Mental Radio, by Upton Sinclair, , at sacred-texts.com
Mention telepathy in company, and almost every one has a story to tell. You can find a clairvoyant to tell you about yourself for a dollarand maybe she is a fraud, but then again, maybe she is a person with a gift which she does not understand, and the police throw her into jail because they don't understand it either. I am sorry if I aid the mass of fraud which I know exists in this field, but there is no power of man which may not and will not be abused. The person who invented high explosives and made possible great tunnels and bridges, also made possible the destruction of the Louvain library. The person who makes a dynamo may electrocute himself.
In spite of all fraud, I am convinced that there are thousands of genuine clairvoyants and psychics. My friend Will Irwin told me recently how he spent a year or so collecting material and writing an exposure of fraud, "The Medium Game," published in Collier's Weekly some twenty years ago. At the end of his labors he
went, on sudden impulse, into a "parlor" on Sixth Avenue, a cheap neighborhood of New York, and a fat old woman in a greasy wrapper took his dollar, and held his hand in hers, and told him things which he believed were known to no human being but Will Irwin.
"What is the use of it?" some will ask. I reply with another question: "What was the use of the lightning which Franklin brought down from the clouds on his kite-string?" No use that Franklin ever knew; yet to-day we make his lightning turn the wheels of industry, and move great railroad systems, and light a hundred million homes, and spread jazz music and cigarette advertising thousands of miles in every direction. It is an axiom of the scientist that every scrap of knowledge will be put to use sooner or later; get it, and let the uses wait. The discovery of the cause of bubonic plague was made possible because some foolish-minded entomologist had thought it worth-while to collect information about the fleas which prey upon the bodies of rats and ground squirrels.
I know a certain Wall Street operator who employed a "psychic" to sit in at his business conferences, and tell him if the other fellow was honest. I believe it didn't work very well; perhaps
the circumstances were not favorable to concentration. Needless to say, Craig and I have no interest in such uses to be made of our knowledge. What telepathy means to my wife is this: it seems to indicate a common substratum of mind, underlying our individual minds, and which we can learn to tap. Figure the conscious mind as a tree, and the subconscious mind as the roots of that tree: then what of the earth in which the tree grows, and from which it derives its sustenance? What currents run through that earth, affecting all the trees of the forest? If one tree falls, the earth is shakenand may not the other trees feel the impulse?
In other words, we are apparently getting hints of a cosmic consciousness, or cosmic unconsciousness: some kind of mind stuff which is common to us all, and which we can bring into our individual consciousness. Why is it not sensible to think that there may be a universal mind-stuff, just as there is a universal body-stuff, of which we are made, and to which we return?
When Craig orders her mind, or some portion of it, or faculty of it, to get what is in Bob's mind, while Bob is forty miles awayand when her mind does that, what are we to picture as happening? If I am correct in my guess, that
mind and body are two aspects of one reality, then we shall find some physical form of energy being manifested, just as we do when we communicate by sound waves. The human brain is a storage battery, capable of sending impulses over the nerves. Why may it not be capable of sending impulses by means of some other medium, known or unknown? Why may there not be such a thing as brain radio?
Certainly we know this, that every particle of energy in the universe affects to some slight extent every other particle. The problem of detecting such energy is merely one of getting a sufficiently sensitive device. Who can say that our thoughts are not causing vibrations? Who can set a limit to the distance they may travel, or to the receiving powers of another brain, in some way or other attuned thereto? Any truly scientific person will admit that this is a possibility, and that it is purely a question of experimenting, to find out if it does happen, and how.
Again, consider the problem of clairvoyance, suggested by Craig's ability to tell what is inside a book she holds in her hand without seeing it, or to reproduce drawings when no human mind knows what drawing she holds. How are we to figure that as happening? Shall we say
that brain vibrations affect material things such as paper, and leave impressions which endure for a long time, possibly forever? Can these affect another brain, as in the case of a bit of radium giving off emanations? It seems to me correct to say that, theoretically, it is inevitable. Every particle of energy that has ever been manifested in the universe goes on producing its effects somewhere, somehow, and the universe is forever different because of that happening. The soil of Britain is still shaking with the tramp of Cæsar's legions, two thousand years old. Who can say that some day we may not have instruments sensitive enough to detect such traces of energy? On the very day that I am reading the galley proofs of this book, I find in my morning paper an Associated Press dispatch, from which I clip a few paragraphs.
"A fundamental discovery in photography that takes the 'pictures' directly on cold, hard untreated metal without the usual photographer's medium of a sensitized plate was made public to-night at Cornell University. It reveals that seemingly impervious metal records on its surface unseen impressions from streams of electrons and that these marks can be brought into visibility by the right kind of a 'developer,'
exactly as photographic images are brought out on sensitized paper. . . .
"While studying sensitivity of photographic plates to electron rays it suddenly was realized that polished metal surfaces might be able to pick up impressions of these beams, and when tests were made they showed that not only could such records be made on metals, but the amazing fact appeared that some metals are almost as sensitive as photographic film, and for very low velocity electrons much more sensitive. . . .
"This young physicist one day was looking at the rough spots produced on the metal target of an X-ray tube by electron bombardment. Such spots are commonplace, familiar sights to laboratory workers. It occurred to Dr. Carr that perhaps long before the electrons produced the rough place they made an invisible impression, which might be 'developed' in the same manner that the still invisible image on a photo is brought out by putting it into a developing bath. Carr shot the electron rays at gold plates and developed them with mercury vapor, he shot them at silver and developed with iodine, he used hydrochloric acid to develop zinc plates and iodine to develop copper."
And now, if X-rays leave a permanent record
on metal, why might not brain-rays, or thought-rays, leave a record upon a piece of paper? Why might not such energies be reflected back to another brain, as light is reflected by a mirror? Or perhaps the record might stay as some other form of energy, turned back into brain-rays or thought-rays by the percipient. We are familiar with this in the telephone, where sound vibrations are turned into electrical vibrations, and in this form transported across a continent and under an ocean, and then turned back into sound vibrations once again.
That mental activities do leave some kind of record on matter seems certain; at any rate, it is the basic concept of the materialistic psychologist. For what is memory, to the materialist, but some kind of record upon brain cells? He compares these cells to photoelectric cells, and imagines a lot of stored up records which we can consult. If now it should be found that such memory records are impressed, not merely upon living brain cells, but upon the molecules or electrons which compose any form of matter, what would be so incredible about that?
I have gone this far, in the effort to meet my materialist friends halfway. For my part, I have no metaphysics; I am content to say that
[paragraph continues] I do not know what matter is, nor what mind is, nor how they interact. If you want to realize the inadequacies of the materialistic dogma, so far as concerns this special field, you may consult the work of Dr. Rudolph Tischner, a qualified scientist of Germany, whose book, "Telepathy and Clairvoyance," is published in translation by Harcourt, Brace and Company. The last chapter, called "Theory," deals with the suggested explanations in more detail than I have the space for here.