The Book and the Movie: The Haunting of Hill House | Shirley Jackson (1959) | The Haunting / Robert Wise (1963)


"I could live there all alone, she thought, slowing the car to look down the winding garden path to the small blue front door with, perfectly, a white cat on the step. No one would ever find me there, either, behind all those roses, and just to make sure I would plant oleanders by the road. I will light a fire in the cool evenings and toast apples at my own hearth. I will raise white cats and sew white curtains for the windows and sometimes come out of my door to go to the store to buy cinnamon and tea and thread. People will come to me to have their fortunes told, and I will brew love potions for sad maidens; I will have a robin…"

Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House, 1959



 “No physical danger exists,” the doctor said positively. “No ghost in all the long histories of ghosts has ever hurt anyone physically. The only damage done is by the victim to himself. One cannot even say that the ghost attacks the mind, because the mind, the conscious, thinking mind, is invulnerable; in all our conscious minds, as we sit here talking, there is not one iota of belief in ghosts. Not one of us, even after last night, can say the word ‘ghost’ without a little involuntary smile. No, the menace of the supernatural is that it attacks where modern minds are weakest, where we have abandoned our protective armor of superstition and have no substitute defense.Not one of us thinks rationally that what ran through the garden last night was a ghost, and what knocked on the door was a ghost; and yet there was certainly something going on in Hill House last night, and the mind’s instinctive refuge—self-doubt—is eliminated. We cannot say, ‘It was my imagination,’ because three other people were there too.”
“I could say,” Eleanor put in, smiling, “‘All three of you are in my imagination; none of this is real.’”
“If I thought you could really believe that,” the doctor said gravely, “I would turn you out of Hill House this morning.

Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House, 1959

“Am I walking toward something I should be running away from?” 
“You never know what you are going to want until you see it clearly.”
“We live over in the town, six miles away.”
“Yes,” Eleanor said, remembering Hillsdale.
“So there won’t be anyone around if you need help.”
“I understand.”
“We couldn’t even hear you, in the night.”
“I don’t suppose-”
“No one could. No one lives any nearer than the town. No one else will come any nearer than that.”
“I know,” Eleanor said tiredly.
“In the night,” Mrs Dudley said, and smiled outright. “In the dark,” she said, and closed the door behind her."

“Why do people want to talk to each other? I mean, what are the things people always want to find out about other people?”

"Nothing irrevocable had yet been spoken, but there was only the barest margin of safety left them; each of them moving delicately along the outskirts of an open question, and, once spoken, such a question - as “Do you love me?” - could never be answered or forgotten. They walked slowly, meditating, wondering, and the path sloped down from their feet and they followed, walking side by side in the most extreme intimacy of expectation; their feinting and hesitation done with, they could only wait passively for resolution. Each knew, almost within a breath, what the other was thinking and wanting to say; each of them almost wept for the other."

"Let him be wise, or let me be blind; don’t let me, she hoped concretely, don’t let me know too surely what he thinks of me."

Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House, 1959
“It watches," he added suddenly. "The house. It watches every move you make.” 
"Fear is the relinquishment of logic, the willing relinquishing of reasonable patterns. We yield to it or we fight it, but we cannot meet it halfway."



'She wants her cup of stars.'

"Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl."

“No, the menace of the supernatural is that it attacks where modern minds are weakest, where we have abandoned our protective armor of superstition and have no substitute defense.”
"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality."

Robert Wise’s original screenplay for The Haunting (1963)


 The Haunting (1963)
Director: Robert Wise 
Writers: Nelson Gidding (screenplay), Shirley Jackson (based on the novel: "The Haunting of Hill House") 
Stars: Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, Richard Johnson


"I wanted to write a book about ghosts, but I was perfectly prepared–I cannot emphasize this too strongly–I was perfectly prepared to keep those ghosts wholly imaginary. I was already doing a lot of splendid research reading all the books about ghosts I could get hold of, and particularly true ghost stories–so much so that it became necessary for me to read a chapter of Little Women every night before I turned out the light–and at the same time I was collecting pictures of houses, particularly odd houses, to see what I could find to make into a suitable haunted house. I read books of architecture and clipped pictures out of magazines and newspapers and learned about cornices and secret stairways and valances and turrets and flying buttresses and gargoyles and all kinds of things that people have done to inoffensive houses, and then I came across a picture in a magazine which really looked right. It was the picture of a house which reminded me vividly of the hideous building in New York; it had the same air of disease and decay, and if ever a house looked like a candidate for a ghost, it was this one. All that I had to identify it was the name of a California town, so I wrote to my mother, who has lived in California all her life, and sent her the picture, asking if she had any idea where I could get information about this ugly house. She wrote back in some surprise. Yes, she knew about the house, although she had not supposed that there were any pictures of it still around. My great-grandfather built it. It had stood empty and deserted for some years before it finally caught fire, and it was generally believed that that was because the people of the town got together one night and burned it down.
 By then it was abundantly clear to me that I had no choice; the ghosts were after me. In case I had any doubts, however, I came downstairs a few mornings later and found a sheet of copy paper moved to the center of my desk, set neatly away from the general clutter. On the sheet of paper was written DEAD DEAD in my own handwriting. I am accustomed to making notes for books, but not in my sleep; I decided that I had better write the book awake, which I got to work and did."

Shirley Jackson, “Experience and Fiction”


"When I first used to write stories and hide them away in my desk, I used to think that no one had ever been so lonely as I was, and I used to write about people all alone. Once I started a novel … but I never finished because I found out about insanity then and I used to write about lunatics after that. I thought I was insane and I would write about how the only sane people are the ones who are condemned as mad and how the whole world is cruel and foolish and afraid of people who are different."

 Shirley Jackson 

Irresistible people / The source of charm | Anaïs Nin, 1955-66

Herbert List, Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy, 1939


"The people I find irresistible are those in whom the child was not killed. The qualities of openness, trust, inquisitiveness, tenderness, eagerness, enthusiasm,
others undefinable, come from the child in us and are the source of charm. The laughter and the smile that do not calculate, the spontaneity that is not arrested.
I cannot remember “adult” charm or whether it even exists."

Anaïs Nin, Diary, Vol. 6 (1955-66)


Book//mark - Tomorrow's Eve | Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, 1886

Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, The Future Eve, 1886                                                   Villiers de L'Isle-Adam (1838 – 1889)


“Even among the noises of the past, how many mysterious sounds were known to our predecessors, which for lack of a convenient machine to record them have now fallen forever into the abyss? Dead voices, lost voices, forgotten noises, vibrations lockstepping into the abyss, and now too distant ever to be recaptured!”

“Isn’t it exasperating to think of all the pictures, portraits, scenes, and landscapes that it [photography] could have recorded once, and which are now lost to us?”

“Every human occupation has it repertoire of stock phrases, within which every man twists and turn until his death. His vocabulary, which seems so lavish, reduces itself to a hundred routine formulas at most, which he repeats over and over.”

“There are even some stars so remote that their light will reach the Earth only when Earth itself is a dead planet, as they themselves are dead, so that the living Earth will never be visited by that forlorn ray of light, without a living source, without a living destination. Often on fine nights when the park of this establishment is vacant, I amuse myself with this marvelous instrument (telescope). I go upstairs, walk across the grass, sit on a bench in the Avenue of Oaks – and there, in my solitude, I enjoy the pleasure of weighing the rays of dead stars.”

“Yes, that’s what these women are: trifling playthings for the passing gadabout, but deadly to men of more depth, whom they blind, befoul, and bind into slavery through the slow hysteria that distills from them.”

“I have come with this message: since our gods and our aspirations are no longer anything but scientific, why shouldn't our loves be so too?”

“If I could record them and transmit them to the present age, they would constitute nothing more, nowadays, than dead sounds. They would be, in a word, sounds other than what they actually were, and from what their phonographic labels pretended they were – since it's in ourselves that the silence exists. It was while the sounds were still mysterious that it would have been really interesting to render the mystery palpable and transferable.”

“Dead voices, lost sounds, forgotten noises, vibrations lockstepping into the abyss and now too distant ever to be recaptured!...What sort of arrows would be able to transfix such birds?”

“Brunettes are full of electricity.”

“Thoughts and feelings change sometimes, as one crosses the frontiers.”

“My own self-consciousness cries out to me coldly: how does one love zero?”
 
“Consider this: when you stand at the entry to a steel factory, you can make out through the smoke some men, some metal, the fires. The furnaces roar, the hammers crash; and the metalworkers who forge ingots, weapons, tools, and so on are completely ignorant of the real uses to which their products will be put. The workers can only refer to their products by conventional names. Well, that's where we all stand, all of us! Nobody can see the real character of what he creates because every knife blade may become a dagger, and the use to which an object is put changes both its name and its nature. Only our ignorance shields us from terrible responsibilities.”

"Drops of sweat stood like tears on the brow of Lord Ewald; he looked upon the features, now glacial in their austerity, of Edison. He felt that beneath this strident, scientific demonstration two things were hidden in the lecturer's infinite range of severely controlled secret thoughts.
   The first was love of Humanity.
   The second was one of the most violent shrieks of despair -- the coldest, the most intense, the most far-reaching, even to the Heavens, perhaps! -- that was ever emitted by a living being."

“The Android, as we've said, is only the first hours of Love, immobilized, the hour of the ideal made eternal prisoner”

“Within this new work of art a creature from beyond the reach of Humanity has insinuated herself and now lurks there at the heart of the mystery, a power unimagined before our time.”

“You're doubtless well aware that most of the great hypnotic patients wind up referring to themselves in the third person, like little children. They see themselves from outside their own organisms, outside their own sensory systems. In order to get further outside themselves, and help them escape their physical personality, some of them, once in the state of clairvoyance, have the curious custom of re-baptizing themselves. The dream name comes to them, no one knows whence, and by this they INSIST on being called as long as their luminous sleep endures – to the point of refusing to answer to any other name.”

“And in any case...there are no more supernatural noises nowadays...”


L'Ève Future / Tomorrow's Eve, Villiers de L'Isle-Adam, 1886
tr. Robert Martin Adams


A brilliant scientist builds an android (an andraiad) with a woman's body but not her base soul. This is the first use of the term Android.


L'Eve Future engravings by Raphael Drouart, 1925
L'Eve Future engravings by Raphael Drouart, 1925

Passengers | Dolph Kessler | Lviv / Ukraine (2012-2014)

Dolph Kessler, Passengers #11, (2012-2014)
Dolph Kessler, Passengers #12, (2012-2014)
Dolph Kessler, Passengers #2, (2012-2014)


Robert Frank, The Americans : Trolley, New Orleans, 1955



"How beautiful the world was when one looked at it without searching, just looked, simply and innocently."

 Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha, 1922


Be My Baby | Ronnie Spector & The Ronettes

The Ronettes, from left Ronnie Bennett, Nedra Talley, and Estelle Bennett, early 1960s


"When Phil Spector first heard my voice, I remember he came to one audition to see if I sounded as great as he thought I did, and he saw us at this little club… 
When he came to a rehearsal, and I sang one of Frankie Lymon’s songs, he knocked the bench over from the piano and said, ‘That’s the voice I’ve been looking for.’…
 I’ll never forget that. And that’s just before they went in and wrote ‘Be My Baby.'"


"Brian Wilson was there when I sang `Be My Baby. They wouldn't let him in the studio, but he
was peeking through one of the little windows. I never forgot that desperate look on his face."

Ronnie Spector, interview from Connecticut.

Brian Wilson has since referred to "Be My Baby" as the greatest song ever written.
"Don't Worry Baby" had an equally profound impact on Ronnie Spector,
as a tribute to Brian Wilson, she recorded this in 1999.


Brian Wilson hears Ronnie Spector's "Don't Worry Baby"


"I look around me and I don’t see any rock’n’roll at the moment. Instead it’s all choreography and stylists and wigs and stuff. It’s like they’re afraid to let the music breathe. 
No one has their own identity like the Ronettes did back in the day. We had the skirts with the slits up the side, sort of tough, sort of Spanish Harlem cool, but sweet too. 
We didn’t have no dancers, we didn’t have no goddamn wigs."

"But, you know, the Stones were my opening act in the Sixties. I loved those British guys, the way they just stood there and shook their hair."

"No one has their own identity like the Ronettes did back in the day."


Ronnie Spector, 1962                       Ronettes / Rolling Stones - Granada Theatre Walthamstow

"The people need to feel the music."

"I love Ruth Brown, not just her singing, but Ruth Brown has more girl power than anyone, because she fought hard against people 
who ripped her off and then helped other artists through the Rhythm and Blues Foundation."


Ronnie Spector, 1961                                                                                                                             Phill Spector & The Ronettes, Gold Star Studios, L.A., CA, 1963, ph. Ray Avery


"My honeymoon night was spent on the floor in the bathroom with my mother."

"I have three adopted children with Phil, and for years I was fighting in court with him over being able to see my kids."

"I never tried to kill myself or anything."


Veronica Bennett, later known as
Ronnie Spector

Ronnie and Phil Spector, 1963


Ronnie Spector was married to Phil Spector from 1968 to 1974.

Ronnie was 17 and Spector was 24 when they met. I ask her what she fell in love with.

“First,” she says, “I fell in love with his coolness. He was very cool. Always had one hand in his pocket. 
And he had a cute butt. I loved his tush, he had the cutest tush. The way he handled the band – here’s a guy, 24 years old, 
yet he’s telling married men with children what to do? That turned me on so much. I fell in love with that power.”


The Ronettes as young Bronx school girls, from left – Nedra Talley, Ronnie & Estelle Bennett, circa 1961-62


The Ronettes consisted of lead singer Veronica Bennett , her older sister Estelle Bennett and their cousin Nedra Talley.

At first, Phil Spector wanted to sign only Ronnie Bennett.  Beatrice Bennett, however, insisted it was a package deal - all three or none at all.  
So in early 1963, the Ronettes became part of Phil Spector’s Philles Records

Be My Baby composed by the trio of Phil Spector, Jeff Barry, and Ellie Greenwich (1963)

Ronnie Spector is the only Ronette to appear on Be My Baby. The Ronettes there is also Cher and Darlene Love, helping with additional backup vocals.


“I always commiserated [with the singers] because Phil didn’t pay too much attention to them.  He treated them as if they were another instrument.  
I mean, they weren’t ill-treated, they were just ignored.”

 Larry Levine, studio engineer

Phil Spector with engineer Larry Levine at the custom-made12-channel mixer in the control room at Gold Star.
Cher (far right) at Gold Star studios during session work as a back up singer for the Ronettes.
 Over the other shoulder of Phil Spector is Darlene Love (The Crystals), 1963
Seventeen-year-old Cher (back, right) and Phil Spector in the studio during the recording of A Christmas Gift for You from Philles Records, 1963


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