Suddenly, as though in a dream, this apparition, this double apparition, approached me. The two most beautiful people in the world were floating toward me, smiling. It was as if they were angelic visitors. I thought to myself, 'If there is anything I can do to keep them as beautiful as they are, I will do it.'
A famous anecdote concerning Cuvier involves the tale of his visitation from the devil""only it was not the devil but one of his students dressed up with horns on his head and shoes shaped like cloven hooves. This frightening apparition burst into Cuvier's bedroom when he was fast asleep and claimed:'Wake up thou man of catastrophes. I am the Devil. I have come to devour you!'Cuvier studied the apparition carefully and critically said,'I doubt whether you can. You have horns and hooves. You eat only plants.
I do not ever remember to have trembled at a tale of superstition or to have feared the apparition of a spirit. Darkness had no effect upon my fancy, and a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength, had become food for the worm.
She needs you, Dad, " Julia says. "She has unfinished business in this world." "What is the matter with you?" Charlie asks his daughter. "Any sane person would have told me to go to the doctor. I'm seeing a headless apparition every day. Maybe my medications are conflicting. You should see the list of side effects on this stuff.
One might almost say that an apparition is human vision corrected by divine love. I do not see you as you really are, Joseph; I see you through my affection for you. The Miracles of the Church seem to me not to rest so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.
Every man's condition is a solution in hieroglyphic to those inquiries he would put. He acts it as life, before he apprehends it as truth. In like manner, nature is already, in its forms and tendencies, describing its own design. Let us interrogate the great apparition, that shines so peacefully around us. Let us inquire, to what end is nature?
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Most of us had never seen a sober redneck before, and we have the Reagan Landslide to testify that none of us ever wants to see one again. It was a horrifying apparition. And ever since Jimmy Carter, all of us rednecks have had to be very careful to be drunk rednecks lest we turn into some kind of awful creature with big buck teeth and a State Department full of human-rights yahoos.
P. J. O'Rourke
She was a Phantom of delight When first she gleam'd upon my sight; A lovely Apparition, sent To be a moment's ornament: Her eyes as stars of twilight fair; Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair; But all things else about her drawn From May-time and the cheerful dawn; A dancing shape, an image gay, To haunt, to startle, and waylay.
Everything that falls upon the eye is apparition, a sheet dropped over the world's true workings. The nerves and the brain are tricked, and one is left with dreams that these specters loose their hands from ours and walk away, the curve of the back and the swing of the coat so familiar as to imply that they should be permanent fixtures of the world, when in fact nothing is more perishable.
Felicity ignores us. She walks out to them, an apparition in white and blue velvet, her head held high as they stare in awe at her, the goddess. I don't know yet what power feels like. But this is surely what it looks like, and I think I'm beginning to understand why those ancient women had to hide in caves. Why our parents and suitors want us to behave properly and predictably. It's not that they want to protect us; it's that they fear us.
...it was a huge creature, luminous, ghastly, and spectral. I have cross-examined these men, one of them a hard-headed countryman, one a farrier, and one a moorland farmer, who all tell the same story of this dreadful apparition, exactly corresponding to the hell-hound of the legend. I assure you that there is a reign of terror in the district, and that it is a hardy man who will cross the moor at night.
Arthur Conan Doyle
I have never seen white so absolute / And alone, glistening in awkward form / Dreaming across the water a bright path. / As it stirs and changes I see what it is: / Two swans have found the mirror in the lake / Where a V of horizon lets light through / To make them light-source and light-shape in one. / Now they swim and fade through windows of reed / And disrobe the lake of apparition.
The process by which the idea for a play comes to me has always been something I really couldn't pinpoint. A play just seems to materialize; like an apparition, it gets clearer and clearer and clearer. It's very vague at first, as in the case of Streetcar, which came after Menagerie. I simply had the vision of a woman in her late youth. She was sitting in a chair all alone by a window with the moonlight streaming in on her desolate face, and she'd been stood up by the man she planned to marry.
When she first saw him, she took him for a ghost. His jet-black hair fluttered in the breeze as he walked, letting her see his eyes. They seemed haunted, lost in some way. He was tall and gaunt, starkly pale in his black clothes. He was the very picture of Anton, even sharing his world-weary eyes of deepest blue. She could hardly look away from this apparition, an echo of all the memories and dreams that had haunted her these many years.
Amanda M. Lyons
At first I thought it was simply that the specter of the crazy bag lady has been branded so simply into the collective female consciousness that we're stuck with her. Now I realized I was wrong. What is haunting about the bag lady is not only that she is left to wander the streets, cold and hungry, but that she's living proof of what it means to not be loved. Her apparition will endure as long as women consider the love of a man the most supreme of all social validations.
It was a wonderful experience. She mistrusted his very slumbers-and she seemed to think I could tell her why! Thus a poor mortal seduced by the charm of an apparition might have tried to wring from another ghost the tremendous secret of the claim the other world holds over a disembodied soul astray amongst the passions of this earth. The very ground on which I stood seemed to melt under my feet. And it was so simple too; but if the spirits evoked by our fears and our unrest have ever to vouch for each other's constancy before the forlorn magicians that we are, then I-I alone of us dwellers in the flesh-have shuddered in the hopeless chill of such a task.
Everything that falls upon the eye is an apparition, a sheet dropped over the world's true workings. The nerves & brain are tricked, and one is left with dreams that these specters loose their hands from ours and walk away... so familiar as to imply that they should be permanent fixtures of the world, when in fact nothing is more perishable... Why must we be left, the survivors picking among flotsam, among the small, unnoticed, unvalued clutter that remained when they vanished, that only catastrophe had made notable?... It seemed to me that what perished need not also be lost.
Marilynn Robinson in Housekeeping
Know all things to be like this: A mirage, a cloud castle, A dream, an apparition, Without essence, but with qualities that can be seen. Know all things to be like this: As the moon in a bright sky In some clear lake reflected, Though to that lake the moon has never moved. Know all things to be like this: As an echo that derives From music, sounds, and weeping, Yet in that echo is no melody. Know all things to be like this: As a magician makes illusions Of horses, oxen, carts and other things, Nothing is as it appears.
Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away""an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.
Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away -- an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.
Carl Gustav Jung
We are repeatedly left, in other words, with no further focus than ourselves, a source from which self-pity naturally flows. Each time this happens I am struck again by the permanent impassibility of the divide. Some people who have lost a husband or a wife report feeling that person's presence, receiving that person's advice. Some report actual sightings, what Freud described in "Mourning and Melancholia" as "a clinging to the object through the medium of a hallucinatory wishful psychosis." Others describe not a visible apparition but just a "very strongly felt presence."
The man who did the shooting was a civilian, Peter Kakhovsky, a gifted intellectual of extreme purity of motive in whom the conviction of the necessity of regicide burned with a gem-like flame. Determined to kill, expecting to die, this brilliant and terrible apparition, his slender form bundled up in a sheepskin coat, his delicate features surmounted by a shabby top hat, shot to kill with that indiscriminate ruthlessness which was later to characterise a whole generation of revolutionary terrorists. If he could not yet murder the Tsar, he would do the next best thing.
Over the years, my church gave me passage into a menagerie of exotic words unknown in the South: "introit, " "offertory, " "liturgy, " "movable feast, " "the minor elevation, " "the lavabo, " "the apparition of Lourdes, " and hundreds more. Latin deposited the dark minerals of its rhythms on the shelves of my spoken language. You may find the harmonics of the Common of the Mass in every book I've ever written. Because I was raised Roman Catholic, I never feared taking any unchaperoned walks through the fields of language. Words lifted me up and filled me with pleasure.
At the Moor Wanderer in the black wind; quietly the dry reeds whisper In the stillness of the moor. In the gray sky A flock of wild birds follows; Slanting over gloomy waters. Turmoil. In decayed hut The spirit of putrescence flutters with black wings. Crippled birches in the autumn wind. Evening in deserted tavern. The way home is scented all around By the soft gloom of grazing herds; Apparition of the night; toads plunge from brown waters.
I found everything so remote but, at the same time, familiar when I occasionally looked into the mountains, rocks, pine trees and plums depicted in old literati paintings. My innermost feeling which was awakened by the same mountains, rocks, pine trees and plums has been totally and utterly changed. Moreover, like an apparition, it hides deep down in my vessels. The very trees and rocks have become the storage of memories and emotions from various eras. Forced by the rapid change of time and perspective, I cannot help but feel urged to face up to these things once again.
The first flash of color always excites me as much as the first frail, courageous bloom of spring. This is, in a sense, my season-sometimes warm and, when the wind blows an alert, sometimes cold. But there is a clarity about September. On clear days, the sun seems brighter, the sky more blue, the white clouds take on marvelous shapes; the moon is a wonderful apparition, rising gold, cooling to silver; and the stars are so big. The September storms-the hurricane warnings far away, the sudden gales, the downpour of rain that we have so badly needed here for so long-are exhilarating, and there's a promise that what September starts, October will carry on, catching the torch flung into her hand.
Sitting there on the heather, on our planetary grain, I shrank from the abysses that opened up on every side, and in the future. The silent darkness, the featureless unknown, were more dread than all the terrors that imagination had mustered. Peering, the mind could see nothing sure, nothing in all human experience to be grasped as certain, except uncertainty itself; nothing but obscurity gendered by a thick haze of theories. Man's science was a mere mist of numbers; his philosophy but a fog of words. His very perception of this rocky grain and all its wonders was but a shifting and a lying apparition. Even oneself, that seeming-central fact, was a mere phantom, so deceptive, that the most honest of men must question his own honesty, so insubstantial that he must even doubt his very existence.
I have been thinking about existence lately. In fact, I have been so full of admiration for existence that I have hardly been able to enjoy it properly... I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on the world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again. I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that. There is a human beauty in it. And I can't believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the whole world to us. In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don't imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try.
We in our age are faced with a strange paradox. Never before have we had so much information in bits and pieces flooded upon us by radio and television and satellite, yet never before have we had so little inner certainty about our own being. The more objective truth increases, the more our inner certitude decreases. Our fantastically increased technical power, and each forward step in technology is experienced by many as a new push toward our possible annihilation. Nietzsche was strangely prophetic when he said, 'We live in a period of atomic chaos... the terrible apparition... the Nation State... and the hunt for happiness will never be greater than when it must be caught between today and tomorrow; because the day after tomorrow all hunting time may have come to an end altogether.' Sensing this, and despairing of ever finding meaning in life, people these days seize on the many ways of dulling their awareness by apathy, by psychic numbing, or by hedonism. Others, especially young people, elect in alarming and increasing numbers to escape their own being by suicide.
Love at first sight is a hypnosis: I am fascinated by an image: at first shaken, electrified, stunned, "paralysed" as Menon was by Socrates, the model of loved objects, of captivating images, or again converted by an apparition, nothing distinguishing the path of enamoration from the Road to Damascus; subsequently ensnared, held fast, immobilised, nose stuck to the image (the mirror). In that moment when the other's image comes to ravish me for the first time, I am nothing more than the Jesuit Athanasius Kirchner's wonderful Hen: feet tied, the hen went to sleep with her eyes fixed on the chalk line, which was traced not far from her beak; when she was untied, she remained motionless, fascinated, "submitting to her vanquisher, " as the Jesuit says (1646); yet, to waken her from her enchantment, to break off the violence of her Image-repertoire (vehemens animalis imaginatio), it was enough to tap her on the wing; she shook herself and began pecking in the dust again.
The dangers that we face are part of the process, now well underway, of the unification of the planet-in language, culture, science, and commerce. They are both driven by the identical technological advances-this critical and delicate time coincides with the widespread availability of nuclear weapons. At the present rate of change, it seems likely that in the period between now and 2061, the turning point for the human species will have been reached. If we survive until then, our passage to the next apparition of Halley's Comet should be comparatively easy. That perihelion passage will be in March 2134, when the comet will make an unusually close encounter with the Earth. It will come as close as 0.09AU or 14 million kilometers, less than half the distance of the 1910 encounter. It will then be brighter than the brightest star. If there are those to do the commemorating, the years 2061 and 2134 should be celebrated for the courage, intelligence, and common purpose of a species forced by urgent necessity to come to its senses.
She Was A Phantom of Delight She was a Phantom of delight When first she gleam'd upon my sight; A lovely Apparition, sent To be a moment's ornament: Her eyes as stars of twilight fair; Like twilight's, too, her dusky hair; But all things else about her drawn From May-time and the cheerful dawn; A dancing shape, an image gay, To haunt, to startle, and waylay. I saw her upon nearer view, A Spirit, yet a Woman too! Her household motions light and free, And steps of virgin liberty; A countenance in which did meet Sweet records, promises as sweet; A creature not too bright or good For human nature's daily food, For transient sorrows, simple wiles, Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears, and smiles. And now I see with eye serene The very pulse of the machine; A being breathing thoughtful breath, A traveller between life and death: The reason firm, the temperate will, Endurance, foresight, strength, and skill; A perfect Woman, nobly plann'd To warn, to comfort, and command; And yet a Spirit still, and bright With something of an angel light.
It all comes back. Perhaps it is difficult to see the value in having one's self back in that kind of mood, but I do see it; I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were. I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be; one of them, a seventeen-year-old, presents little threat, although it would be of some interest to me to know again what it feels like to sit on a river levee drinking vodka-and-orange-juice and listening to Les Paul and Mary Ford and their echoes sing "How High the Moon" on the car radio. (You see I still have the scenes, but I no longer perceive myself among those present, no longer could ever improvise the dialogue.) The other one, a twenty-three-year-old, bothers me more. She was always a good deal of trouble, and I suspect she will reappear when I least want to see her, skirts too long, shy to the point of aggravation, always the injured party, full of recriminations and little hurts and stories I do not want to hear again, at once saddening me and angering me with her vulnerability and ignorance, an apparition all the more insistent for being so long banished. It is a good idea, then, to keep in touch, and I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about. And we are all on our own when it comes to keeping those lines open to ourselves: your notebook will never help me, nor mine you.
What are the dead, anyway, but waves and energy? Light shining from a dead star? That, by the way, is a phrase of Julian's. I remember it from a lecture of his on the Iliad, when Patroklos appears to Achilles in a dream. There is a very moving passage where Achilles overjoyed at the sight of the apparition - tries to throw his arms around the ghost of his old friend, and it vanishes. The dead appear to us in dreams, said Julian, because that's the only way they can make us see them; what we see is only a projection, beamed from a great distance, light shining at us from a dead star... Which reminds me, by the way, of a dream I had a couple of weeks ago. I found myself in a strange deserted city - an old city, like London - underpopulated by war or disease. It was night; the streets were dark, bombed-out, abandoned. For a long time, I wandered aimlessly - past ruined parks, blasted statuary, vacant lots overgrown with weeds and collapsed apartment houses with rusted girders poking out of their sides like ribs. But here and there, interspersed among the desolate shells of the heavy old public buildings, I began to see new buildings, too, which were connected by futuristic walkways lit from beneath. Long, cool perspectives of modern architecture, rising phosphorescent and eerie from the rubble. I went inside one of these new buildings. It was like a laboratory, maybe, or a museum. My footsteps echoed on the tile floors.There was a cluster of men, all smoking pipes, gathered around an exhibit in a glass case that gleamed in the dim light and lit their faces ghoulishly from below. I drew nearer. In the case was a machine revolving slowly on a turntable, a machine with metal parts that slid in and out and collapsed in upon themselves to form new images. An Inca temple... click click click... the Pyramids... the Parthenon. History passing beneath my very eyes, changing every moment. 'I thought I'd find you here, ' said a voice at my elbow. It was Henry. His gaze was steady and impassive in the dim light. Above his ear, beneath the wire stem of his spectacles, I could just make out the powder burn and the dark hole in his right temple. I was glad to see him, though not exactly surprised. 'You know, ' I said to him, 'everybody is saying that you're dead.' He stared down at the machine. The Colosseum... click click click... the Pantheon. 'I'm not dead, ' he said. 'I'm only having a bit of trouble with my passport.' 'What?' He cleared his throat. 'My movements are restricted, ' he said. 'I no longer have the ability to travel as freely as I would like.' Hagia Sophia. St. Mark's, in Venice. 'What is this place?' I asked him. 'That information is classified, I'm afraid.' 1 looked around curiously. It seemed that I was the only visitor. 'Is it open to the public?' I said. 'Not generally, no.' I looked at him. There was so much I wanted to ask him, so much I wanted to say; but somehow I knew there wasn't time and even if there was, that it was all, somehow, beside the point. 'Are you happy here?' I said at last. He considered this for a moment. 'Not particularly, ' he said. 'But you're not very happy where you are, either.' St. Basil's, in Moscow. Chartres. Salisbury and Amiens. He glanced at his watch. 'I hope you'll excuse me, ' he said, 'but I'm late for an appointment.' He turned from me and walked away. I watched his back receding down the long, gleaming hall.