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Let’s say that ghosts are real, that right now there is one in your living room where you sit in your favorite wing chair reading. But you do not know that the ghost is there. You do not know if the ghost is male or female, because the ghost is invisible. I mean, it’s a ghost. You cannot see it.
For greater ease in telling the story, let’s say the ghost is a he. So he stands there, poring over the book titles on your shelves. He stares in the mirror, but he cannot see himself; he’s a ghost. He is invisible. But maybe that is only vampires, only vampires cast no reflection. Maybe ghosts can see themselves.
So you are reading Pride and Prejudice. The ghost stares out the window at the daisies in your garden. Maybe the ghost grimaces a bit, watching you scratch your scalp or pick your nose while you read Austen. You cannot see the ghost, but the ghost sees you.
This is how you thought about God or your guardian angel when you were a girl. Where is God? God is everywhere. Catechized in paranoia. Is God with me when I take a bath? Is God with me when I put on my pajamas?
Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom God’s love entrusts me here. Ever this day be thou at my side, To light and to guard, To rule and guide.
Is angel ever at my side when I put on my underwear? When I step dripping from the bath?
But now it is a ghost you cannot see. And maybe the ghost is a little bored, wishes he could read Pride and Prejudice. But when the ghost tries to hold the novel, it slips right through his hands. He is spectral, immaterial. He wishes you would read aloud, but you do not know this. When he speaks, you think it is just the wind. Boo. Despite the plosive, you still think – just the wind. Booooooooooooooooooooooo.
When you think about ghosts at all – which is not often – you think about the ghosts of your girlhood, Gus, Casper. Or you think about bed sheets with jagged eye-holes bumbling blindly into telephone poles and mailboxes (are there still mailboxes? You have not seen one for years. Invisible. Like ghosts.).
The ghost sits on the camelback couch, or, more precisely drifts above it. Listless and restless. He tries a little haunting, narrows his eyes into slits, green glints.
But you keep reading, thinking the glints are some electronic reflection. Boooooo. But there are no electronics in the room. And it is a windless evening.
When you were younger, you read Emma. The irony entirely escaped you. You thought Emma was just grand, not some misguided arrogant matchmaker. When you were younger, you read without an arbiter.
You read a line aloud from Pride and Prejudice : I wonder who first discovered the power of poetry in driving away love?
The ghost startles. But you cannot know this, because you cannot see him.
Is he even there? How do you know if a ghost is in the room? And if he is, why is he haunting you? What does a ghost want? Corporality? Perhaps the ghost is your shadow self. But is the ghost your past self or your future? The dead you will become? Or the living you have been? Or some valetudinarian present, a sickly contemporary version of you, paler, thinner, less substantive, tabescent.
You are the ghost of a chance.
Words are ghosts. Ephemera.
You have a new favorite word – sehnsucht. Impossible to translate although its meaning will not stop. Meaning keeps opening up on meaning until it ceases to mean. You are left only with longing since the longing is for an object that is not there or may have never been. The longing is itself. The rest vanishes. Ghost.
You close the book and stare through the ghost and out the window. You must move the daisies from the garden, transplant them by the mailbox. Maybe when it cools off.
The ghost swirls around the room. You cannot see him, but he hovers near you now, just over your shoulder.
Ghosts do not have hobbies. They do not play Chinese checkers or bocce ball. They do not know how to cook or how to swim.
But you remember a cartoon from your childhood. Two ghosts are having coffee and smoking. One blows a smoke ring, the other pinches it from the air and dunks it in his coffee. Ghost doughnut. Nothing from nothing. All vapor.
You suspect that ghosts eat doughnut holes.
As a girl you had a recurrent nightmare. Ghosts with goblin faces crowding into the window, causing the roller shade to flap as they carried your father away from his rocking chair. Bye Daddy. You know what that means, Sigmund Fraud.
Dreams are ghosts. Memories too.
Do ghosts dream? Do ghosts get lonely? Do ghosts leave footprints in the snow?
If ghosts did not exist, would we be forced to invent them?
As you age, you live more in memories, haunt your own past.
Casper the friendly ghost, he couldn’t be bad or mean.
But memories can be bad. And mean. They are not invisible.
The ghost stands before you, slitting his eyes. But you cannot see him. Perhaps you cannot see him because you are he. You are your own ghost.
The ghost becomes you, insufflation.
Reading is ghostly, all those presences. Writing too.
You watch the ghost; the ghost watches you. A form of self-regard unreflected in mirrors.
Let’s say, shall we, let’s say that ghosts are real.
#Unreal #Fiction #Ghosts #Spirits #Spiritual #Realms #Memories
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