In 2004, a paranormal documentary was produced by the title of, “Ghost Adventures.” Anyone who is a fan of ghostly themed television knows that the success of the airing later led to the launching of a series by the same name. The ghost hunting duo in the documentary traveled to Goldfield, Nevada to visit sites that are deemed as being haunted on legendary levels.
Before I get to my main thesis in writing this blog entry, let me first backtrack and fill in a brief history for you. Have you ever heard of a gentleman named, Harry Price, by chance? Price was an English magician, a showman, and was widely known for his commentary on ghosts and other occultic matters. He left behind an extensive library, documentations of his ghostly investigations, several authored books, and even some debunking.
The case that Price may be best known for is that of his investigations of the Borley Rectory. Located in Borley, Essex of England, the Victorian home was built in 1862, only to later succumb to fire damage in 1939. I won’t try to capture the entire haunted history of Borley Rectory here as that is not the focus of my thesis. What is important to note is that Harry Price spent time at the home so he could pronounce his findings and he later wrote two different books about the property.
Anyone who has seriously studied the history of ghosts from a reductive standpoint knows better than to credit Price as an authority on occultic matters in the same way they might say, a Harry Houdini. Price had a flair for the dramatic, and to take his entire words on ghostly phenomena at face value is a mistake. The photo included at the bottom of this blog entry is one taken from his book, “The End of Borley Rectory.” The photo is of a brick captured in mid-air on the rectory grounds. As can be seen in the photographic plate, the image dates to 1944, sixty years prior to the release of the documentary, “Ghost Adventures.”
Furthermore, in 2004, Andrew Clarke, the writer of an article describing the event of this taken photo at Borley Rectory wrote the following:
‘Harry Price made his last visit to the rectory in April 1944 along with a researcher, Cynthia Ledsham, and a photographer, David Scherman in order to prepare an article for the then-popular ‘Life’ magazine. The Rectory had been severely damaged by fire in 1939, and was, at the time of the visit, being completely demolished. Price and the others were unable to approach the building so there was little for Mr Scherman to photograph. Nothing daunted, they photographed the men at work demolishing the rectory. Amongst various pictures of the ruins was one showing a brick in flight, emerging from the kitchen-passage on the ground floor. In his second Borley book, ‘The End of Borley Rectory’, Price (1946) published this photograph (Plate XXIII) with the suggestion that this might be an example of a ghostly levitation ‘If, indeed, this was a genuine paranormal phenomenon, then we have the first photograph ever taken of a Poltergeist projectile in flight’. He recalled the moment the photograph was taken: As Mr Scherman pressed the trigger which operated the shutter mechanism of his camera lens a brick, or part of a brick, suddenly shot up about four feet into the air in front of what remained of the kitchen passage, just below the bathroom passage. The three of us saw it, and, as I said, we were at least a hundred feet away from it. We all laughed and called it ‘ the last phenomenon,’ and said the Poltergeists were ‘demonstrating’ in honour of our visit. We walked over to the passage, where there were many bricks lying about. I picked up several, and all appeared normal. No string or wire was attached to any of them, and we saw no workmen at all on that side of the Rectory.’
I thank Mr. Clarke for his wonderful effort and capture by addressing this event. He elucidates just how much assumption would have to be made in order to accept this photograph as evidence of poltergeist activity. Thanks to Mr. Clarke’s article, it is at this point that I can begin to make connections and explain the title of this blog piece.
Let’s fast forward back to the early 2000s. Zak Bagans is the creator of the documentary, “Ghost Adventures.” He is cited on imdb.com as being a graduate of the Motion Picture Institute of Michigan. As an intelligent public figure and as someone who is obviously gifted with a camera in his hand, Zak would most likely also have very good video editing skills. In his documentary, “Ghost Adventures,” he includes footage of a brick that is inertially at rest, then apparently, as Zak has provoked the local ghostly inhabitants, the brick levitates and hurls out of view of the camera. This footage was also presented on the Maury Povich Show by one of the original cast members of, “Ghost Hunters.” During that same presentation on the Povich show, I believe footage was also aired of a supposed apparition. I just briefly tried to find the footage on YouTube without success, and I can’t remember if the apparitional footage was also property of Bagans’. My memory fails me for certain if the walking ghost figure was property of Zak’s. Whatever the case, the apparition was accomplished through computerized embellishment, which is easily attainable. Nevertheless, I cannot make the point of this apparitional footage being suspect in conjunction with the brick footage from Nevada because I may be errantly thinking the footage was presented as being from the same source. At a later date, Zak did appear on the Povich program while revealing an apparitional face peering around a corner, which again, could easily be reproduced. But, whatever the case, the flying brick footage was broadcast to the public at large in more than one forum.
The point of my writing is, just as my title indicates, is to ask why on Earth do ghosts like to throw bricks? After absorbing all of the material I have been able to over seventeen years pertaining to ghosts and finding repetitive motifs and patterns, I have a thesis to propose as an answer. I can’t help but believe that someone else somewhere in blog land or in some other venue on the internet has made the same correlations that I have. With all of the attention that the footage of Bagans’ received, and with the many paranormal fans that would know about the history of Borley Rectory, someone has to have asked the same question I am posing here. I need to beg pardon if I have typed this opinion piece when someone else may have already treated the material more successfully and thoroughly than have I.
But, think about it. If, Zak Bagans, or anyone else had a knowledge of Harry Price’s photo from the grand history of Borley Rectory, what would be the significance of poltergeists hurling bricks?
My postulation is primitive and simple. As people we know the texture of bricks. We can imagine them and feel them in our minds, even without touching them. But, more importantly, we know that a brick has, at least, some weight to it. Imagine the meaning of this consequence. An invisible action being able to move a brick from a state of rest to moving across a room on its own through mid-air implies force. This force serves to strengthen the assumption of agency that this encountered unseen entity possesses. If a brick is flying on its own, then the ghost behind it becomes ever more frightening and convincing in its own compositional existence. In other words, flying bricks, when combined with ghosts, makes good theatre with the psychological impression that is made.
Can I concretely say that Zak Bagans was paying homage to Harry Price with his flying brick footage? I certainly can’t say that since I was in no way involved in its production. Can I say that he had the Borley Rectory history stored in his mind (which I am sure he does since he apparently is well versed in paranormal history) and was calling on its inspiration in order to make a visual impact on viewers sixty years later? No, that is something I can’t know for sure. But, what I am saying is that if you follow the ghost game long enough, you find that correlations exist for a reason, and not necessarily from coincidence or from actual documented phenomena attributed to ghosts. There are many things that an investigator cannot say firsthand because he was not present during an event in question. But, therein lies the beauty of investigation, because one does not always have to be present to get close to the underlying truth.
The reader certainly gets to make up their own mind about ghosts and bricks. But, for me, flying bricks do not pass any test when speaking to any possible corroboration of ghosts acting out. Know your paranormal history if you choose to follow the subject. It will serve you well and prevent you from making leaps that ought not be made in case you are really trying to find the truth.
Photograph originally from, “The End of Borley Rectory.” See credits at bottom of the photo plate above.