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Michael,

This really is impressive. It contains a lot of actual knowledge For example, the preface to "Heartbreak House" is a huge political treatise that is indeed more impressive than the play itself.

I think I gave credit where due in the "Our Man Flint" thread in the comment when I wrote,

"Even being able to pontificate at length spontaneously in character is a feat unto itself, and some of the imitations (if they are that) are quite good, so even if it's complete fraud, it's still impressive."

Even if someone were simply to write this whole thing out as an imitation of Shaw as fiction, it would be impressive.

The puzzlement continues, as I really have *not* been impressed by Flint's seance content in general.

Sorry, I failed to note that this was a great post in which you clearly put in a lot of compiling and editing work. Plus, great title!

Although Flint may have had a limited formal education I don’t believe that he was unintelligent. I have listened to his lectures in which he comes off as a very erudite, well-spoken rather ‘posh’ Englishman. Take a listen and see what you think. - AOD

That was a very interesting post, Michael, not least because it supports my intimations about Flint and his basic sincerity.

The entity that purports to be Shaw in those excerpts is certainly hugely intelligent: far beyond the intellectual scope of Flint's average communicator - and, I believe, far beyond Flint himself.

Someone of the caliber of Shaw could never have withstood the tedium of sitting through the endless evidential-but-mostly-mundane communications that would have been the meat of Flint's day-to-day work. Hence it seems to me that there is very little chance that Flint possessed anything like the intellectual power of Shaw.

It takes one to recognise one. Flint wasn't one. Hence, I believe, he did not have the ability to mimic the nuances of Shaw's customary style of communication.

BTW, I do rather take exception to those who confidently pour scorn Flint's work and upon those who see merit in the evidence he provides. As Shaw intimated, many clever people are routinely regarded as gullible fools. Which rather puts me in mind the following quotation:

"Why do the stupid always think it's the clever ones who are stupid?"

- Euripides (Medea' circa 400bc)

I for one found this rather impressive. As Matt pointed out, even if it's a fraud, it's still impressive (and interesting to read).

It also makes sense that spirit voices would differ from that when they were living, as the physical apparatus for producing voice is long since gone. "The spirits" instead would have to try to imitate their physical voices from years ago, so I wouldn't be surprised that the two types of voices sound different.

It seems that the 'voice box' produced with ectoplasm from Leslie Flint gives almost all of the voices a British accent, either distinctly pronounced or not. I think I could accept that the voices might not sound exactly as they did in life but it would be difficult for me to accept my mother's Midwestern American voice with an upper-class British accent. So---whatever 'voice box' is used (copied after Leslie Flint's voice box I am told) must taint most or all of the voices with Flint's diction, inflections and intonation, things that all require lips, tongue, teeth and nasal cavities to produce.

If it is "basically a mental thing" as 'Mickey' says, "transmitting thought to sound", why would my mother's voice or any other non-English person sound like an English man or woman unless there was something about the "voice box" that was decidedly British?

After their tea, Mrs. Creet and Mr. Flint in Creet's apartment just happened to have a tape recorder handy or else they proceeded to Flint's apartment into a darkened room (Flint's voices did not manifest in light) where the tape recorder was ready and waiting or there must have been some set-up time required before the tape could be recorded. It is unlikely that this was a spontaneous communication from Shaw in Creet's room as implied by Barham. If it were, why stop the process and make such an effort to record it? Why not just let it happen? Why the need for the recording under these informal circumstances? (Etta Wriedt's voices spoke willy nilly as the mood struck them. Sometimes three of them spoke at the same time as Etta conversed with one or more of them---sometimes reportedly in the light!)

Flint may have been a man of very limited education but Flint knew a lot about theater, "show business", film, acting and movie stars so that everything that Irish playwright 'Shaw' said in the Mrs. Creet recording could have been fabricated by Flint as an impersonation of Shaw---without an Irish accent (sounds more like Winston Churchill to me but I found it difficult to understand). Without an Irish accent how could anyone who really knew Shaw in life think that Flint's recording was of Shaw?

http://www.wholejoy.com/I/G-H.html
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TIt0ITM_RM

Listen to Flint's lectures which I think reveal a very knowledgeable fluent British intellectual. http://www.wholejoy.com/I/Lectures.html

I have no problem with the voices coming through Flint's own voice box similar to other mediums. It's just that the voice box of ectoplasm made by a spirit "scientist" is difficult for me to swallow past my own voice box. - AOD

Here is another recording of GBS in which he has lost ---on purpose---most of his Irish accent and sounding somewhat more like the Flint version of his voice. This is a very entertaining lecture about "Spoken English and Broken English". I found it to be somewhat relevant to the Flint recording of Shaw and certainly very entertaining. You may want to listen to the whole tape apparently broken into four parts. - AOD

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spTC1Dn7Uy8


As I listen to more and more recordings of the voice of George Bernard Shaw, especially as he grows older, he seems to lose all of his Irish accent sounding more and more like the tape of his voice made by Leslie Flint. I can understand that people who knew him in life as an old man would think that the Flint recording could be the voice of Shaw. - AOD

Thanks michael. I do admire my your tenacity with the subjects you tackle. Very very interesting post.

"Thanks michael. I do admire my your tenacity with the subjects you tackle. Very very interesting post."

I'll second that!

I have just listened to the voice of Bobby Tracy who identified himself as a 5 year-old boy. I am so sorry to say that I sincerely believe that this is not the voice of a 5 year-old child. This has got to be an adult trying to sound like a child. No 5 year-old speaks with this facility. Without a doubt this is an adult mentality speaking. I just can't take any more of this!– AOD
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvLz3uLCqqg

The british accent can't be explained by the ectoplasmic voicebox ressembling Flint's vocal cords. An accent is a product of how where and when you learned the language (https://blog.linguistlist.org/ll-main/ask-a-linguist-what-is-an-accent/) - so for this reason I don't think it's the dead speaking you hear on those tapes. I must say I also find the picture of Flint with ectoplasm as highly damaging for this case. I wonder if there could be some similarities to contemporary british medium William Roy. Has anyone read his book?

I don't know if anyone else here has heard of one Stewart Alexander whose name I've only just come across while scanning through Leslie Kean's latest book, 'Surviving Death'?

Apparently, he's British, still alive and a physical medium who sat with Flint on several occasions during the 1970s. He's also written a book about his life and work:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Extraordinary-Journey-Memoirs-Physical-Medium/dp/0955705061

Thanks for that link sbu about accents. Very interesting - AOD

AOD,

I totally agree about the Bobby Tracy voice. It's terrible.

Now this voice, of a woman named Amy Johnson, is actually very, very good:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5tFpl3xxZ8

To me, it has just a hair of the Flint voice in it. But I would definitely think this was a woman. So confusing...

Matt,
I think that a lot of the female voices have a touch of 'Mickey' in them, in tone, inflection and word usage. I have practiced mimicking a female voice and I must say after a while I can get very good at it. I think that the British accent lends itself to a female voice so I think I sound more authentically female if I add a British accent.

Give it a try Matt. See what you can do. - AOD

In contrast to Flint's voice of 5 year-old Bobby Tracey Here is a quote from a séance with Etta Wriedt as medium during which a child of a Mrs. E. Murray spoke in 'direct voice'.

"The first to come to me was my son, who had passed into spirit life as a little child; his voice, though that of a young man, did not sound strange to me. I seemed to recognise [sic] tones in it which were familiar."

Now this is what I would expect based on what some spirits say, namely, that they continue to mature in spirit life. Perhaps it may be that spirits actually have no age at all and are able to manifest at whatever age would be appropriate for those who receive them. Flint's 'Bobby Tracey' is a dramatic sorry rendition of a 5-year old child by an adult. If Bobby were in fact an adult now in spirit then better that he come through in his normal voice rather than a fake voice of a child. There was no relative of Bobby at the séance at which he spoke so why the need to try to imitate his little-boy voice?

I think that Etta Wriedt was the quintessential medium extraordinaire. She did it all. She manifested direct voices sometimes using a trumpet and at other times without the trumpet; sometimes in the light but mostly in the dark. Two, three or more voices are reported to have been heard at the same time, sometimes with Wriedt talking to one of them. Various lights appeared during a séance and at times etherializations (apparitions) were visible for a short time. Tables moved, water was sprinkled on sitters and flowers were given to sitters or strewn about the room. All of this was done without producing 'ectoplasm'. William Usborne Moore in his books "The Voices" and "Glimpses of the Next State" documents attestations from many people as to Wriedt's authenticity. I highly recommend these two books by Moore. If Moore's observations and documentation about Wriedt are true then there can be no question about the existence of a spirit life. If Moore and the hundreds of others are lying about Wriedt or Wriedt was deluding them by faking it all somehow, then we could all make better use of our remaining time on earth than spending it listening to tapes by Leslie Flint and reading stories about Etta Wriedt. - AOD

when the scientist whose job it is to build up the voice-box from the ectoplasm supplied by the medium


I don't even know what that means. Is he saying that every disembodied voice from the next life has to have a scientist before they can communicate? So this mysterious ectoplasm is just there and useless unless a scientist "build it up?" I really, really want to believe. I really would love to say I can buy this. I'm not an atheist and I'm not one to honestly believe that all that I am is simply a by product of a mass of matter in my skull. But, I really don't know about all this. I have listened to some of the recordings. Youtube is a wonderful tool. But, I find myself very skeptical of physical mediums and solid objects produced out of thin air.
I can't remember just when or where but some years ago there was a T.V. special or something and a medium proposed to channel the spirit of Marilyn Monroe. I think Marilyn Monroe is the absolute zenith of sexuality and glamour. So, I'm a little more interested when someone mentions her. Anyway, this guy starts to speak in a softer voice but it isn't female and he isn't saying he is producing her voice. Now, I have to admit I don't actually believe he was channeling Marilyn. But, it kind of gave me pause because my b.s. meter wasn't exactly going off and he made a statement that just (although, a good actor could also pull it off) caused me to do a double take. He said "It's weird to come through like this in the body of a man." Remember I said Marilyn is the zenith of female grace and sexuality to me? So, to hear her or allegedly to hear her mention the weirdness of using a male body as a vehicle just sounded right.
Anybody else remember or have any idea when or what this show was? I'm drawing a complete blank except for this one incident.

AOD,

You may be right, sir! I think your point about the British accent is a good one. I think it's easier (though still hard) for an American to fake a good British accent, since it involves a more exaggerated intonation on the whole, than it is for a Brit to imitate an American accent. Our accent is just more difficult. But note that when they do in cases like these, they tend to do Southern and/or African-American accents for the same reason: they *can* have more extreme intonation that covers up getting the subtle elements wrong. David Thompson no doubt for this reason chose to do a very bad Louie Armstrong, and Flint does Bessie.

This topic seems to me a red herring, since although the voices of a medium sound like those of a deceased, this does not show that it is the deceased who is speaking, because ventriloquism, and although the voices of a medium are entirely different from those of a deceased, it can be an indicator that the deceased is speaking because it shows their memories, personality and identifying traits that only those who lived with her / him could evaluate.

Hi Steve Snead,
As I read the comment about a ‘scientist’ being required to build-up a voice box out of ectoplasm I didn’t understand that to mean a one-to-one requirement. I thought that it meant that before any spirits could talk by direct voice in the Leslie flint séances, someone in the spirit realm had to fabricate a mechanism out of ectoplasm that allowed spirits to be heard in the physical realm; like a telephone that everyone can use. I imagine ectoplasm to be something like ‘silly putty’ that can be formed into objects or draped over spirits so that they can be seen in the physical. (That’s not to say that I think there really is such a thing as ectoplasm!)

Regarding Marilyn Monroe, I seem to remember some time ago that there were several or many people, including Leslie Flint who claimed to channel Marilyn. I think there were also several people who thought that they were the reincarnation of Marilyn Monroe. I agree with you that on a male/female scale of 1 to 10 that Marilyn was a 1 (with a 10 being brutishly male). I tend to think of her as an archetypical female, such role being assumed by several blond movie stars spanning several generations e.g. Mae West, Lana Turner, Marilyn Maxwell, Jayne Mansfield, Diana Dors, Anna Nicole Smith, Britney Spears and many, many others. Apparently each generation of males requires its own ‘blond bombshell’. In my opinion Marilyn Monroe had no equal. - AOD

Matt said:

"I think it's easier (though still hard) for an American to fake a good British accent, since it involves a more exaggerated intonation on the whole, than it is for a Brit to imitate an American accent."

"Exaggerated" is an interesting word in this context. Exaggerated based on what standard? Isn't an exaggerated accent simply one that's vastly different from one's own? Doesn't an American accent sound as exaggerated to a Brit, as a British accent sounds to an American?

But if there's going to be an objective base line, the British accent probably has a stronger claim to that, since it came first!


Steve Snead,

This is it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4XhfDPO0uo

The line about being in a mans' body is at 2:18.

Bruce wrote,

||"Exaggerated" is an interesting word in this context. Exaggerated based on what standard? Isn't an exaggerated accent simply one that's vastly different from one's own? Doesn't an American accent sound as exaggerated to a Brit, as a British accent sounds to an American?

But if there's going to be an objective base line, the British accent probably has a stronger claim to that, since it came first!||

I'm trying to describe an objective difference, not make a judgment about the worth or primacy of the accents. I think the US Midwestern accent (often considered a kind of standard) has flatter intonation that most British accents.

Let me put it another way. I'm fluent in Japanese, which is famous for having flat intonation. It is conceptually not hard to pronounce *except for* that flat intonation, which is very difficult indeed to get right. Any foreign (to Japanese) accent is immediately apparent in it.

I've studied Chinese too. Although it is technically more difficult than Japanese to pronounce, it has very *un*flat intonation. In a lot of ways, it's easier to speak because of this. I feel as though the breath control with Japanese can be quite burdensome, like playing the oboe (which I also did back in the day). With Chinese, you can just blast.

I hope this helps!

Matt said:

"I think the US Midwestern accent (often considered a kind of standard) has flatter intonation that most British accents."

I don't know what you mean by flat intonation. I just googled the phrase, and it's typically described as problematic—speech that varies little in pitch, the way a robot would talk.

Perhaps Julie, or other readers from across the pond could help us out. Was I barking up the wrong tree here?:

"Doesn't an American accent sound as exaggerated to a Brit, as a British accent sounds to an American?"

Bruce,

Let me put it this way: I think some accents are easier to imitate than others, and, when imitating some accents, it's easier to cover up flaws than with others.

Matt—just to be clear, I'm not trying to give you a hard time on this dialect thing. And I could be totally off base!

But it's always been of interest to me: does my speech sound as distinctive, or "exaggerated" (as you put it), to, let's say, a Cockney-inflected speaker, as his speech sounds to me?

One possibility: maybe it doesn't, because the typical American accent is so common on the world stage, and he will have heard my accent more than I will have heard his. So maybe a key factor is popularity and familiarity.

But again, it does seem to me, that "exaggerated" primarily means "different," based not on true objective standards, but on what we're used to.

In that sense, it would be like so many other of our traits and behaviors.

What do you all think?

"Perhaps Julie, or other readers from across the pond could help us out. Was I barking up the wrong tree here?"

Sorry, Bruce. I'm afraid I haven't the foggiest idea what Matt is banging on about.

Bruce wrote,

||But it's always been of interest to me: does my speech sound as distinctive, or "exaggerated" (as you put it), to, let's say, a Cockney-inflected speaker, as his speech sounds to me?||

My choice of words has caused confusion and it made it seem as though I was making a judgment. I just meant that some accents have a wider range of intonation and other factors. Compare a Cockney accent to a "posh" London accent.

Some US accents definitely stand out as different to non-native English speakers who might not be able to distinguish between similar accents. For example, a Southern accent is going to be more easily identifiable vs. what is perceived as standard as compared to, say, a California accent vs. what is perceived as standard.

||But again, it does seem to me, that "exaggerated" primarily means "different," based not on true objective standards, but on what we're used to.||

I think you'll find in every language there are accents that are perceived as standard/prestige. For example, in Japan, the speech of people in the country can be seen as course and unrefined, etc. etc. And there are different regional accents as well, including dialects with grammar varying from slightly different to widely different from standard.

Matt, I was thinking more about this, and I've decided you're probably on to something after all. :)

I have a fair amount of experience with three direct voice mediums, and have been watching this thread develop over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time to contribute. So more later, maybe.

In the meantime, though: The extremely sceptical illusionist, David Abbott (inventor of the floating ball illusion and critic of the Bangs Sisters), had an extremely interesting encounter with the little known direct voice medium, Elizabeth Blake, early last century. I think it would be fair to say that Abbott found himself stumped. You'll find an account of it below, and Abbott's own book about the case is available on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/History-Strange-Case-David-Abbott/dp/1542924057/

[link updated - MP]

Here's a link to Abbott's book on the US Amazon site:

https://www.amazon.com/History-Strange-Case-David-Abbott/dp/1542924057/

Here (again) is the UK Amazon link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/History-Strange-Case-David-Abbott/dp/1542924057/

AOD said "I have just listened to the voice of Bobby Tracy who identified himself as a 5 year-old boy. I am so sorry to say that I sincerely believe that this is not the voice of a 5 year-old child. This has got to be an adult trying to sound like a child. No 5 year-old speaks with this facility. Without a doubt this is an adult mentality speaking."

My five year old friend Masato can talk circles around Bobby Tracy, and do so with equal facility in English and Japanese. And, I've listened to the Bobby Tracy audio with and without my Michael Shermer approved Black Skull earphones (with enhanced critical bias), and I was charmed both times. I don't think we fully understand how deeply personal and subjective our interpretations of sensory input are. Statements such as "this sounds like a man's falsetto rather than a woman" are biased by the fact that our prime suspect for fraud is a man and not a woman. Were Leslie Flint female, I believe that claims of a male falsetto would vanish. And, were she American, we would complain how "fake" the accents of British speakers were.

None of us can possibly be objective in listening to the Flint audios. We are like the witness to a mugging, called in to view a photo gallery while the detective slyly puts his finger on the suspect in custody. We know too much to listen with totally open and unbiased ears. Listening to the supposed dead speak goes strongly against the grain of everyday experience. Our common sense naturally rebels. We want to resolve the cognitive dissonance between our desire to keep an open mind and the conviction born out of decades of experience that voices simply don't speak out of thin air.

To bring truly objective ears to this content, would likely involve concealing some facts from the listeners, such as the sex of the medium, the precise type of mediumship employed, etc. And, it would be good to have ears listening to content where the context of "voices from the dead" is not obvious, to get clear of the strong bias that kicks in as to the presumed impossibility of such a thing in the first place. Also, having someone with a developed ear for accents, like the expert coaches who train actors, would be helpful for teasing out precisely which regional accent is being employed.

A voice claiming to belong to Oliver Lodge said something that I think relates to this:

"We want people to enter into this truth, seeking truth with an open mind and an open heart, cooperating as best they can to the best of their ability, making it possible for us to link with them in the right way. A way in which we know we can achieve success. But we don't ask you to be nincompoops and accept everything as gospel, we expect you to use that common sense that you have. But if you receive something that does not make sense, or does not seem at the moment to be acceptable, we don't necessarily think that you should discard it. We should say put it in reserve. It may be that at some later date that which makes no sense at the moment may become a real thing to you in the future."

This advice squares with my experience. I don't know how many times I've listened to one of these audios, and went away more baffled then intrigued. It's only now after the passage of a few years that I feel openhearted enough to be interested in looking into this further.

Those who formed a conviction of positive belief with respect to Flint's mediumship had years to formulate an opinion. Binge listening to Flint recordings does not necessarily grant one a godlike perspective. The opposite may be the case instead.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

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