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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

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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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Thursday, June 14, 2012

DO YOU BELIEVE IN DOPPLEGANGERS?



On a warm May evening in 1882, Rev. John Stoddard was hard at work on his sermon for that Sunday's service when he paused for a moment to collect his thoughts. As the recently hired minister of a Presbyterian church in Plattsville, New York, he'd been a bit stressed out of late, having not only his new congregation to deal with, but a pregnant wife whose history of miscarriages kept both of them in a perpetual state of unease. At twenty-four, Lucy Stoddard was one of those 19th century women whose physical frailty seemed to give credence to the concept of women as "the weaker sex." In truth, she was anything but weak. After three miscarriages and one stillbirth, she had been the one to console her husband, and, at one point, following her most recent miscarriage, had even managed to dissuade him from abandoning his vocation as a minister in response to what he believed might be a sign of "God's ill favor" toward him.

"Were it not for Lucy's unswaying (sic) belief in me, both as a man and a servant of God, I would have turned my back on the church long before now," he wrote in a letter to his brother, Daniel. "If I ever accomplish anything at all in this world, it will be because of her." Rev. Stoddard's high regard for his wife notwithstanding, on that May evening in 1882, his thoughts were focused on the sermon he needed to write. But as he sat at his desk, in the small room in the back of the house which served as his study, staring idly through a nearby window to the vegetable garden beyond, he was surprised to see his wife bending over a patch of string beans in a far corner of the garden. Not only was she supposed to be upstairs in bed, it seemed strange that she had managed to come downstairs and go outside without making any noise. As he watched her through the window, mulling over the mystery, he was surprised once again when the study door opened and Lucy stepped into the room.

"My surprise at seeing her standing there before me was such that I exclaimed it out loud," Rev. Stoddard wrote to his brother. At the same time, I looked back toward the window and was astounded to see that the figure I had thought to be her was still bent over the garden. Given the delicacy of her condition, I dared not draw her attention to it, and, instead, on the pretense of my concern for her health, bade her return to bed with the assurance that I would come and see her in a few minutes. Fortunately, she did not question me, and merely did as I asked."

That incident was just the beginning of a series of odd sightings that continued throughout the remainder of Lucy Stoddard's pregnancy, all of which Rev. Stoddard recounted to his brother as well as in a journal he began keeping for just that purpose. According to the perplexed reverend, each time he saw the figure of his wife when he knew for a fact that her physical person was somewhere else, the figure looked "exceedingly drawn and pale, and its movements were slow and sluggish, like those of a person who was either weary in the extreme, or very ill." The sightings were always through a window, at a distance, and the figure never looked directly at him, he recalled, "nor did it give any sign that it was aware of being watched." Interestingly, the figure's clothing was not necessarily the same as what Lucy Stoddard was wearing at the time. In fact, Rev. Stoddard didn't always recognize the clothes that it was wearing, despite his contention that as "we were not people of means, I was familiar enough with my wife's wardrobe to be sure of the style and color of the dresses hung in her closet."

Five months after the first strange sighting, Lucy Stoddard gave birth to a healthy baby boy. It was at that point that the sightings ceased. A subsequent pregnancy, which resulted in the birth of another healthy son, proceeded without any similar incidents, which Rev. Stoddard found to be "a great relief", but the relief he felt failed to diminish his wonder over what had occurred before. Trying to come to grips with the mystery, he decided that it was simply "one of those mysteries which we simple creatures of flesh are not meant to understand."

As a Presbyterian minister living in a small industrial city in New York in the 1880s, it's probably a safe bet to assume that Rev. Stoddard had never heard of the term "doppleganger." These days, of course,t the term is used to describe everything from "a ghostly double" (its literal meaning, translated from the original German) to a person who merely resembles another person, either physically or in type. Movies have been made about dopplegangers, books have been written about them, and one can google countless serious articles theorizing on whether or not such things truly exist. But what's interesting is that, long before the term "doppleganger" came into common usage, people claimed to have seen them. In 1845, there were reports of a teacher called Emilie Sagee, who, whilst employed at an all-girls school in what is now Latvia, was tormented by a double which made regular appearances in the classroom. On one occasion, as Sagee was writing on the chalkboard, her double allegedly appeared beside her and began mimicking her movements, although it was not holding any chalk. A similar incident happened one night at dinner, when, as Sagee was eating, the double appeared behind her, going through the motions of eating, but without the use of utensils. The frequent appearances of her double created problems for Sagee, who became an object of ridicule and superstitious speculation. For her part, all Sagee could say about it was that she had no idea what caused her double to appear, but that she always felt fatigued and drained after it did.

In the 18th century, the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Geothe saw his own double whilst riding to Drusenheim. As it passed him on the road, von Goethe noticed that it was wearing a gray suit trimmed in gold. Eight years later, traveling in the opposite direction on the same road, von Goethe recalled the incident and realized that he was now wearing a gray suit trimmed in gold. Other, similar accounts point to the possibility that dopplegangers may, in fact, be images of our future selves. But that explanation doesn't seem to fit in a case like Emilie Sagee's or Lucy Stoddard's. Nor does it explain an incident that occurred in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1894, when a woman reported seeing another woman who looked exactly like her walk past her on the street and then turn into a shop. As the woman stood there, dumbfounded, the double exited the shop and walked past her again, disappearing into the crowd. A few weeks later, the woman fell gravely ill and died. Her family believed that the incident had been a portend of death. But if it was, we are still left wondering what prompted the appearances of doubles in the cases of Emilie Sagee and Lucy Stoddard. Although in frail health at the time her double appeared, Lucy Stoddard not only did not die, she seemed to thrive afterward. And despite the negative effects the appearance of her double had on Emilie Sagee's teaching career and physical well-being, it did not seem to be a portend of anything, since Sagee went on to live out a relatively normal life span.


Whatever dopplegangers are, and for whatever reason they appear, the subject remains a fascinating one and will no doubt continue to inspire movies and books, as well as provide the fuel for many a late night conversation. Perhaps, as Rev. Stoddard said, they are just one of those things that "we simple creatures of flesh are not meant to understand."

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