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 Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man

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The Angry Scholar
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PostSubject: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:06 pm

Hello everyone!

I'm a graduate student at Indiana University. I'm working on my PhD in Folklore, and right now I'm writing an article about Slender Man which I hope to publish in an online journal. In my article, I'm exploring the idea of ostension--which is when you show a thing directly, rather than referring to it indirectly (with words, for instance)--and how this relates to the creation and experience of the Slender mythos.

If you've ever heard of legend tripping, that's a kind of ostension. And I think the idea of legend tripping is pretty important to a lot of aspects of the Slender mythos (especially the video games, which are pretty much "virtual" legend trips!).

In this thread I'd like to hear your thoughts about all of this. If you post here, and with your permission, I'd like to collect your responses, and possibly quote some of them in my article. If you have time and interest, I really hope you'll participate!

The first thing I'm curious about is how all this legendary stuff--the woodcarvings from the SA forums, the references in old manuscripts--is important to creating the Slender story. The mythos is so huge now, and it's full of all kinds of folkloric references, personal narratives, videos and audio files--it goes on and on.

It seems to me like part of the idea behind Slender Man is to make it seem "real" by making it look like "real" legends. What do you all think?

Thanks for stopping by and checking out the thread. And thanks in advance for your help!

Oh, the mods gave me approval to post this, by the way!

Mod Edit: Merged double post. -Avi
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:41 pm

Generally, there's this thing against double posting, but hey, what questions do you want to ask?
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:30 pm

Hey there. Yeah, I know about double posting, but a mod specifically asked me to add the bit about having permission. Doesn't hurt to cover all of one's bases, I guess!

I'm most interested in finding out about the "legendary" aspect of Slender Man. I have this idea that the way the Slender mythos developed says a great deal about what people think about legends and how they work.

So I guess my first question is, what do you think makes a legend, and how do people make Slender Man reflect that?
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:57 pm

I see the definition of legend as a large story, passed on by mouth by people to a point of a form of universal recognition.

Legends are a way to interpret the unknown. I've never read any of Lovecraft's stories but I believe the reason why the Slenderman is popular is the fact he could be a manifestation of our fears: he's unknown, most likely why he has no face, and he's tall, for size is good for intimidating. Also, he's likely a 4th dimensional being, for in the age of science, the superstitious fears of today's comes down to theoretical physics.

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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:46 am

Well which perspective are you coming from? From the creation by Victor Surge's images on SomethingAwful onwards to where we are now with the mythos or the woodcuts and folklore from Celtic and German mythology and such?

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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:21 pm

I don't think he means some of the folklore type images that have been created in the Mythos. If I understand his aims correctly, he wants to explore the folklore-esque nature of the Mythos from an OOC point of view. So, by that logic, he'll be looking at Surge's original pics and our Celtic woodcuts and all that marvellous shizzle.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Fri Apr 19, 2013 11:11 pm

Kind of all of the above, actually. I'm working with the idea that the mythos itself "works," at least in part, by being a lot like "real" legends--like, for example, the Moth Man or the Jersey Devil. It's also a lot like pop culture stuff like the Blair Witch Project and other horror films.

Does that make sense? That the Slender Mythos is, in part, about creating something like a "real" legend? (And I put "real" in quotation marks because I don't mean it in a judgmental way--I just mean that people consciously invented Slender Man, which is a little different than other legends).

I'm really interested to know what you all think about this, though. I could be way off base here. I'm a newcomer to the Mythos--especially the expanded, non-SA stuff--so I defer to all of you.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:44 am

Making Slendy "real" captures a kind of raw fear that 3rd perspective lacks, as you're seeing it through the eyes of the main character.

I guess that's how Blair Witch became popular as most horrors were third perspective.

As for the woodblocks, as much as they're manipulated, many of them touch on death's mysteries. The originals were all about death.

But I gotta say Japan's noperra-Bo are the most closely related group of entities to the Slenderman. Maybe Victor Surge based the Slenderman on them.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sat Apr 20, 2013 10:27 am

I also think that whats scary about the "Real"ness of Slender Man, especially in the video series, is that people from all over the globe are filming this "thing", that clearly shouldn't be able to exist, and yet there it is.

It's like, you see Slender Man in the videos and you think, "How is that thing even able to do those things", it takes a scenario and twists it just enough that it makes it seem possible that something like Slender Man could actually exist, but at the same time, it is completely impossible for something like Slender Man to exist.

And that's what I think is scary about (and what got me interested in the Mythos in the first place.) The Slender Man, it is something that could not possibly exist, but in the back of your mind, it makes just enough sense that it could, it makes you think "I wouldn't want to run into Slender Man." and "What the hell is Slender Man supposed to be anyway?" at the same time.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sat Apr 20, 2013 12:29 pm

But what makes Slender Man seem real to begin with? Like, what works, and what doesn't work? Are there examples of things in the Mythos that you feel just didn't gel with how it was supposed to be? And if so, why?

Edit: I guess what I'm really interested in is what I see as a push to make Slender Man look like existing legends. Slender fans have created this whole "mythos," which contains stories and documents and videos and all kinds of stuff, and I'm struck by how much it all seems like "real" legends such as the Jersey Devil.

But maybe I'm wrong about this. Do you all think it's important that the Mythos resembles stories about other legendary creatures, or is it totally unrelated?
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sat Apr 20, 2013 8:20 pm

The Angry Scholar wrote:
But maybe I'm wrong about this. Do you all think it's important that the Mythos resembles stories about other legendary creatures, or is it totally unrelated?

I'd never thought of that angle before, but now that you point it out, I would say that it is extremely important.

So much of our desire for knowledge and experience can be immediately placated by things like the internet these days, that it seems we've finally found the boarders of the map. That there are only a few remaining dark areas left on the map, all of which are so extremely esoteric and complicated that, to the common man, they might not as well be there at all.

Simply put, it feels to the layman as if we've learned all there is to know, and all the knowledge in the world is readily available to anyone without training or study via the internet.

And so without any apparent black spots on the map, we seek to draw our own.

The folklore and myths of the past were created, at least in part, to explain that which we could not understand. The modern man, faced with the dilemma of not having anything which he does not understand, seeks to make it.

A rather interesting phenomena, now that I think about it.

We try to make it feel real so that, for a moment, we can taste the unknown once more and feel the thrill of 'real' discovery, even if that reality is a lie. The more we interconnect it with the reality we know, the easier it is to suspend our disbelief; to suddenly accept the terrifying reality that we sit in a vast black sea of uncertainty and apathy.

In the end, that is what the Slender Man represents. The idea that, despite all these thousands of years of study and observation, we still have no idea what is going on with this universe. That we are still as woefully in the dark as our ancient counterparts were.

I think that is what man fears most. The idea that he can never understand the cosmos around him, and that those cosmos don't care for him in the slightest.

EDIT: Paradoxically, it that which we fear the most that we cannot live without. We fear the unknowable, but strive with all our hearts in an attempt to know it inside and out.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:51 pm

Wow, thank you all for the thoughtful responses! You've given me a lot of material and I really appreciate it.

Here's another question: I'm told that veteran Slendy fans have some mixed feelings about the 8 Pages/The Arrival games. What are your thoughts about Slender Man in video game form? Is it a good way to experience the mythos? Does it represent the story in a way that you like?
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:13 pm

It's the 8 pages that bothered the fans. The Arrival actually provided a nice little discussion.

Being that I got to know the Slenderman via the 8 pages, I'm pretty sure that there are people like me who gotten far into the mythos.

What the game needed was a storyline, which Parsec and the Marble Hornets crew wrote. The result was an intriguing plot with a cliffhanger.

With the fact that the Slenderman represents an unknown entity, the cliffhanger leaves us (depends who) players or audience with a "Huh?"

The frustration from fans of the Slenderverse is that there are many people who are aware of Slenderman's existence, but they pay no heed to Marble Hornets, EverymanHYBRID, TribeTwelve, etc. that possess an exceptional, and original plot, that captures the fuller essence of the Slenderman.

Watching that YouTuber Pewdiepie, whom I've used to be subscribed to, the popularity of the Slenderman boosted as a result of the 8 Pages, but many of those LP fans call Slenderman "Slender" and again, lack of attention to the story writers. That is why many of us here come to despise the game-only "fans".
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sun Apr 21, 2013 3:24 pm

Slender: The Arrival is the closest we have to a real Slender Man video game, and I applaud it for the attempt. It's very well made too, which is something for which I also give it credit.

But it still isn't really a full game.

I do think that video games can be a great way to experience the Mythos, but care must be taken to do it properly otherwise the effect will not translate very well.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:02 pm

*Etreo pokes his head into the thread
It's true, I asked him to add the bit about permission.
*Etreo leaves
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:01 pm

If I understand correctly, the major complaint about 8 Pages was that it didn't take the full Mythos into account--is that right? I remember reading that 8 Pages was just a software test and that the creator didn't really intend for it to become the phenomenon it did.

In the context of a video game, what would be a better way to "translate" the mythos into playable form, to use Voidmaster's term?

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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sun Apr 21, 2013 7:24 pm

Well, what I meant is that it has to be done properly or else the effect is lost.

Slender: The Arrival gets it right, for the most part. Atmosphere and ambience are paramount, along with the sense of consistently being pursued.

To bring in more of the mythos, you might involve the idea of a network of Runners, with a series of 'safe houses' and pathways that work their way across the states, or Europe. Bring them directly into a plot that is usually considered for a slender vlog, as opposed to something like the Eight Pages, or even The Arrival.

The Arrival is a good step forward, but it still didn't really have a plot, or at least one that I've seen. I admit, I've only played it through to the 2nd to final level.

I mean there are so many untouched ideas floating around in the Mythos that could be used well in a video game. Cults, rituals, special artifacts and writings, etc., etc.

Video games have only really stuck their toes in the potential plot points and game mechanics, and I hope a lot of them go for it and try them out.

As long as tension, anticipation, ambience, and fear are kept as the paramount themes, I can't see the game in question messing up too much.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Tue Apr 23, 2013 12:28 am

Ah, I see. So there's just a ton of narrative options that haven't really been explored.

It's definitely a rich and complex mythos. There's so much going on I hardly know where to start.

At this stage I feel I should point out that I tried playing The Arrival with a friend just last night, and we both nearly had heart attacks on multiple occasions. And we're both horror fans.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:27 am

The Angry Scholar wrote:
Ah, I see. So there's just a ton of narrative options that haven't really been explored.

The Slender Man mythos is one of the only myths that let's you create your own narratives with the story. There are tons upon tons of options that haven't been explored because the myth is so open to innovation and construction that literally anything can be made from it.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:51 pm

sethlapod555 wrote:
The Slender Man mythos is one of the only myths that let's you create your own narratives with the story. There are tons upon tons of options that haven't been explored because the myth is so open to innovation and construction that literally anything can be made from it.

That's very interesting. This idea of ostension that I'm working with has a lot to do with direct experience of the thing itself. Do you think you would find the mythos less interesting or enjoyable if it was not so open to interpretation/participation?
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:32 am

Oh yes. Vastly so.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:57 am

The Angry Scholar wrote:
But what makes Slender Man seem real to begin with?

I think it's mostly because, there are just so many pieces of "evidence" in the Mythos (The numerus vlogs/blogs, the woodcuttings, photos, etc.) that makes it seem that Slender Man actually exists, when of course, in real life, Slender Man does not exist. The people who created Slender Man, and the people who continue to add to the legend of The Slender Man, and even a good majority (In my opinion anyway.) of the people who watch the vlogs/read the vlogs, know that Slender Man, in reality at least, does not exist.

But for the people who do not know that The Slender Man is just a creation of somebody's mind, and actually take the "evidence" as fact, that's what makes it real.

In my opinion at least.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sat Apr 27, 2013 12:52 pm

awkwardraptor wrote:
But for the people who do not know that The Slender Man is just a creation of somebody's mind, and actually take the "evidence" as fact, that's what makes it real.

In my opinion at least.

Oh, so the fact that it could be real is important? If it seems real enough that newcomers think it IS real, that in turn makes it seem more real for people "in the know"?
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sun Apr 28, 2013 6:43 pm

The Angry Scholar wrote:
awkwardraptor wrote:
But for the people who do not know that The Slender Man is just a creation of somebody's mind, and actually take the "evidence" as fact, that's what makes it real.

In my opinion at least.

Oh, so the fact that it could be real is important? If it seems real enough that newcomers think it IS real, that in turn makes it seem more real for people "in the know"?
pretty much, yes.

Basically, knowing that Slender Man is not real, but knowing that there is always even the slightest possibility of there being an actual Slender Man is what I believe to make Slender Man scary.

it's basically like say, you watch Marble Hornets or one of the other really popular vlogs and you know it's fake, but there is always that little part of your mind thinking that it could be real.
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PostSubject: Re: Experiencing the legend: a scholarly study of Slender Man   Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:01 pm

Your Imagination could think a lot about it and make it look real
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