Category Archives: History

The Rise and Destiny of the German Jew

The Rise and Destiny of the German Jew 1934 Union of American Hebrew Congregations

According to a review in Foreign Affairs, April 1935,

scholarly account of the Jews since 1871, the author maintaining that they will stay in Germany and adjust themselves to new conditions.

 

Text block is darkened with age. Black cloth cover is lightly faded but overall clean and clear with silver gilt and red stylized stamped round motifs relevant to Jews in Germany in 1934- swastika, menorah, industry, burning at the stake. Former owner bookplate on front end paper. Text block lightly darkened with time otherwise tight and clean. Corners lightly bumped with two corners beginning to fray.

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Filed under 1930's, Antiquarian, Germany, History, Judaica

On Sermons, Separatists and Supremacy, or The Merry Chase Part II, 1951

This week I photographed a bunch of oldies in preparation for offering them for sale online. Old books, not old people, folks. 

Ernest Sevier Cox’s Teutonic Unity, an attractive little volume, came across my desk, and I had to take a closer look. 

 

As I learned, I thought, should I dignify this work with a blog post?

‘Racial’ separatism and the belief that those of ‘different races’ should be not just separate but often killed off completely still exist in our society, so… yes. Ick.

Cox was born in Knoxville Tennessee, home of my alma mater. A quick search reveals no known connection to the family of Cherokee-killer John Sevier, who homesteaded and populated those mountains, but perhaps Earnest’s thoughts were borne from the Indian killing generation to his mind and heart by bloodline. And on the other hand, to be fair, Sevierville Tennessee was anti slavery and anti-secession in the Civil War era. (“Sevierville Tennessee,” Wikipedia). Perhaps Earnest’s loss of his father at a young age left him emotionally stunted and scrambling for something he could believe in and fight for.  Who can’t have at least some grain of compassion for that 12 year old boy Cox once was?

And this copy is signed with a gift inscription in the careful, crabbed handwriting of a sick old man. This wouldn’t be the first time I have felt some compassion for old men isolated from loved ones and society by their misdeeds or so deeply immersed in their principles that they cannot see the truths of the human condition. The recipient passed away in Virginia in 2008, I believe. I can’t find any trace of their association other than this.

 

I lived in the South most of my life, but the verbiage he chose for his titles somehow still made my jaw drop.   

  • White America (1923)
  • Let My People Go (1925)
  • The South’s Part in Mongrelizing the Nation (1926)
  • Lincoln’s Negro Policy (1938)
  • Three Million Negroes Thank the State of Virginia (1940)
  • Teutonic Unity (1951)
  • Black Belt Around the World at the High Noon of Colonialism (1963)

He helped pass the Virginia anti-miscegenation laws that were finally and famously overturned by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Loving v Virginia. 

Cox worked with both former Nazi believers in ‘racial purity’ holed up in Argentina and Northern Europe AND with African Americans like Marcus Garvey who saw repatriation to Africa as the only way to heal and rebuild from the evils and abuses of slavery in America.  Some Americans of African descent were also against mixing and wanted the political, geographical and cultural haven from persecution that might be provided by a nation of their own. 

Toward the end of his life he self-published this volume and distributed it for free, in service to his ideals. 

The thoughts espoused by Cox and his international Nazi and Nordicist buddies are so distasteful, and as we now know in this era of genetic testing to prove ancestry, they are largely fiction. We have many skin colors. We are geographically culturally and perhaps ethnically diverse. But we are One Human Race.

I also believe ‘kids today’ are eradicating prejudice. They just couldn’t care less. Say what ya want about them, and it’s probably almost all true, but I believe they are our hope for an end, at least in developed countries, to hate  harm or marginalization of people due to traits they were born with and cannot help. Thank God.

And people self identifying as two or more races continues to be the fastest growing group on the US Census. The word self identifying is important though, because if your family has been on this continent for more than a century, you most likely have some fraction, no matter how invisible, of some oppressed group’s blood in your veins- indigenous American or African American, Jewish, what have ya.   

But while oppression continues- abuse of children, marginalization and ignorance of the culture and voices of women and minority groups, uses of our environment and natural resources that poison those who live nearby and ultimately our entire human family, anywhere a sense that we can somehow silence or overpower another group of humans in some way for our own benefit and peace of mind still exists, it is important to understand this sort of thinking and how these thoughts are ‘justified’ to keep ourselves off of certain slippery slopes. I worry that in the backlash against ‘political correctness’ we will forget why it matters.

A useful quick dose of Cox’s views and his role on the American and world stage in the White Supremacist or Nordicist movements from the 20’s through the 50’s can be found on Google Books on the scanned pages of a tome called Science for Segregation by one John P. Jackson.   Apparently Cox thought that keeping ‘races’ separate was part of survival of the fittest. Since I have always understood that a diverse gene pool helps keep recessive dangerous traits at bay- Hapsburg jaw? Haemophilia anyone?  I am not sure where he got that. I didn’t feel like pursuing it though. 

A more personal account of his lonely, angry, wandering life can be found on Encyclopedia Virginia’s website- “Earnest Sevier Cox” 

Wikipedia is, as always, invaluable for quick, concise, broad strokes on any given matter or person. “Earnest Sevier Cox”

 Someone take this book off my hands, preferably to study how to peacefully eradicate thoughts like these for good. 

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Filed under African, American, Antiquarian, History, Latin American, Signed, social currents, Southern

On Sermons, Separatism and Supremacy or The Merry Chase Part I, 1834-35

The Burning of the Houses of Parliament, J.M.W. Turner, held by Cleveland Museum of Art, copied from wikipedia’s article on The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons.

This week I took photos of a big batch of oldies this week, getting ready to offer them for sale.

First to lead me a merry chase was Volume VIII of  The Preacher Containing Fifty-Seven Sermons by Eminent Living Divines, July 17 1834 – May 23 1835, 

It was printed for John Chidley of London, by Bensley, Printer, Phipps-Bridge Mitcham. 

I couldn’t find any other copies of this or any volume of this series anywhere on the internet. It is listed in various old library catalogs, though. 

In the name Bensley, of Phipps-Bridge Mitcham, I smelled History of Books and Printing. I did find reference to a printer named Bensley, but it appears that if something was printed post 1799 it isn’t really that big a deal. I had to let the trail go cold and move on. 

A quick glance through The Sermons was a little more gratifying. They are such a mix of faith, hope, encouragement, social justice, and brimstone. I think matters of faith were much more present in the daily life of normal people- those who had the luxury for such thoughts, that is, and I imagine not just present but compulsory. Nonetheless, to an Episcopalian (as in, post Anglican, or Anglican Communion), a believer (loosely) in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of 1835 (5) (along with bits of other world religions and meditative traditions, as it suits me, but Episcopalian is my formal affiliation) it’s kinda cute, on its surface.

I can see a gentleman (or -woman) or a country vicar taking his tea and soft boiled egg (or whatever, back then) and enjoying a quiet moment to dwell on the contents of these pages before or after a long day. In the context of what was happening in England in those years, it is both heartwarming and chilling.

In 1834 Slavery was abolished in England; The Poor Law was also amended to state that the able bodied may not receive aid unless they go to the workhouse. (1) But Charles Dickens was soon to be on the scene to plead the cause of the poor. After living with poverty, desperate attempts to get his father out of debtor’s prison, and multiple interruptions to his education, his Street Sketches were published in this year. (2)

It was a year of cultural and historic turmoil. Samuel Taylor Coleridge followed Blake and Shelley to the grave, and though Wordsworth still lived, perhaps the era of poetry – idyllic, intense, reclusive, drug-enhanced, oriented toward the heart, philosophy, language and beauty- had ended, giving way to the up and coming rough and tumble of radical social action.

England had four different Prime Ministers (1). Trade unions were gaining membership and power in snowball fashion. (3) The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Palace, burnt on my birthday in this year, the biggest fire since 1666. The fire was accidental, caused by flues overheated with the burning of the outdated Tally Sticks (whatever those are), but accidental or not it was certainly timely and symbolic. (4) In 1835, protection from cruelty was extended to animals, yet the last two people to be executed for conviction of “buggery” were hanged at Newgate. (6) Talk about yer full spectrum from social justice and human decency to the lack thereof.  

The sermons themselves are actually really lovely- impressive labors of scholarly and spiritual love. The book is really old, and that is really cool. I loved my unplanned tour of this book’s cultural and literary milieu, as I do every time another one sweeps me away.  

Available at ABE and Amazon. Feel free to contact me directly at winecountrybooksnapa at gmail and make me an offer. 

The Preacher Containing Fifty-Seven Sermons by Eminent Living Divines Volume 8 VIII Nos 197 Thursday July 17 1834 – 224 Saturday May 23rd 1835
Crossman, RFG. Parsons, J. Beamish, HH. Busfield, W. et al

Published by Printed for John Chidley, London. Bensley, Printer Phipps-Bridge Mitcham (1834)
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Item Description: Printed for John Chidley, London. Bensley, Printer Phipps-Bridge Mitcham, 1834. Hardcover. Book Condition: Good. no jacket. Considerable foxing to brittle pages. Cloth boards with brown faux leather finish have edge wear, fading, faint staining, rips at top and bottom of spine, and fraying at corners. Cloth is separated just over halfway up the spine on the back. Fragile but whole and square and tight with all pages present. Outside of text block, deckle edges, darkly foxed. Spine label rubbed/scraped with edges torn away. Please contact seller for additional photographs or other details. Will ship bubble wrapped in a sturdy box. Bookseller Inventory # 01304

Sources: 

1. wikipedia, 1834 in the United Kingdom

2. shmoop.com, Charles Dickens Timeline 

3. wikipedia, Trade Unions in the United Kingdom

4. wikipedia, The Burning of Parliament 

5. wikipedia, Catholic Apostolic Church

6. wikipedia, 1835 in the United Kingdom

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Filed under Antiquarian, England, History, social currents, United Kingdom

Must read all of these

This is the hell of the bookseller.

Today I have cataloged and placed for sale:

The Innocent, Ian McEwan– the end of the Cold War, Electronic surveillance, Berlin, British-American technology collaboration, a young British post office technician and the clash of the private and political

Defend the Valley a Shenandoah Family in the Civil War, Margaretta Barton Colt- extensive primary source documentation of the Civil War experience of the Barton and Jones family in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

Secrets of the Jews, Stuart E. Rosenberg – policies and persecution toward Jews throughout history – theological discussion of how they survived

The Changing of the Guard President Clinton and the Security of Taiwan – “Considering the difficult issues President Clinton must weigh, Lasater provides a timely analysis of Taiwan’s security in the 1990’s within the broader context of Sino-American relations.”

Murder by the Book: Short fiction includes stories by Dorothy L Sayers and James Thurber, two enduring favorites of mine

How will I read them all? Ah, the Humanity!

 

Music for a dreary Wine Country Morning

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Filed under American, Appalachiana, Civil War, Cold War, electronic surveillance, History, Judaica, social currents, the book business, women

Epiphany and the Magi

I love TS Eliot’s beautiful language and weary tone. As I read it  feels as if I am perpetually struggling home in a foul, foggy, freezing winter twilight, breathing air choked with coal smoke and auto exhaust, longing for hot tea and warm lamplight.

You can hear Eliot reading his Journey of the Magi here, a rare treat.*

It is wonderful to listen to the question the wise man asks, and ponder the double edge of The Holidays.  Be happy,  be gracious, enjoy OR ELSE!! This is a time of mass stress and guilt and acute consciousness of loss and lack in our personal lives and our world, right alongside the dictatorial mandate to celebrate the hope and beauty of various religious and natural events.

In the natural order of things, this should be a time of natural ‘death’- hunkering down, resting, feeling a little melancholy, to make way for spring’s rebirth. Instead we work twice as hard to ‘get ready’ for the season and find it is over before we even enjoyed it.

We are left with regrets-  why did I allow myself to be taken in by obligation, guilt trips and marketing when I KNEW I wouldn’t enjoy myself and that nobody else cared about those details that left me chasing my tail when I should have been just enjoying? Why didn’t I follow my instinct to do less and love and enjoy more?

Instead of hibernating, getting the rest and communion and connection we crave, NEED, to sustain us until spring, our entire nation is not just fighting to be super productive as always, but taking on the obligations and dreams of The Holidays on top- no wonder we are all so dang depressed in January!

A little like the exhausted, wondering narrator, I have doggedly pursued the joy of this season, telling myself that it ain’t over til Epiphany. I just ordered babies for the King cake.

But a voice says ‘Doesn’t the tree look sad, standing there well beyond its season? Take it down. Get on with your life. It’s over now. You know you’re tired. You didn’t start early enough, you didn’t enjoy enough, and now it is over.’  Get thee behind me!

I have worked hard. I have done the right thing, sometimes for not much reward. And yes, I am tired. I am glad to ponder the double edge with the wise man.

One gift that will never be beyond this season is The Books! The holiday has given us time and resolve to stop frantically trying to force the new home into shape and just enjoy. So what do I do when I have a few quiet moments? I work on the books, of course! I’ve been going through the collection yet again as we move it into our new digs, and came across this sweet little book.

The Star of Bethlehem Jeanne K. Hanson $10

The Star of Bethlehem Jeanne K. Hanson $10

The author discusses the astronomical possibilities and the mysteries of symbolism and prophecy surrounding the Star of Bethlehem that led the Three Kings on their journey.  The drawings by Glenn Wolff are very sweet, but what I loved most about it was the snippets of medieval ballads, plays, poetry and scripture throughout, including Eliot’s Journey.

I truly enjoyed stopping to ponder, in a way I should have been pondering since Thanksgiving. Because we were moving, I did give myself some freedom from the world of endlessly stressful holiday to-do lists… but I still didn’t ponder enough or enjoy enough. We were moving, packing, unpacking, rushing, buying, running here and there. Perhaps next year I will do better… Meanwhile, I have dear weary Eliot** and it ain’t over til Epiphany.

*Yes, I know about his racism, his misogyny, his anti-semitism and I absolutely do not approve. But I fell in love with these works before I knew, and we share a culture (sort of) in the Episcopal church. In spite of his airs and snobbery, please, please let me enjoy Prufrock and Journey and Wasteland on their own sad and cynical terms?

** See *

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Filed under Christmas, History, Poems and Poets, the holidays, winter

Klanwatch:Bringing the Ku Klux Klan to Justice by Bill Stanton

Klanwatch Bringing the Ku Klux Klan to Justice

Klanwatch Bringing the Ku Klux Klan to Justice

Cue the music…

Church blew up in Birmingham
Four little black girls killed for no goddamn good reason
All this hate and violence can’t come to no good end
A stain on the good name.
A whole lot of good people dragged through the blood and glass
Blood stains on their good names and all of us take the blame

Patterson Hood “Ronnie and Neil”

Klanwatch : Bringing the Ku Klux Klan to Justice by Bill Stanton

“An insider’s account.. describes how attorney Morris Dees and other Klanwatch workers took on the Klan and brought its members to justice, enduring intimidation, death threats, and other dangers.”

This book isn’t a collectible to most people. I think most people believe we’ve moved past it. (We haven’t; we still have huge active Klan populations – the one in Indiana, for example, boasts subgroups in 20 states and 5 groups in Arkansas boast subgroups in 11 different states). It should be a collectible, and it is to me, just like the DriveBy Truckers’ Southern Rock Opera. I can’t bear to price it to sell.

And before we go to South bashing, let me tell you. When I was in grad school one of my colleagues was from Affluenza’d SoCal. His first job was at Alabama State University, a HBC, in Montgomery. I asked him how he was managing with the racism in Montgomery. He loved his job and had no issues on that front. But he also said, so wisely- California has racism too. It is just less honest. At least in the South it is out on the table. So it is painfully visible, but guess what? When it is obvious there is a problem, you can work to heal it. Here in California, where we are all so liberal and ‘we don’t have those kinds of problems’ (yes, we certainly do, but) we can’t heal.

That said… Alabama and Montgomery bear a heaping share of the pain, harm and guilt of oppressing abusing and dehumanizing generations of Africans brought here by force and their African Americans descendants. Interestingly though, Alabama seems also to have done a better job healing.

I lived, worked, and birthed then raised my little one in the Montgomery Alabama area for 8 years. Segregation is alive and well, let me tell you. I am not saying it isn’t racism, but I know for sure it is definitely economic segregation and definitely it is the man or the system that works so well for whites making sure the poor stay poor and the largest percentage of those who are struggling are African American. At the same time, my dear friend’s darling little daughter is on a cheerleading squad with 7 little African American girls, they are completely flippin’ adorable and love each other like sisters, and race is absolutely a non issue.

Montgomery  is big enough to have a few public goods that are available to all-  a decent library with many branches, an art museum, a beautiful park and community gathering place for big events down by the river, a minor league baseball team and solid churches. It is big enough that it has the problems of a real city- violent crime, poverty, inner city type neighborhoods and schools, and such.

It also has the problems of a small town- cultural isolation, having to drive to see a decent concert, that sort of thing. But it is also small enough that people can grow to know and care about each other personally regardless of skin color. Everyone who is anyone is some sort of activist or professional working for the public good of all in the community, not just one race. The legacy of The Good Work is carried on and some heroes of the civil rights era were still living and working hard during the time I lived there.

I worked passionately for equal education and for the betterment of the teachers, families and students in the public school system, through  my position as a librarian in a public library on the Southern Boulevard, epicenter of so many of those social problems. I had come to see so many inequalities, such as the poor quality of the public schools, mainly used by – Surprise! Little African American children- as Civil Rights issues thanks to the amazing work of the Southern Poverty Law center.

In Montgomery, where White and African American populations are about 45%-55% respectively, most normal people are forced to deal with people of the opposing skin color on a daily basis. Local and state government employees are probably pretty equally from both communities (although we have to be honest- we don’t see too many people of color in positions of higher authority. But they’ll get there).

And in Montgomery, as in much of the South, the requirement to greet and treat each other with respect and acknowledgment of the other as a human being is, at least in public, absolutely IRON CLAD, no ifs ands or buts. Any disrespectful or hurtful actions and language from or among children is knocked right out of them; adults call each other ‘sir’ or ‘ma’am’ or in practicing Christian circles ‘sister’ or ‘brother’ without the least humour irony or sarcasm.

Some might say that is just life in the South, but I think it is particularly strong in Alabama. It arises from the scars of wounds from two recent epochs in Southern history:  First  there was post civil war  occupation by Northern military forces and the influx of ‘right thinking, liberal’ opportunists, gold-diggin’ ‘carpetbaggers.’  Later and more painful in a brief and hard won peace came the events of the Civil Rights area which horrified normal decent people of both colors.

“Southern Man” and “Alabama” certainly told some truth
But there were a lot of good folks down here and Neil Young wasn’t around

Meanwhile in North Alabama, Lynyrd Skynyrd came to town
To record with Jimmy Johnson at Muscle Shoals Sound
And they met some real good people, not racist pieces of shit
And they wrote a song about it and that song became a hit…

I believe people are so polite because the spectre of having society torn apart by such ugliness hovers quite near. Alabamans will generally put aside petty differences and put on their kindest manners and work very hard at community building to keep that evil at bay.

One of the crowning jewels in Alabama’s legacy of positive social change is the Southern Poverty Law Center. Klanwatch is one of its programs. I am proud to say I have met SPLC’s founder, Morris Dees, who lives in a cool but quite modest home in Old Cloverdale where we spent so many hours with so many friends. I knew him as the man who broke the Klan. I don’t think many people know what this meant.

In a landmark case, a judge made the hatemongering Klan pay a 7 million dollar settlement to the mother of a young man who had  been viciously murdered by a few Klan members.  For the first time, an entire organization was responsible for making reparations for the crime, even though it was committed by only a few members. To put it mildly, that sure put a kink in their tail and curtailed the criminal behavior of its members considerably.

Some people like to be snide about Morris’ Dees previous incarnation as a direct mail marketer, or about his personal life, or the size of the SPLC Endowment, which dollars, as one clueless (white) guy put it, Dees should stop hoarding and start feeding hungry people, making the world a better place by funding grants or projects to directly help those in need.  That evening Dees answered the heckler kindly. He said, we are always potentially a lawsuit away from being forced to close our doors. We have to provide for its future so we can continue what we do. I wholeheartedly agree.

So… this book is about something Alabama can absolutely be very proud of. The Cradle of the Confederacy is also the Cradle of Civil Rights.(I can’t be the first person to say that, right?)  The awareness that Civil Rights really matter has spread so that American society grows in our awareness that the rights of women, gay or transgendered people, parents, children, people who are vulnerable because they are cut off from or simply do not have supportive families or are  institutionalized- the elderly, orphans and foster children, are in danger all the time. So the pain endured by Alabama’s citizens not been in vain. We cannot bring back those who died at the hands of the Klan, vigilantes or so-called law enforcement, nor end the grief of their loved ones… but we do know that from the seeds of that pain  sprang  healing and stability and willingness to prevent it happening again in much greater proportion.

Darling Alabama, there are many things about you that I do not miss, but I will love you for so many reasons, forever.

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Filed under African, American, History, social currents, Southern

SHUT IT QUICK!

I am still cataloging and listing the immense gift (immense as in, two tons) of books my parents gave me. I have no idea what I have. So when I wrote that post about Halloween asking if you could spare a shiver, I didn’t know I had this book.

Real Ghosts Restless Spirits and Haunted Places Brad Steiger

Real Ghosts Restless Spirits and Haunted Places Brad Steiger

I had to crack this book to check its condition before listing it. OH NO THERE ARE PHOTOS! NGAH! SHUT IT QUICK! It is 10.44 pm and I don’t need that visual in my head!

At least I am not in the garage- ahem, the office- by myself. Both of us decided to hit some work hard tonight in order to feel better about what was on our plates in the morning.

Yeah, the person who wrote that jaunty Halloween post? That was me. Sometimes my veneer of soul, acceptance, hope and positivity can’t help but shake loose or crack a bit.

So… I think this is a pretty darn good resource. It has a nice index, and it includes my old friend The Bell Witch. I wonder if it includes the haunted hotel on the way back to Norfolk from Virginia Beach.  This book would be a good (and scholarly, in terms of how hard the author worked to gather and compile sources for the book) read. IN THE DAYTIME.

I listed it for $20 but for a Wine Country Books reader it is $15. Email me, winecountrybooksnapa at gmail.

During two recent late nights with friends, those of us found ourselves puzzling through, thinking aloud together. On the first occasion, one of us had just lost her sister. We were talking, earnestly and wholeheartedly but a bit wine-ly, about all that we know we don’t know and what we think we know.  All I could think of was a quote I love so much. We read it in church at a certain time in a certain lectionary year.

 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be a disaster, and their going from us to be their destruction; but they are at peace… In the time of their visitation they will shine forth, and will run like sparks through the stubble.

I find that visual so beautiful, and the words immensely comforting. Do I know for sure that sort of thinking about death is accurate? Absolutely not. But I’ll take the sweetness of the words and the brightness of the imagery any day.

And thank goodness, the next time we went to that family’s house six people were playing six guitars and we all just sang, no deep thoughts. Whew.

On the second occasion, just the four of us huddled under a propane heat lamp in my friends’ dark and chilly back yard, one of us absolutely KNEW ghosts were real, and two of us were trying very hard to remember that even if ghosts are real, there is nothing to be afraid of.  It is just energy, energy that has to go somewhere when someone dies, because we know nothing is lost or gained in the Universe. Right? Well… not quite. This article explains it rather well. The author touches on the 21 grams thing too (Cliff notes: The sample was too small. ) I know as much about which parts of the Bible are true and which are made up as I do about the physical processes that support life and what happens when they end, so I could easily discount or defend either one with all my heart. But… this sounds good. And… but what about quantum physics / mechanics? Hooboy. (Need you ask? Yes of course we talked about UFO’s and space aliens too! )

Several friends, people I trust and know well, have told me they absolutely did have ‘experiences’. Even as I type that, thinking of the stories they told me, my throat closes up a little. Ngah. Gack.  Like when I hear someone is getting married, you know?

I think the stories, oral histories, first person accounts, photos… what they say about ghosts in aggregate, what they say about what we think and say about ghosts, is more interesting than the ghosts themselves, actually, if you see what I mean. They show what we think we saw, or heard, or can prove, or share, about who what where why how of ghosts. As a body, the cultural aspect of it, or the frequency of particular phrases or experiences that seem to pop up over and over… interesting to think about. And… who first had this bright idea that a spirit or soul might come back after death? I mean… it is pretty ridiculous on the face of it, right? How on earth could, why on earth would, someone back in the mists of time just make that up?

Great things to ponder-

In the daylight.

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