Deconstructing Horror: The Haunted Page

lib-east2Apart from sitting around the campfire, the written page is probably the most traditional method of communicating haunted tales. For this week’s edition of Deconstructing Horror, we’ll be looking at words on the page.

If your just tuning in, we’ve been looking at various aspects of the haunted house genre, for the last four weeks, helping curious individuals to find quality new additions to their library, and discuss what it means to be a fan of a genre, in 2013.

I started with haunted houses first, because they’re my favorite. I wanted to write about horror, but didn’t quite know where to begin. During the process of writing these articles, I’ve overturned a fair number of interesting thoughts and angles, that will hopefully be of interest to the modern Horror reader.

I knew I wanted to write about haunted houses, felt like there was something important, lingering just around the corner, just barely out of sight. There was an angle to be worked, I was sure of it. I also knew I’ve been obsessed with haunted houses and ghost stories my whole life, and never entirely sure why. I undertook to inundate myself with haunted tales, and bring the results back to Amazing Stories. It’s like a psychological experiment, using myself as a guinea pig.

Remember books?

The biggest thrill I got from this assignment was a reason to read a bunch of haunted house novels and short stories that I’ve been meaning to get around to. I’ve been collecting them, for years, and have already read a lot of the pinnacles of the genre, but it is so hard to find time to read these days, it felt great to have an excuse. I knew I wanted to talk about Haunted Houses, but I didn’t know what to say, where to begin. I’ve got a bunch of philosophical/theoretical texts, classics, comics, and only a month to deal with all of it. i gave it my all, crawling around in dusty crawl spaces and dingy attics, looking for the bones, looking for the buried treasure.

I started off trying to come off as a Ph.D. on horror, and quickly started to feel like a fraud. I am here because I am interested in these things, and if you are here, you probably do the same. I feel like there is value to be had, in being a ravenous fan of something, and lord knows, i put the fanatic back in fan, so hopefully there is some good to be had here. And there has been, so far.

Like many, I have difficulty concentrating, finishing things, these days, especially seeing as how I do a lot of my reading on the computer, which is also where I surf the net, scew off and watch TV or look at pictures of scarecrows. I am also doing this of my volition, no hairy professor breathing down my neck, waiting to give me a B. I write (and read) only for personal betterment, an inquisitive disposition, and enjoyment.

So while I wanted to write an authoritative article on the best haunted house stories, ever, (and there is a bit of that here), I realized today, that this article is about the act of reading, itself, and particularly the book format.

So much of our communicating is done via text now, constantly staring at tiny flickering screens, and yet the book is a dying art form. There are so many demands on our time, and a million more immediate gratifications to be had, it’s easy to wonder what’s the point, other than clinging to outdated fashions, and nostalgia?

I would say that is not the case.

I would say that there are consequences towards reading, or not reading. A lot of what has become my favorite Art did not reveal itself right away, I didn’t get it at first. Classical music would be an example of this; you might not get a satisfying climax until the 3rd movement. There is such beauty, not to mention inspiration and education, in poring over longform media. It pays to slow your roll, to relish, taste, and appreciate.

The current objective of the Deconstructing Horror series is to pick apart various themes of various genres, within the Horror vernacular, and psychoanalyze the heck out of it. We are achieving this by totally losing ourselves in the study, to let it take and wash over you, to let it infect you, and see what it has to tell you. That’s what ghosts want, right? They’re trying to tell you something.

So what started off as a definitive text has become a story of what it is like to be a horror fanatic, of trying desperately to try and make sense of all the stories that have come before, while juggling the demands of a normal life in the Pacific Northwest. It’s way more thrilling and chilling than another dry, dusty series of academic treatises. I’m here to help you surround yourself with ghostly media, if you care to, and report on some of the adventures I have along the way.

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