The Faint Spirits: On Ghosts, Grief, and Motherhood
I do not have flesh; I only have ghosts. In this story, the dead are only what I say they are. Does this make them less real?
Nothing good happens after midnight.
we, moved in, my family, my family,
The Lord of the Rings
just in caseprepared for the worst
Just Agon Stories. By Charlie Ching-Guo Lin.
If myth and everyday life are not inseparable, then liberation cannot be found by . . . containing folklore through museumification; it can only be found by taking possession of the narratives by rewriting and remixing them.
How did you know the obake lived there, Grandpa?What stories did you hear about them?
OhI don’t remember
But what do these characters look like? I can’t imagine herHe doesn’t feel realI want them to be more fleshed-out.
Yūrei maintain their past existences while constantly attempting to insinuate themselves into the surface of the present. This is not only a powerful rejection of the tendency among the living to forget the dead but also a desperate counter-strike against the living who would simply lay a beautiful veil over the past.
The feelings of the living toward the dead are what perpetuate yūrei culture, and what this portrays is actually the world of humans.
Which book do you want, CharlotteYou want ?
Where’s Agon, Charlotte?Good, Char!
Jami Nakamura Lin writes the Catapult column "The Monsters in the Mirror." Her essays have appeared or are forthcoming in the New York Times, Electric Literature, Passages North, and other publications. She was featured in the anthology What God is Honored Here? (University of Minnesota Press, 2019).
She is the recipient of a 2016 Creative Artists Fellowship from the Japan-US Friendship Commission and the National Endowment of the Arts and a 2015 Walter Dean Myers Award from We Need Diverse Books.
Twitter: @jaminlin / jaminakamuralin.com
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Are these the only two stories? The one, where you defeat your monster, and the other, where you succumb to it?
Perhaps the certainty that you are not the monster—that no matter what you do, you will never become the monster—is what gives rise to monstrous behavior.