Paranormal Ponderings


Since I’ve always had a fascination for paranormal ideas, I decided to do some research on a few of the paranormal phrases I have seen here and there.  Some have become very common and are thrown around everyday conversations, but they’re not normally explained beyond popular movies and television shows.  Case in point:  “The Sixth Sense,” written by M. Night Shyamalan and immortalized forever by Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment.  Yes, seeing dead people is one of the ways “the sixth sense” is supposed to work:

“The Sixth Sense is the ability to acquire or transmit information through means other than the five known senses.  It involves an as yet unexplained interaction between the mind of one person with that of another or with the material world.  During the process, physical barriers such as locked doors and brick walls, as well as time and distance, are apparently disregarded by the mind as if they did not exist.”  

I found a term I was initially unfamiliar with, but after reading the definition, found it impossible not to connect it with the once-popular television show, “The Dead Zone:” claircognizance.   The show is based on “characters from” Steven King’s novel and starring Anthony Michael Hall as an accident victim awakening from a coma to discover he has “psychic abilities.”  The phrase “psychic abilities” was never really explained further.

Hall’s character experiences both post- and -pre-cognitive experiences.

Precognition, or prior knowledge, is a type of Extra Sensory Perception, or ESP.  Reportedly, the majority of cases of precognition occur in people’s dreams.  The vast majority of occurrences of precognition occur within 24 hours of a future event.

Retrocognition: Perception of a past scene or event which could not have been learned or inferred by normal means, such as from books or movies. Related to the “time-slip” which occurs when a person witness scenes from another time period (usually in the past, although this did not say ONLY in the  past).

Premonition, a fairly straightforward term:  a feeling of anticipation of or anxiety over a future event; presentiment, has a more paranormal-sounding term:

“Claircognizance (clear knowing) is having knowledge of certain places, people, or situations without possessing the necessary information to know, i.e. without seeing, hearing, or feeling it.  This inner knowledge can sometimes take the form of premonitions.  Some psychics believe that a spirit guide or the “higher self” puts certain information into the receiver’s mind, which often comes to them as a sudden flash of knowing, as fully-formed thoughts or insights into something they had no conscious knowledge of previously.”

A fairly recent movie starring Sandra Bulluck portrays this idea rather well.  The movie is rather unimaginatively named “Premonition.”  A middle-class couple wife is visited by the local sheriff who tells her that her husband died in a car accident on the previous day. On the next morning, when she awakes, she finds her husband safe and sound at home. When she awakes the next morning, she perceives her days out of order, but her family and friends believe she is insane.

After digesting these definitions for a bit, I found something about the “precognition” and “premonitions” idea bugging me, which is also what bugged me about the Steven King-based television series.  With the idea of premonitions, or seeing future events comes the idea that the future is already mapped out and already planned.  It follows that whatever the pre-mapped plan is, therefore, is unchangeable.  Which in turn begs the question that, if the future is unchangeable, why do we do anything to “make the world a better place” or improve our own situations hoping for a better future?  That takes the entire concept of choice out of the equation, gives substance to all the excuses given by people who commit violent crimes and say they “couldn’t help it,” and removes all reasons for motivation to do anything.

Keanu Reeves put it very succinctly when he told Lawrence Fishburn why he did not believe in Fate in the movie “Matrix:”  “Because I don’t like the idea that I’m not in control of my life.”

I guess pop culture has a movie for every paranormal theory, huh? 

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