Published: Monday, 31 January 2011
By Julie Burchill
They call him The Goatsucker. Or rather they did. Because the chupacabra - a fearsome monster first spotted in 1995, who, according to the Fortean Times, is the third most famous mythical beast after Bigfoot and Nessie - has recently been revealed as a hoax by the other, smarter FT.
A sham. A fix. You don't say. But that would be the point - they did say. Loads of them. Otherwise sensible, sane people started banging on about the goatsucker after one Madelyne Tolentino said that she glimpsed the aforementioned nanny-nibbler near her home in Puerto Rico more than 15 years ago.
Mad-Tol did a reasonable job of describing the capra-cruncher, it must be said. Yes, there were inconsistencies, but not only did none of these little niggles stop scribblers setting the sighting down as fact but - the ultimate heads-up - a 'standard' image of the creature became available, drawn by one Jorge Martin.
You'd think the Fortean Times would get behind this type of lunacy. But the account in the current issue shows such clear-eyed wisdom that it actually shows up the allegedly sensible for the superstitious clowns they are.
"For 15 years, the chupacabra's origin has remained shrouded in history," writes the brilliant Benjamin Radford. "What, if anything, did Tolentino see?
"Was she lying, telling tall tales, or did she actually encounter some mysterious creature? Where did she come up with the detailed description? Scott Corrales has written that, 'It is almost certain that the creature's origin will never be clearly established.'
"But," continues Radford, "I will show that this pessimistic assessment was premature."
He goes on to show that the popular image of this creature was not a product of thousands of years of native rainforest wisdom, but was actually based on Sil, the alien from the sci-fi film Species.
It turns out Tolentino had been to see this very film - which opens, perhaps not uncoincidentally, with a scene set in Puerto Rico's Arecibo Radio Observatory - just a few weeks prior to her 'encounter'.
"It would be a very good idea if you saw it," she told Radford when he mentioned the film to her. "I watched the movie and wondered, 'My God, how can they make a movie like that when these things are happening in Puerto Rico?'"
So. A woman goes to see a film, talks to a reporter and, hey presto, izzy wizzy, let's get in a tizzy, Welcome to the Age Of Endarkenment.
It's weird to think now how important the Enlightment was. Life in the free world has become such a matter of ceaseless striving towards an idea of perfection - as if - that the very word sounds like some sort of bogus detox diet.
But just reading about it on Wikipedia made me cry: "The Age of Enlightenment is the era in Western philosophy, intellectual, scientific and cultural life, centred upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. It is also known as the Age of Reason.
"Developing simultaneously in France, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the American colonies, the movement culminated in the Atlantic Revolutions, especially the success of the American Revolution, which resulted in independence from the British Empire.
"The Enlightenment was less a set of ideas than it was a set of values. At its core was a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals, and a strong belief in rationality and science."
But, for some reason, we appear to be choosing Endarkenment; from teenage girls who are free to shag when and whom they want for the first time in history, cleaving to the Twilight chronicles, in which sex is seen as something so destructive that you have to become an undead to have it, to young Western-born Muslim men rejecting the commonsense of their immigrant parents in order to blow themselves and others to bits in pursuit of some crazed cult of purity. It's people who won't recognise that human beings only add up to 2% of global warning. It's ignorance posing as nobility.
We are all goatsuckers now, it would seem. Fortean Times, take us home to the Age of Reason.
Source & References: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/opinion/columnists/julie-burchill/wave-goodbye-to-enlightenment-as-this-is-the-age-of-goatsuckers-15066349.html