Planks from the Lumberyard

Spider Holes & Spider Goats: Tuning in the (White) Noises from the Margins

As if anyone needed further reason to become even more paranoid (or is it “perceptive”?), a marine involved in the capture of Saddam Hussein tells us that the “spider-hole” scenario was a carefully contrived spectacle directed by a “military production” unit; apparently Hussein was actually found in a “modest home in a small village” the day before. And, although by now it’s been long forgotten, the same seems to be true of the classic image of our troops assisting Iraqis with the toppling of the Saddam statue in Firdos square, which was almost certainly a thoroughly staged spectacle meant to shift public opinion (which, by and large, it did). These stories made only the tiniest disturbances in the mainstream media’s coverage, and were quickly lost in the endless maelstrom of disastrous news pouring in from both home and abroad.

Despite the surfeit of available information and the variety of news sources, it’s hard to know who or what to believe these days: when we are made to rely on questionable evidence to understand events we have not witnessed, the whole epistemological structure crumbles. Connections are indeed everywhere, but it takes a certain degree of sense and maybe even taste to follow them; it seems doubtful, for instance, that the resemblance of the satellite image of Hurricane Katrina to an unborn fetus bears any theodical significance.

The curious paranoid, however, will find his strangest and worst fears confirmed (and plenty of fuel to feed his fire) in reading some choice bits from the FBI files on “unusual phenomena,” now readily available on the FBI’s website thanks to the freedom of information act. There you will find extraordinary accounts of the FBI’s investigation into the rampant cattle mutilations in the midwest in the 70s and 80s; or the remarkable story/hoax of the “Majestic 12” , a secret ensemble of the country’s top scientific minds gathered to collaborate on decoding top secred alien codes found at Roswell. It’s unsettling to read through these files and consider how many man hours and tax dollars must have been spent investigating each of these cases which, to the contemporary field officer, must have seemed even more strange. And as any viewer of the X-Files could tell you, what better way to expose an event as a hoax than to offer the files freely to the public. If you are wondering, by the way, the source of the ongoing cattle mutilations has never yet been determined.

Skeptical? Let’s turn for a moment to “nature.” Have you heard about the spider-goats of Plattsburgh, New York? These two genetically-modified goats are surrounded by razor wire and guarded by armed security for the spider silk they produce in place of their goat milk, which is 3 times stronger than kevlar and intended for use in weaving bulletproof clothing, medical sutures, or superstrong ligaments. Perhaps you’ve heard of the parasitic hairworm, the zombifying parasite that rewires the grasshopper’s brain, inducing it to take a suicidal leap into open water? Or the wasp that injects its larvae into the orb-weaver spider, where it grows until the day before killing its host, it rewires its brain so that the spider weaves a web custom-made for the larvae to pupate in? And I’m sure things get far weirder still.

Although these strange noises issuing from the margins are rarely picked up by the major media, they resonate on more than just the paranoid registers. At the very least, they make for interesting reading; at best they provide non-normative perspectives and logics through which to receive and evaluate the larger flows of information. Allowing for the possibility that things are darker and more strange than they appear need not necessarily be considered the the first step down the fun-house hall of paranoia. Between spider holes and spider goats lies a great swath of unprocessed and poorly understood phenomena, things that only the figures on the margins seem to take seriously, be they (mad?) scientists or independent media hounds. And who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, the noise generated by the alt. zines and indy media of the world, speaks to you?