The Influencing Machine: James Tilly Matthews and The Air Loom, by Mike Jay, foreword by Oliver Sacks / ISBN 9781907222139 / 288-page paperback published by Strange Attractor Press (UK) / discounted copies that look like-new, but they have a light binding issue, hence the discount / otherwise this paperback seems to be out-of-print
A revised and updated edition of this weird science classic.
Confined in Bedlam in 1797 as an incurable lunatic, James Tilly Matthews' case is one of the most bizarre in the annals of psychiatry. He was the first person to insist that his mind was being controlled by a machine: the Air Loom, a terrifying secret weapon whose mesmeric rays and mysterious gases were brainwashing politicians and plunging Europe into revolution, terror and war.
But Matthews' case was even stranger than his doctors realised: many of the incredible conspiracies in which he claimed to be involved were entirely real. Caught up in high-level diplomatic intrigues in the chaos of the French revolution, he found himself betrayed by both sides, and in possession of a secret that no-one would believe.
Mike Jay has written extensively on the cultural history of science, medicine, drugs, madness and politics.