Wild Talents

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X

Chapter Twenty-Five



IF I CAN bridge a gap --

Then that, in a moment of religious excitation, an inhabitant of Remiremont, focusing upon a point in the sky, transferred a pictorial representation from his mind to hailstones --

The turning off Coventry Street -- streets in Japan, Kiel, Berlin, New York City -- other places -- and that wounds, as imagined by haters of people, have appeared upon the bodies of people --

Or the story of the sailor aboard the steamship Breeshe, in December, 1931 -- and that it was during a storm -- and that in the mind of somebody else aboard this vessel a hate pictured this man, as struck by lightning, and that upon his head appeared a wound, as pictured.(1)

The gap, or the supposed gap, is the difference, or the supposed, absolute difference, between the imagined and the physical.

Or, for instance, the disappearance of Ambrose Small, of Toronto -- and it was just about what his secretary, [265/266] who had embezzled from him, probably wished for, probably unaware that an inventory would betray him. A picturization, in the secretary's mind, of his employer, shooting away to Patagonia, to Franz Josef Land, or to the moon -- so far away that he could never get back -- but could the imagined realize? Or why didn't I keep track, in the newspapers of December, 1919, for mention of the body of a man, washed up on a beach of Java, scarcely decipherable papers in his pockets indicating that the man was a Canadian? Are the so-called asteroids bodies of people who have been witched away into outer space?

Rose Smith -- that when she was released from prison, her visualizations crept up behind her former employer, and killed him? According to some viewpoints, I might as well try to think of a villain, in a moving picture, suddenly jumping from the screen, and attacking people in the audience. I haven't tried that, yet.

Case of Emma Piggott -- and the fires in the home of her employers were just about what the girl, alarmed by the greediness of her thefts, may have wished for. Also there are data that may mean that, because of experiences unknown to anybody else, this girl knew that, from a distance, she could start fires.

There is an appearance of affinity between the Piggott case and the fires in the house in Bedford. There was a sulphur fire that was ordinary. It was followed by a series of fires that were, at least according to the impressions in Bedford, extraordinary. In no terms of physics, nor of chemistry, was an explanation possible; yet investigators felt that a relationship of some kind did exist. The relationship [266/267] may have existed in the mind of Anne Fennimore. After the sulphur fire had been put out, she may have started fearing fires, especially in the absence of the only male member of the household. Her fear may have been realized.

Story of the Colwell girl -- here, too, fires in a house seem to have related to a girl's mental state -- or that the fires were related to her desire to move to another house. Having the not uncommon experience of learning how persuasive are police captains, she "listened to advice", and confessed to effects, in terms of ordinary incendiarism, though, according to reports by firemen and policemen, some of the fires could not have been produced by flipping lighted matches.

In the case of Jennie Bramwell, there is no knowing what were the feelings of this girl, who had been "adopted", probably to do hard farm-work. If she, too, had nascently the fire-inducing power, which manifested under the influence of desire, or emotion, I think of her, in the midst of drudgery, wishing destruction upon the property of her exploiters, and fires following. At any rate, the story of the little Barnes girl, which quite equals anything from the annals of demonology, is very suggestive -- or the smoulder of hate, in the mind of a child, for an exploiter -- and flames leaped upon a woman.

There is a particular in the case of Emma Piggott that makes it different from the other cases. In the other cases, fires broke out in the presence of girls. But, according to evidence, Emma Piggott was not in the house wherein started the fires for which she was accused. Then this seems to be a case of distance-ignition, or of distance-witch- [267/268] craft. I'd not say that invisibly starting a fire, at a distance, by means of mental rays, is any more mysterious than is the shooting-off of distant explosives by means of rays called physical, which nobody understands.

I am bringing out:

That, as a "natural force", there is a fire-inducing power;

That, mostly, it appears independently of wishes, or of the knowledge, of the subjects, but that sometimes, conformably to wishes, it is used --

That everything that I call witchcraft is only some special manifestation of transformations, or transportations, that, in various manifestations, are general throughout "Nature."

The "accidents" on the Dartmoor road -- or that somewhere near this road lived a cripple. That his mind had shaped to his body -- or that somewhere near this road lived somebody who had been injured by a motor car, and lay on his bed, or sat in his invalid's chair, and radiated against the nearby road a hate for all motorists, sometimes with a ferocity, or with a directness, that knocked cars to destruction.

Or Brooklyn, April 10, 1893 -- see back to the supposed series of coincidences -- man after man injured by falling from a high place, or being struck by a falling object -- or that somewhere in Brooklyn was somebody who had been crippled by a fall, and, brooding over what he considered a monstrous injustice that had so singled him out, radiated influences that similarly injured others.

See back to the account of what occurred to French [268/269] aeroplanes, flying over German territory. Tracks in the sand of a desert. Occurrences, about Christmas Day, 1930, in Sing Sing and Dannemora Prisons -- or a prisoner in a punishment-cell -- and nothing to do in the dark, except to concentrate upon vengefulness. I think that sometimes, coming from dungeons, there are stinks of hates that can be smelled. It was a time that for almost everybody else was a holiday.

Tracks that stopped, in a desert -- or the tracks of a child that stopped, on a farm, in Brittany -- the story of Pauline Picard:

Or the hate of a neighbor for the Picards, and vengeance by teleporting their offspring -- the finding of Pauline in

Cherbourg -- again her disappearance --

That this time the body of the child was mutilated and stripped, so that it could not be identified, and was transported to some lonely place, where it decomposed --

But a change of purpose, or a vengefulness that required that the parents should know -- transportation to the field, of this body, which probably could not be identified -- transportation of the "neatly folded" clothes, so that it could be identified.

In the matter of the two bodies on benches in a Harlem park, I have another datum. I think I have. The dates of June 14 and June 16 are close together, and Mt. Morris Park and Morningside Park are not far apart --

Or a man who lived in Harlem, in June, 1931 -- and that he was a park bencher -- about whom I can say nothing except that his trousers were blue, and that his hat was [269/270] gray. Something may have sapped him, pursued him, driven him into vagrancy --

But that he probably had the sense of localization, as to benches, that everybody has in so many ways, such as going to the same seat, or as near as possible to the same seat, upon every visit to a moving picture theater -- that every morning he had sat on a particular bench, in Mt. Morris Park --

But that, upon the morning of June 14th, because of a whim, suspicion, or intuitive fear, he went to Morningside Park instead --

That somebody else sat on his particular bench -- that there occurred something that was an intensification of the experiences of John Harding and another man, when crossing Fifth Avenue, at Thirty-third Street -- to the man who was sitting on this particular bench, and to another man upon a nearby bench --

But that, two days later, the trail of the intended victim was picked up --

Home News (Bronx) June 17, 1931 -- that, in Morningside Park, morning of the 16th, a policeman noticed a man -- blue trousers and gray hat -- seemingly asleep on a bench.(2) The man was dead. "Heart failure."

At a time of intensely bitter revolts by coal miners against their hardships, there were many coal explosions, but in grates and stoves, and not in shipments. No finding of dynamite in coal was reported. If in coal there is storage of radiations from the sun, coal may be absorbent to other kinds of radiations -- or a savagely vengeful miner's hope for future harm in every lump he handled. If, in the house [270/271] in Hornsey, there were not only coal-explosions, but also poltergeist doings, we note that these phenomena occurred only in the presence of two boys of the household -- or especially one of these boys. Between the occultism of adolescence and the occultism of lumps of coal, surcharged with hatreds, there may have been rapport.

That, somewhere near the town of Saltdean, Sussex, Sept., 1924, somebody hated a shepherd, and stopped the life of him, as have been stopped the motions of motors -- and that the place remained surcharged with malign vibrations that affected somebody else, who came along, in a sidecar. The wedding party at Bradford -- and the gaiety of weddings is sometimes the bubbling of vitriol -- or that, from a witch, or a wizard, so made by jealousy, mental fumes played upon this house, and spread to other houses. At the same time, there are data that make me think that volumes of deadly gases may be occultly transported. And a young couple, walking along a shore of the Isle of Man -- that, from a state of jealousy, witchery flung them into the harbor, and that somebody who stepped into the area of influence was knocked after them. See back to the story of a room in a house in Newton, Massachusetts. See other cases of "mass psychology." See a general clearing up --

If I can bridge the gap between the subjective and the objective, between what is called the real and what is called the unreal, or between the imaginary and the physical.

When, in our philosophy of the hyphen, we think of neither the material nor the immaterial, but of the ma- [271/272] terial-immaterial, accentuated one way or the other in all phenomena; when we think of the imaginary, as deriving from material sustenance, or, instead of transforming absolutely, only shifting accentuation, we accept that there is continuity between what is called the real and what is called the unreal, so that a passage from one state to the other is across no real gap, or is no absolute jump. If there is no realness that can be finally set apart from unrealness -- in phenomenal being -- my term of the "realization of the imaginary", though a convenience is a misnomer. Maybe the word transmediumization, meaning the passage of phenomena from one medium of existence to another, is not altogether too awkward, and is long and important-enough-looking to give me the appearance of really saying something. I mean the imposition of the imaginary upon the physical. I mean, not the action of mind upon matter, but the action of mind-matter upon matter-mind.

Theoretically there is no gap. But very much mine are inductive methods. We shall have data. Not that I can more than really-unreally mean anything by that. The interpretations will be mine, but the data will be for anybody to form his own opinions upon.

Granting that the gap has not been disposed of, inductively, I reduce it to two questions:

Can one's mind, as I shall call it, affect one's own body, as I shall call it?

If so, that is personal witchcraft, or internal witchcraft.

Can one's mind affect the bodies of other persons, and other things outside?

If so, that is what I shall call external witchcraft. [272]

1. "Sailor gets mysterious wound; falls unconscious...." New York Times, December 8, 1931, p.2 c.2.

2. "Cop discovers man dead in rain on park bench." Bronx Home News, June 17, 1931, p.2 c.5. The trousers were described as "dark," and the dead man's coat was blue, according to this article. Correct quote: "...heart trouble...."

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