Sunday, January 30, 2011

Tulpa Theory

We hear the word “Tulpa” being thrown around a lot in the Mythos to explain aspects, or origins, of Slender Man. It’s become one of the most popular origin theories out there, and many ARGs use it as a default explanation for Slendy. Andy already did a short post explaining the basics of what it is, so I won’t go into too much detail there. What I plan to discuss is the metaphysics of Tulpa Theory, because putting words like “metaphysics” in my blog makes it appear very intelligent and high class without me having to actually do any work.

What is It?

I’m keeping this short, as my knowledge of religions is focused on Europe/Mid-East, so there’s not much I can talk about Buddhism short of copying Wikipedia. Which is exactly what I am about to do.

“In mysticism a tulpa is the concept of a being or object which is created through sheer willpower alone. It is a materialized thought that has taken physical form and is usually regarded as synonymous to a thoughtform.”

Basically, the Tulpa Theory makes the claim that Slender Man came into existence through belief in him. The stories we tell about him are what are defining him and giving him abilities; if everyone believes Slender Man to be associated with trees, he is. If we believe he starts fires, he does. And so on.

Realistic Perspective

Now I will try to use hard science on a setting which would cause any dedicated researcher to burst into tears. Wish me luck.

From a purely realistic outlook, the Tulpa Theory isn’t possible. Human belief on its own cannot create objective beings; if it could, then we’d be up to our necks in gods, faeries, and spirits. Human belief has never been capable of creating a being independent of the believer on its own, and I highly doubt that the first thing would be a minor internet meme. Longcat will probably be given form before Slender Man is.

Also, the idea of human belief creating form runs into a problem of different individual beliefs. Say we have someone who fervently believes in Slender Man, with all their heart and mind. But then say we have someone who, with equal strength of belief, believes that Slender Man doesn’t exist. Which belief is the one which creates the reality? And we can’t say that they cancel each other out, because that’s the equivalent of the nonbeliever winning. So do we say that only believing in something has an effect, not disbelieving? But what about a circumstance where a belief in one thing necessitates the nonexistence of all other things? Say we have an eldritch abomination, let’s call him Bob. The thing about Bob is, within his mythos, he is the only eldritch abomination. This isn’t just a feature, it is a defining aspect of Bob; he only works in a setting where there are no other eldritch abominations. Whose belief would win out here? If Bob and Slendy had an equal amount of belief (because belief is totally something you can quantify), which would exist? Does Bob’s belief cancel out Slendy, or do they both coexist? But if both exist, then the Bob who was created wasn’t the Bob which was believed in, as he could only exist as a singular abomination.

So there, I’ve disproved Tulpa Theory in the real world.

While I’m here, the Easter Bunny isn’t real and Santa is your parents.

Less Realistic Perspectives

I don’t want you to misinterpret me based on my previous statements; I don’t dislike the Tulpa Theory. It’s my favorite origin theory for Slender Man. It’s just not a very realistic theory. But in this Mythos, when has realism ever mattered?

Meta Creation

Tulpa Theory’s major advantage is how it handles Slender Man’s obviously faked origins. It doesn’t take long for anyone new to the Mythos to learn about his origin (unless they are very, very bad at internets). The problem is, it’s harder to be scared of a monster which you know isn’t real than it is to be scared of one which could be real. Tulpa Theory solves this: Yes, Slender Man was just some clever little photomanipulation done by Victor Surge on SomethingAwful. But that was then; now, because of that thread, he’s become real. And is coming for you. Yes, you.
The Theory also explains why Slender Man never stays consistent between stories. As the abilities we give him change, he changes to match our new beliefs.

Preexisting Belief Feeder

A related hypothesis to the Tulpa Theory is that Slender Man existed before the Victor Surge post, but was given strength and from it. This tends to be found in stories which want to include Slender Man in past events, while still retaining the basics of Tulpa Theory. This idea still has the same consequences as Tulpa Theory (Slendy’s abilities and appearance being defined by us, the SomethingAwful thread being the catalyst of his existence, etc.) but changes his actual origin.
This hypothesis is much less popular than straight Tulpa, but it does crop up every now and again.

Controlled Tulpa

This idea is from A (I seem to take a lot of my material from people with letters for names….), but also had some inclusion in Core Theory. According to A, Slender Man could pick and choose which beliefs he wanted to apply to him. In other words, if you believed Slender Man was impervious to gunfire, he would become impervious to gunfire as that would be an advantageous ability. However, if you believed that he was vulnerable to the color yellow, that wouldn’t happen, as Slendy would choose not to let that belief affect him. So yeah, under this idea, he’s practically immortal.

Core Theory had a similar idea, though not as hopeless. In it, Slender Man has the ability to shift between which rules affect him. All beliefs affect him, but not all at once. If there’s a belief that he’s vulnerable to electricity (which I’ve noticed has started to spread around a bit), then he’s vulnerable to electricity while following the rules of those stories. According to Core Theory, at any time he could switch to a different set of rules, ones where he doesn’t have that weakness. Here he still has a vulnerability: if every set of rules gives him a weakness, he’ll have no option but to have that weakness.

Useful Links
Tulpa Wikipedia Entry:
Defining? Symbols/Faith II: (Second time I’ve linked to this post)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thoughts on the Solstice

First things first, the Slender Nation forum has started an in game wiki page for Slender Man, which can be found here. It’s just starting up, so it doesn’t have much information in it. If you want to contribute, go ahead, but remember that it is in game, so none of this nonsense about Slender Man not actually being real. Also, you should check the basic formatting style they’re using before making anything new, since we want things to look nice there.

The reason for this post is a comment by Mr. Azare, asking about the Solstice. While his questioned was answered by other commentators, it made me realize that I probably should say something about the solstice. It was kinda a big deal after all.

In case anyone isn’t aware of the importance of the winter solstice, a brief recap. The Winter Solstice was an important day in Robert Sage’s Core Theory (If you didn’t get a chance to read White Elephants before it was taken down, Slender Nation saves the day, as they have found the cached version of the blog. Here ya go). According to Robert Sage, Slender Man would be weakest during the Winter Solstice. Seems a bit counter intuitive at first, since the solstice is the longest night of the year, but the length of the night wasn’t the important part in weakening Slender Man. The solstice may be the darkest night, but it also represented the return of the light. Every day after the solstice (at least, until the summer solstice, but that’s a different story) would be growing longer. So it’s a metaphor one about darkness weakening and light returning, but one with real repercussions.

After Core Theory fell out of favor, the idea that Slender Man would be weaker on the Solstice also fell to the wayside. However, Zero still kept his plans to launch some kind of attack against Slender Man on that Solstice, as the day could still be used as a symbol.
Zero’s plan was not to defeat Slender Man, but to possibly weaken him. The plan of attack was dependent on the Tulpa Effect, and the idea that Slender Man could be weakened if we believed him to be weakened. Essentially, Zero and Amelia would confront Slender Man on the night of the solstice. Then, he wanted his readers to write stories about what they thought happened that night. It was hoped that the combined belief and discussion of stories where Slender Man lost would weaken him, even if only a little.

If Slender Man really was created and powered by the Tulpa Effect, the plan makes sense (unless we’re going with A’s hypothesis, and Slendy gets to pick and choose which beliefs affect him), and should have had some kind of impact. If the reason for Slender Man’s invulnerability is because we say he’s invulnerable in our stories, then we just need to write new stories, ones where the protagonists don’t always die horribly, then Slender Man would become weakened.

While such a change could work (if Tulpa Theory is correct), it couldn’t be permanent. Why? Because of you people. Yes, this is all your fault. Feel guilt pouring down upon you.
The audience reading the Slender Man stories don’t want him to be defeated. Most of us are here for the horror, and it’s hard to be scared of something which we can beat. Then there’s the problem with him being a public domain character; no one can really “kill” Slender Man, since anyone else can just bring him back. It’s hard to permanently defeat something when the next author can completely invalidate your victory (plus, you’d have to be a bit of a jerk to say, “Okay, I’ve killed the Slender Man, the Mythos is over now! You can all stop writing about him, because he’s dead now!”)

But that’s starting to get into the conflict between the characters’ desires and the audience’s desires, which will be saved for another post.

So now y’all know what the solstice is. And knowing is half the battle.
The other half is paranoia, gore, blurry camera footage, binary, and trees.

Useful Links
A Hint of Serendipity-Zero Hour:
An Index of Solstice Stories:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seeking Truth

Wow. It’s been a long time since I actually posted something (a long while in internet time, at least). I had intended to just take a week, maybe two off…. And then I went and took nearly the entire break off. My bad. I blame the holidays, and all the distractions that come with them.
So, a very late Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Hanukah, Beethoven’s Birthday, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and Capitalism Day.

I've been having to do a lot of catching up lately, since I haven't been keeping up to date like I should. Hopefully I'll be fully informed of all them happenings around these parts quickly.

Here we’ll cover Seeking Truth, one of the classics of Slenderblogs (I find it strange that we live in a time where a story not even a year old can be called a classic).

Seeking Truth


Seeking Truth is a blog by Ezekiel Strahm (who goes by the name Zeke), a loose cannon cop who plays by his own rules. He admits that he isn’t the sort who would usually start a blog, but his partner Lizzie made it for him, so he gets to posting on it.

The first part of the blog deals with Zeke investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl. At first, it appeared as though the girl just ran away from home, but after the discovery of a notebook filled with Slender Man imagery, Zeke began to suspect kidnapping. The primary suspect of the case is Albert Conaghan, a rather unpleasant individual, who had been accused of raping young girls before. More children went missing (one even while under police surveillance), commenters screamed “It is teh Slendoorman!” (While Zeke screamed “Shut the hell up!” back at them, but louder), a romantic subplot develops between Zeke and Lizzie, and eventually, Conaghan was apprehended.

Predictably, capturing Conaghan does not put their troubles to rest, as Zeke discovered that Lizzie was being followed by Slender Man (another victim was an officer named Eric, who was working with the two protagonists). Zeke continued to remain skeptic, but doing so became harder as more things piled up on top of each other.
Then Slendy went and busts Conaghan out of prison, and the hunt resumed. Conaghan was tracked down to a warehouse, where alien geometries abounded, and where Zeke confronted (and shot at) Slender Man.
While in the warehouse, Lizzie was killed by Conaghan. This caused Zeke considerable emotional distress, and after being put on suspension by the chief, he spent most of his time isolated in his home. Slender Man began to haunt him there, and we learn from Zeke that he had been haunted as a child, and that the events thus far were part of a plan by Slender Man to capture this victim who had escaped him.

Eventually, Zeke got over his misery, and replaced it with resolve to fight against Slender Man. After gathering information on his opponent, Zeke returned to the warehouse for a final confrontation.
We never have found out just what happened at that warehouse, and Zeke still hasn’t said anything. What we do know comes from another source, namely Agent Fisk. After cracking into the blog, Fisk reported that the FBI was hunting Zeke Strahm for arson and multiple homicides. The warehouse that Zeke had gone to had been burned down, with two bodies (Conaghan and Eric) found inside. Following that, Zeke has posted a few more short posts, the first few cryptic and vague, but then commenting on events in other stories.
Zeke has continued to comment on other Slenderblogs, and now has another active blog, The Mystic.

Impact on the Mythos

Fighting Back

Zeke was, and still is, a very unique character amongst the Slenderblogs. Where most stories feature college students as their protagonists, here we have a hardboiled detective. Even more distinctive was how Zeke responded to Slender Man. At the time, the only other story which even considered a possibility other than Slendy killing everything within a ten mile radius was Tutorial, which focused on running. Seeking Truth was the first time a major story had its character attempt to fight back against Slender Man. From what we know, the fighting back wasn’t entirely successful, as Slendy’s still here, but Zeke has managed to be one of the few people to survive this long.
Since Seeking Truth, the idea of fighting back has really taken off. We’ve had tons of blogs where the protagonists act aggressively in response to Slender Man, instead of passively letting him drive them insane. Sometimes this isn’t a good thing, as a fair share of blogs have dropped all pretense of horror to focus on fighting back. Apart from those examples, I think this is a positive thing; while confusion and inactivity were good in the original stories, nowadays such characters often seem ridiculously genre blind.

Haunted as Children

Here, Seeking Truth tried to explain one of the consistently strange things in the Slenderstories: If Slender Man targets children…. Why do all his victims in these stories seem to be adults? ST’s justification was that many of the adults being targeted were childhood victims who somehow managed to avoid being taken by Slendy. Not many current blogs use the explanation (instead they tend to just say “Tulpa Effect did it”), but it is a good explanation, which helps address the fridge logic in Slendy’s victim choices.

Useful Links
Seeking Truth:
TVTropes Entry:
The Mystic: