Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mothman Prophecies--Folklore In the Making

Book Cover: The Mothman Prophecies

I've been dismantling some sections of my Spice Ridge web pages, and adding other things. I so enjoyed the afterward to The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel, 2001) that I included it in some reviews I'd written of Pocahontas County-related books. It's local connection is tenuous at best, but we do see our share of signs and wonders here. This is Mr. Keel's perspective.

We had begun the 1900s with an unlimited number of beliefs about ourselves and our universe. The world seemed to be a bright and wonderful place. Famed astronomers assured us that Mars was also bustling with life along beautifully engineered canals. Automobiles and flying machines were being perfected. The 20th century was going to be terrific. But, by the end, we were embittered cynics, exhausted by wars and suspicious of mysteries and those who promoted them. The century had become a bloody scam.

For one hundred years, no matter where you lived on this ball of nitrogen, oxygen and cosmic spit, someone within two hundred miles of your home had personally seen a monster with big red eyes and, often, a penetrating stench. They were everywhere, along with the maddened dictators, publicity hungry generals and warlords, and wild-eyed scientists who kept mumbling incomprehensible formulae for manipulating things we could not see. Everyone was clearly nuts and very few of us were left alone to stumble through the forests, swamps and deserts, grimly determined to prove somehow that sanity would ultimately triumph.

We failed. Technology took over and our machines were nuttier than all of us. Our millionaires, who were multiplying like cockroaches, filtered their loot through TV networks, liquor companies, computer whizes and assorted military contractors to try to capture dinosaurs in the Belgian Congo, giant sea serpents in the lochs of Ireland and Scotland, and tall, hairy humanoids in the Pacific Northwest, China, and Russia, along with kangaroos in the Midwest and ghostly demons that mutilated cows and drank blood wherever they could find it. The end result was millions of bucks down the toilet while hundreds of bad movies and even worse TV shows were churned out, along with gigantic stacks of bad books that are still used to prop up tables in poorer communities.

Fortunately, I am of a classier type....When I first visited Point Pleasant in the 1960s and talked to scores of witnesses, I was convinced I was on the track of a very big bird of spectacular size. I have no idea what I would have done if I caught it...or if it had caught me. In later misadventures, I had experiences with numerous demonic forces and in my dotage I am very aware that our entire planet is occupied by things we see only by accident. They seem able to boggle our minds and even control our feeble little brains.

UFOmania is no different from demonomania. My forms of religious and political fanaticism are linked directly to these other manias and to paranoia and schizophrenia. We are meant to be crazy. It is an important part of the human condition. Otherwise there would be no wars, no Hitlers or Napoleons, no Woodrow Derenbergers (and his unfortunate psychiatrist). This planet is haunted by us; the other occupants just evade boredom by filling our skies and seas with monsters. I was clearly meant to blunder into that little town in West Virginia, and learn things that some men have known for centuries but were afraid to ask. I warned Sheriff Johnson and Mary Hyre that this was folklore in the making. (Afterward, New York City, August, 2001.)

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