Awareness

Milbourne-Christopher

Photo courtesy of rightful copyright holder. Milbourne Christopher was an accomplished magician and a large influence of mine.

 

Allow me to introduce myself to the world again. For some reason, like cyclical clockwork, after a certain passing time elapses, I again get categorized by certain others as being a little out of touch with reality. Well, that some reason is, to an extent, me, which I will take blame for and later explain. But, I also need to reissue the reminder that I am QUITE established in reality. I have devoted my life to the very cause. I need to revisit the notion of just how deep this devotion is in order to combat yet more misinterpretation of how, as an individual, I relate to the world.

For those who have chosen to follow my blog in recent days, I will say again, adamantly, that I am not a ghost hunter. I simply go where ghost hunters go when I am allowed, or, I go where ghosts are said to be present. I did not learn about monitoring haunted locations from ghost hunters. Rather, I learned from magicians, and from scientists and thinkers who have weighed in on the discussion. Pictured above is one of my greatest investigative influences, magician Milbourne Christopher.

I have emulated a certain line of a cadre that has come before me and that has been much more qualified to speak to the question of ghosts existing and whether they exhibit behaviors that are measurable. As much as I have wanted to go to graduate school, a lot has happened to get in the way of such a goal. Thankfully, there is an academic tradition that exists where a person doesn’t have to pay exorbitant tuition, attend class on a set schedule, or need years for completing a graduation in order to gain a relevant education about a significant discourse. The ranks of magicians include some of the most brilliant minds around, and with their skillsets, they bear unique qualification when it comes to commentary on ghosts. I hail from a tradition where some of the experts may have only a bachelor’s degree, no degree, or may instead have their academic viability forged through developing the all important foundation of learning how the hoodwinking affairs of the world work.

So, let me state emphatically to those three of you who, over the course of weeks and years past, have opted to address me with condescension in your deluded confidence. Do not underestimate my attuned understanding of the world simply because I have tried to interact with you on grounds of kindness. If anything, it is I who have lessened my platform so that I could meet you where you are and do my best to treat you with a genuinely heartfelt respect. Do not, ever again, make the effort to create such sport at my expense. I have given up on there ever being a chance to speak intelligently with any of you again. Therefore, I’m going to simply bypass you and address the open air with my thoughts. The end effect will be the same; either way, I am simply wasting words and brainpower.

I am not saying that I have been without mistakes and errors. To the contrary, it is my own empathy that has cost me the most in this life. If we get ultra technical, we can assuredly and quickly reach a conclusion that my empathy and concern bears no factor on the autonomy of a lone individual. However, in speaking along the lines of the same uber technicality, we can, at the same time, argue that no one should care or help during times of crisis, as is currently being played out in the world. There always exists that possibility that maybe someone does not want our help, even if we are observing them to be drowning in self-inflicted duress.

So, what does learning about life through the wiles of conjurors have to do with ghosts in the context of this specific blog entry? I have learned from polymaths and mathematically gifted thinkers who have chimed in on these discussions and who have demonstrated how to break down the world around us. The application goes for all systems, whether scientific, business, personal, engineering, paranormal, etc. I have to admit, I have thoroughly enjoyed allowing my brain to live in this described world in a very dedicated and esoteric way the past several years. However, when I recently corresponded with retired astronaut Dr. Story Musgrave, I was made to think years back when I used his resume as a model for how thorough an education I wanted to obtain. After actually getting to exchange messages with him, I regretted that I had totally reverted to a world of a specialized form of analytical thinking versus also adding foundational knowledge from across multiple disciplines. But, all the same, critical thinking of the variety that I am used to very much applies to the game of ghosts, but in more ways than one, as I will explain in my concluding comments.

20191016_200119

Photo of me standing next to an image of one of my other influences, Harry Houdini.

During the weekend of March 6, 2020, I was riding a wave of joy with my friends as their haunted home was featured on the Travel Channel. During the course of the evening, I was extended the invitation to stay the night at another supposedly haunted home around the corner. I accepted the invite as quickly as it was offered, especially since the dwelling is supposed to have exhibited poltergeist phenomena.

When I arrived at the property during mid-evening, the winds were rather steady, and even gusty at times. This strictly natural phenomenon of wind, of course, contributed to giving the site an ambience as if right out of a movie. Almost immediately, I heard sounds at both ends of the house. Obviously, when I heard a metal clinking sound in the living area on the northern side of the house, I was instantly intrigued because I wanted to know what was contributing to the poltergeist stories affiliated with the structure.

As the night went on, I quietly listened to the noises coming from the environment. It didn’t take long to come up with some quick and testable hypotheses about the noises I was hearing. There was no need to get caught up in the added sounds by the winds. They were no factor, they were certainly not ghostly, and there was no need to allow them to become psychological amplifiers in a place where there was already so much power of suggestion. But, as the night moved forward, it became easy to explain why the sounds were being made intermittently in the southern end of the structure. Then, later in the morning, it became apparent as to why I heard the plink of metal from two rooms away when I was the only individual present in the house at the time.

Because the home I stayed in is currently in renovation status, there are numerous entry ways for critters to come from underneath the house and enter the interior rooms. It was critters that made the scuffling noises up and down the southern rooms. Their scampering became prominent as the night wore on. So, what accounted for the metal plinking at the other end of the home? Were poltergeists at play in mockery of me? As it turns out, the explanation for the evening was more rudimentary. There were several lightweight curtain rods standing upright against the side of the fireplace. In proximity to the fireplace was a hole in the floor that led underneath the house. What happens when a mouse scurries across the floor and scuttles over the end of a curtain rod before submerging itself into a hole? That rod makes contact with an adjacent curtain rod, thereby causing a light metal plinking sound. Did I witness any poltergeist activity that evening? I did not. However, while always trying to play the part of objective skeptic, I can only leave things right there where they concluded for that particular evening. I simply didn’t experience anything out of the ordinary at that property on that selected night. Conversely, I got to answer the more specific questions that the house raised once I arrived at the home and got to experience its atmosphere in person.

The date that this adventure of mine took place was three days later after I had my night of exhilaration with my friends at their watch party. The weekend was a tremendously bittersweet one. I got to share in the storied lore of a wonderful house as its story was broadcast to the world, but most of all, I got to share the experience with the amazing friends who made the whole episode possible. However, the weekend was one of goodbyes, as well. I know the time is coming soon when I will become separated from my haunted homeowning friends as their lives will be beginning a new chapter in a new location. (Today, 03/26/20, I received the wonderful news that my friends decided not to sell their home.) And, while I was in the process of saying that goodbye, in the spirit of such a wonderful night, I thought the time was appropriate for me to also say another goodbye that a poet’s heart feels should be said.

As has so often been the case in my life, whenever I’m served a plate of joy, it usually is also served with a side dish of bittered palatability. Life has to make sure everything is always tempered, just so. Little did I know, while I stood in elation in a home that is supposed to have a mean ghost as a resident, my wonderful weekend was already unknowingly in the process of being undermined because I had chosen to say an additional goodbye on the very weekend when it should have been said (by the law of averages.) Instead, for the second time in my life, I was reminded of what my role in this cosmos really is, regardless of whether or not I were to ever try and resist said role.

There is pain in loss. There is greater pain in parting ways when a final act of intended kindness is taken to be cause for eternal separation on the worst of terms. But, therein lies the very definition of my life. I don’t deal in lies. The lies that have existed in my life I have long since stared down in the face so that they have been dealt with; they can no longer linger as falsehoods. One of the reasons I am so unpopular socially is because of what I do. I go and stare tales square in the face, and I try to determine what their truth values are. Where some others spout devout sayings in terms of magic charms instead of thoughtful character, or who portend to lead the good life, while they bask in reassurance of shortsightedness, I walk into a poltergeist’s lair by myself and tell it to give me its best shot. My challenge to ghost hunting goes far beyond just ghosts. It has an extension, and it goes from ghost hunting across all avenues of life. A person can call themself a ghost hunter and take a bunch of electronics into a house and role play, call what they have done science, and then leave in unchecked confidence. The same pattern applies to those who can’t stand or don’t have anything to do with ghost hunting. I stated this previous sentence in a specific way so that some other individuals I have met are not so easily let off the hook and are reminded of the fact that they are no different than ghost hunters. Many individuals are simply the ghost hunters of whatever their domain may be. You can go into a profession on a daily basis, but instead of being cloaked in electronics, you may be cloaked in other non-electronic devices while they only serve a cosmetic purpose so that you are enabled to work towards accomplishing your end aim. And, my bet would be that the end aim often deals with a deck of cards that is stacked with ‘a priori’ determined outcomes instead of being altruistic and truth seeking in nature, no matter the cost. You see, whether ghost hunter, whether business person, etc., the patterns of role playing stay constant. There is an even bigger message at play, here. While standing in my own element by myself in a haunted home, and while standing in opposition to a ghost while daring it to make itself known in the name of science, I stared down something much more frightening than a poltergeist fourteen days ago.

I stared down a lie.

BT

 

 

18 thoughts on “Awareness

  1. Keep staring lies down, friend. Write what suits you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so, much! Sorry, just found your message. Been thinking about the future of the blog. It’s not serving much of a purpose. Will have to decide what to do with it. Thanks for stopping by to comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Self expression has purpose. You have value, friend. Change it up and write about something else. I bet you find it an excellent outlet. I enjoy reading about your experiences.

        Like

  2. Blaine, an exceptionally written short story… memoirs perhaps. Prestidigitation has long been an exacting skill far beyond sleight of hand or a few card tricks. Houdini has always been a favorite of mine. He’s really time immortal, as are ghost hunters- those believing far beyond any normalcy. Really believing in themselves. Certainly a prerequisite for personal achievement in any art, whether it be magic, the supernatural, or writing. We’re all influenced by someone of notoriety- it’s all about the skill and the uniqueness of it. Certainly worth the effort even if one doesn’t quite achieve fame and fortune. But then again, that shouldn’t be the main goal. We’re all here for a purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely writing from personal experience on this one. 😀 Yes, it takes so much practice to be a great magician. More than being a performer, I need to know how tricks are accomplished and how human psychology and perception are exploited in order to accomplish certain tricks. I wish I had more time to practice the actual tricks. And, yes, not only was Houdini larger than life and a scholar in his specialty, but his work in evaluating Spiritualism was so historically important. Self belief and confidence are awesome traits, and as you say, are necessary in order to achieve greatness. But, when gimmickery is admitted, one knows it’s no longer about the integrity, whatever the enterprise may be. To me, such practice is incredibly disappointing, but it’s part of our world, especially when TV ratings are involved. Yeah, I know in sports, as a youngster coming up, I would watch the greats and see what I could pick up from them. But, you’re right, we don’t all have to be the best at something, even if we choose to dabble. I always said I’m Happy Gilmore incarnate. The things I’m passionate about I’m no good at. Someday, I’ll probably find out my only talent is in something I have absolutely no interest in, although I still think the odds predict I have no talents, whatsoever. 😄

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Blaine, gimmicky is so much a part of our lives, our world today. It’s all about get rich quick, due I believe in part because it doesn’t take much to sway an individual’s attention. One minute they’re watching you, the next minute it’s someone else. Regardless of that person’s skill. Very few performers can hold an audience for a long period of time. In most cases, it’s because they started in a different time period, and have honed their skills. However, at some point they’ll soon be of an age where they can no longer perform. I’ve seen in some instances where they have offspring who attempt to fill their shoes. Rarely are they successful. I’m afraid the caliber of talent is quickly diminishing. But with so much brainwashing, oft times it goes unnoticed.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It is. It’s allowed to slide in the name of entertainment. These facts were why I always found it so appalling to see comments in TV forums about Ghost Hunters quoting the show as science. And, you just described a magician’s dream about pulling off a trick when it comes to short attention spans. But, yes, we’ve seen some legends who had the gift to work a crowd and keep them interested. Unoriginality is not the answer to furthering the task of carrying a crowd, is it? 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Blaine, sensationalism is in itself sleight of hand to most entertainers today. That, coupled with a media blitz is nothing more than two bit carny hypnotism. What it all comes down to is making a buck as fast as you can. And, no- unoriginality is not the answer.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. I love your equation of sensationalism with sleight-of-hand. 😀 First, develop your shtick, then make sure it can get to the masses. Unfortunately, the almighty dollar calls loudly to so many. That call drowns out what really needs to be heard.

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      5. Thanks so very much, Blaine. There are not, nor will there ever be any overnight successes. However, if one catapults to stardom seemingly overnight, they would have had to greased a lot of slimy palms. And then they’re generally a flash in the pan… ‘you can fool some of the people…’

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Great points. There is ground work that has to be completed and tests that have to be passed. The other thing I think about are the setbacks. The setbacks should inspire additional drive, and not restrain it.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. As are yours, Blaine. Thank you. The road to success is paved with good intentions. Very few actually make it to the top and stay there.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. So right about the good intentions. It’s the decision making where the destruction part can come in versus the success part. Good decisions are always at a premium. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      9. Good decisions through self-sacrifice…!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d be interested to hear more about this lie you discovered fourteen days ago. But I can understand why you wouldn’t want to elaborate. Unfortunately, unmasking a ghoul to reveal a disgruntled ex-amusement park employee has far more ramifications in real life than in an episode of Scooby Doo. I may be assuming too much, but I imagine a very awkward scenario unfolded on the 10th of March.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well stated, as always. 😀 Awkward is the perfectly chosen word. But, I have to take responsibility. The lie originated within my own mind by choosing to believe the best. So, the lie was created by me, and it had to be extinguished by me. Unfortunately, lightning CAN strike twice in life. I would say that I will never again allow a repeat of the same event. But, I did say that eight years ago. I need to do a better job of practicing what I preach by allowing my brain to police my heart, and not vice versa. I’m ready to get back to, “the game,” and I’ll let the rest of the world decide the merits of a personally lived life versus that of a rationally detached one. Rationally detached suits me just fine. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A magician, eh? Huh. I love learning this about you! I also love that these are the influences that shape your paranormal interests/curiosities/search for answers. I would’ve loved to talk to Houdini about how he routed out the fakers. I love that you try to be kind to those who think they know it all. Also, before I forget, you are also a magician with words! I don’t know how to properly use the word “erudite” but it always comes to mind when I read your writing because you are so very smart. And sensible. Please don’t give up on your blog. I “eavesdropped” on your exchange with Brothers Campfire. I don’t know what you want to accomplish with your blog but like my A Haunt Mess podcast co-host, Sara, says, we’re a small but mighty band of people who want to search beyond the sensational that the masses thrive to. Just know you’re not alone. There’s not many of us, but keep on keeping on. We have a funny way of finding each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Courtney!!

      Thanks so much for stopping by with such wonderful comments! I don’t want to overstate any abilities I have in the conjuring arts. I’m not a great showman. My concern has been more with learning how tricks are accomplished and in how our psychologies and perceptions are exploited in the process. An amazing book is, “Sleights of Mind,” and I had the great fortune of hearing one of the authors, Susana Martinez-Conde, give a lecture at Ole Miss. These factors of manipulation are pivotal in understanding how to look at the world of the paranormal critically. I wish I had more time to practice sleights so I could stay at a performance level. But, since Milbourne Christopher and Martin Gardner were such influences of mine, I’m usually more talking about magic in academic terms than I am in performing it. And, yes, would it not have been wonderful to have gotten to chat with Houdini? I love the tradition of making a straitjacket escape every Halloween in his honor.

      I apologize for my direct words that were aimed at specific individuals. But, if I’m doing anything, it always has some degree of rationality affiliated with it. So, even if I am imparting a sentimental farewell, my words are going to be sincere and my line of thinking will be explained. There will be NO erraticity or extremity in my thinking. To the contrary, it will be as akin to sanity as anything can be if it is a farewell or an attempt to clarify a misunderstanding. I never thought such an extreme occasion could repeat itself, but, it obviously can, and I’m at a loss when in both instances I was trying to impart sincere acts of kindness in wishing others well on their future roads. All I can say is, ENOUGH. Any action I have taken has been sound in thought and well intended in gesture, all of which I would gladly document at any time. Unfortunately, I am going to have to keep my policy about ghost hunting in effect at ALL times. If a person is going to insult my intelligence and slander or impair my name, then I simply have to say, “hold up.” I have always been a believer in kindness, and I think any discussion about the paranormal should be based on goodwill. I’m not going to address anyone like they are a subordinate in whatever standing they may hold in life. Such practice isn’t acceptable, and when it comes from people who expect to be treated with respect themselves, or who are supposed to represent a certain standing in society, then I can’t be complicit in them not living up to the standards they are supposed to be living up to and that they expect others to adhere to.

      I thank you so very much for your kind compliments. I am always quick to say that I am not a writer. I’m really just a thinker, and not a very good one of those. You have used the word, “erudite,” perfectly, and even though I don’t live up to the compliments about intelligence and sensibility, I appreciate you so much for choosing those specific words. Those two words are the ones that I aspire to incorporating into any consideration of the paranormal (as well as any other aspect in life). Firstly, we have good science to work from as our baseline. If we are serious about this endeavor, then let’s use this baseline! Secondly, sensibility is paramount in this search. Temptation may exist to buy into the next gadget or hypothesis, but let’s think about what is being proposed before jumping in with both feet. Sensibility is also necessary in social interactions, and you are a wonderful example of how, as individuals who may approach this subject matter from different angles, we can calmly and considerately explain why we do so. In the middle of the fray, I have tried to express my deep respect for this discussion. Did it take time for me to develop this respect? Yes, it did, but that’s more because of the errors in logic I was seeing and because I did see importance in the ramifications of this discussion. I’m not at odds with wonderful, decent people, who give up a lot of their time to go and try to glean answers from haunted locations. I know there are a lot of good people who are ghost hunters. But, I also think I do a disservice to these good people if I permit certain investigational methods to be passed as science, or to condone correlations that simply aren’t there. Over time, I have had to accept the fact that this journey is mine, and I’m on my own, but not because I am selfish. I just know that the determination and focus that I have are best kept in their own solitude so they are not mistaken for belligerence. But, at the same time, it always breaks my heart when the public is fed something via the airwaves that is not legitimate. These people that I have called, “good,” can be some of the very ones who are injured by this practice. I can’t be empathetic and not want to see sincere people protected from fraudulence. So, I have no choice but to always announce that I am NOT a ghost hunter, because the label has become synonymous with so much that goes against my own code of ethics and practice.

      And, you are always more than welcome to take part in any comments on this blog. I’m honored for you to, “eavesdrop.” 😀 I always wanted the blog to achieve a standard and have academic purpose. I don’t think what readership there has been has benefitted in this regard, and that is only due to my own fault. Part of the issue has been my reflective pieces, but life caught me off guard a bit. I had no idea that a house I have spent time at was going to become the focus of an episode on the Travel Channel. Because that property has become such a significant part of my life, even at the sake of redundancy, I felt like I had to catalog that unfolding in more than one blog entry. And, just as I included in another reply earlier, I sort of adopted a narrating style in terms of writing. I thought it might be better to try and write so as to give the reader some feel on what it’s like to go into a haunted home and think through the experience. Rather than just give textbook examples or case studies, I thought I would try and paint a picture so the reader can be there. Has such an approach worked? No, I don’t think so, but that’s ok. I can always go back to being a little more formal. The main point is to get across thinking about things the right way, and not in terms of television productions.

      I commend you and Sara! What a wonderful quote! It’s wonderful to know that your calling is to look below the surface and to see beyond the entertainment side of things. I love your balance. In your role, you have your finger right on the pulse of paranormal entertainment. Yet, at the same time, your quote indicates that you are looking for sound answers, and not embellished ones. And, for me, that’s what this is all about. What is the truth? That’s all I’m after.

      Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts! As busy as your schedule must be, I can’t tell you how humbled I am that you would take the time to comment. I’m grateful that WordPress has, indeed, allowed us renegades to make a connection. 😀

      Like

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