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Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Friday, February 20, 2009

JON DOWNES HAS A BEARD BUT WALT DIS'NAE

The other day in his article about the wild dogs which escaped in Kent, Richard had a brief pop at the Disney Corporation. Just to show solidarity, here is a brief excerpt from my book The Island of Paradise.....

My mother introduced me to the works of Rudyard Kipling when I was still a toddler. She started off reading me the Just So Stories when I was about four years old, and we soon progressed to the Jungle Book. I fell in love with his prose, and soon came to agree with my mother that his poetry - which always had the meter: `tum te tum te tum te tum` - were unsurpassable.

By the time I was six and a half I could read it for myself, and at an age when my peers were struggling with godawful books explaining that Janet had a red ball, and that Spot the Dog could run, I was immersing myself deep within Kipling's glorious usage of the English language.

I was particularly fond - and still am - of the poem The Law of the Jungle from the Jungle Book:

Now this is the Law of the Jungle
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.
As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.


This was heady stuff for a seven-year-old, but it introduced me to one of the concepts by which I have lived my life ever since; that there are inexorable laws of the universe, with moral values which greatly surpass anything from the law of man.

Another poem, Mowgli's song against people from the story `Letting in the jungle` also had a great effect on me.

I have untied against you the club-footed vines
I have sent in the Jungle to swamp out your lines!
The trees-the trees are on you!
The house-beams shall fall;
And the Karela, the bitter Karela, Shall cover you all!


The story tells how, Mowgli has been driven out of the human village for witchcraft, and the superstitious villagers are preparing to kill his adopted parents Messua and her (unnamed) husband. Mowgli rescues them and then prepares to take revenge. The karela (Momordica charantia) is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown for edible fruit, which is among the most bitter of all vegetables.

Most seven-year-olds believe that the world is permanent; that what is, always was, and always will be. Kipling taught me differently.

Another lesson from this remarkable book came in 1967 when Walt Disney produced a full-length animated feature film "based" on the Jungle Book. When I heard that it was going to be a film, I was so excited. At last I would see the visions from my head on the big screen . Like my school friends I went to see it at the cinema, but unlike them, I was appalled. Where were the characters I loved so well? Where was the deep, spiritual poetry? Why were the wonderful poems replaced by those stupid songs? And why - when all the other children were enjoying themselves, and singing along to the trite melodies - did I feel like bursting into tears?

I learned my third valuable lesson that day. That crass commercial concerns will override anything of genuine substance. That most people in the universe have absolutely no taste. And that corporate multinationals, like the Disney Corporation, are the enemy.

Nothing has happened in the intervening 42 years to change my mind.

2 comments:

G L Wilson said...

Some years ago, a friend of mine living in Amsterdam wrote a spoof news item about the Disney Corporation gaining the rights to the Diary of Anne Frank, which I think sums up the Disney situation quite nicely:

http://darryn-reeds.tripod.com/Disney_buy_rights_to_Anne_Franks_diary.html

Jon Downes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.