Simple twists of fate? Interpreting coincidence has always been a messy, unscientific affair. And parapsychology is a graveyard, excuse the pun, of charlatans and snake oil salespeople. But, there is always doubt that a world of the paranormal may actually exist, going about its activities on a plane just beyond our consciousness. The mystics, the desert hermits, the world of dreams, Greek mythology, the strange goings-on at the Grove of Alba in the Golden Bough and the phenomena surrounding the search for Arcadia all present a non-scientific but nonetheless metaphysical and transformative inducing world of alternate realities. Mental care institutes are filled with people walking the corridors living in alternate realities. One notable pursuer of the paranormal was Artur Koestler….
From the Fortean Times ( recommended for those interested in paranormal psychology): Sometimes, lesser phenomena would also impinge upon him. On one occasion, a highly-strung friend told him “something is going to happen”, moments before a large picture fell from a wall. Koestler was intrigued to note that the hooks remained in the wall and the picture-wire was unbroken. He compared this incident to the two unexplained loud reports that emanated from a bookcase when Jung and Freud were having a heated discussion – Jung predicted the second bang shortly before it occurred. …
The young Koestler occasionally evinced more than a passive interest in psi phenomena. At the age of 26, for instance, he advertised in a newspaper for “authentic reports on occult experiences – telepathy, clairvoyance, levitation, etc.”. It seems he was disappointed with the response.Read More:http://www.forteantimes.com/features/profiles/118/arthur_koestler.html
…Koestler was also intrigued by coincidences. One case he describes in The Invisible Writing (1954) involved a mentally disturbed friend, Attila Jozsef, who one day tried to kill himself by lying down on a railway track hoping to be run over by a goods train that passed through the village every day at a given hour. On this occasion, though, the train did not come and Jozsef had to give up the suicide attempt. It transpired that the train was delayed because it had run over someone else further up the track….
Once, I was given a ticket to a fundraiser supper by someone who could not attend. There were prizes drawn and lo and behold, yours untruly won the third prize: a parapsychology reading. I was quite surprised that the woman was able to pull out names of people peripherally involved in my life or individuals that were on my mind with very specific details furnished. If Houdini was available he might debunk the trick, but until then there is a sense of wonderment retained.A few years later, she held a supper and took watches or jewelry from guests and recounted some astounding anecdotes, again reaching into some proverbial bag of tricks to arrive at specific names.
I suppose considering Koestler was born in Vienna, his interest is not surprising. That triangle between Munich, Prague and Vienna produced more exceptional people than the population warranted, and that Freud was from Vienna is perhaps no coincidence either:
Fortean Times again:…Koestler’s particular psi interest was levitation and that became the Foundation’s main focus. Its historical research revealed reported instances of levitation involving religious ecstatics and Tibetan monks, as well as other controversial claims such as those concerning the Victorian medium, DD Home. In one case in 1868, Home levitated in front of three witnesses, becoming curiously “elongated” in the process, and later appeared to float upright outside of a third floor window. William Crookes, a celebrated scientist of his day and a president of the SPR, became convinced of Home’s authenticity. Though numerous critics scorned Home, he was never discredited….
…At the Koestlers’ joint funeral and memorial service, Ruth Tudge remembers, Arthur’s paranormal interests were downplayed. But he was to have the last laugh: both he and Cynthia had left almost their entire estates for the endowment of a chair of parapsychology at a British university, or to support resea
fellowships in parapsychology if a chair could not be established. Whichever should be the case, the money was to be used for “parapsychology and parapsychology alone”….Read More:http://www.forteantimes.com/features/profiles/118/arthur_koestler.html
A frequently expressed view is that even if psi is real, its effects are so small and so unreliable it isn’t worth bothering with, but Jahn reminds us that quantum science and general relativity have shown that equally elusive effects can have monumental importance both in science and public applications and benefits….
…What quantum boffins call “entanglement”, for example, is when two distant, matched electrons can instantaneously pass information (such as the direction of their spin) one to another, as if in a tiny display of telepathy; before entanglement was proven experimentally, a sceptical Einstein referred to it as “spooky action at a distance”. Entanglement is already being suggested as an explanatory model for the effects of an extraordinary device developed in the laboratories of Michael Persinger at Laurentian University in Ontario. Nicknamed the “Octopus”, it consists of a band of solenoids connected to a computer. This band is placed around the subject’s head and a programmed pattern of circumcerebral magnetic fields is played around the skull. When he tried it, the present writer found he was able to identify a photograph – without any obvious communication – that someone else was looking at in another room.
Particularly interesting was the way the remote information was “received”: it was a non-visual impression that had to be deciphered by the logical, linguistic part of the brain. When a psychologist colleague of the writer’s later tested the device at his request, the same positive results were obtained – she described the nature of the received information as being “aconceptual”….Read More:http://www.forteantimes.com/features/profiles/118/arthur_koestler.html