Tales about ghosts of our pasts
The latest edition of the Meantime magazine serves up tales of ghostly encounters you will come to love. (Photo: Meantime)

Tales about ghosts of our pasts

Forget what you know about ghost stories as exercises in horror. Instead, think of them as explorations into one’s relationships and experiences, or “ghosts of our past,” as the team behind the Meantime magazine puts it.

A labour of love by Pang Xue Qiang and a team of 10 writers, photographers, illustrators and designers, Meantime is an independent magazine published annually. It shines a light on personal stories in Singapore. The latest edition, its second issue, is themed around “ghost stories” and it includes tales about things that haunt a person’s inner world and everyday life.

The magazine, published in hardcopy, is an oddity in a digital world, but its physical presence lends a sense of permanence and sensory appeal. The cover for this edition is heat-sensitive, and some of its pages are hand-torn to enhance its tactile quality.

Here is Pang with more details about the book:

What can readers look forward to in this issue of Meantime?

We will feature nine ghost stories, ranging from tales about traditional “ghosts” such as spirits and pontianak (a female ghost in Southeast Asian folklore), to more abstract “ghosts” such as fear, loss and mystery.

There is a story on a ghost hunter in Singapore, who is part of a team that goes to supposedly haunted places and carries out experiments to prove the existence of these spirits. Another story is about a man who, having traced his family roots, claims he is a descendant of Mazu, the revered Chinese sea goddess. Yet another story profiles a Catholic nun who was a death row counsellor.

What led you to choose the theme “ghost stories” for this issue?

Every issue of Meantime looks at the past through a different lens; our first issue was through love stories. The second issue is through ghost stories because of our fascination with horror stories. But we realised that these ghost stories are more than just about scary spirits. They were also human stories about regret, pain, and loss.

Through the process of interviewing and curating nine “ghost stories” for the magazine, we realised that every one of us carries a “ghost” from the past. We still live under the shadow of something that has happened to us before.

Why publish a print copy of the magazine?

Meantime was created by a group of print-lovers who believe in the value of print in a digital age. Often, the content we read and consume online tends to be discarded and forgotten easily. This consumption of digital content can be likened to that of fast food — addictive, quick, instantly gratifying but ultimately unhealthy.

We hope Meantime provides a tangible antidote to this digital proliferation. A physical book or magazine is something we can hold in our hands. We can pass it on as a gift to someone. We can keep it on our shelves and revisit it again. Because of this, we want to create content that is memorable, and we try to push the boundaries of print. In this issue, our cover is treated with a layer of heat-sensitive ink, which changes colour when the temperature fluctuates.

Although we are staunch print-lovers, we believe in using digital means to reach more people. Stories from our sold-out first issue are featured on our website. We also have exciting plans this year to turn our stories into podcasts.

Replies were edited and condensed. Details about Meantime here.

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