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Raina Telgemeier's Graphic Novel 'Ghosts' Takes On A Tough Topic For Children : NPR
"Raina Telgemeier's new graphic novel Ghosts is about death. But it's written for children.

Telgemeier tells NPR's books editor Barrie Hardymon that stories serve as a way to begin difficult conversations. "Stories are such a powerful way of communicating ideas and in comforting people," she says.

Telgemeier has been writing and drawing graphic novels for years. Her 2010 memoir Smile recounts what it was like to be teased by other children face after losing two front teeth in sixth grade and wearing "embarrassing headgear," braces and "even a retainer with fake teeth attached."

In 2012, Telgemeier's Drama told a "colorful tale of teenage intrigue, but this time the mad crushes and mood swings take place among the stage crew of a middle-school theater production," said NPR's Glen Weldon, who called it "an unabashedly sunny, funny and warmhearted read."

Her latest graphic novel Ghosts is about two sisters, middle-schooler Catrina and little sister Maya, who has the incurable lung disease cystic fibrosis. Their family has just moved to a new town on the Northern California coast where their parents hope the cool sea air will help Maya breathe.

The town turns out to be full of ghosts — and Maya wants nothing more than to befriend them, though her older sister can't accept that Maya may soon join them. The story carries themes of acceptance, packed with imagery of the town, its ghosts and its Day of the Dead celebrations.

Telgemeier talked with NPR's Barrie Hardymon about broaching difficult topics with children, why she likes skeletons, and the similarities between characters and real people in her life."

[See also: https://boingboing.net/2016/10/04/ghosts-raina-telgemeier-upbea.html

"YA graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier is a force of nature; her Babysitters Club graphic novels are witty and smart and snappy; her standalone graphic novels are even better, but her latest, Ghosts, is her best to date: an improbably upbeat story about death, assimilation and cystic fibrosis.

Catrina doesn't want to move to Bahia de la Luna in Northern California; she's a So-Cal kid and she loves her middle-school friends. But the sun only shines 62 days a year in Bahia de la Luna, and that's important for the health of her little sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis.

Realistically, everyone knows that Maya's illness will kill her someday, and maybe someday soon. Practically speaking, they put it behind them, adapt, try strategies for making the most of their time together. So they move to foggy northern California, where Cat and Maya go looking for friends -- and find them, sorta.

Carlos is a local kid in Catrina's grade, and he specializes in giving ghost tours. That's fertile ground, because there are really ghosts in Bahia de la Luna, who come through in the thin places, like the old Spanish Mission, and who are decidedly friendly -- and, if you can give them a little of your breath, they get decidedly lively. The problem is that Maya doesn't have any breath to give -- her first encounter with the friendly spirits sends her to the hospital.

Catrina tries to make it work. She makes more friends, stays clear of the ghosts, gets settled in at school. But the ghosts won't stay clear of her -- they keep manifesting around the house, where Maya is now on a respirator full-time.

The change of location, and the family's friendships with Carlos's family, triggers a long-overdue discussion with Maya and Cat's mother about her own Mexican heritage, the difficult times she had with her mom, and how much of their family heritage disappeared when their grandmother died.

As Halloween and the Dia de los Muertos approach, all of the story's threads begin to gather, heading for a conclusion that seems like it could be wrenching and/or terrifying -- but rather than going for a cheap scare or cheap tears, Telgemeier pulls off an ending that is emotionally complicated, nuanced, and, if it's a little sad, it's also equally joyous. It's a stupendously executed tale, and handles difficult themes related to culture, assimilation and chronic illness in children, and when I finished reading it to my eight-year-old yesterday, we were both riveted."]
classideas  graphicnovels  rainatelgemeier  death  2016  ghosts  california  norcal  books  socal 
november 2016 by robertogreco
Ethnography for aging societies: Dignity, cultural genres, and Singapore's imagined futures - FISCHER - 2015 - American Ethnologist - Wiley Online Library
"Social theory generated in and about Singapore lies in psychic depths and archive fevers of an immigrant society subjected to accelerated social changes that devalue the lives of those marked by aging. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in Singapore, weaving together four kinds of data sets—gerontology psychiatric research and intervention; changing ritual forms; analytically phenomenological, paraethnographic theater and stories; and student video and drama projects—I argue that new literacies, pedagogies, and practices can foster enriched community life in posttraumatic, aging societies. Focusing on meaning and affect, and referencing Derrida on hauntology, archive fever, survie, and grammatology (as syntax of social configurations within which aging occurs, or, sociocultural texts, narratives, and symbols), I build on the ethnographic literatures on aging and explore strong metaphors of monstrous history (taowu), ghosts (hantu), obliviousness brought by prosperity (fat years), and intercultural repetition compulsions of unfilial children (Lear)."



"Histories’ shadows, ghosts, and specters are always present in the tangled political maneuverings of Southeast Asian nation-states. The elderly, often silenced, are among the keepers of these stories, the quotidian and lived realities coursing beneath the nationalist propaganda used by power holders to justify their “national interests” or “national security.” Ancestors’ graves are places for the fading and ever more haphazard retellings, particularly in Singapore, where graveyards are steadily being removed, producing legacy ghosts that not frequently, but also not infrequently, are said to cause bulldozers used in new construction to break down, requiring the rites of Taoist priests to smooth the way (e.g., Comaroff 2009)."

[via: http://justinpickard.tumblr.com/post/120173878395/histories-shadows-ghosts-and-specters-are ]
dignity  singapore  ethnography  elderly  aging  ancestors  graves  ghosts  2015  society  grammatology  hauntology  jacquesderrida  michaelfischer 
june 2015 by robertogreco
ruby amanze
"ruby onyinyechi amanze is a Brooklyn based artist of Nigerian birth 
and British upbringing. her drawings and works on paper have been influenced greatly by this cultural hybridity, as well as textile design, photography, print-making and architecture.
 amanze graduated Summa Cum Laude from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia. she then went on to pursue a M.F.A at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.



amanze has exhibited her work in numerous exhibitions in New York,
 London, Ghana, Lagos, Philadelphia and Amsterdam. most recently, amanze was
 awarded a 2012-13 Fulbright Scholars Award, to join the 
Department of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, 
Nsukka. she currently resides in Brooklyn where she maintains a full time studio practice."



"In a once conflicted space of neither here not there, ada the Alien and her cohort of kindred creatures [including audre the Leopard, Pidgin, Twin, Oyibo the Merman, ofunne & the Ghosts…] now find solace and empowerment in their self constructed, chimeric universe of hybridity and freedom. Exhibiting human, alien and animal characteristics, they navigate effortlessly through an intergalactic space and time. Ranging in size from hand held to immersive, these drawings reflect the layered experiences of a growing population of “in-betweeners” and global citizens, whose fluid identity is not grounded in a monolithic geography or permanence based, notion of home. Aliens, hybrids and ghosts is a non-linear narrative that celebrates the labyrinth of national, ethnic and sexual identities that exist somewhere between constructed reality, fantasy, memory and imagination. In this world, creatures find authenticity and wholeness in their ability to simultaneously belong nowhere and everywhere."

[See also:
http://www.okayafrica.com/news/no-such-place-edward-tyler-nahem-fine-art-new-york-city/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xvhZLbdjRvQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RexNXjrzrKI
https://vimeo.com/70056081 ]
rubyonyinyechiamanze  art  artists  africa  nigeria  nyc  brooklyn  space  aliens  in-betweeners  permanence  geography  home  hybrids  authenticity  wholeness  belonging  identity  memory  fantasy  globalcitizens  ghosts  rubyamanze 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Every Email Is a Ghost Story - The Awl
"The truth is that we are surrounded by digital ghosts, easily conjured. The notion that people, especially younger people, are vulnerable to bad digital decision-making has risen to the level of public policy—Europe recently enacted a “right to be forgotten” law that has Google excising unpleasant links from individual search histories. But the idea that some indeterminate past self can fly out of nowhere is disconcerting beyond, say, a prospective employer seeing an embarrassing picture. Self-respect, to paraphrase Joan Didion, isn’t about the public face of things—it concerns a “private reconciliation.” Locked in my college email box were drafts and funny notes but also a trove of strange saved messages. They were emails that I had written and for some reason—sentimentality, pride—felt compelled to save. Most were unsent. They were, I think, an attempt at love letters."
ghosts  email  history  technology  memory  2014  time  digital  search  reyhanharmanci  via:alexismadrigal 
november 2014 by robertogreco
We Are All Living Among the Dead
"My father loved high-end stereo equipment. After he died, I kept seeing one of his old radio tuners from the 1980s in my mind. For my whole life, I'd been listening to his broadcasts — but now, when I moved the knob to tune the station frequency, there was nothing. The signal had ended. But I kept trying to tune it anyway, wanting to hear him apologize, or say he loved me, or list the ingredients in what he was cooking for dinner. There is only static, though. Static forever.

I think our fantasies of zombies and ghosts are ways of explaining this feeling, this sense that the dead are still out there broadcasting and walking around. Just because someone has died doesn't mean they don't continue to shape our lives.

Will was an electronics geek and environmentalist, who combined these passions to create a large intentional community in California called Regen Co-op. Many Co-op members worked with Will at the small business he ran, which helps people transition to solar energy and electric cars. Here is a classic moment with Will, doing a how-to about creating a car charging station in Sausalito, CA: [video]

It's thanks to Will that I have an unholy number of solar panels on my roof and a strange assortment of LEDs in pretty much every light socket in my house. At his funeral, which was packed with colleagues and friends and activist co-conspirators, I heard many people talk about how Will would live on — not just in their hearts, but in their electrical wiring and energy systems. Will changed our infrastructure. He is dead, but he is still here, in the power I send back to the grid on sunny days.

But how can we bear to live among the dead? I think this is also a question posed by ghost stories, which are usually full of pain and horror. How do we cope with all the missing people, the fantasies we have of them, when there's work to be done and people still living all around us? I wish the answer were as simple as burning the ghost's bones with a pinch of salt, after hanging out with the Winchester brothers on Supernatural. If only it were as easy to dispatch my sadness as it is to shoot a zombie straight through the eyes.

Sure, there are comforting rituals and the slow erosion of pain with the passage of time. That's not enough. I think the only thing to be done is to admit that the dead live with you forever, and to find some way to make room for them — while still leaving plenty of space for the people who have survived with you. I carry my dad's wallet with me every day, with his old teacher's union card in it. And right now, I am sitting under an LED light that Will installed. These are just small material things, but they represent a lot more than that.

They are my promises to the dead that I will survive, and I will take them with me into the future. I will make their jokes for them; I will cook the recipes they taught me; I will fight to save the Earth alongside their ghosts. This is about keeping up the good fight for all of humanity, but it's also about the little struggles just to stay hopeful after a sad year. So I will take their memories out to see Guardians of the Galaxy, and I'll invite all you survivors to come along too. Those of us who remember the dead are all the dead have left; and that is why we honor them by sticking together, by staying alive together, so that every haunting becomes a possible future.

Hey you, out there — please stay alive with me. There are no zombies to fight. We only have each other."
death  memory  memories  time  immortality  ghosts  2014  annaleenewitz  mourning 
october 2014 by robertogreco
An Emphatic Umph: Death and the Afterlife
"The other day, I was spending time with a friend and every time I chuckled, she'd say, That's your brother! That's his laugh! Think about what an insane thing that is to say. I wasn't quite sure I knew what she meant at that juncture but I do know the experience of being possessed by my brother. Usually, I feel it when I'm holding forth. Oh, lord, when I was teaching, I'd be mid-lecture when all I could hear, all I could feel, was my brother spouting — sprouting — up through my mouth, a kind of Ouija board.

My brother lives in Manila, in the Philippines. But he also lives right here — in me, as me, with me, at least a little. My sister is dead and she, too, lives right here — in me, as me, with me. Death, the Philippines, across town, it doesn't matte: our possession of and by other people transcends time and space, transcends body and ego. This can, of course, be to our dismay. I have familial forces working in me that I'd like to dispel. In fact, in order not to be a total asshole of a father — the key word here being total — I have to wrestle, stifle, and muffle the paternal voices that live in me, that live as me, that haunt me all the time.

We live with ghosts. This is not some supernatural thing, some mystical claim. Events are not discrete. When something happens, it doesn't just begin then end. It continues to happen more or less. This is called, amongst other things, memory. Memory is not a card catalog of snapshots. Memory is the presence of the past, here and now. It's my tying my shoe, craving rice noodles for dinner, knowing the way to my son's school. It's also the smell of my childhood house; it's falling into a pile of dog shit at the ever sad PS 165 playground and then my five year old ass being asked to strip for a bath by the Jamaican nanny I could never understand; it's the wide, radiant, true smile of my sister as well as her confused, sad, skinny face days before she died; it's the daily screaming of my parents that still echoes in my skull. It's everything that's ever happened to me and is still happening to me, right here, right now.

We are events, each of us. We continue just as the things that happen to us continue. Sure, they seem done and gone but they — but we — persist in various ways, as echoes and sentiments, as shadows and gestures, as scars and dreams."
danielcoffeen  douglain  death  2014  kierkegaard  ghosts  afterlife  religion  buddhism  meaning  meaningmaking  living  consciousness  williamsburroughs  nietzsche  foucault  jacquesderrida  paulricoeur  pauldeman  marclafia  memory  softarchitecture  lisarobertson  mortality  aubreydegrey  immortality  events  experience  time  memories  writing  transcendence  deleuze  plato  michelfoucault 
october 2014 by robertogreco
The ghost in the machine
"In racing video games, a ghost is a car representing your best score that races with you around the track. This story of a son discovering and racing against his deceased father's ghost car in an Xbox racing game will hit you right in the feels."

[See also: http://jalopnik.com/son-finds-his-late-dads-ghost-in-a-racing-video-game-1609457749 ]

[Update 16 Apr 2016: Now a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCtSgb-b7zg ]
death  ghosts  digitalghosts  kottke  digitaltrails  memory  games  gaming  videogames  xbox  2014 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Richard Lloyd Parry · Ghosts of the Tsunami · LRB 6 February 2014
[As Erin says, "This essay on Japanese ghost narratives following the tsunami is extraordinarily humane." https://twitter.com/kissane/status/430081609560518656 ]

"When opinion polls put the question, ‘How religious are you?’, the Japanese rank among the most ungodly people in the world. It took a catastrophe for me to understand how misleading this self-assessment is. It is true that the organised religions, Buddhism and Shinto, have little influence on private or national life. But over the centuries both have been pressed into the service of the true faith of Japan: the cult of the ancestors.

I knew about the ‘household altars’, or butsudan, which are still seen in most homes and on which the memorial tablets of dead ancestors – the ihai – are displayed. The butsudan are black cabinets of lacquer and gilt, with openwork carvings of lions and birds; the ihai are upright tablets of black polished wood, vertically inscribed in gold. Offerings of flowers, incense, rice, fruit and drinks are placed before them; at the summer Festival of the Dead, families light candles and lanterns to welcome home the ancestral spirits. I had assumed that these picturesque practices were matters of symbolism and custom, attended to in the same way that people in the West will participate in a Christian funeral without any literal belief in the words of the liturgy. But in Japan spiritual beliefs are regarded less as expressions of faith than as simple common sense, so lightly and casually worn that it is easy to miss them altogether. ‘The dead are not as dead there as they are in our own society,’ the religious scholar Herman Ooms writes. ‘It has always made perfect sense in Japan as far back as history goes to treat the dead as more alive than we do … even to the extent that death becomes a variant, not a negation of life.’

At the heart of ancestor worship is a contract. The food, drink, prayers and rituals offered by their descendants gratify the dead, who in turn bestow good fortune on the living. Families vary in how seriously they take these ceremonies, but even for the unobservant, the dead play a continuing part in domestic life. For much of the time, their status is something like that of beloved, deaf and slightly batty old folk who can’t expect to be at the centre of the family but who are made to feel included on important occasions. Young people who have passed important entrance examinations, got a job or made a good marriage kneel before the butsudan to report their success. Victory or defeat in an important legal case, for example, will be shared with the ancestors in the same way.

When grief is raw the presence of the deceased is overwhelming. In households that lost children in the tsunami it became routine, after half an hour of tea and chat, to be asked if I would like to ‘meet’ the dead sons and daughters. I would be led to a shrine covered with framed photographs, toys, favourite drinks and snacks, letters, drawings and school exercise books. One mother had commissioned Photoshopped portraits of her children, showing them as they would have been had they lived: a boy who died in primary school smiling proudly in high school uniform, a teenage girl as she should have looked in a kimono at her coming of age ceremony. Here, every morning, she began the day by talking to her dead children, weeping love and apology, as unselfconsciously as if she were speaking over a long-distance telephone line.

The tsunami did appalling violence to the religion of the ancestors. Along with walls, roofs and people, the water carried away household altars, memorial tablets and family photographs. Cemetery vaults were ripped open and the bones of the dead scattered. Temples were destroyed, along with memorial books listing the names of ancestors over generations. ‘The memorial tablets – it’s difficult to exaggerate their importance,’ Yozo Taniyama, a priest and friend of Reverend Kaneda, told me. ‘When there’s a fire or an earthquake, the ihai are the first thing many people will save, before money or documents. People died in the tsunami because they went home for the ihai. It’s life – like saving your late father’s life.’

When people die violently or prematurely, in anger or anguish, they are at risk of becoming gaki, ‘hungry ghosts’, who wander between worlds, propagating curses and mischief. There are rituals for placating unhappy spirits, but in the aftermath of the disaster few families were in a position to perform them. And then there were those ancestors whose descendants were entirely wiped out by the wave. Their comfort in the afterlife depended entirely on the reverence of living families, which had been permanently and irrevocably cut off: their situation was as helpless as that of orphaned children.

Thousands of spirits had passed from life to death; countless others were cut loose from their moorings in the afterlife. How could they all be cared for? Who was to honour the compact between the living and the dead? In such circumstances, how could there fail to be a swarm of ghosts?

*

Even before the tsunami struck its coast, nowhere in Japan was closer to the world of the dead than Tohoku, the northern part of the island of Honshu. In ancient times, it was a notorious frontier realm of barbarians, goblins and bitter cold. For modern Japanese, it remains a remote, marginal, faintly melancholy place, of thick dialects and quaint conservatism, the symbol of a rural tradition that, for city dwellers, is no more than a folk memory. Tohoku has bullet trains and smartphones and all the other 21st-century conveniences, but it also has secret Buddhist cults, a lively literature of supernatural tales and a sisterhood of blind shamanesses who gather once a year at a volcano called Osore-san, or ‘Mt Fear’, the traditional entrance to the underworld.

Masashi Hijikata, the closest thing you could find to a Tohoku nationalist, understood immediately that after the disaster hauntings would follow. ‘We remembered the old ghost stories,’ he said, ‘and we told one another that there would be many new stories like that. Personally, I don’t believe in the existence of spirits, but that’s not the point. If people say they see ghosts, then that’s fine – we can leave it at that.’

Hijikata was born in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, but came to Sendai as a university student, and has the passion of the successful immigrant for his adopted home. When I met him he was running a small publishing company whose books and journals were exclusively on Tohoku subjects. Prominent among his authors was the academic Norio Akasaka, a stern critic of the policies of the central government towards the region. These had been starkly illuminated by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima: an industrial plant erected by Tokyo, supplying electricity to the capital, and now spitting radiation over people who had enjoyed none of its benefits. ‘Before the war, it used to be said that Tohoku provided men as soldiers, women as prostitutes, and rice as tribute,’ Akasaka wrote. ‘I had thought that that kind of colonial situation had changed, but after the disaster I changed my thinking.’

Hijikata explained the politics of ghosts to me, as well as the opportunity and the risk they represented for the people of Tohoku. ‘We realised that so many people were having experiences like this,’ he said, ‘but there were people taking advantage of them. Trying to sell them this and that, telling them: “This will give you relief.”’ He met a woman who had lost her son in the disaster, and who was troubled by a sense of being haunted. She went to the hospital: the doctor gave her anti-depressants. She went to the temple: the priest sold her an amulet, and told her to read the sutras. ‘But all she wanted,’ he said, ‘was to see her son again. There are so many like her. They don’t care if they are ghosts – they want to encounter ghosts.’

‘Given all that, we thought we had to do something. Of course, there are some people who are experiencing trauma, and if your mental health is suffering then you need medical treatment. Other people will rely on the power of religion, and that is their choice. What we do is to create a place where people can accept the fact that they are witnessing the supernatural. We provide an alternative for helping people through the power of literature.’

Hijikata revived a literary form which had flourished in the feudal era: the kaidan, or ‘weird tale’. Kaidankai, or ‘weird tale parties’, had been a popular summer pastime, when the delicious chill imparted by ghost stories served as a form of pre-industrial air conditioning. Hijikata’s kaidankai were held in modern community centres and public halls. They would begin with a reading by one of his authors. Then members of the audience would share experiences of their own: students, housewives, working people, retirees. He organised kaidan-writing competitions, and published the best of them in an anthology. Among the winners was Ayane Suto, whom I met one afternoon at Hijikata’s office."
japan  ghosts  belief  religion  humanism  2014  death  tsunami  richardlloydparry  kurihara  buddhism  zen  storytelling  exorcisms  stories  tohoku  masashihijikata  kaidan  kaidankai  writing  grief  mourning  supernatural  norioakasaka  reverendkaneda 
february 2014 by robertogreco
“When I’m designing, I believe in ghosts.” | Design Culture Lab
"When I’m designing, I believe in ghosts. Let me explain.

I’m an analytical person. I believe in science and logic. I don’t actually believe in ghosts in any serious way.

But part of great design is taking lateral leaps of logic, of challenging assumptions, letting the world change your mind, staying receptive to new experiences and ways of thinking, channeling the energy and ideas around you, knowing anything is possible, letting your intuition drive your thinking, not saying no, not shutting things down, re-evaluating your point of view, treating everyone as if they have something to teach you, staying mentally agile, sharp, light, nimble, and quick.

And when I’m in that mode, when I’m truly in touch with my creativity, when my mind is necessarily wide open, the ghosts slip in. Of course ghosts might exist, just like of course this design problem has a solution just out of my reach, one I can discover as long as I keep working at it…"
2012  flow  intuition  creativity  thinking  mindchanges  assumptions  logic  ghosts  design  mindchanging 
october 2012 by robertogreco

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