member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Your Purpose in Life

Patience Worth was meant to be an author, and not even death would stand in her way. Though killed in an Indian raid in the late 1600s, she would become an astonishingly talented author between 1913 and 1938, through the mediumship of a "restless homemaker plagued by nervous ailments" with a "limited" education named Pearl Lenore Curran. Poet Edgar Lee Masters went to hear Mrs. Curran take Worth's dictation and called her work "remarkable." In 1917, five of her poems were printed in the Braithwaite anthology of the nation's best, and her first novel was praised by the New York Times as "a feat of literary composition."

In a September 2010 article in Smithsonian Magazine, Gioia Diliberto writes:

"Patience appeared on the scene just when spiritualism, enjoying its last great American revival, collided with the age of science, and a brigade of investigators, including magician Harry Houdini, prowled the nation to expose bogus mediums. Since most mediums were women—the spiritualist movement accorded women social status they rarely attained elsewhere—this crusade turned into an epic battle of the sexes: supposed hard-nosed men of science against swooning female seers."

Though a seemingly endless stream of skeptics and scientists arrived at Pearl's door to prove her a fraud, no one ever succeeded, and even if they had, the fluidity with which Pearl/ Patience could switch from poem to play to novel in a single night and the recognizable talent that flowed forth from the medium, who also studded her dictations with "sparkling conversation" with her audience were feats on their own.

And there was the incredible shift in her language:

“Well I remember a certain church,” she once dictated, “with its wee windows and its prim walls, with its sanctity and meekness, with its aloofness and chilling godliness. Well I remember the Sabbath and its quietude of uneasiness, wherein the creaking of the wood was an infernalism, the droning and scuffing of the menfolk’s shoes and the rustle of the clothes of the dames and maids, the squeaking of the benches, and the drowsy humming of some busy bee who broke the Sabbath’s law. Aye, well I remember the heat that foretold the wrath of God, making the Good Man [the parson] sweat. Aye, and Heaven seemed far, far.”

I recommend the article, which you can read here.


  1. Zoe, you've once again provoked thought, the sign of a great post. I first learned about Worth in college when it was the fashion to ask the ouji board who would win the football game. On a more serious note, Pearl's professed communication with Patience Worth, with its religious implications, will be one of those forever unknowns, I think. I also think that it's interesting Pearl's visits with Worth became increasingly episodic after Pearl's husband's death. He was the more educated of the two.

  2. That article was fascinating. Part of me wants to believe in Patience for the charm and magic of it, but possibly even more charming and magical is believing in Pearl working alone. I wish things had turned out better for her.

    A big thanks for the heads up!

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