A ghost is absence solidified, given agency and an ethereal consistency. What else is there to say of ghosts other than that they are the tangible intangible, the voices of those who are not, who are no more and who are not yet condensed in painful immateriality.
In this sense, I think I have always been haunted, like so many others around me. I would walk down the rundown streets in my old neighborhood at night, returning from school and later college cloaked in darkness and specters, the ghosts of my own untaken paths and of those of my parents and their parents before them.
Younger still, I would sit in my room in the summer sun, listening to the loud ghosts my family would exchange at times. There always seemed to be a steady, endless and relentless supply of ghosts.
Ghosts demand justice, or at least vengeance. They hide in dark corners and look for a likely victim on which they exact punishment and smother with that strange wisdom of the absent, with poisoned whispers that take root and grow into more ghosts.
The biology of ghosts is interesting in this sense – it is a perverse natural mechanism that makes them seek justice through abuse and injustice, to reproduce through chronic and sustained cruelty, dulling the senses and numbing the mind and soul of the unsuspecting living receiver of their attentions.
Cities are always a good breeding ground for ghosts, as there are more people, and ghosts, despite popular belief, like being around people. Absence can only be felt when there is someone there to see what is not.
Surprisingly however, an entourage of specters, no matter how extensive, is not a cure for loneliness. Quite the contrary, while ghosts do not foster solitude, due to their queer reproductive rituals, they do foster a feeling of aloneness through their very essence. Indeed, how can one not feel alone when faced with absence incarnate?
Much has been said of the sensation best described as being alone in a crowd, but no thought, however brief, has turned to that deepest manifestation of this modern illness – solitude amongst a multitude of phantoms.
Indeed, it truly seems that the feel-good adage of the new age – “you are never truly alone” has hit upon a startling truth: the lonelier one is, the thicker the press of ghosts around them.
And what a New Age it is, scared of loneliness, it has come to abhor solitude, see it as a sickness that must be staved off, shaken off, beaten off, with the medicines of endless socialization that only seems to feed the loneliness they claim to fight, like so many colored fluids procured from so many snake oil salesmen.
But I have seen them, those people who are alone but never lonely, them who stand in true solitude and who are not shrouded in specters. They have conquered and exorcized the wights by giving them not what they demand – vengeance and justice, dishes best not served at all, but what they require, acceptance and a home.
For it is only when you confront the spirit, accept it and accept to live with it, that it will be vanquished, like a bad dream or memory. It will always live within you, but better within than without.