"Ghost Writ"—The Project

"I aspired to authenticity, but I never got beyond verisimilitude." (GW, 1st epigram)

"Ghost Writ" began in 2013 as a personal experiment in form and content; the text went live at ghostwrit.net on the Ides of March, 2015. The book was edited through >30 drafts in 2015/2016, emerging in a print-on-demand version in September, 2016 with numerous typographical and graphical corrections and changes but largely the same content as the draft submitted for copyright in January, 2015. The PDF files on this page underwrite and reflect the POD edition. 

Ghost Writ—project and book—is now complete. It was motivated by three intellectual impulses: 
  1. Curiosity about the faux memoir as a trustworthy vehicle for a personal narrative centered on the "life of a mind"; 
  2. distrust of claims about transparency as a conscious communication tactic, strategy, and/or goal, especially in the realm of social media; and 
  3. suspicion that the tension between being and seeming to be—b/w authenticity and verisimilitude—motivates, shapes, and grounds the public discourse that now constitutes our shared social, communal, corporate "reality."
Like most experiments, this one produced unexpected results:

Escape from the lab 
  • On 3/15/15 "Joshua Cryst" announced the existence of ghostwrit.net via email to 50 people I've known at some point in the past 50 years, from childhood and school friends to latter-day professional colleagues—with mixed results:  Some liked the book, several found it confusing or puzzling, most never reacted, and a few forwarded the link to people not on the original mailing list. Subsequently, "Ghost Writ" the project "escaped from the lab," as one reader put it, to circulate among a much wider audience in Cyberia. 
  • The audience that emerged, and the process by which individuals made known their interest in the work, would itself make an interesting book I think. But as Joshua Cryst would say, that's a story for another time.
  • Since 3/15/15: ghostwrit.net hosted >45K unique visits* (>20% repeat visitors) and >4500 downloads of the complete text 00_Ghost Writ. Over 50 POD copies have been printed.
Crowd-sourced editing
  • Ghost Writ "the book" thus enjoyed a public incubation shaped by comments and questions via tweet, text, and email. 
  • These pointed out typographical and grammatical errors or suggested topics and language. A few discussed philosophical, rhetorical, political, cultural, and theological principles and problems.  
  • Several readers argued for a POD edition. 
Reader/Writer collaboration 
  • Special thanks to those readers whose comments and suggestions could be voiced by a character or characters as part of a dialogue
  • Their participation in the creation of Ghost Writ fulfills what Joshua calls (GW, p.6) "the ongoing dialogue embodied by this book." 
  • In the end, "this book seems to be what it seems to be about," one reader explained to describe her interest in the work.
* Net the phantom referrals, web crawlers, and spammers that haunt Cyberia, nemeses of Google Analytics.