Monday, 10 July 2017

The Box of Crazy (or The Tampa Bay Obscuration.)

The Box of Crazy

The exact circumstances are unclear but according to the available accounts a certain person - identified only as a "friend" of a certain person calling himself "TramstopDan" who was himself later identified (by some) as a "Dan Wickham" - of recent years (2013?) came across an old, plain looking box amongst (or near or next to) trash on a road near (or outside of) Asheville, North Carolina, USA, only to discover that the said box was full of strange illustrations concerning an event described by documents therein as the 'Tampa Bay Obscuration'. Mr TramstopDan subsequently posted the illustrations online in two installments and they have since attracted some attention in the lonely dark corners of the internet. They are of sufficient quality and interest to warrant reposting here. 

The collection has come to be known colloquially as the 'Box of Crazy' because the illustrations and assorted documents within the box are of a visionary and religious nature - mixed with 'mad science' - and are not easily understood. It appears that some of the documents go back to the 1930s, but most of them concern quasi-religious visions centred in the Tampa Bay area in more recent decades. The focus of the visions themselves - and the subject of the most notable illustrations - is the Biblical book of Ezekiel. (The box is sometimes referred to as the 'Ezekiel Box'.)

As for the author, numerous documents and illustrations within the collection are signed by a "Daniel Christiansen" with others signed by a "Nesna-it-sirhc", this cryptic name being "Christiansen" written backwards. It is a reasonable assumption, then, that the box belonged to this gentleman, and from the internal evidence and a little detective work he can be identified as a Daniel Samuel Christiansen of St Petersburg Florida, born November 27th 1904, died September 26th 1994. Mr Christiansen, it is known, immigrated to the United States via England in 1927. Not much more is known, and in particular we do not know how his 'Box of Crazy' ended up on a roadside near Asheville NC a good decade after his death (assuming we can believe Mr TramstopDan's account of where and when the box was found.)

The contents of the cache are curious to say the least. The exact nature of the 'Tampa Bay Obscuration' is difficult to ascertain, but it seems as if Mr Christiansen claims to have witnessed a UFO/religious encounter in Tampa Bay which he understands in terms of the prophetic texts of the Book of Ezekiel, although his own notes on this are extremely opaque. He provides detailed illustrations of the encounter, including of the various 'living creatures' described in the Ezekiel visions. The date of the 'Tampa Bay Obscuration' is given as the enchanted date July 7th 1977 or  7/7/77. This is announced in this document:

Text: An Apparition / or / The Tampa Bay Obscuration / July 7 – 1977 / Daniel S. Christiansen / Alias: Ampel, / Nesna It Sirhc.

As some investigators have ascertained, there was in fact a laser light show at Tampa Bay on exactly that date and some have concluded that Mr Christiansen has been beguiled by the show into supposing it to be some manner of alien visitation, but the documentation in the 'Box of Crazy' is extensive and goes well beyond a case of a mistaken laser display. Perhaps the light show triggered Christiansen to have visions, but it would not have been the first time. The contents of the box reveal a lifetime of dedicated exploration of the connections between the Biblical text of Ezekiel and a wide range of strange modern phenomena. The Tampa Bay event was especially important, apparently, but was not isolated. Some illustrations taken from the event follow:

The "Box of Crazy"-Ezekiel's vision of the "living creatures."

"Box of Crazy"--Ezekiel's vision of the "living creatures."
It seems plain that we have some type of personal and eccentric interpretation of the so-called 'Merkabah' mysteries of the Old Testament prophet, but this is elsewhere overlaid with extended rants about flying saucers and futuristic technology. There is nothing new about this in itself. Ezekiel is a favorite text for those who subscribe to the ancient aliens 'Chariots of the Gods' type of theory, but Christiansen offers a unique and idiosyncretic version of it and appears to have devoted his entire life to its explication. He also brings to it considerable skill as a draughtsman. There are many very well executed technical drawings among the papers, thus:

The upshot of the texts concerning the Ezekiel visions is that - according to the author - the vision could not have been understood correctly until recent times. Until recently there has been a "cloud of obscuration" or a "cloud of concealment". (Accordingly, he also has an interest in strange meteorological phenomena.) But now in our own time, it seems, long hidden secrets are being revealed. This point of view is clear from one of the documents, see below. The visions of Ezekiel are not hallucinatory, he argues, but - from the vantage point of our own times - are a very precise account of an alien technology...

Christiansen has an interest in strange technology and moreover seems to have dabbled in it himself. As an example of this, one remarkable item in the collection is a circular disk inscribed with a cryptic text in the form of a spiral thus:

The text around the outside reads (in upper case): 

This turn table for portable T.V. set designed and made by Mr. Nesna-it-sirhc for Nadia, his wife, and is mailed from Plfld, N.J. to St. Pete, Fla. as a Xmas present Dec. 1967. The plastic rolling members of this device supplied by ‘Nady’ in 1952.

And the inner text - a good example of Mr Christiansen's style - reads:

“Additional inform.: The principles of mechanics as here involved correspond significantly to the principles of physic [sic] involved in the by Nady oft. ref. to ‘noise machine’ of the Mt. Pleasant Ave. attic exp. 1951-1952. It was an attempt at ascertaining a possible significant relationship between certain ‘engeneered’ precessions of moment of enertia [sic] of gyrating bodies and that of the basic nature of gravity. A possible outcome of experiment–it was hoped–would be indications that gravity could be generated artificially and applied in fields of a scope and of a degree of effectivenes corresponding directly to to the amount of physical power applied towards generation of such local and limited fields of gravity. Note: if such were to be the case, the question of giving the artificially generated gravity-force any specific direction with respect to universal space was (and still is) regarded as merely a matter of an operator pulling a lever or turning a switch in order to direct or re-direct the specific ‘A.G.’ field generating device. Signed by inventor of alleged device and author of this note of information in N. Plfld, N.J. U.S.A. at 4 A.M. Dec. 16 – 1967. Nesna-it-sirhc.”

What in the blue blazes does all this mean? It is hard to say, except that the letters "A. G." apparently mean "artificial gravity" and that the author - Mr Nesna-it-sirhc - is claiming to have invented some manner of "artificial gravity" machine in 1967! But what happened in the attic in 1952? The sentence: 

Nady oft. ref. to ‘noise machine’ of the Mt. Pleasant Ave. attic exp. 1951-1952. probably to be understood as meaning that his wife "Nady" (Nadia) often referred (oft. ref.) to the 'noise machine" of the Mt Pleasant Avenue attic *experiment* 1951-52. (Or is "exp." short for "experience"?) What are the "plastic rolling members of this device" that "Nady" supplied? The "noise machine"? Much of the contents of the box consist of cryptic notes like this. They were no doubt meaningful to Mr Nesna-it-sirhc but they are far less so to us. 

As well as this, there is a collection of maps which - so it seems - are designed to be superimposed upon one another in some fashion. Mr Nesna-it-sirhc has considerable cartographical skills. The significance of the maps is as unclear as everything else. 

In part, Christiansen's work can be appreciated as a type of eccentric American folk art, an oddment of modern Americana, but a full account of the contents of the box and its background has yet to be made. One curious point stands out, however. If the dating of the documents is to be believed, Christiansen entertained a version of the UFO/Ezekiel theory going back to before the Second World War. This was well before  the modern UFO craze began, and indeed he reports encounters and sightings in the 1940s which is before the first celebrated UFo sightings came to public attention. Certainly, his UFO/Ezekiel theory predates - by decades - the theories of such characters as Eric Von Daniken and others. So whatever else we can say about Daniel Samuel Christiansen, he seems to have been a pioneer. As far as we know, though, all of it was his own private concern, shared with his wife and perhaps a few others. We only know of this strange obsession because someone - a friend of TramstopDan - found the 'Box of Crazy' on the roadside near Asheville. 


Harper McAlpine Black

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