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The Shadow People Essay

1394 words - 6 pages

Paranormal experiences can occur anywhere and to anyone and the way a narrator interprets it determines how it affects them. Christopher Brown has an experience with shadow beings that influenced the way that he views graveyards along with his views on the supernatural. Experiences like the following greatly influence a person’s beliefs and emotions. Beliefs are change from the experience or the experience shapes their beliefs. Experiences are also sometimes hard to explain, especially when rational explanations fall short. One simple occurrence like Brown’s demonstrates how much goes into interpreting and understanding these events. It all varies based on how a person relates the experience ...view middle of the document...

His story is only slightly dramatic and without a certain tone in his voice, the story would be rather flat. However, in popular culture, most stories are extremely dramatic with ghosts and hauntings leaving people severely harmed or dead.
Brown goes on to describe his belief in the supernatural and how it relates to how he formed his conclusions about his experience. In the interview I asked if he believed in the supernatural preceding the experience or if the experience caused his belief. Brown replied, “I believe in it then the experience reinforced it”. In other words, he used his beliefs to explain his experience. In “Beings Without Bodies: An Experience Centered Theory of the Belief in Spirits”, David Hufford explains how the cultural source hypothesis “rel[ies] on a culturally provided model in the production of traditional-confirming accounts of experience.” (Hufford. 28.) He took his experience not for face value, but for what his prior beliefs confirmed in it. Overall, it didn’t mean much to him except that the spirits and entities were trying to get the three men to leave the graveyard. He did not take it as a sign from anyone or anything, but he understood what he saw as simply entities trying to protect their land and the spirits that were laid to rest there.
Brown’s experience also demonstrates how important rational explanations are to supernatural memorates. In her book, “Haunting Experiences: Ghosts of Contemporary Folklore,” Jeannie Thomas points out how rational explanations and comparison to the ordinary make the memorate the interesting story that it is. She states, “…telling a ghost story marks events that do not square with a narrator’s knowledge of the ordinary” (Goldstein. 29). Brown does just that in his telling of his experience. He starts off by setting up a normal night, “So we had to go to North Vernon for something and we ended up taking a wrong turn…It was mid-summer and we were running around being dumb kids like we do”. He sets up the story with the ordinary that way he can contrast it with what happened, such as the temperature suddenly and drastically dropping to the point they could see their breath. After explaining the out of the ordinary, he describes how the temperature and emotional conditions returned to normal, demonstrating that what happened previously wasn’t ordinary. This is common in most memorates. The narrarator starts off with details describing an ordinary, normal situation so that it starkly contrasts to their experience, the abnormal.
Rational explanations also play a part in Brown’s experience. Thomas states, “Categorization and understanding of lived experience are important and expected components of everyday life. When events evade such analysis, they haunt us and we try to give them some sort of conceptual frame” (Goldstein 29). Basically, we try to explain what is unexplainable by trying out reasonable conclusions, which generally are not satisfying enough for the narrator. Brown...

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