Friday, March 30, 2012

Dream legacy from a Victorian psychic researcher

Tom Chambers, "Lifted"
Dreams give us assignments. In my first cycle of sleep tonight, I dreamed I discovered a rich trove of materials from Frederic (F.W.H.) Myers, the great Victorian researcher of the paranormal. The materials were both manuscripts and recordings. Some of the transcriptions were faulty and needed to be revised; some of the recordings sounded as if the speaker had a cleft palate. But there were riches here quite unknown to the public. Walking a familiar city street,  I announced to a friend, with high excitement, that I intended to produce a corrected version and make them known. I sensed a stir of spirits around me as I talked, fluttering like birds or bats. There was nothing sinister about these lively shades; their presence added to my enthusiasm for my project.
     This dream will drive me back to my study of Myers; I wrote a little about him in my Dreamer's Book of the Dead. The quest that drove him was to provide evidence of the soul's survival of physical death, evidence that would pass muster with the scientists of his time. "To prove that man survives death would be to transform and transfigure his whole life here now," he wrote in Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death. That masterwork was unfinished at the time of his death and was published posthumously.
     Some believe that Myers continued his work on the Other Side, and fulfilled his promise to his colleagues in the Society for Psychical Research in England to supply first-hand information once he got there by dictating a series of new works via psychic mediums in the years after he passed over. The most interesting of these channeled works, received via Geraldine Cummins, are titled The Road to Immortality and Beyond Human Personality, and describe a series of transition zones after physical death.

     I have long felt an affinity for Myers not only because of his quest, but because of his love of words and of wordplay. A poet and classical scholar, he tried to give us a fresh vocabulary to describe interactions of mind and matter, levels of consciousness, and transits of spirit. His love of words and his sense of the importance of how we name things was so great that he inserted a glossary at the beginning, rather than at the end, of his magnum opus Human Personality. It is studded with terms that are his own invention. Some of his coinages, like "telepathy" have become household words. Some will probably never enter common English or even the technical lexicons of parapsychology, but stimulate all sorts of ideas, as with:

           Psychorragy – a bursting through of psychic phenomena. 
Cosmopathic – Open to the access of supernormal knowledge or emotion, apparently from the transcendental world, but whose precise source we have no way of knowing.
Methectic – of communications between one stratum of a man’s intelligence and another; as when he writes message whose origin is in his own subliminal self.

     So, dream-directed, I return to what Myers has left us, in his own hand or through the hands of others. My eye falls on a passage in Beyond Human Personality, the second of the works received by Geraldine Cummins, in which he speaks of how we create our afterdeath environments according to our imagination. Speaking from the Other Side, Myers declares that it is through the imagination (or lack thereof) that man approaches paradise or falls into situations far short of that:

Imagination plays an important part in his conceptions of paradise. If it has become perverted through his deeds and thoughts when he was a man, it may create sinister surroundings for him, or perhaps, kindle the old fires of hate till they blaze again and continue to flame until their folly becomes apparent and thus, in time, he wearies of the sameness, of the monotony, of this particular kind of experience. Love, on the other hand, will draw about the soul the conditions necessary for its fulfilment. And in this world beyond death, very beautiful surroundings may be built up by the imaginations of those who truly love. These latter are not, however, as numerous as is commonly believed. If there be any soil or stain, any weakness in their love, the picture which they have created as their background will in some way be faulty, and, though it furnish temporary satisfaction, be far from the ideal of the seeker of Heaven.

All good stuff, but the style is inferior to the best of Myers' writings when he was still on the earthly plane. Maybe, as in my dream, there is need for a better transcription.

1 comment:

Justin Patrick Moore said...

My cosmopathic tendencies are, in generis, of a social nature. And while arithmetic was never something I've felt any inclination towards, I like to practice the ars methitic. Dream diction splices aries with aviaries; winged encEyeclopspedias
sing from deep inside the imaginarium. Doors on the left and on the right to enter the somniacs invisium lunae. Teep ya later.