Wednesday, July 9, 2014


What thin line separates suspicions from belief? Is there no clear demarcation separating a faith in anomalies and agnosticism where one can find themselves lodged between them? Can this suspension between conclusions simply be based on provocations?

Recent experiences have left me with the sense that I was glimpsing a vast yet indistinct landscape from atop a lop sided precipice where the details of what I had observed where missing in a sort of blurring of distinctions that fell into a gap between the humorous and the strange.

This is a story of parallelism as portrayed in anomalous events that have recently occurred to this hapless writer. Rather than shedding light on any achievable coherency in their context, they have cast me into a deeper hole by provocation. I have written in the past that such unanswerable questions that arise from such events are deconstructive and, as a result, must be balanced by a grounding of one’s being as recognizing fallibility is a chief feature of attempting to pose any conclusive architecture of rational logic upon them. However, one must not be drawn into madness by way of associating oneself with these events too deeply, or dwelling upon them obsessively. Yet, I recognize a void when I see one when it comes to certainty. There will always be odd sorts of synchronicities that drift in and out of our lives, and yet there are times where there is such a convergence of odd happenings that they move from the liminal to the pronounced.

A few days ago, I was sitting with my morning coffee after letting our three dogs outside as part of a daily routine that is about as rote a task as one can imagine for me, not requiring any thought. I had finished the coffee and was enroute to the back door to let them back into the house, requiring my passage through the laundry room. As I entered the room, a woman’s voice as clear as any other called out one of the dog’s names in a sing song inflection. My wife remained sound asleep in our bedroom.

Not given to delusions and with a healthy sense of self skepticism, as a pragmatic matter I continued on my way..none the less I was affected by this occurrence to recall other such events. Rather than being upset by  a voice from nowhere, I thought it was nonsensical. I thought that if this represented some form of sentience, they must have nothing better to do as to occupy themselves with. If I was pressed to characterize this occurrence with a motive, I would say it was playful.

Some weeks prior to this event, my daughter was visiting my sister at her home when she became aware of an uneasy sense of being watched without any provocation and this sense of a “something” grew in intensity wherein the corner of the kitchen seemed to emanate a location from whence this sense of a presence originated. Reacting as if by having no other option to determine the veracity of this sense, she grabbed her cellphone and shot three times toward that location from the adjoining family room. Needless to say, the image captured created a stir among all those concerned. As for myself I remained stubbornly agnostic as to the credibility of the image not my daughters account of what led to her taking the photographs. On one hand, the image looks like my late son wearing some sort of odd garment, and on the other the German version of Kris Kringle. Certainly a bizarre image, and shortly afterward, I happened to read an article on how the brain is designed to insert anthropomorphic images onto ambivalent visual perceptions. However, this seems more distinct than most of the alleged images others have claimed to have caught by happenstance. 

My reaction was to contact an acquaintance well known in some circles and I explained the odd situation I found myself in and inquired if he knew of any photographic experts who could analyse this image. Consequently on my behalf he contacted a very well recognized expert in such image anomalies and I forwarded the raw image to him. Out of three photographs taken only one contained this image. Some weeks passed. My helpful acquaintance thought this oddity could be a prelude to other events......just as random, fleeting and lodged between the chaotic and the illogic of acceptance.

Along with my anostic intellectualizing, the best characterization of my reaction to this event was consternation. If there was a intent or purpose to this, it failed to flesh the meaning out of what constituted more of a hint of a message than a coherent statement.

Why these apparently meaningless provocations? Rather than being disturbed by them, I became mildly aggravated. This sort of thing has happened before as some long time readers of this blog know, And so my reaction became..enough is enough…

The e-mail from this expert arrived and his conclusion was that the image was genuine and if it were a technical glitch or a hoax, the means by which it was produced remained unknown.

I was hoping his response would have been otherwise but all along I anticipated this anticipation was a hope against hope.

Now we travel further back in time prior to the appearance of this provocative image which is an occurrence that happened roughly two weeks before. My daughter and wife chat by phone regularly and my wife related that our daughter has had a very unusual and vivid dream regarding my mother ( her grandmother ) who had passed away some months ago. My mother within the context of this dream conveyed to her that it was important that she convey a message to my wife that the whole of which was contained in one word. Purple. Needless to say my daughter was completely at a loss to explain either the dream or the odd one word message. However my wife intuitively knew the meaning, which I immediately dismissed as a concoction of her imagination and anticipation. Let me explain.

Just prior to her death my wife and mother would discuss everything and anything as I have observed they both enjoyed gab, which is not one of my own traits. They were in effect best friends. On one such occasion they talked about mortality and the possibility of life after death and this then evolved into an idea they had hatched to agree to a code word. Bear in mind my mother was 87 and had not a morbid thought in her head and thought consideration of such eventualities one way or the other was silly. Yet they hatched this idea.

My wife upon hearing the alleged message that my daughter was given as the word purple, “knew” this was a code word. However, prior to her return to Illinois they had never decided upon the word. I said that naturally this conclusion was patent nonsense. My wife was insistent in her belief which went totally against my grain so we agreed to disagree.. about her conclusion.

Now we move forward in time to the interim period wherein this image was being analysed by the expert. My daughter was disturbed by it, and as a father that disturbance bothered me and of course, I could offer no cogent assurance of anything one way or the other.

She went on a prolonged search over the course of several days looking for verifiable references in regard to an individual whose claim was the ability to access information at a distance, a psychic. Personally I have an aversion to such activities as my intellect sees at best nothing but ambivalence at best to come out of such an endeavor. My daughter told this psychic that some very odd things had occurred being careful not to disclose an iota of information or hint as to what had happened.

The psychic said an elderly woman approached and this woman was insistent on conveying the word purple.

Upon hearing this, I was slowly becoming slightly undone, and was beginning to doubt my own doubts. However, at this time none of us were aware that a key piece of information was missing and it only arrived when my daughter informed my sister of what this psychic had conveyed, this word purple.

The word purple was the password she used and had programmed into her personal computer in order to unlock it. Hmm. Was this a metaphor meant to illustrate that these events are meant to unlock some sort of situation? And if that is truly the intent in the use of that word, it failed to fill in the gaping holes by was of this transcription and yet it would be silly to say, this alignment of sources was not provocative..more of a hint than a scenario.

Out of curiosity I searched for the amount of words there are in the English language to ascertain the odds of this being coincidental. Generally speaking there are 180,000 if you count derivatives and leave out the 50,000 that are considered obsolete.

From a personal and biased point of view, I could assume that as one who has an interest in expressing very theoretical concepts in writing via a public venue, this could be a case of the hunter becoming the prey but then again, this narrative is not about me. Then again, what is the message of a medium that is a parallelism to writing on the subject of the paranormal? The humorous side of that particular equation is that the parties in question desire to insert themselves in my writing and yet what their contribution constitutes leaves me up in the air. Now you experience this and then you don't. Ghostwriting as a transcription in mediumship infers a purpose without an explanation as a self cancelling tap on the shoulder.

I have not a clue as to the frame this picture belongs to. Once again I must end this public examination of these anomalies of a personal nature as to say, they provoke questions rather than answers. I could think of several theoretical frameworks to neatly contain and wrap these events within as if to bundle it all in a sort of false coherency, but what is the point of that as a pragmatic matter?

Your guess is as good as mine.


  1. Really fascinating story, Bruce, and that photo should have more online exposure... certainly one the best I've seen.
    Re: purple.... Well, leave it to an elderly woman to pull off a trick even Houdini failed at!

    Great post!

  2. Steve Sawyer sent the following questions via e-mail and I think they are good ones and so I am publishing them as I think others may have the same questions:
    1.) Could your daughter either have already known her mother's computer password, or found it out somehow?

    2.) Could the photo have been "photo-shopped," using photo manipulation software by either her or someone else she might know? Are there any photos of your son extant with a very similar or parallel visual morphology and outline your daughter or someone else in the circle of family/friends might have, and that could have been used? This has to be asked because I've seen very similar photos like the one shown here which were, after qualified forensic examination, shown to have been faked. Others were never proved as either faked or real. They remain unknown, because the image in the photo is representational, or just an image.

    3.) While only one image of three apparently shows what appears to be a translucent image superimposed on the background imagery, what do the other two photos show? Did the photo expert get all 3 photos, and at least one or two both before and after the sequence of the 3 main photos, to check the embedded EXIF data, to see if it might have been modified vs. consistent across all three primary photos, and at least one photo before and one after the sequence of the three "kitchen shots"? The EXIF data factor, and any variances between the three main shots, is critical in photo analysis, I've read. Also, it's best if the actual cell-phone is provided with the images intact on the memory chip where the digital photos are directly stored, rather than making a copy and then sending just that one photo to a certified photogrammetric or computer digital imagery expert/ analyst. Copies of the original digital photo can be played with in subtle ways, including the EXIF data. It is also possible to manipulate the EXIF data on the original memory chip extracted from the cellphone itself, but that's a more sophisticated process than how it can be done from a copy of the single photo. All three kitchen photos, particularly, and an additional one or two both before and after the main sequence should have consistent EXIF data elements.

  3. The answers as to the password are as follows:
    The password as well as the computer they were attached to opening it's programs was my daughter's Aunt ( my sister) which was also the location of the incident where the photograph was taken. Also my sister's house was where my mother lived in her last days.
    What threw me a curve ( as I noted in the blog) was that my daughter made the call to this psychic as a cold call. She was upset by all this and this psychic normally charges a certain fee and an appointment is required. She made an exception for my daughter and answered her questions on a cold call basis which struck me as her ( the psychic) had no way to prepare research. Another troubling aspect of this was that other answers were given that were the correct answers to other queries.
    So..the whole situation surrounding the back story of this photograph added more confusion in my mind.
    In terms of the photograph itself, I had an issue with fact several. While I have no doubts as to my daughter's honesty as well as the unlikely scenario that being already upset she would further muddy everything by throwing in yet another that was faked. What I did suspect was that this image was possibly tied to an electronic or optical least that was what I was hoping for. It would relieve a lot of what I thought to be odd nonsense.
    The photo was analysed by an individual well known , an American optical physicist formerly employed by the U.S. Navy, and a leading ufologist. This was arranged by a well known blogger on the subject of UFO subjects. I initially only sent the image itself.Then he requested the other two photos that had no image.
    And so, all of this remains unresolved and I was hesitant to even write about it and mulled this over for several weeks as you know these things have the potential to become a circus. I did not want to have anyone other than myself potentially dragged through a lot of b.s.
    The point of writing about it was to exorcise the event from being lodged in my head so to speak. Make sort of a faux conclusion by putting the episode" on paper" and close the door. There is really nowhere else to go with this. It proves nothing, discloses nothing. However, for someone who writes on these subjects, I thought it was helpful to say publically, there are no easy answers to any of this and there will never be one.

  4. Have you looked at the geotag (GPS) information embedded in the photos? If I was I was ghostly entity trying to make a big impression I would certainly use with that too.