Tuesday, September 4, 2012
A Human Scale To Paranormal Studies
A Note To Paul Kimball
What are the questions that are the foundation of other questions at the deep end of the pool? Where is the round table? I do not mean the usual didactic set up of believer versus skeptic which is nothing but language games and rhetorical flourishes. Rather I am thinking of the observer as an integral part of the story they publicly portray in terms of their quests. Where is the backstory? Stories that are the quintessential point of the arrow that are as old as mankind...
I admired John Keel for many reasons, just as I admired Mac Tonnies, or admire Nick Redfern or Paul Kimball. What all of them have in common in their writing that is largely missing from the subject of the anomalous or paranormal is the sense that their involvement in this area of exploration was fleshed out and placed into the context of a human scale in that they recognized as I have, that this area of interest is not an arm's length transaction by it's very nature.
Of course, there are extremes in what has been called "new journalism" best characterized by it's recognized founder, Hunter S Thomson, which in turn has led me away from some books, blogs etc, due to that fact that they struck me as hopelessly self absorbed to the point of experiencing their writing was akin to being exposed to a long term neurotic personality tick. Or some, at the other extreme, acting out the role of the hard boiled detective, a cynical, wise cracking skeptic, who has another sort of extreme personality trait.
My point is just how shallow this all seems in retrospect. The lack of philosophic rumination, the lack of a fleshed out narrator who experiences self deceit, doubt, flights of imagination, has a healthy sense of humor, as well as a healthy sense of a larger context in this journey, which in the end, is not so much a tale of science as it is a tale of ourselves, as curious and as difficult to please as any agnostic, who has the nagging sense that something is missing.
You look at the United States whose lack of introspection or unwillingness to be retrospective, and internally transform themselves has made every issue an exteriorised projection , whether it is war, gas prices or cults of personality..everyone assumes that every issue has nothing to do with them personally..as if reality were a management style, except that no one is home, no one is in charge or actually participating..it simply runs on suggestion. Extroversion run amuck that has lost any ability to focus. This modality seems to have infected our topics as a erstwhile community of the curious. What is missing is why this all matters. I am not referring to national security or some other goofy exteriorised stage play. Rather what makes this clock keep ticking when it has to a large extent, run out of gas? It is perhaps not the search for what is possibly there, but what is missing. Missing for you...missing for John Keel..a nagging fire in the belly perhaps full of pratfalls and gestalts. An adventure that does not require climbing gear.
What would be interesting is to have Paul Kimball remake "My Dinner With Andre" and gather all the paranormal experts around dinner table and focus on what is missing, the reasons for their journeys, their doubts, their misadventures..and I suspect that what is missing from paranormal studies is a human scale of philosophers, jokers, as well as the darker side of their experiences..it might be a healthy exercise to realize that there are no experts, no cardboard standup characters, in this, the most personal existential quest of our time, akin to questioning our questions, what is missing, what is curious..After all, most of us are thought of as cranks...but perhaps we need to show that we are functional cranks who have real lives, and are asking the questions far away from the shallow end of the pool.