Archive for June, 2010
The Eugene Weekly is a free “alternative” paper that’s been around for many years. Eons ago it was called What’s Happening but they changed the name to get rid of that PNW hippie vibe.
Writer Rick Levin wrote a fairly in depth article on the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium. It’s always good to see articles on fringe topics. At the same time, in my personal non-scientific observations, the liberal/left often mocks and rejects topics like this. Secular humanism, or who knows. There’s exceptions of course, in fact, a local UFO group that seems to be more concerned with energy and disclosure than UFOs and related topics — always bringing it back around to a political agenda I still haven’t figured out — are, for the most part, liberal leaning. It’s just something I’ve noticed; that usually, liberals just don’t take things like this seriously, make fun of New Age stuff, and so on. I know, I make fun of New Age stuff, (and yeah, I’m a left leaning hippie) but that’s my issue. I’m also a bit New Agey, so it’s my way of coping with my own crystal crunching nature.
Levin acknowledges listening to Coast to Coast every night, yet he’s a non-believer in esoteric and fringe subjects. And, he has a decidedly classist view of the Coast to Coast audience:
I’ve always pictured the generic caller as looking like a backcountry cross between Ted Nugent and Zippy the Pinhead, and paranoid to the point of psychosis. It’s a grossly unfair portrait, I know, but there it is.
I suppose it’s to his credit he acknowledges such a crass opinion. Levin says he expected to see this same kind of person at the Sasquatch conference, but he was happily surprised to find:
here was nothing weird or offbeat about the people at the symposium, nor was there anything discernible in the way of gender, age, class, fashion or any other outward indicator that might describe the average symposium-goer — nothing, that is, save a rapt collective attention to the matter at hand. These folks emanated that unmistakable aura of people who know exactly why they are where they are. To a person, they were polite, attentive, responsive and knowledgeable.
But I’m really getting off track here. The article gives a good overview and I appreciate Levin’s honesty. He believes what he believes. And that is, there’s no such thing as Sasquatch.
When people say that however, after they’ve listened to several witness accounts, I always want to ask them: “But, what did you think of those stories?” Do you think the witness is a liar? A fool? Mistaking a bear for a Bigfoot? Been out in the woods too long? What? The same question can be asked of the UFO skeptic: okay, after hearing the stories of a dozen or more people, “What do you think of them?”
Not what do you think in general, or anything else, but what’s your direct response to the witness and his or her account?
I don’t think he can get to that point. He has, he writes, been given plenty of information on Bigfoot over the years, but he’s not buying. He didn’t believe in Santa Claus as a child, he says, and he doesn’t do Bigfoot today:
A lot of amateur sasquatch research employs a forced, mangled scientific jargon that sounds silly, and there are conclusions drawn that make a Swiss cheese of logic. And the more touchy-feely bigfoot writing heaps on the nativist hoo-haw and New Age fluff like so much whipped cream spooned atop the honky appropriation of indigenous myth.
He prefers to by-pass witness accounts, comparing Bigfoot encounters to Biblical accounts:
That said, it’s just as difficult to prove, scientifically speaking, the reality of burning bushes, parted seas, 40-day floods and a six-day work week where God cooked up heaven and earth, yet hoards of people continue to believe these things heart and soul. As both legend and contested reality, the real source of bigfoot’s appeal, like the source of the Bible’s appeal, is anecdotal — as a fable filled with wonder, suspense and local color, all ringed with a halo of otherworldliness.
“The real source of Bigfoot’s appeal…?” His opinion but speak for yourself. I’ve never seen a Bigfoot but I choose to believe the people I know and trust, who’ve chosen to share with me their stories of seeing a Sasquatch. Simple. Like most skeptics, whether it’s UFOs or what, they do this weird dance thing around the topic they reject. They don’t think much of it, often don’t know much about it, certainly aren’t of the opinion it exists, yet they have all kinds of ideas about what it is, means, represents, symbolizes, is capable of . . .
Levin gives a good account of Dave Rodriquez’s encounters, and yet, after describing those encounters, Levin doesn’t stop to think about those sightings. Did he think Rodriquez was lying? Mistaken? No, it seems Levin projects much; as with his comparison of the Bible and folklore to Bigfoot encounters, he offers his reasons why people tell stories about seeing Bigfoot:
At the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium, people told stories in order to prove that something else lives despite mountains of doubt and a lack of palpable proof, which is something akin to the religious impulse compelling converts to proselytize.
It’s just a loop; “mountains of doubt” disappear once you’ve seen a Bigfoot.
Maybe I’m being too hard on Levin. He does treat the speakers and the conference with respect, which is appreciated, and is honest in his feelings. And he ends by saying … well, read it for yourself.
Enoch, 2010, by Autumn Williams
The comments on Williams new book Enoch have come flying in since the OSS last weekend, where the book made its debut. Autumn Williams has been accused of outright lying, trying to make a buck, slopppy — or no — research, being gullible, and (in, sigh, I’ll say it, sexist attacks) being too emotional about her own Bigfoot sighting. Another reaction by critics of Williams work is the proudly stated comment they aren’t going to read the book (!) yet they offer opinions on the book anyway.
Others, myself included, think the book is fantastic, and highly recommend it.
I don’t know Autumn Williams very well; we’ve known each other on-line for years, and I was very glad to meet her and talk with her a couple of times at the OSS. I don’t have the impression she’s a liar. As to her making money from her book, I hope she does. Why is it that, when it comes to the field of the strange, be it Bigfoot, UFOs, etc. it’s considered an immoral act to make money from your research?
I’m also alarmed, but not surprised (sadly) at the vitriolic nature of some of the criticisms. Williams has been in the Bigfoot field for twenty something years; doesn’t that count for something? Whether you end up agreeing with her or not, it seems a researcher with the kind of history Williams has, who offers something different in terms of research and the nature of Bigfoot, deserves to be carefully considered.
It’s possible Williams was duped by the witness referred to as “Mike” but, all any of us have when dealing with others is, ultimately, our intuition. I trust that Williams knows what she’s doing in that regard. She’s a researcher and a witness — and as we’ll see, this combination is key — and so, I choose to believe that both “Mike” as well as Williams, are telling the truth.
If I’m wrong, if Williams is wrong, so what? Yes, I said “so what?” Williams message in Enoch is about the nature of research; it’s relationship to the witness and the hugely important question of goals in searching for Bigfoot.
This message cannot be stressed enough. Regardless of any potenial gullibility on Williams part, the point isn’t whether the book is fiction or not, it’s what Williams has to say about the nature of research, including protections of Bigfoot.
Throughout the book, Williams asks the reader to consider the witness in relation to researcher as well as motivations in searching for Bigfoot. Consider your personal agenda in looking for Bigfoot. Why do you want to find Bigfoot? Vindication? Confirmation? Proof? Williams points out (as I have regarding UFO research) if you’ve seen a Bigfoot, you know they exist. You know they are, what they are, is a different issue. In continuing to search for Bigfoot, the question becomes: why? Do you want another sighting for personal reasons? Or to prove it to science? If the latter, that agenda needs to be very carefully thought through. If the story of Mike turns out to be a “lie” (and I’m not saying it is) those points still stand.
There were several times while reading the book I said to myself “Wow, you can replace the words ‘bigfoot research’ with ‘UFO research.” Not that Autumn addressed UFOs in her book; I don’t want to imply that she did or put words in her mouth. She has enough trouble right now; she doesn’t some Bigfoot researcher going around saying that “Williams believes Bigfoot researchers need to study UFOs” or some other misinterpreted nonsense. The parallels I see in her work to UFO research are mine, and I think fellow saucer heads would see those parallels if they read the book.
Bigfoot or UFOs, whichever world you find yourself in — and some of us find ourselves in both — the reasons why we haven’t found “The Really Big Answer” has to do with a mindset, a world view, a philosophy of research that, ironically, so many researchers don’t get. Until that changes, nothing else will.
Except for the witnesses. If you’re a Bigfoot witness, you don’t need proof; you’ve seen a Sasquatch. Who are you going to prove it to, and why? Williams asks this question many times. We have to know ourselves before we go out there in the field. The same, in many ways, is true in UFO Land. I’m a witness, many times over. Since childhood. I know they exist. I know weird things happen related to them. I don’t know what they are. But they are. I don’t have proof of any UFO encounter I’ve had. None. No photos, no scrap of metal from a flying saucer, no artifact, no dead body of an alien. Nothing. “Just” my story. If that’s not good enough for some, that’s tough. I’m not going to go away or shut up. I’m going to continue to explore. Reasons for my writing and researching UFOs and related topics vary and are no doubt complicated at times, but I’m not out to prove anything. Part of my journey is to share, and have others feel safe and respected in sharing their stories with myself and others.
Of course, with UFOs we’re talking about machines and I don’t mean to compare the vitally important need to protect Bigfoot at all costs with a nuts and bolts flying saucer. As to aliens; whatever, whoever, those are… here we start to veer off into another area. The point is, witnesses are valuable and need to be treated not only with respect, but the power shift between researcher and witness needs to change.
These are the points both UFO and Bigfoot researchers need to understand if we’re to “get anywhere” or rather, to get somewhere different. Researchers need to understand their own agendas and intent. Witnesses need to be respected and listened to. Some researchers are also witnesses; how does that affect “research?”
As far as the relationship between witness and researcher and their roles, what Autumn is saying isn’t new or even radical. It is, apparently, for a lot Bigfoot researchers out there but in other fields, say Folklore, (my subject in college, including grad school,) this dynamic between the “informant” (witness) and the interviewer/researcher was an important part of our training; the issue couldn’t be discussed enough. Responsibility of researcher, responses to witnesses, response of the researcher to the witnesses responses to her, … it’s an ever deepening and growing relationship. Growing, morphing, shifting. “Research” doesn’t always have to start and stop with a plaster cast, or a UFO sighting report on paper.
(A few years ago, Lisa Shiel’s Backyard Bigfoot: The True Story of Stick Signs, UFOs and the Sasquatch came out. Shiel, also a researcher as well as a witness, has similar things to say, though in very different ways, as Williams. I’m not suggesting Williams and Shiel’s books are interchangeable, just that both books were written by researchers/authors, and both offer new perspectives on Bigfoot research.)
Enoch, aside from fascinating looks into the “Skunk ape” culture from Mike’s interactions with them, is also about the nature of research and the witness; a new paradigm in the search.
Autumn Williams has really put herself out there by publishing this book. Why would she do such a thing unless she had the courage of her convictions? Publishing Enoch was a brave thing for her to do, and I thank her for choosing to do so.
From UFO Casebook, a sighting on June 15th of this year, in Salem, Oregon. Object was a black sphere shaped object, moving against the wind, and changing shape. In some ways, sounds similar to some of the things I’ve seen. Most definitely I’ve seen all kinds of orb shaped objects in the Eugene area; moving slowly, stopping, rotating, then moving on. A couple of times I’ve seen a white sphere change back and forth from a round object to a more dumbell kind of object. I’ve seen extremely bright lit from within (or so it appears) orb shaped craft just zoom across the sky, traveling .. .to who knows where. Or for what purpose. The witness in this account suggests the possibility the black object could have been a monitoring device, for weather, who knows. Which is what I suspect with some of the things I’ve seen.
For more on this black orb sighting, visit UFO Casebook.
I was delighted to see this in our local paper — a pod of orcas in the Yaquina Bay, here in Oregon. I’m so sad I didn’t get to witness this! I have friends and family there and am there frequently, just not this time! But how wonderful for the community to have this happen! A rare sight:
NEWPORT — It’s the sight some here wait years, even decades to see, and Thursday a whole lot of people got their wish when a pod of orca whales cruised over the Yaquina Bay Bar, under the bridge and kept on all the way past the port, docks and Bayfront right on up the river.