There’s absolutely no doubt at all that we would not have a Slenderman phenomenon had it not been for Eric Knudsen. In a strange fashion, he created the creature; though that was surely not his intent when he lit the flame. When, on June 10, 2009, he created the Slenderman, Knudsen probably had no idea as to where things were destined to go. Who could have foreseen what was to come? Probably no-one. With hindsight, though, we should not be overly surprised that the posting to Something Awful of a pair of doctored photographs should have provoked such widespread interest, obsession and even, eventually, disturbing mania. After all, Knudsen’s creation was an ingenious and eerie patchwork collection of the “best” parts of some of the most menacing figures that dwell in the domain of the supernatural: Mothman, the Men in Black, the Shadow People, and the Mad Gasser of Mattoon, were just a few of them. Taking inspiration from the writings of Stephen King and H.P. Lovecraft only added to the freaky flavor. Indeed, combining the MIB and tentacle-waving Cthulhu is all but guaranteed to catch peoples’ attention. And, as history has shown, it did exactly that. Big time.
But, what really stood out was the incredible speed with which the phenomenon of the Slenderman grew. Note what Ian Vincent had to say on this very issue: “The thing that really specifically grabbed me and made the story interesting enough for me to write articles is the rapidity of it.” It was, as Vincent rightly noted, “the right monster at the right time and for the right audience.” Vincent is not wrong. At specific times throughout history, certain things do just seem to gel: the rise of the “Beats” in the late-1940s, the birth of rock and roll, the punk-rock explosion of the 1970s, and, of course, the dawning of the Internet – the latter, without which, the Slenderman would surely never have come to life. Or, at least, his position in today’s culture would certainly be radically reduced and marginalized.
So, the Slenderman came along at what turned out to be, for him, just about the most fortuitous time possible in the history of human civilization. Even before he became a supernatural entity that stepped out of the confines of the Net and into our world, the Slenderman was already influencing minds – and to the point where Eric Knudsen’s original posting was quickly added to, elaborated on, and then went on to spawn a wealth of Slenderman-themed blogs, websites, the Marble Hornets series, and even a Wikipedia page on ol’ Slim himself. None of this occurred in weeks or even months. It all happened within days. The amazing speed with which an idea became an undeniable phenomenon almost certainly, although probably unwittingly, led to the creation of a second Slenderman. Eric Knudsen’s fictional freak had a rival of sorts. It’s a rival that, in many respects, is seen as far more significant and dangerous than the original version. I am, of course, referring to the thought-form / Tulpa version of the Slenderman – which may have been born out of Chaos Magic. If one was not enough to send chills through the minds and bodies of thousands, soon there were two of the damned things, as was made clear when, on November 6, 2009, George Noory – at Coast to Coast AM – opened up the airways to allow Slenderman witnesses to discuss their experiences with the made-up monster.
Time and again, we have seen examples of how the human mind can – and under the right, particular circumstances – bring to life some form of entity that is purely a construct of the human mind. Yes, the likes of Alexandra David-Neel and Dion Fortune went out of their way to deliberately try and create Tulpas – and they succeeded. In doing so, though, they found to their costs that their mind-monsters were not their friends: they were hostile, mischievous, dangerous and malevolent things. There is, however, a big difference between what was happening with Fortune and David-Neel nearly a century ago and what is happening now, in our society and culture of the early part of the 21st century. Both women consciously tried to create, and succeeded in creating, Tulpas. There is, however, very little evidence or testimony that suggests large-scale attempts have been made to create a real-world Slenderman. Instead, what we have today is a massive fascination for, and a belief in, the Slenderman. That collective fascination and belief, particularly in relation to its teenage following, has led to the inadvertent creation of the Slenderman, rather than a deliberate creation.