Friday, September 24, 2010

"Asian Supernatural" by PGS Contributor Alex Paman

PGS contributor Alex Paman's first book, Asian Supernatural, is now out and available at Amazon! (see above scan of its cover)

As described in the book's preface, it is "an attempt, for the very first time, to truly catalog ghosts and monsters from all the Asian and Pacific cultures in a single volume. Its contents come from oral tales, old anthropology books, travel narratives, and other native resources that were written before the advent of the internet."

It's pretty comprehensive; looking at the table of contents, it covers not just China, Japan, and Korea--arguably the first cultures that come to mind among many when "Asian supernatural creatures" are mentioned, but also countries like India, Tibet, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and yes, the Philippines.

Here are some excerpts from the introduction:

The recent popularity of Japanese, Korean, and Thai horror movies in American theaters has led to blossoming of sorts for Eastern ghost stories. Unlike their Western counterparts of emotional vampires, bloodthirsty zombies and blade-wielding serial killers, Asian spirits represent a dualism rarely seen in cinema, appearing as grotesque as they are beautiful to behold, as subtle as they are overwhelming.

In contrast to the Western convention of linear thinking and definition, the Eastern approach embraces a more intuitive and cyclical approach to life. The harmony of opposites, reincarnation, ancestor worship, karma and animism (the belief that trees, rocks and locations have inherent spirits) are overlapping principles that most people are governed by, and it is this universal perception of existence that has made the supernatural an integral and accepted part of everyday life.

Alex writes that he often wondered what would happen if "Asian demons came to the United States and began wreaking havoc." He goes on:

Since very few books were written about Asian ghostlore when I was growing up, I began collecting anthropology books while in college and literally anything else that contained sections on Asian spirit beliefs. I had never seen a book that listed all of our native demons, so this was my small way of compiling a library that would someday help me piece together an even larger picture. I immediately noticed parallels between seemingly disparate Eastern and Western traditions: vampires, zombies, choking ghosts, vanishing hitchhikers, and mysterious balls of light apparently spanned our cultures as well.

Years later, when I still couldn't find a book that listed all the ghosts and demons from my region of the world, I decided to utilize my collection and write one myself. The result is the humble little book that you hold in your hands.

You can check out Alex's book here.

It looks like you did a good job compiling all this into one book, Alex! Congratulations! Here's looking forward to more books by you!


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