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Re: Ergates, Hodgson, S.P.R, Hower and Paul Johnson

Sep 19, 1995 11:12 PM
by K. Paul Johnson

> (1) Heavens forbid! Here I go agreeing with Paul Johnson!

As long as we are focusing on what the facts are, rather than
what they mean, agreement is easy. I salute your factual
knowledge of Theosophical history and literature as superior to
mine. As for seeing how it fits into the wider picture of late
19th century intellectual, spiritual and political history...

> said no, he had not read the Report. Why should he, since Adlai
> Waterman in his Obituary book had showed Hodgson to be wrong in
> his case against HPB. After reading Barborka's reply I didn't
> know whether to laugh or cry!!!

Similarly, when asked about Washington's Madame Blavatsky's
Baboon, Ed Abdill said something like "I haven't read it and
won't." (The question was for both of us). Surely Washington
is worth reading due to the popularity and literary merits of
his book, as well as due to its scholarly flaws. But at least
it's not a primary source.

> want to read the Hodgson Report. Mr. Barborka should have read the report or
> should not have been writing in his book about something he had not properly
> studied.

While agreeing with you in part, I would suggest that "properly
studied" is a more subjective judgment than "read." In other
words, you can often accuse an author of not properly studying
sources, based on your own definition of proper, which may or
may not be relevant to the work in question. To simply say
that Barborka should not have written about a report he had not
read is, however, unchallengable IMO.
> When I read what Hower said in the Smithsonian article about Hodgson's Report
> I mused to myself: Has Hower read the report himself?
Yes, but...
> Also did Hower also consult the criticisms of the Hodgson Report by Sinnett,
> Judge, Besant, Endersby, Waterman, Hastings, VAnia, etc. as well as Harrison's
> article? Did Hower read the 1st S.P.R. 1884 Report on HPB and compare it with
> the later Hodgson Report? etc. etc.
I don't think so.
> If Hower has not done at least some of this research, as far as I'm concerned
> his opinion is worthless unless he could give me detailed reasons that would
> show me that he has a grasp of issues and facts.
Daniel, you were away when I discussed Jungian functions and
how they affect the way we approach Theosophy and Masters etc.
What you say above sounds like an expression of introverted
thinking. I get the impression of you as someone who gathers
information and then goes over and over it, analyzing and
evaluating. My thinking is extraverted, meaning I'm your
inferior at analyzing what I already know, but perhaps superior
in the ability to reach out and incorporate new, relevant
information. My point of all this is that to say someone's
opinion is worthless implies that it must be based on your
primary function (pardon my guessing it) to have value. Hower
is a novelist, and has said some highly intriguing things about
Olcott and HPB and their relationship to me, things I'd never
thought of. I expect his novel about them to be wonderful.
But if it is, it will be due to Hower's intuitive ability to
read new meaning into the Founders' relationship, not due to
his introverted thinking analysis of facts. That's
not what makes a novel.
> It's too bad that he felt had had to give some brief opinion of the worth of
> Hodgson's Report. Why not just inform the reader of this report and the
> controversy surrounding it and then list a number of books both
> pro and con that the interested reader could consult if interested
> in so doing?
> Overall, I like Hower's article although I did make a list of errors of facts
> that he made indicating to me that he only had a very general knowledge of
> HPB's life. But the article wasn't really that bad and I thought that the
> article was good advertisement for Blavatsky. Possibly some of the Smithsonian
> readers have searched out a book on Blavatsky and Theosophy.
The propensity to see such things as damaging to HPB and
Theosophy is somewhat surprising to me. It is clearly
beneficial in most senses I care about, regardless of the flaws.
Compared to the almost total public ignorance of the subject
when I joined the TS in 1978, I'd say Theosophy is on a roll in
the mid-90s.
> and compare with HPB's handwriting, etc. Harrison's comments on
> the handwriting aspect of the Mahatma Letters was thought provoking
> and was a valuable contribution to assessing Hodgson's claims
> about who wrote the MLs.
I still wonder if HPB was in a trance state overshadowed by one of
the Masters, whose handwriting would she write in? Would
any handwriting expert be able to judge such a complex case?
> And did any Theosophical students read the criticisms of Harrison's article
> by a Mr. Coleman in the pages of the Jl of the S.P.R. in 1986-1988?
This is the first I've heard of it. Can you summarize any of
it for us?
> Far too many students of Theosophy (just like critics and skeptics
> of Theosophy) make statements about these controversial issues when
> they haven't even read all the relevant material! I guess it is
> human nature to want to have opinions even when we don't know too
> much about the subject area! I sometimes joking say to myself:
> There is no TRUTH higher than MY opinion.
Fine post, illuminating.

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