Historical Reprints Mysteries Mysterious Psychic Forces

Mysterious Psychic Forces

Mysterious Psychic Forces
Catalog # SKU3822
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Camille Flammarion
ISBN 10: 0000000000
ISBN 13: 0000000000000


Mysterious Psychic Forces

An Account of The Author's Investigations In
Psychical Research, Together With Those
Of Other European Savants

Camille Flammarion

Nothing is rarer upon our planet than an independent and absolutely untrammelled mind, nor is anything rarer than a true scientific spirit of inquiry, freed from all personal interest.



There are people upon whose heads the sky might tumble without causing them any unusual emotion. But I reply: What! is it nothing to know, to prove, to see with one's own eyes, that there are unknown forces around us? Is it nothing to study our own proper nature and our own faculties? Are not the mysterious problems of our being such as are worthy to be inscribed on the program of our investigation, and of having devoted to them laborious nights and days? of course, the independent seeker gets no thanks from anybody for his toil. But what of that? We work for the pleasure of working, of fathoming the secrets of nature, and of instructing ourselves.

When, in studying the double stars at the Paris Observatory and cataloguing these celestial twins, I established for the first time a natural classification of those distant orbs; when I discovered stellar systems, composed of several stars, swept onward through immensity by one common impulse; when I studied the planet Mars and compared all the observations made during two hundred years in order to obtain at once an analysis and a synthesis of this next-door neighbor of ours among the planets; when, in examining the effect of solar radiations I created the new branch of physics to which has been given the name "radioculture" and caused variations of the most radical and sweeping nature in the dimensions, the forms, and the colors of certain plants; when I discovered that a grasshopper, eviscerated and kept in straw did not die, and that these insects can live for a fortnight after having had their heads cut off; when I planted in a conservatory of the Museum of Natural History, in Paris, one of the ordinary oaks of our woods (quercus robur), thinking that, if withdrawn from the changes of seasons, it would always have green leaves (a thing which everybody can prove),-when I was doing these things I was working for my own personal pleasure; but that is no reason why these studies have not been useful in the developing work of science, and no reason for their not being admitted within the scope of the practical work of specialists.

It is the same with these psychical studies of ours; only there is a little more passion and prejudice connected with them. On the one hand, the sceptics cleave fast to their denials, convinced that they know all the forces of nature, that all mediums are humbugs, and all experimenters imbeciles. On the other hand, there are the credulous Spiritualists, who imagine they always have spirits at their beck and call in a centre-table, who evoke, with the utmost sang-froid, the spirits of Plato, Zoroaster, Jesus Christ, St. Augustine, Charlemagne, Shakespeare, Newton, or Napoleon, and who set about stoning me for the tenth or twentieth time, affirming that I am sold to the Institute on account of a deep-seated and obstinate ambition, and that I dare not declare myself in favor of the identity of the spirits for fear of annoying my illustrious friends. The individuals of this class refuse to be satisfied just as much as the first class.

So much the worse for them! I insist on only saying what I know; but I do say this.

And if what I know is displeasing, so much the worse for the prejudices, the general ignorance, and the good breeding of these distinguished gentry, in whose eyes the maximum of happiness consists in an increase of their fortune, the pursuit of lucrative places, sensual pleasures, automobile-racing, a box at the Opéra, or five-o'clock teas at a fashionable restaurant, and whose lives are frittered away along paths that never cross those of the rapt idealist, and who never know the pure satisfaction of his mind and heart, or the pleasures of thought and feeling.

As for me, a humble student of the prodigious problem of the universe, I am only a seeker. What are we? We have scarcely shed a ray more of light on this point than at the time when Socrates laid down, as a principle, the maxim, Know thyself,-notwithstanding we have measured the distances of the stars, analyzed the sun, and weighed the worlds of space. Does it stand to reason that the knowledge of ourselves should interest us less than that of the macrocosm, the external world? It is not credible. Let us therefore study on, convinced that all sincere research will further the progress of humanity.

I purpose to show in this book what truth there is in the phenomena of table-turnings, table-movings, and table-rappings, in the communications received therefrom, in levitations that contradict the laws of gravity, in the moving of objects without contact, in unexplained noises, in the stories told of haunted houses,-all to be considered from the physical and mechanical point of view. Under all the just mentioned heads we can group material facts produced by causes still unknown to science, and it is with these physical phenomena that we shall specially occupy ourselves here; for the first point is to definitely prove, by sufficient observations, their real existence. Hypotheses, theories, doctrines, will come later.

In the country of Rabelais, of Montaigne, of Voltaire, we are inclined to smile at everything that relates to the marvellous, to tales of enchantment, the extravagances of occultism, the mysteries of magic. This arises from a reasonable prudence. But it does not go far enough. To deny and prejudge a phenomenon has never proved anything. The truth of almost every fact which constitutes the sum of the positive sciences of our day has been denied. What we ought to do is to admit no unverified statement, to apply to every subject of study, no matter what, the experimental method, without any preconceived idea whatever, either for or against.

We are dealing here with a great problem, which touches on that of the survival of human consciousness. We may study it, in spite of smiles.

When we consecrate our lives to an idea, useful, noble, exalted, we should not hesitate for a moment to sacrifice personalities; above all, our own self, our interest, our self-esteem, our natural vanity. This sacrifice is a criterion by which I have estimated a good many characters. How many men, how many women, put their miserable little personality above everything else!

If the forces of which we are to treat are real, they cannot but be natural forces. We ought to admit, as an absolute principle, that everything is in nature, even God himself, as I have shown in another work. Before any attempt at theory, the first thing to do is to scientifically establish the real existence of these forces.

Mediumistic experiences might form (and doubtless soon will form) a chapter in physics. Only it is a kind of transcendental physics which touches on life and thought, and the forces in play are pre-eminently living forces, psychic forces.

I shall relate in the following chapter the experiments I made between the years 1861 and 1865, previous to the penning of the protest, reprinted in the long citation above given (in the Introduction). But, since in certain respects they are summed up in those I have just had, in 1906, I will begin by describing the latter in this first chapter.

In fact, I have recently renewed these investigations with a celebrated medium,-Mme. Eusapia Paladino, of Naples, who has been several times in Paris; namely, in 1898, 1905, and, very recently, in 1906. The things I am going to speak of happened in the salon of my home in Paris,-the last ones in full light without any preparation, very simply, as if during after-dinner talks.

Let me add that this medium came to Paris during the first months of the year, 1906, at the invitation of the Psychological Institute, several members of which have been recently engaged in researches begun long ago. Among these savants I will mention the name of the lamented Pierre Curie, the eminent chemist, with whom I had a conversation a few days before his unfortunate and terrible death. My mediumistic experiences with Mme. Paladino formed for him a new chapter in the great book of nature, and he also was convinced that there exist hidden forces to the investigation of which it is not unscientific to consecrate one's self. His subtle and penetrating genius would perhaps have quickly determined the character of these forces.

480 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover - Print size, 12 point font

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