The Book of Imaginary Beings, by Jorge Luis Borges, is one of several bestiary books I own. Originally published in 1957 as the Manual de zoologia fantastica, or Handbook of Fantastic Zoology, it contains such florid entities as
- The Lamed Wufniks — Thirty-six just men whose mission is “to justify the world to God.” They do not know each other, are very poor, and if they come to realize they are a Lamed Wufnik they die, and another takes their place. “These men are, without suspecting it, the secret pillars of the universe.”
- The Trolls — After the arrival of Christianity in Scandinavia, pagan giants “degenerated into rustic Trolls” — small, malevolent, stupid, mountain-dwelling elves.
- Ã Bao A Qu — A creature that lives on the staircase of the Tower of Victory in Chitor. It only moves when a traveler climbs the staircase and follows close at the person’s heels. Its form becomes more complete the closer it gets to the terrace at the tower’s top. It can only achieve this ultimate form if the traveler obtains Nirvana, otherwise it is unable to continue.
- The Brownies — “Helpful little brown men” who “visit farms in Scotland while the family is asleep and lend a hand with the household’s chores.”
Okay, so contemporary cryptozoology rarely gets that exotic. Nevertheless, it continues to struggle for respectability. At least with Borges’ Beings they are clearly “Imaginary.” But Bigfoot and the Yeti remain in the netherworld between science fact and pop culture mythology. And footage like the one below conspires to keep them there.
The new video of the Loch Ness Monster is making the rounds on the crypto-fans sites. It’s about four minutes long and, I’m afraid, won’t do much to sway the skeptics.
Why do these people always seem so strange? I really do want to believe this stuff. The world is far too boring without crytids — curious creatures lurking in lakes and forests, closets and stairwells, just out of the reach of inquisitive eyes. But when the “new footage” keeps looking like the old footage, the witnesses look like mad scientists, and the “evidence” is always grainy, indistinct, and underwhelming, I’ve no choice but to hedge. As the conflicted father said, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Oh well, until Nessie does more than just skim the surface teasing “amateur scientists,” I think I’ll stick with The Brownies and The Lamed Wufniks.