June 8, 2012
Paranormal Fridays: Why the Paranormal Fascinates Me
It's always interesting when I meet people or reconnect with those I have lost touch with and the subject of what I do comes up. The reactions I get from people when I tell them about my creative writing and the articles I have written on the paranormal are varied and fascinating, to say the least. Some people almost act like I have told them something embarrassing, like details of my sex life. Other people seem to think the paranormal is all one big joke, that the only things that exist are what they can readily place their hands on. Still others engage me in long philosophical conversations about the limits of science or the wisdom from generations gone by. And some people get nervous and seem to want to caution me that I am playing with fire simply by researching paranormal phenomena.
What I find most interesting about the paranormal is what it tells us about ourselves. It is one subject I believe digs so deep into our human psyches and uncovers many of our deeply embedded beliefs, fears, etc. There are other subjects that do the same--don't get me wrong. I guess I first really identified my fascination with the paranormal and what it tells us about the human condition back when I was in college. Out of pure curiosity I took a general folklore class, which was offered in the English department. I have always enjoyed reading cultural texts such as Monkey, Gilgamesh and Saga of the Volsungs. The folklore class' angle on paranormal topics really took me by surprise at first. We studied things like snake handling, UFO urban legends and Bigfoot sightings not to either prove or disprove the phenomena, but to study what we could learn about the different groups who engaged in the practices or recorded the phenomena.
For a simple example: someone is sitting at home alone one night when a knocking sound echoes through the house. Upon looking at the front door and searching around the house to find no sign of anyone, the person hears the knocking coming from a closet door. What does the person think the knocking is? That depends on so many of that person's deep-held beliefs and past experiences. Some people would jump to the conclusion it was a ghost, while others would think it is a deranged psychotic murder and other people would label it an extraterrestrial. Does the person open the closet door, run out of the house or go back to watching TV? How the person reacts, and how he tells the story to others later says so much about the person and the culture he is a part of.
Paranormal phenomena is like a giant mirror that reflects to us and those around us what is deep inside each of us. As I have experienced unexplainable things I have even analyzed the depths of my psyche simply by taking an objective look at my reactions. So that is one of the main reasons why I love to study about the paranormal, since it isn't really all about paranormal phenomena.