All in Black

Alistair,

As a stagehand, I’ve kind of wondered why exactly it is that literally every theatre I’ve worked at has a ghost. At my first show it was the old stage manager from the late 1800s. At my second it was a rich benefactor, most recently it was a murderer who slashed their way through an entire production of Hamlet back in the day. He’s mostly harmless now. 

Is there something about theatres?

All in Black in Madison


All in Black,

There are two factors that contribute to the likelihood that past persons will consistently inhabit any given space:

  1. They have some sentimental attachment to it.
  2. There’s something interesting there for them to do/watch.

The kind of people who die in theatres are likely to care more about theatre culture than the average person; they’re also the kind of people who actually find theatre productions interesting. 

Conversely, the reason that our highways aren’t constantly littered with apparitions (despite seeing far greater numbers of fatalities than theatres) is that nobody cares deeply for highways, nor do most people find traffic particularly interesting to watch. 

Alistair

Hamlet

Alistair,
My uncle died and willed me a human skull that seems to have a malevolent spirit inside. Well, I assume it’s malevolent. The jaw is chained shut, but it tries to bite me every time I get close. Should I dispose of it? How?
Hamlet in Fort Worth


Hamlet,

I once enjoyed dinner with this guy who had been faced with a similar problem. In his case, he arrived at the somewhat obvious conclusion that bone is more fragile than hammers are and so destroyed that vessel of torment.

Here’s why I wouldn’t recommend that approach: The skull is a container. Obviously it’s not a great container in the sense that it’s not particularly watertight, but for the purpose of the metaphysical it’s a perfectly suitable jar. So what happens if you break a jar full of water? Water gets everywhere. Now instead of water, picture malevolent spirit. 

So what I would recommend is that you put the skull in a box and bury it somewhere that people are unlikely to dig it up. Like somewhere in the middle of the Sahara or under discarded car parts in the garage of a lazy man. Whatever you do, don’t unchain or break that sucker. You probably don’t want to be transformed into a delicious veal cutlet.

Alistair