Monday, March 18, 2013

Short Subject: Fishing for Mermaids with Ivan.


This will be short. It was inspired by coming across a letter to Bob Warth after Ivan died, wherein a SITU member wanted to comment about an exchange that she'd had with Ivan about news stories in her area which made mermaid incident claims. The member had promised to try to get up to the exact city where the paper had published the stories [there were about three different sorts of claims] and get copies of the clippings for Ivan's file. And the letter at hand was that member's successful accomplishing of that years later.

I am actually surprised that Ivan had a file on Mermaids at all. More on that and why after I give you the one Mermaid tale that was in this letter that I liked a great deal.

This lady was writing Warth in 1984 from the Vancouver area and reflected on her original letter way back in 1967. There had been a small brouhaha about Mermaid sightings then, including an alleged photo of Her Wateriness lounging on the shoreline [above]. Marion Fawcett had wanted the lady to get a better copy of the picture, but she failed. Now years later, she had stumbled on to the news stories again, plus one other. She thought that SITU might still want them for the files [there is no evidence that in 1984 anyone was still filing anything at all there].

The Mermaid-on-the-Shore is certainly a college guys' prank, and pretty uninteresting [to me anyway]. A second story from that 1967 date [from a different location: Sayward Beach, Cordova Bay --- the college boys' "mermaid" was at Cowichan Bay], however has a little more going for it. For one thing, the witness was an adult housewife who lived at the shore and knew it well. She described the event as her walking the beach and beginning to come up on a "girl suntanning" at about 200 feet away. But she then noticed that the topless blonde sunbather had a tail for a "bottom" which threw the whole thing into Magonia. The lady tried to run to get closer, but the Mermaid spotted her and slid over the rocks thereby and was gone when she arrived. The witness refused to believe that this was an actual Mermaid, but rather someone playing a joke of some kind [note that she had no good reason for saying that other than an attempt to maintain her own sanity].


But that was not the story in the letter which interested me. This event was reported to have taken place on New Year's Eve of 1969. The witness was a very close friend of the news columnist who told the tale after his friend's recent death [this situation is why the columnist felt that it would now be OK to tell his friend's confidential story]. The witness' name was Bill Evans. The columnist's name was Jack Scott.

There was a New Year's Eve party at the house on the shore [somewhere in the vicinity of Vancouver], and there had been a beach bonfire, but people had retreated inside. Evans and Scott had remained outside, Scott to attend to the bonfire, while Evans had wandered down the beach. His excuse was picking oysters, but it was a walk of solitude common to him. The blaze was quite robust just then, and it and the Moonlight illuminated quite a patch of the beach.

Evans had been gone oyster-picking for about twenty minutes, when Scott looked up and noticed his friend standing "transfixed". Ultimately noticing Scott staring, Evans slowly waved to him to come over. When Scott arrived, his friend seemed quietly introspective. Neither talked. They walked a bit further down the beach and sat. Evans, still staring out into the ocean bay then said: "I've just met a Mermaid".

Scott, of course, thought that this was a joke, but Evans sensing that waved any comment away. He continued: "She came into the shallow water at the point and then she came out of the water on the beach, where we get the clams.     She was very beautiful.     She had long golden hair.   Well, it was more like ribbons of kelp, but somehow beautiful. She had a long green fishlike tail that was a part of her exquisite body.   I just didn't know what to say to her."

Scott, stunned by these comments by a close friend that had never had any tendency to engage in foolishness of anything like this sort, noted the euphoric appearance of his face, and had to take him seriously. He asked him, well, what DID you say?

Evans gave a bemused self-deprecating smile and said: "Aren't you cold?" She gave a laugh and in a non-human-but-still-human low voice "like an offshore breeze", said that no, she wasn't. She asked him why the people had been gathering on the beach, and he talked a bit about New Year's and parties with friends. Evans thought that they talked for about five minutes.

Scott asked if he could describe her. Evans was a bit embarrassed. The Mermaid was topless and he felt that her great beauty and the very non-mundane interaction that they were having made his "looking at her" something that he didn't want to make so obvious that she thought him a crude lout. But he responded to Scott's question this way:

"There was nothing even remotely self-conscious about her, you understand, but since she wore no clothes I felt a little embarrassed about looking at her. Still, I saw enough to know that she was absolutely lovely. You could say breathtakingly beautiful. When I asked her, at one point, where she lived, she pointed out to the water and the path of the Moon. Then we saw someone coming down the beach and she took my hand for a second and slipped into the bay and was gone". At that Evans unconsciously lifted his hand towards the water. Scott saw that it was still wet.

They sat a while in silence. When Evans died he asked for his ashes to be scattered in this very bay. And this despite that he was never a sailor nor ever owned the smallest boat.

=======================================================================

There's something about that one that makes music for me.






                                                                         
Well... on to a brief comment about Ivan's file....



Ivan's three-ring notebook which contains some "mermaid" files surprised me that it existed at all. This is because Ivan didn't really like the paranormal, much preferring something he could get his hands on. And, as to "mermaids", Ivan was a biologist and knew that they were biologically impossible. Ivan didn't want Nessie to be a water kelpie, but rather a big old beast capable of entering the biotexts. He didn't want Bigfoot-from-Magonia, but rather a new Big Ape. And he didn't relate to half-human half-fish entities either. Maybe he thought that if he collected the information, there would be a relatively normal biology animal behind it all.

His Mermaid file consists of about ten newsclippings, several pages of an 1822 story from the London Mirror, Chapter 9 of Folklore and the Sea by Horace Beck, and a chapter out of an 1883 monograph from a fisheries publication, entitled "Sea Fables Explained". [by Henry Lee].


That latter reference had some quite good history of the mer-people concept from ancient times, and was illustrated with interesting line-drawings like the above. Up there are "Dagon/Oannes" the powerful fishman god of Mesopotamia, a coin/medal from the Phoenecian colonization of Marseilles supposed to be representing the goddess Atargatis, and a medal/ coin from Corinth representing a Triton male and female pair........ so the concept is certainly very ancient.



Pleasant as the subject is, I am going to resist making a review project out of it, and suggest instead that you buy Jerry Clark's UNEXPLAINED! and read his chapter on "Merbeings".

You'll be smart then.

And you'll be able to blame him rather than me for shocking your family with plans to move to Vancouver Strait or the Orkney Islands.

Till next time, peace, and a slightly belated Happy St. Pat's. If you don't have the Irish Magic in you, you should have.



17 comments:

  1. Hi, Mike,

    Mercreatures are just another of those things that can't (and surely don't) exist, but that people persist in reporting anyway, for all the nasty social blowback such testimony generates. File these under "experiences" as opposed to "events," and at least you won't drive yourself crazy trying to reconcile them with any rational understanding of what may be out there in the world.

    The problem I have with the Vancouver testimony, though, is that the mermaid speaks and clearly possesses something higher than an animal's level of intelligence.

    My chapter in Unexplained! (third edition, 2012, pp. 297-327) is the most comprehensive treatment of alleged mercreature sightings in print, as far as I know. From an examination of a wide range of allegedly firsthand encounters, I remark on the differences between the folkloric mermaid and its "real" equivalent. The principal one is that alleged witnesses in the latter consistently use the pronoun "it" to characterize what they saw. They claim it emits no more than squawks or other beastly sounds, and they presume it to be an animal. (Aside from its unlikely appearance, they don't ascribe supernatural qualities to it, either.) Others who have studied the "sightings," such as the British folklorists Benwell and Waugh, have noticed the same.

    What does it all mean? Dunno. It's _way_ past my pay grade.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Past my pay grade too, but that never stopped me from giving away useless information, so.... For me it's obvious that Merpeople do not exist as members of this physical world. Evolutionarily they are beyond preposterous, and I say this as a guy who is hardly any "slave to the establishment". The only chance that we could ever have a physical universe-generated Mermaid would be if some superadvanced biologist built one. This is a theory I reject completely of course.

    In fact, when meditating upon All-Things-Faerie, I have focussed one stray thought on the following: If one wanted to make a case for the reality of a paranormal existence "alongside" our own, the easiest case would be by using encounters with things imitating biological forms but which were biologically preposterous. Dragons ... Tinkerbell Fairies [both because they have six {or even eight} limbs] ... Pegasi ... and Mermaids. The problem, of course, would then to get a pile of good cases. I find this distressingly absent for Dragons, Tinkerbells, or Pegasi, but Merpeople might just be getting there.

    If I had a pile of high credibility cases, then, for me, all my mountain of Leprechauns, Elves, Pookhas ... even Lake Monsters, Bigfooters, Sea Serpents et al,... could join together in this paranormal Magonian clan. I actually had a Bigfoot report in my hands yesterday which had them swimming far out to sea, and another which had them playing music and dancing. My "job" then would be to try to imagine what this Magonian Menagerie was doing and why it chose to manifest in the forms it does.

    Enough of that. Readers: please pay no attention to such ravings at all .... just howlings from the Hollers of Deepest Proctor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Mike,

      If you and I were sitting at a table across from each other, I have no doubt we'd both feel one of our patented, animated, freewheeling discussions about to erupt into the rhetorical ozone. Perhaps it's as well for our respective sanities that hundreds of miles and a cold Midwestern winter landscape separate us.

      Still, I can't resist a further thought, succinctly offered:

      It is puzzling to me how the sorts of liminal experiences that, for example, generate encounters with perceived mercreatures seem to work. Since imagination (in some perhaps deeply anomalous sense) plays a large role in driving such, why should the resulting perceptions be, for want of a better adjective, lawful, and worse, lawful in unexpected, unpredictable ways? Why, in other words, shouldn't experienced mercreatures behave like the ones of legend and lore?

      Of course, the Vancouver man's testimony is consistent with the latter, and that makes it suspicious to me, because the ostensible lawfulness, by which I mean a robustly demonstrated pattern over time and space, indicates that the experienced mercreature is always animal-like. Not, of course, an actual animal -- or actual anything beyond the star of a bizarre experience anomaly; I mean, as you know (this is addressed to the general reader), something that at least in vivid perception has assumed such an appearance. Why, one wonders, aren't experience anomalies wildly various and chaotic?

      Delete
    2. Why indeed? And THAT is the question of the ages. My feelings [I feel slightly embarrassed to give them the title of thoughts] run rather strongly to the --- Gee, even theory is too strong a word --- possibility that it is "our fault". That tongue-in-cheek labeling by me is to suggest that these encounters depend very strongly on "both" of us. And maybe even on a wider gestalt existing in our culture or at least our past. These forms each seem to bring with them some feeling of meaning deeper than the mere appearance of a weirdly outfitted what's-it. There is obviously [again in the feelings] something , dare I say "profound"? about the "Dragon", something immediately awesome about the Pookha, something frighteningly powerful about the HairyMan. There is immediate beauty in the Mermaid, and in the songs and music of the Faeries. "They" have impact far beyond the mere surprise of the "meeting". We feel it emotionally at a level deeper than fear or passion. There's something more; something "grounded" in something larger; some moment of communion with what that "other" is.

      You know me. I feel my way towards the Spiritual --- in almost all these things [other than UFOs, which are "this Universe" and generally devoid of such profundity].

      I'm going to let it go there. As to our freewheeling, I'm willing to risk my half of our respective sanities. Hope that you're feeling well by late summer so that you can migrate over for a weekend. ... or more.

      Delete
    3. Dear Respected Gentleman,
      Always a pleasure to read your thoughtful comments.
      I always love seeing someone dig into a database with shirt sleeves rolled up.
      Re your comments:
      IMHO such speculations are reasonable, and I believe (and hope) that sooner rather than later, they may be definable precisely enough to possibly even be subject to experimental approaches. Not many call me an optimist, but some of the work is already in exploratory stages. With hard work like that The Prof repeatedly demonstrates, invigorated( or at least continued) interest by science and the population generally, and maybe the needed occassional kick in the pants by Other....Then again, perhaps that is not how 'it' works. I don't claim to know, but a few of us are hopeful.

      The comment by Vallee that 'we have enough data' is one I'd like to hear your thoughts on, if I did not miss them in your prior responses.
      Sincerely,
      Tim

      Delete
    4. Tim, thanks for the compliments and the optimism... everyone needs that.

      As to the Vallee comment: that refers to a different post of course. Maybe I'll address it over there, but not yet.

      Delete
  3. Prof there's a lot of Sufi Buddhist etc stories which go the head of some tekkia or monastery or other's died and while everyone's waiting for the new master to show up some beggar hoves in view asking for food and drink for which he receives a clip round the lug'ole before being despatched to the kitchen midden where everyone treats him pretty harshly until the head honcho of the entire order eventually shows up when it's finally revealed only the humble scullery boy was capable of recognising unprompted he was in the presence of the Superior Man.

    Much like the humble scullery boy Bill Evans exhibits an initially muted Goethe like awe in the presence of something he clearly recognises as emanating from the realms of higher beauty like Oannes himself not so much a fish or human as an aquatic angel raising humanity to a finer level of being much like his later 'avatars' Jonah and John the Baptist.

    Evans' observation "There was nothing even remotely self-conscious about her"'s the most compelling detail for me because it suggests he himself was experiencing precisely the opposite an unbearable but otherwise indescribable shyness accompanied by a desperate desire to avert the gaze made all the more intense because you're quite simply totally incapable of doing any such thing.

    The other killer detail I suggest's the last minute glance of hands because that's the moment when Evans'll've been electrically shocked out his mind to realise he'd been unconsciously processing the whole thing as just some strange kind of dream or hallucination followed by being filled with a kind of orgasmic ecstasy resulting from astonishment at realising the sort of monumental atomic bomb level of impact a simple everyday normally underappreciated gesture like touching hands has been made to have on his nervous system.

    That moment when he suddenly realised "My God this's real!"'ll stay with him to the day he dies.

    The strange thing is the squawking 'unsupernatural' 'animal' Jerome Clark mentions in his comment could quite easily be in some cases the exact same 'divine' female as Evans beheld but processed through different sensibilities or levels of being ie where Evans was entranced others might be terrified they were beholding a nightmarish apparition her loveliness only making her seem all the more fiendish if not devilish while for still others it might make them regard her as all the more deformed all the more an abomination.

    Put it this way if some of the cohorts of the likes of Randi or Phil Klass were ever to stumble on her I wouldn't be surprised to hear them describe her offshore seabreeze like voice as the squealings of an animal in deep distress and her exquisite body as "clearly semi skinned as a result of some sort of shark attack which's why we burnt the creature to put it out its misery!"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, Alan, you're in top form tonight --- which means that I'm understanding about 10% of what you're saying. I'll say this: it's my opinion that Klass or Randi can't even have these experiences because their heads block the possibility of them --- just as the analytically-inhibited or immaturely disturbed would never meet the Spirit Guide.

      Sort of the more profound definition of "Blockhead".

      Delete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Those `Star Woman Crystals' look like a winner at UFOlogyprss.com.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Prof

    Sounds like a magonia type encounter between scott and his mermaid. personally i think the encounter happenend in spiritual way and not visible by other people, as i believe the entity is a spirit and she can come to scott because maybe scott is a sensitive/psychic ? what im curious about is the color "GREEN" that keep appearing on magonia/faerie/ufo encounter. lot of cases indicate green as one of the color worn by their clothing. it is strange that in southern Java there are sea goddess that's worshipped by some locals and they told everyone not to wear green clothing while visiting the southern beaches , because the queen/goddess dont like people / humans wearing greens. (mermaid lore are unknown here in indonesia, these sea goddess wore clothing like the old javanese kingdoms style)

    regards

    ReplyDelete
  7. Reading your comment on Ivan Sanderson's preference of physical / biological (mermaid/nessie/bigfoot) compared to the magonia/psychic reminds me so much on how some people on UFO-logy research also prefer nuts n bolts UFO and Aliens as compared to psychic/magonia UFO manifestation.

    i think the agency/entity behind these phenomenas (Mermaids and UFO) are one and the same, they are projecting their images so that people make up their own mind , basically steering man's perception to some unknown purposes.

    Regards
    milomilo

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, you are not alone in your belief that UFOs and folkloric cryptozoological phenomena are the same, but that school of thought does not include me. For me the core UFO phenomenon is very different in "feel" and physicality from the Mermaid, Elf, Loch Monster encounters. Jerry Clark has been writing for some time on the split which seems to exist between these two types of incidents. Of course some cases which find themselves in UFO case files probably do not belong there, and rather should be in some paranormal or folkloric entity file instead.

    ReplyDelete
  9. go to mermaidclubh2o.blogspot.com
    and dont forget to comet

    ReplyDelete
  10. sorry i just want people to come to my blog too

    ReplyDelete

Followers