There might be such a thing as a man’s soul being loose from his body, and going out and in, like a bird out of its nest and back

shadow like a bird

That was how folks got over-wise, for they went to school in this shell-less state

…he saw that Marner’s eyes were set like a dead man’s, and he spoke to him, and shook him, and his limbs were stiff, and his hands clutched the bag as if they’d been made of iron; but just as he had made up his mind that the weaver was dead, he came all right again, like, as you might say, in the winking of an eye, and said “Good night,” and walked off… Some said Marner must have been in a “fit,” a word which seemed to explain things otherwise incredible… A fit was a stroke, wasn’t it? …no; it was no stroke that would let a man stand on his legs, like a horse between the shafts, and then walk off as soon as you can say “Gee!” But there might be such a thing as a man’s soul being loose from his body, and going out and in, like a bird out of its nest and back; and that was how folks got over-wise, for they went to school in this shell-less state to those who could teach them more than their neighbors could learn with their five senses and the parson.

by George Eliot (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880)
from Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, 1861
Part I
image – Jane Rahman (glitterfeet)

Explorations – Tangible, Intangible and Mysterious

When George Eliot wrote “Silas Marner,” spiritualism was in its heyday. As scientific discoveries were explaining and backing up the workings of the physical world, spiritualist mediums provided the curious with a way of getting person-to-person confirmation of an existence beyond death. Humankind was hunting down mysteries and subjecting them to measurement and hypothesis. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? A spiritualist medium might be able to contact an earthbound spirit who knows the answer.

Houdini would debunk it, and Arthur Conan Doyle defended it despite mediums who confessed to fraud. The public, skeptics and all, was fascinated and up for a good show. Why? We may think we like the solutions of science, but what is science but a series of questions and proofs, with an incomplete data set to push and curiosity to satisfy? I think we need to reach into Mystery just as much as we need to feel the touch of familiar surroundings.


I’ve been asking Flickr photographers whose images I’ve used if they’d like a little thank-you feature on QuoteSnack. Jane Rahman, creator of today’s evocative image, is a talented 19 year old student at the beginning of her college years. Already a working photographer, she is studying psychology and contemplating a major in photography. She and her friends like to search for good spots to take pictures – some favorites are abandoned hotels and museums after hours.

Does anyone else think that photography and psychology could fit like a glove… or balance like a bird in flight? Jane! Study both.

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2 Responses to “There might be such a thing as a man’s soul being loose from his body, and going out and in, like a bird out of its nest and back”

  1. Juanita Says:

    I agree! Life is too short to pick only ONE interest to study 🙂

    And welcome back.

  2. Subscriber Favorites from QuoteSnack’s first Year | Quote Snack Says:

    […] There might be such a thing as a man’s soul being loose from his body, and going out and in, like … by George Eliot (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880) from Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe, […]

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