It gives a whole new meaning to the term ghost writer. They aren’t publicly anonymous voices that pen a celebrity’s ‘masterpiece’, they aren’t living from invoice to invoice, and they aren’t even technically living. Spirit authors are more scribe that writer, taking the words of souls past and transcribing stories across the chasm of their world and ours. They bridge past and present, life and death and enlighten writing to a whole new caliber of transcendence. They aren’t just the ‘woo woo’ doctors or zany characters seen sitting storefront offering to read your palm with a grotesque painted index finger. There’s actually a pool of very credible authors culling a massive market for these spirit-penned novels in Brazil.
Spirit authors are followers of Spiritism, a belief system grounded in the existence and instructive power of apparitions, and the fourth largest religion in the country. Allan Kardec, credited as creator of Spiritism, used the help of spirits to write five ‘psycho-translated’ books that stand as cornerstone reads for any follower.
Kardec claims he has spoken with a handful of spirits about science, morality, philosophy, and religion among other weighty concepts. According to Kardec, the spirits spoke of simple wisdom – love thy neighbour, charity, and the central dogma: improvement of human morality through karma and reincarnation. In the cross-hairs of religion, philosophy and ancient eastern belief the peaceful practice doesn’t exactly scream book industry slammer, but the rise of author Chico Xavier proved otherwise.
Chico psycho-translating (image courtesy of https://bit.ly/2b9Jjh3.)
Chico, a Brazilian medium, psycho-translated over 450 books and sold over 50. Under Spiritism’s principle belief in charity, all the profits went to those in need. Chico has been the most popular commercial writer in Brazil, was voted Best Brazilian (what a prize) in 2012, and even asked for several of his penned letters from the dead to be used in a murder trial. He never charged for his services to others, and never kept a penny of profits for himself. Since his passing, the trend has upheld and the pillars of the religion proven national fodder to read more, learn more and, to the glee of publishers, buy more.
What exactly are ghosts blabbing about these days? It’s not the cinematic cliches of gripes and groans, but neither is it tear jerkers nor cunning political commentary veiled in dystopic thrillers. Similar to the religion the authors subscribe to, the words from the dead mirror a contemplative simplicity – a focus on fables, lessons on faith, goodness, charity and so on. Some are more doctrinal, some more free thought and lighthearted musings.
The spirit-authors link to another world may be more explicit, but authors have been communicating and regarding the words of the dead for centuries. In varying layers of transparency, dogmatic texts from the Tao Te Ching, to the Dhammapada, to St. Augustine’s Confessions, all relay messages from ‘higher’ forces. Through epiphanies, dreams, and supernatural encounters, much of this literary esteemed work has been brought to us. It’s also fair to argue, as many writers can attest, that inspiration often comes in the form of dream, something beyond conscious recognition. There’s definitely something to be said for a creative process that exists beyond us – forms of aid from outside the self – and the rise of Brazilian spirit-authors is a curious exploration of just how far beyond us, and our world, some believe creative influence can extend.
Featured image courtesy of Nerdist.