15 September 2010

Mewling in the Face of My Own Oblivion

I have never experienced any paranormal activity. No strange presences in an empty room, bumps in the night, lights in the sky. Sadly, until I do, I must conclude that such things are the purest hokum.

Don’t mistake me. Nothing would thrill me more than to watch a glass of water move mysteriously across a table, or see an inexplicable object streak across the night sky. I have a deep chagrin that nothing like this has ever manifested itself to me. Even if I were to be attacked by some malevolent spirit, or abducted by beings from Alpha Centauri, such a terrifying experience would still be tempered by the knowledge that I was witness to something, anything, para (“outside”) normal.

I know many people who have experienced such things, from pictures of their dead mothers inexplicably falling off mantels and bodies refusing to rot, to lights chasing each other in the sky. Some of these people’s word I take with a grain of salt, others’ I have no reason to disbelieve. They are intelligent, trustworthy people I have known for many years who have sworn that what they have seen is absolutely true. But, nevertheless, until I have seen or experienced such a thing for myself, and seen that there can be no rational explanation for it, I cannot believe.

I suppose such things can be broadly categorised as “psychic abilities” (something I am highly sceptical about – perhaps, perhaps, perhaps under extreme duress and in the most exceptional of circumstances a person might effect the physical world with nothing but their thoughts, but otherwise, no), “contact with the dead” (I suspect we do nothing more than rot in the ground once we are dead, and that any ideas to the contrary are just people mewling in the face of oblivion, but I do not know), and “UFOs” (this to me seems the most probable. Certainly it is a mathematical certainty that technologically advanced life lives elsewhere in the universe. Whether they’re visiting Earth, and whether it’s possible to travel faster than light in some fashion, is another matter entirely). Of these, “contact with the dead” and “UFOs” are by far the most exciting to me. Really though, these are simply contact with the ‘other,’ and my wishing for this is nothing more than my own mewling in the face of my own insignificance and mortality.

Skepticism and rationality is presented as enough. Why look to a life beyond this one, when life itself, here and now, both existentially and biologically, is so stupendously amazing? This is true, but life shorn of the palimpsest of imagination that we have been laying down for thousands of years is certainly arid sometimes.


Alistair Spalding said...

"Of these, “contact with the dead” and “UFOs” are by far the most exciting to me"

Contact with the dead? I think that's contact with the dead must be necesecarily impossible.

If the dead could have any contact with the living then they're in another plane of existence and still not really 'dead', only changed. Dead means gone and gone means silent.

If death leads simply to a different kind of being, wouldn't we all be born with the memories of our previous existence? In fact you'd have to be equipped with this knowledge to attempt to contact a previous or other form of existence. If we, the living, are unable to contact the dead (I believe psychics are cold-readers, knowingly or not) then why on Earth would they be able to contact us?

Scott Howard said...

I think you assume too much here. By dead I mean (for example) shot in the head with a canon. Whether I'm then gone and silent, in Heaven, or reborn as a lemur, I'm dead.

If death leads to another plane of existence you assume a) there was another state before 'life' that we should be able to remember, and b) all modes of existence are equal and therefore communication should be possible between them, and therefore lack of communication means there are no other modes of existence.

Of course, anything other than "dead = nothing" necessarily dulls, nicks and blunts Occam's Razor, but I can't rule out the idea that, for example, this 'life' is our emergence into a multiplane existence (hence no prior memories), and that after we die we, for example, move on to become facets in the mind of an 11 dimensional being made of mathematics that can quite easily contact us, but finds doing so a little gauche, but might, if the whim (read: facet of its hyper-mind that was once dear old Grandma) strikes it, knock a picture off a mantel-piece for a laugh.

Alistair Spalding said...

I agree that my second point "If death leads to a different kind of being . . ." makes too many assumptions.

However you're original article references communication with the dead.

Semantics about a definition of dead meaning "absent" or "passed on" aside; we're talking about the idea of it being possible in this world to recieve some form of communication from our next plane of existance.

The most common manitfestation of this communication is currently through something recognisable (spelling a word on a ouiga board, a ghostly figure, a dream of a dead relative) and this implies that the "next" plane of existence is close enough for occasional contact and recognisable enough to be built out of broadly the same stuff as our own plane of existence, (words, people and physics). Add in the idea that such contact often occurs from a relative or family member and the likelihood of this seems highly improbable.

However, in your 11-dimensional being senario we could possibly be continually exposed to a form of communication so alien that it never even registers with us.

If all other planes of existance are unknowable from this plane of existence then they are all equally plausible. It's only when you come up with a plane of existence that *is* knowable from our dimension that it becomes implausible.

Alistair Spalding said...

"you're original article"

I've still got it.

I blame the awkwardly small text box I had to work in to make the comment on your article.