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  • How did Ouija become so... overrated?

  • It was gonna spell "Overrated".

  • Ouija is not overrated just because the board's powers aren't real.

  • We know it's powered by the psychological ideomotor effect — a type of subconscious

  • movement that guides the responses.

  • But that doesn't explain why this kinda crappy board is such a big part of our lives

  • and why Ouija and Ouija ripoffs are what you see over and over again in TV and movies.

  • Really.

  • Bad.

  • Movies.

  • “I found a Ouija board here.

  • We're gonna play it tonight.”

  • OK, but the real shock is that this piece of cardboard has a story that spans two centuries

  • and actually says something about our history and our culture.

  • There is no Death! What seems so is transition;

  • this life of mortal breath Is but a suburb of the Life Elysian

  • Whose portal we call Death.”

  • That's from Longfellow.

  • The same legendary poet who wrote about the midnight ride of Paul Revere.

  • In the 1800s, spiritualism and Americanism were intertwined in weird ways.

  • Though what we call spiritualism started in the early to mid 1800s in Europeseances,

  • ghost stuff, etcit really picked up in the US in the 1850s and 1860s.

  • The Civil War caused around a million casualties.

  • But more broadly, death was a constant.

  • This chart shows life expectancy from 1850 to 1910.

  • That jump in the chart?

  • That's from 40 to just 50 years old.

  • One response to that presence of death?

  • Hundreds of spiritualism newspapers like Banner of Light.

  • It even had a column filled with messages that claimed to be from the spirit world beyond.

  • Ooh, this guy says he was a rumseller.

  • That sounds fun.

  • This spiritual fixation endured.

  • That Longfellow poem was the epigraph to a hit book in 1891 - the bestsellingThere

  • Is No Death.”

  • So where does Ouija fit in?

  • For that, you have to go to the patent office.

  • These are all talking board patents from the 1890s and 1900s.

  • Oh, this one was French.

  • This patent from 1891 is the direct ancestor to Ouija.

  • Fittingly, the game has a murky origin, but Americans Elijah Bond and Charles Kennard

  • were behind this version.

  • It has all of the ingredients: the board with Yes and No,

  • and a planchette - that's the name for the pointy thing that picks your letters.

  • There are theories about the namesome say it was for the novelist Ouidathat's

  • O-U-I-D-A.

  • Others claimed the board itself spelled its own name.

  • But the most likely explanation is that it was Egyptian sounding, since that's how

  • it was marketed and explained on that first patent.

  • The next year, entrepreneur William Fuld patented his own talking board.

  • But Ouija was the brand that took off - so Fuld and company bought it.

  • The spirits pointed to profit.

  • He fended off tons of competitorsincluding his own family membersand built a name.

  • He had legal backing, like this 1915 patent, as Ouija took off.

  • The spirit world finally had what had eluded it in life: a solid brand identity.

  • When the Washington Times did a puff article on mental trouble in DC, they didn't mention

  • talking boards” - they mentionedOuija".

  • When Pearl Curran claimed to have written novels by channeling her Ouija board

  • Wait.

  • What?

  • Yeah, that's what it says.

  • AlrightShe wrote under the name of the spirit she

  • allegedly contactedPatience Worth.

  • She used Ouija.

  • This brand kept Ouija going through the 20th century, along with Fuld's legal maintenance.

  • The spirit world went corporate, further merging pop culture and the occult.

  • AH!

  • Today...

  • Today, Ouija is a little horror, a little kitsch, and a little fun.

  • There have been corporate shifts, but the board is a staple, which is a pretty impressive

  • journey for a simple image and a piece of plastic.

  • That journey was powered by the beliefs of people like Longfellow and the mysterious

  • forces of the United States patent system.

  • And we are being spoken to, in a way, by people from the past.

  • Not through messages from the spirit realm, but through the history of a decorated piece

  • of cardboard.

  • Ouija might be overrated, and it's not real.

  • But it might be saying something, too.

  • There are many great Ouija stories out there.

  • One of my favorites is that in 1921, William Fuld was forced to admit Ouija was a children's

  • toy.

  • The reason?

  • Tax purposes.

How did Ouija become so... overrated?

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占い板が有名になった理由 (Why the Ouija board became so famous)

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    April Lu に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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