Friday, March 18, 2016

What If The House You Lived In Was Alive?

Since the tenth century A.D., Shingon Buddhism has entertained a concept known as Tsukumogami. It is a difficult concept to define, but loosely described, it is the belief that when any object has reached its 100th birthday, it becomes alive and self-aware.

My first introduction to Tsukumogami was through Le Portrait de Petit Cossette, a very odd animated Japanese film. In the movie, items from the young French girl’s boudoir enact a brutal revenge on the reincarnation of her murderer, an assistant to an antique dealer.

Though I cannot say I’m convinced of the reality of Tsukumogami, my fascination with old houses embraces the concept. In my novella, Yew Manor, my essay, The Vicarage (found in Come Into My Cellar: Darker Tales From A Cerebral Vault), and Coventry House (found in Opal Wine) and various future works, my houses all become characters in their own right.

Last night I was musing on the old homes I have been privileged to live in and visit and thinking about Tsukumogami I wondered, if true, does the house develop sentience in a flash or is it a gradual growth of self-awareness? You may think me addled in the brain, but I do entertain a subjective belief that some houses inherently make me feel welcomed. Some make it clear that I am most unwelcome. Some feel like I am in a house trapped in a waking dream and the aura of the house is, dare I say it?, wistful.

I can imagine a house, filled with family, and on the celebration of its centennial, there is within its walls, a spark of awareness, much akin to that of a newborn child. As I allowed the fantasy to evolve in my imagination, I followed its developing personality affected by the attitudes and actions of those that lived within walls. Those houses that entertained a family that was loving and supportive took on a personality of love and support. Those homes that harbored hatred and perversion within their walls were destined to have their newborn hearts twisted and malformed to become, like the Vicarage in my essay, a Bad Place.

And then there are homes that contain within their walls, the lonely and the unloved, the aged who dream of a better past and others who can seek refuge only in their memories. What of those houses, I wondered? Could it be that when they lay empty they cry for love and yearn for true life to blossom within their walls, longing for what they have been denied. Making it worse, it is unable to define what it is it cries for as it never experienced love to begin with.

Mayhap when a loving family moves in, the house responds with joy, and those who walk its halls may find an odd reluctance to leave its embrace.

This house does not like you. Welcome home.

And for those lonely houses forced to suddenly harbor evil tenants? How they must rage to have their needs denied, their own hearts darkened into murderous fury to be forced to home parasites instead of the love they long for. Their vengeance must be terrible to behold.

And that, my Dear Reader, is where my ideas for my stories come from.

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