Friday, October 30, 2009

Link Proliferation: "When Grete Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, she found herself changed in her bed into a Halloween costume."

Whose Dad You Gonna Call?

The Daily Beast features a profile of Peter Aykroyd, co-author A History of Ghosts: The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts, and Ghostbusters, and his son Dan Aykroyd, comedian and eccentric vodka producer.

The story reveals that Dan's interest in the ghost stuff comes from his family's long-time involvement in psychic "research":

Peter Aykroyd, father of the famed comic actor Dan, isn’t afraid of ghosts.

Even when the long-deceased spirits of Ming Dynasty Chinese, ancient Egyptian princes, and the family’s 18th-century patriarch, Samuel Aykroyd I, called out to him as a young boy in Ontario, Peter says he felt no fear.

And why should he have? Ever since he was 8 years old, purported communication with the dead was a regular occurrence, part of a long series of séances conducted by his grandfather, Dr. Samuel A. Aykroyd, a dentist with a side career as a psychic investigator, and the family medium, Walter Ashurst, who would channel the spirits’ voices through his body.

“Even extraordinary things in life, experienced enough, become commonplace,” Peter, now 87, told me as we sat together with Dan in Manhattan’s Essex House. “If you see a ghost 10 times—”

“—it’s like the family pet,” the younger Aykroyd interrupted, completing his father’s sentence.

Monsters Have Their Uses

In the Chronicle of Higher Ed, there's a nifty little post discussing the use of monsters in the development of our "moral imaginations":

In a significant sense, monsters are a part of our attempt to envision the good life or at least the secure life. Our ethical convictions do not spring fully grown from our heads but must be developed in the context of real and imagined challenges. In order to discover our values, we have to face trials and tribulation, and monsters help us imaginatively rehearse. Imagining how we will face an unstoppable, powerful, and inhuman threat is an illuminating exercise in hypothetical reasoning and hypothetical feeling.

You can't know for sure how you will face a headless zombie, an alien face-hugger, an approaching sea monster, or a chainsaw-wielding psycho. Fortunately, you're unlikely to be put to the test. But you might face similarly terrifying trials. You might be assaulted, be put on the front lines of some war, or be robbed, raped, or otherwise harassed and assailed. We may be lucky enough to have had no real acquaintance with such horrors, but we have all nonetheless played them out in our mind's eye. And though we can't know for sure how we'll face an enemy soldier or a rapist, it doesn't stop us from imaginatively formulating responses. We use the imagination in order to establish our own agency in chaotic and uncontrollable situations.

You've Got a Day to Get Your Shit Together

Dustin at McNally Jackson (SoHo's finest purveyor of vendible books) posts ideas for down and dirty literary-themed costumes. Here's a sample:

A. Gregor Samsa’s sister from The Metamorphosis. What was her name again? Ah, yes, Grete. Thank you internet. I don’t really know what that would look like, but I think it’d be brilliant.

C. You could be A Film Adaptation of Your Favorite Book. So: shorter, dumber, but also sexier, with more kicks to the face, more explosions, and maybe a happier ending. (Don’t take the “more explosions” bit too literally, eh?)

E. A young John Ashbery, in a convex mirror. Wow, I love that one. Maybe I’ll do that. You can still do it, too. I think the more of us there are, the funnier it would be.

1 comment:

zoe said...

hmmm. that aykroyd stuff is a total surprise for me...i'm not sure what to think...i'm going to have to follow up on that.
good title, "whose dad you gonna call?" :D