I read this book a month ago, and it’s been rattling around in my head ’cause I don’t really know what to make of it.
On one hand I appreciate Autumn Williams’ approach to the subject. In general, she comes across as calm, logical, and cool. I even had some “amen, sister” moments when she laments the fact that us modern humans who live in petroleum-derived worlds full of computers and convenience are simply ill-equipped to fathom the nature of a creature who is so like us, yet lives in a state of wildness. “And we wonder why it’s so very difficult for us to discover them?” she writes. “To find something, we must first understand it. How can we inherently understand something that lives in a world so far removed from the one we’ve created for ourselves?” she writes.
On the other hand, the story sometimes seems unbelievable, such as when the witness claims to have happened upon a big old happy bigfoot family reunion. But we take the good with the bad, right? It’s what we do as open-minded bigfoot philosophers.
Enoch is the tale told by a witness, “Mike.” Mike is not a bigfoot researcher, but a bit of an eccentric loner. He prefers to spend his free time secluded in the swamps of Florida. During these periodic camp-outs, he encounters a swamp ape (in the local parlance) which he names (surprise!) Enoch.
Mike found Williams via the internet and decided he could trust her to believe his experiences, which he relates via phone and email.
More than anything, I take Enoch as a study in the psychology of a bigfoot witness. Mike wants to tell his story, but is perennially paranoid. At times when he is relating his swamp ape stories, he breaks down, stonewalls, gets angry, and genuinely wonders if he can trust anyone. He is torn between wanting independent verification of his experiences and wanting to protect his friend. “I have had many run-ins with these (Bigfoot researchers) online and I don’t want anyone to know where this place is,” he writes Williams in an email. “I’ve seen what they do and they will chase them away and ruin it. I’ve built a trust with this one and I would like to show someone, but what worries me is what will happen if I bring a stranger around. Will he run away and not come back? Will it make him not trust me? What do you think he would do? And how would you protect them from people once the word gets out? You know what will happen.” His paranoia is complicated when, he says, photos he has of Enoch are stolen from his storage unit. But Williams persists in her relationship with Mike and succeeds in drawing out more and more information about his encounters.
Williams is also a bigfoot witness. Her encounter happened when she was a small child and she’s spent decades researching the phenomenon. She understands Mike’s reluctance to talk and his overriding concern for his swamp ape friend. She understands how difficult it can be to discuss something that is utterly real to one person, but simply impossible to another — and how comforting it can be to talk to someone who gets it. But she’s also a reputable researcher and is extremely concerned about how she’ll be received when she brings Mike’s story (portions of which are waaaaay out of the mainstream — yes, there is a psychic-bigfoot element), sans evidence, sans photos, to the world.
Yet her gut instinct as a veteran witness interviewer is to believe Mike, and that’s ultimately enough for her.
I’m not entirely certain how the book was received amongst bigfoot researchers, nor what degree of hostility Williams may have faced, but I do know there have been questions as to the authenticity of Mike’s story. (Or even if Mike is a real person.) I also know this community (much as I do love it) can be dog-eat-dog. And as far as I am aware, Williams is no longer an active researcher, or if she is, she is no longer in the public eye. Her fascinating final three blog posts written for her web site are on the psychology of bigfooters. In the last post, she reveals that she is fighting an illness and needs to remove stress from her life in order to devote all her strength to that battle.
I wish I’d known more about this book and Williams, but it was written before I had a significant interest in this subject. Enoch is an interesting book whether you believe it or not, and Williams offers insights that I’ve not seen elsewhere. From the little I know about her, I’d say that the bigfoot world has suffered a loss without her input.