Thursday, September 4, 2008
The StrangeTale of The Dollhouse
I will address your inquiry directly, as it repeats the same errors of every reporter, journalist and researcher thus far. I feel no need to offer further defense. I do think a summary is in order to, once again, correct some misconceptions. Briefly, it has been said: every man who hates women only hates one woman. In ways I resent that this saying has been applied to me, for in my pride I believe myself to be far too complex for so simple a sentiment, and what is more pertinent, I cannot claim to hate women whatever my difficulties with them may be or have been.
Concerning the doll house and the mysterious events surrounding it, I am a very distant and peripheral participant. Perhaps, I have called up some attention, invoked it, and placed myself as the focus of speculation through my bombastic claims and articles on the subject. On retrospect this was over enthusiastic, but based in sincere interest and confusion.
Regarding my relationship to Anne, we were friends but this did not extend into the personal relationship that has been suggested by some. We were never close. I can safely say she is the strangest friend, and the most distant friend I have ever had. The scandalous conjectures are baseless, and I know nothing, with certainty, of her fate.
It is true I am in possession of the only known "evidence" that the doll house existed. This is three old Polaroid’s- all three unsteady and blurred, and an impossibly elaborate blue print, tattered and in parts illegible. This is all that has been assembled from sources other than Anne, and these pieces of evidence may well be hoaxes or concoctions. When I obtained the blue print it was intimated it was a first prototype rather than the end product of the doll house. The internal documentation of the doll house is confined strictly to my note books based on conversations I had with Anne, and later, just before her disappearance, Anne’s diaries.
The diaries must be viewed in some context, or perhaps with some allowances. One of these allowances might include Anne may have gone insane. The diaries are filled with essays, thesis, and half thought notes in the clearer portions. The less comfortable sections involve unsteady philosophical tangents on the metaphysics of the doll house. I am uncertain if metaphysics can be applied to a man made structure, but she uses the term "metaphysics" in her essays several times. Borrowings from Plato and Aristotle are evident, and retuned, or perhaps a suggestion of an occult language used to describe universals and forms, respectively, is tentatively offered. The underlying assertion aims at the realization of eternal perfection resident in the doll house.
I cannot dismiss this lightly as the thinking is subtle and quite honestly I don’t fully understand many of her references and conclusions. As these were private diaries, I suppose this is forgivable and understandable. They certainly are not proofs, but let me state they are still profound, and difficult to assign to sanity, or delusion. The last several pages of her final diary are apparently diagrams of patterns from linoleum floors whose geometry has been translated into musical notation. This seems the intent, but whether this is accurate or possible is outside my easy understanding. The reason for this exercise is unclear in the writing and may simply have been a puzzle for her amusement.
The full account of Anne's history with the doll house was first given to me the night I met Anne at a social gathering. The nature of this gathering is unimportant and all but forgotten. This gathering was neither oriented toward business, nor celebration, but with the misleading claim of both. As can be expected it was tiresome and boring. The boredom was lifted when I was introduced to Anne.
Before this strays into the usual common, and faulty, assumption, let me relate I was not romantically moved by Anne. I will offer no descriptions of how she looked then or what I thought of her as these will become sentimental narrative. I will end up painting her instead of offering events. I feel it very important this account tread as accurately and purely as possible. I don't want to give over many "seemings" as they are too easily misinterpreted. I will say she was subtly odd in our surroundings, but not jarringly so. Her speech was strange, very clear, and precise, and with something like an accent just below the surface. It wasn’t clearly identifiable. Not German, or Italian, no real or constant hints of foreign linguistic patterns, it was more that her English sang a different song than all other English. Cadences and tones were patterned strangely. It was not histrionic or pretentious. At times her speech seemed harmonic to surrounding conversations (which made it hard to hear her) and at other times especially as she began her story, it clashed with the other voices in the room. As I’m sure is apparent, her voice was a distraction that called attention to other oddities that radiated from her casual and normal character.
I was formally introduced to Anne, by a mutual friend. This friend seemed uncomfortable with her and was overtly shifting a burden onto someone else. Admittedly she was a beacon of silent calculation in a room of pandering laughter and overzealous business cheer. Her expressions were very calm, with no trace of a polite, social, smile. As has been related in several articles (usually with some unspoken implication of guilt), I have little tact. Perhaps it was thought best for the health of the party the two worst guests should be brought together and thereby spare the others. Whatever the reason, Anne was an instantly fascinating turn in the evening. After our initial greetings, and the departure of our mutual friend to circulate, Anne began talking. At first it was awkward as it seemed neither of us had much to tell the other. Abruptly as if she had come to some firm decision, her manner changed and I felt her focus on me. (I apologize if this seems inconsistent with my above claim to tell a pure factual story, but there are portions where my perspectives of the facts need be brought up, and concerning Anne’s charisma or personal aura, I’m afraid I have little external data.) She said "I am going to tell you a story."
Here forward I will relate what she told me at the party as clearly as I recall, and this account will be supplemented by what little information I have been able to connect or uncover since my involvement. My speculations will be easily identified by uncertain words such as "seems" or "it is likely" etc. I will keep these to a minimum.
On her sixth birthday Anne (her last name is still uncertain) received a doll house from her paternal great uncle, apparently called Henry Told. Who Henry Told was is entirely unclear. The name has been connected with several hoaxes and criminal scams since the 1840’s in England and the U.S., and is apparently akin to John Smith and John Doe as an overt means of noting a pseudonym. This pseudonym is very often connected with trickery or mysticism. Whether Anne was aware of this is unclear. The name should not dismiss the reality of the man. I have been contacted by anonymous persons who refer to Anne’s uncle indicating there is more to tell concerning him, he is indeed real, but I have uncovered nothing substantial.
The doll house was 3’x3’x1½’ was a scale model of a narrow, simple, two story house. The house could be opened by means of a hinge descending one of its narrow sides. When opened the house revealed eight rooms. The left side of the house contained a dining room and family room on the bottom floor, two bedrooms and a bath on the top. The right side contained a kitchen and study on the bottom floor and the top floor was completely dedicated to a library. By Anne’s account the top floor was meticulously decorated and detailed. Miniature furniture, tiny paintings, lampshades with minuscule hand painted floral designs, drawers that could be opened in carved cabinets but most notable were the books in the library. The books were painted onto carved wooden blocks that fit onto the bookshelves. The choices of books depicted were extremely unusual. Included were Defoe’s Robinson
Crusoe beside a copy of the less well known real account of Alexander Selkirk, the man upon whom Robinson Crusoe was based, by Captain Woods Rogers: A Cruising Voyage Round the World. Also present was the Divine Comedy, Don Quixote, the Count of Monte Christo, Euclid’s Elements, the History of the Rechabites, the High History of the Grail (the Perlesvaux), Plato’s Timeaus and Critias, Proclus’ Elements of Theology, the Picatrix, and several dozen other puzzling titles. This must be deemed a first clue to the intended purpose of the doll house. It is, of course, ridiculous to assume a six year old would know or care about these titles, when surely most adults have only met with a few of them. That they are not books must be held close to the surface. These were only names, titles. The books existed but not for Anne on her sixth birthday. This could either be construed as a private joke of the doll house’s architect, or as will become more evident, the beginning signals of manipulation.
Anne had the doll house for two years without dolls. As she related dolls were not given with the doll house. This was deliberate. It seems it was a condition of owning the doll house, one accepted by her parents. I was told when Anne first received the house she improvised dolls out of some cloth she segmented with string. Her parents reprimanded her, insisting she play with the house, without what they called "useless toys." On scrutiny that phrase would indicate the doll house was not seen as a useless toy, it might be suggested they considered it neither toy nor useless. Anne described their attitude as a "Demand to meditate on the doll house." Little of this demand is open to verification as any information of Anne’s family, excluding Henry Told, has vanished. Anne insisted her parents held the doll house in deep regard, if for no other reason then its material value. They insisted she take very good care of her gift.
I would not like to psychoanalyze this story, as I am so poorly qualified to do so, but their insistence on the value of the house may not have been innocence or greed. It may have been strategy. At the age of eight, with all other toys removed, and no other activities of note, Anne became very weary of her Gift. She was bored with the few variables of play offered by a miniature house. One day, in a petulant and spiteful mood, she took to abusing the doll house. This abuse was nothing overtly destructive. She removed the blocks of books from the library shelves and with her thumbnail began to carve notches in the soft pine edges. These marks were simple tight lines. As she progressed along one block her thumbnail penetrated unexpectedly deeply. A gap had been covered with wax. As she cleared away the wax she found that it had obscured a separation in the wood that could only be a cap that fitted on the end of the block. She removed the cap and found within the block a tightly rolled length of paper. This was the beginning.
The paper when unraveled gave fairly simple instructions on how to "more fully open" the doll house. It took her several weeks to completely understand what the scrolled paper suggested she do. The paper referred to keys, items in the house that when shifted or placed in certain combinations opened latches. She experimented with theses keys in private. She discovered when the latches were undone the doll house, unfolded. Walls and floors unfolded like cheap game boards, but interlocked in geometric, architectural precision. The house doubled in size. New rooms appeared: a chapel, an observatory, a dungeon, a torture chamber, and a room that was filled with clocks. The most compelling new addition was the addition of a human figure. An old wizard or alchemist in heavy robes was illustrated on the wall of each room. It was something like an illustrated children’s book across the new walls. Unlike a children’s book there was only one phrase written above each picture, "Where will you find Prometheus?"
This mysterious question did not, at first, capture Anne. She did puzzle over the illustrations and enjoyed the drawings of the old man. She attempted to narrate what he was doing room to room. She gave answers to why he stood scowling in the chapel, why he grinned at the stars in the observatory, why he was chained in the dungeon, why he was absent in the torture chamber, and why setting clocks in the room of clocks.
With little else to do but consider the doll house, she became very familiar with the strange thing. It was nearly environmental.
As with any environment it became extremely familiar in every detail. So much so she rarely thought on it further. It became boring, as it had before she found the opening keys. This situation of discomfort assembled she looked for anything new to relieve her boredom. Something was provided. In the room of clocks she noticed there were three clocks which were odd in details. One clock had no hands. On the other two clocks there were hands but no clock face. When she further inspected these clocks she found the clocks were thin circular pegs shallowly inserted into the wall of the clock room. She tried the pegs and found them easy to remove. On the backs of the pegs were further drawings. On the peg from the clock with no hands there was drawn a face of an anguished man. Likewise the pegs from the clocks with hands but no faces had drawings of hands; one right hand and one left. The right hand was drawn pointing, the left holding a full bag.
After this discovery Anne began to search with extra attention. She quickly learned the system of labor and reward the house offered. She thoroughly searched and rearranged what she could in the doll house until she uncovered the remaining parts of "Prometheus."
She eventually affixed all the parts of Prometheus onto the chair painted atop the wall of the deserted torture chamber. (The hands were attached to the arms of the chairs, the face above the back of the chair, the feet onto ends of the chair legs etc.) A torture device rendered above the chair was designed to look like an eagle, suggesting something of the myth of Prometheus. The house’s architect apparently had a strange method of education, and mnemonics.
Prometheus led the clues forward, as his right hand, index finger extended, was affixed in its proper place. The finger pointed to a wall of the observatory. This wall, apparently, held a stylized Renaissance astronomical map. The finger pointed to the constellation Bootes. Anne investigated the wall and found the wall paper was a decal that was intended to be removed. Beneath this decal she found a tarot card, the hanged man. Written by hand on either side of the figure were the words "Judas" and "Prometheus." As is not uncommon, the hanged man held sacks in either hand (as the left hand on the Prometheus chair did.) Whether these sacks were meant to indicate the sacrifice for Zeus or Judas’ thirty pieces of silver at the Potter’s field is unclear.
In any case, the back of the tarot card (when the card was removed) gave further instructions for opening the house.
The doll house had many such puzzles. As she matured Anne went through what could be considered initiations, grades, and levels, all encased in the lessons of the doll house. Each task grew more difficult, more expansive, more varied. She was guided through history, philosophy, mathematics, art, calendars, astronomy, and several subjects as yet unarticulated by disciplines of their own.
She explored, and expanded, the house by roughly two year intervals until she was eighteen. When fully unfolded the doll house took up most of her bedroom. The house was cleverly assembled to open in convenient parcels, while other sections remained unfolded. This, however, did not assist the inevitable limits imposed by the physical structure of the house. When fully extended the house was very fragile, no longer a house but a sheet.
Anne attempted to describe the final puzzle of the doll house to me, but I regret to report (as I have before) it was too complex for my easy understanding. This last puzzle solved, the house gave over its final revelation, as it became a giant geographical map, with one 16th (or so) of one corner devoted to an architectural blueprint of another house. The details of the map were vague and yet precise. What geography the drawings mapped was entirely vague, and unnamed. The only clear location, was a point on the map marked "you are here" with a road that trailed at an unknown distance (the scale was not given) to a location marked with an "X". The road of this map was identical to the real road which ran outside her home, but no other detail of the map matched Anne’s location. Though the map was apparently a fiction, the directions from "you are here" to "X" were accurate.
Anne restored the map to its original shape, placed it in her car, and (with the help of a smaller copy of the map she drew by hand) she set off for "X."
After a drive of roughly an hour, Anne arrived at "X." It was not, as might be guessed a house just like her doll house. It was a house. It was a bright, somewhat plain, painted brick house in a suburban neighborhood. It was two and a half stories, and visibly empty. Among my Polaroids, there is a photo of a house that fits this description.
It was neither a frightening nor conspicuous house. To describe it as average suburban would be factual.
As I mentioned, she found no trace of habitation. After a short trek on a plain sidewalk, and weedy garden, she touched the house. She described the front door as oaken and carved in imitation of a Scandinavian church (which doesn’t quite agree with my Polaroid or her drab description of the exterior of the house-make of this what you will.) Within the tangled designs in the center of the door was a brass knob, which she carelessly turned, and thereby, entered. The door was not locked.
This is the story as it went that night. She had moved into the house, by her own account. Whether she purchased the house, or was squatting I do not know. If you are familiar with the general outlines of the rest of the story you will know it is irrelevant whether legality was obeyed.
Let’s be clear. I never went to the house. I never discovered the neighborhood where the house sat. Everything about this is by report. It may all be lies. What I saw Anne do, and what I experienced have convinced me only to the fact something was, and likely is, very strange. Murder may well be included in this strangeness. Then again it may not.
I will continue. When Anne and I met, she had lived in the house for roughly a month. I found this story interesting enough, and we agreed to meet again at some later date. I gave her my phone number, which she sparingly dialed. We did meet several times over the next few years and can even be described as friends. We were never very close, but we were able to exchange casual stories in a passive conversational way, and I aggressively listened to her outrageous house tales, with the excitement with which she told them. It was our only real point of relationship. After a time my interest in the possibility of the doll house, and the real house became distracting. Consideration of the "doll house conspiracy" became my favorite pastime. I endeavored to research, very superficially, some of the strangeness attached to the story, notably "Henry Told." The more elaborate and unlikely the story seemed, the more I enjoyed thinking on it. I waited patiently, but hopefully to hear from Anne at more regular intervals. It was like waiting for one’s favorite author or musician to produce their next work.
Anne didn’t disappoint. When we did meet, on those sporadic occasions, Anne offered some rare narratives. She reported that the house was continuing her education. No longer was she dealing with models, but with actual instruments, puzzles made of real things. Though uninhabited when she arrived, the rooms were sparsely furnished, but highly decorated. One room was empty except for a podium with a lone book open to a certain page (Anne, stubbornly, refused to tell me the book), another had a tapestry and mirror hanging in a room decorated with veils with cherubim embroidered on them. Another room had several musical instruments: viols, saxophones, flutes, etc. These instruments were intended to be musical instruments but not by their usual design, instead the clues indicated they were to be used as percussion instruments. These oddities confused and excited me. Anne, however, seemed bored. She offered that when solved the solutions to the rooms combined to make still other puzzles, and that as these puzzles separated "like cells" they became more diffuse, more mundane. The puzzles were becoming a description of everything in concurrent time. They were not puzzling, they were descriptive. They were a language of puzzles to describe what is plain. To me they were puzzling.
As might be expected, this too was a puzzle. After a time, Anne found that the puzzles were not describing something. It was what they were missing. Eventually, every corner and scratch of the house directed Anne to every other divot or blemish until she was roaming in circles. She was caught in a Labyrinth. The Adriane thread was more of a spider web entangling her, than a guide line. But something was wrong. Something was not described. It became more conspicuous when she retread her steps. Something was being avoided.
In the painted caves in France there are ancient scenes of animals, and whatever their purpose, they have been crowded onto walls and ceiling. In the earliest used caves something is emphatically missing from these paintings: humans. I believe this might indicate something of the feeling, something was missing. Something was noticeable by its absence.
So Anne paused. Perhaps feeling somewhat burned out, she started dismantling the puzzles. (Not unlike her petulance as a child marking blocks painted to look like books.) She informed me she was simply taking the riddles down, when she made a discovery.
Following the signs the riddles posted, she had ignored her native thoughts, her own mind. She had become so immersed in unraveling someone else’s devices she was not thinking as herself. When the signs were removed and her simple senses, such as sight (and its without symbolic interpretation), groaned back into use she noticed she had never looked at the house.
She was unaware of where she had taken residence. She noticed, for the first time in the several months she had lived there, a door she had not entered. It wasn’t a hidden door, but could have been any easily visible closet or bedroom door leading from the living room. When she opened this door, she found a stair descending into a lower level of the house she had not known existed.
This brief moment of sunshine provided by her thinking was rapidly clouded by riddles once again. Perhaps "riddle" is the wrong word. Riddles are bait, lures, or guides. What she found no longer asked anything, it no longer enticed. It was the prize, the treasure which one tolerates riddles in the hopes of catching. Make no mistake; it was not a restorative treasure. It was nothing to bring out, and spend or glorify. It isn’t like fabled treasures, something that sets things aright, or fills the miserable gap eating away at hope. It was a treasure built only for someone raised and instructed by chimeras.
The stair led to a chamber very deep below the house. By her description the chamber was roughly the same size as the house below ground level. In the center of the chamber and encompassing most of its space was a strange structure. It was roughly spherical, but often interrupted by angles and beams. It was a chaos of doll houses. A structure braided from models of architecture. This monster was thousands of walls, pillars, window panes, casements, doors, thresholds, furniture, and so on. It must have looked like a rubbish heap pushed down hill as it swirled. Perhaps not, by her description a fall would have been far more fluid. It moved, like a clockwork, shifting, locking, sticking, dropping, swinging then redirecting its weight. She said something about its angular jerks looking like breaking joints or bones. The horrible image that comes to mind is the bodies bulldozed into a mass grave. Doors opened and closed, windows passed in slow rotation, models of furniture poked out and slid back. Cracks and rents appeared in the familiarity of "Houseness", the interiors and inner workings of the house were revealed and again eclipsed.
Anne wasn’t sure of any set size of the thing as the dimensions altered. The mechanisms of its body reduced and enlarged it (she claimed in some sense like a heart beat, but without the regular pulse.) She also indicated that to further ruin any sense of size, the chamber was painted with false perspectives to look larger than it was.
As you may have read in my earlier articles on this subject, this thing was a continuation, or a conclusion to the riddles in the doll house. It, like the doll house, worked. It was not an elaborate piece of Modernism, or Post Modernism, place aesthetically under the house. Anne informed me (after a cluster of our informal meetings) she began to receive revelations from the structure. She began discussing a grand order. She referred to "mechanisms of Timely sense." Every thought she told was elaborate, and complex.
She attempted to explain the structure under the house. She told me, depending where you stood in the chamber, and where you gazed into the mass, you would see a different vision. For example if you happened on the correct series of winds, doors, and cracks, the interplay of light and shadow processing toward the depths of the structure would create optical illusions, or shadow plays. Likewise, this interplay of light and moving geometries turned and assembled into momentary faces, scenes, and even progressions amounting to narratives. This should, perhaps, not be considered cinematic, but rather interlocking. The sights would assemble then disassemble. Through these odd pictorials, and shadows plays, Anne told me she had observed Noah build the Ark, the Battle of Poitiers, and Aeneus carrying Anchesis from Troy.
We met much less frequently after this. I did, on occasion, receive invitations from Anne for lunch, or coffee, but the span between visits was many months, and even year by year. When we did meet it was difficult to keep up with her thoughts. The stories became more dubious. I should write at the time I accepted them dubiously. I thought healthy skepticism was the same thing as intelligence, so much of what she said that was unorthodox; I held in my cheek but did not swallow. She told me that the cacophonous structure was a musical instrument as well as a visionary one. Apparently from somewhere in the room an opening vented a steady breeze through the structure. This breeze was bent and squeezed through the ever moving object, and was transformed into music and voices; much of this depending on where one stood in the chamber. She said at certain spots, on certain days you could ask questions and the chaotic mechanism would answer like an oracle. But as if a joke, the oracle would answer with what were clearly lies. Because of its oracular function she called the thing, the "Sybil." Whether this was a joke of her own or other insight she gave no trace by her expression.
Our visits were pleasant enough, but I began to harbor reservations about Anne’s beliefs. In our fine civilization, so full of talk of tolerance, I believe I am the last person who will admit to judging another’s beliefs. I did judge her beliefs or what I thought I understood of them. Her tones were never those of a mystic, but there was always a safe area where I felt free dismissing portions of what she said. We always spoke of the uncanny which she was directly experiencing and I was only given through description. My own experience, my intellectual habits, at times sneered at what she reported. I thought she was becoming a crank, a talkative failing mystic. I was corrected. I should have been less smug. She was never hysterical or manic, never irrational or zealous.
I was forced to release my notions of her folly through an experience of the uncanny.
One of our visits took place at the Zoo. This was where she wished to meet. She said she wanted to watch things move in their natural speed. We met at the aviary, I was several minutes late, and she was gracious enough not to mind. Most of our small talk is lost to memory, and Anne seemed somewhat preoccupied. I am terrible at small talk, so we walked silently through the aviary. The large room was encased in Plexiglas. Real and fake trees were densely scattered around a wooden walk way. Larger more exotic birds were kept behind subsections of Plexiglas, while smaller more common species flew around fairly freely. We roamed silently side by side when the small talk dried up, and we simply watched the birds.
The birds flitted back and forth occupied at various tasks or interactions. Anne began to speak but her discussion began with some very opaque concepts and I was slightly distracted by the birds, so I cannot recall how exactly we came around to the birds as a topic. We arrived at a bench and sat. I was trying to catch up to what she was talking about. Anne’s attention was concentrated on a cluster of birds that populated a thick artificial tree. As she talked I noticed her attention would go from tree to tree, her eyes, twitching quickly, watched the precise flight of the birds. This is what I first thought, it quickly occurred to me her gaze was out of sync with her subject. Her attention anticipated the motion of the birds. Where her eyes traveled is where the birds would follow. I was speechless, and instantly my skeptical defenses rose. Like watching a magic trick, my senses sought the inconsistency in the illusion, and could find nothing. It appeared she was using mind control on the birds. I checked for evidence that might have drawn them: bird feeders, small insect hives, the start of nests, but I found nothing.
With a feeling too embarrassingly close to hysteria I jumped to my feet and accused her of this very thing. She smiled and summarized her discussion, which I had rudely ignored. The Sybil had shown her, at an accelerated speed the lifespan of certain birds. Their motions when densely packed into short interval revealed patterns that could not otherwise be easily observed. These patterns were the form of the species, not the individual organs or body of the birds, but special defining attribute was this motion, this danced pattern which took up lifetimes. Being patterns they could be predicted and expected. She was so used to watching the birds in rapid, artificial, motion she was able to predict where they would light, far before the impulse fully grabbed the bird. She informed me, people also have a "long pattern." She said that these patterns interact with other patterns. There is a special pattern of birds and another of people, for example, and they form something other than themselves given enough time.
I didn’t care to ask further. I didn’t believe what I saw. What is worse is I felt like I was being indirectly infected by the Sybil, because I instantly took to wondering what the "long pattern" of the Sybil and Anne might construct.
Anne changed visibly the next time I saw her. Her appearance was drastically different. I must say when I first met her Anne was rather plain, even drab, if charismatic. It was roughly a year since the aviary when we met again and the difference was remarkable. She was beautiful, beautiful in some profound way.
I don’t propose to write a paper on aesthetics, or even qualify myself by denoting grades or kinds of beauty. The same is true of "profundity". I will simply offer that when I think back I still become, perhaps the word is "confused", that something could be so pleasing to my eye. And yet it didn’t involve lust or ingratiation. I have said I was not romantically involved or moved with Anne, and this was still so. She was untouchable. Like something Holy. It actually sent a chill and fear into me. I do not think I stopped blushing (more out of my inappropriate staring then being caught in sexual trance.) This was obviously not the effects of new wardrobe, or diet. There was something frighteningly pleasing and august in her. Looking back I will offer this: the muscle of her face, her expressers, seemed to narrate (?) something. Her face had a musical quality that brought memories of a foreign sort into my thinking. This memory is difficult to relate for I am not sure my image of her is my own. I suspect she "installed" something into my senses. Like a painter or writer, her face described something imaginary, but used all the forms of truth to do it. Please, grant me this failing in the story, I cannot say how or why she was beautiful, but it was horrific in how pleasurable it was. It was horrific is the sense of instability of my "self". For a few uncontrollable moments, I could have sworn I had done things that were heroic, and I almost told lies (lies prefabricated outside my mind) about my heroism.
Crowds hovered as subtly as possible around her (men and women) and she seemed aware. I think her expression was indulgent or magnanimous, and with all the distance these words imply. Perhaps she watched the "long pattern" of humans and invented ways of manipulating it. If this was so, it may explain something else that seemed strange in her. She seemed to have one shadow in her radiance, in brief flashes she seemed regretful, even palpably lonely. This added to her beauty, and contributed to the desire to claim some heroism. If we had become tools to her, it appeared her long search for dolls to people her doll house was proving unsatisfactory. In a simply human, common, sphere it is difficult to find moments to assuage loneliness. How much more so for Anne who was flaring into something very unique? With whom could she relate, especially if she had the knowledge to become people’s wills?
Eventually I worked up the nerve to ask her about her change. Her answer was unusual. She told me the Sybil was something like a possession machine, or reincarnation machine. That what people saw was the memories of thousands of lifetimes, and experiences swimming across the fabric of her face.
This sounded like madness. I still think this was the turning point. This was the moment when she reached her zenith and was still in the air before a rapid fall. Reincarnation and possession seemed very religious themes, like a reversion to something small and articulated. Like the protection or plans of God are inherent or working in a good harmony. This seemed in opposition to the chaos and free fall her invisible teachers had offered thus far. It seemed unlikely they had led her so far to simply say something so trite. Perhaps, again, I underestimated her statement.
It was two and a half years before I saw Anne again. When I did see her, her high pitch of beauty was fatigued. She had a strange aura of weariness that hummed steadily in her every movement. Her face that had written our minds so clearly, and hypnotically, had become strange with slight ticks and spasms. Her face was still lovely, but there was something urgent when you looked at her, like running out to see a sunset that is failing in vibrancy, but still beautiful, or quickly trying to memorize the radiance of a rainbow that is fading. It was difficult to talk with her long, as her beauty seemed to have become polluted with Turrets syndrome. Her beauty and gestures were surges of unharmonious expressions. Like those "memories of thousands of lifetimes" were all trying to press out at once. Her control of this revolt was flagging. I wondered if the fluttering waves of expression were accidental imitation of the Sybil’s clockwork; as if she was beginning to speak in the "language" of the Sybil.
It was at this time, or shortly thereafter, the misunderstood statements were made. It was in a very benign conversation that all rumors of animosity, and failed love affair were born. I had offered an account of what I had observed in Anne to a colleague, as it had troubled me in a surprisingly dramatic way. In the conversation I had offered a description of Anne’s beauty, and what I believed her mental state to be. I had suggested it was possible she may end up on the streets. My intention was: I thought she may end up one of the population of the urban insane whose lives unfold very rapidly in the streets. It was interpreted that I was suggesting she would become a street walker. Because my colleague had misinterpreted the entirety of my concerns, the descriptions of her beauty, and possible insanity, became the embittered complaints of a lover spurned. This is entirely puzzling to me, and such a far reach to manufacture scandal it seems ridiculous. It has been offered as quote, "I could barely tolerate her presence" and "I always suspected she was a liar." I never made these statements. Likewise the statements I am a homosexual, Anne’s murderer, or the "The Real Henry Told" are equally untrue. It must be noted all these suggestions followed Anne’s disappearance by over a decade.
I saw Anne twice more. The first of the two, Anne was unwilling to discuss the Sybil. She asked many questions about what was happening "in the outside world." She asked about me, loves I may have, the weather, news of politics, or personal tragedy. Every story seemed a weight to her. Each story seemed to drain a bit more of her color. I spoke much, probably the most I had ever said to her. I talked about good news, I had become engaged, and I talked about my observation of events. I pontificated and swaggered and joked, but nothing seemed to be heard in accordance with my intent. I felt like I was failing her as good company, and so tried hard to cheer her. She calmly took my hand and said, "I know."
She turned and walked a few steps away, and as if she had forgotten something said, "We’ll meet one more time, okay?" I assented and she strode away.
The last time I saw her I had just moved into a studio apartment following my broken engagement. I was embittered and very depressed about my confinement to bachelorhood. My fiancée had dismissed me rather flippantly, and in response I shut down socially. I spent three months stewing and unraveling. Strangely at this time my career was prospering. Several of my articles were published in national venues, and I had received two research grants of substantial sums. Unexpectedly, Anne arrived at my apartment. I am unsure how she found it.
Anne was ragged, emaciated. Her hair was lank and tangled. Her face was ruddy and exposed. She was very dirty. The precision of her gaze, her intense focus was overwhelming. I was struck dumb. This will read as very bad. I cannot think of any legitimate way to offer this, so I will proceed in the ridiculous way. I knew she could grasp my every thought as I thought it, and every root of every particle that had assembled the thought. The precise calculation of her movements and her following gaze made me certain she could kill with her hands. If previously her beauty was hypnotic, it was her menace that then had reign. I will not waver from the statement she impressed fear into me.
I greeted her lamely, as my alarm could not be disguised. She said very quietly, very plainly, "I know everything." Do not look at this and feel embarrassment at what I wrote. I realize it reads as a stupid and funny phrase. It wasn’t funny, and I do not know what to offer except I cowered under this statement. It seems in my memory twice as chilling, because it should have been ridiculous.
She walked to my desk, took up a pen and paper and wrote out a sequence. She then told me to read the paper. I explained I could not. I wasn’t sure if it was a mathematical formula or cuneiform. The sequence of signs, that I stupidly discarded later, were not numbers nor were they letters, but could have been mistaken for either.
She asked "Did you read this writing?" I replied "I see the writing but cannot read it." She smiled as if somewhat relieved and said, "I have saved you from knowing." She walked out my still open door returned a moment later with her diaries, and left without a word of goodbye.
Shortly thereafter police investigations began. Anne was missing and suspected to be dead. Who would have reported her missing is unknown to me, and frankly I find it suspicious. As if her disappearance and the investigation into it were a performance. As far as I know she had very few friends, and no family (the police informed me her parents were deceased.) I have considered these events over the years, and have met few answers. No one has ever found the house to my knowledge, neither have they found the doll house. What I hold has been acquired from Anne, or through anonymous correspondences due to my articles on this subject. I believe I am the only person who holds this much evidence and it is meager. In ways I hope this was all a young woman’s contagious delusion, or a hoax. I don't actually believe it is a hoax, but I can't reconcile that it is fact either.
It was my own essays on Anne and the Sybil that first alerted the mystics, and conspiracy theorists, and though a profitable market, they are poor company. They are prone to gossip. I have been reported in collusion with extra terrestrials, Atlanteans, transdimensional masters, and Satanic cults. I have also been pestered by "initiates" and the "spiritually sensitive" who wish to know my secrets. I have no secrets. I am an observer to lives, I have come to believe, and I should not be confused with the living.
I cannot scorn these persons too much as I relate to them in ways. I am still intrigued by Anne and the Sybil. I have been unable to let this mystery loose, both out of pity for Anne and insatiable curiosity. What drives this may be a desire for the restoration to sense, for Anne has presented me with the hope that sense is a failed endeavor. It is very uncomfortable to have one foot on the boat and one on the shore. I continue to ponder these events, but will write no further articles, essays, or editorials following this letter.
Before I end this letter, I would like to mention two ideas that were presented to me. A very good friend of mine, a philosopher, offered me his thoughts on this one evening in a college bar (we were far too old to be there). My friend suggested the "Sybil ontology". He suggested the Sybil might be the "bone of the universe," or a description of the bone of the universe. By this I think he was indicating it was something akin to every possibility. It was without set space or time (as is everything) but in likeness to everything, even times and spaces that never were and never will be.
The second suggestion was related to the first. The Sybil might be Sin, or the Devil, or the first and only lie. He suggested the Sybil was still the bones of the universe, but that the universe was dependent on the instability, and "mixing of attributes to impossibility" in the sense it corrupted the Universe. He suggested without the constant impossibilities of the Sybil the universe would cease to progress. It is the motor of the universe through violence and frictions with order and sequence. The universe is the product of an ever unfolding lie. Limitless in attributes that stir the universe, and limited in structure so as not to fully invade- the Sybil is bound by its form. It may only describe.
These philosophies are poetic. I would adhere to neither idea. It may (or rather may it be) a hoax. Thank you for your time,