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June 12, 2004

Dibbuk Box

Structural analysis allows anthropologists to make sense of a story by thinking through patterns of difference, opposition and transformation in the narrative. This way of approaching stories works best with folk-tales or genre fiction whose power comes from a satisfying rendition of things we already know to be true... True in a mythic sense, that is. The story of a haunted relic coming to light at an estate sale in September of 2001 would be fun to think through. This is great story: Pandora's Box meets the Hope Diamond.

I purchased the wine cabinet, along with the sewing box and some other furniture at the estate sale. After the sale, I was approached by the woman's granddaughter who said, I see you got the dibbuk box. She was referring to the wine cabinet. I asked her what a dibbuk box was, and she told me that when she was growing up, her grandmother always kept the wine cabinet in her sewing room. It was always shut, and set in a place that was out of reach. The grandmother always called it the dibbuk box. When the girl asked her grandmother what was inside, her grandmother spit three times through her fingers said, a dibbuk, and keselim. The grandmother went on to tell the girl that the wine cabinet was never, ever, to be opened.

The most basic opposition lies in the nature of the demon reportedly inhabiting the box. A dybbuk is a "clasper", it clings on to you. So what do you do with such a demon? Try to give it away. Or sell it. Assuming this is a tall tale made up to lend an air of mystery to an otherwise innocuous eBay sale it is still a clever bit of advertising. There is also some nice psychology at work in the tale. When I am told about a haunted box I won't be able to get rid of my first urge is to buy the thing.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at June 12, 2004 10:27 AM

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I know this box is real, and I know the story is not made up. Th Dybbuk is bigger than you would imagine.. this is not a tall tale. But one of Terror

Posted by: TC at October 31, 2004 03:38 PM