Mesmeric Mirrors

15 Dec

One can never foresee or predict what might result from delving into a hundred year-old diary, realized a certain collector.

Although he did not identify himself as an antiquarian, he could on rare occasions be enticed to purchase items at estate auctions because of some hint of mystery that intrigued him in a particular object, especially a handwritten diary from the early 20th century of New York City.

He had come across the name of the author, John Taylor, in the minutes of the metropolitan circles of spiritualist explorers. He was certain that the gentleman had practiced a crude, primitive version of Mesmerism. What could hold more interest for him than a personality like that? the amateur historian asked himself.

Now he had the old notebook in hand and could take it home to his apartment to read and study.

“April 15, 1908.

“I was fortunate today in obtaining several valuable English and German books that can serve as sources for my investigations and experiments in mental telepathy. My library now includes works by the Frenchman the Marquis de Puysegur, the German poet and physician Justus Kerner, and the Englishman William Howitt.

“There is much for me to learn in the writings of the Munich physician Alfred von Schrenck-Notzing about traveling clairvoyance and pneumatology. I have the periodicals of both the Munich and the Berlin psychological circles. With each book and article, my knowledge grows and expands.

“There are names of great men who have profound interest in the fields of Mesmerism and its application in telepathic communication and transmission. Charles Dickens and Honore de Balzac showed interest in the area and attempted practical application. The great Thomas A. Edison believes that untapped human capabilities exist and will undergo development in the future. Professor William James of Harvard, our leading psychologist in America, is an active leader in research into this frontier of the mind.

“Why, then, should I myself hesitate to explore my own inner capabilities in psychic science?

First, though, I must find a willing, educated partner to assist me in what I am planning to accomplish.”

The collector could not recall when he had been so excited about an unforeseen, unanticipated discovery. He continued reading the recently purchased diary all that night and into the following morning, eventually breaking away from his desk to give himself some rest.

He awoke late in the afternoon, eager to continue with his search for answers as to what John Taylor entered into once he had located another enthusiast willing to engage in attempted telepathic messaging. The man that agreed to participate along with John was a psychic veteran named James Pride, a retired school superintendent from the borough of Brooklyn.

This was how James described him in his notebook:

“It appears that Mr. Pride has as lively an interest in the application of Mesmerism and hypnosis for the purpose of psychic communication and mental telepathy as my own. We hit it off together from the moment I visited him at his flat over the East River. I presented him with a sort of unexpected revelation when I described my plan to use special mirrors with high clarity and visibility to place myself into trance so that I would become empowered to broadcast thoughts from my own brain at a considerable distance. I told him about my hope of sending messages from my Manhattan apartment to an outer borough like Brooklyn. It was a great surprise to me how quickly and thoroughly the man absorbed and accepted my project. It would have seemed an unreal, fantastic fantasy to the average man-in-the-street in New York City. But James Pride adopted my ideas completely and volunteered at our first meeting to act as my partner in the application of what I soon came to characterize as my Mesmeric mirrors.

“We agreed that both of us would purchase large, expensive mirrors to use and practice with. I gave my friend James a written series of instructions of how I had learned to bring about self-hypnosis on myself, and he began to carry out auto-mesmeric exercises over on the Brooklyn side. Both of us are now impatient to begin sending and receiving while in hypnotic trance.”

“The day at last came for our first attempt at psychic contact from me in Manhattan to my partner over in Brooklyn. We had both purchased large, expensive mirrors of the highest quality we could find. The time for the difficult effort was set for exactly noon time and it was meant to last for at least three minutes.

“Standing in front of my own mirror in my parlor, I concentrated my sight and my attention on my reflection. I gazed directly, without any diversion, into myself at the hour of noon. This lasted for the three minutes we two had agreed upon. I had set a kitchen timer to mark the expiration of the period. Did I succeed in mesmerizing myself and then sending a mental message meant for James? I am certain that I fell into a total trance and formulated in my mind the words of greeting that I had decided would be adequate for this purpose.

“What was the result of my effort? I asked myself after the three minutes had passed. I telephoned the number of my friend to inquire as to the results. Did he receive my words of cordial greeting and expression of good will aimed at him?

“What James related to me was a total surprise. He had not received anything telepathically from me. No, the message that had entered his hypnotized mind came from another, third mind. He was absolutely certain of that. The sender had given his own name at the end of the communication, that lasted only a minute and a half.

“Who was this intruder who intervened so unexpectedly? I inquired with excitement.

“James identified the man as a reporter for the New York Herald, one Roger Reed. His message was an appeal to get in touch with him as soon as possible in order to inform him of the telepathic linkage.

“I told my partner that I myself would take responsibility for that the next day at the office of the newspaper where Reed was employed.”

“The City Room of the busy New York Herald was a crowded hall full of the clanging din of frenetic typewriters spewing out copy in various forms. It was easy by asking questions to locate the desk of the thin young man named Roger Reed. I introduced myself and told him that my urgent business with him concerned certain communications that had come to me in which he himself asked to be contacted by persons unknown who may have turned out to be recipients of his efforts in an undefined vein. I was general and indefinite, finally asking Mr. Reed to go with me to where we could speak between ourselves in full privacy.

“It was quite evident to me that this youthful reporter was highly excited by my words to him. He proposed that the two of us go outside and have further conversation in a small eatery located at a nearby corner interchange. I agreed and so he followed me out of the City Room.

“Over wiener sandwiches, the two of us became fully candid with each other. I informed him that I and another person were engaged in pioneering parapsychological research, but did not take the chance of mentioning that both of us were utilizing hypnotizing mirrors. A third man had unconsciously intruded into what we were doing. Contact with him had brought forth his own identity as a telepathic experimenter who was transmitting psychic signals into the atmosphere above the city of New York. It became my task and duty to locate this fourth personality and reveal to him his success in establishing such widespread linkage with unknown sensitive minds.

“I looked expectantly at Roger Reed’s freckled face, waiting to learn what his reaction would be to my startling revelations.

“What he said to me then was startling and unexpected, something that I could never have foreseen under these circumstances.

“Reed disclosed that the metropolis had many psychic operators who were skilled transmitters of messages. He himself had in recent years exchanged ethereal words with several of them and had been hunting for new prospective partners who might be helpful to him as sources of information in his future journalistic career. His plan was to form a network of telepathic comrades throughout the boroughs who could provide him with reports on interesting news events that they witnessed.

“He acknowledged that he had a deep personal interest in building a widespread web of informants who were willing to assist him in acquiring early and fresh information on what they could see and hear. His ambition was to make psychic partners part of a widespread information web centered upon himself.

“Amazed and shocked at his candid admissions, I promised the young newsman that I planned to tell my own two partners about what he was engaged in organizing and constructing. I allowed him to believe that all three of us would be eager and willing to cooperate with him in the future. But it was now necessary for me to inform my comrade of his projected informal news organization and find out what their reaction to it might be.

“Since Reed now had my name and address, I had to promise him that I was going to contact him by telepathic transmission and relate to him the results of my consulting with my two fellow psychic experimenters.

“We separated with my mind in a stew of uncertainty and doubt about where my research with the Mesmeric mirrors might lead me in the days ahead.

“I had no trouble convincing James Pride to join me in accepting the invitation of the Herald reporter to join with him in a telepathic network of eyes and ears engaged in news-gathering. Although neither of us had any experience as professional journalists, we both enjoyed the advantage of instant communication of any event we witnessed or any rumor that reached us.

“I had more of a problem bringing a third psychic explorer, Elbert Bunn, into the plan, for he was doubtful of the success of such an almost conspiratorial scheme. He was also to a degree suspicious of Roger Reed and afraid that the newspaper man might exploit the rest of the group for his own purposes and advantage. It took me some time, but I finally convinced Elbert that we would have the right to end our work with Roger at any moment should we find that he was abusing his central role in the plan.

“The three of us decided that I was to reveal to the reporter my discovery of the use of the Mesmeric mirror, because his use of one would boost and facilitate the speed and clarity of our telepathy with him. This I accomplished when Roger came to my apartment on his first visit and I showed him my large, expensive mirror.

“We then waited for something to come up that his partners could report to Roger as valid news.”

“No one involved in our hypnotized telepathy was prepared for how matters turned out for the four of us.

“Roger Reed came to my apartment one evening with a strange, unexpected proposition to present.

“He sat down in my parlor and told me that he was dissatisfied waiting about for some important piece of news from our group of participants.

“He had recently conceived what he took to be a superior alternative to our original concept. We do not have to remain with that scheme, but could transcend it by making spectacular news of our very own.

“I can recall the correspondent’s exact words:

“If I myself write up a feature article for the Sunday Supplement of my newspapers that describes our successful construction of a psychic quartet of telepathists, and our pioneering application of the Mesmeric mirror for the purpose of trance inducement, I have made a foundation for a most interesting, even intriguing, work of novel journalism. It has the potential of captivating public attention with the millions of possible readers in New York City. Nothing like it has been published in my lifetime. The entire parapsychological enterprise will benefit from such a revelation to the readers of the Herald.”

“So argued the reporter, attempting to convince me to agree to his change of plan.

“I, of course, turned it down as absurd.

“He was endangering all that we have so far achieved. His article would make us look like lunatics.

“I told Roger that the world was not ready yet for knowledge of what we had attained. Years of more development were necessary. Only in complete secrecy could we prove anything truly valid. That was my critical evaluation of what he was proposing to do.

At the time, I was absolutely certain that my original two partners would agree with my opinion. When I consulted each of them the following day, they proved to be in concord with my refusal of Roger’s harebrained scheme of a newspaper explanation of Mesmeric telepathy.

“The reporter stormed out of my apartment and I have never seen him again since then.

“Within a few weeks, both James Pride and Elbert Bunn quit their participation in hypnotic communication. Both of them had lost their enthusiasm for what we were doing in the group. I believe that the turnabout by Roger was the cause of their discouragement and despair.

“My own disheartened situation has resulted in abandoning that field of exploration and experiment. I have turned to travel and poetry as new areas of activity and ambition, forever leaving the frontier of mental development to others in future generations.”


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