Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Retrocognition, or, Psychic History

Matter of Time (2009). © By lone-momo.  Reproduced with kind permission.

The turn of the Millennium is a relentless, clichéed reality, important only because of how we set up our calendar.  We expect these years to be significant, even if they're not.  And if they're not, we have to make them important with strange ideas. Today's fringe theory is Retrocognition or Postcognition.  This is a fad from the turn of the last century, wherein people claim to be able to see past events psychically, and experience trapped pockets of former times.

Wiki: "The most popularly celebrated case of retrocognition concerns the visions in 1901 of Annie Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain – two scholars and early administrators of British university education for women – as they tried to find their way to Marie Antoinette's private château, the Petit Trianon. Becoming lost on their way, they believed that they instead came unto the Queen's presence itself. They published an account of their experience in 1911 as An Adventure. Moberly and Jourdain described how they had become convinced, over the following weeks, that persons they saw and even spoke to on that occasion – given certain details of dress, accent, topography and architecture – must have been of a presumed recollection by Marie Antoinette, on August 10, 1792, of her last days at Trianon in 1789. While often considered in popular literature as evidence for retrocognition, the book was immediately dismissed by Eleanor Sidgwick, a leading member of the British Society for Psychical Research, in an article published in its Proceedings, as the product of mutual confabulation."

The phenomenon is also known as entering a Time SlipWiki summarizes one such case: "A widely-publicised case from October 1979, described in the ITV television series Strange But True?, concerned the Simpsons and the Gisbys, two English married couples driving through France en route to a holiday in Spain. They claimed to have stayed overnight at a curiously old-fashioned hotel and decided to break their return journey at the same hotel but were unable to find it. Photographs taken during their stay, which were in the middle of a roll of film, were missing, even from the negative strips, when the pictures were developed."

Apparently the sensation inside the time slip is dislocated and dulled: "their immediate surroundings take on an oddly flat, underlit and lifeless appearance, and normal sounds seem muffled. This is sometimes accompanied by feelings of depression and unease." Of her experience, Moberly wrote: "Everything suddenly looked unnatural, therefore unpleasant; even the trees seemed to become flat and lifeless, like wood worked in tapestry. There were no effects of light and shade, and no wind stirred the trees."

Of course, time travel could be used to explain the appearance of ghosts to those who believe in them. Blundering into a time pocket, a ghostly location populated by phantoms, may beat the sometimes dreary task, with which I am all too familiar, of ploughing through hundreds of history books and poring over archival documents.  References to retrocognition in TV series such as Heroes, CharmedMedium, and Rose Red reveal a current resurgence of this psychic fashion from the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.  Millennial retrofuturism revives past times, historical traditions and themes: the closer to the future we get, the more we cling to the past.

Yet this tangible antiquarianism has a distinct Millennial flavour.  It criss-crosses with quantum physicists' speculations about alternate dimensions (see National Geographic youtube video here) and more peculiar, marginal ideas on the edge of genetics research.  The author of the site, Activating Evolution, Mohinder Suresh, has postulated that retrocognition is one of many human abilities that are appearing by virtue of accelerated evolution, something which he has connected to the functions of the adrenal gland.  Suresh claims that the subject Evan Moss, an Oklahoma teenager (whose real name, if he exists, must be different), has demonstrated the ability to psychically enter past times at will. Suresh has even come up with a list of humans with advanced genes (which includes himself)!

All this is completely implausible as far as the theory of evolution is concerned.  Why human evolution would speed up impossibly right at the turn of the Millennium, and what purpose developing such abilities as Retrocognition would serve, also isn't clear.  Regardless, it's an X-men-like scenario that makes a great metaphor for Millennial change!

1 comment:

  1. In acknowledging its milestone, Ford has released some other fun numbers to sift through. With all of its global production facilities, those 350 million vehicles produced average out to 8,797 units a day - 367 vehicles every hour, or one new car every 10 seconds. See, right there? Ford probably built a new car in the time it took you to read that last sentence or two.
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