Saturday, 12 November 2016

Ghosts, appearances of the dead and cultural transformation (fantasmas, aparições dos mortos e transformação cultural [Portuguese])

By Ronald C. Finucane:
LX Portugal. (2016). Colecção Enigmas de Todos os Tempos (Bertrand Editora). [online] Available at: [Accessed 12 Nov. 2016].

It is a book of world history. It tells us many stories told in various parts of the world. The author seems impartial, but he tends not to believe in them. Hovewer, there are many inexplicable and terrifying facts. Nevertheless, the book is important for the historical wealth.
Some interesting passages:
  • «(...) a moment of earthly life represents a very, very long time in purgatorio.» (in F.C. Tubach, Speculum Laicorum, Folklore fellow communications, 1969).
  • «(...) Glanvill hoped that these apparitions of ghosts would confuse the materialistic atheists and the heretical sectarians of his time./Nonconformists were also interested in collecting and publishing examples of evidence of immortality.» (in Chapter 5 - Baroque hauntings of the seventeenth century).
  • «(...) about half of the narratives deal with precautions about heirs, warnings to the living, and murders.» (in Chapter 5 - Baroque hauntings of the seventeenth century).
  • «(...) poltergeists. (...) the name of two German words, which mean "creating a disturbance" (or, more specifically, producing deaf noises, rolling or blowing furiously), and "spirits." Although examples can be found in the early centuries, this form of spiritual persecution only becomes vulgar in the post-Reformation era.» (in Chapter 5 - Baroque hauntings of the seventeenth century).
  • «(...) Flowers on the graves - originally a pagan custom (...).»
  • «Nothing is more common, in rural areas, than an entire family on a winter night, sitting around the fire and telling stories of apparitions and ghosts. (...) this helps the fears of men and makes them often imagine that they see things, which in reality are no more than their imagination [said by Henry Bourne].» (in Chapter 6 - The Enlightenment and "Atheism").
  • «As for the nature of legitimate appearances, Defoe believes that they are demonic agents or benevolent celestial beings, like the ethereal and astral spirits of previous generations, that occasionally provide men with warnings and advice [in Moreton/Defoe, Secrets, pp. 78 ff.].» (in Chapter 6 - The Enlightenment and "Atheism").
  • «It is wonderful how it has been five thousand years since the creation of the world and it has not yet been decided whether or not the spirit of some person has ever appeared after death. All arguments are against; but faith is in favor.», said Dr. Johnson.
  • «(...) funeral in life (...). (...) tafophobia (...). (...) premature funeral (...). (...) Edgar Allan Poe reproduced accurately the contemporary apprehensions in his "premature funeral" of the 40s.»
  • «(...) Victorian interest in funerary things was also reflected in the way it was depicted and encouraged in the "Gothic" horror or ghost stories, that attracted the best authors in the second half of the nineteenth century. (...) products of the Romantic movement. (...), this movement was in itself a reaction to the scientific and agnostic tendencies of the time, (...).»
  • «(...) mesmerism (...). The work of Anton Mesmer (...). Supposedly, the spirits of the dead used "animal magnetism" over certain living beings - "sensitives", or mediums - to carry out these interviews, (...). (...), the original idea of Mesmer, of channeling the animal magnetism for the accomplishment of cures, (...).»
  • «(...) the famous case of the "Rochester Beats" of 1848. (...) it is said that the modern spiritualist movement dates from 1848, (...). (...) Rochester has captivated the imaginations of those seeking evidence of what they wanted to believe.»
  • «(...) dead spoke (...) assuring that there is no pain on the Other Side and that the spirits ascended to various levels - current gnosticism - until all were finally saved (...).»
  • «(...) these people wanted in such a way to communicate with spirits, that any approach to their expectations was accepted as reality. (...) the best results were achieved only with "believing" participants [nineteenth century].»

Saturday, 5 November 2016

The trial (o processo [Portuguese])

By Franz Kafka: (2016). O Processo - Franz Kafka em [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 Nov. 2016].
A novel of anxiety, persecution, paranoia, where death is the freedom. Some quotes:
  • «(...) it was in everyone's interest to bring proceedings quickly to their conclusion, but on the other hand every aspect of the examinations had to be carried out thoroughly without lasting too long because of the associated stress. For these reasons, it had been decided to hold a series of brief examinations following on one after another. Sunday had been chosen as the day for the hearings so that K. would not be disturbed in his professional work. (...) if he wished for another date then, as far as possible, he would be accommodated. (...) could even be held in the night, for instance, but K. would probably not be fresh enough at that time.»
  • «(...) this invitation from the deputy director, with whom he had never got on very well, meant that he was trying to improve his relations with him. It showed how important K. had become (...) and how its second most important official seemed to value his friendship, or at least his impartiality.»
  • «(...) advisable to prepare a written defense (...). In it he would offer a brief overview of his life, and for each event of any particular importance, explain why he had acted as he did, whether in his present judgment this course of action deserved approval or censure, and what reasons he could advance for the one or the other.»
  • «Now and then he [Leni] gave K. a few empty admonitions, as if talking to a child. Speeches as useless as they were boring, (...).»
  • «(...) the first impression made by the defense often influenced the whole course of the proceedings.»
  • «For the lawyers — and even the least important of them has at least a partial overview of the circumstances — are far from wishing to introduce or carry out any sort of improvement in the court system; (...). Just don't attract attention! Keep calm, no matter how much it seems counter to good sense. (...) this vast judicial organism remains (...) in a state of eternal equilibrium, (...) if you change something on your own where you are, you can cut the ground out from under your own feet and fall, while the vast organism easily compensates for the minor disturbance at some other spot — after all, everything is interconnected — and remains unchanged; (...).»
  • «Reproaches are of little value, particularly when it seems the full import of what has caused them cannot be conveyed, (...).»
  • «“Is that an officially recognized position?” “No,” said the painter (...): “Well, such unofficial positions often carry more influence than ones that are recognized.”»
  • «(...) sitting in front of him and taken by surprise by his dismissal, K. would be able easily to infer everything he wanted from the lawyer's face and behaviour, (...).»
  • «Merely by being in possession of a thick overcoat he felt his advantage over this thin little man.»
  • «"(...) I dislike your anxiety and fear and see that you don't have the trust in me you should have. (...)."»
  • «It would not have been difficult for him to turn down most of these jobs, but he did not dare to do so because, if his fears had the slightest foundation, turning the jobs down would have been an acknowledgement of them.»
  • «"(...) Above all, the free man is superior to the man who has to serve another. (...)."»
  • «(...) "the only thing I can do now is keep my common sense and do what's needed right till the end. (...) Should I go out like someone stupid? (...)."»
  • «"(...) the slightest uncertainty in the least significant of matters will always remain a cause of suffering and if, as in this case, it can be removed without substantial effort, then it is better if that is done without delay."»
  • "Gradually (...) they met so often together that all differences of culture, profession and age have become blurred.»
  • «(...), he was very courteous and very modest before everyone and, most important thing even than the courtesy and modesty, he could distinguish between the different hierarchical levels of gentlemen and deal with each man according to his condition.»
  • «He should not make believe to the interim director he was over (...); he should disturb his calm, he should realize as often as possible that K. was alive and, like everything that lives, he was capable of surprise him one day with new features, even if now he seemed very harmless.»
  • «(...) he avoided neglect or jump over the minimum difficulty; (...).»
  • «They are lower-level employees, and the last of the nulls; (...) So it is virtually impossible to raise them obstacles; no strange hand knew to raise on their way an obstacle equal to their stupidity (...).»