The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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Last February the newspapers announced the sudden death of the shepherd Henri Mondeux, the renowned calculator who passed in the early days of February 1861, victimized by a stroke at the age of 34, in the Condom Commune (Gers). He was born in Touraine and since the age of 10, he was recognized for his prodigious capacity of resolving complicated problems of Arithmetic, in his head, although he was completely illiterate and did not have any formal education. He soon captured people’s attention and many used to go and see him while he was taking care of his herd. He made some additional cash while entertaining the visitors who came to asking him to solve mathematical equations. The phenomenon reminded them of Vito Mangiamele, a shepherd from Napoli who had also presented the same prodigy a few years back. A college Math professor from Tours thought that such a remarkable gift should produce even more remarkable results with some additional help. He then started to educate the young man only to discover, that he was dealing with an incredibly rebellious mind. In fact he could barely read and write at the age of 16 and – a remarkable thing – the professor could not get him to remember the names of elementary geometrical shapes, indicating that his skills were limited to the ability of numerical combinations alone. He was then a calculator but not a Mathematician.


Another important fact was that he could never absorb our conventional methods of calculation. He did not even understand them. He had his own way of doing things and he did not know how he did it; he did not understand the phenomenon himself, a phenomenon limited to a prodigious memory of numbers. We say numbers instead of totals because the vision of numerical totals confused him more than helped. He preferred to have the problems formulated verbally rather than in writing.


In short this is the result of our own observations carried out with the young Mondeux that gave us material for a lecture given at the Parisian Society of Phrenology. Such a special gift, although taken to the limit, could not help him to start in any career, even as an accountant to a commercial establishment, something that concerned his teacher and was rightly so. He was sorry for having taken the young man away from his herd, asking himself what would become of that youngster once he was deprived from the common interest that brought them together, particularly considering his age. We lost contact with him for eighteen years. As it seems he found ways of surviving giving presentations from town to town.


1. Evocation. – A. 4 plus 3 is 7 in the other worlds as it is here.


2. We thought of evoking you just after your death but we were told that you were not ready yet. It seems that you are now. – A. I was waiting for you.


3. You may not perhaps remember me but I had the occasion of meeting you in private in Prussia and even attend your sessions. As for myself, it seems that I still see you and the Math teacher that followed you and gave me valuable information about you and your skills. – A. That is all I can tell you that I remember about you, but it is only today that my ideas are clearer.



4. What was the origin of that strange skill that gifted you? – A. Ah! That is the question that I was sure you would ask me. You started by saying: I knew you, I saw you, you were skilled, and finally you ask for an explanation. Well then! I had the ability of reading in my own spirit the immediate calculation of a given problem. You could say that the solution was unfolded by a spirit before my eyes and all I had to do was to read it. I was a kind of clairvoyant and calculating medium, and it must be said as if carrying a little book of calculus, prepared beforehand.


5. As far as I remember you did not have this sort of sarcastic wit when alive. You were actually somewhat circumspect. – A. Well, my skills were thoroughly used for the calculations; there was nothing left for other things.


6. How could you have developed such a skill for calculation and be so poor on other elemental parts of Math? – A. Bottom line is that I was stupid, right? You can say the word, I understand. Here, however, I no longer have to develop a faculty to handle numbers and my skills now develop faster on other things.


7. You no longer have to develop that skill for the numbers… (the spirit writes not waiting for the end of the question) – A. That means that God has assigned a mission to all of us. You, he said, will scare away the wise Mathematicians. I will make you look like dumb so that they will be even more astonished; beat them in all calculations and make them say: How can he do it better than us? What is it that he has that is stronger than education? God wanted them to look beyond the body since what it is that exists and is more material than a numeral?


8. What did you do in your previous existences? – A. I was sent to show other things.


9. Were they always related to Math? – A. No doubt since that is my specialty.


10. I had formulated a few problems to check if you still had the same ability but according to what you have just said it seems pointless. – A. I no longer have solutions to give you. I cannot do that. The instrument is bad since it is not a mathematician.


11. Can’t you overcome that limitation? – A. Ah! Nothing is impossible. Even Sebastopol was taken over. But what a difference!


12. What do you do now? – A. Do you want to know my occupation? I wonder and wait a little bit before restarting my career as a medium that must go on.


13. What do you believe is going to be that mediumistic skill? – A. Always the same but more developed and remarkable.


14. (A member makes the following reflection): From the answers it appears that he acted as a medium on Earth, leading to the supposition that he had the support of another spirit, thus explaining why he does not enjoy the same skills today. – A. I was wired in such a way that I could see those numbers provided by other spirits to me. I captured them better than you would; I had the skills of calculation because that is what I was prepared for. All means of convincing are sought. They are all good, great or small, and the spirits capture them all.


15. Did you make a fortune with your skills, going around the world with your sessions? – A. Oh! You ask a medium if he made a fortune! Wrong direction. Of course not!


16. But you did not see yourself as a medium! You did not even know what that was. – A. No. It surprised me also that I received so little financially. That served me morally and I prefer my equity duly registered in the great book of God to the income obtained from the State.


17. We thank you for your kindness in responding to our appeal. – A. You changed your opinion about me.


18. I did not change because I always liked you. – A. I am glad I solved the problems otherwise you would not have noticed me.


OBSERVATION: As everyone knows, the identity of the spirits is the most difficult thing to determine. It is generally revealed through unforeseen circumstances and details; by subtle nuances only captured by a very careful examination, often demonstrating more than the material signs that can be easily imitated by deceiving spirits, while these cannot simulate the intellectual capacity or the moral qualities that they lack. One could doubt the identity in this case without a much logical explanation about the difference of the current personality and the other when alive, because the numerical answer that he gives at the beginning of the evocation cannot be considered as an authentic proof. Whatever the opinion that one may form about the communication above we must acknowledge that besides the witty remarks it contains some profound thoughts. The answers given to questions 7 and 16 are notable with that respect. It results from those answers, like from answers given by other spirits, that the spirit Mondeux has a predisposition for Math; that he likely had that skill in previous existences, but he was no scientific celebrity. It would be hard to understand that a true wise man would be restricted to do calculations to entertain the public, without any other reach or scientific utility. There would be much more reason for doubt if he tried to pretend to have been Newton or Laplace.


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