The Story of a Long-Forgotten St. Louis Psychic Recovered—From the Trash – St. Magazine Digital
On Sunday, artist Lew Blink will lecture on Carrie Seib, a Spiritualist and Channeler, whose archives he rescued from a Lafayette Square Dumpster.
BY THOMAS CRONE
NOVEMBER 2, 2016 11:24 AM
VIA THE DUMPSTER ARCHEOLOGY EXPERIENCE FACEBOOK EVENT PAGE
Lew Blink is an unabashed dumpster diver and notes that he’s “lived all over the country. I tend to move without furniture; I find most of my furniture. I’ve been called The Trashmaster. I’ve become really, really good at it. And it’s something that I’ve loved doing.
Most of my food, I buy from farmers markets, but I still do dumpster diving for toys for my son, for household goods, for furniture. Things along those lines. For the most part, though, I ignore the death purge, which is a term I use a lot. It’s when an old person dies and [the survivors] throw everything out.”
That might be true, in theory, but when Blink comes across a special purge, he’s not going to pass up on the opportunity to do a little excavation, maybe start “an ongoing process” (AKA project). For example…
When coming across a dumpster at 2323 Lafayette, he found a treasure trove, which would become the basis of his project The View from 2323, which took place at the recent Strange Folk Festival’s weekend at Lafayette Square. He’s been extending that display into a comprehensive talk this Sunday night that’ll be used as a YouTube introduction to the history of 2323 Lafayette. The Dumpster Archaeology Experience will take place at Kismet Creative Center on Sunday at 6 p.m.
The presentation on Sunday night, he says, will take in the style of a TED Talk and is “an amazing story. It’s remarkable.” That’s because the find at 2323 included huge amounts of paperwork relating to a family living at the property, as well as reel-to-reel tapes and countless other bits of historical ephemera. The tapes provided the spine of what might be the most-intriguing aspect of the house’s history: its use as a hub for the spiritual readings of Carrie Sieb.
According to Blnk’s writings, “Carrie Seib, a Spiritualist and Channeler, gave talks in her living room at 2323 Lafayette Avenue. These were recorded by her son, George A. Seib. Her services were held under the banner of The Independent Church of Truth and met every Sunday from 1933 to 1964.
In these occult recordings, Carrie predicts the future and often reveals her own mystical views. Recorded in the 1950s, they represent a snapshot into the underground world of Spiritualism. The impact of the history of Spiritualism on the St. Louis landscape has long been relatively unknown and underappreciated. Spiritualism seems to be enjoying a revival in modern culture.”
The reel-to-reel recordings were the prize of Blink’s October 2015 dumpster excavation, and they were given their first public hearings at Strange Folk in late-September. (Blink credits Strange Folk founder Autumn Wiggins as a key advocate, who “let him go nuts” with a large, on-site display.)
Having gone deep into the history of the place, Blink’s work also cites “the home’s original owner and Civil War steamboat captain Conrad Fink; his son-in-law and eventual business partner, August Nasse; George Arthur Seib, an associate professor at Washington University Medical School in the Department of Anthropology and Physiology” as well as “his mother Carrie Seib, a channeler and Spritualist Poet who held services in the home for over 20 years.”
The work’s caught the attention of family members of the above, as well as the new residents of the space.
“The owners came to the exhibit in Lafayette Square,” Blink says. “They gave me a tour, gifted me some handwritten notes that really connected with the project. On the Sunday of Strange Folk” members of the Sieb family came by, as well, hearing Carrie Sieb’s voice for the first time.
“They want to get the poetry and philosophy of Carrie spread out to the world,” Blink says. “She developed her philosophy all on her own. Her philosophy and beliefs are clearly inspired by the spiritualist movement. She was a pure mystic, but was not well-read in any of these [disciplines]. We want to get that information out, in one form, or another. It’s really quite remarkable.”
Blink points out that several different factors contributed to that cache being cast aside, then found. Sunday’s presentation, he says, will be something of a capstone on that story.
“The big question’s always been, ‘why did they throw all this out?’ Well, there was an enormous amount of stuff left over,” Blink notes. “The family lived there for part of 80 years. A lot of what was thrown out was thought to be damaged. Like, there are some wax cylinders that are too moldy to salvage. The reel-to-reels, I don’t think they knew what those were; it was probably a contractor who threw those away. The house had had rain damage, water damage. The house had sat empty for 15 years.
“When they started to renovate,” Blink says, “the dumpster ended up there. I did my usual data set. You get the vibe very quickly if there’s nothing there that you’re interested in. Well, there was an M-DOS book, an early computer book from 1972. And then we found some psychology books; I was very impressed with that collection. I went back with a friend and dug through all this drywall in the middle of the night; that’s where the ‘archeology’ part of this came about. The excavation was legal, technically; the dumpster was on the street level. And the owners didn’t care, so it turned out OK.”
In addition to the specific history of the family and house, there was so much more, including print collections including “clippings from the 1930s to 1987. Countless newspaper articles. Early newspaper advertisements. You really had a history of America in print.”
As Blink talks about the event on Sunday, you get a sense that his excitement level’s set to “high,” even as he mentions that the he’d like to move beyond this project (or “process”) in some respects. Serious talks have kicked in with curators at Washington University, and his public address this weekend, he says, will explain the beginnings, the present and possible next steps for the 2323 collection. Having previously headed up the Psychedelic Society of STL, Blink had previously worked with Kismet, holding regular events there, and he knew the eclectic space was a good fit for Sunday.
“I’m a storyteller,” Blink says. “I love to talk. That’s kind of my thing. I love to share stories, though I never wanted to be a preacher. ‘Who listens to random people talk?’ Well, in traditional cultures, storytellers were as important as anyone else. That’s why this Sunday is important: it’s an accumulation of all of this research. No one gets the full story unless you get the full story. And we’ll be recording this session as a storytelling experience. It’s be the dumpster archeology story. I’ll talk about dumpster diving, how I fell into this stuff, how it started to coalesce.
“We’ll immerse ourselves in the experience,” he adds. “The story will have three parts. We’ll take two breaks. Because it’s for YouTube, we’ll keep it short and concise. And with the general public there, we don’t want to run it too long. We’ll take it back to the basic needs of telling a good story.”
From the Trash – link to original source
BY THOMAS CRONE
NOVEMBER 2, 2016