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third man factor


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  • The phenomenon in which one feels as though a phantom companion is with you during times of great stress or in a life-or-death situation. More here, in a review of a new book on the subject.

    September 18, 2009

  • Who is the third who walks always beside you?

    When I count, there are only you and I together

    But when I look ahead up the white road

    There is always another one walking beside you

    Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded

    I do not know whether a man or a woman

    —But who is that on the other side of you?

    T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

    edit: shoulda checked. Of course they quoted it in the article.

    September 18, 2009

  • The passage from "The Waste land" is a reference to Christ's journey to Emmaus following his resurrection, where he joins two disciples that do not recognize him: "Who is the third who walks always beside you?" one disciple asks the other.

    September 18, 2009

  • Could it be Orson Welles on the Riesenrad of life?

    September 18, 2009

  • Cue zither music!

    September 18, 2009

  • Eliot's notes on those lines are for once somewhat helpful:

    "The following lines were stimulated by the account of one of the Antarctic expeditions (I forget which, but I think one of Shackleton's): it was related that the party of explorers, at the extremity of their strength, had the constant delusion that there was one more member than could actually be counted. "

    September 18, 2009

  • Perhaps we need a catchy zither theme from "Shackleton!" the musical. Sir Andrew should get off his duff, cancel any further "American Idol" embarrassments, and get on the stick, pronto. Before the gout incapacitates him completely.

    I imagine that the use of fevered dream sequences by trapped crew members should afford him considerable liberties with the script, up to and including the incorporation of mid-European Ferris wheels.

    September 18, 2009

  • The Shackleton account is also included in this article--actually in the excerpt that follows it as well.

    September 18, 2009