2012 + 1

By R. D. Flavin


     Okay, it's a New Year...   Let's sing: “It was the fourth of January, that day I'll always remember...”  No, that doesn't work.  Ah, perhaps “All is quiet three days after New Year's Day. A world in white, gets...”  I'm not feeling the rhythm...  “Meet the new year! Same as the old year!”  Maybe I should switch to inner soundtrack mode...  I was just starting to get used to 2012, having a Mormon Republican president, experiencing the End of Existence with the Mayan Apocalypse, being 'single' for the first time in twelve years, and now it's ...2012 + 1.  Fine, I'll start dating again and folks can add a “plus one” on party invites.

     As I'm a “New Year's Eve baby,” I've long been ambivalent about New Year's celebrations.  I mean, the parties are wonderful, the birthday wishes and free drinks are great, but at that stroke of midnight with all the cheering and toasting and kissing and hugging, I'm always a wee bummed out as ...my birthday is over.  And, of course, I'm not the only “New Year's Eve baby” around, as K-pop sensation, Psy, of “Gangnam Style” infamy, was also born on December 31.  This past year (that is, five days ago), I turned 55, and got a couple of birthday surprises...

     Just after midnight and a few minutes into 12-31-2012, I received an e-mail with a PDF attachment of the final, in-press version of a journal article about Burrows Cave and what the author refers to as “outsider” archaeology (Wilson 2012).  The author, Prof. Joseph Wilson (University of New Haven, anthropology), discusses the terms “fantastic archaeology” and pseudo-archaeology, among others, but uses “outsider” in much the same way as Colin Wilson did in his existentialist philosophy book, The Outsider (Wilson 1956).  Ah, yes; the brooding, pessimistic amateur archaeologist...  They do exist, I've met several, but the bulk of Wilson's article concerns the impossibility of Burrows Cave, its middling dismissal by professionals, and the subsequent media CWOF (Continued Without a Finding).  Also, Wilson repeats my assertion that coincidence is insufficient to explain Burrows and Collin/”Joseph” at Pontiac State Prison at the same time and their later association.  It's a fine paper, I'll have more to say about it in the weeks to come, and for those not close to a university library, an abstract and purchasing form is available here.

     After several hours of slumber, I awoke for a proper birthday acknowledgment and began the day with coffee and some online news reading.  Local news and weather took a few minutes, national was even quicker (Boehner was still threatening the Fiscal Fist®), and international was just a scan of headlines and more bad news from Syria.  A second cup of coffee brought me to Fark.com and “ news” of a different sort.  On the 'Entertainment' page I noticed the headline, “One of our favorite Ancient Aliens guys died today. No, not the one with the hair. RIP Philip Coppens. Cancer sucks.”  Okay, I'm certainly no fan of cancer, had never seen an episode of The History Channel's anti-science program, Ancient Aliens, but I was familiar with the name Philip Coppens.  And not in a good way...

     A quick GAS (Google Advanced Search) for “Coppens” on flavinscorner.com showed three results.  The first, a bibliographic mention from my 2004 article, “Falling Into Burrows Cave,” listed under 'Coppens, Filip', and an indifferent letter published in The Ancient American (with an example of why Collin/”Joseph” is such a unique editor).  The second, a Christmas rant (12-15-2006 “Reason's Greetings”) after picking up a magazine in a bookstore and reading a couple of short and punk paragraphs about me...  It was an “Arrr!” moment.  Coppens had successfully established a career as an anti-science crackpot and leading “Stargate” enthusiast.  Yeah, that Stargate and its television spin-off(s).  It would be a couple of years before I teased the solution in my “Signs and Symbols: Wire Mother, Smiley Face and Phaneroscopic Science.”  Hint: it involves Reiche's 1993 article, “Heraclides' Three Soul-Gates: Plato Revised.”  My heart goes out to his family and friends...

A table of gold-painted lead items alleged to have been removed from Burrows Cave.

     As these things go, those were just the second and third legs of the 2012 Burrows Cave stool, as the first arrived a couple of weeks earlier.  One day in mid-December I got a text message which asked: “Are you Richard Flavin?”  I texted back, “Yes. Who wants to know?”  After a couple of uncomfortable phone-calls and a few e-mails later, yet another unfortunate chapter in the Burrows Cave Hoax revealed itself.  Old guy had died, his family found a considerable amount of what appeared to be golden treasure among his possessions, and contacted a charity to arrange for an auction.  One of the golden treasures was broken and after examination the item was revealed to be gold-painted lead, as were all the “treasures.”  Upon consulting the Illinois Attorney General's office, the charity received a recommendation not to auction the items ...even as cheap reproductions or folk art.  These items appear to be another batch of gold-painted lead “treasure” chum manufactured to get the collector sharks to circle sometime in the mid-to-late 1980s.  I'm proud of the old guy's family with choosing a charity, I feel bad for the charity (especially since there are still a lot of BC idiots out there who would buy the items even with the surety that it's all painted lead), and I've a deep sad that this won't be the last time a charity is disappointed by alleged Burrows Cave “artifacts.”

     Yeah, it's 2012 + 1 and my new “must watch” program is The History Channel's America Unearthed, featuring the “forensic geologist,” Scott Wolter.   His work with the Kensington Rune Stone and Burrows Cave has prepared him for this (although after watching a few minutes of the first episode, I think he'd have been better served with a shave and a pair of grown-up pants).  Still, we find our amusements where we can.

Wilson, Colin. 1956. The Outsider. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Wilson, Joseph A. P. 2012. “The Cave Who Never Was: Outsider Archaeology and Failed Collaboration in the USA.” Public Archaeology. 11, 2: 73-95.

New Year's wishes to all,

Return to