Monday, 18 July 2016


The Merman's Children.

Vanimen bravely leads the mermen against the physical threat of the vodianoi but bawls and flees when he sees a rousalka/vilja, a woman who:

"'...haunts the water where she drowned.'" (p. 135)

Another character sympathizes:

"'...a ghost is terrifying in itself.'" (p. 136)

It is. If we believed that there was a serial killer in the house, then we would feel fear and, if we believed that there was a ghost in the house, then we would also feel fear but of a qualitatively different kind, inspired not by any physical threat but by a mere eerie presence. And we know what these feelings are like even if we do not believe in ghosts. This is a common inheritance from the times before there were electric lights and scientific knowledge. For previous relevant discussion, see here.


  1. Kaor, Paul!

    But I believe in ghosts! Because WE are "ghosts." That is, ghosts are the disembodied SOULS of persons who have died.

    Fr. Herbert Thurston, SJ, in his book GHOSTS AND POLTERGEISTS, studied the phenomenon of reports about ghosts. And he concluded that a small percentage of such stories cannot be dismissed as either mistaken or fraudulent.


    1. Sean,
      I am convinced by the evidence that consciousness is entirely generated by, and dependent on, neuronic interactions. However, I believe that all apparently supernatural phenomena should be investigated. However, there are phenomena that are simply unexplained (as yet). Fictional example:in a TV detective series, a dead body seemed to have crawled up some cellar steps. Explanation: the cellar had flooded and the body had floated up. Corollary: the explanation might never have been found... Sometimes, we just have to say, "We don't know."

    2. CS Lewis suggested somewhere that ghosts are dreadful and that corpses are distasteful because souls and bodies were never meant to be separated. I used to go along with this idea but only because I had been indoctrinated in mind-body dualism.

    3. Kaor, Paul!

      You are touching on points where I fear we are never going to agree. I don't think the human consciousness is only as you described. Which means I agree with C.S. Lewis. But I am glad you agree on being willing to investigate phenomena of the kind studied by Fr. Thurston.


    4. Sean,
      Souls are believed to be invisible, therefore surely cannot appear as apparitions? The latter phenomenon may have some different explanation.

    5. Kaor, Paul!

      Yes, logically, souls of deceased persons would most often be invisible to us because of having no bodies. But it has been speculated, at least in fiction that such persons are sometimes seen by those who are alive.

      I think one of the best writers of ghost stories was the late Russell Kirk. I recommend to you collections of his short stories like THE PRINCESS OF ALL LANDS and WATCHERS AT THE STRAIT GATE.