The Shadow Book of Ji Yun

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Sadly most Western descriptions of this book present it as fiction, but reading the historical context it seems at least some of the accounts of this book (if not all) were meant to be seen as actual documents of Ji Yun's paranormal investigations.

In fact the actual text of the translation I have asserts that Ji Yun was seen as an open minded skeptic and the popularity of his accounts was in fact because of this dedication to recording the truth. While some of these accounts are secondhand there are also the personal experiences Ji Yun had.

Quote:Beginning in 1789, when he was sixty-five years old, Ji Yun published five volumes of over 1200 tales. In one stroke, they revolutionized Chinese horror and creative nonfiction, revitalized Chinese occult philosophy, and offered the reader a vision of China never before depicted: one poised between old ways and new, where repeating rifles shared the world with Tibetan black-magic shamans, Jesuit astronomers rubbed elbows with cosmic horrors, and a vibrant sex trade of the reanimated dead was rumored to be conducted in the dark of night. Such tales would be unsettling enough if they were simply presented as fiction, but astoundingly Ji Yun claimed some were autobiographical accounts or the experiences of people close to him. Literary cousins to Michel de Montaigne’s “Of a Monstrous Child” and Mark Twain’s infamous Harper’s Magazine essays on his experiences with the paranormal, they were meant by Ji Yun to record first-hand encounters with the numinous, the inexplicable, and the odd.

Ji, Yun. The Shadow Book of Ji Yun: The Chinese Classic of Weird True Tales, Horror Stories, and Occult Knowledge . Empress Wu Books. Kindle Edition.
Quote:Ji Yun’s claim that such stories are true, or largely so, is of course as unsettling as the stories themselves—especially given his position as one of the most respected scholars of his time, one who was moreover a leader of a particularly materialist and anti-metaphysical variety of Confucianism.

Quote:...the idea that educated skepticism and paranormal beliefs are necessarily opposed is false. Even today, roughly half of scientists hold spiritual or supernatural beliefs, and a number of Nobel Prize winners in science have expressed an openness to (and experience of) the paranormal. For example, Marie Curie was a faithful attendee of séances; Nobel-winning quantum theorist Wolfgang Pauli believed in synchronicity and poltergeist phenomena; Nobel-winning chemist Kary Mullis wrote about his and his adult daughter’s encounters with interdimensional entities; and the University of Virginia School of Medicine hosts a Division of Perceptual Studies that investigates phenomena such as reincarnation and near-death experiences, which challenge mainstream scientific paradigms regarding the mind/brain relationship. An ability to be both skeptical and adhere to some supernatural beliefs simultaneously was even more prominent during the Qing dynasty when most of the general public saw the spiritual realm as an extension of the natural world, similarly to how we view the microbiological or subatomic realms today.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell

(This post was last modified: 2022-10-02, 07:26 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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