Sunday, October 28, 2007

Apocalypse Now.

The UK-based satellite TV channel, Living TV, runs a program called 'Most Haunted'. Once in a while they have a live-TV event.

There's one on now, in the days leading up to Halloween. I have mixed feelings about the show: while it stimulates public interest in my subject area, it does encourage a lot of people to do very silly and dangerous things.

I'm not just talking about the paranormal, either. People will wander around allegedly haunted locations without checking the area in daylight first. Holes in the ground, broken floors, loose masonry and so on are not clearly visible at night. I hope most will have the sense to check their location first but I'm certain many won't.

What's possibly worse is that the show's presenters will call out challenges to spirits, sometimes with a cruel or impatient tone. Sometimes they deliberately try to provoke malign spirits into a reaction. That's like going into a Glasgow pub and throwing a beer at the biggest guy. You know the one: the man-mountain with three teeth and a head shaved so as to emphasise the absence of a forehead. Then expecting him to react by tapping the wall. If you want to talk to spirits, don't follow the examples on that show. Ghosts are dead people. They react to tone of voice the same way you do.

If you're watching the show, be aware that any spirits that might be around your house might not be able to tell the difference between a TV voice and someone in the room. That challenge to spirits goes nationwide. Something that needs to be thought about, I'd say.

The show prattles on about orbs far too much. Orbs are bunk. They've had better events on the program, but spoiled a few of them. I mentioned before about the moving object caught on film - but it wasn't all in shot. There was much to-do about a scratching in the walls of an old house. Old houses can be occupied by mice. That's what these noises sounded like. Nonetheless, they have sometimes come up with events that have no obvious explanation.

The current live show will include five locations. The locations have been chosen to form the five points of a star. As the producers take great delight in telling us, they are forming a pentagram of ghostly activity in preparation for Halloween. A pentagram the size of the UK. Possibly the biggest pentagram ever formed. They will provoke and annoy spirits at the points of this star, in the run-up to one of the most highly charged times of the year.

I don't know about you, but my first thought on hearing this was 'You f*%&ing idiots'. My second and third thoughts followed in similar vein.

The spirits are not toys. They are not there for us to play games with. Some of them are unreasonable. A few are downright nasty. All can be empowered by certain shapes, sounds, even (in some cases) just by thinking about them. A pentagram is not just a pretty shape from some past era of thought. Seances aren't parlour tricks. There are many who use these things in a playful or fraudulent manner, but they are like children playing 'cowboys' with real guns.

I don't know what will happen when a pentagram is formed on this scale. It's never been done before. One thing's for sure, I'm very glad I'm currently at the north end of the country, and therefore nowhere near the middle of it. That might not be a pleasant place to be.

Normally, magical practitioners would stand inside their circle and compel spirits into a triangular 'containment area'. In this case, the spirits are being agitated and provoked within the circle itself. That's not good.

With luck, it won't work. With luck, their angles won't be right, the star points won't be set into a true circle, the pentagram will be incorrect and fail. The thing is, I don't know how much tolerance is acceptable in these figures. I don't know how close to perfect they have to be. I don't know the exact locations of their investigations. They're keeping that quiet to avoid drawing crowds.

What happens if it does work? I've no idea. I suspect it won't be good.

It will certainly be interesting to watch. From a safe distance. If there is one.


Scary Monster said...

Anything to boost the ratings, ya.

As a rule, Me never messes around with dead things except when me be in the mood fer a little nookie and the Vixen unlocks the doors to her mausoleum.


Romulus Crowe said...

Oho, you came back. What did you do to Pumpkin-head for drinking your whisky?

The image of the Vixen creaking open like a mausoleum isn't a good one, you know. I'd advise against using that analogy in tender moments. It could result in those doors shutting tight. At a time when you really don't want that to happen.

Dr. Shedevil said...

That show is broadcast here on the Travel Channel. I tried to watch it once and found all the green night-vision lighting, freakouts over the tiniest stimulus and endless replays bothersome. Nevermind the disrespect for the dead...

(I agree with you about not mentioning one's lover and mausoleum in the same sentence -at least not in front of her- unless one never plans to get a piece of azzqdkc from said lover ever again)

ThatGreenyFlower said...

I'm bothered by the idea that spirits can't distinguish between TV voices and regular ones. What about all of those horror-movie folks out there--have there been reports of real spirits being summoned in response to a televised seance? I'm sincerely curious about this.

Romulus Crowe said...

Dr Shedevil - the green effect boosts the contrast on infrared images. The images themselves are monochrome, but it's a little easier to see with a green filter. There's no need for it, really, but it looks good on TV.

Yes, their constant replays of dust floating past the lens can be maddening. The way they aggressively challenge a spirit to 'do something', then run screaming at the creak of a floorboard, is something I find absolutely hilarious. Still, I've stopped watching the regular shows, and I missed tonight's episode of their 'Halloween pentagram' construction. It's no longer compelling viewing.

Still, I stand by my feeling that they are playing with fire. Investigations should always be approached with caution, never with aggression. It's best not to issue a challenge until you've found out whether your opponent is bigger than you!

I'll do my best to watch the final episode, on Wednesday, in case they do manage to wake something nasty.

If they do, I'd like to know about it before it gets here.

Romulus Crowe said...

Greeny - don't worry about the horror movies. The seances are make-believe and so are the demons. Seances depend on the collective energy of those present. TV images don't cut it in that respect.

Films like 'Hellraiser' are great fun to watch, but they won't trouble any real spirits. In fact, they might scare them away!

Churches and other important buildings often had hideous gargoyles carved into them. That's a hangover from pre-Christian days. The carved monsters were supposed to scare away evil spirits.

It's based on the belief that spirits can't see us, or our world, too clearly. It seems likely that's true. They can't tell whether the monsters are carved stone or real. They know little or nothing about TV.

So horror films are likely to scare them away, not call them to you. You can tell it's not real. They can't. Get those scary films out and watch them all ;)

A calm, measured voice calling out an invitation to spirits (as in that show) is a different matter, of course.

ThatGreenyFlower said...

You must think I squeak at dust motes. But that's not true...mostly!

You said ...any spirits that might be around your house might not be able to tell the difference between a TV voice and someone in the room. That's what made my ears perk up. I'm not such a horror movie fan, actually, and I don't watch TV (except when the World Series is on!). So I'm not too worried about the spirits mistaking any invites at my house, although I do think about what others watching horror movies nation-wide during this holiday season may experience. Hence my question.

I'm quite fascinated by what you do. Hope you don't mind all of the questions. Here's another, and you may choose not to answer it if you wish:

Do spirits have the same sentience as the people they used to be? Do they remember things? For example, why don't they remember that gargoyles are stone creatures made to scare them? Why can't they sense that a gargoyle is a block of granite?

Probably my questions would better directed at a basic reference book rather than a working guy with other things to do. Got any to recommend for me? "The Paranormal: A Book for Dummies" would be a good place for me to start, if there is such thing.

Thanks, man. I don't know what your reasons are for blogging, but you certainly are keeping me entertained.

Romulus Crowe said...

I can think of at least one instance where a fan of a horror film murdered someone because of the film. He was deranged anyway, so it's not certain that the film called any spirit to him. I've seen the film in question: it was called 'Queen of the Damned' and wasn't a great one. Nothing happened to me other than the waste of an hour and a half.

To your questions:
Human ghosts have the same minds they had when alive, but I'm not sure if they remember everything. Some don't realise they've died and are very confused. they know who they are, generally, but they are capable of lying about that.

If they were vicious when alive, they'll still be vicious when dead. They can't do much but they can scare you. They'll certainly try to hurt you - or rather, try to make you hurt yourself.

I think human ghosts would probably know a gargoyle is a rock. However, not all spirits are human. Some have always been the way they are, and aren't the ghost of sopmeone who's died. These can be mischeivous or nasty. I have no doubt there are pleasant ones, but as in human society it's the bastards who make the news.

Now, the thing here is that nobody's ever managed to catch and study any kind of spirit. So we can only make best-guess conjectures about them. Everyone studying the subject has their own theories, sometimes they'll match with other theories, usually not. Scientists rarely agree on anything, in any subject. That's what makes it fun. That's also why there's no 'Ghosthunting for Dummies' book. Nobody can agree what it should say.

Perhaps I should write one. My theories are, naturally, the right ones.

But then, we all say that ;)

ThatGreenyFlower said...

Well, if I have any money left over from the sale of my kidney, I will buy your book. =)

Southern Writer said...

YOUR book. Mention YOUR book, here, Rom. I read it. It's awesome. It's the truth, as far as I can tell.

Damn, I never schedule enough time to spend here. I have to go to work in a few, but I'm making a note to myself to come back tomorrow.

Romulus Crowe said...

I haven't checked in on Lulu in a while. I'd better see if anyone's buying that book.

I'm working on a much-expanded second edition, and might try a more traditional means of publishing for it. Lulu's okay for small books but they tend to get expensive for bigger ones. It'll take a while to finish it, so no need to sell any kidneys just yet.

There's a link to 'Ghost-hunting for the sensible investigator' at the top right of the page, for anyone who's interested.

Southern Writer said...

I'm excited about getting to read the next one. I'd really like to purchase a hard copy, and of course, I'd like it autographed. You'll keep me updated on your progress, right? If you need a beta-reader, I'm your girl.

Romulus Crowe said...

What I could do is put it as a free PDF on Lulu and not tell anyone, other than a few folk who can then check it before I finish it off.

If I ever get around to completing it! Time is an illusion, I'm sure. There never seems to be any of it around.

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