Many theories and mechanisms have been proposed to explain paranormal events. These include psychokinesis, telepathy among the living or between the living and the dead, retrocausality, and so on. I find that these ideas have much to recommend them, and there are certain events which they explain quite satisfactorily.
However, the vast bulk of my own experiences don’t fit persuasively into these models. The events I document in “Chimeras of Burning Man” are a good example, with meaning and relationship unfolding over decades in the landscape, the artworld, on pirate radio, between people and in the dreamworld.
Over the last year I’ve developed two metaphors which, to my mind, convey a better feel for whatever mechanisms produce these meaning clusters which step out of our minds and into the world around us. Neither is an explanation, but one or both may give interested persons sufficient insight to be able to recognize the role of consciousness in these strange events as they unfold in your own field of awareness.
If you strike a tuning fork and hold it near a fork tuned to the same pitch, the unstruck fork will begin to resonate in sympathy with the first. If you add weight to the second fork and try once more, the second fork will no longer resonate as it is no longer identical or ‘in tune’ with the first.
Consider pitch as meaning and attention as vibration. Concentrated, undivided attention given to a particular meaning will cause objects, actors and situations with the same meaning to vibrate noticeably in your field of awareness, while actors, situations and objects not tuned to the same meaning-pitch remain unaffected.
Everyone I know enjoys a fire while camping, but it’s tricky to get one started and to keep it going. One must pay close attention to the amount of oxygen supplied to the various parts of the fire. Blowing on or fanning the air around a smoldering fire will cause already burning parts of the wood to glow brighter or burst into flame as the additional oxygen facilitates the chemical reaction which has already begun.
Again, consider attention and meaning. Here, attention is the fresh oxygen which causes the meaning – the smoldering bits of wood – to come to life and be immediately distinct from their surroundings. Blowing on a lethargic fire will not cause new swathes of unburnt wood to flare up, it simply reveals areas where a process is already in progress.
In the case of both metaphors the addition of ‘attention’ simply reveals pre-existing truths about the nature of the object, actors or situation (‘meaning’) which is activated by sympathetic vibration or addition of fuel. You will notice the vibrating fork or the glowing coal, but this is not due solely to your own mental predilection. You notice these differences because the behavior of these aspects of reality has been influenced by tangible forces.