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You Are a Paranormal Phenomenon

The message, upshot , or bottom line of this Liminalities installment is stated in the title. What follows is simply a sketch of the train of thought and reading, extending over several years, that inspires such an assertion, as spurred by David Metcalfe’s recent report from this year’s Parapsychological Association conference in “Parapsychology and Intellectual Integrity: Words of Advice from Dr. Krippner.”

In 2010 Marilynne Robinson published Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self, a book drawn from her 2009 Terry Lectures at Yale on “religion, in the light of science and philosophy.” Her thesis was that the influential fusion of neuroscience, psychology, sociology, and philosophy in the works of such thinkers as E.O. Wilson, Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett, who argue that all human thought and activity is driven by and reducible to unconscious biological motives, has tended not so much to explain religion, art, and other quintessentially human endeavors as to explain them away, and that this in turn stems from a central attitude and approach that hamfistedly and unjustifiably attempts to explain away the very reality of human interiority. As a categorical contrast with and refutation of this approach, she emphasizes the reality and significance of the fundamental sense of “I-ness” itself:

For the religious, the sense of the soul may have as a final redoubt, not as argument but as experience, that haunting I who wakes us in the night wondering where time has gone, the I we waken to, sharply aware that we have been unfaithful to ourselves, that a life lived otherwise would have acknowledged a yearning more our own than any of the daylit motives whose behests we answer to so diligently. Our religious traditions give us as the name of God two deeply mysterious words, one deeply mysterious utterance: I AM. Putting to one side the question of their meaning as the name and character by which the God of Moses would be known, these are words any human being can say about herself.

— Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010), 110.

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Recommended Reading 11

This week’s reading covers: social, political, economic, and cultural craziness and breakdown in America and Europe; a dystopian view of smartphones; an official CDC denial of a zombie holocaust in the wake of horrific incidents flooding the American media; the possible action of quantum effects in the macro-world; a cogent criticism of scientistic materialism in light of psychedelic experience and the mystery of consciousness; stories about and interviews with several leading figures in the new philosophy-spirituality-consciousness movement; a deep look at the economic imperialism of Amazon and the future of reading; thoughts from C.S. Lewis on why it’s always important to read old books along with new ones; and thoughts on the death of Ray Bradbury.

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Recommended Reading 1

In the wake of my exit from Facebook a couple of weeks ago — something I still intend to write about here in the near future, in tandem with an explanation of my reasons for leaving Google as well — I’ve taken the time, energy, and attention that I was using to post things over there (links to articles, essays, blog posts, films, and other material) and channeled it over here to The Teeming Brain. Hence, my rather drastically increased rate of posting in recent weeks.

But, as I had expected, I’m finding that a lot of the smaller tidbits, the mere links to and excerpts from a variety of worthy items that I often posted at Facebook sans accompanying commentary by me, don’t feel quite right to offer as solo posts over here. So I hereby inaugurate a new and ongoing Teeming Brain feature titled Recommended Reading. Each Friday I’ll post a gallery of links to what I regard as the most compelling (important, inspiring, striking, galling, entertaining) items that I’ve encountered, read, and/or watched on the interwebs during the preceding week. I greatly appreciate this sort of hands-on curation of valuable content by a number of tuned-in bloggers and writers who help to separate the intellectual wheat from the deluge of digital chaff. So, in essence, this is my way of paying it forward.

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