A screen capture from Daniel Knauf's Haunted, which I hope to review soon. (Source: The Verge website. Copyright 2012 by The BXX, LLC.)

Of late I have found myself fascinated by ghosts.

I will admit that I am skeptical about the existence of ghosts, but I like to maintain an open mind. Like Fox Mulder, I want to believe; unlike Fox Mulder, I don’t automatically assume. But when I throw myself into a passion, I pursue it as if I do believe. I want to understand the mind of someone who does. I want to understand any topic from the point of view of an adherent. I want to understand.

In my extremely brief pursuit of a paranormal experience, I have found that stories are often more interesting than the actual experience. Stories of the Joplin, MO spook light are exhilarating and exciting. Sitting in a car on a county road, debating with friends over whether or not that light in the distance is a tower or a supernatural being, is not exciting. This summer I hope to engage in another investigation, although this is more for research purposes. I have an idea for a fresh perspective on ghosts, and by way of research I hope to visit a reportedly haunted hotel. If something interesting happens, fantastic! If not, the story is still interesting, I think.

Ghosts fascinate me from a narrative perspective because they symbolically illustrate the connection of the present to the past. History shapes everything, whether we see it or not, and ghosts are an interesting way to metaphorically show this. Typically, ghosts are used to show supernatural vengeance: the ghost seeks revenge for wrongs done to it; the ghost exists because the actions of someone caused it to be trapped in a supernatural existence; the ghost attempts to prevent (or perpetuates) a cycle of tragedy. Horror stories that utilize ghosts tend to be morality tales which show the consequences of actions. These actions may occur in the present day, but often have historical antecedents.

One of my projects this year—school and collaboration willing—is to do research for the aforementioned novel. I guarantee that if I encounter some sort of supernatural or inexplicable phenomena, I will share it with you. In the meantime, does anyone have a good ghost story?


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