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A Little Happier: Zora Neale Hurston’s Vision Shows How Mysterious the World Is.

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I recently read writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston’s haunting 1942 autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road (Amazon, Bookshop). It reminded me of Carl Jung’s memoir Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Amazon, Bookshop), and that is high praise indeed.

She describes something very mysterious that happened to her when she was about seven years old.

One note, as I read this passage: she mentions the journalist O. O. McIntyre, who was a very popular newspaper columnist in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as the British writer Rudyard Kipling.

Here’s a lightly edited reading:

[About age seven] “There was some cool shade on the porch, so I sat down, and soon I was asleep in a strange way. Like clearcut stereopticon slides, I saw twelve scenes flash before me, each one held until I had seen it well in every detail, and then be replaced by another. There was no continuity as in an average dream. Just disconnected scene after scene with blank spaces in between, I knew that they were all true, a preview of things to come, and my soul writhed in agony and shrunk away. But I knew there was no shrinking. These things had to be.

...

Time was to prove the truth of my visions, for one by one they came to pass. As soon as one was fulfilled, it ceased to come. As this happened, I counted them off one by one and took consolation in the fact that one more station was past, thus bringing me nearer the end of my trials, and nearer to the big house, with the kind women and the strange white flowers.

Years later, after the last one had come and gone, I read a sentence or a paragraph now and then in the columns of O. O. McIntyre which perhaps held no meaning for the millions who read him, but I could see through those slight revelations that he had had similar experiences. Kipling knew the feeling for himself, for he wrote of it very definitely in his Plain Tales from the Hills (Amazon, Bookshop). So I took comfort in knowing they were fellow pilgrims on my strange road.

I consider that my real childhood ended with the coming of the pronouncements.”

I love learning about her visions, because while nothing like her vision has ever happened to me, it reminds me of how mysterious the world is.

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