In our files under NEW MATTER we find man-made polywater, edible cotton, element 118 (ununoctium), strange quark matter (a “strangelet nugget” of which we’re told could destroy the earth), dark matter, quorn, twisted nematic liquid crystals, superglue, electrically conductive polymers made using ruthenium as a catalyst, a lighter-than-air solid made of agar, etc. etc. BUT we don’t find ectoplasm. A single object (even an amorphous blob or spurt) of ectoplasm would be numinous enough to reconcile spirit and matter for once and all. So why is ectoplasm shunned? Simple: THERE’S NO SUCH THING. Granted, the membrane between Imagined and Real has always been pretty permeable here at Amateur — part of our mission being, in the words of our anthem, “worrying that wall/hurrying its fall” — BUT now that the irrational is no longer marginal (as Bill Moyers put it), now that the people calling the shots openly proclaim their contempt for the facts — in light/dark of that — is it any wonder that the unreal has lost much of its allure? “Scarcity value” affects numinosity same as it does the FTSE index, and these days what’s most scarce/valuable/numinous is hard evidence, empirically testable/re-testable TRUTH. Did I say “these days”? ‘Twas ever thus. Am I saying the Imaginary can’t be TRUE? Please. I concede that ectoplasm might be “more true than real” and, as such, should be granted equal status, at least, with a LITERARY OBJECT like STEIN’S SAC. I’ll make a note of it: ECTOPLASM — file under LITERARY OBJECTS.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of four objects — an amorphous blob, a fly whisk, a skull cap and a till receipt — made of asbestos (also called mountain flax, earth flax, and mountain leather).

Given its notoriety as a carcinogen, this flame-resistant fibre has great numinous potential. It’s interesting to observe how different morphologies affect the charge.

[From the “Paper Museum” of Cassiano dal Pozzo]