Saturday, January 16, 2016
Enter this world of ghosts and no god
The curse of the trilogy strikes again! Shakespeare initiated the curse with his Henry VI which had to have three parts to make the wisdom of sextuple Solomon resound like the double triple star of David. This time E.E. Holmes provides a phenomenal trilogy this volume only is the beginning of. She walks in the footprints of Anne Rice and her initial trilogy of Vampires, Lestat de Lioncourt’s blood line from Auvergne, France, to New Orleans, Louisiana, via Paris and the cemetery of The Innocents. But E.E. Holmes is not dealing with vampires but with some old supposedly Irish or Celtic lore about ghosts and how ghosts have to be helped to go out of this world into the next one.
I shifted from my residential Auvergne that is in full continuity with Anne Rice’s fictional Auvergne, not to speak of Clark Ashton Smith’s Chronicles of Averoigne starting in 1930, with one mention of this fictional real country in H.P. Lovecraft’s work in 1933, to E.E. Holmes’s Boston and Massachusetts, with a starting chapter in New York, NY.
The tale in this first volume of the trilogy is provided deep roots in some Irish Celtic culture with some supposedly Irish words like “durupinen” meaning “gate keeper,” or “teigh anonn” meaning “crossing over.” Let’s overlook that Celtic element that means nothing really. It is just some folkloric dressing for an American audience who does not even know the difference between Dublin and Belfast, if they know where these two are.
It is a lot more interesting to look at the tale of these ghosts who get stuck in a way or another, though there is no explanation how, in t his world and who want to go on to the other side. It is not explained why they are locked up in this world and it is hardly explained why they want to go on to the other side. I would assume they want to be with their brothers and sisters, with people like them instead of being stuck with people like us who cannot see or hear them, except a very small minority, an exceptionally small minority.
But that is not what strikes you from the very first paragraph. The reader is submerged with the feeling that he is in a feminine world. At least the male reader, since I cannot tell about female readers. This femininity is so striking that you can’t miss it for one, and you are mesmerized by it for two. If you are allergic to such femininity you better forget about the book. Few girls will be smiled at but many boys will be made fun of. All the main characters will be women and men will be marginal. The central girl is Jessica, aka Jess, Ballard. She was living with her mother who in a way or another, unexplained, when drunk one night manages to fall over from the window of her bedroom in New York. Suicide or accident, maybe even pushed, but by whom and by what? Then Jess moves to her aunt’s, her mother’s twin sister’s before going to a college whose Dean is a woman, shouldn’t I say of course.
Jess is living in a girls’ student residence, sharing her room with Tia and she works on campus serving breakfast to the students to pay for her daily expenses. She has a scholarship for her tuition. And there the real adventures start.
To synthesize the novel, let’s say her mother and this latter’s twin sister, her aunt, were Dupurinens, meaning that both together they were the gateway for ghosts that were left behind in this world to go beyond this world through a ceremony in which the two women build a circle that was the gateway. Yet the author avoids the simple “hole in the fabric” or even “hole in the hedge” by stating one girl is the key and the other the gate and a ghost has to enter the key and pass into the gate to be able to go beyond, thus using the circumference of the circle to go and not the circle itself, the whole in the fabric.
Since Jess is seeing ghosts she must be connected to a gate, or a key as for that, part of a gate-keeping couple, and she must have a second partner somewhere. She has to have a twin sister. This twin sister is Hannah and Hannah has been committed to foster homes after birth, after the mother got rid of her and after this mother tried to block the blood line with a “binding,” a ceremony or ritual to do just that, and for several years to a mental institution to cure her “hallucinations,” i.e. her constant visions or visitations of ghosts. She has to be broken out from this institution to be finally able to be reunited with her twin sister Jess and to open up the gate for the first time, and there was quite a lot of ghosts waiting for that gate to open. At the end of the first volume mission is accomplished, in spite of the fact hat Jess had fallen in love with one of the ghosts that had been haunting her on her campus, Saint Matt’s of course since it is a story about seeing, and moreover believing when seeing, by seeing, if not by touching, in other words a campus dedicated to a witness who is telling us his testimony, a gospel writer. It should have been Thomas, but Thomas was no gospel writer. Too bad.
The style and the subject make this book, this trilogy I guess, exceptional, fascinatingly remarkable. But what could be the meaning of such a subject in our modern society that disbelieves everything that is not rational, that cannot be described in mathematical terms? What is the meaning of this concentration on ghosts, on dead beings that have been dematerialized into some virtual existence that cannot find even any virtual-real existence in some virtual reality that cannot be on this side of the existential divide?
The first meaning I can see is the fact that today in our world we have become so materialistic and death has become so far away in life that we cannot accept the simple fact that we will be nothing at all one day. So we have to reinvent the supernatural existence of dead people in our own and real life. Ghosts are the mark of our acceptance of death as the normal end of life. Life is mortal and even deadly because it always leads to death. This creates some anxiety in us and we compensate for it with the imagination of such ghosts. In other words this line of fiction is cathartic since it explains how easily it will be for us to move to the other side and that the creator of this world has implanted in this world the human tools necessary for it to be easy. Stephen King had invented Dr Sleep, and E.E. Holmes has invented durupinens. Exactly the same function of facilitators of the passage from life to death.
The second meaning has to do with women. Is the fact that women are the only possible solutions for that passage a mark of gender discrimination, gender compensation or gender favoritism? It could be though the fact that the durupinens are twins (as shown in the book) from one bloodline makes the tale more mythical than just plain social of genderistic. It obviously fictionalizes the necessary re-balancing of the gender unbalance favorable to men for many millennia, and by doing this it actually achieves the objective of mentally reaching a new equilibrium. Of course when a stick is twisted it is tempting to over-twist it back in the other direction, and then there is some over-twisting in this exclusively female vision. It is true that the strong emphasis set on gendered misbehavior is showing the concern of the author about forced intercourse (in one full chapter, in which the girls are saved by a ghost) or about incest that has become so common in fan fiction with the series “Supernatural.” Here a possible male-female gate would lead to the idea of too close a relation between a brother and a sister. Especially since Jess fell in love with Evan, the Lacrosse sportsman and musician who died of hypothermia on the campus. So she is prudent about it but then it gives to that gate a special meaning that is very traditional.
Death is seen as the other side of the mother just as it is considered as the other side of birth, which makes it easy to consider and conceive rebirth. This is the basic human myth invented by Homo Sapiens. It takes only two forms. Reincarnation that can be real in Hinduism and some Buddhist schools (the most extreme in that line is the Book of the Dead of the Tibetan Buddhists), or purely virtual in some Theravada Buddhism. The second conception is renaissance after death in some eternal life that can be blissful in the shape of some paradise or Heavens or pure suffering in the shape of some Hell or Hades. E.E. Holmes very carefully ignores any religious reference and just states the existence of another world on the other side of the gate that is impossible for the human gatekeepers to describe or define, though Evan just says it is good though he cannot know because he has not gone yet and he will not come back. The total absence of any religious reference is a sign of the present times of supposedly free thinking that is little by little but very fast (within hardly two generations) eradicating religion as a human reference and existential dimension. This is frightening because it kicks all those who may believe in some religion into the emptiness of what some call secularism, when it is not simply into a danger or a risk for the whole society.
That’s the most frightening element of this line of literature. It completely eradicates the most important invention of Homo Sapiens along with language some 300,000 years ago that made this species of ours emerge from animality. Without a vision of a transcending dimension to present life we are no longer human. Does this transcending dimension have to be religious, have to be centered on a creative uncreated god? It is not my function here to answer hat question (if there is one or only one answer), but in a time when Christianity is on the rebound in its Catholic dimension, in a time when Buddhism is reaching out and expanding, in a time when Islam is both expanding and hosting in its own heart the worst ever resistance against any evolution in any direction that would make religion and god look aloof, loose, maybe even more virtual than real, I have to wonder if it is not a disintegration of humanity itself that is dissolving in some kind of totally unethical and absolutely materialistic vision that loses all real roots in the material world, to the point of imagining machines taking over one day? But in Matrix there is an architect and a software somewhere. In Supernatural there are plenty of demons, devils and angels or archangels. Here nothing at all. That is disquieting because it does not have any hierarchically superior level in spite of an unexplored – yet? – deeper darker more physiological if not hormonal world of strange exceptional bloodlines that have special powers. The axiom of Dune once again.
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU