AN ARCHAEOLOGY OF A HAUNTED LIBRARY
I don’t live in a house. I sleep there. I experience life outside the walls of a “home”. Because I am an archaeologist, I encounter that life away from my “home turf”. I do frequent, however, a certain space in the house where I study, analyze, and write about those outside experiences. It is my “memory room”, my study. It is where the haunting originates, and the ghosts dwell. Because of these frequent “visitations”, my house is not haunted, my “memory room” is!
Because I don’t live my life here, I am not overtly concerned about visual presence, luxurious surroundings, or creature comforts. I “dwell” on dwelling in spaces where my memories can re-emerge. The décor of my surroundings are inhabited by “trigger objects”, posted conveniently around the “memory room”. This allows the haunting to emerge. Others may call them “mementos”, or a more sophisticated gaze may label them “museum pieces”. They are the material remains of my journeys, both physical and imagined. They are reminders of the fieldwork, the “still points” for my writing.
I do not build this “memory museum” to impress others. I do not collect arbitrarily to bolster ego or sales. The material culture in the house is a “home” for my archaeological (layered time) and ethnographic (culturally-expressive) moments. They stimulate my haunted mind, but they are not a “haunted museum” (like that of John Zaffis). They are the remains of excavations that I store in this “laboratory”, my “haunted house”. They are collected after memory practices in the field are completed, sometimes reiterating a past performance. They are stored as “artifacts” of past cultural presence in my books.
These books become the haunted library for my haunted house. Anyone can “check them out”, read their content, and enter my haunted house. If they truly understand the meaning and intent that I have expressed, they can leave ordinary reality and enter the inner recesses of expanded experience. This “museum”, and my books, is interactive. They must be! Only then can it be a haunted moment. This is no technological innovation. It was invented by Gutenberg centuries ago. It is a social exchange between a “ghost” and his audience. It becomes a site-specific performance in the haunted theatre at the reading of the first page………..