Ghosts’n’Things

We like to make up those kinds of store names, like “Blue Jeans Etc” and “Beverages and More”, only ours are even more stupid, if you can believe that, like  “Pickles & Stuff” or “Bottlecaps Galore!”. But on the subject of ghosts, I was happy to see one of my “ghost stories” garner a genuine five star review on Amazon. “Hidden HIghway” has been neck and neck in a race for worst overall rating with “Fissure Monroe”, averaging somewhere around 1.8 on Goodreads, so seeing a 5 was a bit of a shock, but a pleasant one. And here it is:

 Roland and Josefa’s Ghostly Gossip Session May 22, 2013
Tom Lichtenberg has written a ghost story with imagination and quirkiness, the approach being two people smoking/drinking/eating and they gossip among themselves about the strange characters that inhabit their world of a motel. Just like the great gossip sessions you’ve attended, the flow of the book runs the same. Imagine someone telling you the characters in a soap opera, the who’s who and the what’s they done. It’s going to get complicated and under the hand of Lichtenberg, the story becomes fun with the revelations of the definite characters and the strange interrelationships. This motel is located in nowhere where nowhere people go to live, strive, and die. The nefarious activities that thrive around this end of nowhere is a ghost house supervised by the ghost witch Eugenia & the television watching and donut eating ghost Sweets. The vicious and jealous Henry watching over his hungry and horny wife Henrietta. The pimp. Potions. Hybrids. The situation is crazy and chaotic, all presented in the great gossip session of Roland and Josefa, employees at a motel found at the edge of nowhere. Hidden Highway is loads of fun with each section of gossip leading to the next and before you know it, you have a complete story, not overly long and enticing you with its charm when the world threatens to overwhelm you. As of the time of this review, the price is FREE. Consider this an invitation to Hidden Highway.
Hidden Highway is a spin-off (personal fan fiction, if you will!) of Secret Sidewalk. It follows the failed cult leader, Sharad LeMaster, as he flees from his cult members and hides away as a night clerk in a most obscure motel in the middle of Nowhere, Northern California. This attempt is foiled when a very dead witch lures him into her haunted house by tempting him with his favorite donut-loving, reality-TV-watching ghost, Beauregaard Sweet.
I’ve tiptoed around two other ghost stories. There was “The Ghost with the Really Big Tits” (included in The Mortal Hole collection) and now Jimmy Cruise, Last Chance, a sort of “dark romance”, featuring some rare adult content (rare from me, that is). My ghosts aren’t much at haunting. If they haunt at all, it’s done awkwardly and ineffectively. Usually they just hang around, bored and bewildered. The whole “ghost” idea has always struck me as too stupid for words, as ridiculous as believing in astrology or tarot cards. Ignorance can be strength, but only in an age of ignorance. It’s taking quite some time, but the movement begun (in Europe at least) with the Enlightenment is slowly but surely dragging our species out of its mental torpor. It’s too bad I won’t live to see this effort fully completed, but then again, who will?
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5 thoughts on “Ghosts’n’Things

  1. I love tarot and astrology. For me, the externalization and tactile realization of an internal dialogue is rich and beautiful. This is one of the problems I have with atheism. It eliminates everything it doesn’t understand via its own structure in the most rudimentary fashion. Tarot and Astrology are not about “belief.” But does this mean they must be refused?
    It’s also one of the reasons I think modern atheism is more like a religion. Christianity in all its forms hates astrology and tarot, in the same way it reduces sex to a biological function. I’m an atheist, but I’ll stop saying that if I have to give up the aesthetic pleasures of tarot and astrology – or the aesthetic pleasures of sex for that matter. I won’t have the most interesting aspects of the human creature sacrificed for the sake of a belief system ever again.
    Having said that – congratulations on a good review. I’m not 100% sure why you ever get bad ones.
    🙂

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    • “the externalization and tactile realization of an internal dialogue” – I love the way you express that, but i only try to make fun of the “belief” aspects of such things, in the same way i do of all belief aspects, including atheism (as I do in Orange Car and Missy Tonight). I try to be an equal opportuity mocker. People use all sorts of tricks to make up their minds, symbolize their inner state or justify their actions, and there are many layers of that, but when they start telling me who I am because of my birth date, or what will happen because of some random card shuffling, I can’t help but respond with “have you really thought that through?”. Many of those systems are like easy labyrinths. There’s an aura of mystery and complexity but a small sample set, as if you’re provided with flash cards for a foreign language consisting of only a few dozen words and those are supposed to be all you need to express everything. One of my favorite sets (to make fun of) is the “Sabian Symbols”, which consists of heavily time- and culture-bound images (such as “A Parade Of Bathing Beauties Before Large Beach Crowds”) that would be utterly meaningless if not scandalous or horrifying in different times and places, but are presented as immemorial visions of inner truths. You’d do better to be given a deck of plain index cards and say “go ahead, you fill in the blanks”. Of all such systems I’m familiar with, the I Ching seems to me the most intricate, but I wish there could be a tool for meditation that does not end up providing the same answers every time. Even the I Ching comes off like a Magic 8 Ball sometimes. It might take a future brain science to create such a tool, a portal to your own subconscious that would reveal your own personal symbolism, your own inner truths, your own unique imagery, a true inner dialogue not dressed up in the obsolete used clothing of medieval superstitions. (by the way, I really want to see those Zizek movies you recently reviewed but so far haven’t been able to find them)

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  2. First of all, thank you for your great blog and your interesting and well thought out ideas. Thank you for putting them out there, and for your generosity and interest in alternative conversations. I closed comments on my blog just so I don’t have to hear from people like me, so I greatly admire thinkers like you who leave their comments open.

    It’s good to see your comment about belief – because as you say I have heard and seen many people use Darwinian theories in ways that are identical to your criticism and deserve equal censure. Certainly I’ve heard many comments that would make me say “have you thought this through.”To use a point from the Zizek films (and Lacanian theories) any time you take a “big Other” and give them control over your life, you fall into the exact same problem.
    We attach ourselves to symbols and objects to give our life meaning – or to reveal different aspects of our life to ourselves – all the time, from saying I am like another kind of mammal, or a tree, or the wind, to a character in a book or film or song. Every one of these symbols is defined by our language and that is equally “steeped in medieval superstitions” as any symbol we use to understand ourselves and communicate internally. We are historical creatures and we can’t erase that – and neither should we. The human animal brought deconstruction theory in to allow for that, and that work you hope for has already been done, by philosophers. Or if you like psychoanalysis, which also has provided the portal you talk about. ( Or – in my case – tarot, which performs precisely the function you describe because I’ve been using it in conjunction with my own dreams and my own self examination for decades along with philosophy and find no repetition in it any more than I do in my own language.)

    So much of these ideas are based in our own histories. I was raised in a christian cult where science and Christianity sit side by side. My father is a “minister” (to use common parlance) and has a PHD in applied mathematics with a focus on astrophysics. Scientific thought and the application of “rationality” were never tools I could use to separate myself from a belief in God because they sat together at my dinner table. I’ve been trained to see God in science in every one of the disciplines and it always appalls me. Trust me, superstition is as equally there as it is in the tarot, But I think it would be foolish to refuse science because so much of scientific theory is steeped in ancient traditions. (A good example is the “belief” that the light spectrum has 7 colours. It has 6, but Newton included indigo because he was a Christian who, to support his belief structure, needed 7 colours to include God in everything he saw around him.) Scientific research is not safe from or desire for the Big Other, even with its so called rigor and self examination. I think, as deconstruction argues, you have to include these things, and work beyond them.
    We have art to pull all this apart, and for me is one of its functions. Those symbols you speak of can’t hurt you (or anyone else) because wonderful people have written books, music and made films that counteract those images. So the wind can be the breath of your lover at your skin, or a tornado that ruins a community and can carry the symbolism of both equally – even though “its just wind”.

    As for the Zizek – I’m really glad you liked the posts, and thank you for saying. I can tell you for sure that the cinema one is on the internet in a place that is illegal. 🙂 I’ll send you the link off line and you can make a moral choice. The Ideology one is not released world wide just yet, so you will have more trouble with that. I am sure you will love both of them. Zizek is a Lacan theorist and a philosopher, but he is comfortable and up to date on scientific theories, so I think your fine mind will have a great time.

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  3. That’s a great bit about the color spectrum! I’ve come across Zizek several times in the past few years, have read his articles and watched some of his talks. His influence is interesting. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of “digital cumbia” from an Argentine dance club named after nim (Club Zizek, and their label, ZZK Records). There’s also a Zizek Press of indie authors including the interesting Marc Horne, one of my earliest ebook discoveries. I don’t always understand what he’s talking about, but I enjoy a brillian lefty philosopher as much as the next guy! My grandfather was a student of Thorstein Veblen, an earlier incarnation of a similar breed, and I inherited a soft spot for thos types.

    This blog is a continuation of the spiral notebooks I kept for years, long before the internet, in which jotted down all my random thoughts and pasted in my collages and drawings. It’s much more convenient this way, especially when searching for my repetetive topics. I know it’s mostly rants and tiresome opinionating. The public nature of it does make me tone it down a bit, but not enough sometimes! My current rant is based on a song by The Clash – “I’m So Bored with the USA” – only in this case it’s “Im So Bored with the F**ing Middle Ages”. From Lord of the Rings to Game of Thrones and all the Sword & Sorcery and “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters”, and the legacy of tired cliches from ghosts to werewolves to vampires, I’m just kind of done with it. What’s the Middle Ages ever done for me? (tip to Life of Brian, because the only Middle Ages I can still tolerate is Monty Python and the Holy Grail). Our only new pathetic additions to our “historied selves” seems to be Serial Killers and Traveling Salesmen. Someday our era will be somebody else’s Middle Ages, and a future me-type will be sick and tired of all that too. Meanwhile, G.H.’s cockroaches will remain unchanged and unaffected.

    Some years ago I wrote a series of essays lining up several different “systems” of thought, including divination systems, religions, science, psychology and philosophy and explored the similarities between them all (including your favorite – Darwinism), how they are all completely self-fulfilling and self-explanatory, how nothing escapes or can escape their internal logic. It’s all part of our basic (physical or spiritual, does it matter?) need to make sense of the world around us, creating order out of chaos, as they say. Once we have bought into a system, we tend to buy into it all the way. Every school of thought is a cult of one kind or another. They all want to boil everything down to some essential subset. I try not to be a member of any of them. In some ways, schools of thought are like computer programming languages. Recently I’ve been working in several different languages at once – Python, Ruby, Java, Javascript and PHP – each for different purposes on different platforms, and they all do the same thing, in their own idiosynractic way. Converting a string substitution algorithm from one to another is a lot like converting from one school of thought to another. Conversion is translation. The result is the same – you always get the answer you are looking for. I think this holds true across the board. Whichever cult you belong to, what you end up hearing is what you are really just telling yourself, through its medium.

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  4. Lovely reply – and I agree with you of course. Despite my love of tarot and astrology I used to have the same internal aggression toward new age thinking because of the way it bastardised Sartre and Camus. As you correctly identify, I now get irritated in the same way with pop atheism and what it has done to Darwin. I’m disappointed to hear about groups of Zizek followers – I hope they keep it light, but I’m sure they won’t. Through the ages great thinkers have discouraged followers, and still we follow. Oh well – it will give me another thing to get pissy about which no doubt is essential for my functioning.
    I do agree that we live in a dark age.
    And I still really like your blog. Keep ranting. 🙂

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