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Mary Craig Sinclair and Parapsychology

https://library.duke.edu/exhibits/2020/parapsychology

Mental Radio was published as authored by Upton Sinclair, but Mary Craig is the main character, whose psychic explorations are meticulously recorded: ‘We have written down our observations as we go along; we have presented the evidence carefully and conscientiously, without theories; and what any scientist can do, or ask to have done, more than this, I cannot imagine. Those who throw out these results will not be scientists, but merely another set of dogmatists—of whom new crops are continually springing up, wearing new disguises and new labels. The plain truth is that in science, as in politics and religion, it is a lot easier to believe what you have been taught, than to set out for yourself and ascertain what happens.” [Upton Sinclair, Mental Radio, 146]

Mary Craig wrote about her spiritual and intellectual quests in her autobiography Southern Belle, published in 1957: “Bergson felt that a memory was never erased, but lasted as long as the body did- possibly longer!. One other of Bergson’s ideas remained with me. He didn’t believe in the supreme importance of Art. I was glad to have an ally! Philosophy now became my chief study. I read William James Psychology, two large volumes packed with information news to me; also his Will to Believe, which I surely had.”[Mary Craig Sinclair, Southern Belle, 92]

“We were eager to meet the head of the Dalcroze dance school.  Eurythmics, which Jacques Dalcroze had created, was so beautiful that we named it ‘music made visible.’ After one of the Dalcroze performances we ran into Bernard Shaw.” This acquaintanceship led to a long friendship which features in the first Lanny Budd novel. [Ibid., 143]

Mary Craig had experienced psychic phenomena but gave little thought to the subject before knowing Upton. “But now I was married to a man who had read books about every important subject in the world, or so it seemed to me, and one of the many was psychic research. In his youth he had met Minot J. Savage, minister of the Unitarian Church of the Messiah in New York, and Dr. Savage had assured him that he believed in what were called `psychic phenomena.” [Ibid., 214]

Another California writing friend was the subject of a strong premonition felt by Mary Craig the day of his death. ‘Now I said to Upton, ‘I have the strangest feeling about Jack London, that he is in trouble. You ought to try to help him. You ought to telephone him.’ Upton had spent so much energy trying to help alcoholics, and all in vain, that he felt he could do nothing. Next day came the news that Jack London had died by poison. There followed a letter from George Sterling, saying that it was suicide.” [Ibid., 15]

An important figure in the world of psychical research was interested in Mary Craig which whom he had common interests. When the Sinclairs met Dr. J.B. Rhine, the Duke University parapsychologist, they discussed telepathy experiments, “and he asked what had caused me to become so seriously interested in the subject. I told him at some length of my search for God and for a purpose in the universe, and I knew that the place to find Him was in the mind.  Rhine remarked that this had been his own motivation. [Ibid., 377]