Saturday 27 November 2021

To get rid of ghosts, you may need to 'kill' the house...

There is a fascinating discussion of ghosts in JRR Tolkien's The Notion Club Papers; which may have been based on similar real life discussions in The Inklings.

It emerged that the club seems to acknowledge that 'all houses' are haunted in the sense that 'haunting and atmosphere... are something added by accident of history... not part of the house itself, qua house.' 

How to get rid of ghosts? This is regarded as possible, but not easy. One member says: 'if you destroy an actual house, qua house, you also destroy, or dissipate, the special haunting. If a haunted house were pulled to pieces, it would stop being haunted, even if it were built up as accurately as possible again.' 

But another member points out that 'you can go a long way, short of destruction, without wholly banishing atmosphere or laying ghosts (...). Bricking up windows, changing staircases, and things like that.' 

This distinction concerning what stops a haunting and what does not, can be summarized by saying that  - according to the Notion Club - a house is a living and conscious Being; and 'haunting' is a part of that house's acquired character. 

Thus, a particular ghost may be got rid of only by (in effect) killing the house; by destroying its character and starting again with a 'newborn' house. 

At the very least, to dissipate a haunting is an act of 'wiping the memory' of a house; and (as we know from humans) it is not really possible to wipe one specific memory (which is analogous to a particular ghost) - and to remove a specific memory entails a much more general act of destruction.

In other words, the idea of haunting and ghosts, insofar as it is real and not merely fakery or error, is a part of an 'animistic' cosmic view that regards created-reality as consisting of Beings. 

And those who believe in some kind of animistic philosophy will - presumably - regard at least some houses as alive and conscious; and will regard atmosphere, haunting and ghosts as genuine possibilities. 



agraves said...

A few years back a passenger jet crashed in the Florida everglades with all hands lost. Recovery teams located some debris from the crash they thought could be reused in other planes. One such item was a microwave oven which was then reinstalled in another plane. Various flight attendants and crew say they saw the face of one of the deceased crew in the glass of the oven door. Naturally the crew was shocked and awed by this. After a certain amount of controversy the microwave was replaced and the "haunting" of microwave came to an end. In the same way, removing or destroying a house would bring a haunting to an end. However it seems a strong connection to a place or object would be necessary for such a haunting.

Todd said...

Fascinating. My uncle went into great detail about some kind of haunting or demonic thing he's experiencing in the old house that he grew up in.
I interviewed him at length on this, and it was quite detailed.
His old house does have a mood, a memory, a presence. You can feel it when you are there.