Considerations about spontaneous photography
It results from the explanations above (previous article) that the fact on itself is neither supernatural
nor miraculous. How many phenomena in similar conditions, in times of ignorance, must have
shocked imagination, so much inclined towards the wonderful! It is then a purely physical effect
that foresees a new step in the photographic science.
As known, the perispirit is the semi-material covering of the spirit. It is not only after death that it
endows the spirit; during life it is united to the body; it is the bond between the body and the spirit.
Death is only the destruction of the coarser covering; the spirit retains the second, which keeps the
appearance of the first, as if preserving its image. The perispirit is generally invisible however, and under certain circumstances, condenses and combines with other fluids, becoming perceptible to the
sight and sometimes even tangible. It is what is observed in the apparitions.
Whatever the subtleness and imponderability of the perispirit, it is still some sort of matter whose
properties are still unknown to us. Once it is matter, it can act upon matter. Such an action is present
in the magnetic phenomena. It has revealed in the inert bodies by the impression left by Mr. Badet’s
image in the glass. That impression was left when he was alive; it remained after his death but it
was invisible. As it seems, the casual action of an unknown agent was needed, probably
atmospheric, for it to become apparent.
What is so remarkable about that?
Don’t we know that it is possible to make the daguerreotyped image appear and disappear?
We mentioned this as a comparison, without establishing similarity between the processes. Thus, it
would have been the perispirit, coming out of Mr. Badet’s body, that would slowly have exerted a
true chemical action over the vitreous substance, under the scope of unknown circumstances,
similar to those of light. Electricity and light must undoubtedly play a significant role in this
phenomenon. The agents and circumstances are still unknown. That is what we shall likely know
later and this will not be one of the least curious discoveries of modern times.
If this is a natural phenomenon, why is it the first time that it is produced, those who deny
everything will ask?
We shall then ask back, why the daguerreotyped images were impressed only after Daguerre,
considering that he did not invent the light, or the copper plates, neither the silver nor the chlorine.
The dark chamber phenomena are known since long ago. A natural circumstance has revealed the
path to the impression, followed then by the genius and step by step we arrived at the master pieces
of the present times. The same will probably happen to the strange phenomenon that has just been
manifested. Who knows it has already been produced, gone unnoticed by the lack of a thoughtful
The reproduction of an image onto glass is a common fact, but its adherence under different
conditions from those of the photography; the latent state of that image; its resurgence later, this is
what should mark the archives of Science.
If we believe in the spirits, we should wait for many marvels, some of which are indicated by them.
Honor, thus, to those sufficiently modest scholars who do not judge that nature has already turned
its last page on them.
If that phenomenon was produced once, it can then be repeated. It is what shall likely happen when
we hold its key. While we wait, here is what one of our members told us in the referred session of
“I was in Montrouge. It was summer time, the sunlight darting through the window. A flask of water
rested on a straw mat on the table. Suddenly the straw was set on fire. Had nobody been there, the
whole place could have been set on fire and nobody would know the cause. I have unsuccessfully
tried to reproduce the phenomenon hundreds of times.”
The physical cause of combustion is well known: the bottle produced the effect of a hot glass. But
why the experience could not be repeated? Independently of the bottle and the water, there has been
the concourse of circumstances that have acted exceptionally, concentrating the solar beams: maybe
the state of the atmosphere, the vapors, the quality of the water, the electricity, etc., and all that
probably in adequate proportions. This illustrates the difficulty in repeating exactly the same
conditions, as well as the uselessness of the attempts to try to produce a similar effect. This is an
example of a phenomenon entirely dominated by Physics, whose principle we know but which we
cannot reproduce at will.
Will the most stubborn skeptical deny the fact? Certainly not! Why then the same skeptical deny the
spiritist phenomena – speaking of the manifestations in general – by the fact that those cannot be
manipulated at will? On not admitting that there could be new agents outside of those known to us,
governed by special laws; denying such agents by the fact that they do not obey laws that we know,
this is truly to give proof of little logic and to show a narrow mind.
Let us go back to the image of Mr. Badet. As with our friend of the flask, numerous fruitless trials
will be carried out until a happy chance or the effort of a powerful genius may provide the key to
the mystery. Then it will probably become a new art, with which industry will prosper. We can
already hear many people saying: But there is a very simple way of finding that key. Why not
asking the spirits?
This is then the opportunity to point out a mistake made by many who judge the Spiritist Science
without knowing it. First of all let us remind the fundamental principle that all the spirits are far
from knowing everything, as previously thought.
The spirits’ scale gives us the measure of their capacity and morality, and experience daily confirms
our observations with that respect. Thus, the spirits do not know everything and there are some that
are inferior to certain men, in all aspects. This is what we cannot disregard.
The spirit of Mr. Badet, involuntary author of the phenomenon of our concern, reveals through his
answers a certain elevation, but not a great superiority. He recognizes his own inability to provide a
complete explanation. He says: “This is a task to other spirits and human work”.
These words formulate a whole lesson. Indeed, it would be somewhat easy to have only to ask the
spirits, in order to attain the most marvelous discoveries. Where would then the merit of the
inventers be if a hidden hand had come to prepare the task and spare the research work? No doubt
that there would not be a lack of unscrupulous persons patenting inventions in their names, not even
mentioning the real inventors. Besides, such questions are always addressed with the aim of self-
interest and in the hopes of easy fortune, all constituting very bad recommendations to the good
spirits. Those, by the way, that never subject themselves to serve as instruments of trafficking.
Man must have their initiative, without which he is reduced to the condition of machine. He must
perfect through work. This is one of the conditions of his Earthly existence. It is also necessary that
everything comes in due time and through the means that God pleases to employ. The spirits cannot
alter the paths of the Providence. Willing to force the established order is to be at the service of
spirits of mockery, who praise ambition, greed and vanity only to laugh later at the disappointment
they have caused. Since they are of unscrupulous nature they tell us everything we want to hear; give all the requested recipes and, if necessary, will justify them with scientific formulas, even if
they hold no more value than the recipes of the charlatan.
May you, who think that the spirits would show you gold mines, be disillusioned! Their mission is
more serious. “Work, endeavor! This is what you really lack”, said a distinguished moralist, from
whom we shall soon publish a conversation from beyond the grave.
The Spiritist Doctrine then adds to that wise statement: These are those to whom the serious spirits
come to help, by the ideas they suggest or by their direct counsel and not the lazy ones who want to
enjoy without having accomplished anything, neither the ambitious ones who want to have the
effortless merit. Help yourself and heaven will help you.