Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the paranormal. This is not (precisely) a Halloween frame of mind, but more that I had a book series hit me over the head unannounced. Which is getting ridiculous as at last count I’m something like 5 books behind.
However, since I also feel like there’s something missing from Witch’s Daughter (the gentleman who just said, “yes, an ebook edition on my kindle” gets points for enthusiasm and has points deducted for impatience) it befits me to get more background. I’ve been reading on myth and magic, but also on criptids and ghosts and that sort of thing. Because double duty on two books/series.
BUT here’s the thing — reading about it, one can’t help consider, not just suggestibility but… How do I put this? The effect of the human mind on the surroundings.
I’ve always found ghost hunters singularly foolhardy. I grew up in a village and we had a healthy respect for the uncanny. There was no avoiding that it was around and that if you went around believing in it it would just start uncanning all over the place like nobody’s business, and then where would you be?
What I mean is that things did happen for which there were no logical explanations and sometimes there weren’t even illogical ones. You just took it that weird stuff happened and rolled with it.
What you didn’t do was going out to meet the stuff half way, look for it, or generally invite it to come around. Because if you did that… well, there is a reason you don’t invite vampires (which don’t exist) into the house (metaphorically speaking.) Because if you invite this stuff into your mind, things spin out of control.
Perhaps it is that the world is at least half narrativium and that reality has a bad tendency to try to accommodate what people think it is. Oh, not in the big things. I don’t think people can actually levitate the Denver Mint. And I don’t think we can turn normal human beings into Homus Sovieticus. (Or even homos sovieticus, which are like homos anywhere else, only with more hammer and sickle. Which are weird things to take into a bedroom. Which is why the Soviet Union was gay-unfriendly [It is entirely possible this writer is low on coffee. Bear with me.])
What I mean is that the human mind has a way of imprinting on surroundings, and a way (perhaps not yet figured out) to make other people who have had no contact with you see what isn’t there. Trust me, I make a living by this, but I make it honestly. I admit I’m lying.
What concerns me is not so much house where murder happened, and there’s haunts. I mean, perhaps there’s an after image or something, some type of energy yet unplumbed that will explain this.
I was reading about this road in Ohio where it is said that a bus full of school kids had a crash and all onboard died, and multiple people see the ghost bus. Only, of course, it never happened. Or consider all the Cry Baby Bridges (I know, I know, the one near you is the real one. I KNOW, but really, trust me) which can’t possibly be real cry baby bridges. And yet people see it/hear it.
Yes, some of this is expectation, but there is something else, something that attaches to places that people expect things to attach to.
There are dimensions to the human imagination that we don’t fully understand.
So consider where I am, even before this research (and I figured this is one of my problems with fantasy — exposing my neck too far to the things out there. Again, I grew up in a village. We respect the uncanny. And sometimes even the canny.)
To be a really good writer, a fiction writer has to believe his own creation to an extent. We have to weave it with the threads of verisimilitude and invest it with belief. And in a way we’re trifling with the uncanny. We’re making the imaginary real. We’re stepping into that half light, dancing in that limnear world, enticing the uncanny in.
After a while writers get a little odd. I’m one of the saner ones (Stop laughing. I have a garum-loaded watergun) because I don’t see or hear my characters, except at the back of my mind, but let me tell you, I felt quite relieved when I heard that Rex Stout too knew what Nero Wolfe was doing even when he wasn’t writing him.
Because it seems crazy that you can answer questions about imaginary people without pausing to think.
But it is my job: to invite the imaginary, the non-existent, the … shadowy in, so I can make others believe in it for the space of a minute.
It’s a dangerous job. It explains some of the crazier behavior in my field.
And it’s why it’s important to keep your logical mind sharp and grounded. Because otherwise, the vampires will come in.