This week’s episode of The X-Files had an A-story that was very slight, with Mulder and Scully basically doing fudge-all to stop the monster of the week. The B-story was a call back to the episodes “Beyond the Sea” and “One Breath” and Scully’s ongoing anxiety about William.
On to the paranormal and science references:
The graffiti painting, of course, was supposed to look like the work of British street artist Banksy. See the Banksy directed documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop if you want to know more about him.
The scene where the forensic scientist told Mulder his investigation of the material on the band-aid found “no organic material, but… no inorganic material either” is gibberish. If the material was not organic, it would have to be inorganic, by definition. Strictly, “organic” simply means “containing carbon,” so if you look at the material and there’s no carbon, inorganic covers it. There is no third option. I know the intention was to say that the material was “un-matter,” but a test for organic matter would not find that. Maybe if they had tried to weigh it and it had no mass, that would be better way to get the same mystery across.
The big reveal came towards the end, when the artist Trash Man theorized that his art had become a “tulpa.” Mulder is skeptical of this, which is pretty rich because Mulder identified a tulpa as the monster in the sixth season episode “Arcadia.”
Mulder then explains that “a tulpa is a 1929 Theosophist’s mistranslation of the Tibetan word ‘tulku’ meaning a manifestation body.” This is not exactly correct.
When Mulder refers to a theosophist, he means member of Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society, founded in 1875. Her version of Theosophy combined all sorts of esoteric teachings into a combined form that is basically the forerunner to everything we think of as New Age beliefs today. Theosophy is notable for claiming things like the mind can influence matter, that evolution happened but is directed by a universal mind, and that all possible knowledge exists in the ethereal “Akashic records” that creative people are accessing without knowing it consciously (this last idea is also referenced by Trash Man).
The specific person Mulder is talking about is Alexandra David-Néel, a French author who traveled extensively around South Asia. She was greatly influenced by Theosophy, and in 1929 she wrote a book called Magic and Mystery in Tibet. In that book she claimed that she had been taught about tulpas while studying Tibet, and had in fact had created a tulpa herself, a jolly monk. But as time went on the tulpa developed a life of its own, eventually becoming sinister and she was forced to reabsorb it into her mind. (I think it’s pretty safe to say none of this really happened, but that’s not really important.)
David-Néel was probably sloppy about the word she was using to describe the creature. To be incredibly simplistic, the Tibetan concept of “tulku”refers to the idea that a diety of sufficient will can manifest in a physical body, but in the sense of reincarnation. “Tulpa” is a constructed word that could mean more or less the same thing, but it isn’t a word Tibetans actually used.
What David-Néel’ called a tulpa is basically the Theosophic concept of the “thought-form,” which probably originated from a simplistic reading of some Eastern philosophies (by Alice Bailey? Not sure, need to look into that), and she renamed it with what I’m sure she thought was the closest equivalent Tibet equivalent. Make no mistake, what she described has next to nothing to do with any genuine Tibetan religion.
In fact, these Theosophic thought-forms are basically golems, the inanimate bodies given life by magicians in Jewish mythology, just updated with mind over matter philosophy to cut out the need for any physical body. But “Home Again” seems to directly reference the original golem legend when we see that the Band-aid Nose Man actually exists as a giant clay statue in Trash Man’s studio. Having a band-aid stuck to the clay statue even recalls the most famous Jewish golem stories, which involve a piece of paper with a shem (secret name of God) written on it either stuck to the clay body’s forehead or inserted in its mouth. I’m not sure if this equating of the current New Age concept of the tulpa to a golem was on purpose or not, but either way it illuminates how New Age concepts are endlessly recycled and repurposed, often by erroneously attributing those concepts to “Eastern wisdom.”