Archive for October, 2017

“Among the newer methods of experimentation I may
mention “thought photography” — in which attempts
have been made, by individuals, to obtain photographs of
their own thoughts.

This method of obtaining psychic or thought-photographs is entirely different from that employed in obtaining so-called “spirit-photographs.“ In the latter
case, a camera is focused upon the sitter, who "sits”
as usual, and the forms appear upon the plate when
developed. In obtaining thought-photographs, no camera at all is used; the plates (or films) are carefully
wrapped in opaque black paper and sealed up, so as to
prevent the slightest ray of light from reaching the
plates. These plates (or films) are then placed against
the forehead, where they are held for from five minutes
to half an hour, or longer, according to the patience of
the experimenter and the degree of his psychic power.
An intense effort is made to impress upon the plate,
by an act of will, a mental picture or image held in the
mind. Anything will do — the head of an eagle, the
sun, the face of a friend. The plate is then taken into
the dark-room, unwrapped and carefully developed.
In those cases which have been successful, an image,
more or less clear, of the picture held in mind will be
found upon the plate. 

This will, I have no doubt, appear incredible to the
average reader. The facts, nevertheless, remain ! Such
photographs have been obtained — in America, France,
Poland, Japan and other parts of the world. A series
of careful, simultaneous experiments have proved to us
that such photographs can be taken, under precisely
the conditions I have described. 

Dr. Baraduc, of Paris, likewise
asserted that he had obtained psychic photographs of human
radiations and of human thought. For instance, calm,
peaceful emotions are said to produce pictures of softly
homogeneous light, or the appearance of a gentle
shower of snowflakes against a black background;
whereas sad or violent passions suggest, in the
arrangement of the light and shadows, the idea of a whirlpool or
revolving storm, somewhat like a meteorological diagram
representing a cyclone. If these photographs are
really what they are  believed to be, they would seem to
indicate that, in our

ordinary normal condition, we emit
radiations which are regulated and flow forth in smooth,
even succession; but when violent emotions, such as
anger or fear, break through the control of the will and
take possession of us, they produce a violent and confused

There is no reason, a priori, why the
soul should not be a space-occupying body, save for the
tradition of theology. For all that we know, the
soul might be a point of force, existing within and
animating some sort of ethereal body, which corresponds, in
size and shape, to our material body. But at all
events, there is an abundance of very good testimony to the
effect that the shape of the spiritual body corresponds
to that of the material body; and, as such, it
certainly occupies space, and possibly has weight also. It might
and it might not ; it is a question of evidence. It
will have to be settled, if at all, not by
speculations, but by facts. Are there any facts, then, that would seem
to indicate that the soul might be photographed ? Have
we any evidence that the soul may be photographed —
say, at the moment of death? If so, we should have
advanced a great step in our knowledge of this subject.  

Before I adduce the evidence on this
point, however, it may be well to illustrate the fact
that there is no inherent absurdity in the idea, as many
might suppose. Of course the spiritual body would have
to be material enough to reflect light waves, but
where is the evidence that it is not? There seems to be much
evidence, on the contrary, that it is. It must be
remembered that the camera will disclose innumerable
things quite in- visible to the naked eye, or even to
the eye aided by the strongest glasses or telescopes.
Normally, we can see but a few hundred stars in the sky ;
with the aid of telescopes, we can see many thousand; but
the photographic camera discloses more than twenty
! Here, then, is direct evidence that the
camera can observe things which we cannot see; and,
indeed, this whole process of sight or “seeing”
is a far more complicated one than most persons imagine. As Sir
Oliver Lodge has pointed out, there is no reason why
we should not be enabled to photograph a spirit, when
we can photo- graph an image in a mirror — which is
composed simply of vibrations, and reflected vibrations
at that ! We are a long way from the tangible thing, in
such a case ; and yet we are enabled to photograph it
with an ordinary camera. Any disturbance in the ether we
should be enabled to photograph likewise — if
only we had delicate enough instruments, and if the
“conditions” for the experiment were favourable. The
phenomena of spirit- photography, and especially the
experiments of Dr. Baraduc, to which I shall presently
refer, would seem to indicate this.  

These experiments, as well as those that
are about to follow, gain greater credibility when
considered in the light of the newer experimental
researches in physics, which demonstrate, apparently, that
matter can be made to disintegrate and disappear, and can
be again re- formed from invisible vortices in the
ether into sufficiently solid bodies to be photographed
by the sensitive plate. In his remarkable work, The
Evolution of Matter
, Dr. Gustave Le Bon has devoted a
whole section of his argument to what he has
denominated “the dematerialization of matter.” He
proves by experiments in the physical laboratory that matter
can dissociate,  and vanish into apparent nothingness.
What really takes place, however, is that the solid
matter, as we have been accustomed to conceive it, is
resolved into its finer constituent parts — not only into
the material atoms of which it is composed, but these
atoms are in turn dissociated and resolved into a series
of etheric vortices, invisible to normal sense perception.
Apparently, therefore, matter has ceased to be, as such;
and, in fact, it has been resolved into energy!
Conversely, Dr. Le Bon proved that, by producing artificial
equilibria of the elements arising from the dissociation
of matter, he could succeed in creating, with immaterial
particles, “some- thing singularly resembling
matter.” These equilibria were maintained a sufficient length of
time to enable them to be photographed.  

On p. 164 of Dr. Le Bon’s Evolution of
, are to be found photographs of what is
practically materialized matter. This author says, in part: 

“Such equilibria can only be
maintained for a moment. If we were able to isolate and
fix them for good — that is to say, so that they would
survive their generating cause — we should have
succeeded in creating with immaterial particles something
singularly resembling matter. The enormous quantity of
energy condensed within the atom shows the
impossibility of realizing such an experiment. But, if we
cannot with immaterial things effect equilibria,
able to survive the cause which gave them birth, we can at
least maintain them for a sufficiently long time to
photograph them, and thus create a sort of momentary materialization.” 

If, therefore, physical science now
admits, as it does, that vibrations, or disturbances in the
ether, can be photographed, there is no longer any a
objection to these experiments by Dr. Baraduc —
which claim, merely, that similar vibrations have
been photographed — such vibrations being the external
modification or impression left upon the ether by the
causal thought.  

So much for theoretical possibilities:
now for the facts.

Two small
photographs, one showing a  face, the
other a series of small starlike markings, were sent to me by a member of the
Society for the Study  of Psychic
Photography, of England. Writing of these
prints, my correspondent says:

“A week or so ago we distributed
one hundred and  ten strips of sensitive
film, in light-tight packages, for  friends
of the members to ‘wear.’ This was done with
the idea of ascertaining approximately what percentage  of individuals possessed this gift. We agreed
that the films should be carried about for a week, and where possible worn
round the forehead at night. The experiment proved more successful than we had
anticipated, since six out of the one hundred and ten films were more or less
affected. The two best results are those shown on the prints enclosed

These results are quite in keeping with
some that have lately been obtained in California. In a recent communication
which I have received from Mr. Vincent Jones, Vice-President of the California
Psychical Research Society, — under whose auspices the experiment was
undertaken — he says:

“Then we tried thought-photography. I
bought some ordinary plates, which were opened in the dark-room of an X-ray
laboratory. The plate was inclosed within an envelope of opaque black paper and
this in another envelope. It was then suspended about twelve inches in front of
the eyes of the sitting experimenter.

“This experimenter first wrote
down on a slip of paper the thing he was going to concentrate on, folded it and
handed it to a committee. Then he sat and concentrated for ten minutes. The
plate was then developed, and contained the image, clear and strong and
unmistakable, of a cross. This proved
to be the subject handed to the committee.” (See Fig. 3.)

As might be expected, many of these
“psychic photographs” take on the characteristics of “spirit-photographs,”
in that they show definitely recognizable forms. This is especially true of a
number of psychic photographs which were recently taken at Crewe, England, in
the presence of two nonprofessional mediums, who have, nevertheless, obtained
hundreds of successful photographs in this manner. Regarding their experiments,
a correspondent writes me:

“They are not professionals and
charge no fee. A nominal charge is made for prints. … I do not know of anyone who has sat with the
Crewe circle who has not been satisfied that fraud, at any rate, will not explain
these things. Those who have not been and who know nothing of the subject, say
just the opposite… . Many of the results in themselves rule out faking. I have
had many sittings with these mediums and have not the slightest doubt whatever
regarding their absolute genuineness. In fact, in some of the tests I have carried
out with them, faking would have been quite impossible, even had they been
desirous of tricking. I speak as an amateur photographer of many years’ standing,
in touch with photography every working day of his life.”

Several photographs obtained at this
now-famous Crewe circle are reproduced herewith. Certainly it is true that such
photographs might be obtained by means of double exposure, double printing and
other devices; but the point is that we have the word of an expert photographer
that they were not produced in this
manner; and when once their genuine character is admitted, they assume very
great interest, no matter what view we may care to take as to the results.

Miss Estelle Stead, daughter of the late
W. T. Stead, writing of her experiences with this same group of psychics, says:

“I have several times, since he
passed on, obtained photos of my father on the same plate I took with me, under the most rigid test-conditions
on plates which I have never let out of my sight, save for the few moments they
were in the camera for my photo to be taken.

"I also obtained a splendid photo
of my brother, who passed over in 1907. He promised that before I went for the
sitting he would be photographed instead of Father, if he could manage it. I
said nothing of this to the lady who sat with me for the photograph to be
taken, or to the photographer. I put my own marked plate in the slide myself,
and stood by while it was developed. My brother’s face appeared quite as plainly
as mine, and has been recognized by many who knew him in life. He was seldom
photographed while here, and certainly never with his head in exactly the position
it is in this photograph, received nine years after his death.

"It is only natural that those who
have passed over in the war should, when conditions allow, use this means of
establishing their identity, and many have done so successfully! One case of
particular interest is that of a boy who was blown to pieces in France last
year. His mother wrote in great distress to a friend in Edinburgh stating that
the boy had been killed. This friend had not seen the boy since his
school-days, but being interested in spiritualism, and able to get in touch
with those on the ‘other side,’ she asked her father, who had passed over, if
it would be possible for the boy to be photographed. He said it was doubtful,
but they would do their best. She therefore made arrangements to have a sitting
with the Crewe mediums, who possess this power which enables those on the other
side to manifest sufficiently to be photographed.

"Two plates were exposed, and on
one side, beside the photo of the lady herself, there is an unmistakable photo
of the boy. I have seen it, and a photo of the boy
taken before lie went to France, and there is no mistaking the likeness. She
sent the pictures to his parents, who before this had not been believers in the
possibility of communication with those who have passed on — with the result
that they are now convinced of it, and have received several comforting and
assuring messages from their boy.”

“We see how imperceptibly ordinary
psychic photographs shade off into those more definitely spiritistic in character.
This is true in nearly all phenomena in this realm. It is hard to draw any
hard-and-fast line, and say: "This is due to powers within our own being,
and this is due to external spiritual
beings!” They merge one into the other so gradually that it is extremely
difficult to draw any line of demarcation between the two.”

Certainly some of these photographs are due to the thoughts or other psychic activities
of the sitter. Thus we can hardly suppose that the “spirits” of
bottles, walking-sticks and eagles (as in Darget’s experiments) were actually
present, and that they impressed themselves upon the photographic plate! Again,
some pictures show us a definite face, which we cannot attribute to any outside
influence. The experimenter merely thought of the face, and it appeared upon
the plate.

This being so, how can we ever obtain
proof that the forms and faces which appear upon photographic plates are those
of discarnate spirits, — even though they appear and are recognized, — since we
know that mental images or memories of faces have been photographed in just
this manner?

That is indeed a difficult problem: it
is very like that which confronts us in the case of any good trance-medium.
Inasmuch as telepathy is a fact, and the medium almost certainly derives some of the facts from one ’s mind, or
from the minds of other living people, how can we ever prove “survival”
— the actual communication of our spirit friends?

We can only apply the same sort of
tests in the one case as in the other. We must discount all those facts which
might possibly have been obtained normally, or by telepathy, and pin our faith
on those which could not possibly, or conceivably, have been obtained in this way.
Similarly, we must assume that all psychic photographs represent normal markings
upon the plates, or the emotions or thoughts of the sitter, or the vital radiations
issuing from his body, until indisputable proof to the contrary be forthcoming.
(It may be added that some very striking evidence of identity has been obtained
in this manner, from time to time in the past, and is now being obtained in
various circles both in this country and abroad.)

Regarding these “vital
radiations” issuing from the body, a number of interesting experiments
were under-taken in this connection in Poland, Paris and elsewhere. M. Durville
obtained imprints of hands, from which emanated streaks of light, as though the
hands were radio-active ; indeed in no other way can we account for these

I next present a remarkable series of
photographs, kindly lent to me by Lady Glenconner, — to whom I am indebted for
permission to reproduce them. These photographs were taken at the ’ ’ Crewe
Circle, ’ ’ in the presence of Mr. Hope, the medium. Personally, I have never had
the opportunity to attend a Crewe séance, and hence cannot speak of the evidential
value of these pictures from first-hand evidence. All I can say is that Mr. Hope
is not a professional ’ ’ medium, ’ ’ in the usual sense of the term, since he
receives no payment for his services; that no evidence of fraud, in connection
with his photographs, has ever been forthcoming; and that rigid test conditions
have, apparently, been enforced on a number of occasions, when successful
“extras” were obtained upon the plates. In practically all the cases known
to me, the sitters provided their own marked plates, placed them in the camera
themselves, took them out themselves, and developed them themselves. Such, I
understand, were the conditions under which the accompanying photographs were
obtained. All that Mr. Hope does is to place his (opened) hands upon the plate-holders, after the plates have been
inserted therein, and before these are placed in the camera. It is during this period
that the psychic “extras,” appearing upon the plates, are thought to
appear; or at all events it is this “magnetizing” of the plates which
renders them susceptible to impressions which would not be recorded upon
ordinary plates. How far this belief of the sitters coincides with the actual
facts of course I cannot say.

The first photograph shows us Lady
Glenconner, seated, with a clearly-defined face over her right arm. This face
is enshrouded in the same curious mist-like
“clothing,”’ common to “spirit” photographs, and materialized
forms, and especially evident in all the Crewe pictures. The face is, I
understand, recognizable as that of a lost friend. (Fig. 4.)

The second photograph is one of Lady
Glenconner and her son, — a faint, whitish mist appearing over (or on) her left
shoulder. This is interesting for the reason that, some time before this
picture was taken, a “spirit” had announced through another medium in London
that he would appear in one of Hope’s
photographs and place his hand on her left shoulder
. Within the whitish
mist-like mass, a hand and arm are clearly distinguishable, upon close
examination. (Fig. 5.) In photograph
number 6 (with a different sitter)
the double impression of a face is
clearly seen, almost obliterating the face of the sitter. These faces appear sideways, and represent a woman’s face,
— wearing glasses! This same woman’s face appears in the next picture (No. 7) no less than three times; the
uppermost face is the clearest, the one to the right next best, while the
lowermost “face” is little more than a misty impression, — in which,
however, the eyes are quite clear. This photograph is, on any theory, it seems
to me, a very striking and suggestive one, and seems to indicate that the
“spirit” attempted three different times to appear and impress the
plate, with the greatest strength the first time, and with gradually
diminishing energy or power thereafter. This, at least, is the appearance of the
facts, and such an interpretation is, it may be said, in strict conformity with
the statements made through Mrs. Piper, and other reliable mediums, as to the
difficulties actually experienced, in attempting to “communicate.” To my
mind, — though I do not know the pre- cise conditions under which the picture
was obtained — this is a most suggestive and remarkable photograph, strongly
indicative of the spiritistic theory.

In the next illustration (No. 8), a white cloud appears over the
sitter’s head. There are traces of two "faces” in this cloud, but
they are too uncertain to be emphasized. In the next picture, however (No. 9), a face, clearly visible, and
enveloped in the usual white mist-like drapery, appears. It is to be noted that
the “face” is, in this case, about twice the size of the sitters’
heads, as though the “extra” were much nearer the camera. It is,
however, still in focus!

Photograph No. 10 shows us Lady Glenconner, and upon the plate a number of
“extras” appearing at various “angles” in relation to the
sitter’s head — some of them at right angles, some of them upside down, etc. (The
“cracks” are merely defects upon the plate.) Upon examination, it will
be seen that all these faces represent one man, who, apparently, has made a
number of separate attempts to “appear” at this sitting. An enlargement
of this face is given in photograph No.
, where the features are quite distinguishable. There are several
peculiarities about this face, however, which a closer examination will reveal.
The enormous left ear is one of these — mal-formed, or as though in the process
of formation. The right side of the head, on the other hand, is partly
enveloped in a whitish cloud, through which the outline of the face is faintly perceptible.
Further impressions of this same face are shown in photograph No. 12, when several
“impressions” were again obtained, all clearly recognizable. In the
right-hand photograph, the whitish mass seems to have been just removed from
about the head, and it will be seen that part of this still remains, like a
thin veil, in front of the lower part of the face (under the eyes) and up the
left-hand side of the head. This, to me, is a very curious circumstance.

Having thus “cleared the ground,“ so to speak, let us now consider the more startling statements and
experiments by Dr. Baraduc, summarized by him in his work, ‘Mes Morts; leurs Manifestations’, etc.,
later on in the account.

At a quarter-past nine, on a certain
memorable day in April, 1907, died André M. Joseph Baraduc, at the age of
nineteen years. Throughout his life there had been a close bond of affection
between himself and his father, and we are assured that during the lifetime of
the son, telepathic communication had been frequent between them. When he was
but nineteen it was discovered that Andre was suffering from that dread
disease, consumption; and henceforward he grew rapidly worse, dying within the
year. Toward the close of this year he made two visits to Lourdes, without,
however, receiving much benefit in either case, and returning apparently
without augmented faith in the cures brought about at that centre. Andre was
exceedingly religious in temperament, as was his father, and both were given to
experiments in psychic research. We are informed that, during the lifetime of
the son, his "astral” form had been experimentally separated from his
bodily frame on more than one occasion. It was only natural to suppose,
therefore, that, at the death of this favourite son, the father’s grief should
be so intense that the emotional reflex found expression in various visions and
apparent conversations with the dead boy. For within six hours after the death
of Andre, the son appeared to his father, and thenceforth many apparitions were
seen, and several long conversations were apparently held between father and
son. Of course, these in themselves would, under the circumstances, have no evidential
value, since it is only natural to suppose that hallucinations, both of sight
and hearing, would result in a mind so wrought.

These subjective and apparently
telepathic experiences of Dr. Baraduc cannot, therefore, be considered of value
; but the objective experiences — that is to say, the experiments performed by
him are of great interest, since one can hardly suppose that the camera can be hallucinated, because of
the grief of the photographer! The impressions left upon the plates, then, such
as they are, have their evidential and scientific value, and it is to a
consideration of these photographs that we now turn.

Nine hours after the death of André,
Dr. Baraduc took the first photograph of the coffin in which the body was
deposited. When this plate was developed, it was discovered that, emanating
from the coffin, was a formless, misty, wave-like mass, radiating in all
directions with considerable force, impinging upon the bodies of those who came
into close proximity to the coffin, as though attracted to them by some
magnetic force. On one occasion, indeed, the force of this projected fluidic emanation
was so great that Dr. Baraduc received an electric shock from head to foot,
which produced a temporary vertigo. Emerging from the body are dark, tree- shaped
emanations, issuing in formal lines, which gradually diverge, and become more
and more attenuated and misty as they recede further and further from the body.
Although this photograph  does not in
itself prove anything supernormal, it is highly suggestive, and it aroused Dr.
Baraduc’s interest in the subject, and enabled him to pursue his more
conclusive experiments immediately upon the death of his wife. (Figs. 13, 14.)

Six months after the death of André,
Nadine, Dr. Baraduc’s wife and the mother of André, passed quietly away, giving
vent, at the moment of her death, to “three gentle sighs.” Remembering
the result of the former experiments (photographing the body of André shortly after
his death), Dr. Baraduc had prepared a camera beside the bed of his wife, and,
at the moment of her death, photographed the body, and shortly after developed
the plate. Upon it were found three luminous globes resting a few inches above
the body. These gradually condensed and became more brilliant. Streaks of
light, like fine threads, were also seen darting hither and thither. A quarter
of an hour after the death of his wife, Dr. Baraduc took another photograph. Fluidic
cords were seen to have developed, partly encircling these globes of light. At
three o’clock in the afternoon, or an hour after her death, another photograph
was taken. It will be seen from this photograph that the three globes of light
have condensed and coalesced into one, obscuring the head of Madame Baraduc, and
developing towards the right. Cords were formed in the shape of a figure eight,
closed at the top, and opened at the point nearest the body. Thus, as the globe
develops in one direction, the cords seem to be- come more tense, and pull in
the opposite direction. The separation becomes more and more complete, until finally,
three and a half hours after death, a well-formed globe rested above the body,
apparently held together by the encircling, luminous cords, which seemed also to
guide and control it. At this moment, the globe becomes separated from the
body, and, guided by the cords, floats into Dr. Baraduc’s bedroom. He speaks to
the globe intensely; the globe thereupon approaches him, and he feels an icy
cold breeze, which seems to surround and issue from the ball of light. It then
floats away and disappears.

Frequently, within the next few days
after these experiments, Dr. Baraduc saw similar globes in various parts of the
house. By means of automatic writing, obtained through the hand of a
non-professional psychic, he succeeded at last in establishing communication
with this luminous ball, and was informed that it was the encasement of Madame
Baraduc’s soul, which was still active and alive within it ! It was asserted that,
as the days progressed, the encircling cords were one by one snapped, and that
the spirit more nearly assumed the astral body facsimile of the earthly body.
André, however, was seen by him to be a completely developed astral body; and
his wife asserted that she too would shortly take her place beside André in her
permanent form. As further photographs were not developed, however, there is no
experimental evidence confirming these statements.

Although these initial experiments of
Dr. Baraduc cannot, of themselves, be considered conclusive, they are nevertheless
highly interesting, and should lead to further research in the same direction.
The evidence afforded by apparitions, single and collective; by haunted houses;
the indirect testimony afforded by the apparent psychic perception by animals;
the evidence, such as it is, for “spirit photography”; the recent
experiments in thought-photography, and the photographs made at the seances of
Eusapia Palladino, all tend to confirm, it seems to me, the conclusions arrived
at by Dr. Baraduc, as the result of his preliminary researches. If an astral body
of some sort exists, it must occupy space; and, being space-occupying, must, a
priori, be material enough to occupy it ! “Whether or not this material is
sufficiently solid to reflect light waves, and make an impression upon the
sensitive plate of the camera, is an aspect of the problem still open to

– Hereward Carrington, The problems of psychical research; experiments and theories in the realm of the supernormal. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Company, 1921. pp. 159-171.

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Jaroslav Panuska, Witch. Tempera on paper

1898-1901. Source.  A tip of the hat to the excellent Monster Brains blog for featuring Panuska recently.

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“Prisoner Who Broke Jail is Still At Large,” Montreal Star. October 31, 1921. Page 03.

Got Away from St. Vincent de Paul Early Yesterday Morning


Twenty Years for Attempted Murder Was His Sentence

No trace has yet been found of S. H. Preston, alias Harry Bryson, who escaped from the St. Vincent de Paul Penitentiary between 2 and 3 o’clock Sunday morning, although the penitentiary authorities and the city police both state that they have reason to believe him to be in hiding in Montreal. The prisoner was serving a twenty-year term for the attempted murder of Sam Salhani on September 3, 1920.

A man believed to be the escaped prisoner broke into the office of the station agent at Bordeaux C. P. R. station on Sunday morning and stole $12 from the till. It is then supposed that he proceeded to Montreal, where his mother lives. A search of his mother’s home at 42a Anderson street by city detectives yesterday failed to reveal any trace of the wanted man, but the police remain confident in their theory that he is somewhere in the city. To further the search for the missing prisoner a reward of $50 is offered by Colonel Girouard, warden of the penitentiary, to anyone giving information that would lead to his apprehension.

Daring Escape
The escape of Preston is one of the most daring and clever efforts recorded in the annals of the penitentiary. An official statement on the escape is lacking, owing to the reluctance of Warden Girouard to issue a report until a full inquiry has been made, but it is know that Preston made his get-away without the cognizance of any of the guards, and his absence was not discovered until the roll-call for church service, was taken at 8 o’clock Sunday morning.

The prisoner escaped from his cell by sawing through the bars guarding the window, and climbed down the wall to the ground on a rope pieced together from his bed clothes. In order that his absence might not be noticed by the guard, he built a dummy out of his convict uniform, which he stuffed with other clothing, and placed in his cot.

Got a Rifle?
According to a report received by the city police Preston escaped with a repeating rifle and a revolver, although whether he obtained these weapons in the jail before leaving or secured them outside is not clear. A man answering to his description was seen by a farm of St. Vincent de Paul walking in the direction of Laval des Rapides and carrying a gun.

The description of the escaped prisoner issued by Colonel Girouard is as follows: Twenty years of age, weights 135 lbs., 5 feet 7 ¾ inches tall, grey eyes and medium complexion. He bears a scar on the right side of the forehead and two scars on the left arm above the wrist. He speaks English, being born in England. He wore a pair of dark overalls, having left his other penitentiary clothes in his bed.

The offence for which Preston was sentenced was an attack upon San Salhani, who kept an ice cream store at 344 St. Catherine street east, while the latter was sleeping on his premises. Seeing Preston entering the place Salhani sprang at him with a knife, and Preston replied with three shots from his revolver without wounding Salhani, however. Preston then fled but was traced by blood stains to the corner of Lagauchetiere and St. Dominique street, where he collapsed as a result of the wounds inflicted by Salhani. After his arrest he changed a plea of not guilty to one of guilty on the charge of attempted murder, and was sentenced to twenty years in St. Vincent de Paul by Mr. Justice Monet on November 20, 1920.

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I. The tendency to occultism is a symptom of regression in consciousness. This has lost the power to think the unconditional and to endure the conditional. Instead of defining both, in their unity and difference, by conceptual labour, it mixes them indiscriminately. The unconditional becomes fact, the conditional an immediate essence. Monotheism is decomposing into a second mythology. “I believe in astrology because I do not believe in God”, one participant in an American socio-psychological investigation answered. Judicious reason, that had elevated itself to the notion of one God, seems ensnared in his fall. Spirit is dissociated into spirits and thereby forfeits the power to recognize that they do not exist. The veiled tendency of society towards disaster lulls its victims in a false revelation, with a hallucinated phenomenon. In vain they hope in its fragmented blatancy to look their total doom in the eye and withstand it. Panic breaks once again, after millennia of enlightenment, over a humanity whose control of nature as control of men far exceeds in horror anything men ever had to fear from nature.

II. The second mythology is more untrue than the first. The latter was the precipitate of the state of knowledge of successive epochs, each of which showed its consciousness to be some degrees more free of blind subservience to nature than had the previous. The former, deranged and bemused, throws away the hard-won knowledge of itself in the midst of a society which, by the all-encompassing exchange-relationship, eliminates precisely the elemental power the occultists claim to command. The helmsman looking to the Dioscuri, the attribution of animation to tree and spring, in all their deluded bafflement before the unexplained, were historically appropriate to the subject’s experience of the objects of his actions. As a rationally exploited reaction to rationalized society, however, in the booths and consulting rooms of seers of all gradations, reborn animism denies the alienation of which it is itself proof and product, and concocts surrogates for non-existent experience. The occultist draws the ultimate conclusion from the fetish-character of commodities: menacingly objectified labour assails him on all sides from demonically grimacing objects. What has been forgotten in a world congealed into products, the fact that it has been produced by men, is split off and misremembered as a being-in-itself added to that of the objects and equivalent to them. Because objects have frozen in the cold light of reason, lost their illusory animation, the social quality that now animates them is given an independent existence both natural and supernatural, a thing among things.

III. By its regression to magic under late capitalism, thought is assimilated to late capitalist forms. The asocial twilight phenomena in the margins of the system, the pathetic attempts to squint through the chinks in its walls, while revealing nothing of what is outside, illuminate all the more clearly the forces of decay within. The bent little fortune-tellers terrorizing their clients with crystal balls are toy models of the great ones who hold the fate of mankind in their hands. Just as hostile and conspiratorial as the obscurantists of psychic research is society itself. The hypnotic power exerted by things occult resembles totalitarian terror: in present-day processes the two are merged. The smiling of auguries is amplified to society’s sardonic laughter at itself; gloating over the direct material exploitation of souls. The horoscope corresponds to the official directives to the nations, and number-mysticism is preparation for administrative statistics and cartel prices. Integration itself proves in the end to be an ideology for disintegration into power groups which exterminate each other. He who integrates is lost.

IV. Occultism is a reflex-action to the subjectification of all meaning, the complement of reification. If; to the living, objective reality seems deaf as never before, they try to elicit meaning from it by saying abracadabra. Meaning is attributed indiscriminately to the next worst thing: the rationality of the real, no longer quite convincing, is replaced by hopping tables and rays from heaps of earth. The offal of the phenomenal world becomes, to sick consciousness, the mundus intelligibilis. It might almost be speculative truth, just as Kafka’s Odradek might almost be an angel, and yet it is, in a positivity that excludes the medium of thought, only barbaric aberration alienated from itself, subjectivity mistaking itself for its object. The more consummate the inanity of what is fobbed off as “spirit” – and in anything less spiritless the enlightened subject would at once recognize itself, – the more the meaning detected there, which in fact is not there at all, becomes an unconscious, compulsive projection of a subject decomposing historically if not clinically. It would like to make the world resemble its own decay: therefore it has dealings with requisites and evil wishes. “The third one reads out of my hand,/ She wants to read my doom!” In occultism the mind groans under its own spell like someone in a nightmare, whose torment grows with the feeling that he is dreaming yet cannot wake up.

V. The power of occultism, as of Fascism, to which it is connected by thought-patterns of the ilk of anti-semitism, is not only pathic. Rather it lies in the fact that in the lesser panaceas, as in superimposed pictures, consciousness famished for truth imagines it is grasping a dimly present knowledge diligently denied to it by official progress in all its forms. It is the knowledge that society, by virtually excluding the possibility of spontaneous change, is gravitating towards total catastrophe. The real absurdity is reproduced in the astrological hocus-pocus, which adduces the impenetrable connections of alienated elements – nothing more alien than the stars – as knowledge about the subject. The menace deciphered in the constellations resembles the historical threat that propagates itself precisely through unconsciousness, absence of subjects. That all are prospective victims of a whole made up solely of themselves, they can only make bearable by transferring that whole to something similar but external. In the woeful idiocy they practice, their empty horror, they are able to vent their impracticable woe, their crass fear of death, and yet continue to repress it, as they must if they wish to go on living. The break in the line of life that indicates a lurking cancer is a fraud only in the place where it purports to be found, the individual’s hand; where they refrain from diagnosis, in the collective, it would be correct. Occultists rightly feel drawn towards childishly monstrous scientific fantasies. The confusion they sow between their emanations and the isotopes of uranium is ultimate clarity. The mystical rays are modest anticipations of technical ones. Superstition is knowledge, because it sees together the ciphers of destruction scattered on the social surface; it is folly, because in all its death-wish it still clings to illusions: expecting from the transfigured shape of society misplaced in the skies an answer that only a study of real society can give.

VI. Occultism is the metaphysic of dunces. The mediocrity of the mediums is no more accidental than the apocryphal triviality of the revelations. Since the early days of spiritualism the Beyond has communicated nothing more significant than the dead grandmother’s greetings and the prophecy of an imminent journey. The excuse that the world of spirits can convey no more to poor human reason than the latter can take in, is equally absurd, an auxiliary hypothesis of the paranoiac system; the lumen naturale has, after all, taken us somewhat further than the journey to grandmother, and if the spirits do not wish to acknowledge this, they are ill-mannered hobgoblins with whom it is better to break off all dealings. The platitudinously natural content of the supernatural message betrays its untruth. In pursuing yonder what they have lost, they encounter only the nothing they have. In order not to lose touch with the everyday dreariness in which, as irremediable realists, they are at home, they adapt the meaning they revel in to the meaninglessness they flee. The worthless magic is nothing other than the worthless existence it lights up. This is what makes the prosaic so cosy. Facts which differ from what is the case only by not being facts are trumped up as a fourth dimension. Their non-being alone is their qualitas occulta. They supply simpletons with a world outlook. With their blunt, drastic answers to every question, the astrologists and spiritualists do not so much solve problems as remove them by crude premisses from all possibility of solution. Their sublime realm, conceived as analogous to space, no more needs to be thought than chairs and flower-vases. It thus reinforces conformism. Nothing better pleases what is there than that being there should, as such, be meaning.

VII. The great religions have either, like Judaism after the ban on graven images, veiled the redemption of the dead in silence, or preached the resurrection of the flesh. They take the inseparability of the spiritual and physical seriously. For them there was no intention, nothing “spiritual”, that was not somehow founded in bodily perception and sought bodily fulfilment. To the occultists, who consider the idea of resurrection beneath them, and actually do not want to be saved, this is too coarse. Their metaphysics, which even Huxley can no longer distinguish from metaphysics, rest on the axiom: “The soul can soar to the heights, heigh-ho, / the body stays put on the sofa below.” The heartier the spirituality, the more mechanistic: not even Descartes drew the line so cleanly. Division of labour and reification are taken to the extreme: body and soul severed in a kind of perennial vivisection. The soul is to shake the dust off its feet and in brighter regions forthwith resume its fervent activity at the exact point where it was interrupted. In this declaration of independence, however, the soul becomes a cheap imitation of that from which it had achieved a false emancipation. In place of the interaction that even the most rigid philosophy admitted, the astral body is installed, ignominious concession of hypostasized spirit to its opponent. Only in the metaphor of the body can the concept of pure spirit be grasped at all, and is at the same time cancelled. In their reification the spirits are already negated.

VIII. They inveigh against materialism. But they want to weigh the astral body. The objects of their interest are supposed at once to transcend the possibility of experience, and be experienced. Their procedure is to be strictly scientific; the greater the humbug, the more meticulously the experiment is prepared. The self-importance of scientific checks is taken ad absurdum where there is nothing to check. The same rationalistic and empiricist apparatus that threw the spirits out is being used to reimpose them on those who no longer trust their own reason. As if any elemental spirit would not turn tail before the traps that domination of nature sets for such fleeting beings. But even this the occultists turn to advantage. Because the spirits do not like controls, in the midst of all the safety precautions a tiny door must be left open, through which they can make their unimpeded entrance. For the occultists are practical folk. Not driven by vain curiosity, they are looking for tips. From the stars to forward transactions is but a nimble step. Usually the information amounts to no more than that some poor acquaintance has had his dearest hopes dashed.

IX. The cardinal sin of occultism is the contamination of mind and existence, the latter becoming itself an attribute of mind. Mind arose out of existence, as an organ for keeping alive. In reflecting existence, however, it becomes at the same time something else. The existent negates itself as thought upon itself. Such negation is mind’s element. To attribute to it positive existence, even of a higher order, would be to deliver it up to what it opposes. Late bourgeois ideology has again made it what it was for pre-animism, a being-in-itself modelled on the social division of labour, on the split between manual and intellectual labour, on the planned domination over the former. In the concept of mind-in-itself consciousness has ontologically justified and perpetuated privilege by making it independent of the social principle by which it is constituted. Such ideology explodes in occultism: it is Idealism come full circle. Just by virtue of the rigid antithesis of being and mind, the latter becomes a department of being. If Idealism demanded solely on behalf of the whole, the Idea, that being be mind and that the latter exist, occultism draws the absurd conclusion that existence is determinate being: “Existence, after it has become, is always being with a non-being, so that this non-being is taken up in simple unity with the being. Non-being taken up in being, the fact that the concrete whole is in the form of being, of immediacy, constitutes determinateness as such.”1 The occultists take literally the non-being in “simple unity with being”, and their kind of concreteness is a surreptitious short-cut from the whole to the determinate which can defend itself by claiming that the whole, having once been determined, is no longer the whole. They call to metaphysics: Hic Rhodus hic salta: if the philosophic investment of spirit with existence is determinable, then finally, they sense, any scattered piece of existence must be justifiable as a particular spirit. The doctrine of the existence of the Spirit, the ultimate exaltation of bourgeois consciousness, consequently bore teleologically within it the belief in spirits, its ultimate degradation. The shift to existence, always “positive” and justifying the world, implies at the same time the thesis of the positivity of mind, pinning it down, transposing the absolute into appearance. Whether the whole objective world, as “product”, is to be spirit, or a particular thing a particular spirit, ceases to matter, and the world-spirit becomes the supreme Spirit, the guardian angel of the established, despiritualized order. On this the occultists live: their mysticism is the enfant terrible of the mystical moment in Hegel. They take speculation to the point of fraudulent bankruptcy. In passing off determinate being as mind, or spirit, they put objectified mind to the test of existence, which must prove negative. No spirit exists.

– Theodor Adorno, “Theses Against Occultism,” Minima Moralia. Trans., E.F.N. Jephcott (London: Verso, 1978), section 151, pp. 238-244.


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“Inmates Disliked Diet, Minister Tells House,” The Globe
& Mail
. October 30, 1947. Page 05.

“One way to beat the rising costs of living is to get a job as guard at Burwash
Industrial Farm near Sudbury. There you can buy bread for four cents a loaf,
milk at five cents a quart, potatoes at three cents a pound, and other
vegetables for a cent a pound.

Reform Institutions Minister Dunbar gave these figures when
making a statement in the legislature about the recent disturbances at Burwash,
which were followed by a series of escapes. Ross McEwing (Lib., Wellington
North) asked for a statement because, as he said, people are alarmed at these
prisoners running at large.

Mr. Dunbar said he welcomed the question because there was
nothing to hide, and if there was any criticism for treating the prisoners like
human beings he was ready to accept the responsibility.

While there had been a little trouble at Burwash, he pointed
out that the prisoners made only three specific complaints. They didn’t like
the steady diet of mashed potatoes, but wanted them boiled or fried for a
change. They also complained about the medical service, and this was being
reviewed by an official of the Health Department. The third complaint was that
there wasn’t sufficient P.T. exercises as compared with the program at Guelph.

In analyzing the trouble at Burwash, Mr. Dunbar said it
should be kept in mind that there are 723 men there, scattered over 5,000
acres, in care of 170 guards. Many of the men worked without supervision, and
he said he was surprised there weren’t more escapes.

At the time of the uprising there were a number of the
guards at Guelph taking training and these have returned. Other changes are
being made to strengthen the custody staff and with the advent of colder
weather, which serves to discourage prisoners taking to the bush, Mr. Dunbar
said he didn’t anticipate any further trouble.

In new institutions to be built, single rooms will replace
dormitories and this segregation will prevent the ‘bad men’ among the prisoners
from plotting wholesale disturbances, he remarked.

While there was dissatisfaction expressed by some of the
guards, Mr. Dunbar said they were treated fairly. In addition to obtaining staple
foods at rock-bottom prices, they are able to rent rooms and houses at prices
way below those prevailing at Guelph. Board and room is given to a single guard
for $19 a month; laundry for one dollar per month and medical and hospitalization
services for 25 cents a month.

A married man can rent a six-room bungalow from $15 to $18 a
month and the average rent is only $12.50. They also obtain the cheap medical
and hospitalization services available to single guards and if necessary a sick
guard is brought to Toronto if his case requires special treatment, without
extra charge.

‘If the guards don’t like their work, there is nothing to
stop them from quitting. It is a free country,’ remarked Mr. Dunbar.

He closed his remarks by issuing an open invitation to the
members of the House to visit any institution at any time to see conditions for

Later Mr. Dunbar issued to the press the following figures
on escapes from Burwash for the following fiscal years (April 1-March 31):                                   

Custody      Escapes           Recaptured

1942….            1,793               36                    36
1943….            1,577               15                    15

1944….            1,612               26                    25

1945….            1,744               26                    26        

1946….            1,176               24                    22

1947….            1,849               39                    38

From March 31 last up to the present there have been 32
escapes, 23 of the prisoners having been recaptured.

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“Les Agresseurs Du Bijou-Tier McKinley S’Evadent,” La Patrie. October 29, 1917. Page 03.

La nuit dernière avec un co-detenu les frères Isidore, forçats libérés et bandits des plus redoutables, acient un barreau en fer au bureau de la Sûreté et gagnent le sol à l’aide de leurs draps de lit.

Les frèrs Isidore possèdent un dossier extraordinatrement chargé. A l’âge de huit ans l’un d’eux cambriolait des établissements de commerce.

A qui la responsabilité?  

Les frères Isidore, les agresseurs du bijoutier McKinley, deux des plus redoutables bandits que la police connaisse, se sont évadés la nuit dernière d’une cellule du bureau de la Sûreté à l’annex de l’Hôtel-de-Ville où ils étaiet détenus avec un autre prévenu du nom de James Jeffrey qui les a suivis dans leur fuite.

Pour s’échapper les malfaiteurs ont scié un barreau en fer d’un chassis ouvrant à la hauteur du second étage sur la rue Saint-Louis. Avec leurs draps et couvertes de lit attachés à un autre barreau ils purent ensuite assez facilement se glisser jusqu’au sol.

Les deux Isidore, Samuel et Lionel, ont été arrêtés il y a une quinzaine de jours parl les détectives Morrel, Mercier, Weston et French sous l’accusation d’avoir pris part aux deux tentatives de meutre accompagnées de vol dont le bijoutier Samuel McKinley de la rue Sainte-Catherine fut en l’espace d’un mois la victime. A la suite de leurs aveux les détectives mirent en arrestation les nommés Joseph Tétrauit, Moe Richestone, Max Cohen et la femme Zella Rivest.

L’enquête pré;o,omaore dans cette affaire devait s’ouvrir ce matin devant le juge Saint-Cyr. A 11.30 hrs Mtre Lyon Jacobs qui occupe pour la poursuite demanda un ajournement. Les principaux inculpés s’étaient évadés des quartiers de la police.

Plusieurs avocats représentent la défense dans ces causes. Mtre S. W. Jacobs, C.R., défend le prévenu Moe Richstone, le seul qui ait réussi à recouvrer sa liberté sous cautionnement. Les autre avocats de la défense sont James Crankshaw, Jr., Mtres F.-N. Biron et Jules Delorimier.

A la suite des circonstances le Juge St-Cyr a ajourné l’instruction à lundi prochain. En attendant la femme Rivest et Joseph étrault demeureront à Bordeaux. L’avocat de la poursuite a appuyé sur ce point. Les cellules du bareau de la Sûreté ne sont plus sûres. Nous disions plus haut que les frères Isidore étaient de redoutables criminels. Voici leur dossier. ‘Sammy’ Isidore a été arrêté en 1907 pour vol avec effraction; sentence fut suspendue en ce case. En 1909, il comparaissait à nouveau devant le tribunal pour vol: sentence suspendue. La même année, nouvelle arrestation pour cambriolage; sentence suspendue. En 1910, nouvelle arrestation pour cambriolage: sentence suspendue. La mème année, arrêté pour cambriolage: condamnation à trois ans de réclusion. En 1911, Sammy Isidore avait trouvé moyen de recouvrer sa liberté puisqui’il était mis une fois de plus en arrestation pour cambriolage et condamné à cinq ans de réclusion.

Il avait alors 16 ans et fut interné à l’école de Réforme de Shawbridge. Il s’y retrouva avec son frère Lionel qui purgeait une condamnation pour vol et tous deux combinèrent une évasion qui réussi. 

Mais la même année Sammy Isidore était réarrêté et condamné à deux ans d’emprisonnement. Enfin en 1916 il comunettait un vol avec violence sur la personne d’une jeune homme du nom de Leslie Fox qui en plein jour dans une bâtisse de l’Université McGill était volé d’une somme de $150. Pous ce méfait Isiddore fut condamné à trois ans de bagne. Il ne devait pas y séjourner longtemps. Le 1er octobre il bénéficiait d’un ‘ticket of leave’ d’une mise en liberté conditionnelle. 

Lionel Isidore, le frèrer de ‘Sammy’, a commis son premier vol à l’âge de huit ans, en 1907. En 1909, il était arrêté pour la seconde fois pour cambriolage. Il bénéfis d’un verdict de sentence suspendue.

Il fut ensuite arrêté en 1913 pour cambriolage: sentene suspendue. En 1914, il est envoyé à Shawbridge pour une période de deux ans pour vol. Il s’évada avec son frère.

Le troisième évadé James Jeffrey a été arrêté vendredi dernier par les détectives Thibault et Walsh sous l’accusation de s’être introduit avec un compagnon du nom de Roméo Lafleur dans l’établissement de Salmon Berinbaum au No 723 de la rue Saint-Laurent et d’y avoir dérobé $800 de marchandises.

Ce n’est pas la première évasion qui a lieu au bureau de la

Sûreté. En descellant un barreau un noir s’est déjà échappé de sa cellule. Les barreaux en question sont d’un pouce d’épaisseur et en fer malléable faciles à scier. C’est le travail de cinq minutes avec un bon outil.

La nuit il ya quatre agents de garde au bureau de la Sûreté. Trois se couchent dans l’attente des appels qui peuvent les envoyer sur le théâtre d’un vol ou d’un crime.

Le quatrième est censé monter la garde toute la nuit et surveiller les détenus. La nuit dernière c’est le détective Lamont qui remplisssait ces fonctionss.

Tour à tour les détectives font cette nuit de surveillance entre leur besogne régulière du jour et celle du lendemain. La tâche est surhumaine. L’officier succombe au sommeil/ C’est ce qui est arrivé la nuit dernière et les malfaiteurs en ont profité. C’est le système qui est à blâmer.

Comment les évadés se sont-ils procuré la scie qui leur a permis the s’enfuir? Les détenus ne sont pas censés à mois de circomstances spéciales, recevoir de visites.

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I am sitting on my bed. A storm is coming, appropriately. A storm is always appropriate.

Franz Kafka, from a diary entry written c. December 1919, featured in Diaries, 1910-1923
(via kafkaesque-world)

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“The one thing that everyone who has read A Tale of Two Cities remembers is the Reign of Terror. The whole book is dominated by the guillotine — tumbrils thundering to and fro, bloody knives, heads bouncing into the basket, and sinister old women knitting as they watch. Actually these scenes only occupy a few chapters, but they are written with terrible intensity, and the rest of the book is rather slow going. But A Tale of Two Cities is not a companion volume to The Scarlet Pimpernel. Dickens sees clearly enough that the French Revolution was bound to happen and that many of the people who were executed deserved what they got. If, he says, you behave as the French aristocracy had behaved, vengeance will follow. He repeats this over and over again. We are constantly being reminded that while ‘my lord’ is lolling in bed, with four liveried footmen serving his chocolate and the peasants starving outside, somewhere in the forest a tree is growing which will presently be sawn into planks for the platform of the guillotine, etc., etc., etc. The inevitability of the Terror, given its causes, is insisted upon in the clearest terms:

It was too much the way… to talk of this terrible Revolution as if it were the only harvest ever known under the skies that had not been sown — as if nothing had ever been done, or omitted to be done, that had led to it — as if observers of the wretched millions in France, and of the misused and perverted resources that should have made them prosperous, had not seen it inevitably coming, years before, and had not in plain terms recorded what they saw.

And again:

All the devouring and insatiate monsters imagined since imagination could record itself, are fused in the one realization, Guillotine. And yet there is not in France, with its rich variety of soil and climate, a blade, a leaf, a root, a spring, a peppercorn, which will grow to maturity under conditions more certain than those that have produced this horror. Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms.

In other words, the French aristocracy had dug their own graves. But there is no perception here of what is now called historic necessity. Dickens sees that the results are inevitable, given the causes, but he thinks that the causes might have been avoided. The Revolution is something that happens because centuries of oppression have made the French peasantry sub-human. If the wicked nobleman could somehow have turned over a new leaf, like Scrooge, there would have been no Revolution, no jacquerie, no guillotine — and so much the better. This is the opposite of the ‘revolutionary’ attitude. From the ‘revolutionary’ point of view the class-struggle is the main source of progress, and therefore the nobleman who robs the peasant and goads him to revolt is playing a necessary part, just as much as the Jacobin who guillotines the nobleman. Dickens never writes anywhere a line that can be interpreted as meaning this. Revolution as he sees it is merely a monster that is begotten by tyranny and always ends by devouring its own instruments. In Sydney Carton’s vision at the foot of the guillotine, he foresees Defarge and the other leading spirits of the Terror all perishing under the same knife — which, in fact, was approximately what happened.

And Dickens is very sure that revolution is a monster. That is why everyone remembers the revolutionary scenes in A Tale of Two Cities; they have the quality of nightmare, and it is Dickens’s own nightmare. Again and again he insists upon the meaningless horrors of revolution — the mass-butcheries, the injustice, the ever-present terror of spies, the frightful blood-lust of the mob. The descriptions of the Paris mob — the description, for instance, of the crowd of murderers struggling round the grindstone to sharpen their weapons before butchering the prisoners in the September massacres — outdo anything in Barnaby Rudge. The revolutionaries appear to him simply as degraded savages — in fact, as lunatics. He broods over their frenzies with a curious imaginative intensity. He describes them dancing the ‘Carmagnole’, for instance:

There could not be fewer than five hundred people, and they were dancing like five thousand demons… They danced to the popular Revolution song, keeping a ferocious time that was like a gnashing of teeth in unison… They advanced, retreated, struck at one another’s hands, clutched at one another’s heads, spun round alone, caught one another, and spun around in pairs, until many of them dropped… Suddenly they stopped again, paused, struck out the time afresh, forming into lines the width of the public way, and, with their heads low down and their hands high up, swooped screaming off. No fight could have been half so terrible as this dance. It was so emphatically a fallen sport — a something, once innocent, delivered over to all devilry.

He even credits some of these wretches with a taste for guillotining children. The passage I have abridged above ought to be read in full. It and others like it show how deep was Dickens’s horror of revolutionary hysteria. Notice, for instance that touch, ‘with their heads low down and their hands high up’, etc., and the evil vision it conveys. Madame Defarge is a truly dreadful figure, certainly Dickens’s most successful attempt at a malignant character. Defarge and others are simply ‘the new oppressors who have risen in the destruction of the old’, the revolutionary courts are presided over by ‘the lowest, cruellest and worst populace’, and so on and so forth. All the way through Dickens insists upon the nightmare insecurity of a revolutionary period, and in this he shows a great deal of prescience. ‘A law of the suspected, which struck away all security for liberty or life, and delivered over any good and innocent person to any bad and guilty one; prisons gorged with people who had committed no offence, and could obtain no hearing’ — it would apply pretty accurately to several countries today.

The apologists of any revolution generally try to minimize its horrors; Dickens’s impulse is to exaggerate them — and from a historical point of view he has certainly exaggerated. Even the Reign of Terror was a much smaller thing than he makes it appear. Though he quotes no figures, he gives the impression of a frenzied massacre lasting for years, whereas in reality the whole of the Terror, so far as the number of deaths goes, was a joke compared with one of Napoleon’s battles. But the bloody knives and the tumbrils rolling to and fro create in his mind a special sinister vision which he has succeeded in passing on to generations of readers. Thanks to Dickens, the very word ‘tumbril’ has a murderous sound; one forgets that a tumbril is only a sort of farm-cart. To this day, to the average Englishman, the French Revolution means no more than a pyramid of severed heads. It is a strange thing that Dickens, much more in sympathy with the ideas of the Revolution than most Englishmen of his time, should have played a part in creating this impression.”

– George Orwell, “Charles Dickens,”

Inside the Whale and Other Essays. London: Victor Gollancz, 1940.

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“The system of incarceration sucks up the most disadvantaged in society, disproportionately recruited from amongst foster kids, or kids with parents with a history of incarceration or drug abuse. 36 percent were in receipt of public assistance. 11 percent were homeless. 58 percent have mental health issues. Research compiled by the White House report shows that the individuals in question were on the whole marginalized from the labour market “even prior to conviction. Estimates from different data sources suggest that as little as 10 percent of this group have positive preincarceration earnings and that real pre-incarceration yearly earnings range from $3,000 to $28,000.” If the prison population has one thing in common, it is that they were poor on the outside.

“These disparities continue when we turn to the broader felony criterion. Nationwide, about 8 percent of all adults have had a felony conviction, but about 24 percent of African American adults share the same distinction. When parsed by gender, a staggering 33 percent of African American adult males have a felony conviction history (as compared to 13 percent of all men).”

This is a gigantic machine for destroying life chances. And the bitter irony, of course, is that it is immensely expensive. A prison bed costs between $ 14,000 and $ 60,000, varying by state and federal institutions. The cost of a single inmate in one of the higher-cost institutions is comparable to the cost of the police officer who puts them there. It is also, needless to say, comparable to the cost of the College education which virtually none of the inmates have enjoyed. Through the US criminal justice, the American state is spending more money on the inmates than it ever spent on them on the outside.

The impact of this machinery on education, employability and the possibility of forming stable family and social ties are obvious. The vast majority of employers conduct criminal background checks on potential recruits. Thousands of jobs require licenses and certification from which felons are excluded from the get-go. Not surprisingly, therefore, non-participation in the workforce for prime age men who have been incarcerated is three times higher than for those who have never been arrested. For white prime working-age men with a prison record, the non-participation rate in the labour force is 17 %. For black men with a prison record it is 27 percent. The non-participation rate for prime age men untouched by the criminal justice system is 6 percent. Once we include the multiply-disadvantaged groups who have been stigmatized by it, that percentage rises to 9 percent. i.e. by 50 percent.” 

– Adam Tooze, “America’s Political Economy: Lost Generations – cumulative impact of mass incarceration.” October 28, 2017.

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October 28, 2017: a new episode of The Anatomy Lesson at 11pm EST on CFRC 101.9 FM. Music by Kluentah, Sonja Tofik, Greater Than One, Pan Daijing, Torangerine, Rabit & Chino Amobi, …Of Tanz Victims, Lapalux, Test Dept, + more. Check out the setlist below or at anatomy-lesson.tumblr.com, tune in at 101.9 on your FM dial, stream at http://audio.cfrc.ca:8000/listen.pls or listen to the finished show after airing at cfrc.ca or on mixcloud here: https://www.mixcloud.com/cameronwillis1232/the-anatomy-lesson-october-28-2017/

Fragrance – “Untitled” Deep Float (2017)
Sonja Tofik – “Creep Sleep” Neuros (2017)
Angels in America – “Troy Bellamy” Allergic to Latex (2010)
Dau Al Set – “Strange Pain” Peyrere compilation (1986)
Torangerine – “Intimate” Melancholia (2017)
Lapalux – “Holding On” The End of Industry (2017)
Rabit & Chino Amobi – “Cruel Angels Thesis / Chariots of Fire” The Great Game: Freedom From Mental Poisoning (2015)

Test Dept. – “The Faces of Freedom 1” The Faces Of Freedom 1 2 & 3 (1986)
Of Tanz Victims – “Yog Sototh” Metal Vampires (1985)
Pan Daijing – “Lucid Morto” Lack (2017)
Greater Than One – “Black Magic” G-Force (1989)
Kluentah – “Give Up The Gods” All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace (2017)

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“Scene of Explosion in Grain Elevator,” Montreal Star. October 27, 1921. Page 03.

“The photograph taken from the roof of No. 7 shed shows the galvanized iron superstructure that surmounts No. 1 elevator and which was badly damaged in an explosion of grain dust caused by a spark from an overheated motor this morning. Fire followed in one of the bins. So far as has been ascertained the main damage was done to the conveyor system, though it has not been possible to examine what quantity of grain has been damaged. The cement part of the huge structure was not damaged. Below is a group of the workmen in the elevator at the time of the explosion. None of them was injured.”

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Ben Shahn, Untitled (New Orleans, Louisiana). Gelatin silver print photograph, 1935. Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of Bernarda Bryson Shahn. #P1970.1487.

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“From the first day I stepped into my cell, anger took control of me. I was 28 years old. I was going behind bars for the rest of my life. No one in prison gave a damn if I was innocent or not.

I talked back to guards and broke rules, not realizing I was only hurting myself. That meant I spent a lot of time in segregation—called “seg” by prisoners. Alone in a cell, I passed the time smoking, reading, and pacing.

I fought the system for about five years. The message I wanted to send was, “You can’t break me.” I must admit, though, it ain’t easy sitting behind bars alone, especially when you know you’re innocent.

Eventually, I realized that if I didn’t change my attitude, not only would I continue to do time in seg, but if my case went back to court, officials wouldn’t give me any sympathy.

So I worked to turn my prison life around. I got a GED. I earned an associate of applied science certificate and a certificate for building maintenance. I took courses in carpentry, electrical installation, typing, and welding.

I also spent a lot of time just trying to survive. Prison, after all, is a place where fights break out constantly, guards are beaten to within an inch of their lives, and prisoners are killed. I kept a homemade metal shank with me always, even tucking it under my pillow while I slept.

Periodically, of course, my anger would return. Like when prison officials refused to let me attend my grandmother’s funeral.

Or when my mother was dying of breast cancer and the authorities offered me a choice: Visit her—for all of 15 minutes—before she died, or attend her funeral. I was furious. My aunt urged me to see her one last time. She was right, of course.

I was shackled like a dog when guards brought me to the hospital. My hands were cuffed, and the cuffs were attached to a chain around my waist. My legs were bound. That is how I saw my dying mother. She urged me to keep my hopes up, and, after 15 minutes, I returned to prison. She died two weeks later.

Before she died, my mother told me over and over again that one day, truth would prevail. I shared her faith that someone, sooner or later, would come forward and say something to free me.

Finally, in November 2007, I got that break.

Andrew Wilson, who was serving a life sentence for the killing of two police officers, died in prison. Soon after, one of Wilson’s attorneys, Jamie Kunz, met with my lawyer, Harold Winston, to discuss my case. Kuntz told Winston about the signed affidavit containing Wilson’s confession. The document had been hidden away for years in a fireproof strong box at the home of another attorney of Wilson’s, Dale Coventry. At one point, he stored it under his own bed.

When Winston called me with the news, I wasn’t initially all that confident the affidavit would help me. Yes, it sounded good. But I had been through too much.

I was also upset from the jump. If these lawyers had evidence that I was innocent, how could they not have said anything? While I slept on a prison bunk for 26 years, Coventry was sleeping above a box that might have spared me years in hell.

As word of the confession got out, my case started attracting local media interest. Then 60 Minutes aired a segment. The public was outraged. Many people demanded Kunz and Coventry’s disbarment, others recommended they be fined, and some suggested that they be imprisoned for 26 years. Years after my release, Kunz said he never expected such a hostile reaction.

One April morning, I boarded a prison bus to the Cook County Jail, and from there was taken to the courtroom for a hearing on the new evidence in my case. If all went well, by the end of the day, I was going home.

I was elated—and shed many tears—when the judge vacated my convictions and ordered a new trial. I was to be released on bond.

Before entering the free world again, I changed into clothes my family brought me. But the pants, which belonged to my brother Tony, were about three sizes too big, and I didn’t have a belt. As we left court, my aunt held up the pants from the back so they didn’t fall around my ankles.

I got into a car for the first time in 26 years and went to my aunt’s house, where we celebrated with about 50 people. I walked around all night with a bottle of champagne. Life outside was easy to take. But the final decision in my case had yet to be made.

Five months later, I got the resolution I had sought for more than two decades. At a hearing in September 2008, the state dismissed the charges against me. “Your long personal nightmare is over,” said Cook County Circuit Court Judge James Schreier. “Hopefully, you will live a long life as a free man.”

Finally, my wrong had been righted. Of course, I was still pissed, especially when I thought of the things police and prosecutors did to have me convicted. Six days after my arrest, police had matched a shell found at the McDonald’s to a shotgun confiscated while seeking Wilson for the murder of the two cops. But the police hid this from my lawyers. My life would have been very different if the cops and “officers of the court” had done their jobs honestly. Even after we got ballistics tests matching the gun to the shell casing, Cook County Chief Criminal Court Judge James Bailey refused to admit the evidence.

But there was no use reliving the past.

Under state law, I was able to petition the court for a certificate of innocence—an official recognition of my exoneration. Most importantly, I could receive compensation. Because compensation is capped at $199,150, I was eligible for an average of $7,659.61 per year for the time I was imprisoned.

On April 17, 2009, I was formally declared innocent. A few months later, we filed a federal civil rights suit against the city of Chicago and several detectives, including the notorious former police commander Jon Burge, who I argued had conspired to build a false case against me irrespective of my guilt or innocence. (For decades, Burge used torture on dozens of mostly African-American suspects, usually to extract false confessions. Even though he had committed the crime for which he was convicted, Andrew Wilson sued him for torture, eventually winning a settlement from behind bars. Burge was fired and convicted of perjury for lying about torturing suspects.)

I believed the government owed me something, even if it would never make up for the years I lost. Just before the December trial date—about 30 years after I was arrested—we settled out of court for $10.25 million. After paying lawyers’ fees, loans and other family obligations, I was left with about half.

The city paid the money, but no one in power apologized.”

– Alton Logan & Berl Falbaum, “I Served 26 Years for Murder Even Though the Killer Confessed.” The Marshall Project, October 19, 2017.

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Pier on the Hudson, Coxsackie, New York. c. 1905. Source.

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“For all its fidelity to history, Summers’s work is a confrontation with the various elements of modern life he’d come to detest. He had, as one reviewer later noted, “a flatteringly poor opinion of anthropologists,” and he saw anarchists and Communists (groups he regularly conflated) as direct descendents from the witches of the Medieval world. Witches were “avowed enemies of law and order, red-hot anarchists who would stop at nothing to gain their ends.” When his patron, Lady Cunard, introduced him to her husband, Lord Balfour—who expressed disbelief in the existence of people who craved evil for evil’s sake—Summers produced a political analogy: “Well, Lord Balfour, you have only to think of the views of some of your opponents.” Liberals, socialists, and anarchists, he told Balfour, all bore “the witch philosophy.”

Scholars and critics immediately attacked him for this kind of hysteria. Theodore Hornberger disparaged Summers’s “alarmist themes”: “It is just about time, thinks Mr. Summers, for legislation, a bit more severe, if possible, than the famous statute of James I. The political implications of this logic are indeed alarming, but perhaps not always with the effect intended by the author.” In a similarly scathing review, H. G. Wells noted that Summers “hates witches as soundly and sincerely as the British county families hate the ‘Reds.’” Wells, anticipating Shirley Jackson’s story “The Lottery,” saw in Summers’s work a “standing need” of mankind “for somebody to tar, feather, and burn. Perhaps if there was no devil, men would have to invent one. In a more perfect world we may have to draw lots to find who shall be the witch or the ‘Red,’ or the heretic or the nigger, in order that one may suffer for the people.”

Other reviewers castigated Summers for not “judging between different kinds of evidence,” and for his “odd mixture of learning and almost childish credulity.” But Summers maintained that a religion cannot on the one hand assert an unbroken line of pious infallibility, while, on the other, offer the kind of apologetic backtracking that characterized 20th century Church thought. The 1914 entry on witchcraft in the Catholic Encyclopedia (written by Herbert Thurston), attempting to thread the needle between the church’s past and its future, is reduced to equivocations: “In the face of Holy Scripture and the teaching of the Fathers and theologians the abstract possibility of a pact with the Devil and of a diabolical interference in human affairs can hardly be denied, but no one can read the literature of the subject without realizing the awful cruelties to which this belief and without being convinced that in 99 cases out of 100 the allegations rest upon nothing better than pure delusion.”

Summers’s attitude was vile, perhaps indefensible, but at least it was consistent. As the Church lumbered towards Vatican II, it found itself caught between the demands of a tradition and a need for modernization. Despite what apologists like Thurston might have you believe, exorcism was then (and is still today) a sacrament; Summers’s work brought this history out of the Latin and into the light.”

– Colin Dickey, “The Last Witch,” The New Inquiry. October 26, 2013.

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