Friday, 15 July 2011

Why I don't believe in ghosts…

Not a proper review this, just a little note. I've just been reading Now Remember, a Penguin 60 by Vladimir Nabokov. It's a beautifully written little book – an extract from the autobiographical Speak, Memory – albeit one in which I progressively lost interest as its focus narrowed to the study of butterflies and moths.

I was fascinated by Nabokov's description of his regular "praedormitary visions" in the opening pages, since I experience almost precisely the same thing:

"They come and go, without the drowsy observer's participation, but are essentially different from dream pictures for he is still master of his senses. They are often grotesque. I am pestered by roguish profiles, by some coarse-featured and florid dwarf with a swelling nostril or ear."

I tend to see pale figures leaning over the bed and babies floating around the room.

I can understand why people who experience something like that just once can be so convinced that they've seen a ghost. If you see a old lady floating around the room at night, it's easy to believe something supernatural has happened.

However, once if it happens a few times, and the next time it's an ironing board, or a giant apple, or the starship Enterprise, you realise that there's nothing supernatural going on.

And so, paradoxically, the reason I don't believe in ghosts is that I see them so often…


  1. My teacher at cornell university in
    1958, Goodwin smith hall, small class room, 8 students- vera, a dog,
    and cigarette smoke.
    Mr Hal

  2. My goodness, what an experience that must have been.

    I just looked up my university tutor, Professor Wolfgang van Emden. I don't know why I'm shocked that he has died, given his age when I knew him, but I still am. Rather tickled to find out that he acted on stage with Kenneth Branagh.