Monday, August 28, 2006

Inky Update :: A Firm Rebuttal

The Museum of Dust has been deeply touched by the many offers of assistance we have received in our search for Inky. We would like to give our whole-hearted thanks for the help and many kind comments people have posted on the website.

However, there have been some people, pranksters for want of a better word, who have been posting false and misleading information about Inky on the internet. For what purposes they do this we do not know. To us the internet is a shared tool for enlightenment and communication (apart from the pornographers and arms dealers), and not some toy for achieving one's own wanton ends.

The Museum has already responded to the salacious and remarkably goofy conspiracy theory surrounding Inky's involvement in a supposed Communist bid for the Holy See. It is unfortunate to have to return to the keyboard yet again in defense of the popular but prodigal arachnid.

The first rebuttal concerns an item circulating the internet that claims to be an article from the Russian newspaper Pravda. The story starts with some shepherd children witnessing a luminous apparition of a spider that tells them to return the following day with some food, money, a map and a compass. The excited children report the visitation to people of the village. The next day a vast crowd gathered to witness the return of the apparition. Only the children were able to see and hear the spider but many in the crowd claimed to have seen the sun dance in the sky. At the height of the excitement the crowd miraculously parted to reveal a clear space in the shape of a spider. The item then goes on to make outrageous claims about a new cult devoted to Inky developing in isolated regions around the world.

The article like most conspiracy theories is an amalgam of two misinterpretations of other events. Firstly, the part of the story dealing with the children, crowds, dancing sun etc, is an obvious reinterpretation of the Lourdes story. How it became associated with Inky is beyond us but there is a tenuous link to an insect-like buzzing reported by many witnesses to the real Lourdes event. Insects - spiders is a common misapprehension; the two species relate only on a feed-to-know basis.

The second theme of the article about the mysterious crowd-parting is the only part supported by photographic "evidence". It is these images that reveal the true source of this part of the story. They first appeared in a 1928 'updated' version of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds by Charles MacKay. They were associated with an article about the so-called "Cancer panic" of 1924. The original story claims that a crowd celebrating the birthday of George Washington Carver was struck by lightning. As the crowd surged back from the strike zone a crab-like clearing appeared. The allusion is to Cancer the crab not cancer the disease. the whole thing was proved a hoax almost immediately but, unfortunately, too late to prevent a rush to press by publishers too intent on being up-to-date to consider the risk of being incorrect. A rudimentary inspection of the relevant (forged) photograph would show that the "creature" has six legs and not the eight required by your spider-about-town.

Another image that has been roaming the ether is a blatantly Photoshopped "crop circle" (reproduced at the head of this communique). We would not deign to acknowledge this kind of thing except that we feel compelled to inform the hardworking farmers of the world that Inky would not stoop to such behavior nor condone any practice that damages their livelihood.

These distractions aside the Ministry of Defence of the Museum of Dust is following up all leads as to the whereabouts of Inky. Presently the Ministry is investigating the possibility, suggested by a correspondent, that Inky is asleep in the coat pocket of a recent visitor to the Museum of Dust. We ask that, if you have been to the Museum of Dust within the last two months, you check your pockets very carefully.