Toad in the Hole

September 16, 2005

The People, Yes

PZ Myers and company do a minifisk on someone named Timothy Birdnow on a site that calls itself The American Thinker."

(The comments section has wandered all the hell over the landscape, but I can't really grouch about a string that includes a Terry Bisson cite and a fast and elegant horror fiction story -- well, its prologue, which is quite sufficient unto itself.)

When I see stuff like the post referenced, I get more amused than angry. OK, there is that sense of sinking depression and loathing I get whenever I'm confronting a pathological liar, a closed-loop religious fanatic, or any other such spittle-generator. But this stuff reminds me most of a paperback we got from the Museum of Jurassic Technology -- it's a compendium of crank letters purportedly received by the Mount Wilson Observatory from members of the interested public.

It looks to me like the intellectual equivalent of "Outsider Art." Folk art like Grandma Prisbie's Bottle Village, or the Hubcap Ranch, or those cobbled-together inspirational signs and wonders you see in isolated places (many of them in the Southeast) with somebody's manic visions of the Second Coming or the Old Testament done up in massed oyster shells or ten thousand pounds of soap.

Of course it's hard to keep one's humor when people who actually swallow nonsense like this get political influence, or even come close to dictating what must be taught in public schools. And you really want to slap them when they take themselves seriously, or get all god-bothery on you. But the artifact, the mental constructions themselves, can be elegantly hilarious, and vice-versa.

Posted at September 16, 2005 03:56 AM

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