The fact is, a lot of hipsters have been dying since they arose. Some from the usual mundane causes like car accidents or diseases, others from lifestyle choices like improperly sanitized organic food or allergic reactions to vinyl. Whatever the reason, you in the afterlife will still have to put up with their disembodied specters.

“Harpsters,” as they are called, are deceased hipsters that, for the same reasons that affect all us specters, have been unable to fully sever their connection to the mortal coil and proceed to the hereafter. Or to fade away into oblivion, as some nihilist spirits would have you believe. Harpsters tend to haunt craft breweries, independent restaurants with tables for less than ten people, tiny cramped concert venues, Whole Foods, and Broadway musical revivals.

Due to their disdain for haunting places laden with “chemicals,” the easiest way to avoid harpsters is to haunt an oil rig, service station, big-box store, fast-food restaurant, or the Republican National Convention.. Naturally, we understand that Functional perimeters vary from manifestation to manifestation. If simply haunting somewhere else is not possible due to your geographical and temporal perimeters, here are some other ideas for avoiding harpsters:

-Prey on their insecurities. Specters appear wearing what they wore in life, so look for name-brand or made-in-China tags to point out.

-Discuss privilege. Your time as a specter means that you can accuse harpsters of failing to check their privilege. Whether it is true or not, it will make them extremely defensive.

-Note how mainstream your haunt is. Harpsters are forever chasing trends and will recoil from evidence that they are a poseur or a johnny-come-lately.

-Hire an exorcist or ghostbuster. Well-behaved spirits have been known to contract with such bio-exorcists, though you will need to know a physical asset or secret to be used for payment. Harpsters are extremely ostentatious and therefore very prone to exorcism or ghostbustery.

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“Surely you must, at some level, know that you were wrong,” said Paul. “Seeing what you’ve seen ever since your death.”

“You don’t understand.” The apparition seemed to roil in on itself like a cloud of steam, the faded grey of its corporeal form running and mixing before reforming into the visage of a Confederate officer in ramshackle uniform. “Learning stops with death. All that I am, all that I ever can be, was set before the moment of my demise. No matter what I see–and see I have–I cannot change my beliefs.”

“So you’d just sit here, a rot, like a fungus growing in the damp,” said Paul. “As foul in death as you were in life.”

“What choice do I have?”

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As has been known since time immemorial, the reikon—the soul—departs the body upon death. If disturbed, or if it was a violent and unsettled death, the reikon may become a yūrei—a ghost—doomed to wander and haunt until the cause of its woes is addressed.

There are myriad categories of yūrei, from the noble goryō to the motherly ubume, but none is more dangerous or more misunderstood than the tsuihō, the banished. They are living reikon stripped from their bodies without death, for the purpose of filling the soulless bodies with demons to form a supernaturally efficient fighting force and binding the souls to power dark constructs.

It is typically a fate worse than death. The soulless bodies are consumed in battle or eaten from within by corrupting demonic influence, while the expelled souls are consumed as fuel in the bellies of mechanical horrors. If they escape that fate, the enraged and confused reikon turn on whatever is nearest, ripping it apart in an orgy of destruction. Only the truly mad or the truly desperate sorcerer or daimyō has ever attempted to create tsuihō, and they have been feared and reviled throughout the home islands as a result.

One can easily recognize a tsuihō; unlike most yūrei, they are not white but black, a deep and impenetrable black that absorbs all light and all warmth. No features save the outline of a humanoid body may be discerned, and due to their untimely separation from their mortal shells, they have full use of their arms and legs.

Towering above all other tsuihō in legend is the Wandering Daimyō of Kyūshū. Once daimyō of a small clan, he and every man, woman, and child in his realm became tsuihō as the result of a rival’s machinations. With the soulless army thus created, this evil man sought to wipe out one of his enemies and create a force that could march on Kyoto and install himself as shōgun. Instead, he was torn to pieces by the forces that he hoped to marshall, his wailing reikon carried off to parts unknown by infernal powers.

The tsuihō thus released ravaged the countryside for a year and a day before gradually dissipating…save one. The Wandering Daimyō alone among his family, courtiers, and clansmen was able to retain his will. Fashioning a suit of armor in the likeness of his former face, with plates reflecting the visages of those he had known and loved, he took to the wilds of Kyūshū.

His mercurial rage became well-known among the farmers and peasants there. If the mood strikes him, the Wandering Daimyō will aid passersby. If it does not, he will slay them without mercy and consume their soul to extend his time in this world. It is said that if he approaches with his mask down, revealing the likeness of his former self, he will deliver aid; if he approaches with his mask up, revealing the indecipherable depths of darkness that truly make up his form, he will deliver destruction.

One man met the Wandering Daimyō when his mask was half-raised, revealing only the barest glimpse of the horror below. This is his story.

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NOTICE

The first meeting of the Southern Michigan University Paranormal Activists Society (SMUPAS) will be held Wednesday.

What is a Paranormal Activist? We are tireless crusaders for afterlife justice, free ectoplasm, and the rights of itinerant spirits. We stand against ableist language like “dead as a doornail,” “wake the dead,” and “make a killing.” We stand against lifeist terms like “ghost” or “spook” or “graveyard shift.”

If you or someone you know are interested in Paranormal Activism and making the world a better and more inclusive place for all spirits, whether they are ciscorporeal or transcorporeal or merely wavering on the line between life and death, join SMUPAS or contact our faculty sponsor for a free pamphlet.

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If approached, the Greenhouse Spirit will sometimes deign to carry on a short conversation rather than vanishing. The groundskeepers affectionately call her “Greenie” and appreciated the lack of malice or melancholy she displayed, in sharp contrast to the other spirits roaming the grounds.

When she appears, the Spirit will fill the greenhouse with spectral plants and flowers, though whether these are the spirits of actual flowers or a manifestation of Greenie herself is a matter of some debate. She herself appears to be a young woman, solidly in the 16-26 age range, but as spirits’ appearances do not always reflect their appearance in life no one has been able to discern any biographical details, and the Spirit declines to provide them.

She will, instead, extol the values of her current garden, which neither ages nor dies, and maintain that only as a spirit could she work with such plants.

Inspired by this image.

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Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a November 23, 1975 WHPL interview with French filmmaker Auguste Des Jardins prior to the American release of his final completed film. Des Jardins’ film, Le fantôme de la lande (released internationally as The Ghost of the Moors), was a major success in France and a minor success elsewhere. Critics usually regard it as a “lesser” work when compared to Des Jardins’ other films (most notably his masterpiece Les trois Juliets), but its immersiveness and potent psychological horror profoundly influenced later filmmakers’ own horror efforts. Notable proponents of the film who cited it as an influence include Kubrick, Carpenter, Craven, and King. Des Jardins died suddenly four months after the interview was recorded leaving a number of incomplete projects; it was his last public appearance and one of only a handful of times he was interviewed in English.

INTERVIEWER: You’ve constructed a–such a really effective, one might even say horrifying in the most flattering possible sense, ghost story. So the question, ah, suggests itself: do you, yourself, believe in ghosts?

DES JARDINS: I don’t believe in ghosts. I believe in humans, fantastic creatures who tirelessly search for the answers to impossible questions, who cannot resist a good story, and who are so adept at seeing things that aren’t there they’ve made it a billion-dollar industry.

INTERVIEWER: And yet you’ve created a–well, directed a film which features them–ghosts, that is–in a starring, ah, role. Would you care to speak to the, ah, apparent contradiction of a man who does not believe in ghosts directing a ghost story?

DES JARDINS: You believe the film is about ghosts? Perhaps you should watch it again.

[gentle laughter from DES JARDINS, INTERVIEWER, and AUDIENCE]

DES JARDINS: That knock on the door late at night, that spectral form prowling the ancient halls? They are as much in our minds as one’s imagination, one’s soul, one’s neuroses. Oh, there may well be some slight external reinforcement–a gust of wind here, a reflected shaft of moonlight there–but it’s the human mind that provides the essential pieces.

INTERVIEWER: So the film is, well, about as much about what’s in the character’s heads a-as what they experience supernaturally?

DES JARDINS: It is entirely about what is in their heads, my friend. Think about it: our minds are the lens through which we must experience all the world has to offer. Yet we know from dreaming that the mind has no inherent rules, and that it is certainly not bound to any of the petty laws of the outside world. The central assertion my film makes–that all of my films make–is that we exist in a strata of rules and laws imposed from without. The film, the book, the painting, even the brightly painted schoolbus–all represent chinks through which we can glimpse a purer world from which all constraints have been removed.

INTERVIEWER: So you, ah, see your work as having a somewhat…a somewhat wider context than a single story, is that it?

DES JARDINS: If I can take viewers to a place where, for whatever reason and by whatever mechanism, they are able to make their own laws of nature, motion, and time, then I will be happy.

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“They can’t keep the shades from speaking, you understand,” Nigel whispered. “If they choose to cling to this plane rather than going on to their eternal reward, their speech is protected under the Wisps and Shades Act of 1822. Most are too morose or polite to do anything about it, but the ones that stir up trouble get exorcised here.”

Weatherby paled beneath his jet-black top hat, and his gloved hands tightened around his umbrella. “Do I have anything to fear from this shortcut of yours?”

“They aren’t poltergeists, you sot. All they have are words. Don’t let them get to you.”

They entered the garden through an ornate (and warded) wrought-iron gate, and immediately Weatherby could see shades lolling about on tombstones or in midair. The taunts began at once:

“Hey, berk! I know your face. Your pap’s spitting image! Saw him in hell I did!”

“How’s the wife, berk? She was well last I saw her, though there weren’t much talking then if you get my thrust!”

“Still going to church, berk? I got news for you: ain’t no god or devils after you shuffle off, just floating here like me and having good sport! You best kiss one of those fence spikes and save the world the trouble!”