Saturday, October 28, 2017

life is short, fashion is eternal

When Hallowe'en comes around and we have time to think of such things most people agree that the belief in ghosts stems from the ancient concept that there is a person inside the person, some type of animating spirit. In other words we think of ghosts as being people without bodies. Now if this is the case it's not much of a jump to reverse the logic and say that people are just ghosts who do have physical bodies. Of course this leads us to imagine all sorts of fascinating possibilities about the essential nature of life, the universe, and everything. But that's a discussion best left for another time. What I'd like to do this time is to share the Victorian tale of Mrs. Butler.

It seems that in 1891 a certain Mrs. Butler, who lived in Ireland with her husband, dreamed of finding herself in a very beautiful house, furnished with all imaginable comforts. The dream made a deep impression on her mind, and the following night she again dreamed of the same house and of going over it. And so for many nights in succession, until in the family circle she and her house of dreams became the subject of gentle raillery. In 1892 the Butlers decided to leave Ireland and take up their residence in England. They went to London and procured from various agencies lists of country houses. Having heard of a house in Hampshire, they went out to see it. At the gate-keeper’s lodge Mrs. Butler exclaimed, “This is the gate-house of my dream!” And when they reached the house she affirmed the house to be that of her dreams. The woman in charge proceeded to show the premises, and Mrs. Butler said she recognized all the details, except a certain door, which it turned out had been added to the place within six months. The estate being for sale at a very low price, the Butlers decided to buy it.

When it was bought and paid for, the price had been so extraordinarily small, that they could not help a misgiving that there must be something wrong with the place. So they went to the agent of the people who had sold it and said, ‘Well, now the purchase is made and the deeds are signed, will you mind telling us why the price asked was so small?’ The agent had started violently when they came in, but recovered himself. Then he said to Mrs. Butler, ‘Yes, it is quite true the matter is quite settled, so there can be no harm in telling now. The fact is that the house has had a great reputation for being haunted; but you, madam, need be under no apprehensions, for you are yourself the ghost!’ On the nights when Mrs. Butler had dreamt she was at her house, she - her ‘astral body’ - had been seen there.


The pictures I've posted this time are two of a group of similar ones I painted in the mid-80s that were given as presents..

back in the days when the saying went:  Grrls just wanna have fun. :)

Speaking of which:


Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
A great story to complement your pictures which no doubt were very well received as presents. So much nicer to receive something involving personal creativity.
Ghosts possibly first emerged relatively late in the evolutionary cycle as tribespeople associated thoughts of recently deceased members as mind visiting ghosts, given the emergence of initial confusion over self-consciousness as it first emerged. Now in modernity it seems certain at the extreme micro level nothing is certain, yet our outdated Newtonian mechanical world serves us well enough to support a reality we may well create as is necessary for our short existence. The rest remains a mystery.
Best wishes

Tom said...

Is there a ghost of a chance that the story of Mrs. Butler is true? :)

susan said...

Hi Lindsay,
I'm glad to know you liked the pictures - all likely long gone by now but for these two saved as images. Even that's remarkable enough.
Your theory about ghosts emerging from people's memories (and fears) of those who have died sounds reasonable enough. As for the mystery of what, if anything, comes next there are a number of fascinating discussions going on among scientists and philosophers. You might enjoy reading this one and listening to the estimable Roger Penrose's thoughts on the matter of consciousness. I enjoyed reading Robert Lanza's 'Biocentrism' and just recently began the follow-up book, 'Beyond Biocentrism'. Their thoughts are difficult to even begin to comprehend but worthwhile for me to try all the same.
All the best

susan said...

Yes, I think so, Tom. I came across the story in a book I read many months ago and thought it was entertaining enough to copy out. We are far stranger beings than most of us would guess, aren't we?

Andrew MacLaren-Scott said...

Well this is a very varied post! Entertaining.

susan said...

I'm happy to know you found some enjoyment in it, Andrew.

L'Adelaide said...

Haha, what a great story. Doubt I would have asked, just knowing..... your ladies are great! I knew they must be earlier work as your style is so much softer now. More subtle I think! 🤗 yes that’s a good way to put it! Wishing you ghosts and love this Halloween night! 💙

susan said...

It was a good story, wasn't it? I'm glad you liked the ladies too. They were a bit of relaxation from some of the more detailed things I was painting back then.

troutbirder said...

I never dreamed much at all till I hit my seventies. Now I do a lot though they may be induced by my many medications. Still there are fun though I'm probably too old to bring many of them to life...:)

susan said...

I think dreaming is pretty routine for all of us but remembering the dreams is difficult. It's possible you're recalling more of them now because you wake up in between them. I've tried and failed at lucid dreaming because I've never been able to stay awake long enough to write a summary.

As for bringing them to life, we don't know what the future holds, do we? :)

marja-leena said...

Wonderful! How I wish I could remember more of my dreams, especially if they might be as colourful and delightful as this one! Love the artwork, Susan.

Enjoy the change of seasons.... we had our first snowfall up on the mountains last night.

susan said...

Hi Marja-Leena, It's so nice to see you've been by to visit!

Yes, dream remembering is a tricky one - apparently we can train ourselves but I've always preferred staying asleep once I get there.

I'm glad to hear you're well and looking forward to a happy winter.

Sean Jeating said...

I do sometimes dream vividly, wake up ... but only sometimes I am not too lazy to immediately get up and write it down. Some dreams are quite interesting. :)

susan said...

It's said by people who have lucid dreams that they are more real than daily life. I've had a few that have remained in mind but not so many of them lately. The funniest ones were dreams of toilets in inappropriate places - like restaurants and theatre lobbies - that notified me it was time to wake up to take care of business. :)