11. Haunted Beef

May 17th, 2011 | spirit tracks

I grew out of that young fascination with the paranormal and UFOs (I thought) in my early teens, and instead started buying cheap William Burroughs paperbacks from the local charity shop. Which were, it turned out, mostly about ghosts, UFOs, paranormal phenomena and weird magnetic fields.

Ghost hunters, like the people of this digital-cities conference I am currently giving this talk to, are very technical people. Back home, they roam the abandoned houses and haunted places of Britain with electromagnetic field readers, convinced that ghosts produce an electromagnetic field.

Of course, twenty years before they started doing that, William Burroughs was asserting in science fiction that the human soul is an electromagnetic field. Thereby haunting the future of haunting.

(I have stolen this notion many times in my work as a science fiction writer.)

There are pages and pages of guides on the net to buying and calibrating such devices, ensuring a clean baseline so that ghost fields can be differentiated from geomagnetic activity or the presence of human-generated fields such as those from rusting pylons or other electrical equipment.

The reason the ghost hunters are so careful to calibrate their scanners against geomagnetic fields is that they want to ensure they see the right ghosts.

The science fiction writer Steve Aylett once wrote: “we’re all just haunted beef, really.”


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  1. You can find Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis