(Ed. Note: David Stang, one of my dear friends (with whom I disagree on many issues), has long been interested in the concepts of an afterlife, the spirit, the soul, and the disincarnate, all of which are foreign to me. Nevertheless, we continue to meet and talk and exchange views about many things. Today, this Guest Post is spurred by David’s reading of two recent novels which have received strong reviews, including ones by MillersTime readers.)
The Literary Resurrection of Spirits in George Saunders’ Lincoln in the Bardo and Colm Toibin’s House of Names
by David Stang
One powerful dogma of Science for well over a century has been only what is material or measurable with scientific instruments may legitimately be considered real and therefore any notion of spirit, soul, afterlife consciousness or disincarnate beings – or even that is possible for humans to communicate with such entities – is necessarily a hallucination or a delusion most likely arising out of a mental disorder. In place of religion Science offered us Darwinism, followed by Neo-Darwinism, the present day majority view. There are no deities. There was no Creation. There is no afterlife. There is only evolution and adaptations. Our only purpose for being alive is to propagate and perpetuate our species.
In addition to the attacks on anyone who questions Neo-Darwinist theory, there have often been attacks from the Christian Church on those who seek to make connections with spirit realm entities. Mediums, also called necromancers, who communicated with dis-incarnate spirits and other world entities have for centuries been accused by the Church of doing the work of the Devil.
The effect of the Church coupled with attacks from science adversely affected those persons engaged in the Arts who had interest into delving into matters involving deity, soul, spirit and the afterlife. Artists were intimidated from writing plays, novels, film scripts, short stories almost any other kind of fiction which showed sympathy or acceptance of such other worldly phenomena. In time the artists caught on and stopped writing novels, short stories and film scripts about the spirit realm and all of its varied denizens. But in recent years there have been signs that the pendulum was about ready to start swinging in the other direction.
Within the first six months of calendar year 2017 two novels with a heavy duty emphasis on necromancy have been published with little apparent risk that their authors would be subjected to defamation, scorn and other such as punishments. This year George Saunders (author of Lincoln In The Bardo) and Colm Toibin (author of House Of Names) each jumped fearlessly into the spirit realm with both feet. The term Bardo, based upon Buddhist tradition, is best defined as a state or states of being or consciousness following death.