Worldviews have ways of taking over one's brain like a virus. When one becomes particularly obsessed with something, every conversation seems to be composed of or diverted to the object of one's obsession. For instance, a cousin of mine could not speak without somehow passing his words through a Van Halen filter, sufficiently infusing his words with enough Van Halen to make the conversation worthwhile and sensical to him.
I, myself, have had numerous obsessions over my life installed in my mind that colored every conversation I would have. Imagine a man who always brings the conversation back to hot buttered toast, ska music, drum-and-bass, omelettes (cooking, not eating), Tallinn, saunas, and, as you can presently see, Jorge Luis Borges.
As a librarian, Jorge Luis Borges was compelled to always bring his stories back to something related to the library.
One of the clues from his story, "Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," that signaled the existence of the imaginary world, Uqbar, was an entry in an encyclopedia that was stumbled upon by the narrator. It appeared only in only one edition as a footnote that was not in the editions previous or after.
This resonates soundly with me because of a chance discovery that I fumbled upon between six to ten years ago.
My mother had a particular fondness for whole-set Encyclopedia Brittanicas. She would find them at yard sales and thrift shops. Her requirements for purchase were that they had to be ancient, leathery, and smelly. Because they were so old, they were a fascinating read.
One day, I was researching fairies. I don't remember why. But in the 1911 edition of the Brittanica, there existed an entry after fairies titled "Fairy Pot." It was a paragraph of roughly 300 words describing a fairy pot as a cauldron used in fairy rituals, but in a way that never strayed from the assumption that it was REAL.
I was flabbergasted and so I looked in the next edition of the Britannica, which, of course, my mother owned, only to find it expunged from the volume, leaving only the pedestrian entry "fairies" - levelheaded, rational, and drained of excitement. Returning to the 1911 edition, I read that a fairy pot actually existed in Fresham Church in the town of Farnham, England, which was TEN MINUTES away from my mother's house in Alton, England.
|Fresham Church in Need of a Sound Scrubbing (1910)|
On researching this fairy pot, I could find absolutely nothing about it anywhere. I even called the Fresham Church to satisfy my curiousity, but they were useless and annoyed by a grown man calling and asking about fairies. Finally , I e-mailed a Librarian in the town of Farnham to get some answers. He knew nothing about it either. But after some research, he found that the pot was most likely not a fairy pot at all, but a WITCH pot. The witch in question was a lady named Mother Ludlam and she actually lived here:
|Someone thought it wasn't cavey enough.|
Her pot was a cauldron that she loaned to a chap who took too long to return it and hid in Frensham Church for the rest of his life, fearing her anger and clutching the pot until the monks decided to use it to make beer.
So, mystery solved. Fairy pots = superstition. Witch's cauldrons = our new reality.