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sábado, 1 de septiembre de 2012

paranormal phenomena, visions and "extraordinary gifts"

LAZARUS, Diane (2007), Mixed Blessings, Arrow Books, london, 198 pages
Although it pretends to be more than a story about "a frightened child with an exceptional gift" (which, in fact, is quite a mediocre and predictable narrative about a drunk and violent father who humiliates his wife and is not particularly fond of his children), the novel "Mixed Blessings" written by Diane Lazarus tries to persuade the readers that paranormal phenomena and some strange and unlikely things such as communication with the spirits of  dead people, hearing voices within the head, visions and predictions of the future are not just possible but also desirable, acceptable and recomendable.
Mirrors that go misty when something is wrong, psychic wall screens, the power of concentration that can calm a crying baby down are not convincing enough to be considered as parts of the author's extraordinary gift.
The author, being simultaneously the narrator of the story and its main character, presents herself all the time as a wonderful sister, daughter, friend and wife, but if in her native family there were four children, and she speaks with more details only about her brother Gary, her sister Debbie and herself, we can think about why the fourth child is so insignificant in her lufe that he was hardly mentioned. Seeing herself at the same time as a victim (especially in her childhood and in her relationships with her first husband and later on with Kevin) and as a perfect  creature, heeler, saviour of lives and families, Diane never admits that she can also make some mistakes. Instead of having read  so many books on meditation, psychic disorders and paranormal phenomena, she could have spend more time with Kevin and her children, and he couldn't be seen with a beautiful girl that appeared in her vision, so that was absolutely her fault. It is not explained how and why a silent and well-mannerded guy that was her first love, became a violent and intolerant man, but it was very explicite that some voices, strange events, and of course a malevolent shadow of her father's tried to stop and prevent their wedding and happiness.
Using the capacity of "reading" people's past, Diane showed that she likes very much to appear in TV programmes, raddio, newspapers, that she is happy to be involved in police investigations of mystherious murders, although sometimes she seems to be exausted and angry about all her fame, but still she continues doing that, affirming at the last page of the book that "it is just the beginning".
Putting the guardian angel at the same level as the mystherious Lined Man, the spirits of her dead relatives and the souls of the victims of cruel crimes and considering Jane, died from  a cancer an Archagel, from the point of view of the Christian religion can be considered a heresy.
Presenting herself as a superior creature who is never wrong, and can find a lost child faster than a dog and better than a helicopter, the author of this novel just wants to draw attention to herself and to sell her book, being admired as a woman with a huge heart and big and generous soul. (although she wasn't right about Mark's dead body when she said "it was in water somehoow")
When she told her sister: " You will marry a man called Stephen", she could have been right and convinced in the truth of her vision, as well as her sister could have retained that information in her subconsciousness and she could have convinced herself that she in fact would marry a guy with that name.
Although it is very well-known that all the "fortune tellers, mediums, psychics and other people who claim that they can predict the future can know something, but of course not everything, Diane wants the readers to believe that absolutely each one of her "visions" was an unmistakable truth and that her "spiritual guides" were never wrong.
The book is all about  destiny, the future,  visions and other unexplainable phenomena, but it never questions the idea of how dangerous it would be to know the exact future of the others, including the way they will die. If there is a destiny, what are human freedom and will for? If we can see our own future (and the most of the fortune-tellers say that they actually do not know it), how predictable would our lives be?
There is also a moral dilema: if you know when and how somebody will die, should you or not tell it?
In the case that Diane "previewed" Jane's funeral, she decided to keep visiting her home in order not to keep her hope away, so she showed that she was quite a hypocrit and not a friend.
The main character is not as good as she believes,  because she showed to be quite unable to forgive her own father, even after seeing him ill in the hospital. Instead, she is secretly happy and satisfied when she hears him complaining "why me?"His wonderful and virtuous daughter just thinks: "And why not you?"
Concerning the visions of saints and angels, from the point of view of the Orthodox Christian Church, they must not be taken for granted and they must be interpreted very carefully, because sometimes that visions do come from God, and sometimes there are a mere temptation that makes us think that we are better than the others and superior to them, The belief that we can freely communicate with angels can be just a proof of our vanity and soberbe, which may be Diane lazarus's case.
The personalities of the chataters of the book were not developed enough and their relations should be deepenned and better represented. As to the language and style, some of the sentences such as "the family were devasteted, the poor children left motherless and I was angry und upset" or "He will live and he will call you "Mum" Again" are just old and many times repeated clichés in the easy reading literature.
The only part of the book that is worth reading is the one that describes Diane's social work with elderly people as well as with adults with serious behavioral problems, that  can make this book more interesting than all the visions and predictions that were described.
IThis is a very commercial kind of book that will draw the attention of desperate people with familyy problems, but it has no aesthetic or literary value at all.