Print May 12, 2023 9 comments
Conquering Our CryptidsThomas Steuben
Cryptids are an endless source of fascination, and explanations for the phenomenon abound. My personal theory is that they are for the most part real, albeit in strange extradimensional, metaphysical ways. Regardless, whether they are real or not, and if so and in what manner, is a question of fact. Right now I want to deal with the question of their meaning.
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Part of scouting was very much telling supernatural stories and the like around a campfire, with no trappings of ultra-modernity other than perhaps the odd digital watch. Cub leaders’ titles – Akela, Bagheera, Kaa et al – were based on the talking creatures of Kipling’s Jungle Book. While the young boys were Cubs, girls were Brownies, little sprites whose actions and motivations remain mysterious to me to this day. It’s all derided now as a massive paedophile ring but I look back with deep affection and respect for the public-spirited and upright men I knew who made those experiences posssible.
The Scouts were a good thing and came from fascist Whites. That’s why it had to be destroyed.
Have you heard of the bizarre “staircase in the woods” legend? It, too, falls under the American “malevolent” being/presence motif. The image of creepy stairs left behind after the rest of their structures have disappeared, the inhabitants gone, might be a metaphor for the kind of “rootlessness” and nomadic lifestyle that haunts the American psyche.
Your article about werewolves/la Bete du Gevaudan belongs to the topic of cryptids too. Here there is tag cryptids, but only this article of Mr. Steuben is tagged with it. It would be nice to have your article about La Bete tagged alike.
Our most known cryptid is of course Almasty/Albasly, a kind of Kaukasian Bigfoot. But traditionally those were female demons.
I just looked it up and it gave me chills. There is something intriguing about the idea of staircases to nowhere in the woods.
In a world where our ancestors are as real as ourselves, these abandoned artifacts would clearly be understood as ‘haunted’. But it’s also possible that the location was always disturbed and disturbing and someone built there and suffered the consequences. Just as there are ‘special’ good places, there are ‘special’ bad places as well.
The best American writer in American ‘cryptids’ and their relations to earlier (Old World) encounters is John Keel. For an interesting representation of rootedness and ‘alien’ ecumenism, see the lovely film ‘Bigfoot, UFOs and Jesus’. Keel shows how, over time, the reputation (and response) to ‘cryptids’ (what he calls ‘ultraterrestials) changed from hopeful to sinister. It’s worth pondering whether that was accidental or part of an intentional campaign.
Oh, John Keel, The Mothman Prophecies, a wonderful book! The film with Richard Gere is not bad, but in the book, which is definitely very informative, the story is told much more serious.
I’ve always liked Mothman because its certainly eldritch but not malicious. It had plenty of opportunity to hurt people but didn’t even though it disturbed them. I would have to guess that there was a cultural barrier which prevented understanding.
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