Remembering “Le Horla”

The strange event with my notebook reminded me of a famous horror story I had read a long time ago: Guy de Maupassant, the great French writer of the late 19th century, was not only famous for novels like “Bel Ami” but also for his short stories. Among them is one piece of a horror story I dare to say is one of the most unsettling horror stories I ever read: “´Le Horla”. The story is told as a diary in reportage-style and chronicles the paranoia of a man who is stalked by an invisible supernatural being, which makes him ill, tries to get control of his thoughts and drinks his water. One of the most terrifying things is that we never see the Horla: ” Le Horla est un être invisible à l’oeil nu, ce qui lui confère sa supériorité”. There is a surprising resolution at the end: Most of its length the story leads us in the direction of psychological horror. We are witnessing a progress of madness. However in the end Le Horla becomes a story of cosmic horror. The Horla is only one member of a race of supernatural beings, maybe an alien race, which first appeared in Brazil. The narrator tells us of his dark foreboding feelings: “After man the Horla”.

I can assure everyone that there is no similar thing like Le Horla responsible for the strange incident with the notebook. No further things happened here, and I am sure nobody has made any entries in my books except myself.  I know what you think now: “if he only would keep his things in order and would have organized his notes a little better the whole thing wouldn’t happened at all”.

When I said I am maybe not alone in this I didn’t mean that supernatural beings keep an influence on my project in a literal sense. I am convinced the otherworld works most of the time in more subtle ways. I suggest reflecting more upon the very nature of creativity. We do not really know where ideas originally come from. Even if we develop a story inspired by a newspaper article it might be an interesting question why that particular article got our attention in the first place.

A story can begin with a certain symbol or image which appeared in the imagination first. Some images are so strong you feel a need to do something about it.  “Le Horla” was often interpreted as a story about Maupassant’s own progressing madness. I think this is a very simple and short-handed interpretation. Going back to the third act of his short story it is worth to ask why Maupassant had chosen that strange turning point, which is more suitable for a writer like the honorable H.P. Lovecraft. Maybe we should read the Horla not as a metaphor for beginning psychosis but as a metaphor for some kind of external influence, an influence which seems not to come from the subconscious but from somewhere else.

Maupassant’s description of Le Horla sounds more like something, which came from another dimension, another scheme of evolution, superior to mankind, like Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones: “One might almost say that the air, the invisible air, is full of unknowable Forces, whose mysterious presence we have to endure”.

If we take this idea not too literal, we will discover that this is a very common concept.

Even in psychology, for example C.G. Jung’s idea of the archetypes, which he said, have always a hidden influence on us, have a troubling quality. It is interesting that Jung’s writings are ambiguous about the true nature of archetypes.

Simplified, Jung plays with the idea that there are hidden patterns in reality, which work more like a tendency of certain events to happen.

There is also an interesting line in Le Horla: “Everything that surrounds us, everything that we see without looking at it, everything that we touch without knowing it, everything that we handle without feeling it, everything that we meet without clearly distinguishing it, has a rapid, surprising, and inexplicable effect upon us and upon our organs, and through them on our ideas and on our being itself”

Such a concept might easily lead to a feeling of being followed, maybe not in an extreme sense like the poor protagonist in Le Horla.

Vice versa, if we could open our eyes and train our senses to see certain events in a different light, we might lift the veil in The Forest Dark a little bit. What we need to learn is to read the hidden patterns in the right way.

There might be things, particularly in the Northern Woods, which doesn’t appear as living beings in the first place, but manifest themselves in more unpredictable ways. We know of very disturbing encounters in the woods, which are too strange to be told accordingly.

Le Horla contains a very good description of what we should be looking for:

 “Do you believe it?” I asked the monk. “I scarcely know,” he replied; and I continued: “If there are other beings besides ourselves on this earth, how comes it that we have not known it for so long a time, or why have you not seen them? How is it that I have not seen them?”

He replied: “Do we see the hundred-thousandth part of what exists? Look here; there is the wind, which is the strongest force in nature. It knocks down men, and blows down buildings, uproots trees, raises the sea into mountains of water, destroys cliffs and casts great ships on to the breakers; it kills, it whistles, it sighs, it roars. But have you ever seen it, and can you see it? Yet it exists for all that.”

 

Subconscious, synchronicity or somebody?

A strange thing happened a few days after I had finished my latest post  Gateway to the Otherworld.

I had tucked away my notebooks including the notes from various field trips, among them the Bavarian Forest excursion.

When I had a break I picked up one of the notebooks again from the drawer and opened it randomly on a page.

I didn’t believe what I saw. I had opened the notebook exactly on a page including notes I had forgotten when I wrote about my memories of that certain day.

The notes were about that there was an open little hut, more a rain shelter, where I made some pictures and there was a man with his family. I had overheard a conversation that he was telling his kids that when he was young they made bonfires on that mountain and were celebrating. I wasn’t sure if he was telling them the full story.

This was particularly interesting because I had already before some scenes for the movie in my mind with people partying around a bonfire deep in the woods.

How could I have forgotten about that? And the more troubling question is: there weren’t any markers in that notebook making it more likely that I will open the notebook on that certain page. And I swear I didn’t come across these pages when I did some research for the previous post.

There are some common theories about such events: a) the subconscious at work b) synchronicity – a heightened awareness about the topic lead to this event, c) it was like somebody wanted me to remind me to mention this little incident.

I am suspicious for a long time that I am not alone in this project. As I said in the first transmission post  I had already several times the feeling of an external influence or force sometimes intervening in the course of the project.

I left the notebook now on my desk. I want to see it in exactly the same position when I come back to my office on the next morning. AND I hope I will only find my own notes in that notebook in the future.

 

 

Is there a literal gateway to the Otherworld?

 

“Gateways” to the Otherworld are a very common thing in literature and stories around the world. Everybody knows the stories of people who disappeared and maybe returned years later like famous Rip Van Winkle. I also remember some fairy tales and the classic legend of Orpheus.

However the idea of a gateway to the otherworld raises some fundamental questions. In the end of David Lynch’s legendary TV series “Twin Peaks” Agent Cooper disappears in the “Black Lodge” deep in the woods. Lynch doesn’t explain what exactly happened and it is one of the questions, which is left to our own interpretation

Most of the medieval otherworld journeys seem to happen on a psychic level. However there is word about St. Patrick’s purgatory where people literally entered the other world through a doorway in a cave in Lough Derg, Donegal.

I started my own investigation about gateways to the Otherworld very early during the research for The Forest Dark Movie project. In the picture below you see pictures, my notebook and my maps from an expedition to the Bavarian Forest, south east Bavaria.

 

My objective was to get some impressions at a place in the mountains where one of the famous prophets of the region received some of his visions (the region is well known for people who have premonitions about certain events in the future). If otherworldly vision is sometimes connected with places I thought there might be certain locations, which are somehow closer to the other world. It was a day in early October and the morning was misty and cold. The mist never lifted as can be seen in the picture. The place where the visionary received his troubling visions is named “Hennenkobel” in Bavarian and it was possible to identify that place. When I reached the site there wasn’t happening something really extraordinary. It was very quiet and not much light swept through the huge trees. I took some pictures and after a while I descended and walked back to my car. I wasn’t exactly disappointed, but was thinking that there is a problem. If we do research and investigate these sites we bring our knowledge as baggage. This might trigger the imagination, but also makes you even more skeptical. I didn’t even want to think something ridiculous. Later I thought it will be always a problem if you visit a place with a certain attitude. But what did happen was that the excursion and the images left a deep impression, which came up again and again when working on the movie screenplay.

Far from having an answer if there are literal gateways to the Otherworld I can say that there are places which have a  quality to leave their trace. They are somehow “strong places”, but much more investigation is needed to know how else they could work. I personally do not believe in some sort of “Star Gate” to the Otherworld but there are certain things I know and we should be very careful to play around at the gateways to the Otherworld. Jacques Vallees writes about a British medium and occultist, Dion Fortune, who mentioned in her book “Psychic Self Defence” the mysterious death of her friend Netta Fornario. She was found dead on a mountain in Iona with traces of terrible scrapes, in 1930. Researcher Jacques Vallees adds that there were reports of blue lights in the area at the same time.

The question about gateways to the Otherworld is not only if they literally exist but also if they can work both ways. What if something can come through the gateway from the other side into our world? It might be not necessarily some monster with tentacles but something, which takes possession of the mind or something which “plants” an idea in our minds.

If we deal with the Otherworld we might need to abandon our idea  of the distinct separation of mind and matter.

 

Sometimes the veil between our world and the other realms become thinner as usual. This must not necessarily happen at some place in The Forest Dark or at a certain time. As we know from the ecstatic visionaries the doorway can be opened at any place at any time in the Universe. And in the end everybody finally enters the door to the Otherworld.

 

From Pope Gregory’s View Of Otherworld Journeys In 600 AD To Jacques Vallees’ Interpretation Of Close Encounters

 

Today, I would like to propose a radical idea: we usually think of visionary dreams, near death experience, alien-abduction, ghostly apparitions and supernatural encounters in a forest dark as different things. They might be variations of the same phenomenon. Carol Zaleski offers us in her highly acclaimed book “Otherworld Journeys”, about medieval Christian return from death stories and modern Near Death Experience, a broader perspective. In her investigation of medieval visionary experience she informs us about astonishing insight of medieval scholars and writers about the nature of the Otherworld Journey.

Gregory The Great, the sixth-century-pope and spiritual writer whose dialogues helped to set the standards for medieval discussions of miracles and visions, surprises us not only with his deep psychological understanding but also a very differentiate view about vision: the fourth and final book of the Dialogues is devoted to “Last things”; here Gregory offers proof of the soul’s immortality.

However, Zaleski writes, “far from touting visionary experience, these monastic authors show themselves well aware of the delusions, “vainglory” and morbid  symptoms that can afflict the visionary. As a pastoral theologian schooled in classical and Augustinian epistemology Gregory distrusts visions, and as a contemplative he is persuaded that in its highest capacity the soul rises beyond images. Even at its most sublime, Gregory believes, visionary experience involves the activity of an intermediate mental capacity, in which divine illumination mixes with sensory impressions”.

In his Dialogues Gregory says, that “through images, Peter, we learn to appreciate the real significance of our situation” And Zaleskis explains to us: “Although they usually spare their audiences the epistemological niceties, medieval vision narratives follow Gregory’s lead in suggesting that what the protagonist saw, though real, should not accepted too literally. In his introduction to the Treatise on the Purgatory of St. Patrick, H. of Sawtry explains that Owen saw things “as if in corporeal form and likeness” simply because he was a corporeal and mortal man”.

There is a striking similarity between Gregory’s word and the comprehensive analysis of UFOS and close encounters by French researcher Jacques Vallees: again and again Vallees emphasizes that witnesses indeed had an experience which cannot explained away but we shouldn’t take the accounts of these events too literally. And he discovered the highly symbolic character of these modern visionary experiences.

The connection between these two persons from 600 Ad and the 20th century is an interesting aspect in investigating the otherworld in general: maybe we are always dealing with  the same phenomenon.

BUT this doesn’t mean that any encounter with the otherworld is just a mere psychic experience. It is a reality but an other reality hiding behind thousands of masks. There are more stunning similarities between Ufo-abductees and medieval travelers of the otherworld:

Again Mrs Zaleski says, that”the otherworld journey leaves its mark not only in conversion, austerities and other signs of reform, but also in long-lasting physical and emotional effects. Caesarius states, as if it were a commonly held opinion, that those who come back from the dead never laugh again. In addition the visionaries return to life afflicted (or blessed) with a variety of symptoms, some related to their illness, other of supernatural origin. Old wounds are healed, or new scars appear. Fursa bears a permanent burn mark on his shoulder and jaw from a flaming soul flung at him by a demon; Bede finds it quite wonderful that ‘what the soul suffered in secret, the flesh showed openly'”.

Again, these deep psychological and dangerous physical effects of the otherworld journey doesn’t apply only to the medieval return from the death story, but very much to the so-called abductees and victims of Forest Dark events like the story of Norwegian Olof who died after he rejected the queen of Elves deep in the forest.

TheForestDark will further investigate about these dangerous side effects of direct contact with the otherworld or the otherworld journey and report about previous events which happened in connection with the movie project.

See you soon again and be careful if you go out into the woods in the night!