“At first I didn’t believe him. Then he showed me the reputable magazine… She calls the strange new species Hotheaded Naked Ice Borers.”
— Rev. Ivan Stang
People in modern society have less contact with wild animals than did our ancestors, and the vast bestiary of imaginary animals that were assumed part of the natural world in years past has dwindled down to a handful of remotely credible Bigfoots (and other Hairy Hominids), The Loch Ness Monster, the forest apemen of Vietnam, Rennets, Goatman, Hodag, khting vor, “Champ” of Lake Champlain, the grisly Chupacabra, and such also-rans as Ogopogo, the Hot-Headed Naked Ice Borer, the Devil-Jack Diamond fish, the Archaeoraptor, winged cats the Jersey Devil, the South American dog-eating eagle, and dead people who somehow avoid living in the past tense.
These are the pathetic remains of an imaginary ecosystem that was once home to dragons, bunyip, mermaids, centaurs, gowrow, unicorns, enormous sea-serpents, sphinxes, phoenices, gargoyles, hoopsnakes, werewolves and fairies, et cetera.
Alas, imaginary creatures are going extict almost as quickly as real ones.
An ever popular alternative to fantastic animal monsters has been to define a certain class of people as being really some sort of frightening supernatural beast, as in the caricature of Jews as horned demon-men, or that of Africans as sub-human monkey-people.
Witchcraft accusations are a useful prototype to follow, and provide much of the terminology used to describe the sociology and psychology of this sort of thing. That’s why the term “Witchhunt” is used to describe the righteous quest to rid the world of satanic ritual child abusers, a monster that keeps popping up all throughout history in various guises.
The extraterrestrial variety of aliens are among us, tailgating comets, being chopped up by curious and secretive scientists, and leaving their Crop Circles behind as enigmatic evidence. (Meanwhile, we pathetic earthlings can’t even manage to go to the moon, although plans are in the works).
And then there are creepy strangers, who reliably put razorblades in Hallowe’en candy or contaminate toys with LSD, poison the environment with dangerous chemicals, join frightening cults, slip us date-rape drugs, send us computer viruses cleverly disguised as email, and shoot us just for looking at ’em funny.
Sadly, it seems like for every one of these wacky creeps who turns out to be no more real than the Devil, there is a real life s.o.b. whose bizarre style of cruelty is so out-there as to make any statement about the existence (or even prevalence) of a particular brand of antisocial kink initially quite plausible.
Hey, check out our Archaeological Forgeries section for information about imaginary prehistoric monsters like the Piltdown Man, or our Fake Folks page for information on people just as fictional as the Easter Bunny.
|snig·gle (v) — To fish for eels by thrusting a baited hook into their hiding places.|