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Wild Talents, by Charles Fort, [1933], at


The twitch of the legs of a frog—and Emma Piggott swiped a powder puff.

The mysterious twitchings of electrified legs—and unutterable flutterings in the mind of Galvani. His travail of mental miscarriages—or ideas that could not be born properly. The twitch of trivialities that were faint and fantastic germinations in the mind of Galvani—the uninterpretable meanings of far-distant hums of motors—these pre-natal stirrings of aeroplanes and transportation systems and the lighting operations of cities—

Twitch of the legs of a frog—

A woman, from Brewster, N. Y., annoyed a hotel clerk.

My general expression is that all human beings who can do anything, and dogs that track unseen quarry, and homing pigeons, and bird-charming snakes, and caterpillars who transform into butterflies, are magicians. In the lower—or quite as truly the higher, considering them the more aristocratic and established—forms of being, the miracles are standardized and limited: but human affairs are still developing, and "sports," as the biologists call them, are of far more frequent occurrence among humans. But their development depends very much upon a sense of sureness of reward for the pains, travail, and discouragements of the long, little-paid period of apprenticeship, which makes questionable whether it is ever worthwhile to learn anything. Reward depends upon harmonization with the dominant spirit of an era.

Considering modern data, it is likely that many of the fakirs of the past, who are now known as saints, did, or to some degree did, perform the miracles that have been attributed to them. Miracles, or stunts, that were in accord with the dominant power

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of the period were fostered, and miracles that conflicted with, or that did not contribute to, the glory of the Church, were discouraged, or were savagely suppressed. There could be no development of mechanical, chemical, or electric miracles—

And that, in the succeeding age of Materialism—or call it the Industrial Era—there is the same state of subservience to a dominant, so that young men are trained to the glory of the job, and dream and invent in fields that are likely to interest stockholders, and are schooled into thinking that all magics, except their own industrial magics, are fakes, superstitions, or newspaper yarns.

I am of the Industrial Era, myself; and, even though I can see only advantages-disadvantages in all uses, I am very largely only a practical thinker—

Or the trail of a working witchcraft—and we're on the scent of utilities—

Or that, if a girl, in the town of Derby, set a house afire, by a process that is now somewhat understandable, a fireman could, if he had a still better understanding, have put out that fire without moving from his office. If the mechanism of a motor can invisibly be stopped, all the motors of the world may, without the dirt, crime, misery, and exploitation of coal-mining, be started and operated. If Ambrose Small was wished so far away that he never got back—though that there is magic in a mere wish, or in a mere hope, or hate, I do not think—the present snails of the wheels and planes may be replaced by instantaneous teleportations. If we can think that quacks and cranks and scientists of highest repute, who have announced successes, which were in opposition to supposed medical, physical, chemical, or biological principles—which are now considered impostures, or errors, or "premature announcements"—may not in all cases have altogether deceived themselves, or tried to deceive others, we—or maybe only I—extend this suspicion into mechanical fields.

Now it is my expression that all perpetual motion cranks may not have been dupes, or rascals—that they may have been right, occasionally—that their wheels may sometimes have turned, their marbles rolled, their various gimcracks twirled, in an excess of reaction over action, either because sometimes will occur exceptions to any

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such supposed law as "the conservation of energy," or because motivating "rays" emanated from the inventors—

That sometimes engines have run, fueled with zeals—but have, by such incipient, or undeveloped, witchcraft, operated only transiently, or only momentarily—but that they may be forerunners to such a revolution of the affairs of this earth, as once upon a time were flutters of the little lids of teakettles—

A new era of new happiness and new hells to pay; ambitions somewhat realized, and hopes dashed to nothing; new crimes, pastimes, products, employments, unemployments; labor troubles, or strikes that would be world-wide; new delights, new diseases, disasters such as had never before been heard of—

In this existence of the desirable-undesirable.

Wild carrots in a field—and to me came a dissatisfaction with ham and cabbage. That was too bad: there isn't much that is better. My notion was that probably all around were roots and shoots and foliages that might be, but that never had been, developed eatably—but that most unlikely would be the cultivation of something new to go with ham, in the place of cabbage, because of the conventionalized requirements of markets. But once upon a time there were wild cabbages and wild beets and wild onions, and they were poor, little incipiencies until they were called for by markets. I think so. I don't know. At any rate, this applies to wild fruits.

There are sword swallowers and fire eaters, fire breathers, fire walkers; basket tricksters, table tilters, handcuff escapers. There is no knowing what development could do with these wild talents: but Help Wanted if for—

Reasonable and confidential accntnts; comptometer oprs., fire re-ins., exp., Christian; sec’ys, credit exp., advance, Chris.; P & S expr.; fast sandwich men; reception men, 35-45, good educ., ap. tall, Chris.—

But I do think that one hundred years ago an advertisement for a fast sandwich man would have looked as strange as today would look an advertisement for "polt. grls."

Against all the opposition in the world, I make this statement—that once I knew a magician. I was a witness of a performance that

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may some day be considered understandable, but that, in these primitive times, so transcends what is said to be the known that it is what I mean by magic.

When the magician and I were first acquainted, he gave no sign of occult abilities. He was one of the friendliest of fellows, but that was not likely to endear him to anybody, because he was about equally effusive to everybody. He had frenzies. Once he tore down the landlord's curtains. He bit holes into a book of mine, and chewed the landlord's slippers.

The landlord got rid of him. This was in London. The landlord took him about ten miles away, and left him, probably leaping upon somebody, writhing joy for anybody who would notice him. He was young.

It was about two weeks later. Looking out a front window, I saw the magician coming along, on the other side of the street. He was sniffing his way along, but went right on past our house, without recognizing it. He came to a point where he stopped and smelled. He smelled and he smelled. He crossed the street, and came back, and lay down in front of the house. The landlord took him in, and gave him a bone.

But I cannot accept that the magician smelled his way home, or picked up a trail, taking about two weeks on his way. The smelling played a part, and was useful in a final recognition: but smelling indiscriminately, he could have nosed his way, for years, through the streets of London, before coming to the right scent.

New York Sun, April 24, 1931—an account, by Adolph Pizaldt, of Allentown, Pa., of a large, mongrel magician, who had been taken in a baggage car, a distance of 340 miles, and had found his way back home, in a week or so. New York Herald Tribune, July 4, 1931—a curly magician, who, in Canada, had found his way back home, over a distance of 400 miles.

New York Herald Tribune, Aug. 13, 1931—The Man They Could Not Drown

"Hartford, Conn., Aug. 12—Angelo Faticoni, known as 'The Human Cork,' because he could stay afloat in water for fifteen hours with twenty pounds of lead tied to his ankles, died on

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[paragraph continues] August 2 in Jacksonville, Fla., it became known here today. He was seventy-two years old.

"Faticoni could sleep in water, roll up into a ball, lie on his side, or assume any position asked of him. Once he was sewn into a bag and then thrown headforemost into the water, with a twenty-pound cannonball lashed to his legs. His head reappeared on the surface soon afterward, and he remained motionless in that position for eight hours. Another time he swam across the Hudson tied to a chair weighted with lead.

"Some years ago he went to Harvard to perform for the students and faculty. He had been examined by medical authorities who failed to find support for their theory that he was able to float at such great lengths by the nature of his internal organs, which they believed were different from those of most men.

"Faticoni had often promised to reveal the secret of how he became 'The Human Cork,' but he never did."

There are many accounts of poltergeist-phenomena that are so obscured by the preconceptions of witnesses that one can't tell whether they are stories of girls who had occult powers, or of invisible beings, who, in the presence of girl-mediums, manifested. But the story of Angelique Cottin is an account of a girl, who, by an unknown influence of her own, acted upon objects in ways like those that have been attributed to spirits. The phenomena of Angelique Cottin, of the town of La Perriere, France, began upon Jan. 15, 1846, and lasted ten weeks. Anybody who would like to read an account of this wild, or undeveloped, talent, that is free from interpretations by spiritualists and anti-spiritualists, should go to the contemporaneous story, published in the Journal des Debats (Paris) February, 1846. Here are accounts by M. Arago and other scientists. When Angelique Cottin went near objects, they bounded away. She could have made a perpetual motion machine whiz. She was known as the Electric Girl, so called, because nobody knew what to call her. When she tried to sit in a chair, there was low comedy. The chair was pulled away, or, rather, was invisibly pushed away. There was such force here that a strong man could not hold the chair. A table, weighing 60 pounds, rose from the floor, when she touched it. When she went to bed, the bed rocked

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And I suppose that, in early times of magnetic investigations, people who heard of objects that moved in the presence of a magnet, said—"But what of it?"

Faraday showed them.

A table, weighing 60 pounds, rises a few feet from the floor—well, then, it's some time, far ahead, in the Witchcraft Era—and a multi-cellular formation of poltergeist-girls is assembled in the presence of building materials. Stone blocks and steel girders rise a mile or so into their assigned positions in the latest sky-prodder. Maybe. Tall buildings will have their day, but first there will have to be a show-off of what could be done.

I now have a theory that the Pyramids were built by poltergeist-girls. The Chinese Wall is no longer mysterious. Every now and then I reconstruct a science. I may take up neo-archaeology sometime. Old archaeology, with its fakes and guesses, and conflicting pedantries, holds out an invitation for a ferocious and joyous holiday.

Human hopes, wishes, ambitions, prayers and hates—and the futility of them—the waste of millions of trickles of vibrations, today—unorganized forces that are doing nothing. But put them to work together, or concentrate mental ripples into torrents, and gather these torrents into Niagara Falls of emotions—and, if there isn't any happiness, except in being of use, I am conceiving of cataractuous happiness—

Or sometime in the Witchcraft Era—and every morning, promptly at nine o'clock, crowds of human wishers, dignified under the name of transmediumizers, arrive at their wishing stations, or mental power-houses, and in an organization of what are now only scattered and wasted hopes and hates concentrate upon the running of all motors of all cities. Just as they're all nicely organized and pretty nearly satisfied, it will be learned that motors aren't necessary.

In one way, witchcraft has been put to work: that is that wild talents have been exhibited, and so have been sources of incomes. But here is only the incipiency of the stunt. In August, 1883, in the home of Lulu Hurst, aged 15, at Cedarville, Georgia, there were poltergeist disturbances. Pebbles moved in the presence of the girl,

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things vanished, crockery was smashed, and, if the girl thought of a tune, it would be heard, rapping at the head of her bed. In February, 1884, Lulu was giving public performances. In New York City, she appeared in Wallack's Theatre. It could be that a girl, aged 15, if competently managed, was able to deceive everybody who went up on the stage. She at least made all witnesses think that, when a man, weighing 200 pounds, sat in a chair, she, by touching the chair, made it rise and throw him to the floor—

And I am very much like an Indian, of long ago; an Indian, thinking of the force of a waterfall; unable to conceive of a waterwheel; simply thinking of all this force that was making only a little spectacle—

Or the state of melancholy into which I am perhaps cast, thinking that a little poltergeist girl, if properly trained, could make all witnesses believe that she raised building materials forty or eighty stories, by simply touching them—thinking that nobody is doing anything about this—

Except that I am not clear that anything would be gained by it—or by anything else.

Lulu Hurst either had powers that far transcended muscular powers, or she had talents of deception far superior to the abilities of ordinary deceivers. Sometimes she tossed about zoo-pound men, or made it look as if she did; and sometimes she placed her hands on a chair, and five men either could not move that chair, or were good actors, and earned whatever the confederates of stage magicians were paid, at that time.

In November, 1891, Mrs. Annie Abbott, called the Little Georgia Magnet, put on a show, in the Alhambra Music Hall, London. She weighed about 98 pounds, and, if she so willed it, a man could easily lift her. The next moment, six men, three on each side of her, grasping her by her elbows, could not lift her. When she stood on a chair, the six men could not, when the chair was removed, prevent her from descending to the floor. If anybody suggests that, when volunteers were called for from the audience, it was the same six who responded, at every performance, I think that that is a pretty good suggestion. Because of many other data, it hasn't much force with me; but, in these early times of us primitives, almost any

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suggestion has value. I take these accounts from Holms’ Facts of Psychic Science. I have theme from other sources, also.

In September, 1921, Mary Richardson gave performances, at the Olympic Music Hall, Liverpool. Easily lifted one moment—the next moment, six men—same six, maybe—could not move her. By touching a man, she knocked him flat. It is either that she traveled with a staff of thirteen comedians, whose stunt it was to form in a line, pretending their utmost to push her, but seeming to fail comically, considering the size of her, or that she was a magician.

It is impossible to get anywhere by reasoning. This is because—as can be shown, monistically—there isn't anywhere. Or it is impossible to get anywhere, because one can get everywhere. I can find equally good reasons for laughing, or for being serious, about all this. Holms tells that he was one of those in the audience, who, though not taking part, went up on the stage; and that he put his hand between Mrs. Richardson and the leader of the string of thirteen men, who were almost dislocating one another's shoulder blades, pushing their hardest against her, and that he felt no pressure. So he was convinced not that she resisted pressure, but that pressure could not touch her.

Suppose it was that pressure could not touch her. Could blows harm her? Could bullets touch her? Did Robert Houdin have this power, when he faced an Arab firing squad, and is the story of the substituted blanks for bullets only just some more of what Taboo is telling everywhere? One untouchable man could own the world—except that he'd have a weakness somewhere, or, in general, could be no more than the untouchable-touchable. But he could add to our bewilderments by making much history before being touched. Well, then, if there are magicians, why haven't magicians seized upon political powers? I don't know that they haven't.

It may be the secret of fire-walking—or that wizards walk over red-hot stones, unharmed, because they do not touch the stones. However, for some readers, it is more comfortable to disbelieve that anybody ever has been a fire-walker. For an uncomfortable moment, read an account, in Current Literature, 32-98—exhibition by a Hawaiian fire-walker, at Honolulu, Jan. 19, 1901. The story is that this wizard walked on stones of "a fierce, red glow," with flames

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spouting from burning wood, underneath; walking back and forth four times.

There is a muscular strength of men, and it may be that sometimes appears a strength to which would apply the description "occult," or "psychic." In the New York Herald Tribune, Jan. 24, 1932, was reported the death of Mrs. Betsy Anna Talks, of 149 Fourteenth Road, Whitestone, Queens, N. Y.—who had often performed such feats as carrying a barrel of sugar, weighing 400 pounds—had carried, under each arm, a sack of potatoes, whereas, in fields, usually two men lug one sack—had impatiently watched two men, clumsily moving a 550-pound barrel of salt, in a cart, and had taken it down for them.

There are "gospel truths," and "irrefutable principles," and "whatever goes up must come down," and "men are strong and women are weak"—but somewhere there's a woman who takes a barrel of salt away from two men. But we think in generalizations, and enact laws in generalizations, and "women are weak," and, if I should look it up, I'd be not at all surprised to learn that Mrs. Talks was receiving alimony.

I now recall another series of my own experiences with what may be my own very wild talents. I took no notes upon the occurrences, because I had decided that note-taking would make me self-conscious. I do not now take this view. I was walking along West Forty-second Street, N. Y. C., when the notion came to me that I could "see" what was in a show window, which, some distance ahead, was invisible to me. I said to myself: "Turkey tracks in red snow." It should be noted that "red snow" was one of the phenomena of my interests, at this time. I came to the window, and saw track-like lines of black fountain pens, grouped in fours, one behind, and the three others trifurcating from it, on a background of pink cardboard.

At last I was a wizard!

Another time, picking out a distant window, invisible to me—or ocularly invisible to me—I said "Ripple marks on a sandy beach." It was a show window. Several men were removing exhibits from it, and there was virtually nothing left except a yellow-plush floor

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covering. Decoratively, this covering had been ruffled, or given a wavy appearance.

Another time—"Robinson Crusoe and Friday's footprints." When I came to the place, I saw that it was a cobbler's shop, and that, hanging in the window, was a string of shoe soles.

I'm sorry.

I should like to hear of somebody, who would manfully declare himself a wizard, and say—"Take it or leave it!" I can't do this, because I too well remember other circumstances. Maybe it's my timidity, but I now save myself from the resentment, or the mean envy, of readers, who say, of a distant store window, "popular novels," and it's pumpkins. My experiments kept up about a month. Say that I experimented about a thousand times. Out of a thousand attempts, I can record only three seemingly striking successes, though I recall some minor ones. Throughout this book, I have taken the stand that nobody can be always wrong, but it does seem to me that I approximated so highly that I am nothing short of a negative genius. Nevertheless, the first of these experiences impresses me. It came to me when, so far as I know, I was not thinking of anything of the kind, though sub-consciously I was carrying much lore upon various psychic subjects.

These things may be done, but everybody who is interested has noticed the triviality and the casualness of them. They—such as telepathic experiences—come and go, and then when one tries to develop an ability, the successes aren't enough to encourage anybody, except somebody who is determined to be encouraged.

Well, then, if wild talents come and go, and can't be developed, or can't be depended upon, even people who are disposed to accept that they exist, can't see the good of them.

But accept that there are adepts: probably they had to go through long periods of apprenticeship, in which, though they deceived themselves by hugely over-emphasizing successes, and forgetting failures, they could not impress any parlor, or speakeasy, audience. I have told of my experiments of about a month. It takes five years to learn the rudiments of writing a book, selling gents’ hosiery, or panhandling.

Everybody who can do anything got from the gods, or whatever,

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nothing but a wild thing. Read a book, or look at a picture. The composer has taken a wild talent that nobody else in the world believed in; a thing that came and went and flouted and deceived him; maybe starved him; almost ruined him—and has put that damn thing to work.

Upon Nov. 29, 1931, died a wild talent. It was wild of origin, but was of considerable development. See the New York Herald Tribune, Nov. 30, 1931. John D. Reese had died in his home, in Youngstown, Ohio. Mr. Reese was a "healer." He was not a "divine healer." He means much to my expression that the religionists have been permitted to take unto themselves much that is not theirs exclusively. Once we heard only of "divine healers." Now there are "healers." It is something of a start of a divorcement that may develop enormously. Sometime I am going to loot the records of saints, for suggestions that may be of value to bright atheists, willing to study and experiment. "Reese had never studied medicine. The only instruction he had ever received was from an aged healer, in the mountains of Wales, when he was a boy. Physicians could not explain his art, and, after satisfying themselves that he was not a charlatan, would shrug, and say simply that he had 'divine power'." But Reese never described himself as a "divine healer," and, though by methods no less divine than those of the Salvation Army and other religious organizations, he made a fortune out of his practices, he was associated with no church. He was about thirty years old when he became aware of his talent. One day, in the year 1887, a man in a rolling mill fell from a ladder, and was injured. It was "a severe spinal sprain," according to a physician. "Mr. Reese stooped and ran his fingers up and down the man's back. The man smiled, and while the physician and the mill hands gaped in wonder, he rose to his feet, and announced that he felt strong again, with not a trace of pain. He went back to work, and Mr. Reese's reputation as a healer was spread abroad."

Then there were thousands of cases of successful treatments. Hans Wagner, shortstop of the Pittsburgh Pirates, was carried from the baseball field, one day: something in his back had snapped, and it seemed that his career had ended. He was treated by Reese, and within a few days was back shortstopping. When Lloyd George

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visited the United States, after the War, he shook hands so many times that his hand was twisted out of shape. Winston Churchill, in a later visit, had what was said to be an automobile accident, and said that he was compelled to hold his arm in a sling. But Lloyd George was so cordially greeted that he was maimed. "Doctors said that only months of rest and massage could restore the cramped muscles." "Reese shook hands with the statesman, pressed gently, and then harder, disengaged their hands with a wrench, and Lloyd George's hand was strong again."

One of the most important particulars in this story of a talent, or of witchcraft, that was put to work, is that probably it was a case of a magician who was taught. Reese, when a boy, received instructions in therapeutic magic, and then, in the stresses of making a living, forgot, so far as went the knowledge of his active consciousness. But it seems that sub-consciously a development was going on, and suddenly, when the man was thirty-two years of age, manifested.

My notion is that wild talents exist in the profusion of the weeds of the fields. Also my notion is that, were it not for the conventions of markets, many weeds could be developed into valuable, edible vegetables. The one great ambition of my life, for which I would abandon my typewriter at any time—well, not if I were joyously setting down some particularly nasty little swipe at priests or scientists—is to say to chairs and tables, "Fall in! forward! march!" and have them obey me. I have tried this, as I don't mind recording, because one can't be of an enquiring and experimental nature, and also be very sensible. But a more unmilitary lot of furniture than mine, nobody has. Most likely, for these attempts, I'll be hounded by pacifists. I should very much like to be a wizard, and be of great negative benefit to my fellow beings, by doing nothing for anybody. And I have had many experiences that lead me to think that almost everybody else not only would like to be a wizard, but at times thinks he is one. I think that he is right. It is monism that if anybody's a wizard, everybody is, to some degree, a wizard.

One time—spring of 1931—my landlord received some chicks from the country, and put them in an enclosure at the end of the yard. They grew, and later I thought it interesting, listening to the

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first, uncertain attempts of two of them to crow. It was as interesting as is watching young, human males trying to take on grown-up ways. But then I thought of what was ahead, at four o'clock, or thereabouts, mornings. I'm a crank about sleeping, because at times I have put in much disagreeable time with insomnia. I worried about this, and I spoke about it.

There was not another sound from the two, little roosters. At last!

Months went by. Confirmation. I was a wizard.

One day in October, the landlord's son-in-law said to me: "There hasn't been a sound from them since."

I tried not to look self-conscious.

Said he: "Last May, one day, I was looking at them, and I said, in my own mind: 'If we lose tenants on account of you, I'll wring your necks.' They never crowed again."

Again it's the Principle of Uncertainty, by which the path of a particle cannot be foretold, and by which there's no knowing who stopped the roosters. Well, we're both—or one of us is—very inferior in matters of magic, according to a story that is told of Madame Blavatsky. The little bird of a cuckoo clock annoyed her. Said she: "Damn that bird! shut up!" The cuckoo never spoke again.

By the cultivation of wild talents, I do not mean only the learning of the secret of the man they could not drown, and having the advantage of that ability, at times of shipwreck—of the man they could not confine, so that enormous would be the relief from the messiahs of the legislatures, if nobody could be locked up for failure to keep track of all their laws—of the woman they could not touch, so that there could be no more automobile accidents—of myself and the roosters—though just here my landlord's son-in-law will read scornfully—so that all radios can be stopped immediately after breakfast, and all tenors and sopranos forever

Only the secret of burning mansions in England; appearances of wounds on bodies, or of pictures on hailstones; bodies on benches of a Harlem park; strange explosions, and forced landings of aeroplanes, and the case of Lizzie Borden

Those are only specializations. If all are only different manifestations

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of one force, or radio-activity, transmediumization, or whatever, that is the subject for research and experiment that may develop—

New triumphs and new disasters; happiness and miseries—a new era, in which people will think back, with contempt, or with horror, at our times, unless they start to think a little more keenly of their own affairs.

In the presence of a poltergeist girl, who, so far as is now knowable, exerts no force, objects move.

But this is a book of no marvels.

In the presence of certain substances, which so far as is now knowable, exert no force, other substances move, or transmute into very different substances.

This is a common phenomenon, to which the chemists have given the name catalysis.

All around are wild talents, and it occurs to nobody to try to cultivate them, except as expressions of personal feelings, or as freaks for which to charge admission. I conceive of powers and the uses of human powers that will some day transcend the stunts of music halls and séances and sideshows, as public utilities have passed beyond the toy-stages of their origins. Sometimes I tend to thinking constructively—or batteries of witches teleported to Nicaragua, where speedily they cut a canal by dissolving trees and rocks—the tumults of floods, and then magic by which they cannot touch houses—cyclones that smash villages, and then cannot push feathers. But also I think that there is nothing in this subject that is more reasonable than is the Taboo that is preventing, or delaying, development. I mean that semi-enlightenment that so earnestly, and with such keen, one-sided foresight fought to suppress gunpowder and the printing press and the discovery of America. With the advantages of practical witchcraft would come criminal enormities. Of course they would be somewhat adapted to. But I'd not like to have it thought that I am only an altruist, or of the humble mental development of a Utopian, who advocates something, as a blessing, without awareness of it as also a curse. Every folly, futility, and source of corruption of today, if a change from affairs primordial, was at one time preached as cure and salvation by some messiah or

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another. One reason why I never pray for anything is that I'm afraid I might get it.

Or the uses of witchcraft in warfare—

But that, without the sanction of hypocrisy, superintendence by hypocrisy, the blessing by hypocrisy, nothing ever does come about—

Or military demonstrations of the overwhelming effects of trained hates—scientific uses of destructive bolts of a million hate-power—the blasting of enemies by disciplined ferocities—

And the reduction of cannons to the importance of fire crackers—a battleship at sea, or a toy boat in a bathtub—

The palpitations of hypocrisy—the brass bands of hypocrisy—the peace on earth and good will to man of hypocrisy—or much celebration, because of the solemn agreements of nations to scrap their battleships and armed aeroplanes—outlawry of poison gases, and the melting of cannon—once it is recognized that these things aren't worth a damn in the Era of Witchcraft—

But of course not that witchcraft would be practiced in warfare. Oh, no: witchcraft would make war too terrible. Really, the Christian thing to do would be to develop the uses of the new magic, so that in the future a war could not even be contemplated.

Later: A squad of poltergeist girls—and they pick a fleet out of the sea, or out of the sky—if, as far back as the year 1923, something picked French aeroplanes out of the sky—arguing that some nations that renounced fleets as obsolete would go on building them just the same.

Girls at the front—and they are discussing their usual not very profound subjects. The alarm—the enemy is advancing. Command to the poltergeist girls to concentrate—and under their chairs they stick their wads of chewing gum.

A regiment bursts into flames, and the soldiers are torches. Horses snort smoke from the combustion of their entrails. Reinforcements are smashed under cliffs that are teleported from the Rocky Mountains. The snatch of Niagara Falls—it pours upon the battlefield. The little poltergeist girls reach for their wads of chewing gum.

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