Boirac, Professor Emile - La psychologie inconnu - Do you think that I could read with closed eyes
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
La psychologie inconnu – Emile Boirac
Chance brought me such an one [naïve subject] at the beginning of the winter of 1904. Ludovic S-, aged twenty-, was a designer in a large factory.
I experimented with him mainly in November and December, 1904, and in the six or seven early months of 1905.
In the course of our first sittings I tried to reproduce the phenomena observed with Mme V-_, and asked him if he would try to-reproduce them.
'Do you think that I could read with closed eyes?' he said.
‘I do not know,' I answered, 'but let us try’.
Taking a letter from the file at random, I put it in his hands and, at his request, explained how to set about it. 'Do as Mme V- did. Pass your fingers over the paper, put it to your forehead and to the pit of your stomach till you feel something.'
After trying for some time he said, ‘I feel nothing; it is an impossible thing. There must have been some trick.'
I pointed out that he was giving up too soon; no doubt time and effort would be necessary, and invited him to begin afresh. He began feeling and pressing the paper very attentively, and then suddenly gave a shiver.
'What is it? ' I said.
'Nothing,' he replied.
'But it must be something to have made you shiver.' . . .
'No; it is impossible, absurd. . . . Well, it seemed to me that there must be written 'Mon cher Camille' . . .’
'It is not "Mon cher Camille," it is "Mon cher Emile."
‘Perhaps it is but a coincidence; let us try again’. Remembering that Mme had said that it is well to begin with large printed letters, I put a newspaper into his hands, and said, 'Read the title of this paper.' He asked me to indicate the exact place, passed his fingers over it, and said, 'Is it not Le Progres de Lyon?'
'Very good,' I replied; 'but perhaps it is another coincidence, for the paper has a considerable circulation hereabouts. Here is another.' . . .
'Is it, not Le Moniteur des Tirages financiers?' . . .
' Now doubt is impossible; bravo, my friend! you see you can read with closed eyes.'
To my great surprise he answered, 'No, sir, I do not read.' . . ,
'What, then, do you do? ' . . .
'I feel nothing under my fingers, I see nothing before my eyes; only it comes into my mind, I cannot say how, that it must be this or that ; I fancy that your thought suggests it to me.'
'After all,' I said, 'that is possible. We will try to clear it up another time.'
With that I awakened him, and he took his leave.
It was only at the third trial that I could discover the part that I personally had in the phenomenon. At this sitting a large number of persons were present, to whom I first showed the act of reading by the finger-tips as above described.
One of them asked whether the reading were really done by the fingers or by thought-transference from me.
I answered that I did not know, that the subject himself had that idea, and the occasion was a good one to test it. I therefore asked my interlocutor to write a phrase of his own composition on a piece of paper. This was folded, so that I should not know the contents, and was given by me to S-, who opened it and read it without difficulty, except that he made one mistake in the initial letter of one word.
Indeed, owing to peculiarity in the writing a person reading with open eyes might equally have made this mistake.
But another experiment made at this same time showed still more certainly that the subject perceived directly and not by transmission of any outside influence.
One of those present took a book and, opening it at random, placed it in the hands of the percipient S-, who began to read the page at which the book had been opened. This time neither I nor anyone else knew the text, so that there could be no mental suggestion nor transmission of thought.