Why is everything dead in dark souls

Each his own (near) death

In “The Dark Night of the Soul”, Hans Peter Duerr confronts his readers with the dreams of many ghost seers

By Veit Justus Rollmann

Discussed books / references

Near-death experiences and so-called soul journeys are borderline experiences in many ways. They occur in a border area of ​​connection with one's own body, provided that one understands it to be a physical object that obeys physical laws; They abolish the boundaries of space and time in a certain way, in that distances and processes within these basic forms of human experience become relative and they bring those who experience them to ever new boundaries, until finally a final boundary is reached, which is irreversibly exceeded and which therefore marks the difference between near death and death. It remains to be seen whether the latter means the end of every experience, because whoever continues here has to walk a road that - as it is called in one of Schubert's songs - no one has yet gone back, which is why none of those who were seen there able to report.

In Hans Peter Duerr's latest book The dark night of the soul on the other hand, many report. The immense effort that the author has put in searching for and collecting reports on near death and leaving one's own body gives rise to justified doubts about the existence of a work that deals with this topic even more comprehensively and exhaustively. In fact, the type of treatment also exhausts the reader in many places. When the scientific value of a book is measured by the number of annotations, Duerr sets the bar very high. Of the total of 688 printed pages, around 300 contain references and literature. Because of the immense wealth of sources, it is sometimes annoying that Duerr uses footnotes sparingly and this is a first example of the book's potential to exhaust the reader. In a section of around one printed page, “many near-death researchers”, “two ethnologists”, “a woman from the […] Samburu”, “an Englishman” and “a psychiatrist” appear and it is the author's conscientiousness beyond doubt It is thanks to the citation of his sources that far more names and places are listed in the one associated note. But who is who, the willing reader has to figure it out himself, or, if he wants to find out exactly, look up the passages. Again, this is not an easy undertaking, because Duerr has on his journey ad fontes probably every accessible collection of ethnological, religious or even parapsychological descriptions looked through.

The experiences that Duerr bundles their descriptions are, regardless of their diversity, clearly delimited from apparently similar areas of experience. Near-death and the journey of the soul are in their qualitative determinateness comparable neither with the dream nor with the states of intoxication and hallucinations caused by ingestion of psychoactive substances. They appear as complex hallucinations, the experience of which is unique and interspersed with telepathic and clairvoyant elements. This is a basic thesis of Duerr, which runs from the blurb through the entire content and which is to be substantiated by the wealth of the reports. Whether this succeeds remains questionable, which is also shown by the fact that the author's own experience and therefore a non-falsifiable, subjective event is also used. The author characterizes his leaving his own body, the description of which is contained in the prologue of the book, as something that “fascinates but also stunned him”, because “despite all his drug and similar experiences, he would not have thought something like this possible”.

The portrayal of a near-death experience is a description of one's life in an extreme, borderline situation and however different and culture-specific they may be, they have certain moments in common that allow the subject to be subdivided. Duerr's chapters deal with well-known motifs such as the tunnel, the light and the darkness and the beyond of the tunnel. They deal with the cult and its ecstatic and visionary moments and, via sections on psychoactive substances, draw a link to a final appendix, in which the question of the justification of a human longing for immortality, a fundamental anthropological constant, is raised. According to Duerr, the near-death experience has the effect that in many cases the fear of the end of life is replaced by the conviction that such an end in the sense of absolute death simply does not exist.

Some of the reports and stories of which the Dark night of the soul certainly contains thousands, are frighteningly banal and allow conclusions to be drawn about the intellectual horizon of the respective reporter; for example when the supposedly deceased God disturbs while bathing and is chased back into life in a rowdy manner. Others are hair-raising absurdity: for example, when members of the Southeast Australian Wiradjeri tribe get to the distant place on the other side of the sea called Kating-ngari, “by - like Spiderman - they get a testicle from their testicles 'Bu: ru ‘maulwa-Shot a string along which they climbed to their destination like a spider "or when" from the world of witches and ghosts (ro-soki) "When speaking of" a great city with palaces made of gold and precious stones "," whose inhabitants drove Mercedes and ate "beefsticka" made from human flesh ". They all give up on the question from William Shakespeare HamletAs for the dreams that may come about during sleep, a first answer: Anything imaginable can be part of the complex hallucinations that we call a near-death experience or a journey to the hereafter. Whether these experiences are similar to those we have after crossing the last limit to the irreversibility of death, or are fundamentally different from them, will never be clarified in this world. It is not a peculiarity of Duerr, but a proprium of cultural studies that the culturally handed down evidence is largely uncritically compiled. Someone has seen (or thinks they have seen) something and passed it on by means of the cultural technique of writing or, according to a long oral tradition, had it passed on by a collector. Since it is a matter of particularly subjective reports of experiences, there is a lack of truth criteria. Presumed truthfulness ensures participation in the discourse.

In the seemingly endless sequence of stories, there are always passages in almost every section of the book that fascinate the reader. No physiological or psychological aspect remains unexplored, and Duerr's analyzes promise the reader who is interested in the topic sustainable gain in knowledge. Against this background, however, an obvious misinterpretation appears annoying - at least from the point of view of the believing and tolerably Bible-proof reader. This is how the prick of a lance into the body of Jesus on the cross, which, as a sure sign of death, ensures that, unlike the two thieves, the crucified one does not break the legs in order to hasten their death signum mortis in a coup-de-grace reinterpreted. However, this is an isolated case that is not able to diminish the overall impression in the long term.

In a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke, the wish is expressed that God may grant everyone their own death that suits their life. The descriptions that Duerr's book bundles show that this wish is being fulfilled, at least in the area of ​​so-called near death.

Duerrs The dark night of the soul offers everyone who wants to get a comprehensive picture of near-death experiences and so-called soul journeys a collection of materials that is second to none. However, it is largely up to the reader to do the job.