Sunday, 8 June 2014

Another vanished house


For the following story - and the mention of the book from which it comes - I am indebted to Michael Graeme (whom I do not know, either personally or via the internet), whose story about a disappearing road was (partially) published here some time ago.

Since the book in question - G. N. M. Tyrrell's The Personality of Man (1947) - is freely available on the Internet Archive (just click on the link above), I see no reason to omit the story as it appears in the book, including Mr. Tyrrell's highly valuable comments on it.

So, here it is, in its entirety, as it appears on pp. 65-67 of Tyrrell's book.

Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Pye were on holiday in Cornwall in 1933 and were travelling by bus from Wadebridge to Boscastle. As they neared Boscastle they both kept a good look-out for a suitable hotel in which to stay, and just before they reached the point at which the road drops steeply down into the village the bus stopped to set down a passenger.
Mr. Pye writes: "It had come to rest almost outside the gates of a rather substantial house, standing on the left-hand side of the road. It stood back from the road some twenty yards or so, there being a semi-circular drive from the gate outside which we had stopped to another gate twenty-five yards further on. The garden front was screened from the road by a hedge over which we could just see from our seats in the bus. The house was double- fronted, and of a style of architecture which I judged to date from the late 1860s or early 1870s. It had a fresh, trim appearance, and seemed to have been recently painted, the woodwork and quoins of the house being of a rather reddish, light chocolate colour. The most striking feature, however, was on the lawn, where, amongst beds of scarlet geraniums, there were several wicker or cane chairs and tables over which there were standing large garden umbrellas of black and orange. No person was seen, nor do I recollect having seen any sign notifying that it was a guest-house, though I had no doubt that such was the case. I called my wife's attention to the place and she immediately replied that it was 'just what we were looking for' but, before we could come to any decision, the bus moved off and in two or three minutes we were down in Boscastle." 

Mr. and Mrs. Pye were not very attracted by the village of Boscastle, so, while Mr. Pye stayed with the luggage, his wife walked back up the hill and tried to book rooms at the guest-house they had seen from the bus. After nearly an hour and a half Mrs. Pye returned, looking considerably heated, and said she had not been able to find it. She had climbed various gates looking for it and had walked all the way back to Trevalga, and had finally succeeded in booking rooms at the guest-house there. She seemed much astonished, and Mr. Pye said he would point out the guest- house to her as they returned along the road. 

On the returning bus, just as they reached the top of the hill, Mr. Pye remarked: "'It's just here on the right about fifty yards further on ', but to my astonishment there was no house. Just empty fields running across to the cliffs by Blackapit. During our stay at Trevalga, we made a thorough search of the locality, but failed to find any place even remotely resembling what we had seen. 
On a subsequent visit to the Trevalga guest-house, I told our experience to the proprietor, who assured me that from his knowledge there was in the neighbourhood no such house as I had described." 

There seems to have been no telepathic agent in this case apart from Mr. and Mrs. Pye themselves; but there certainly was telepathy between them. Possibly hopeful expectation of finding a suitable hotel was the primary cause of the incident. But the important point is that the subliminal impulse, whatever its cause, acted psychologically on both percipients so as to make them see the same thing. It is very important to know that this can happen. 

Those who hold that, if two or more persons see the same thing, that thing must have an independent existence, are wrong if by "independent existence" they mean independent existence in space. But they are not wholly wrong, for the psychological pattern which creates the two co-incident hallucinations may exist independently "of the percipients in the mind of a third party: or it may, as apparently in this case, be merely the common subliminal possession of the two percipients. It might conceivably extend to more than two percipients. In Canon Bourne's case [ibid., p. 46 ss.] it extended to three. 

If one can imagine a pattern, originating in some mind, extending to a large number of percipients, then all those percipients might be telepathically impressed to see the same scene. The scene would have no physical reality ; but it would have a single cause which would be independent of all the percipients. And if their hallucinations were complete enough and sufficiently well correlated, they would almost certainly believe that the common cause resided in space and not in a psychological operator acting on their minds.

These facts are worth pondering because, as we shall see presently, there are states of consciousness in which created sense-imagery becomes extraordinarily full, complete and vivid.
 

Tyrrell's explanation of the incident seems to tie in with Carl Gustav Jung's views about his own similar experience.
On the other hand, it doesn't seem to explain the shifty house we wrote about in Have You Seen This House? To begin with, there was no perceivable "hopeful expectation" to find the house - or any house - in any of the purported witnesses to its apparition.
But then... What do I know?
What do any of us really know?

For more on Tyrrell see this excellent blog post.