1. P.M. Doucé — Incredible Alliance


P.M. Doucé's 1975 self-published book Incredible Alliance: Transmissions from T.S. Eliot Through the Mediumship of P.M. Doucé is more about the things that gestate and circulate in grief than about T.S. Eliot. In the aftermath of the death of Doucé's close friend in 1968, she begins to question her purpose in life and doubt her once deep-seated faith in God. Her suffering leads to experimentation with spiritualist summoning, Ouija boards, and automatic writing. She shares the writing with an anonymous psychic who reveals that the lately deceased T.S. Eliot is communicating through her. This spectacular occurrence and revelation eventually allows Doucé to commence a unique process of healing.

Doucé details the development of her mediumship in dated entries over the course of 1969-1970. Eliot’s transmissions typically take on a didactic Christian tone and seem to be an attempt to recover the vestiges of Doucé's lost faith and friend. However, beneath the absence wells a deeper insecurity, as Doucé reveals lifelong struggles in forming and maintaining meaningful relationships, which makes the loss of her authentic friendship (which Eliot refers to as "soul to soul") all the more unbearable. In a transmission dated September 1969, Doucé writes:

Those willing to see your value, to acknowledge your depths, to respond to your longings: these are Family of Spirit, yes, true brother, sister, spouse, mother, father, lover: all who see Him in you, and know the brilliance of your inner light, which glows and dims and flickers in all your heartache. (19)

Doucé's progress in mediumship is "graded" by Eliot, in terms of her devotion to Him, which, again, is reminiscent of her past religious beliefs, albeit now via a synthesized Eliot/God. Eliot not only replaces the missing deity but also provides the social acceptance she craves, a process often bordering on seduction:

Are we becoming more one plus one?
Do you see the union of thoughts
Breaking the barrier
Making all men's minds
Belonging? (39)

She begins to refer to Eliot as "Sterny," a pet name that symbolizes the intimacy of their sessions, during which the spirit possesses Doucé's writing hand, if not her entire being in thought and body. Their relationship culminates in the creation of a four part treatise titled "The Essence of Immortality." At this point her psychic presents two other spirit handlers in order to clarify Eliot's writings and teachings:

Eliot is very advanced and writes on a supraconscious level. [...] Therefore, since all men are to benefit and understand the work, a man named Steven (first name) or Stevens (last name) and a William Agasian would give me the basics in simpler expressions. (51)

Steven(s) and Agasian introduce a comic element to the text. They bumble and interfere with Eliot's transmissions, and even scold Doucé when she stops a session to let out her dog. However, by May of 1970, Doucé's reputation in the spirit world has grown, allowing her to become the preferred medium of other deceased writers, which are referred to collectively as "The Group." At first, Eliot and The Group jockey for Doucé's attention, before Eliot decides that his goal has been accomplished; he thanks her and bids her farewell.

Although Incredible Alliance is outlandish at face value, its poetry and prose is actually part of the rich tradition of psychography. Not excluding the poetic incantations of possession, or the channeling practices of visionaries, prophets, community healers, and diviners, the more refined role of the medium writer (at least in the vein of P.M. Doucé) comes to fruition out of the mainstreaming of irreligious beliefs in the nineteenth century, such as those championed by Theosophy and Spiritualism. Of course, the tradition is also firmly tied to the literary hoax. Notable examples include Pierre L.O.A. Keeler channeling Abraham Lincoln to create the Lincoln Slate, T.P. James finishing the uncompleted manuscript of The Mystery of Edwin Drood on behalf of a deceased Charles Dickens, and the poetry and novels of Patience Worth as rendered through the mediumship of Pearl Lenore Curran.

In Doucé's case, there's an element of sincerity and simplicity, particularly as reflected in a folk culture or custom. Doucé is untrained, and constantly refers to herself as an amateur and a student. Indeed, it's never clear if Doucé actually knows anything about T. S. Eliot. Her version of Eliot appears to be nothing more than an idea complicit in, and generated by, her mourning, and in this sense the notion of transmission is believable, considering the ambiguity that allows Eliot to become a palimpsest on which Doucé scrawls out her healing. This level of exchange (especially when considered as folk art, fan fiction, Americana, outsider, etc.) is as authentic as any other sort of communication. Finally, though, as we see by the introduction of Steven(s), Agasian, and The Group, Eliot simply isn't enough.

Is the spirit of a deceased T.S. Eliot writing poetry and prose through Doucé? Perhaps, instead, she reiterates a commonly known truth, that there are no rectifiers for human sorrow and the suffering of this, or any other, world. Or maybe we should consider the words of Doucé's Eliot:

Believe anyway
For all fact is fiction
Where you are going! (27)

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