Hauntology

Yithian

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If you look at the above pictures. To me, they are familiar and normal but to anyone else born say after 1980 - they are from a different world. So these images still haunt the world today. They are there but not there.

It's a little more than that, I think.

Those images haunt the present as spectres of an age (almost) past and hence do not properly belong to the present. The difficulty, however, is that they do not properly belong to the past either, as the world they depict was not ghostly and nostalgic (at least not about itself) in the same way we now feel when experiencing the images; it was literal and concrete and haunted by still older ghosts of its own past: ghosts that played into and helped create the ones we are experiencing now.

Hence, with history, as with language, meaning is endlessly deferred: ask what a word means and you are presented with a series of other words, each requiring its own linguistic definition, until, at last, you have little more than a grunt and a gesture towards some object or event in the physical world: the signifiers repeatedly fall short of the signified as the photo fails to depict the nature of its subject in anything but brute physical terms.

And yet they haunt us still.
 

catseye

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I was born in 1960, so grew up through the heights of the Haunted Generation.

Whilst wandering the local countryside, I got to wondering about the sensation that was evoked by TV programmes like The Owl Service (with which I was obsessed!), Sapphire and Steel, Marianne Dreams, Children of the Stones. I wonder if part of 'that feeling' was because of the much slower pace of TV programmes back then. They could afford the time time build a sense of dread; of growing strangeness, of the 'other' in the every day.

Nowadays TV has to be fast, punchy, hit hit hit and move on. They don't seem to take the time to build that lingering sense of wrongness any more. It's much more about jump scares and twitchy camera work. Maybe the slower pace of life in general influenced us towards more 'waiting for something to happen' than the more recent generations?
 

Frideswide

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Nowadays TV has to be fast, punchy, hit hit hit and move on. They don't seem to take the time to build that lingering sense of wrongness any more. It's much more about jump scares and twitchy camera work. Maybe the slower pace of life in general influenced us towards more 'waiting for something to happen' than the more recent generations?

and not just the programmes themsleves - it was a whole week to the next one. A whole week to build castles in the air, to ponder...
 

Naughty_Felid

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It's a little more than that, I think.

Those images haunt the present as spectres of an age (almost) past and hence do not properly belong to the present. The difficulty, however, is that they do not properly belong to the past either, as the world they depict was not ghostly and nostalgic (at least not about itself) in the same way we now feel when experiencing the images; it was literal and concrete and haunted by still older ghosts of its own past: ghosts that played into and helped create the ones we are experiencing now.

Hence, with history, as with language, meaning is endlessly deferred: ask what a word means and you are presented with a series of other words, each requiring its own linguistic definition, until, at last, you have little more than a grunt and a gesture towards some object or event in the physical world: the signifiers repeatedly fall short of the signified as the photo fails to depict the nature of its subject in anything but brute physical terms.

And yet they haunt us still.

Sorry I missed this. Spot on post.

Those images are from the past though. We, surviving people of a certain age, are such a tiny part of what is considered here and now - that what we feel is insignificant. These pictures do belong to the past for us, but are present as we know them, know what it is like to walk those streets, play with those cats, talk to those people. This all fades the older we get. This sense is not for anyone else that is younger than 45 - they think this is just history and could be from another universe.

Hauntology music is made by people of a certain age - once they are gone no one will care. 70's safety films will be a curio.
 
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Sabresonic

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My Hauntology is the late 70s/early 80s ( can stretch it to mid 80s) be it food, music, youth scenes, comics, Tv but also Retro Futurism from then and before.
1596461014157.png
 

Spudrick68

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I agree that TV and films now tend not to build tension, a lot of stuff appears to be about instant gratification. I personally love the 1963 fillum The Haunting but I can't imagine many young people having the patience to actually sit through it. I can imagine some saying "that was crap."

I recently bought a record player off a friend. It is the first time that I sat down in peace and quiet and put an old vinyl record on. What a wonderful, tactile experience, recalling fond memories from childhood. it almost forced me to slow down, relax and actually listen to the bloody music.

Digital music is great, but crap for our attention spans. If you don't like something after 10 - 15 seconds move it on.

Perhaps our non digital past has allowed memories and experiences to permeate a little deeper.
 

Baron Scarpia

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Most intrigued by this thread. I met up with an old friend who I hadn't seen for years a couple of weeks ago, and he started telling me Hauntology, I had never heard of the term. But when this chap started telling me about it, my immediate associations were of M R James , the notion of 'strange landscapes', Wyrd folk, dark ambient, T V shows such as 'Children of the Stones', 'Tales of the Unexpected', These are my own reference points, might not really be valid.
But want to treat myself to 'Hauntology' by Merlin Coverley to get a better idea.
https://folkhorrorrevival.com/2020/11/17/hauntology-by-merlin-coverley-book-review/
 

catseye

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Talking to my children, now all adults, got me wondering whether Hauntology is the feeling that you get as an adult looking back on the way you thought as a child. Things half-heard, things seen only partially understood. Like The Owl Service - which used to give me the creepiest, weirdest feelings when I watched as a child. All the subtexts, the sexual undercurrent, I did not pick up on, but I knew there was something there, something running underneath what I was comprehending.

As children we seem to either simplify or over complicate things, maybe in an attempt to get at the real meaning of things. Perhaps the filter through which we look back at these processes, are what gives us that 'hauntology' feeling?
 

Baron Scarpia

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I was born in 1960, so grew up through the heights of the Haunted Generation.

Whilst wandering the local countryside, I got to wondering about the sensation that was evoked by TV programmes like The Owl Service (with which I was obsessed!), Sapphire and Steel, Marianne Dreams, Children of the Stones. I wonder if part of 'that feeling' was because of the much slower pace of TV programmes back then. They could afford the time time build a sense of dread; of growing strangeness, of the 'other' in the every day.

Thank you for mentioning The Owl Service, I was born 1961, but don't remember it . Just watched the first two episodes on Youtube.
It is amazing, And quite spooky.

 

Kondoru

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I was in Bridgend, buying a Chinese from the takeaway just across the road from the railway station road.

Its not changed since the 70s...I swear it. The only thing new were the Facemask sign and Justeat bags.

And the calendar was dated 2019 to add to the confusion

(I think the staff were the same too)
 

Analogue Boy

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Thank you for mentioning The Owl Service, I was born 1961, but don't remember it . Just watched the first two episodes on Youtube.
It is amazing, And quite spooky.

I only have a vague recollection of this show but on looking it up, I discovered the interesting fact that the three central characters were colour coded like the wiring of an electric plug. Red, Black and green.
 

catseye

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I only have a vague recollection of this show but on looking it up, I discovered the interesting fact that the three central characters were colour coded like the wiring of an electric plug. Red, Black and green.
There is a wonderful book written about the making of the series, with diary entries from Alan Garner's children, who were present. I had a copy but...
 

catseye

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The Owl Service is basically The Exorcist for 1960s kids.
I was about ten when it came on and have to admit that I really didn't understand a lot of it. I just knew that I loved it - the atmosphere, the girl and her stepbrother, the weird tramp... I haven't watched or read it since and I really should. But I'm slightly afraid to break my memory of the atmosphere that I've got in my head - I feel it would involve what nowadays would be over-mannered acting and bad effects (I know that the stone was made of fibre glass!)

So I'm keeping it as one of those ethereal, 'did that really happen?' memories for now.
 

Cochise

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Ok. The only reason I mentioned it is because there is a place there that fits your description with old buildings in the woods and that was a training camp/RAF base. If you look on google earth you can still see the old runways.

http://www.polishresettlementcampsintheuk.co.uk/tilstock1.htm
https://goo.gl/maps/7aHX8t8Umva8B3Sg9
Much belated reply. Yes, it is the A41 - I take it off the M54 and follow it as far as the Chester turnoff. Well, I did. Haven't been along it since lockdown.
 

GNC

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I was about ten when it came on and have to admit that I really didn't understand a lot of it. I just knew that I loved it - the atmosphere, the girl and her stepbrother, the weird tramp... I haven't watched or read it since and I really should. But I'm slightly afraid to break my memory of the atmosphere that I've got in my head - I feel it would involve what nowadays would be over-mannered acting and bad effects (I know that the stone was made of fibre glass!)

So I'm keeping it as one of those ethereal, 'did that really happen?' memories for now.

I watched it for the first time a few years ago and it's not mannered at all, the cast are very natural until they're required to get hysterical. But who knows what you might pick up on with the passing of time, mind you? It won't be the same experience, I'll admit.
 

Baron Scarpia

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Came to the end of The Owl Service, and so pleased to have watched it. I particularly liked how the series ended, the storyline seemed genuinely unpredictable. Also liked the sense of closure. There was no attempt to leave a few loose ends just in case a sequel could be contrived at a later date. Not sure what to watch next. I have already seen 'Children of the Stones'.
 

Spudrick68

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It is through thus Haunted Generation stuff that I now collect related music that I would never have listened to previously.

I really like Alison Cotton, very atmospheric stuff. Here she is if you haven't heard her before:


A strange one was finding an artist I really like 'Field Lines Cartographer' who I found out is from Lancaster (about 3 miles down the road). Another related artist I found soon after goes by the name Polypores. I found out that he is from Preston, about 5 miles down the road from where I was born.
 

CarlosTheDJ

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It is through thus Haunted Generation stuff that I now collect related music that I would never have listened to previously.

I really like Alison Cotton, very atmospheric stuff. Here she is if you haven't heard her before:


A strange one was finding an artist I really like 'Field Lines Cartographer' who I found out is from Lancaster (about 3 miles down the road). Another related artist I found soon after goes by the name Polypores. I found out that he is from Preston, about 5 miles down the road from where I was born.

Yeah I've discovered some great music through that column also.
 

Bad Bungle

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The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is a fairly recent book (2013) and tells the story of a man returning to his home town after 40 years for the funeral of his father. He drives aimlessly through the country lanes, yet subconsciously heads to a particular location. Something magical and traumatic happened there when he was a boy, but he has forgotten or been made to forget. As the memories finally come back he is told that he has returned there several times at key moments in his life, but each time forgets soon after.
I 'know' the lanes he travelled down, now almost impassable because bound by hedgerows, they have remained the same size but cars have got so much bigger. I feel the subconscious draw to a location on the occasions I drive down them as an adult, although there is nothing there now except a sense of something missing. No ocean, not even a duck pond. Venus Hill, my personal hauntology. I'm getting a weird sensation just writing this down.
 

catseye

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When I was younger I felt a curious 'pull' towards Bury St Edmonds. Never been there, never even been close, but I had the vision of driving there in a Mini with a German Shepherd dog in the back.

The feeling faded once I got into my late twenties. I've still never been.
 

Ulalume

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Talking to my children, now all adults, got me wondering whether Hauntology is the feeling that you get as an adult looking back on the way you thought as a child. Things half-heard, things seen only partially understood. Like The Owl Service - which used to give me the creepiest, weirdest feelings when I watched as a child. All the subtexts, the sexual undercurrent, I did not pick up on, but I knew there was something there, something running underneath what I was comprehending.

As children we seem to either simplify or over complicate things, maybe in an attempt to get at the real meaning of things. Perhaps the filter through which we look back at these processes, are what gives us that 'hauntology' feeling?
That's a very good point.

The phrase I hear quoted most often by Brits in regard to hauntology is "lost futures." The idea that the future you were once promised has either failed to materialize or has been taken away. I'm American and we don't really have the same concept, at least not in the same way. I still relate to the feeling that hauntology conveys though, very well. I've been trying to figure it out. Your point seems a very apt starting place. :)

Here's an interesting take on the American perspective:
https://mediatedsignals.com/2021/02/13/remapping-cultural-hauntology-an-american-perspective/
 

ramonmercado

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That's a very good point.

The phrase I hear quoted most often by Brits in regard to hauntology is "lost futures." The idea that the future you were once promised has either failed to materialize or has been taken away. I'm American and we don't really have the same concept, at least not in the same way. I still relate to the feeling that hauntology conveys though, very well. I've been trying to figure it out. Your point seems a very apt starting place. :)

Here's an interesting take on the American perspective:
https://mediatedsignals.com/2021/02/13/remapping-cultural-hauntology-an-american-perspective/

Welcome back!
 

Analogue Boy

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The Changes, a BBC show from 1975 is another one of those strange, apocalyptic children’s series. It starts with everyone in Britain going mad and destroying all their machinery and electrical equipment and returning to a more primitive existence, complete with accusations of witchcraft. At the end, it’s all about balance and not being able to return to old times and leaving the past very much where it is.
For me, this is what hauntology is about. The feeling of a past one can never go back to and was never really as it appeared in the first place. A yearning to relive the simple joys of my youth now reveals a massive dislocation with the past and I’ll never be able to think of it the same way. The little mining town I grew up in changed so quickly as I was growing up. The collieries closed, the architecture changed and the community became more isolated and divided among themselves. The filter I now have to deal with is viewing it through the lens of progress and what’s happened since. Instant communication, next day deliveries and the distractions of the internet, The creation of a new lexicon of belief and gender in which I struggle to relate.
Of course this concept is as old as time itself and I guess I’ll just have to live with the fact that things moved too fast and those feelings can never be fully experienced again.
 
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