Photo courtesy of property.
As is indicated in my first recorded entry, I had certain ambitions when I began blogging my content. Even though I enjoy breaking down the technicalities of investigative efforts most of all, I knew that I would not be able to consistently give each blog entry that narrowed focus in the beginning. There is a wordpress subscriber who has accomplished an ambitious feat by putting together a more detailed overview of how one may go about developing a philosophy of skepticism and a definition of science. They have put together a webpage on a level to which I would love to aspire. But, due to my time and schedule, I won’t be able to attain as much detail on a blog with my present status. However, what I have enjoyed doing while experimenting with my own style of blogging is to settle for what I hope is a productive blend. Admittedly, one of my entries has oversimplified the definition of science, but the point of my wording was to give absolutely maximum condensation to definition so the main point could be arrived at more quickly. My effort, here, will be in step with my current personal approach to blogging. I will try to drop in a tidbit or two of key concepts, while attempting to keep the rest of the communication conversational in its delivery.
Therefore, I will jump in and say that as much as I would relish for my blog to be all, “scientific,” in everything, it can’t be always. Philosophy has to be engaged in defining what meets the definition of science. The philosophy of science has to be addressed as we get around to holding a comparative discussion between what science is and what pseudoscience is. When you next meet a ghost hunter speaking about their investigation being, “scientific,” ask them to qualify their statement on grounds of philosophical history and formulation. Addressing this question is really a scholastic must for everyone. In order to walk into an environment and claim you are doing science, you should first have a philosophical understanding of what science really is and how it is defined. Showing up at a location with electronic equipment, by and of itself, is not going to mean your investigation turns out to be scientific.
I will admit that I am not the most enthusiastic of philosophy students. At some point, I grow weary with crunching logical arguments and highlighting fallacies. Philosophy is not my primary forte in the least. Every time I see premises and conclusions put forth, I can never help but stop and think how my time would be so much better spent with math equations. This bias is just one that I have, but all the same, philosophy and its logic are so important for keeping us all on the investigational straight and narrow.
In attempting to keep my communicative style light on philosophical terminology, and while trying to word things more fluidly, I will simply say that here I’m borrowing from Pyrrhonian skepticism and making it the theme of the words I am recording this evening. I’ll never forget while being an employee for The University of Memphis. I had to go do some work in one of the academic buildings. In a classroom, I looked down and there was a legal pad with notes. At the time, I was mostly familiar with Socratic skepticism. This legal pad reminded me of the ideas of Xenophanes and Pyrrho, as well. I’ll call on Pyrrho and the concept of epoche, which requires a suspension of bias and a devotion to understanding a point of questioning for what it really is. In more common lingo, the practice demanded is to take a look at something, however tempting it may be to dismiss outright, and actually put it to the test.
For eighteen years now, I have tried to live up to the set bar when it comes to epoche. I have always been honest with my findings. In most of my experience in checking out ghostly reports, I have never encountered anything out of the ordinary. And, on smaller matters, I found viable candidates for explanation as to why some events were reported as paranormal phenomena. But, devotion to the spirit of epoche will remind one to take each case and analyze it on its own, without one bearing assumptive conclusion on the next. If such practice is not allowed, then who knows, the one case that may yield new data of some sort may be discarded, along with key knowledge in the process.
Where I am placing emphasis is on objectivity. What I am not suggesting is to get so loose with one’s boundaries that are supposed to be empirically based that they fall prey to fallacy. The account I am about to reference fits several different motifs if one considers the documented history of haunting phenomena which have been reported. The claims exist, I am totally aware of how to catalog them against an inventory of hauntlore, and my own mental database calculates where they score in terms of classification. All the same, while trying to follow an aspect of Pyrrhonian thought, I still wholeheartedly believe that the proper thing to do is try and put together a proper evaluation.
I have addressed all that I have above in order to now put forth commentary over a specific case. There exists a property in this world that has a hallway about which much has been claimed. Digital video has been put forth in question as to what has been captured on two differing dates. The wall that separates the hallway from the adjacent bedroom has been reported to emanate loud bangs. There is no presence of plumbing, or otherwise, internally to the wall that might give some quickly adequate explanation for a possible cause. A reported audible moan in the sound of a woman’s voice may have come from this general area of the home. Also, a transom above a door of the hallway that was otherwise secure is said to have pulled away from its frame. Additionally, the daughter of the home saw an apparition pass by en route to this same hallway. The only occurrence for which I was present was when the dogs of the home were in a highly distressed and panicked state in the hallway and bedroom on the other side of the sound emitting wall. After we all sought to calm the dogs down and give them reassurance, I sat with the property owners at the kitchen table, and we did hear a noise occur in the hallway, but we can’t know for sure that there was anything to that. But, the bedroom just off of this hallway of mystery is also reported to have had a chair move on its own while the property owners were in the room.
The hallway of infamous repute. The section of the home that I refer to as, “apparition alley.”
This house has reported phenomena that date back to, at least, the 1930s. The hallway is not the only part of the home where occurrences have been cited. Happenings have been spoken of pretty much in each area of the structure. However, the hallway on the back part of the home has had some of the most dramatic events reported. And, it is this hallway that has challenged my skepticism in a positive way. I have actually spent a decent amount of time in this section of the house, and I have looked it over in detail. But, I have not spent nearly enough time there to have been able to really study it and understand it. I especially looked it over on Christmas Morning and saw the biological residuals left behind by one dog from its exaggerated state of panic, and I observed just how disturbed the dogs really were in real-time.
The skeptics that I have read and have learned from would no doubt accuse me of doing more than simply invoking the process of epoche in regard to the dogs. But, I have not used this incident to make faulty correlations, and as stated earlier, the other phenomena reported in the hallway are not all out of the realm of possible explanation. However, considering the history of the home and the sheer frequency of reportings, as well as having seen the stress placed on the dogs and the family unit in real-time, the incident is still worthy of note. The events all took place in an already suspect location, and there were no signs obvious of what would have had the dogs in such a panic. My preference would be to find some answers that are farther advanced than any that have been put forth, thus far. I think the answers are there to be found, but regrettably, the clock is ticking, and after eighteen years of searching for a ground zero where maybe I could gain some new insight via observation, I am running out of time for what may be one of my last opportunities to get some sought after resolutions.
The home will not be with the current owners for much longer, most likely. If that happens, then I lose access altogether, unless the next owners wouldn’t mind me being a part of the real estate contract. But, as much time as I would need to arrive at possibly some more sound conclusions, it is hard to ask a property owner to allow me to invade their living space with too much frequency. There are obstacles in the way, no doubt, but while there is some time left, I aim to use it wisely.
Mentally, I have built a model. I know what stories have been told that correspond to what areas of the home. I have grabbed time stamps from three incidents in relation to suspected apparitional appearances. And, based on those claims where the believed in ghost has interacted intelligently, I’ve been able to even see what caricature has been drawn around the purported ghost by family members who have lived in the home over the many years. I know where the most tread path has been as far as apparition reportings go. In highly exaggerated form, one could say I have worked up a profile for the ghost. Such an exercise seems futile and contradictory after my having made reference to skepticism and disbelief on so many occasions. But, I have to say that I am highly intrigued by this house. Consequently, I have made the effort to try and understand the entire dynamic of these claimed interludes.
Destiny is a strange concept. I always thought of the word as existing and being fitting when used on a very grand scale, only. It may be that us lesser mortals have a destiny of our own, even if the word is less applicable in my case. I never dreamed that my interest in science would lead me to a haunted home at some point in my life. And, furthermore, I never dreamed that in an effort to honor Pyrrhonian ideals, I would actually be taking the time to account for an alleged ghost’s every move. The words transcendental chess take on a whole new meaning. The chess match may not even be with a ghost, which adds to the desired application of sensibility. There is no, heretofore, assumption made that a ghost is the only explanation. There is no a priori decision made that it isn’t. All I know is in my personal history, my chance for a final showdown is nearing a close. On March 6th, I am scheduled to have the chance to spend what could possibly be my final evening in the house. I know where I will be in the home, and I know the profiled pattern that will be present within my head while observing. The ultimate question will be, in those remaining hours of March 6th, will the house choose to speak? If the hallway chooses to keep its secrets, my assumption is that another uneventful night will pass, and my own version of destiny will slip into the night and morning with little more raucous than a breezeless day. If the hallway and its visitor have been profiling me, to be creative, then they may both choose to remain uncooperative at a high noon duel, for they both know that if I do figure out their secret, I will tell. I hope devoted practitioners of epoche will forgive my momentary license with the included allegorical language here. The date with destiny is set. But, will it transpire with any significance?
“The game,” awaits. There is a hallway in an antebellum home that has secrets it needs to share. There is an appointed time. Will there be a revelation? Will there be the same silence I’ve always been used to? Will Pyrrhonian virtue allow me to tell the difference? The questions are as weighted as is the anticipation.
Ironically enough, while thinking about this blog entry, I happened to recall a poem that I wrote back in 2008. At the time of its writing, I could never have expected what I would be sitting and thinking about this evening. I will allow the poem to pick up and bring this composition to a conclusion.
Darkened mansion, of but light as shone by torch,
I make my way through gates, and longest steps to reach its porch,
Pushing open door, that leads to rooms there many,
This way I calmly know, of times, it I’ve traveled plenty,
Long and glorious hall, I traipse down until I hear,
Familiar raps the walls, as the town bell tolls, as when he’s always near,
The wall to my left, behind its every painting,
Are bangs, and cracks, and moans, of none that leave me fainting,
For this is but routine, the game we each time play,
The midnight bell is ringing, daring both of one to stray,
Then abruptly, he emerges through the wall,
Darkly robed this figure, no one round to heed my call,
Hood and robe not tangible, yet flow they as with wind,
Long and creased of blackness, to his height there seems no end,
He’s as tall as ceiling to floor, as he appears then from thin air,
To wrap his cursed arms around me, yanking me through wall, in dark and nightly warfare,
Vanished now am I, from this often passed through hall,
As snatched as that of fish, as fished by fisher’s trawl,
Yet, so many times, have I nightly battled reaper,
To make sure none thy life’s, to him as made to cheaper,
Done this now enough, have I now to not know fear,
I fight him so, for tis thee I love…
…so wilt thou not from this hall…
…its from then disappear…
The maiden of protected value in the poem is no longer my Irene Adler. That goodbye has been said.
The only lady remaining is now, “the game.” And, it will be played out in a hallway.
“The game,” is on.