Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Reality Within 'Supernatural' Tales - John Gaskin

“Without saying anything about the truth or falsity of what we may believe, it is clear that the normal and unexamined ways in which we speak give a structure within which talk about a world different in kind from the world of ordinary experience is possible. In Dante’s phrase towards the end of The Divine Comedy, we talk about two worlds: ‘The earthly and what lies beyond’.”

John Gaskin’s essay on 'Reality Within 'Supernatural' Tales' in Wormwood 26 argues that the ghost story form assumes a distinction between the natural world we live in and another, super-natural world separate to this. But, as he points out, many people today operate on the assumption that there is a material world and nothing else. Faced with this rationalistic culture, can the ghost story still be effective?

In answer to that challenge, the author (himself an eminent practitioner in the field) identifies six ways in which it can. There are sufficient gaps and shadings in our knowledge and experiences, he suggests, for the ghost story still to achieve its shadowy work.

John Gaskin was a Fellow at Trinity College Dublin, where he held a personal chair in philosophy. He has published three volumes of ‘Tales of Twilight and the Borderlands’, The Dark Companion (Lilliput Press, 2002), The Long Retreating Day (Tartarus Press, 2006) and The Master of the House (Tartarus Press, 2014).

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