Thursday, May 5, 2011

Haunted, Sort Of

Datesh says he's being haunted, but I'm not sure I buy it. You know how you give your friends the benefit of the doubt, you take their side, defend them. But there comes a point when you wonder: Am I being taken advantage of? (And is that even good English?)

The thing is, this haunting isn't like the hauntings you'd hear about in European-influenced literature or stories from your superstitious Anglo-Saxon grandmother. This is an Indian-style haunting that has temporal alteration or something. It's hard to explain. Datesh says when he's haunted, he can see the ghost but others can't, but also, others can't see him interacting with the ghost. And the strangest thing is, this isn't an Indian spirit, either. He's a Vietnamese named Nguyen. Who knows; maybe this is a Vietnamese-style haunting.

I'm sorry; I've interrupted the flow of the story with a not-yet-relevant point. Back to temporality: When Datesh interacts with the ghost, it appears to take no time. Nguyen isn't always around, but when he is, Datesh can talk to him, but I never see Datesh say a word. I'll say something like, "So, Datesh, can you ask Nguyen how long ago he died?" Datesh answers immediately, "He says he doesn't know." Datesh has explained that in between the time I ask him and he responds--literally a period of one second--he has asked Nguyen and received a response. It seems that any amount of time could elapse Nguyen-time, but it doesn't cause real time to progress at all.

So, I'm wondering how I can test this, or if I even should. I don't really doubt that Datesh is being haunted. I have no motivation to question this as long as he doesn't ask me any strange favors based on his condition.

I'm also wondering whether there's any way Datesh or I could exploit this opportunity. If there were a great store of knowledge Datesh and I could gain outside of real time, I'd say that's an incredible opportunity. But Nguyen doesn't seem to remember anything. It's kind of a drag. If Nguyen had some great, verifiable insight into the Vietnam War or some patent ideas or something we could use... He doesn't know how long he lived or even where. Based on European theories of haunting, Nguyen must have died nearby, but he appears (according to Datesh) to be in his prime. So we're concerned that either Nguyen didn't live long, or he's trying to resolve something that happened when he was in his prime, or that perhaps we're just making foolish assumptions based on our Euro-American notions of spirit behavior.

So without any latent benefits to Datesh's condition (I can't classify it as a predicament however much I want to because it really doesn't seem to bother Datesh; in fact, he finds it hilarious and intriguing) I also have no motivation to believe Datesh beyond humoring him. But I do believe him beyond humoring... just not as far as real confidence. I tried to find a word for that, but I couldn't.

I think I need to ask what Datesh sees when he's interacting with Nguyen. Am I frozen in time? Do I fade out of the picture? Do I behave the way Datesh would imagine I'd behave if I were conscious of Nguyen's response? That last one would be the most confusing from Datesh's perspective, I would imagine. It would be like waking up from a dream several times a day.

One last thing: Nguyen appears to Datesh in all his dreams, which (as we all know) also seem to exist outside of real time. It's good that he's not a frightening specter. Well, not beyond the fact that he is a specter.

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