Monday, February 08, 2010

Paranormal Weekends

Weekends are surreal, and Mondays become a representation of order after chaos. From the minute I get home on a Friday afternoon from work, it’s as though I’ve stepped across a boundary where normal rules do not apply. While I always have certain tasks I must attend to, I sort of drift in and out of these activities, as I become restless and drop an activity just as soon as I’ve picked it up. “As long as the required stuff is done before Monday” becomes my mantra.

I am also ridiculously partial to the cat. If I have to wash my bedroom floors, I will refrain from doing so if the cat is sleeping on my bed and looks cute enough. If he’s annoying me, I’ll put on the vacuum just for spite, but most of the time he’s curled up in some obscenely perplexing yoga-like posture and snoring away with little kitty snores. He has me firmly convinced that if I disturb him, I will be struck dead by a vengeful god for daring to mar such apparent innocence. Hence, I look at him and say, “Well, as long as I get the floors done by Monday...”

I’ve been going out a lot less on the weekends because I’ve been cash-poor, and saving my excursions out for visits with friends. While at home, I’m doing a lot more reading and occasionally even watching television, something I hardly ever do anymore. This past weekend I was flipping through the TV listings, and saw that the Biography Channel was having 3 back-to-back episodes on the Amityville Horror case—the murders that took place there, and the supposed paranormal/demonic events that took place afterwards.

I read Jay Anson’s book, “The Amityville Horror” when I was still in high school, and I have to say the book scared the crap out of me. I wasn’t impressed by the James Brolin/Margot Kidder movie that came out based on the book—it was nothing like the book, and the sequels to the movie aren’t even worth mentioning. The book raised a huge controversy, and most people consider it to be a hoax, especially because subsequent owners of the offending house have had absolutely no problems while living there.

I’ve always been on the fence about the idea that the whole thing was a hoax. The Lutz family never claimed it was a hoax. Having Ed and Lorraine Warren investigate the house was probably not a good idea, as they tended to find demons lurking in the corner of every house, at least at that stage of their ghost hunting careers. (Lorraine Warren seems to have gotten over that tendency, or at least it seems that way from her Paranormal State appearances). It didn’t give the case much credibility.

On the other hand, I can’t give much credibility to skeptics who simply dismiss the whole thing outright. I agree that not every strange occurrence can be deemed paranormal, and that questions need to be asked, but one can’t simply dismiss things that don’t fall neatly into categories as “hoaxes” or simply as non-existent. Biases can be at either extreme of the spectrum. At least 95% of so called paranormal or demonic activity can probably be explained by natural causes and/or psychological disorders, but there is that other 5% that defies explanation. It is possible that one day there will be an explanation, but until there is, it falls into the “paranormal” category. As I’ve said before, “paranormal” just means “beyond the normal”. It doesn’t prove the existence of a soul, or life after death. Of course, in the scientific world view, nothing will ever prove that. Any hard data produced is immediately assumed to be faked.

Anyway, I wanted to share thoughts on this case over two blog postings, one on the paranormal aspects of the case, and one on the psychopathology of Ronald DeFeo Jr., the young man who murdered his entire family in the Amityville house. I will post Part 1 tomorrow.

What I will say for now is this—the line between the “demonic” and the “psychological” is often blurry. I’ve listened to skeptics dismiss certain activity as “the product of imagination”, but they really undersell the functioning of the human mind. Yes, it IS in your mind. And your mind is powerful in a very scary way that you often can’t control. You’re just riding along in your boat on the ocean, and are encouraged to stay in safe waters by your society and your religion (if you have one). You have to be pretty skilled in self-discipline and have a lot of real self-confidence (not arrogance) to successfully navigate the deeper, darker waters.

1 comment:

Mark said...

I agree w/ you. I read the Amityville Horror in high school as well. I think it might have been 8th grade. That led me to a book called The Demonologists, which was about the Warrens. THAT scared the hell out of me.

I think that you're right, and that paranormal stuff is often treated like UFO's. The paranormal just means, beyond normal, and there may be some instances where... demons are afoot.

It only takes one instance to make it so.

Now... How that figures into the Copenhagen Interpretation, or the notion of an observer created universe... I don't know.

There is more to heaven and earth (and hell) than are dreamed of in our philosophy, though. :)