Monday, March 3, 2014

Phone Calls from the Dead and other Curious Historical Facts of Telecommunications

I'll be honest, I'm horrible with history. My A's in history class should have been A's in test-taking. But I'm learning it, bit by bit, as I research subjects I am interested in then want to understand their context.

For example, a few years back when my little sister mentioned her fascination with the Victorian era, I had to smile and nod pretending I knew what she was talking about. I mean, she's my little sister so I couldn't go asking her for historical details.

When I began to look for answers myself, I realized the dates in the era corresponded roughly with dates associated with many of the theosophical/esoteric superstars that I recognized from my studies of philosophy and spirituality including Rudolph Steiner (of Waldorf school fame) and Helena Blavatsky.

I also realized, and this is a little embarrassing to admit, that this was the gas lamp era that all those steam punk kids are into.

These discoveries inspired literary selections: Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Dracula, and Fever Crumb (post-apocalyptic steam punk fantasy, but it was chosen through this process nonetheless).

Here I discovered the startling contrast within the era between ridged social mores and a fascination with the dark fantasy and occult knowledge.

What's the deal?

After Googling around a bit I found a documentary on the connection between communication with the dead and advances in telecommunications Science and the Séance. I must admit my mind was a bit, um, blown.

Advances in science so effectively shifted people's basic assumptions about the nature of the world they were living in that minds opened to all manner of unconventional beliefs.

The film goes on to explain how interest in mediums surged after the invention of the telegraph and the spiritualist movement began. Interesting? Yes.

But then the shocking reveal: the famous inventors Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison both pursued their work with a motivation of being able to communicate with the dead or other otherworldly beings. Mind: blown.

So, this whole grown up learning thing is working out all right.

What have you been learning lately? Seen any good films?

Want to learn more curious facts? Follow me.


  1. Well it is a food for thought indeed I didn't know that about Bell and Edison. Since ancient times people have always wanted to find ways to communicate with the dead (especially) so it shouldn't be a surprise.
    On another note, I find myself strangely attracted to many aspects of the Victorian era and having majored English lit - I have a soft spot for Victorian writers.

    P.S. Thank you for dropping by at my place :)

    1. Ooooooh, an English Lit major? How exciting I'm sure you're full of good book recommendations! Agreed though, it's a fascinating era in many ways. The more I learn the more I want to learn, *sigh* like everything else.

  2. Steam punk is kind of cool, talking to the dead is kind of scary :) Great article! BTW, We nominated you for the Liebster award!!

    1. LOL. Cool and scary, maybe that's kind of my style these days...on a lot of different levels, like dorky documentaries compared with the cool/scary things toddlers find to do (like trying to climb book shelves).

      And, THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! For the nomination.