I’ve been very excited to read Corey Taylor’s new book, especially considering how much I loved his first – Seven Deadly Sins. His debut reinforced how intelligent he is, as well as ramming wit and anecdotes in for good measure. So, it proved pretty surprising when his follow up was a book dedicated to his belief in the existence of ghosts. To spare me repeating myself, here is my Goodreads review:
To those who like reading about religion, Corey Taylor is likely to split the masses (not exactly a shock to those who have read Seven Deadly Sins ). But where atheists like Richard Dawkins make you want to violently punch walls with their attitude, Taylor brings a dose of humour along with a reflective look at himself. He never slams anyone for their belief, but just makes it clear what he says is merely his own belief.
And why is this remotely relevant to a book about the existence of ghosts? Well, as Corey himself says, “I do not believe in God. […] So here is the question: How can I believe in ghosts… and not in God? How can I mock the existence of Jehovah and his creepy-winged minions while straight-facedly maintaining that there are ghosts, spirits, poltergeists and haunts among us? How can I go on record with a whole book for that matter, dedicated to my versions of the various events in my life, knowing full well that I might be regarded as a hypocrite at best, a nutcase at worst?”
Luckily he answers that too: “The running theory is a case of knowing versus believing.”
Cutting to the chase: this book has the potential for very polarised reactions. If you’re a believer of the paranormal, then you’ll find his experiences captivating. More so, if you’re a Slipknot or Stone Sour fan, you’ll find it incredibly cool that Corey is on the same wavelength as you and has the stories to back it. However, if you’re a non-believer, this will read like a crazy man’s ramblings. Luckily, Corey notes that himself.
For skeptics though, those who sit in the middle ground, this is really interesting. Not sitting fully at one end of the spectrum, the reader can be swung from side to side, finding the stories themselves haunting and unsettling but also finding some moments a little hard to swallow. But is the point to grab you by the shoulders and scream in your face that ghosts exist? Well, no. It’s openly concluded that this is just a host of personal experiences, with hope of starting a dialogue into the subject. It’s certainly got one person thinking, and probably a few others.
The book is just Corey Taylor. Though the stories may be dark at times, or the science-based stuff might feel a bit too academic to some, his humour and wit is ever-present, as well as his ability to deviate into random trains of thought, with a neat splattering of dick, fuck, fart and shit to boot.
One book I will compare it to is James Kakalios’ The Physics of Superheroes in that, when you accept a certain exception to how we view the world – the ‘miracle exception’ – then everything is completely plausible, from Superman’s jumping abilities to the Flash’s great speed. Though Corey’s proposal of ‘intelligent energy’ is likely just smart conjecture, if you make the relevant exception that ghosts are, generally speaking, completely real, his explanation seems completely plausible.
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Heaven seems like it’s going to be packed with a mass of ghost hunting expeditions and doesn’t quite live up to that particular hype, but delivers a lot of personal insight into a side of Taylor’s life that many never really knew. It also reads a bit like a personal tour through his homes over the years, with a number of anecdotes thrown in for good measure. For one, it’s a really enjoyable read and – regardless of personal beliefs – was well worth it, and at no point do you lose his own personality in the process.
The one thing I would like to do is offer input into this dialogue he looks to open, but I’m at a loss. I’m not religious – not quite as adamantly as Corey Taylor – but I sit somewhere between agnostic and atheist, if it had to be labelled. The same, I suppose, goes for the supernatural. I flit between adamantly not believing to questioning whether there might, at a push, be something there. While the likes of the Edinburgh Dungeons freaked me out (not because I believed in ghosts, but more because I’m a pansy) and when I was little I thought I saw a ghost in my living room (not helped by my being a pansy), I’ve never thought about it properly.
But when it comes to the afterlife, and using Corey’s ideas on spirits attaching themselves to energy, I think of my Uncle. My Uncle George and my Auntie Madeleine were married in 1960 and are – in my mind – the perfect couple. I have never known a couple like them, and don’t think I will come across another. They traveled the world together, were the most hospitable couple I knew and were just generally amazing. My Auntie died not long after my 13th birthday, and I had visited her in the hospice a few days before. My Uncle was with her when she died and told us that in those last seconds, three white birds sat outside the window and my Auntie is said to have looked past him at someone and smiled before she closed her eyes.
He says there is absolutely no doubt in his mind that she saw someone there, and believed that the three birds were her parents and (I believe) her brother (I can’t remember with certainty who the third person was). My Uncle is an intelligent man; in fact, he’s the smartest person I know. Despite being in his 70s, he is still learning and traveling. He speaks so many languages it’s unreal to me – last I heard he was learning hieroglyphics, just because.
It’s this story in particular that makes me question things, because it’s always stuck with me. I’ve heard many stories from my Uncle about his life, but this has been unshakable in my mind since I read Corey’s book earlier this week. I don’t know whether I’ll settle firmly on my opinion, more than likely I’ll keep flitting between two states based on how things are, but Corey noted that raising the story of ghosts and spirits lends to people telling their own stories, and this is – at present – the best I have.
On a slight deviation, I’d definitely recommend this book!