soul searching

James Kidd was an eccentric copper miner with an interest in the supernatural

James Kidd was no relation to Jimmy the Kid

Kidd mysteriously disappeared in 1949, and was declared legally dead in 1965. Arizona authorities found among his possessions a handwritten will in which the prospector directed that his estate, worth $198,138.53, be used for “research or some scientific proof of a soul of the human body which leaves at death.”

Soul leaving the body found here

Although he boggled at the unusual bequest, Superior Court Probate Judge Robert L. Myers ruled that the will was legitimate, ordered a hearing to find out whether anyone could properly qualify to carry out Kidd’s wish. As the trial got underway, it was apparent that there were plenty of soul-searchers eager to tackle the task. No fewer than 17 organizations and 78 individuals put up the $15 filing fee and were prepared to stake their claims. Among them:

image found here

Nora Higgins, 57, housewife and self-described clairvoyant from Branscomb, Calif., who maintains that the soul has no physical substance but consists of a hazy, tinted form resembling that of the body. At the hearing, she insisted that she had detected Kidd’s soul in the courtroom, “pacing up and down with his hands behind his back, shaking his head at the proceedings.”

Peck in courtroom found here

Another California housewife, Jean Bright, 48, of Encino, who claims to be in constant contact “through my entire nervous system” with a dentist friend who died two years ago. She asks the dentist’s soul yes or no questions about the beyond, Mrs. Bright asserts, and it replies by causing her head either to nod or shake.

amateur dentist found here

William A. Dennis, 64, of Balboa, Calif., a geophysicist who contends that the soul is a center of cosmic vibrations. When the human body is alive, he says, vibrations from the soul give man the power to think and act. When the human body is dead, it is unable to accept or record these vibrations.

image found here

Virat W. Ambudha, 51, a lieutenant colonel in the army of Thailand and author of a book called Increasing Brain Power, who arrived from Bangkok on leave to fight his case, which he based in part on the enigmatic contention that the soul is a “most wonderful, delicate, small thing.”

Dr. Richard Ireland, founder of the University of Life Church in Phoenix, who claims the power to communicate with souls and frequently dons a blindfold to demonstrate his powers of mental telepathy.

image found here

Since the court hearing was announced, Judge Myers, an Episcopalian, has received more than 4,500 letters of advice suggesting proofs for the soul’s existence. Most of them argue that the answer is to be found in the Bible, although a letter from India suggested: “Take a man who is about to die into a small room. All the doors, windows and ventilators should be thoroughly closed so that there is no place for the soul to get out. As soon as the man dies, his soul shall pierce or crack the window glass, thus giving proof of its existence.” Courthouse observers estimate that the hearing will last all summer, but Myers considers himself fortunate in at least one respect: “I don’t have to rule whether or not man has a soul.” That, he explains, is a matter outside his court’s jurisdiction.

image found here

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47 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. While the jury’s out on souls, I will concentrate on lunch, which is to be a very real, grilled, sole.

  2. That was going swimmingly until I saw the piccy of the amateur dentist at which point my soul was in danger of departing. Don’t worry I’m OK now … *wipes brow*

    • Have another gingernut daddyp

  3. Ah, the lovely Atticus.

    • He was in my crossword yesterday!

  4. I love the fact that you’ve tagged this with “there’s a dentist in my nervous system”.

    The convenient thing about the suggestion from India is that even if you’re mistaken about when the person you’ve chosen is going to die, it probably won’t take very long once you’ve completely sealed off all the windows, doors, and air vents.

  5. Maybe you should cross-post this on Thetherd Cow.
    [sgnd. mme Arcati]

  6. See The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephan Vincent Benet

    • I haven’t seen it. Is it good?

      • It is a fictional account of this American Senator of early to mid 1800’s who fights the Devil in court over a matter of one having sold his soul to the Devil.Short story.

  7. Does this mean I won’t be able to rest in peace? I’m going to be bothered by all those psychics just wanting to have a chat? I’ll warn them now; if you don’t supply a cup of tea I can drink when you want to talk with me, you’ll get a mouthful and a half!

  8. Claude Rains looks like Charlie Sheen.

    • Here:

      Now it looks more like Charlie.

  9. It’s a damn good thing he didn’t will his inheritance to poor people or fund a scholarship. What a waste of money THAT would have been!

  10. At my old school, the resident curate was known as the Reverend Bumcollector, his job being to save our-souls…

    • Very droll!

      The King

  11. Neat post. I’m currently reviewing a book on the history of parapsychology and psychical research (i.e. the “science” of soul searching) — a fascinating world that absorbed the attention of some brilliant people.

    Love the image by Blake…

    • I didn’t realise the image was by Blake, thanks for pointing that out.

  12. I’d like Peck to bring his gavel down on me.

  13. Wonderful stuff. It’s fun to see charlatans making asses of themselve

    • they’re such easy targets

  14. That tooth photo is CREEPING ME OUT! Now I’m going to have one of those dreams where my teeth keep falling out! I’d keep complaining about it, except that bottom photo is so cool it almost makes up for the whole thing. 🙂

    • Dreams of losing your teeth are supposed to mean you’re losing your sexual potency…… not that I’m trying to start a rumour or anything

      • I’ve had these dreams every now and then for as long as I can remember so…
        probably not a good sign.

      • we’re in the same boat… I have them too

      • I’ve had them too but I think they’re a sign of feeling disempowered generally, not necessarily sexually.

  15. A good job judges don’t have to adjudicate on the existence of souls. A good job juries don’t have to either. They’d be in the jury room forever and a day, unable to reach a verdict. Then there’d be umpteen retrials.

  16. One day I hope to amass a fortune that I can bequeath to an eccentric cause. Like a Corsets-and-Cats feline shelter where ronin cats are cared for by busty women in corsets. I can all but guarantee our adoption rates will double the national average.

    • Ooh… a job tailor made for your nurse!

  17. if those psychic california housewives ever unionized, we’re in trouble!

  18. If I were communing with the soul of a dentist, I’d ask him about the crown that’s bothering me. Is that shallow?

  19. Um… so who got the $198,138.53?

    • Maybe it’s still up for grabs….?

      • Oooh. Do you think so? Sounds like easy money to me…

      • If you get it can I have a Spotter’s Fee? Say, 10%?

      • You may have to prove you have 10% of a soul…

      • That may be difficult

      • At least it stopped you from being taken up in the Rapture.

  20. That’s what I was wondering?

  21. Duncan MacDougall thought he had cracked it with his 21 grams experiment – cynics would say that’s just the weight of all those body fluids escaping 😉

    • I read about that in Mary Roach’s Stiff. Interesting man.

  22. I guess we can assume they never came up with any conclusive proof.

  23. “Nude on Horse” is the alias that all of Denny’s ladyfriends have had.

  24. I want to see the lion wearing spectacles!

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