JOTTS: A Glitch in the Matrix?

The letters in the word “JOTT” stand for Just One of Those Things. These mini phenomena, are instances of things disappearing. Sometimes the thing may turn up again either where it was last seen or somewhere else. Or it may never be seen again.

According to the late, very witty and very wise researcher, Mary Rose Barrington, who coined the term, a JOTT is “a modest little phenomenon, with no obvious pretensions to grandeur. Like the tiny and silent clothes moth, it makes no disturbance, no flapping or buzzing, but very quietly makes holes in things that are of considerable bulk and value . . . Like the little insect pest, JOTT is generally classified as a nuisance, and even though it leaves a minor mystery in its wake it is usually discarded from your personal history as Just One of Those Things, forgotten and even repudiated.  But it keeps on happening.”

Mary Rose Barrington (1926-2020)

Mary Rose Barrington (1926-2020)

It’s true, we are awed and intrigued by the more spectacular phenomena such as the self-propelling household objects of “poltergeist” outbreaks, or the levitation of heavy tables, but if an object we KNOW we put in a certain place disappears and later turns up somewhere improbable, we chalk it up to absent-mindedness or some other easily explainable excuse.  And of course many times this is the case.  But not always.

Barrington collected accounts of these incidents for decades. She categorized them into types: The example above is a “Walkabout,” but there are “Comebacks” in which the article returns to the same place, or “Turnups” in which an article from an uncertain location appears in a place where it is known not to have been before it was found there. There are also “Flyaways,” “Windfalls” and “Trade-ins.”

But let me illustrate examples from her vast collection:

WALKABOUT: A woman reports that a bracelet her mother gave her vanished.  She “tore the house apart” trying to find it and eventually giving up.  Weeks later she was going upstairs to her room and there on the stairs sat her bracelet “neatly curled up as if someone had put it there.”  The stairs had been vacuumed many times, she reported, so there was no way it could have been there all along. 

FLYAWAY: was reported by Hereward Carrington, the psychical researcher I mentioned in the Bindelof book who “investigated” a young Gil Roller’s poltergeist outbreak. During an informal tea party in the days when ladies wore substantial hats to these affairs, a “Mrs. S.” removed hers and placed it on the floor next to her easy chair.  An hour or so later when she put her hand down to retrieve it, it was no longer there.  The room was searched but the hat was never found there or anywhere else.

JOTTLE: A Dutch woman visiting her daughter in Amsterdam started reading a book before going to bed.  She went to the bathroom and when she came back the book wasn’t there.  When her daughter moved they thought it might turn up, but it was not found.  Years later in her own house in Amersfort, 50 km from Amsterdam, the woman reached into a bag of Christmas ornaments and out came the book.

Another long-distance jottle was reported to Barrington by “Mrs. VSW, well known in literary circles.” Traveling to Latvia, she took with her a small, square, white alarm clock.  Upon her return, when she unpacked, in its place was a “similar, but not the same” alarm clock that was not working, broken. Some days later, in the middle of her front hall, a clear floor space with nothing on it, where no one could miss seeing it was her original alarm clock.  Upon questioning by Barrington she wrote that in Latvia it had never left her bedside table and she herself put it into her suitcase for the return journey to London.

I know of jottles in my own experience and of course Mary Rose cites hundreds in her book, but I will just mention one more here because it pertains to the larger picture of PK phenomena I am trying to illustrate on this site.

A long-time member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR), Maurice Gross experienced a “Comeback” jottle in his own home at around the time he was very much involved in investigating a famous “poltergeist” case that lasted for many months.  Gross’s wife wore a ring that had belonged to his mother and had great sentimental value for both of them.  Every night, for about 30 years, she removed it and put it in a small dish beside her bed but one morning the ring was not in the dish.  A diligent search of the room turned up nothing.  They continued to search for about 10 weeks during which time—and well before it—no one else entered the room. Finally, reluctantly, Maurice filled out and mailed an insurance claim. The next morning the ring was back in its dish.

The reason I saved this instance for the last is that it is not unique for those who have been investigating RSPK (Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis, the preferred term for “poltergeists”) or participating in séances to experience such events.  

Some of the members of the Philip group in Canada began to experience anomalous happenings outside of the séance room. In the Bindelof case, Gil and Larry, who, during the time the séances were being held, were working for a clothes label manufacturer taking orders from department stores, putting the labels in envelopes and delivering them. They started to get complaints that the wrong labels were delivered. They made doubly sure that they were putting the right labels in the correct envelopes but again when the envelopes were opened the labels had been switched. At around this time too Larry’s watch crystal cracked for no apparent reason.

But worse was to come for Larry, whose teeth were so bad he had to have a small dental bridge for his front teeth.  One night after he had been necking with a girl friend, he arrived home late after his family was asleep. He put his bridge into a glass of water and, as usual, left it on the side of the sink before getting into bed. In the morning an empty glass greeted him. They searched high and low in vain.  He accused his brothers of hiding them, which they vehemently denied.  The teeth never showed up.

I feel, as did Mary Rose Barrington, that not enough attention is paid to these pesky “modest little” phenomena, quietly “making holes in things.” They are generally ignored by psi researchers as they are by the general populace as “just one of those things.”  What do they whisper to us about the laws of physics, the powers of the subconscious mind and its interaction with the material world?

For more information on JOTTS see:
Barrington, Mary Rose, JOTT: When things disappear . . . and come back or relocate–and why it really happens.

Explore more topics “outside the séance room”
JOTTSParanormal metal bendingPoltergeistsPsychokinesis (PK)
Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK)Thoughtography