I was just sitting here, thinking about my big project, and wondering what it might be like to talk to a ghost. I don’t mean the way they do it in movies and those ghost hunting TV shows. I mean, what if you could have a normal conversation – no howling medium, ectoplasmic interference or spooky ethereal music – with someone who is dead.
I guess it depends on whether you believe in ghosts. My Dad and I were checking out his TV, which is acting up, and Ghost Hunters happened to be on. He asked me if they ever catch any ghosts. I said it depends on whether you accept their premises. He said no, it’s a yes or no question. I said baloney, it’s totally subjective; if you don’t believe that ghosts exist, it’s logically impossible to catch evidence of one. If you do … well, I guess you’ll need to ask someone who does, and who has watched the show.
I have watched the show, many times, but remain a profound skeptic. Sure, they present evidence of paranormal phenomena, and it’s fun. Makes for an hour of TV distinguishable from Law & Order and House. But even if we concede that their evidence is real and empirically sound, we’re still stuck.
Let’s say I believe in paranormal phenomena. ESP, telekinesis, etc. Which is more likely, that a camera or recorder caught an event in which the physical world was manipulated by a dead person’s spirit, or that those instruments were manipulated by the unconscious – maybe deliberate – psychic abilities of the “investigators?” I mean it seems reasonable to suppose that living people have greater paranormal powers than dead ones, at least in this world.
In my novel, my character Marty claims he and his house are haunted, but that he does not believe in ghosts. He says that he is haunted by memories, and that memories have life and reality and power beyond the limitations of his recollection. Memories abide, he says, a priori, apart from direct human experience and remembering. Thus it’s possible to be haunted by someone you never met, an event outside your own life. It is a twist on the old adage that someone doesn’t die so long as he is remembered. Marty says memory lives on, even if it is forgotten. The world remembers, love remembers, in spite of us who still live. And in that way, we don’t die.
Now, if I could just get Marty’s memories to sit down with him for a cup of joe and a chat about orchard-keeping, we’ve got ourselves a story.