If you are a child of the 70s, you know the original theme song (above,) eerie scene music and deadpan narration of Leonard Nimoy for the television program In Search Of. Before YouTube conspiracy videos. Before History Channel’s flock of Ancient Aliens and odd docudrama, there was In Search Of. This television program, which I believed I watched on a UHF station here in Boston, was immensely influential on my intellectual curiosity and possibly the cornerstone of my creativity.
With Nimoy’s introduction and cool, intense narration of investigative stories on Loch Ness, UFOs, Atlantis and phantasmagoria, In Search Of (ISO) executed a tightrope walk between plausibility and wild speculation. In the parlance of gymnastics, each week it ‘stuck the landing’ by piquing your interest and making you wonder…what else is out there? What made ISO different from modern cable strange tales and pseudo-documentaries was its unashamed reenactments and embrace of open conjecture. Within each opening montage, narrated over images of UFOs and Stonehenge, was the following statement, “This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producer’s purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine.”
Modern ancient conspiracy television series don’t embrace conjecture. Instead they assume an aggressive and belligerent posture. ISO was entertaining, spooky, and strange, never angry, arrogant or sanctimonious. My youthful brain bathed in a new oddity each week. From crystal skulls, aliens, Amelia Earhart, and Bermuda Triangle, ISO asked weird questions about weird problems. The circuit board of my curiosity was being soldered and wired with intense diversity by a program which I look back on with fondness.
In Search Of explains, perhaps better than any other influence, my odd and diverse interests. It opened my eyes as a child to a process of discovery that was decidedly unconventional. Today, I may not be convinced Bigfoot roams the Pacific Northwest, but I can read or hear or see something tiny or odd in a vast environment or work and immediately seek out the who-what-where-when of this footnote to a larger story. These footnotes in history, speculative or academic, inspired me to write short stories of monsters, or explore the origins of religious faith, or the incomprehensible questions of science. In Search Of, set the unconventional curiosity that would become my new mantra, Asymmetric Creativity.