When I felt I was dying, these past few days, things were no longer anthropomorphic. The telephone, which looks like a sort of upturned black snake, was merely a telephone. Every thing was just a thing. The couch, which looked like a big square face drawn by Rubens, with buttons on the cover like wicked little eyes, was just a couch, rather shabby but nothing more. At such a time things don’t matter to you; you don’t bathe everything in your presence, like an amoeba. Things become innocent because you draw away from them; experience becomes virginal, as it was for the first man when he saw the valleys and the plains. You feel you are set in a tidy world: that is a door and it behaves like a door, that is white and behaves like white. What heaven: the symbolism of meanings loses all meaning. You see objects which are comforting because they are quite free. But suddenly you are flung into a new form of suffering because, when you come to miss the meaning of, say, a stool, reality suddenly becomes terrifying. Everything becomes monstrous, unattainable.
― Federico Fellini, Fellini On Fellini
Retombante Stool, Public Domain Image via the Metropolitan Museum of Art
The sea rose invisibly beneath us and the moon shone smooth and bright. A glossy flute of light, like velvet down a bridal aisle, lit the marlin scales and the backs of whales migrating a hundred miles at sea. The tides surged through the marsh and each wave that hit the beach came light-struck and broad-shouldered, with all the raw power the moon could bestow. Magically, an hour passed and we, ocean dancers and tide challengers, found ourselves listening to the sea directly beneath us as the waves began to crash in earnest against the house.
My sister said that when the tide was out you could walk all the way to America; the waves pulled back that far. So far that the starfish forgot there ever was an ocean and stiffened with dismay. So far that the seaweed wept itself dry on the rocks with nostalgia.
No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.
― Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
There was a Camellia Tree of great beauty
Whose blossoms were white as honey wax
Splashed and streaked with the pink of fair coral.
When the moon rose in the sky,
The Camellia Tree would leave its place
By the gateway,
And wander up and down the garden,
Trailing its roots behind it
Like a train of rustling silk.
The people in the house,
Hearing the scrape of them upon the gravel,
Looked into the garden
And saw the tree,
With its flowers erect and peering,
Pressed against the shoji.
Many nights the tree walked about the garden,
Until the women and children
And the Master of the house
Ordered that it be cut down.
But when the gardener brought his axe
And struck the trunk of the tree,
There spouted forth a stream of dark blood;
And when the stump was torn up,
The hole quivered like an open wound.
First, the wind would rumble in the distance like an approaching river, then he would see grass bend, pressed by a great invisible hand. The dull rumble would rise in pitch to a swishing, lashing exultation, causing stalks to lie flat against the ground while the tougher branches of shrubs held themselves up and shrieked their defiance in the gusts. Then the first drops, cold and heavy, would plummet from the sky and burst on the ground.
By the time it came to the edge of the Forest, the stream had grown up, so that it was almost a river, and, being grown-up, it did not run and jump and sparkle along as it used to do when it was younger, but moved more slowly. For it knew now where it was going, and it said to itself, “There is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” But all the little streams higher up in the Forest went this way and that, quickly, eagerly, having so much to find out before it was too late.
She stretched her hands towards the sky. To grab all the stars, to hold the moon, to take away everything that the sky had. So that the sky could finally understand, how it feels to lose everything that makes it beautiful.
In that moment, the moon and the sun shared the sky. For all of eternity, the moon and sun have chased each other around the world. Long into the future, they will continue this chase, merging the days into months into years into centuries, until the day the sun cannot take the separation any longer and she shatters, engulfing the moon and everything else in a burst of light. Most will call it the day of final judgment. The end. To the sun and the moon, it will only be the beginning.
For the smallest of instants each day, they pause in this chase. They pause and look back at one another, smiling as if sharing a secret. Two lovers that can never exist as one, except in that single, brief instant.
I hear the Wind Woman running with soft, soft footsteps over the hill. I shall always think of the wind as a personality. She is a shrew when she blows from the north — a lonely seeker when she blows from the east — a laughing girl when she comes from the west — and tonight from the south a little grey fairy.
…And the barrens were such a splendid place in which to play hide and seek with the Wind Woman. She was so very real there; if you could just spring quickly enough around a little cluster of spruces — only you never could — you would see her as well as feel her and hear her. There she was — that was the sweep of her grey cloak — no, she was laughing up in the very top of the taller trees — and the chase was on again — till, all at once, it seemed as if the Wind Woman were gone…