Animism and Telephony

Unlikely though it may seem, the screen you are reading this on right now, or the printer that was used to print it, may constitute a living sentience all of its own. At least, this is the belief of Cultis Telephonia.

The earliest records of Cultis Telephonia are associated with Harrison Milford, who worked under one Almon Brown Strowger, an undertaker by trade, who became frustrated with the role of telephone operators when he believed the switchboard operator was redirecting phone calls to rival undertakers.

Where Strowger blamed the switchboard operators, Milford had come to a far different conclusion. Milford believed that it was not the switchboard operator(s) at fault, but rather a conscious decision on the part of the telephonic system itself to misdirect calls.

Strowger paid no heed to his worker, but terminated his employment when he discovered Milford had inserted copper wires beneath the skin of a corpse in an attempt to communicate with the dead.

Undettered, Harrison Milford continued his experiments and sought to connect anything, and everything, to his primitive telephonic systems. After repeated failed attempts to communicate with corpses, grass, rodents and rocks, Milford was toying with a prototype rotary dial and electrical switches stolen from his previous employer when he claimed that the dismantled telephone, unconnected to anything, spoke to him.

Milford carried out a number of public demonstrations of this phenomena, showing a number of dismantled telephones “speaking”. No recordings exist of these alleged sounds and Milford was quickly branded as nothing more than a shyster. Indeed his demonstrations shared much in common with the psuedoscience of the spirit mediums that had been operating for some time.

Nonetheless, some became enamoured with Milford’s work and in 1908 the Cultis Telephonia was established.