From Matter to Spirit: Ten Years Experience in Spirit Manifestations

January 25, 2010

From matter to spirit: Ten Years Experience in Spirit Manifestations

Unreadable spiritualist junk but with funny pictures

some more Rimbaud

January 23, 2010

Bunch of articles by or about Rimbaud, all in French.

Report by Rimbaud on the Ogadine, Harar 1883

La Revue Blanche, Volume 13

Article on Rimbaud with illustrations

La Revue Blanche, Volume 14

Dernieres Lettres d’Arthur Rimbaud, with drawings by Rimbaud

Revue d’Ardenne et d’Argonne, Volumes 7-8

Tons of articles on Rimbaud, including one that mentions a picture of him in Oriental costume owned by his sister, I read somewhere that she destroyed this later.

The Minor Moon Hoax of 1794

January 18, 2010

Interesting blog about the Great Moon Hoax of 1835 Moon in the Sun, an early account of life on the moon supposedly given by the astronomer John Herschell.

In looking for other accounts of that I found this involving his father, William Herschell in 1794:

The Old Farmer and His Almanack, 1920

The Great Moon Hoax

The second number of the Farmer’s Almanack, that for 1794, contained a paragraph of much interest:-

The Moon

[From a London paper]

Mr. Herschell is now said, by the aid of his powerful glasses, to have reduced to a certainty, the opinion that the moon is inhabited. He has discovered land and water, and is enabled to distinguish between the green and barren mountainous spots on the former, which, as with us, are divided by the sea. Within these few he has distinguished a large edifice, apparently of greater magnitude than St. Paul’s; and is confident of shortly being able to give an account of the inhabitants.

William Herschell at the time was investigating the moon, and would publish a paper a year later in which he speculated that both the sun and moon were inhabited. The author speculates that a reporter for the London paper had somehow heard of this before hand.

At all events, this bit of scientific gossip shows that the world was ready, toward the close of the eighteenth century, for something which, in fact, did not come until forty years later, the Great Moon Hoax.

The paper in question first published in Philosophical Transactions of 1795 is reprinted here:

The Gallery of Nature and Art, 1818

Nature and Construction of the Sun and Fixed Stars

…leads us on to suppose that it is most probably also inhabited, like the rest of the planets, by beings whose organs are adapted to the peculiar circumstances of that vast globe.

Photoplay: The Aristocrat of Motion Picture Magazines

January 16, 2010

Photoplay: The Aristocrat of Motion Picture Magazines
Volumes 18-20

Excellent cinema magazine from 1920, tons of photos of current movies/stars.

even the adds are cool:

How I Built My Dream Palace by Cheval

January 12, 2010

The Wide World: The Magazine For Everybody, Volume 42, Nov 1918
How I Built My Dream Palace

Postman Cheval,the maître incontesté de l’architecture et de la sculpture médianimiques, describes building his ideal palace in his own words. Particularly interesting is how he describes creating a mental image of the entire construction over several years, with a photographic exactness. Then one faithful morning in 1879 he tripped over a rock and started the project that would take the next 34 years.

Next day, as soon as my duty was over, I took my wheelbarrow to the place, six miles off, where I had seen the stones, and came back with a load of them, which I put in the little garden in front of my house. I did this every day for several months, and eventually had a pretty large pile in my garden. My neighbours began to take notice of this dailytrundling after these stones. At first they thought I was accumulating material to sell to the road surveyor, but I soon disabused their minds of such a notion.

“Then what do you intend to do with them?” they would ask.

“I am going to build a palace,” was my reply.

Whole magazine is great, tons of illustrations of savage animals and people. Max Ernst would have a field day with this.

Art of Pamela Bianco

January 11, 2010

The International studio, Volume 68, July 1919

The Drawings Of Pamela Bianco

Early article about artist Pamela Bianco, then 12 years old.  Four color images and a bunch of line drawings.  Her work has an amazing dream-like quality, indescribable.

This one reminds me of something from  Henry Darger:

Chinese Automatic Writing

January 9, 2010

Interesting to compare European/American automatic writing with that of Chinese “Kong Pit”, or the descending of the pen. The two evolved completely separately but both arrived at nearly identical methods.

Several different instruments are described, a long Y shaped stick for two people (held in hands), a smaller T shape for one person (balanced on both hands), or a regular basket for two people (balanced on finger tips). The writing itself is done on a table covered with sand or flour.

The writers are professional mediums, sometimes described as illiterate, with an assistant who interprets the writing. Some mention is made of it being practiced at home by regular individuals but all the accounts are of professionals.

The written output is sometimes said to be in verse, but also in unreadable characters (ancient Chinese or mystic), only known by medium or assistant.

Questions, usually about the future, are written on a piece of paper, then burned (doesn’t say if medium is aware of question). The answers are given by the pen moving through the sand or flour.

The whole process is highly ritualized, with prayer invocation, offerings, etc. Special temples were also dedicated to this process, as was a spirit Sow Yoong Tai-Sien. This is usually described as being used mostly by the literate upper class.

Blackwood’s Magazine vol 93 jan – june 1863

This is best account, describes the ritual process of single writer.

It is sometimes had recourse to by mandarins and educated persons, as well as by the ignorant, for the purpose of gaining information as to the future intentions of Heaven, which are otherwise hid from human beings. One of the most frequent inquiries put is as to whether the questioner will have a number of male children, but all sorts of subjects are inquired into, both personal and political; and many volumes exist, both in prose and verse, alleged to have been written by spirits …. The Spirit – Writing is called by the Chinese Kong-pit, or ” Descending to the Pencil,” and the first step is to cut a bent twig from an apricot tree, affixing at the same time to the tree certain characters which notify that the twig or magic pencil is taken, because the spirit will descend in order to reveal hidden things. Having thus consoled the tree for its loss, the twig is cut into the shape of a Chinese pen, and one end is inserted at right angles into the middle, not the end, of a piece of bamboo, about a foot long and an inch thick, so that were this bamboo laid upon a man’s palms turned upwards, the twig might hang down and be moved over a piece of paper. In a temple, a schoolhouse, or an ancestral hall, chairs are then set apart for the spirit to be summoned, and for the god or saint of the temple or village under whose power the summoned spirit is supposed to be wandering. One table is covered with flowers, cakes, wine, and tea for the refreshment and delectation of the supernatural visitors, while another is covered with fine sand, in order that the spirit may there write its intimations. In order to add to the solemnity of the scene, proceedings are not commenced till after dark, and the spectators are expected to attend fasting, in full dress, and in a proper frame of mind.

The usual way of communicating in China with the higher supernatural powers is by writing supplications or thanksgivings on red or gold-tissue paper, and then burning the paper, the idea being that the characters upon it are thus conveyed into a spiritual form. In order to spirit-writing, a piece of paper is burnt containing some such prayer as this to the tutelary deity or saint of the place: “This night we have prepared wine and gifts, and we now beseech our great Patron to bring before us a cloud wandering spirit into this temple, in order that we may communicate with him.” After the saint has had sufficient time to find a spirit, two or three of the company go to the door to receive him, and the spirit is conducted to the seat set apart for him, with much honor, with many genuflections, and the burning of gold paper. The bamboo is then placed in the palms of a man, so that the apricot twig touches the smooth sand upon one of the tables; and it is usually preferred that the person in whose hands the magic pen is thus placed should be unable to write, as that gives some guarantee against collusion and deception. It is then asked if the spirit has arrived from the clouds; on which, if he is there, the spirit makes the bamboo shake in the hands of the individual who is holding it, so that the magic twig writes on the sand the character to, or ” arrived.” When it is thus known that the supernatural guest is present, both he and the tutelary deity are politely requested to seat themselves in the arm-chairs which have been provided, the latter, of course, being on the left, or in the post of honor according to Chinese ideas. They are then refreshed by the burning of more paper, and by the pouring out of wine, which they are thus supposed spiritually to drink; and those who wish to question the ghost are formally introduced to it, for nothing would be considered more shocking than for any one suddenly and rudely to intrude himself upon its notice. After these ceremonies, it is thought proper that the visitor from the clouds should communicate something about himself ; so inquiries are made as to his family and personal names, the period at which he lived, and the position which he occupied. The question as to time is usually made by asking what dynasty he belonged to, a few hundred years more or less not being thought anything of among this ancient people, and a ghost of at least a thousand years old being preferred to younger and consequently less experienced persons. The answers to these questions are given as before, the spirit, through the medium, tracing characters upon the sand.

After that, those who have been introduced to the invisible guest put their inquiries as to the future. The questions and the name of the questioner are written upon a piece of gold paper, as thus:—” Lee Tai is respectfully desirous to know whether he shall count many male children and grandchildren.” “Wohong would gladly know whether his son Apak will obtain a degree at the examination at Canton next month.” The paper with the question is then burned, and the spirit moves the magic pen until an answer, most frequently in verse, is traced upon the sand. If the bystanders cannot make out the answer, the ghostly interpreter will sometimes condescend to write it again, and to add the word ” right” when it is at last properly understood. After the sand on the table is all written over, it is again rolled smooth, and the kind spirit continues its work. When the answer is in verse, the bystanders often take to flattery, and say, ” The illustrious spirit has most distinguished poetical powers.” To which the illustrious spirit usually replies, in Chinese —” Hookey Walker !” Whenever a question is put, the paper is burned and wine is poured out; for Chinese ghosts appear to be thirsty souls, and are not above reprimanding those who neglect to give them wine, or do not regard their utterances with sufficient respect. It is believed that the man in whose hands the magic pen lies has nothing to do with its movements, and its motions can be easily seen, and cause some little noise, thumping down on the table.

Other accounts:

John Henry Gray: China: A History 1878
Single writer, mentions names of spirits and temple.

Doolittle, Social Life of the Chinese 1876
Two person writing.

Epese Sargent, Planchette, or the Despair of Science 1869
quoting Dr. Mcgowen in North China Herald
Two person basket writing.

Petrus Borel in Africa

January 7, 2010

Petrus Borel

Petrus Borel, the Lycanthrope (wolfman) of French decadence. Mentioned in Breton’s Black Humor. In 1850s Borel gave up literature and went to Algeria. There he built a gothic castle and worked as a colonial officer until he was removed, allegedly for sending in statistical reports written in verse! All around good guy, was trying to find a picture of his castle but only found a couple of boring mentions in colonial reports. This might be because of the dispute between google and France about copyright on French published books; merde!

Dictionnaire universel des contemporains 1858

M. Borel a abandonné la littérature; il est aujourd’hui inspecteur de la colonisation à Mostaganem.

Almanach national 1850
listed as Inspectuer, 3rd class

Almanach national 1854
listed as Inspectuer, 2nd class

couple of mentions in regards to cotton and henna cultivation:

Itinéraire historique et descriptif de l’Algérie 1862

L’Algérie et les colonies françaises 1877

Family coat of arms


Rimbaud in Africa

January 5, 2010

Bunch of links mentioning Rimbaud after he left for Africa

Note sur les Inscriptions et Dessins Rupestres de la Gara des Chorfa

Mentions the publication Rimbaud wrote Les Tifinar de la gara des Chorfa, published in Renseignements coloniaux et Documents publiés par le Comité de l’Afrique française et le Comité du Maroc – 1901 -N° 5. Can’t find this anywhere though, its a shame because it is illustrated.

Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society 1884

M. Alfred Bardey, a member of the Society, forwarded from Africa a report, which M. Rimbaud, agent of the commercial house of Mazeran, Bardey et Cie., at Harar, had furnished on the subject of Ogadine, the name given to a central place of tribes of Somali origin as well as to the country which these tribes occupy. This territory is generally defined on the maps as situated between the Somali tribes of the Habr-Gerhadjis, Doulbahantes, Midjertins and Hawias on the north, east, and south; while on the west, Ogadine borders on the Eunyas (Gallas shepherds) as far as the river Webbe, which separates it from the great Oromon tribe of the Aroussis. The general aspect of the country is that of a steppe covered with long grass, but with stony gaps. The trees, at least in the districts explored by M. Rimbaud and his companions, are those of the Somali deserts, mimosas, gum-trees, &c. However, on nearing the Webbe, the inhabitants lead a more settled life and devote themselves to agriculture. But the shepherds of Ogadine, like the rest of the shepherds of this country, are always at war among themselves or with their neighbours. They are fanatical Mussulmans; each encampment has its iman, who chants the prayer at prescribed hours. Extempore poets, who possess a knowledge of the Koran and the Arab scriptures, are found in every tribe.

The places that he went to were no joke page 258:

All efforts, however, to penetrate from Harar into the interior have, with one single exception, ended disastrously. M. Luceran, a scientific explorer in the service of the French Ministry of Education, was murdered by the Galla, when he had scarcely left that place, in 1881. Sacconi, who proposed to visit the Ogaden country, met with the same fate when about twenty days’ march to the south or south-east of that town (5th August, 1883); and Lazzaro Panajosi, a Greek, shared the same fate soon afterwards. M. Rimbaud, however, a gentleman in the service of Messrs. Mazeran, Bardoy and Co., is reported to have returned in safety from a trading trip into the country of the Ogaden.

Comptes rendus des séances de la Société de géographie 1887
letter from Rimbaud to Bardey.

André Breton and FWH Meyers

January 4, 2010

Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research vol 17 1903
Tribute to FWH Myers by William James
Frederick Myers’s Service to Psychology

William James, one of the grand old men of psychology, wrote this tribute following the death of Myers. Very interesting in itself as a summary of Myers’s work and also of the man himself. You get a sense of why Myers appealed to those outside of academic science and conversely why he repelled those inside.

Source of two quotes from André Breton’s Le Message Automatique:

Myers’s Problem page 17

What is the precise constitution of the Subliminal —such is the problem which deserves to figure in our Science hereafter as the problem of Myers; and willy-nilly, inquiry must follow on the path which it has opened up. But Myers has not only propounded the problem definitely, he has also invented definite methods for its solution. Posthypnotic suggestion, crystal-gazing, automatic writing and trance-speech, the willing-game, etc., are now, thanks to him, instruments of research, reagents like litmus paper or the galvanometer, for revealing what would otherwise be hidden. These are so many ways of putting the Subliminal on tap.

gothic psychology page 14
James doesn’t actually use this term, instead refering to Myers as a romantic psychologist as opposed to classical-academic:

(referring to the sunlit terrace of classical-academic psychology)

But of late years the terrace has been overrun by romantic improvers, and to pass to their work is like going from classic to Gothic architecture, where few outlines are pure and where uncouth forms lurk in the shadows. A mass of mental phenomena are now seen in the shrubbery beyond the parapet. Fantastic, ignoble, hardly human, or frankly nonhuman are some of these new candidates for psychological description. The menagerie and the madhouse, the nursery, the prison, and the hospital, have been made to deliver up their material. The world of mind is shown as something infinitely more complex than was suspected ; and whatever beauties it may still possess, it has lost at any rate the beauty of academic neatness.


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