MULTIVERSE

The multiverse concept gained huge popularity over the last years. The idea that along our dimension countless other universes exist is an old one. It appeared in theoretical science for some time but even the Ancient Greek philosophers had already similar ideas. But it isn’t science in the first place, it is popular storytelling in films and series which accelerated multiverse concepts as new world views.

The Rise Of The Multiverse

The idea of parallel universes in films or series centres around the idea that there are several or countless universes which showcase different “possible” realities. Sometimes this universes are very similar, sometimes the show very different options or alternative realities different from our ordinary reality. Famous Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh (Hidden Dragon, Crouching Tiger, James Bond) seems to have a special relationship with multiverse concepts in film and TV: She was an outstanding character in Star Trek – Discovery where she appears as Emperor Philippa Georgiou in the mirror universe of the Terrans. In the first place in the normal universe she was a Starfleet commander and mentor of Michael Burnham, the main character. Now, Michelle Yeoh is the lead actor in the successful movie “Everything Everywhere All At Once” where she has to face more than two different universes. The appeal of the movie is related to the old “what if?” idea: The heroine, a Chinese migrant, explores the other lives in other universes she could have lived but did not in her normal universe where she comes from.

What if our everyday reality is only a realisation of one of many options, and what if we could flip through different “timelines” of our lives as we flip through different TV-channels in the evening?

The concept of the multiverse attracts writers as audiences because it allows you to play around with different possibilities of one and the same thing. In Star Trek Georgiou is a positive figure in the “normal universe” but appears as a completely different character in the Terran parallel universe. The character changes over time and one typical aspect is the implication that the character in the parallel universe represents hidden aspects of the character in the normal universes.

Both in the movie and in the Star Trek series there are travellers between the different universes. In many of theses movies portals or hidden trapdoors allow the actors to slip through between different worlds. And it is also always an interesting question if and how the different universes interact. Another very common idea in storytelling is that something which happens in one universe can have an effect in another universe.

I think one reason why we embrace the multiverse concept is there is that ever present secret wish that we could change the course of our lives if we could go backwards in time. Avoid the things we regret later. Avoid the mistakes. Experience that one alternative possibility, that path we didn’t chose but is still in our heads. But we would like to have that backdoor too, which allows us to continue our normal lives.

Is the idea of the multiverse only a concept for shows to have more options in storytelling?

At the moment the question if the multiverse really exists is theoretical. Even there are news announcements from time to time about some “discovery” there is no definite proof all scientists would agree with. That’s something physicist Clifford V. Johnson said in a recent interview on the Science and Entertainment YT Channel.

Nevertheless there are numerous multiverse concepts in science. This seems like a logical development since we see an expanse of our idea of the universe. We discovered that our planet is not the only one and not the center of the universe, later we discovered there are countless of galaxies and we find more and more exoplanets every day. Why not having parallel universes? The other idea is the quantum multiverse. Quantum physics suggests these possibilities.

Evidence in a normal sense might be a difficult thing to come by. However, the concept of a multiverse is real because we can relate to it. Most people would agree that they only exist in our universe but for example dreams suggest sometimes different realities with different options. What would have happened if…? It is normal that we create that type of multiverse in our imagination. These are alternative universes which are very similar to our own. And then there are these countless mysterious stories all around the world. From people who vanished and suddenly where back. Maybe there are glitches in our reality where the boundaries between different universes are momentarily blurred.

There are many more ideas out there. What about a multiverse where time runs backwards Perhaps our laws of nature do not apply there? Or our logic might not work? Thus, the multiverse concepts are not so far away from the idea of the otherworld. Otherworld concept in different cultures are full of fantastic dimensions which work in a complete different way as our common everyday world.

As with the otherworld we should ask, where are these other universes? Are there far away or are they right here? Do they overlap with our ordinary reality? Or is it impossible to cross from one universe to another?

Again, contemporary science might not give us the answers we are seeking for. There are certainly yet many theories out there which might be proven some day. What we have is the imagination and the hints of a deeper reality. It is the idea of a deeper reality as represented in the outstanding series Twin Peaks – The Return. A multiverse would be a very helpful model to interpret the different interwoven timelines in David Lynch’s and Mark Frost’s masterpiece. However, there is an important thing here which makes a difference if we compare it to Marvel movies presenting a multiverse. It is not like different levels in a game. It keeps its mystery. A thing I am working on with the Forest Dark Movie project too. Keeping the true nature of the multiverse a mystery. Because this is what it will be for us. We might get to a more complex worldview in time. But we shouldn’t go for a reductionist model of the world. If we see it as a fantastic and mysterious world we might be as close to the truth as we can ever hope for.

Peter Engelmann, May 24, 2022

The Memory Of The Forest

by Peter Engelmann,  June 25, 2021

The forest never forgets. The forest is like a storehouse of the past. Writers and filmmakers use the forest regularly as the place where the hero faces the past. Sometimes it’s the hero’s own past. Sometimes it is related to the location. Secrets and old legends get revealed in the darkness of the forest.

However the forest is more than a metaphor where someone gets confronted with his own past. In a very literal sense the forests of our Earth store information about the past. Scientists learn from old trees about historical events like climate change or the outbreak of a volcano. A tree’s annual rings are like a chronology of the past.

A forest is a place of constant change. During the summer the forest is full of life. In winter there is death. Nevertheless information never gets lost in the forest. The whole network of plant life saves information about the things which happened in the past.

There are not only traces of natural events like wildfires in the forest. In the forest sometimes things appear which had been buried for centuries. The relicts of battles of the past as the ancient battles of the Romans against the Barbarians in the German forest are still there. Archeologists visit the forest regularly.

Traces From The Past

Some say there is more to this. The ghosts of fallen soldiers of long forgotten battles still roaming the woods. In some nights the lonely souls of victims of crimes can be seen and heard. And of course there is the witch which was banned from the community hundreds of years ago. What if events and the traces of entities from the early days of Earth are also stored up here? Something which is still alive in a sense? The forest as a whole might be a storage medium for many things.

But people going into the forest and discovering their own past? That might work in a psychological sense if you are alone for a longer time memories might come up. What if you find something in the forest which is connected to your own past? Something which was lost and suddenly lies there in front of you. If this happens in a fictional story it sounds like the typical intervention of the writer.

It’s another story if the person has the same places visited before or has lived in a certain place. Then a trip into the forest can be an experience where memories which were suppressed for a long time come back. In these cases the forest might be sort a catalyst. Perhaps it works in the sense of synchronicity – something from the inner life gets materialised in the outside world.

Driftwood In The Forest

The forest is a place where things disappear and return. And here is the strange thing. Sometimes it’s like at a beach where the sea returns something which was swallowed for a long time. Now its flotsam. We know about incredibly strange missing 411 cases: Search and rescue diligently searching the same area several times and finding nothing. Then, sometimes many years later lost items or even a person resurfaces.

There might be even more to this if we think of the intermingling of dimensions or distorted timelines. We are used to think in linear timelines. Some experiences suggest that we could get into places where timelines are somehow distorted or different. Future and past is not what we think it is. Or lets say its something we should explore deeper.

Time

Of course there is a lot of speculation here. However it is interesting how many people which had a strange experience in the woods reports weird things about the perception of time too. Sometimes its missing time. Sometimes present and past intermingle. Memories can get lost or somebody remembers things and has no idea where that information did come from. If we remember the saying “the forest is what’s between the trees” it might open up many ideas. Maybe its some people who are wired to higher dimensions which have that kind of experience. They can connect to the subspace or alternate stream of reality. If there is sort of a subspace out there it might be something similar to our world wide web: a neural network where memories and information is stored.

Lovecraft Forest

by Peter Engelmann,  January 5, 2021

Storytellers and moviemakers exploring the nature of the unexplained, the real horror, the unnamable forces in a haunted forest will find the universe of H.P. Lovecraft as a fruitful and inspiring description of the unknown realm near our dimension. The American Horror and Science Fiction writer introduced the modern idea of cosmic horror. But does it also apply to so-called true stories?

We can cope with the forest demon, the hairy monster, or the sinister backwood person as a sort of invented story, fairy tale, or a true crime story. However, if we listen to witness reports, the rich lore of many regions, and the terrifying accounts of people who disappeared and returned after days, we sense a deeper reality behind these encounters.

It seems that there are entities and other dimensions beyond our comprehension lurking in the shadows. The reports of fairies, mysterious lights, and abductions might be an effort of the mind to keep sane and to carry on because we wouldn’t dare to think about what’s really out there. Some stories and movies do the same but others try to achieve more and take the story to a greater scope. That’s also what the Forest Dark Feature Film Project does. It’s what many writers do. Getting to the point where the audience feels that there is some truth in a story that might sound fantastic.

Is it even possible? The master of modern horror H.P. Lovecraft created a whole universe filled with terrifying encounters with the Great Old Ones and other entities. The words he uses trigger our imagination, the painfully detailed description of unparalleled horrors and the reports of unspeakable events create a special mood.




The Whisperer in Darkness

There is one story in particular which concerns the forest as a place haunted by beings from outer space or another dimension. In The Whisperer In Darkness Lovecraft takes us to the mysteries of the ominous hills in Vermont. The narrator receives letters and pictures from a man, Henry Akeley, who seems close to a nervous breakdown because of some horrors coming from the woods. It doesn’t take too long and the narrator himself is on the brink of madness.

The interesting thing about this story from H.P. Lovecraft is that partly it is written like an article in a scientific journal. The introduction is expanded speculation about the ancient roots of creatures described in modern sightings. There are strong parallels with modern texts about aliens accompanying mankind from the very beginning. It is a lot about scientific speculation and later on it is not only what happens deep in the woods in these Vermont Hills but also about the nature of true tales in Vermont.

The Whisperer In The Dark introduces the Lovecraft Forest. The horror in these woods is not only about some sort of alien race, worshipping of ancient deities like Shub-Niggurath but also weird artifacts as a black stone or strange anomalies. There is mention of a Lord Of The Forest and a transcript of a recording of strange rituals in the forest implies sinister gatherings and invocations:

“(A BUZZING IMITATION OF HUMAN SPEECH)
Iä! Shub-Niggurath! The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young!

We don’t learn who or what Shub-Niggurath and the Black Goat of the Woods exactly are but the story works like a jigsaw puzzle. In the end, we sense the whole picture.

Names, descriptions and the story may sound bizarre. It is a weird tale. However, in many aspects, Lovecraft was ahead of his time. The idea of phenomena and alien entities which somehow defies our laws of nature makes more and more sense if we look into modern theories in physics, quantum mechanics, and astrophysics. A visitor entering our dimension and coming from a higher dimension might match some of Lovecraft’s ideas.

Wait a moment. Of course, there is also a straight sci-fi tale here with the Mi-Go alien race and the twist at the end of the story. But what’s interesting here are the choices between the beats in the storyline. It’s what is happening, how it is happening, and the description.

Furthermore Lovecraft uses a special technique of storytelling which creates tension and allows him to slowly reveal what’s going on. The narrator receives letters by Henry Akeley. Later we are not direct witness of a ritual in the forest but the recording is mentioned. This is not only a writing technique its a very smart way to picture something which is not some sort of singular object but like a combination of phenomena. He gives us bits and pieces and we need to draw further conclusions.

Real mysterious forests

In regions where there are a lot of sightings reported or other supernatural phenomena occur it is often not about a single event. Most of the time it is a complex mix of history, strange events, weird behavior of inhabitants, cases of high strangeness, mysterious disappearances, crime, secret rituals in the forest, and communities with secrets on the surface. In 2018 documentarist and musician Jarrod Tyler visited Washington State and the Snoqualmie region where the legendary Twin Peaks series was shot. He interviewed several people and unraveled the real mysteries of the region in a very good and very impressive road documentary Road To Twin Peaks: A North Bend Story. The real stories he heard and the links to an “energy in the forest” do sound even more strange as some of David Lynch’s inventions. Twin Peaks does now feel even more “real” in a special sense. It has a feel of that Lovecraft forest, a place which is somehow different from our normal dimension. In the end Jarred Tyler raises the question: “Was the North Bend mystery created by the TV show or was the Twin Peaks mystery created by North Bend?”

The same question applies to H.P. Lovecraft’s weird tales as The Whisperer In Darkness: How much inspiration got Lovecraft from these remote hills in New England and did his story influence modern stories, reports of sightings, and Ufo-lore? 

We don’t know. But what we see is a theme that runs like a unifying thread through stories, movies, and folklore. And it is something we find not only in these hills in Vermont:

“The dense, unvisited woods on those inaccessible slopes seemed to harbour alien and incredible things, and I felt that the very outline of the hills themselves held some strange and aeon-forgotten meaning, as if they were vast hieroglyphs left by a rumoured titan race whose glories live only in rare, deep dreams” (H.P. Lovecraft, The Whisperer in Darkness).

This is what the Lovecraft Forest is and if we inspect the haunted forests of this world we might come across these mysteries.

The Demonic Forest

In my story the forest is infested with the mysterious forces as described in the last post about the “demonic (principle) which can manifest in men, animals and things even in whole epochs (corporal and incorporal)”.

Of course this is not a very original idea or something new but always worth to be told from a new angle.
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Is there anything we could do differently rather doing another “chilling story in the woods”?

As I have mentioned before I am strongly convinced that we should take the ideas of zones of the supernatural and places where the walls between our world and another otherworldly realm alongside our reality are thin and permeable very seriously.

The forest had always many different qualities in our culture in history. Of course the forest is one of the most positive forces known on this planet and everything should be done to protect any forest. The forest itself is not demonic but the demonic element can manifest in nature.

Therefore it is more about demonic places which could make a demonic forest. Cases have been mentioned before here about places which have a weird tendency of letting the same strange thing happen again and again. The demonic element here appears more like an invisible childlike supernatural force repeating the same trick.

The question what could be done differently, what could be told from a different angle is connected with the considerations about the “demonic forces” at certain places (the demonic principle is of course not something necessarily connected with a certain place but it seems there are notorious areas which have sort of a tendency for weirdness).

If we try to avoid stereotypes – for example the stupid killing demon attacking the wanderer – we can get closer to something which rings true to a lot of people.

If we look at most unexplained (supernatural) stories surrounding haunted forests it is more like something is teasing the victims. Even if we hear about dangerous close encounters most of the time the witness is confronted with an mysterious force neither exactly good or bad. However in the end a confrontation with the demonic element could result in a tragic ending. It’s like losing a game with an invisible player.

The mysterious beings in the forest – “The secret commonwealth” like the fairies – are described as paradoxical beings. They are not straight killers but they make people losing their wits.




It might be also a mysterious force behind the “notorious secret rituals in the woods“. Sometimes magic seems to work and perhaps somebody wants you to think that by performing magic you have supernatural powers. However we never had a clue what was really going on.

Our new angle could be something like to admit there are powers we could not reduce to something we know – the best stories or movies like Peter Weir’s “Picnic At Hanging Rock” don’t present simple solutions. They reveal a deeper truth.

“Picnic At Hanging Rock” is a story about the demonic par excellence. It’s disturbing because there isn’t some sort of massacre or any other horrible event revealed. The most frightening side of the demonic element is that we don’t get something bad we can cope with. The most unsettling idea is when we learn something happened which is beyond our understanding.

A “Demonic Forest” is in way like a “Poltergeist”. As soon as we have found a theory what’s going on the phenomenon does something which is like an unexpected twist. In Norway scientists try to understand the “Hessdalen Phenomenon” for a long time – mysterious lights appearing like Ufo’s in a valley again and again, but so far nobody really understood the phenomenon so far.

What the demonic principle can do to us is usually using our curiosity to lure us deeper and deeper into the forest. It needs our strong wish to understand. If we could not any longer understand what’s going on we are lost. Some people vanishing in the forest weren’t attacked by some entity but they lost control.

And perhaps the best trick of the demonic element is to make us believe it doesn’t exist.