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The Floating Man

 
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 23-06-2013 19:15    Post subject: The Floating Man Reply with quote

I was almost sure this had been mentioned on the FTMB before, but as I can't remember much about it I'm drawing a blank, or the search function is anyway.

I read in one of the Peter Haining books as a boy about a man who woke up one morning and discovered he was entirely weightless, he got up and found he was floating. He didn't ricochet about like Mr Bounce, he just floated up to the ceiling. Anyway, this became a cause celebre of the day (maybe 1880s?) but is forgotten now. Apparently one day he floated away into the sky and was never seen again.

Is this ringing any bells? Fact or fiction?
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MythopoeikaOffline
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PostPosted: 23-06-2013 21:18    Post subject: Reply with quote

Was it Daniel Dunglas Home?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Dunglas_Home
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 24-06-2013 21:26    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, this was an ordinary man, not a clairvoyant, who had stopped being affected by gravity. According to the tale he wasn't buried anywhere and was believed to have floated out into space, possibly accidentally, possibly not.
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davidplanktonOffline
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PostPosted: 25-06-2013 06:45    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember reading this story as a youngster. It happened in 19th Century rural America and I seem to think he was involved with a travelling sideshow at one point. The story ended when his bedroom window was accidentally left open and he apparently floated off. All allegedly of course.
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 25-06-2013 19:07    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's the one, yeah. Difficult to find any basis for it in truth, or indeed any mention of it online at all. You don't happen to recall the man's name, do you?
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PeniGOffline
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PostPosted: 25-06-2013 21:33    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am positive this is a literary ghost story but I'm not coming up with a single additional detail; except I keep wanting to say it had Gorey illustrations, which doesn't help much. Marvin Kaye's anthologies leap to mind with that; but not only did Gorey illustrate for plenty of other people, his style influenced other illustrators.

I also want now to say that I remember an anthology with a lavender dustjacket and a floating man on the cover, the last story of which was "One ordinary day, with peanuts" (by Shirley Jackson); but even if that memory is accurate it is no help, because the floating man might be related to a completely different story. And I can't remember the title of the anthology, anyway.

I've read so many of these things in my time!
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amesterOffline
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PostPosted: 26-06-2013 03:16    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds like H.G. Wells' story "The Truth About Pyecraft," which is one of his more hilarious works
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davidplanktonOffline
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PostPosted: 26-06-2013 06:12    Post subject: Reply with quote

gncxx wrote:
You don't happen to recall the man's name, do you?


No but I'm almost certain the story was in Haining's Screaming Skull or Hell Hound and other True Mysteries.
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amarok2005Offline
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PostPosted: 06-07-2013 03:11    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was the story of Oliver Larch, or Lerch, usually set in Indiana or some such rural area, who went out to get water from the well and was "sucked" into the sky -- a favorite of "true mystery" books but apparently based on Ambrose Bierce's "Mysterious Disappearances." But a boy shown about like a sideshow attraction? I don't know that one . . .

Joseph Payne Brennan's "Levitation" takes place at a circus sideshow -- but, obviously, it's fiction.

I kind of watch for stories like that; I recall a few, from Wells' to R. A. Lafferty. They re mind me of when I was young, and walking under wide open skies in wide, empty fields . . . I would sort of wonder, what if gravity reversed, and the grass was the ceiling, and the sky was an infinite blue abyss? Then I'd have the urge to throw myself flat and cling to clumps of grass! (I think this was Agoraphobia.)
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amarok2005Offline
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PostPosted: 06-07-2013 03:15    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not The Flying Yorkshireman, is it?

http://farm8.static.flickr.com/7138/7698649544_d570e89c8f.jpg
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 06-07-2013 15:03    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, no. This bloke wasn't a boy, he was a man. I'm wondering if Peter Haining wasn't a little creative with his storytelling, as was his wont.
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Ria777Offline
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PostPosted: 13-07-2013 02:08    Post subject: Reply with quote

PeniG wrote:
I am positive this is a literary ghost story but I'm not coming up with a single additional detail; except I keep wanting to say it had Gorey illustrations, which doesn't help much. Marvin Kaye's anthologies leap to mind with that; but not only did Gorey illustrate for plenty of other people, his style influenced other illustrators.

an anthology entitled Hauntings: Tales of the Supernatural had Edward Gorey illustrations and included the Jospeh Payne Brennan short story "Levitation". I tracked that down easily enough because I read that anthology at an early enough age that I have some of the stories burned into my memory.

I think that the OP must have confused that story with a factual account. it concerns a magician who hypnotizes a volunteer into thinking he can levitate. it works, somehow he gets into the open air and then floats away, forever and ever.

the story sure had the desired effect of frightening young me.
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gncxxOffline
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PostPosted: 13-07-2013 17:06    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do have a Brennan anthology, but Levitation isn't in it, so I wouldn't have read it. Peter Haining, who wrote the account I did read, might have encountered it and it might have inspired him to fantasise, but there were no magicians in the story he told, the lack of gravity the subject felt happened overnight, with no explanation.

It's not unlikely Haining made it up, sad to say, he does have a record of such things when it came to his "true" stories. For example, his book on Spring-Heeled Jack is excellent on the culture of the phenomenon, but most of the facts are pure invention.
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