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FRAME OF REFERENCE
Many of you have had personal experiences that seem to suggest telepathy. You may have shared by word of mouth the inexplicable events in the lives of others that have for centuries made up the lore of psychical phenomena. In the last one hundred years these spontaneous occurrences have been systematically recorded and investigated. Groups of reputable workers throughout the world have been turning their attention not only to the manifestations of telepathy in real-life situations, but also to the careful study of the telepathic process under experimental conditions. I shall use the word "telepathy" as did Frederic W. H. Myers, who coined it in 1882. Telepathy includes the communication of emotions, ideas, mental images, sensations, or words from one individual to another without the help of the senses.
At colleges and universities experiments in telepathy are being conducted, and a mass of data has accumulated. Many outstanding men of science, especially British and American, have been concerned with the problem of telepathy in order to establish, without question, its existence. The conditions under which it arises spontaneously and experimentally, and the psychological and physiological mechanisms involved, are being studied. Telepathy has not yet been accepted by science in general. On the other hand, institutions of higher learning have been recognizing the academic contributions of parapsychologists, as in the case of the Cambridge mathematician, S. G. Soal, who has recently been awarded the degree of Doctorof Science by the University of London for the experimental work in telepathy he did during World War II. Moreover, psychiatrists, psychoanalysts, and psychologists have become increasingly aware of the need for understanding telepathy as a human experience.
Nearly forty years ago a series of telepathic dreams awakened my interest in this field. Since then I have devoted myself to a study of the problems of telepathy. It does not seem that my time and effort have been wasted. Observation has confirmed my earlier feelings that telepathic communication does exist. Fraudulent cases exist, but they are not the whole story. Nor do I believe that a theory of chance coincidence can explain more than a few of the facts.
Some of my friends also became interested, and we decided to conduct a series of experiments in telepathy. In most of our experiments we used drawings, as did other investigators, because they allow more precise check and control than do thoughts and verbal ideas. We were not professional subjects; we used no elaborate techniques or complicated devices. All of the experiments were conducted in the waking state. One of us would serve as sender or agent and another as receiver or percipient. Generally, a time would be set when the agent was to concentrate on an image spontaneously selected by him, which he then drew immediately. Simultaneously the percipient focused his attention on the agent, cleared his mind of all thoughts, and noted the mental images appearing in his consciousness. These impressions he, too, drew at once. Each participant sent his drawings and comments to the other members of the team. Letters crossed in the mail and postmarks showed the time and place of the experiment. Occasionally, we varied the method, as you will soon see, in accordance with special objectives and circumstances.
It was under these conditions of good faith, and with a sense of serious responsibility and cooperation, that a series of experiments unfolded over the years. We sought telepathically to transmit drawings from one room to another, from one quarter of Paris to another, from one city to another, and from one country to another. Distance never seemed to affect the results. The findings were not always positive. As a matter of fact, over the entire period of forty years, comparatively few of our experiments were successful if the results are interpreted very strictly. Only a fraction of the telepathic impressions were indisputable hits when compared with the targets. On the other hand, for ten years a group of a dozen friends worked together once a week at the Institut Métapsychique International in Paris and achieved meaningful results in more than half of the cases. In every experiment I participated either as agent or percipient.
The material I am presenting here does not deal primarily with the success or the lack of success in the telepathic transmission of drawings. Nor do I wish to demonstrate the existence of telepathy, for the British and American research workers have been applying themselves to this problem with statistical methods. Their quantitative results afford strong evidence for telepathy. My purpose is to share observations of what actually happens in the telepathic communication of drawings. Certain dynamic principles suggest themselves which are similar to those found in psychology. In our investigations we have noted that the laws of normal and abnormal perception seem to apply to telepathy. Paranormal mental imagery reveals characteristics like those found in normal forms of experience, such as dreams and eidetic imagery. I have devoted the body of this book to a presentation of these dynamic laws and illustrative cases.
One evening I was visiting my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Archat. After dinner we attempted the telepathic transmission of a drawing. Mr. Archat, an electrical engineer, acted as agent. I was the percipient, and Mrs. Archat the notetaker. Mr. Archat remained in the dining room behind closed doors. Mrs. Archat and I went to rooms at the other end of the floor. Mrs. Archat recorded my impressions as I dictated them. The target was a dirigible (Fig. 1). I sensed that my first impression, a bread basket with a roll-down top, was wrong. If my efforts had ended at this point, the trial might have been judged a failure. In reality, however, this first image was made up of a synthesis of the idea of rotation and of an impression of the mass of the balloon. It took the form of a bread basket associated with the idea of a connecting rod and shaft which I drew. My second impression was correct, namely, a profile view of a screw propeller shaped like the number 8. Then, by introspection, I recognized the inaccuracy of the roll-down-top image. Immediately after remarking that I was in good form, I perceived the outline of the dirigible and began to draw it, using the earlier partial impressions. The drawings were made before I recognized the dirigible. No conscious association of ideas of that day or of preceding days could be revived by any of us to label this a coincidence. It is my feeling that the perception of the target may be explained only by means of the latent idea of rotation. The impression of movement is quite typical of this entire class of telepathic experiences.
The telepathic image is not transmitted in the same way as a wireless photo. The image is scrambled, broken up into component elements which are often transmuted into a new pattern. It seldom arrives complete and organized. A telepathic image resembles somewhat a chemical molecule. The original molecule, the target, decomposes into elements. Some of these elements are received and are recombined into a new molecular structure. There are emotional and intellectual elements in the psychic molecule which always strives to maintain a stable internal organization. The emotional or affective components are of great importance and form the basis of spontaneous telepathy. Emotional states tend to be more easily perceived than intellectual material. It is extremely difficult telepathically to communicate purely intellectual images, such as letters of the alphabet. On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that Rhine and his collaborators have done much fundamental experimental work, using the ESP cards almost exclusively. Each of the ESP cards bears one of five abstract intellectual symbols; namely, star, square, circle, waves (three parallel wavy lines), and plus.
In this connection we wanted to find out what would happen with simple geometric figures. They represent a form of abstract intellectual image. We conducted a series of studies and discovered that they behave peculiarly in telepathic communication. A square is received not as four straight lines, but as two or more right angles scattered in space (Fig. 2). This is a good example of successful telepathic transmission, even though the impression is not identical with the original drawing. The rectangle enclosing five egg-shaped figures was received as five egg-shaped figures and four right angles scattered in space. The dispersion of elements occurs also with other geometric figures. Concentric circles are often received as nests of detached arcs and as detached circles (Fig. 3). Other investigators had similar findings; e.g., Sinclair (Fig. 4), (Fig. 5) and (Fig. 6), and Usher and Butt (Fig. 7).
What seems to happen in the case of geometric figures is that movement is injected into what would otherwise be a static image. Movement is a dynamic of "unclosed" or open configurations and usually implies activity. The squares and circles are static figures; the angles and arcs scattered in space are open or dynamic. It is almost as if we had for telepathy no memory trace of specific geometric figures, such as the rectangle and the circle. Instead we possess only angles and arcs. These' elements align themselves in a variety of positions and tend to match themselves one to another. There is a sort of mutual attraction between suitable parts, a kind of grouping which I should like to call "the law of parallelism," that like seeks like. In my opinion, it is entirely a question of patterns of movement; that is, parallelism is a way for the image to achieve a simple organization. The simpler the diagram and the less experienced the subject, the easier it is to detect this process. In metagnomes, that is, special sensitives who may have the capacity to describe experiences and even whole scenes out of the life of a person, the laws of telepathy seem to be obscured. We shall have to concern ourselves, nevertheless, with describing those processes which seem to be essential and operative in all telepathic communication whether they are obvious or not.
Excerpted from Mind to Mind by René Warcollier. Copyright © 2001 by Ingo Swann. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.