Thursday, February 03, 2022

Music And The Paranormal

Melvyn Willin, the archive liaison officer for the Society for Psychical Research, just published Music And The Paranormal: An Encyclopedic Dictionary (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2022). The relationship between music and the paranormal is a significant and neglected topic and one that Willin has studied in a lot of depth for a long time. I'll quote some of his comments from the preface:

Since music is arguably the most intangible of the arts and since the paranormal, in all its manifestations, continues to intrigue people, the placing of these two subjects together seems long overdue. My own career in music as both a teacher and performer was infiltrated throughout my life with anomalies that intrigued me and my fellow musicians. Nobody seemed to be able to explain why some people appeared to be able to compose music or perform beyond their normal ability which, in some cases, they attributed to the deceased. Nobody seemed to be able to explain why music was sometimes heard when there was no obvious, or even un-obvious, source of the sound. Nobody seemed to explain why a number of people heard music when they were close to death which they remembered when they were resuscitated. Nobody seemed able to explain how intrusive operations could be conducted on people without anesthetic, but by using music to eliminate the pain. Nobody seemed able to explain why autistic people often possessed phenomenal musical abilities….I decided to undertake research into these and other related musical anomalies over a period of many years which culminated in two doctorates being awarded by Sheffield University and Bristol University, both in the UK. Previous pure music degrees were awarded by London University and Surrey University and a graduate diploma from the Royal Academy of Music, London. For more than thirty years I have been a member and then council member of the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) and more recently the archive liaison officer. During this time, I have been directly involved with the archiving of the Society's manuscripts collection stored at Cambridge University Library. The audio-visual archive is held at my own premises in Essex, England….

The printed sources for my extensive research are many and varied, but I have not found a single book that has brought the multiple strands together….An earlier work of my own, Music, Witchcraft and the Paranormal (see Willin, 2005), outlined my original academic study of the material. I shall also be able to present my own case histories taken from interviewing a wide range of people and visiting sites where music has allegedly been heard from unknown sources. The end result will be a reference work that can be used to explore the academic study of music and the paranormal in a comprehensive alphabetical order as well as be of interest to the general public.

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Enfield Miscellany (Part 7)

(See part 1 here for an explanation of what this series is about. The other parts in the series: two, three, four, five, and six. When I make reference to the Enfield tapes of Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair, I'll use "MG" to cite a tape from Grosse's collection and "GP" to refer to one from Playfair's. So, MG38B refers to tape 38B in Grosse's collection, and GP5A refers to 5A in Playfair's.)

The Death Of Vic Nottingham

A lot of the Enfield witnesses haven't been discussing the case publicly in recent years, and it's sometimes difficult to find out whether they're still alive. I came across a 2016 article that refers to Vic Nottingham as deceased, so I want to mention it. There are some errors in the article, and it could be wrong about Nottingham's death even if there were no errors on other subjects. But there's nothing in the article that makes me doubt what it reports about his death, and it would make sense for him to be dead by now given his age.

From what I know of him, including hearing him a lot on Grosse and Playfair's tapes, I find Nottingham likeable and honest. He was a good witness who added a lot to the case. I've been recommending the twelve-minute video here, from November of 1977, as an introduction to Enfield. Nottingham has a prominent role in that video. It serves as a good tribute to him. The video refers to how Peggy Hodgson was "ill in bed" at the time of the filming. That's an understatement. See the post here to get some idea of how difficult the events of November of 1977 were and what state Peggy was in at the time. I suspect one of the reasons why the Nottinghams are so prominent in that 1977 program is that they were trying to cover for Peggy, to help her in a difficult situation. They often did that sort of thing. One of the reasons why the Enfield case is of such an unusually high quality is that the Nottinghams were such unusually good neighbors. As Grosse commented on one occasion, "I think that in some respects this case has been remarkable for the amazing way that the people involved in it - the Hodgson family, the Burcombes, and the Nottinghams - have behaved during the whole of the investigation. They have behaved with an enormous amount of common sense. The incredible lack of hysteria at any time has been quite remarkable, considering that some of the things that have happened have been very frightening indeed." (MG14A, 18:42) In his book on Enfield, Playfair wrote, "Nobody could ask for better neighbors in a crisis, or indeed at any time, than the Nottinghams." (This House Is Haunted [United States: White Crow Books, 2011], 3) "They've always been good neighbors….I think a lot about Peggy and Vic. They'd do anything for you." (Peggy Hodgson, MG59A, 30:31, 33:21)

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Eric Svendsen's Doctoral Thesis On Mary Available Online

A correspondent on Facebook recently informed me that Eric Svendsen's doctoral thesis, about Mary in the New Testament and Roman Catholicism, can be viewed online. I've had a paper copy of an earlier version for around 20 years, and I never even thought to search for it online. But it's available here for anybody who wants it. To see the thesis itself, click on the file under "View/Open" on the left side of the screen.