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Late author, behaviorist, leftist, centralist and seaman Belogium Hoptchkins has uncovered many scores of stories in all sorts of disciplines ranging from obscure animal diaries to America’s vacuum wars. This 1983 effort takes on the world of the extranormal, meant to jumpstart a field that, in his words, had been “rotting on its paralaurels” for too long. Published only in Russian since its 1997 debut due to contractual issues it had recently been translated into the Queen’s English, only to be re-translated into the King’s English just weeks ago.
The author’s life has been well documented, with his interest in baseball familiar to most, but friends say he was also a talented birder, able to sneak up on the common Mauve paunchpecker with ease. Once, they say, he almost caught a Great Northern Kwip in the midst of a sticklecrap, eventually snapping a twig underfoot at apx. 108 feet, still a significant event in the field.
In Telepathetic, Hoptchkins was both calling out and calling attention to the leading names and trends of the day, taking stock of a branch of “holiscience” (his term) by reminding us of its pioneers and ambitions.
Labeling then-world’s experts “table-tippers” and “ducks,” the author notes “Andreynov is still bending water fountain streams for his own amusement” and wonders “Why hasn’t anyone fed Schroeder’s Cat? Where are the levitating children, the ghost presidents?”
Some of what populates Hoptchkin’s list of “disappointments” include:
- Barntooth’s boast of being able to hammer a nail into a tree using only his mind is in its eighth year and the nail is barely one-quarter of the way in
- No apparent advances in the fields of craniumasis, spiritism, ectoclasmic hypoluxo, or quasi-dimensional neomancy
- Stubby’s work on intraspatial commonalities has uncovered none of Ringo’s Four Ruminations
- Man is no closer to attaining “zendipity” as predicted by Farnham during the last Soular Beclipse
Hoptchkins makes his feelings known with images, graphs and charts, but thankfully keeps all of that tucked away in the appendix, letting one enjoy his wonderful sense of humor even while he sets out to express his criticisms and discouragement. No one is left untouched by his boundless scorn, leaving almost every practitioner of the paranormal on the hook for what he calls “a lack of edible evidence.”
His arguments are valid, but they largely ignore any accepted theory post-Limthcomb and the radical baker’s papers on reincarnesis (a proposal wherein one may mentally compel the recently deceased to temporarily inhabit another’s body) and especially pre-prognition, which is to say the author ignored the last five years of cutting edge parapsychology in his day, making writing this book an odd choice for him at the time.
In historian St. Ringby Inns’s 1990 study of Hoptchkins, interviewed colleagues suggest that behind Belogium’s public disavowal of what may have been considered too fringe was actually a distaste for Limthcomb and his sartorial extravagance, with Hoptchkins preferring the old standbys like four piece undershirts and man Friday pants.
Where the book excels is in its enormous research, unearthing things like an “unsanctioned” experiment conducted at Harvard in the 1960’s in which one participant sealed himself up in a giant sack filled with liquid alcohol so he could float and get crocked at the same time. The other participants would then proceed to “interject” their thoughts into the drunken one’s notebook, usually kept at home. The existence of this experiment had been denied by the British Parliament until Belogium’s reveal, and they still offer no explanation as to its purpose or its results, which Hoptchkins called “felonious.”
“In 1978 the King of Armenia covered up the disappearance of an entire village for the duration of its seven day absence, and allowed no news program to acknowledge the event” which Hoptchkins describes as “geomagnetic transference” by a “highly empowered person who absorbs the flow of time surrounding an object (in this case a village of 1300 citizens) and who can temporarily alter that object’s placement in the now-stream with respect to our own perception of it.” So basically a person shifted a whole village to a place in time where we could no longer see it, displacing it by enough fractions of a second so as to not exist in our time, kept it there in limbo for a week and then put it back. Fourteen people were seriously injured when the village reappeared, and thirty nine died of fright when they read of the thousands who were crushed. The tragedy was kept a secret until Hoptchkins reportedly bribed a senior official into relaying the particulars.
Interesting details surely, but also impossible to verify, making them anecdotal at best. Still, the author’s obvious enthusiasm for the subject and his skillful way with a phrase will keep readers interested. What might prove fascinating would be a modern day reassessment of the major concerns of Telepathetic to see how disappointing they are today.
Perhaps this long awaited English translation will inspire just such a thing.