The International Literary Quarterly
Contributors

Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Marcelo Cohen
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Thomas Luschei
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Daniel Shapiro
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

 

Brian Inglis
The Power of Prose:
Trance: A Natural History of Altered States of Mind
By: Brian Inglis
A Review
By: Neil Langdon Inglis
 

 

In Brian Inglis's 1989 "Trance: A Natural History of Altered States of Mind"1, the author reviews the mountains of research from his earlier two-volume history of psi ("Natural and Supernatural" and "Science and Parascience" from 1976 and 1984). "Trance" is in effect part 3 of a trilogy. In crafting his legacy and in bidding farewell, Brian attempts for the first time to move beyond amassing source material, and instead to organize his data into an intellectual framework.

The gist is this. The trance state is the portal through which the human spirit enters alternative realities and dimensions, and gains access to potentialities that can be transposed to everyday life--although not predictably and never without difficulty. All of us are potentially endowed with such talents, the trick is to tap into them--and women in particular hold special gifts2.

From the vantage point of a 2019 reader, Brian's legacy is distinctly mixed, yet his impact endures. Let us start with human health. As far back as the 1960s, Inglis set his sights on the medical profession3, then fast losing its aura of infallibility. Why pick this particular battle, at that particular time? The Thalidomide scandal would have scared the wits out of any new parent (while pregnant with me, my mother discussed taking the drug with her ob/gyn, but went no further).

Never again would Brian trust a man in a white coat. And how he would savor the shifts in medical orthodoxy that have emerged since his death in 1993: the drugs withdrawn or slapped with black-box warnings, the teetering consensus on cholesterol (the "good" and "bad" kinds), the longitudinal studies that show zero benefit from lucrative treatments4.

My father had valid criticisms to make, but often went overboard. Brian's reliance on mass hysteria as a one-size-fits-all diagnosis for M.E. and other such conditions has not aged well. Biomedical explanations, not lay psychiatry, provide the only real hope for the chronically ill, who deserve meaningful cures rather than what they typically receive--accusations of malingering and the threat of institutionalization. In the final analysis, informed patients are their own best advocates, and that holds true for skeptics and believers alike.

As my previous profiles of my father have noted, Brian's love affair with FT journalist Margaret van Hattem (a skeptic), the intractability of her final illness, and Brian's friendship with a skeptical biologist all served to humanize his attitudes to nonbelievers. And in this newly mellow mood, did he ever cut any slack to skeptical readers? While the front cover of the 1989 edition of "Trance" warned of indigestible material--the picture of stigmata sounded a clear warning--Brian's introduction apologizes for the 'boggle factor." He acknowledges, in the first person singular (rare for him), that spontaneous combustion and fire-walking are hard to swallow. Was he being candid, was he acting out of character--or was he inserting a disclaimer at the publisher's behest5?

Whatever their motivation, these touches of restraint seldom stay in place for long. The science of quantum mechanics, and the head-scratching phenomenon of quantum entanglement, are trumpeted as vindications in Brian's struggle in defense of the paranormal. Brian's friend Uri Geller insisted, "what I do is real," and Brian thought about his own writings in exactly the same way. For Inglis saw himself as at or near the center of a hub of authors, researchers, and psychics around the world--a proto-web for true believers--who campaigned for recognition of the psi force as the single greatest under-reported story of the modern age.

And as he formulated his "unified field theory" of parapsychology, logic impelled him toward a terrifying conclusion. Specifically, it is scientists who must bend the knee to the Occult--not the reverse. With the goalposts thus changed, the psi force is no longer a second fiddle to Newtonian physics--a will-o'-the-wisp--but has claimed its rightful place as the central mover in the entire universe. And Brian is a new Saint Paul, spreading the glad tidings to a disbelieving world.

Brian's unified field theory, I suspect, had its roots in his earliest years. His father, the engineer Sir Claude Inglis, credited his hydraulic designs to "hunches." In Brian's own words, "Mystic experience [provides] the illumination which precedes each new advance." Brian collected examples of great inventions driven by inexplicable sources of inspiration (August Kekule's dream about the structure of benzene was an Inglis favorite). As William James points out in "The Varieties of Religious Experience," "If you have intuitions at all, they come from a deeper level of your nature than the loquacious level which rationalism inhabits." It was a source of regret to Brian that he personally encountered few psychic experiences and thus remained trapped in the loquacious realm.

The astonishing reversal of long-accepted values implicit in Brian's theory means that long-established heroes must be knocked off their pedestals. Whilst a Faraday or a Darwin is damned as a reductionist, a repenting materialist (William Crooke, Arthur Conan Doyle) elicits Brian's immediate and sympathetic curiosity. All too often, of course, spiritual conversions point in the other direction6. Had Brian lived, he would have castigated researcher Susan Blackmore, quoted in "Trance," as a turncoat for repudiating her earlier work on out-of-body experiences (OBEs).

In a "New Scientist" article from 2001, Blackmore commented: "It was just over thirty years ago that I had the dramatic out-of-body experience that convinced me of the reality of psychic phenomena and launched me on a crusade to show those closed-minded scientists that consciousness could reach beyond the body and that death was not the end. Just a few years of careful experiments changed all that. I found no psychic phenomena—only wishful thinking, self-deception, experimental error and, occasionally, fraud. I became a skeptic." I cannot see Brian abandoning his beliefs in that way.

Such militancy can wear thin. Brian's high school history teacher, Murray Senior, commended the thoughtful study and quotation of dissenting opinion, where there is always something to learn. Humility and common sense are overlooked qualities in scholars. Wasn't Brian being just a little one-sided? Why, in all seriousness, should Brian's critics be ordered to worship at the temple of psi, or required to pay tribute to Brian's psychic friends? Is James Randi expected to apologize to Uri Geller? Who should be grateful to whom? How many sci/tech patents have spiritualists filed? Which thalidomide babies ever sprouted new limbs in the company of faith-healers?

Scientific research cannot solve every riddle or untangle every knot of human behavior--yet it teaches us much. And as neuroscience unlocks the brain's mysteries, the truths thus exposed will not always be pretty, as our quaint notions of free will and selfhood are torn asunder beneath the electron microscope. Mobs and hooligans and the vast mass of humanity may have no great psychic depths -- other than depths of violence -- to plumb.

In closing, this review would not be complete without a discovery -- an atypical Brian Inglis quote from "Trance" on UFOs, never his favorite field. Modern-day Ufology is less New Age-y than Brian. It has a respect for pure scientific and technological accomplishment (whether by aliens or ourselves) that would have held scant interest for him. In seeking explanations, he falls back on hallucination, a skeptic's answer that Ufologists would reject.

"If hallucination is accepted as capable of creating forms so lifelike that they can deceive all the senses, this could explain much that has been downgraded as myth. As Peter McKellar suggested, it is not improbable 'that widespread superstitions about little people, for example the leprechauns of Ireland, had initially a hallucinatory origin' - a notion that offers a wide field for exploration, notably in connection with UFOs."

1Published by Paladin, now republished by White Crow Books.

2This appreciation for women mediums acquired in middle age led Brian to abandon the casual chauvinism of his earlier years.

3"Fringe Medicine" (1964).

4How he would relish the title of a recent article published in a bastion of rationalism (https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/is-medicine-overrated/).

5He is less than honest in discussing own his innermost motivations. He talks of mescaline and peyote, yet passes over any hint of personal experimentation.

6Brian's friend the psychic Keith "Blue" Harary repudiated his own abilities in the pages of "Psychology Today" in November 2004.



The Power of Prose