Blurring of Fact and Fiction
Stoker created Dracula as an epic Gothic horror novel and as such presented us with a piece of fiction that would stand the sands of time itself. In fact, Dracula done more than just remain in print, it evolved regularly and remained a constant. However, it’s evident that Stoker’s key to success was not simply the fact that he created a well thought out story, which he did, but perhaps because he built on a combination of history and folklore. Both of which could be considered beyond belief or even supernatural on their own. Stoker brought the right elements together in a format that simply worked, that of diary entries and letters. In fact the original format could be easily mistaken for some kind of research that pieces the story together. Perhaps for some reason this approach is what makes some believe in the story to a degree when facts and fiction become blurred.
Personally I always knew Dracula to be a work of fiction and many share that belief. However, I must equally admit that when I began to research the Dracula story whilst in Transylvania I was greatly surprised to discover how both folklore and history played a huge part in Dracula. This equally reminded me about how many Ghost Hunters often research the paranormal in order to discover if either history or past experience at a location match their own. Its something I can probably be equally guilty of in my oder days Ghost Hunting.
The scenario is as follows; the Ghost Hunters investigate a possible haunted location and receive some information via something like a Ouija Board or a Spirit Box. That information maybe a name, possibly someones job and maybe a year. The Ghost Hunter then believes they have significant information they have intelligently received from a spirit. They may then research the locations history based on that information alone. Granted sometimes there may be no connections at all, but often a subjective link is discovered and it’s almost levered into place to produce that link. Analysis of the data, its actual relation or logical positioning is often overlooked. Mainly because the Ghost Hunters are seeking something factual to support their experience.
This is generally where the issues begin to arise though, as fitting sparse information into a factual narrative is not as hard as you may think. Equally if you have a good knowledge of the history prior to the Ghost Hunt, then all too often that information has already been a little blurred to fit that narrative.
Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) are perfect examples of this within the Ghost Hunting community. Often the Ghost Hunter will capture some audio, perhaps in response to a question, then share it with the group without providing the right circumstances for peer review. They often tell others what they think they hear, which in turn creates a bias that others often follow. As we are listening for something specific, we then think we hear it. I personally believe that this is a little driven by the group social dynamic too, where one group member will support another’s belief in order to remain a part of that group. Incidentally EVPs should be properly reviewed without priming individuals to what we may believe we hear. Something which should be done over a number of people to gather a better percentage understanding. It is more likely that if a simple piece of audio is played to many people without priming; then they will hear nothing of note or something completely different. In a Ghost Hunt environment their belief and social bias often drives the results.
If we return to Dracula briefly we see how Stoker used facts and folklore to build a narrative that left many seeking the possibility of a real vampire. As we have heard Vlad Tepes, the real Dracula truly existed and his actions present him in the history books as a blood thirsty tyrant as horrific as Stoker’s Count. Equally Stoker’s presentation of the story as diary entries and letters almost gives us that experience based narrative. One we can invest in too.
However, as it is with the paranormal, its not until you really start to dig into the facts and history that you discover the truth. whilst Dracula’s methods were potentially questionable and no doubt gruesome, they were effective at the time. As such he managed to defend his home land against invaders like the Turks numerous times. It is because of this he is often seen as a hero by Romanians. He knew that keeping his land in those times would not be easy, as such fear would provide with a step closer to victory.
In search of a story to support our unexplained experiences it is often easy to fall into a dramatic narrative that places us as the hero. However, it seems harder to follow the facts and determine the reality of the situation. Analysing the information correctly and logically; not being led by our personal bias or social desires. The facts are out there to be found, but as we search we must be willing to be honest; not everything is paranormal. Dracula was a real person that was responsible for some truly horrific acts, but drinking the blood of his victims for life eternal was not likely to be one of them.
Whilst that narrative can often be attractive to us all, we need to separate fact from fiction, and be sure of the information and data we gather during an investigation. After all those facts, like the real history of Dracula, can be stranger than fiction sometimes. So, we must be careful not to blur fact with fiction during our own investigations into the paranormal.