LI’s NYC correspondent, T., went to a Fortean meeting – or rather, a meeting of a dissident Fortean group. The meeting was, he thought, scheduled to be held in a Times Square bar he fondly remembered. Here is the report:
Oh my, was I wrong. First of all, I had this image in my mind of the joint - that I had been there, drank there.... - nope. Generally non-descript Greek diner and non-descript "bar" that looked just like the mauve/floral print/fake redwood diner. The "meeting" was not; it was, rather, a couple of people getting together for dinner. I mean: I prepared some material! So, after three of four minutes of disappointment, I began to enjoy the company.
I met and had some very nice conversations with, in particular, Joe and Sam [not their real names- ed.]. Joe is a big fine kind gentlemen who has a particular interest in the vagaries of the human condition. Specifically, he told me about his meetings with Otherkins - those who believe themselves to be descended from, variously, angels, dragons, vampires, elves etc....those who have overdosed on Tolkien. Sam shared his stereoscopic photos from the annual Guy Fawkes celebration: lots of anti-Papist feeling and lots of bonfires and explosions - looks like a hell of a lot of fun. He then shared some more photos, the subject of which looked very familiar to me, but not exactly. Yes, its him, rather older than the last time I saw him, but he, one of my most favorite writers: Samuel R. Delaney. I quickly learned that Sam is working on a documentary film on SRD. So we "talked shop" about his books for a time.
Which brings me to a point to be made: these Forteans (insiders, outcasts, pseudo-, whatever), these factions - they, in a sense, know their "stuff" too well; they very rarely have anything that you might term a 'context' for the stuff that interests them; and, for this I am generally a bit sad, they are too often surprised that a non-Fortean might share an interest in and a knowledge of their "stuff".
As for the factional feelings of these outcasts toward The International Fortean Society: it seems that its got everything to do with a well-known phenomena: the legacy of the founder and access to that source. Additionally, it seems that the guardian of the Fortean flame is a real pill; if these few have characterized her even remotely accurately, she is unpleasant on a good day.
Most uncharacteristically, I suggested as I was leaving that we do this again. I suggested further (oh no!) that some materials should be prepared by someone and presented at the next gathering. If this role falls on me (as it should since I was the dumbass that suggested it), I think that I'll do a few minutes on Hacking's stuff on multiple personality: I think that his method of analysis would be very helpful to this crowd.”
T. is lucky he didn’t fall into a “window area” – a term of art coined by Fortean John Keel to explain the strange doings in Point Pleasant, West Virginia that he made semi famous in his book, Prophecies of the Mothman:
Certain areas appear to be routinely visited by Fortean events. Depending upon your interests, these locales may be called “haunted places,” “monster countries,” “spook light sites,” “triangles,” or “windows.” John Keel created the concept and indeed coined the word, as well as certainly popularizing the notion of “windows” when he first talked about them menacingly and humorously in his articles and books of the 1970s. Although he introduced the idea in UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse in 1970, most people relate the term “window” to the area around Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and Keel’s book about it, The Mothman Prophecies (1975).
“The phenomena he records,” wrote Jerome Clark in High Strangeness (1996), “exemplify the window at its bizarre best: Over a period of many months UFO activity is frequent, sometimes so frequent that people go UFO-hunting on a nightly basis with reasonable expectations of sighting something. The sightings include events ranging from distant observations to close encounters. Paranormal activity of other sorts often amplifies as well; the Point Pleasant area was also a hotbed for encounters with men in black and a monstrous creature known as Mothman. This full panoply of phenomena accompanies some long-term, narrow-distribution waves; in others the window opens wide enough to admit only UFOs.”
On the other hand, the experience of deja non-vu – T.’s thinking it was one bar, when it turned out to be another – might be a variant of the window area – call it the “tinted window” effect. We’ll be following this story closely, and bringing our readers late breaking bulletins if anything happens – or, more critically, if anything doesn’t.