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Entries in Oliver Lodge (2)

Friday
Aug152008

Not G. K. Chesterton, too.


Readers of The New Yorker puzzled recently over a seemingly pointless article about G. K. Chesterton, of use to me at least because he was, you guessed it, a Gemini (29 May 1874).  When he was 19 he got deeply into the Ouija board with his 14 year

old brother Cecil and they were scared witless. The experience was so powerful that Chesterton was shocked into lifelong orthodoxy. He and Cecil remained staunch brothers-in-arms, both professional progressive literary journalists in London, supporting and editing each other, co-editing journals, even sharing in libel trials, until Cecil’s death in the Great War.

The tendency among prominently paired literary siblings, for one of them to be a Gemini is marked: the Corneilles (Pierre's the gemini), the Goncourts (Edmond), the Manns (Thomas), the Hitchens (it's Peter), the Wolffs (Tobias), the Collins (Joan), Byatt/Drabble (Margaret), Cockburns (Alex), Dunnes (John Gregory), etc . . . where is my list?




Chesterton had that knack of creating an identity by pairing off. His biographer Joseph Pearce examines his long and successful, though childless, marriage with Frances Blogg in a chapter titled “Chesterblogg”.  His signature controversies with Hilaire Belloc and G. B. Shaw get chapters likewise titled “Chesterbelloc” and “Chestershaw”.  Called in the title of another biography “the Prince of Paradox” he bristles with dualisms. The caricature above calls  attention to his wonderful plain old bookishness, which an old bookstore owner admires. He seems to have published yards of books;  one collection of essays published in 1908 was called “All Things Considered.” 

Chesterton is remembered mostly, however, for his Father Brown mysteries, which some esteem as highly as the Sherlock Holmes tales by Arthur Conan Doyle, also born under Gemini. Doyle was led to mediumship by the death of his brother. He paired up with Gemini Oliver Lodge for psychical investigations. Also involved with these two in the Society for Psychical Research was the scientist Sir William Crookes, (again, what else, a Gemini) the discoverer of the cathode/anode tube, who turned to the study of mediumship after the death of his brother. 

Sunday
Jul062008

scientists: gilbert coulomb poisson maxwell lodge crookes mesmer 

steinbergplusminus057.jpgAnother image of pure Gemini from Saul Steinberg (June 15, 1914). 

 

Scientists usually feel left out when the topic of astrology arises;  they should not. For instance, a clearly disproportionate number of the seminal names in the physics of magnetism were born under the Twins, the primal dualism, Gemini:

William Gilbert, author of De Magnete, ("the first great English scientific work") was born May 24, 1544. He discovered that the Earth is a giant magnet.

Charles Augustin de Coulomb (born June 14, 1736). In seven papers on electricity and magnetism published between 1785 and 1789, he explained the mathematical laws of attraction and repulsion between magnetic poles and electric charges.

Simeon Poisson, mathematician (b. 21 June 1781)  " . . his memoirs on the theory of electricity and magnetism, virtually created a new branch of                 mathematical physics. .....  made important contributions to the theory of                       attraction."

James Clerk Maxwell (b. June 13, 1831), author of the 1873 Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism demonstrating the identity of the two phenomena, "the most important physicist between Newton and Einstein".

These four men established the theory that the material world is essentially constituted by the interplay of two opposing immaterial forces. Equally entranced by the dance of plus and minus was the genius British technoscientist Oliver Lodge (b. 12 June 1851). He extended and applied electromagnetic theory to wireless transmission, the bipolar electrical cell, the study of lightning, automotive engineering (the spark plug), and fog-busting. He might almost be the man in Steinberg's drawing. Oliver Lodge was also twice a highly active president of the British Society for Psychical Research.

 

Another important scientist and British SPR president was Gemini Sir William Crookes (17 June 1832) who made discoveries in many scientific realms, including electricity. He is best remembered for the Crookes radiometer, which moves by virtue of the difference between black and white. Gemini Wallis Simpson's witty earrings

Mention must also be made of another experimenter associated with a form of magnetism, so-called animal magnetism: Franz Anton Mesmer (b. May 23, 1734) who, applying the principal of universal immaterial polarized force to medicine, psychology and sexuality, was the progenitor of dynamic psychiatry and the experimental approach to subjectivity. Mesmerism was, of course, a principle object of study at the SPR. 

 

At the time of the flourishing of the SPR London was awash with Gemini writers characteristically eager to extend communication. Arthur Conan Doyle (22 May 1859) and G. K. Chesterton (29 May 1874), both alter-egos of popular psychic investigators (Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown) both also deeply pursued mediumistic contact with their departed, beloved brothers. The poet W. B. Yeats (13 June 1865) while working with Crookes on a spirit-voice transmission device, runs into novelist Arnold Bennett (27 May 1867) at a seance . . . Gemini embraces any possibility of communication. No wonder Timothy Berners-Lee, inventor of the internet, is a Gemini.


 

This universe a thing of dream
                substance naught & Keystone void
                                    vibrations of symmetry  Yes   No
                                    Foundations of Gold Element Atom
                all the way down to the first Wave
                making opposite Nothing a mirror
which begat a wave of Ladies marrying
waves of Gentlemen till I was born in 1926
                in Newark, New Jersey under the sign
                                                                sweet Gemini ---

                                                                           ALLEN GINSBURG