Joseph and the Dark Matter World
by Nathaniel Bates
How Joseph got to be a paranormal researcher was a story that involved a journey without distance. It was a journey of the mind. He began his life amidst a colony of radicals. They were atheists, philosophical materialists, who quoted Marx, Bakunin and Emma Goldman. Many of them drifted off into the capitalist mainstream, others returned to Judaism, Quakerism, and still others converted to Buddhism. Some did more than one. Joseph stayed in the commune in the middle of urban Oakland, California until almost the very end. The police repression that most of the communards expected was inevitable and it did indeed come. The Mayor was a Democrat, the bureaucrats were mainly liberal, and the moralists who preached the need for public education and not home schooling were often as feminist as the women of the commune. But the repression was still the same as if Reagan or Nixon had ordered it. The police were every bit as brutal.
Joseph was only 12 at the time and his parents soon moved on. They moved to the suburbs and became mainstream Democrats who voted for Clinton and forgot the pain of the past. Atheism was the only constant in Joseph’s life until he went to University. Joseph was walking along a path through a Meadow and all of the sudden a Great Light appeared to him. His heart experienced an explosion into crystalline structures of Light. His consciousness expanded into the Ocean and into the Sky. The Oneness of the Universe was not simply an abstract idea. It was a Reality. He went on to study mysticism of all religions, including the Hassidic mysticism of his own ancestors. Wearing a Yarmulke created a scene at home when he visited for Thanksgiving but he continued to wear it.
Joseph changed his major from Physics to Mathematics and Philosophy. He proceeded to become a Mathematics professor. But somewhere in his mind he never forgot his life’s experiences. He never forgot the experience on the campus Meadow. He never shook the feeling that the Commune might have survived better had it been a spiritual commune. But more than anything something of the idealism of his youth was reborn in him as he began joining demonstrations and marches once again.
The memory of the mystical experience led Joseph to do his PHD dissertation on the metaphysical roots of science. He claimed that philosophical materialism was its own ultimate irony in that its roots were actually in esoteric pantheism. Joseph argued this idea before an incredulous committee of Marxists who had once been in the thrall of philosophical materialism in the Commune of Joseph’s own time. “Even the later materialism of Marx was actually an outgrowth of a Hegelian form of Germanic mysticism more than the simple atheism of mechanistic philosophy,” Joseph claimed before an audience that became extraordinarily nervous. Marx sincerely tried to scrub Left Hegelianism clean of pantheist mysticism and make it materialist, but he could not because mystery was too deeply ingrained in humanity. But Joseph earned his PHD in spite of the tension in the room; and soon after began his Professorship.
It was at that point that Joseph’s second great metaphysical experience began. He was walking home from the University one day from a long day of teaching the principle of the LaGrange multipliers to eager mathematics Undergraduates and not so eager Engineering Undergraduates when he spotted his Grandmother smiling at him. She smiled and walked behind a tree. Joseph was happy to see her until a realization dawned on him. She had been dead for 20 years.
When Joseph ran to look behind the huge Valley Oak tree that marked the Meadow, his Grandmother was not there. He also remembered with astonishment that he was standing on the same Meadow on which he met God while walking on it many decades before. Shaken, Joseph—now Dr. Cohen with fragile Tenure— walked to his apartment by the ocean and paced up and down. This was nothing to bring up in a Faculty meeting. It was possible to lose Tenure and Joseph remembered that the rationalist “experts” were often critical of the closed-minded paranormalists’ refusal to see facts, and to retreat into Social Media enclaves, while strangely blind to their own “skeptical” refusal to see facts outside of what their academic world had shown them. Joseph was no longer Joseph, he realized. He was Professor Joseph Cohen, a well-respected analytic philosopher whose work on symbolic logic was widely praised. It was one thing to be spiritual in the Philosophy Department. It was quite another thing to claim to have seen a ghost.
Joseph began to research everything he could on ghosts, UFO’s, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness, and reincarnation. All of this was kept carefully secret while he continued a brilliant career as a mathematician and logician. After his retirement and his election as an Emeritus Professor, he announced that he was “coming out of the closet.” Some of the faculty smirked and one Physicist said of Joseph, a life-long bachelor, “I suspected as much!” When Joseph announced that he was actually an amateur Parapsychologist, the smiles dropped and the occasion became somber. The retirement Party continued but with a subdued mood. Only Joseph’s undergraduates seemed happy, almost relieved. Many of them regaled their teacher with stories of Ghosts, UFO’s and the paranormal. Most were from Asian cultures where the western world’s distinctions between science and spirit were not as rigid as the great wall between world-views erected in the West.
Toward the end of the party a famous historian came up and smiled. “Well, Professor, I suppose you will be free to channel the spirits now!” It was only partly mockery. In fact, Professor Sarah Henderson was a tolerant devotee of interesting and eclectic ideas. Her dissertation was on the medieval mystic Hildegard of Bingen. She wrote a ground breaking biography of Benjamin Franklin that cited Joseph’s own PHD thesis on the claim that scientific rationalism was more grounded in pantheism than materialism. Her belief was that Ben Franklin was an esoteric mystic more than a mechanistic Deist, a fact she saw as evident in his later years. Joseph smiled at her joke realizing that her gibe was friendly. The party ended on a good note, at least as far as he was concerned.
Soon after the retirement party the Internet went wild with claims of a Mathematician turned paranormal researcher and of the “intolerant atheists” who persecuted him at his own retirement party. Joseph knew that the actual truth was more complicated. For one thing, he remained a rationalist leftist intellectual throughout the years of secret research into paranormal material, a field often associated with New Age mysticism and yet also far right conspiracism. He knew where to draw the line. But Dr. Cohen, now Joseph again, did not mind the publicity when volunteers came to him with ideas and collaborations. His new found free time of a retired academic allowed him to research haunted houses, UFO landing spots and psychic claims. He was a celebrity and soon gathered around him a crew of earnest researchers. One was a psychic named Jane. The other was a “human-alien hybrid” named Robert. The third was a Big Foot researcher named Maxwell who dreamed of being a Biologist but could never afford college. His grades in Biology may also have had something to do with the matter. Either way, Big Foot research was his way of being in the forefront of Biological Science, even while never being recognized by Biological Scientists – which in Maxwell’s mind was one of the supreme ironies of science.
The team set out to investigate a haunted house in the middle of the foothills of the Sierra. They had a camera, an EVP recorder, and some electromagnetic detection equipment that Joseph figured would probably detect nothing. “We need it to detect other dimensions entering Earth’s magnetic field,” Robert said, or something of that nature. Joseph made a point of not questioning any of his researchers on claims they made. He needed their help and that was that. Robert set up the equipment while Jane attempted to make psychic contact with the ghosts. Maxwell seemed a bit bored as haunted houses were not his main field of expertise. Joseph walked through the door with the permission of the owners of the house, a brother and sister whose family owned the house for generations. “We know that our great, great grandfather is still here. He is still gold mining after all these years. We just want to send him on to the Light,” Brother and Sister said in unison. Jane smiled while Joseph, Robert and Maxwell were all silent.
The crew crept through the house and held equipment in their hands that Joseph was told would lead to ghosts. How ghosts would emit electromagnetic radiation escaped him but he was assured by the parapsychological community that he was on the right track. “All we want is for you to retain Oneness,” Jane said to the apparent annoyance of most of the others in the room. The equipment clicked. The house was dark and the sister held a Ouija board doing some kind of movement. Jane soon joined her. The wind blew through the house and knocked a door. Joseph realized that the front door was open. Robert banged his foot against the door and Maxwell realized he had to go to the bathroom. This was not going well, Joseph realized, and it was being recorded.
The night ended mercifully with Jane doing a “cleansing” of the house of evil spirits as well as guiding the siblings in a light meditation. “Aum…aum…” they chanted as Maxwell headed to a tree to do his business instead of the impolite use of the house bathroom. Robert nursed his foot while Joseph banged his head against a tree. A few minutes passed before Maxwell ran back with the camera and motioned them to the tree. “I don’t need to go,” Robert complained, as if pride in his half-alien side meant that he did not need the bathroom any more than Spock’s Vulcan half needed emotion.
But they went to the tree and all of them froze. Their eyes seemed to pop out of their sockets all at once. Standing in front of them was not a ghost at all. It was an ape-like human. Maxwell could not believe his luck as he began recording. “Sasquatch, Bigfoot” he marveled. At last! The creature was not exactly an ape. Science held that a Gigantopithecus once roamed the Earth, an Orangutan like creature. For Joseph, who was familiar with the Gigantopithecus from his studies, something did not fit a simple view of this creature being simply an animal that did not go extinct. The proximity to a haunted house was too tight, as if this creature somehow WANTED to be seen as simply a forest ape. Maxwell was more credulous than Joseph. He did not believe his luck while Robert stood astonished, without being able to say anything. “Apparently there were no Bigfoot sightings on his home planet,” Joseph quipped but only to himself. Of all of them, Joseph kept his calm and said the “Schmah Yisrael” prayer of his Jewish ancestors. Perhaps it was to marvel at God’s Creations. Or, perhaps it was a fear of parapsychology sucking him into idolatry. It could also have been a realization that something was not as it appeared. Joseph also quickly realized that it was forbidden to pray in a bathroom or where someone had urinated.
A minute, an hour, or a second later—no one calculated—the Ape Man disappeared. He literally disappeared confounding everyone, Maxwell most of all. Was this sighting connected to the haunted house? No one could say for sure. Joseph realized that this was no biological animal, nor was it a branch of the hominid family. This was a genuine parapsychological phenomenon and not a physical phenomenon. There would be much to discuss when they met at Denny’s afterwards.
“What we saw does not fit a standard paradigm,” Joseph exclaimed. “Jacques Vallee!” He began to explain how Jacques Vallee sought an underlying explanation behind UFO and parapsychological phenomena that did not involve either the dead or extraterrestrials. Vallee believed that our world was guided by an interdimensional grid of consciousness from beyond this dimension. That interdimensional grid could manifest as UFO’s or as religious phenomena. But the underlying reality was a manipulation of human consciousness. “Perhaps they were once aliens,” Joseph expounded. “But they aren’t now. They’ve evolved beyond that. They are probably as indigenous to this planet as we are, having been here for millions of years. My guess is that they came from another planet and were carbon based lifeforms at one point. Then they uploaded their consciousness into space-time itself. At that point they traveled out to space and came to our world. We see them as ghosts or bigfoot, but they are really Them.” Even Jane was looking at Joseph strangely. Joseph realized he had lost his audience. For all of the talk of a supposedly greater degree of tolerance among parapsychologists Joseph realized that many of them were as limited in their views as his old colleagues had been.
He decided to sleep for a few hours in his hotel before returning to the scene of the haunted house. Falling asleep he dreamt of Benjamin Franklin writing. It was a dream that hearkened to the great Enlightenment of his youth, long before ghosts, ESP and mystical jaunts. Franklin was writing about electricity and its mysterious ways. Franklin looked at Joseph and smiled. “The right and left hand,” Franklin said. “The right and left hand.” Joseph woke up and remembered something Franklin wrote long ago: Benjamin Franklin’s “A Petition of the Left Hand.” It was a moving comical satire of discrimination faced by left-handed writers. Generations of left-handed students were confused by having to write in a right-handed manner. Joseph himself remembered how he mastered the right-hand rule used in electromagnetism only to realize that current traveled in the opposite direction. Only to recognize that Ben Franklin’s own decision to have electricity travel from “positive” to “negative” was a reversal of the actual flow of electrons. The actual flow was describable by a “left-hand” rule. But Franklin’s error was made before the discovery of electrons and Franklin could not have known.
He could not have known, Joseph shot up in his hotel bed, but then what of the parody? The left hand complains to the right hand. It was a satire of every confused student of electromagnetism long after the electron was discovered by J.J. Thomson, well after Ben Franklin. Franklin could not have known about the electron, and his decision to have current flow defined from positive to negative was from an understandable ignorance. But, what of the parody? It fit so well. It is as if Franklin DID somehow KNOW. It is as if his decision to have electromagnetism follow a right-hand rule instead of a left-hand rule was an intentional parody of discrimination against left-handers. It is actually the left-handers who are correct about electron flow, and less confused about it! The thought of such a parody implied a knowledge beyond Franklin’s time, as if Franklin could see outside of linear time! As much as he tried, Joseph could not shake the thought that he had learned something real. “The right and left hand” indeed!
Joseph headed up to the old house the next day and assembled with his team. They seemed cheery, as if possibly more willing to accept the strangely rationalist mysticism of Joseph Cohen, the insane mathematician who crashed the world of parapsychology. His world was not theirs, he knew. He came from a world of systems of thought and clashes of absolutes. They came from a world a lot more empirical in many ways, but less systematic. Feelings and intuitions counted more. One did not trounce on the world-views of others. New Age mysticism was a lot more tolerant than either Fundamentalism or Atheism. But it was dogmatically tolerant. One did not hold to overly “linear” beliefs or one was closedminded and thus unspiritual. Joseph knew that his world, the world of analytic philosophy, was a different culture entirely. He would have to tread carefully in not offending the Tolerant.
The Brother and Sister greeted them warmly as day dawned but were strangely distant. Joseph felt it was as though they were in a trance. The team began to look for clues, footprints perhaps. The woods had a mist that obscured the Sierra’s. But when the mist lifted the team could see the snow caps of Yosemite in the distance. It took their breath away. Joseph then turned to the tree where the Sasquatch, or whatever it was, first appeared and he saw a man in sheer black. The others saw him too and he stepped forward. “Hello, Dr. Cohen and your fine team,” he began. They froze as the mist returned. The man disappeared and reappeared. He began to speak in a very low voice, an otherworldly voice, “I can appear to you in your world in many forms. Yes, we were once what you called ‘alien’ but this is our world as much as yours. We uploaded ourselves into what you call ‘dark matter’ and came to your world. We interact with your world gravitationally, but we can also choose to interact electromagnetically. We can influence your minds, but we can also appear physically. What you saw last night was part of your own cultural mythos about ‘Ape Men’ that we mirrored back to you.”
The man morphed into a Sasquatch. He then appeared as a stereotypical “Grey” from UFO lore. Then he became a leprechaun. Joseph also got the feeling that he could become a physical human being if he wanted to. Perhaps the great men of history? Possibly a scientific associate of someone like Ben Franklin to reveal the mysteries of the Universe, or even Ben Franklin himself? This mysterious Man in Black was of the type that often showed up after UFO sightings. The fear, the intimidation, was real. Time seemed to stop. The team all felt, as if at once, that the brother and sister was in a trance precisely because of the influence of this dark matter being.
Joseph had an “aha” moment. The solution to the bridge between science and paranormal realities was dark matter. It could interact with matter gravitationally, but other than that, it had no definable qualities. But, perhaps it was really a form of matter in a parallel Universe just slightly off kilter from the one ordinary baryonic matter inhabited. Perhaps as it moved into 3-space it could interact more fully. It would have properties unique to itself. The uptick in paranormal activity around the world may be an unintentional outgrowth of experiments into dark matter and other particle physics based explorations. Franklin and other great scientists were under the influence of this dark matter world and were opening the gate to it. What came through, benevolent or malevolent, would depend. Depend on what?
“You doubtlessly want to know if I am good or evil. The answer depends on your perspective. For thousands of years we have had to enforce a certain degree of conformity on you through your religions and governments. Now you have grown. Now you are ready to be free of all of that. You are almost ready to upload yourselves into dark matter, just as we received help from beings before us to upload ourselves. There is a whole world beyond baryonic matter, a world of fun and pleasure. We can help you achieve it. But the enemy of Love is not Hate. The real enemy of Love is Fear. If you fear one another, then you will not know Love and will be unable to handle the transformation we can offer.”
Jane understood perfectly. “In other words, if we succumb to fear then we succumb to the darker spiritual influences and won’t progress. But in Love, we grow. Reality is the same either way!”
“She was the type who wanted the perfect grade by having the right answer,” Robert grumbled. Maxwell snorted like he often did when he found someone irritating. But the Man in Black smiled. “Yes!” he said, praising her and failing the others. They could sense that he could detect their attitudes.
“What about Ben Franklin?,” Joseph called out.
“What about him?” the Man in Black answered. “What about Einstein? What about Heisenberg? It was your so-called ‘philosophers’ who were the dogmatic materialists, not your scientists. Even Darwin included some acknowledgement of the Great Mystery in distinguishing life from dead matter at the end of the Origin of Species. You Dr. Cohen were a Marxist, an atheist, but even you had to acknowledge a mystery at the core of existence. Space, time, matter and energy are beyond what you can conceive of them. Those who reduce all things to one level will never see that it is only themselves that they reduce.”
The mystery man disappeared and the team dispersed. They put their recording of bigfoot on YouTube. Needless to say their conversation with the Dark Matter spirit would never make it to YouTube. Robert decided to post it anonymously on the Internet to the great excitement of readers who wondered who it was who had the Dark Matter revelation. The team was intensely happy to have discovered an invisible alien, who was really a Bigfoot, who was really a ghost. It would be great for ratings.
Joseph soon realized something was missing in his life. He was not cut out to be a celebrity who deals in consumerist New Age culture. Paranormalism was only so deep, he realized. Celebrities and their social causes were not the same as fundamental structural change. Joseph realized that he needed his old social causes. Poverty, injustice and the environment needed people to champion them when they were not so fashionable, when the cameras were off and the celebrities moved on. A culture based on sensationalism and consumerism would not suffice to obtain real answers for personal or social change. Joseph knew he had to move on.
The team carried on without him and last he heard they were climbing to Nepal to examine claims of Yeti sex parties. Soon after they were going to be hosted in a party by Malibu by a Hollywood producer who claimed he was the reincarnation of Stephen Douglas. Why Stephen Douglas and not Abraham Lincoln Joseph did not want to guess.
Joseph knew that philosophy was a calling, not a celebrity spotlight. He sought out Professor Sarah Henderson, the kind historian whose work on Franklin cited his own thinking. “Professor Henderson,” he began, “I have something I must tell you. I met a Man in Black made of dark matter.” He expected shock. She smiled with a kind of laughter in her eyes. “Really,” she laughed.” Joseph felt awkward. What he wanted was guidance. What he was getting was mockery, or so it appeared until he realized something else was going on. She knew. He realized that she knew. “Professor Cohen,” she bellowed, “you must carry on your search for knowledge. We will assist you but you must engage in the means of spreading Love to humanity.” She then disappeared and reappeared. Human form, indeed!
Whatever the team found among the Yeti sex parties and the New Age celebrity culture was nothing compared to what had been right under his nose the whole time. Dark matter academic historians were not quite as titillating but Joseph figured that he could at least write his own anonymous Internet article.