112. The cause of dreams has never yet been explained by science, which
attributes them to an effect of the imagination, but does not tell us what imagination is,
nor how it produces the clear and distinct images which sometimes appear to us.
Scientific men are too much given to explaining an unknown thing by another thing as
little known, leaving the problems they deal with very much as they were. It is often
said that dreams are a recollection of the occupations of our waking state; but, even
admitting this solution, which is no solution at all, there still remains the question, what
is the magic mirror which thus preserves the traces of things, and, above all, how are
we to explain the visions we sometimes see of real things, never seen by us in our
waking state, and about which we never thought? Spiritism alone can give us the key
to this strange phenomenon, which is only overlooked because it is so very common,
like all the other wonders of nature that we are so apt to trample under foot.
The votaries of science have disdained to trouble them-selves about
hallucinations; but whether real or not, they nevertheless constitute an order of
phenomena that physiology ought to be able to explain, under pain of avowing its
insufficiency. If; some of these days, a scientific man should undertake to give, not a
mere definition, but a physiological explanation, of this class 6f phenomena, we shall
see how far his theory covers the whole ground; he must not omit the very common
facts of the apparition of persons at the moment of their death, and he must show us the
source of the coincidence of the apparition with the death of the person. If this
coincidence had occurred but once, we might attribute it to chance; but the fact is of
frequent recurrence, and chance is not recurrent. If the person who saw the apparition
were already possessed with the idea that the party appearing was about to die, we
might attribute the apparition to imagination ; but it generally happens that the person
seen is not in the thoughts of the seer at the moment of the apparition, so that
imagination has nothing to do with it. Still less can the imagination theory explain the
presentation of the circumstances of a death, the idea of which never entered our heads.
Will the partisans of hallucination assume that the soul (supposing they admit the
existence of the soul) has moments of over-excitement, and of abnormal power? If so,
we agree with them, for this may be the case ; but, when what is seen is proved by
events to have been real, we must drop the theory of illusion. If the soul, in its
excitement, sees an object which is not present, it must transport itself
to that object; and if our soul can transport itself to an absent person, why should not
the soul of an absent person transport itself to us? Let those who adopt the theory of
hallucination explain all this; and let them not forget that a theory which is opposed by
facts is necessarily false or incomplete.
While awaiting the explanation demanded, we ask attention to the following
considerations on the subject.