A Ghost

A Real Moment:

I’m sitting in bed with bad posture. The sun is making its way through my west-facing window, creeping its way towards my feet. My white Hydroflask bottle is radiant in the direct sunlight. (Blinding, really.)

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’m not really a fan of my birthdays, but I try to make the most of them.


Last night, I spoke with a ghost of the author of a book I read last night. We had a private conversation.

But ghosts aren’t real, you say.

Yes, they are.

Read a book. —No wait. Keep reading this right here. As you read, I am a voice inside your head. (Thank you very much for the space.) You have an impression of me. It’s not perfect. You may not know me that well. But you do know at least a little bit about me. And you can imagine me, even if you don’t know much about me or what I look like. And you can imagine what I might say in a given situation. —Thereby I am a ghost.

I like the word ghost, but we could say spirit or you can choose some other word. If the word ghost is too weird for you, try the phrase interactive-representational-predictive-mental-model-of-a-known-person-or-entity.

Ghosts are phenomenologically real. “Phenomenologically real” means that an experience is actually being felt. In other words, I’m not actually haunting your bedroom; I’m saying hello to you in your imagination. Ghosts are real like that—just not physically substantive.

As you read this, I’m not merely words or an idea in your head. I am a ghost seeking real-estate in your consciousness. I don’t have to stay. And you can keep these ideas without keeping me around. (Again, this is not the real me, just an impression.)

Every dream character, every day dream or passing fantasy of another person is another ghost we can choose to talk to (or not). You may keep the company of a ghost. The more time, attention and autonomy you give one, the more it will offer you, for better or worse.

All that to say something important: beware the hungry ghosts, for they are real


Post Script

Note: The following is a part of my internal dialogue. It’s weird. People normally don’t write these things. But here we are.

A dialogue with a long dead ghost:

“I know I’m not in tune with my nature like you are,” I say. “I feel fractured. Contorted. Structurally inconsistent.”

“How do you know this?” the ghost asks.

“Through inference. I cannot sense the fracture or the contortion. I have noticed that I cycle through various frames of mind. My thinking is inconsistent. I’m a warped lens. I have blind spots. But I only know this abstractly. I don’t know where to begin to compensate.”

The ghost is patient and says, “It is actually quite obvious where to begin. Feel your nature. It is here for you to see.”

I get a sense of my body and my general state of being. It strikes me as a murky crystal or large chunk of glass. I feel like what might be my torso is spun the wrong way around. I can see chips and fractures. And there’s a dark mass somewhere. —Not looking good but something that looks like it can be fixed.

I ask why I wasn’t able to see this before.

The ghost replies, “You did not know where to look.”

The ghost had pointed somewhere I wouldn’t have otherwise looked, and I found a metaphor. It’s sort of like the mind has space and ghosts know how to get to places we might not.

Though, there’s a limit here: A ghost can’t tell you information that you haven’t been exposed to, but they can help you make inferences.

(Ghosts live in brains; also of important note: that they listen and speak to other ghosts in other brains with or without your knowledge.)


Post Post Script

Before you think I’m losing my mind, I want you to know that this isn’t my original idea. I’m just re-canning and selling something I read in a book on creative writing, the works of CG Jung, and a few esoteric texts.