17 October 2016

Ghosts

I know that the revelation I am about to make will disappoint or irritate some visitors enormously. Pause for dramatic effect... Ghosts do not exist. In other words, there's no such thing as ghosts. They are  all born in the imaginings of the human mind.

For complex socio-psychological reasons, it is as if many folk actively want the delicious mysteries that ghosts represent. They want that uncertainty, that sense that there is something other than humdrum everyday reality. And perhaps belief in ghosts is connected with a deep-seated desire for there to be an afterlife - the promise that earthly life continues beyond death.

But it is all balderdash, poppycock, hornswoggle and tommy-rot.

Many's the time that I have walked alone through two local graveyards at night - a half moon turning the old gravestones silver white. Perhaps an owl will hoot from the sycamores, perhaps I will hear a noise behind me... but it's just an animal or the breeze blowing a tree limb against masonry. I could happily pitch a tent there and sleep as soundly as a baby, safe in the knowledge that no ghosts will come along to disturb me. There's as much chance of that as King Arthur arriving with Excalibur in his mitt.

I can't bear books, TV shows or films that are built on the premise that ghosts exist. They are so tiresome. One of my favourite novels is "Wuthering Heights" and there's a supernatural apparition in that but it's all  just in the mind of Catherine Earnshaw and a small feature of the novel - created for literary effect.

Long ago I was on the island of Rotuma in The South Pacific when the eye of a 120mph hurricane passed over us. Many houses were destroyed and many coconut palms were blown over like skittles. The eye arrived in the middle of the night bringing a strange calm. I said I would walk up the track to the government station at Ahau to tell them what had happened down in the village of Motusa.

Village people who were taking shelter in the house I shared with Peace Corps volunteer Richard were flabbergasted that I  had walked up to Ahau in the dead of night and returned safely. They insisted that the road was haunted but my only obstacles had been the palm trees lying across the track. I could have walked that way a thousand times in the dead of night and no ghosts would have leapt out on me or waited for me in the shadows.

Let me re-address my opening assertion... Ghosts do exist - but only in people's minds. They are not present in the world around us. They never have been out there and they never will be. The half-secret cult of the ghost is like an extended party game or a shared condition that sufferers freely subscribe to. It fulfils a need, that's all.

I look for ghosts; but none will force 
Their way to me.'Tis falsely said
That there was ever intercourse
Between the living and the dead.
William Wordsworth "The Affliction of Margaret"

33 comments:

  1. I beg to differ......

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    1. Beg all you want John. The answer's still the same.

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    2. When I die...I shall pop up to Sheffield and act like a goolie

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    3. We can be a pair of goolies.

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    4. I may even put the Willies up you

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    5. If you do that I shall put the Wellies up you.

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  2. hmmm....
    realistically there is no proof either way

    many years ago I did a ghost tour of the old penal colony of Port Arthur. I didn't see, feel or hear a thing but I dont think I would want to be there in the dark and alone

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    1. The fact there is no proof is proof enough.

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  3. Although I know it is only in my head I always have been and always will be a scaredy-cat. To cross a graveyards till dusk or even me alone in our dark basement, an abandoned road in the late evening, I can imagine various occasions that cause naked fear. It's only in my head, it's only in my head, it's only in my head .....

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    1. We have an underhouse/cellar area. My wife will never go down there alone at night but to me it's nothing. I'd be more concerned about a rat or a fox.

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  4. I remember my grandma always said, "Don't be afraid of dead people...it's those live ones you have to watch out for."

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    1. Those were wise words. Take "The Donald" for example.

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  5. Jennifer's grandma said exactly what I think. Like you, Neil, I can happily walk through the woods at night, or camp out at a cemetery. But I don't like to stay at the train station after dark for longer than is absolutely necessary. Drunk, drugged and generally aggressive people scare me. The dead don't.

    That said, I did love ghost stories when I was about 10 to 12 years old, and I do have a thing for abandoned places. The latter has nothing to do with ghosts; it is an appeal I can't fully explain but guess it stems from trying to imagine the people who were there before, their everyday lives with all their sorrows and joys. Emphasis is on "WERE" there, not "ARE" still around in some spectral form.

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    1. I am with you on abandoned places Meike. It's the feeling of time passing, of lives that were once lived there and the sense that nothing lasts forever.

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    1. Oh drat, I can't scare you by wearing a bed sheet over my head and wailing "Woooooo!"

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  7. Maybe not in Yorkshire, YP, but in North Wales ..... ?

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    1. Ghostly white, they move about the Welsh hills at night...but they're sheep!

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  8. The white ghosts such as the one in your picture DO exist. They are the ghosts of people trying to put a cover on the duvet and never finding the corners. Otherwise, I agree, it's a load of balderdash.

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    1. Putting covers on duvets should be an Olympic event. I wouldn't stand the ghost of a chance.

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  9. dare not agree in public (although I know you are right) as my birthday is n Hallowe'en.

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    1. Your birthday revelation seems to support my contention as you come across as a level-headed rationalist with your feet on the ground.

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  10. What a goolish post, Brother Pudding. I would like people to be realistic. Like we are. In order to make a ghost, one would have to believe that a dead person goes on in some fashion and that he/she does not completely disappear in body, mind and spirit when death occurs. The gods do not take them somewhere, their spirit does not take a trip around the universe, and drunk relatives cannot call them back to dance around a bonfire. That is why I know that when The Donald passes from this earth, I will never have to see him again!!!

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    1. If The Donald is assassinated by a crazed Hillary fan, they will probably make a feature film about him so you won't get away from him easily. It will be titled "Donald! Duck!" (referring to the bullet that embedded itself in his rib cage.)

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  11. No, I don't believe in them either - well not in daylight anyway ! Addy's description is hilarious.
    Oh dear, do we have to wait until The Donald passes from this earth? Couldn't they just beam him up now, and save everyone all the horrors that are out there waiting for us?

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    1. I have a feeling that you would be a medallist in the Olympic duvet cover changing event CG and with regard to The Donald is it true that most mature ladies find him incredibly sexy?

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  12. The man doth protest too much methinks!!

    You are being so overly insistent, Yorkie. Who are you trying to convince...us or yourself? :)

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    1. Someone else posted about supernatural encounters so that inspired me to provide a counter-argument, a different point of view on this subject.

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  13. I'm wondering why the need for a post on ghosts not existing? Absolutely no ghosts but there are occasionally little people running around with a sheet for a costume!

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    1. As I said to Lee, this post was inspired by someone else's blogpost about supernatural encounters.

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  14. I don't believe in ghosts. However your argument that "The fact there is no proof is proof enough." is a non sequitur. Taking that to its conclusion the fact that no one could prove the existence of neutrons 50 years ago didn't mean that they didn't exist. We now know that they do. Or we now know that people say that they have proved that they do.

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    1. Point taken Graham. Mine was a throwaway remark.

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.