[Review: Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research]
Lucifer, September, 1887
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research: These reports coming out ad libitum, without any definite date, cannot be regarded as periodical. Depending for their circulation chiefly on the consummation of what the learned editors offer as bona fide psychic and spiritualistic exposés—which the public accepts as most kind advertisements of the people so attacked—this publication occupies a position entirely sui generis. The “Proceedings” offer to the public a very useful manual, something between a text and guide-book, with practical instructions in diplomatic policy in the domain of the Psychic, in the form of scientific letters and private detective information. Sensitives discern in the “Proceedings” (by telepathic impact) the Machiavellian spirit of aristocratic Bismarck, seasoned with an aura strongly impregnated with the plebeian perfumes of honest mouchards on duty, but then they are, perhaps, prejudiced. On the other hand, some Russian spiritualistically inclined members of the S. P. R. have been heard to say, that the “Proceedings” reminded them of those of the happily defunct Third Section of the St. Petersburg Police. Thus, the tutelary “guides” of the learned association of the British Psychists, may one day turn out to be the departed spirits of Russian gendarmes after all?
Occasionally when the hunting grounds of this erudite body have afforded a specially successful chase—after mares’ nests—a Supplement is added to the “Proceedings,” the magnitude of the added volume being in inverse ratio to the illumination of its contents, which are generally offered as a premium to materialism.
Hence, the “Proceedings” may be better described as the fluctuating and occasional records of a society bent upon giving the lie to its own name For “Psychical” research is surely a misnomer, besides being a delusion and a snare for the unwary. Lucifer would suggest as a truer title, “Society for Hylo-Pseusmatical Research.” This would give the S. P. R., the benefit of an open connection with Dr. Lewins’ unparalleled “Hylo-Idealism”1—while it would enable it to sail under its true colours.
Whether Lucifer’s advice be accepted or not, the profound philosophy of the phenomenon baptized “telepathy” and telepathic impact can only be studied scientifically, in our spasmodic contemporary. This new Greek stranger is the crowning work of the Psychic Fathers of our century. It is their “first” and “only” offspring, and is a genuine discovery as far as its Hellenic name goes. For, bereft of its Greek appellation, it becomes like America. The genius who discovered the phenomenon, is like Columbus on whom the Northmen, and even the Chinamen, had stolen a march centuries before. This phenomenon can only seem new when thus disguised under a name solemn and scientific—because incomprehensible to the average profane. Its plain description in English—as transference of thought or sensation from a distance—could never hope to have the same ring of classical learning in it.
Nevertheless, the “Proceedings” with the two additional gigantic volumes of the psychic “Leviathan,” called “Phantasms of the Living,”are strongly recommended to invalids. They are priceless in cases of obstinate insomnia, as the best soporific known. Directions: The reader must be careful not to light a match in too close proximity to the said works.
1. ύλη, “matter as opposed to mind”; therefore Material-Idealism—a contradiction in terms exactly parallel to the name “Psychic” and the very “anti-psychic” work of the Society referred to. Pseusma should replace Psyche, as it seeks for frauds and not soul-action.