Friday, March 7, 2008

Noisy Ghost

Poltergeist is German for “noisy ghost.” I learned this last night during parent teacher conferences from a student who is reading about them. I mentioned a friend of mine who developed schizophrenia at twenty. Who knows what’s real? If someone sees something and hears it, I said, does that make it real even if no one else sees or hears it? Now that I’m writing this down I feel pressure to write something smarter than I said last night, something about Berkeley, the ineluctable modality of the visible. Maybe Blake and that whole doors of perception thing. Nah. It seems the Germans were adding dimensions to a mysterious psychic experience, but keeping it simple at the same time with a simple concept- noisy ghost.

I’ve seen a lot of people die said the student’s mother, a nurse. Some people are ready for it and their bodies relax. They give up. But sometimes tears stream down their face. Those people aren’t ready, she said.

Makes you wonder what happens to those spirits who aren’t ready, I said. Do they stick around? What about suicides? Are they ready?

I watched a man in the grocery story carry on a conversation with a bag of cat food, she said.

I wondered what the cat food had to say.

We talked a little bit about Hawthorne. The student was reading “The Minister’s Black Veil” and was picking up on Hawthorne’s criticism of Hooper, his kind of attitude toward spirituality, and the church. I said most of his stories indirectly offer some sort of moral judgment of the “and his dying hour was gloom” variety. We talked about Nine Stories a little bit because I plan on teaching it to my American Lit Juniors. She knew the story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” His senses were scarred from the war, I said. Who knows what scars our psyche?

I lost my box a long time ago she said. Set it out at the curb. Recycling.

I enjoyed talking with them so much.

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