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velkommen

Welcome. This is my blog, and you're my most coveted guest. If I seem a bit too intense, it's only because I have so much that I want to share with you, and I can see that you're eager to begin as well. So, please...make yourself at home, sip an East India cocktail (I blended the pomegranate juice myself), and sample some of my domestic and imported Arcana: useless, but fascinating information about Victoriana, Steampunk and other favoured topics; music which evokes that dark, lost Lenore sensibility; and other pleasant or, perhaps, unsettling non sequiters whispered in a darkened room. Linger long or short, leave a comment or refrain, but remember to come back soon to play a (shhhh) parlour game.
Velkommen. Dette er min blog, og du er min mest eftertragtedegæst. Hvis jeg synes en smule for intenst, det er kunfordi jeg har så meget at jeg vil dele med jer, og jeg kanse, at du er ivrig efter at begynde så godt. kan du ...føl dig hjemme, sip et East India cocktail (jeg blandetden granatæble juice mig selv), og prøve nogle af mine indenlandske o importerede Arcana: ubrugelig, menfascinerende oplysninger om Victoriana, Steampunkog andre begunstigede emner; musik der fremkalderdenne mørke, mistede Lenore sensibilitet, og andrebehagelige eller måske foruroligende, ikke sequitershviskede i et mørkelagt rum. Linger lang eller kort,efterlade en kommentar eller afstå, men husk at komme tilbage snart til at spille en (Shhhh) selskabsleg.

ABOUT ME

My photo

I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.

Fuldmane

Fuldmane
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Helvede's så Nocturne

Helvede's så Nocturne
The raw, aching sadness with which the following words were typed has been reformatted to fit your screen. No need to adjust it. All names have been expunged to protect the innocent and the willfully insane.

Nocturne in G Flat major

Chopin, darkness, light, sand and wind, starlight tread. Beethoven, love, fear, madness, redemption in the night. Liszt, waltzing widows, desperate bargains, pleasure's secret plight. Now, then, before, always, forever. Promises made on lonely beaches, celestial summer's perfect kiss, passions quenched in salty breezes, the lure of distant mist-draped heights. Bitter interlude. Final, private nocturne. Burned down like a candle. Doomed bleeding beauty. Fated sacrificial night.
To be continued...

Gentle Visitor

Gentle Visitor
And now, Gentle Visitor, won't you please lend an eye (we've worked so hard)...
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE
We love all things dark and mysterious, macabre and obscure, odd and unfathomable. Nothing is too strange or bizarre for our little blog. And although we would never presume to offer definitive answers to the great questions of life, we shall do our best to enlighten, inform and delight our visitors with our whimsical potpurri of facts, anecdotes, trivia and informational outpourings. We strive not to offend, but to edify those who wish to reach beyond their comfort zone and touch the fabric of another time and place, and of distant, but genuine worlds and lives. As Victorian-themed blogs go, ours may not be the most austere, nor the most comprehensive, but we know what we like, and if our readers like it as well, then all is as it should be in this ramshackle corner of our own personal Victorian empire.

A Musical Note

A Musical Note: We feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by one or more of the following musical selections. Then again, we also feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a bite of lemon cake, and a foot massage (preferably by someone you know). So, to paraphrase the otherwise completely irrelevant-to-our-blog Mr. Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt...but be open to Chopin."
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And now we begin

And now we begin
"One must strive to show decorum even when scrolling." Queen Victoria, Buckingham Palace Blog, August 11,1879

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Momento Mori


Last post, we looked in on Louisa Robbs Dean's diary account of her after-dark dalliances with the alleged spirit of her dead husband. Well, enough of the mundane This post, we thought we'd explore something really strange. That's right. In response to popular demand, we're going to devote this post to one of the more unusual (to we "moderns" anyway) practices of the 19th century: post mortem photography.


Picture it. (Pun intended.) Your beloved family member has just expired from consumption or has, perhaps, been run over by a carriage after a night on the gas lit town. Bereft and grieving, you begin preparations for the wake, which, unless you are a Vanderbilt or the town moneybags, will probably be held in your very own parlor. There's much to be done before the event. You'll have to send Millicent out for black crepe to drape over the mirrors and windows, Edwina will need to whip up one of her mourning wreaths for the front door, and you'll need to order the proper mourning garb for the occasion. Thank God neighbors and friends will be pouring in with casseroles and pies do that you won't have to worry about preparing meals. But there's one thing still undone. In the midst of all the posthumous hubbub, you realize that you don't have a photograph of the dearly departed by which to remember them. Understandable. Photographs are expensive, and you had other things on your mind before their untimely demise. But now you feel the need for one more than ever. There's only one thing to do. Enlist the services of a post mortem photographer.




Now, we moderns might find the idea of a post mortem photograph a bit macabre, but back in the day it was very often the only photograph a family possessed of their dead loved one. Momento mori was an accepted practice in the 19th century, a fact attested to by the scores of such photographs still extant and easily accessible for viewing on a number of sites all across the internet. What's interesting about these photographs is that many of them were taken with the deceased posed as though he or she were still alive, sometimes among a group of living family members. Grieving parents are photographed holding their dead children, grim-faced children sit beside their lifeless siblings, grief-stricken husbands pose next to the corpses of their late wives.


In some of the most ghastly (in my estimation) photographs, the deceased subject's eyes have been painted open by the photographer, to give the impression that he or she is still alive, despite the fact that the limpness of the hands or feet and the slouched body are a clear indicator of the ruse. But to the surviving family members, the photographs were no doubt a blessing nonetheless, affording them a physical reminder of the person whose presence would no longer be part of their daily lives. In one well-known photograph which I have seen on several sites, a young woman stands with her sister, her hands limp and discolored, her body at an odd angle due to the metal stand which the photographer has used to hold her up. One can't help but wonder what the living sister was thinking at the time. It's one thing to have one of these pictures taken of a deceased loved one, but to pose with them must have felt a little strange, if not downright unsettling.


But, then, it was a different era, a different sensibility, and death was a frequent visitor. Grief is grief is any era, of course. But while we moderns tend to distance ourselves from the actual process of preparing the body for burial, the denizens of the 19th century were used to taking care of such matters themselves. Perhaps they weren't as freaked out by the idea of posing next to a dead family member. Perhaps they simply accepted it as a matter of course, and were even grateful for the opportunity to take part in what was, essentially a last act of love.

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