Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred

Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred

by Jeffrey J. Kripal

Paperback(New Edition)

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Most scholars dismiss research into the paranormal as pseudoscience, a frivolous pursuit for the paranoid or gullible. Even historians of religion, whose work naturally attends to events beyond the realm of empirical science, have shown scant interest in the subject. But the history of psychical phenomena, Jeffrey J. Kripal contends, is an untapped source of insight into the sacred and by tracing that history through the last two centuries of Western thought we can see its potential centrality to the critical study of religion.

Kripal grounds his study in the work of four major figures in the history of paranormal research: psychical researcher Frederic Myers; writer and humorist Charles Fort; astronomer, computer scientist, and ufologist Jacques Vallee; and philosopher and sociologist Bertrand Méheust. Through incisive analyses of these thinkers, Kripal ushers the reader into a beguiling world somewhere between fact, fiction, and fraud. The cultural history of telepathy, teleportation, and UFOs; a ghostly love story; the occult dimensions of science fiction; cold war psychic espionage; galactic colonialism; and the intimate relationship between consciousness and culture all come together in Authors of the Impossible, a dazzling and profound look at how the paranormal bridges the sacred and the scientific.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226453873
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 10/30/2011
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 616,395
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jeffrey J. Kripal is the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University. He is the author of several books, including Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion and The Serpent’s Gift:Gnostic Reflections on the Study of Religion.

Table of Contents


An Impossible Opening: The Magical Politics of Bobby Kennedy

Introduction: Off the Page

Definitions and Broken Lineages

Restoring a Lineage

Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal as Meaning

The Fantastic Narrative of Western Occulture: The Paranormal as Story

1 The Book as Séance: Frederic Myers and the London Society for Psychical Research

After Life

Myers and the Founding of the S.P.R.

The Subliminal Gothic: The Human as Two

The Supernormal and Evolution: The World as Two

Telepathy: The Communications Technology of the Spirit

The Perfect Insect of the Imaginal

The Telepathic and the Erotic: Myers’s Platonic Speech


2 Scattering the Seeds of a Super-Story: Charles Fort and the Fantastic Narrative of Western Occulture

The Parable of the Peaches: Fort’s Mischievous Monistic Life

Collecting and Classifying the Data of the Damned: Fort’s Comparative Method

The Three Eras or Dominants: Fort’s Philosophy of History

The Philosophy of the Hyphen: Fort’s Dialectical Monism

Galactic Colonialism: Fort’s Science Mysticism and Dark Mythology

Evolution, Wild Talents, and the Poltergeist Girls: Fort’s Magical Anthropology

3 The Future Technology of Folklore: Jacques Vallee and the UFO Phenomenon

Forbidden Science (1957–69)

Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers (1969)

The Invisible College (1975)

The Present Technology of Folklore: Computer Technology and

Remote Viewing in the Psychic Underground

The Alien Contact Trilogy and the Mature Multiverse Gnosis

Sub Rosa: The Three Secrets

The Hermeneutics of Light: The Cave Become Window

4 Returning the Human Sciences to Consciousness: Bertrand Méheust and the Sociology of the Impossible

A Double Premise

Méheust and the Master

Science Fiction and Flying Saucers

The Challenge of the Magnetic and the Shock of the Psychical

“If Only One of These Facts . . .”: The Impossible Case of Alexis Didier

The Collective Mind: Bateson, De Martino, Vallee, and Jung

Agent X: Projection Theory Turned Back on Itself

Conclusion: Back on the Page

The Eclipse of the Sacred and the Psyche in Modern Oblivion

Consciousness, Culture, and Cognition: The Fantastic Structure of the Mind-Brain

From Realization to Authorization: Toward a Hermeneutics of the Impossible


Impossible (Dis)Closings: Two Youthful Encounters

Required Reading (That Is Never Read ): A Select Annotated Bibliography

Some More Damned Anecnotes


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