"Adventures with Professor Flaxman-Low" by Gordon Pask

This extract is taken from the unpublished manuscript of February 1993. On the cover Pask writes:

About a year past a scientific paper of mine "One kind of Immortality" was published, supported, retrospectively, by the works of Sir A. Conan Doyle, with Holmes and Watson as the immortal characters. But in any kind of experiment worth its salt, one ought to be able to act synthetically, accomplish, perhaps in an impoverished manner, the feats you proclaim for your predecessors. This manuscript is intended to be enjoyable reading, it is also the synthetic aspect of my hypothesis, its demonstration or its denial.

First part:(.mp3) "Our Meeting, The School Library early 1940s" and "Drinks at Daquise, late fifties", Dinner and an expedition. About 15 minutes. "Maps are deceptive", The difficulties of generalisations...

Second part. Arrival at Stephanies Place, The study and the sequel, The end of the first part, the beginning of the rest. About 19 minutes. The doppelgangers and the resolution of ambiguity...

Nick Green, a past research assistant to Professor Pask and later partner in consulting cybernetics, narrates.


A technical note

A p-individual inhabits an m-individual meaning the state of a coherence inhabits a medium, any medium (solid, liquid, gas or plasma- a star, or, indeed, a brain). The capability to self organize and learn, more or less, is universal to all matter. "Everything is analogy", said Pask, meaning everything communicated concurrently with more or less relative bandwidth.That is a generalisation. The distinction or difference separating these synchronously communicating analogical coherences could be an error, a contradiction, an ambiguity, an agreement, a conflict, an ambiguous ambiguity or an innovation depending on the perspective and context of the participants. A projection of an analogy requires a doubly twisted torus which can also be seen as a Mobius strip with two half twists and at least one pair of resultant forces near equilibrium. A Klein bottle form seems to be required to resolve an ambiguity. See para 215 and 214 of Interactions of Actors. John Williamson resolved the ambiguity in Fermi-Dirac statistics and Bose-Einstein statistics with his electron/photon model which uses the mobius strip/doubly twisted torus/trefoil knot topolgy. A feat indeed! Gordon preferred the Borromean ring. These esoteric seeming questions are still under consideration.

"There are no doppelgangers", said Pask. No two things or coherences can be the same because of their slightly different dynamics.

"I HOLD," Mr. Flaxman Low, the eminent psychologist, was saying, "that there are no other laws in what we term the realm of the supernatural but those which are the projections or extensions of natural laws." ---From The story of Konnor Old House (April 1899 Pearson's Monthly Magazine, vol. 7). From Gaslight's Katherine and Hesketh Prichard Page, four Flaxman Low stories for free dowload.


Mr. Flaxman Low comes from Victorian Literature: the first "true occult detective"

From Fantastic Victoriana we learn: Flaxman Low was the creation of "E. and H. Heron," which was the pseudonym of Hesketh V. Prichard (1876-1922) and Kate O'Brien Ryall Prichard (1851-1935). Hesketh was a famous big-game hunter and cricketer who served the Crown in several capacities, as an aide to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland starting in 1907 and then with the army during World War One, where he received several citations for heroism but was viewed with disfavor for advocating sniper tactics rather than mass charges. Kate was Hesketh's mother, but apart from that, and her being a writer, I just haven't found out very much about her.

Although both were successful authors--Hesketh for travel, big-game hunting, adventure stories (including those about the sadistic Spanish bandit Don Q, whose exploits were later emasculated to form the source of the Douglas Fairbanks movie Don Q, the Son of Zorro), and Kate for a similar range of books, including a later Don Q novel--they are included here because of Flaxman Low, the first true (in the modern sense) occult detective. Occult detectives are those investigators--usually gentlemen, ala Lord Peter Wimsey, rather than private eyes, ala Sam Spade, who specialize in cases involving the supernatural. Later, Edwardian/post-Victorian examples include W.H. Hodgson's Carnacki the Ghost-Finder, Algernon Blackwood's Dr. John Silence, and the most notable and successfully executed occult detective of them all, Seabury Quinn's Jules de Grandin. There were earlier versions of the character--proto-occult detectives like L.T. Meade's John Bell and Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Dr. Martin Hesselius, who rationalise seemingly-supernatural phenomena using rational and scientifically-possible explanations (think Scully, rather than Mulder)--but Flaxman Low was the first true Occult Detective, that is, the first full-time specialist specifically summoned to investigate and solve supernatural mysteries.

Flaxman Low's adventures first appeared in Pearson's Magazine in 1898 and 1899 and were later collected in Ghosts; Being the Experiences of Flaxman Low (1899). Low was, as I've said, a gentleman, called in on cases at the request of friends, acquaintances, the law, or the government, rather than being hired by someone. Although learned, he does not pummel others with the scope and depth of his erudition; his conclusions are generally reached through logic and the scientific method rather than through research through many a quaint and curious tome of forgotten lore. His attitude is that "everybody who, in a rational and honest manner, investigates the phenomenon of spiritism will, sooner or later, meet in them some perplexing element, which is not to be explained by any of the ordinary (i.e., anti-mystical--Jess) theories." He deals with apparitions, mummies, ghosts, Chinese secret societies, vicious African fungi, and an arch-enemy, the evil Dr. Kalmarkane, an occult investigator with more knowledge than Low but far fewer morals. In personality Low is genial and reasonable, but very persistent.

"The experiences of Flaxman Low" for purchase from Ash-Tree Press

"One Kind of Immortality", in Proceedings of Conference Problems of Support, Survival and Culture, 1991, Glanville, R. and de Zeeuwe, G. (Eds), 1991 Amsterdam.