I think extraordinary knowing, in its basic definition, is knowing which we see as beyond what is usual. Knowing that is beyond the ordinary. Who or what defines the ordinary? We have pointed to language, what we value; the arts and sciences; traditions and rituals; what is shared at the table; our values…aka culture.
Dowsing is something that was likely valued in the past, is still practiced by some (we located a leak in a pipe with a local dowser here in KY a few years back…I just thought it was…part of the culture), and is no longer valued in mainstream culture. Why not?
When dowsing is subjected to scientific testing, it fails … it is easily explained away in terms of sensory cues, expectancy effects, and probability. Strangely, most all paranormal or extraordinary activity, when tested in a lab, cannot be replicated. All accounts seem to add in the subjective state that just cannot be fully understood. Think Stuart Kauffman’s personal “flip” reported in the interview/essay by John Horgan. This is a highly personal, emotional and traumatic experience.
When Elizabeth Mayer speaks with her clients who report these extraordinary modalities of knowledge, there are levels of disavowal: doctors must hide their paranormal methods; scientific writers feel that their reputation would topple before their eyes; families would be torn apart if a member shared an experience. With little culture to back up their reports, denial is rampant, pushed further into unconscious knowledge that we Westerners seem to have difficulty tapping into in order to extract gems. What does turning a blind eye cost us as a culture?
But who or what determines culture? Our eyes here and in sister projects are frequently turned, our ears tuned into, the frequencies often reserved for the odd, shunned or sub-standard kin. More and more professionals and pedestrians are identifying with the extraordinary, alternative culture…or at least it seems this way. I am reminded of Jeffrey Kripal’s The Flip; High Weirdness by Erik Davis also identifies this Weird culture as fringe work, with hidden gems ripe for picking within the “trash spectrum”. Weird Studies scholars put on their divining hats and explore recent and past archaeologists of the weird. In reality, once you trace the path back far enough, the extraordinary knowing has been quite ordinary during certain periods along the human timeline.
Other cultures seem to have defined what some see as extraordinary as standard knowledge. Eastern modes of knowing….already know; they have a solid cultural history grounded in the connection of mind and body, the internal realities. They have already caught the rhythms. In almost all reports of OBEs, lucid dreaming, telepathy, dowsing, remote viewing, NDEs, channeling, the same techniques for accessing these modalities are used for meditation and mystical experiences. To begin meditation one needs to relax, tune out the ordinary reality and tune into a certain frequency that allows for alternate ways of knowing. Psi, meditation, creativity: all have overlapping boundaries. Western culture likes to identify with terms such as madness, schizophrenia, childishness. But how do they (the Western model) know this? And how do we know that a few (understatement) wrong turns were taken in the course of history? And where are we going with this?
I think a Café is what needs to happen Great to see everyone waking into “the next phase of our collective inquiry” …