P.S. Houdini’s Notes on Spiritualism
"The SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN will pay $2,500 to the person who produces... an objective psychic manifestation..."
Given the nature of his work, Houdini’s obsession with death isn’t so surprising. What is surprising, at least to me, is his obsession with spiritualism — a belief that the spirit and body exist separately and that it is, therefore, possible to communicate with the dead.
In the 1890s, Houdini began exploring spiritualism by attending séances and reading everything he could get his hands on. He took his mother to a séance to try to contact his father. And then, when his beloved mother died, he tried to contact her.
At first, Houdini decided to perform séances himself as part of his act—fully knowing it to be another trick. But, ultimately, he turned against spiritualism. Houdini would devote much of his career—and several scrapbooks—to taking the charlatans down.
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