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3.0 Sensorial and motorial indications.



 
 
The expression 'sensorial and motorial indications' is being used to signify a series of phenomena different from hypngogic visions, dreams and voices discussed in the previous chapter. Its scope embraces smells, kinaesthetic sensations and an apparent loss of conscious control of the voluntary movements.

Since their initial description by Georges Gatian de Clérambault in the 19th century, these phenomena have been referred to the areas of delirium termed mental automatism and ideas of influx. However, those experienced by Emanuel Swedenborg after his crisis function in a very different manner: in addition to the verbal statements, they act as referential keys indicating (with the same accuracy as a lecturer uses the pointer on a blackboard) elements of physical reality with reference to which Swedenborg's post-critical texts derive an impressive scientific signification which had so far remained unnoticed.

3.1 Ideas of influx

Explains Gérald Rancurel:
[In delirium] 'Ideas of influx' are quite common. The patient has a feeling of being subjected to an alien, external power. His body and mind are being remotely guided. Ideas, desires and emotions are thrust upon him from a distance by intricate and unheard-of processes. He is forced to gesticulate and actuate. He is subjected to scientific or diabolic experiments. His thoughts are unveiled, disclosed, discussed[16].
Swedenborg falls undoubtedly within this category —or so it seems! He mentions he was greatly astonished that 'a certain spirit' should perceive his thoughts (SD 2951), and goes on to explain:
I have had so many experiences of heavenly spirits ruling the actions of my whole body, that I gave up counting their number. They so ruled my actions that I went whithersoever they desired; and this with full sensation and without any resistance or any desire not to go. They ruled my steps, both as to each single step and as to all details of the step; also the other motions of my body —hands, fingers, arms, eyes, head— exactly as they pleased, as though it were they who were actuating my body. (WE 1149)
That these phenomena were actually to play an orientation role when the reverse seems to be the case, constitutes yet another startling fact.

3.2 Swedenborg's disorientation

Ironically, it is during the scientific stage prior to the crisis that Swedenborg is found to be truly disoriented. And indeed, there is very solid support for making this statement. We need only look into some of the ideas he espoused. For instance, about the origin of infectious diseases. All disease-generating sources pointed at by Swedenborg prior to the crisis were aseptic (devoid of germs) and shapeless: "dews, pestilential fumes, sulphureous effluvia...ignis fatuus [will-o'-the-wisp!][17]." And what is still more flagrant: he denied the existence of bacteria. He maintained that Antony van Leeuwenhoek's observations of bacteria in human saliva (fig. 3.2.1) were an observational artifact! He terms them 'particles', and states:

Fig. 3.2.1 BACTERIA OBSERVED BY VAN LEEUWENHOEK. Swedenborg denied their existence. He claimed these are mere 'particles' of living matter that put on capricious, transitory forms.
...when examined in water by the microscope, [these particles] appear oblong and branching. Leeuwenhoek describes them as like little worms, with heads, tails, and tortuous bodies, and swimming about with great agility. But what do we gain in point of understanding, from this chemical analysis, when we consider that similar liquids, spirits[18], oils, and residua may be elicited by distillation from all the subjects of both the animal and vegetable kingdoms (...) Nothing, in fact, is more common than for forms in a state of quick motion, to appear in all those parts where the afflux of spirits is abundant, as in the epididymes, the vasa deferentia, the vesiculae seminales, and the semen itself. And also, according to Leeuwenhoek, even in the saliva of the mouth. So that it seems as if the substance called animal spirit, were in the constant desire and endeavor, wherever an opportunity is offered, of clothing itself with a body, but which body easily relapses back into its constituent principles or spirits. (AK I, 81, nn. m and o)
Swedenborg mixed up bacteria and spermatozoa into an indiscriminate lot. Obviously, his idea of ephemeral, transitory and unstable forms perpetually participating in a process that builds up and breaks down living matter utterly opposes the very notion of microbes that can be morphologically individualized according to constant and specific shapes. And this is why the crisis that put an end to his scientific career in 1744, represents so revolutionary a turning-point, because all details thenceforth registered by Swedenborg do not correspond to amorphous ever-changing 'particles,' but to real germs with stable and specific shapes originating from septic sources most of which even never came to the knowledge of Louis Pasteur, the man that was to formulate 13 decades later the first modern theory of microbial diseases. And this, very obviously, has nothing to do with mental disorientation, nor with the theories applied so far to explain phenomena like those that stirred up Clérambault's attention in the 19th century, and gave rise to their unilateral classification as signs of mental derangement. It represents quite another type of influx.

3.3 An orientating influx

Immediately after the crisis Swedenborg started all of a sudden to assert that "all the infernals induce diseases" (AC 5713 et passim). Evidently, this contradicts his pre-critical doctrine —quite an amazing fact in itself— about dews, fumes, sulphureous effluvia and so on. Of course, it might just have been a matter of regressive evolution: of having espoused ancient doctrines like, for instance, those found in the 11th tablet of the Babylonian Asakki marsuti, where the evil spirits 'Asakku' and 'Ahhazu' appear as being respectively the causative agents of fevers and jaundice[19]. However, the true circumstance is quite a different one. In quite the same anticipative category as the finds that have turned up, mentioned in chapters 1.0 and 2.0, the 'infernals' fit neatly into the frames of modern parasitology and microbiology!

The only example mentioned so far was that of the Epstein-Barr virus[20]. The one now selected for discussion refers to a bacterial microbe, but so tiny and operating in the intracellular medium that it was at first suspected to be a virus. And indeed, so extremely noxious that it killed two of the pioneers who studied it: Stanislas von Prowazek and Howard T. Ricketts. Namely, the Rickettsia prowazekii: the causative agent of typhus (spotted fever).

Swedenborg terms this kind of germs 'cruel and adulterine spirits' (indeed fittingly: just think of poor Prowazek and Ricketts!). Names are important. Evidence obtained shows that Swedenborg makes as taxonomically a systematic and regular use of names as microbiologists do when they classify germs. The identification of the 'cruel and adulterine spirits' as rickettsiae is thoroughly solid, being supported by a full set of criteria: clinical (type of fever), cytological (presence of the germ according to the descriptions given, inside infected cells), parasitological (transmission by lice), prophylactic (capillary hygienics, baths, hot water mentioned in the post-critical texts at issue), and the ways of the microbe's penetration into the human organism (transcutaneous and through the respiratory tract).

The topic I am specifically to deal with in this highly abridged account of the above mentioned facts refers to the reorientation of Swedenborg's attention, which shifted markedly from aseptic foci (remember: exhalations, dews, fumes, and so on) to foci that are positively septic and characteristic of the germs involved. It is therefore quite essential that the following points are previously stressed: 1) that the germ discussed mainly propagates through the excrements of lice; 2) that this insect proliferates where filth accumulates (where cleanliness fails); 3) that that germ was discovered for the first time in 1916 by H. da Rocha-Lima in the intestines of that very insect. These were exactly the three elements pointed at and stressed in Swedenborg's experiences. To wit:

THAT CRUEL AND ADULTERINE SPIRITS LOVE NOTHING MORE THAN FILTH AND EXCREMENTS.

I have spoken previously of this fact that to such spirits, filth and excrements are very pleasant, so that they prefer the pleasantness of beholding such things to all other pleasantnesses, and not only filth and excrements, but also foul, loathsome, and horrid intestines of animals, to that degree, that when they act through man they snatch away all his interior sense, as also his sight, to such things, because they are delighted therewith.

This also was shown me by manifest experience; when I walked in the street, they carried away my eyes to all such things; wherever there was filth, excrement and intestines, thither they directed my eyes, although I was ignorant of where were such things in the street. (SD 2843)

Midways between this and the description of the very germ, Swedenborg had just as exciting an experience. To wit, a hypnogogic vision in the course of which the bacterial nature of this disease-generating agent was unveiled in much the same manner as the one that made Louis Pasteur conceive many years later his general theory of infectious germs. This is fascinating, and demands closer discussion.

The study of the fermentation of milk was one of the phenomena that put the great French researcher on the track to the discovery of insalubrious bacteria. It is also a fact that teeth offer perfect conditions for the proliferation of bacteria. In the light of this couple of facts, Swedenborg's hypnogogic vision becomes higly significant:

CONCERNING AN IDEAL REPRESENTATION. In a state intermediate between sleeping and waking, but verging nearer to sleep, there was remarkably represented a tooth. When in the waking state I could not know, still less express, what it was, but simply that a tooth was perceived, which, according as the desire was, was turned into something resembling coagulated milk. (SD 3791)

Milk coagulates by the action of bacteria, and this 'ideal' tooth appears once more exactly when Swedenborg resumes the topic of the 'cruel and adulterine spirits' identified as bacteria of the rickettsia genus. In this way an 'ideal' link was evidently and prodigiously established between bacteria that spoil milk and bacteria that 'spoil' humans (remember the deaths of von Prowazek and Ricketts), amounting to a cognitive leap of 130 years in relation to Pasteur's theory[21].

On this occasion Swedenborg additionally terms the 'cruel and adulterine spirits' as 'mucus-spirits.' This makes perfect sense. One of this germ's habitual ways of penetration is the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract. Into this tract the germ enters, conveyed by the powdery residua of excrements of its specific transmitter: the louse. This is probably how Prowazek and Ricketts got infected.

The further evolution of Swedenborg's experience is most outstanding, not just because the 'ideal' connecting element —a tooth— is indicated once more, but because quite an essential 'character' comes upon stage: the very transmitter of the Rickettsia prowazekiithe louse! Indeed, is there any passage amongst those genuinely sensational that must be the one I am now to quote. This time the 'tooth' pointed at is a 'putrid' tooth: decayed, septic, noxious. It could hardly have been intimated more clearly that the bacterium now involved coagulates no milk but kills! Or that it is, at any rate, morbid. Wrote Swedenborg:

When those mucus-spirits flowed in, it was perceived that they moved my tongue towards a putrid tooth (moverent linguam versus dentem putridum). There was then also at the back of the neck a sense of biting as of lice (sensus morsus sicut pediculorum); then an itching in the buttocks (tum in natibus titilatio). All of which was from them. (SD 4035)

That 'itching in the nates' is also quite significant. The louse defecates as it bites, and inoculates an irritative saliva. Scratching and excoriation become unavoidable, and this facilitates the germ's penetration through the skin.

The respiratory way of penetration was also indicated in just as peculiar a manner:

They farther spake with me also as if in the throat or trachea (sicut in gutture seu trachea). (SD 40351/2)

There is very obviously a great difference between these experiences and mere automatism, delirium or ideas of influx. Swedenborg's case clearly demands new analytical criteria, is unexpectedly offering insight into one part of reality negated by modern philosophy, and challenges current research.

3.4 Automatic writing? Automatic drawing?

Writes Paul Chauchard:

Recollections linked to emotional shocks... act like a source of neurotic impulses for which there seems to be no explanation. A gesture or a grimace may therefore signify something quite different from what is consciously assumed... in sensitive individuals, also, the relationship between the unconscious and the act of writing becomes evident in automatic writing during induced and self-suggestive hypnosis. Their hands write things of which they are not aware, that are not dictated by mysterious spirits but by the unconscious[22].

Swedenborg did also experience this type of influx and —of course, he attributed it to spirits!

Nay, I have written entire pages, and the spirits did not dictate the words but absolutely guided my hand, so that it was they who were doing the writing. (WE 1150)

Whose theory is correct? Can the unconscious (Chauchard's theory) explain my 1973-findings?

Trying to track down the origin of that handwriting would be an Utopian project. However, there is one thing in Swedenborg which might be closely related to his writing and can be tested: his drawings. The main series (8 sketches) of these exceptional graphic material forms part of an integral description of the development and fertilization of a human ovule (two examples are shown here, in figs. ( 3.4.1, 3.4.2).

Swedenborg's descriptions of the development and fertilization of the female gamete are all the more astonishing when taking into account that he was an outspoken spermatist. That is: he joined the ranks of those 18th-century scholars which theorized that the ovule plays no generative role, serving exclusively as a receptacle that shelters and nourishes the 'seminal particles.' Thus the change he experienced in this area after the crisis is just as radical and startling as in all other fields.

Evidently, Swedenborg's drawings offer documentary evidence of a micrographic nature that cannot be explained away by Chauchard's theory of an unconscious origin. There must be some Third Source different from Swedenborg himself or any other mortal man.

Micrograph
Swedenborg's
drawing
Fig. 3.4.1 OVULE EJECTING POLAR CORPUSCLE
and a real micrograph for comparison purposes.
Swedenborg's drawing
Searle's 'intepretative' drawing
X-Chromosome
Fig. 3.4.2 CHROMOSOME drawn by Swedenborg. Strictly following descriptions contained in Swedenborg's text referred to the various areas of his drawing marked with letters, a Swedenborgian scholar named A. H. Searle made towards the end of the 19th century the 'interpretative drawing' shown in this figure. Its outline coincides with that of an X-chromosome. Searle's rendering is highly confirmative because of his neutrality. Chromosomes were certainly not in his mind —he thought Swedenborg had pictured 'spiritual scenes' (sic).

3.5 Comments

I believe there is no exaggeration in stating that we have been faced with one of the most unexpected and outstanding events of our times. Swedenborg has unveiled a portion of reality whose very existence or accessibility modern philosophy tends to deny.

From the explanatory perspective of a science that was thought to be fundamentally well-oriented in virtually all its branches, the conclusion was drawn that automatism and the ideas of influx can only be contemplated from the pathological angle originally propounded by Clérambault. Swedenborg's case proves this is a wrong presumption. Under the influx experienced, the Swedish scientist and revelator did not execute spasmodic movements but perfectly well-oriented operations resulting in graphic documentary evidence. He did also experience phenomena through which elements very material and tangible (filth, excrements, intestines, coagulated milk, a decayed tooth, the biting of lice, itching of the buttocks, venereal sources... and so on) were pointed out, furnishing very concrete referential keys. These keys together with the verbal statements discussed in chapter 2.0 have facilitated the unveiling of an amazing physical revelation. We may put it this way:

On the 27th of September 1822, Jean-François Champollion claimed officially in his famous Lettre à M. Dacier that he was now in a position to read the hieroglyphic texts. By this the world gradually gained access to the wonders of one of the oldest and most fascinating cultures in the history of mankind: the Ancient Egypt. A similar announcement may now be made concerning a specific and very substantial portion of Swedenborg's post-critical texts. These can now be correctly read for the first time since he wrote them, thanks to the discovery of the suitable comparative operation and appropriate reference keys by which they can be linked to the physical reality they actually describe.

The new method for reading Swedenborg's post-critical texts is by no means essentially different from the one Kekule and Howe spontaneously applied to the interpretation of their respective hypnogogic experiences[23].


[16] G. Rancurel, art. about Delirium in Nueva Larousse P 45, Plaza & Janés, Barcelona, 1980, vol. 12, p. 3737.

[17] Cf. Fib., 393, 467 and 561, and AK I, 157, n. L.

[18] In the 18th century, the term spirit signified humour: a fluid state of matter. As theory went, the expression 'animal spirit' used in one of the passages that follow, refers to the subtlest and most vital of all these substances.

[19] Cf. R.C. Thompson, The devils and evil spirits of Babylon, vol. II, pp. 28-29.

[20] Cf. 2.4.

[21] L. Pasteur, La théorie des germes et ses applications à la médécine et à la chirurgie, 1878. Swedenborg's note (SD 3791) is dated November 1, 1748.

[22] P. Chauchard, El cerebro y la mano creadora, Narcea, Madrid, 1972, pp. 47-48.

[23] Cf. 2.1.


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Sensory Indications

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