Re: Attempt to put Paranormal discussion in context

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sun Jan 01 2006 - 12:19:08 MST

At 10:36 AM 1/1/2006 -0800, Jef wrote:

> > Personally, I see all of it -- us and our subjective experience, and
> > the unpredictability that accompanies insufficient context -- in
> > mechanical terms, and strangely, I feel that my viewpoint enhances,
> > rather than diminishes, the mystery and romance of human experience.

But what else could it be but mechanism (for some quantum-based and
semiosis-mediated value of "mechanism")?

What is at issue, IMO, is the density, opacity, elaborateness of those
mechanisms we call "human". Rigorous training can get us to emulate much
simpler machines, within certain boundary conditions, but the rest of the
machinery has an annoying way of intruding unpredictably. (Parenthetically,
one of the subtle and compelling aspects of Philip K. Dick's fiction is the
way in which his characters veer away from the traditional rational
give-and-take of expository conversation and decision-making in sf,
abruptly reversing course, for example, to the dismay of the other
characters. Yet these jinks and swerves are not random, in retrospect,
given an accumulating understanding of the characters' backgrounds,
confused or ambiguous states of mind, or simple mammalian capricious

Damien Broderick

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