September 3, 2018
By Arthur H. Gunther III
(also on Facebook)
“Ghost lights” are the incandescents traditionally left on in darkened theaters, perhaps for safety though the superstition is more romantic, that the lit bulbs are for the ghosts surely in every theatrical house.
There isn’t an actor worth her/his emoting who won’t admit to that. Whatever well the thespian pulls from must include those who played the part before, or something like it; who uttered the very lines and showed the very expressions that become another’s because, though we are individuals, we also are products of others. Ghost lights, behind the open curtain during performance, cast upon the stage nevertheless, you see.
So it is, too, in great buildings, like museums, like the White House where Abraham Lincoln, honest or not, has been seen by many occupants and visitors, including Winston Churchill. That the triumphs, the awful mistakes, the probable criminality, the end runs around democracy, even to save a republic, yet soaring, hopeful rhetoric and deed, too, are to be forever dismissed without karma is foolish thought. The ghosts are there, in that great house of the people, in this place where the elected leader is but temporary in a remarkable, continuing experiment.
Though the ghost light at 1600 Pennsylvania is at present long off stage, for today’s performance is seeming endless with the light from smart phone tweets at 2 a.m., it will return. The lead actor will leave. The house will go dark, the light again left on. We will all get a good night’s sleep.
The writer is a retired newspaperman. firstname.lastname@example.org