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A Psychological Shipwreck

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When I was a kid, I had a record called "Great Ghost Stories" (1973 Troll Records) that I loved and played over and over again -- especially my favorite story "The Golden Arm."  It was great for scaring myself, my sister, and my friends!  But the first story on the record was one I often skipped because I found boring it or else I didn't understand it; it was "The Mysterious Shipwreck" which was an adaptation of the short story "A Psychological Shipwreck" by Ambrose Bierce.  Recently, I listened to it again and re-read the original, and I'm still not quite sure what it all means, but now as an adult I find the story very atmospheric and weird -- and I like it.  In the story, some characters refer to a fictional book titled DENNEKER'S MEDITATIONS, and I thought it might be fun to include in a CALL OF CTHULHU scenario the marked passage cited in the story:


“To sundry it is given to be drawn away, and to be apart
from the body for a season; for, as concerning rills which would

flow across each other the weaker is borne along by the stron-
ger, so there be certain of kin whose paths intersecting, their

souls do bear company, the while their bodies go fore-appointed
ways, unknowing.”


I thought it might fit in with the out of body experiences that are prevalent in HPL stories.  Has anyone else ever read this story?  What do you think it means?


You can listen to the audio version here:



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"Forasmuch as it is ordained of God that all flesh hath spirit and thereby taketh on spiritual powers, so, also, the spirit hath powers of the flesh, even when it is gone out of the flesh and liveth as a thing apart, as many a violence performed by wraith and lemure sheweth. And there be who say that man is not single in this, but the beasts have the like evil inducement...."

- Ambrose Bierce, "Staley Fleming's Hallucination"



The first of the two quotes from Ambrose Bierce speculates that a "kindred spirit" might be temporarily separated from its body, and drawn along the same obscure, supernatural path as a stronger, disembodied, ghostly spirit, perhaps into the "Other Side", while the living body goes through the motions of life in the spirit's absence.  The second quote speculates that ghostly spirits have the same powers as living ones, enabling them to do physical violence against the living, and that animal spirits are no less capable of such physical violence.


As an aside, I've just added this "rare and curious book", a "rum lot" (strange subject), to the YSDC wiki as a minor Gaslight-era "Mythos tome" dedicated to the subject of the nature and powers of ghosts, spirits, etc.

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