Ghosts haunt guilty dreams, Richard’s and Brutus’s, though no one else can see other than the audience. Horatio speaks to the ghost on the battlement, yet only Hamlet hears its news, its call for revenge. Then in the closet scene, the ghost appears to be Hamlet’s hallucination. “Whereon do you look?” his mother asks, and Hamlet: “Do you see nothing there?” Banquo’s ghost unmans Macbeth, prompting his outcry before guests: “Shake not thy gory locks at me!” And his Lady’s hushed rebuke: “You look but on a stool.” The audience of course, looks on actors (the Lady, a boy), props and stage. Director’s choice whether to show the ghost or not. Shakespeare’s ghosts suit all the critics argue. A skeptic, Catholic, or Protestant would each leave the Globe with her/his idea of ghosts confirmed. We’re spooked by needing more to love than death. Horatio asks the ghost Why do you come back? To pass on clues to buried treasure? To forewarn? In James Agee’s A Death in the Family (1957), Jay’s wife Mary is mourning with family when they all sense a presence, which she knows as his. “Stay near us all you can…” she tells him; “[The children are] all right, my sweetheart, my husband. I’m going to be all right.” Hallucination the others think. Thought transference. Paranormal researchers call such visits “crisis apparitions,” theorizing they might be telepathic signals sent while dying; or perhaps “produced unconsciously by mourners to console themselves.” Others consider them “guardian angels sent to comfort the grieving.” No one has hard proof. Psychics, swamis, fortune tellers, spiritualists and voodooists abound. Virginia Woolf ’s Mrs. Ramsey (modeled on her mother) is still a unifying force ten years after her death; brings her scattered family together to resume their expedition to the lighthouse. “If they shouted loud enough Mrs. Ramsey would return,” thinks Lily Briscoe, her friend. Spooky! Spooked. Cartoons make the afterlife cute in Casper’s case, though the Friendly Ghost died as a child. He interacts with mortals. Floats around and passes through walls. He seeks playmates. Ghost in the machine (a closed-circuit TV in the case of Almereyda’s ). For romance, we’ve got Bruce Rubin’s Ghost (1990), invoking wishful lore such as spirits learning to kick cans and borrow living bodies. Hence Whoopi Goldberg volunteers to be Patrick Swayze’s way of kissing Demi Moore. Ghost Busters (1984), pits a team of parapsychologists against malevolent ghosts. Who you gonna call? Stephen Speilberg’s Poltergeist (1982) goes for horror instead of laughs. A greedy developer builds tract houses over a cemetery, stirring spirits to attack one unwitting family; reach through TV screens, animate toys, and abduct their youngest child. Pale as a ghost. You look as if you’ve seen a ghost. Not a ghost of a chance. If he knew, he’d turn over in his grave. Ghost writer! Client takes credit. Halloween fun with fake blood and make-up, sheets for costumes (recalling winding sheets)— give or take the Egyptian Mummy wrapped in Ace Bandages. Decaying bodies. My neighbor’s yard decorations, tombstone with hands reaching out of the ground Philip Guston painted ghosts as convivial klansmen, hard-drinking, burger-chomping, chain-smoking, free behind masks to trade opinions about life. The ghost of the past. The burden of tradition. Great works, great lives precede us. Shoulders to stand on. My father’s spirit is within me; or my mother’s, or both, still fighting. Spirits of absent ones live in my heart. And mine in theirs, to comfort and inspire. I did hear voices once, alone, during a long run in the Sierras: mother, father, brothers, nephew, friends, all gone. Keep going, each said. Do your best. Young Hamlet one mission accomplished forever haunts Horatio restless for words.