Slender Man is one of these strange cultural spectacles that occupy the no-man's land between fact and fiction. Officially it is an imaginary character created on a good old pre-Facebook forum on June the 10th 2009 (I feel nostalgic!) A person with the username "Victor Surge" posted some photographs featuring children at play. These were monochrome prints, and the hairstyles and clothing date them to around the late 1970's to early 80's. These were allegedly taken in
and were "lost and found". Victor Surge claimed to have
electronically altered the images himself; this is reasonable to assume because
the thread is entitled Create Paranormal
Images. In the background you can see a tall, thin humanoid figure dressed
in a black suit and tie. It has paper-white skin and no face or hair. Strangest
of all it has a number of tentacles resembling those of an octopus or squid
emerging from its back or shoulders. The back-story to the photos explained
that the phantom had come to abduct the children. The forum user, real name
Eric Knudsen, has always maintained that the photographs were ones he'd faked,
and this is probably true; Knudsen owns a loose franchise on Stirling City,
California USA What's interesting is that he had been
inspired to create the tale, illustrated with his photos, by established horror
and fantasy writers like William S Burroughs, HP Lovecraft and Stephen King. He
was also interested in legends of the "shadow people", which is a
very real and serious field of paranormal research; I myself have witnessed
them. Shadow people are spectral entities that are often witnessed by people,
usually while they're experiencing sleep paralysis. They appear in one form or
another in almost every culture in the world and encounters are often a
terrifying ordeal. Shadow people can behave in a very unpleasant manner; they
might attack you violently, sit on top of you making it difficult to breathe
and even sexually assault you, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/benylin-and-sleep-paralysis.html.
The prevailing view in the scientific and Skeptic community is that this is
caused by the fact that during sleep paralysis, your muscles are all paralyzed
to stop you sleepwalking, but you're emerging from REM sleep, the brain state
when you dream. So you're effectively dreaming while awake, and the things you
perceive are therefore hallucinations, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmbpOucNVn4.
I'm not so sure; I think it's very possible that the brain is in an altered
state that allows it to experience worlds beyond the universe that we're
normally aware of. Sleep paralysis is related to other altered states of
consciousness such as those induced by drugs or sleep deprivation, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/sleep-deprivation.html.
However we're in a confusing situation because reports have come in of some
people really seeing Slender
Man. Slender Man.
These stories began in
but have recently emerged in the UK.
People in England
have reported encountering Slender Man in, of all places, Cannock Chase, see: http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/25/ghostly-sightings-of-slender-man-reported-in-uk-town-5035922/.
For some reason that wooded beauty spot in Staffordshire has been the focus of
paranormal activity for as long as anybody can remember. It is also said to be
where black-eyed kids first popped up on this side of the Atlantic, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/black-eyed-kids-uk.html.
My friends Don Philips and Steve Mera have also carried out field studies in
that area, see: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/programme-111-podcast-don-philips-and.html.
How is this possible when the figure these people are seeing is just a
fictional character they found out about online? One obvious explanation is
that the Skeptics are right and that people are hallucinating; it would make
sense that our minds would delve into our memory to populate our waking
nightmares. They might also be lying, fabricating a whimsy just to get their
name in the newspapers. But is it really that simple? Could another possibility
be the opposite going on; Slender Man is real and that Eric Knudsen based his
fictional character on his unconscious memories of real events or information
he'd discovered? After all, he had an existing interest in the subject of
astral entities. This makes Slender Man very similar in nature to "This
Man", see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/this-man.html.
What interests me about the Cannock Chase sightings is that despite the media
referring to Slender Man in their spots on the subject, the actual witness
statements do not match those of Knudsen's character at all. They report that
the being has "blood red eyes", "a hat" and "razor
sharp fangs"; Slender man has a completely featureless head. They also
relate that the creature wears a "Victorian" costume; in those days
fashions were very different to the modern black suits Slender Man wears.
Therefore I suspect that the Slender Man angle is one purely concocted by the
journalist, see: http://metro.co.uk/2015/01/25/ghostly-sightings-of-slender-man-reported-in-uk-town-5035922/.We
live in a mysterious universe in which what we see, hear, taste, touch and
smell in ordinary wide-awake consciousness is not all that exists. With adult
and sensible investigation we might find ways to explore the gulfs between our
own world and others, but media sensationalism and the distorting of narratives
are not steps in the right direction.