Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Have You Seen the Harlequin?

Jason Offutt is something of a regular on paranormal podcasts and reports here (with, it seems, a degree of artistic licence) on encounters with an entity known as ‘The Harlequin'. Not exactly Lovecraft, but the Harlequin does feel like the kind of weird puppet-like entities that populate the works of Thomas Ligotti. For those interested, Offutt’s blog also offers accounts of strange black-eyed children in Norwich and Ireland, as well as an encounter with a gnome-like being somewhat reminiscent of Machen’s Little People.

Those looking for ‘paranormal’ entities in a more Lovecraftian vein might want to check out the Slender Man internet meme (which I’m sure most readers of this blog have at least a passing familiarity). Invented by Victor Surge on the Something Awful forums in 2009, Slender Man (probable inspiration for Dr. Who’s ‘The Silence’) is fast acquiring status as a new urban legend. Indeed, reports have apparently been emerging of real-world encounters with this being - some of which purportedly predate Slender Man’s documented invention. Given that this is the internet we are dealing with, it is difficult to ascertain whether such accounts are ‘genuine’, or just fueling the creepy Slender Man vibe. As other paranormal pundits have already commented, Slender Man may be an interesting variant of the account of ‘Philip’, supposedly an artificial ghost created as part of a psi-experiment in the 1970s (see I.R. Owens and M. Sparrow’s book Conjuring Up Philip, for more details of this classic case). As is hopefully evident from previous posts, I generally reject such paranormalist explanations of these kinds of 'entity' encounters.

Other interesting cases of ‘entity’ encounters - this time MiBs - are noted in an article by folklorist Peter Rojcewicz (‘The "Men in Black" Experience and Tradition Analogues with the Traditional Devil Hypothesis’ in The Journal of American Folklore, 100 (396): 148-160). Rojcewizc implies that such entity encounters tend to be conjured up by percipients in altered states of consciousness (a position I'm much more LIKELY to entertain). The article is also of interest in that it contains a first-person narrative of an encounter with an MiB. Presented pseudonomyously, apparently Rojcewicz later admitted that he was the actual percipient of this encounter. The Rocjewicz piece is also of interest with regard to the links it makes between MiBs and Judeo-Christian demonology, and is a cornerstone study in the emergent mythology of Demonic Ultraterrestrials theorised by Spooky Paradigm here. And more briefly here at the Mikatonic Museum blog.

In any case, I would certainly be grateful if anyone can point me in the direction of alleged accounts of encounters with Slender Man. Or, indeed, any other of the Lovecraftian entities that increasingly seem to form part of the discursive formations of contemporary occulture.

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