25 February 2013 - Milan, Italy
“Following the ghosts is about making a contact that changes you and refashions the social relations in which you are located.” - A. F. Gordon, Ghostly Matters, 22
Yesterday while on my way home from the train station, I started to ponder about narratives and perspectives, the idea of ghosts and traces, as described by Avery F. Gordon.
In my mind I wrote this very eloquent and poingant essay, obviously I don’t remember half of what I thought, but I can tell you with the utmost certainty that what my mind conjured up was absolutely stunningly brilliant.
However, the only thing I remember, as I sat wedged between a man who looked as though he could have been a linebacker in the NFL and another, even larger, man, with fingers the size of sausages, was that each and every person on that train had some sort of ghost following them, an event that haunts them, a trace of something that leaves them wandering in realm that falls between the real and the imaginable, the factual and the fictitious.
“What kind of case is a case of a ghost? It is a case of haunting, a story about what happens when we admit the ghost - that special instance of the merging of the visible and the invisible, the dead and te living, the past and the present - into the making of worldy relations and into the making of our accounts of the world” (Gordon, 24).
“Ghostly matters are part of social life” (Gordon, 23). Each of us has a ghost, possibly more than one, that haunts us, in which the intermingling of fact, fiction and desire shape our personal and social memory. The question is, as Gordon wonders, “What does the ghost say as it speaks” because “we are part of the story, for better or worse: the ghost must speak [to us] in some way sometimes similar, sometimes distinct from how it may be speaking to the others” (Gordon, 24).
As I said before, what I had written (or should I say ‘thought of’) in my head as I pondered the possible hauntings of the various passengers of the Green Line to Romolo was, as I stated before, brilliant. Obviously brilliance of thoughts that seemed so precise and articulate at the time do not translate well into actual written words, especially when written a day later. Go figure.
Instead, you have the privilege of reading a stream of consciousness written at midnight with the aid of Ferrero Rocher and a glass of MezzoCorona Rosé, and which is more than likely only comprehensible to me.
We all have ghosts that haunt us. It’s important to remember that I don’t intend the word ghosts to mean the soul of the dead. I use the word ghost to mean a trace, a possibility.
While the ghosts that haunt us may be the stories of those who are dead or who are missing, the ghost itself is not the person per se, but instead are the traces, which are left behind that leaves us wondering and grasping between a myriad of possibilities and imagined scenarios, trying to dissect memories, which are based on real and imagined events, and warped by our own personal desires and imaginations.
This is the world of the ghost: a world caught in a intricate web where the difference between fact and fiction, remembered and imagined, is not as important as what each of those means to our collective sociological imagination.
At first I thought ghost hunting with my uncle at the forefront of my mind would mean uncovering who he was, but I have found over the past weeks of researching that it is much more than that. Ghost hunting entails uncovering and understanding the collective memory of a family, the living memory of a nation, and an imagined future of an individual and making sense of it all through the art of storytelling.