Hypnotism for Everybody by Pandit Lakshmi Doss, Chennai, India, 2004

I bought this little book in Chennai, India for the cover, really.

When the New York Times started its ‘Indian Ink’ blog recently, I wrote about my bet nearly two decades ago that Indian pop culture would take over the world.  It was a prognostication not meant to be limited to mainstream commercial culture like Bollywood films — though those, indeed, have seeped into even the most distant consciousness — but also to include the more irrepressible DIY culture of pamphleteers and mystical charlatans and street corner poets that lends such vibrancy to Indian society.  I would place Hypnotism for Everybody in this latter category: its instructions are so inscrutable as to leave an aura of mystery around just how hypnotism is meant to work, while its interweaving of the philosophy of Yoga and mundane daily anecdotes will be enlightening to some and befuddling to others.  Consider this, recounted on page 84:

We can explain this in a way in the modern scientific world. There is a cricket match going on in London or Australia. The vision of the match is brought to our room in T.V. Many mechanical instruments are required for this.  This T.V. has not come from heaven. It is only the man who invented. The power of invention is also the gift of Lord to suit Kaliyuga. Clairaudience is the power of hearing things not present to the senses.  When Kundalini Sakthi reaches Anahata chakra one can hear mystic sounds.

Perhaps, but one can also hear a particularly Indian fondness for mystical possibility paired with a gift for gab.  Though published in 2004, when held in the hand this book already feels like it comes from a different era.  The paper is thin, the typeface archaic, the cover misprinted with many wrinkles retained in the lamination.  But the diagrams are priceless and there is always the possibility that somewhere within its pages lies an essential truth not yet recognized.

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