Rather than an update, I figured I’d include a little background on what the Bestiary series is all about and how it came to be.
I dig a good dark carnival story, and the dynamics of the traveling show have always fascinated me. A circus or carnival is a strange little community on wheels, offering a taste of the extraordinary wherever it goes.
During the heyday of the freak show, performers exhibited any number of strange conditions for the general public to gawk at, playing them up to fit whatever role they were selling people on. Bearded ladies, dog boys, and everything between were on display. They were the misfits who would have earned the same stares had they tried to live a public life. The “other” to a T. Yet, once the crowds were gone for the day, they were as normal as everyone else. Carnies chatted with their neighbors, married, and had kids. I imagine the audiences they drew might well have been disappointed by just how normal they were.
However, I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of resentment boiled under the surface for some of these people. Despite appearances, they were normal, after all. And gaped at, and laughed at, and God knows what else to earn a living in a society that would refuse them any other way.
The revivalist tent show provided the other half of the equation. The religious fervor of a crowd coming to a slow boil under the power of one man stalking the stage and the growing intensity of the attendees, far more under the spell of the preacher’s charisma than any religious text. A touch and a few words could connect with that mood, that energy, and leave a true believer convulsing on the ground. Speaking in tongues.
While I don’t believe any of these events were “miracles,” they’re pretty interesting examples of hypnosis and the malleability of the human mind. Not to mention how receptive the body can be to the brain’s influence…and a little suggestion.