This past Sunday, the august New York Times featured an opinion piece on Slender Man, written by an associate professor of folk studies and anthropology. (That sounds just like the New York Times, doesn't it?)
The name of the story is "The Ghosts in the Machine," and the professor states beyond doubt that Slender Man is an urban legend, created by an individual on the Internet and popularized by horror fan fiction and the ability to photoshop images with alacrity.
With all due apologies to author Timothy H. Evans and the New York Times, I submit that Slender Man is indeed a real phenomenon. I have seen him myself, long before personal computers existed.
I was sixteen and in bed. I was not dreaming. The state was between totally awake and asleep. A tall, faceless man in a black suit came to my bed, placed his arms on either side of me, and stood there, looming over me. I could not make out his features.
I wasn't even afraid. I just asked him who he was.
A moment later, the light went on in the bedroom. It was my mother. She said I had been screaming at the top of my lungs.
I was not afraid. Ever. Just curious.
Although I was an avid reader, I had never read anything about Men in Black, and certainly nothing about Slender Man (who ... ahem ... just started existing when the Internet came around,
Before the tall man in black called in my bedroom, I had minor psychic abilities. I had out-of-body experiences as a young kid and frequently saw flashing lights in my bedroom. After Slender Man, I never had another psychic experience. That was it. He shut it down.
For the record, this was 1975.
After having had this experience, I set out to research the apparition to see if I could find out something about him. This is how I learned about the phenomenon of the Men in Black, who erase the memories of people who see aliens.
And then, of course, we come to images of the Grim Reaper. How is the Reaper portrayed? Traditionally the Grim Reaper is male and dressed all in black, with face either hooded or skeletal.
So, my three readers know me to be honest and forthright, and when I'm serious, I'm serious.
I am serious about this. I saw Slender Man in 1975.
Here's what I think about Slender Man. Choose your explanation below. Note that "urban legend" is not one of the choices.
1. Slender Man is an archetype of the collective unconscious, a harbinger of death or adulthood that appears in many cultures in similar forms.
2, Slender Man dwells on the astral plane and visits people who frequent that plane. This does not mean that he actually inspired those young girls to stab their friend. That action did stem from the Internet. But there's a slender male spirit out there, and he does make visitations to people who have never heard of him. Given his attire, he might be a faerie.
3. Slender Man exists in neural pathways in the brain that are misunderstood or yet to be discovered. He's a bit of rogue biology that also accounts for OBE and psychic experiences. Some day we will understand how this works.
I take Option 2 on this, perhaps Option 3. Of one thing I am absolutely certain, however. Slender Man is not an urban legend. Nor will he be content to be portrayed as such. He holds no blame for stabbings, but he was not created by some clever Internet geek. He's been around, around, around. I can vouch for 1975.