I've always taken pride in having an open mind ...
So, when the invitation came to visit Uri Geller at his estate in the English countryside back in the summer of 1987, I couldn't pass the opportunity to personally experience the phenomenon he represents and/or channels.
Uri Geller has made a career out of being controversial. His claims of possessing paranormal talents have not necessarily polarized opinions as much as the outrageous outlets by which he seemingly prefers to display them. For example, Geller has, at one time or another, alleged to have:
- bent spoons and keys merely by concentrating on them,
- made a soccer ball move just before a Scottish penalty kick was taken during an international match against England, causing the shot to be missed and victory assured for the English,
- stopped the hands of time on Big Ben,
- advised families that messages from the dead would appear to them in symbolic acts,
- sent disorienting mental signals to KGB agents at the request of the CIA, and
- healed people's afflictions merely by being close to them.
Uri Geller was an Israeli paratrooper who fought in the Six-Day War and dabbled in modeling and a small-time magician's career before bursting onto the global oddity scene by apparently having access to a part of his brain that others didn't. He seemingly had the powers to move objects and sense thoughts and do them well enough that major media and, yes, even major governments took notice. Results may have been mixed --- the CIA, interestingly, doesn't comment either way about their contact with Geller --- but they all served to perpetuate his fame (or notoriety, according to the skeptics).
When we approached his mansion, there was no doubting that his exhibitions, books, television appearances and hobnobbing with politicos and celebrities had allowed him to amass considerable wealth. Geller met us in the foyer, immediately conveying the impression that he may be a shameless self-promoter in public, but at home, he was a gracious host. This was a social call, so he was casually dressed, soft-spoken and totally unpretentious. I couldn't say that for the furniture in his drawing room, however, as the matching sofa, chairs and coffee table were composed of huge glass-shards held together by metal spines. They were more artwork than furniture, and I was quite glad we settled in the kitchen instead.
Inevitably, our conversation broached the topic of Geller's talents. He asked if I wanted to see them for myself and, after receiving the obvious response, he pulled a spoon from the utensil drawer and gave it to me to inspect. I can attest that it was a normal, everyday spoon; I tried to flex it and confirmed that its malleability was what one would expect from a common spoon.
Geller took it, kept it in clear view, and began to rub the stem in short, quick strokes from his index finger. Before my eyes, the spoon's business end began a perpendicular rise, as if awakening from a nap. When it had formed a 90-degree angle, Geller stopped rubbing and handed me the spoon again. I felt the bent segment of the stem for signs of heat, but there was none. I checked to see if the tensile strength had been diminished, but it had not.
He really did it.
Geller then asked me to pull any spoon from the drawer and he'd do it again. I noticed that they were made of sterling silver --- ie- a normal metal --- and wondered how many he'd buy during the course of a year. Meanwhile, he repeated the feat. The only factor I noticed that could have possibly come into play was that Geller made sure he was standing in the same place both times. There was a metal radiator very close to him, but I have no idea if that played any role in the result.
He then gave me a small notebook and pen and asked me to draw something simple. He stood away and there was no chance he could see what I did. As this was summer, I opted for something totally opposite from the season and sketched a Christmas tree with a star on top. I then closed the notebook and told him I was finished.
Geller reached for a totally separate piece of paper and pen. He sat at the table, thought for a moment and began to draw. He briefly stared at me and then returned to his task. It only took another minute for him to announce he was done. He put down his pen and held up his drawing.
It was a Christmas tree, with a star on top.
I was impressed. I almost wished I had something he could heal.
I could not resist asking one off-the-wall question. I knew a prominent shipbuilding family in Spain who had access to the records of many galleons which disappeared on return voyages from the New World. Many of them were laden with gold. Had Geller ever been asked to 'divine' for precious metals underwater?
He didn't bat an eye. "No," he replied, "But I don't know why I couldn't."
He pulled a book from a nearby shelf and opened it to a section of photographs in the middle. The topic was Uri Geller. The photos were allegedly taken with a sensitivity that exceeded the spectrum of light. There seemed to be a 'cloud' between Geller's head and a small object of his concentration, such as a ball. The inference was that his mental projection was being physically 'captured' on film, joining his mind with the matter on which he was focused.
I ultimately did report to the Spanish magnates what I had seen and what I suggested. They were more than interested. One of their scions promised to get back to me, and he did, but somewhere during the course of our days, the momentum to pursue such a project faded.
I did pay closer attention to Uri Geller in the next few years. The two displays I witnessed were clearly his top talents; I read accounts of similar feats from others who had met him. However, Geller wasn't as successful when he attempted to expand his range. For instance, he bought a soccer team, Exeter, and said he'd keep his mind off the pitch. I guess he did, as they were relegated to a lower division under his chairmanship.
Allegedly, Geller did later claim to avail his services to oil and gold companies. He said he got results, but that nobody wanted to disclose he was the secret to their success. He's since written a number of books --- some of the holistic tomes are actually quite logical and devoid of anything paranormal --- and continues to enjoy the company of celebrities.
I have no idea about his talents beyond what I saw. I am convinced that what I witnessed was authentic. My lingering thought is what Geller's displays to me could portend for the human condition. It's a fact that 90% of our cerebrum's utility is yet to be understood. Did all of us really have the powers of telekinesis and telepathy?
Those are deep thoughts, and I'm certainly open to further suggestions. In the meantime, if I ever come across shipping records which list a cargo of golden spoons lost at sea, I know who I'm going to call.