Spiritualism facilitated a communion not between the mesmerist
and the mesmerized but between the living and the dead; spiritualist mediums shared utterance by channeling the "voices" of the spirits.
There was there the mighty power, whatever it be, which it is said once dared dispute the empire of heaven with the Omnipotent, and which all ages have called Satan, whether it is to be called evil with the Christian, or good with the philanthropist, a person with the believer, or a primitive and elemental force with the mesmerist
. France, Europe was mesmerized.
The celebrated commission of the French Academy of Sciences of 1784, whose report dealt to Mesmerism a blow which has generally been supposed by those who know nothing about it to have been one of annihilation--even this committee have no hesitation in recognising this fact; however they may attempt to explain away its attendant phenomena,--however they may seek shelter from one difficulty of belief behind another not less incomprehensible; by ascribing to a vague principle, of a purely mental and spiritual character, which they term "imagination," physical effects of the most surprising kind, for which a much more intelligible explanation is to be found in some of the theories of the Mesmerists
. To the more favorable report of the commission of 1832, which Mr.
In Mademoiselle de Maupin as well as in later writings, Gautier explores the basis on which men and women possess intelligence and spiritual love, alluding to the mesmerist
and pantheistic notion of universal fluid as a foundation of these traits, core attributes of his androgynous ideal.
We learn about the actual techniques of a mesmerist
from a journalist's description of the trials and successes of one of the first foreign mesmerists
to -- as Winter puts it -- get off the ferry in 1837.
The esoteric rhetoric of this occult public sphere is politically charged with the crisis of the here-and-now: mesmerists
, mediums, and ghosts speak repeatedly of souls freed of the physical body, of a postmortem identity emancipated from terrestrial existence.
New-style therapists -- mesmerists
and spiritists -- worked on the image of the individual seen as a unity of closely interconnected body and spirit, in a way the Church had always looked upon with suspicion.(5)
Franklin and his band of enlightened men stoically sat through sessions conducted by accomplished mesmerists
. Rather than convulsing violently, commission members remained calm and rational to the core.
In Winter's account, mesmerism was one of the last major spectacles involving the putative manipulation of hidden forces in which virtually the entire public could participate (as actor, spectator, or critic) without there being a consensus that some group (scientists, skilled mesmerists
, or the like) had authoritative knowledge of the causes (whether real or feigned) of the phenomena.
(16.) Of the sexual baggage mesmerists
carried, Benjamin Franklin's 1784 commission on Mesmer found that "women are always magnetized by men" (qtd.
Acting Naturally began, Knoper says, as a study of the relationship between Twain's literary works and the popular performances - minstrels, mesmerists
, music-hall shows - whose traditions he absorbed and transformed.
Rival groups with secular outlooks challenged the church and won followers to their ideas, which the author discusses under the rubrics of spiritualism, positivism, and spiritism (the latter comprising socialists, Swedenborgians, mesmerists
, and such other-world theorists as Allan Kardec).