(urth) Sightings at Twin Mounds

Robert Pirkola rpirkola at hotmail.com
Fri Jun 20 09:10:51 PDT 2014

"Pickwick" here with a few thoughts:
                Marc Aramini wrote: "Someone collecting newspaper clippings on ufos and deciding to eat a random guy still seems a little bit of a stretch."                António Pedro Marques wrote: "Yes, it's strange that he'd be looking for random guys to eat."It is important to remember that this particular victim is merely one of many in a presumably longer career of the narrator/cannibal.  This is alluded to in the beginning of the story which starts out as though it were one tale in a collection of supernatural/extraterrestrial encounters assembled by the narrator.  "This puzzling case presents several unique features . . ."  The features are unique because they distinguish this case from the other omitted examples in the collection, each of which might presumably also relate an incident where the narrator engaged in cannibalism and used the supernatural circumstances as cover.  Later on, he also states "Here I must confess my own shortcoming -- one I regret more than any other involving UFO studies."  The narrator is not a person that collects U.F.O. clippings first and foremost who then subsequently develops the desire to consume human flesh, but is instead a cannibal who has taken an interest in the supernatural/extraterrestrial because he recognizes an opportunity to feed undetected in modern society by victimizing those whose disappearance will be subsumed in the fringe culture of the occult.  It would not be strange for a confirmed cannibal to be looking for "random guys to eat", because that is precisely the life a cannibal would have to lead.  The most difficult questions a modern cannibal would have to face are: whom shall I eat? and how shall I get away with it serially?  Our narrator has found one (admittedly imperfect, but not bad) answer to these questions. It is likewise important to remember that we must take the narrator's word that the sources he claims to be quoting are being quoted accurately and have not been altered or, for that matter, are not made up out of whole cloth.  The psychiatric account of "Stan Roland", which we have only the narrator's word was a pseudonym of Mr. Robakowski's, for example, is supposed to have been written by Dr. Ernest Schwartz.  Of course, Ernest=earnest=serious and Schwartz is German for "black" and so we have "serious black", or more particularly, a Man In Black (MIB).  This is exactly the type of name a person who spends a great deal of time researching U.F.O. phenomena would concoct.  Therefore, I think the theory at least admits the possibility that all of the supernatural/extraterrestrial experiences of Robakowski are made up by the narrator to tie together the disoriented Robakowski of the newspaper reports with the legend of the mounds, the girl, and the wendigo.The story still contains mysteries, but I believe they may be accounted for by the theory.  I think in my original analysis I mentioned the "occasionally yellow" lights reported only by our narrator as from the mouths of witnesses he interviewed the day after Robakowski's murder/disappearance.  In the analysis, I claimed these different colored lights might have been the narrator's headlights from when he visited the mounds to bury Robakowski's "modern materials".  I think it more likely that since the park closes at six p.m. and may be surrounded by a fence (though the circumferential nature of the fence comes from "Dr. Schwartz" so, grain of salt) that the yellow lights were in fact the narrator's "four-cell flashlight" which he would have used to find his way to the mounds.Another point in the story that seems to support the original theory, but can also be explained by my own, again comes from the "Dr. Schwartz" report.  Robakowski is supposed to have related that when the trails he was familiar with disappeared "the heavily wooded area was, paradoxically, almost free of underbrush, which is not in fact the case."  This would correspond to being transported to a time when Native Americans predominated because they were, by all accounts, great husbandmen of the forest, clearing the underbrush by the use of fire and other means.  This improved their ability to see the distance (important for spotting invaders) and allowed for the selection of useful plants to the exclusion of others.  In fact, the "wilderness forest" that we think of today is much more a tangled mess than it had been before the arrival of Europeans to the North American continent.  Thus, Robakowski's description would be highly accurate.  However, Robakowski is said to have visited the park frequently in his childhood.  This fascination with park would likely have led him to look into the history of the area and he probably would have been familiar enough with the wendigo folklore and the Native American history of the area to concoct the accurately detailed story related in the "Dr. Schwartz" report.  We are therefore presented with three alternatives for the psychiatric account: (1) it is made up by the narrator as detailed above, or (2) Robakowski himself falsified the story which was then repeated by Dr. Schwartz, or (3) Robakowski actually had the experience.  In my mind, the third alternative is the most quotidian sf reading and removes much of the depth I would generally associate with a Gene Wolfe story.  I doubt Mr. Wolfe would express the satisfaction with the story he did in the Introduction to Storeys from the Old Hotel if it was as simple as a first reading would make it seem.  It also was written in 1987, so his skills at creating depth of meaning (as most potently expressed in TBOTNS) were already masterful.  Finally, I think the keystone of my theory lies in the Introduction: "It is a framed story, if you like, in which the frame is the whole story."  The "frame" is not just the framing device but the fact that the entire story is the narrator framing the U.F.O.s for the murder/disappearance of Robakowski.

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