Legend-Tripping Online

Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong's Hat

Michael Kinsella
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 208
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2tvcgr
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  • Book Info
    Legend-Tripping Online
    Book Description:

    On the Internet, seekers investigate anonymous manifestos that focus on the findings of brilliant scientists said to have discovered pathways into alternate realities. Gathering on web forums, researchers not only share their observations, but also report having anomalous experiences, which they believe come from their online involvement with these veiled documents. Seeming logic combines with wild twists of lost Moorish science and pseudo-string theory. Enthusiasts insist any obstacle to revelation is a sure sign of great and wide-reaching efforts by consensus powers wishing to suppress all the liberating truths in the Incunabula Papers (included here in complete form).

    InLegend-Tripping Online, Michael Kinsella explores these and other extraordinary pursuits. This is the first book dedicated to legend-tripping, ritual quests in which people strive to explore and find manifest the very events described by supernatural legends. Through collective performances, legend-trippers harness the interpretive frameworks these stories provide and often claim incredible, out-of-this-world experiences that in turn perpetuate supernatural legends.

    Legends and legend-tripping are assuming tremendous prominence in a world confronting new speeds of diversification, connection, and increasing cognitive load. As guardians of tradition as well as agents of change, legends and the ordeals they inspire contextualize ancient and emergent ideas, behaviors, and technologies that challenge familiar realities. This book analyzes supernatural legends and the ways in which the sharing spirit of the internet collectivizes, codifies, and makes folklore of fantastic speculation.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-984-8
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. XIII-2)
  5. 1. LEGENDS AND LEGEND ECOLOGIES
    (pp. 3-20)

    In 329 C.E., Alexander the Great and his army were attempting to cross the Jaxartes River in Central Asia when two massive silver shields flying through the sky assailed them with bursts of flames. Except for Alexander, all of the men, as well as their elephants and horses, fell into a panic and fled.¹ In 776 C.E., the Saxons, while laying siege on Sigiburg Castle in France, sighted “two large shields reddish in color” hovering high in the air. The Saxons, believing these objects to be aiding the French, retreated from the battlefield in terror.² On March 13, 1997, thousands...

  6. 2. THE PERFORMANCE OF LEGEND-TRIPPING
    (pp. 21-41)

    The Bluegrass State is allegedly home to untold legions ofhaints—lost, disembodied souls who wander the southern landscape—and their enduring popularity ensures that the region’s folklore will forever be entwined with Kentucky’s history. Shortly after relocating from Los Angeles to begin graduate studies at Western Kentucky University, I became enamored with local ghost stories and eventually conducted research on how contemporary spirit photography, as a type of folk art, articulates belief in spiritual manifestations. Part of this research entailed interviewing ghost hunters, many who were members of either the Adsagsona Paranormal Society of Tennessee or the Louisville Ghost...

  7. 3. THE TECHNOLOGY OF MAGIC AND THE MAGIC OF TECHNOLOGY
    (pp. 42-55)

    In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, many Westerners thought belief in magic was a survival of primitive thinking, a remnant of an archaic pseudo-science. Regardless of this ethnocentric bias, some important observations were made about how magical beliefs function. InThe Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion(1890), the anthropologist James George Frazer classified magic as the belief that “things act on each other at a distance through a secret sympathy.”¹ To this day, Frazer’s description of “sympathetic magic” remains highly regarded as accurate. Another important “discovery” about magic belief came twenty-five years later, when the anthropologist...

  8. 4. CONJURING TALES
    (pp. 56-65)

    Within a legend complex, narratives, practices, and experiences build upon and reinforce one another to encourage legend-tripping performances in a way one isolated tale never could. During my time at Waverly Hills I didn’t meet a single person who had heard but one account of Waverly. Rather, everyone was familiar with many stories and legends about the sanitarium. They had contextualized these narratives within a larger sphere of folk metaphysics comprised of legends, rumors, opinions, ostensive acts, and beliefs related to New Age mysticism, psychic phenomena, institutional religious views, past personal experiences, information gleaned from the Internet, books, television, radio,...

  9. 5. ACCOUNTS OF PAST HAPPENINGS AND THE CHALLENGE TO INVESTIGATE
    (pp. 66-84)

    The Incunabula Papers surfaced sometime during the late 1980s to early 1990s, while the legend-trip resulting from their online circulation started in the late 1990s and peaked in activity around 2001.¹ The first of these two enigmatic documents, entitledOng’s Hat: Gateway to the Dimensions! A Full Color Brochure for the Institute of Chaos Studies and the Moorish Science Ashram in Ong’s Hat, New Jersey, was allegedly written by members of the Institute for Chaos Studies (or ICS), an underground, loosely affiliated group exploring “the enhancement of consciousness and consequent enlargement of mental, emotional, and psychic activities.”² The ICS purportedly...

  10. 6. JOURNEY INTO UNCANNY TERRITORY
    (pp. 85-111)

    After being introduced to the accounts of past happenings described by a legend or legend complex, some members of the legend audience decide to investigate further, and these investigations usually involve traveling to a specific site or performing a series of prescribed actions depicted by the legend or legend complex as having some supernatural quality. The past accounts generate an affective excitement that translates to expectation. All of us at the Waverly Hills sanitarium anticipated some kind of extraordinary encounter similar to those we had heard about, and we all had prepared for our venture by sharing ghost lore, essentially...

  11. 7. CONTACT WITH THE SUPERNATURAL
    (pp. 112-126)

    Contact with the supernatural is the peak of the legend-trip, for the ritual’s main purpose is to initiate a supernatural event congruent with that described by the legend(s). With regard to the Incunabula Papers, contact with the supernatural occurs when people perform the belief, or literally believe, that the Incunabula Papers have some supernatural or initiatory quality and when they begin interpreting events or perceptions as supranormal. We can begin to understand what happens during this stage by examining personal experience reports. Many scholars grapple with how to approach these types of narratives, let alone the experiences they describe, but...

  12. 8. INTENSE DISCUSSION AND THE PROCESSING OF EVENTS
    (pp. 127-136)

    During the final stage of legend-tripping, participants discursively attempt to make sense of the entire ordeal. This process might seem to signal the ritual’s “end,” but it actually renews the legend complex and parallels the third stage of interpretive drift wherein interpreted events justify the very frameworks that instigated them. Involvement can be prolonged and can last indefinitely. Since the computer-mediated environment in which the Incunabula Papers legend-trip unfolds isn’t governed by the immediacy of face-to-face interactions, the negotiations of meaning are preserved as an archive of “accounts of past happenings.” Other forms of legend-tripping also convert the communal discussions...

  13. 9. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 137-148)

    On July 31, 2001, a commercial alternate reality game calledMajestic, inspired by the “Majestic 12” documents allegedly written by a highly secretive insider group privy to information regarding the U.S. Government’s relationship with UFOs, made its debut. As part of the effort to conceal the fact that it was a game,Majesticincorporated real conspiracy-based websites in its gaming narrative. It also developed fictional materials that real-world conspiracy theorists absorbed into their own narratives, not realizing these materials had been designed for an ARG. The summer of 2001 also introducedThe Beast, and some Incunabula participants were concered that...

  14. NOTES ON THE APPENDICES
    (pp. 149-149)
  15. APPENDIX 1. Key to “Incunabula Papers” and “Ong’s Hat” Referents
    (pp. 150-150)
  16. APPENDIX 2. ONG’S HAT: GATEWAY TO THE DIMENSIONS! A full color brochure for the Institute of Chaos Studies and the Moorish Science Ashram in Ong’s Hat, New Jersey.
    (pp. 151-161)
  17. APPENDIX 3. INCUNABULA: A Catalogue of Rare Books, Manuscripts & Curiosa—Conspiracy Theory, Frontier Science & Alternative Worlds
    (pp. 162-185)
  18. NOTES
    (pp. 186-197)
  19. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 198-205)
  20. INDEX
    (pp. 206-211)