Monday, November 18, 2019

How much is that haunted doll in the eBay window I have open?

The New York Times recently published an article by Alicia DeSantis with an attention-grabber headline: "The Weird World of ‘Haunted’ eBay: ‘Purchase With Caution’". It's about the odd, to say the least, subculture of those who attempt to boost the value of the everyday items they're peddling on the online auction service by claiming that the item is touched by the supernatural — possessed, cursed, magical, haunted, etc. This hucksterism is nothing new, of course. Since the idea of "magic beans" first sprouted centuries ago, humankind has never been without swindlers and those who are receptive, even enthusiastic, about being swindled.

The Times is not the first to write about supernatural-tinged online auctions. Other pieces of note have been published by Sabrina Maddeaux for Vox; by Reyhan Harmanci for Topic; by Katherine Carlson for The New Yorker; and by Luke Winkie for Vice. But one thing I enjoyed about short Times article was the interview with artist Eric Oglander. He has a fascination with witnessing, and documenting, the everflowing stream of "haunted" objects on eBay. He understands that cyberspace is fleeting, ephemeral. And so he deploys one of the best tools we have for documentation: the screenshot. The Times' DeSantis writes:
"Oglander describes himself as a 'collector of aesthetics,' and his material is the ephemera of the world around us. For him, it is not the item on sale, but rather the listing itself which becomes the object. The listings are 'a way of containing a story and also telling a story,' he said."
Indeed, in a slight twist on Papergreat's mantra, every eBay listing tells a story. And says something about us. So, in that spirit (no pun intended), here's the haunted-item listing I'm adding to the record for posterity.

The full description for Very Expensive Haunted Troll states:
Haunted Troll Doll.. Discontinued collectors item. . Condition is Used. Shipped with USPS First Class Package. This doll is haunted. I got it from an estate sale where some old lady had passed away. The man at the sale was making comments about how she or the house was haunted and he would not buy anything and take it home because he would not want that activity in his house. I felt compelled to buy this doll. within a week of having it, a doll that belonged to my daughter who has passed away started to play its music. Then a couple days later I was in the bathroom after a shower and felt something touch my leg. Next day in my bedroom right after putting on my pajamas I was touched on the opposite leg, but this time it felt like a grab.. Since then I've been in bed and felt like someone sat down on the end of my bed. I have been at my computer and felt something touch my hair and lightly tug at it. That has happen several times. I have seen a shadow figure and my dog has got up and went to growl where the movement happened. Those who want a haunted object, this is it! I was trying to sell this well before Halloween, so no its not for a Halloween hype. This is real. Not a joke. If you collect haunted objects. This doll is for you. It does have a little crack in its tail, but that obviously does to effect the amount of haunt you get from this figure. Once its sold, I wont take it back, I take no responsibility in any form as to what happens when you receive it. FREE SHIPPING ONLY IN THE USA...…. NO EXCEPTIONS...……….
Hurry now. This offer to curse your family for just $400 won't last.

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