Coded green.

Tuesday 24 October 2000

Sheet ghost

Pic of the day: Pretty transparent, this one ...

Do ghosts die?

Halloween is coming up. It is traditionally a non-issue here in Norway. Certainly we don't have any tradition for trick or treat, scary costumes and all that ball of fur. But I passed by a toy store in town today and noticed lots of Halloween costumes for kids. I passed by a glass shop and saw halloween lanterns shaped like pumpkins and ghosts.

First impressions is that American culture is seeping in. Norway is already one of the most Americanized countries overseas, certainly the most Americanized in Europe. We eat the most burgers, drink the most cola (though largely diet cola) and like to buy stuff with stars & stripes on. We don't like to buy things with a circle of stars on, the EU symbol. The large kiosk where I often drop by after work has now more English-language books and magazines than Norwegian. Year by year the balance shifts further.

The kids that are born now will grow up with Halloween. I guess it beats Fiesta del Muerto, though it's certainly not like the solemn day of reflection on mortality which we tentatively had for a while here in Norway, All Saints' Day. (Nobody seems to care about that anymore, except perhaps some old people.)


Reflecting on mortality comes easy when you're sick. But today I actually went to work again. (Mostly because I was all out of yoghurt, and milk too...) I still feel like I have a balloon in my stomach, and I've got a bit of headache all day. But what do you expect for an old man? And while my digestion may be a pain in the ass, I did get safely to the city and back without soiling myself. So I'm not complaining. Oops, I just did, didn't I? :)


In a more light-hearted reflection of mortality, I saw several days ago on the Keenboards some posts signed by "Damonk's ghost's ghost". I found that cute. Nobody expects ghosts to die! But how would we really know? If they did not eventually wander off, we should expect them to just accumulate until the ectosphere was all crowded. Yeah, I know some New Age people think that various spiritual guides - incarnate or not - try to help ghosts move on by channeling unconditional love to the poor critters. That's fine by me. But be that as it may, you don't see many thousand year old ghosts hanging around, as far as I know.

Of course, they could just get bored. Or they could eventually find out that they were finished with this universe and it was time to move on. This is what's supposed to happen in one of my best attempt at writing fantasy, in my humble opinion: "Helonian Heritage". Sadly it was all in Norwegian and I have only translated a tiny bit of it.

"Helonian heritage" has a parallel world ruled by small gods, like the old Norse or ancient Greek pantheons, more or less. These gods can die (and indeed all did, as they were betrayed by their envious underlings) but killing their bodies does not make that much of a change. They still have all of their magic, and are even more mobile without a body. The main downside is that they can't beget any new generation of rulers, and of course all physical pleasures are out of the question. Normally the spirits hang around for a considerable time after death, continuing their work, looking after their descendants, and studying their arts of interest. Eventually they wrap up their relations with the physical world, being tired of the ego in the same way that they were tired of the body. Then they return to the Wheel of Light, their name for the eternal deity that is the source and goal of all consciousness.

Oh well. It was kind of a nice story, but of course I never finished it. I usually don't finish things. Bear with me, it fits in the pattern...

I have wondered if my attempts to become spiritual - to deny the flesh - if they were so pure of heart after all. Sometimes I think that I wanted to make myself into a living spirit just so that death would not be so much of a change. In effect, a ghost while alive. The implicit thought behind that, of course, would be that a ghost cannot die. Humans can die, and so I have strived long and hard not to be one.

But eventually I concluded that to avoid dying by not living would not make me a god, only a ghost. How ironic that I tried to do this in the name of Jesus, who was very much a living man. A man who felt not only love but also anger and fear and sadness and hunger and thirst. And so, according to the religion founded in his name, he brought us the Ghost that will never die.

You may or may not believe any of that. But I think you can see the irony in my trying to be holier than Jesus. Oh, I still try to fight the Flesh when it is encroaching where it shouldn't (and that's a daily event at best) but I'm no longer trying to be emotionally flat, cold, lifeless ... a ghost trapped in a man's body.

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