Category Archives: Ong’s Hat

Corrections to Brian Dunning’s Skeptoid Podcast About Ong’s Hat

The first thing one learns upon becoming a subject of press interest is that there’s actually very little one can generally do in the face of inaccurate or even malicious press coverage. – Barrett Brown

The tl;dr version 

(I urge you to come back and follow the referenced links to verify the validity of the information)

There’s a podcast/website called The Skeptoid that is run by one Brian Dunning. The website seems to consist of a collection of transcriptions of the Skeptoid podcast, links to the podcast and a personal vita for Mr. Dunning. I learned that recently, Brian Dunning ran an episode of the Skeptoid titled: Ong’s Hat, which was, predictably about the Ong’s Hat literary game.

Brian Dunning claims that his podcast, “Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena is an award-winning weekly science podcast. Since 2006, Skeptoid has been revealing the true science behind popular misinformation and urban legends.” His words.

While I haven’t sampled any of the other offerings on that Skeptoid website, I did read the text transcription of Mr. Dunning’s “investigation” into the Ong’s Hat urban legend and found it dismissive and misinformed in the following areas.

Robert Anton Wilson is was a participant in the Ong’s Hat project

The Skeptoid, aka Brian Dunning, starts with the following basis for his analysis:

Skeptoid says:

To explain what happened, I’m going to lay some groundwork by referring you back to someplace unexpected: last week’s episode #657 on the Illuminati. When we see pop stars and other celebrities today holding their hands up in the triangle symbol — possibly hoping to persuade their fans that they are members of the Illuminati which they believe to be an ancient, all-powerful sect — we learned that this legend really only goes back a few decades, to a little piece of cultural engineering dreamed up by a few writers at Playboy magazine. Robert Anton Wilson created the reader feedback campaign in the magazine and co-authored a novel trilogy, that essentially created the entirety of modern belief in a powerful shadow cabal called the Illuminati. It was a fascinating example of how a well-planned and well-executed cultural engineering campaign can effectively create whole mythology which not only survives but actually flourishes and persists for decades. Today, intelligent people honestly believe that the Illuminati exist — thanks mainly to Robert Anton Wilson.

When we look into the background literature for Ong’s Hat, guess whose name we find: Robert Anton Wilson. That should set the tone for where we can expect the rabbit hole of Ong’s Hat to lead. Wilson is mentioned several times throughout Joseph Matheny’s writings. In his book, Matheny wrote of having lived in Santa Cruz, California with a group of academics, authors, and pioneers of the psychedelic movement — a group who called themselves the Formless Ocean Group. Among them was Robert Anton Wilson. It was from these folks that Matheny — according to his legend — learned of and first read a collection of documents titled The Incunabula Papers. Supposedly, these papers are how he first learned of the experiments at Ong’s Hat.

I reply:

I won’t bother with critiquing the theories regarding RAW and his role in the modern belief in the Illuminati that Mr. Dunning holds. I’ll leave that to the RAW fans out there. I am not here to teach a history lesson.

I will, however, correct the erroneous and confusing assertion that RAW’s name somehow appears in “background material” for Ong’s hat.  While RAW was aware of the Ong’s Hat project he was not a participant. Yes undeniably, he was a mentor to and influence on me, but what one has to do with the other is tenuous at best. Correlation does not equal causation. I’m not sure what “background” literature Brian is referring to, but Bob’s name never appears in any of the Ong’s Hat material. Where Bob ‘s name does appear is on my website in conjunction with other projects we did together. I think Skeptoid is experiencing some information drift.

Anyway, that is a minor aside.

On to the meat of our corrections.

Skeptoid asserts that my dearly departed friends, The Formless Ocean Group, never existed

Skeptoid says:

The Formless Ocean Group — which never actually existed outside of Matheny’s fiction — appears to have been based on other similar groups of counterculture intellectuals who came together, lived together, worked and wrote together, got high and broke new ground. Think of the free-living occultists who lived at Jack Parson’s house in Los Angeles called the Parsonage and founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as described in the book Sex and Rockets; or those who gathered at the New Jersey property of paranormalist Ivan T. Sanderson called the Farm and refined the New Age mythologies of ley lines, ancient aliens, and the Bermuda Triangle.

In a nutshell, the entire story of Ong’s Hat was a fictional work, created mostly if not entirely by Matheny. Nothing about it checks out. There are no corroborating reports of any group ever calling themselves the Formless Ocean Group, and no record of any of its members living at its given address in Santa Cruz. There never was an Institute for Chaos Studies at the ashram; indeed, there never was a Moorish Science Ashram. No acres were ever purchased in the Pine Barrens in 1978. No group of runaway boys ever lived there. About the only thing that does have a grain of truth is the name of the place itself, Ong’s Hat.

I could even draw a full circle, from Matheny’s Formless Ocean Group to Ivan Sanderson’s Farm, to the Bigfoots and other cryptids that Sanderson pursued, to the Jersey Devil, to Daniel Leeds, and right back around to Matheny’s ashram. The fabric of our cultural legends is richly interwoven indeed.

I reply:

Brian Dunning via The Skeptoid claims that the group made up of now mostly late friends of mine, never existed. The group was an informal salon-style group of people who met in Santa Cruz in the early 90s, primarily meeting in Nina Graboi’s and Elizabeth Gipps living rooms. Nina lived downstairs from me at the 2nd street apartment complex. This was pre-Internet, and the group never was formal in any way, it pre-dated public Internet activity, which explains why Mr. Dunning was unable to find any reference to it. This, of course, could have been deduced by the timeframe, clearly referenced by me in several places and the acknowledgment that this as an informal group but of course, if something isn’t on the Internet, it never really existed. Right?

Here’s an excerpt from the introduction to Ong’s Hat the Beginning, print edition:

Becoming a resident of 321 Second Street acted as a nexus point for me. Nina was fond of entertaining various counter-culture figures as they came through central California in her “parlor.” Eventually, a semi-organized group formed out of these salon sessions and took a name: the F.O.G., Formless Ocean Group. By the way. of association with Nina, Bob, and the F.O.G., I was brought into contact with many of the psychedelic figureheads of the time…

You notice in no way did I allege that everybody in the F.O.G. Group lived at the second street complex. However, I did, Nina Graboi did, others did, and at various times people came through and stayed with us or stopped by for a visit. It was, as I have said several times, a location that acted as a nexus for various people in the scene to stop by and mingle. The F.O.G. actually grew out of the impromptu salon that formed around Nina’s living room, which was downstairs from my apartment.

For example, here’s a photo of Bob and I in Nina Graboi’s garden (that’s Nina with her back to us). This photo was taken in 1991. At that time, Bob was living in LA but soon after he and Arlen moved to Santa Cruz to be near their children. As I said, that place was a NEXUS.

T=Robert Anton Wilson, Nina Graboi (back turned to camera), Joseph Matheny at the 2nd Street compound, 1991

Here’s just one person remembering the group on Erowid a few years back after Elizabeth passed: http://www.changes.org/remembering/nina_hollenberg.html

Funny aside, Bruce Eisner (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Eisner) who ran a more formal group called the Island Group,  nicknamed the F.O.G. “Friends of Gips” since we were all part of Elizabeth’s extended family. I recall F.O.G. being started in part as an informal alternative to the Island Group. The F.O.G. members had little to no regard for formality or structure.

Here’s another photo of another salon style hangout, upstairs on the deck of the 2nd street complex.  On this day we comingled with another slightly more formal group from Stanford (but annoyingly formal) called Millbrook West. A lot of the people pictured were also attendees at a lot of the FOG meetings.

From the Left: Purple shirt- I forget, bottom row- Nick Herbert, Nina Graboi, Jenny the Angel Lady, Ralph Abraham, Pink Sweater- I forget. Back row from the left- Elizabeth Gips, Paddy Long, Joseph Matheny, Ted and two friends from Millbrook west. The end, the pink sweater I forgot her name, end, pink vest with a blue shirt, Betsy Herbert.

What follows next in Skeptoid’s “analysis”  is a lot of unfounded extrapolation that the living room salon group I hung out with in the early 90s is in fact somehow drawn from Parson’s Pasadena “Parsonage” and some place called the Farm which I had no previous knowledge of. (See Skeptoid quote above).

I would point out that none of this speculation is presented in the language of such by Mr. Dunning, but rather presented as a foregone conclusion.

Anyone who has followed my work knows that I have always dedicated my work to the F.O.G. The group dissolved by the early nineties, I had gone off to Silicon Valley to pursue my interests in technology and art, eventually, one by one all the elder members passed on. These people meant a lot to me and my time with them is still one of my fondest memories.

Ong’s Hat Was Not a Game

Skeptoid says:

Some say Matheny was trying to create a game; a type called an Alternate Reality Game, a kind of real-world adventure where people follow a storyline, find clues, and solve puzzles. But there really aren’t any puzzles or solutions in Ong’s Hat. It’s just information, the fabric of a detailed urban legend, which you can choose to believe or not; you can take a deep dive and research thoroughly, or you can laugh it off as a silly story. Either way, Matheny did pull off a feat of cultural engineering by inserting the Ong’s Hat mythology firmly into pop culture.

I reply:

This one is really hard to digest because there is no basis in fact and no real reason why he would make this assertion unless he is simply skimming and half reading things to draw his conclusions. I guess it must be awfully hectic trying to throw a show together every week or whatever his publishing cycle is.

I’ve said it a hundred times or more, I reiterated it in 2001 when I closed the game and I have repeated it multiple times since in print. THIS WAS A LITERARY/GAME HYBRID EXPERIMENT. Therefore, I’ll simply give you these links, rather than continuing to flog a dead horse. If you’re really interested, you can read them or you can repeat the opinion of someone who clearly did not.

The short answer is, many qualified people recognized it as a game because it was a game. It was designed to be a new style of game, one that blended literary style with video and RPG style narrative, and structured, ala, gameplay, to advance the narrative. It also attempted to use an infinite game structure as much as possible, playing for the simple joy of playing, rather than zero-sum game style. I think this is the part that baffled people most. Structure and feature wise, I took a swiss army knife approach and again I recognize that this could confuse some people. However, this approach has allowed it to pivot over time and therefore contributed to its longevity. Just because something isn’t a game as you understand it doesn’t mean it isn’t a game.

Sometimes I think I need to write a book about everything that went on in the background to make this work. Other times I feel like I should just stop trying to explain it to people who have shown no interest in understanding the work on its merits. I meet people all the time who instinctively get what I was attempting. I have also met people who have already made up their minds even in some cases telling me they had “no interest in hearing me out.”  Anyway, back on point—

Some examples of people “thinking it was a game”:

Games Magazine, 2013 https://josephmatheny.com/2013/05/16/the-rise-of-the-arg-games-investigates-alternate-reality-games-and-what-the-future-has-in-store-for-the-curious-experiment/

“ With Ong’s Hat, Matheny took the concept of ‘legend tripping’ – that is, the act of venturing to areas of some horrific and supernatural event aIa The Blair Witch Project- and shifted it online. “I set up this mythos, and hid elements of it all over the internet,” he remembers. “There were phone numbers that you could call, and you would get strange voice mail messages; you might even get a call back from one of the characters. Everybody would come at it from a different angle. It was not a zero-sum game. The whole thing was set up to be an infinite play, so different people would get different things out of its persistence.” This element “People who are interested in this kind of experience are interested in working together. It’s what the community calls the ‘collective detective’ scenario,” says Matheny. “One of my influences was also the murder mystery theatre things that they used to do … I think that people like that kind of stuff. They like to feel that the story is crossing the proscenium and they’re immersed in the story -even to the point of being a character in the story. of the experience, with players reassembling the scattered elements of the story in order to determine exactly what it all meant, would go on I think that’s the hook with ARGs.”

Put a pin in the above because it also dovetails into a future point.

The ”gameplay centered around two things. One the eBook and two the Darkplanet forum. The ebook has a lot of built-in rollover states and hidden clickable areas.

Download the ebook, here https://archive.org/details/inc-iso for just one example. Navigate to the page (seen below) and roll your mouse around. You will see some still functioning pop-ups and click states. Even though this ebook was designed in a very early version of Adobe Acrobat, a lot of the effects still somewhat function. Some of these used to lead to pages on Incunabula.org (now retired) with more solves required to move forward. I also used to set up “pop-up” pages on the website that would appear and then mysteriously disappear. Steganography was used on some of the images on the website and many times cryptic messaging was scattered across a fleet of interlinked websites. There were also geocaches, bookcrossings and dead drops. Why am I even explaining this?  Oh yeah…

Example of clickable image form ebook.

Here’s a quote from Dave Szulborski’s book, This is Not a Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming https://jmatheny.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/tinagqua.pdf (download the full chapter on Ong’s Hat)

Like any good narrative, the Ong’s Hat story actually intertwined two distinct plots or sequences of events: the events in the Ong’s Hat Ashram in the 1970s that the “Incunabula 83 Papers” allegedly detail, which served as the story level of the narrative, and the discovery and distribution of the documents sometime later, which served as the discourse level of the narrative. So, undeniably, the Ong’s Hat experience had the aesthetic elements of a story required to make an ARG an immersive experience. Additionally, Ong’s Hat: Incunabula, by using the various real-world communication methods available on the Internet at the time to tell its story, and by requiring players to interact at a critical point of the discourse, also incorporated the game elements that traditionally make up and define an alternate reality game. At the very least, like House of Leaves, referenced earlier in this book, it was a literary/digital crossover, utilizing Xerox, BBS and later Internet technology, CD ROM technology, and even traditional print publishing as it’s various mediums. In fact, one of the creators of the original CD ROM has said that it included 23 intricate puzzles, most of which were never solved!

And one more for good measure, although far from the only clear signs of the game and puzzle aspects of Incunabula/Ong’s Hat.

Chronicle of Higher Education review of Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/pageview/the-surprising-online-life-of-legends/29221

In Legend-Tripping Online, he describes how his observations led him to a bizarre Internet phenomenon, the main focus of his book: an “immersive” online experience—part mystery, part game, part who knows what—known as both the Incunabula Papers and Ong’s Hat. Those were the abbreviated titles of documents that someone—probably a group of four provocateurs—posted on The Well, a pioneering Internet social site in the late 1980s.

The Incunabula Papers/Ong’s Hat was, or is, a “many-threaded, open-ended interactive narrative” that ”weds an alternate history of chaos science and consciousness studies to conspiracy theories, parallel dimensions, and claims that computer-mediated environments can serve as magical tools,” Kinsella explains.

Fortunately, he elaborates: After sitting largely dormant on the social Web site for a decade, the documents provoked a widespread “immersive legend-trip” in the late 1990s. Via Web forums, participants investigated the documents—manifestos—which spun up descriptions of brilliant but suppressed discoveries relating to paths that certain scientists had forged into alternate realities. Soon, those haunted dimensions existed in the minds and fantasies of Ong’s Hat’s many participants. That was evident as they responded to the original postings by uploading their own—all manner of reflections and artifacts: personal anecdotes, audio recordings, and videos—to augment what became “a really immersive world, and it was vast,” says Kinsella.

Then there’s the matter of this document which was included in the Original CD ROM (99) of the interactive ebook that was the starting place for the gameplay and which I referenced in the original  2001 game conclusion announcement.

Stick a pin in this as well for our last point.

Rather than continuing to flog a dead horse, I refer you to multiple articles that can be found on my site: https://josephmatheny.com that clearly demonstrate that Ong’s Hat suffered from acute gamification.

I Am Still Being Cryptic About the Origins Behind Ong’s Hat

Skeptoid says:

What does Matheny himself have to say? Well, he’s as cryptic as ever — stating that he’s kind of done talking about it, but he’s not yet giving any hint that he might have made it all up.

I reply:

What follows is a small sampling of the many items prominently highlighted on my site. Does this looks like someone who’s being “cryptic”? I see that Mr. Dunning has a copy of a link to the Salon piece at the bottom of the article on Skeptoid, but I wonder if he actually listened to it? Well, I advise you to and then ask yourself, “Does this sound like a man being coy or cryptic?” Before you say it, the Salon article came out months before the Skeptoid article.

Wikipedia: Ong’s Hat was one of the earliest Internet-based secret history conspiracy theories created as a piece of collaborative fiction (aka Incunabula) by four core individuals, although the membership propagating the tale changed over time.

This Wikipedia entry was not made by me but I have never contested it nor tried to disavow it. It is correct and it has been in place for a very long time. I even link to it from my site, on the opening page.

Decoder Ring: The Incunabula Papers  (October 2018- before the pub date of the Skeptoid article) https://slate.com/culture/2018/10/decoder-ring-explores-the-interdimensional-conspiracy-theory-known-as-ongs-hat-the-man-who-created-it-and-the-new-form-of-art-it-birthed.html?via=section_features

Or even more recently, Gizomodo: Ong’s Hat: The Early Internet Conspiracy Game That Got Too Real https://gizmodo.com/ongs-hat-the-early-internet-conspiracy-game-that-got-t-1832229488

Also, see

Chronicle of Higher Education review of Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/pageview/the-surprising-online-life-of-legends/29221 

This and Kinsella’s book, published in 2011 is something that I have not only never contested by have actively promoted on this site and others.

Remember when I said to put a pin in this?

“The response of Joseph Matheny to Legend-Tripping Online suggests the success of Kinsella’s read on the Incunabula Papers. On his Web site, Matheny wrote that Kinsella “did an excellent job and only missed the mark with two or three of his conclusions,” which Matheny said he would clear up by writing a complimentary account.”

Read the rest at your own leisure and tell me, does me promoting these items sound like someone who is being “cryptic?

Games Magazine, 2013 https://jmatheny.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/games-arg1.pdf Remember when I said t put a pin in this

“I set up this mythos, and hid elements of it all over the internet,” he remembers. “There were phone numbers that you could call and you would get strange voice mail messages; you might even get a call back from one of the characters. Everybody would come at it from a different angle. It was not a zero-sum game. The whole thing was set up to be an infinite play, so different people would get different things out of its persistence.” This element “People who are interested in this kind of experience are interested in working together. It’s what the community calls the ‘collective detective’ scenario,” says Matheny. “One of my influences was also the murder mystery theatre things that they used to do … I think that people like that kind of stuff. They like to feel that the story is crossing the proscenium and they’re immersed in the story -even to the point of being a character in the story. of the experience, with players reassembling the scattered elements of the story in order to determine exactly what it all meant, would go on I think that’s the hook with ARGs.”

That should be pretty self-explanatory,

A few more for the road.

Yes, I already hear the objections but check the dates of those articles. ALL of them precede the publication date of the Skeptoid article, with the exception of the Gizmodo piece.

My Conclusions Regarding Brian Dunning and The Skeptoid Podcast

All in all, if I were a fan of Skeptoid I would unpack a few episodes besides this one and see if Brian is on point with other of his self proclaimed  “Skeptoid style investigations”. I mean, after all, he is encouraging us to be skeptics, right? I see from a simple search that this isn’t his first error or even his second or– well you get the point. One can only hope he is a sincere actor and learns from and admit to his errors.

As I said before, be careful who you allow as the curator of your “truths” on the Internet Because after all, it is 2019 and it is the Internet.

One of the things I always wanted to do in 2001, post-Incunabula/Ong’s Hat was host to a conversation about what’s real and how perception can be weaponized and used against you. I was not allowed to do this mainly because the conspiranoia crowd had such a violent reaction to my “admission” that a far-out story like Ong’s Hat was actually a modern Borgesian fairy tale. Too bad, because considering all the things that followed, like Pizzagate and Q-Anon, that may have been a useful conversation to have had that early in the process. That part of it was always intended as an act of closure, it just never happened due to irrational hysteria that shouted down any attempt.

I fully support the stated mission statement of Skeptoid but at least, in this case, it seems they do not really live up to the promise.

In conclusion, I’ll remind you, gentle reader, be a critical thinker, be a skeptic, by all means, but please, if you’re going to critique something, take the time to actually read and/or listen to the material you are critiquing. Otherwise, your critique is neither a critique nor is it skeptical inquiry. It is merely dismissive opinion and frankly, looks like click-bait.

It’s fine to be critical and skeptical of someone’s work. Just do so based on the facts and not based on supposition or a pre-constructed narrative or heaven forfend,  on incomplete research and therefore, misinformation.

Be well and stay safe. Lots of mind virii are afloat these days. Always remember to wear the cognitive condom of critical thinking and always, TFYQA.

ALSO, SEE-

BRIAN DUNNING ON THE JOE ROGAN EXPERIENCE: A MASTERCLASS IN BAD SKEPTICISM

The Worst Thing Brian Dunning Has Done for Skepticism

Joe Rogan and Brian on Twitter

Brian’s “Shell Game”? 

Some of Brian’s “Greatest Hits” 

Skeptoid’s Dunning: The Story of a Man Who Hoodwinks Unskeptical Skeptics*

 

Grimerica: Denny Unger and Joseph Matheny – Alternative Reality Games and Conspiracies

Here’s a show with Grimerica that I recently did with my old friend Denny Unger along with the hosts of Grimerica, D-Ron, and Grahambo.

There’s one more interview I did back in December of 2018, supposedly still floating around in post-production limbo. If that ever sees the light of day,  then that is it. No more interviews.

I made an exception for this one because Denny and I have never done an interview together and I really liked the idea of our great team dynamic being on display in an interview. I hope you enjoy.


Show notes

Interview Starts at 36:05
Denny Unger and Joseph Matheny join us for the last chat about Ong’s Hat, Alternative Reality games, Magick and the last couple decades of Conspiracy Culture.
Denny is the CEO and Creative Directive of Cloudhead Games and used to run the website darkplanet in the early 90’s which was a big part of the Ong’s Hat mystery.
Joseph is an internet litterbug from the ironic school of conspiracy, reality hacker, storyteller, synchronicity inducter, and a hypermedium magician among many others.
We chat about how synchronicities and how they multiply when people get interesting in AR, and the flip flop aspect of the Mandela affect.  We chat about the various aspects of the Ong’s Hat mystery, weaponization of contemporary conspiracies, Joseph’s past interviews, Alternative Reality Gaming, legend tripping, grift, pizzagate, ritual magick, zen, larping, and Q just to name a few….

 

Ong’s Hat: The Early Internet Conspiracy Game That Got Too Real

LINK TO Gizmodo piece on Ong’s Hat, from 2/21/19

In the ‘90s and early 2000s, seekers looking into the legend online began to believe that just reading about Ong’s Hat was starting to affect them. “People reported various synchronicities, strange dreams, unusual visual perceptions, and shifts in reality monitoring,” wrote Michael Kinsella, a professor at Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant and author of Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat, in an email.

If you were into science fiction or the paranormal, “you’d eventually butt up against Ong’s Hat,” said David Metcalfe, who runs social media for the University of Georgia Business School, and edits Threshold: Journal of Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies. When he discovered Ong’s Hat as a teen in the late ‘90s, said Metcalfe, “It was popping up on chat boards and message boards, it would bleed into your life.”

Unlike the Jersey Devil, or other Barrens horrors, this was no ordinary urban legend, shaped over years of teen campfire retellings in the woods. Rather the Ong’s Hat story, the Incunabula catalog, and the rest of the surrealistic sci-fi pretzel were manufactured by Matheny and his friends, like Herbert, over more than a decade, starting with photocopied pamphlets in the ‘80s, and bolstered with fake documents, radio show appearances, and other hijinx. But the exercise in collective storytelling made its deepest impression online, amassing a following of internet detectives who filled page after page on web forums and personal blog sites with research and theories about what really happened at Ong’s Hat.

LINK TO Gizmodo piece on Ong’s Hat, from 2/21/19

Decoder Ring: The Incunabula Papers

What lies at the heart of Ong’s Hat?

Listen to this episode of Decoder Ring: 

LINK TO DECODER RING PAGE

Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every month, host Willa Paskin, Slate’s TV critic, takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means and why it matters.

On the early internet, a conspiracy theory known as Ong’s Hat flourished. It combined real physics, speculative science, mysticism, and radical politics, to tell a tale about a secret cult of interdimensional travelers. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, clues would emerge about the travel cult: brochures, book catalogs, mysterious interviews, buried artifacts, and more. For years, users worked together to solve the mystery of Ong’s Hat and the man who masterminded it all.

Decoder Ring talks to those seekers and the man behind the curtain, to find out the truth: What is Ong’s Hat?

Download the art for this episode.

Links and further reading on some of the things we discussed on the show:

• Michael Kinsella’s book about Ong’s Hat: Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat

• “Interdimensional Portal” on YouTube

• Audiobook version of The Incunabula Papers

• Scans of the original Ong’s Hat mail-art

• Joseph Matheny’s website

• Joseph Matheny’s interview on Coast to Coast AM

Email: decoderring@slate.com
Twitter: @willapaskin

This episode was co-written and edited by Willa Paskin and Benjamin Frisch. Benjamin Frisch produced the episode.

*SPOILER ALERT* In case anyone missed it, here is the game that was embedded in that episode: https://www.reddit.com/r/trustaleph/ 

Ong’s Hat: The Original ARG – Sex, Drugs & Quantum Physics

Ong’s Hat, also known as The Incunabula, is the original ARG and laid the ground for all future experiments in transmedia storytelling. Join me as we take a brief look at the tale of a ghost town in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey…

FOLLOW THE WEIRDNET: TWITTER: @theweirdnet GAB.AI: @THEWEIRDNET FACEBOOK: @welcometotheweirdnet INSTAGRAM: @theweirdnet MINDS: https://www.minds.com/THEWEIRDNET ALTERNATIVE VIDEO SITES BITCHUTE: http://bit.ly/weirdnetbitchute OTHER PROJECTS: IDENTMUSIC/TOMMY SINGS: https://www.youtube.com/user/IdentMusic THE SCOTTISH STORYTLLER: http://bit.ly/TheScottishStoryteller

Best Friend Simulator Episode 16: Those Mummy Flippin’ Flintknappers/ Ong’s Hat

Topics include: Crimbus gifts, planning our funerals, Scary German Lady, Philly Legends: The Bubble Fairy, Josh is home alone, Alien Alloys, BFS Road Trip, Corrections and Josh’s Chaos Dimension: Ong’s Hat, the Pine Barrens, and Joseph Matheny

Characters: Sammy Squarespace (the CEO of Square Space)

LINKhttps://bestfriendsimulator.podbean.com/e/episode-16-those-mummy-flippin-flintknappers-ongs-hat/

This Is Not A Game, The Alternate Reality Game Of The Real

The methods used in creating alternate realities is also quite familiar to anyone with a background in Alternate Reality Games, which arose in the early Net and zine culture of the 80s and 90s at the hands of people such as Joseph Matheny. However, and this is absolutely essential, the intent of these works was to broaden the scope of creative possibilities, and was never in any sense to further political objectives. Here is what he said in “Transmedia: Who Invited the Lobsters Anyway?”,

READ MORE

Special Episode: ‘Fake Lore, Dark Memes’, with Joseph Matheny

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This episode is part two of our interview with Joe Matheny. Part one, The Digital Underground, covered Joe’s experiences running The Grey Lodge, an early, underground private torrent tracker used by millions of people per month. Part two covers Joe’s groundbreaking ARG & literary work, Ong’s Hat, and its place in early internet culture, before we veer off into a discussion about how the ‘fakelore’ methods Joe used in the development of that work connect to the meme wars of today and the increasing political importance of memes (e.g. Kek, the ‘alt-right’ appropriation of Pepe The Frog.) We also discuss the very improbable connection (it really is) between Joe and Jamie, and how Joe became a patron of the show himself; PLUS, the potential for Kodi addons as a distribution point for indie creators.

Original URLhttps://stealthisshow.com/fake-lore-dark-memes-with-joe-matheny/

Parts 1 & 2 also available from Archive.org

A lockfile with all the links mentioned in this episode is coming up for Patrons. Enjoy!

Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Riley Byrne
Original Music David Triana | Web Production Eric Barch


Presented by TorrentFreak

Sponsored by Private Internet Access & Premiumize

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac, Eric Barch.

The Digital Underground: with The Grey Lodge’s Joseph Matheny

The Grey Lodge was an underground private torrent tracker used by millions of people per month in their quest to uncover the esoteric, strange and the downright weird. In this episode we hear from Joe Matheny, one of the founders of the site, about how it kicked off in the very early days of BitTorrent, online culture in the early days of the Internet, proto-copyright trolls, how even weirdos eventually get pursued by the MPAA, and how the demise of indie trackers from Grey Lodge to What.CD mean a net loss for our culture.

Coming soon: the second part of this interview, in which Joe discusses his work as an early creator of “this is not a game” ARG experiences and his well-known work Ong’s Hat, The Incunabula Papers. We’ll be making that available for supporters on the Patreon (and maybe more widely) in due course. In the meantime, if you’re curious to take a look at some of Joe’s work, he’s been kind enough to give us a free pack including Ong’s Hat and some samples from his ARG! Enjoy.

Links to show: https://stealthisshow.com/s02e07/ and https://torrentfreak.com/steal-show-s02e07-early-days-private-trackers/

Podcast: Download |  Torrent |  Magnet

Parts 1 & 2 also available from Archive.org

Showrunner & Host Jamie King | Editor Riley Byrne
Original Music David Triana | Web Production Siraje Amarniss


Presented by TorrentFreak | Sponsored by Private Internet Access

Executive Producers: Mark Zapalac

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¿VIAJES A UNIVERSOS PARALELOS? AQUÍ ALGUNOS CASOS DE ESTOS SUCESOS

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Translated from Spanish

3. Ong’s Hat.
Translation: Ong’s Hat, New Jersey, was founded somewhere in the nineteenth century by a man named Ong after he tossed a hat into the air and it got caught on the branch of a tree … very interesting about hats history, but anyway, put that aside and turn our attention to parallel universes.
Already by the 1930s, the city had become a ghost town, but despite this, it was never forgotten: this abandoned city became the subject of one of the first conspiracy theories of the Age of the Internet.
Theory has it that during the 70s and 80s, a new scientific paradigm called “Chaos”, which sought to find the relationship between everyday situations, such as tying shoelaces or reading a book and all the consequences that each could bring – for example, you are going to tie your shoes, you find a book under the bed, you take the book with you, you’re going to read it to a place, a person goes, read the title on the cover, it seems curious, decide to buy the book, read the book and becomes a serial murderer because of that, that is, if you had not tied the laces at that exact moment, there would not have lost a serial murderer – began to gain popularity.
Two groups of researchers, led by one Dobbs developed the theory that through awareness could model the universe itself, provided the ability to control the chaos and had, consequently, making available to the observer the journey other dimensions. Dobbs even have invented a machine that developed the brains of people to confront this strange complexity: the first sensory deprivation chamber dubbed “The Egg”. However, like any good story, this alternative has even more sinister than what you just read.
One version says that Dobbs did nothing more than finding an interdimensional portal. Remember to Ong earlier this sub? Urban legend has it that he was a man who was always well dressed in a suit and a silk hat, who founded the city in 1920 and had serious problems with his hat did not stay on his head. Ong was a pretty weird guy and no one knew where he came from nor where he was … to be exact, no one knows where were all the villagers after 1936. All were very demure and only had contact with the inhabitants of the same village . Still, back in 1932, according to a local urban legend, things got weird. Gradually, the city seemed to be disappearing. In early 1936, there was no trace of the city, leaving only the brick structures that once stood up there and an old shed. No inhabitant, nothing but the wind always Ong defeated the hat.
In 1970, Dobbs had come to the small left with a team of specialized scientists is populated Underground Constructions. For some reason – that is not entirely clear – Dobbs was aware that there was something on this village.And his hunch was correct, Dobbs supposedly found in a bunker sort of a machine called “The Egg” that allowed any man could travel between dimensions.

Also a similar Portuguese story 

Translation: Ong’s Hat, New Jersey, was founded sometime in the 19th century by a man named Ong after he threw his hat in the air and lost it on a tree branch … a very interesting story about hats, but anyway, let’s leave it and then went back to the focus of the post!
By 1920, the city became a ghost town, but despite that, she has not been forgotten: the abandoned town became the subject of one of the first conspiracy theories in the Internet Age.
Account the theory that during the 1970s and 80s, a new scientific paradigm called “Chaos”, which is concerned with finding the correlation between everyday situations, such as tying your shoes and read a book and all the consequences that each of them can bring – for example, you were to tie the shoes, found the book under the bed, took the book with him, was read in a square, one person went, read the title of the cover, found curious, decided to buy the book, read the book and become a serial killer because of it, ie if you had not tied the cardaço that exact moment, there was no serial killer – began to gain popularity.
Two groups of scientists, led by Dobbs developed a theory that through consciousness can model its own universe, since it is able to learn to control the chaos, and therefore providing the observer travel to other dimensions. Dobbs would even made ​​up a machinery to develop people’s brains to meet this strange complexity: the first sensory deprivation chamber called “The Egg”. However, like every good story has even more sinister alternative versions that you just read!
One of the other versions say that Dobbs did absolutely beyond finding a Interdimensional Portal! Ong remembers the beginning of this item?For the urban legend is the fact that he was a man always very well dressed in a suit and silk hat who founded this city in 1920 and had serious problems with his hat that he kept in his head. Ong was a very strange guy and nobody knows where it came from or where it was … to be exact, no one knows where all the villagers were after 1936. All were very modest and only maintained ties with the residents of the home village. However, around 1932, according to local urban legend, things got weird. Gradually, the town seemed to be disappearing! In early 1936, there was nothing else in the city, but bricks representing the structures that once were there and an old shed. No inhabitant, nothing but the wind that always knocked the hat Ong.
In 1970, Dobbs would come to the small abandoned village with a team of scientists specializing in Underground Structures. For a Reason- it was unclear – Dobbs would have known that there was something beneath the village. And it seems that his hunch was right! Dobbs would be found in a bunker sort of a machine called “The Egg” that allowed that any man could travel between dimensions.
When this urban legend on the Internet came around 1999, received a new look at the story of Joseph Matheny. The urban legend hoax and ended up turning meme and eventually won hundreds of versions. The truth is that the towns of Burlington County always told lurid stories about this ghost town, though, where reality ends and fiction begins only Dobbs – if it exists – can say (although it is difficult to contact him now that he is in another dimension).

Legend Tripping Online:: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat reviewed by Lynne S. McNeill for Western States Folklore Society

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Legend Tripping Online:: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat reviewed by Lynne S. McNeill for Western States Folklore Society

http://folklore.usu.edu
http://www.folkloristics.com

 

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Also: Lynne and Legend Tripping Online:: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat are cited in this examination of the Slenderman phenomena over at Semiotic Review.  – http://www.semioticreview.com/index.php/thematic-issues/issue-monsters/22-the-sort-of-story-that-has-you-covering-your-mirrors-the-case-of-slender-man.html

Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search For Ong’s Hat Review from Religious Studies Review

coverReview by Joseph Laycock for Religious Studies Review

Texas State University, Philosophy, Faculty Member

Article first published online: 12 SEP 2014

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Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search For Ong’s Hat Review from Religious Studies Review

Link: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/rsr.12144/abstract

Audiobook- The Incunabula Papers: Ong’s Hat and Other Gateways to New Dimensions

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Above image used with permission of the artist.  Courtesy of James Koehnline : http://www.koehnline.com/

Available now:

A professional version of The Incunabula Papers: Ong’s Hat and Other Gateways to New Dimensions is currently available for Audible.com, Amazon.com and iTunes.com. (coming soon) It is narrated by the inimitable James Lewis.

REVIEWERS: Contact me for a free review copy. Just let me know what podcast/show/blog you intend to review it for.

Note to creatives reading this: If you have any audio v/o projects and you want to work with a consummate professional and all around nice guy, you can’t do better than James.

Of course, the free radio play version P. Emerson Williams and I did years ago remains and will always remain available for free in the commons

Here’s a sample of my conversation with Nick Herbert, read by James, so you can get a sense of the quality (Click the blue “Listen” button below to hear the sample).

Listen

Life in the Pines: Ong’s Hat

Story from the Asbury Park Press, a New Jersey newspaper on the legend(s) of Ong’s Hat.

Some excerpts:

“Two weeks ago there were these young kids, like 19 or 20, who came by asking about Ong’s Hat,” said bartender Jacky Colon. “I looked it up on my phone. It was this weird interdimensional thing. Hold on, I have to look it up, this is how I got all my information on Google.”

Very short synopsis of said legend: Mash-up of religious sect, jazz musicians, native Pineys and rogue physicists settle in Ong’s Hat, open a portal to other dimensions. More on this later. First, that name.

——-

During a lull, you can ask about those legends. The modern one about Ong’s Hat — that portal to another dimension somewhere out in the pitch pines — was popularized in the 2002 book “Ong’s Hat: The Beginning” by writer Joseph Matheny, who creates transmedia works and is a prominent figure in alternative reality gaming.

“Nineteen eighty-nine, I think this started. I had a friend who had a cabin out there in the Pine Barrens, and he hosted these parties. He was very bohemian and had artists and writers of all kinds out there,“ Matheny said. ‘He gave me a pamphlet that purported to be this story about Princeton scientists and something called the Ong’s Hat Rod and Gun Club, where they used to hang out and relax.“

During World War II the Pine Barrens were a testing ground for weapons development. Princeton scientists did explosives and ballistics work in the Forked Ruiver Mountains, and a Johns Hopkins University team fired crude surface-to-air missiles from the Project Bumblebee site at Island Beach. “There are kernels of reality to this legend,“ Matheny said.

With Matheny and other contributors writing, the story line arose ithrough the 1990s, first on computer bulletin boards frequented by gaming enthusiasts, generating online versions of urban legend that’s grown to an elaborate body of work. One consequence is an uptick in younger visitors seeking Ong’s Hat. Hence Colon’s close encounter at the Magnolia Bar.

 Folklorists call it legend tripping — the urge to visit supposedly haunted houses and the like. One infamous place is Leed’s Point near Smithville in Atlantic County. The supposed birthplace of the Jersey Devil — a half-human monster said to haunt the forest since the 1700s — attracts people around Halloween.

But the Ong’s Hat story is one of the first examples of “legend tripping online,” said Michael Kinsella, a scholar who studies new religions, paranormal beliefs and folk traditions at the University of California Santa Barbara. He’s author of the 2011 book “Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat,” published by the University Press of Mississippi.

“I’ve always been fascinated by supernatural beliefs,” said Kinsella, who like Ong’s Hat enthusiasts stumbled across the story online, and wrote a whole dissertation on it for his master’s degree in 2007, which led to the book. The cross-connections of various enthusiast websites — whether gaming, UFOs or conspiracy theories — lead like a trail of digital bread crumbs to Ong’s Hat.

He sees it as technology simply extending an ancient human compulsion. “People really want to seek out the eerie and paranormal,” Kinsela said.

There are other snippets from actual history in the Ong’s Hat portal legend, like radioactive waste. Around the time the legend was developing, the Department of Defense was figuring out what to do with thousands of tons of soil contaminated with plutonium when a nuclear missile burned up a few miles away at Fort Dix in 1961. That’s how modern legends grow, Kinsella said.

“It’s typical for these kinds of stories to mix up history and facts and legend,” he said. “So much weird stuff and stories seems to come out of the Pine Barrens, they reinforce each other.”

“If nothing else, it is a vortex of mysteries, legends, tradition and folklore…I’m interested in tracking it back as far as I can, but I don’t want to puncture that bubble,“ Matheny said. “There’s nothing in the structure of the story that I haven’t heard, in one form or another, from people in the area.”

Read it all here.

Will Transmedia eat itself for lunch? Or is it the end of Storytelling as we know it?

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Transmedia as an idea of collaborative, multi-platform creation and narration origins in the 70’s and 80’s of the last century, in the area of telematic art, where artists experimented with collaborative narration and defined the idea of transmedia.

It soon moved on to the gaming industry, creating so-called Alternate Reality Games (ARG).These are  games that, based on the Internet as a main hub, use(d) multiple other technological platforms like telephones, email and real offline mail to tell and simultaneously create different parts of the game’s story in those medial habitats relevant to the players. So not just transmedia telling,  but transmedia engagement that requires interaction from every gamer in order to bring the game’s plot to the next level. In other words: “Players interact directly with characters in the game, solve plot-based challenges and puzzles, and collaborate as a community to analyze the story and coordinate real-life and online activities.” (Wikipedia) An early example being Ong’s Hat.

READ MORE

2014 Literary References to Ong’s Hat in Other Works: A Collection

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A few collected Ong’s Hat literary references from 2014. Other references pre-2014 can be found on the Reviews page. I only include the ones which directly relate to the legend as told in my works, not the historic references about the lost town itself.

Notice: Inclusion in this list in NO WAY IMPLIES AN ENDORSEMENT 

Ong’s Hat spin off novels by other writers:

Other references (non-fiction)

News and Popular Media

  • A political post from Salon, , AUG 26, 2010 which has the quote: “The summer of 1963, then, was marked by graduation from the liturgical approach of loose, liberal Christianity to the crazy quilt Moorish Orthodox Church of America, my natural next home. An offshoot or perhaps incarnation of the Moorish Science Temple, the MOCA comprised a group of jazz musicians, poets, artists, improvisational comics and a few deeply weird people like the guy with the mustache and cape (that’s all I ever knew of his identity — he much resembled Brian Stack’s “The Interrupter” from the Conan O’Brien show decades later). As an acolyte of Salvador Dali (along with one of my close friends from school, who also taught martial arts and built explosive devices), the MOCA was a natural magnet for someone like me. It’s served me well off and on over the years as it has waxed and waned as a force. The nominal headquarters still operate in Ong’s Hat, N.J., in case anyone might conceivably be interested.”

CREEPYGAMING & THE NARRATIVE: A THEORY-BASED POP CULTURE OF ‘PLAYABLE’ LORE

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Dominique Angela M. Juntado, M.A.
Doctoral Candidate in Social & Cultural Anthropology
University of the Philippines Diliman
Email: dmjuntado@gmail.com

International Journal of Social Sciences

Abstract
Having been written for fellow fans of video game creepypastas and students of media  anthropology and folklore, this article inspects said form of online lore as well as its  complementing interactive media in terms of how experimentation with playable content
can effectively deliver not only an understanding of what transpired in a narrative, but  more of a meaningful experience of a narrative. In theory, an interactive approach has  much to contribute for the breadth of legend complexes.

Keywords: Creepypasta, ROM Hacks, Lost Episodes, Haunted Gaming, Democratized  Production, Nontraditional Storytelling, Slender

To talk about a known, existing
contribution which encourages the inspection of
netlore and possible variants, Michael Kinsella‟s
[2011] work on internet-based folklore is worth
attention for having included guidelines on how
legends online could be assessed, the basics of
legend-tripping, as well as the importance of knowing how to go about ecologies of legends in
general. It is likewise memorable for its
ethnographic rumination on the Incunabula
papers and Ong‟s Hat which has previously
showcased the potential pertinence of alternate
reality games (ARGs) in both the reconstruction
as well as promotion of a legend. In his case
analysis, Kinsella [2011] spoke more of those
participating in the imersion within the legend —
their framing, emotions, and perceptions, as well
as their role in the legend‟s mortality.
On the one end, this discourse is in pursuit
of a personal inclination. But to place it in the
academic backdrop of the studies of media, it
complements the work of Russel Frank [2011]
and Michael Kinsella [2011] on the subject of
understanding how online lore works and
branches out through bringing the subject of
video game modification and hacking into the
academic theoretical limelight in terms of their
potential role in the deepening of netlore.

There is then a development into how
success of a video gaming creepypasta could be
assessed. The treatise then proceeds with an
analysis of how video game creepypastas with
playables could classify as a legend trip. This
segment is guided by Kinsella‟s [2011]
guidelines on understanding the structure of
legend trips, derived from the second chapter of
his book Legend-Tripping: Online Supernatural
Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat.
As a practical counterpart to the theoretical
ruminations, there is included a concise survey
of the existing forms of playable lore which
serve as the present genres. This is
complemented by a segment discussing classic
features to incorporate in the production of a
playable pasta as well as brief notes on avoiding
cliches.

Download

http://www.tijoss.com/TIJOSS%2025th%20volume/8dominique.pdf

Destinations Across Paranormal America 2

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Chapter dedicated to Ong’s Hat in Destinations Across Paranormal America 2  by Hugh Mungus

Excerpt:

It’s a widely held belief the legend of Ong’s Hat is the fictional brainchild of author Joseph Matheny. Matheny posted his saga on the Internet in the early 1990s, in attempts to insert the story into the collective consciousness of the then-burgeoning World Wide Web. If you’ve ever watched the lonelygirl15 webisodes on http://www.youtube.com, you’ll understand this anecdotal blending with online reality. To those not familiar with lonelygirl15, it was the precursor to Destinations Across Paranormal America 20 vlogging, videotaping oneself rambling about various subject matter, and posting it on the Internet for the world to view. Debuting in 2006, lonelygirl15 was created by a group of young filmmakers. Although fictional, the show was initially believed by its audience to be fact. The story followed the everyday existence of a teenaged girl named Bree. As the production gained popularity, and its fanciful nature was revealed, two derivative series — centered around conspiracy theories — were produced.

Back to Ong’s Hat, baby! There are those who claim Matheny’s legend is true. Whether or not one believes the Ong’s Hat saga is beside the point, contends its creator, who asserts his work stemmed from an actual written narrative known as the Incunabula Papers. To be certain, it’s a lot of information to digest. Reading Ong’s Hat: The Beginning, listening to the Incunabula Papers on-line (see the Bibliography) or visiting southern New Jersey, would be great initial steps to unraveling this mystery.

Much more in the book! Read it all on-line (Ong’s Hat chapter is  chapter 13)

or get it at Amazon

Lists as Narrative Structure: Hawkeye #3 and Incunabula

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Excellent observations on the Ong’s Hat/Incunabula  mythos  from Spittle Gauze

Lists seem to have a certain power over people. It is hard to find any form of media that does not utilize them often, since it is a way to convey a larger picture with a superficial set of objects. Since the efficacy of lists is so overwhelmingly apparent in modern media, it is a bit strange that they aren’t often used to create narratives, like hugely popular epistolary form. Recently, by happenstance, I’ve read 2 works of fiction (probably fiction!) that utilize lists to create their structure, Hawkeye #3 by Matt Fraction/David Aja and Incunabula by Joseph Matheny (probably!).

Although I read the Incunabula catalog first, it is a stickier topic, so I’ll start out withHawkeye. The 3rd issue of the new series by Fraction/Aja is a story created by the joining of two lists. The first is a series of bad decisions and the second a tally of different novelty arrows in the Avenger’s arsenal. The story starts out with Hawkeye in plain clothes attempting to label and clean up his assortment of trick arrows. To label them he needs some tape, so he travels out into the world where he commits a series of bad decisions. The narrative then unfolds as, out of order, Hawkeye makes a series of 9 poorly thought out actions. Punctuated between the action, which are given out of their list order, someone in the story uses each of his trick arrows (acid arrow, net arrow, boomerang arrow, etc). After setting up these two lists, the rest of the narrative unfolds almost solely by revealing the items of the list. The pace of the lists being revealed by word and image in the comic makes the story happen effortlessly and in a way that grabs the reader’s attention. Afterwards it is easy to see how painstakingly the structure was created to provide such a great read for the audience.

The other item on the list, Incunabula, is much harder to pin down. It is a catalog of print items available from a printed word distribution. The list of items available forms a narrative at least and, possibly, also a conspiracy theory. I happened upon this story as part of .zip file that supposedly contained a book of occult theory that discusses the Lovecraft Mythos as a nonfiction magickal construct. Inside the file was not only the book I wanted, but also Ong’s Hat: The Beginning by Joseph Matheny. I am not really sure why, but I ended up reading all of Incunabula and never even perusing the item I was after. The basis for the Ong’s Hat book is the Incunabula catalog that is reproduced in its pages.

While Hawkeye used lists inside a narrative to drive it, Incunabula was a rigid list that contained a story that appears after the whole catalog has been read. As the catalog progresses, certain points brought up in earlier entries are elucidated upon or given an erratic, confusing depth. The play on information as treasure is the reward for the reader trying to figure out what the story actually is. That is if it is a story at all and not a conspiracy theory or buried history. The gaps in the narrative require action from the reader outside of the text in the form of research. The end story in the audience’s mind ends up being as big or small as the amount of time and effort each viewer gives to the subject matter.

After encountering both of these stories in the span of a month or so, it seems strange that I haven’t encountered lists as narratives more often in my readings. After reading both pieces it is obvious that the bare bones list structure can create powerful narratives in a wealth of different applications. I also find it very strange that the two list based stories I read use the list in opposing methods, Hawkeye with the lists inside the story and Incunabula with the story inside the list. The synchronicity of the way these two items overlap is enough to make me believe in the conspiracy path theIncunabula attempts to lead its readers through. Maybe there are more examples of the list as a story and I’ve just never encountered them, but the complimentary aspects of these two works makes me start to cast myself in the role of the unreliable audience ( as opposed to the unreliable narrator structure). Hopefully I’ll notice a lot more of this method now that I am aware of it.

To read these stories yourself is pretty easy. The Hawkeye story can be purchased from comixology or at most comic book/regular book stores. Incunabula is available online at http://deoxy.org/inc1.htm or as part of Ong’s Hat: The Beginning from online retailers like amazon or its publisher Sky Books. If you know of any other stories similar, please drop me a line!

—[- Spittle Gauze

Link to original article

Also see Goodreads review by same author

TUTORIAL: HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN RELIGION?

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There is an Ong’s Hat section in this French article, from the site Tryangle about starting your own religion, titled: TUTORIAL: HOW TO CREATE YOUR OWN RELIGION?

Excerpt (machine translation):

In fact we can find the origin ARGs “occult” or “sacred”, in particular through the myth of Ong’s Hat . In the 90s indeed circulated anonymous documents, Incunabula Papers, which told the story of a team of physicists, refugees in the ghost town of Ong’s Hat, which had succeeded in using tantric techniques to contact parallel universes. But this story myth, far from being presented in a linear fashion, as in a novel, was distributed over multiple independent media, browsing els networks (which at the time consisted mainly of small telephone servers because the Internet was still very accessible to the average person) or available via fax or photocopies … Especially at no time said document does not explicitly claimed as fictions. The game designer Denny Unger shows in the passage that follows the religious aspect, occult, the myth of Ong’s Hat:

Ong’s hat and Incunabula have always treated the problem of levels of understanding. When you look at every aspect of the story, you find yourself facing a challenge. You discover an exciting info that takes you on a path only to discover that it was a dead end, but … he is ultimately the way you thought wrong is the right truth, and so on .

A portion of the population simply does not grasp the incunabula and will be a “weird thing” but some will be captured by them, obsessed with their mystery. This obsession usually lasts until the person has extract of the story something that is vital for it. There is also another kind of explorer incunabula. This one goes beyond personal obsessions and begins to understand a more comprehensive picture by linking information apparently unconnected. What it perceives is also a series of carefully constructed to filter certain types of personalities and find suitable “candidate” tests. A general scheme of Incunabula appears. It reminds initiations sects, but is very different because this process selects a particular type of personality someone hedonistic, open-minded, but skeptical, with a free turn of scientific spirit, creative, thinker, educated, and critical. Certainly not typical of the standard sect initiated.

Read it here (in French or translate)

Lions and Tigers and Chinese Freemasons in San Francisco, oh no!

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A batch of emails has alerted me to another strange synchronicity re: the Ong’s Hat material.  This time it involves the infamous scene in the Ong’s Hat graphic novel (included with this post as a PDF) that plays out between Cranston and myself.  The scene takes place in front of the “red door” (a very real place) which is the entrance to the “Chinese Freemason of the World” organization. I ended up there one day, during a customary dérive through ChinatownBack then (2000’ish) I often embarked on a dérive through Chinatown when I was trying to think deeply about something

Now it seems that SF/CA Senator Leeland Yee has recently been arrested and charged with weapons trafficking, and the scandal involves the Chinese Freemasons in Chinatown. Pictures of the “red door” are currently all over the news. A few vigilant OH fans noted it and alerted me.

 

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FBI agents and a police officer stand in front of the Ghee Kung Tong temple and Chinese Freemasons building in Chinatown on Wednesday, March 26 during an FBI raid following the arrest of Senator Leland Yee earlier this morning. Photo by Jessica Christian / Xpress

According to FBI Special Agent Michael Gimbel, “the FBI is executing numerous arrests and search warrants around the Bay Area.” Included in this mornings raids are Yee’s Sacramento office, his home on 24th Avenue in San Francisco’s Sunset District, a building on the 1700 block of Hyde Street and the Ghee Kung Tong Chinese Freemason Lodge in Chinatown.

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It seems that 2014 is going to be a year chock full of personal synchronicities for me, as this site can attest lately. Since I am a fan of  the serendipitous experience, I  look forward to living the Chinese curse/blessing (depending on your outlook):  “May you live in interesting times.”

pdficon_largeOng’s Hat Graphic Novel

In Beautiful Dreams – Nurturing narratives and the forgotten potentials of digital culture

“Might we contrive one of those opportune falsehoods … so as by one noble lie to persuade if possible the rulers themselves, but failing that the rest of the city.”

– Plato in The Republic

“If you read it, you will be infected. If you are infected you will be InFicted. If you are InFicted, you will get UnFucted.”

– Joseph Matheny

 

Matheny was one of the first to recognize the power inherent in the interconnected culture that is developing through the rapid technological progress driving globalization. His insights and accomplishments help us to understand the intricacies of transmedia arts and provides a valuable tool in becoming a co-creator in the world wide game already in progress called the “21st Century.”

Read more: http://realitysandwich.com/216411/in-beautiful-dreams-nurturing-narratives-and-the-forgotten-potentials-of-digital-culture/?u=22407

English 3700: American Folklore: Legend, Rumor, and Conspiracy Theory

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Sec. 1: MW 2-3:15 & T 6:30-9 (film screening) / Sec. 2MW 4-5:15 & T 6:30-9 (film screening)
This course examines three major folklore genres – legend, rumor, and conspiracy theory – focusing especially on those that manifest in different forms of media (film, television, Internet, social media, newspapers). From AIDS aggression and cannibalism to aliens, ghosts, and zombies, this class explores a range of “belief complexes.” In doing so, the class seeks to answer key questions, including: How are legends related to rumor, conspiracy theory, and myth? How and why are legends transmitted and performed? How do they shape human behavior? All films, research assignments, and in-class activities are geared toward providing the content knowledge and skills necessary to identify variants of contemporary legend, rumor, and conspiracy theory in context, analyze different variants in light of the above questions, and engage in a process of critical discussion and debate about these important genres. Cross-listed as Anthro 3150 and Film Studies 3005.

Required texts:
Aliens, Ghosts & Cults: Legends We Live (Ellis 2001); Bodies: Sex, Violence, Disease & Death in Contemporary Legend (Bennett 2005); Film, Folklore & Urban Legends (Koven 2008); I Heard It through the Grapevine: Rumor in African-American Culture (Turner 1993); Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat ( Kinsella 2011).

http://english.missouri.edu/resources/196-courses/spring-2014/3000-level-courses/1312-english-3700-american-folklore-legend-rumor-and-conspiracy-theory.html

Alternate Reality Games | Ong’s Hat | Know Your Meme

Precursor: Ong’s Hat

In the 1980s transmedia artist Joseph Matheny[2] launched the Ong’s Hat game, inspired by play-by-mail multiplayer games run by Flying Buffalo.[3] Though Ong’s Hat may not have set out to be an ARG, the methods by which the author interacted with participants and used different platforms to build and spread its legend has been reflected in later games.[4] Also known as The Incunabula Papers, the game incorporated the practice of “legend tripping”[6] in which a group of people visit sites known in folklore for horrific or supernatural events. Matheny built a mythos around a supposed ghost town in New Jersey throughout the 1980s through works disguised as research shared on bulletin boards and physical zines.[8] One of the earliest archived theories about the alleged legend appeared in the October 1993 issue of Boing Boing and was posted online as early as February 11th, 1994.[7]

Between 1994 and 2000, posts about Ong’s Hat were planted on a number of different Usenet groups to spark discussion, including sci.math[9], alt.illuminati[10], alt.conspiracy[11] and alt.society.paradigms[12], among others. In 2001, Matheny stopped the project[13] and went on to publish two books about it, as well as archiving all the materials on the Incunabula website.[5]

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/subcultures/alternate-reality-games

That IMDB Thing

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Apparently some of you have a Google Alert for the term “Ong’s Hat” and therefore have seen the recent addition to IMDB. Specifically this listing (you’ll need IMDB Pro to see complete information).  I had planned on doing a full interview with the two people responsible for this new venture when they return from shooting in Europe and I still plan on doing that. So, you’ll have to wait for that post for more info, but in the meantime, I’ll fill you in on a few “who and what”  details.

Continue reading That IMDB Thing

Chapter on Ong’s Hat included in Mack Maloney’s Beyond Area 51 (Chapter 9: The Mystery of Ong’s Hat)

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You may view some excerpts here or buy the book.

Beyond Area 51 - Mack Maloney - Google Books_20130806-134008
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Few have ventured into the many heavily guarded, top-secret locations scattered across the earth. Even fewer have emerged with stories to tell. Yet every now and then the common man is given an illicit glimpse of something extraordinary…

In Beyond Area 51, Mack Maloney explores the truths behind the many myths and legends surrounding some of the world’s most mysterious locales. From the Homestead Air Force base in Miami, Florida to Russia’s Kapustin Yar, Maloney investigates incredible reports of extraterrestrial experimentation on animals, UFOs with road rage, and other unbelievable tales beyond our wildest imaginings. Filled with fascinating, true accounts, Beyond Area 51 will convince any skeptic of the infinite possibilities of what exists on, and beyond, our tiny planet.