The ghosts in this city don’t get much credence, I must say. People rashly judge them to not exist–they don’t believe in them, outright, end of discussion. Or they personally snub them as inferior beings, and do not help them solve their problems–which only prolongs the ghost’s stay. And this is a city where death is openly merchandised, life insurance is sweet-talked, funerals are big business, graveyards are tourist attractions! So it isn’t like death is discouraged–no death is fine, and widely considered to be inevitable. There just seems to be a bias against ghosts, as representatives of dead people. I think part of it has to be that ghosts don’t have enough social (and literary) cache; they aren’t in fashion, are not cool, it’s like they have lost their lustre. No longer scary, no longer funny, an otherwise bonafide ghost as I said, does not appear to be credible, and his or her all-important material presence is disregarded. He is forced to wonder who he really is, and forget who he was–which is, shall we say, worse than fatal. Somebody needs to start over with the whole construction of the ghost, work out the mechanism of the ghost, and a write an ideal novel where the main character is a ghost! Tell it from his point of view, to get the ghost back on solid footing in this society. For while the the old saw that “everyone dies” is highly dubious, it is less dubious that everyone will be, at some point, a ghost.
Ghosts exist, and are running around here night and day. The problem in this city is that everyone feels free of their charms, and their threats. Your average sad sack ghost now doesn’t even post a moral challenge, and people don’t believe he is a physical challenge whatsoever. Movies have done alot to discredit ghosts, of course–and that show on television, “Ghost Whisperers”, is downright slander. Popular culture is ignominiously at war with reality on this front, it’s goal apparently being to cheapen the whole business to the point where people, who as I say are all potential (or existing) ghosts themselves, feel free and can laugh at the idea. Definitions of the true ghost are wanting!
To begin with, a ghost is a person unable, or unwilling, to take his or her leave from this world, in an orderly, inconspicuous manner. Instead they are hanging around, and never far from the scene of the crime. (Loosely considered, life is the crime.) They haven’t yet gone to the place others have assigned them in their religion. Ha! Existing still between death and a former life, something must be at issue, with a ghost, something unresolved which is preventing their exit. It isn’t like they just missed the boat, and are waiting for the next one. They are here for a purpose–be it recognised on your calendar, or scheduled in your thoughts. Consider this: somebody living is scheduled for an encounter, a date in a restaurant say, even a meeting in a dream, if you prefer, with every ghost. Ghosts are after somebody. And if you consider that one thing a ghost , who was a person (keep that in mind, please), has a little experience with, is death; it isn’t a stretch to believe what they are hanging around for involves somebody else’s death. Did I say that painfully slowly enough? It’s kind of a relay race. Ha! How about reviewing your own situation, visa-vie your old friends and relatives, sirs and ma’ams. Do not be weirded out that I address you in this florid manner, either, for it is as to get you ready for a formal affair. I figure at the average wedding there are at least twenty percent ghosts in attendance, and at funerals, well if people would just look around . . .
Some people are invisible, unless you look for them. Everyone is travelling with a potentially unused return ticket. The question is this: Is it possible anyone can die, and NOT in fact be in the position of a ghost. Which is strictly defined as: having unfinished business. Avowals and apologies never made, debts unpaid. Does anyone die on a dime, perfectly scheduled, and perfectly completed? Are the people they lived with ever satisfied, and do they not mostly hang around with the dead one (popularly coined as “loved one”) themselves, keeping them in their thoughts, and acting themselves, for all intents and purposes, as if that person is still–let’s see, how shall I put it, watching! Just sort of like in the other room, but within earshot, away on a long trip, but coming back someday . . . in the great hayfield in the sky. And if we can assert that a “loved one” is still among us, we are clearly dealing with them, probably dealing with them more any one else (those reliably moving still in three dimensions).
Here is the rub. To what degree are our actions influencing some ghost’s fate. Never mind about how emotional we are, or aren’t. The question focuses on our actions and how they must look (from that hayfield.: Are we displaying a woeful coutenance, still acting for that person and tugging at them for attention? Are they not being kept here, dragged back to earth, pulled at like the paradoxical kite string in the fable . . .
This is to bring back, or clarify for the first time, the real stature of a ghost. For stature, and a dramatic fate a ghost must have, a dire and final story he is in, as regards a life now accomplished. He is on that course where he is being wrapped up and reassigned, and what we do in regards to him may effect his fate–and ours. Surely we know we die a little ourselves with every loss . . . We should each of us seriously consider and worry and exalt over the possible fortunes, all the time, of the dead. Or are we finished with them? To say so is as culpable and immoral as to say any dealing with the living is free of morality. It is not ended when a person dies, not for them or for those who know them.
“Quote the contrary!” as a famous quarrelsome ghost once said. It is the person who is left in life, that often feels stranded; and ends up marvelling at the newly received sense that the person who died has . . . lived! They are impressive in this regard! As having been here, and achieved it, a thing which the rest of us cannot exactly claim! For individually one is always wondering how he or she rates on that scale, and if we have, actually, proven to be human yet.
Quite likely, some ghost doesn’t even know that he is dead. It hasn’t quite hit him, so to speak, and he certainly has not comprehended the fact that he no longer has any business in this world. Which makes me think: maybe he DOES have something to do; after he accomplishes that, then he can face up to his condition. But no matter how strangely or rudely, or ignorantly, people are treating him, until he achieves peace and is reconciled with his life, he is going to stay at it. For if we assume that he does have a memory of being a person–if we give him that (and any reader who has followed me this far, must surely be in sympathy with that notion); and if we look at the obvious fact that he is still operating in some fashion in the world, so it must be he is acting somehow in regards to this past. Still concerned about that old self–how touching is that!
Oh no, I think. Anyone who is killed is cut off from a set of future plans, which they to some degree have invested in. And this is part now of the ghost’s past: what didn’t happen, but was imagined. Very subtle, these distinctions, when you put it from the point of view of . . . a ghost.
In my construction he is capable and fully determined to live out all the scenes that he has expected. Perhaps he appears in those scenes, and is nowhere to be found otherwise. This means that other people, depending upon their knowledge of his death and/or their conviction in regards to the reality of ghosts, are going to witness those scenes; and also are liable to see him falter and actually disappear when his fuel, so to speak–his own expectations– runs out. Yes. It very well could be that there are many ghosts around. When you start to consider the idea–it grows on you. This could explain the apparent population explosion in this city. How there appear to be way more people around than there used to be, while yet statistics say this city has less population than it did forty years ago. Yet everywhere you go, crowds! Traffic jams! What about those people who pull up and grin at you from the safety of their cars? People are living longer, they say, but apparently they are moving away faster too–otherwise the local population (here where I live, in Western New York) would grow, wouldn’t it!
But no, only the population of ghosts is getting larger, by the minute.