Archive | April, 2016

Seeing Ghosts

26 Apr

There are two kinds of ghosts: real ones and the made-up kind. The latter are either the phony ones you see at Halloween, or the ones you see (or can’t see) on tv and at the movies– dramatic re-creations based on a screenwriter’s script or a popular novel.  But how accurate are their depictions of the unseen? People learn from television, for better or for worse.

"Red Reddington"

“Red Reddington”

Consider the most recent episode of Blacklist, an NBC television series about the FBI, spies, master criminals, and a main character by the name of Raymond “Red” Reddington (played by James Spader). Red is a rogue ex-spy who unofficially consults with the FBI about uber-bad guys on the loose. My wife and I don’t watch that much tv, but this is one series we have followed for its excellent writing, in this case by Daniel Knauf.

Last week’s episode (Cape May) threw dedicated fans into a tizzy, showing how a ghost as a character can be misunderstood. Apparently no one understood this one. I think I did. The episode presented a paranormal experience for the main character, something totally out of character for the series. But you can decide for yourself if any ghosts appeared. I suggest watching the episode for important subtleties and clues that appear as the story unfolds. If you can’t, stay with me anyway. This should be fun.

SPOILER ALERT!  Don’t read any further if you intend to see the show first. That will be far more interesting then a written description. But if you haven’t been watching it from week to week, you still should know some background: Red’s friend in the FBI (Liz) died in the previous show, someone he had been looking after since she was a little girl when he rescued her from dangerous circumstances. The identity of her presumed dead father is unknown, as is the status of her mother, an accused Russian spy.

That’s really all you need to know, but watch the whole thing if possible. Then come back here and we’ll talk . . .


 DISCLAIMER: to over-simplify, paranormal investigators look for clues and evidence of something unusual in an allegedly “haunted” location. Then they try to “debunk” whatever strange things are discovered in order to explain them by normal circumstances. If they can’t and the phenomenon remains unexplained, it may very well be paranormal. Investigating the paranormal requires the same sensibilities as any kind of investigator, but the process is still very much an art and not a science, despite fancy hardware and claims to the contrary. In spite of confidence in their findings, they can still be dead wrong.



The opening scenes of the Cape May episode show Red Reddington still traumatized by Liz’s death and recovering in an opium parlor run by an old Chinese woman. As he leaves, she reminds him to take his gun, but he gives it back to her.  1st clue: guns don’t work in past-life environments. He then hires a car to take him to Cape May, New Jersey– 200 miles away. We don’t know why, or if he knows why. 2nd clue: Red is mysteriously drawn to this location, which he did visit once a long time ago.

Once he arrives, he visits a diner for breakfast where he spies a woman sitting in a nearby booth. He watches her get up and leave, only to see a man enter who is apparently looking for her. 3rd clue: the man picks up a shiny new pay phone and inserts a quarter to call someone. Where’s his cell phone?  Why is a pay phone even there? They’ve virtually disappeared from public places.

I can go on and on with the various clues, but it would be more fun for the viewers to find them on their own. Suffice it to say that Red was experiencing a residual haunting in the diner, which continues right through his arrival at an abandoned shoreside inn. There he sees the same woman on the beach, whom he watches trying to kill herself by walking into the ocean. He saves her, transforming the residual haunting into an interactive one as he talks to the person he saves.

Residual hauntings are like playbacks of events that occurred in the past, where the witness cannot interact with whom or what he sees. The twist the writer inserted into the story at this point was his ability to start interacting with the woman. Red had stepped back into the past, enabling himself to be part of it as it replayed its sad story. Such interactive encounters are also called intelligent hauntings.

Mysterious Woman

Mysterious Woman

The storyline continues with many additional clues that support the theory of this residual haunting flipping back and forth into an interactive one. Red is caught up in the playback of the events that were responsible for all of his troubles, including the recent death of his beloved Liz. The challenging question one can raise here is, “if Red participated in the events of the past, did he also change the future by his actions there?” This is the classic time travel dilemma, but I’ll leave the implications of that to the writer who probably has his own ideas about it.

I could go on for pages pointing out all the clues within the narrative. But I’ll leap to my own conclusions instead. Scanning through the hundreds of comments on various Blacklist fan sites, it appears no one “got it.” Instead, viewers thought Red was having a dream, hallucinations, having a breakdown, or was simply remembering past events. No. Hallucinations are irrational perceptions produced by a short-circuiting brain as the result of drugs or psychosis. Memories recalled can be vivid, but do not play out in interactive detail. Dreams, whether induced by opiates or just deep sleep, are controlled by the sub-conscious, and are for the most part illogical. Red’s experience as a still rational person was vivid, logical, and interactive.

bracelet

Red’s Discovery of the Mysterious Bracelet

The mysterious woman was depicted as a ghost who really did kill herself in the past. She drew Red back to Cape May to explain her actions when she was alive, and also to help Red deal with his own guilt, which was slowly killing him. Such is the nature of paranormal events . . . supernatural interventions with a purpose.

Comments?

For those of you really into this, learn more . . .

 

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:

http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

 

 

 

 

a Queen’s birthday– a Prince’s passing

22 Apr
the Queen

Queen Elizabeth

Yesterday, the world’s media was focused on two dissimilar events: the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth of Britain, and the unexpected passing of Prince, the performance artist and musician. My wife thought of the above headline ironically describing the two unrelated events happening on the same day.

Most of you know who “the Queen” is; some of you may not acquainted with Prince, a pop/rock artist who’s been on the music scene and in the public spotlight since the early 1980’s. Since his death, he is finally being acknowledged as one of the most innovative and creative influences in the world of popular music. This event reinforces the notion that artists get their best reviews after they’re dead.

Of course music is a very personal thing, and for what one jumps out of bed for in the morning, another sleeps till noon. But that’s art, whether its in the form of music, painting, writing, or any other creative endeavor. So why do I continue to deviate from my self appointed mission as a blogger of the paranormal with posts about writing and music? I guess because the latter are as important to me personally as investigating and writing about ghosts. More pragmatically, other than my real estate blog this is the only forum I have to rant in! So I’ll try and keep these things as connected as I can.

As anyone who’s been following me is probably sick of hearing by now, I wrote a book. Its a work of paranormal fiction, so there’s the connection to the literary world. But how do I justify music? Here’s how: my last post discussed visionary fiction, and how it has a hard time pinpointing a specific genre that publishers need when they select a hole for their literary pigeons. “Visionary” in writing and art in general is hard to define.

Prince

Prince (click for video)

But after listening to a news interview on CBSN last night, I had one of those little epiphanies. A reporter was talking to a music critic in front of the Apollo Theater in NYC about Prince’s contribution to contemporary pop music. She said Prince was a visionary, combining funk, jazz, rock n roll, gospel, and other music genres as easily as we chew gum. She concluded that visionaries defy genre (her words).

There’s my answer to the visionary aspect of the written word in fiction writing. The reason book publishers have such a hard time pigeonholing that genre is because with books (and music), visionary has no genres. It defies them.

I promise I’ll get back to ghosts soon.

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:

http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

the Visionary Fiction Alliance

14 Apr

VFA-member bannerWhat is the Visionary Fiction Alliance (VFA)? I guess I should know as I just joined it! As the new kid on the block, so far I can tell you its an organization of authors, readers, editors, publishers, artists and others who specialize in a certain new genre of fiction.

Visionary fiction is the kind of story that shows how the protagonist changes for the better through expected plot development and conflict. That can be said about any good novel. The distinction is that in visionary stories the main character is not only transforming into someone better, but transforming in the context of a universal good. This happens through an extraordinary mental, spiritual, or paranormal ability or experience.

Visionary fiction is also referred to as transformational.  Think of classic stories like Siddhartha by Herman Hesse, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman, Life of Pi by Yann Martel, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma, or The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.  All are great classics and best-sellers.

But don’t be intimidated. Nobodies like me are writing visionary fiction. My finally-finished novel Lanes End is hopefully part of that genre. I didn’t realize it until I recently stumbled across the VFA and thought “hey, my book fits their definition” (see why I think Lanes End does).

But enough shameless self-promotion! Check the VFA out for yourself (click on the logo). You’ll find a better definition of visionary fiction than mine, plus some very interesting posts, reviews, books, etc. You may even want to join . . .

 

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:

http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

Publish or Perish? (Part 1)

5 Apr

In case you’re wondering why all this stuff about books, and what happened to the ghosts? . . . fair question. Since I just finished my first paranormal fiction novel, I’m a bit preoccupied with it. So unless you’re into reading such books and the perils of publishing one, feel free to skip this post. You won’t hurt my feelings!

Its for those of you who are book readers, if not authors yourselves. People into the paranormal like to read and write about the subject, and there’s the tie-in. Everybody has an experience or an opinion. I’m my case, I decided to couch my own theory of why and how ghosts exist into a story. Its always easier to inform with a story rather than a lecture; the hard part is writing the story.

Besides “self-publishing” and endlessly querying literary agents and publishers to take a look at my work, I also plan to create e-commerce webpages for authors, agents, publishers, and anybody else involved in the process of publishing. It would be a single platform for all of us types. But before I bore you with the details, a little background on why I’m doing this business model as I am . . .

If you’ve ever waded into these waters as a writer, you already know how daunting and frustrating the process of finding a publisher can be. I’ve found that there is in fact lots of antipathy from authors directed toward traditional publishers, and submissions to them are actually down.

That’s why self-publishing has become so popular, like posting your latest work for sale to Amazon. The good news is that anybody with a word processer can “publish” their book to sites like Amazon and its cousins. The bad news is that anybody can publish regardless of the quality. Amazon and other websites like them do not vet or edit one’s work in any way, and readers must take their chances, usually for a very low e-book price. They can only rely on word-of-mouth, shameless self-promotion on Twitter and Facebook, and online reviews from readers.

Can a writer do both, i.e. self-publish in those kind of venues and also seek a real publisher? The short answer is yes, but the longer answer has some qualifications to it. Those are beyond the scope of this post, and I’m already writing too much, which is my tendency. So to make this easier to swallow, I’m breaking the post up into two parts. This is the first, and thanks for getting this far. I’ll post Part 2 as soon as I write it . . .

 

Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
All Rights Reserved

For ALL Light in the Dark Paranormal postings
(most recent at top), visit our home blog:

http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com
Visit our website: http://www.lightinthedarkparanormal.com

All posts on this blog are written and owned by Paul Hill.

 

 

 

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