Chapter 2: Parapsychology and the Occult


Phenomena and Tricks – Clairvoyance and Clearsightedness – Precognition and the Time Category – Ontology and Brain Energy

Spiritism gave rise to Parapsychology, which arose last century.

The religions were dead, and the occult rejected as it could no longer uphold a connection between our world picture and that of earlier cultures; the naivistic world view which was the foundation of technology made it impossible.

The Cartesian soul groaned within its somatic prison and found release only in death. The spirits contacted by this new pseudomysticism had to be regarded as deceased people.

Spirits were as popular as UFOs are today. These days Grandma wears a flying suit, and a cheese-dish cover on her head, as demanded by the convenance.

And now as in those days, semi-educated scholars assure us that there is something to it. Visits from other planets and hovering dinner tables are absolutely within the realms of possibility.

Their tactics when dealing with critics is classical. Indeed (they say), there are many swindlers and a lot of hot air, but when these have been sorted out, there still remain some ill-defined cases that have not been explained.

Questioned further, they usually come up with one or two favourite examples. These are rarely the same, since A has not heard of the exposure of B's wunderkind, and vice versa.

Furthermore, their exposure as a rule means nothing to the believer. Even when his favourite example is perforated, his reaction is simply that “there are still many other cases”.

Often he is not even prepared to abandon his prodigy. It is characteristic that there has hardly been a medium who has not at one point or other been caught cheating. Their reputation suffers surprisingly little from this.

The thought that a person who truly possessed the claimed abilities would never risk his or her reputation with quite unnecessary swindle, does not occur to their followers. The peculiarity of the fact that it has not been possible, after a century of research, to produce a single proof that could be accepted outside the narrow circle of parapsychology and thereby give this “science” academic status, does not strike them any more than the vicar wonders why he never sees his divine employer.

Any self-respecting mind reader has assistants. They give him the information he requires by way of a complex code system.

– What is the number on that gentleman's ID-card?

The choice of words, word order, and intonation of such a question is ample material with which to convey ten numerals. But on the face of it it does seem impressing.

A member of the audience protests. He will not let the assistant see the number. The mind reader is naturally able to tell it anyway.

Naturally, because the angry spectator is a plant. But what if a real spectator protests?

That just never happens, and the mind reader knows it. The spectators play the game, as we always play the game. Nobody thinks of beating Bent Larsen by putting his Queen in their pocket.

Our entire outlook on reality, our reality is such a game. We cannot break the rules because we simply do not break them.

We are like hens that cannot pass a line drawn on the ground. If one of them could, it would be a magical hen, the hens' shaman.

It is like if we are asked to push a beer glass through the whole of a 25-›re coin. It is impossible, until a “magus” sticks a knitting needle through the hole and pushes the beer glass with it. Indeed: he pushes the beer glass through the hole.

We cough and blush and shout that that doesn't count. It doesn't count when Joshua makes the sun stand still in the sky in order to win his battle. It doesn't count, but Joshua still wins, and the Amorites are still dead.

So we sit silently and amazed during the whole performance while our magicians cast their spells. Hocus-pocus, slavery should be abolished! Abracadabra, time is relative!

We sit completely still while the great men “discover” the world, with a scholarly air disclosing rabbit after rabbit in the hat of the universe. No one checks their sleeves; that can't be done.

We have difficulties getting used to a new conjurer. We do not appreciate them fully until they are dead and their slight of hand settled like cement and become really real.

The plants of mediums in spiritistic seances are of a different nature. While the medium prepares herself in her pied-a-terre, they mingle with the audience, talking little and listening much. They drink in the expectations abundantly, making them easy for the medium to fulfill.

Will my husband come this evening? You better believe it.

And now the medium knows something that he or she cannot know; and that is an objective proof. But of course it looks more scientific with circles and wavy lines on special ESP-cards. And so the game is on.

If the “subject”, which is the new more scientific term applied to the medium, discloses knowledge about circumstances that none of those present know anything about, one talks of clairvoyance. It is an artificial division, but suggestive.

Why talk of clairvoyance at all? What is known by the medium must be known by at least one other person on the planet if it is to be verified. Why not telepathy from Copenhagen to Bangkok?

It is suggestive because the “paranormal” phenomena dealt with by parapsychologists are always very modest. One talks of moving a piece of paper by way of telekinesis, never a concert grand. This is because it is far more difficult to cheat in the latter case than in the former. But there is no reason whatsoever to suppose that magic, which is the antithesis to the laws of nature, should follow these very same laws, which make us regard one trick as more difficult than the other.

I am often asked whether this or that trick, claimed to be carried out as a parapsychological experiment, is not at all possible, since I can claim with such certainty that it is a forgery. The answer is that since it is possible to make the sun stand still in the sky it is obviously possible to move a moth ball two inches. I only find it hard to imagine that Joshua would invoke the Lord to move something that he could move with his hand. Nothing is theoretically impossible to magic since it represents a transcendence of reality as an obsessive frame of mind; but such a transcendence is not accomplished at a coffee table under a spotlight; and if it were, it would hardly be used to produce effects strikingly reminiscent of conjuring tricks. It is not a question of it being impossible to make a dinner table levitate, but

1. Why a dinner table? Because it is easier to manipulate with than a cargo steamer. 2. The trick can actually be done by a skilled conjurer. 3. It has never been done under so controlled circumstances that it has convinced anybody who was

not convinced already.

Whereas the trick, if it were to deserve to be called magical, would demand that

1. Those present share consensus. 2. The magus employs his conceptual framework in a different way, thereby producing a separate

reality. 3. The magus can cause an equivalent change of paradigm in the other people present, so that the

phenomenon becomes consensual.

The first and last conditions are of course absolutely cultural. On the precommunicative level the second condition would suffice.

This definition of magic (and there are no other kinds of magic) is unacceptable in our culture due to the naivism of classical science, according to which there is a world out there complete with all sense impressions before anyone has sensed it. When our sensations are consistent with these sense impressions we will have arrived at scientific truth.

This is pure fallacy. First we project the sense impressions onto the outer world, which is the normal modus operandi of the brain.

But then we create a dichotomy which is completely and utterly imaginary. We distinguish between these sense impressions in an equally imaginary place of sending out and receiving. The situation is the same as in the joke where Adam is naming the animals. He comes to the Elephant, studies it carefully, and arrives at the conclusion that, “It looks like an elephant to me”.

There are no other sense impressions or properties at all in the world than those of sensation; there is no other reason for them than a biological need; and there is no other criterium for their reality than the pleasure principle. The viper's zigzag line is there for the sake of my survival; and it is true and veritable because it is terribly painful to ignore.

– But the reason that it hurts is that the viper is really there, says the Reader.

– Certainly, the viper is there, and so what? That is all you can say about it if you by it mean the viper abstracted from the properties given it by sense perception.

What remains is a world that reacts with us according to how we choose to structure it. But this is something which we are not aware of in our everyday life in this culture which rejects experience not immediately and precisely communicative, as “less real”.

My dead great-grandfather visiting me last night is a “dream” or a “delusion”, since no one else saw him. That I thus advised fare better on the hunt is irrelevant.

Reality has to be consensual, just as spades have to be red to be real spades. Whoever digs with a blue spade is not digging at all, regardless of whether he ends up with a larger hole.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is no good as a scientific thesis because it is blue rather than red. It does not interest us that a culture could survive three millennia on that kind of science while our own scientific culture seems doomed after three centuries. Blue spades cannot dig, and there's an end to it.

It is of course no coincidence that we are so fanatically partial to red spades. To the technique that our culture is based on, everything that is incommunicable is quite meaningless and disturbing. Tonight I had a dream builds no automobiles. Hand me the screwdriver does.

And here it will not do to say, What screwdriver? The screwdriver in my dream or in yours?

We need to agree on a dream. And we call the dream that we agree on reality.

Ironically enough, we have now dug so deep with our nice red spade that the paint has started to peel off. We look down ourselves and exclaim, Blimey, a spade! We thought it was our right arm.

That is what is happening to the poor physicists. Every time they move their instruments to measure another part of Reality, Reality moves with them.

After having paddled around for years in their nice little aether sea, with the aether wind blowing in their hair, they suddenly realise that it is not there, that the world is not there, that the world is wherever they are. Terrified, they open their biscuit tins and cannot find the sunlight they have been gathering for so many years.

Somebody must have broken in and stolen it. But the parapsychologists have fortunately been provident enough to invest in a larger padlock. They certainly have nothing to steal.

So magic is auto-suggestion, and if more than one person is present it is mass suggestion. The great historical cultures were madhouses; but we are fortunately in control. We have no gods or destinies: we guess at cards.

Is clairvoyance a reality? Its definition is so vague that it is hard even to understand what is meant.

Clairvoyance can be described as a “sixth” sense that enables us to grasp that which is not accessible to our usual five. But this seems strangely reverse to consensus; the beauty of it is that it is impossible to achieve consensus on what the clairvoyant says.

According to this definition clairvoyance is simply a different conceptual framework than that which is current in the culture. This corresponds more or less to the occult definition of clearsightedness.

A clear-sighted person is someone who has developed in a distorted way compared to his culture's general conceptual evolution. Children have extremely weird ideas about the world, which are naturally difficult for them to express, since it would have to be done in a language that does not include them, but that reinforces the conceptual framework, is the conceptual framework, of the culture in question.

We detect this original world picture in their deranged drawings, their animistic relationship with the world, their imaginary playmates. It hibernates to a certain degree in a partiality to fairytales, comic books, and arcade games.

The Last Starfighter starts in a trailer park, a slum where people live in permanently parked caravans. As the film's philosophising character says when the protagonist attempts to explain the phenomenon to him: “A mobile cave that never went any place – fascinating …”

In this inferno of everyday darkness and emptiness there is one leading light: the neon star of the local diner. Beneath it stands the arcade game STARFIGHTER, where the protagonist Alex Rogan spends all his time. What he does not know is that the machine is created by the cosmic talent scout Centauri, who needs starfighters for a war of galactic dimensions.

– That was a game, Centauri!

– A game? You may have thought it was a game …

Alex declines the offer for various reasons, but when it comes down to it he has of course no choice; he is “the last starfighter”, on whose shoulders the destiny of the universe rests. The film is a sort of male counterpart to The Company of Wolves, about a young girl's maturation in relation to the masculine, the terrible wolf with the sharp tooth but oh so sweet tongue; two of the most important films of the last few years.

Puberty is the phase in which hormonal changes can blast open the categories once more. In other cases a certain experience that has awoken strong psychological forces has the same effect. In such incidents we talk of a “trauma”, which can manifest as fetishism, phobia, or anancasm. That is a seeking towards, fear of, and imitation of the transcendence-promoting events, respectively.

It is extremely difficult to discover what parapsychologists actually mean by clairvoyance. Is it clairvoyance to see a demon?

It could be, if the parapsychologist believes in demons. But how will he establish whether it is a “real” demon?

Is aura-reading clairvoyance because it has become normal luggage for spare time students of the occult? Or are the clairvoyant's experiences required to be verifiable, in other words clearsightedness of the good old Truxa-kind?

A definition that is often used is that of a sense perception beyond the limitations of time and space, that is to see what goes on in remote places or in the future. Is such precognition possible?

As we have understood, time is a category. We are used to regarding time as something which flows from an uncertain beginning in the past to an uncertain end in the future, or which is perhaps infinitely continuous.

In a far more fundamental way, however, the flow of time always stems from the present moment. From this fundamental timelessness we throw out the net of the time category in two directions, as past and future.

Historians have great difficulty with this because they, being children of a mechanical world view, must necessarily search for the absolute truth about the past abstracted from our prejudices and rationalisations. One can of course (and should as a general rule) assume the perspective of the time in question – the historians' thesis that people believed that the world was flat is therefore rubbish: the earth was flat – but the absolute historical chain of events described in an objective historical analysis is not only practically impossible but theoretically meaningless.

Many individuals entertain similar scruples. They seek the actual motives for their actions instead of their rationalisation.

But the actions of human beings are blind reflexes in a chaotic world. Both the actions and the world become meaningful when we look out and back at them. They cannot contain any meaning or order or follow any other laws than those which we intrude upon them in this way.

Our “personality” consists of such rationalisations of spontaneous actions to the same degree as “the world” is our rationalisation of the cosmic chaos, tohu va bohu. We must not be afraid of seeking meaning or purpose in them or the world; for in doing so we make them real in our meaning of the word.

It is when we seek the meaning and the law of nature that we get into trouble. Without our “rationalization” the world does not exist, or is at least not accessible to us. And without our “rationalisations” of our collective and personal history there is no history at all.

Modern historians look with horror at the unscrupulous mix of fact and myth concocted by old Saxo and other writers of history. But Saxo did not research an already written history: he gave us one.

We cannot live without a history. We do so today because we do not want to accept history. We therefore create a pseudo-history: a history for women, a history for workers, a history for dogs, in which Napoleon was a woman, and Einstein a dog.

All right, but if history is completely subjective, can't one be as good as the other? No. Again there are models that are more or less usable; and again this does not mean an objective reality in the traditional sense: only better and worse realities which are not better or worse for looking more or less like the real reality; because likeness is visual or at least conceptual, wherefore nothing can look like something non-conceptual.

The bad historical models are bad because they move us away from history rather than bringing us closer to it. This becomes historical piety, which disables us from understanding the slave owners and feudal nobility.

We cannot possibly “learn from history” if we do not want to accept it. And if we get anywhere near an understanding we always stop in our tracks. In the Denmark of today it is a widespread democratic slogan that “we must keep the law. Anyone can keep the laws that appeal to him, but the law-abiding citizen also keeps the laws that do not.”

This is self-evident. He who does something statutory that he would have done anyway is not lawful. He, however, who does what is statutory despite his own inclinations and views, he is lawful.

But what if something statutory conflicts with our conscience, our opinion about how things ought to be? Well, the case is the same.

Naturally the thief does not steal because he believes that only arseholes steal. Therefore he can always refer to his own conscience.

The Capitalists have stolen it all from him, and now he is simply stealing it back. If he gets busted, he will be a prisoner of conscience. We now move our scene to Nazi Germany – not the comic book version – where an exchange of words similar to the following took place an astronomical amount of times:

– It is against my conscience to murder little children.

– Such is the law. Anyone can keep the laws that appeal to him, but the law-abiding citizen also keeps the laws that do not.

– The thought makes me feel sick.

– I know how you feel. I feel the same way. We must pull ourselves together.

History has handed down piles of letters from such people. They write that they feel they “can never become human again”. They are dead, but they have given their life for Germany. Anyone can keep the laws that appeal to him.

But this does not square. Because in that case precisely the same thing could happen in the Denmark of today, by way of the very same principles that we hold in such high regard. In that case Nazism is a possible, maybe necessary consequence of democracy.

So those who murdered babies in Nazi Germany were insane, “sadists”. They were against democracy, and Hitler didn't win that general election at all; he was a criminal, and we all new it in this country. On April 9th all fit men were gathered around Christian the Tenth and were issued with explosives.

The point is, that what happened in Nazi Germany will happen again, because we have not understood how it could happen, and we do not want to understand. That is bad history writing.

It is not that the Dannebrog falls from the sky, and that cannot be; but we keep getting slapped in the face by the historical past in the shape of the historical present as long as we insist on turning our backs on it. We must be careful when we create the future; but that requires that we are careful when we create the past.

Now what has all this got to do with precognition? Simply that when we seem to be moving forwards with the flow of time, we are also colliding with apparently future presents; the wake of future events makes our boat rock. We are determined by what has happened and by what will happen.

In some cultures this is interpreted as destiny, an often fanatical doctrine of predestination. Such people can look back at earlier events and say, Ah, so that was why.

This teleology has been outlawed from modern science, except perhaps in biology, where the purpose of the tiger's stripes is still discussed. But shape is neither more nor less a chosen category than time and space.

Likewise we blush when the “primitive” conceives of plants and animals, even boulders, as “alive” and “personal”. But either the world is personal, or it is not.

As we have seen, the dichotomy does not work: a personal me and an impersonal world. If I am personal, then so is the world; because I am the world.

Consciousness is not the Cartesian pocket soul, but the consciousness of things, which means that they are conscious. They become conscious when we make them durational, spatial, physical, causal, personal, and purposeful.

They are “alive” because we are alive. And they die when we die.

There is also in the world a durational, spatial, physical, causal, personal, and purposeful thing that we call our body. And with the Cartesian doctrine about the soul it has been promoted to the latter's permanent residence. This is why we cannot for the life of us understand that shamans can “turn into” birds. They would conceivably have as much trouble understanding that we can become factory workers.

If the soul is to change residence, it must take place in a nice little suitcase labelled “astral projection”. The practical simplification employed by science becomes childish nonsense in the field of parapsychology.

Modern physics is forced to work with particles that move backwards in time. The time category can no longer hold water when you ask Nature such tactless questions.

Precognition can also go “the other way”. Since we create the world by imagining it, we cannot avoid also influencing the future by imagining it. When the actively imagined event actually happens, we turn the phenomenon around and talk of presentiment.

Hence the fear of the malicious fortune teller who only predicts calamities. Such a “prophesy” can be a curse in disguise while the beneficial but pretty meaningless prophesy offered by certain soothsayers can have about the same contents as the “little” blessing which still remains in most of our salutations: “(have a) good day”, “fare well”. This is opposed to the modern “Hi!” which almost expresses affected surprise.

Likewise the French “A Dieu” means something like “At the mercy of God!”. It is even hidden in the word “Atju!” If one is to lose spirit (as through the sneeze), it should at least go back to God rather than ending up at the mercy of hostile people.

The short-term breakdown of the time category is something we are all familiar with from the phenomenon of deja vu. Many cases of precognition are pure forgeries. Certain accounts are so “literary” that it is hard to take them seriously; and they are in any case beyond control.

Others are of the following type: I dreamed last night that I met Petersen, who I haven't seen for years, on the street, and then I actually met him. The point is that the thousands of dreams that did not come true are in that moment forgotten.

All these wrong guesses make the present case a statistical necessity. Nevertheless they have disappeared; they were not interesting.

And although the episode will invariably be followed by thousands of wrong guesses, it will still be related to friends and associates; especially, of course, if the “foretold” event is of a dramatical nature. If we consider for a moment how many dreams and wrong guesses the whole of mankind is capable of producing in the course of a generation, then we cannot be surprised that most books on the subject can document half a score of quite fantastic incidents.

This cannot be a coincidence, it is held. No indeed: not if the episode is seen as an isolated incident.

But to do so is invalid. The weakness of the gathering of “evidence” in parapsychology is that the material is selected for its significance; but it is exactly the selection that makes it significant.

Telekinesis is of course spiritists pulling strings. But how does one explain to a parapsychologist what magic is, and especially what it is not? Poul Fersling, in his Mystikkens verden, the book which until the appearance of The Occult was regarded as the most reliable introduction to this subject, sums up the position of parapsychology so eloquently that it may be quoted here. He writes:

The thought behind psychokinesis contains nothing mysterious in itself. The physicists of today have established that all matter can theoretically be transformed into energy, and that matter has not only mass and gravity, but also a certain amount of energy. Furthermore, it is said that practically all energy forms have mass and gravity, and that they are subject to gravitation and the other properties that from old times have been attributed to matter. The human body transforms sustenance into different kinds of energy; and thought and emotion are also held to be energy forms. The same must apply to the unconscious functions; and there is in principle nothing to prevent that the energy emitted by the brain, which controls the bodily functions, could also influence the conditions of energy and thereby of matter, outside the human body.

Sic!! It speaks for itself.

It is hard to get rid of a whole paradigm. We are used to living in a world of things, where our body is a thing that we sit inside. This “we” is then personality and consciousness.

But consciousness merely means that phenomena are conscious. And they are made conscious when we make them personal. And durational, spatial, physical, causal, and purposeful.

All these categories do not belong to the world, but to language. This language is also our reality, since we cannot grasp a reality without the properties that it expresses, that it is.

This is an incredibly sophisticated language; far more sophisticated than the one that we use for speaking to each other in. It is when this language, this conceptual framework, has to fulfil a communicative function, that part of the world is lost.

This part is the supernatural. It is the personality and purpose of “things”. It is the personal forces which create heaven and earth and our destiny; the entities; the supernatural foundation of the natural; the spiritual origin of matter: biology as the basis of ontology; neurological metaphysics.

This is the new scientific paradigm. It was first discovered by physics: the “observer” as the source and projection of the laws of nature. But also the observer is a “person”; the after all most fundamental category has already been placed. The result is an unacceptable solipsism.

Only when consciousness and personality are separated – when atman becomes Brahman, does the existential paradox dissolve itself, and we see that it is the world itself that manifests as the relation between observer and observed; reality is the relation between the yardstick and its reading. It is the world that is conscious. Indeed it is not only conscious, but also self-conscious; reality is the world's consciousness of itself: Logos. And it continues to consciously create personae, masks, by hiding from itself in the properties of things.

Is this hard to understand? Certainly. It is easier that “thought and emotion are energy forms”.

After all, we know what energy is. It is the liquid that flows through electrical wires. We can almost see its colour. We place our fingertips so that they point in the direction of the current, and follow the thumb of the nice hand with our eyes.

Thought & emotion is the same thing. It is turquoise, and protrudes far enough beyond our pot belly to enable us to photograph it in colour.

When we get angry and go red in the face, it also becomes red; just like our lucky stone, our star sign, and our rabbit's foot. It falls off as ectoplasm, which is a bit messy although it facilitates psychometry.

Since the light-bringing aether has been abolished, it has become “high-frequency matter”. Check out those vibes, man. Unfortunately it is not to be found in the electromagnetic spectrum; but then again that is something which materialistic science has come up with.

So we run around with our balloon soul and are as pleased as Punch. We can bring it along to the supermarket and beyond death. It does not shake our suburban concept of reality; and that is the beauty of it.

When I was a child I too made atom bombs out of cardboard. They don't blow up.

Nothing breaks, nothing is dangerous, and nothing works. This may well be the point to put this book away and get started with Martinus instead …

In these two chapters we have briefly summed up some of the epistemological problems relevant to the occult and to magic. We are not going to push this matter much further. A meticulous treatment of these issues can be found in The Occult, of which Magic is the second (and last) volume.

In the first volume we dealt with the theory of knowledge up to the world picture of modern physics. Moreover we gave the reader a neccesary neuropsychological background. In the second part of that volume we looked for the first time with wondering eyes at the panorama of abandoned conceptual systems found in the cultural religions.

In Magic we take a step further. We shall examine the basics of how mythical reality may become actual; how modern man may take part in the world of the supernatural and its inhabitants.

This will of course be no grimoire. The “formulae” are always strictly personal and cannot be transferred. We are still talking principles; but with an entire volume at our disposal we shall be able to deal with them all the more thoroughly.

In the first two chapters we have as mentioned started to identify the issues of importance. “Paranormal abilities” has been the area of parapsychology this century.

This method does not work and must be riddled effectively. It must be exposed for what it is. We shall do this in chapter three.

In chapter one we looked a bit at its background, which is to be found partly in the naivistic scientific model of last century, and partly in spiritism. We looked at quite fundamental issues as the nature of concept, consensus, and “proof”.

In this chapter we met the despairing medium hunting for something “objective” to show the distinguished gentlemen from the institute. We realised why such “facts” can only come out of sleeves.

We examined precognition, partly from a parapsychological perspective, and partly from an epistemological one. This led us to an understanding of the fundamental difference between the two methods of interpretation.

Naturally it is not the parapsychological one that is interesting. The “energy emitted by the brain” can only be taken seriously by people with no scientific background whatsoever.

We are going to examine the occult world picture in detail. We are going to see it as the – often superior to scientific “reality” – tool that it is. And we are going to learn to use it.



This text is an extract from the book "Magi" (Magic).
COPYRIGHT © Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff and Borgen Publishers, 1986
Translated by Robin Wildt Hansen.
All Rights Reserved
First published 1986 by Borgen Publishers.
This text may under no circumstances be resold or redistributed for compensation of any kind, in either printed, electronic, or any other forms, without prior written permission from Borgen Publishers.
For further information contact Borgens Forlag, Valbygaardsvej 33, DK-2500 Copenhagen Valby, Denmark, phone +45 46 36 21 00, fax +45 36 44 14 88