Archive for the ‘Radio’ Category

“The Shadow” — The Origin

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?”
“The Shad­ow knows”

With that, one of the most suc­cess­ful pulp char­ac­ters was intro­duced to the radio and mag­a­zine audi­ence. Even today, that phrase is rec­og­nized and the char­ac­ter remem­bered: the Shad­ow, who pos­sessed the hyp­not­ic pow­er to “cloud men­s’ minds”.

But The Shad­ow had a con­vo­lut­ed his­to­ry: he didn’t always have that pow­er; in fact, he wasn’t a pulp char­ac­ter in the first place!

⇒ Con­tin­ue read­ing ““The Shad­ow” — The Origin”

30 Days of Hypnosis: Day 12

What’s your favorite pop culture reference about hypnosis?

Whew! So many possibilities.

The first one that comes to mind is “The Hyp­not­ic Eye”. A movie about a sin­is­ter stage hyp­no­tist who entrances his love­ly sub­jects cer­tain­ly plays to many of the pub­lic mis­con­cep­tions regard­ing hyp­no­sis, plus the pro­duc­ers had a pro­fes­sion­al stage hyp­no­tist instruct the actor how to per­form on cam­era as well as hyp­no­tiz­ing the actress­es to go in to a trance on cue. Regret­tably, it suf­fers from low pub­lic knowl­edge so it bare­ly reg­is­ters as a pop cul­ture icon.

Anoth­er one that comes to mind is the clas­sic spi­ral motif that so rep­re­sents hyp­no­sis in pop­u­lar cul­ture. That and the spooky, swirly music that seems to always accom­pa­ny it in any adver­tise­ment or tele­vi­sion episode scene tran­si­tion. The same also goes for dan­gling crys­tals and star­ing eyes.

But I guess my favorite has to be “Tril­by”. No oth­er work so influ­enced the pop cul­ture regard­ing hyp­no­sis through­out its his­to­ry. It is one of the few cul­ture icons that direct­ly influ­enced the Eng­lish lan­guage, with the addi­tion of “Sven­gali” as a term for a manip­u­la­tive mentor.

A Holiday Treat — The (Physical) Hypnosis in Media Collection

As a spe­cial Hol­i­day present, I present the (phys­i­cal) Hyp­no­sis in Media col­lec­tion in its semi-entirety.

The book­shelf unit here holds the main part of the Col­lec­tion. As you can see, it is divid­ed in half, with the left half hold­ing fig­ures and art­work behind the glass doors, larg­er books and fold­ers below, and the doors below hold­ing the media ele­ments that don’t fit any­where else. The right half holds most of the fic­tion and non­fic­tion books. As you can see, the book­case is by no means large enough to hold every­thing, as there are parts of the col­lec­tion on the floor before it.

This is the upper part of the left half, which has the fig­ures and art­work. On the upper shelf you can see the two fig­ures from the Silent Screams fig­ure line, from the movie “The Cab­i­net of Doc­tor Cali­gari” on the top, along with the Princess Ariel fig­ure, and small­er toys with hyp­not­ic themes in the mid­dle. At the back of the low­er shelf as a ani­ma­tion cel of Hyp­no­tia from the “Iron Man” ani­mat­ed series, sev­er­al dozen Hero­Clix fig­ures in the low­er left and my lat­est acqui­si­tion, the Ring­mas­ter mini-bust, in the cen­ter. The box­es on the right con­tain a num­ber of stereo­typ­i­cal hyp­not­ic foci, includ­ing sev­er­al crys­tals and even a cou­ple of hyp­no-disks. The Hero­Clix fig­ures are a large but not com­plete of all of the char­ac­ters with hyp­not­ic or mind con­trol abil­i­ties, includ­ing Pro­fes­sor X, Sat­urn Girl, Super-Goril­la Grodd, the Pup­pet Mas­ter, the Mad Hat­ter, etc.

The fold­ers and note­books on the shelves below the  glass doors con­sists of the results of research projects car­ried out in the past, includ­ing the mate­r­i­al behind the search for ‘Secrets of the Sleep Mer­chants’ detailed else­where, a set of pub­lic­i­ty pho­tographs of Pat Collins and details of her life, com­ic strip and book col­lec­tions and ref­er­ence mate­ri­als, small­er mag­a­zines and pam­phlets that might get dam­aged if put else­where, the two records released by Pat Collins, as well as any­thing that does­n’t fit in any­where else.

The fic­tion part com­pris­es rough­ly 200 pieces, includ­ing sev­er­al col­lec­tions, dou­ble-stacked on the first two shelves and in front of the non-fic­tion stacks on the third shelf.  The non-fic­tion sec­tion also con­tains rough­ly about 200 books, not includ­ing the var­i­ous pam­phlets and book­lets that are in anoth­er book­shelf. These books are strict­ly hyp­no­sis relat­ed: there is a sep­a­rate sec­tion for media ref­er­ences, such as indices and ref­er­ence books on var­i­ous TV series, movies, etc.

This is by no means the com­plete col­lec­tion: there is a stor­age case with sev­er­al dozen video tapes else­where that I am slow­ing dig­i­tiz­ing and con­vert­ing to DVD for­mat, along with the comics col­lec­tion stored in the garage, as well as the reg­u­lar fic­tion col­lec­tion that takes up most of anoth­er bed­room / library. All in all, I esti­mate I have some­where in the range of 500 — 600 books, over 250 comics and dozens of mag­a­zines and papers in the col­lec­tion prop­er and maybe anoth­er cou­ple hun­dred books and I can’t even guess how many comics elsewhere.

‘Hypnotism Practiced Over Airway!’ — Radio World, March 27, 1926

An exper­i­ment on the effec­tive­ness of hyp­no­tism by radio was con­duct­ed in Boston and Spring­field, Mass, by WBZ. Prof. Ger­ald M. P. Fitzgib­bons, who stood at a micro­phone in Spring­field, 100 miles from Boston, tried to mes­mer­ize two men who sat in the stu­dio of the Hotel Brunswick, Boston. The test failed to con­vince the psy­chol­o­gists, brain spe­cial­ists, physi­cians, radio experts and news­pa­per­men who wit­nessed it, but was called a suc­cess by Prof. Fitzgibbons.

Two of the three sub­jects, one a for­mer Northamp­ton neigh­bor of Pres­i­dent Coolidge, appeared at times to have been hyp­no­tized by the Pro­fes­sor. The third sub­ject, Aaron Dashoff, of Fall Riv­er, a stu­dent at Har­vard, sit­ting with the oth­er sub­jects, exposed him­self to  the same hyp­not­ic influ­ence, unknown to the pro­fes­sor and the oth­er sub­jects. He assert he was entire­ly unaffected.

The wit­ness­es were cer­tain that the stu­dent did his best to con­cen­trate on the mes­sage of Prof. Fitzgib­bons. He sat with his eyes closed, com­ply­ing with the orders that were com­ing from the loud­speak­ers, but when addressed said he had not been affect­ed at any time. The physi­cians after­ward stat­ed they were doubt­ful as to the gen­uine­ness of the hyp­no­sis into which the oth­er two sub­jects declared that had been thrown.

The rest of the arti­cle fur­ther describes the event, adding that sev­er­al oth­ers in oth­er cities also par­tic­i­pat­ed. From the accounts, it cer­tain­ly seems as though many of the peo­ple who par­tic­i­pat­ed were hyp­no­tized. There are three pic­tures of the event: in the large one on the cov­er, two of the sub­jects def­i­nite­ly appear to be in a trance, while one of the oth­er two shows them in catalep­sy, stretched between two chairs. (The third is of the hypnotist.)

Here it was that Mar­shall and Hall appar­ent­ly were over­come by the will of the hyp­no­tist and suc­cumbed to slum­ber. Their bod­ies were relaxed, their heads drooped for­ward and their arms hung loose­ly. But Dashoff seemed entire­ly unaffected.

Of course, relax­ation is not the best demon­stra­tion of a hyp­not­ic state.

The sub­jects were then told by the Pro­fes­sor that they were to have a humor­ous dream, and in a few moments Hall and Mar­shall com­menced to laugh heartily.

He told them next that they were in the South and that huge mos­qui­toes were pur­su­ing them and buzzing around their hears. And again these same two sub­jects respond­ed prop­er­ly. They thrashed their arms about them, endeav­or­ing to chase away mind-made mosquitoes.

From the pho­tographs and the descrip­tions, it cer­tain­ly appears the two sub­jects were hyp­no­tized, despite the com­ments of the wit­ness­ing physi­cians. (Do I detect a faint whiff of denial-ism here?)

The doc­tors’ state­ment, summed up, follows:

“It has been a most inter­est­ing exper­i­ment for us. We regret that the speed with which the sug­ges­tions were made, the con­scious­ness that the mes­sage by Prof. Fitzgib­bons one gone could not be recalled, gave us a rather unsat­is­fac­to­ry oppor­tu­ni­ty to deter­mine the gen­uine­ness of the demon­stra­tion with a final­i­ty which might have been expected.”

Its uncer­tain what more the physi­cians were look­ing for here: the two sub­jects both visu­al­ly demon­strat­ed a num­ber of hyp­not­ic phe­nom­e­na, includ­ing the catalep­sy. I have to won­der just how well versed these attend­ing physi­cians were famil­iar with hypnosis.

Com­men­tary: First off, when I first saw the mag­a­zine for sale, I thought it described an event more along the lines of what Pol­gar had done, which was to broad­cast the full induc­tion over pub­lic air­waves, with the intent of hyp­no­tiz­ing the entire audi­ence (who want­ed to be hyp­no­tized.) How­ev­er, while on first glance it appears to be just a lim­it­ed demon­stra­tion of remote hyp­no­sis, the lat­er para­graphs indi­cate it was broad­cast more gen­er­al­ly with reports of more suc­cess­es in oth­er cities.

The Science Fiction Encyclopedia — Online

A web­site that I will be inves­ti­gat­ing fur­ther is the Sci­ence Fic­tion Ency­clo­pe­dia web­site. An out­growth of the 1995 ency­clo­pe­dia of the same name edit­ed by John Clute and Peter Nichols and pub­lished in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Gol­lancz SF Gate­way, this is an attempt to be a com­pre­hen­sive ency­clo­pe­dia of the authors, themes and cul­ture relat­ed to sci­ence fic­tion (and fan­ta­sy as well.) The ency­clo­pe­dia is cur­rent­ly in beta release. 

As expect­ed, one of the top­ics in ques­tion is HYPNOSIS, which lists a num­ber of the ear­ly works involv­ing hyp­no­sis and mes­merism, includ­ing a few I was not aware of, such as “Kalee’s Shrine”  by Grant Allen and May Cotes. The web­site def­i­nite­ly bears fur­ther investigation. 


Note: Sev­er­al years ago, I wrote the arti­cle on “Hyp­no­tism” for the sec­ond edi­tion of the Green­wood Ency­clo­pe­dia of Sci­ence Fic­tion and Fan­ta­sy, which is appar­ent­ly not con­nect­ed with this online version.

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