Saturday, January 23, 2010
From Phantasms of the Living by Edmund Gurney, Frederic Myers, and Frank Podmore, Chapter VI "Transference of Ideas and Mental Pictures."
We have other cases in which the transferred impression was not of a tune, but of a word or phrase, while still apparently of an auditory sort, conveying the sound of the word rather than its meaning. When the two persons concerned have been in close proximity, it is, of course, difficult to make sure that some incipient sound or movement of the lips, on the part of the supposed agent, did not supply an unconscious suggestion. But the following case cannot be so explained. We received it from Mr. J. G. Keulemans, who was mentioned above (p. 196) as having had a number of similar experiences.
"In the summer of the year 1875, about eight in the evening, I was returning to my home in the Holloway Road, on a tramcar, when it flashed into my mind that my assistant, Herr Schell, a Dutchman, who knew but little English (who was coming to see me that evening), would ask me what the English phrase, 'to wit,' meant in Dutch. So vivid was the impression that I mentioned it to my wife on arriving at my house, and I went so far as to scribble it down on the edge of a newspaper which I was reading. Ten minutes afterwards Schell arrived, and almost his first words were the inquiry, 'Wat is liet Hollandsch voor "to wit"? (The words scribbled on the newspaper were not in his sight, and he was a good many yards from it.) I instantly showed him the paper, with the memorandum on it, saying, 'You see I was ready for you.' He told me that he had resolved to ask me just before leaving his house in Kentish Town, as he was intending that evening to do a translation of an English passage in which the words occurred. He was in the habit of making such translations in order to improve his knowledge of English. The time of his resolution corresponded (as far as we could reckon) with that of my impression."
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