Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 50.djvu/525

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THE INTERPRETATIONS OF AUTOMATISM.

everything — twins from the same mother in all outward respects. One pulsates and throbs with that which we call "life." It possesses heat, bodily motion, animal power. The other is cold, motionless, pulseless, throbless — a thing of clay. What is that "life" which the one possesses and the other lacks? Ah, there's the rub! With the wisest of men we can only answer, "Quien sabe?" (Who knows?)

 
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THE INTERPRETATIONS OF AUTOMATISM.
By Prof. WILLIAM ROMAINE NEWBOLD.

THROUGHOUT this series of papers I have confined myself closely to one theory of interpretation, and I have done so because the theory which I adopted stands nearest to those of current science. To leave the subject in this shape, however, would be an injustice both to my readers and myself. The phenomena the reality of which I have acknowledged constitute but a part of those which are regarded by competent observers as actually entering into the question; and the solution which I have proposed is not only with difficulty capable of reconciliation with these other phenomena, but is itself based upon a metaphysical theory which is far from demonstration. It seems, therefore, no more than fair that I should, before concluding my series, give my readers a somewhat broader outlook upon the various aspects of the problem than I have yet done. A complete survey of all theories that have been proposed to account for the whole or a part of the facts can not, of course, be given in a magazine article, even if I were competent to the task, which I do not profess to be. But some account of the manner in which the phenomena of suggestibility and automatism are related to the broader field of the supernormal, and of the possible points of view from which the whole field may be surveyed, seems to me essential.

There is no need of my again recounting the salient features of suggestibility, automatism, and secondary states. Let me turn at once to the material which I have hitherto excluded — the realm of the supernormal.

It is with some hesitation that I have resolved to introduce any discussion of these topics in the pages of the Popular Science Monthly. The inquiry into the supernormal is as yet in its infancy: its methods are still crude, and its results are under discussion. None of these results have as yet won the right to a place among the scientific truths which may be regarded as known. They are still the personal opinions of a small group of students, and although I account myself one of the group, I do not make the mistake of identifying my personal opinions with