Again, Paul La Farge:
The Caodaists’ invocation of Victor Hugo was very likely a political act. Of all the dead French writers who could have appeared to them, Hugo was the most vehemently opposed to Napoleon III’s empire, which had by now grown to encompass Vietnam. Like the Caodaists, Hugo had suffered because of that empire, but unlike them, he was famous in France. He was a bridge between worlds: not only the Here and the Hereafter, but metropolitan France and its overseas colony as well. Nor did the spirit of Joan of Arc appear by accident: she was France’s best-loved resistance fighter. And yet there is no reason to believe that the Caodaists’ séances were a sham. If anything, the opposite seems more likely: by practicing spiritism in the Western style sincerely, the Caodaists had found a way to ally themselves with a hidden Western tradition of anticolonialism.