Thursday, February 20, 2014

Psychic Messages from Oscar Wilde

From a large spiritualist collection this curiosity Psychic Messages from Oscar Wilde (Psychic Book Club, London 1924) published 24 years after his death and purporting to be spirit communications from purgatory with the great writer. Why Oscar was in purgatory and not heaven is not explained (although he famously said 'I don't want to go to heaven. None of my friends are there.') One of the communicants, Eric Dingwall (described online as '...a man of many parts – psychical researcher, librarian, book and antique collector, anthropologist, sexologist, intelligence operative) was no mere gullible spiritualist and occasionally they get Oscar's tone...his damning opinion of Joyce's recently published Ulysses is interesting, but it seems more likely Oscar would have approved...


JUNE 18TH, 1923.

Present.-Mr. V., Mrs. Travers Smith, Mr. B., Mr. Dingwall (Research
Officer of the Society for Psychical Research), Miss Cummins.

Mr. V. was the automatist, Mrs. T.S. touching his hand.

Oscar Wilde. Being dead is the most boring experience in life. That is,if one excepts being married or dining with a schoolmaster. Do you doubt my identity? I am not surprised, since sometimes I doubt it myself. I might retaliate by doubting yours. I have always admired the Society for
Psychical Research. They are the most magnificent doubters in the world. They are never happy until they have explained away their spectres. And one suspects a genuine ghost would make them exquisitely uncomfortable. I have sometimes thought of founding an academy of celestial doubters...which might be a sort of Society for Psychical Research among
the living. No one under sixty would be admitted, and we should call ourselves the Society of Superannuated Shades. Our first object might well be to insist on investigating at once into the reality of the existence of, say, Mr. Dingwall.

Mr. Dingwall, is he romance or reality?
Is he fact or fiction? If it should be decided that he is fact, then, of course, we should strenuously doubt it. Fortunately there are no facts over here. On earth we could scarcely escape them. Their dead carcases were strewn everywhere on the rose path of life. One could not pick up a newspaper without learning
something useful....

(What is your opinion of "Ulysses," by James Joyce?)

Yes, I have smeared my fingers with that vast work. It has given me one exquisite moment of amusement. I gathered that if I hoped to retain my reputation as an intelligent shade, open to new ideas, I must peruse this volume. It is a singular matter that a countryman of mine should have
produced this great bulk of filth. You may smile at me for uttering thus when you reflect that in the eyes of the world I am a tainted creature. But, at least, I had a sense of the values of things on the terrestrial globe. Here in "Ulysses" I find a monster who cannot contain the monstrosities of his own brain. The creatures he gives birth to leap from
him in shapeless masses of hideousness, as dragons might, which in their foulsome birth contaminate their parent.... This book appeals to all my senses.. here we have the heated vomit continued through the countless pages of this work...I feel that Joyce has much togive the world before, in his old age, he turns to virtue. For by thattime he will be tired of truth and turn to virtue as a last emetic.

(You are most amusing.)

I am glad that a poor ghost can bring laughter to your eyes.

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