RIP, Lyall Watson

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Lyall Watson was a South African-born botanist, zoologist, biologist, anthropologist, zoo keeper and BBC presenter who wrote Supernature: A Natural History of the Supernatural (1973), among other popular books that helped usher in the Seventies’ New Age trend. Among other dubious but undeniable accomplishments, he coined the term “hundredth monkey” — referring to the hypothesis that a sudden spontaneous and mysterious leap of consciousness achieved when a species’ “critical mass” point is reached. Significant Objects hails Watson for his 1990 book The Nature of Things: The Strange Behaviour of Inanimate Objects, a Fortean account of rings that find their way back to their owners and so forth; the book helped inform our Fortean (not New Age) TALISMANS object category. Watson’s revival of the Victorian meaning of the term “notional” also helped us in our thinking about our IDOLS object category. Watson describes as notional any “inanimate object which… demands attention and exercises power over those people to whom it appeals.”

We’re a little bit late with this — he died in June 2008, but we’ve just learned about his passing. Moment of silence, please.


"Significant Objects combines one of the oldest of all media — the near-improvised short story — with the reinvigorated writer-reader relationship afforded by Web 2.0." — The Independent's Couch Surfer. Follow us on Twitter; join us on Facebook.

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