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Friday, May 13, 2011

Closet Anomalist/Fortean?

In yesterday's post I lamented about the label or charge of being called an armchair researcher and how perhaps we should come up with the alternative term Fortean Philosopher. Well today I am back to talk about another term that I haven't seen on the internets before so it may actually be a first. (Also apparently it is labels week for me or something, oh well I just sort of go with the flow around here).

 Today's term is 'Closet Anomalist/Fortean'. What I mean by this is someone who is interested in anomalous things, either because they read books on it, listen to podcasts on topics, watch tv shows, or in some other way participate in the genre. But they don't share this with other people in their social circles, whether at work or amongst friends and family. I got to thinking about this because I realized that with the exception of a few close friends, family, and my girlfriend, many people in my life don't realize that I am interested in Fortean topics. (And for that matter many probably don't even know what the term Fortean means) It dawned on me that for some reason I have hidden a fairly big part of my personality from those around me unless I feel comfortable with them.

I began to wonder why this was exactly. It's not that I'm 'ashamed' from my interest in these topics, on the contrary its such a fundamental part of who I am that in a way I feel like I am living a double life of sorts. When I brought this up to my girlfriend she remarked that perhaps I don't tell people because of the tendency people have to label those that are interested in these topics as crazy. To some extent she maybe correct. I can recall when I was in elementary school, I think it was around 3rd grade, that I began reading books on aliens and UFOs. At the time my classmates teased me and called me 'alien boy', and because of this it was a long time before I was able to let people in on what I considered my dark secret.

What I have come to realize in the ensuing years however is that a lot of people, to one degree or another, are also interested in the Anomalous. But it seems like until one person in their social circle openly admits the rest are content to keep it quiet. I can't tell you how many people I have heard over the years so something along the lines of "Once they found out I was the UFO guy they all came to me with their UFO stories." Really you can replace the word UFO in that statement with any Fortean topic (i.e. Bigfoot, Ghosts, Psychic Powers, etc.) and it would still hold true.

I find it fascinating that there is a kind of stigma around these topics that prevent many people, myself included, from talking openly about it. I can't help but think of how many times I have been asked in my life 'What are your hobbies?' and my only answer has been reading. Whereas it should have been "Oh well during the week I like to research ghosts and then on the weekend I go looking for them". I'm hoping that by blogging and posting here more frequently, and by writing my column for Binnall of America, it will help me to feel more comfortable with this aspect of myself. After all I don't think that there is anything shameful in being inquisitive about the mysteries that seem to pervade our daily lives.

As an addendum I am wondering if anyone else feels like they might be a 'Closet Anomalist/Fortean' and if so why are you uncomfortable with divulging this aspect of your personality. On the flip side if you  are open about it, what allows you to be so comfortable with it? Anyway just something to think about from your friendly neighborhood (Closet) Fortean Philosopher. Until next time, this Tony signing out.


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