The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

What Does A Ghost House Look Like?

Posted by BigWords on July 20, 2009

This afternoon I gave in to temptation and bought a copy of Paranormal, which sets out its’ view on the supernatural clearly enough. It’s in the continuation of titles such as Fortean Times, Encounters and hundreds of books and television shows which claim that spirits are all around us… But the evidence is presented with some photographs that perpetuate the stereotype of gray and spooky locations.

Which doesn’t sit right with me.

Don’t get me wrong on this – exploring things outside of our understanding is important, but do we have to be subjected to slanted images? Purposefully chosen photographs, which do the work of a couple of thousand words, are common in nearly every media, but in this specific area we should be looking at subjective and impartial evidence.

Do the images which accompany their ghost tales look like the photographs you see in the windows of estate agents? No. And that is why I can never take these types of magazines completely seriously, because they try so damned hard to convince people of the existence of possible spirits that may or may not exist. There’s nothing wrong with a mundane photograph which depicts how a place actually looks, with proper lighting. Using deliberately spooky pics just plays into the stereotype of “Oooh, it looks haunted.”

Yes it fucking does, because that is what the magazine wants you to think.

The television shows such as Most Haunted, which airs on Living (without any irony), are just as manipulative and shallow. I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt when I can, but as episodes nudge ever-closer to self-parody and slapstick it becomes difficult to see where the truth is. How much of a show has to be set up before it gets re-positioned as a drama rather than a documentary?

There are some compelling stories which raise interesting questions about the afterlife… Borley Rectory and Mary King’s Close are enough to make even hardened skeptics take a fresh look at the evidence, but they have been re-fashioned into traditional ghost stories to cater for the mass-consumption of anything ooky. It’s a shame that the facts can never be presented as they are, twisted as they are to fit the perceptions of low-brow rubberneckers. It gets real old, real quick.

Even if you strip away the bullshit that has been pasted onto real locations, the matter of separating the legends from the actual history is troublesome. How many years did it take for the Mary Celeste to regain her true name after the novelized version of history dubbed her Marie Celeste. We shouldn’t be fed the images which play off emotional feelings to hauntings, but see the locations for what they are. Most are unspectacular.

The rattling chains associated with disturbed spirits – which was an ancient Roman concoction – has remained with us, as has many other absurdist views. And no-one has yet answered one important question regarding ghosts:

If the earthbound spirits are victims of violent deaths, forever doomed to walk the earth, then why aren’t more sightings reported with better evidence to back them up? Why do ghosts only seem to appear in pitch darkness, when terrible photography is the only option?

I’m going to buy the magazine again, just to see if they are eventually gonna use regular photographs. I like the idea that the creators believes in something, but I’m not sure if they are going about presenting the evidence in the best way.


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