This is reproduced from the introduction of the book Phenomena, by John Michell and Robert Rickard (1977):
"This is not just a book of wonders; it is a book of repeated wonders. It is about things which are experienced by people in every generation, themes in life which recur endlessly but contrive always to elude reasonable explanation. In terms of any rational system of belief they are impossible, yet they survive every attempt to exorcize or suppress them. They are repetitive and effective. They affect people mentally or physically, and for that reason we include them among the 'real' phenomena of this world. On their own level they correspond to the archetypal themes of mythology and the archetypal images in dreams. These also, because they pass the criteria of being repetitive and effective, we allow to be 'real', and we refer to them in drawing up the inclusive world-view which we call phenomenalism. This book is meant as an introduction to an expanded, phenomenal view of reality which, because it is based on life as experienced rather than as conceived, we offer as a more complete, practical and satisfactory way of seeing things than the physical world-view of modern science.
As phenomenalists, we accept everything; we believe nothing absolutely; we do not explain. Any theories we may offer are tentative and temporary. Our study is the content of human experience, things that happen, or are believed to happen, or are said to happen. Particularly we are interested in the enigmatic range of phenomena whose existence lies somewhere between the 'hard' reality of nuts and bolts, bricks and mortar and the 'psychological' reality of dreams.
The father of modern phenomenalism was Charles Fort (1874-1932), a world-changer, a cosmological revolutionary. From his lifetime's collection of anomalies and irregularities in the scientific world-image he identified many previously unrecognised types in phenomenal reality, such as the UFO, the fireball and the teleportation effect. More than that, he developed, subtly and humorously, a philosophical view of life capable of adapting itself to the widest possible range of experience. He delighted in all the products of nature and imagination. He accepted everything that happened in life and rejected all interpretive myths, even scientific ones. He valued first-hand witness above second-hand rationalisation. Existence is one creature. Everything is related to and merges into everything else, with different levels of reality interpenetrating. There are no breaks in the spectrum of phenomena. All categories, all divisions are man-made and arbitrary, for there is no such thing as an isolated event any more than there are isolated organs in the body. 'There's a shout of vengefulness in Hyde Park, London - far away in Gloucestershire an ancient mansion bursts into flames.'
In the continuous field of phenomena there are peaks, islands of a submerged mountain range. In the illustrated section of this book we have chosen phenomena which cluster round certain peaks, arranging them under different categories. These categories are artificial and for temporary convenience only, for each one can be infinitely subdivided or merged with others to produce different patterns of peaks or archipelagos in the geography of the phenomenal universe. One of our objects is to point out the rich variety of images that can be projected onto and drawn from experience of life. And we begin our justification of phenomenalism as the least inadequate of philosophies by suggesting that the best way for anyone to avoid turning into a mad bore, crank or obsessive is to recognise that nature is quite equal to the wildest flights of human imagination and quite capable of manifesting evidence to support the craziest theories than anyone can dream up. Only with this understanding, preferably confirmed by experiment in the style of Lewis Carroll's White Queen ('Sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast'), can one fully appreciate such scenes as the learned professor reproving the enthusiast for not viewing the world in the image of current pedantry and being screamed at in return for being blind to things that should be clear to any lunatic.
As phenomenalists we recognise no certainties. Yet all around us there are certainties variously contrived, the certainties of tyrants, psychiatrists, high priests of science and religion, cranks and fanatics, each one consisting of different selections from the common source material, the world of sensory perception, and each one a rival to the others. There are wars between world-views for the status of dominant reality. Mental imperialism. We think these certainties are best avoided. They are maintained by studied ignorance and selective blindness. Finally they have the same irritating effect as the wearing of blinkers. When the cherished beliefs of a lifetime are confronted with experience that contradicts them, the beliefs should know how to give way gracefully. Ourselves, we take pleasure in all beliefs and theories; we are benign to all interpretations and school of thought, and we look kindly on stern orthodoxies and passionate heresies alike. Each one reflects an aspect of human nature and each one has a positive contribution to make to the stock of human understanding. Yet we would rather sample them all than swallow any one whole. Throughout this book we advance numerous theories to account for the odd events and apparitions assembled in it, but through all of them are useful in explaining some of the evidence, there is none which covers the full range of phenomena in any field. We appreciate theories as works of art, and we create our own in the same spirit, preferring always to study reality at its source, in the products of nature, rather than through the images people have made of it.
The advantages of a phenomenal world-view are demonstrated by the following event recorded in John Aubrey's Miscellanies.
In 1655 a man who should have been in Goa, the Portuguese colony in India, and who actually had been in Goa some moments previously, was suddenly found to be back in Portugal. He had been carried mysteriously through the air. He was given a fair trial, found guilty and burnt at the stake.
The ecclesiastical authorities in Portugal at the time, like all defenders of orthodoxies everywhere, were not phenomenalists. They wanted explanations, and they explained in terms of the dominant reality. That reality included magicians and witches, enemies of the faith yet part of it, a kind of official opposition. One of the characteristics of these enemies, by which they could be recognized, was their tendency to fly through the air. No one but a recognised saint or a magician did such things, and since the man from Goa was no saint he must be a magician. This logic was followed out to the point of burning him.
The tragedy was caused by the authorities' moralistic attitude towards phenomena. We can not now tell whether the man actually was transported through the air from Goa; there are no details, although the evidence at the time was strong enough to convict him. But we do not believe that he was necessarily a magician. In the seventeenth century there was sufficient proof, for anyone who cared to look for it, of LEVITATION AND SPONTANEOUS FLIGHT, and since that time many good cases have been recorded, from abductions of people attributed to fairies to modern UFO-linked teleportations. Examples are given in our sections STRANGE DISAPPEARANCES, TAKEN AWAY AND BROUGHT BACK and TELEPORTATION. Many of these appear to have occurred spontaneously rather than by magic and witchcraft; and we believe that the now fashionable UFO attribution is as arbitrary as the earlier explanations. Had the Portuguese authorities been able to review dispassionately the history of spontaneous levitation instead of merely accepting the current explanation of it, they could not have justified burning the man from Goa.
Many are the misunderstandings, injustices and miseries which could have been avoided at the time by a touch of phenomenalism: visionaries sent to madhouses, UFO contactees put out of work, scientists discredited for unorthodox findings, Joan of Arc and many others burnt for conversing with spirits. Fort recorded several instances where unaccountable disturbances of the 'poltergeist' variety were blamed unfairly on children in the household, often on some wretched servant girl who may have been the unconscious medium for such disturbances. Inevitably, with the modern confusion of all creeds and in reaction to the oppressive certainties of the great nineteenth-century theory -mongers, phenomenalism is becoming more generally appreciated for its inclusive approach to reality. With it comes a new and welcome tolerance. Policemen can spot pumas in Surrey or chase UFOs in Devon and still remain policemen. People mysteriously transported through the air are no longer burnt; sometimes they are even believed. Scientists view, and write papers on, such products of extra-scientific reality as fire-walking and spoon bending. Humanists, freed from such once obligatory concepts as spirits or the primacy of matter, study the divining rod and survival after death through the neutral evidence of their associated phenomena. There are even some psychiatrists who will listen uncensoriously to the impossible experiences of their patients. Meanwhile, exclusionism as Charles Fort called it, the tendency to adopt a rationally coherent part of reality as a true substitute for the more than rational whole, still flourishes in the academic world which informs the political one. The only revolution we look forward to is that which will free the toiling masses of downtrodden phenomena, raise them from their condition of neglect, and allow them an equal say in governing our conception of reality.
Phenomenal varieties and explanations
We are concerned with symptoms rather than causes; with symptoms of existences that exist only in their symptoms; with objects falling from the sky, or disappearing into thin air, or being or not being where they should not or should be; with repeated occurrences of impossible creatures; with events and phenomena encountered on the physical plane yet obeying the laws of dreamland rather than those of physics. We conceive of three modes of reality, 'hard', 'psychological' and between the two, 'phenomenal', all active and effective, all merging. Events on one level relate to those on the others, with causes and effects indeterminate. Does smoking cause cancer or cancer cause smoking or are they both of some other origin? Does the future air disaster cause the premonition or the premonition the air disaster or are they both provoked by something else? Throughout the different levels of reality there are correspondences. Strange objects in the sky, monsters by land and sea, humanoids and unearthly men. These are the archetypal stuff of dreams, creatures of universal myths and fairy stories, yet spilling over at times into phenomenal reality to shock or amaze human witnesses, and sometimes approaching though never quite achieving hard reality with such ambiguous credentials as strange footprints and blurred photographs. And among all the mass of evidence, the hints and apparitions, scarcely an item of 'solid' proof, scarcely a nut or bolt to convince those whose notion of reality is limited to such things. This aversion to giving hard evidence of their existence is a striking feature of our phenomena. It may be the best clue we have to their nature. Perhaps it is deliberate. We are led on only to be cut off. John Keel the UFO writer has some interesting things to say about the delusions visited - from somewhere - on the UFO prophets after an initial period of inspirations. Unidentified flying hoaxes in a cosmic send-up; a universal treasure hunt with clues in a dead language and the course booby-trapped. We will write again when we know.
Suppressions are another thing. Museum curators are rarely phenomenalists. They label in terms of other labels, or they reject. No one wants the odd piece that belongs to another jigsaw puzzle. When the religious people ran the museums, exhibiting sacred relics and objects of miraculous origin, the evidences of our phenomena were more prominently displayed. But they were explained, religiously. The explanations supported the myth behind the religion, and when the religion changed the explanation changed with it. And the process continues. Here is an illustration. Many of our phenomena are connected with certain spots, the sites of old churches and places traditionally sacred. As phenomenalists, we think that the sanctity of these spots arose in the first place from something that happened there, something that may happen there still. Mysterious lights, miraculous cures, visions and spectres: these are most commonly associated with ancient sacred places, and the association is a very old one. The various qualities of the spots later to be called sacred were recognised in very early times. Later they were explained. The cures or visions were attributed to local gods, then to other gods of other religions, then to saints or legendary holy men or Buddha or the Virgin Mary. A modern development of the tendency to explain in terms of current myth is the theory, born of the space age UFO cult, that identifies the great sanctuaries of prehistoric civilizations as the work of extra-terrestrial spacemen.
The two enemies of phenomenalism: suppressions and explanations.
Charles Fort, the connoisseur of phenomena, was a connoisseur also of explanations. In 1881 there was a storm over the English city of Worcester (see FALLS OF CREATURES AND ORGANIC MATTER). tons of winkles and mussels, with a few crabs thrown in, fell from the sky, littering streets, back yards and gardens. Of course they did not really fall from the sky because there are no winkles, etc. up there in the first place. So a local explanation arose. A fishmonger with unsaleable stock had dumped them. The Worcester fishmonger became Fort's favourite character. He stood for all the inadequate, hopelessly overstretched explanations that rationalism, for want of anything better, must sometimes make do with. Fort painted a lively picture of the Worcester fishmonger, processing quite unnoticed though the city streets with his many carts loaded with superfluous shellfish. His assistants are busy shovelling them into the road. They climb walls and shovel them into back yards and onto roofs. This done, they vanish without trace. Enquiries showed that no winkles or other shellfish had been on offer that day in Worcester market.
As well as the Worcester fishmonger, For identified another common type of explanation, the partial masquerading as the total. A house is attacked by mysterious forces; a 'poltergeist' classic. Stones fly, objects float, fires break out, blows are felt - and then a boy is caught throwing stones. The phenomena cease, and obviously the boy was responsible for the entire episode.
A subtle principle in nature which Fort was the first, at least since the days of the old alchemists, to remark, is the tendency of scientific experiments to yield results gratifying to the experimenter. There was the trivial case of the obliging snails. In August 1886 snails fell out of the sky near Redruth, Cornwall. One correspondent to the Redruth Independent thought they were sea snails. He put some in seawater and they thrived. Another thought they were fresh-water snails. The ones he put in seawater died. We suspect no one of dishonesty, remembering ther new doctrine of the sub-atomic physicists that the act of observation affects the thing observed. We know what they mean. Professor Paul Kammerer for example. He had a theory, an heretical one, to do with the inheritance of acquired characteristics. To prove it, the toads in his laboratory should develop rough black feet. They did so. A specimen was sent to England for inspection, was inspected and found to be as stated. Other scientists disliked the heresy. They also inspected the toad, hoping to discredit it, and found the black feet doctored with Indian ink. The matter was explained by all parties, variously, but nothing in the explanations was more interesting than the phenomenon itself. Kammerer desired black-footed toads and was answered. His opponents desired no such thing and they too were obliged. The Piltdown hoax: a similar sort of case. Darwin claimed it was only the imperfection of the fossil record that prevented the discovery of missing links between the species. A generation of scientists strove to find the most important of the hypothetical missing links, the one between men and ape stock. Evolutionism and a world-view depended on it. There was intense desire for it. It was duly found, and in England too, matrix of empire and orthodoxy. For forty years the Piltdown skull, half man half ape, only too literally so, stood as hard evidence of the truths of evolutionism. It converted the last waverers. Old Boyd Dawkins, an original opponent of Darwin, confessed his errors on the strength of it. In 1953 it was exposed as a clumsy fabrication, but who did it? The detectives say that more than one person must have been involved, all the suspects leading evolutionists, and one, Teilhard de Chardin, promoter of an evolutionary religion. Perhaps they were all in it. The evidence points that way, but we find it hard to credit such mass, fanatical dishonesty so long maintained. We are left with the simple phenomenon: an ape-man skull was desired, and the desire was answered.
Many of our phenomena are like the Piltdown skull, wish-fulfillers, need-satisfiers, related to the thought-forms of eastern magi as creatures of the imagination made manifest. The sensitive folk of the Rocky Mountains dream of hairy giants lliving up on the high peaks. Not only do they dream of them, they actually see them. They even see them sober, and so the Himalayan yeti has an American cousin, 'Bigfoot', THE GREAT AMERICAN MONSTER, with his phenomenal credentials of footprints, strands of hair and inconclusive snapshot photographs. Psychologists have much to say on this sort of thing, all of it relevant, but when they descend to explanations they tend to allow the partial to masquerade as the total. Phenomena cannot be explained away by descibing them or their witnesses in clinical terms. Yet many of our phenomena are definitely related to the state of mind of the people to whom they occur. Fire-walking for example, or levitation; these are certainly physical feats but they can also be called imaginary ones since they are performed in states of trance or ecstasy. It is the same with apparitions - monsters, werewolves and so on - which relate to unconscious desires, to atavistic images and yearnings. But we do not follow the psychologists in locating the source of our phenomena in the unconscious mind. There is no certainty. It is no less likely that the images in the unconscious mind were imprinted there by phenomena in the first place rather than vice versa: that the thing preceded its reflection. True, philosophers give primacy to the mental world over the physical, but when it comes to such questions as whether perception preceded the perceived, futility overwhelms and we return to our present and sufficient source of madness, the study of phenomenal reality.
A window on the phenomenal world
The trouble with rationalistic cosmologies is that they can never entirely accord with experience. The discrepancy sets up irritations and the innocent suffer. Normal people are declared or declare themselves mad; talents and genius are suppressed or distorted; the world appears duller than its natural hue; low-mindedness is institutionalised. No rational system can amalgamate and reconcile all our phenomena. So we must be rational ourselves and follow this conclusion by looking for an irrational cosmology. A religion seems the first obvious answer. Religious systems make room for the irrational, are founded on it. But closer inspection shows that these irrationalities appear as such only from outside the system. Within all is sweet reason, because all is explained, relatively. The children at Fatima saw and spoke to a radiant lady. It was explained to them that they had been granted a shared vision of the Blessed Virgin Mary - in the jargon of phenomenalism a BVM sighting. There are many such records both within and outside religious contexts. Howard Menger in America during the early 1950s claimed contact and conversations with another (or the same) radiant lady. He wrote a book about her, From Outer Space to You, explaining her in the context of the UFO cult as a wish-fulfilling space missionary. The idea of the time conventionalizes her identity. She has been variously described as the Queen of the Fairies, as Isis or/as the White Goddess. Her names are legion but behind them all is the same experience - an encounter with a sympathetic lady, glowing.
There is something to be said for all conventionalisations that allow the phenomenon it due reality. People who see the radiant lady, whatever she is called at the time, are at least permitted to believe that they have seen something. In many ways the modern psychological explanation is the least satisfactory of all, since by locating the source of the vision exclusively in the seer it reduces its content to the chance projection of a disturbed mentality. The experience becomes illegitimate, no longer a source of wonder but of shame, a symptom of sickness, a portent of evil, a suiable case for treatment. This way of seeing things is excessively low-minded . Psychology has made a useful contribution to the study of our phenomena by drawing attention to the relationship many of them have with unusual mental states; yet the phenomena themselves, fire-walking, stigmata, radiant bodies, land and water monsters, aerial battles and all, remain as they always have been, unexplained. Their one constant feature is the reality-status they all share - less than 'hard', more than 'psychological'.
An inclusive cosmology, that is what we have in mind: a total world-view which accepts, without moral judgments and without rationalistic censorship, the entire range of repeated human experience. Obviously there can be no such thing within the canon of science or organised religion. Both pretend to offer a total world-view but can maintain it only by suppressing experience or by explaining it in terms of their own basic assumptions. To find precedents for the sort of thing we are looking for, we must recede into the distant past, before the rise of dogmatic science and religion.
Charles Fort was very much a man of his time. He mistrusted the past. All his data were of contemporary or quite recent incidents. And from the data alone he developed a view of reality which seemed in his generation to be one of unprecedented craziness. Yet it was not unprecedented. There were Forts in antiquity; there have always been Forts; but in modern times they have been classed as heretics and suppressed by the religious or scientific orthodoxy. For respected, unsuppressed Forts we must look to the ancient philosophers, the humorous sages of Taoist China or the pre-Socratic westerners. Socrates himself had the Fortean view that he was the most informed of men because he alone realised that he knew nothing, but by his time the high priests and defenders of orthodoxy were in control, and he was put to death for opposing relativism to the official certainties of state religion. He pointed out that there were other gods besides the state ones, as Fort pointed out other phenomena besides the scientific ones.
Showers of creatures and objects from the sky, for example. By all good accounts this is by no means a rare occurrence. Yet the modern treatment of this fairly harmless - and sometimes beneficial - phenomenon has been disgraceful. For all its impressive documentation it has been victimised by scientific certainty, excluded, suppressed or explained - partially. The same with many other types of repetitive events, such as those illustrated in our sections. We look for a cosmology which includes them all, not only to prevent the injustices which them all, not only to prevent the injustices which arise through ignorance of them but also because the science which is not informed on them lacks the complete data for its investigations. From the evidence gathered in this book we suggest there may be principles or active forces in nature which science has so far ignored because they are not strictly within the realm of physical law with which it deals. Curiously enough, science has begun to recognise the most insubstantial level of reality, the world of psychological types, before acknowledging the intermediate level of phenomenal reality, which has roots in the objective and subjective worlds alike. In the universe, which combines and harmonises all levels of reality, we detect the characteristics of a living organism. Self-regulation is a feature of all living creatures. A wound activates the process of healing; needs cry out and are satisfied; deficiencies attract compensations, sometimes excessively. Cravings for water have led to people blowing up at oases. So it is universally. One year there is a shortage of toads, not that anyone cares very much; but there is compensation and next year a glut. Toads swarm out of the water, rain down from the skies; people shovel them out of their houses. We note with Fort this hermaphroditic tendency in nature to satisfy its own desires, a tendency which provides the mechanism of magic. Fort's world-view was a spontaneous revival of that which informed the writings of the old mystical philosophers. If one desires to attract anything in nature, wrote Plotinus in the third century AD, referring to the shrines and invocation centres of the ancients, one should construct a receptacle designed to receive it. For virtually the entire course of history this view of things has prevailed. Behind every magical act, ritual and prayer meeting is the idea that desires can be artificially implanted in nature to produce their fulfilment. Thus tribesmen dance to attract rain and bird-lovers hang up nesting boxes in their orchards. Many of our phenomena can be related to this self-compensating, reflexive tendency of the universe to respond both to the needs which arise naturally within its parts and to those injected into it by concentrated human will. Some mixed examples: the newly dug pond, suddenly and unaccountably teeming with fish; the wedding ring stigmata appearing on the finger of a dedicated and virginal bride of Christ; manna from heaven to the faithful in the wilderness; a friend intensely thought about and soon afterwards heard of, or from, or encountered; all miracles, coincidences, inspired puns and poetic justices; the levitating force by which the ecstatic soars aloft after his thoughts; monsters in children's imaginations and in Loch Ness or the Himalayas; ape-men in the imaginations of Darwinians and in the Piltdown gravel beds.
An inclusive cosmology is the prerequisite for an inclusive science, one which is based on total observation. Such a science would deal in probabilities rather than pretend to certainties. It would detect rhythms, patterns in occurrences, correspondences between events unapparently linked. In ages past our phenomena were highly regarded, officially. Provincial governors in China and ancient Babylon were expected to include in their annual reports to the central government everything strange which had taken place that year, peculiar objects in the sky, apparitions, monstrous births, irregularities in nature, popular delusions or unrest, every subtle symptom of psychological and thus of social disturbance. The Chinese, and no doubt other administrations, had fixed tables giving the correspondences between the various symptoms and specified inadequacies in government and court ritual, and the symptoms were treated or accommodated by the appropriate changes in central orthodoxy. The advantages of this phenomenal approach to science are recognized by the present regime in China. Their system of predicting earthquakes, the only one in the world which actually works, depends on the ancient practice of observing omens. The giant pandas at Peking zoo are consulted, unusual developments are noted in the course of nature and, as we have just read in the newspapers, 3 June 1976, the Chinese claim that their success in predicting recent earthquakes is due to the peasants being encouraged to report strange behaviour in animals and changes in the levels of local watercourses.
One feature of a phenomenalist system of government which disturbs Fortean purists is its tendency to invent myths. A myth is a sort of explanation - a suspect word in phenomenalist circles. Yet we have already confessed our partiality to explanations and theories of all sorts, through on one condition, that they really do server to explain, that they cover the phenomenon wholly, not partially. If they do this it does not matter how absurd and fantastic they are. If they make people laugh, so much the better. Children will like them the more, so will the old people, and everyone can believe them or not as he or she pleases. If myths are necessary, as we suspect they are, they should be enjoyable and harmless, not taken too seriously by responsible people nor insisted upon as compulsory beliefs. An example of an explanatory myth which covers the phenomenon as experienced, does no harm and gives people pleasure is the old Japanese solution to the mystery of things dropping down from the sky. The reason given is that there is a hole in the sky and sometimes things just fall through it. Objects which have appeared in this way are preserved as sacred curiosities in Shinto temples. Different, equally bland reasons for the same phenomenon are given by the official explainers of other societies, and they all do well enough. Fort's humorous but logically irrefutable myth of an atmospheric Super-Sargasso Sea as a receiver and occasional dispenser of terrestrial bric-a-brac is of the same traditional order. The least adequate approach to any aspect of experienced reality is to deny it, not even to explain it but to explain it away. The nineteenth-century treatment - which continues into the present - of the 'falls' phenomenon was to dismiss every incident as a hoax, delusion or error. Even at the start of this century there were authorities who denied the reality of meteorites on the scientific grounds that stones could not fall from a stoneless sky, and falls of other matter as described in our sections are still widely disbelieved from the same logic. Neglect of what actually happens in favour of what someone's theory says should happen has the effect of dividing people and authority in a way which benefits neither.
Neo-phenomenalism, the science of the future. With nothing to prove, no faiths, theories or taboos to inhibit, we shall look at the universe directly by considering all the evidence of itself it chooses to offer. There will be discoveries of other phenomenal archetypes, many more than we have illustrated in this book, or their periodicities and geographical associations and of the types of people and states of mind most commonly affected by them. A Bureau of Signs, Omens and Recurrent Freaks will collect and process our data and detect links. And behind the links we will find causes in the form of universal characteristics unapparent to the eye of reason. Perhaps, if it seems worth the effort, we will go on to become magicians, masters of levitation for personal and commercial transport, werewolves at will, invokers of lightning to kindle our fires, of fish showers to stock our ponds, of manna in the desert or ladybird swarms when the greenfly infest our roses. In any event we will make the world a richer place by extending recognition to every one of its picturesque realities, by widening the field of phenomenal experience which a sane person can admit to enjoying, and by finding significance in happenings which the officially encouraged, unnecessarily low state of mind of the present is conditioned to ignore or devalue."
[from the section of this book entitled "Little People", p. 116]
"If we were to write a history of Europe from a phenomenal angle, drawing our material from contemporary records of the things people experience in different ages, part of the general pattern of events would be that from the earliest time there was intimate contact between our race and another, more diminutive and less material; that the link between the two peoples gradually weakened; and that the smaller race retreated from areas of human habitation into the wilder regions, finally retiring into the upper atmosphere from which they now and then descend on brief visits, transporting themslves in luminous discs or globe-shaped vessels.
The 'fairy' phenomenon, which was still quietly active even through the darkest days of rationalist scepticism, made a remarkable come-back in the middle of the twentieth century. The little people who, by unanimous report, played an intrusive part in daily life up to the Middle Ages, had long been dwindling from their accustomed haunts when suddenly they reappeared, airborne and technologised (being traditionally fond of aping their human contemporaries) and up to all their same old ticks. We refer of course to the 'UFO people'."