(Planet Me)
Friday, January 11, 2013
A Natural History Of Ghosts

As someone who has had, myself, more than one unexplainable, supernatural event in my life, though not for several years, “A Natural History Of Ghosts” is both a personal journey by the writer and a somewhat dispassionate account of hauntings through the ages. Where this delivers the standard text is that of dry recanting of known famous hauntings – the Screaming Skull, the infamous Borley Rectory, and so on and so forth. As a result, it can feel as if it a history book : what I was hoping for is what it tells us it is – a 500 year history of mankind hunting for proof of the existence of the beyond which is lacking. Famous cases are covered, but these are with the eyes of a believer, not with the eyes of a sceptic or even a modern eye. The stories are occasionally chilling, occasionally mundane – but not exactly terrifying in the traditional sense, The Enfield Poltergeist, one of the most famous hauntings in history, is barely referenced. What I was really looking for, an exploration of ghost hunting over the past half a millenia, of the meaning of beliefe in life after death, and the belief in something more than what we percieve with eyes and ears and skin, of the consciousness that transcends the meat and the bone, is absent. If you want a dry and memorable telling of several famous cases, they are here, but if you want more than that – the tale of famous hoaxes, the history in any detailed way of Victorian mediums and ectoplasm, then that is somewhere else.

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