Archive for the Our Investigative Baselines Category

The C.A.S.P.E.R. Approach

The measurement of space should not be mistaken for the nature of space.  Space must be measured archaeologically, by layers.  At haunted sites, these layers consist of cultural uncertainties that are mixes of historical periods.  Thus, “haunted space” must be sensed and investigated “ethnographically”, not physically measured or perceived subjectively!  This “sense” is the understanding of a “ghost culture”, a fragmented version of what once was.  This “ghost culture” is a past performance, not a “paranormal” event!

Time is another consideration at haunted locations.  It is not linear!  It is also archaeological.  There are entanglements of pasts and the present with absences of historic periods and different socio-cultural behaviors in the mix.  The past is not past!  It is not simply gone!  It percolates.  It unfolds.  We view this today as a “haunting”.  This is an archaeological metaphysics!!

In “swapping” properties (absence/presence; past/present) with linear measurements through readings on technological devices, the actions of the past shift from one “entity” (past human cultural behavior) to another (a physical “anomaly”).  What are “ghost hunters” hunting, anyway?  Is it an anomaly (a usually phantom presence registered as a “deviant” measurement), or a “ghost” (a dead human cultural being)?  If it is the former, shouldn’t we change the concept to “anomaly hunting”?  If it is the latter, it should be called a “ghost excavation”, not a “hunt”!

I “unearth” ghosts by historical and socio-cultural layers.  I do not “hunt”, by focusing on recording and measuring anomalies in physical, horizontal space!  In a “ghost excavation”, I am changing the direction of ghost research from a horizontal spatial frame to a vertical one, one that is symmetrical and unfolding!  This alters the perception of “haunted space”!  I am NOT “throwing-out” the technology with this direction shift!

But, so long as ghost research is stuck on “tech toys”, field investigators are haunted by physical science scenographies that consist of measuring anomalies in horizontal haunted contemporary space!  This will not help us to understand the cultural behavior that lies beneath the haunting.  A new philosophy of data is needed which involves other modes of engaging the presence of material cultural remains in haunted space.  I am interested in contextual cultural manifestations NOT past presence!

The actions of contextual cultural behavior, not our instruments, combined with a different notion of time (one that percolates) and space (symmetrical and layered), calls for modes of investigative engagement which can manifest some of the complexity, multi-dimensional nature, and cultural uncertainties in haunted space.  A “ghost excavation” unearths the multi—cultural ensemble that is the real material world of a haunted site!

Research Philosophy

Fieldwork at haunted locations, by necessity, dwells in uncertain risky space, no matter how well-documented and traveled-to the location has become. The fact that many of these sites have become “prime real estate” for “ghost hunting” and ghost tourism, suggests that we need to return to these locations and “assess the damage”. We must question the methods, practices, and procedures used in most “ghost hunts”. Are they proper, adequate, contextual, controlled, and process that is repeated? Because most are not. We must study ourselves (as well) as we attempt, in our own way, to investigate those ghosts that continue to haunt us.

Fieldwork should not be reduced to a simple tool or an electronic devise(s) or the continuing modification of such devices to improve measuring and recording little or we must not use technology as a method that requires no theorization necessary in the field.

The proliferation of these electronic tools on paranormal reality TV, their mention on Internet websites and on Facebook and Twitter and their mediation on YouTube videos, points to the false assumption of unquestioned assumptions about science and the scientific method in a ghost research as simply a vehicle that requires using specific tech tools. If ghost research is to be seriously considered (by other than its practitioners), then rigorous thinking about the theory and its application in fieldwork must be initiated and followed through in the field.

Too much emphasis is placed on fieldwork without theory. Theory is considered too boring for paranormal reality TV. The flashing instruments, especially in the dark, are “flashy” technology and the real “stars in these shows. In the end, an investigation becomes largely a hunt for the anomaly without defining the subject matter, or how to interpret what (and “who”) is being measured and recorded at these haunted locations.

There is “value” in thinking and theorizing about interactive past presence! It’s T.I.M.E. (Theoretical Immersive Methodology for Excavations) for a change!

There is also “peril” in advocating this change, apart from those who refuse to alter their methods. After all, fieldwork is an enacted practice, though somewhat benign in “ghost hunting” (the “monitored” space” watch and wait vigil). It should be an action and activity and not an idea. The “noise” of measuring and recording haunted space (including the investigative reactions) makes good paranormal TV viewing.

Our ghost research, however is different, an alternative perspective to investigating the validity of interactive past presence. Ours is performance-based. It is never “boring”, despite the theory and the field methodology that incorporates it!

“Fieldwork is a form of inquiry in which
one is immersed personally in the ongoing social activities
…characterized by personal involvement.”

- Harry Wolcott, The Art of Fieldwork

Our personal involvements enacting these cultural scenarios make great “non-paranormal” TV viewing! In our fieldwork called “ghost excavations”, we engage not disengage. We don’t use tech devices to do our work. We are the “tools” of a “ghost excavation”. In our “ghost excavations”, we apply a particular theoretical methodology (see Theory and Methodology). We don’t wait for something to happen, nor do we command and demand. We resonate!

With such thinking and theorizing, it is possible to unearth and awaken an alternative paradigm to the current “paranormal” technopoly of “ghost hunting”. This possible alternative vision is experimental “ghost excavations”.