The Multivalent Mothman

Last month I wandered off into Mothman territory, but here is more, from the editorial blog of the Bulletin for the Study of Religion.

There is an annual Mothman festival in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, and two entries deal with it: “West Virginia is one big portal!” Reflections on the Eleventh Annual Mothman Festival – Part 1 and also  Part 2

Both are by Joseph Laycock, who is known in my little corner of academia for his work on vampire culture in Atlanta. He muses,

Driving away from Point Pleasant, I continued to think about Mothman and meaning.  Mothman is more than just a mascot for Point Pleasant. It is a reflection of the people and their history.  Scott Poole has suggested that monsters often point to darker aspects of our history. The Mothman mythos connects many elements of the community’s past that are generally not discussed with tourists: The murder of chief Cornstalk, the collapse of the Silver Bridge, and the pollution lurking just underneath the surface of the local wildlife preserve.  Mothman lore also functions as a kind of art form that, as Clifford Geertz notes, can serve to capture the themes of everyday life and more powerfully articulate their meaning.  Mothman even serves as a metaphor for the coal and power industries that dominate West Virginia. Like the smoke stacks and devastated mountaintops, Mothman is a portent of death and future disaster. But it is also a source of livelihood and closely connected to the identity of the people.

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