Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

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Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

Post by Ian Pegler »

Anyone who has read any of the classic cartoons "Herge's Adventures of Tintin" may have come across a character known as "Professor Cuthbert Calculus". He is known in the French version as Professeur Tryphon Tournesol.

He is portrayed in the cartoons as a knowledgeable but eccentric scientist and inventor.

You may be interested to know that according to Wikipedia, Professor Calculus's character may have been based on Yves Rocard, the real-life French physicist who helped develop the atom bomb for France, and who also studied biomagnetism, dowsing and UFOs.

He may also have been inspired by Auguste_Piccard the Swiss inventor.

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Post by Grahame »

I have a Tintin "special" book containing 'The Secret of the Unicorn' and 'Red Rackham's Treasure', together with some background info on the stories and characters. In this the Picard theory is given as the most likely source for Calculus, largely because of his invention of the bathyscape I think.

And as I've always said, "more to the west, young man"---! ;-)
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Post by Grahame »

Whilst trawling the 'net, putting together material for a course, I came across these wonderful images of Tintin himself actually dowsing...

Image

It appears to be a scene from the original version of "Land of Black Gold" - there's a bit of a discussion on the Tintinologist Forums about it, where it also mentions one of the Tintin annuals having a 'dowsing tips for kids' section.

All very interesting. Did Herge believe in dowsing, or was he poking fun at it?
Last edited by Grahame on Wed Oct 09, 2019 9:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: replaced missing image
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The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it - Terry Pratchett.
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Tintin le sourcier!!

Post by Ian Pegler »

That's fascinating stuff. Note how thin the Y-rod is - it doesn't look like a twig, also the hand-position is correct, although he seems to start with the rod pointing down (intead of ahead), and then it goes all the way up (or is it the other way around?).

The moderator on the Tintinologists' forum appears to be a bit of a cynic - he links to a Randi webpage. I've got no time for people like that.

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Post by Grahame »

Someone does mention on the Tintin forum that Tintin had fashioned the Y-rod from a pair of umbrella spokes. But the 'search position' is interesting, as you say. It does nicely illustrate the dangers of the Y-rod, though! :)

The two pictures appear to be in the wrong order, but are probably the front and back covers of a book?
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Tintin on the big screen

Post by Ian Pegler »

According to a recent report Spielberg and Peter Jackson will some day be bringing Tintin to the movie screens.

CLICK HERE to read the report.

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Herge, a dowser?

Post by Ian Pegler »

Grahame Gardner wrote:Did Herge believe in dowsing, or was he poking fun at it?
I happened to glance at a kiddies' book on Professor Calculus today, whilst I was in the local book shop. ("Calculus" by Michael Farr).

It mentioned that Herge actually acquired a book on dowsing, and even showed a picture of it.

I have not yet found an image of the book on the web, however it was called Radiesthesie, Teleradiesthesie et Phenomenes Hyperphysiques and was written by Victor Mertens. It was published by Casterman Tournai-Paris in the 1940's.

(Note the simlilarity of the words Tournai and Tournesol - Prof. Calculus' original name. Coincidence?)

So there you have it. I think we can say beyond reasonable doubt that Herge was indeed a dowser. So he probably wasn't poking fun at it.

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Last edited by Ian Pegler on Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Herge the dowser

Post by Ian Pegler »

I just found the following comment on the Tintinologist forum:
Explorers on the Moon - Tintin discovers the existence of water on the moon.

This wasn't proved until a few years ago. Now when people look back people see Herge as a visionary.
...or as a remote dowser?

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Re: Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

Post by Ian Pegler »

(Note the simlilarity of the words Tournai and Tournesol - Prof. Calculus' original name. Coincidence?)
Tournesol means Sunflower or Litmus Paper (doh!)

Tournai is the name of the Belgian town where, according to this timeline, was where the Adventures of Tintin were published in 1934.

Now, as it turns out, The Adventures of Tintin were published by Casterman, i.e. the same publishers who also printed Victor Merten's dowsing book.

Herge probably got it as a freebie. Red Rackham's Treasure (which introduces Prof. Calculus with his pendulum) came out in 1943, Merten's dowsing book came out only a year or two prior to that, so the timing is about right.


It seems that the Thomson twins also dabbled:
Herge, Prisoners of the Sun, 1949, p. 51

Thomson: "Dowsing, my dear Thompson, like Professor Calculus; that'll put us on their track."
from here

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Re: Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

Post by Grahame »

As far as I can tell, 'Land of Black Gold' came out in 1950, so the illustrations from Le Petite Vingtieme would perhaps indicate that Herge had progressed to L-rods by then?

That seemed to be the only time that the Thompson twins tried dowsing - probably because they were spectacularly unsuccessful at it ("still nothing, yet the pendulum indicates they're getting bumped about" as they visit dodgem cars at the carnival) and are last seen shivering and waving their pendulum in Antarctica!
Perhaps Herge was having a few failures with the pendulum and so tried his hand with the L-rods? (FWIW, my own dowsing supports this hypothesis!) :wink:
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Re: Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

Post by Ian Pegler »

Grahame Gardner wrote:As far as I can tell, 'Land of Black Gold' came out in 1950, so the illustrations from Le Petite Vingtieme would perhaps indicate that Herge had progressed to L-rods by then?
Hi Grahame

I'm not sure I follow you. I thought Le Petite Vingtieme came out ealier? :? Where did you find L-rods illustrated?

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Re: Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

Post by Ian Pegler »

I've just been browsing through the information on tintin.com.

The biographical "time-line" on that other web-site seems to be identical with the one on this one (in fact, very identical).

I was very pleased to discover that Herge employed the Golden Ratio in his drawings.

CLICK HERE

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Re: Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

Post by Grahame »

Ian Pegler wrote: I'm not sure I follow you. I thought Le Petite Vingtieme came out ealier? :? Where did you find L-rods illustrated?
Darn it - senior moment there - I meant of course V-rods, the umbrella spokes in the pictures above that were originally meant for Land of Black Gold. It would help if I'd read that timeline you posted - I thought Le Petite Vingtieme was later than that. I'll get me coat..... :)
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Re: Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

Post by Ian Pegler »

No worries! After considerable trawling I discovered that the edition of Le Petite Vingtieme with Tintin dowsing on the front cover was No 11, dated the 14th of March 1940.

One was recently sold on ebay for $110. Obviously it's quite rare.

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Re: Dowsing in "Herge's Adventures of Tintin"

Post by Ian Pegler »

I'm beginning to think that the two images of Tintin dowsing are actually two front covers, rather than a front cover and a back cover. My bet is that the one on the left is the front cover from Le Petit Vingtieme from the following week i.e. 21st of March 1940. I haven't been able to find that one on e-bay...yet !

This Google-translated website (link broken) suggests that:
Tintin, abandoned in the desert by the Bab El Sheikh Ehr, found the water with a dowsing rod cobbled together from a whale umbrella! This fantasy hergéenne disappears in the 1948 version.
It may have been omitted because of political sensitivities in the Middle East...?

Ian


Edited by I.P. 17.10.11 - cleaned up spurious characters in quoation.
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