Yesterday, I was helping out the Spousal One and listing some of his excess books on Half.com. He has one of those "ghost stories of the world" books that you can get for a few bucks at Barnes and Noble. These things are coffee table books, not meant for reading so much as display. As such, they often have cool, spooky art, from Simon Marsden style photos to Ye Olde Woodcuts.
I flipped through this book for kicks, wishing I could have a job writing for them. I could churn out pages of purple prose, trumping up every creak and groan of old pubs and castle walls into romantic stories of medieval executions and parted lovers. I could do that! I could even take the ooky-spooky photos!
None of the stories really piqued my interest, but I've been thinking of the concept of ghosts. Poetically, it's a compelling topic. Wishful thinking leads me to almost want it to be true, the idea that some part of my departed loved ones lingers on. I can understand the appeal of supernatural beliefs that allow for ghosts, spirits, etc. Even though I don't believe in this, I'm not immune from sentiment.
What do you think of your culture's take on ghosts, apparitions, hauntings, etc? What roles do these stories fill, from where you're sitting?