Thursday, September 6, 2012
* The Youtube site BackToTheArchives provides a narration of the short fictional tale, “The Ensouled Violin,” attributed to Blavatsky. Being able to hear it read gives the story a new dimension and brings to life Mme. Blavatsky’s talent as a gifted narrator. The story follows a struggling violinist whose promising career is challenged by the arrival of the famous musician Paganini (1782-1840), and the steps he takes to rise to the level of his rival. The tale was initially published in Blavatsky’s magazine The Theosophist of January 1880 and attributed to Hillarion Smerdis. A longer version was published in the 1892 collection Nightmare Tales. It is this version that is uploaded. Some background on the contents of Nightmare Tales is given by the Senate House Library, University of London.
* The publisher Tarcher has made available online the introduction to Gary Lachman’s new book, Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality, an excerpt of which was published in the Autumn edition of the English Theosophical magazine Esoterica. Lachman writes:
my concern here is not to recount the many inaccuracies that crop up in “the Blavatsky story,” like potholes on a poorly maintained road, nor to excuse myself for not providing the reader with the “truth” about HPB. There are Blavatsky and Theosophical websites dedicated to those pursuits, and along the way the interested reader can find out how to reach them. My job here is to try to tell “the Blavatsky story” as best I can, and these preliminary remarks are offered as a general acknowledgment at the start that the following account, taken from a variety of sources, may or may not be true. If this seems like a lame excuse for poor research and an inability to “nail Blavatsky down,” so be it. My only defense is that I am not the only one to make it. As many have recognized, “the facts in the case of Madame Blavatsky” may indeed be doubtful, but without them, there would be practically no case at all.
Madame Blavatsky: The Mother of Modern Spirituality by Gary Lachman is set to be released October 25, 2012.
* The site 100bookseverychildshouldreadbeforegrowingup looks at The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. “Of the many beloved children’s books, none has been more embraced by American popular culture than The Wizard of Oz. Originally published in 1900, the book’s phenomenal success launched a slew of sequels, prompted Hollywood to create one of the most-viewed movies of all time, and inspired a number of wildly popular Broadway musicals.”
But Baum’s most original and complex creation was the Wizard. Stripped of his disguises, he turns out to be a meek and humble charlatan who is the victim of the world’s desire to be fooled. “How can I help being a humbug,” he said, “when all these people make me do things that everybody knows can’t be done?” It should be noted that Baum had become a Theosophist only a few years before writing his first Oz book, and he cannot have been unaware of the charges of fakery leveled against Madame Blavatsky when she caused teacups to materialize and tables to levitate.
So now Blavatsky is a model for the Wizard of Oz?