[For Abigail McBride.]
Through a tissue and beyond the veil: the ghosts of a cat caretaker and a cat, as conjured through "necromancy by proxy" (explained below). From Concerning Cats, My Own and Some Others
by Helen Maria Winslow, 1900.
This recalls our repository of ghostly images that were never meant to be, entitled The Ghost in the [Scanning] Machine. The specters were conjured unwittingly, through a mechanical process of book scanning. Their portraits technically do not exist, except within this context. To explain: in old books, frontispieces were typically protected by a sheet of translucent tissue paper. So thorough is the Google Books scanning process that even this page of tissue paper is scanned. The figure in the plate beneath the tissue—"beyond the veil,” as it were—emerges as from a foggy otherworld. The frontispieces were never meant to be seen this way. Their wraithlike manifestations have been artificially "fixed" in time by the scanning process. In essence, timeless phantasms of dead writers have been captured and bound into a new age. And so we call this phenomenon "unforeseen art," as it constitutes an aesthetic expression without original intent. Just as artists often credit their inspiration to a Muse, the accidental art herein is in the domain of real ghosts; every author here has departed to the Other Side. We call it "necromancy by proxy," as the scanning machine serves as our "spirit medium" or shaman.