Who is out there online talking about the Zozotériques of Bugarach?
Lots of people!
Germans. Americans. Frenchmen and Italians and Dutchmen and Spaniards.
Just check out how the story is trending on Twitter. It seems someone discovers this hilarious tale every 20 minutes and passes it around. Twitter is a veritable Tower of Babel on the Bugarach topic.
You can follow the story on CNN:
Or check out any of several home-made videos about Bugarach’s alien landing pad. Most are like this one below – intoned over with spooky music, filled with obviously-photoshopped images of UFOs or government “RESTRICTED AREA” signs (note to Youtube Producer: why would the French government put up signs in English?)
But Who Doesn’t Speak for the Zozotériques?
While it’s incredibly easy to find lots of people chuckling over the end-times beliefs of the Zozotériques, it’s extremely hard to find any authentic information online from the Zozotériques themselves.
Part of this is understandable, from the description we’re given of these “esoteric hippies.” Societal drop-outs living in yurts in the woods are probably not whipping out their iPads to update their blogs regularly. And even if they were, with so few of them around, anything they do will be trumped by the NY Times and CNN and 1000 other outlets in the SEO game.
They may be keeping quiet deliberately, as the French government has announced it is investigating these groups as possible suicide cults.
But perhaps…perhaps…there’s another explanation.
Read the mainstream news articles on the phenomenon and you’re almost certain to see a quotes from townspeople (especially mayor Jean-Pierre Delord) decrying the crazy beliefs of the newcomers. But it’s hearsay. Few outlets seem able to track down an actual Zozotérique and get their beliefs from their actual mouths.
I’m sure some new-ager said some weird things at one point, but for the past couple of years, the story has been snowballing. The locals have cameras shoved in their faces, repeat what they heard (which mostly comes through the media itself), the reporters egging them on, everyone enjoying their moment in the spotlight. At each level of remove, the story gets re-framed and re-shaped into a more neat, tidy, digestible packet perfect for the “weird news” section.
”Apocalypse 2012 : a French village awaits the “esoterics”", a titré le New York Times, début 2011. L’article mentionnait une aubergiste du coin, Sigrid Benard. Elle y affirmait avoir reçu “nombre d’appels de gens souhaitant réserver des chambres ou des places en caravane pour la période décembre 2012 fin janvier 2013″. “Ces gens disaient qu’ils voulaient venir trois semaines avant l’apocalypse et réserver la semaine suivante pour voir ce qui allait se passer”, précisait Mme Benard. Jointe au téléphone à la mi-décembre, elle n’a pas souhaité commenter ces déclarations. Un autre hôtelier du coin, dans la commune de Sougraigne, à une dizaine de kilomètres de Bugarach, a lui aussi reçu, “début 2011″, deux demandes d’hébergement pour l’hiver prochain. “Un couple et un groupe de 12 personnes”, assure François Dumas. Il a repoussé les demandes – son hôtel est fermé en hiver.
Which, if my high school/college French classes and Babelfish are correct, means:
The NY Times ran an article in 2011 titled “Apocalypse 2012: a French village awaits the ‘esoterics’. The article mentions a local innkeeper, who was quoted as saying a number of people called to make reservations years in advance for Dec 2012-January 2013; telling her they wanted to be there for three weeks before the apocalypse and the week after, to see what happens. Reached by phone this December, she now doesn’t want to comment. An innkeeper from a nearby village was also quoted as saying he had demands for that winter from a couple and a group of twelve. Now he’s walking back his story – he says his hotel is closed all winter.
So…are 10-20,000 hardcore believers in the alien apocalypse really going to descend on Bugarach around Christmastime? (those numbers are offered in numerous articles). Or will it be a couple dozens believers, surrounded by 5000 reporters and 10,000 revelers looking for a good freak carnival?
Or will it be no one at all?