Thursday, December 5, 2019

The Teleportation of Mrs Guppy

Traffic is a growing problem all over the planet, so here is story about a rare form of human transportation.  If it could be mechanized and mass produced, it would mean the transcendence of traffic jams  The form of transportation described here is teleportation; it fuses the apport (matter through matter) with levitation (matter unshackled from gravity).  Instances of such transportation are admittedly rare, less common than levitations and instantaneous healings. 
            Time, place and cultural environment are crucial to the occurrence of rare phenomena; the conditions have to be just right; and must persist for some time. Extraordinary things might occur in spiritualist circles, for example, as they did in London in the late 19th century.&nbrsp;
    The miraculous transportation of Mrs. Guppy is a well corroborated case in 1871 on June 3rd.  Mrs. Guppy was a talented medium that Alfred Russell Wallace took an interest in, and through his wife, came to know and respect. This was the Wallace who with Charles Darwin conceived the theory of natural selection, and is known in history as the co-founder of the modern theory of evolution. Wallace was undoubtedly a great scientist. But unlike Darwin, Wallace thought there was a spiritual dimension to human evolution; hence his interest in mediums like Mrs. Guppy who was known to levitate and perform other astonishing feats that served to blow up the pernicious creed of materialism. 
            The amazing performance I want to describe is on the face of it incredible, but also qualifies as a miracle that should make you smile. So, on the date cited above, Mrs. Guppy, well known as a very large woman, was transported from her home in Highbury, North London three miles away to a house on Conduit Street where ten witnesses, two mediums and eight sitters, experienced her rather surprising arrival through the roof (the doors and windows of the house were closed). 
            So, how did this curiosity of nature come about? Something trivial, or at best, amusing. One of the sitters asked the control during a séance in the house on Conduit Street to send someone from across town into their midst. (It was assumed in this group, apparently based on their experience, that such things were possible). The séance at that point was being conducted in the dark. Another member of the circle suggested as a joke that Mrs. Guppy (known to this group) be fetched. A third person said, “Good gracious, I hope not, she is one of the biggest women in London!” But the control replied, “I will,” three times.
            Within three minutes someone cried out, “Good God, there is something on my head!” and there was a loud thump on the table and several screams. “A match was struck, and there was Mrs. Guppy on the table with the circle of sitters closely packed together . . .” In her slippers, she sat there motionless in a trance but then awoke, adjusted herself, and they carried on with the séance.  “During this time, her boots, hat and clothes arrived from her home, also a lot of flowers.” To imagine this happening is very amusing, but taxing to my belief threshold.            
            Guppy’s own séances were notable for the incredible variety of apports they produced. At her séances she produced huge quantities of flowers and fruits, showers of butterflies, of snow, of cactus plants, of live animals, eels and cats and lobsters, and so on.  On one occasion, a friend of Alfred Russell Wallace asked for a sunflower and one dropped on the table out of nowhere that was six feet tall with clumps of earth attached to the roots.
            Needless to say, all this boggles the mind. But for three reasons this story strikes me as notable for its apparent singularity.  First, the fact that a great scientist (Wallace) vouched for the medium involved; second, there were many witnesses that confirmed the reality of her performances; and third, Frank Podmore the arch critic of Spiritualism was unable to account for Guppy’s performance.  There was no motive for fraud--her husband was well off.  In addition, there was no way to explain the quantities of the objects said to have been apported.  And finally, if the narratives are true, and Mrs. Guppy was able to produce the various objects, in large quantities, and on demand, they were super-real magic tricks. For a detailed account and other examples of this fantastic phenomenon see Nandor Fodor’s article in the Encyclopedia of Psychic Science (1966) University Books, pp. 392-395.


Miguel said...

Fascinating case, Michael. Thanks for posting it.

You know, I’ve been recently thinking about retirement, partly because a number of my senior colleagues have recently retired and most are happy with in their new, post-retirement life. For me, a significant factor for wishing to retire is the dastardly commute to and from work (1 hour each way during non rush hour times). At times while sitting in traffic, I’ve fantasized about the development of a transporter a la ‘Star Trek’. Can you imagine? ‘Beam me straight to class, Scottie!’ Life would be so much simpler without the commute to work! Actually, I have also entertained teleportation as an option, but given that, indeed, this a very rare ability and likely unreliable (as is much of psi) it would be impractical for modern commuting purposes. After reading the case of Mrs. Guppy, another thought occurs to me: If teleportation abilities could be developed successfully, particularly with ‘group-mind’ then, surely, this would be an immensely useful, but at times problematic, skill to have. For example, in my case, I can see the scenario of being teleported right out of some of my ‘required’ classes (e.g., Statistics) on a regular basis by students who are less than thrilled by being there. And I might be ok with being teleported right back home, but I can also see some of my students wanting to teleport me to some other less hospitable settings, particularly after they take their first exam! And if teleportation ability/reliability is affected by the size of the group, consider this: Not happy with our current president? Why waste tax-payers’ money with lengthy and costly impeachment investigations when we can simply teleport him out of office. Of course, an important question would be where to teleport him to (insert appropriate emoji here).

Michael Grosso said...

Thank you, Miguel, for your hilarious suggestions, fully understandable. Another neat addition would be helpful: bilocation. The evidence for bilocation is stronger for bilocation than for teleportation. Think how convenient and perhaps delightfully confusing it would be if we could be in different places at the same time. It could be confusing for the bilocator. It might be like this in the next world if there is one.

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