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Category Archives: telepathy

Through the eyes of another …

Last night I finished reading the 1952 classic The Space Merchants. I was so happy to have found this older story in my dad’s science fiction collection, and I’ve been talking about it on my other blogs. Today I realized that the discussion of one of my favorite elements of this book belongs here.

I’ll post a full review this novel by Frederick Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth on Goodreads and will only say now that it is not a total thumbs up. I know that styles have changed over the decades, and science fiction has never been know for its complex character development, but I found the ending and many of the emotional transitions abrupt. I had high hopes for the story and it didn’t quite live up to my expectations, even though I’m glad I read it.

So what did I like? The satire of a society driven by ever increasing sales was spot on, in spite of the author’s failure to predict so much of modern society. What made the dichotomy between the ruling class of advertisers and lower class consumers work was the way in which the sales people so thoroughly misunderstood the lives of the average person. It’s barely a spoiler to reveal that protagonist and ad agency executive Mitchell Courtenay finds himself stripped of his identity and turned into a low life laborer. Once he is on the receiving end of his own work, his perspective changes.

Psychedelic 9The idea of obtaining personal growth and better perspective by walking the in shoes of another is a common plot tactic and rightfully so. From the literary classic The Prince and the Pauper to Trading Places, the hilarious movie it inspired, story tellers have shown how the heart is softened once a human walks in another’s shoes. Sexism took blows from both Tootsie and Mrs. Doubtfire. Black Like Me opened minds in entirely white Hays Kansas in 1968. I know, because I was in the English class that was required to read the controversial book.

The authors of the “The Space Merchants” use this powerful tool well as the privileged Mitch discovers that workers do not hold menial jobs merely because they are lazy. In fact, he is surprised to learn just how much hard work a menial job requires.

If the idea of experiencing the life of someone you don’t understand is powerful in a novel, it is even more powerful in the world. Reality TV shows, such as Wife Swap, have used this theme about swapping lives, and student exchange programs are based on it. At their best, travel and intercultural communication of all kinds can foster enough exchange to encourage empathy and respect.

My initial interest in telepathy grew out of curiosity about how difficult fighting a war would be if you could read the mind of your enemy and feel his or her emotions. Most of us can’t read minds and never will, but living a life similar to that of your “enemy” is the next closest thing.

Mitch Courtney is willing to sell anybody anything, until he experiences a life in which his small amount of discretionary income is the continual target of clever ads trying to pry his limited money away for things that bring him little joy and even harm him. The emotional transition that rang most true in this novel was the story a man who learns to see the world through the eyes of another, and changes his own life as a result.

(For more about the Space Merchants, see my posts I Know Sexism When I See It?The Kinky of the Future and Predicting the Future or Shaping It.)

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in empathy, peace, telepathy

 

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Wise and quiet

Days aren’t what they used to be. About a year ago, I did the math and decided that If really wanted to, I could retire. I was a little young to do so, and of course one can always use the extra money from working longer. But my husband, who is a few years older, was a retired teacher already and I was discovering that being employed is harder when your spouse no longer is. Besides, I have this crazy dream of writing more speculative fiction, much more speculative fiction in fact, and I was beginning to realize that was only going to happen if I didn’t have to go into an office every day and try to figure out seismic signals bouncing up from the earth. I was ready to be an early retiree.

Psychedelic 13So I gave my notice at work, and we sold our house and moved, and I woke up in a strange new place with boxes everywhere and spent about a whole month unpacking and tying to get my arms around what sort of life I now had. All my reference points were gone, and I was far too discombobulated to post a blog, much less to write fiction. Hell, I could hardly sleep or eat. In spite of a fair amount of careful planning, this was not the dream life for which I had hoped. Nothing, other than the slowly shrinking mess of boxes, was wrong. But nothing was right either and I didn’t even know why.

Something deep inside us knows what we need. Apparently, I needed yoga. I already have a little daily qigong routine I do, and that practice helped keep me grounded through the house sale and the move. But once I arrived in a strange place and found myself with no job and no schedule, I seem to have overloaded my circuits well beyond what my solitary qigong sessions could handle. So I spontaneously signed up for a monthly all-the-yoga-classes-you-care-to-attend program in the small town that is my new home, and it probably saved my sanity.

wise and quietIt got me to breathe slowly. It got me to sit with other people who were breathing slowly. It gave me a reason to bathe and go into town and know what time it was. And, thanks to several wonderful instructors, it gave me bits of wisdom to ponder.

When I wrote x0 four years ago, I had very little idea about how to write a novel. I only knew that I was compelled to tell this story, the tale of two women who shared a special gift. In the world of x0, everyone broadcasts their emotions all the time. Only the gifted can receive that information. Only the very gifted become telepaths, because they are the ones who have the rare ability to listen well. My two heroes were gifted because they knew how to listen.

During a yoga class last week, the instructor encouraged us to be wise enough to listen to our inner selves, and to let our minds be quiet enough to hear. I decided right there on my yoga mat that this advice needed to be carried further. I needed to be wise enough to listen in general, and quiet enough to hear that which was worth hearing. I was overcome with believing that this wonderful advice was good for writers, good for would-be telepaths, good for yogis and very good for newly retired people. In fact, it is probably wonderful advice for everyone.

For one thing, if you listen, you will hear what you need to hear. Like in my case, when I heard that I needed to listen more.

(For more thoughts on retiring early and pursuing a dream, see my posts If you’re going to be an old car, Am I a Shape Shifter Now? and Greener Grass.)

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in telepathy, writing

 

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Everybody is shouting

Light Within 3The truly skilled telepath is admired for her or his uncanny ability to listen to the feelings and thoughts of others. At least that is how it works in my imaginary world of x0, in which any old fool can transmit emotions but only the adept can receive them. Clearly I am making an observation about ordinary conversation as well. Listening is an art, and actually understanding what one is hearing is a high level accomplishment. Yes, most of us do spend our non-speaking time figuring out what we are going to say next. But at least in conversation, we pretend to pay attention to others.

Enter the world of social media. There is no question that I love writing my blogs and I love reading the blogs of others, but in my humble opinion the exchanges that take place in the comments sections can hardly be called conversation. They appear to me to mostly consist of (1) you are sooooo right or (2) you are soooo stupid or (3) the ever popular thanks for stopping by and liking my blog. (I’m not going to count the various spam comments that show up every day saying things like “I simply stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to say that I get actually loved account your weblog posts.” Who writes this crap and why?)

Facebook and the various Pinterest/Instagram type spin-offs are largely ways of shouting out what you are doing and what you like and don’t like. Yes, it is entertaining, but no isn’t conversation either. Maybe if we had a few more choices on the “like” button …… you know, emoticon responses of dismay, embarrassment, maybe a wink….. nah, probably a bad idea.

Then there is Twitter. I’ve had an account for years and I every so often I would read tweets on a topic of interest. I hardly ever tweeted anything, however, because I didn’t see the point. Seldom does anyone have a unique take on a subject and usually dozens of people had already said what I thought. I could hashtag all I wanted, but it seemed to me that I was just one more person shouting “Listen to me! I think this!” Shouting isn’t satisfying and it isn’t the way to make friends.

True voice 4Then I became an author. To my own surprise, I discovered that I was as desperate to be read as all the other authors you know. “You’ve got to use Twitter” they told me. Okay, I tried. And I found that all of us are out there, shouting about our wares and running little giveaways trying to snag another 100 followers when we can.That’s nuts. All the people out there shouting advice to authors (and there are a lot of those, too) think it is nuts as well. They say you shouldn’t peddle your books, you should engage socially. That sounds like reasonable advice, but I’ve got a problem with it. I am basically posting tweets to sell my books. It’s the truth and I don’t like pretending otherwise.

I found a solution that works for me, and it was in my first book all along. Act like a telepath. Act like a good one. Every time someone new follows me on Twitter, I now try to read their mind. Not really of course, but I pretend. Who are they and why are they there? If the answer is to sell me something, win a contest, or give me no information, I ignore them. But if they write, or read, or support a cause, or create or otherwise have a voice, I try to listen. I spend a few seconds looking into them online and I try to really hear them. Then, I thank them personally for following me and wish them good fortune with their passion. It gives them a tweet to like and retweet, and it makes me smile when they do.

No, I’m not making friends. Two or three 140 character exchanges does not a friendship make. And no, I’m not selling books from this, because my sales haven’t increased either. However, I am having some interesting exchanges and some fun. This “listening” is good stuff, no matter how it works out. Looks like there are ways to do it everywhere.

(Speaking of listening on social media, please drop by the Facebook pages of The Light Within and Your True Voice and give them a like for the great images above.)

 

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2014 in telepathy, writing

 

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Who’s in charge of this body?

I do tend to latch on to things and get enthused. My latest fixation is a blog called This Gives Me Hope by Cathryn Wellner. She is a woman determined to locate 1001 things that, well, give her hope, and then to tell me and you about them.

Thing #585 doesn’t sound terribly hopeful at first. Cathryn had a friend tell her that folks with multiple personality disorders sometimes have better or worse eyesight depending on which personality is in charge. That seems odd. She did further research and [I quote directly from Ms. Wellner’s wonderful blog]

“Her comment about visual acuity and MPD sent me on a search. PubMed has a link to research that appeared in the 1996 Journal of the American Optometric Association. The New York Times still has a copy of a 1988 article online that says, in part:

For more than a century clinicians have occasionally reported isolated cases of dramatic biological changes in people with multiple personalities as they switched from one to another. These include the abrupt appearance and disappearance of rashes, welts, scars and other tissue wounds; switches in handwriting and handedness; epilepsy, allergies and color blindness that strike only when a given personality is in control of the body.”

raising 2The very idea of rashes, welts and scars appearing at the mere behest of the personality currently in charge has an almost eerie feel of demonic possession to it, until you think about it more. What this tells us is that the human mind is a powerful thing, certainly in terms of the control it wields over the body to which it is connected .

In my novel x0, I join countless others in postulating that our minds are capable of far more than we generally acknowledge. A brain that can create a scar can also reduce one. If a rash can be created, a rash can be eliminated. And so on. If you think about it, there is tremendous hope in this message.

The wonderful poster above is from the Facebook page of Raising Ecstasy, and it makes me wonder if what weighs us down the most is often the negative thoughts that we foist upon ourselves. Thanks Ms. Wellner for passing along the hopeful message that  research and observation support the theory that each one of us is in charge of our own bodies, and we can do far more good for ourselves than we realize.

 
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Posted by on March 26, 2014 in telepathy

 

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Writing about Superpowers

hippiepeace2I write speculative fiction, in a genre known as magical realism. In my worlds, fantasy-type things happen as part of normal reality and you, the reader, are hopefully convinced that neither magic nor yet-to-be-invented science are involved.

Each of my books concerns a character with a different superpower, and each time I have struggled to invent ways in which the power doesn’t work. It turns out that the abnormal abilities are fun, but it’s those limitations that make for a good story. In x0, my first protagonist discovers that she is a telepath. I could tell early on that if I let her powers go wild, by halfway through the book she’d pretty much run the world. That’s not much of a story.

One solution was to create villains with equal or greater powers, but this yielded a sort of comic book cosmos that wasn’t what I was after. I wanted a believable lady in a universe that looked like my own, in which she dealt with dangerous but real people. So, she could read minds, but obviously not easily or at a distance or all of the time.

In my second book, y1, my main character is a real life shape shifter. Once again, if he could turn himself into anything and he had even a little imagination, he ought to be in charge of everything before the plot really gets going. Luckily, I developed his powers as being rooted in his amazing fine muscle control and certain chameleon-like color alteration abilities. That left him limited by his hair, his clothes and his approximate size. No turning into wolves or refrigerators or flies on the wall for him. His limitations helped me craft a plot that involved the fanciful but didn’t spin out of control before it even got started.

My hero in z2 can slow down the passage of time to the point where it almost stands still. Once again I was challenged to limit his capabilities. He begins the book thinking that his unique talent only shows itself when he is playing sports. As he finds himself in a variety of physical emergencies, he figures out that he is more versatile than he realized. Fortunately it takes him to the end of the novel before he learns to dependably control and use this power. This lack of knowledge about how and when his superpower can be called upon allowed him to occasionally save the day without becoming too powerful.

I am now finishing up final edits on c3, and beginning my fifth book d4 and both introduce new superpowers developed in the other family members. I’m enjoying playing with these new plot lines, and working my hardest to keep my remaining super people from becoming entirely too invincible. I want them to ultimately save the day, but not until they  have had adventures that my readers will enjoy.

Thanks to Hippie Peace Freaks for the wise saying.  Please like their Facebook page.

(Note: I originally wrote this as part of a blog tour with Orangberry Book Tours and this content has appeared at Bunny’s Review, Me, You & Books, High Class Books, Reading the Dream Life and at Imagination in Books. )

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in telepathy, writing

 

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What if I really do know what you are thinking?

scallopsMy husband and I had a telepathic experience the other night, the kind that couples frequently have. Something special was needed for dinner and the cupboard was bare. “Wait we could have…” he began.  “We sure could,” I agreed. Dinner was prepared without either of us once mentioning the wonderful Nantucket Bay Scallops we’d frozen at Christmas. It was a warm, fuzzy mental exchange.

But do I really want to know everything he is thinking? Everything you are thinking? Worse yet, do I want you to know everything I am thinking?  Recent discussions about privacy and national security have bought up the argument that those who have nothing to hide should not be alarmed when their innermost secrets become known. Deep inside, no one I know agrees with that.

mindI do very little if anything that is illegal or even unethical. But some times I do or think things that embarrass me. Or things I think can be hurtful. If I sneeze too hard I pee in my pants. I think you’re kind of cute. I called a person in another car a “fucking asshole” on the way to work today. Whatever. I’m not perfect and yet I care that I’m not and therefore I don’t want you examining every flaw of mine. I don’t even want you to have the opportunity to do so. And frankly I don’t want to examine your flaws either.

In the novel x0, telepathy is a gentle skill, usually conveying emotions and seldom conveying specific information. Telepaths are considerate, they mind their own business. And even the unaware can put up walls to protect themselves.  It’s telepathy the way I’d want it to be.  Not very invasive.

As to everyone’s increasing ability to use technology to follow my behavior, and even perhaps to misinterpret my actions or my intents? Sigh. ….. A world with telepaths is starting to look like it would be the least of my privacy issues.

For more thoughts on “what if” check out my z2 blog post on what if this could last forever?  And see my y1 blog post on what if you could look like anyone?

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2013 in telepathy

 

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Watch what you wish for

An old friend gives me a hard, meaningful stare. It is April 2012 and I’ve just published my first book, x0 and I am telling him about the plot.  His response?  “Careful what you wish for.” Then he adds in a warning tone “Life imitates art.”

Icarus: click for print

Icarus: click for print

The visit has not gone so well and this friend is already well on his way to becoming a former friend. His odd response to my story of a telepathic loner who discovers kindred spirits through her unusual mental talent finally clinches the deal. The implication behind his warning has always irritated me. Don’t reach for your dreams or you may lose all. Our culture is full of fables of backfired wishes and the assorted smiting of those who reach too high. The very myth of Icarus warns those who would chose to take flight and touch the sun.

Not that I don’t get the “cherish what you already have” side of this issue. It’s about balance. Again. Savor the moment and reach for the stars.

So what happened once I started to reach? Did my former friend’s dire warnings come true and have I found myself fighting off strange telepathic urges, kept up in the night by the sounds of countless souls? No, I found myself joining writer’s groups on the web and reading a lot of other blogs. It turns out that, just like in real life, I don’t have all that much in common with many of the aspiring writers out there fighting for attention on all the sites. And I am not terribly compelled to join in the countless threads of conversation on every blog I visit.  I’m a loner, even online. Maybe especially online.

visit the farmlet

visit the farmlet

But it also turns out that there are folks out there with whom I share commonalities. I met a wonderful writer named Bob Craton who has penned a series about four pacifists fighting to save their home world. I met a wonderful blogger named Christi Killien who tells a fascinating tale every week about life on her self sustaining farmlet. I’ve had people review my books who seem to get what I am saying far better than people who know me well. Wahoo!

And just this past week I’ve had a reader contact me to complain about all the mistakes in x0. Mistakes? I was horrified. The book has been professionally edited and proofread within an inch of its life. Okay, she offered.  Let’s call them “puppies” so you do not get so defensive. I knew as soon as she proposed using a new word, that I had the good fortune to meet yet another kindred spirit online. She is now in process of showing me what she means, taking some of the more difficult passages in x0 and rewording with a light touch that makes the concepts clearer. I will be using her input to give x0 a gentle tweak someday soon, and the second edition will be better for it.

As she and I exchange ideas, I think of the other remarkable writers, readers, and bloggers who have touched my heart and mind since I published x0, and then I think of my former friend’s dire warning. Now I know what I wish I had said.

“Life imitates art? Really? You promise??” I am so lucky that he was right.

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in telepathy

 

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