Authors of the Impossible

I'm extremely interested in the upcoming book (and associated documentary) Authors of the Impossible (book released May 15). Authored by Jeff Kripal, Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University, Houston, Texas, the book surveys the history of the paranormal and how it bridges the often-ignored space between the extremes of belief (fundamentalist religions on the one side, fundamentalist atheists at the other). It does so by grounding itself in the research and writings of four important personages in the history of the paranormal, including a few of my favourites:

Most scholars dismiss research into the paranormal as pseudoscience, a frivolous pursuit for the paranoid or gullible. Even historians of religion, whose work naturally attends to events beyond the realm of empirical science, have shown scant interest in the subject. But the history of psychical phenomena, Jeffrey J. Kripal contends, is an untapped source of insight into the sacred and by tracing that history through the last two centuries of Western thought we can see its potential centrality to the critical study of religion.

Kripal grounds his study in the work of four major figures in the history of paranormal research: psychical researcher Frederic Myers; writer and humorist Charles Fort; astronomer, computer scientist, and ufologist Jacques Vallee; and philosopher and sociologist Bertrand Méheust. Through incisive analyses of these thinkers, Kripal ushers the reader into a beguiling world somewhere between fact, fiction, and fraud. The cultural history of telepathy, teleportation, and UFOs; a ghostly love story; the occult dimensions of science fiction; cold war psychic espionage; galactic colonialism; and the intimate relationship between consciousness and culture all come together in Authors of the Impossible, a dazzling and profound look at how the paranormal bridges the sacred and the scientific.

Though the book is still a couple of months away from release, you can get a good taste of the thinking behind it by heading to the official website for the documentary. There's you'll find a journal/blog exploring some of the ideas in the book, and I have to confess that a lot of it resonated very strongly with me. Here's the early trailer for the documentary (no interview excerpts included though):

Also on the site you'll find the Impossible Talk Podcast, where so far there are in-depth interviews with Jeff Kripal, Dean Radin, and Stephen Braude - all academics who have been open enough to approach the taboo topic of the paranormal. You can also pick up some eye candy in the form of desktop wallpaper, and view interview excerpts - just the one at the time of writing, but impressive enough to finish with. It's writer Doug Moench discussing one of the scariest synchronicities I've ever heard:

Authors of the Impossible is available for pre-order from Amazon for release on May 15. Keep your eye on the official website for more info and clips from the documentary and/or subscribe to their YouTube channel.

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Grail-seeker's picture
Member since:
25 November 2004
Last activity:
1 day 13 hours

Looking forward to that one. This quote encapsulates wonderfully what I think the paranormal is all about.

Quote:

Authors of the Impossible shows us how to think about the paranormal as an event that involves both a subjective or mental state and an objective or physical state. The paranormal, it turns out, is as much about meaning as matter. And we—not as surface egos, but as some still mysterious force of consciousness—are its final authors. If the paranormal, though, is as much about meaning as matter, as much about the subject as the object, then science can never truly grasp it, for science must turn everything into an object and cannot treat questions of meaning. We thus need a new way of knowing, a way that can embrace both the sciences and a new art of reading ourselves writing ourselves. If we think of the world as a text to be read, we need a new way to read ourselves into being. Likewise, if we think of the world as a film to be viewed—a projection of Consciousness—we need a new way of envisioning ourselves.

It pretty much sums up the approach I'm taking to my current book-in-progress.

Grail-seeker (a.k.a. Perceval)

@grailseeker