Saturday, April 16, 2011

CONVERSATIONS WITH BIGFOOT, Update. The Final Word on the Matter from Its Author, JIM DODGE: It's Fiction.


Last year we started hearing whispered rumors through the Bigfooting grapevine that some folks believed that the story told in the short piece published under the title, Conversations with Bigfoot, was a true story. We looked into the matter after reading the tale, feeling that it could not possibly be a depiction of a real event and encounter. What we found, by way of a little Sherlockian investigation, was that the tale had first appeared in a "street-sheet" published in Humboldt County. One bookseller had listed online the booklet reprint published later, under the authorial name of Jim Dodge, not the ostensible author, one "Gordon Langley Ives." We contacted this seller, and found that they knew the publisher who had reprinted the tale at a later date. This publisher confirmed to us that the author was indeed the well-known novelist, essayist and poet, Jim Dodge. The story purports to have taken place in 1975, a time-frame that also corresponds with the time that Jim Dodge was attending Humboldt State University, and was active in the underground poetry and publishing scene in Arcata. These days, after many years down in the Mendocino area, Dodge is back at HSU teaching English. We contacted him, and he confirmed that yes, indeed, he had written the story, and that it was certainly a work of FICTION.

Still, we found, despite what we thought was a thorough debunking of the tale's "non-fiction" status, that some folks persisted in holding that the story was REAL. Too much was "right on" about it, they said. Or even, they said, "too much was revealed" by the story, things about the Bigfoot People that Native elders and others believed should never have been released to the general  public. This implied some kind of secret knowledge, an esoteric realm of not only sightings and knowledge of Bigfoot, but actual interactions, conversations [in English!], and even spiritual teachings received directly from the Bigfoot by humans. Think whatever you like about these possibilities, which may, after all, be true; we thought it an important matter to establish whether this particular story was in any way "real." Despite our debunking of the "true story" assumption, some continued to hold out, now saying that there was perhaps even a "cover-up" to state that it was fiction, when it was in fact real, or even that the author had "received" this true information subconsciously, without knowing it was indeed real and true. This seemed to us to go too far, so we contacted Mr. Dodge again via email. What follows is his eloquent response closing the case for good (we hope), which also stands as a fine defense of individual imaginative freedom and common sense objectivism in a world where, all too often, "anything goes" in the realms of "reality." Read it below....

Read the text of the booklet. You will find many, many indications that the story could not be true, simply from textual analysis. This is covered in our previous blog entires, listed below. Suffice it to say, there IS NO Gordon Langley Ives. We searched everywhere one might think to find mention of a professional, Ph.D.-holding Ornithologist, and found no mention of him nor any published works or teaching positions held by him. He does not exist. The author was a novelist, Jim Dodge, who made the whole thing up with no prior encounters with philosophizing Bigfoot Beings.

See our previous blog entries for the full background information on this, and if you'd like, find the full text of the copyright-free booklet, Conversations with Bigfoot, a fictional work by Jim Dodge.


The above link contains the first information, plus the text of the booklet.
This link contains our follow-up information, with Jim Dodge's reply.

Also, find below our brief words on the latest controversy over the book, ENOCH: A BIGFOOT STORY. We provide links to Autumn Williams' fine clarifications of the differences between Fiction and Non-Fiction, as well as her debunking of the latest gossip-mongering rumors.



JIM DODGE is the author of several books of fiction, some fine poetry, and a book of ecological essays. He teaches Writing and Literature at Humboldt State University, in Arcata, California. He is a long-term resident of Northern California, and an eloquent voice for its land and beauty, and the humorous things humans do to live within it.

BIGFOOT BOOKS: Hello Mr. Dodge, Remember me?
Anyway, I thought you'd be interested in the kind of things people are saying about your little piece about Bigfoot. Now they are implying that you are covering up the true origins of the story, that you MUST have had a Bigfoot contact, as the "information" in the story is "too accurate" to be fiction.

Also, if you care to comment further, I'd really appreciate hearing that perspective from you, however briefly or long-windedly, perhaps for publication on my blog. 

Best, Steve Bigfoot Books 
Dodge, back in the "FUP" days.
JIM DODGE: Dear Steven, As usual, pardon the tardy reply, but this was one of those instances where I had to do some heavy consideration about whether I even wanted to make the attempt to set the record straight given that approach had already failed. When the truth is taken as some sort of cunning dissembling or strategic cover, in my experience you've entered that realm where accuracy has no privilege, integrity seems to subvert honor, and honesty can be easily perceived as mockery, so it really doesn't matter what you say: people will hear what they're disposed to hear and believe what they want or need. However, I feel impelled to reiterate, no doubt as some romantic gesture to those days of yore when truth was an honorable defense, that my booklet "Conversations with Bigfoot" is entirely and wholly and without exception a work of fiction, a pure product of imagination, and that I have never sensed or seen, much less actually conversed with, a Bigfoot/Sasquatch, nor did anyone or anything in any way contribute to the creation of "Conversations with Bigfoot." 

However, because it annoys me that more than a few commentators whose remarks you forwarded indicated (to quote one) "that no one should have released this to the public [because] it had details that should have been kept secret about the 'foots'" I would like to know whose permission is required before I can publish what I know is a work of fiction? Is there some enlightened council of supreme moralists that decides what should be released to those obviously inferior beings who comprise the public, for whom accurate information is dangerous? I'd also be obliged to know how they justify the imposition of such "prior restraint" as something other than the crudest form of censorship, and who gave them the authority to exercise such powers? Also, I'd love to know if those powers are self-assumed/self-appointed, or if they are awarded by some governing body. I trust they appreciate my difficulty in seeking their approval, or even some guidance, before publishing "Conversations with Bigfoot", when I had no idea such a group existed, much less an address or phone number where I might secure it's permission or at least argue my worthiness to publish. 

For the many commentators who found it inconceivable that an old cracker-ass white writer, no doubt severely dain-bramaged from decades of drug-abuse back in his wildly misspent youth, could possibly make-up a conversation with an allegedly mythic creature that contained ". . .way too much accurate information to be made up" or "the information in this article is more than 110%" (of what exactly isn't clear), allow me, who has made up enough stuff to fill four books and a couple of filing cabinets, to offer an explanation. Kenneth Rexroth, one of the more astute literary commentators of the 20th Century, called the imagination "the organ of communion." According to the psychologist Carl Jung, the human psyche is composed of four elements, all in dynamic interaction and constant change: the sensational (the body and all its sensory information); the intellectual (knowledge and learning); the heart (the realm of emotion); and the soul, or personal spirit, which, like the other three, is embodied energy. At the nexus of these four elements, or "centers," as Jung also designated them, when they are properly balanced/focused/directed, a fifth element, the imagination, assumes enough power to become effective. The particular power of the imagination is to empathize and understand, to enfold and become the other, to voluntarily incarnate that which isn't you, and the more you can relinquish of the self, of ego-demands and attachments, the more you can make yourself available to the other, and to the world. It helps immensely if you can draw energy from what Jung called the "collective unconscious," which are psychic energy forms that humans have in common (and some other creatures), since they are based on "the ceremonies of existence," events--whatever our cultures--that we all share, and all pay considerable attention: like birth, rearing the young, coming of age, courtship, sex, marriage, securing food and shelter, making journeys, gathering and passing along knowledge, and eventually aging and death. Why would it be so far-fetch that a well trained imagination could conjure a Bigfoot and capture a bit of his or her social concerns, particularly when they're likely not that different from other bi-pedal mammals. The reverse is also likely: a Bigfoot imagining a human being. Once contact is made, communion can flow in either direction. And given communion, is conversation so farfetched? 

 Truly, Jim
JUST TO BE CLEAR, Here Is the First Exchange, with Our First Questions, and Jim Dodge's First Email to Bigfoot Books on the Subject:

BIGFOOT BOOKS:  Hello Mr. Dodge, I hope you are receiving email at this address.
I am Steven Streufert, former HSU student and current owner of Bigfoot
Books in Willow Creek. I'm also a blogger on Bigfoot topics.

What I really would like to ask you is: Are you the author of the
booklet, "Conversations with Bigfoot"? I would sincerely like to know,
not only as a Bigfooter, but also as someone who has appreciated your
writings in the past, and who still plans to finally get around to
reading "Stone Junction."

I spoke with a bookseller who knows Michael Sykes, Floating Island
publisher, and he has said that you in fact wrote this book.

There are some in the Bigfoot world who are claiming this is a real and
true account of an actual meeting with "Bigfoot." They are using this to
advance their theories that these creatures are not only human-like (or
in fact human), but also capable of language use and higher forms of
civilization. My impression of the work is that it is a literary work,
part lark, part philosophical allegory, part elegy to Nature, and part a
satire of the whole "hoax" idiom concerning Bigfoot in the media and
popular culture.

Could you clear this issue up, both for my readers and your own?
Also, there is someone who wants me to ask, Have you ever witnessed
these Bigfoot creatures, or does this story come from an actual account
you may have heard from someone you knew in the area?

Your attention to this ASAP would be greatly appreciated! I'm working on
a blog entry on this publication right now.

I'd love to ask you, too, some questions about Thomas Pynchon; but I
understand you're probably keeping mum on that issue. I've been thinking
of writing a blog entry on Pynchon as "Cryptid Author." That would be
fun, not only because of his elusiveness, but also due to his current
Bigfoot Bjornsen character and other Yeti/Sasquatch references in his
works (not to mention the Humboldt County connection!).

Thanks! Best regards to you,
Steve, Bigfoot Books 
Dodge, more in a STONE JUNCTION mood.
JIM DODGE: Dear Steven,
Pardon my hideously tardy response but two things conspired against my usual alacrity: your message came to my HSU machine after the semester ended, and at a time when I was having some odd medical issues. . .odd enough, anyway, that they commanded my attention.

I'm stunned, flabbergasted, and incredulous that anyone--in any world, much less the "Bigfoot world"--would claim this piece I wrote on Bigfoot years ago (originally for a free street-sheet I was doing at the time, along with Jerry Martien, Mort McDonald, and other co-conspirators, called UNJUSTIFIED MARGINS) could take it as a "real and true" account.  They are, at best, poor scholars, as even rudimentary research into the various claims made by the purported author couldn't survive minimal fact-checking; at worst, they are guilty of a willfully deliberate ignorance, as dangerous to good faith as it is damaging to those, like me, who enjoy using the imagination to illuminate reality.

"Conversations with Bigfoot," as you accurately discerned, was a literary lark, a bit of an elegy for nature, and a little tweak directed at
media and American culture.  As to your passed-along question: In my 50 years of roaming the Northern California back country I have never seen a Bigfoot creature, no sign of one (scat, footprints, hair), nor met anyone who has--granted you don't meet many folks out in the wilds.
That doesn't mean I dismiss the possibility that a Bigfoot might exist, but just that I'm one of those flinty old-school realists who only believes half of what I see and nothing of what I hear without reliable verification from a few trusted informants.

I hope this unequivocally clears up all questions of fact regarding "Conversations with Bigfoot" for your readers.  Again, my apologies for the tardy response.

Jim Dodge
BOOKS BY MR. JIM DODGE, along the left hand margin. Click caption for more information on the Amazon site.
Sample Dialogue from the CONVERSATIONS WITH BIGFOOT discussion on Facebook, identity and words of interlocutors removed:

Steven Streufert: I would suggest you first go to my blog and drop the book title into the search box: The book/story is fictional, a literary hoax if you like. I talked with the author and publisher.

  Anonymous: I am very interested when you talked to the author and why he say's it is fictional??? There are some things that are written in that article only someone with knowledge of them would say anything like this. I investigated this article and determined somethings about the author. This article has also been show to some people that know about the "foots' very well and ....well were amazed that people are calling it a hoax. Interested to hear what you found out. All respect intended.

Steven Streufert: I've posted the links. I'd be very curious to hear what you found out about the author and this booklet. I have gotten to the bottom of it, I believe, unless they are now trying to hoax me by claiming it is fake. I'd be very interested in hearing REAL stories like this!


Steven Streufert: I hold no judgment toward anyone claiming these kinds of encounters with and things about the Bigfoot. Rather, I am only saying that this particular case is fiction, and was meant to be so. I am VERY curious about the experiences people have with these beings, and am VERY open-minded about them. I do not think of Sasquatch as a "monster" as in the movies, or just a "mere ape" as in so many common views today. If they are a form of human that would mean they are the most important thing going on for us now currently on the planet. So, that is very interesting, indeed. I'd love to talk to you, A___, P___ or anyone about all of this. It would be great if this page [a private group on Facebook] could be a forum for discussing what all of our experiences are and have been. So many are so private about this stuff that it is often kind of frustrating to not be able to hear the full stories. Hence, knowledge and understanding can thereby suffer.
I am all about seeing the world AS IT IS, and to me that means a world alive, mysterious, strange, beyond our current conceptions.
Best to you, Steve

Steven Streufert: T___, that is fascinating. However, I know of the author well enough, as he lives here in Humboldt, and as I know a lot of folks who know him better than I do, and as I know his other writings to a certain extent... and he is definitely telling the truth. He wrote the book as fiction, made it up completely. Unless, of course, you think he received it via psychic channeling, and wrote it totally unknowing that he was getting it from a Bigfoot. It is fiction, but if it strikes you powerfully that is nothing more than a good book, poem, or movie will do. If it is accurate it is only through the imaginative process thinking what a sentient, intelligent Bigfoot MIGHT be like.

Steven Streufert: What do you mean, "something come to him about it and put it right on the money"? No, I say, he simply made it up, and told me the truth about it when talking to me about it. I do not doubt him for a second when he says he has NEVER had ANY contact with a BF. Not only him, but everyone else involved from that long-ago time when it was first published has said that the thing was fictional, published in a literary journal. It was simply a made up story. Like Dances with Wolves, the film, as an example: It is NOT a true story, but it contains some true stuff about Native American culture. The thing is, the film makers and novelist who wrote the movie could do RESEARCH on the subject. However, Jim Dodge did not do any BF research. He just imagined it, pure and simple.

Steven Streufert: Here is the author's full letter to me... down a bit in this blog post. Read and you will see he has never seen Bigfoot nor heard reports of them. Also, I found zero, zilch, no evidence that Gordon Langley Ives ever existed. The author, Jim Dodge, lives around here, and I have met him personally.

Steven Streufert: However, having proved this a literary hoax with no basis in reality as far as its story, I DO NOT claim that these things are impossible. I have not experienced a Bigfoot speaking to me in English, but I've heard very convincing accounts of "habituation" and had odd experiences myself which incline me to say we should keep very open minds on this subject.

Steven Streufert: Yes, and those who scoff at it simply do not know what they are talking about. They have not experienced it, or faced a Bigfoot anywhere other than on TV, so who are they to speak?

T___, I am a former college Literature major. I do believe that literary works have value, and bear upon "real life" quite strongly, however fictional they are. They're based upon life, so they reflect it and are part of it. Jim Dodge, the author, has never met Bigfoot, and denies ever hearing reports of it. He has lived in rural Northern California for decades, and loves the outdoors, so I find it a little strange that he says he has never even heard of a Bigfoot report from a friend. I hear them ALL the time here in my shop in Willow Creek. The work is, however, wholly fictional, according to him. It may just be that he imagined Bigfoot correctly by figuring what it MIGHT be like were he to meet one.

Steven Streufert: Why would you feel anything "harsh," T___? I am not scoffing at the possibilities, but only pointing out what I know absolutely to be the facts about this story.

Steven Streufert Well, he clearly declares that he is a Bigfoot skeptic, has never seen one or heard reports of them, and that he wrote the book out of his imagination. His imagination of Bigfoot may have been correct, or not; but the book is fictional, made up, a story. That is all there is to it, though of course, just like with poetry, one may take meaning and inspiration from it nonetheless. Literature is an expression of the human response to reality, and so embodies both us and It.

Yes, there is more to reality and the universe than is known or dreamt of in our philosophies.

Steven Streufert I hold no judgment toward anyone claiming these kinds of encounters with and things about the Bigfoot. Rather, I am only saying that this particular case is fiction, and was meant to be so. I am VERY curious about the experiences people have with these beings, and am VERY open-minded about them. I do not think of Sasquatch as a "monster" as in the movies, or just a "mere ape" as in so many common views today. If they are a form of human that would mean they are the most important thing going on for us now currently on the planet. So, that is very interesting, indeed. I'd love to talk to you, A___, P___, or anyone about all of this. It would be great if this page could be a forum for discussing what all of our experiences are and have been. So many are so private about this stuff that it is often kind of frustrating to not be able to hear the full stories. Hence, knowledge and understanding can thereby suffer.

I am all about seeing the world AS IT IS, and to me that means a world alive, mysterious, strange, beyond our current conceptions.
Some other comments we made on the group site:
Steven Streufert
              Steven Streufert12:24pm Mar 17
A poem, say, may be true, in the sense that it depicts to us things we feel are real and right, and beautiful; however, in its origin, it may be wholly fictional, made up in the mind of the author. In this sense, we need to distinguish between what is objectively true and what is subjectively "True." To address what T___ said, I would argue that a "spiritual" or "mystical" experience is an INTERNAL one which nonetheless connects with reality. There is a sense wherein we experience illusion while looking "outward," but true reality when looking inward. It is odd, and contrary to "common sense," but the senses and the mind are only REPRESENTATIONS of reality. In Hindu-Buddhist thought this is the realm of Maya. The true nature of reality is beyond the "represented" realm.

Steven Streufert
              Steven Streufert12:13pm Mar 17
Is there a limit to human potential? The mystics say there really is not. However, what we have to go on is a natural logic based in our evolutionary past. In some ways this is an asset; in other ways it is a detriment to our greater understanding of true reality. There is a need for logic. My "common sense" told me there was something odd about "Conversations with Bigfoot." It appealed to me as an interesting book, a story with ideas; but I questioned its veracity. Investigating the situation, I found the real author, and he confessed to me that it was wholly fictional, and based in his imagination, not on a real experience. Hence, though the poetic and philosophical imagination may penetrate "true reality," this particular instance, and many other instances of it, are wholly imaginary or speculative.

Steven Streufert
              Steven Streufert12:33pm Mar 17
If one opens oneself too far to "possibilities" that is what is called "crazy." There needs to be some basic ground of reality we walk upon, and one that we share. Else all is chaos. Not everything everyone experiences is real or true. There are, indeed, actual states of delusion and misapprehension. Our minds are hard-wired to function within a certain reality, one that in the past enhanced our survival. This in turn influenced our evolution, as we gained new abilities. The ability to live in "abstract" reality, as apprehended by the mind (or "soul"), may indeed be part of the future of our species; in fact, it may be the most necessary next step for us if we are to survive. However, we must be careful as to how we proceed, and what we allow for as being real. The laws of Physics and the findings of Science are a good basis for this, and we should have faith in them as we go forward into the Unknown.

Steven Streufert
               Steven Streufert1:07pm Mar 17
I'd just like to ask: if a Bigfoot is a materially-based, physical creature, if Bigfoot leaves footprints and poops in the woods, leaves hair and other artifacts, then WHERE do all of those atoms go when it dematerializes [this ability was actually proposed, with a photo "showing" it happening]? Does its poop go with it into that other realm, and then come back again? What about the food it eats? Why would it need to eat if it is living in this incorporeal state? It just makes no sense to me at all. Sure, there could be "spirits," but these don't have living biological bodies, as proposed, and as logic would dictate.

Steven Streufert: Yes, C___s--that is why I advocate logic and at least a reference to Science, even as I argue that the world (universe, and all in it) is larger than any given current definition point of it. Even the yogis argue caution when dealing with the manifestations of the spiritual pursuit, as these "siddis," the oddities along the way, and the potential strange abilities of the mind (or body) are also just manifestations of relativity or "Maya." And we are ever prone to false apprehension, errors in judgment, and delusions of grandeur. A humble approach, one conservative with conclusions, is the most useful tool when exploring unknown and mysterious new things, or things deeper and older than our modern sense of reality. There will come a time, and soon, when that which we regard as "real" will be seen as primitive, limited, and silly, even though we now think of ourselves as at the pinnacle of understanding.



Read another example of a Bigfoot story that may be fiction. This one is THE CREATURE, by Jan Klement (click link to read the whole book online). The existence of the author as claimed, or the real author behind the pseudonym, has never been verified. Hence, this story remains a curiosity. Could it be non-fiction? Who knows? But in any case, it is a fascinating read about human-Bigfoot interactions

In somewhat related news, Autumn Williams, on her OREGON BIGFOOT BLOG, clarifies the differences between Fiction and Non-Fiction, and shows how her book, ENOCH: A BIGFOOT STORY, is NOT Fiction. Read more here:
Whether you believe the story told by Mike in the book, or not, that is not the question. The book is about a researcher and a witness, and the process both of them go through to establish trust and to understand not only Bigfoot, but each other. The book is non-fiction, regardless of whether the things told by Mike actually happened.

Also, just so you know, the recent BFRO Blue Forum post claiming that her Mike was the same "homeless bum" telling tall tales to Bigfoot researchers in Florida is spurious and false. Read HERE and HERE to find out that, yes, IT WAS NOT THE SAME MIKE. We're sure there are many fellows living in Florida with that same name. So far, no one on the BFRO Forum has come forth with any corroboration or verification beyond pure and simple rumor.

Loren Coleman has added a corrections/clarifications update to his original post on Cryptomundo. Read the whole fiasco here, with a grain of salt added before you assume any of it is true: BFRO QUESTIONS ENOCH. 

Me pissed, too, hu-man!
Me say case closed. Yep! Me know. It closed because this Dodge hu-man come out in woods and find my writing under rock where I hide it. He take it and publish it for hu-man to read. Me write! It just story to tell how me see hu-man, how hu-man just silly ape, and hu-man not know nothing. We Bigfoot know. You hu-man get every thing good about you from us, but you not have nice hair and big foot. You need house and car and clothes. We not need. We free,  you just live in cage in zoo called city.

This blog is copyright and all that jazz, save for occasional small elements borrowed for "research" and information or satirical purposes only, 2011, Bigfoot Books and Steven Streufert. Borrowings for non-commercial purposes will be tolerated without the revenge of Angry Bigfoot, if notification, credit, citation and a kindly web-link are given, preferably after contacting us and saying, Hello, like a normal person would before taking a cup of salt. No serious rip-offs of our material for vulgar commercial gain will be tolerated without major BF stomping action coming down on you, hu-man.