Thursday, January 17, 2013

Phantom Cats

I wanted to start off my research by looking for books about phantom cats in Western's library, since I thought Wednesday's lecture was very interesting. However, I couldn't find anything in the catalogue and so decided to look at the cryptomundo site shown to us on the first day of class. I wound up opening a bunch of tabs, and though I haven't finished reading through all of them (I've saved all the urls), I thought I'd share this article, a distinction that I think will be important to my research as I move forward: that "phantom panthers" refer mainly to the big cats seen in North America, while "alien big cats" is a more general term. I think it's kind of intriguing, and I want to pay attention to how future articles define their cryptid cats: does location and label make a difference in how the cryptid hunters treat their quarry? Are the attitudes of North American hunters different from their European brethren?

And something that has just occurred to me as I think about comparing the two - are there cryptid cats in Asia? Looking through my open cryptomundo links, I see that there is one about a cryptid cat in Africa, one in Afghanistan, and one in India; the majority of the links are for sightings of cats in America. This may be due in part to the fact that cryptomundo is an American site, but I will have to look at the number of sightings worldwide. If the sightings of big cats in Asia is much lower than in other parts of the world (specifically Europe and North America), why? Is it because there are fewer big cats in Asia? I don't think that's the case, since the world's largest (confirmed) cat, the Siberian Tiger, makes its home in the Russian Far East.

This seems to imply that Asian cultures are much less sensationalist, or perhaps alarmist, that the U.S. or European countries such as Britain. That's probably not exactly the right wording, though "skeptical" doesn't seem to fit, either. I think what I'm trying to get at is the value of cryptid cats as a story: in Europe and North America, mysterious sightings (of any type) are a big deal; in Asia, they aren't.

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