Tag Archives: Edward Parnell

There are ghosts.

19 Jan

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Friends,
Why are we drawn to ghosts but frightened of them? Why do we feel compelled to take them seriously on some level, but on the other hand dismiss them? And why do some places just feel haunted?

In a time of the dead, in a time when dying is so present for so many, what new attitudes towards death and its spectres will arise?

I had a great time traversing this spooky territory with Edward Parnell, author of the haunted and excellent nonfiction travelogue-meets-literary-criticism-meets-memoir Ghostland: In Search of a Haunted Country, and the gothic novel The Listeners.

To give you a little indication of his style, I asked Edward to start the episode with a very brief reading from Ghostland, then we’re into the conversation.And I start with two ghost stories of my own to indicate different ways that ghosts can lead us down strange and mysterious paths both as individuals and culturally.

ON THIS EPISODE

  • What is the aesthetic of the ghost story?
  • The way the Satanic panic severed the connection to ghost stories in the US vs in the UK.
  • How the transparency of history creates the resonance of ghosts.
  • New horror stories reflecting the way spirituality permeates culture.
  • The many ways which we dismiss the existence of ghosts.
  • The presence of fairies in Ireland vs the ghost of ghosts in the UK.
  • The middle class resistance to ghosts.
  • Imperialism vs ghosts.
  • Why do we turn away from grief?
  • The creeping fear of UK short ghost/weird fiction.

SHOW NOTES

• For more on Ed, go to his website (where you can find, among other things, his essay on the fear of falling). And here he is talking about Stephen King’s Pet Semetary on The Constant Reader Podcast. And here’s a short interview with him on the Folk Horror Revival website.

• The PSA announcement “Lonely Water” is…no joke…pretty scary! You can watch it here. And here’s the main figure in it. Watch out kids, if you don’t drown, you’ll live in fear of drowning your entire life.

• Here’s a great list of all the “video nasties” Edward mentioned, including The Driller Killer.• There’s a great book on what was going on in philosophy around the same time as many of the writers mentioned in Ghostland, by Wolfram Eilenberger entitled Time of the Magicians: Wittgenstein, Benjamin, Cassirer, Heidegger, and the Decade That Reinvented Philosophy.

“Babes in the Woods” by Mary Black is kind of an eerie song!

• We mention Roger Clarke’s thesis about class and ghosts, which you can find in longer form in his book, Ghosts: A Natural History.

• Would you like to learn more about the bone crypt at Holy Trinity Church? Why of course you would.• For another AEWCH episode about changing attitudes towards the spiritual, check out AEWCH 98 with Thomas Waters on which we talk all about witchcraft (it’s one of my favorites).

• Finally, check out Ed’s photo of the rocking horse in author Lucy Boston‘s house. Why are rocking horses this scary?