Monday, 26 September 2011
When I started this blog, one of the things that (for reasons that completely evade me now) I omitted to put in the title was the word fortean. This is a massive oversight on my part, as the word covers just about nine-tenths of my interests in the outside world. Please allow me to explain. Charles Hoy Fort was an American writer who lived from 1874-1932. His overwhelming preoccupation was phenomena that did not fit accepted theories and world views of the time. He made copious notes on aforesaid phenomena and published several books concerning them. For those of you particularly fascinated by this character I have put a link to the Wikipedia entry about him.
Because of the nature of his researches, he has not only gathered a large, posthumous following but also folk have felt moved to publish magazines and periodicals detailing and documenting modern anomalous phenomena in his name.
The first one that came to my attention was Fortean Times. I must have been in my mid-late twenties at the time, and I was working on a small but busy street in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. I had cause to use the shops, including the newsagents, regularly. I cannot, at this distance in time, remember precisely what it was that made me buy it, but it’s quite obvious in many ways as to why I would be attracted to it. It offers both current and past examples of UFO (UAP) sightings, cryptozoology (think from the Loch Ness Monster(s) to undiscovered “normal” animals), parapolitics (conspiracy theories) – well, I’m sure you get the picture by now. All sorts of odd stuff with good to wonderful pictures and (very important, this) intelligent articles written by people who do their best to research and check their arguments presented with a dash of much-needed humour and self-deprecation. The brilliant thing is that it’s still going strong (let’s hope that this is not the kiss of death)! The founder of this journal is Bob Rickard and the origins stretch away back to the late sixties.
Over the years I have found Fortean Times to be the one constant inspiration for both information and imagination. It was available before the Internet was, and even now provides me with a welcome respite from glowing LCDs. There are other publications in the UK that cover and overlap as far as subject matter is concerned, but they all seem to be a poor second. Either the articles are incredibly subjective, with researchable and checkable facts conspicuous by their absence or the writers are po-faced in extremis. The biggest selling point by far is that it hasn’t been (and, I trust, never will be) overrun by wafty, indeterminate (except for profit-making) New-Ageism. I have to admit that the New Age is, to me, a small blessing and a large curse. More on that elsewhere. It reads like level heads are in charge and doesn’t centre on a particular belief system.
I would like to finish by saying more power to its editorial elbow and long may it continue.