RECEPTION FOR INGO SWANN AT
THE AMERICAN SOCIETY FOR PSYCHICAL RESEARCH
- 26 APRIL 1972 -
Over the phone I told Dr. Hal Puthoff about the disgusting affair of the publishing committee's refusal to publish the papers.
I remember having to go two times through the facts of the event because Hal had difficulty in making sense of them. He was, I think, bewildered.
So I clarified a number of issues, including some which were ethical ones -- in my mind at least.
I explained that the disgusting event had taken place so fast that the publishing committee obviously had not had time to submit the Osis/Mitchell papers to the peer review process, and which would have taken at least a month or more. So the decision not to publish had been an "executive" one.
Translated, this meant that the decision not to publish had been based in authoritarian or totalitarian overviews of only a very few individuals.
Then I said: "What this really means is that I am done for in parapsychology -- on my way out. And so I plan to fade into obscurity and write novels."
Anyhow, this event had given me a very good excuse NOT to go to Stanford Research Institute. "If I came there, the chances are that YOUR reputation would get ruined, too."
Hal mumbled something about making up his own mind about things, and renewed his invitation. He also sent letters of inquiry about me to Osis and Dr. Schmeidler, copies of which were later given to me for my archives.
Anyhow, I was relieved that I didn't have to go to California and try to strut my stuff before a noted physicist.
I suddenly felt FREE of parapsychology. By this time, my "career" as a test subject had lasted only nine months -- and which was par for the course in parapsychology labs.
There was only this stupid reception to get through.
I tried to impress on everyone that if there was to be a reception, it should honor not only my humble self, but especially, and even more so, Dr. Karlis Osis and Janet Mitchell.
After all, it was their experiments which were more notable than my mere participation in them as a test subject.
I was very frank about this, believing that credit should be given where it is due, but often avoided or ignored. I have not changed my mind about this since.
But no one would hear of this, including Osis and Mitchell. Janet said: "Well, Ingo, you have burst over parapsychology like a roman candle. You have to accept the credit."
"Yeah," I replied, "and gone out as fast as roman candles do."
I tried to find out when the ASPR had last given a reception. No one seemed to know, and so if one had been given it was way back in the history of the venerable Society.
The prospect of the reception terrified me, frankly put. I felt that no one would come -- because the refusal to publish the papers directly implied that someone had cheated -- specifically myself.
But there was no getting out of it.
And so I tried to resolve my second problem -- by now I was so FAT, FAT, FAT I couldn't fit into any nice United Nations suits, of which I had an even dozen. During the week before the reception I had drank only liquid protein in an effort to reduce. This effort was futile.
I had no money to buy a new suit. So in the end I selected a nice Nehru jacket, a style which had briefly been fashionable about 1969. I couldn't get it buttoned, of course, but it hid some of my accumulating belly. I chose a big white tie which filled in the unbuttoned space and somewhat hid my bulging belly.
While dressing, I felt I was getting ready to volunteer for the guillotine.
Well, what the hell. While slowly and reluctantly squeezing into my clothes, I smoked ten cigars and drank five vodka and sodas.
And so I arrived at the dreaded reception a half hour late.
On the street, I didn't see anyone else going into the venerable Society, and so I expected the worst.
Just inside the door I found the welcoming committee waiting. It consisted of Dr. Alice I. Bryan of the board of trustees, and a dowager lady whose name I'm sorry I don't remember, but who was a constant benefactor of the ASPR. The welcoming committee also consisted of Dr. Isobel Wingate, Ruth Hagy Brod, and my Zelda Dearest.
I hugged each of these ladies, and there was a sudden bursting of flash bulbs and applause.
When the glare had subsided, I saw that the venerable premises were packed to the hilt -- with hardly any standing room left.
I spent the next hour with the welcoming committee being introduced and shaking an endless number of hands.
Janet was busy on the third floor showing the lab and demonstrating the brainwaves of those who had the courage to get hooked up.
Dr. Osis was busy on the fourth floor giving short lectures about the OOB experiments to groups of people.
I later found out that 353 people had signed the guest book before it ran out of pages.
But many guesstimated that a thousand or more packed all four of the ASPR's floors. At least thirty media types were in attendance, and it seems that all of the New York area major media sent reps and photographers along.
I shall now begin quoting from the ASPR NEWSLETTER (No. 14, Summer 1972) produced by Mrs. Marion Nester, and which came out about two weeks after the reception.
To my knowledge, this is the only "official" record of the event, and it needs to be entered into their present record of the real story of remote viewing, and which record will probably be the only real chronological record of remote viewing.
"RECEPTION FOR INGO SWANN: A showing of seven paintings by Ingo Swann, 'expanded Awareness in ART,' was featured in a reception at the ASPR on April 26. Mr. Swann is participating extensively in ASPR experimentation on out-of-body states. The gathering provided members with an opportunity to relate visually to his subjective experience of out-of-body travel, and to hear about the scientific study of this aspect of parapsychology.
"When Mr. Swann became involved with psychical research he discovered what for him is a new painting style. His pictures convey his experience of expanded consciousness. 'Aft-Ship's view of Sagittarius,' for example, reproduces [this type of experiencing] on canvas, so that viewers may get a feeling of it, his awareness of the cosmos during his out-of-body states.
"More than 300 people were present at the event, which was made possible by the invaluable help of ASPR members: Mrs. Ruth Brod, Mrs. Judy Skutch [now Mrs. Whitson], Mrs. Rita Livingston, Mrs. Lucille Kahn, Mrs. Sandra Ohrstrom [now Ms. Wright] and of the administrative staff.
"Included in the program was a tour of the laboratory. Demonstrations were conducted on the ESPateacher and the Polygraph: Dr. Osis gave an informal talk on visual perception and on the current research."
On the second page of the NEWSLETTER exists the only report of the OOB experiments to be put in print. I will quote it in its entirety, since many of it's elements served in the future as a basis for the development of controlled remote viewing.
"NEW ASPR RESEARCH ON OUT-OF-THE-BODY EXPERIENCES: Karlis Osis, Ph.D. - Director of Research, ASPR.
"In the current research on out-of-body experiences (part of the program undertaken within the scope of the expected James Kidd legacy), our central hypothesis is that a human being has an ecsomatic aspect [i.e., outside of the body aspect] capable of operating independently of and away from the physical body.
"This part of the personality may also be conceived of as leaving the body at death and continuing to exist. We want to combine all our information from OOBE, apparition cases and deathbed-observations experiences, to see whether this ecsomatic-existence hypothesis is strengthened by our new data and its theoretical integration.
"If the hypothesis indeed proves justified (in opposition to the counter-hypothesis that OOB consists only of ESP coupled with fantasies of traveling), we expect to arrive at something like Myers' concept of a phantasmogenic center which operates outside the body.
"This concept assumes that the center of the projection is capable of perceiving from the point of view of the location in space to which it has projected itself - rather than from the subject's actual eye-level.
"We have now contacted over 100 individuals who responded to our appeals for participants. Out-of-town subjects were invited to project themselves to my office and try to identify target objects arranged on a coffee table there. Several people obtained very encouraging results.
"Our major subject to date has been Ingo Swann, with whom Janet Mitchell has conducted exploratory sessions.
"The general procedure has been as follows: Mr. Swann sits quietly in a semi-dark experimental room, attached to a polygraph (in the adjoining room) which records data concerning his physiological state, i.e., brain waves (EEG), heart rate, respiration, etc.
"The targets are on a shelf suspended two feet from the ceiling of the experimental room. This shelf is divided by a partition, on each side of which is a tray containing an arrangement of target objects, placed so as to look distinctively different as seen, say, from the south or from the north.
"We used objects having strong form and color, e.g., an umbrella, a black leather scissors-case, an apple. We asked Mr. Swann to tell us the position from which he saw the objects. He gave us verbal descriptions of the targets, as well as sketches [i.e., the picture drawings]. We developed psychological scales for rating the quality and clarity (as subjectively described) of his OOB vision, which varied from time to time.
"The results were evaluated by blind judging: that is, a psychologist was asked to match up Mr. Swann's responses without knowing which target they were meant for.
"She correctly matched all the 8 [formal] sessions (the likelihood of getting 8 out of 8 by chance is 1 in approximately 40,000.
"PERCEPTION: Ingo Swann sometimes (though not always) was able to give very clear identifications, e.g., the shape of a black leather case on a red background, or a blue cross.
"His OOB perception was organized in much the same way as if he were indeed looking at the stimulus shelf from the point where he felt he had projected his spiritual self.
"So OOB vision seems in one respect at least to be more like normal vision than does ESP. Whereas the ESP processes mostly elude conscious awareness, OOB vision appears to be directly observable [by the subject]. For instance Mr. Swann was keenly aware of the lighting conditions in the stimulus area [referring to the burnt out light bulb.]
"Does OOB vision follow the laws of OPTICS? On the high self we arranged stimulus material (for example a small letter 'd') inside a closed box with a small opening and a two-mirror system.
"We wanted to see whether in the OOB state Mr. Swann could see the target through the opening, as he would normally see it from that point (as reflected via the mirror), or whether he would see it directly by clairvoyance, without using the mirrored image.
"On the basis of our [successful] preliminary results, we are now developing sophisticated optical systems for testing the ecsomatic hypothesis of OOBE. Several physicists, engineers and psychologists are enthusiastically cooperating [names given at the end of this longish quote.]
"PHYSIOLOGY: What is happening to Ingo Swann's body at the times when he feels his spiritual self to be somewhere else? We have accumulated a considerable mass of physiological records, now in process of analysis.
"The autonomic nervous system responses seem quite within normal range, indicating that there is no danger to the organism during OOB states.
"Mr. Swann was also given biofeedback training for the slower brain-wave frequencies (alpha and theta). He identified these states and after a while could reproduce them at will.
"Until our analysis is complete, we can say nothing definite about brain-wave activity during the OOBE, but the voltage changes do appear to be important."
"Members who have generously donated their time and advice for the Out-of-Body Research:
"PHYSICISTS: Mr. L. F. Barcus, Mr. Thomas Etter, Mr. Robert J. Kleehammer, Mr. James Merewether.
"PSYCHOLOGISTS: Miss Bonnita Preskari, Dr. Carole K. Silfen.
"ENGINEERS: Mr. Kenneth Cohen, Mr. Martin Ruderfer, Mr. G.M. Smith."
The above longish quote, then, is the nexus of the papers the publishing
committee refused to publish. For the reception, the ASPR staff had prepared
150 copies of this statement by Dr. Osis on behalf of his rejected research.
I wanted one for my archives -- but the copies had all been gobbled up
by the time I arrived.
The reception had been scheduled from 5:00 to 8:00. But it was still rather thickly populated as of 9:00.
As the crowd began to thin a little, I had a chance to talk longer to various people. Ms. Ann T. Johnson was the staff photographer at the time and kindly provided me with a set of photos.
I treasure them to this day.
It was thus that I have a wonderful photo of Janet Mitchell smiling beside the temperamental Dynograph (brainwave/polygraph) machine.
Another of my humble self and my past love Pauola standing before my large painting, AFT-SHIP'S VIEW OF SAGITTARIUS.
And another of my humble self talking with and being nice to, of all things, one of the then-leading editors of TIME magazine, i.e., that magazine of the Fraud Box infamy. And with this my "adventures" with TIME magazine had just begun.
Everyone felt the reception was a tremendous success, but I've sort of resented it to this day, for it was held somewhat over the bodies of Janet Mitchell and Dr. Karlis Osis.
And so the reception was over, but not quite.
The original plan for the paintings displayed at the ASPR was that they should hang there for three months, in order for ASPR members to come in and view them if they wanted.
A few days after the reception, though, I was told that a member of the Board was objecting to the paintings on the grounds that the ASPR should not be used to display a private person's artwork.
I was told that this was Mr. Charles Honorton, then Assistant Secretary -- and a noted parapsychologist.
Honorton was much later to do much constructive work to change the skeptical viewpoints regarding psi of several noted scientists, and altogether his work in this regard was unquestionably admirable.
He is dead now, unfortunately passing well before his time, and I regret his disappearance from the scene. And I had the honor of sitting to the left of his boxed ashes at the memorial to him held at the ASPR -- a very sad event, indeed.
Rather than have the ASPR go through another conflict about my paintings, of all things, I volunteered to remove them, and did so immediately.
Together with three other works, two of the ASPR paintings, including AFT-SHIP'S VIEW OF SAGITTARIUS, ultimately found a permanent home when they were solicited into the "space art" collection of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. I gave these paintings (five of them) to the national patrimony for free, although it is certainly a very tiny patrimony.
I was proud and honored when the Smithsonian packing crew came and carefully boxed them up.
I left one painting behind, though. It was the working sketch in oils for the triptych DEATH OF A MAN, the one Mr. Reed Erickson, Zelda's employer, had bought in 1969 at the recommendation of Dr. Jean Houston. Dr. Osis had been especially fond of this painting when he had visited my studio.
In removing the paintings, I found him gazing deeply into it. I was touched and said: "Why don't you personally accept this one as a gift."
He did, and I was pleased.