THE SPIRITIST REVIEW - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1858

Allan Kardec

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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 observer?

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 the Society:

“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.

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