Julie Burchill: Say goodbye to the Enlightenment. We are living in the age of goatsuckers

Share
Related Topics

They call him THE GOATSUCKER. Or rather they did. Because the chupacabra – a fearsome monster first spotted in 1995, who according to the Fortean Times, is the third most famous mythical beast after Bigfoot and Nessie (which sounds like an R&B producer duo about to open shop with Tinie Tempah) – has recently been revealed as a hoax by the other, smarter FT.

A sham. A fix. You don't say! But that would be the point – they DID say. Loads of them! Otherwise sensible, sane people started banging on about the goatsucker after one Madelyne Tolentino said that she glimpsed the aforementioned nanny-nibbler near her home in Puerto Rico more than 15 years ago.

Mad-Tol did a reasonable job of describing the capra-cruncher, it must be said. Eyes like fathomless pools of murky mercilessness that went right the way up to the hairline – check! Four feet tall, walked upright like a human but had only three fingers/toes at the end of each limb – get IN! No ears or nose, but a spiky back – back of the net! This single sighting of the goatsucker – a creature so named as it had the nasty habit of draining the life-fluid from our bearded mates, apparently on a whim – went straight into dozens of books and on to a whole bunch of websites as an actual fact.

Yes, there were inconsistencies. Mad-Tol joked with her mum about the chupacabra's lack of an anus. She didn't once panic – ladies like to do this, whether the issue is a spider in the bath or a football offside, I find. However, not only did none of these little niggles stop scribblers setting the spotting down as fact BUT – the ultimate heads-up – a "standard" image of the creature became available all over the world, drawn by one Jorge Martin.

You'd think the Fortean Times would get behind this type of super-luxe lunacy. But the account in the current issue shows such clear-eyed wisdom that it actually shows up the allegedly sensible – the Israel-hating, Muslim-sucking, organic-food-munching, global-warming-fearing Horrifieds of Hampstead – for the superstitious clowns they are.

"For the past 15 years, the chupacabra's origin has remained shrouded in history," writes the brilliant Benjamin Radford. "What, if anything, did Tolentino see? Was she lying, telling tall tales, or did she actually encounter some mysterious creature? Where did she come up with the detailed description? Scott Corrales has written that 'It is almost certain that the creature's origin will never be clearly established.' But" – continues Radford – "I will show that this pessimistic assessment was premature."

He goes on to show that the popular image of this legendary billy-bleeder was not a product of thousands of years of native rainforest wisdom but was actually based on SIL, THE ALIEN MONSTER, FROM THE SCI-FI FILM 'SPECIES'! It turns out Tolentino had been to see this very film – which opens, perhaps not un-coincidentally, with a scene set in Puerto Rico's Arecibo Radio Observatory – just a few weeks prior to her "encounter". "It would be a very good idea if you saw it," she told Radford when he mentioned the film to her. "I watched the movie and wondered 'My God! How can they make a movie like that, when these things are happening in Puerto Rico?'"

So. A woman goes to see a film, talks to a reporter and hey presto, izzy wizzy, let's get in a tizzy! Welcome to the Age Of Endarkenment.

It's weird to think now how important the Enlightment was. Life in the free world has become such a matter of ceaseless private striving towards an idea of perfection – as if! – that the very word itself sounds like some sort of bogus detox diet. But just reading about it on Wikipedia made me cry: "The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment) is the era in Western philosophy, intellectual, scientific and cultural life, centred upon the 18th century, in which reason was advocated as the primary source for legitimacy and authority. It is also known as the Age of Reason. Developing simultaneously in France, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Portugal and the American colonies, the movement culminated in the Atlantic Revolutions, especially the success of the American Revolution, which resulted in independence from the British Empire. The authors of the American Declaration of Independence, the United States Bill of Rights, the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, and the Polish-Lithuanian Constitution of May 3, 1791, were motivated by Enlightenment principles... The Enlightenment was less a set of ideas than it was a set of values. At its core was a critical questioning of traditional institutions, customs, and morals, and a strong belief in rationality and science..."

But for some reason, we appear to be choosing Endarkenment, from teenage girls who are free to fuck when and who they want for the first time in history, cleaving to the Twilight chronicles, in which sex – SEX! – is seen as something so destructive that you have to become an UNDEAD to have it, to young Western-born Muslim men rejecting the common sense of their immigrant parents in order to blow themselves and others to bits in pursuit of some crazed cult of purity. It's people who won't recognise that human beings only add up to 2 per cent of global warning. It's ignorance posing as nobility.

We are all goatsuckers now, it would seem. Fortean Times, take us home to the Age of Reason!

Sexist TV sport presenters: it's a funny old subject

Much as it pains me to see both sides of any argument, my reaction to the Sian Masseygate fracas was: "It's a Gate of two halves." So on one hand of course I do believe that Andy Gray and Richard Keys are half-witted Neanderthals who should have their voting rights removed immediately, in the manner of lunatics and murderers.

BUT, on the other hand, what sort of milksop CARES about the opinions of said half-witted Neanderthals? Not only is Massey a ref, SHE LIVES WITH A REF! THAT MEANS SHE ENJOYS BEING HATED! I do too, so I feel that I have a vested interest here.

No offence, but I actually get a mild sexual charge when I read nasty comments about myself on this very paper's talkboard. I'm not suggesting for a moment that Sian Massey experiences the same frisson as I do when publically dissed. I'm just saying that there's a whole new generation of females whom it's actually quite hard to offend; imagine Rihanna having to leave the room because someone said "ruddy". And rather than wish our lovely young sisters back to the days of smelling salts and swooning, we should celebrate this evolutionary leap.

Mind you, another part of that leap is making men cry. So sack the stupid sods anyway, just for kicks!

Forget TripAdvisor: what we need is HolidaySexAdvisor

I'm writing this in a Tenerife hotel which I like so much that this is my eighth stay in three years. I know – CREEPY! But this being so, the current TripAdvisor fuss really rings a bell.

Basically, if you're not on holiday with a person you enjoy being with above all others, then even the Garden of Eden itself will seem a bit rubbish. I didn't ONCE leave the UK till I was 35, and it wasn't for fear of flying or due to xenophobia but because I didn't much fancy my first two husbands and I knew, for sure, that there would be NO EXCUSE not to have sex with them while away – a state of affairs completely reversed when I met my third husband 16 years ago.

I haven't stopped globe-trotting since. THAT'S why people persistently complain about their vacations, if you ask me. It's not about what's up for grabs – but who is.



React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A Gold Ferrari sits outside Chanel on Sloane Street  

Sunday Times Rich List: We are no longer in thrall to very rich people

Terence Blacker
David Cameron was openly emotional at the prospect of Scotland leaving the union before the referendum  

Remember when David Cameron almost cried over Scotland because he loved it so much?

Matthew Norman
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence