by Monica Mody on May.20, 2011
If we accept Hannah Weiner’s claim that she was clairvoyant, that she indeed saw words (“I started to see words in August 1972. And I saw them for a year and they were all over the place, coming out of my hair and my toenails, and god-knowswhat.”), then she was in contact with the paranormal.
[*Clairvoyance: Direct nonsensory awareness of (or response to) physical events. – from Stephen Braude’s glossary in The Gold Leaf Lady]
…. I was difflong list erent I was
anybody else I was terrific I also drunken too I was
insolete I was obtained I was original copy I was
insistant who am signa I ture I was also indifferent
And why not believe her words over the overwrought claims put forward by a global mental health industry bent on manufacturing ‘psychiatric conditions’ and ‘mental illnesses’?
Para + normal. Alongside, beyond, contrary to, or altering the normal. But is there a normal? (Whose normal? Why normal? How normal? I just remembered Joyelle McSweeney’s amazing essay about Hannah Weiner’s texts as “disabled texts”.) “There is no difference between a real perception and a hallucination, taken in themselves,” writes Charles Sanders Peirce. The difference is “in respect to the relations of the two cases to other perceptions” (quoted in Stephen Braude, “Peirce on the Paranormal”).
In a fantastic interview Jeffrey Kripal, when asked What does writing about the paranormal require, replies:
A truly open mind. An attempt to think in terms of paradox rather than binary logic. A willingness to entertain the possibility that materialism, objectivism, constructivism, and naïve realism may not have a total purchase on all of cosmic reality, including, and especially, the human form. And, most of all, an impish delight in the weird and wonderful. It also requires a willingness to be tricked from time to time and an understanding that the truth can be hidden in the trick, that the two are not always mutually exclusive, as with a placebo. The paranormal, after all, is a trickster through and through.
Oh wait is the necropastoral paranormal? Is there a difference between writing about the necropastoral and writing a necropastoral? What does writing the paranormal require?
: An openness to instructions, to signals, to Bataillean “raw phenomena”. A refusal to be embarrassed (“Oh, Charles, I don’t have time to be embarrassed! I’m always seeing words!”). UFOs, aka the damned. (“Here we have an impossible stew of fraud, propaganda, secret military projects, paranoia, science fiction, a modern technological angelology and demonology, mystical illuminations, psychical experiences, out-of-body experiences of various kinds, and occasionally some very convincing sightings by multiple reliable witnesses.”) Paranormal forms, maybe a spider or spit (“I bought a typewriter. And I looked at the words all over the place, and said you have three choices: caps, italics, and regular type, and that settled it, that’s all.) and paranormalizing genres. Para-genres which would seek to instantaneously, insistently, intensely, repeatedly expand the genres that comprise “paraliterature” (Samuel Delany: “those texts which the most uncritical literary reader would describe as just not ‘literature'”). Ghostly genres. Mystic genres. Becoming-genres. Sensational genres. Shadowy doubles. Leaky things and animal, flower, stone. Faux folk tales and burlesqued classics.
If poetry itself is (the) paranormal – and art (think Spicer’s dictation, Surrealists’ automatic writing of Surrealists, Rimbaud’s Je est un autre) – but wait – did you say writing comes from the subconscious? I say it’s UFOs, stupid. In any case, does it have to be either/or? Inside/outside? desire/death? – so, anyway, what does that make poetry? A kind of super-intelligent, super-conscious force, perhaps – which wants to do or say what? Are poems messages? Assuming we are getting these messages in time (on time)? I’m not saying they are revelations. Maybe poems are just intelligent in a way that eats normal intelligence, or intelligence you would normally consider intelligent. Maybe their intelligence can neither be explained not believed. “Explanation and belief, after all, represent the epistemologies of the previous Dominants of Science and Religion.”