Boing Boing has posted a fascinating feature article by Jeff Kripal (Authors of the Impossible) titled “Psi-Fi: Popular Culture and the Paranormal“. It continues Jeff’s exploration of the topic, bridging the gap between his current book (which discusses the work of researcher-writers such as Charles Fort and Jacques Vallee) and his upcoming book on “some of the extraordinary ways that the paranormal experiences of artists and authors have helped inspire pulp fiction, science fiction, and superhero comics.”
These paranormal patterns were so strong in the 1950s and 60s that sci-fi fans began speaking of Psi-Fi. Think pulp editor Ray Palmer’s use of his colorful clairvoyant dreams to write short stories. Think sci-fi master Philip K. Dick’s mind-blowing experience of “Valis,” that Vast Active Living Intelligence System that zapped him with its bright pink light in the winter of 1974 and led him to believe that his earlier novels were predicting, intuiting, leading up to this. Think legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby absorbed in the ancient astronaut theory and playfully predicting a Spider-Man cult in 2450 in the editorial pages of The Eternals. Or think the famous comic strip writer Alvin Schwartz writing two metaphysical memoirs that draw on Tibetan Buddhism to understand the synchronistic ways that Superman and Batman functioned in his life and work—like Tibetan tulpas, it turns out. With the Wat Rong Kuhn temple, we don’t quite have Kirby’s Spider-Man cult (but, hey, it’s only 2011) or Schwartz’s Buddhist Superman and Batman in Tibet, but we do have Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man in a Thai Buddhist temple.
And remember that we posted an article late last year from Jeff, excerpted from his current book: “Jacques Vallee: Author of the Impossible“. There is also a documentary in the works for that book, which I’m really looking forward to seeing.