Category Archives: Ong’s Hat

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 begins on page 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 Chinatown.Back 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.

It seems that 2014 is going to be a year chock full of personal synchronicities for me, as this site attests 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.”

 Ong’s Hat Graphic Novel

Alternate Reality Games | Know Your Meme

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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.

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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
Click to enlarge

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.

Taking Back Transmedia

From the Eyeless Owl

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“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

Those who entered the digital world in the late 80’s and early 90’s were introduced to a nearly unfathomable host of possibilities for media and creativity. DVD’s offered the potential for integrative experiences that tracked user preferences and allowed for multiple story formats which changed with each viewing based on previous use, virtual reality models held the possibility for turning these experiences fully immersive, cell phones and wireless technology promised an unthought of openness to it all, and the internet allowed everyone to dream of a fully connected, creative global conversation that synchronized each aspect into a beautifully coordinated whole. Looking back on those dreams in light of growing concerns over surveillance, advertising, neuromarketing and the like one might wonder what happened to turn the dream into a lousy cold war sitcom.

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The Rise Of The ARG: games™ investigates alternate reality games and what the future has in store for the curious experiment.

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Game magazine: Issue 135, available now at newsstands, print or digital. The article runs about 6 pages, with citations to Incunabula/Ong’s Hat and myself throughout.

Complete article here: The Rise Of The ARG: games™ investigates alternate reality games and what the future has in store for the curious experiment. 

Here is a small excerpt (used with permission) from that article:

Excerpt: 

“But what exactly is an ARG? For the community, that definition is largely rooted in the ‘this is not a game’ aesthetic. ARGs are games that do not acknowledge that they are games; they pose as alternate realities hidden away in streams of dormant internet code. Their stories exist not in unified narrative, but are spread across phone lines, email addresses, websites and any other forms of media that the puppetmasters – that is, the game’s creators – deem to be useful. ARG’s exist in real-time as constantly evolving, potentially boundless storytelling experiences.

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The Hat, The Egg & the Chaos (Ong’s Hat: Hidden History or Piney Mythology)

The Hat, The Egg & the Chaos

Ong’s Hat: Hidden History or Piney Mythology

“…to vanish without having to kill yourself may be the ultimate revolutionary act…” The Sacred Jihad of Our Lady of Chaos

“..That story again! Man, that’s old hat..” …some Buddtown local

I remember 1978. I was an eight year old boy, in Brooklyn, where Avenue H meets Kings Highway. After battling my older brothers for the last bowl of Cap’t Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch, I’d settle in front of the tube for my all-time favorite morning show, (and still today – now owning all three seasons on DVD), Sid & Marty Kroft’s Land of the Lost. Kid TV shows of the 70′s were especially wrought with invasive weirdness; New Zoo Revue, The Magic Garden, The Patchwork Family…OH! and GIGGLESNORT HOTEL!! (what the F#@K was that about?) But Land of the Lost, for me, was the Led Zeppelin IV of children shows.

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A Hat, a Hut, or a Tavern: The Tale of Ong’s Hat

By Ben Ruset on NJPinebarrens

It all started with a road map of New Jersey. A little north of the Red Lion Circle, in the heart of the Burlington County Pine Barrens, the map depicted a tiny hamlet marked with the unusual name of “Ongs Hat.” In the early 1930s, Henry Charlton Beck, a reporter with the Camden Courier Post, became curious. After convincing his editor that a story could be found there, he and a photographer packed up a car and set off to investigate.[1] Little did he know that his explorations at Ongs Hat, and a succession of later voyages to mysterious places in the hinterlands of New Jersey, would inspire generations of other “lost town hunters” –pouring over ancient maps, exploring dismal cellar holes in the middle of nowhere, and sharing their discoveries with one another – first by telephone and letter and presently through online forums.

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The Surprising Online Life of Legends

A very interesting article/review of Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education: Now, from the you-can-learn-something-new-every-day files, comes Michael Kinsella’s Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat.

Read it here: http://chronicle.com/blogs/pageview/the-surprising-online-life-of-legends/29221

From the article:

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 complementary account.

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Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat

Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat

My review: I was expecting to hate this book, but I didn’t. Michael Kinsella did an excellent job and only missed the mark with two or three of his conclusions. Of course, this is forgivable since he wasn’t in possession of all of the facts from behind the scenes. As a remedy to those few slight errors, and in interest of keeping the record straight I will issue a free companion guide to this book in a few weeks.  Since the book is primarily about myself, my friends, my project and my methods, I do admit to being  somewhat close to the subject.  However,what colors my decision to release the guide is simply that I’d like the record to be as clear as possible if this is to become a subject of “study” by academia.

Other than a few forgivable gaffs (and I do mean a very few), this book is quite enjoyable, insightful and entertaining.  I’m glad someone in academia was able to decipher many of the the objectives and methodologies of this project and I highly recommend it (with the soon to be released companion guide, of course).  If you choke at the price of $55 USD, you may want to wait for the paperback (if they publish one) or the inevitable ePub that’s sure to show up in the wild. (added 8-12-11: Looks like it showed up on Google Books.)

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Long Overdue Facelift

We’ve upgraded the Incunabula site for 2012. Hopefully it will be a bit neater and more organized for you to find what you need here.

  • We still need to add some graphics and expand on some text areas to several pages to make it more “shiny”.
  • We did make the site mobile friendly so you can browse it on your phone easily.
  • We’ll try and update news more often in 2012 then we have recently and we’ll be announcing new books and other media projects here soon.
  • We’ll also be updating the library page soon with a bevy of books for you to read and enjoy.
If you see something broken or missing, don’t hesitate to drop me a line at jmatheny AT nym.hush.com.

Enjoy and happy 2012!

Free Versions of Ong’s Hat: Incunabula

Here’s some free versions of Ong’s Hat for Kindle and as an ePub (for iPad, Nook, Sony Reader, Adobe Dimensions, et al). I’ll be putting these up on the newly redesigned incunabula.org (see design here) in 2012. Thought you might want to grab one now as my holiday present to you. Thanks to Matt for doing the great work to get these done. If you would like your Kindle edition (free or otherwise) of Ong’s Hat signed it is now on Kindlegraph.

Kindle

ePub

Also on Archive.org and Smashwords

Also, David wrote a nice article over here where he gave me some props.

Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat Reviewed by The Journal of Folklore Research

From The Journal of Folklore Research

Reviewed by David J. Puglia, The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg

In a day and age when legends are as likely to be transmitted online as they are face-to-face, folklorists have begun assessing how our established concepts apply to the digital realm. The convergence of different forms of media has increasingly diminished the traditional boundaries between folk and popular culture and the digital and analog world. If the legend continues to thrive under these new conditions, folklorists will want to determine how the closely related legend-trip has similarly transitioned to the online environment.

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On myths and dreams and all things that go bump in the night

You may recall that back in July, Michael Kinsella published a text book titled: Legend-Tripping Online: Supernatural Folklore and the Search for Ong’s Hat (great review here) and I in turn promised to write a companion paper to clarify a few of the conclusions in his tome that I felt needed expansion or slight course correction.

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Ong’s Hat eBook Now on iTunes

Ong’s Hat: The Beginning is now available on iTunes for your iPad, iPhone and other ePub compliant readers. It is reasonably priced at$4.99 USD.

I will also be releasing an official audiobook through Audible.com later this year.

All this is in preparation for a new Ong’s  Hat spin-off novel (a sort of meta-sequel) that is in the works for release early next year.

In the meantime, enjoy the “beginning” in your favorite format.

Get it here

Traveling into the vortex of Ong’s Hat

From Hidden New Jersey

Much, much later, Ong’s Hat became the setting for a very strange supernatural tale that takes a variety of different directions, depending on who you talk to. The writer Joseph Matheny claims that it all started with a man named Wali Fard, who bought a few hundred acres of the Pinelands in the 1950’s. Along with a couple of anarchist lesbians (or are they lesbian anarchists? You decide!) and some runaways from Paramus (why is it always Paramus?) he started a cult called the Moorish Science Ashram.

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THE BUSINESS OF STORYTELLING: PRODUCTION OF WORKS, POACHING COMMUNITIES, AND CREATION OF STORY WORLDS

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THE BUSINESS OF STORYTELLING: PRODUCTION OF WORKS, POACHING COMMUNITIES, AND CREATION OF STORY WORLDS
by Bakioglu, Burcu S., Ph.D., INDIANA UNIVERSITY, 2009, 402 pages; 3373494

Accepted by the Graduate Faculty, Indiana University, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

pdficon_largeA paper [PDF] that uses copious quotes from This is Not a Game: A Guide to Alternate Reality Gaming and has  section about the Ong’s Hat project.

Abstract:

My study is an analysis of the divergent ways the materiality of works affect the process of meaning-making across various media and investigates how it influences the production of works. A work born in media convergence inevitably elicits hybrid forms of story-telling that offer immersive and interactive environments in which users are expected to perform certain activities. In such an environment, I argue that storytelling becomes a collaborative, and more importantly, a participatory process. My dissertation, ultimately, interrogates the nature of performativity and collaboration in works that extend across various media. I develop the model of performative narratives to refer to works that encourage and rely on such activities for the formation of their texts, such as experimental novels, YouTube videos, Alternate Reality Games, and multi-user virtual environments that are based on user-generated content such as Second Life. As such, my study investigates how works become sites of struggle because the stories that they narrate are in a state of constant negotiation between its producers/creators, the medium of the work, and the communities that these works mobilize.