– William Shakespeare, Hamlet.
The idea for my first novel, Human+, came from a desire to write about psychic phenomena. That is, to write persuasively about psychic phenomena. Telepathy, astral travel, precognition, discarnate entities. There truly is more in heaven and earth, and I know through personal experience.
“I have seen little evidence of the paranormal,” said one reader who, nevertheless, enjoyed the novel, drawn to the story more for its technological and transhumanist themes. I still find myself surprised by people who tell me such things.
In my youth, I suspected there was more to our brief existences than merely strutting, fretting and “shuffling off”. A harrowing acid trip at nineteen blew the bandwidth wide open for me. But, absent a wise elder or shaman, it had been impossible to assimilate. Western society still maintains taboos on this kind of exploration and certainly institutes no guidance.
A few years later, I attended a course conducted by a group of modern-day Gnostics who, amongst other things, promised to bestow techniques to enable astral travel. Despite this incredible claim, the teachers’ serious manner quickly gained my confidence and I earnestly began to practice what they preached. On the same night that the group was told – “If you’re ever in a dream and realise you’re dreaming, don’t wake up, slowly try and get out of your body,” – I was able to do it. Or, I was at least able to remove my transparent astral arms from my physical body. It was enough for me, though, and I immediately awoke. I stood up, tingles dancing up and down my spine, a wonderful thought chiming joyfully in my head. “We do not ever really die.”
Over the years there would be several other such dalliances with “the astral”, including one when I managed to move the legs of this strange ethereal body through a low ceiling. On each occasion, though, I could manage only to liberate my limbs, never fully escaping the strong gravity of the core of my physical body. Once, while in this eerie twilight state, struggling once again, a voice appeared in my head with calm instructions. “Do like Nancy and Frank,” it said. I soon realised – or it explained – this meant “swing”. I should swing my body out, rather than try to sit straight up. This other consciousness had humanity, and humour! I found that I was also able to talk back to it – all in my head. Yet, this was no dream. My mind was as awake as ever. This was, it very much seemed, telepathic communication with another mind!
There are many other scenes and sequences in the novel for which I have likewise drawn upon direct experience. For example, an early key scene involves the main character, David, being led to a revelation, as if by “someone poking a finger through the screen of reality”. This is based upon another LSD experience, when a finger appeared to poke at the “screen” of visual reality as from the “other side”, distorting the image and leading my attention on a deliberate yet meandering path, to finally stop on a book, one I had been reading, on kundalini. I was utterly transfixed. This other consciousness seemed to be making a point, perhaps about what it was, or the means which had allowed our connection.
And this was no random hallucination, no mere exaggeration of pre-existing sensory data. It was an other intelligence – or at least some part of myself so distant it may as well be – with a clear agenda. The same acid trip also delivered a similar revelation to me as the one delivered to the main character at this point in the novel, a stressing of the importance of the heart as more than simply an organ for pumping blood, but also an overlooked and underused faculty for transcendent feeling and intuition. It was a revelation my conscious mind was unlikely to originate alone, and the manner in which it was delivered, during an intense psychedelic experience, seemed to change me – reprogram me – both immediately and lastingly.
I also wrote in Human+ about prophetic dreams. I’ve only had two or three potential candidates myself, though they could each quite easily be explained as coincidence so I won’t mention them here. But, as David does in the novel, I too had for a time recurring dreams of a terrifying police state. These dreams, where I found myself a brutalised citizen, impacted in such a way as to make me wonder, and worry, if they might indeed be a portent of a possible future.
More impressively than any of those examples, though, and more intuitive than prophetic, it was a dream which seems to have ended for me years of mysterious and debilitating chronic ill health. This dream informed me, quite unmistakeably, that I was being poisoned by leaking mercury from my dental fillings, and that I would both need to remove them and undergo chelation therapy in order to entirely expel the toxin from my body. On completion of the dream I instantly awoke, the points from this short sequence fresh and utmost in my mind. It felt a clear message. Though, from where, I have no idea. It was stark enough for me to act upon – it felt worth a shot after years of fruitless research and experimentation. Within a month or so of the replacement of all of my fillings, I felt a marked improvement in my health and, at long last, the beginnings of recovery.
I have been fortunate enough to have these phenomena demonstrate and prove themselves to me over many years, and so, personally, I have no problems imagining how such things could be possible. There are many rational and intelligent people who share this more expansive, interconnected, “magical” perspective. The scientific hypotheses offered to explain these phenomena are often tentative, but they are at least possible thanks to breakthroughs from the “new physics”. The new physics, it should be noted, is actually not so new, much of it already established in the first quarter of the twentieth century. And, yet, most of us continue to frame our world according to the boundaries established by materialistic nineteenth century science, blissfully ignorant of such concepts as the uncertainty principle, nonlocality and the block universe theory of time. ‘Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it,’ said the physicist Niels Bohr. Understood it? Effectively, the culture is yet to even hear of it.
Incontrovertible proof of psychic phenomena has been, however, hard to come by – though some would argue that mainstream science stubbornly resists much good evidence. Despite groundbreaking work by such reputable researchers as Dean Radin, Daryl Bem and Rupert Sheldrake, the sceptics seem able to quickly retake the same territory, and often as controversially.
But, though psi effects may be rare and, naturally, hard to quantify or replicate, I know at least, from personal experience, that such phenomena exist. I wouldn’t expect anyone to believe that hasn’t had it proven by personal experience or scientific research. But, I hope that my novel can at least aid in opening a few minds that have otherwise by default been closed to the possibility.
As we rush towards the transhuman, I’d like to remind of the latent potential in the human, though in a way that resists pulling too hard at the reins and pulling us up completely. Human+ is a cry from the heart, to listen to that same heart, to guide us through the cacophonies of the modern world, safeguarding our psyches and souls, alongside a respect for the potential of our intellects and wonder for its creations, so we can open-eyed and open-mindedly continue penetrating the secrets of our material realm and our own deepest selves.