Goldfield Hotel Redemption Embodied Perception and Occularcentrism in Ghost Hunting Reality TV Shows

Science manipulates things and gives up dwelling in them…science confronts the actual world only from greater and greater distances. It is and always has been, that admirably active, ingenious, and bold way of thinking, that one-sided thought that treats every being as an “object in general,” that is, at once as if all being were nothing to us…

-       Maurice Merleau-Ponty,Eye and Mind

                  “My name is Zak Bagans, I never believed in ghosts until I came face to face with one. So I set out on a quest to capture what I once saw, on video”. This is the first line introducing every episode of the Travel Channel HD hit show “Ghost Adventures”. It begins with a claim to an experience and a pursuit to prove that experience through visual documentation. In the United States now there are 39 paranormal reality television shows on major networks. Each show is driven by the scientific method; paranormal investigators try to make evidence reliable and repeatable as well as debunk evidence. The genre stakes its credibility in visual evidence that is harvested with the scientific method. But are visual representation and scientific method the most veritable way to engage with ghosts? This effort for empiricism is extreme and reactionary to the history of supernatural encounters, which is based in storytelling, myth, folklore and tall tales. Regardless of whether one believes in ghosts, when we consider American ghost hunting, there seems to be a cleft between what we want ghosts to be, and how we want to meet and record them.