Meet the Neighbours

Thom Powell. The Locals: A Contemporary Investigation of the Bigfoot/Sasquatch Phenomenon. Hancock House, 2003.

The author of this book, a science teacher, was formerly a sceptic about Bigfoot until hearing a lecture by Grover Kranz. Since this revelation it would appear that his boggle threshold has been steadily lowering. Though throughout this book he presents Bigfoot as some kind of paws-and-pelt animal, the narratives he give tell a different story. There are tales of Bigfoot children playing with human children, of human children being taken in the night to be suckled by Bigfoot, Bigfoot as guardians of the local human inhabitants; of Bigfoot being able to cast a spell over people, disappearing from plain view, and having a near supernatural cunning, of the mysterious absences of animal sounds in its presence, of Bigfoot peering into children’s windows, of missing cattle and mysterious deaths, of noises in the night and stone being thrown against houses.

These are recognisable as part of a universal lore, in which these activities are attributed to a wide variety of supernaturals, and the similarity to much ufolore is obvious. It is of no surprise then to see that Powell has accumulated stories of Bigfoot sightings being associated with tales of strange lights in the sky.

There are even parallels with the crashed flying saucer lore, in tales of wounded Bigfoot being captured by 'the Government', and witnesses being ordered to keep quiet. This of course comes from anonymous sources. It always seems curious that in this sort of lore, Americans who pride themselves on their self reliance and love of freedom present themselves as a bunch of sissies who can never summon up the guts to tell these authorities to expletive-deleted off.

There are also now tales of Bigfoot hunters having their phones tapped and their papers rifled through. Either some idiot somewhere has got it into his head that Bigfoot hunting is a cover for some other kind of environmental activism such as putting nails in trees, or this is just another example of paranoia.

These stories show how if one sets out to collect folklore as it is told, not subject to any censorship, how attempts to fit extraordinary experiences into neat little boxes marked cryptozoology, ufology or psychical research are bound to fail. Whether this ultimate weirdness lies in something like “the autonomous imagination” or in the outer world is a moot point. Either way the chances of finding a real Bigfoot corpse are about equal to finding a crashed flying saucer in the Pentagon pantry, i.e. just about nil. -- PR

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