Forthuny, Pascal (1872-1962)

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Forthuny, Pascal (1872-1962)

Pseudonym of Georges Cochet, French author, musician, poet, painter, art critic, and possessor of remarkable powers of psychometry. The loss of a son in an aviation accident at the end of World War I induced Forthuny to take an interest in table sittings. The result was not strictly evidential, yet it had a soothing effect on the grieving father. Then in July 1921, while engaged in ordinary writing, his hand was seized by what appeared to be an extraneous power. Strokes and loops were followed by mirror writing and scripts, delivered at an extreme speed, full of high thoughts and affection, which he believed emanated from the spirit of his son.

Soon, however, claimed Forthuny, the influence gave way to an obsessive entity that demanded entire command over his life, representing itself as having a mandate from Christ and driving Forthuny to strange acts. By an effort of will Forthuny regained his self-control; but when banished, the obsessive entity predicted that Forthuny would lose his mediumship.

Forthuny's phenomenon of automatic writing did disap-pear in about six months, but more important gifts took its place. During a visit to the Institut Métapsychique in 1922 Forthuny picked up an envelope containing an autograph of Landru, the Bluebeard murderer, which Gustav Geley had prepared for another psychic, and gave an accurate description of the cottage at Gambais where Landru committed his crimes.

Mrs. Geley then picked up a fan and asked jokingly, "Where does this fan come from?" Forthuny answered, "I feel as though I were choking and I hear Elisa by my side." The fan had belonged to an old lady named Elisa who died of congestion of the lungs.

Eugèn Osty 's Supernormal Faculties in Man (1923) and Charles Richet 's Our Sixth Sense (1929) deal extensively with Forthuny's powers, which were tested in many experiments at the institute. For instance, walking among 50 unknown persons Forthuny addressed each as he felt inspired and disclosed amazingly accurate facts about their lives.

He was actually stimulated by a large audience. He did not go into trance nor call himself a medium, was ignorant of the machinery through which he got his supernormal knowledge, and preserved a remarkable spirit of criticism in his moments of intuition. He was sensitive to hostile attitudes, but they only made him more convinced of the exactness of his vision and induced him to publicly denounce the hostility. He did not "fish" for information nor ask leading questions but wanted to be stopped if he ran off the subject, since, he said, he often experienced the blending of two influences. Generally he "heard" the names, at other times he saw colored pictures or written names.

In April 1924 he was appointed general secretary of the Union Spirite Française and gave regular clairvoyant sittings at the Maison des Spirites, Paris. On one occasion he visited Geley and, very much moved, told him that he had just had a vision of an airplane crash in Poland in which a physician was killed. Forthuny insisted that his vision be recorded at the institute. He said he did not know who the physician waspossibly a "Voronoff" but he was not sure. On July 14 of the same year Geley was killed in an airplane crash near Warsaw.

In 1919 Forthuny paid a visit to the Society for Psychical Research (SPR). V. J. Woolley concludes in his report (Proceedings of the SPR, vol. 39) that "we are driven to assume that his knowledge comes from some supernormal faculty, and it seems reasonable to suppose that this faculty consists mainly in a supernormal knowledge of what is in the minds of people present with him, whether we call such knowledge telepathic or clairvoyant."

The archskeptic Harry Price met Forthuny in Paris in 1927 and was impressed by his "remarkable psychic powers." Price became friendly with Forthuny, whom he described as a "fine clairvoyant."