So… Hush!

I haven’t written in this space for quite some time, but it wasn’t for lack of anything to say – I always have something to say. There just wasn’t any time. And you know that happens – one’s time often fills up quickly with important life issues, and before you know it, there’s none left. However, and I shudder to say it, maybe this has been a good thing.

I remember the mother of a childhood friend once saying, “no one cares what you think, Keller.” I was immediately slandered – who wouldn’t be, right? But it remained with me even to this day, and she actually wasn’t wrong. Who cares what I think about Donald Trump, for example? If you’re a supporter, contentious thoughts from me won’t convince you otherwise – more than likely, you’ll become even more entrenched. If I tell you about my belief in God, I’m sure your atheism will continue to flourish just the same. Do we really think our mediocre, everyday banter contains the stuff of greatness; with enough wisdom to move the masses? How many Delhi Llamas can there be, for God’s sake? 

It’s difficult to suggest that there’s a lesson to learn from this, but maybe we need to just keep our mouths shut more often. We seem almost consumed with the notion that there should be more and more people to agree with us – a constantly increasing, all-encompassing inter-galactic consensus. It’s become some kind of an imperative! As though the world itself will cease to exist if “the others” get their hands on it, and possibly that will one day be the case, but history is full of good and bad alike while “the others” were in charge, and we’re still here. There are some life issues that transcend simple opinion, of course – we need to take better care of the planet, one shouldn’t be cruel to animals, murder is bad… Hard to disagree with those, and we can all think of items to add to the list, but these never seem to be the burning passions of the day.

We follow all kinds of temporary mantras instead. Who gets a tax break, should we spend more money to feed the poor, bikinis are sinful, etc. etc. etc. And I’m willing to confess, I want everyone to get a tax break, most of my friends are poor, and bikinis are a clear public service. More and more, I’m leaving these kinds of issues alone. Maybe it’s old age, or a rapid and unexpected loss of electricity in my brain’s microtubules, but I like to think it has something to do with my friend’s mother – “no one cares what you think, Keller.”

I mean, do you? Do you really give a rat’s appendix what I pontificate about? Is your life so wanting that you hang on my every word? I’d be shocked if you did. Will your opinion be changing should I suddenly suggest that cannibalism is an accepted dietary alternative, or if I campaign on the virtues of war with Canada? I think not. You’re so much more intelligent than that! Perhaps you’ll listen with interest if I wax poetic about a subject in which I am proficient – EVP, for instance, but if you’re really smart, even then you’ll listen objectively and with a very large grain of salt.

So what am I saying, then? That we should all walk through life close-mouthed with nothing to say for ourselves, the state of the world, or the human condition? Of course not. I guess what I’m saying is when we do open those gaping caverns of verbal ambiguity, we might want to know going in that what we have to say isn’t so damn important. The compulsion to communicate our thoughts seems to have a greater potential for doing harm than anything else, and unless we relish embracing the dark side of The Force, we should be careful. If we don’t have something good to say, then… Oh geez – you know the rest of that sentence. Do I have to say it – it’s such an overused cliche! But isn’t it also quite true? So… Hush!

Returning to Sensibility

Sometimes, there can be a real problem separating actual life from one’s paranormal activities. When every day centers around pouring over evidence, before you know it the floors are filthy, and the bathroom has become a giant science experiment. Instead of taking care of business, huge chunks of precious time revolve around this cat and mouse game we have with the afterlife, and reality gets lost. It really has to stop.

Returning to sensibility isn’t always as easy as we might hope. It’s really boring staring at the infrared video of a chair for 8 hours, but it does beat the heck out of grocery shopping or paying the bills. Who cares if the dog hasn’t been out in a week, he’s smart – he’ll figure something out. Besides, there’s several hours of thermal footage to go over! One has to keep his priorities in order, right?

But at the end of the day, what do you really know about the afterlife anyway? I’ve always tried to learn something new each day, but if your entire consciousness is tied up in the evidence analysis of some tedious old house by the river outside of town, there’s a good chance the only thing you’ll learn is how quickly you can become sick and tired. I’ve tried to remedy that in any way possible, and even if the extent of my learning consists of nothing more than useless, non-paranormal facts, at least that’s something. For instance, did you know that Americans spend an average of two weeks a year on the toilet? Or that King Farouk of Egypt was a kleptomaniac who once stole Winston Churchill’s watch. I didn’t, but I do now, and I’m sure it’s useful information, no?

Human nature fascinates me more than most subjects, so I couldn’t resist a quick break from the monitor to watch a Science Channel special on the topic. Good thing too, because I didn’t learn a thing from my research, but I did learn that unbroken eye contact is not a sign of honesty, but a good clue that someone is lying instead. That’s kinda useful info, but how many of you knew that? Plus, people are more likely to lie when they’re in a hurry. Fascinating! Believe it or not, eight percent of Americans even lie on their resumes. You know who you are, but “holy honesty, Batman.” I thought more people were trustworthy than that.

Speaking of lying, it turns out that Olympic medalist Stella Walsh was considered one of the fastest female athletes of her time, until upon her death, she was discovered to have a penis. A penis! Not too much stock in Apple, or an infatuation with other people’s toes… She had (dare I say it again) a penis. And speaking of “those,” it seems that the CIA trades Viagra to aging Afghan warlords in exchange for information. I thought gentlemen weren’t supposed to tell.

See! It’s an interesting world, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised at the amount of functional insanity that’s loose within it. Maybe that’s what drove me to paranormal studies in the first place – a little peace and quiet from all this exciting normalcy, though admittedly, I’d like to be able to say that all the hours spent scrutinizing paranormal evidence has taught me something more significant than mindless trivia. But alas, the living are every bit as intriguing as the dead. In 2013, a woman from Jonesboro, Arkansas, suspected of DUI, was arrested when she tried to flee police on a battery-powered toy truck after crashing her car. I challenge you to top that one with something paranormal. Ghosts are entertaining, but they can’t hold a candle to that poor soul.

Well, intriguing as mankind is, the one thing we don’t know anything about when it comes to the human experience is the afterlife. We guess and theorize, and we use our imaginations at every stop along the way but it’s been a very long journey, and we don’t actually know for sure where we’re going, much less which path to take. South Carolina police were once able to track a convenience store burglar right to his house by following a trail of Doritos. Too bad spirits don’t eat Doritos – we could sure use a break like that. Ah well, back to the video.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon

When it Happens…

So, seen any ghosts lately? Do apparitions seek you out like a Jehovah’s Witness on a road trip? Or are you honestly more like the rest of us, because the dead do not usually line up single file waiting to make an appearance. In fact, I don’t need a hand on which to count the number of verifiable full-bodied apparitions I’ve seen, because I’ve never seen one.

I can’t even guess how many bonafide paranormal investigations I’ve participated in – there have been more than enough opportunities, and fortunately, I’ve witnessed all kinds of crazy stuff. There have been a bunch of black shadows, and even a couple of free-floating, light emitting orbs. I don’t usually even believe in orbs, but there they were. I’ve seen rods, light anomalies, mists, and God knows what else, but never anything that even resembled a human form. Well, We recorded something on video once, but that’s just not the same as an honest to goodness face-to-face, right? It’s great evidence, but it really doesn’t count if you’re not in the same room sharing some eye contact.

Don’t get me wrong. I totally believe those of you who lay claim to such “full-bodied” encounters. If you’re one of those (and I will know if you’re lying), you have my undivided attention – you’ve witnessed the paranormal holy grail. And I recognize that these things happen often enough to warrant investigation, which is why I happily hook up so many cameras, meters, and other recording devices in people’s houses and businesses. Infrared, full-spectrum, thermal – I’ll look with my eyes closed if it will work. I’ll do hand stands if that’s what it takes. I’ll shiver alone in cold, total darkness and talk out loud like an idiot to who or whatever will listen. I’ll beg to be touched; I’ll ask the absolute dumbest questions; I’ll suggest they roll a ball, spin a pinwheel, or suck the energy out of every battery I have. Once, I even promised to do a tap dance routine if someone would appear before me. It’s probably best for all concerned that they didn’t.

I’ve done all of this and more, and yet, no other-worldly specter has ever assembled into human form before me. It’s a very rare event, you know. It’s so rare, that barely a hand-full of such encounters can actually be verified. When you consider the number of people who are out there looking, it’s pretty amazing we haven’t seen more of them. I mean, we can hear them fairly easily; record them in a variety of shapes and dispositions; interact with them in a dozen different ways, but to actually see a for real ghost is spectacularly and extraordinarily uncommon. It is therefore, highly unlikely.

Spirits just don’t parade through thin air. I’m sure they have other, more important stuff to do. What makes us think grandma is going to get all gussied up and make an appearance at the family Christmas party? Why should the burn victim appear at the site of the accident? Do we really think good King Whatshisname is still rumbling through the castle moaning over the loss of his beautiful wife Gwendolyn? Aren’t they reunited by now?

And yet… When it happens, there’s no mistaking it, is there? Because sometimes it does happen, and then everything changes. Suddenly, there’s a new outlook on life and death; questions are answered with heavy authority; doubts are erased, and common sense goes out the window. When it happens, there is nothing more important for awhile, and your priorities change a bit – maybe a lot. When it happens, your soul is touched, your psyche is forever altered, and you know without a doubt it was real – regardless of anything anyone else will say. You feel privy to a kind of eternal understanding that few humans ever experience. When it happens, it feels like divine information; like a peek through the most exclusive keyhole ever.

Pretty heady stuff, eh? But if you don’t feel any part of the above, then I should probably ask you again – seen any ghosts lately? Don’t worry, you’ll know.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon

Enough Already!

I recently read an article about EVP on a website called Academia. I won’t mention any of the pertinent details because I can not justify providing even a smidgen of free publicity. Suffice it to say, while steeply couched in faux scientific reasoning, the theme of the article was to deny the existence of true EVP as paranormal artifacts. All the usual reasons were presented – rogue transmissions, misinterpreted sounds; even audio matrixing. And certainly, these are the usual suspects when researchers try to uncover the truth about a questionable EVP, but the article went two steps beyond the normal skeptic’s approach.

First, it “proved” that some investigators were hearing their own voices, and being so hellbent to hear from the dead, were unable to discern the truth of who was speaking. And second, the author used a very small sampling of paranormal teams in an anecdotal way to advance a poorly devised experiment upon which he would base all of his conclusions. He claimed to have reached out to each of the country’s almost 2,000 paranormal teams. Really? He found a national registry online (as if), and even though I have never heard of such a list, he stated that less than fifty teams professed interest in participating in his experiment. Regrettably, only four of them actually showed up for the festivities. However, in his mind, they were among the cream of the crop – highly respected and greatly proficient, so he was able to proceed. Of course, they were not the cream of any crop.

His experiment focused on mistakes and evidentiary disagreements between the four teams, and then pointed out how silly and hyper-suggestive they were when it came to analysis. He seemed to take great satisfaction from this and gloated quite a bit between the lines until, of course, he felt completely justified to declare the study of EVP as a waste of foolish time. Sources were listed, bibliographics noted – his “white paper” on the irrationality of people like me was all tied up with a confident bow.

Surprise surprise, he was writing on behalf of a national magazine for skeptics, although the article’s appearance on a site named Academia through me for a bit of a loop, but I guess his point of view was to be expected. I was still greatly disturbed by it. I was deeply bothered reading his unfair comments about my brothers and sisters in the field. No one knows any better than I about how abysmal a bad paranormal team can truly be – I have taken my fair share of potshots at them from my own bully pulpit, and probably will again. But I’ve always considered paranormal investigators the same as plumbers or doctors or whatever – some are great, most are okay, and some are God awful. Paranormal teams run the same gamut.

But it seemed personal with this writer, even though his vitriol was hidden between the scientific buzzwords and an air of superior mental acuity. At first, you weren’t sure where he would fall on the subject, but then… Slowly, and with the steady hand of a surgeon, he began to cut as deep as he could, resulting in the successful removal of EVP as a topic even worthy of discussion. In his mind, he had delivered the death blow – his logic unchallengeable, his clever manipulation of the subject quite superb, and his laser-like dissection of the field flawless and clean.

Now, if you’re still reading, you may know that I can be very hard on skeptics for their larceny of science and their fascistic attitudes toward the paranormal. But I don’t actually object to hearing skeptical opinions when good, solid scientific method rules the day. What I fail to understand is this “by any means necessary” approach applied to the task of discrediting any and all things paranormal.

Is it really necessary to resort to the extremes of lying and name calling? Must they question the sanity and intelligence of those who would disagree with them? And why publish a bogus paper in a site named Academia? Such a lofty name – I wonder what sort of credentials accompany such a high and mighty moniker.

I don’t really know where to go from here. Maybe I’m hurt – no one likes to feel that others see them as delusional – or worse. Maybe I’m outright insulted because the intensity of the hypocrisy was based on lies in order to accuse us of fakery and malpractice. Maybe I’m sad because it weakens my desire to share results and findings. Pearls before swine, ya know?. But I think I’m just tired of it. Enough already! They don’t appreciate our work. They attempt to despoil our credibility incessantly and refuse to view our evidence objectively. I’m tired of it! Not angry tired – I’m just over it. No more for me. You can color me gone from these kinds of people, and that’s a shame. We could have learned from one another – I always thought we would; that’s how it was explained to me in the beginning. We were all wrong though, weren’t we? That’s our biggest failure; our most significant mistake of all – thinking we all just wanted the truth.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Fist Bump

Whenever I watch Ghost Hunters, which hasn’t been for awhile now, I typically cringe when they do the fist bump at the end. For some stupid reason it just annoys me. I don’t remember when my fist bump hostility began, but one evening I found myself in the middle of a tirade. My wife, who would rather not watch the show at all, remarked that if I hated it that much, I should stop watching. “It’s just the fist bump!” I said, completely flabbergasted. “That’s all!” Geeez! I mean, it’s such a small thing, right? I keep all of that to myself now, of course, but I confess, for some reason it’s like fingernails on a chalk board to me. Indeed, when Grant left the show, I was sure the ritual would go with him. It didn’t.

But this morning I accidentally discovered a video lampooning the series, and I’m ashamed to admit I watched just to see if the fist bump would make an appearance there as well. Fittingly, at the end, it did. Now I have to say that watching Ghost Hunters wander through the dark to a soundtrack of fart noises wasn’t particularly amusing to me, and that was the only punchline in this parody. Maybe it’s my age, but when I hear the sound of passed gas, it conjures unpleasant memories, so I rarely find it humorous. Plus, Jason and the team represent something to me that has nothing to do with flatulence, so it just didn’t strike me funny. 

There must not be any respect left in the world, because surely they deserve better than that. Until it comes to that damned fist bump. I am frankly embarrassed at how easily that part entertained me. Not enough to replay it more than three times, but if one stupid laugh is what the satirists we’re going for, they eventually got mine, I’m sorry to say. 

Unfortunately, Ghost Hunters has always been susceptible to this kind of thing. For some reason, people like to analyze every second of every show – searching for fakery and staging, mostly, but also as fodder for the kind of sub-standard satire I witnessed today. And it’s a shame, because the program has had a tremendous impact on a lot of people. I won’t go on and on about it, but it’s almost impossible to successfully disregard the contribution of the show, whether as a catalyst for increased paranormal awareness, or as a primer for the millions of us who wanted to follow in their footsteps. Ghost Hunters is seminal, and represents the first sincere attempt to share anything seriously paranormal with the masses. 

In the beginning, the show was earth shattering, beloved, and highly valued but I guess it’s all come down to this sort of windy twaddle now, so I feel kinda guilty about the whole fist bump thing. After all, what would I have preferred in its place – a full embrace; a chug of Hennessy in the front seat of the van; congratulations over a giant, dovetailed doobie? 

Well, I understand the value in being free to make fun of our own culture, and I appreciate the talent it takes to do so successfully. Satire is not an easy form of humor to deliver, and someone is always going to be insulted, but fart noises? Really? I think I heard Louis C.K. once say that all fart jokes are funny. Maybe they are, but I wasn’t laughing this time. I just felt a little sad. Until it came to the fist bump, of course. I think that makes me some kind of a hypocrite, doesn’t it?
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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

Soul to Soul

“That team is better because they have more equipment.” Not! Still, imagine for a second that quality paranormal research and investigation actually does hinge on possessing an abundance of gear. More is better. Bigger is better! Where have I heard that kind of thinking before? How discouraging…

Well, I guess a large library with a gazillion books is better than a small one. Assuming they’re quality books, of course – not just limited to bad romance novels and every Atlas known to mankind. It’s also probably true that a large urban medical group with dozens of specialists is more effective than old Doc Brown (third barn on the left), unless all those specialists are graduates of the Mozambique Academy of Archery and Medicine. That changes the perspective a bit. And certainly all those painters of motel wall art can’t be bad, right?

I still cry hogwash. More equipment does not mean a paranormal team is better. How many laser grids does one need? “Anyone want a FLIR? I’ve got two!” The first paranormal team I was associated with was anything but overly equipped and we managed to capture more evidence than any team I’d heard of, so you’ll never convince me that results have anything to do with how much really cool stuff you’ve got. But there are reasons our team’s investigations were fruitful, and it’s the same for every working paranormal team that succeeds. 

At the top of the list is using your resources wisely. Keep your equipment in working order, know when and how to use it, and understand that these wondrous devices are tools – it’s you who is doing the investigating. Pay attention to your surroundings and above all else, react to what you see and hear. Learn how to follow your core instincts, and don’t be afraid to go in the wrong direction. Be respectful and understanding of those whose environment you may be invading. And certainly not last or least, be as thorough as you can.

Investigating is actually a very dynamic situation – it becomes an entity of its own, and investigators feel their way through like the notes of a song in search of the melody. We become part of the darkness; a breeze in the wind, if you will. We are the peaceful representatives of the living world in a place where life may just be relative. We are ambassadors. “Yeah yeah, wax poetic, old man. A breeze in the wind indeed!” Well, overly hyperbolic or not, none of any of that requires even one piece of equipment. Investigation starts with the humanity of the individual, I think, and success doesn’t hinge on the lux of one’s IR bullet camera.

The team that spends its time bragging about their equipment, probably has their priorities out of line – a fairly understandable statement to make, I think. But what does that say about those of us who assume it makes them better? Not very much, I’m afraid. One doesn’t hire a surgeon for the number of scalpels he owns. His knowledge, creativity, and skill are better reasons. Why should it be any different with paranormal teams? Then again, I’d love to walk through a location armed to the teeth with every possible scientific apparatus available, but then how much time would I spend investigating? Equipment has its place – no doubt, and if used properly, can provide the evidence we all so covet, but I’ve always believed spirit communication is best achieved soul to soul. Equipment isn’t part of that equation.

I’m not saying less is best, or that a highly equipped team is automatically lacking – certainly, we need “things” to do our job, but most of today’s paranormal devices can’t prove a thing; won’t provide a shred of actual evidence. What we really need are well-trained, highly motivated investigators in whose hands to place all that equipment, and even then there are no guarantees.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.

“I’m Here”

Sometimes I wonder why EVP comments are usually so lacking in substance. What happened to all those revealing descriptions of the afterlife I’ve been asking for? The voices never even hint at what it’s like to be a spirit. I’d like to know how it was to meet Jesus. Surely a word or two about that could settle a few discussions here in the physical world. Is there a Heaven? Hell? Maybe there’s somewhere in between! How about just a little explanation guys? Nothing too detailed; it’s not like I want to know all the best secrets – maybe just a few…

Problem is, after a decade of research, and several thousand bonafide EVP later, I’ve decided this is a distinctly closed-mouthed bunch – they’re not gonna lay it all out on a silver platter for the likes of me. Oh sure, once in a blue moon someone over there slips up – no one’s perfect, after all. Occasionally, they’ll say something really spiritually titillating and I’ll get all worked up and think I’m actually on to something, but they seldom verify; rarely repeat; never elaborate. It seems almost as though certain subjects are automatically off the table, so I guess I’ll just have to grin and bear it; keep trying.

You know, I’ve posed a great many significant questions to spirits over the years, so they’ve had a lot of splendid opportunities to spill the beans. Still, I think I’ve been able to learn a few things by piecing together hundreds of similar comments from who I think are different spirits – kind of like Family Feud. “We asked 100 ghosts what it’s like over there, and the number one answer is…” But whenever I get too deep, there’s usually complete silence, and it seems a bit rude.

I don’t want to take it personally – I assume no one else is being given the real skinny about the real deal, but it’s hard not to occasionally feel rejected after all this time. I thought they liked me, but then how does one know? Maybe it’s all so amazing that I couldn’t handle the truth or even begin to comprehend it. They could be doing me a favor. Or perhaps there just aren’t adequate words to even offer explanations. It’s difficult enough to describe a butterfly, so astral travel must be a bitch to get a handle on. Or, maybe they just don’t know anything. Like us, they’re just where they are and the mysteries keep confounding, and the number of puzzle pieces keep growing.

I mean, we’re about as sophisticated as any generation on earth has ever been and we still aren’t completely positive we’re even actually here. We’ve been struggling with the concept of existence since the very beginning, so it’s quite possible they suffer a similar fate of cluelessness. Also, we tend to think spirits are tuned-in to the true wonders of pretty much everything, but maybe not. Some of us even assume we go straight to heaven and everlasting communion with God, but for all we know, there’s yet another entire lifetime of some sort to endure. Maybe several – each markedly different than our current state, but still nowhere near the realm of understanding. It just might be that a spirit’s answer to all our substantive questions would be as vague and inadequate as our own.

I once asked a spirit where he was. I expected him to say he was in Heaven, or the fourth astral plane, in the attic, or something dynamic, bazaar, and spectacular. But his answer was more revealing, I think, and infinitely more fascinating. “I’m here,” is all he said. Of course I don’t know where “here” is, and there are a bunch of ways one could interpret the comment, but maybe none of it matters anyway. “I’m here” kinda speaks volumes if you really take the time to think about it. And well… I’m here too, friend, and I don’t know how else to put it either. I wonder if anyone ever will.

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Voices From Forever by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/ZBBmj Available on Amazon

There Is No Silence by Randall Keller http://goo.gl/U6KY7 Available on Amazon.