IT may be asked why I report so much of what may be called
ordinary conversation, instead of abbreviating and concentrating on specific instances and definite
statements of fact. I reply -
1. That a concentrated version is hard to read, while a fuller
version is really less tedious in spite of its greater length. A record is always a -poor substitute for actual experience; and too much
abbreviation might destroy whatever relic of human interest the records possess.
2. That abbreviation runs the risk of garbling and amending; it is undesirable in reports of this kind to amend style at the expense
3. That the mannerisms and eccentricities of a 'control' (or
secondary personality) are interesting, and may be instructive; at any rate they exhibit to a novice the kind of thing to be expected.
4. A number of inquiries want to
know - and I think properly want to know - what a sitting is like, what kind of subjects are
talked about, what the 'communicators' i.e. the hypothetical personalities who send messages through the
'control' - have to say about their own feelings and interests and state of existence
generally. Hence, however the record be interpreted, it seems better to quote some specimens fully.
5. I am aware that some of the records may appear absurd.
Especially absurd will appear the free-and-easy statements, quoted later, about the nature of things 'on the other
side', - the kind of assertions which are not only unevidential but unverifiable, and which we usually either discourage or suppress.
I have stated elsewhere my own reasons for occasionally encouraging statements of this kind and
quoting them as they stand. (See beginning of Chapter XVI.) And though I admit that to publish them is probably indiscreet, I still
think that the evidence, such as it is, ought to be presented as a whole.
6. The most evidential class of utterance, what we call cross-correspondence, is not overlooked; and while every now and then
it occurs naturally and spontaneously, sometimes an effort is made to obtain it.
about the Meaning of Cross-Correspondence
It will be convenient to explain that by the term
"Cross-correspondence" is meant the obtaining through two or more independent mediums, at about the same time, a message from a single
communicator on any one definite subject.
It is usually impossible for the coincidence of time to be exact, because
both mediums may not be sitting at the same time. But in some cases, wherein coincidence of subject is well marked, coincidence in time is of little
moment; always provided that the subject is really an out-of-the-way or far-fetched one, and not one common to every English-speaking person, like
Kitchener or Roberts or Jellicoe.
Cross-correspondences are of various grades. The simplest kind is when
two mediums both use the same exceptional word, or both refer to the same non-public event, without any normal reason that can be assigned. Another
variety is when, say, three mediums refer to one and the same idea in different terms,-employing, for instance, different languages, like
'mors,' 'death,' and 'thanatos.' (See Proc., S.P.R., XXii, 295-304.) Another is when
the idea is thoroughly masked and brought in only by some quotation - perhaps by a quotation the special significance of which is unknown to the medium
who reproduces it, and is only detected and interpreted by a subsequent investigator to whom all the records are submitted. Sometimes a quotation is
maltreated, evidently with intention, by the communicator; the important word to which attention is being directed being either omitted or changed.
A large number of examples of this more complex kind of cross-correspondence are reported at length in the Proceedings of the
Society for Psychical Research; see especially vol. xxi. P. 369 and xxii. passim, or a
briefer statement in Survival of Man, chap. xxv.
Some of these instances as expounded by Mr. Piddington may seem
extraordinarily complicated and purposely concealed. That is admitted.
They are specially designed to eliminate the possibility of unintended and
unconscious telepathy direct from one medium to another, and to throw the investigator back on what is
asserted to be the truth, namely that the mind of one single communicator, or the combined mind of a group of
communicators, all men of letters, - is sending carefully designed messages through different channels, in order to
prove primarily the reality of the operating intelligence, and incidentally the genuineness of the mediums who are capable of receiving and
transmitting fragments of messages so worded as to appear to each of them separately mere meaningless jargon; though ultimately when all the
messages are put together by a skilled person the meaning is luminous enough. Moreover, we are assured that the puzzles and hidden allusions
contained in these messages are not more difficult than literary scholars are accustomed to; that, indeed, they are precisely of similar order.
This explanation is unnecessary for the simple cross-correspondences
(c.c.) sometimes obtained and reported here; but the subject itself is an important one, and is not always understood even by investigators, so I take
this opportunity of referring to it in order to direct the attention of those who need stricter evidence to more profitable records.
Returning to the kind of family records here given, in which
evidence is sporadic rather than systematic though none the less effective, one of the minor points, which yet is of interest, is the
appropriate way in which different youths greet their relatives. Thus, while Paul calls his father 'Daddy' and his mother by pet
names, as he used to; and while Raymond calls us simply 'Father' and 'Mother,' as he used to; another youth named
Ralph - an athlete who had fallen after splendid service in the war greeted his father, when at length that gentleman was induced to attend a
sitting, with the extraordinary salutation "Ullo 'Erb!," spelt out as one word through the table; though, to the astonishment of the
medium, it was admitted to be consistent and evidential. The ease and freedom with which this Ralph managed to communicate are
astonishing, and I am tempted to add as an appendix some records which his family have kindly allowed me to see, but I refrain, as
they have nothing to do with Raymond.