On the haunted house

Let’s just get a couple of things clear, I don’t believe in ghosts or haunted houses, although I’ve had experiences with both. As an objective empiricist, I reject outright most supernatural phenomenon, especially clairvoyance, fortune-telling, and extra-sensory perception. Since nobody can successfully pick six numbers in a lottery, ever, I rest assured that all of that is unmitigated hooey and nonsense. Haunted houses are, however, another matter entirely. I live in a new house, currently, that is completely antiseptic and clean, no creepy anything going on anywhere in the place. Older houses, however, are another matter entirely. The theme of the haunted house is ubiquitous in Hollywood and popular literature—King, Straub, Lovecraft, Poe, which has even taken this motif to the extremes of haunted spaceships, haunted cars, and haunted planets. A motif which is so powerful and emotional can only be so if it coincides in some real way with the experience of the movie going public. I’m dead sure that most people would publicly say that they have no experience with spirits or at least they wouldn’t admit to having experience with spirits or ghosts. I have no doubt that most “ghost” shows on reality television are fraudulent and melodramatic and have no relationship with any kind of reality or naturally occurring phenomenon. I myself will often dismiss the claims by those who swear that they had experiences with ghosts or other-worldly apparitions. We all get creeped out by dark, empty houses that are filled with strange shadows, creaky structures, odd drafts, dark corners, lonely spaces, dusty attics, and creepy basements. We let our imaginations run wild, the skin on the back of our necks gets goose bumps, and we start to imagine all sorts of things that are not there, were never there, that only exist as figments of our imagination. We are nervous, emotional creatures, fearful of our own shadows, afraid of being alone, perhaps unaccustomed to being alone. Our imaginations run wild. I say all of that to say this: are there experiences that go beyond our earthly senses, that exist as real physical phenomena, that as of now, given our science such as it is, we do not understand. Maybe words such as ghosts and spirits and apparitions and poltergeists are not exactly appropriate for describing actual physical that as yet we do not understand. If someone from the Classical period were to experience our contemporary civilization of computers, cell phones, planes, television, wi-fi and all the rest, I’m sure they would think it all supernatural, when, in reality, it is all only too real, based on our science and technology. How foolish and undeveloped our civilization will appear to anthropologists of the fortieth century. My own anecdotes are irrelevant and inconsequential, but I have experienced things that go beyond irrational fears and an overactive imagination. I suspect that someday we will find an explanation for all these odd experiences which we would characterize as hauntings. In the meantime, however, it might be a good idea to keep an open-mind, to listen when others speak, to open up our feelings to a larger world that may not be solely confined to the physical, tangible mundane world of our day-to-day routine. I also don’t think that it hurts to remain skeptical and cynical when someone’s claims to have had a “haunting” experience because I am sure that most of those “experiences” are really nothing more than emotion tied into an over-active imagination, excessive adrenaline, sleep deprivation, too much spicy food, an overdose of slasher movies, and the need to feel loved and needed. All I can say is that I’ve been in houses where something is going on, and I also work in such a place (built 1886), but I really haven’t the slightest idea of what might be really going on. Sleep tight and take this little “note” with a grain of salt.