Kage Baker believed firmly in unseen influences, omens, vibes and strangers among us. Not conspiracy theories, or Freemasons, or the centuries-old influence of Egyptian cults and modern financiers (though she claimed membership in the Bavarian Illuminati from time to time). She wove her stories out of the possibilities of Things That Are Not, because they were interesting; but she didn’t necessarily believe in them.
She figured most space aliens were wish-fulfillment, most Sasquatch were bears, and most ghosts were bad plumbing and badly-insulated wiring. She believed Atlantis was Thera was Santorini. She felt that copper bracelets did nothing for your health unless the green ring they left around your wrist was penicillin. No, Kage kept her belief for real eldritch things.
To be more precise, (and less daft-sounding) Kage felt that Shakespeare was right – there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in anyone’s philosophy. They tend to walk around where humanity conducts its own noisy, self-obsessed business, and are sometimes glimpsed while about their own peculiar concerns. We don’t know what they are or what they’re doing – and there is nothing that people like to talk about more than things they don’t understand. Kage suspected that a lot of organized religions rose out of the human urge to gossip; writ, as it were, large and on the side of a ziggurat.
When she was around 14, she heard or read some interview with Jim Morrison that heavily influenced how she viewed the unseen. Now, Morrison was very much a self-styled bad boy, the fore-runner of people like Marilyn Manson and a generation or so of Gothic rock stars: except that Morrison was … real. Real-ER, anyway. Maybe it was the novelty value of being among the first rockers to pose as a languid demon-lord; before Morrison, the epitome of rock ‘n roll decadence had been Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis. Maybe it because he really looked and acted the part.
Anyway, he gave this interview. And in it, in a rare moment of sounding as though he took the matter seriously, he said that there were actually real otherwordly people in the world. And you could tell who they were by the way they watched the rest of us – by an air, he said, of distance and fascination combined. By the way they looked too long at things humans didn’t like to contemplate, or averted their eyes from things human liked. By their elegance and beauty; even if they were acclaimed for elegance and beauty when – if looked at carefully from the corner of your eyes – they were actually brutish and horrible.
He advised his young listeners not to look for these wanderers, by the way. Not to draw their attention, not to emulate them or seek their favour. He never hinted whether or not he was one, and for some reason that struck adolescent Kage as the very soul of verisimilitude. Anyway, she maintained ever afterwards that Morrison was right and had revealed one of the secret underpinnings of the world.
At any rate, that long-ago description, thrown off casually by a man who was, at the time, also very young and fairly silly, slid down and was buried under the observations of Kage’s life. Ultimately it was part of the strata and bedrock of her imagination. And from that stone, she carved loom-weights for weaving the various worlds of her mind.
Maybe it was like being in the Bavarian Illuminati; to which, now that I think of it, she started alluding at the same time. She thought Bavaria was a funny name. Or maybe she really believed it all those years. I don’t know. I only know you should be careful what you say where young minds can hear you – because some of them listen for strange things. And remember …