beliefs, Franciscan inter-species dialogue, classical animal worship and contemporary shape shifting bugaboos, then at least accept them as a narrative vein by which encounters with the animal kingdom are explained by percipients rather than condemn them as speculative and uneducated hogwash.

Having got that off my chest I shall retire to the cartoon corner into which a few will have already painted me, where animals have skills in vernacular American, Wile E Coyote transgresses the known hunting practice of Canis latrans and Roadrunner drives a coach and horses through Newtonian physics.

No comments:

Post a Comment