Sunday, November 7, 2010

It is a funny thing -- or maybe it's not -- but every time someone close to me has died, I have had an overpowering desire to watch ghost movies. As you know, I like Gothic themes any time -- and it being Halloween season doesn't hurt -- but at such times nothing else will do. I am especially drawn to those set in the 1970s, in which everyone is seemingly punished for the naivete of belonging to a happy family (just as a decade later one would be punished for being a teen girl.) In the past week I watched two I liked a lot: Burnt Offerings and, especially, Audrey Rose. Both feature amazing architecture as well as more than usual chills and genuinely surprising denouments.

A publicist sent me a book I ended up loving: Haunted Houses, by the photographer Corinne May Botz. The book's made up of carefully-culled images and first-person accounts by residents of haunted spaces. There are a number of spine-tinglers, and the combination of subtly evocative visuals and frank narration is highly effective. But there was one part that stood out especially for me, and not just because it concerns St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, not far from where I grew up (and site of an excellent annual rummage sale.) The former minister testifies to the many instances of hauntings in the church and then says,
"I don't know how you scientifically deal with that. I'm sure there are ways of saying that it was a bad dream or a projection, but it happens and it's not surprising believing in the communion of saints as I do. I think, "Yeah so? What's so surprising about it?" There's a fine line between the next world and this. It's all one reality and we can't divide it up, reality is reality. We know a little bit from Einstein about time, relativity and space, and that one interacts with the other. Time is a human construct anyway... who says there's a great division about past, present and future? Who says we can't visit those places in the so-called past? Now is all we have."

I love that. And when I read it, I sat up, struck by the simplicity of the idea. Because things are not uncanny unless they are breaking rules -- and rules are arbitrary. It seems to me great arrogance to always let logic supercede intuition, anyway.