There is a Yeti in the back of everyone’s mind; only the blessed are not haunted by it. ~ old sherpa saying

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Enoch: Two Tracks, One Seen

I don't mean literal tracks, as in Bigfoot prints but the two concurrent themes in Autumn Williams book Enoch.

There is of course "Mike's" story of his encounters with a Bigfoot, or Skunk Ape. And all the questions most everyone is debating on various Bigfoot forums: is the story true, is Mike a real person, is Williams a liar, delusional, a sloppy researcher, why aren't there photos, video, DNA, casts, why hasn't Mike come forward and so on. Even though Williams explains in the book and elsewhere on-line why Mike doesn't come forward, and addressed other points, the debate goes on.

Those are all understandable points to raise.

But what I've seen very little of is the "second track" in her book; and that is the nature of research. As I said in my earlier post on Enoch, until research -- Bigfoot, UFO, etc. -- understands this, we're not going to get anywhere. And yet this point is ignored. The role of researcher to witness, the expectations of both, the way we go about our search for whatever it is we're seeking (Bigfoot, UFOs-aliens, and so on), our motivations, agendas, desires, and biases -- these are intertwined with the phenomena.

Little will be solved if a Bigfoot body is brought forth to the world (I hope that never happens.) Likewise with aliens. Proof of ... what, exactly? As Williams has asked us to consider, what happens next, after the so-called proof is presented? Who "owns" it? How does that affect others? How does it affect "them," -- the Bigfoot, the aliens, the ... whatever it is.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

James Randi Forum: Bigfoot threads still going strong

I haven't been updating the Bigfoot Thread Watch over on the JREF; last time I think it was close to forty something seperate threads about Bigfoot. Just randomly, I counted twelve different threads on Bigfoot, -- some new, and some older that have been included in the previous counts here.

As I've remarked many times, for a being they don't believe exists, they spend a lot of time discussing it, from a wide variety of angles.

Related post: Bigfoot Fever: Bigfoot and the Skeptibunkers, Trickster's Realm for BoA

On a later post, I'll discuss my favorite BF threads over there.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Thoughts on ENOCH

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 Willaims 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 potentional 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.

Lisa Shiel: The Bigfoot-UFO Connection: A Hypothesis

Researcher, author Lisa Shiel on the Bigfoot-UFO issue on her site Backyard Phenomena. There is also Parts II and III.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jaime Avalos, Bigfoot Tracker

My new Trickster's Realm column for BoA is ready; it's about one of the presenters, Jaime Avalos: Jaime Avalos, Bigfoot Tracker.
I attended Oregon's first Sasquatch Symposium in Eugene this past weekend, and it was fantastic. All the speakers I saw were great, including of course, Autumn Williams. On her very excellent and important presentation, more to come at a later time, as well as many of the other presenters.

I got to meet Craig Woolheater and Sharon Lee, both very nice and real people. I was disappointed I couldn't attend all the events but hopefully next year! And I do hope there's a "next year" -- Toby Johnson, the coordinator, did a fantastic job putting all this together. Planning events like this is not easy, as anyone knows who's been involved in such things.

One of the presenters I want to discuss is Jaime Avalos. Avalos has an amazing and varied background, which is posted on his YouTube channel. He's an emergency room RN, ex-Marine, taught water safety in the military, and much more.

Jaime came up on the stage dressed in gear; all black, complete with backpack, walking staff, goggles. He looked a little intimidating. But it was a good way of getting his point across to field researchers -- experienced and newbies alike. Jaime explained his points: wear black, so you're consistent. You're not wearing red one day, blue the next, but black, which makes it easy to blend in the shadows. Wearing black consistently serves the purpose of having the wildlife get used to your presence.
 Visit BoA for the rest!

The Bigfoot Field Reporter

Sharon Lee at Bigfoot Field Reporter has updates on the OSS --
check out her blog now and then for good stuff!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bigfoot is the topic tonight on C2C

Coast to Coast tonight with Steve Quale:
Researcher Steve Quayle will discuss a recent Bigfoot report in North Carolina, as well as the precarious world economic situation, and hot spots for conflict and bioterror.

Autumn Williams New Book: 'Enoch'

Just want to say, I'm enjoying this book by Autumn Williams greatly, and am having a hard time putting it down! More to come . . .

Visit Autumn's site: Oregon

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sharon Lee Reports on Sasquatch Symposium

Sharon Lee has been posting items, including a video clip, on the 1st Eugene, Oregon Sasquatch Symposium.

I got to spend a bit of time with Sharon Lee and Craig Woolheater; both "real" and nice people. Thanks Sharon for all the info.

Overall, the conference was great. For a first time event, Toby Johnson, the coordinator, did a fantastic job. Wonderful line-up of speakers, and just overall, really an excellent event.

One more thing: Autumn Williams presentation was perfect! Very well presented, but more importantly, what she had to say about research, researchers, witnesses, and the Sasquatch  themselves, was brilliant.

Visit the Sasquatch Symposium site for information on all the presenters, the conference, and news, hopefully! of next years conference.

More to come on this as I slowly get it together. I'm unwinding myself from all the stuff of life, work, etc. But, summer is now here!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bigfoot From Space, Volume 1

I'm putting together the first Bigfoot From Space complilation, (Volume 1) -- most likely e-book, more to come!