The Paranormal Perceptions series was created to gather some of the most interesting authors that are using paranormal elements in their stories. Every author has their own perceptions and provides their own insight on all things paranormal, ranging from urban legends and paranormal research, to myths and inspirations. This week on the guest series is author of Ungentle Sleep, author B. Lloyd. (@AuthorsANon)
Strawberry Hill, prime example of Gothic revival architecture and home to early Gothic literature
It’s a favourite classical theme and has been adopted, recycled, re-imagined by virtually every generation since man could speak and write, from the classic haunting through cartoons and silent movies to comedic raconteur (video examples below).
One of the earliest known written accounts of a haunted house comes from Pliny, in his letter to Sura, and gave us the prototype ‘messenger’ ghost. Ever since then, visions of elderly males in clanking chains have hovered across gothic literature, culminating in that most iconic of literary phantoms, Marley, in A Christmas Carol.
There is always a reason a house is haunted: in Pliny’s Tale, there is buried treasure (another recurring element that has survived over the centuries), in A Christmas Carol, Marley comes to warn Scrooge of impending visitors (yes, well, no doubt Scrooge was too mean to hire a butler), while in Susan Hill’s ‘The Woman in Black’, the theme of revenge and longing is interwoven with the atmosphere of a house filled with disturbing, unhappy memories.
Joining the ranks most recently is an ambitious full-length novel ‘The Beaumont Bequest’ by talented new author Lynne Jones: which brings together favourite classic elements of a troubled house, a crooked lawyer, and a dead author’s works which said crooked lawyer burns; in a nice twist on tradition, the words in the books come back to haunt the lawyer – quite literally.
Be the population of these loci inquieti ever so eccentric, threatening or simply benign, there is one vital ingredient that remains ever uppermost and which links all of these together: atmosphere. Whatever opinions may be on plot or character motivation (and these vary enormously according to who is reading) the classics contain oodles of the stuff, owing to the skill of picture painting on the part of the authors; that ability to suggest rather than explain or describe, leaving the reader with a twitching head and chilled spine as dusk slowly creeps in behind their armchair.
Where does atmosphere come from? People, objects, memories… take these away and surely an empty shell is left, devoid of anything. Yet, the empty house has provided literature with as much material, if not more, than the fully furnished, to say nothing of abbeys, cloisters and castles, ruined or otherwise. These have supplied ample subject matter to poets, writers and artists and continue to do so. The Romantics added to the trend in the 18th century and together with Gothic Revival architecture they helped forge a new culture in the art of narration from which so many popular classics and derivatives have mushroomed.
Abbeys, cloisters and castles, ruined or otherwise have supplied ample subject matter to poets, writers and artists over the ages.
The idea of a building recording human life has come to form an integral part of the human psyche; where house becomes home, it becomes a part of us – a living breathing extension of our own personae, that will somehow carry on regardless long after we are gone. Small wonder that with such a belief still intact after so many centuries we often ‘feel’ an atmosphere – even when the building is bereft of those items that made it ours.
I am quite happy to imagine the Stone Tapes theory could have some foundation in fact; we can after all only record voices and images as a result of combining elements and formulae that exist already in our natural world; sunlight and silver nitrate have proven to be man’s closest allies in preserving real life for immortality. Nothing seems more ‘natural’ (as opposed to ‘supernatural’) than to be able to ‘see’ people and places no longer physically extant; as the materials we use to reproduce the real world come from nature, why should Nature therefore not be capable of recording us all quietly in the background as we go about our daily business?
Actions, voices and images recorded for eternity within these four walls. I suspect that in my case, were I to haunt anywhere, the only sound audible would be of the occasional curse and laptop keys clicking away. Like a mouse running about. Now there’s a sound to work with ….
(The history of haunted houses in film alone would fill a library of posts; I have limited myself to referring to the few classics below):
Haunted House 1908
Buster Keaton in a Haunted House (1921)
Mickey Mouse Haunted House 1929
Dave Allen with a Haunted House Tale
Ungentle Sleep, a ghost tale
A Bustle attached to a keyboard, occasionally to be seen floating on a canal …
After studying Early Music followed by a brief career in concert performance, the Bustle exchanged vocal parts for less vocal arts i.e. a Diploma from the Accademia di Belle Arti di Venezia.
Her inky mess, both graphic and verbal, can be found in various regions of the Web, and appendaged to good people’s works (for no visible reason that she can understand).
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Haunted House Tour Full Schedule : http://authorsanonnews.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/314/