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Matheus Schurr

“It all began on a dreary night of November 1816. Whilst Mary Shelley was drawing energy from freak electrical storms and sudden weather changes to build Frankenstein at the Villa Diodati on the shores of Lake Geneva, a family in a small Black Forest village on the other side of the Alps called on Doctor Johann Tritschler to give his medical opinion on the condition of a thirteen-year-old boy named Matheus Schurr. The boy, according to Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, was tormented by dreams and physical ailments: ‘His speech was rapid and loud, his face was pale and with an expression of anxiety, he complained often of violent pains in his body, of headache, sickness, and an inclination to vomit, and he not only trembled when he attempted to move, but had constant convulsions’.”


“Medicine proved ineffective, and over the next few days the boy got much worse; he spoke with a rapidity that showed he had as little control over his tongue as over the muscles of his limbs. However, while the doctor was admonishing his patient to be more quiet and composed, by mere accident he stroked the boy’s face once or twice with his hand, and immediately the wildness in his looks vanished. To his astonishment, the boy became calm and spoke gently, and he discovered that the healing process lay not in the medicine he prescribed, but the hands, especially the movement of the hands over the body without actually touching. After several visits the boy was cured – or he recovered, which of course isn’t necessarily the same thing – and the Doctor reluctantly conceded that the cure might be the ‘existence of an imperceptible agent acting by means of magnetical influence’. Thereafter, with regard to Doctor Tritschler’s casebook, it was consigned to the medical archive.”

“1816 was a dark year. Solar events created prolonged geomagnetic storms, and it is likely they contributed to the climatic mood swings. They may also have contributed to the mood swings of a section of the world’s population: the eminent Scottish scientist, David Brewster, invented the kaleidoscope in that year, and before he even reached the patent office there was mass demand for this brief but spectacular break from the gloom – a demand met through numerous copycat versions. No doubt a coincidence, it was the year the Scottish Enlightenment dimmed and, with the death of Adam Ferguson, the year it was extinguished. It was the year of swift weather shifts from calm to chaos, of blinding bursts and deafening blasts from freak electrical storms. It was the year Frankenstein was born, though he didn’t actually toddle into the bookshops until he was two. It was the year of ‘blood or bread’ riots, of the heavy midsummer hail that flattened crops, of mass migrations and the death of tens of thousands. It was the year the volcanic eruptions of Tambora, on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia, caused cataclysmic climate changes by draping a veil around the Earth. It was the year without a summer.”

Source:

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/11/the-year-without-summer/

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