Giving Up The Ghost (cont.)

“Strangely then, the best argument for fact is the absolute unaffordability of fiction. Thus it would appear the ghost haunting The Navidson Record, continually bashing against the door, is none other than the recurring threat of his own reality” — Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves, p.149

There is an old Jewish tradition – when you visit a cemetery or a headstone of a loved one, you leave a rock or a pebble on the headstone to mark that you have been there. This is a sign of love and respect, a physical way of letting go, perhaps.

Rabbi Lerner ( speculates: “It is difficult to know exactly when and why the custom originated and whether it is strictly Jewish. I personally suspect that this custom arose out of the time (possible Roman or earlier) when people – not all Jews – would weigh down the grave or seal the tomb with a stone in order to: (1) prevent anyone including animals from harming the body and (2) prevent an evil spirit from escaping out to harm us.”

According to Rabbi Tom Louchheim, the custom of putting rocks on gravestones may have originated as a way to participate in building the gravestone (since in ancient times graves were usually marked with a cairn rather than a headstone, as we do today). The usual explanation for this custom is that, unlike flowers, rocks are permanent, so they remain on the grave as a memento forever, and symbolize that you will never forget the deceased. Another theory is that this custom is not for the deceased’s benefit, but for the mourner’s; seeing all the rocks that other have placed upon the grave is a comfort to someone grieving for a lost loved one. Read more: Why Do People Put Rocks on Gravestones? |


In the past couple of years, as I spend more time outside and appreciate the history and permanence of rocks of all shapes, sizes, locations and colors and their atomic effect on the energy and space between it all, I noticed that I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up rocks and storing them in my “ROCKS” pouch, until a later date and place, where I like to throw same rock into a different rabbit hole (into a canyon in Malibu, off of a rooftop in Brooklyn on New Years Eve, etc.) I didn’t understand why I did it, but it felt good… to mix up the different energies places carry for me and taking a bit of the earth and leaving (forcing) that energy someplace else. I suppose I felt like I was letting go of some kind of memory that a specific place carried for me, into the same behemoth sized universe that brought the experience to me in the first place. It was all circular and good in my mind, symbolizing closure, change and a continuation of some kind of narrative. I only recently connected my personal odd pattern with this longtime Jewish tradition – perhaps seeing my family leave rocks on headstones at funerals as a little girl became an ingrained habit.

I guess, in a sense, by picking up and letting go of rocks along my personal path and the idea of placing a rock in memoriam for the deceased is a way of GIVING UP THE GHOST (see earlier post on Henry Miller’s words). Not to be taken too literally or too abstractly – whatever haunts you, even if it’s yourself, a quality you loathe or a pattern you’ve grown accustomed to – GIVE IT UP. It’s just weighing you down.

“It is almost as if entrance let alone a purpose – any purpose – in the face of those endless lightless regions is reason enough to rejoice.” — Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves, p.153


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