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06 Man as Od-Container

Carl von Reichenbach's picture
Submitted by Carl von Reichenbach on Sat, 02/22/2014 - 09:33

VI. Man as Od-Container

You have seen that, if I laid my right hand in the left of a sensitive, an agreeably cool feeling was aroused, but that, if I did the same with my left, a disagreeable warmth and sensation of nausea was the result. The procedure can be reversed: lay your own left hand in the sensitive’s right, and he will experience a cool and agreeable sensation; put your own right hand in his, and the disagreeable, lukewarm sensation will commence. This gives us a law: contact of hands odically like (left with left, or right with right) is disagreeably lukewarm; contact of hands odically unlike (left with right) is agreeably cool.

Now, please, recall the remark I made in my first letter, to the effect that there were people who found it disagreeable to be given a man’s hand, and who wrenched themselves free if the hand they extended was retained. According to common custom, men always give each other their right hands, and thus cause a contact of hands odically like; such a contact is disagreeably lukewarm to sensitives, becomes quite penal, then speedily unendurable, and—they free themselves.

Go a step further: put the fingers of your right hand on the sensitive’s left arm, on his shoulder, under his arm-pit, on his temples, on the small of his back, on his knee, his foot, his toes, everywhere on the left side of the sensitive’s body, and he will feel them, your right fingers, cool and comfortable: the contacts are all odically unlike. Do the same to the sensitive’s right side with the fingers of your left, and they will produce the same feelings of coolness: those are unlike contacts too. But do all these touches on the sensitive’s left side with the fingers of your left hand, or on his right side with the fingers of your right, and it will all be found nauseating and, every touch, disagreeable: they are like contacts.

Put my data to the proof by another kind of pairing taken from common life. Stand as close to a sensitive as soldiers do when drawn up in rank and file; the whole of your right side will then touch the whole of the sensitive’s left: you will hear no complaint from him on the subject. But now make a right-about turn, so as to bring your left side into contact with the sensitive’s left, and complaints will at once be forthcoming: he will have a sickening sense of discomfort, and if you do not turn round again soon, he will not keep on, but will take a step backwards. In the first instance an unlike, in the second a like, contact was at work.

Choose another condition. Post yourself close behind your sensitive, with your front to his rear; or in the same way, in front of him, with your rear to his front. In both cases your right side is planted against the sensitive’s right, and your left against his left. In both respects these are odically like pairings; the sensitive cannot endure them, and if you do not speedily change the situation, he will change it for you by stepping to one side. Here again I must ask you to look up my first letter, at the place where I drew your attention to the fact that there were some people who could not bear others standing before them or behind them, and on that account avoided popular assemblies, crowds, and marketplaces. You see now what good grounds they had for their action.

I know strong and active young men who do not like riding. It seems something almost against human nature: to youthful vigour it is surely the height of enjoyment to be tossed up on horseback. But when one is in the saddle one has to present like sides to those of one’s mount. The case is thus exactly the same as having a man’s back immediately in front of one. The men I found exhibiting this disinclination were all sensitives: I may mention as instances among them Barons August and Heinrich von Oberlander.

In the same way there are women who cannot give a child a ride on their back, not even for a few minutes for pure sport. The case is almost the same as the foregoing; it comes to the same as having someone close behind one; women of this sort are always sensitives.

Many men are simply unable to sleep two hi a bed; mauvais coucheurs—bad bedfellows—are proverbial. The reason breaks in upon us after what we have discussed.

But the practice common to all civilized societies of presenting our right side to all privileged persons, by always standing to their left, sitting down at their left, taking their left arm, has its fundamental cause in our odic nature. It is said, of course, that this is to leave the privileged person’s right hand free. That may play its part hi regard to the custom, but the influence of sensitivity must bear down the scale with still greater weight. When two men sit side by side they set free their od mutually upon each other; the man on the right gets a discharge of negative od from the man on the left, the man on the left positive od from the man on his right. The right-hand-side man thus gains as much in negativity as the left-hand-side man loses, and the latter gains as much in positivity as the man on the right discharges. Now the condition of greater odic negativity, as we know, is the colder and more agreeable of the two, and that of greater positivity the warmer and more disagreeable. So when we place a lady on our right, she acquires just as much comfort as the man on her left takes upon himself in the way of discomfort. The key to this ancient custom, therefore, is not to be found entirely in tradition, but rather in the innermost depth of human nature. The matter goes so far, that people who are at all strong sensitives are unable to retain a position on the left for any length of time.

Cases such as I have mentioned are innumerable in human life, and occur in thousands of connections and varieties of circumstance; they may all be accounted for and judged by the law we have just made out. And it will be recognized too what good grounds sensitives often have for their claims to consideration and forbearance.