Right Haunted

Image: photo of Ron Mueck's sculpture, 'Boy' (photo by Tamaki Sono on Flickr.com)

[Image: photograph of Ron Mueck’s sculpture, “Boy”; photo by Tamaki Sono, found on Flickr (and used here under a Creative Commons license — thanks!). Mueck specializes in sculpting people in ultra-realistic detail, but scaled up (as here) or down for a slightly jarring effect. See more examples here, and elsewhere around the Web.]

From whiskey river (all but the last sentence):

Masquerades disclose the reality of souls. As long as no one sees who we are, we can tell the most intimate details of our life. I sometimes muse over this sketch of a story—about a man afflicted by one of those personal tragedies born of extreme shyness… who one day, while wearing a mask I don’t know where, told another mask all the most personal, most secret, most unthinkable things that could be told about his tragic and serene life. And since no outward detail would give him away, he having disguised even his voice, and since he didn’t take careful note of whoever had listened to him, he could enjoy the ample sensation of knowing that somewhere in the world there was someone who knew him as not even his closest and finest friend did. When he walked down the street he would ask himself if this person, or that one, or that person over there might not be the one to whom he’d once, wearing a mask, told his most private life. Thus would be born in him a new interest in each person, since each person might be his only, unknown confidant. And his crowning glory would be if the whole of that sorrowful life he’d told were, from start to finish, absolutely false.

(Fernando Pessoa [source])

and (italicized portion):

Surely we cannot take an open question like the supernatural and shut it with a bang, turning the key of the madhouse on all the mystics of history… You cannot take the region of the unknown and calmly say that, though you know nothing about it, you know all the gates are locked. You cannot say, “This island is not discovered yet; but I am sure that it has a wall of cliffs all round it and no harbour”… We do not know enough about the unknown to know that it is unknowable.

(G. K. Chesterton [source])

and:

…the life you lead is a midnight thing, always a hair’s breadth from the witching hour; it is volatile, it is threadbare; it is carefree in the true sense of that term; it is light, losable like a key or a hair clip. And it is lethargy: why not sit all morning, all day, all year, under the same cypress tree drawing the figure eight in the dust? More than that, it is disaster, it is chaos: why not overthrow a government on a whim, why not blind the man you hate, why not go mad, go gibbering through the town like a loon, waving your hands, tearing your hair? There’s nothing to stop you — or rather anything could stop you, any hour, any minute.

(Zadie Smith [source])

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In the Hour of Unease

Untitled, by David McConochie (cover illustration for The Guardian (Books), April 10, 2015)

[Image: untitled, by David McConochie (cover illustration for The Guardian (Books), April 10, 2015). I first encountered this in a thumbnail accompanying the Robert Macfarlane essay excerpted below.]

From whiskey river:

It is getting dark. In the low mists over the hills, an orange glow broods, as if the trees are on fire. Bats are flooding out from the hundreds of caves that perforate these mountainsides. I watch them plunge into the mists without any hesitation, trusting in the echoes and silences in which they fly.

Are all of us the same, I wonder, navigating our lives by interpreting the silences between words spoken, analyzing the returning echoes of our memory in order to chart the terrain, in order to make sense of the world around us?

(Tan Twan Eng [source])

and:

Sleep Spaces

In the night there are of course the seven wonders of the world
and greatness, tragedy and enchantment.
Forests collide with legendary creatures hiding in thickets.
There is you.
In the night there are the walker’s footsteps the murderer’s the town policeman’s light from the street lamp and the ragman’s lantern.
There is you.
In the night trains go past and boats
and the fantasy of countries where it’s daytime. The last breaths of twilight and the first shivers of dawn.
There is you.
A piano tune, a shout.
A door slams. A clock.
And not only beings and things and physical sounds.
But also me chasing myself or endlessly going beyond me.
There is you the sacrifice, you that I’m waiting for.
Sometimes at the moment of sleep strange figures are born and disappear.
When I shut my eyes phosphorescent blooms appear and fade
and come to life again like fireworks made of flesh.
I pass through strange lands with creatures for company.
No doubt you are there, my beautiful discreet spy.
And the palpable soul of the vast reaches.
And perfumes of the sky and the stars, the song of a rooster from 2000 years ago and piercing screams in a flaming park and kisses.
Sinister handshakes in a sickly light and axles grinding on paralyzing roads.
No doubt there is you who I do not know, who on the contrary I do know.
But who, here in my dreams, demands to be felt without ever appearing.
You who remain out of reach in reality and in dream.
You who belong to me through my will to possess your illusion
but who brings your face near mine only if my eyes are closed in dream as well as in reality.
You who in spite of an easy rhetoric where the waves die on the beach
where crows fly into ruined factories, where the wood rots
crackling under a lead sun.
You who are at the depths of my dreams stirring up a mind
full of metamorphoses
leaving me your glove when I kiss your hand.
In the night there are stars and the shadowy motion of the sea,
of rivers, forests, towns, grass and the lungs
of millions and millions of beings.
In the night there are the seven wonders of the world.
In the night there are no guardian angels, but there is sleep.
In the night there is you.
In the daylight too.

(Robert Desnos [source, in slightly different form])

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O Ghosts

'You Don't Stumble on Ghosts,' by user 'mawstools' on Flickr

[Image: “You Don’t Stumble on Ghosts,” a so-called “newspaper blackout poem” by user mawstools (Meri Aaron Walker) on Flickr. (Click to enlarge.) Used under a Creative Commons license. For more information, see the note at the foot of this post.]

From whiskey river (italicized portion):

Spirit Birds

The spirit world the negative of this one,
soft outlines of soft whites against soft darks,
someone crossing Broadway at Cathedral, walking
toward the god taking the picture, but now,
inside the camera, suddenly still. Or the spirit
world the detail through the window, manifest
if stared at long enough, the shapes of this
or that, the lights left on, the lights turned off,
the spirits under arcs of sycamores the gray-gold
mists of migratory birds and spotted leaves recognize.

Autumnal evening chill, knife-edges of the avenues,
wind kicking up newspaper off the street,
those ghost peripheral moments you catch yourself
beside yourself going down a stair or through
a door — the spirit world surprising: those birds,
for instance, bursting from the trees and turning
into shadow, then nothing, like spirit birds
called back to life from memory or a book,
those shadows in my hands I held, surprised.
I found them interspersed among the posthumous pages

of a friend, some hundreds of saved poems: dun
sparrows and a few lyrical wrens in photocopied
profile perched in air, focused on an abstract
abrupt edge. Blurred, their natural color bled,
they’d passed from one world to another: the poems,
too, sung in the twilit middle of the night, loved,
half-typed, half-written-over, flawed, images
of images. He’d kept them to forget them.
And every twenty pages, in xerox ash-and-frost,
Gray Eastern, Gold Western, ranging across borders.

(Stanley Plumly [source])

and:

I don’t believe that ghosts are “spirits of the dead” because I don’t believe in death. In the multiverse, once you’re possible, you exist. And once you exist, you exist forever one way or another. Besides, death is the absence of life, and the ghosts I’ve met are very much alive.

(Paul F. Eno [source])

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…Who from Their Labours Rest

Entries from All Saints Fornham Scarecrow Festival, 2013 (by Dave Catchpole, on Flickr)

[About the image: apparently in June of every year, the English village of Fornham All Saints* holds a Scarecrow Festival, for which residents and businesses create scarecrows — such as the entries above — which they place all around town. The theme this year was “Characters from Cartoons or Adverts.” (For more, see Dave Catchpole’s album on Flickr.) I don’t recognize the cartoons or adverts from which these were drawn, but I do like the scarecrows!]

From whiskey river, in fine holiday form this week:

At no other time does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.

(Rainer Maria Rilke)

…and:

There was a time when the coming of this night meant something. A dark Europe, groaning in superstitious fear, dedicated this Eve to the grinning Unknown. A million doors had once been barred against the evil visitants, a million prayers mumbled, a million candles lit. There was something majestic about the idea.

(Robert Bloch)

…and:

It is not our job to remain whole.
We came to lose our leaves
Like the trees, and be born again,
Drawing up from the great roots.

(Robert Bly)

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Story Up My Sleeve #13: “A Toy for Juliette,” by Robert Bloch

Publicity still from the 'Toby Dammit' segment (directed by Federico Fellini) of 'Spirits of the Dead' (1968)[Don’t know what this is? See the Story Up My Sleeve background page.]

Juliette wasn’t smiling at herself. She smiled because she knew that Grandfather was back, and he’d brought her another toy. In just a few moments it would be decontaminated and delivered, and she wanted to be ready.

[source]

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