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Friday, 4 November 2011

Events: Fortean Times: Unconvention 2011 - 12-13th November

12-13th November 2011
Camden Centre, Bidborough Street,
London, WC1H 9AU
The Fortean Times UnConvention is back in 2011 to bring you a wonderful weekend of high strangeness and full-on fortean fun.

Once again, the Uncon will be presenting a wide-ranging, two-day programme of talks and events devoted to the odd, the intriguing and the inexplicable. We’ll be bringing you the world’s most exciting speakers and scholars from every realm of forteana, from cryptozoology and conspiracy to parapsychology and ufology – not to mention dog philosophers, cursed stones and a certain talking mongoose called Gef…

The conference will be held at the Camden Centre, a central London location opposite King’s Cross station.

 This years talks and speakers include:
  • A Popular History of the Mummy - Gail-Nina Anderson
Just what does the Egyptian mummy mean to you? There’s the archaeological way of looking at them, of course, involving factual evidence and historical contextualisation – or there’s the way that popular culture has been teaching us for the last couple of centuries. This illustrated talk explores the modern mythology of the mummy, a bizarre journey involving autopsies, femmes fatales, fashion jewellery, brown paint, comic books, deeply amusing toys and Abbott and Costello. Oh yes – and the lingering curse (which seems quite a reasonable response to the way we’ve treated these relics of the long-dead.)  Western thought has (with the help of such luminaries as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Bram Stoker, not to mention Universal and Hammer film studios) re-invented the mummy to suit its own desires and fears, managing to forge links with Spiritualism, reincarnation and even Vampirism. They’re the original Undead – if you enjoy tracking changing fashions in mouldering bandages, this is the talk for you.
  • Talking Canaries and Voices of the Dead - Sarah Angliss
In December 1877, a journalist writing in Scientific American noted there was now “a startling possibility of recording voices of the dead”. He had just witnessed Edison recording sound on his new invention: the phonograph. In this live demonstration, I’ll explore some of the stranger obsessions of the early adopters of audio recording, as I immortalise a voice from the audience by recording it on wax, using an original Edison Standard Phonograph. Delving into the archives, I’ll also examine a little-known curiosity from the 18th century, one which may have been used to record short segments of sound 150 years before the phonograph. This event will include some short, musical interludes incorporating a few of my own inventions. As I use the theremin to conjure up ‘music from the aether’, I’ll reveal how the first ‘electric servants’ were also seen as tools for paranormal investigation.
  • Talking Dogs and Canine Intellectuals - Jan Bondeson
Jan Bondeson reveals how an early-20th century German obsession with the supposedly superior intelligence of horses and dogs gave birth to a ‘new animal psychology’ and created a host of doggie celebrities noted for their philosophical thought, ardent patriotism and ability to communicate with humans. These canine luminaries included Rolf, the philosophical Airedale Terrier, who kept up a lively correspondence with scientists and thinkers, and Don, the incredible talking Pointer, who enjoyed a spectacular career and spawned a host of imitators around the world.
  • Scared to Death - David Clarke
1855 is best known to Forteans as the year in which the mysterious Devil’s Footprints appeared overnight during a heavy snowfall in Devon. But were supernatural forces also at work in Yorkshire – with fatal consequences? This talk tells the story of a Sheffield woman who died “from fright” following an encounter with a ghost, and the bizarre story that unfolded in the wake of the inquest – a story involving spiritualists, messages from a murder victim, buried treasure and a mysterious young woman with wild talents. Taking a story that would have perplexed the Victorian detective Inspector Jack Whicher, David Clarke follows the clues and asks: was this truly a case of death by supernatural causes?
  • Cursed Stones - David Clarke and Andy Roberts
Stone has exerted a fascination on humankind since the first stone tools were created. Stones were regarded as the bones of the Earth and all cultures attributed to both natural and carved stones the qualities of gods, goddesses, elemental and paranormal forces. Such stones often acquired names and required ritual and propitiation. They were special, sacred, or in some other way significant to their community. People who tampered with such stones, those who moved, damaged or stole them often found themselves the victims of supernatural retribution, to the point where stones that had been stolen were immediately returned. Andy and Dave have been investigating cursed stones for 25 years and present an audiovisual examination of some of the weirdest cases. You will hear tales of werewolves, fairies, stone heads, terrified stone thieves and even have the chance to touch a cursed stone – if you dare!
  • All Ape-men Great and Small - Richard Freeman
The search for unknown hominids continues – from the 10-foot-tall Yeti to the rather les imposing Orang Pendek. In November 2010, the Centre for Fortean Zoology took an expedition into the Garo Hills of Northern India in search of the yeti, or mande burung as it is know locally. They uncovered not only eyewitness reports and tracks but also stories of a monster snake unknown to science. In September of 2011, the CFZ mounted their fourth expedition to Sumatra in search of the Orang Pendek, building on the 2009 trip, where the creature was sighted and hair found. Richard Freeman will be giving full accounts of the results of these latest expeditions.
  • Apocalypse When? - Ted Harrison
The world should have ended on 21 May this year, according to American radio preacher Harold Camping; or has the Apocalypse been postponed to 2012 as the Mayan Calendar is supposed to suggest? Over history, hundreds of dates have been set for Doomsday and, so far, every prediction has fallen flat on its face. So why do prophets keep prophesying? Why do their followers believe them? And how do failed prophets and disillusioned followers cope with the inevitable ‘disappointment’ of waking up on Judgement Day to find everything as normal? And how is the world supposed to end when it does? Will a wrathful God take to the skies with his angels? Will we be hit by a meteorite or rogue planet? Will the human-race score an own-goal and cause irreversible climate change or blow itself up with nuclear weapons? Ted Harrison explores the history, mythology and psychology of End-time rumours.
  • Gef the Talking Mongoose - Christopher Josiffe
In the early 1930s a family living in a remote farmhouse on the Isle of Man was plagued by a bizarre entity that called itself ‘Gef’. The ‘Dalby Spook’ became one of the media sensations of the decade, but although many investigators, including famous ghost hunter Harry Price, attempted to solve the mystery, it remains one of the most puzzling cases in fortean history. Now, Christopher Josiffe reopens the files on Gef the Talking Mongoose. But what was this hymn-singing, stone-throwing ‘man-weasel’? A poltergeist? A hoax? An uncannily talented animal? Or something stranger yet?
  • The Forbidden Universe - Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince
Were the first scientists hermetic philosophers? What do these occult origins of modern science tell us about the universe today? This talk reveals the secret brotherhood that defined the world, and perhaps discovered the mind of God. All the pioneers of science, from Copernicus to Newton via Galileo, were inspired by Hermeticism. Men such as Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Leibniz, Bacon, Kepler and Tycho Brahe owed much of their achievements to basically occult beliefs. Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince go in search of the Hermetic origins of modern science and prove that not everything is as it seems and that over the past 400 years there has been a secret agenda behind our search for truth. From the age of Leonardo da Vinci, the influence of hermetic thinking upon the greatest minds in history has been hidden, a secret held by a forbidden brotherhood in search of the mind of God.
  • Science and Sasquatch: the life of Grover Krantz - Brian Regal
Physical anthropologist Grover Krantz (1931-2002) was the most well known scientist to publicly champion the existence of the North American cryptid called Sasquatch—also known as Bigfoot. While he did not originate it, he actively promoted the idea that this creature was an evolutionary descendent of Gigantopithecus. For his efforts, he was dismissed or ignored by academics who viewed the Sasquatch as at best a relic of folklore and at worst a hoax, and also received a negative reaction from amateur Bigfoot researchers, some of whom threatened and abused him.
  • The Psychopath Test - Jon Ronson
When Jon is contacted by a leading neurologist who has recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail he is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness. Jon meets a Broadmoor inmate who swears he faked a mental disorder to get a lighter sentence but is now stuck there, with nobody believing he's sane. He meets some of the people who catalogue mental illness, and those who vehemently oppose them. He meets the influential psychologist who developed the industry standard Psychopath Test and who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are in fact psychopaths. Jon learns from him how to ferret out these high-flying psychopaths and, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, heads into the corridors of power.
Source: Fortean Times

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