Land of Enchantment

Here’s an odd little item that popped up in the news yesterday: a strange ball of light (which, curiously, seems to cast a sort of shadow) moseying around the parking lot of the First Judicial Courthouse in Santa Fe, NM. It was picked up by a surveillance camera, and the video has been making the rounds. Charles Fort would have approved — and in fact the Fortean Times also carried the story. Have a look.

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  1. Is this one of those uncanny things that Charles Hoy Fort collected stories about?

    Anyway, might that be a man walking about at night carrying a flashlight? The security camera, which seems to be syncopated (or should I say intermittant?) in its filming of the activity, would catch the light clearly but perhaps leave the man looking more like a shadow.

    Jeffery Hodges

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    Posted June 20, 2007 at 6:46 pm | Permalink
  2. On second thought, the time looks like day, so maybe this is just an insect crawling across the camera lens.

    Jeffery Hodges

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    Posted June 20, 2007 at 6:50 pm | Permalink
  3. Andrew says

    I vote bug on the lens. That would be pretty easy test wouldn’t it?

    Posted June 20, 2007 at 9:32 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Bug on the lens was one of the suggestions folks were making, yes. Presumably there are those who know more about such things than any of us; this clip has attracted enough attention that some expert or other ought to be weighing in.

    Maybe it was the ghost of David Hume! No, perhaps there are more likely explanations…

    Posted June 20, 2007 at 10:17 pm | Permalink
  5. Malcolm says

    Jeffery, Fort’s “damned facts” were usually quite a bit odder than this, with many more witnesses, and more tangible evidence (although unless we want to spend decades poring over old newspapers ourselves, we have only Fort’s word for much of it at this point, of course).

    Posted June 20, 2007 at 10:22 pm | Permalink
  6. Andrew says

    What does the fact that this clip has attracted any attention at all say about us? I guess it is marginally better than reading about Britney Spears hair. ;-)

    63,276 view and 155 comments as of 10:40 this morning. Wow.

    Posted June 21, 2007 at 10:38 am | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says

    Well, Andrew, you raise a good point (as I hastily delete the three-part post I was preparing on Britney Spears’s hair)…

    Why do we seize with such eagerness upon stories that hint at inexplicable phenomena? Why do we find them so titillating? I’m as guilty as anyone else. Does it reflect a fear that our orderly picture of the natural world is far more incomplete than we might imagine, or is it actually hope? To want extent, really, do we wish to imagine that we have subdued the wild world in our net of rational description? Is some corner of our psyche gladdened by the notion that we haven’t got it all tied down just yet?

    Posted June 21, 2007 at 12:13 pm | Permalink
  8. Titillation? Britney? Nah, just her hirsutation. Or lack thereof.

    Jeffery Hodges

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    Posted June 21, 2007 at 6:01 pm | Permalink
  9. Malcolm says

    Hi Jeffery,

    No, Britney, I am afraid, is all too mundanely explicable. I was thinking more of that video clip.

    Posted June 21, 2007 at 11:23 pm | Permalink