The Place of Maybe - an introduction

I'm Cat Vincent, your new Daily Grail contributing editor. Some of you may know me from my Slenderman piece in the new volume of Darklore.

Greg kindly invited me to join the team here, and I thought it would be a good idea to start out by talking a little about my perspective on matters Fortean. If there is one tendency I have noticed in my life as a Fortean and occultist, it's that certainty is... problematic, at best - and that the very best Fortean thinkers are those who are least certain of their personal theories.

Sadly, this is the exception in the field, rather than the rule. Gods know there are plenty of folk in various streams of Fortean thought who are utterly certain of their theories, that their model of whatever odd experiences they have had is both accurate and complete. And, amusingly, those among the skeptical 'elite' feel pretty much the same way about their model of the Universe. This is why conversations about what I've tended to generally call Weird Shit between opposing zealots of whatever flavour rarely end well.

My own experience (starting out around age 7 with some scary strangeness, teaching myself magic & meditation & reading the heaviest Forteans I could find before reaching double figures, all as a survival mechanism) tends me to be far less certain about any version of The Truth I am offered. This perspective (some might call it Model Agnosticism after Robert Anton Wilson, others might compare it to Marcello Truzzi's Zeteticism) allows, I think, the possibility of honest doubt, for one's own theories as well as those of others.

Without this Place of Maybe, this position of indeterminacy, absolute certainty can slip in and ruin perfectly good theories. The end result ranges from those endless pop-science articles which declare "Physics Professor Shows Universe Runs On Physics", "Maths Guru: World Is All Math" etc etc, to outright persecution of those whose views are classed as 'lesser' by their adherents.

Perhaps such oppositional tactics are inevitable. Human minds do crave certainty, and our egos rarely let us admit we are wrong (especially if we don't feel like we are... the most common reaction to hard evidence disproving our beliefs). Maybe we will eventually use this tiresome dialectic to find a true middle ground. But for me, I find it better to start in the middle ground in the first place.

The other thing that's influenced my views on the Weird is the immense importance of story, myth and outright fiction to how we deal with such. There's no denying the printed word, the recorded sounds and images of TV and film, carry immense weight in all our minds. Often, such tales are the best tools we have to interpret the strange and unusual. I've talked and written a lot about this over the years - most notably in my Mason Lang Film Club (on treating certain films as having coded information for the mystically inclined), my posts at the Modern Mythology group-blog (such as this piece on classic Star Trek) and my attempts to explain my occult praxis in the Guttershaman series.

All of these - and whatever I write here - should be taken with as much salt as you need. I believe what I say, as far as I can... but I'm not certain what I say is the whole truth.

And my best advice is - don't trust anybody who says they are. Including yourself.


"Which path do you intend to take, Nell?" said the Constable, sounding very interested. "Conformity or rebellion?"

"Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded – they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity."

Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age.


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Inannawhimsey's picture
Member since:
14 April 2009
Last activity:
14 weeks 5 days

Wow, you remind me of an anthropologist :3

My first experience with the Slender Man was while listening to a role-playing game podcast with the Slender Man as the main antagonist.

I've also come across a whole series of youtube videos built around a videographer who tried to make a documentary aboot the slender man but who has amnesia and the movies are him trying to find out what really's quite spooky

The Slender Man also reminds me of a fellow Canadian who does these excellent short uncanny movies on youtube. Her channel is Little Fears. Check out the Candlecove one -- that has gone viral as well (and I have also heard podcasts of games around Candlecove).

I seriously think that our minds have flora and fauna within them and to explore them is a delight.

Also, what is happening with the Slender Man phenomenon is what happens with our lives -- we never experience people as they are but we only know our experiences of people. With the Slender Man, that process is more consciously visible :3

Onward to the original snub!

All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

chuck_heston's picture
Member since:
26 June 2010
Last activity:
5 years 11 weeks


red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
Last activity:
20 hours 39 min

Don't worry about the salt, amigo —you can't make a decent Margarita, without it ;)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie

Serpentharper's picture
Member since:
21 December 2011
Last activity:
4 years 30 weeks

I see you're from Gravesend, I was raised in Strood myself, but I've escaped!

Greg's picture
Member since:
30 April 2004
Last activity:
12 hours 28 min

And for that, I give you the freedom of the Grail. Or at least, 'trusted member' status so that you shouldn't have to jump through any anti-spam hoops in future when you comment.

Kind regards,
You monkeys only think you're running things

Redoubt's picture
Member since:
14 July 2008
Last activity:
5 years 16 weeks

... you're just not going fast enough.

The other thing that's influenced my views on the Weird is the immense importance of story, myth and outright fiction to how we deal with such. There's no denying the printed word, the recorded sounds and images of TV and film, carry immense weight in all our minds. Often, such tales are the best tools we have to interpret the strange and unusual.

I must confess that I do often wonder if we aren't all, more often than not, led astray, by those printed words, the recorded sounds and images on TV and film. It sometimes just feels like we are being taken along to some junction where, with a little unexpected stimulus, we might all end up on the same, small patch of preferred dirt. It really doesn't matter much where we begin... but where it, and we, all end up.

I think the best tools we have are in storage in our heads... if we took the time to pull them down from the rack and apply them to whatever ground, fertile or not, that lies before us, we might have a better field of view.

Nice opener... best wishes. Looking forward to more of your insights :)

"The power of accurate observation is frequently called cynicism by those who don't have it."

Kathrinn's picture
Member since:
10 August 2004
Last activity:
3 years 4 weeks

Thanks for the introduction - it's nice to know a bit about folk, and that will probably help us to understand where you're coming from in your editor's role. Very interesting, and I quite agree with you. Look forward to future posts.

Regards, Kathrinn

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
1 day 14 hours

How incredibly small is this universe. It should come as no surprise whatsoever that we can communicate with its farthest reaches instantaneously. The vast distances across it are no such thing. That is just a trick of scale and perspective. We actually live inside a tiny ball not much bigger than our own heads, and we can raise the roof as raze the roof far more easily than we happen to realize at this moment. This thing is our own brain. The space between our ears is about 14 billion light years across - truly a small distance.