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Hergé and Dowsing

jock123
Moderator
#1 · Posted: 2 Sep 2005 00:01 · Edited by: jock123
I was more than a little surprised to read in the Tintin Annual 1 (about which there is this thread) about the “art” of dowsing, guidelines for how children can make rods, and the suggestion that they will be able to detect water in a mains-supply using these.

This is really quite disturbing, as dowsing has repeatedly been shown to be bunk, and there is nothing in what they claim in the book. The swinging of the rods is the result of the ideomotor effect, not anything to do with hidden water or minerals (for more on the ideomotor effect and the whole dowsing scam, there is good information here and here). It seems unfortunate to me that Egmont have chosen to present this rot as if fact (and it isn’t mitigated by the heading of “Crackpot Inventions”).

Anyway, it got me to thinking: did Hergé actually believe in Calculus’s pendulum, or did he put it in as a joke - that the scientist has fallen into the trap of the irrational?
yamilah
Member
#2 · Posted: 2 Sep 2005 19:30 · Edited by: yamilah
I found the very same odd dowsing tips for kids in the Tintin Album-jeux published by Moulinsart in June 2005 and mentioned in the 'Annual' thread on this site; it offers various enigmas plus a ...treasure hunt...

Its cover and ISBN are shown here
[urlc=http://www.decitre.fr/livres/fiche.aspx?sid=0x0000000171c810c2&c ode-produit=9782874240645]http://www.decitre.fr/livres/fiche.aspx?sid= 0x0000000171c810c2&code-produit=9782874240645
[/url]

As the comment about this book reads 'voici un album- jeux qui passionnera les enfants ...et leurs parents', its dowsing tips' purpose might be to trigger some day some reflection among some adults...

jock123
Anyway, it got me to thinking: did Herge actually believe in Calculus's pendulum, or did he put it in as a joke - that the scientist has fallen into the trap of the irrational?

Imho, there's still a 3rd possibility, namely Herge's most cunning fake occultism*...
The main point isn't so much the pendulum itself, but Calculus' repeated utterings about more to the West*, that most likely hint at:
- the Yucatan* pyramid, for the latter matches with the three Red Rackham's Treasure* scrolls' latitude and 1698's longitude...
- the West Indies*, which match with Sondonesia*...


* please see related posts as well as 'Tintin and witchcraft' thread..
Richard
UK Correspondent
#3 · Posted: 2 Sep 2005 19:59
I'm not sure whether Hergé believed in dowsing or not. On the one hand, let's remember that this is the same series that features ancient curses, giant spotty mushrooms, vengeful corpses (even if only in a dream), the yeti and extra-terrestrial life. And considering Hergé's growing interest in mysticism, it might be fair to say he thought there 'might be something in it'.

On the other hand, isn't there a story that Hergé went home one day to find Germaine with a spiritualist medium, or something like that, and didn't take kindly to it. So I'm not sure. Perhaps, as you say jock, arming Calculus with a pendulum was a nice little paradox - a seemingly rational and scientifically-minded person using a pendulum ?

There's a sequence in the original version of Land of Black Gold where Tintin uses some old umbrella spokes to find water in the desert ... only it leads him to oil instead.
yamilah
Member
#4 · Posted: 2 Sep 2005 21:07 · Edited by: yamilah
Richard
spiritualist medium

As far as I can remember, that woman told Herge's portrait by a friend was causing trouble in the house, so they put it away; this ridiculous story might have just been a polite and convenient way to explain the removal of the painting, or his friend's disfavour, though...


I very much doubt Herge's interest in occultism is serious and any related to Tintin... Should his assertions be taken for granted, if they don't match with the corpus' content?

He insisted for instance about the importance of a correct words' spelling, but the original versions actually show between 10 to 40 mistakes per album...

This reminds of Francis Bacon's cunning duplicated typography, an unseen transmission system based on kind of mistakes or letters' shape variations he proposed around 1600...


PS: are there so many spelling mistakes in the English versions?

Thanks you in advance.
Harrock n roll
Moderator
#5 · Posted: 2 Sep 2005 21:24
Richard There's a sequence in the original version of Land of Black Gold where Tintin uses some old umbrella spokes to find water in the desert ... only it leads him to oil instead.

I was going to mention this sequence myself. I think it's the first example of dowsing in the stories (although Hergé later cut it out) and it does eventually lead Tintin to water...! (See some scans here from the covers Le Petit Vingtième). The spokes flicking up in his face signifies the point at which Tintin locates some kind of underground spring.

The sequence was also kept for the later 1948 magazine version which was slightly altered with Tintin mentioning Professor Calculus as his influence.

jock123 It seems unfortunate to me that Egmont have chosen to present this rot as if fact (and it isn’t mitigated by the heading of “Crackpot Inventions”).

I don't have a copy of the Annual to comment on this (although I should because by strange coincidence I happen to know one of the authors of the book). I think the ideas for it may have come from either Moulinsart or the authors, but I will try to find out next time I see him.
Richard
UK Correspondent
#6 · Posted: 2 Sep 2005 21:56
yamilah :
As far as I can remember, that woman told Herge's portrait by a friend was causing trouble in the house, so they put it away; this ridiculous story might have just been a polite and convenient way to explain the removal of the painting, or his friend's disfavour, though...

At the risk of going off-topic, which books / films is this mentioned in ? I don't doubt you at all ; the opposite, actually - I remember reading about the painting not going down well, but I can't remember where. Is it in the Chronologie (5th) ?

PS: are there any spelling mistakes in the English versions?

The only one I can remember seeing was in The Castafiore Emerald, when 'exercise' is misspelt as 'excercise'. There may be more, but if so they've kept themselves to themselves and remained quietly inconspicuous. Are there spelling mistakes in French ?

Harrock n roll :
The sequence was also kept for the later 1948 magazine version which was slightly altered with Tintin mentioning Professor Calculus as his influence.

I didn't know that ! Seems like it might have been a good idea to leave it in the final version of the book, working the new characters into the story.
yamilah
Member
#7 · Posted: 5 Sep 2005 14:53 · Edited by: yamilah
Richard
which books / films is this mentioned in ? I don't doubt you at all ; the opposite, actually - I remember reading about the painting not going down well, but I can't remember where. Is it in the Chronologie (5th) ?

I'm not sure about the Chronologie, but you'll find this clairvoyante's story in Herge's biography (B.Peeters, 2002, p.344), by the end of chapter V, part 8...
This painting is shown in Goddin's Hergé et Tintin reporters (1986, p.67)...


PS: are there spelling mistakes in French?

There are actually between about 10 to over 40 such mistakes per album, provided you count only once a repeated error...
As if those hundreds of mistakes weren't enough, a few dozens have been added in later issues of Tintin's albums...


Coming back to topic:
The B&W unfinished Or Noir ('Black Gold') was published in Le Petit Vingtieme (1939-1940, 'dowsing' on page 44 to 46), whereas its colour edition was in Tintin belge (1948-1950, 'dowsing' on page 23 & 24)...

Reference: 'fascicules de tintin belge et petit vingtieme'...!

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