This is a review of Dr.
Jeff Kripal’s book Authors
of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred (Chicago, 2010). Dr. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in
Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University.
When a distinguished endowed chair with impeccable academic lineage and credentials publishes a book on interpreting paranormal experiences, how can anyone at least not be a bit intrigued? On the face of it, what we have in this gem of a book is a learned review of four “authors of the impossible.” That is, four writers who delved into experiences that many of us would simply dismiss as impossible, or, to cite the well-known philosopher of scientific materialism, E. Scrooge, anecdotal experiences that may simply be excused as having come from “an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, [or] a fragment of an underdone potato.” Underneath the review of these authors, what Dr. Kripal seems to be doing as elegantly as possible, is nothing less than exploring a new 21st-century metaphysics that can actually account for events on the fringes of our experience. If that sounds complicated or difficult to grasp, it really isn’t.
“For the time being, let me simply state again my basic contention: the modern, global belief in flying saucers and their occupants is identical to an earlier belief in the fairy-faith. The entities described as the pilots of the craft are indistinguishable from the elves, sylphs, and lutins of the Middle Ages.”
– Jacques Vallee, Passport to Magonia
A Procession of the What?
A procession of the damned, that’s what.
In the words of Charles Fort:
“By the damned, I mean the excluded.
We shall have a procession of data that Science has excluded.
The ultra-respectable, but the condemned, anyway. But they’ll march.”
This blog is a plain language and accessible review of some of the truly revolutionary ideas currently being recognized by academics and public intellectuals that help to explain generally overlooked or unstudied human experiences. We give understandable context to an array of “edge” topics like anomalous religious experiences, consciousness, chaos and ritual magic, UFO abduction claims, DMT visions, and the like. These events, generally not seriously studied and, at times, even ridiculed in the past one hundred years, can no longer simply be brushed aside. We seek to treat the experiences with respect while also starting to build a worldview that fits these types of incidents while remaining true to sound intellectual standards and a slimmed-down vocabulary taken from the history of philosophy. In short, there is solid evidence that weird things happen, we seek to build them into a worldview that doesn’t ignore science and reason while simultaneously doesn’t succumb to popular unquestioned assumptions about the nature of our universe. We pursue a metaphysics and epistemology of high strangeness.
The blog is loaded with intriguing anecdotes, scientific findings, and weird (but verified) stories that cause us to reconsider what is real. It borrows heavily from Jeff Kripal, Diana Walsh Pasulka, Jacques Valle, Charles Fort, Dean Radin, Gordon White, Graham Hancock, and Russel Targ.