With Halloween fast approaching, the question arises, at least in Slate, as to whether McMansions are haunted. The author, Colin Dickey, thinks yes, they are, but maybe not so much in the paranormal sense. No matter what your take on these houses, this is a good read.

The archetypal American haunted house has always been one whose construction was aesthetically unbalanced. ...

...What is this connection between odd constructions and ghosts? Perhaps it’s because these strange buildings defy common sense and time-honed principles, creating in us a sense of unease that’s hard to name. The principles of architecture—the ones so readily abused by McMansions—didn’t appear overnight; they emerged from centuries of use and tradition. They reflect how we move through houses and how we are most comfortable in them. They maximize the kinds of spaces where we feel most at home, organized around layouts that facilitate ease of use and movement.

...So when a space is off in subtle ways, when it violates these ergonomic principles we long ago internalized, we often sense it without even realizing it. You may walk into a room where a ceiling fan is off-center, or a fireplace is on the wrong wall, and not immediately identify what’s wrong, yet you still feel the imbalance in the room.

In the absence of a good vocabulary to describe that sense of unease, we often fall back on the language of hauntings. A house that’s settled uneasily in its foundation, so that doors swing closed by themselves, and whose layout may trigger a feeling that something isn’t it right—how easy it is to call it haunted, to blame that sense of unquiet on a ghost. The lexicon of the paranormal, after all, is far more ubiquitous and widespread than that of architectural principles, and the language of ghosts is often far easier to call upon than that of primary and secondary masses.

Read more >