Dream of Insomnia Workshop
17-18 February 2012
curated by Éric Alliez in collaboration with Annie Ratti, Andrea Lissoni e Cesare Pietroiusti
at Fondazione Antonio Ratti – Villa Sucota
Alexis Didier, “the most amazing clairvoyant in modern times”
In april 1784, marquis de Puységur, a french aristocrat and an officer of high rank in the royal army, was magnetizing a young man according to the principles of Mesmer’ s “animal magnetism” when he triggered quite unwillingly a new kind of trance which he called “magnetic sleep”, in which surfaced new psychic abilities such as clairvoyance. This discovery became a challenge for mainstream psychology and philosophy. It was assumed that magnetic sleep was “nothing but” a kind of erratic dream, and that the so-called “magnetic powers” were just an illusion induced by suggestion into the somnambulist’s mind. But further observations demonstrated that these psychic powers are probably real, and that, if magnetic sleep is a kind of dream, it is a dream endowed with special powers – a divinatory dream. In his paper, Bertrand Méheust will document the case of the celebrated somnambulist Alexis Didier (1826-1886), who disclosed the most striking clairvoyant abilities ever observed in France.
Bertrand Méheust was a philosophy teacher. He belongs to the management committee of the Institut métapsychique international (IMI). He is the author of several books and articles on the history and epistemology of mesmerism and parapsychology: Somnambulisme et médiumnité, Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond, 1999, 2 vols, which was his doctoral thesis; Alexis Didier, Un voyant prodigieux, Les Empêcheurs de penser en rond, 2003. In 2004, he wrote Devenez savants, découvrez les sorciers, lettre à Georges Charpak, a reply to the French Nobel prize’s widely publicised book: Devenez sorciers, devenez savants. In 2006, he published Histoires paranormales du Titanic and in 2011 Les Miracles de l’esprit, an essay dealing with (some of) the philosophical and epistemological issues raised by divination.