Art by Alfred T. Kamijian,
from Mysteries of the Unknown.
Warning: loose thought threads.
I approve, most highly, of the go-and-look approach to mysteries, to experimental archaeology in the Heyerdahl/Brendan Voyage tradition, and therefore to the underlying theory of cryptozoology.
However, cryptozoology as a study would acquire a lot more respect if the field wasn't beset by so many blatant frauds like the phony Bigfoot carcass debunked earlier this week.
In the first St. Claire chronicle, Stone Child, Lillie makes reference to the Am Fear, the Gray Man, the Scottish yeti, sometimes encountered by a lonely highland traveller, when the mist spreads down from the crags to shroud all sight except the rock-strewn path beneath his feet and the hunched boulders on either side.
The Wild Man, like many legends, has cousins among other cultures and other parts of the world.
And so we ask, as we should, if this collection of folk tales represents testimony of a physical reality -- that under the layers of legend a truth is buried -- or merely proof of a universal expression of collective fear. A primeval human fear of all the unknowns that may inhabit remote and isolate places and leap upon the unwary.
One's belief, or one's disbelief, about things paranormal -- and I suppose Bigfoot could be classified as both a scientific errata and a fable -- may depend on which branch of anthropological psychology one chooses to place the most credence. And we stubbornly insist that unknown doesn't mean unknowable.
Still, we like our mysteries. At times, we even like our fear.
Fear, however, is a vital motivator for our fictional people. We are often told to identify what our characters want. To that I would add we should consider what our characters fear. They do so often go together after all.
It's easy to provide the heart-stopping, chest-constricting sudden fear a character encounters during the machinations of our plots: when the knife-wielder lunges from an alley, when the car goes out of control, when someting blows up.
But we should remember the other kind, the ever-present, silent grade of fear that follows our footsteps like our shadows in the sun. The fear of possibles. Possibles that no application of odds and logic will alleviate.
I have a child in Afghanistan and so I think on it.