Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Seeing the wood in the trees.

I like to browse second-hand shops. You find all kinds of things that just aren't available any more.

Today I found a DVD of a documentary series called 'Ghost Hunters'. Well, I have a few such DVD's and videos and I'm usually disappointed to find they cover the same, worn-out, sensationalist stories of hauntings and poltergeists everyone's heard about. Still, it was very cheap and the cover spoke of Roman soldiers and of Marston Moor, the biggest battle of the English civil war, and possibly the biggest loss of life on English soil ever. So I bought it.

I had not previously heard of the Roman soldiers seen in the cellars at York. It was worth buying just for that story. York is built on an old Roman fort, the remains of which are now some twelve feet below ground. In the cellars, Roman soldiers sometimes 'replay' their actions.

That, and the descriptions of the Marston Moor hauntings, sound more like 'replay' apparitions than actual spirits. They don't interact with the living. They're just records. Images imprinted on the surroundings that can rerun under the right conditions. I'll try to visit Marston Moor in the summer. It's not pleasant in winter.

What made me shout at the screen was the attitude of some of the scientists on the show. Yes, they accepted that these events were real, even though they were divided as to the cause. However, they all need a slap.

None of them could understand how sound and images can be recorded on inanimate objects. They are videoed while saying this. Their faces, and their voices, are recorded on a strip of plastic tape coated with rust. Under the right circumstances--in this case, in the right machine--everything they said and did is replayed with perfect accuracy for anyone to see. Recorded for posterity on an inanimate object.

Yet they can't see how it could happen. Videotape is made of the minerals found in abundance in the Earth, but they can't see it.

Sometimes words are no use. Sometimes you just have to use a bat.


Dr. Shedevil said...

I'd be happy to loan you my chainsaw.

Romulus Crowe said...

Ahh, a chainsaw...

I wrote that post just after I'd seen the film. On reflection, those scientists agree with me on the recording theory, in broad terms at least. Even people who agree with me can be annoying.

Looking for complex solutions when an easy one will do is just making life difficult. One of these scientists, the one who stated on inanimate tape that he could see no way for an inanimate object to hold and replay images, then went on to suggest that all the things we call inanimate are in fact conscious.

Well, I never dismiss anything out of hand, but this one was really stretching it. Although there are days when my computer, and other machines, deliberately infuriate me. Even so, the inanimate consciousness idea is really on the edge of possibility as far as I'm concerned.

Why would a conscious rock bother to project a Roman soldier's image? Does it happen when nobody's looking? Are these rock dreams? Just how do you go about striking up a conversation with granite? Is pumice on good terms with sandstone? It's a theory that leaves no sensible place to start with experimentation.

The simplest place to start is with videotape. It's made of ground-up iron. It's a strip of rock. My thoughts are that the raw materials, in the right circumstance, might have images imprinted on them, just as happens with tape.

How it happens, and what circumstances cause it to replay, well, that's where the work comes in. Just imagine the possibilities if it does work though!

You could record images on a pebble and replay it with the right vibration/magnetic field/angle of light/whatever it turns out to be. You could pave a path with these and perhaps watch sequential images appear as the sun sets, or as trucks pass by.

These replay apparitions aren't real ghosts, but they are very interesting nonetheless. Folk who write them off as nonsense are missing the bigger picture: if the environment does record images, and if we work out how it's done, there's a lot of money to be made.

I can't help thinking how many real-ghost investigations that would fund.

ThatGreenyFlower said...

Sometimes you just have to use a bat. Indeed!

Southern Writer said...

I love second hand shops, thrift stores,and yard /garage/moving sales, too. You never know what you're going to find. I'm curious to know if the events are seen on the tape, or if they're only discussed on it.

Romulus Crowe said...

Greeny - I think it's a feeling everyone gets, once in a while. Luckily, I don't carry a bat with me.

SW - nope. If there was any real evidence in the film it would be a sensation. If I had such evidence on film, I'm not sure how reluctant I'd be to part with it.

Maybe we just don't have the right kind of cameras yet. Or the right kind of film.

Anonymous said...

Here's a ghost clip for you:

and a lot more here:

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