Book Review: Ghost Culture: Theories, Context and Scientific Practice
Written By: Paranormal News
Ghost Culture: Theories, Context, and Scientific Practice, is a book written by John G. Sabol Jr, concerning the scientific gathering of ghost data and how to better improve and catalog research from fellow investigators. Rather than relying solely on instruments from our culture to record ghosts as outside intruders, investigators should focus on hauntings as the manifestation of a drama (rituals and rites of passage) in time peopled by ghosts which must be entered in order to connect. The ritual itself must be understood from the inside and ‘relived’ for more evidence to be obtained. As such, investigators should not simply concentrate on receiving responses to questions such as, ‘is anyone there? show us a sign’, but instead should attempt to enter the drama themselves as if they were performing the same rituals to get through the barrier of time and obtain further evidence, perhaps also providing a ‘clearing’ mechanism for a spirit to enter the light. Connections can be made to past events through re-enactments and trigger objects from an ‘inside emic view’ instead of through an ‘outside etic view.’ In so doing, ghost researchers should see themselves as ethno-archaeologists, learning to pull out the culture of people from the past. Hauntings can be seen as archaeological in nature and mapped out as such, but one must enter into the past through ritual to have it bleed through to the present.
In our own culture, we detect etic (observer) elements of a haunting with the understanding that ghosts create cold spots and high emf readings, thermal scans detect variations in the environment signifying a haunting, and light anomalies reflect different stages of ghostly manifestation. We must not, however, only record these manifestations, but create repeatable 'emic' ghost scripts to figure out better ways to communicate with dead spirits as if we had joined their culture. If we seem foreign to them, they will be less likely to manifest. As such, we need to take part in the drama (ghost culture) in the same way that a foreigner visiting an african tribe enters into and is transformed by that foreign culture.
The investigative process of hauntings should include:
1) Ethnographic / historical research
2) Field investigation (archaeological mapping)
3) Rehearsals (hypothesis testing)
4) Performance (of ghost scripts)
5) Post-excavation analysis (through specialized centers with expert evaluators)
6) Representation (mediation process)
7) Distribution of data through a top-down approach
We need to understand a ghost’s culture and how to be seen as an insider. The more one knows how to interact with a ghost in its context, the more evidence one will obtain of its presence.
‘Walk through’ audio and visual recordings should be done (also known as peripatetic audio/video recordings) with no objective other than to catalog in a repeatable fashion ambient sights and sounds. This peripatetic video and audio evidence can be ‘repeated' by other investigators and as a result, is a valuable set of data to professional scientific investigators.
Only after one enters into the culture and attempts to connect with it through the performance of rituals and the use of trigger objects, the investigator can then use current technological means to signify to the dead entity that society has progressed and moved on, while recording further evidence.
Trigger objects and re-enactments, it is explained, provide a symbolic link between the past and the present for those past historical events to bleed through more readily. Reenactments potentially open up a doorway or portal for resonance that can be directly measured through contemporary means.
In all, the book was a difficult read, but it made a lot of valid points. Pick it up if it sounds interesting. Enjoy!