I watch a bunch of shows like Ancient Aliens, UFO Hunters, Monsters & Mysteries in America, Paranormal Witness, and The Unexplained Files. Most of my friends wonder about my taste in TV shows and I don’t admit I watch them very often. However, there is a reason I watch them. Aside from their entertainment value and the fact that I can purge any anger by yelling at the TV, they make me think.
If I put aside my preconceived notions of what I know to be reality (and this is different for everyone, after all, I believe in ghosts and hauntings where a lot of people don’t), there’s information in them. Sometimes, it’s historical fact. Sometimes, it’s speculation. Either are good for me as a writer.
When I listen to Crazy-Hair Tsoukalos (Giorgio Tsoukalos) with an open mind, it makes me start to think about what I really know to be true. It opens my mind to other possibilities. I’m not jumping on Giorgio’s “Aliens built the pyramids to be a giant energy source for refueling their ships” bandwagon, but I have to admit, there are still mysteries about the pyramids. Like why did nearly every ancient culture build them? You can tell me that it’s because it’s a basic form that makes sense, but seriously, they’re a lot of work. Some cultures should have gone “nope, not building it, you’re nuts and this is going to take forever with our primitive wheels and carving methods.” And maybe they did, maybe that’s why pyramids don’t exist in every known advanced civilization to exist before the turn from BCE to CE. After all, Ancient Greeks weren’t really building pyramids, they busy defacing the pyramids in Egypt. Instead, they built other colossal stone buildings that make me think “wow, what the hell are you guys doing? Don’t you have better ways to spend your days?” If the ancients had built fewer pyramids and other colossal stone structures, they might have come up with the Theory of Relativity long before Einstein. Then again, maybe they did and we just haven’t found evidence of it.
As Bill Birnes goes on and on about secret underground bases in Dolce, New Mexico or talks about UFOs over military installations, I can go “uh, yeah, that’s how new military aircraft are invented” or I can go “well, maybe there are some things we don’t understand yet.”
It’s when I have those “well, maybe,” moments that my mind opens up and I not only expand my knowledge, but expand the ability of my imagination to come up with new things. It’s not an accident that Gabriel has a story about a wendigo. I’m fascinated with the Native American concept of the demonic flesh-eater that enters the bodies of men and turns them into fierce cannibals. I’ve read about it. I’ve watched the Monsters & Mysteries episode. It’s interesting and I can’t say “these people are crazy and it doesn’t exist,” but I also can’t say “yes, it exists and it is pure evil that roams the earth looking for the unwary.” Humans have dealt with far crazier things than a wendigo.
My personal feelings have to be set aside for this to work. And it’s amazing what can happen after that – Gabriel’s wendigo story will be explained in a later Dreams book, an experience created because I opened my mind to the possibility that a wendigo might exist. My fantasy novels all come from this same place, as does my horror (which I’ve never published). It’s really quite amazing what the mind can think of when you give it permission to ignore what you know to be true and think about the what-if. Shows like these, keep me from becoming too comfortable with the conventional and exercises my imagination.
PS: Sorry about the Tsoukalos rant… I really don’t have anything against him except his hair cut… that rubs me wrong and I have no idea why.