An Interview with the Famous Inventor Regarding His Attempt to Communicate with the Next World
As Reported by Austin C. Lescarboura
See also Communicating with the Dead (Spirit World), 100 Books on DVDrom - For a list of all of my disks and digital books click here
WHEN a man of the standing and personality of a Lodge or an Edison interesu himself in a subject, the public is never cold to the announcement of what he is doing and what he hopes to accomplish. So when the news went out, the other day, that Edison was carrying on experiments looking toward communication n»ith the dead, the newspapers gave the item a place out of all proportion to that which its intrinsic importance in the scientific progress of the day and the stage to which Edison's work has progressed would have entitled it. In this they were quite right, because their readers were interested in the bare news that Edison was working on the problem. We believe that our readers, too, are interested in what Edison is doing in this field and what he has to say about his theories and his work. Hence this interview, in wich Mr. Edison, himself, tells us that he believes about survival and why he hopes to establish communication. And if one thing stands out clearly beyond all other things in this interview, it is that regardless of the manner in which sensational newspaper stories may present the matter, Edison stands for a return to sanity in our attitude toward the possibility of survival of personality and communication with those who may have survived.-THE EDITOR.
EDISON-the man who has given us the electric light, the phonograph, the motion picture, the nickel-iron storage battery, the perfected dynamo and a vast collection of other devices entering into our everyday life-is about to devote himself to something which is infinitely more interesting than any invention can ever be. Here we are, something llke one billion five hundred million human
beings, facing death sooner or later yet totally ignorant of what is to become of our personalities. And the same can be said about our coming into this world, for life and death remnln the greatest mysteries of the ages.
Several weeks ago the word was passed around to the effect that the great inventor was working on a device, or apparatus as he prefers to term it, to communicate with personalities which have passed on to another existence or sphere. Immediately the press of the United States and Europe announced that Thomas A. Edison had joined the ranks of the spiritists, which now number many a prominent scientist, author, inventor, physicist, engineer, clergyman, and so on. Soon the highly imaginitive French writers drew pen pictures of Mr. Edison's apparatus serving as a telephone
station or telegraph office or what-not, where persons wishing to communicate with those who have passed on could do so in a positive and prompt manner.
And no one is more sorry than Mr. Edison that this impression has been permitted to gain ground both here and abroad. "In the first place, I cannot conceive such a thing as a spirit," said Mr. Edison to the writer. He meant it, too. "Imagine something which has no weight, no material form, no mass: In a word, Imagine nothing! I cannot be a party to the belief that spirits exist and can be seen under certain circumstances and can he made to tilt tables and rap and do other things of a similar unimportant nature. The whole thing is so absurd."
In fact, it was mainly for the reason of correcting the impression about Mr. Edison‘s activities in this latest field of research that the inventor granted the writer an interview. The apparatus which he is reported to be building is still in the experimental stage. Obviously, Mr. Edison is too cautions and too well founded in the uncertainties of any new experimental work to say anything definite at the present time. However, he wishes to say the following, which is very significant in the light of his past record in so many fields of endeavor:
"I have been thinking for some time of a machine or apparatus which could be operated by personalities which have passed on to another existence or sphere. Now follow me carefully; I don't claim that our personalities pass on to another existence or sphere. I don't claim anything because I don't know anything about the subject. For that matter, no human being knows. But I do claim that it is possible to construct an apparatus which will be so delicate that if there are personalities in another existence or sphere who wish to get in touch with us in this existence or sphere, this apparatus will at least give them a better opportunity to express themselves than the tilting tables and raps and ouija boards and mediums and the other crude methods now purported to be the only means of communication.
“In truth, it is the crudeness of the present methods that makes me doubt the authenticity of purported communications with deceased persons. Why should personalities in another existence or sphere waste their time working a little triangular piece of wood over a board with certain lettering on it? Why should such personalities play pranks with a table? The whole business seems so childish to me that I frankly cannot give it my serious consideration. I believe that if we are to make any real progress in psychic investigation, we must do it with scientific apparatus and in a scientific manner, just as we do in medicine, electricity, chemistry, and other fields.
“Now what I purpose to do is to furnish psychic investigators with an apparatus which will give a scientific aspect to their work. This apparatus, let me explain, is ln the nature of a valve, so to speak. That is to say, the slightest conceivable effort is made to exert many times its initial power for indicative purposes. It is similar to a modern power house, where man, with his relatively puny one-eighth horse-power, turns a valve which starts a 50,000-horse-power steam turbine. My apparatus is along those lines, in that the slightest effort which it intercepts will he magnified many times so as to give us whatever form of record we desire for the purpose of investigation. Beyond that I don't care to say anything further regarding its nature. -I have been working out the details for some time; indeed, a collaborator in this work died only the other day. In that he knew exactly what I am after in this work, I believe he ought to be the first to use it if he is able to do so. Of course, don't forget that I am making no claims for the survival of personality; I am not promising communication with those who have passed out of this life. I merely state that I am giving the psychic investigators an apparatus which may help them in their work, just as optical experts have given the microscope to the medical world. And if this apparatus fails to reveal anything of exceptional interest, I am afraid that I shall have lost all faith in the survival of personality as we know it in this existence."
Mr. Edison does not believe in the present theories of life and death. Long ago he turned his back on the various old and accepted theories because he felt that they were fundamentally wrong. And just as he experimented with one substance after another without ever becoming discouraged in his search for the filament of the first successful incandescent electric lamp, so he has searched and reasoned and built up a structure which represents his theories of what is life.
“I believe that life, like matter, is indestructible," began Mr. Edison, in outlining his theory of life and death. “There has always been a certain amount of life on this world and there will always be the same amount. You cannot create life; you cannot destroy life; you cannot multiply life.
“I believe our bodies are composed of myriads and myriads of infinitesimal entities, each in itself a unit of life, which band together to build a man. We have taken it for granted that each of us is a unit. We think of a cat, an elephant, a horse, a fish and so on as units. I am convinced that such thinking is basically wrong. All these things appear to be units only for the reason that the life entitles of which I speak are far too small to be detected even with the ultra-microscope.
“The question has been raised that if these life entities are so small, they cannot be large enough to include a collection of organs capable of carrying on the tasks which I am about to mention. Yet why not? There is no limit to the smallness of things, just as there is no limit as to largeness. The electron theory gives us a reply which is wholly satisfactory. I have had the matter roughly calculated and have at hand the data of the calculation. I am sure that a highly organized entity, consisting of millions of electrons yet still remaining too small to be visible through any existing microscope, is possible.
“There are many indications that we human beings act as a community or ensemble rather than as units. That is why I believe that each of us comprises millions upon millions of entities, and that our body and our mind represent the vote or the voice, whichever you wish to call it, of our entities.
“Now let's see why we must be composed of life entities. Supposing you take a finger print of your thumb, in the conventional manner of the police records. Then burn your thumb sufficiently to destroy the skin. Do you know that after the new skin has formed the finger print of your recovered thumb will be precisely the same as the first one? Yes, absolutely the same, even down to the last line and irregularity. I tried it to make sure. Here is a mystery which has remained unanswered until now.
“Of course, you say it is nature. But what is nature? That seems to me to be such an evasive reply. It means nothing. It is just a subterfuge—a convenient way of shutting off further questioning by merely giving an empty word for an answer. I have never been satisfied with that word ‘nature.’ Now my answer is that the skin didn't happen to grow that way again by accident. Someone had to plan the new growth and to supervise it to make certain that it would conform in every way with the old skin. You do not know just what that pattern is, and so your brain plays no part in the operation.
“Here is where our life entities come into action. I firmly believe that the life entities rebuild that thumb with consummate care, drawing upon their remarkable memory for all the details.
“Let us consider an analogy, for the sake of making my point more clear to you. Supposing that a man from Mars came to this earth, and his eyes were so much coarser than ours that the smallest thing he could see was the Brooklyn Bridge. He could not see us. Naturally, he might take Brooklyn Bridge for some natural growth, just as we consider grass, sand, minerals and other things as matters of natural development. Supposing that same man from Mars were to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, and several years later he happened to find a new bridge in precisely the same place and of precisely the same design. Would it seem logical for that man to assume that the bridge simply grew again in the same manner and in the same place? Don’t you suppose that the Martian would be compelled to assume that some intelligence and guided effort were behind the rebuilding of the structure he had destroyed?
“That is precisely the stand we should take regarding the life entities. Obviously, the entire matter is one of conjecture. Perhaps the entities in our bodies are ninety-five per cent workers and five per cent directors. At any rate, it is the ensemble of all these entities which gives us our physical form, mental properties, personality, and so on.
“The entities are life, I again repeat.
They are steady workers. In our bodies these entities constantly rebuild our tissues to replace those which are constantly wearing out. They watch after the functions of the various organs, just as the engineers in a power house see that the machinery is kept in perfect order. Once conditions become unsatisfactory in the body, either through a fatal sickness, fatal accident or old age, the entities simply depart from the body and leave little more than an empty structure behind. Being indefatigable workers, they naturally seek something else to do. They either enter into the body of another man, or even start work on some other form of life. At any rate, there is a fixed number of these entities, and it is the same entities that have served over and over again for everything in this universe of ours, although the various combinations of entities have given us an erroneous impression of new life and still new life for each generation.
“The entities live forever. You cannot destroy them, just the same as you cannot destroy matter. You can change the form of matter; but of gold, iron, sulfur, oxygen and so on, there was the same quantity in existence in the beginning of this world as there is today. We are simply working the same supply over and over again. True, we change the combinations of these elements, but we have not changed the relative quantities of each of the elements with which we started. So with the lite entities, we cannot destroy them. They are being used over and over again, in different forms, to be sure, but they are always the same entities.
“The entities are so diversified in their capabilities that it is difficult to identify their handiwork in all instances. Thus today the scientists admit the difficulty of drawing a line of demarcation indicating where life ends and inanimate things begin. It may he that life entities even extend their work to minerals and chemicals. For what is it that causes certain solutions to form crystals of a very definite and intricate pattern? Nature! But what is nature? Is it not fair to even suspect that life entities may be at work building those crystals? They don't simply happen. Something must cause certain solutions always to form certain kinds of crystals.
“Now we come to the matter of personality. The reason why you are Lescarboura and I am Edison is because we have different swarms or groups or whatever you wish to call them, of entities. After eighty-two remarkable surgical operations the medical world has conclusively proved that the seat of our personality is in that part of the brain known as the fold of Broca. Now it is reasonable to suppose that the directing entities are located in that part of our bodies. These entities, as a closely-knit ensemble, give us our mental impressions and our personality.
“I have already said that what we call death is simply the departure of the entities from our body. The whole question to my way of thinking, is what happens to the master entities—those located in the fold of Broca. It is fair to assume that the other entities, those which have been doing purely routine work in our body, disband and go off in various directions. seeking new work to do. But how about those which have been directing things in our body those which are Lescarboura, Edison, Meadowcroft and so on? Do they remain together as an ensemble or do they also break up and go about the universe seeking new tasks as individuals and not as a collective body? If they break up and set out as individual entities, then I very much fear that our personality does not survive. While the life entities live forever, thus giving us the eternal life which many of us hope for, this means little to you and me if, when we come to that stage known as death, our personality simply breaks up into separate units which soon combine with others to form new structures.
"I do hope that our personality survives. If it does, then my apparatus ought to be of some use. That is why I am now at work on the most sensitive apparatus I have ever undertaken to build, and I await the results with the keenest interest.”