The UK’s Telegraph has a long and interesting article about the crop circle scene, which talks to a couple of TDG’s good friends, Rupert Sheldrake and Mark Pilkington, and includes some interesting comments from Rob Irving about croppies and ‘rationalism’:
[A] display of circle-making by a team of young engineers who won the 1992 International Crop Circle Making Competition was a revelation to the maverick biologist, Rupert Sheldrake: ‘For flattening the crop, they used a roller consisting of a piece of PVC piping with a rope through it, pushing it with their feet. To get into the crop without leaving footprints, they used two lightweight aluminium stepladders with a plank between them, acting as a bridge. For marking out a ring, they used a telescopic device projecting from the top of an aluminium stepladder. A string was attached to the end of it in such a way that by holding the string and walking in a circle around this central position a perfect ring could be marked out without leaving any trace on the ground in the middle.’ That’s complicated kit.
Mark Pilkington, a writer and publisher who helped with some of the more beautiful and complex late Nineties/early Noughties formations, talks of teams of three or four, using only the planks et al. It is, he says: ‘Physically and mentally hard work. Even after a modest job, you’re flat out. It’s often disorienting. I’ve worked on formations and when I’ve seen the photographs afterwards, I’ve thought: “Bloody hell! How did we do that?” ’
The designs are marvellous: perhaps it’s no wonder that, as Pilkington says, some cerelogists believe human ‘circle makers are channels for a greater force and that some formations are made by divine intervention’. Certainly, when Pilkington has told people what he’s done, he’s got into near fights: people want to believe. Such antipathy has gone to extremes: according to one of their number, one group of circle-makers had ‘potatoes stuck up their exhausts, wing mirrors ripped off our cars and threats of violence’.
Irving thinks people want to take ‘a vacation from rationalism’. And, he adds, it’s particularly the case that ‘people associate certain landscapes with legends. That’s why circles come to sacred sites: Avebury and Stonehenge galvanise this idea of mystery. I see it as a feedback route: people go to a certain place with certain expectations. Then something happens and they leave satisfied.’
It’s to sustain the mystery, he says, that circle-makers never claim authorship of a particular circle: ‘In our culture, art is all to do with artists: it’s about whodunit, not about what art does. With the circles, it’s about the effect they have on people.’
Just a shame the article didn’t reference our own Perceval in the section on the Euler’s Identity crop circle…
Previously on TDG: