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Rosemary Poole-Carter

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Paraplex: a Treat for the Six Senses
4/12/2009 2:50:37 PM

A look at the Paraplex paranormal complex in New Orleans
Research for a novel brought me this spring to New Orleans, and research for particularly gothic aspects of that novel brought me to the city’s new “attraction for all six senses”: the Paraplex. The name, short for “paranormal complex”, designates a 19th century mansion, once a private residence, later a mortuary, and now an uncanny museum and ghostly observatory. Behind its white-columned façade, the Paraplex houses displays of haunted art and personal possessions, as well as educational exhibits on psychic secrets, Ouija boards, and the Tarot. Visitors are invited to roam the mansion to explore facets of parapsychology, experience the séance chamber, and participate in the Fear Experiment in the haunted basement.

The port city of New Orleans, whose beginnings date back to 1718, possesses an eventful past of battles among men and against deadly diseases such as yellow fever and cholera; of trafficking in human beings through the slave trade and prostitution; of disasters, natural and man-made, brought on by floods, hurricanes, and broken levees. With its convoluted history of suffering, of wild Mardi Gras revelry, and of restless spirits, New Orleans provides the perfect setting for the mysteries of the Paraplex. And the city calls to me as the setting for my next Southern gothic novel.

While the plot of my work-in-progress does not exactly hinge on the supernatural, the characters do possess varying degrees of familiarity with the unseen and the inexplicable.
Hoping to better understand what haunts my particular New Orleanian characters, I entered the Paraplex séance chamber, took my seat at the round table, and clasped hands with other visitors, whom I assumed were as corporeal as I. Writers rely on their five senses to create vivid prose, but sometimes they need a little help from the sixth. I came away from the Paraplex more knowledgeable about the paranormal, more inspired by the spirit world. And, in the Louisiana tradition of the lagniappe, I received something extra: in the haunted basement, I enjoyed a great, blood-curdling scream.

For more information about the Paraplex, please visit:

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More Blogs by Rosemary Poole-Carter
•  Paraplex: a Treat for the Six Senses - Sunday, April 12, 2009  

• A Room of Her Own and Ideas to Fill It - Sunday, April 05, 2009

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