Robert Rankin tackles Uri Geller

Uri Geller and Guy Lyon Playfair. The Geller Effect, Jonathan Cape, 1986.

Uri Geller (or Spurious Feller as Nina Myskow might prefer) sits down with Gullible Guy, a crate of Barbican and a box of bagels to chronicle the latest escapades in the life and times of the Cutlery Kid, And what times! Dowsing for the Mexican President (Here's a million dollars, Uri, find me some gold) - Geller's technique: flying along in a light aircraft with his hand out of the window!

Spying for the FBI (Just have a psychic peep into the Russian Embassy, Uri and tell us what's what, Geller takes a walk round the block and gives his 'impressions'.

Boogying with the international jet-set - Adman Khassogi's birthday bash - Geller bends a spoon and implants 'peace' into the camel jockey's billion dollar brain, It is all the stuff of legend, If detractors such as the Great Randi read this lot they will be foaming at the mouth, because, fair do's, you have to hand it to Geller; for a man whose main claim to fame is that he can paranormally bend spoons (cor! what a useful gift) he has made himself a millionaire (cor! what a very useful gift).

And perhaps that is the point. Uri calls himself 'an entertainer' throughout the book and that is just what he is, If the wealthy, greedy for even more bucks, fork out (fork - geddit?) vast sums to employ his wild talents then who can blame him for taking them up on their offers?

But what of the Geller Effect? Well the book tells us, as many others have done, precisely nothing. Geller says he doesn't know how he does, but does it he does - to great effect.

There is an interesting section penned by Gullible Guy, who really should have his wrists slapped for falling for some very simple parlour tricks (Uri's infant son's airline mind-reading trick being a good example) about P.K. parties held in the USA, which have proved that Geller's feats can be accomplished by groups using relatively simple techniques.

Basically the book is nothing more than what one eight expect: a PR job for Geller. There is a thorough whitewash of the notorious 'I am a representative of the Cosmic Masterrace', 'The Nine' disclosures which the embarrassed Uri would prefer forgotten (see him squirm on the Wogan show?), great emphasis is placed on the Golden Spoonbender's honesty and integrity - he's just a nice Jewish boy.

But moral questions should be asked, If Geller is beneath the surface of the World Famous Entertainer to any degree altruistic, why doesn't he put his 'powers' to good use? For a man who can interface with the molecules of teaspoons and scramble computer discs, why not do something really constructive and juggle a few human molecules and cure AIDS for instance?

I am inclined to think that Geller does possess powers as did Rasputin and Crowley, I am also similarly inclined to think that we can expect about as much from him as we did from them. Of course, this may be just sour grapes on my part - I for instance do a passable Charles Laughton impersonation, and my Cary Grant has been hailed as uncanny, but do I get a Royal Command Performance? Does anybody offer me a million dollars to waggle my head out of a light aircraft window? I should be so lucky! -- Robert Rankin. From Magonia 25, March 1987.

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