7. The Unexplained

May 16th, 2011 | spirit tracks

Ghost hunters have conferences like this, you know. I always wanted to go to one, when I was younger. When I was a kid, when I could find the money, I’d collect magazines about ghosts, UFOs, paranormal phenomena and weird things like photos of the electromagnetic fields humans produce. The one I remember best was called The Unexplained, a weekly “partwork” that was supposed to build into a huge library of the numinous and strange. I couldn’t afford them all, and in the end had to give up buying them entirely. But I treasured my little trove of these thin slivers of paper broadcast from (in my 12-year-old-head) some hidden laboratory where they tapped into the secret radio of the world and knew everything about everything weird. I’d stare at the Kirlian photographs of the crackling, electrical human aura, and pick over the pictures of the mad, mushroom-like UFOs photographed by George Adamski. Which were later discovered to have been made out of hubcaps. But still.

(In the 90s, when I first had disposable income, I bought a hardbound library edition of the entire run of The Unexplained. And then the internet happened, and I didn’t really need it any more. But there was a pleasure, a feeling of completion like filling a hole in the road about paging through those books, all the things my younger self didn’t get to read. Some jumbled form of nostalgia, a reconfiguration of the word’s root terms of “returning home” and “ache.”)

(I’ve never trusted nostalgia.)


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