Monday, April 18, 2011

Change of Scenery: Other Dimensions, Other People

Change of Scenery: Other Dimensions, Other People
By Scott Corrales
(c) 2011

Naysayers are fond of deriding believers in high-strangeness for their excessive reliance on “anecdotal” material. Seldom does the Unknown sit still for a portrait, much less for a DNA analysis or the questions of a fact-checker. So the currency of the elusive realm of the paranormal will be the anecdotal for a long time to come – especially when we receive tantalizing bits of material from sources like Venezuela’s El Tiempo newspaper, in which writer Segundo Peña writes of a strange incident in the city of Mérida (Venezuela) involving a faculty member of the ULA (University of the Andes), a native of Trujillo, who walked to his car in the university parking lot in broad daylight, seen by many witnesses, including waving students and fellow professors. He opened the door, entered the vehicle – and was never seen again. The car remained parked where it was.

“The car’s owner,” writes Peña in his article, which can be found at , “has been gone for over forty years (we do not mention his name out of respect for his family) Was this person abducted by strange forces alien to our own dimension? Science pursues its general research, where psychology is aware that in many cases perceptual illusions, erroneous interpretations, hallucinations and fantasy-prone personalities have sway. But the enigma is still present and unresolved.”

Peña gives us no dates and no names, but the strange case is reminiscent of many other “bizarre disappearances” that have filled entire books over the past forty years. One can fancifully think that he entered his car and suddenly found himself in the same parking lot in a parallel reality, unmindful of the situation until subtle differences – subtle terrors, to be frank – made him realize that something was drastically different, or that he had lost his mind. We can speculate away.

However, we are also faced with cases that give us a wealth of information that goes beyond the anecdotal: Alberto Luis Fernández, director of Spain’s Revista Avalon, posted the intriguing story of a woman who believes herself to have been brought to our reality from another. “We cannot be certain that this is a not a hoax, but it is nevertheless an interesting story, and if true, it could happen to us when we least expect it,” says Fernandez as a foreword to the story.

In July 2008, a woman named Lerina García posted a message to a website asking for help. We will transcribe her message verbatim.

“Hello, my name is Luz. I’m 41 and believe that I have jumped into a parallel universe. This is hard for me to discuss, as everyone will consider me psychotic and will refuse to believe me. Please, if someone has had a similar experience, please e-mail me. One day I woke up and found that everything was different – nothing spectacular or having to do with time travel and such things. I simply woke up in the same year and day on which I went to bed, but many things were different. They were small things, but sufficiently important to know that there was a point at which everything was different.

“In fact, if this is a dream, then you’re all in a dream, because what I’m writing about doesn’t exist. So if someone replies, it means that they are experiencing the same reality as I am, whether it’s a dream or not.

“Four months ago I awoke on a normal morning. I was in my rented home, where I’d been living for 7 years. Everything was the same, except that my bed linen was different, and I paid no attention at the time. So I went to work in my car, which was parked where I’d always parked, and it was the same office I’d worked in for the last 20 years. But when I got to my department, it wasn’t my department. It has names on the door and mine wasn’t on it. I thought I was on the wrong floor, but no, it was my own floor. I went over to the office’s wireless section and looked myself up. I still worked there, but in another department, reporting to a superior I didn’t even know. So I went to the department indicated in the directory, said I was feeling ill and left. All the contents of my handbag were the same: my credit cards, my ID, everything, but I didn’t recall having changed departments at any time. I went to the social security doctor and underwent drug and alcohol testing...all clean. I returned to work the next day and was able to make my way by asking questions and saying that I wasn’t feeling well.

“My apartment is the same. Everything is unchanged. I’ve looked at all the papers I’ve kept in the house and they’re unchanged. After realizing that something strange was going on, I thought it might be some form of amnesia. Perhaps something had happened to me and I couldn’t remember a period of my life. But no, I logged on to the Internet and the day was as it should have been, and the major news items were the same as the day before.

“I’ve been separated from my partner of 7 years for some six months. We broke up and I started a relationship with a fellow from my neighborhood. I know him perfectly well, having been with him for four months. I know his name, surname, address, where he works, his son from another relationship, and where he studies. Well, that fellow no longer exists. He appeared to have existed before my “jump” but there is no trace of him now. I’ve hired a detective to find him and he does not exist on this “plane”. I’ve visited a psychiatrist and its all been put down to stress. He thinks they’re hallucinations, but I know this isn’t the case. My former boyfriend is with me as though nothing had happened – apparently we never broke it off – and Agustín (my current boyfriend) appears to have never existed. He doesn’t live in the flat he used to live, and I cannot find his son. I swear to you that its true and that I’m very sane. My own family doesn’t remember things like surgery performed on my sister’s shoulder a few months ago: she has never been operated on. Small things to that effect.

“Unfortunately, I cannot remember very important things from the news, but the rest of the world appears to be the same. There are many small details over the last five months and now, mere trivialities: clothing in my closet that I don’t remember buying, posts on a radio show blog that I had with my ex (and who remains my boyfriend now)...I don’t know, it’s foolish, but the fact is that I’m sane and this is all true.

PLEASE, if someone has had a similar experience, please contact me to see what may have happened. I cannot find any pathology that matches my experience. For five months I’ve been reading all of the theories I’ve come across and am convinced that it has been a jump between planes or something, a decision or action taken that has caused things to change. What upsets me is that that I’m in the same year, not in a different time, and I’m exactly the same. Let me explain: it’s as though I had lost my memory 5 months ago, and woke up having dreamed those 5 months, with the exception that everyone remembers me during that time, and I’ve done things that I’m not aware of having done. Has anyone had a similar experience? Pranksters and people with a grasp on “the truth” can refrain from commenting. This is very serious to me. Thank you – Luz.”

Could “Luz” have experienced some trauma to the brain – that wonderful and largely unexplored realm – that has led her to forget critical aspects of her existence, such as the division she worked for at her place of employment, or more importantly, hallucinate a love affair with someone who she cannot find again after a break-up with her original partner? An e-mail message is only worth the electrons it was composed with, and we only have “Luz”’s word for her medical visits and diagnosis. We know that insect bites have triggered abnormal brain function in humans, that blows to the head have caused people to speak different languages, speak with odd accents, or even gain telepathic or psychic ability. Might we suggest that “Luz” was tuning in to another reality for a certain period of time, rather than actually living in one?

Down the Rabbit Hole

Chile’s La Tercera newspaper published an article (31 July 2000) penned by journalist Marcelo Córdova regarding Nima Arkani-Hamed, a researcher with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who suggested that parallel universes exist in real space, coexisting with our own, and sufficiently close by to be touched. Our own world occupies a sort of membrane populated by a fistful of possible dimensions. This scientific model posits a universe on a three-dimensional wall with other dimensions. “The most fascinating detail,” according to Arkani-Hamed “is the existence of other membranes, meaning that we live with parallel universes occupied by other beings. Or we ourselves could be living alternate realities.”

It was November 1984 when Spain’s Guardia Civil conducted a massive search involving tracking dogs, expert mountaineers, local residents and even the Boy Scouts to solve the disappearance of Etelvina García, who lived in the hamlet of Santo Emiliano in the northern region of Asturias. Living alone and with no known relatives, Etelvina was known to one and all as healthy and lively shepherdess who led her flock to all the pastures in the area. But one day, her neighbors were startled to find her animals unattended in the fields with no sign of their caretaker.

A search of her home found everything in order, with no signs of a hasty departure or home invasion. The authorities gave up on finding her after an arduous search, and her whereabouts remain unknown. She may reappear some day, if a case from the Canary Islands, allegedly dating back to 1905, can serve as a precedent.

The case – described as more of a “legend” nowadays – involves a girl who has become known as “la niña de las peras” (the Pear Child), who was sent off by he parents to fetch pears at an enigmatic location known as Barranco de Badajoz on the island of Tenerife, which has been associated with strange lights and creatures for ages. She disappeared, and locals conducted as thorough a search as their early 20th century means allowed. However, the child returned: several decades later.

The year 1905 has always been used as the date for the disappearance, but others place this high-strangeness event at 1890 or even 1910. According to the story, the girl returned looking the same as she did on the day she vanished – a Canarian Rip Van Winkle who took a nap at the foot of a tree before being stirred by a very tall being in white, who asked her to come into a cave, where she saw similar beings. She took her leave after speaking to them and returned home to the astonishment of her family. It was believed that her relatives concealed “the Pear Child” – possibly out fear of harm from those who might consider her unlucky or accursed in some way – and lived for years in the San Juan district of the island. If so, researchers have never been able to ascertain her identity.

Could Etelvina García have found herself in a reality no different from our own, leading a flock of animals from another dimension back to their own barn, never aware of what had happened? If the charming story of the Pear Child has any truth to it, is “time diffraction” the price to be paid for venturing into an adjoining universe, and trying to return from it?