Stone Tape Theory

The latest column by Luke Harrington identifies a concept with which I have been familiar for some time but never known to have a name. 

Something I think about a lot is the Stone Tape Theory” of ghosts. First dreamed up by parapsychologists in the late nineteenth century, Stone Tape” hypothesizes that ghostly apparitions are not, in fact, the conscious spirits of the dead; rather they’re just recordings” that have been pressed onto nature itself. Maybe, says the theory, when something terrible happens—a murder, say—the psychic pain caused is so intense that the rocks themselves cry out, storing and repeating that moment, over and over, forever. It’s unproven (and unprovable), but I have to admit it jibes with my own metaphysical instincts: If bodies can scar, why shouldn’t the universe?

When I first heard this theory, it struck me as imminently plausible. After all, specters are known to haunt specific areas. They don’t travel. They seem confined to a place and to a state in between death and life. They are almost always the product of some exceptional trauma that manifested itself in a life cut short. It doesn’t seem far-fetched to believe that the environment can take on excess energy, even if it is the product of violence. Maybe even especially if it is the product of violence. 

Violence cuts deep. My wife went on a Murder She Wrote binge recently, and although it is a clever and well done show, the thing that bothered me about it was how casually they all talked about killings. It was just another part of life on the show. It abstracted the horrors of deadly violence into neat plot lines and curious mysteries. It didn’t take into account the ripple effects of tragedy on the people or even on the place where the such occurrences took place. 

Is it possible that dark and terrible events damage nature in such as a way as to produce apparitions? It may be an old theory, but it still seems worthy of contemplation. 

Made with in North Carolina
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