So I took a little break, it’s not as if you gave a shit before my silent followers

29 May

You know I take a few days off to gather my thoughts and all I get is over worked and under paid, not to mention complete dissatisfaction with my entire species. Did I menton I dont like you?

Yeah well now you know.

On to a better subject…I hope you like rats!

I was remindedthe other night of one of the more repulsive bits of cryptozoological folklore, the Rat-King. And since the people I was with had never heard of them, I thought I might share the concept with the world. A Rat-King is created when a rat nest (a horrible concept all on its own) becomes so crowded that the tails of the rats become physically entangled, and slowly but surely, the separate rats begin to fuse into a single organism.

Perhaps not surprisingly the concept of the Rat-King is regarded with some scepticism by contemporary science, but belief in their existence has persisted in European countries, and particularly Germany, since the Middle Ages, and over the years various specimens have been displayed in museums and private collections.

Of these the most famous is probably the one owned by the Mauritianum Museum in Altenburg, which is comprised of the mummified remains of 32 rats, and was reportedly found in a miller’s fireplace in Buchheim in 1828, although specimens from as far afield as Java and New Zealand have also been collected through the years (Wikipedia has a brief survey of the various extant specimens, and you can see images, including x-ray images of one of the Dutch specimens on the Museum Kennis website).

As someone who’s not keen on rats at all, the Rat-King is a thing of nightmares. But I’m not sure you’d need to be as phobic about rats as I am to feel there’s something deeply unsettling about the whole idea, and not just because the thought of all those rats, scrabbling and hissing and seething together is inherently repulsive. Rather I suspect that just as the idea of zombies, and vampires, and the living dead  break down the ontological categories which order our world, the idea of several creatures merging into one super-organism, something smarter and more malign than any of its individual constituents, so offends our most primal suppositions about individual identity that we have few reactions open to us beyond fear, and disgust.


3 Responses to “So I took a little break, it’s not as if you gave a shit before my silent followers”

  1. Taylor Wilson June 5, 2010 at 9:35 PM #

    Ha! That little tidbit of useless information made my day…and possibly the rest of my weekend. So I dunno how often you check your e-mail, but I sent you one regarding our simultaneous day off! Just a few things I wanna clear up!

  2. Taylor Wilson June 6, 2010 at 4:17 PM #

    Ahhhh, I see! I had all your contact info written down and that one wasn’t in there. I sent it to your OnBeyondAde e-mail. Anywho! It has been resent!

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