Wild Talents

A Hypertext Edition of Charles Hoy Fort's Book

Edited and Annotated by Mr. X

Chapter Thirty



IT HAS been my expression that, for instance, African fakirs achieved the harmless impalement of children by a process that would ordinarily be called imposing the imaginary upon the physical, but that is called by me imposing the imaginary-physical upon the physical-imaginary. I think that this is the conscious power and method of adepts: but I think that in the great majority of our stories, effects have been wrought unconsciously, so far as went active awareness, by witches and wizards. I am impressed more with an experience of my own than with any record of other doings. I looked, or stared, at a picture on a wall. Somewhere in my mind were many impressions of falling pictures. But I was not actively thinking of falling pictures. The picture fell from the wall.

See back to the Blackman case -- the four judges, who "died suddenly." It was Blackman, who called attention to these deaths. Why? Vanity of the magician? I think that more likely these victims were removed by a wizardry of Blackman's of which he was unconscious. I think that [322/323] if a man so earnestly objected to paying alimony that, instead, he went to jail four times, he'd overlook his judges and take a shorter cut, on behalf of his income, if he consciously reasoned about it.

It would seem that visualizations have had nothing to do with many occurrences told of in this book. Still, by a wild talent I mean something that comes and goes, and is under no control, but that may be caught and trained. Also there are cases that look very much like controlled uses of visualizations upon physical affairs. In this view, I have noted an aspect of doings that is a support for our expression upon transmediumization.

The real, as it is called, or the objective, the external, the material, cannot be absolutely set apart from the subjective, or the imaginary: but there are quasi-attitudes of the imaginary. There have been occurrences that I think were transmediumizations, because I think that they were marked by indications of having carried over, from an imaginative origin, into physical being, or into what is called "real life," the quasi-attributes of their origin.

A peculiarity of fires that are called -- or that used to be called -- "spontaneous combustions of human bodies", is that fires do not communicate to surrounding objects and fabrics, or that they extend only to a small degree around. There are stories of other such fires, which can not be "real fires", as compared with fires called "real." In the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Oct. 2, or about Oct. 2, 1889, there is a story of restricted fires, said to have occurred in the home of Samuel Miller, upon a farm, six miles west of Findlay, Ohio.(1) A bed had burst into flames, burning down [323/324] to a heap of ashes, but setting nothing else afire, not even scorching the floor underneath. The next day, "about the same time in the afternoon", a chest of clothes flamed, and was consumed, without setting anything else afire. The third day, at the same time, another bed, and nothing but the bed burned. See back to the fires in the house in Bladenboro, N.C., Feb., 1932. A long account of these fires, from a San Diego (Cal.) newspaper, was sent to me by Margaret M. Page, of San Diego. In it one of the phenomena considered most remarkable was that fires broke out close to inflammable materials that were unaffected by the flames. Names of several witnesses -- Mayor J. A. Bridger, of Bladenboro, J.B. Edwards, a Wilmington health officer, and Dr. S.S. Hutchinson, of Bladenboro.

It is as if somebody had vengefully imagined fires, and in special places had localized fires, according to his visualizations. Such localizing, or focussing, omitting surroundings, is a quasi-attribute of all visualizations. One vividly visualizes a face, and a body is ignored by the imagination. Let somebody visualize a bed afire, and exhaust his imaginative powers in this specialization: I conceive of the bed burning, as imagined, and nothing else burning, because nothing else was included in the mental picture that transmediumized, it having been taken for granted, by the visualizer, that, like a fire of physical origin, this fire would extend. It seems to me to be only ordinarily impossible to understand the burning of a woman on an unscorched bed as the "realization" of an imagined scene in which the burning body was pictured, with neglect of anything else consuming. [324/325]

See back to the unsatisfactory attempts to attribute punctures of window panes and automobile shields, to a missile-less weapon. The invisible bullets stopped short, after penetrating glass. If we can think of an intent, more mischievous than malicious, that was only upon shooting through glass, and that gave no consideration to subsequent courses of bullets, we can think of occurrences that took place, as visualized, and as restricted by visualizations.

Doings in closed rooms -- but my monism, by which I accept that all psychical magic links somewhere with more or less commonplace physical magic --

New York Times, June 18, 1880 -- Rochester, N.Y. -- a woman dead in her bed, and the bed post hacked as if with a hatchet.(2) It was known that nobody had entered this room. But something had killed this woman, leaving no sign of either entrance or exit.

It was during a thunderstorm, and the woman had been killed by lightning.

The man of one of our stories -- J. Temple Thurston -- alone in his room -- and that a pictorial representation of his death by fire was enacting in a distant mind -- and that into the phase of existence that is called "real" stole the imaginary -- scorching his body, but not his clothes, because so was pictured the burning of him -- and that, hours later, there came into the mind of the sorcerer a fear that his imposition of what is called the imaginary upon what is called the physical bore quasi-attributes of its origin, or was not realistic, or would be, in physical terms, unaccountable, and would attract attention -- and that the fire in the house was visualized, and was "realized", but by a [325/326] visualization that in turn left some particulars unaccounted for.(3)

Lavinia Farrar was a woman of "independent means." Hosts of men and women have been shot, or stabbed, or poisoned, because of their "independent means." But that Mrs. Farrar was thought to death -- or that upon her, too, out of the imaginary world in somebody's mind, stole a story -- that it made of her, too, so fictional a being that of her death there is no explanation in ordinary, realistic terms --

That here, too, there was an after-thought, or an after-picturization, which, by way of attempted explanation, "realized" a knife and blood on the floor, but overlooked other details that made this occurrence inexplicable in terms of ordinary murders -- or that this woman had been stabbed in the heart, through unpunctured clothes, because it was, with the neglect of everything else, the wound in the heart that had been visualized.

The germ of this expression is in anybody's acceptance that a stigmatic girl can transfer a wound, as pictured in her mind, into appearance upon her body. The expression requires that there may be external, as well as personal, stigmatism.

It seems to me to be as nearly unquestionable as anything in human affairs goes, that there have been stigmatic girls. There may have been cases of different kinds of personal stigmatism. There are emotions that are as intense as religious excitation. One of them is terror.

The story of Isidor Fink is a story of a fear that preceded a murder. It could be that Fink's was a specific fear, [326/327] of somebody whom he had harmed, and not a general fear of the hold-ups that, at the time, were so prevalent in New York City. According to Police Commissioner Mulrooney, it was impossible, in terms of ordinary human experience, to explain this closed-room murder --

Or Isidor Fink, at work in his laundry -- and his mind upon somebody whom he had injured -- and that his fears of revenge were picturing an assassination of which he was the victim -- that his physical body was seized upon by his own picturization of himself, as shot by an enemy. [327]

1. St. Louis Globe-Democrat, (October 2, 1889: not found in October 1st to 3rd).

2. "The Rochester Express describes a singular case...." New York Times, June 18, 1880, p.5 c.6. The woman, Mrs. Charles De Gaugh, had been sleeping with with her two-year-old child in her arms and with her husband; and, the husband had been awakened by the child's cries to find his wife dead. "There was no mark or trace of lightning on her body, except that her hair was slightly singed."

3. J. Temple Johnson is the correct name, (not J. Temple Thurston).

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