tv History Bookshelf Colin Dickey Ghostland CSPAN October 27, 2018 4:00pm-5:01pm EDT
[captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] announcer 1: you are watching american history tv on c-span3. history bookshelf, colin dickey talks about his book ghost land, and american history in haunted places, where he examines american history turbulence a popular ghost stories and haunted places to better understand why certain people and locations are remembered and others are not. this was recorded at politics and prose bookstore in 2017. it is about one hour.
>> hi, everybody. colin is sitting in a haunted chair. >> i just wanted to enjoy that big chair. >> thank you all for coming on this lovely saturday, or as i like to call is the day after friday the 13th. i hope yours was spooky and nice or whatever you want it to be. so bear with me while i go through some front matter for a couple of minutes. number one, please silence your cell phones, obviously. unless you're lucky enough to have a haunted one and have no control over it. in which case it's fine. after the event -- this is our
last event today if you fold up , your chair and leave them against a pillar or bookshelf so we can make space for signing. finally, there will be a chance to ask questions. we really, really, really ask you to use the microphone we have right here because c-span is here recording, and our videographer is also recording. so we would like everybody to hear and not have empty space on the audio track. finally, one more thing. we are now open at the wharf in southwest. if you're there, it's a whole new development. it looks amazing. really cool so do go down there and check us out. if you live in southwest and you can prove it in any way, show your i.d. you will get a six-month trial membership, which is really, really convenient because the present giving time is coming up so you can save some money. so, check out web site for more information. we have events there starting next week.
i'm very excited to introduce colin dickey, here for the paperback release of his book "ghostland." not obviously his first foray into strange and unusual things. he has written two books and has short essays in the new republic, and he contributes to l.a. review of books. how many here were here on thursday? well, colin is a member of the order of the good death, which is a collective of sort of creative types and people who deal with death professionally, and they're trying to change the way we think about death and deal with it. if you don't know who they are, look them because they do some really, really good work. i picked up "ghostland" when it came out in hard cover.
what didn't expect it to be quite -- hit me quite as hard on an emotional level because it was as much about the living as about the dead. and colin is really, really good at sort of adding layers of social and historical commentary to think about how -- why we make ghost stories, how we make those ghost myths and what that says about our mindset, our history and who we are. and i'm not going to say much more about it. i'm just going to say pick up a copy, it's a beautiful book you can use as a halloween decoration right now. so join me in welcoming colin dickey. [applause] colin: thank you for coming out, and thank you for politics and prose for hosting me. this is your fourth or fifth event today. you really packed it in today.
thanks for bearing with me. i didn't actually -- you mentioned friday the 13th. i didn't actually prepare anything so i can't give you the full story but y'all should look into the history of friday 13th . for many years, the number 13 was superstitious and friday was superstitious but the two were , finally combined in a 1906 viral marketing campaign which i'm doing from memory, so double check the year but this guy who was -- had a sort of pump and dump stock market scheme that wrote a book to tie into it and in order to drive up book sales, he created the smith -- he created this myth around friday the 13th. that's why friday the 13th became a thing. so that's the fun thing. that not what we're here to talk about tonight. i'll talk maybe just sort of generally for ten minutes and then read from the book and then we can chit-chat and take turns sitting in the haunted chair.
so, i did want to talk -- this isn't the book but i want to talk about why we're here now in october, because i think this is just one of those cool things that we don't tend to think too much about. i of course want to talk about ghosts and haunted stuff all year round, but for most of american culture, october is the month and this is a thing that has not always been the case, and just thinking today about how relevant this is that in the first half of the 19th century , the holiday that is associated with telling ghost stories and haunted stuff is of course christmas eve. it is not halloween. and in fact of course if you think about the most famous, like, christmas story we have, of course, "a christmas carol,"
the most famous ghost story we have is a christmas story. for many years, christmas eve was when we gathered at a -- as a culture and gathered around the fireplace and told ghost stories and i'm going to read a couple paragraphs from the humorous jerome k jerome who put together a collection of ghost stories in the 1880s and talked about christmas eve. i just love this. why on christmas eve of all nights in the year i could never myself understand. it is invariably one of the most dismal nights to be out in, cold, muddy and wet and at christmastime, everybody has quite enough to put up with the way of a houseful of living relations without wanting the ghosts of any dead about the ones place. there must be something ghostly in the air at christmas, something about the close muggy atmosphere that draws up frogs
and snails. whenever five or six english people around a fire on christmas eve they tell each , other ghost stories. like telling authentic anecdotes about specters. a genial festive season and we love to muse about death and murder. so, how we get to halloween in october is through irish and scottish immigrants, that start ing in the second half of the 19th century the bring all hallow's eve, an amalgamation of a catholic holiday and the samhain, soay of that comes to us through the irish and scottish. and so you see advertisements in 1860s in philadelphia for advertisements for halloween where you can hear a cultural event where you can hear dreamy tales of old ireland, the idea is halloween when your hear folk
tales and tales of fairies and goblins from celtic areas like scotland and ireland, and one of the things that's fascinating is that sort of scottish immigrant association by the end of the 19th century, they are trying to divest halloween from a sort of superstitious rates and make it like st. patrick's day. they are trying to force it into an idea where halloween would be a scottish cultural holiday and we celebrate scottish culture. and what i find fascinating the way that sort of backfires, what we don't lose the superstition aspect of halloween, we lose the cultural specificity, the non-celtic immigrants -- the rest of americans start to say, we don't want this holiday as a commemoration of ireland and scotland. we want it for ourselves, so it
becomes a universal spooky holiday. every halloween i think again about our current discourse about immigrant culture and assimilation and without -- obviously without minimizing the discrimination that muslim americans or mexican immigrants are facing right now, sort of the history of halloween suggests strongly that 100 years from now americans are going to be celebrating dia de los mubarak and talk about the commercialization of it. i think of halloween as a time that is representative of the way in which we have successfully integrated an immigrant culture into the fabric of america and how that is pretty cool. that is the when. that is why we are talking about this now. as i said, this book can be
enjoyed year-round. please don't restrict yourself to the next couple a great days, stocking stuffer, great for st. patrick's day fourth of , july. [laughter] this began for me -- i grew up in san jose, california. anybody here know the winchester mystery house? which is -- a couple of people. yeah. so, i grew up down the street from the winchester mystery house, which is often described as most haunted house in america, and the story that you get on the tour is that sarah winchester -- there's a movie coming out with helen mirren in february about her. sarah winchester was the daughter in law that the guy who founded the winchester rifle company and became fabulously rich. but her husband and child both died. her child died in infancy, her husband died a few years later of tuberculosis. she moved from connecticut out to san jose, california, bought this eight room farm house, and over the next 37 years turned it
into this sprawling 161 room victorian labyrinth and if you have taken the tour, it takes two hours to walk through the house. you walk over a mile without stepping outside and you only go through 110 rooms. it's a really bizarre and amazing house, and the story you get on the tour is that she became convinced that her family was cursed by anyone who had ever been killed by a winchester rifle in that she was building the research i found that a lot -- building the house to keep the spirits at bay. as i did the research i found that a lot of that last little bit i told you, i thought, that is not cool. it doesn't track well in the actual historical record. the record suggest something quite different.
and this idea of a woman living alone, being haunted by the spirits of people who had been killed by the winchester rifle, the gun that won the west, was in fact more of an invention and a projection, i started to think about the way in which that story, while maybe not historically accurate, reflects a lot of sort of fundamental myths and stories about america that have been brought together in this figure of this one woman. the idea of a woman who live as -- who lives alone, never remarries, and the sort of discomfort that our male oriented culture has about women living alone, has about women who are not sort of pegged to a husband, father, children, whatever. that her very presence as a spinster creates unease and people look for explanations for that. this story of this gun that was instrumental in the sort of displacement and genocide of native american cultures and the
way sarah winchester has come to be the kind of collective mourner for that. she sort of exists for some people to bear the burden of that mostrical stain of us white people take for granted. she becomes the figure and the house become this way for all these folk tales to express a lot of anxieties that different kinds of americans have about our culture and that is what really sort of drove the book, this idea that what i wanted to do is wanted to look at these ghost stories, less with the question of do i personally believe that ghosts do or do not exist, which is kind of a -- -- there's no way to win that conversation. there is nothing you can tell a believer that will disabuse of them of the notion that ghosts exists and nothing you can tell a skeptic that would prove it. what are the stories we tell
about ghosts and the buildings we see as haunted and what those tell us about ourselves. so that's how the book became and what it is today, and what you will all walk out of here tonight holding in your hand for the low price of $17 plus tax. that's the main thing, and i try to go around the country, tried to visit different kinds of places. i went to haunted hotels and haunted prisons and haunted insane asylums, a haunted brothel, not as a customer. but i tried to sort of see as many different places and gather up as many stories and sort of throughout the country. i did not make it to d.c., unfortunately. so i have for you tonight no stories of haunted d.c. which i am kind of bummed about but i have a close second in richmond, virginia.
what i'm going to read is from the chapter on richmond, virginia, i want be able to read the whole thing but i'll kind of move around a little bit and hopefully if i have done my due diligence, it will still make sense and be sort of interesting. so this is about richmond, virginia. hopefully about ten minutes. we'll see. let's have some water first. that is the ticket. there are ghosts everywhere in the historic neighborhood of richmond, virginia. the upscale restaurant juleps is thought to by haun by the ghost of a gunsmiths apprentice. he was shot while climbing the stairs. it was later turned into a
storage closet but employees , hear the thump of a body falling down the stairs. tiki bob's cantina was home to bikini contests, jell-o wrestling and the spirit of a knife-wielding fish monger. next door rosy's pub is haunt by -- is haunted by several goats, one, woman in dress would -- who vanishes when confronted and another, a man often seen in the kitchen his past is unknown. over on east carey street the building is supposedly built on the site of brothel from the early 1800s. on its upper floors, spectral women in gauzy dresses wander, staff are known to hear their names called only to turn and find no one there. it's hard to find a building that doesn't have a ghost story
attached to it. local historian and paranormal investigator pamela kinney speculates because virginia was home to earliest settlements in north america which makes sense , so long as we agree by settlements we mean settlements of europeans, which is to say the kind odd ghosts you look for and kinds of ghosts you see depend on your frame of reference. when i began to tally the supernatural record of the area at the heart of richmond, a simple fact emerged. the ghosts are overwhelmingly white. this is curious, because if you walk just a little way away from the haunted bars and shops down by the freeway, you'll find the devil's half acre, black men, women and children were brought here, imprisoned and tortured while they waited to be sold to planters and speculators. dozens of slave traders had offices here where slave
auctions were widely and many used came from all over the south to make their fortunes. tens of thousands mens where some women's lives changed hand in the years leading to the civil war. today wall street is gone, replaced by at the freeway, but the rest of the area remains mostly unchanged. while it's difficult to estimate how many people lost their lives in the slave pens, hundreds of sets of human remains have been found in this nearby slave burial ground. we typically think of ghost stories in terms of the remnants of a terrible tragic, past we cannot escape, justice unavenged like hamlet's father. why then in a place that should be haunted by the legacy of such a terrible injustice, the scene of countless deaths should there be nothing but white ghosts? for once you start looking for ghosts that aren't white they're easy to find.
maybe not in the neighborhood, in 20 more since beloved, there is not a house in the country that ain't packed to its rafter with some dead negro's grief. the 1930s workers began collecting stories of former slaves, everything from recollections of their day-to-day lives to questions about clothing, medicine and first hand accounts of slave auctions and mistreatment. the stories are compiled from indiana to florida and accelerated with urgency once it became clear the first hand accounts were differ appearing. for more than two-thirds of the respondents were in their 80's when they were interviewed between 1936 and 1938. by the 20th century america's understanding of slavery was tinged with nostalgia. became the basis for song of the south. the slave narratives collected
by the doubly -- by w pa on the other hand sought a more neutral approach. they had a largely untold version of the landscape. interviewers were given a list of questions to ask and number 13 asked specifically got -- specifically about ghosts. could the respondent remember the stories of their childhood, had she learned any stories about raw head and bloody bens or other haunts? had he personally seen any ? ghosts answers to the questions vary. subjects didn't believe. some thought they were just whites intimidating them. some spoke of ghosts a terrifying thing, at comforting things, as exhausting things. jane arrington of north carolina told one worker the story of john may, a slave who had been beat tone death by two might when named bill stone and oliver may. after his death she report john may came back and worried both of the them. he kept them awake, hollering and groaning all through the
night, hounding them relentlessly and got so bad that other slaves became afraid of the white men because of the ghost of john worried them so bad. another respondent, george, spoke of haunted benton hill in missouri, telling the interviewer, one night we was driving through there and heard something that sounded like woman just screamingful old man was with me and he wanted to stop and see what it was. but i said, no, you don't. drive on. you don't know what that might be. in these stories ghosts terrified but embedded in the tear of cautionary tales. a woman recalled how as a child she and her peers would see a covered wagon that would appear in tallahassee where she lived, always in some secluded spot. have been tented to approach debugging and investigate it, they were told that inside was dry head and bloody bones, a ghost who didn't like children. only as a adult did he learn the
wagon was owned by a slave hunter who stole children and took them to georgia to be sold. their parents had invented the ghost as a means of protecting them. a man named thomas lewis of indiana once described a place where there was a high fence that was haunted. he said, if someone gets near he can hear the cries of spirits of black people who were beaten to death. it's kept secret so people won't find out. such places are always fenced to keep them secret. he recounted a story, two men were out hunting and the dog began chasing something, run ning through the fence as one of the men started to follow his friend said, what are you going to do, the other replied i want to see what the dog chased back there. his friend told, you better stay out of there. the place is haunted by spirits of black people who were beaten to death. when the nights were still in the mood was full, she reported he could hear the king -- ting ting of the lever and you knew
there wasn't anybody, just haunts. again and again, these ghost stories revolve around a tenuous and threatened connection to the past. ghosts will emerge at that time s through the breakdown of family. one woman in tennessee so the ghost of a woman appeared before her while she was giving birth, she called out, who are you? the ghost replied, don't forget the old folks and then vanish ed. that was one of the young woman realized it was the ghost of her own mother. a man identified only as uncle of ghosts in terms closer to melancholy than fear. he said ghosts are sociable. when folks are scared it behind -- when folks are scared, it hurts the haunt's feelings. if slave owners and traders saw at a weight to obliterate and history for those they enslaved ghosts be inncholy
may search of their own past. there are stories of black ghosts that serve the same function as white ghosts, marking a location, explaining -- thelainable unexplainable, commemorating an event. what is clear it that history is the prohibition against enslaved americans learning to read or right was a way to keep them under control. it meant the stories, lives and opinions of millions of americans were lost to time. ghost stories theoretically should be an antidote to this, based on oral tradition, handed down from the years. record ands a forcibly illiterate and the marginalized. this isn't always the case. precisely because these sightings are so ephemeral and
vague, they can is the be attached to the dominant narrative and to only that narrative. once one of the main economic engines of thing south, the city now feels hollow doubt devoid of , life and commerce. in the way of the night life those not for lack of trying. there irrestaurants, vape shops, nightclubs. not say there haven't been attempts to revitalize their area, the mayor of richmond pushed plan to build a new stadium for the minor league baseball team, the swirled, on quirrels, on land adjacent at the devil's half acre, the plan succeeded manfully and drawing ire from preservationists and those that were concerned that it would obliterate the city's past. after the project was announced 18 the funded by slave trail commission set out to uncover the devil's half acre through a careful study of old maps they located the area where the
complex once stood. some partially obscured beneath the freeway. in december 2008 work unearthed the remnants of the jail. the team didn't find the expected influence of torture, but they found unexpected hints of lives. earthen ware, remnants of a tableware, china porcelain doll. , how does a city balance commerce with remembrance? the ghost stories told are not only harmless, they add a patina to to city's bars and restaurants, an air of mystery and glamor, invite you spend an evening with an ephemeral time just out of reach to add a small bit of wonder to an average night out. what they don't do is speak to a past whose legacy can still traumatize. they don't ask the patrons to consider a complicated history and ask the city's white citizen
s and tourists to face difficult facts. those who would rather not revisit those days the city's ghost lore makes is easy, turning our attention to murdered gunsmiths and fabled prostitutes. that's not to say there aren't other ghosts present. the richmondn of slave trail commission recalled, i started weeping and couldn't stop. there was a presence here. i felt a bond. it was a heaviness i felt over and over again. i'll stop there. [applause] if you want to ask questions or tell ghost stories or sit in the chair, see if we can levitate books across the room. >> you mentioned halloween and
how it grew in this country. when they start selling halloween stuff in august, you would think they would look for another holiday like that. dickey: you would think they would. christmas used to double as that holiday. it's sort of ceased to be another ghost holiday. andecame about santa presence. i don't know that i have a hard and fast answer for you, but as much as we did one holiday about ghosts and goblins, we as a culture -- at least the theytream, non-weirdos -- only need one. there's not that need for a bunch of different holidays. halloween has sort of stopped up
all that feeling into one area. i guess that's the short answer. an even shorter answer would be i don't know, hallmark. it's the way some things will catch on and become kind of cultural juggernauts. is toon't seem it dangerous, to close, maybe anton levee has something to do with hat? mr. dickey: has anyone here seen "meet me in st. louis?" my grandmotherlm used to make us watch all the time because you guys know my grandmother? murdertle girl has to go somebody, and murdering somebody means showing up at the door of and you throw
flour in their face yucca significance does sort of evolved through the years. what is your favorite ghost story that did not make it into the book? mr. dickey: one of the stories i i couldike that i wish have gotten into the book is a hunted drive-in in honolulu, hawaii, which has been subsequently torn i could have gotten into down, but the story of the hunted trident in hawaii -- i also wanted to just the able to, like, go to hawaii on my publisher dime, but the story is there's a bathroom in this drive-in. there would be a woman who was washing her hands at the sink, right?
with long, long lack hair, and at some point she would turn around to face you, and she had, like, no face. just. pure skin. if you know anything about and miyazakiure films, you know that is a long-standing part of japanese tradition, and that makes a long -- a lot of sense in hawaii because much of hawaii's culture comes from japan and asia, so it makes sense that of all the places in the u.s. that would have a singularly japanese place in would be this the pacific that straddles the u.s. and asia. it is such a clear reflection of the way ghost stories tend to be culturally specific. in japan, this would be a normal ghost, where as in the united
states, you don't find it anywhere except hawaii. i just ran out of time and space and money, so that is when that did not get in the book, but i kind of wish it was. >> you mentioned you traveled across the country looking for post-related areas. -- ghost-related areas. is there an area that surprise you with how large a ghost ulture was? mr. dickey: i think the assumption a lot of us make is that the older a city, the more ghosts that will have. boston will have a lot of ghosts, new orleans will have a lot of ghosts, and that's true, they do, but maybe phoenix will not have as many. las vegas will not have as many they havest by virtue been settled more recently, but this turned out not to be true. i lived in l.a. for 14 years, so i did not have to travel there. i knew a bunch of the ghost
hunters. i knew a lot of the locations, but i love how rich a place like l.a. is with ghosts, even though it is a quarter as old as richmond or new orleans or something like that, and i do think that really does speak to the way -- and again, in l.a., you're not going to find wild west ghosts and brothel ghosts. you are going to find hollywood starlets, rudolph valentino, marilyn monroe. the ghost stories a city will tell about itself become an integral part of how the city tells its own history. whereas in vegas, all the ghosts .re in casinos it's very much about the architecture of the casino, vegas, andique to vegas creates a very different l.a.'sy of ghosts than ghosts or new york's ghosts, so that is what i found on that
score. >> i know you just talked about have you ever put any thought into ghost stories outside of american culture? like, anything from europe? mr. dickey: yeah, and the thing you should do is get a lot of people to call my editor and tell her that they need to fund worldwide travel and probably three or four books -- no, i mean, in some ways and joking, but at some point, i just had to cut it off or else this would be an endless project. of united states was one way being able to say this is how i will know this -- narrow this down, and much of this is cultural and much of it is about the folklore you grew up with of being able to say this is how i will know that the ghosts of the united states felt natural. whereas the ghosts of the
japanese, i have studied a little bit, but it would be a different approach because i would be an outsider. i would love to, but i just ran out of space. >> you spoke about the idea of culture and the differences. find commonalities that emerge almost everywhere where they really kind of submerged under the regional differences? yeah, i definitely found commonalities. one of the things that was not evident in the talked about was about architecture itself and wife some buildings feel haunted and others do not and why do victoria in houses feel haunted whereas brutalist architecture does not. one of the things i found is there is a commonality in the way certain buildings, like, work on us in a way.
i mentioned before the winchester mystery house because it feels like a labyrinth. it feels disorienting. you have been in so many houses in your life, so you know when you walk into a house where the kitchen is even if you have never been there before. like, we build houses in the same way, right? walk into a house and the kitchen is in some weird place or the bathroom is oddly spaced, you will figure it out, but there is a moment where you're like, "that's weird." in addition to my experiences in san jose, my wife and i were anding for a house in l.a. we kept looking at weirdly built small houses that had been just sort of oddly constructed. you would walk into the living they would be a window to the backyard except there was another room to hide it. i really got to think about the way in which unsettling
architecture tends to breed ghosts, and that is something that that's a commonality i found throughout the country. when you are in a house that feels a little odd, the odds of a ghost story being attached to it are pretty high. >> have you followed up anywhere -- has any particular site gotten back to you and said from that book, they've increased -- i mean, it amazes me how much money there is in ghosts. viewers were very well done. had gottenif anyone back to you who knew anything. mr. dickey know, and if they did , i would ask for a cut, so that's probably why. it's a multilevel marketing scheme. i get it, yeah. >> hello.
tour ofly took a ghost georgetown, and there was a big house that made the mention of the winchester house. you said that the research you did did not really bear out the story behind the winchester house that is told. what did you find in terms of hat was the real story? mr. dickey: i try to keep that one close to the vest so that people go out and buy the book, but i like you guys. you are a fun audience. you're hanging out. one of the fascinating things about the winchester story is when you talk to historians, historians know a lot about rich people because rich people write letters. they keep diaries. they have stuff. the stuff gets passed down. it's nicely made. they have large houses. the houses get preserved, so rich people leave behind a legacy. and a lot of cases, historians struggle with poor people because poor people are more ephemeral. they move around a lot. they are maybe not as literate.
one of the things about sarah winchester is she was so fabulously rich, and yet we know much less about her than historians would expect for an upper-class woman like that. we has some letters, and we have letterswe have a lot of between her and her lawyer. we have a lot of letters between her and her sister-in-law which are really revelatory in terms of giving you a glimpse, but it's painful because they're a just a couple and you get so much in these letters. if only we had more. i have my theories as to why we do not have more, but we do know that she was not in any way crazy or, you know, roaming around the house pathologically morning wearing black, weeping and wailing -- pathologically wearing black, weeping and wailing. none of her employees and her lifetime sought to tell the world that she was crazy or
beset by spirits or that she had seances. we have no positive evidence of any of that, and when you think about the people who worked with her, if she was really doing all these seances and worried about feelinga pretty high that we get out. we do know she was not a professionally trained architect because women were not allowed to go to architectural school until, like, the 1890's. we know she was a self-taught architect who -- for me, like, i many folk artists, working in the real point or woodworking, who just sort of take it upon themselves to develop a craft. i just see her craft as architecture. whereas some people make these elaborate quilts and have never been to art school or whatever but they make these beautiful
quilts in her spare time, she had the means to play around with making a house. the way she described noting the house is she'll say i had this hallway and then i added this room on the side and a blocked out all the skylight and other servants are tripping down the , so iy because it's dark have to redo that. she would try something out, and then it would have all these unintended consequences that would lead to something else. that is kind of the best i can give. i understand it's extremely compared to the haunted widow chasing ghosts, but the flip side of it is i think that's a really cool art practice that does not get recognized as such, that she is just sort of pathological and crazy and doing weird stuff than the house is a manifestation of psychosis. self-taught artist, the house is a manifestation of her craft and work, and i think
that is a cooler story in some ways even if it doesn't sell as many tickets. >> still pretty interesting that someone would just keep trial and erroring e-house. mr. dickey: exactly, yeah. >> i wonder what you think the future of ghost stories look like. they have this old-time evite -- old-timey vibe. what do you think the future looks like? mr. dickey: i ended the book talking about a friend of mine whose father was an influential developer of minicomputers. he was a sort of technological kind of innovator, and his house , which he sort of built in the 's isof early to mid 2000
an early example of what we are internetring to as the of things. he had the light switches is automated. they were set up to follow his rhythms, and he had this elaborate computer system controlling temperature and water and all this stuff, so after he died in, i think, 2010, his daughter's sort of inherited the house -- his daughters sort of inherited the house. as you can imagine, the computer systems from 2007 are already obsolete, so the women had difficulties figuring out how to shut things off and how to turn things on, and the house continued to live in the rhythms of its departed owner. tom west had taught himself to go to bed at 10:00 because it was not good for his health if he stayed up late even though he liked to stayed up even though
though he liked to stay up late. so the lights just go out and the computer that controls the light is buried in a wall with low -- with no easy access and written in a computer code that is totally bugged out and does if you live inw the house, you go to bed at 10:00. theses the problem that women have. they could not overcome the house's inner show for its deceased occupant. that is one of the way i see the future of ghosts, running through the technological systems that will increasingly run our lives. -- they cannot overcome the houses in her chef -- the house's inertia. it's very much how internet works. it is how social media works. i don't think facebook does this anymore, but i got a notification from facebook asking me to reconnect with a friend who had died eight months
earlier, but facebook did not understand that. facebook is just like, "why is this person not interacting with our site? let's get her interacting." ways memoriesese ,ut of control tend to thrive and i think that is the future of ghosts. >> i wondered if you had any mental about ghosts in institutions. is it the architecture or the cultural stigma? mr. dickey: sort of both. i was researching a book and driving through west virginia in the middle of the night and i'm like, just going to stop off at the trans-allegheny lunatic asylum because who doesn't? i'm expecting it to be all
andpy and abandoned becaus there's, like, 40 people there because there's a flashlight tour, which was more creepy than if nobody had been there. aey were meant to look like victorian home, because you paid to have your family member treated there, and you wanted to feel as though they were getting good treatment, right? as those as silence decayed over the years, they got overcrowded and treatment methods changed -- as those asylums decayed. what used to be welcoming and representative of aspects of how we treat mental in ways that people don't want to function, so i guess that is sort of a shorthand version of what i talk about in the book, but it is about the architecture, about the way the buildings were built, and how our intentions get coded into architecture in a
way that lasts much longer than the intentions themselves, so we change our cultural attitudes much faster than our buildings actually fall down. same thing with victorian homes, same things with fortress-like prisons. yet, thesedeas, and buildings are left standing, and theyis a lot and how become, like, haunted. >> you just answered part of my question because you focused on architecture, so it means you did not do cemeteries. mr. dickey: i did look at cemeteries. in kansas in ame cemetery haunted by -- it's a mouth to hell, so they say, where the devil comes up twice a appears toe devil take the form of many drunk college kids and empty beer cans
. xorcisinge are busy e themselves more of hooligans than demons. >> did you do the grey ghost? mr. dickey: i don't know that i'm familiar with that. >> in the beach community -- i will tell you afterwards. it's a great story. mr. dickey: i love it already. the grey ghost is a wonderfully evocative name. >> is saved a family during the hurricane. mr. dickey: cool, cool. >> how are you defining ghost in terms of separating them from unsettled spirits from other dimensions? i wasckey: loosely defining ghost. again, i was not interested in proving or disproving their existence, and when i was interviewing ghost hunters in l.a., i would ask what they thought, and i got really very
the explanations. in these guys all believe ghosts, they have their meters and stuff, but what they claim to be experiencing was wildly different. the one they're really struck me was this one guy that told me that they are wormholes -- the one that really struck me. he is using cutting edge astrophysics to explain what is happening when you see amr. dict is a temporary wormhole through time back to 1930 or whenever. momentarily opening where you , and it'sg a glimpse not that i believe or disbelieve that, but it made me think about i did not want to foreclose that possibility or verify it. i just wanted to say what i'm are just to as ghosts whatever anybody wants to call a ghost and however anybody wants to define it. again, i was more interested in the stories that got told about
it and the places that got associated man i was in a kind of ontological understanding of the physical materiality or lack thereof. again, we would be here all deciding wewere were going to prove or disprove ghosts once and for all. this was a way of having that conversation without having to get into a loop of an answer ability. unanswerability. >> i'm actually going to close so we will not be here all night. mr. dickey: politics and prose burned down 30 years ago. >> it actually is haunted, so if you do d.c., come back. the most haunted feeling you ever got was i think in the mustang ranch, where it's actually sort of tied to psychological experience?
unansweion is probably rable of making ofstion ghost stories and what ghosts do you think we will make in this time where everything is topsy-turvy? back story just some for those of you who will be , iding the book tomorrow profiled the owner of the mustang ranch, which i think it is important to say i was not there as a client. i was doing a completely different writing job when the women there were like, oh, by the way, this place is totally haunted. they told me in a number different ways and i saw sort of firsthand that the job of working at a brothel, sex work, emotionally and
psychologically really taxing, which makes sense. how much of the job is emotional labor as opposed to physical labor, and i said is it 90%, and they said it's 100%. these women are working basically in addition to everything else they do as untrained therapists. thus, the psychological exhaustion is actually quite high. it's a very difficult job for many people and they don't have a lot of turnover because i think they have gotten very good at sort of picking good people who will fit the job well, but they did describe how it is a very difficult job and not one for everybody. that's when i was like how that would make sense people would expression ofan emotional and psychological exhaustion. when you are vulnerable, sort of strung out and have a really tough time, then you see something in you are sort of
-- kind of income of almost a 19th-century hysteria kind of way you would see things ghosts.n got labeled that was my hypothesis, but that was also the only place in all the places i went where someone actually showed me videos of , well, and i'm like that's odd. i'm clearly not emotionally taxed from being involved in sex work, so that is the background to that question. i guess to answer your question partly is that i don't know that i believe that hypothesis at the end of the day. it did not bear out that people who were sort of at their most extreme emotion were more likely to believe in or see ghosts than people who were more recharged, but as i was saying before, i think that one of the main drivers for ghost stories is this idea of sort of memory out
of control. year, ihink of this think of how fast everything has we have and how quickly all been processing information takeow many things which just time to work through are just being filed away because we don't have time. i was watching cnn today, and a woman who had been in vegas, had been at the concert in vegas had survived, flown back home to her house in santa rosa, which is burned towhich has the ground. the cnn anchor was like having processed this, and she's like, no. thankfully, right now there's things to do. and gesturing to do things and not looking forward to that time when i actually have to process everything that has happened, -- that is that
where the ghosts are going to come from. the ghosts are going to come from hurricane harvey and hurricane irma and hurricane maria. they are going to come from all these things that are, like, traumatic incidents that we as a culture just have not dealt with because there's no time does it's already onto the next thing. that is also the future of american ghosts, i think. >> thank you so much. give colin at hand again. thank you so much. [applause] know it's ai saturday night. you could be out karaokeing. i could be out karaokeing. and staffur chairs up them again something. -- staff them against -- againstem
something. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] featuresy bookshelf the best-known writers of the past decade talking about their books. every sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern here on c-span3. >> tonight on lectures and history, the university of delaware professor tiffany gill teaches a class about the role of african-american women in the civil rights movement. she describes how you do parlors, while often overlooked, functioned as a safe face for women to organize citizens, voter registration drives, and boycotts. .ere's a preview >> media attention, for example, would always be drawn to the men of the movement as they are doing work, martin luther king and others, but would not necessarily go to women like
ella baker, who was a longtime activist who helped to nurture and birth the student movement, right? or diane nash, who was a leader in the sit in movement and the student nonviolent coordinating committee who held leadership positions. like dorothy height who was the head of the national council of knee grow -- of negro when. the way that men were being seen as the only ones who had something to say obscured women from these particular narratives, so i think it is important for us to think about the ways that physical violence, sexual violence, black women's and the mothers movement, black women's economic and labor constraints, how all of those things in there every day life helped to propel them toward activism that looks different than much of the activism that is in the master
narrative. >> watch the entire class on african-american women and civil lectures andt on history of 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern here on american history tv on c-span3. >> sunday on c-span's "q&a," and residencehor at johns hopkins school of universal studies, talked about his biography of president george w. bush. about my worried legacy because i'm still studying theodore roosevelt or harry truman, and there's not going to be an objective history done on this administration for a long time. to judge ontoo soon some aspects of his legacy. it's not too soon to judge on the war in iraq. why? it did not accomplish what he thought it was going to accomplish before he started the
war. american000-plus lives. it cost $2 trillion, and i write , and i don't think this judgment will change, that it was one of the biggest strategic lenders in american history. >> james mann, sunday night at "q&a." tern on c-span's >> this year marks the centennial of the end of world war i. next on american history tv, three authors discuss their new books. we will hear about personal tank warfare, the experience of p.o.w.'s on the lesser-known eastern front, and about world war i memorials in france built to remember the american soldiers. the association of the united dates army organized this one-hour event. >> thanks n