Psi-Fi: The Feedback Loop Between Pop Culture and Paranormal Experience

Psi-Fi: The Feedback Loop Between Pop Culture and Paranormal Experience

February 6, 2011 9:30 am 0 comments

Matrix and Avatar painting from Wat Rong Khun Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
A painting from the Wat Rong Khun Buddhist temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand from FEEL

Interesting article by Professor in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University and author of Authors of the Impossible Jeffrey J. Kripal on the feedback loops between paranormal experience (or what Susan Blackmore calls “exceptional human experiences”) and popular culture:

A Buddhist temple featuring Superman and a Marvel comic reproducing an actual UFO photo? A pulp fiction editor using his own precognitive dreams to write short stories and a sci-fi master getting zapped by an alien space machine? What is going on here? It would be easy to fall into an either-or mentality, as in “This happened, and that didn’t.” or “This is true, and that is false.” That, I want to suggest, is precisely what is wrong with much of our thinking about popular culture and the paranormal. Much better to pay attention to all the back-and-forth loops, that is, the incredibly messy, “loopy” ways in which popular culture informs paranormal events, which in turn informs popular culture, which in turn informs … well, you get my point. I mean, where exactly are we supposed to draw a line between the real and the unreal in, say, a graphic novel and an actual UFO sighting? It would be easy to suggest that the graphic novel is pure fiction and the UFO—whatever it was—non-fiction, except for the uncomfortable fact that the UFO encounters of the second half of the twentieth century often followed, down to precise details, the pulp fiction fantasies of the first half (for more on this, see my discussion of Bertrand Méheust in Authors of the Impossible). It would also be easy to call it all fiction, except for the uncomfortable fact that people really experience such things, all the time. There were F-16s chasing that floating Wal-Mart. Not your typical piece of fiction.

Boing Boing: Psi-Fi

This reminds me a lot of Erik Davis’s book TechGnosis. Erik, incidentally, is now a student at Rice.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.