Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday is for Fearsome Critters

So I've been reading lately about the Fearsome Critters.

Fearsome Critters came to live in the 19th century, during the American progression westward into unknown lands.  Mostly lumberjack tales, the Fearsome Critters could be anything.  Stick fall on your head?  Oh, that's just the Argopelter.  Did you follow a mysterious shape into the mists?  Probably chasing the Wampus Cat.  Some of these critters would turn out to be actual animals (drawings of the Hugag are, perhaps, a bit moose-like), while others are clearly elaborate stories told to frighten or tease new members of the fold (the infamous Snipe hunt is rumored to have been born out of this very tradition).  Most are pure invention.   

I shouldn't keep doing things like this, because it makes me nostalgic for an era I never lived through.  The time we told stories.  Sometimes I think the world was so much bigger then.

The thing of it is, I miss fairy tales.  I miss that feeling of hearing something out there in the dark and knowing it must be some fantastic and terrifying beast.  I miss cursing pixies for stealing away my precious things, and blessing them for finding the thing I though I'd lost.  I miss the magic of folklore. 

Maybe it's because I'm American, and all of our lore was either killed or left behind.  Maybe it's because this is the information age, and we no longer need to create explanations for the unexplainable, we can just take two minutes to research and then know.  Maybe we're just too cynical for imagination anymore.

I don't believe in Big Foot, but I watch every special on television, because sometimes it's fun to believe in monsters.  I high school, I used to write my papers about Santa Claus, not because I believed a big fat man came down my chimney every December 24th, but because the magic of that moment made me so happy I couldn't not share it.  (You can laugh if you like, but I got an 'A+' on every Santa paper I ever wrote, so I'm clearly not the only one with a fondness for whimsey.)  I don't believe these things, because I know too much, but I wonder sometimes what I would be like to live in a time when I could.  I imagine it would be fun.  

Tonight, I think I'll thumb through that book of Cryptozoology, and dream of Atmospheric Beasts.

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