This week Networks of Doom polished up our French and covered Les Zozotériques- a mish-mash of UFO-believers and new-age types who believe that France’s Pic du Bugarach will serve as a landing pad for an alien spaceship during the Dec. 21st Apocalypse.
What did we learn? To be honest we got bored with the story half-way through and kind of coasted this week. Hey! Networks of Doom had a tough week at work. Cut us some slack. But here’s what we pieced together:
Milviludes released a report in June of 2011 warning that the “New Age visitors” in Bugarach were “raising the threat of financial scams and psychological manipulation.”
“I think we need to be careful. We shouldn’t get paranoid, but when you see what happened at Waco in the United States, we know this kind of thinking can influence vulnerable people,” Miviludes president Georges Fenech told Reuters.
According to Milvidues’ research, they found six settlements in the countryside around the Pic du Bugurach filled with members of the American Ramtha School of Enlightenment.
That claim makes the investigators at Milvidues very worried about a potential mass suicide. A firm date on Doomsday + a purported secret to immortality = only one real way for “true believers” to show their faith.
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.
This article originally published a few months ago in Le Monde contains some interesting updates on the unfolding story:
”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?
In a small French village in the Pyrenees called Bugarach, something strange is going on. Itinerate newcomers are camping out in the forests in tents, yurts, and caravans. Locals report seeing groups of stark-naked hikers surmounting nearby peaks, and bizarre rituals taking place in the woods. Properties have been scarfed up over the past few years, and aerial surveys show some of the new owners are building bunkers. Rumors swirl about ex-Prime Ministers taking helicopters to the summit; the Mossad excavating for the Arc of the Covenant; intergalatic alien wars about to come to a head in this tiny mountain village.
What the fuck is going on?
Entre Les Zozotériques
Dozens and dozens of respected international news outlets – from Le Monde to Time magazine to the NY Times – have reported on the strange goings-on at Bugarach. According to the reports, masses of new age/hippie types have been descending on the bucolic village in increasing numbers over the past few years. Locals call the newcomers the Zozotériques, or “esoterics.” These Zozotériques believe that a nearby local mountain called the Pic du Bugarach is a magical place – a place with one of the strongest chakra energy flows on the planet.
But many believe it is something far more. On Dec 21st, 2012 (or possibly Dec. 12th) – the end date of the Mayan calendar – an alien spaceship will land on the flat-top mountain (others believe that the spaceship is already buried in the mountain and will rise at that date). Those who “read the signs” correctly and are in the area will be spirited away to a new planet, while the Earth is left to crumble into space dust.
fin du monde ou pas?
While that’s an interesting story, the full story of what’s going on in Bugarach is a thoroughly post-modern tale. The people in the story are watching themselves being watched and are adjusting their behaviors. The streams of Zozotériques are matched by streams of reporters and government agencies investigating “suicide cults.” The villagers themselves are adapting, as innkeepers, shopkeepers and property sellers adjust rates upwards. Some seem to wish all the hippies would just go home, while others seem eager to embrace the “weird” – to rebrand their town as a sort of Euro-Roswell.
This week, Networks of Doom is going to investigate the Zozotériques of Bugurach.