Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries

Av svårförklarliga anledningar är The Fairy-Faith in Celtic Countries en av mina favoritböcker.

De kom ut 1911 och är en genomgång av tron på folktroväsen i vad författaren W. Y. Evans-Wentz kallar "Celtic Countries". På nätet kan den numera läsas här.

Den är mycket lärd, diskuterar religionshistoriska och etnologiska teorier. Men man märker efter ett tag att författaren faktiskt i en viss mening tror på dessa väsens existens.

Han var, jag höll på att säga naturligtvis, teosof. Men framförallt skriver han så vackert. Titta gärna på hans beskrivning av geografin i de regioner han diskuterar. Det är naturromantik när den är som bäst. Tycker jag.

Hans noggranna beskrivningar liknar lite Frazer, och sådana skrivs inte idag. Idag skulle en liknande bok förmodligen ta upp några typexempel, och sedan föra ;diskussioner om dem. Men här får vi i detalj läsa den ena beskrivningen efter den andra.

För att nu ge ett exempel på Evans-Wentz grundsyn, citerar jag nedan detta civilisationskritiska avsnitt från introduktionen. Det är ett riktigt vackert stycke, oavsett vad man nu anser om denna grundsyn, och om man som alltid bortser från de irriterande men väldigt tidstypiska manliga termerna för grupper av människor....

"The Celtic peasant, who may be their tenant or neighbour, is--if still uncorrupted by them--in direct contrast unconventional and natural. He is normally always responsive to psychical influences--as much so as an Australian Arunta or an American Red Man, who also, like him, are fortunate enough to have escaped being corrupted by what we egotistically, to distinguish ourselves from them, call 'civilization'. If our Celtic peasant has psychical experiences, or if he sees an apparition which he calls one of the 'good people', that is to say a fairy, it is useless to try to persuade him that he is under a delusion: unlike his materialistically-minded lord, he would not attempt nor even desire to make himself believe that what he has seen he has not seen. Not only has he the will to believe, but he has the right to believe; because his belief is not a matter of being educated and reasoning logically, nor a matter of faith and theology--it is a fact of his own individual experiences, as he will tell you. Such peasant seers have frequently argued with me to the effect that 'One does not have to be educated in order to see fairies'.

Unlike the natural mind of the uncorrupted Celt, Arunta, or American Red Man, which is ever open to unusual psychical impressions, the mind of the business man in our great cities tends to be obsessed with business affairs both during his waking and during his dream states, the politician's with politics similarly, the society-leader's with society; and the unwholesome excitement felt by day in the city is apt to be heightened at night through a satisfying of the feeling which it morbidly creates for relaxation and change of stimuli. In the slums, humanity is divorced from Nature under even worse conditions, and becomes wholly decadent. But in slum and in palace alike there is continually a feverish nerve-tension induced by unrest and worry; there is impure and smoke-impregnated air, a lack of sunshine, a substitution of artificial objects f or natural objects, and in place of solitude the eternal din of traffic. Instead of Nature, men in cities (and paradoxically some conventionalized men in the country) have 'civilization'--and 'culture'.

Are city-dwellers like these, Nature's unnatural children, who grind out their lives in an unceasing struggle for wealth and power, social position, and even for bread, fit to judge Nature's natural children who believe in fairies? Are they right in not believing in an invisible world which they cannot conceive, which, if it exists, they--even though they be scientists--are through environment and temperament alike incapable of knowing? Or is the country-dwelling, the sometimes 'unpractical' and 'unsuccessful', the dreaming, and 'uncivilized' peasant right? These questions ought to arouse in the minds of anthropologists very serious reflection, world-wide in its scope.".

Boken finns i senare upptryckningar, så den går att få tag i IRL, åtminstone via bibliotek. Men troligen också via bokhandlar. För den, alltså, som vill ha riktiga papper att bläddra i när hen läser!