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19.2.13

Not Finding Bigfoot

Why can't anyone seem to find Bigfoot?

The skeptical response is of course that there is no such creature, and that the big guy is simply a myth and a meme, a folly perpetrated upon humanity for ages by wishful thinking and the innate human need for "monsters" in the mists and shadows. There are even those who insist the phenomenon is recent and originated around the time of the Patterson-Gimlin footage.

A noteworthy comparison.
This latter assertion is not only nonsense, it is also a bit insane. The truth is that human beings across cultures and eras have reported the presence of giants, trolls, ogres, wild men, spirit men and a host of other analogous beings. The enduring icon of the "forest God" is also worthy of our attention, since it may describe the spirit of this otherwise very real creature. We cannot ignore some of the oldest potential references, like the Humbaba in Sumerian legend, slain by Gilgamesh and his trusty companion Enkidu: He was the guardian of the "Cedars of Lebanon" which is possibly a convenient way of saying that a giant man-like creature lived in the forest. Sound familiar?
Humbaba - Sometimes thought to be the prototypical "labyrinth guardian". In reality, he lived in the forest, and the hero Gilgamesh needed a wildman's help to defeat him. Fighting fire with fire?
Enkidu himself has been suggested by other cryptozoologists and students of myth and legend as a prototypical wild man. He is directly described as such by the Epic of Gilgamesh: A hairy man living beyond the edges of civilization, doing his thing out in the wilderness. He is brought into the fold of the rest of humanity by an attractive woman left out as bait. Bigfoot enthusiasts will note the significance of this reference, since after all, Sasquatch is said to like the ladies.
Enkidu - before civilizing influences corrupted him.
The concept of the wildman or the hairy giant has been with us for a very long time, possibly since the very beginning of story-telling among human beings.

Perhaps the most famous of these is Grendel of Beowulf fame, although debate rages with respect to that character, since he is poorly described. The imagination of the reader is important in this particular case, since one member of the audience may imagine a reptilian entity where another envisions a hairy, ape-like thing. But this means little against the backdrop of the old poet's characterization: Grendel was clearly intended to be pictured as man-like, since he is identified as descended from Cain. The "monstrous" nature of Grendel is a result of Cain's marking by Yahweh for the murder of Abel. In short, to the audience of the original poem, this was a man-like troll, and later Biblical themes reinforced this idea by factoring in the "mark of Cain".

Sharp literary critics have long suspected that this Christianization of a flatly pagan myth is a later interpolation meant to make the Norse/Germanic tale palatable with audiences as the Christian faith rose in popularity and dominance during the Middle Ages. It may additionally have been used in a way analogous to modern media programming, where the entertainment factor is secondary and the primary role is to present advertising. In essence, you came to hear Beowulf at the chieftain's hall, but instead you got reminders to be a good Christian. While this may be a factor, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the man-like nature of Grendel is part of that propagandistic device. Instead, it is more reasonable to assume that Grendel was always defined in man-like terms, and as such, he belongs to the world of Trolls and other giant beings considered akin to humans, but eternally unfriendly towards them.


We cannot find such a creature because we would be fools to endeavor to look very hard, essentially. The cultures that evolved independently on the fringes of the old Classical world had many demonic or otherwise homicidal neighbors derived from tales not unlike our own monster reports. Men came in from the wild lands with stories of beasts of legendary proportions and dreadful proclivities. We must pause to wonder at this, since a primitive culture lacks for the mechanisms of the modern media that promise fame to those with an interesting experience. True, being the man who met a monster in a 5th Century CE village in Finland might be good for a few free horns of mead at the local chieftain's hall, but men are now as they once were in terms of core psychology - talking about such creatures was as apt to bring derision as it was to yield fame. Fortune was based on military prowess, no less, so making up monsters may have been a practice more useful for those unable to win battlefield glory, but hardly sufficient to make a skald sing the story of your days.
A Medieval depiction of Alexander's supposed encounter with a wildman.
Perhaps the trolls and giants of these kinds of stories were merely a type of entertainment, but that hardly explains the distribution of wild man reports throughout the world. A keen researcher will note that the best reports - those featuring tantalizing bits of evidence that suggest something valid and real - are focused on the remotest and most inaccessible ranges on the planet. Some good reports also emerge in surprising places, however, very near centers of human habitation or at least on the fringes of civilization. The type of evidence in question is sometimes physical or visual: curious tracks, bits of hair, enigmatic and stubbornly irrefutable film or video records have a habit of surfacing from time to time. Skeptics insist that this happens because hoaxers and true believers generate material - intentionally or otherwise - in order to continue the legend. But this is also exactly the circumstance we should expect if the "spirit man" of Native American lore is what he is described to be: Some sort of human being.
Grendel as depicted in the film, "Beowulf and Grendel" ... Some sort of man.
The Vicar is of the opinion that "Bigfoot" is a catchall term for a real creature of diverse range, and that the entity in question is indeed a type of man. Melba Ketchum's "research" is apparently being touted in some circles to support this idea, but hard science is not usually advanced by founding one's own scientific journal when no one else will take your work. The underlying principle is therefore lost, and the critical element of truth is obfuscated by the nonsense of doctrine and inflexible institutionality. Group-think among hard scientists has demanded of "serious researchers" that they not consider these anomalies too much. Convincing the scientific community should therefore be the last of our concerns, since these tend to be the kinds of people that would insist that the Bigfoot body we bring them for dissection is a cunningly contrived hoax manufactured by a criminally mercenary genetics laboratory somewhere in the Urals or central Siberia. (That's where you find the best genetic designers for hire, these days.)

The existence of a relic population or a divergent form of homo is neither surprising nor revolutionary, and there is a fair amount of evidence to suggest that multiple forms of humankind have previously occupied the earth simultaneously. But the real question is this: How does the hominid "Bigfoot-Yeti-Orang Pendek-Yowie" avoid us so well? Brief encounters are all we have ever had to go on, if we leave aside the murderous rampage carried out by a mother-son team of these things sometime in 7th Century Denmark. Why can't we find it?

The Vicar - given his training - is apt to form lists, and the following list is one of his favorite.

1.) We aren't looking hard enough.

Very little effort has actually been put into the development of an organized plan for identification, verification and possibly even capture. Killing such a creature might raise a host of issues variously discussed elsewhere and for many years. The legal status of a variant hominid is not established, and only a fool would want to be part of such a test case, particularly when the case would also inevitably involve matters of jurisdiction, Federal laws for the protection of endangered species, and media rights. Scientific institutions tend to laugh evidence for this creature and its proponents out of the room, so grant money is not exactly flowing into a verification effort.

2.) Bigfoot is smarter than we are.

The term, "smarter" is perhaps a bit of a misnomer. I doubt that Bigfoot and his cousins are very good at using information technology or building architectural masterpieces. But this creature, in its natural environment, moving effortlessly (as is almost always reported) through its range, can likely outmaneuver and outpace any homo sapiens with a will to discovery. Odds are good that the species can smell us coming for miles, hear us over a similar distance, and hide from us with great effectiveness. It appears not to use tools or weapons with any regularity, which would imply that it does not need them. Evolution is very much a function of needs and corresponding reactions to said needs. The absence of Bigfoot clothing, fires, spears and structures suggests a creature perfectly wedded to an environment that would kill most humans in short order due to the effects of starvation, exposure and predation - were we to occupy those areas as Bigfoot seems to, minus clothes, shelter and gear.

3.) Bigfoot is more evolved than we are.

See above, but also consider this: Can we know with any certainty that such a creature would not have a superior mode of operation to our own? If these types of creatures exist, it is noteworthy that their way of life would not involve pollution or radical change of the environment. Instead, they may in the long run be Earth's preferred inhabitants, and it may just be that they aggressively avoid us in order to prevent direct conflict. If this is an animal of our sort, it communicates and it processes information with an eye toward understanding. There may well be Bigfoot philosophy, poetry and art which we regularly observe without ever recognizing what it is that we are seeing. But more importantly, Bigfoot may have none of these things because he does not need them. It is possible that a version of homo evolved at some point in the past to resolve survival issues in a way different than we are familiar with. In place of weapon and tool use, this version emerged with greater size, speed, strength and resilience. Intelligence as we know it might not be so much reduced as it is focused upon other things - namely hiding from us. How difficult would it be to find a kind of human being utterly wedded to nature and evolved specifically to avoid us at all costs? Given our own limitations, the Vicar imagines it would run something like this: Every so often we'd hear a report or see a fuzzy image or choppy video, but we'd almost never get hard, physical evidence...


4.) Bigfoot is not entirely a physical entity.

This one gives materialists and other such mundane thinkers fits. It really makes some people angry. This is a delightful thing, since it reveals more about the limitations of our own understanding than it does anything at all about the nature of this universe. The cosmos is quite large, and the permutations of form that can potentially or actually inhabit it are uncountable. Could there be "spirit beings"? In the esoteric traditions and occult teachings, the existence of such things is a matter of absolute certainty. A rationalist view reveals that this is an absolutely logical possibility; it is not at all hard to imagine that a species or other category of life form could exist that defies general biological theory.


5.) We're doing way too many things wrong when we look for Bigfoot.

The Vicar has spent some time in the woods. He was raised with a firm foundation in hunting, fishing and camping, as well as the requisite wild-craft skills involved in what is nowadays "extreme survival" of the sort popularized by Les Stroud. For the record, this was normal behavior in the America of the Vicar's boyhood, before the Boy Scouts of America became an organization vilified by certain forces within the media for accusations of homophobia, pedophilia and a tendency toward a certain paramilitarism. Living in a remote area of the Midwest meant having the opportunity to learn from hardened old hunters and woodsmen as well as an extensive involvement with Native American lore - sometimes even taught by real Native Americans - and certain representatives of the survivalist community (now called Doomsday Preppers and essentially satirized at length). What the Vicar sees in those who are presented in the media as Bigfoot researchers is nothing like the set of skills that we should expect to see if we are to have a shot at making contact with this creature.
A good guy, perhaps, but can he really find Bigfoot?
Why would anyone think that a camera crew would not run off a Bigfoot at the first sign of approach? Moreover, why would we believe that people yelling or beating on trees with sticks in the dark woods would result in a genuine response from Sasquatch? And when expeditions are filmed, we often get these sweeping overhead shots - evidence that a helicopter was brought in to get footage, meaning that anything canny in the forest below is likely to head for quieter and more complete cover.

Are the "researchers" spending weeks at a time in the deep wild, in likely ranges, sans deodorant and other unnatural scents, minus even so much as a tent? It is possible - and sometimes preferable - to build your own wigwam or a simple lean-to. Using natural materials might very well be integral to getting close enough to Bigfoot that a clear picture or video record can be produced. Behavioral reports certainly imply that Sasquatch might be made curious by a nylon tent, but odds are that it will be made more comfortable by humans who are behaving in a way older and more familiar. The Vicar holds that this is an intelligent being, and it might be persuaded to hold still long enough to gather meaningful data if those looking demonstrate a basic respect for living in the wild and for the natural environment. That is, after all, precisely what the Native American (and possibly also Celtic) folklore says: Bigfoot is a creature that lets itself be seen by men when men are either in error in their behavior or have shown respect for the proper spirits.

Melba Ketchum may have a point, whether her research is worth a damn or not... Bigfoot may well be something closer to human, and this is not a new idea. But collecting hair samples or feces or a toenail is not going to satisfy the scientific community, because they will almost always be able to produce an excuse that permits "legitimate" scientists to weasel out of the unpleasant facts they are confronted with. This is exactly the point of doctrinaire thinking. Nothing short of prolonged, reliably recorded contact will verify the existence of Sasquatch.

The best chance of establishing a situation in which such contact can occur might depend upon putting the right people into the field with the right attitude, approach and equipment. The Vicar would like to suggest here and now that someone give Les Stroud his own show in which he looks for Bigfoot. He's already gone on record stating that he heard a suspicious call in Alaska, so he might be game for making a legitimate go of it.
Les with an Owl.
It may ultimately be worth considering the possibility that Bigfoot knows about our trail cams and our DNA-gathering and our clumsy expeditions into territories where we only barely belong. Perhaps he watches us from the fringes of our reality, smiling and biding his time. Perhaps she knows that we do not truly belong to this planet anymore, as we have become so dependent upon civilized things. This may be precisely why we cannot find these creatures.

In the end, whether Bigfoot is ever found or not does not matter. It is more important to recognize that when we search for this creature, what we may really be looking for is something each of us knows is gone from our inner identities, washed away by the tides generated by our chosen path through the maze of evolution. 

The search for Sasquatch is in the end a search for ourselves.

In that sense, let's hope we find Bigfoot.