Via a Twitter post from Phil Plait, and following a couple of links, I ended up reading a post on the website of David Icke, everyone's favourite goalkeeper turned tinfoil hat wearer. Now, the vast majority of it is your typical "Swine flu was released by the Illuminati/Bilderberg Group/Reverse Vampires to cull the population" batshittery, but part of the post talked about, well, I can't really put it better than David himself:
"The Illuminati plan for the world includes...the microchipping of every man, woman and child. Microchips would allow everyone to be tracked 24/7, but it goes much further than that.
Computer technology communicating with the chips has the potential to manipulate people mentally, emotionally and physically. This could be done en masse or individually through the chip's unique transmitter-receiver signal. Killing someone from a distance would be a synch (sic)."
Apparently these chips are, due to the wonders of nanotechnology, so small as to be able to be injected into people along with their tamiflu jab. Anyway's, the interesting thing about that quote was that it reminded me of the strange story of James Tilly Matthews, who I read about roughly this time last year. Matthews was a Welshman, working as a tea broker in London in the last 10 or so years of the Eighteenth Century. He is also pretty much acknowledged to be the first recorded case of paranoid schizophrenia.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm by no means an expert regarding the brain, and I'm not suggesting for one moment that David Icke is mentally ill. However, the parallels between Icke's "They'll control us from afar" reasonings, and the ideas Matthew's had that led him to be admitted to Bedlam Hospital, are striking.
Matthews believed, as revealed in John Haslam's 1810 book Illustrations of Madness, he was under attack from a gang of criminals who were could manipulate his thoughts and ideas by use of a gigantic machine called the Air Loom. The "Air Loom Gang", as he called them, consisted of Bill the King (the ringleader), Jack the Schoolmaster, Sir Archy (a woman dressed as a man), and the Glove Woman, who operated the Air Loom. The Air Loom itself was located in London Wall in Moorfields, not far from where Liverpool Street station is today, and was drawn by Matthews during his treatment at Bedlam:
(I've always thought that image would make a good album cover, by the way).
When Matthews "saw" the Air Loom, he could never make out the top parts of it, as they were so high up, which is why they are sketched rather than drawn solidly. It may well be that the character in the top left of the picture is supposed to be Matthews, if that's the case, it's the only picture of him we have.
The Air Loom worked by combining chemistry with the new "science" of Animal Magnetism. By mixing a number of frankly disgusting substances, including seminal fluid, "effluvia of dogs", "putrid human breath", and "gas from a horse's anus", the Glove Lady was able to alter the flow of magnetically charged air around the patient, causing ailments including "thought-making", or pushing the ideas of a person out of their brain and replacing them with thoughts chosen by the gang, and "lobster-cracking", increasing the pressure of the magnetic atmosphere around the victim, which would stop his circulation, "impede his vital motions", and kill him. But it wasn't just Matthews they were after. He believed that there were dozens of similar gangs all around the capital, working their influence on the important people of the day, including then Prime Minister William Pitt. Indeed, so sure of the influence of these machines was Matthews, that he was originally admitted to Bedlam after entering the public gallery at the House of Commons and shouting accusations of treason at Lord Liverpool, the Home Secretary.
So what had started off these illusions in Matthews' mind then? Why would a tea broker from Wales suddenly become convinced he was being got at by a secretive gang intent on using him as they wished? After the French Revolution, there was a real chance of France starting a war with Britain. It seems Matthews travelled over to France with David Williams, who was well known to the Girondists who originally made up the government of Republican France, to try and broker a peace deal between the countries. Matthews gained the trust of the Government, and also of the Government of Britain, but was thwarted when, whilst he was back in Britain, the Girondists were usurped by the Jacobins. Upon returning to France, Matthews was arrested due to his connections with the previous government, and was imprisoned in France for three years. He was released after the French became convinced he was a lunatic, and returned to Britain. However, the UK Cabinet denied having any knowledge of him, leaving Matthews to send two letters to Lord Liverpool accusing him of treason, and eventually his House of Commons outburst, which led to his incarceration in Bedlam. It was once in Bedlam that he was looked after by Haslam, who later released his, and Matthews's own, notes on Matthews in Illustrations of Madness (you can see excerpts from the book here). After some years in Bedlam that were almost as eventful as events proceeding, but can't really be covered in a 1100-word blog entry, Matthews was moved to London House in Hackney, where he died in 1815, aged 45. In the last 15 years or so, his case has moved slightly more into the public eye, and has been the subject of a play, and a novel, as well as getting a mention on CSI. In 2002 artist Rod Dickinson built a full-scale Air Loom, which has been displayed in Newcastle and Heidelberg, Germany.
It's interesting to note that almost 200 years after the publication of Illustrations of Madness, David Icke believes, like James Tilly Matthews, that new science is behind sinister plots to alter the way people think and behave. As writer Mike Jay says, "For everyone who has since had messages beamed at them through fillings, mysterious implants or TV sets, or via hi-tech surveillance, MI5, Masonic lodges or UFOs, James Tilly Matthews is Patient Zero".
If you're interested in looking at James Tilly Matthews's story in more detail, you couldn't go wrong with Mike Jay's book "The Air Loom Gang", available at Amazon here. Pictures of Rob Dickinson's Air Loom can be seen at this site. Finally, author Robert Rankin took the idea of the Air Loom Gang and weaved another of his tales of far-fetched fiction around it, which is how I came across James Tilly Matthews. The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code can be bought from here.