Ghost Culture as Theatrical Ghosting: “Play it Again Sam”!

There are those of us who keep talking, who follow a seemingly endless scripted story line, who continue to follow the ways learned early and throughout a lifetime….and beyond. These talking, storied, and learned cultural traits survive as the analects of a shared experience and individual memory within a particular “ghost culture”.

This haunted history is constituted as a continuous and selective replaying of patterns of behavior, and the “still points” of an individual’s storied life. A haunting is the creation of a solo cultural performance which places an interactive entity at the center of events, both past and present. Such a ghost becomes both the narrator of an individual story, and the subject of narration by contemporary investigators who “hunt” for these ghost stories.

The haunted site becomes a theatrical play(back), a way of continuing the talk, and a means to record it. Fragments of the past manifest as fractured plots, providing an investigative team with mixed information (and emotions)! It is the task of the fieldworker, as ghost excavator, to unearth something that remains extremely personal, and which contains specifics regarding form, function, behavior, habit, and memory. These artifacts of excavation must be pieced together in order to define a separate “identity”, one that differs from the present company of actors, “paranormal politicians”, psychics, and other reverants.

At such sites, there is an endless contemporary cry of “what have I got”? The investigator, as critic, makes a different set of judgements than the ghost concerning the suitability, accuracy, and form of each particular material remains that chooses to manifest. The ghost, on the otherhand, uses his/her cultural memory, rather than an electronic devise, for unintentional dramatic purposes. Besides, these phantoms function according to personal principles (not physical laws) that lead the hunter through sudden shifts, and endless repetitions of “sensefull activity” at these locations.

Is it possible to maintain this personal haunting “voice”, while addressing changes to space, time, and participants? How does the ghost do this, one investigator after another? Around such paranormal scenes, all the “players” become actors, forever portraying ghostly characters in a continuing, ongoing haunting scenario of episodic “replay”. After all, what occurs at a haunted location is principally a theatrical ghosting of what had occurred in the past, remains today, and, like a critically-acclaimed movie, will be ongoing as a future presentation of more of the same “Ghost Culture”!

Play it again Sam….or is that Sally? Your one-act play warrants a continued encore performance. There are so many more ghost-hunters waiting in line to enter your “haunted theatre”!

Sometimes, a little subtle humor (?) goes a long way (back to the past) to relieve the tensions, frustrations, and politics of competitive ghost hunting! Pardon my “burying” the “science” for this archaeological moment at “digging” the field I love so much!!