New England Turned Up Side Down
New England stone... and stone work... and their movements (disturbances?)... catch my eye. Even single stones...; I’ve watched single stones for decades. I am very careful about ‘disturbing’ a stone. I have learned (taught myself) that in the region of ‘very early’ New England a stone could have been ‘placed’... just like Susanna Johnson ‘placed’ her stones. I have learned... too... that ‘very early’ stones once placed... can and have been ‘pitched to the side’... just like the gravestones were ‘pitched’ to allow a lawn tractor to ‘mow the lawn there’. The most endangered stone... is the stone that... someone CAN move. Not only does that mean it CAN be ‘pitched to the side’ but it also IS MOST PROBABLY the MOST LIKELY ‘size’ of a stone originally ‘placed’. The size creates ...and compounds... a heightened level of placing and pitching... a ‘most at risk’ group.
A friend of mine ‘hunts’ “old Indian camps”. He says he’ll catch a corner of his eye on a spot he happened to be driving by and... from then on ‘watched’ that spot, just as I watch a stone... “every time I’m going by”. “One day; sort of the ‘right day’, I’ll stop the truck and walk down to the spot. I can just FEEL it” he says “They had a camp there. I can just FEEL IT.” That’s the way I am about stones having been ‘placed’. And... ‘placed’ and then ‘pitched’. I can JUST FEEL IT.
I’m the same way about attics; about estates and their attics. I can ‘just feel it’.
As I stated previously... New England attics have been rummaged... ransacked... looted... and... ‘had everything taken out’... for hundreds of years before I was born. Just like Susanna’s stones...- she put them ‘there’ and two hundred years later they are still being fussed with even though they are ‘forgotten’, ‘not known of’ AND ‘pitched’-... for two hundred years AND LONGER... an ‘attic’ that I ‘want to get into’ has been under siege. Finding New England garrets that are ‘untouched’ and ‘undisturbed’ is, for I, a life long fixation. The very vast majority of garrets in New England... have already been ...turned up side down.
This attic moment recalls us to the Savage Mansion and... that... obviously... as I sat ‘there’ with Helen... MY inner fixation was ...ACTIVE of thoughts about the Savage mansion’s attics. NOTE the plural for ...there has to be more than ONE attic in ‘that place’. MORE adept ...did one notice... that I was already gleaning (as in Millet “The Gleaners”) the field of every utterance from Helen for ANYTHING slightly suggestive of ‘attic’? The mention of the (Part Four) ‘his college trunk’ ‘untouched’? Or ...didn’t she say that SHE had... rummaged it? And it is WHERE? THE ATTIC? See: I am on the job when it comes to old New England attics... turned up side down.
Not one to let an old attic; an old New England garret, be LESS than a life long fixation, I have a ‘necromantic’ necromancy that I ...have... STUDIED as a ‘coy façade of fabricated myth’ about New England; the New England attic: I’ve studied that and COLLECTED ...the very difficult to find... written references to, of, about, being in and ANYTHING... AT ALL... I could find. And saved it. And remember it. And study it... usually over DECADES of time... for why would a passing sentence make sense to I at first.
Written reference... to old New England attics, particularly anything not ‘in passing’ and/or ‘vague’... from over the centuries is... RARE. Am I looking for a treasure map. Not really... ‘just curious’. The little references of garret once set off another man whose tale I wrote down: (Can B. Worth, Feeding the Birds, Part Five). Worth exhibited an old bed warmer to show what ...Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn ‘snaked’ from an old attic:
“…hid away up garret with a lot of other old pots and things that were valuable, not on account of being any account, because they warn’t, but on account of them being relics, you know, and we snaked her out, private…”
Mark Twain, HUCKLEBERRY FINN, NY, 1884, pg. 322
Young Mr. Finn... rummaged and then ‘carried off’.
I have hunted for references such as this for decades.
They are often... precious;
Ransacking, looting and
They are the scant and skimpy records of a very ‘coy façade of fabricated myth’ that IS New England.
Herman Melville passed such a scant and skimpy to me. I pass it on, too. It is a precious record to me foremost. His short story; “The Apple Tree Table or Original Spiritual Manifestations” (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1922, pgs. 9-51 with pgs. 9-15 being referenced here) has the charm of the story’s narrator being in a garret for the first six pages. It is “a very old garret of a very old house in an old-fashioned quarter of one of the oldest towns in America”. This narrator, with substantive detail, describes the garret and the contents... in a little TOO ‘dusty and dirty’, ‘spiders and creepy’ and dark and “goblins aloft” prose. His “rusty, iron-bound chest, lidless, and packed full of mildewed old documents” amongst the “profuse litter of indescribable old rubbish” “like that of the Evil One, dimly revealed through the cobwebs”...: Get a grip. It’s a Colonial era attic that ... that... IN IT... he finds a table (“I was pleased by the discovery that the table was not of the ordinary mahogany, but of apple-tree-wood”) and ...an old book (“a ghostly, dismantled old quarto” “Cotton Mather’s MAGNALIA”). THESE... he... not only ‘loots’(“removed below”) but “had the dislocation of the one and the tatters of the other repaired”. This last means that in addition to looting the attic, he ‘messed with’ and possibly ruined... what he purloined... in my opinion as a professional.
In my opinion as a professional too... this whole six pages of Herman in the garret... IS a SPLENDID specimen of the ‘coy façade of fabricated myth’ that IS New England. TOO: Rummaging, looting and MORE... of, in and FROM a NEW ENGLAND attic. The rest of the story... and that is quite a long rest of the story... has NOTHING to do with the garret. The rest of the story... is an insipid... letdown after his ‘I’m on the edge of my chair seat’ in-attic opening. For I. The rest of the story involves, due to the warming of the purloined table, old insect eggs hatching with the bugs creeping out of the table’s... apple tree wood... and the chaos ...for each character of the household... that this creepy crawling creates. The best support for the accuracy of the garret visit record (circa 1850’s) is its ‘in passing’ walk through expostulation followed by having no mention ever again: Herman’s old New England garret is a record of ...just the way it is suppose to be. Is it right side up? Or did Herman turn the garret upside down; pitch it to the side and... ruin it? And is this garret ...still there... although ‘forgotten about’ and/or ‘not known about. I’ve never had ANYONE speak to me about Herman’s garret... or even the apple wood story... so... it certainly is ‘not known about’ with a chance or two of ‘forgotten about’. But it (the written recording of the garret visit) is ‘still there’. I feel the whole story is truly New England up side down: The best part is the first skimpy and scant six pages ‘buried’ ‘face down’ under the ‘rest of it’.
It is Herman who gave me the “necromantic” (pg.9, the first page of the story, first paragraph, line six) I appended to my use of necromancy (this chapter, paragraph six). My single word was pilfered from Poe for... the ‘necromancy of attic (garret)’. (Poe; necromancy of female gracefulness). The addition of Herman’s necromantic, by my active coupling... better reaches the true state of the ‘coy façade of fabricated myth’ of the old New England attic... undisturbed. It is a spirit rope tied back upon... and often woven into... itself. One will find all this clear when one is actually IN that true New England attic. Otherwise this spirit remains ‘beyond the reach’ of one’s finger tips. It is not found in an old New England attic that has been... turned up side down.