As you can clearly see…

The third man


(published in Photosnouvelles)

Two travelers meet in a train. One says to the other: "Excuse me sir, but what is that large and complicated apparatus in the luggage rack? – Oh, that, is a MacGuffin. – What's a MacGuffin? – It's a sort of lion-trap used in the Scottish highlands. – Bu there are no lions in the Scottish highlands! – I must be mistaken, then, that can't be a MacGuffin."

A third man, who just entered the wagon, interrupts the conversation to explain that this wasn't always the case, that there were indeed lions in the Scottish highlands; but the MacGuffin was such an efficient tool, despite (or possible because of) it's complexity, and that the last lion was trapped in the 1966 or '67.

We often forget the importance of the story of the MacGuffin, but it is a fascinating element, which can easily captivate the curious for at least and hour and a half. It was Mr. Benjamin Névisse, a frenchman living in Scotland since childhood, who perfected the Macguffin, the invention which, for reasons still unknown, bears not his name but that of his assistant.

It is not uncommon to find the remains of a MacGuffin in the area, but nobody is sure anymore how they worked. From historical and archeological studied, it is assumed that they commonly employed such elements as a net, a rope, pulleys, large springs, oil (to make the ground slick) n° 4 paperclips, an anvil or a large rock or perhaps even a piano, and, essentially, a large pit dug into the ground lined with spikes.

But it would be a mistake to put too much importance on the method of capture, because this is mainly a pretext, a bait of sorts compared to the most captivating aspect of the MacGuffin: its detection system.

First, of course, the lion hunters need to track and observe their prey; the MacGuffin was thus equipped with a photo camera and a shutter mechanism linked to a trip wire laid across the path. When the lion touched the line, a photograph was taken, but it remains unknown whether this was used to locate and identify the animal, or simply to dazzle it with the lights of the flash, but it is clear that this began the capture process.

As you can clearly see, this photograph bears witness to the absence of lions in the scottish highlands – even is this photograph was taken in the Swiss Jura, as there are no lions there either. It is unknown if the installation seen on the right is a MacGuffin, but some have suggested that this image is the product of it's detection system.