Abstract: Harvey: Pooka or Tulpa?

Introduction: The pooka has been variously defined as either a mischievous spirit or a malignant sprite. In the play and movie, Harvey, written by Mary Coyle Chase, the pooka is portrayed as considerably more the former than the latter. This is perhaps because Ms. Chase learned of pookas at her Irish mother's knee, and her mother sought more to entertain young Mary than to frighten her.

Pookas are well known in Ireland (and indeed, some Irish pookas have rocks, hills, and caves named after them), but has anyone yet encountered an actual pooka in the New World? Where would we find one here if we were to look? Happily, Ms. Chase offers us a clue in her script for Harvey. When her character Elwood P. Dowd recalls how he met his invisible friend Harvey, he says, "I found him leaning against a lamppost at the corner of 18th and Fairfax." Most certainly Ms. Chase was referring to 18th and Fairfax in Denver, Colorado, the town where she was born and raised, but did she know there is also an 18th and Fairfax in Los Angeles? Might not one 18th and Fairfax be as likely as any other to supply a pooka with a leaning post, seeing as how the city in which the play and film are set is unnamed? We suspected as much and so, set out for 18th and Fairfax in Los Angeles in search of Harvey the pooka.

Procedure: We traveled to the four lamppost-bearing corners of 18th and Fairfax in Los Angeles and there conducted a systematic pooka hunt using the tools of the professional paranormalist: a Polaroid Camera to record the seen and possibly the unseen, a magnetic compass to check for magnetic deviations, an EMF detector to alert us to microwaves and other hazardous electromagnetic fields, a bilocational thermometer to look for cold spots where invisible entities might be soaking up ambient heat, a dog (Louie) to hear or smell or otherwise detect that which is beyond our human senses, and a tape recorder to record field notes and EVP's or Electronic Voice Phenomena.

Results: The Polaroid camera recorded no more than was seen by the naked eye; likewise, the magnetic compass detected no noticeable magnetic deviations from North. The EMF detector did, however, find strong electromagnetic fields at every corner of the intersection (see CD: Pooka Hunt: Field Notes and EVP Capture Sequence). The bilocational thermometer did detect temperature differences averaging five degrees Fahrenheit between a spot one foot from the lamppost (where Harvey would presumably be leaning) and 7 seven feet away (where we were standing), also at every corner of the intersection. Louie seemed at turns bored and interested and at one point got a small ball of blue chewing gum (later determined to be Wrigley's Winterfresh) stuck on his left front paw. The tape recorder did once, after our prompting of "Harvey, are you here?" record an intelligible Electronic Voice Phenomenon (see CD: Pooka Hunt: EVP Capture Sequence).

Conclusion: Did we find Harvey the pooka at 18th and Fairfax? We did find indications of a presence, even a Harvey-like, mischievous, invisible presence, but after some consideration, we have to ask, was it really a pooka? Or rather, what if the pooka were really a tulpa? In her 1965 book, Magic and Mystery in Tibet, author Alexandra David-Neel explained how a tulpa, a type of imaginary friend that others can see and even touch, can be created through great effort and concentration. She also allowed that a tulpa could be generated unknowingly, and this is the possibility that intrigues us now.

We know of a local screenwriter who accidentally created, first, a doppelganger and, later, a Man In Black, while writing about those subjects. His phantasms, strangely enough, were seen only by others and not by the screenwriter himself. Could the writing of Harvey have yielded a similar result? Suppose that, as Mary Coyle Chase wrote her play and later her screenplay, a Harvey tulpa was unintentionally created at the intersection of 18th and Fairfax in every U.S. city where such an intersection existed. David-Neel wrote that most tulpas gradually fade away due to inattention following their creator's death. In the case of Harvey, whose creator died in 1981, mass attention is refocused on a presumed Harvey tulpa whenever the play, film, video, etc. is shown. This could conceivably lend a Harvey tulpa the same measure of immortality the beloved Harvey character enjoys.

Davis & Davis Research Labs

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