Stranger Than You
Rilke once wrote an essay on dolls that disturbed many readers at the time, and still has the power to do so today. He wrote, in part:
[I]in a world in which Destiny, and even God himself, have become famous above all because they answer us with silence. At a time when everything was intent on giving us a quick and reassuring answer, the doll was the first to inflict on us that tremendous silence (larger than life) which was later to come to us repeatedly out of space, whenever we approached the frontiers of our existence at any point. It was facing the doll, as it stared at us, that we experienced for the first time that emptiness of feeling, that heart-pause, in which we should perish.
Dolls are disturbing.
One of the things I loved about living in the San Francisco area was that, for the first time in my life, I did not feel like a complete misfit. It was liberating: every time you feel weird or alien or strange, all you have to do is take a walk in Berkeley or on Market St. in San Francisco. No matter how strange you feel you are, there is always someone stranger than you.
Now it's nice to see such strangenesses elsewhere, too. I was in Chicago last weekend, and discovered a display of doll heads stuck on the tomato plants in the alley garden, as though impaled on stakes in front of a castle, in some Medieval threat display. My friend, who I usually stay with when in Chicago, felt it was great that someone other than him was participating in creating the aura of weirdness that usually lurks in our mutual zone. Usually we're the ones creating all the weird displays; it's nice to have outside help, for once.