9 votes

Visions of the Impossible: How 'Fantastic' Stories Unlock the Nature of Consciousness

Interesting article on consciousness I was pointed to via Red Ice Radio tweet...

Visions of the Impossible: How 'Fantastic' Stories Unlock the Nature of Consciousness

by Jeffrey J. Kipral, Chronicle of Higher Education, Mar 31, 2014


The greatest taboo among serious intellectuals of the century just behind us, in fact, proved to be none of the "transgressions" itemized by postmodern thinkers: It was, rather, the heresy of challenging a materialist worldview.
—Victoria Nelson,
The Secret Life of Puppets (2002)

Consider two impossible tales.

Scene 1. Mark Twain was famous for mocking every orthodoxy and convention, including, it turns out, the conventions of space and time. As he relates the events in his diaries, Twain and his brother Henry were working on the riverboat Pennsylvania in June 1858. While they were in port in St. Louis, the writer had a dream:

"In the morning, when I awoke I had been dreaming, and the dream was so vivid, so like reality, that it deceived me, and I thought it was real. In the dream I had seen Henry a corpse. He lay in a metallic burial case. He was dressed in a suit of my clothing, and on his breast lay a great bouquet of flowers, mainly white roses, with a red rose in the centre."

Twain awoke, got dressed, and prepared to go view the casket. He was walking to the house where he thought the casket lay before he realized "that there was nothing real about this—it was only a dream."

Alas it was not...

Continue reading at:


Trending on the Web

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

I thought this was

very interesting post.

When I was a child I had a very active mind and remember once taking a bath and the word earth quake popped into my head. When I got out to the family room the announcer said there was an earthquake can't remember where it was.

I would get these words that would pop into my head and it would happen, it frightened me because I thought I had cause these things to happened. I prayed that it would stop and it did.

"We can see with our eyes, hear with our ears and feel with our touch, but we understand with our hearts."

Cool post! I get precognition

Cool post! I get precognition too, but usually just a moment before the event happens.

The way I understand it, it has to do with accessing and reading a simulated high-probability projection of the simulation. Kind of like any educated guess of future events that we make on a daily basis, but with the difference being that it's a computer with all the information making the probability determination and telling you the answer. So like in the Mark Twain example with the flowers, if the slight appearance difference with the flowers wasn't just a matter of perception then maybe it first appeared different because the flowers were more likely to be there arranged in a certain way but some unlikely free will choices changed the actual event.


I've certainly had some 'deja vu' type moments, myself; although I haven't had anything as clearly precognitive in such detail as what Mark Twain experienced, or what you seem to have experienced. Have yours been related to traumatic episodes in others' lives, or just run-of-the-mill, everyday type stuff?

Such a mysterious thing, consciousness, whether you view it from a theological/philosophical or scientific angle. Of course, as people here already know, I view it as the fundamental, transcendent reality: Person, Love.

I should ask our resident Mark Twain if he was aware of this Mark Twain story. :)

It could be anything. Often

It could be anything. Often it's what a person is about to say, because we spend a lot of time around others not doing a whole lot but talking. Or a car accident about to happen in front of me, or something silly someone is about to do.

I think it happens a lot more with the minor stuff that you already expect to happen, but it doesn't seem significant that you thought of it beforehand because that's what you expected or planned.