Dirt: On Spookiness - Dirt:
The spooky is fundamentally distinct from the scary, and provides something unique to our imaginative lives. Scariness spikes your adrenaline and sets you uncomfortably on edge, but spookiness piques your interest in a quieter, warmer way. Why is spookiness so enchanting and delightful, then? Why does it feel like it lives inside my heart, giving off a warm glow like a jack-o-lantern on a chilly October night? I suspect that spookiness is a lot like love, in the sense that everyone experiences it in a way that seems so private, so specific, that they believe nobody else feels it quite like they do.
I keep trying to explain to my kids why I prefer spooky Halloween yard decorations—skeletons and spiderwebs and gravestones and such—to the stuff like window decals that look like bloody handprints. I think they mostly get it now, but it is a tricky thing to explain.
The big difference for me is that spooky stuff is not mean-spirited. Ghosts and goblins and gravestones can maybe be a little scary, but they are fundamentally different from “We’re pretending there’s a serial killer in this house and he’s just slaughtered a bunch of people! HAHAHAHA!”