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Friday, April 8, 2011

I Want To Believe


For the freelance writer, working often means procrastinating until the last possible second. (If you wait till the last minute, it'll only take a minute, right? The Procrastinator's Credo!) And in my spare time, when I should be working I have instead absconded into the depths of Netflix's new TV shows available for streaming. The X-Files was at the heart of my quest.

Since I'm a typical nineties kid, I grew up watching The X-Files in secret, away from the prying eyes of parental units seeking domination of my personal development. That and I suffered from nightmares, so avoiding scary things was simply practical for my Mom.

But nonetheless, I have always been fascinated by the Occult, Aliens, Government Conspiracies, and other mysteriously capitalized subjects. Yet at the same time, I scoff at most believers -- crazies, loonies, fanatics, nutjobs with tin foil-wrapped antennas on their head to keep the CIA from scanning their brain-waves. (I actually knew someone who did that. And she was crazy!) Call me a skeptic with an imaginative heart.

Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe.

Obviously this presents a problem when facts aren't forthcoming to incidents with no probable explanation. Roswell, Area 51, the Kennedy assassination, the NWO, tsunami bombs, Bohemian Grove, the Philidelphia Project, Weird US, ghosts, and even ESP, are all paranormal explanations to documented phenomena.

But how do we sift the facts from the hoaxes? [Crop circles were recently revealed to be faked.] Yet, others contend that [they are still real... mostly.]


When it comes to the paranormal, I am of two minds. [There exists unexplained phenomena] that cannot be adequately investigated using science or logic, or any rational means. Simultaneously however, there exists multiple cases of [paranormal phenomena being uncovered as fraudulent], completely decimated by the practical application of investigative prowess. Government conspiracies seem likely for the assassination of JFK, or the Roswell incident, but then again, I've always felt that conspiracy theorists give governments too much credit -- most of them are filled with idiots who can barely keep their mistresses a secret, let alone [cover-up destroying the World Trade Center.]

Whether you speak of [extra-terrestrials] coming to Earth to make a collect call and eat peanut-butter M&Ms, or the [chubacabra] sucking the blood out of random goats, my heart believes what my mind tells me just isn't true.

Take the [Mothman]. If ever there was a mysterious mystery, so grounded in facts yet mired by speculation then this is it. Nobody knows whether it's true or not, but not even the most hardened skeptic can deny the sheer creepiness of how real this creature could be after it terrorized Point Pleasant, confirmed by multiple witnesses who could not have concocted it together.

I've read countless folkloric essays on cryptozoology, psychokinesis, regression hypnosis, parapsychology, hauntings, voodoo, and many other subjects classified as Fortean phenomena. Each one contains within it countless examples that defy rational explanation, yet violate many of the basic laws of science, from physics to biology, even common-sense.

[Weird US magazine] regularly reports on American legends and secrets, from the Jersey Devil to Devil holes in the forests of the Pacific northwest.

There was even a story about a midgetville near San Diego in the Mojave desert. (This wasn't the more well-known midget town of La Jolla.) A town comprised completely of dwarfs, gnomes, little people, midgets, with their own small McDonald's, Starbucks, and houses all shrunk to fit!

What makes this mystery all the more strange is that I myself have been to this place. On the western side of the Salton Sea, out in the middle of nowhere there IS a town filled with tiny houses, a tiny McDonald's, a tiny Starbucks. Surrounding are signs that say, "PRIVATE PROPERTY. KEEP OUT. TRESPASSERS MAY BE SHOT." Despite my better judgment, I drove past.

And promptly got pulled over by the cops, who escorted me out. I saw no residents in the town, though from the distance I was there's no way to confirm this, especially if they really were midgets. They'd be harder to see, right?


Or take a paranormal experience I had when I was 19. Took my first roadtrip up to Tacoma, Washington to visit a gamer-friend of mine. We used to play Warcraft III back in the day, and kept up a steady online friendship. One day he invited me to visit, and I accepted.

Driving through the Cascades from Redding into Ashland I got stuck in the cold. It was December. A horrible time to be driving through thousand foot high mountains covered in snow, black ice, and near-zero visibility.

But lucky for me there were plenty of large trucks with chains on their tires making the crossing. I'd tried to beat the sun int Oregon, but ended up near the peaks at around 4 AM.

Dead Man's hour, when the circadian rhythm of a person is at its slowest. This is the time when people are said to be closest to a dream-state, able to more susceptible to paranormal activity.

I eventually got lost from the big-rigs and their bright lights. Kept the radio going full-blast to keep myself awake, and scare off any jitters. It was snowing pretty bad, and I had to slow to a crawl just to keep my mom's old Camry on the road.

My eyes are peeled, staring obsessively at the road, when all of a sudden I feel a... presence in the car with me. I look over to see a heavyset woman with red hair dressed in a lumberjack's plaid shirt and tough blue jeans.

She reminded me of a butch-dyke lesbian.

(Like this)

But instead of being mouthy like I usually am, I was quiet. I was unable to make a sound. Just kept driving through the snow so slowly the trees seemed to crawl past my windows.

The woman didn't say anything. In fact the whole car was silent. Even my radio had suddenly stopped working. Eventually I got so bothered by what was happening that I finally got the gumption to say something, ask who this woman was. But she beat me to the punch with a low "Hmph!" Almost like a man.

It so startled me that I pulled over and started straight at her. She just sat there, not looking at me, her eyes focused on the road ahead. I look back to my front windshield, curious if she had seen something, and when I turned to look back... she was gone.

Right then I felt the most incredible heaviness on me, and before I knew it I was falling asleep.

Woke up to the soft crackle of my radio. My car was frosted over, but somehow I wasn't freezing... I started the engine and let the Camry warm-up. Meanwhile I turned up the radio and checked the traffic report.

It was then that I heard something which made my jaw drop.

Apparently in the middle of the night an avalanche had occurred along the road I was taking to Ashland. Nobody was hurt, but the road was blocked and construction crews were in the middle of attempting to clear it.

I thought to myself, what if I hadn't stopped for the night on the side of the road? I was only a few miles from the site. Could I have been caught in the raging snow, carried off the road, even killed??

It was then that I remember the woman. Had she saved me? Who was she? Was she even real? At the time she seemed to be. The crows-feet around her eyes, her slight dimples, the fabric of her clothing, the individual strands of red hair. They all seemed indicative that a real person HAD been in my car last night.

But where'd she come from? And where'd she go?

Was she a ghost?


I started to strongly consider the possibilities... When I was very young my nanny had always teased me about the coocooie, a Spanglish word for ghost, like La Llorona. But until this moment I'd never considered them to be anything real. Just a made-up story. Just something to frighten young children.

Well right then I was more frightened than I'd ever been. What had happened to me that night? Had this mysterious woman, this... ghost saved my life?

Honestly I don't know. When I got to the avalanche site, the road-crews told me that the avalanche probably started around 4:00 or 5:00 AM, right around the same time I'd been driving down that road.

I took a detour towards the Oregon coast lighthouses, shaking the whole way. What the fuck happened to me that night!?

Even now I still don't fully understand what happened to me. My girlfriend says it was probably my subconscious reacting to a lack of sleep that led me to pull over and pass out, concocting this illusion due to stress and tiredness.

It is a plausible explanation. Can't deny that it IS a seriously possibility. But nonetheless... something about the way that woman grunted... it was like a warning. Maybe instead of a ghost, she was a guardian angel?

Well whatever that night on the road, it instilled in me a serious consideration for the occult, for paranormal phenomena, for things which can't be explained rationally. It left me shaken, uncertain of how possible the impossible may be.

I don't believe, but I want to.


***BONUS***

Check out a book entitled, The Skeptic's Guide to Conspiracies: From the Knights Templar to the JFK Assassination: Uncovering the Real Truth Behind the World's Most Controversial Conspiracy Theories.


(Long-winded title, huh? I know, right!)

It goes through a rather long list of ancient and contemporary conspiracy theories, outlining the plausibility for each along with a detailed ranking system and "strangeness" value. Great for anyone wanting an introduction t the subject. They even teach you how to make your own conspiracy theory!


Cheers

9 footnotes:

Mira said...

Oh, the X files! I loved the X files! (I'm a 90s kid... teenager, so obviously it was my fav TV show!)

My best friend and I have spent a good deal of our early teen years fascinated by the paranormal and unexplainable phenomena. We truly believed they were true. We wrote stories about it (adventure novels).

There were, obviously, some things we didn't buy, and we believed most of what is presented as a conspiracy theory or a paranormal phenomena is fake. But we believed these things DO exist.

So we've had out phase... I can't believe I'm actually writing about it! When we were 14 we used to make little seances in which we tried to communicate with ghosts. We'd make an improvised board and ask really silly questions, like, which is going to be the next Disney animated movie (yes, you've read that right). And we got a strange answer: first two words pretty clear, and then something confusing. But the first two words we got were, in English: "The Lion". So Imagine our shock and excitement when The Lion King came out!

Anyway, that only made us believe there's IS something and we started doing this on a regular basis. In a way, we became addicted to it. It was really crazy. And then one day, something really strange and bad happened. Well, nobody was hurt, but it felt like the ghost, or whatever it was, that wasn't really friendly. I can't really describe that feeling, but it was ugly. Nothing really happened, except that it was a really strange, bad feeling, and it made us so scared. It was the last time we ever tried doing this.

We've had a rough year after that, though I am not sure if it had anything to do with it. We were freshman in high school, and that usually sucks anyway. But the point is, we did see it as a punishment for what we did, messing with the things that shouldn't be messed with. I think about that time we've embraced religion. We were raised as atheists (just like most of the people in former Yugoslavia), so we've discovered religion on our own.

All in all... I don't know what to say about the topic. I sure don't see things the same way I did when I was 14 (obviously), and education and training in science have made me a skeptic. Still, I don't know... I guess there are some things that science still can't explain, but I don't think there should even be such a strong dichotomy between science and paranormal. I mean, the more we learn the more we know.

Still, I would never mess with some things again.

Zek J Evets said...

Mira,

Haha, I lurves the X-Files as well. Just finished season 1 and already on my way through season 2 =)

Your story sounds pretty crazy! Did you feel a presence in the room? Any kind of weird light flickering or sudden cold spots?

My anthropological training has made a skeptic of me as well, but I still have this desire to believe in things which I can't rationally explain. The results often lead me in circles!

Ouija boards are scary! Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't, and sometimes they just scare the everliving shit out of you. I've had a few experiences with Ouija boards, but most of the time have written them off. Nothing compared to your experience though.

You should post some of those stories on your blog though! I'd be fascinated to read more =)

Mira said...

Your story sounds pretty crazy! Did you feel a presence in the room? Any kind of weird light flickering or sudden cold spots?

I didn't feel the presence in the room, but I did feel presence in the equipment (we were using drafting compass), and I could feel two forces fighting in it, each one trying to move it in a different direction. Also, one of my hands was always very cold and another one extremely hot, though there's a logical explanation: I was holding my friend's hand. Still, the difference in temperature was significant.

Now that I think about it, I am not sure what were we thinking.

I've had a few experiences with Ouija boards, but most of the time have written them off.

These were improvised boards, made of notebook paper. Care to share your experiences? (Or not... These things are scary).

You should post some of those stories on your blog though! I'd be fascinated to read more =)

I am not sure if I'm brave enough to blog about it, to be honest. But we can always discuss them here, if you like.

Speaking of paranormal, there's an upcoming movie, called "Red Lights", starring Robert de Niro, Sigourney Weaver and Cillian Murphy. It's about a team of scientists debunking paranormal phenomena. Well, sort of. I've read the script, and while it's not THAT promising (especially the wtf ending), I will sure watch the movie. (Because of Cillian, of course :P)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1748179/

Zek J Evets said...

Mira,

Oh you and Cillian Murphy... haha.

I may blog more about some of my crazy experiences. Anything to relieve the tiresome exercise of debating cyber-bigots. We'll see...

Mira said...

Oh you and Cillian Murphy... haha.

What, what? The guy is a good actor! But this film will probably such. Still, it deals with the issues such as science and pseudoscience and whether paranormal phenomena exist.

I'd love to read more about your experiences. Let's face it, you have many crazy/interesting/shocking stories to share. ;)

serpentus said...

I'm a little jealous of you guys. I've never had any paranormal experience or anything. Plus, I don't even dream (well, rarely). I also live in the most boring place in the U.S. You guys seem to lead some interesing livs.

serpentus said...

Zek, perhaps due to lack of sleep, you started hallucinated the woman. Let's face it--you were tired. I'm a bit more skeptical about the paranormal.

Zek J Evets said...

Serpentus,

Haha, you have no idea. I've lead a life that's sometimes TOO interesting. I can only imagine what city you live in that's so... boring.

As for my paranormal experience, I think you've got a good point. But even though I was tired and may have been hallucinating, that still doesn't explain how I didn't freeze overnight sleeping in the car on the side of the road, or how my battery didn't die despite the radio having been on all night. And it was rather coincidental that I turned off right before the avalanche area.

Zek J Evets said...

Anonymous,

Apparently you can't read, because obviously you failed to READ my rules for commenting.

More importantly, you have no idea how much everything you said about me applies only to you =/