'There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul'.—Victor Hugo
It was a momentous occasion of the year 1909, at the renowned Teatro Colón, when I had met in person the enigmatic Señor Augustus Gasparini in Buenos Aires Argentina, during one of his epic performances of mesmerism. The unusual phenomenon of mesmerism was a superannuated 19th century method of wielding dominion over a person’s personality or actions, with potent hypnotic influence. This phenomenon was mostly known today, as hypnosis. What I did not know was that it was attributed to a Franz Anton Mesmer, a German doctor and creator of the practice of mesmerism. This historic revelation I would discover afterwards, when speaking to Señor Gasparini.
I was in Buenos Aires on a business engagement, when I had descried a placard that was visible on the corner of Cerrito Street. The main entrance to the theatre was from Libertad Street, Arturo Toscanini Street, and Tucumán Street. The placard announced the performance of an Argentine mesmerist, whose name was Augustus Gasparini. There was nothing particular about the name of this peculiar individual that seemed overtly riveting, until I had entered the crowded theatre and would be intrigued then, with the uncommon spectacle that ensued before my own eyes. It would be a suspicious performance like no other and cause, a major stir in the non-plussed people that were present.
The colourful audience was promptly seated, and the capacity of the spacious auditorium was approximately 2,500 seats. There was an attractive gallery that was originally built in the year of 1857, with the Golden Room, the concert hall and stage, beneath the allegorical ceiling frescoes. The elegant balconies and the gala were identical in architecture, to grandiose theatres in Europe I had been accustomed to seeing. I had purchased a single ticket, not knowing what I was to expect based on my initial assumption and I presumed that I would not be imposed, by this man’s unique ability. However, that would all change in a matter of minutes, and the mesmerist appeared, behind the dazzling curtain that was lifted.
Apparently, much of the audience was aware of the reputation of the mesmerist, and was fascinated by this inexplicable occurrence of mesmerism. Eventually, he addressed the audience, with a slight haughtier that was perceived to be theatrical, but exceedingly confident. Then, he asked if there was a person amongst the audience, who was willing to participate in his act. From the audience, a woman of an unassuming appearance had raised her hand and was chosen by the mesmerist for this imperative participation. A decorative baloon back chair was placed for the woman to be seated.
Subsequently, he explained the gradual process that would be effectuated, and the performance began in earnest, which implied the removal of her soul from her body. The lights of the theatre were turned off, and there was entire darkness that encompassed the area, with the exception of the dim lights of the balcony. It seemed absurd to believe in this fanciful exhibition, nevertheless, there were those who were passionate believers of this impractical procedure.
The woman appeared to be somewhat nervous, and looked into the imperant eyes of Señor Gasparini, who began to mesmerise her, with the power of his fingers that commanded, like a forcible magnet. Shortly, she would be controlled by his powerful degrees of effect, as she closed her eyes completely. Señor Gasparini, then proceeded through his communicative voice to rouse the soul of the woman, as she rested in a dormant state, where her physical body would be listless, but her mind would be consciously aware of the voice of the mesmerist.
An inanimate mist began to surface, and in a matter of minutes, her living soul would emerge from her undisturbed body, and present itself before the captivated audience, who looked on with total bewilderment and awe. The aspectable soul of the woman stood in front of the crowd for only a fleeting duration, before it returned to the body of the woman. There were sudden gasps and shrieks heard amongst the audience, as they were horrified by this inconceivable occurrence. Not one member of the audience could verily explain what had eventuated in a logical manner, except to wonder if the cunning mesmerist had implemented connivance, in using an unseen contrivance with his act.
There were so many unsolved questions to query, and I was one of the several members present, who was left with an unexpected cogitation. How did he achieve such a remarkable feat? Was this an elaborate hoax of his? Surely, I thought there was some type of feigned deception employed, such as a mechanical device or an invisible rope that the audience could not detect so plainly. Perhaps he used a strange powder to form the phantasmal mist as well.
Afterwards, he calmly awoke the woman who participated and finished the performance, as she rose to her feet, with the stunned crowd applauding. The velvet lining of the curtains covered the stage, and the lights were turned on again. I did not know with the utmost certainty that what I witnessed in that theatre was of an obvious concoction, or it was a praeternatural manifestation. When the incredible performance of the mesmerist was completed, I left the theatre with the desire to see more of his performance; although I was not firmly convinced that what I saw was truly unprecedented.
It was extremely difficult to envision mesmerism, as being able to possess the sufficient power required, to remove the soul from the human body. This unreasonable method was unheard of, and I had to be assured that what I had witnessed of this mesmeric action was not a manipulative beguilement. Thus, I was very determined to return again to the theatre, for Señor Gasparini’s next performance that was in two days.
I was staying at the home of a dearest friend by the name of Roberto Romano, who had invited me the night before. At his home I had elucidated to him in a discreet conversation, what had happened at the theatre with the mesmerist, and he was uncertain of what to say to me, except that Señor Gasparini was becoming infamous within Buenos Aires for his act of mesmerism. When I asked him, if he believed that it was realistic to conceive that mesmerism could bring the soul outwardly from the body of a human, his response was succinct. He did not know, but if it was possible, then it meant that the soul was interchangeable and invariable. I had heard previously of an odd phenomenon of the soul leaving the body and returning, during a transient encounter with death in Brasil.
The only way I would be able to refute or prove this, was to attend another unrivalled performance of Señor Gasparini. When I discovered the hour of his next act of mesmerism, I invited my good friend Roberto to accompany me to the theatre. Therefore, we departed his home and reached the theatre, and sat in the audience, as we waited for the mesmerist to reappear. Then the mesmerism began, after a member from the audience assisted the mesmerist. Once more, Señor Gasparini was capable of removing the soul for a brief moment, from the body of the man, who had participated in the intense performance. As with the previous performance, I was left virtually impressed and astonished.
I had to meet him and talk to him forthwith, and I immediately headed toward the backstage to meet him. As I reached the backstage, I was greeted by one of his protective entourage, who was there for vigilance. I told him that I needed to speak to Señor Gasparini, and I explained who I was. He was not interested in my words of rodomontade, or was he going to allow me to pass. Seeing that my options were limited, I quickly made mention of my presumptuous status. I told him I was willing to offer a thousand pesos, for only one session with the mesmerist. This was sufficient for him to speak to the mesmerist, and inform him of my lucrative offer. The mesmerist acquiesced, and had allowed me to converse with him, about my telling proposal.
When I finally met him, he was puzzled to know, why I would propose to pay a large sum of money, for his service. I confessed at first of my incredulity, but as with many of the members of the audience, I wanted to know the truth. If what he professed to be accurate, and he possessed the exceptional powers to remove the soul from the body, then I was willing to concede and undergo his form of mesmerism or hypnosis at a steep price. I thought there would be presumptive doubt and suspicion in him, to expose himself to imminent ridicule and accusations of the press if he failed, but he did not express neither and extreme confidence was demonstrated. He enquired the reason for the mesmerism, and I admitted the reason. I told him that I had been haunted recently, by a certain episode of death that was a ceaseless nightmare of dread. When he asked me to elaborate, I did. I said that the horrendous nightmare I was experimenting was my death unfolding, in such a vivid manner that brought a celeritous chill down my spine.
Even though it was getting late in the day, he agreed to mesmerise me completely, and remove my soul from my physicality. But, he warned me of the pending danger that could occur, with such an intensified introspective session of mesmerism. I was willing to take that daring risk, and he consented after hearing my subtle confession. There was no absolute guarantee that I would be fully satisfied with what I would experience under his protractive mesmerism or would I discover the significant answers I was seeking. I had said to him that I yearned to know if there was an indeterminate and indefinite afterworld, or an intermediate world we did not notice whilst living.
He was no sagacious theologian or a faithful man of god, and all he could offer me was his comprehensive knowledge through his thespian talents. He was a man of superb intelligence and had studied psychology extensively before in the university. He was an ardent follower of Mesmer and had dedicated his entire life to the meritorious achievement of proving with irrefutable evidence that the soul indeed traversed the body during life and in death. He then expounded on this unbelievable concept, as I listened attentively, with a heightened fascination that thrilled me with fantastic wonders.
My reluctance to believe that this one man had the unconditional power to cause a soul to leave the body of an individual and be absent, with mere mesmeric influence had begun to dissipate gradually. I had studied to a certain degree the theories of Sigmund Freud, but I had never known them to be proven so unequivocally. However, my intrigue with Señor Gasparini’s abilities as a mesmerist had compelled me to seek his noscible talent.
This mesmerism would take place on the stage, with only the dim lights of the balcony to be seen. It was agreed that no one else would be involved in the session, and that there would be no audience except Roberto, who was an acquaintance of mine, who I entrusted my safety. The following words are the vivid words of Señor Gasparini spoken, through his narrated voice.
'What I shall profess through my blatant admission is an unparalleled encounter that will empower your soul to reach the ultimate state of spiritual transcendence. I assure you that this daunting experience will be understood as transferable energy, and the transportation of the soul from one solid vessel that is the corporeal body, to a mass of anthropomorphism. Some doubtful scientists will conclude that what I declare is anthropocentric and egregious. Nonetheless to me it is a conducted experiment to prove that no specific agency is necessary for the fundamental production of this mesmeric phenomenon, but that the determining cause is found within the dynamic subject. Thus mesmerism functions purely, by the superlative power of intense thought and meditation. Mesmerism produced through the active transmission of non-transparent influence from the body of the supernal operator to that of the subject, by which a particular condition of the nervous system functions can be controlled by artificial application. Therefore, it is an invisible force possessed, by all animate beings participative, whose brains are activated through tangible stimulation and perceptible noesis. This insurmountable force could have physical effects that exert the command of the individual’s mind and induce the sequential order of the fulfilment of severe rumination', he paused before he continued.
'Henceforth, you will undergo what may be called bilocation, where you feel you are in two places simultaneously. It is analogous to an elevated dream, or an altered state of consciousness, without infatuated recourse to the supernatural state of existence. This mystifying phenomenon was once known during the Victorian period, as 'travelling clairvoyance'. Now, if we can proceed with the mesmerism! If you will be so kind to sit and relax in the chair—for it is paramount that you are in your most placid state of mind and well-being. If during this mesmerism, you find that you are in a perilous condition and transfixed with terror, then your sentient cognition will enable you to react intuitively and quicken. Thereby, this will abate the mesmerism and the interaction between us. I insist that whatever transpires, does not dissuade your perfervid interest for the topic, and that I shall attempt to discover the actual veracity, behind your troubling episode if permissible. Now that you are reposing and tranquil, I shall need for you to stare directly at the fingers of my hand. Do not look at my eyes, instead remain your fixation on the movement of my fingers. Next, you will begin to feel a profound and lethargic stupor overcome your muscular sensations and movements. Do not be restless—for it is the natural reaction of your body that is responding to the actuated sequence of the progrediency that you are experimenting'.
Once more he paused, 'You are slowly reaching the non-material level of high consciousness, and detaching your mind from your somatic body, at an acute interval. Do not question this succession, instead embrace the authentic thoughts that are surfacing in your operative brain at this very moment in time. Herein, what you are experiencing is not incongruent, but the admissible access of the sustainable flow of energy transmitted, through the consequential causation of this process. What are you currently experimenting with this activity? I must hear you relate to me everything. What are you feeling?'
I was unruffled in the beginning, and my words declared were more of a restive demeanour of composure, 'I do not know except to say that I am calm!'
'What do you see momentarily?' The mesmerist enquired.
'What I see, is nothing but a place of my childhood, and people that I know very well', I answered.
'What are they doing?'
'They only exist, that is all!'
'Now, you are slowly experiencing the pleasurable and natural side of your mind that has allowed you to dream, in such an innocuous and delightful manner. Soon, you will begin to experiment the commencement of the initial stage of your teterrimous nightmare. It will not be pleasant but irresistible, and you will struggle to obstrigillate its effectiveness', the mesmerist had stated before he continued.
'Therefore, you must be prepared for the eventuality of your nightmare. Remember that I am here to assist you to overcome your fear and guide you, through this mental process of discovery. Tell me, what are you experiencing at this exact moment?'
I started to fret as the reaction of my body had changed dramatically, from a subdued placidity, to a state of anxiety and apprehension that was growing by the minute. The mesmerist had noticed that rapid alteration, in my mood and pattern of thought, 'Something is wrong, I can see that the individuals are fading away, and a vast mist from afar is emerging from the nearby clouds that are covering the previous cerulean sky'.
'And what are you seeing now?' The mesmerist enquired.
'Darkness, utter darkness, as if the day has been sequestered by the night! I can perceive strongly, the chthonian shade of death approaching—for it is nigh!'
'Calm yourself! I am here to guide you. Do not permit this shade of death to absorb your thoughts completely, to the point that it renders you incapacitated!' He instructed.
After that he continued his mesmerism, 'Now, you must proceed with the sequence of the ongoing dream. Presently, your thoughts are concentrated on the absolute fright that has been tormenting you before. It is considerably normal that you succumb to this distinct distraction. The mind does have a habitual tendency to react in this predictable way'.
The more that time had elapsed, the more I was becoming more alarmed, by the evolution of this dream that was increasingly developing, into an unsteady nightmare, 'What is important is that you do not falter to the systematic hallucinations that are connective, to the variable abruption of this impulsive force of nature that conflicts, with the soul and causes panic. You must utilise your thoughts prudently, then to yield to the intrusive compulsion of trepidation that is overbearing. Consequently, what is required to control this minacious susceptibility is constant fortitude. Once more, I am here to guide and assist you in this endeavour. As you traverse onto the boundless realm of this consistent nightmare, you will start to perceive in your subconscious, the vibrant depiction of this actual convergence of thoughts. Ipso facto, you must be cognisant of the progression of that conglomerative inclusion, and comprehend the magnitude of that supposed correlation. The entrance to the evolution of this process depends on the control of your brain, and how it responds to the intrinsic nature of that function. When the nightmare appears, you must allow the sequence to continue its course, irrespective of the presence of the incertitude that may result. What do you see is occurring, in your mind? Has the dream become your frightening nightmare?'
'Yes, yes! I can sense the sinister presence of death, and the enclosure of the walls of the nightmare are rising all around, as I look straightaway from every direction', I replied.
'Do not bow to death in reverence, or submit to the effects of its influential dominion. You must resist this vigorously and not provoke death! Do not let death be the cause of your indomitable fear, and be resolute, amidst its dauntless and fiendish presence! Once that has been achieved, you will notice your soul emerge from your body, like a fathomless shadow. Then, your unrestricted soul will secure the abatement of your nightmare and induce the shadowy fiend of death to vanish. Until this is effectuated, your nightmare will never be gone, instead, haunt you forever'.
By that time all the vestiges of an unvaried dream had long since evaporated, and the disconcerting nightmare had developed with an incessant passion that was precluding my incisive inclination to decipher its origin. It was a lethiferous mass of patration that surged, from the mist of the Cimmerian tincture of expiry, and started to slowly engulf the perimeter of my surroundings. I attempted to withstand the powerful effects of its domination, but the darkness had no boundary, as it accrued in such celerity with the signs of death. I sensed perhaps that my time of living was reaching its final mortal breath, and that I could not eschew the incorrigible misfortune of my destiny.
It was then that my soul was visibly seen by those present emerging from my body completely, as a horrible clangor of death resounded obstreperously, like the metallic vesper bells from the tower of a lofty cathedral to be heard. Then, my soul began to walk unhurriedly toward a long, spiralling stairway, as immediately my intuition had convinced me to climb the endless rows of stairs. Thereafter, I began to hear the strange sound of voices speaking, and ineffable noises of inanimate things I could not see clearly. I had felt that I was travelling through the condensed air of the bustling wind, and a definite wavelength of time that I was occupying. Was this I thought, the actual verification of the process of death I was experiencing?
The mesmerist sensing urgently that I was in cataleptic danger had rescued my soul through his timely intervention, when my heart was pounding and pounding, as I was dying from within. 'Do not let your soul leave your body forever! Come back! Come back I say! Awaken from your soporific trance!'
I do not know exactly, how he accomplished recovering my soul in time, but he did! And so impigrously, I awoke and opened my eyes to discover that I was alive, and before the observant presence of the mesmerist. I was covered in a heavy perspiration and within a heightened state of distress that was reduced, by the abrupt realisation that I was not dead. I was alive, and soon I rose to my feet, with a prolation of absolute amazement and gratefulness.
After I had assuaged my discerning solicitude, I asked the mesmerist what had resulted, and for a rational explanation. He proceeded to disclose the whole sequence of events that occurred, during my lengthy period of mesmerism. His apparent description of the process of my mesmerism was totally unimaginable, and a patent testimony of the enormous powers of mesmerism, according to him. He acknowledged that my destiny was inevitable, and that my nightmare was only an irrefragable precursor to my foreseeable death.
Even though, I had acquired the truth and the evasive answer to my question about the soul and the afterworld through this out of body experience, death had always formed the natural sequence of my soul. There had never been for this protracted period of time, a case of mesmerism accomplished successfully. The unquestionable implication of this remarkable discovery could be revolutionary and alter the theories and concepts established within modern science. However, who would believe, in such an illogical manifestation and possibility in the 20th century; especially, when the foundation of mesmerism was considered to be obsolete and dismissed?
I never told a single soul of what happened on that inusitate day, and for several decades Señor Gasparini’s acts of mesmerism were completely discredited and not accepted, by the presiding elites of the Academy of Sciences. Shortly, I learnt through a correspondence of his family of his regrettable death. He had mysteriously passed away, at his home twenty years afterwards. The details were not provided, but I thought of him and that unforgettable day, when he performed mesmerism on me. The few persons who witnessed my extraordinary mesmerism were then dead. Señor Gasparini once told me that my destiny was inevitable, and that my nightmare was only a precursor to my death. His ominous augury would haunt me ever since that day, and now in the comfort of my home I still reminisce the mesmerism, and the consternating omen that presides over my destiny willingly.
Shall I know when that ghastly day will befall, as the signs of death will emerge, from the darkness of my life to take me behind the amassed clouds above? Will my breath be exhausted, and lost within the mighty winds that blow hemerinely? Or will my day of death not be announced, and I shall die an inconsequential death? If so, then my soul will be irredivious, and never return to my body anew. When that day of my death arrives, I shall find myself before the dreaded stairway to death. The continual question that arouses in my introspective thoughts always and remains immutable, shall I eventually find my sublime creator, beyond that Stygian stairway?
Death is never a welcomed occasion, but I who experienced its lethal grasp for a brief interval can profess with sincerity, to its unrelenting determination and execution. It does not discriminate amongst those in its path, and it can drive you to arrant madness if persistent. As for the veritable significance of a nightmare, one must always be mindful of the daunting duplicity that the brain can transmit or display so easily. What I acknowledge through my admission is for the world to discover, and for the sceptics to unravel its inscrutable enigma. The numinous origin of a dream is aligned, with the essential concept of a nightmare that often accompanies that dream in the important contents of its internal composition. Despite that intricate anomaly, there is still a swift apprehension in our society, to understand something that is meant to be incomprehensible in nature and meaning.
Once more, I had indeed discovered through this complex process of mesmerism, the troublesome aspect of interpreting life and death, with such a mundane description. The computed pattern of our thoughts lies, within the uninhibited area of our brains, whose mental capacities to project the abundant flow of energy necessary are enough to drives us to insanity or brilliance. If we are dependent on mere science to answer every question feasible, then we are at the mercy indisputably of those who will never understand the extensive capability and function of the mind universally.