PART ONE: Non-Extinction
I explore throughout this site the idea that you carry a little painting in your mind that encapsulates in mood, symbol, space, color, and possibilities your concept of the entire world--an image which you rarely, if ever, do anything to alter other than through minor animations and detail-work. The image may be of a small town or a large city; it may be a very tall building or a village inhabited mostly by relatives. The duties, dreams, goals, and relationships of the people in that space and of you to the people in that space serve as a template for all your actions and relationships in the wide world around you. What you see, what you hear, what you believe, and what you are capable of are all defined by that image. You develop that image very young, before, it seems to scientists, the age of 5, and after that, you may shift a hip, a leg; you may paint a wall, or enlarge a window slightly, but the whole of the image itself remains basically the same, unless you focus very, very hard and exert a strenuous conscious effort--unless you change the world, actually. The day you put out your palm and stop a bullet, or pass through a wall, that’s the day you’ve stopped animating your childhood drawing and started taking an active role in your own existence.
If we see what we see and miss what we don’t see because of the perceptual bias that is encoded in that image, and that perceptual bias is based on cultural lessons and experiential lessons from the first five years of life, then it would seem we are forever trapped in a spiral created by things that occurred long before we realized we might have any agency in our own lives. That spiral is the subconscious, generally perceived to be much more powerful than your conscious, and the entity responsible for subverting all those little chants (I can do this, I can do this) and plans you make in your life. You think you want to do something, based on some new information in your life, some new occurrences which led to new ideas, but your subconscious thinks differently, and it always wins. Or you think you saw something, but really, your subconscious didn’t agree with what was actually there, and so it overdubbed the situation (see Bartlett Effect).
This sounds creepy, but is actually quite necessary. The world is filled with teeming atoms, and it’s really too much to see, to process. Look out at the night sky: just the stars you can see are numberless. It is so overwhelming to think of the vastness of space that long, long ago, we began organizing those stars into patterns and constellations. Naming them and giving them stories of a beginning and an end. The big bear, the little dipper, Zeus and his many conquests. That is how the human mind works: we define patterns, and then, in the next step we stop paying attention to things that easily fit into those patterns. Things you see every day are things you don’t stop to notice and wonder about. They no longer overwhelm you, and all that brain power is freed up to deal with other things.
I call the symbolic image of the world which is encoded with your world view a ‘latent image.’ To get an idea of where you are right now--what image your life is based upon-- , you might capture a dream and pick apart all of the symbols in it--the atmosphere, location (indoors? outdoors?), the colors, the balance of light and dark, of civilization and wilderness, the people and their attitudes, the relationships between people, people and objects, objects and objects. Architecture, geography, weather--all these things are alive, somehow; they are talking to you and you are talking to them, even though you’re not consciously aware of those conversations. The study of dreams is a very helpful way to better grasp this concept--because each night, you have different dreams, yet they are all variations on a theme: the theme of your latent image, as inflected in the events of the past 24-48 hours. You can explore that notion through your dreams, with the intensified emotions and moods often found there, and then you can change your latent image, your map of your life, by altering pieces of the dream, sinking back into the feeling of the dream once awake, and changing it, consciously--a little more difficult than it sounds. Then it helps to bring that image into the physical world. A painting or a collage with all the representational pieces, plus your alterations...and when you look at it, pause a moment, and feel the change that you made again. Then keep track of the seemingly unrelated changes that begin to take place in your life. Try to trace them back to that dream.
Madeline said about her self-portrait (see left), “During a previous period of depression in my life, I often experienced a severe sensation of pressure in my cranium. It sometimes felt so unbearable I wished I had a hole in my head! A friend told me, “Maybe you just need to be trepannated!” It was a revelation to discover that this surgery existed and was used therapeutically for centuries.”
In fact, it is a still-used process in cases of traumatic brain injuries, and there are also those who self-trepanate in an effort to reach higher consciousness. In 1965, a Dutchman named Bart Hughes performed this surgery on his own, believing that this act would relieve his brain of cerebrospinal fluid, thus allowing for more blood in the brain, which he theorized would make him some cross between high and enlightened.
What if instead of actually self-trepanating, one imagined the experience, in detail--as Madeline must have as she was creating this painting? If you believed that the act would relieve the pressures of a headache, that belief might act as a placebo; or, your focus on the act of painting, your attention to the details of both the physical process and the actualization of an ideal might have a physical effect on your blood pressure, thus relieving your headache. Just moving your attention, in a focused manner, can alter the physical experience you have of the world.
Given the choice between Hughes’ method and von Foerster’s...well: it’s an easy choice.
Something quite similar was described by hypnotherapist Stephen Heller in his book “Monsters and Magic Sticks:”
“For example, a woman was complaining of a severe headache in my office. She said that it was so bad that she didn’t think we could continue our session. I asked her to close her eyes, and see what color her headache was. She looked at me as if I was crazy. Of course, she was right. I just get paid well for it. Finally, she shrugged her shoulders and closed her eyes. After a short time, she informed me that she did have a picture of colors, and that ‘it seems to be bright reds and oranges.’ I then instructed her to listen to the steady sound of her breathing, and with each exhalation, she would breathe more and more of those colors out of her system. She was told to continue until she could see it ‘all’ across the room, as if a painting hanging on the wall. It was several minutes before she signaled that the picture was on the wall. I asked her to see someone walking into the room, taking the picture off the wall, and to hear that person’s footsteps as he walked out of the room. In less than five minutes she terminated the hypnotic state that she had spontaneously achieved, with the headache gone (pp.43-44).”
Madeline gives another example of the same type of mind-body experience undergone while painting: “The most powerful example of this was when a musician friend asked me to paint the cover art for an album he was making, his own kind of healing catharsis ten years after his wife’s suicide. Even though the image I created was largely peaceful, there was definitely some tension and sorrow in it. During the time I spent on the painting, I experienced horrible sadness, loss, and desolation. If I had had any kind of belief in the supernatural, I would have sworn that I was being inhabited by the woman’s ghost, because I had no great problems in my own life, and the emotions did not feel like my own. But of course it was the manifestation of this imagery/symbolic neurofeedback...By the end of the work I felt a sense of release and peace.”
The idea of being inhabited by the woman’s ghost is such an apt description: we take things into ourselves, much like a haunting. When we focus on a certain feeling, we bring it to life and give it a body to move around in. When we focus on pain, we give pain a body so that it may haunt the world.
Two major themes of Madeline con Foerster’s work are extinction and preservation. She has series of paintings based on the old Cabinets of Curiosities that were the precursors to the modern museum and on Reliquaries, those icons or statues with openings or drawers for the bones or other personal mementos of saints one finds in cathedrals.
She notes an odd disconnect between those things that are so beautiful, that we love, but that we will drive to extinction in order to ‘own’ them. In a video-recorded interview made about her painting “The Red Thread” (below), she gives an example of that in the tale of the Great Auk, which is now believed to be extinct:“...and I think when there were something like 40 of the birds left...38 of them were killed for museum specimens.”
I was immediately reminded of the passage in Out of Africa, by Isaak Denisen, in which she kills an iguana to capture the color and flash of its skin, perhaps to make something out of it, and makes an important discovery:
“In the reserve I have sometimes come upon the iguanas, the big lizards, as they were sunning themselves upon a flat stone in a river-bed. They are not pretty in shape, but nothing can be imagined more beautiful than their colouring. They shine like a heap of precious stones or like a pane cut out of an old church window. When, as you approach, they swish away, there is a flash of azure, green, and purple over the stones, the colour seems to be standing behind them in the air, like a comet's luminous tail.
Once I shot an iguana. I thought that I should be able to make some pretty things from his skin. A strange thing happened then, that I have never afterwards forgotten. As I went up to him, where he was lying dead upon his stone, and actually while I was walking the few steps, he faded and grew pale; all colour died out of him as in one long sigh, and by the time that I touched him he was grey and dull like a lump of concrete. It was the live impetuous blood pulsating within the animal which had radiated out all that glow and splendour. Now that the flame was put out, and the soul had flown, the iguana was as dead as a sandbag.
Often since I have, in some sort, shot an iguana, and I have remembered the one in the Reserve. Up at Meru I saw a young Native girl with a bracelet on, a leather strap two inches wide, and embroidered all over with very small turquoise-coloured beads which varied a little in colour and played in green, light blue, and ultramarine. It was an extraordinarily live thing; it seemed to draw breath on her arm, so that I wanted it for myself, and made Farah buy it from her. No sooner had it come upon my own arm than it gave up the ghost. It was nothing now, a small, cheap, purchased article of finery. It had been the play of colours, the duet between the turquoise and the 'nègre' -- that quick, sweet, brownish black, like peat and black pottery, of the Native's skin that had created the life of the bracelet.
In the Zoological Museum of Pietermaritzburg, I have seen, in a stuffed deep-water fish in a showcase, the same combination of colouring, which there had survived death; it made me wonder what life can well be like, on the bottom of the sea, to send up something so live and airy. I stood in Meru and looked at my pale hand and at the dead bracelet. It was as if an injustice had been done to a noble thing, as if truth had been suppressed. So sad did it seem that I remembered the saying of the hero in a book that I had read as a child: "I have conquered them all, but I am standing among graves."
In a foreign country and with foreign species of life one should take measures to find out whether things will be keeping their value when dead. To the settlers of East Africa I give the advice: 'For the sake of your own eyes and heart, shoot not the Iguana.'”
(above and below images by Madeline von Foerster)
Madeline says: “The wooden ‘cabinets’ in my paintings typically represent a single tree species and are filled or surrounded with other species that rely on the tree (or the ecosystem where it grows) for their survival” (Source: Orion, June 2011). Through the glow of her spectacular technique mixing egg tempera and oil paints, and by pulling together as many of the ‘collection’ of interacting entities as she can, she returns color and life, at some level, to these endangered or missing species. This act can have larger consequences than you might think.
(Above: The Red Thread, by Madeline von Foerster)
The process, to me, ties back in with the whole idea of a latent image: she is re-imagining the world with these beings in it, in full color and vibrancy, and she is reminding us, by showing us their beauty through her wonderful technique, that we love them. In the above painting, The Red Thread, your eye can move left to right, from loss to life, the thread/vein of those now extinct is re-infused with life (perhaps by the bird?) and goes through the arms of the female, and into her lap, from which it trails to living, breathing creatures. I almost like to see the turtle melding with the pelican to create some other, not-yet-known creature, a cryptid, perhaps. There are those who face the world’s ridicule and bravely strike out to seek such cryptids, and to seek out those creatures we believe to be extinct. And sometimes they find them:
“Recently, researchers in Tanzania spotted a Lowe's servaline genet, a graceful, mongoose-like carnivore last seen in 1932, and widely considered to be extinct. Not long before that, the golden-crowned manakin, a South American bird, resurfaced for the first time since its discovery in 1957.” --(Source: When "Ghost" Species Return From Extinction; Scott Wiedensaul;Special for National Geographic News; July 9, 2002)
(Last of the Above Photos: The Okapi, also believed for a long time to be extinct. Source: http://www.learnanimals.com/okapi/pictures.php
Look at the amazing patterns and color! How could you miss this animal walking by?)
“On occasion, the ghosts return after an absence that covers not decades, but centuries. The plump seabird known as the cahow, or Bermuda petrel, was considered extinct as early as 1620, eaten out of existence by hungry Europeans who plucked the tame bird from its nest burrows. Yet in 1951, a tiny colony was found on a rocky islet off Bermuda, where they had managed to avoid notice for more than 300 years. Nor is that the most extreme example. In the Canary Islands, a large species of lizard was rediscovered in 1999, a full five centuries after its supposed extinction.” (Wiedensaul)
This is magic: look again. I’ve argued many times here that by seeing a harmful and vicious world, we make it so; by focusing on stories of doom and hatred and the endless cycle of killing, we make those stories stronger and more real. They reverberate in the universe and come back to us, the echo hollow and pained. Magic is where we focus on the story of something else, thereby making it more real. Imagine being the intrepid explorer that insists she will find a new cahow. She wants a world with a cahow in it, and she goes off on the most ridiculous, scientifically-unfounded search one can imagine, calling upon herself the ridicule of her entire professional community and anyone else who might happen to pass the television when her expedition is mentioned. Yet she (or he) changed the world.
For 109 years, the shrew was believed to be extinct, until Fernando Cervantes and Lazaro Guevara went searching for it in the forest slopes of the San Martin Tuxtla volcano. To imagine the difficulty of this ridiculously impossible search, take out your ruler. The shrew is less than 10 centimeters long from nose to tail. They live on this volcano, which erupted in 1793, destroying every living piece of vegetation around its crater--vegetation which regrows to be a cloud forest, one characterized by having a persistent canopy-level cloud cover.
Yet in that impossible realm, they found them. Nelson’s small-eared shrew lives.
One more: for the past 60 years, the Ascension Island parsley fern was believed to be extinct. In 2010, Olivia Renshaw and Stedson Shroud were rappelling down the island’s Green Mountain, a steep volcano, when they saw--by chance-- 4 tiny, sickly parsley ferns. What is spectacular about this story is that they were not only able to see this plant, know that they were seeing it, believe it--and see from the image below how tiny it is--
(Image of Parsley Fern by ZUMA press.)
but they also were willing to slide down the volcano side, surrounded by safety ropes and the imminent threat of death, twice a week to nurse the plant back to health. Then they collected a few small sample spores to take to London’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, where 60 are now growing in cultures.
Wiedensaul ends his article by saying: “This is still a wide and infinitely surprising world we live in, and...conservationists have learned never to say never when it comes to lost species.”
Madeline says something very similar: “It is my hope that art-makers worldwide succeed in our mammoth task -- that of changing the current omnicidal tide of culture -- before everything worth saving on this planet has been razed, or eaten. I believe there is still time to make a new myth. There is still a chance for imagination to rise to power.”
And she is leading in that rise with her work, is she not? Thank you, Madeline.
Part II: Uncharted Territory: Gina Litherland, Nikola Tesla, and the Eidetic Image
(Queen of Uncharted Territory, by Gina Litherland)
So, seeing what an effect our own worldview can have on the existence of the world we are viewing, let’s return to how we might change a faulty, self-destructive latent image:
In recognizing that image and its power we can alter it, though it takes a lot more effort once we're past those tender years of constant play and imagination and we’re fully immersed--and invested-- in an image. One powerful method, mentioned before, is to work with your dreams, lucidly re-entering them and changing certain aspects, much like moving the furniture around your house to create a more open mood or the room necessary to knock down a wall and add some widows, etc.
Not good at recalling your dreams? Haven't been successful at achieving lucidity? There are other ways...
The Surrealists tried all types of automatic techniques to allow their subconscious to speak over their egos. There were Exquisite Corpses, which were sentences, poems, stories, or even images put together piece by piece by different players, none of whom could see more than a sliver of what the person before him/her had wrought. Thus your subconscious is directing the communication--both how you try to communicate with others and how they respond to you is a result of the way you are perceiving the universe, and it’s interesting to take part in an activity that reminds you that what’s outside your body is affected by this ‘latent image’. You think you just happen to live in the neighborhood where all the jerks are, but tomorrow they could all be different--if you’re able to change your beliefs.
(Left Image: Lilly-Putians, by Immy and Mark Tattam. Again, this was divided into a top-half and a bottom-half, with only a sliver of the first part exposed to guide the second artist.)
Lillyputians were very tiny people created by writer Jonathan Swift in his novel Gulliver’s Travels. Their name became synonymous with being not just tiny in size, but trivial or petty, due to the satirical nature of his work. In the above image, they have surfaced as a result of a top/bottom collaborations: what was a stamen becomes a neck, or the flamboyant hair of a person on a television screen. To me, this image is the evolution of the Lilliputians to something higher. The people are tiny, and their heads are blooms, and the mechanical bits of the bottom merge seamlessly into the flora of the top. Which, when I think about it, is the opposite of how humanity tends to work, at least in the West: we tend to be a bit machine-like with our brains, wanting rules and repeatable experiments and evidence, but a little more animalistic with the body. Here, these beings seem to float—they are not rooted, as plants would be—, and they are further “raised up” by the size of the lovely blooms. Their transition is a transcendence.
If all this seems very professional to you (as it does to me), and therefore difficult to pull off with the necessary sense of ‘play,’ you can try it the way the Surrealists did: by cutting out pieces from magazines and old texts. Someone starts at the top of the page, puts his/her “head”, covers all but a sliver and passes it to the next person.
Try it with words. Give each player a part of speech, in this order: Article, adjective, noun, verb, article, adjective, noun. Everyone writes down his/her word without peeking at the others', and they are recorded and revealed as a sentence.
From this process, of course, one could take one’s favorite parts of various of these sentences and let his consciousness have a go at continuing on with it, using the so-created surprising metaphors and connections to develop something quite grand. Or…leave it as is.
Another way to let the subconscious speak was/is through the technique of Decalcomania. This is done by slopping paint onto a paper or some other surface and then pressing that paper with another and peeling it off. Or folding the paper in half and pressing to create a mirror image. Or pressing that paper onto your canvas and peeling it off. The result leaves chance impressions that can then be developed into whatever images seem to be wanting to emerge.
(Image to the right: lion bicycle created via decalcomania by Oscar Dominguez.)
As another example, Gina Litherland says of her painting process:
"While some of my paintings begin with an idea that I have been ruminating over for some time, or are inspired by a particularly compelling book or folktale, others occur quite spontaneously, beginning with a decalcomania underpainting which suggests forms that emerge and develop into a personal narrative. The act of painting becomes a complete process of revelation. A mysterious narrative emerges, Rorschach-like, from a turbulent, chaotic ground of color and texture. Myths, dreams, memories, and phantoms of pigment suspended in medium are in continuous dialogue with one another. Dormant images ignite slowly, as our eyes adjust to their dark submerged brilliance."
(Left Image: Scholar of the Dark Armchair, by Gina Litherland.)
"The imagination is a wilderness--liberating, ecstatic, waiting to grow and fly and howl. From a brush dipped in verdigris or terre verte, wilderness waits to creep vinelike over canvases and panels, curling and flowing, collecting on the edges of forms like frost, and sleeping in deep pools of viridian and ultramarine. It grows from poetic associations, unfolding its leaves to reveal shadows and phrases momentarily obscured from view." (Litherland)
It grows from poetic associations.
So once you have an image, revel in it. Make it eidetic. This is key; this is what makes it like a dream, a lucid dream. (Below: Don Juan of the Wilderness, by Gina Litherland.)
The Eidetic Image:
Eidetic: adjective: “relating to or denoting mental images having unusual vividness and detail, as if actually visible.” noun: “a person able to form or recall eidetic images.” This word was a German term coined in the 1920s from the Greek eidētikos , which is from eidos, ‘form.’
Those who can see eidetic images claim that they are so real, they can be inspected for newly-discovered detail, as if the object were actually present, and not simply remembered. The object seems to take physical space, to exist again in front of them, but only for them and not those around them--this is an escape from the limits of consensual reality, in a sense; it is a crack in the wall. The eidetic viewer can see what you can’t, and what he/she sees is as much a physical reality, for him/her, as it would be if you could also see it.
You can try to understand this through over-stimulation of your retina. A blinding flash will often leave a thickly present image on the back of your lids of whatever was in the flash--however, the image jumps and leaves too quickly, and you cannot really inspect it. That type of image is only useful to suggest the thickness, the difference in fullness, of what an eidetic sees. A holograph is another way to think about it. The object, not touchable/tangible or physically present, is nevertheless available for true inspection; more detail than you recall about the object, even more than you actually saw (for example, you can go around the object and see its back-side) is present. Another aspect of this image is that the attendant sound and emotive effects are present; if the image (which can be even a lengthy memory of an event) is present, the entire feeling of the experience of that image is present. This is like what happens under hypnosis or a hallucination: you sink into the image, you exist there, where it “was”--that is how you are able to go around the object, or notice new details about the event. It’s how you re-enter a dream lucidly. It is also (I would posit) how one really manages time travel--because remember that what we’re in right now is an eidetic image; no ‘present’ is any more real than another.
In ‘Sinister Yogis,’ David Gordon White writes of an ancient technique of eidetic imaging, and quotes a fifth-century Buddhist text in which such a type of meditation, kasina meditation, is described: "The meditator then concentrates on the meditation object until an eidetic image of it can be recalled at will whether or not the external object is present. Briefly, this is a means by which external stimuli can be interiorized, a psychotropic technique by means of which all mental activity can be brought to a single point and concentrated there..." He suggests that at the time of the writings on that meditation, the meditators might have been using oil lamps to contemplate religious cave paintings in this manner:
"The walls of a fifth- to seventh-century Buddhist cave shrine at Simsim, in Chinese Turkestan, for example, are painted with representations of the world of humans on its lower walls, with fabulous mountains above these and the firmament with its supernatural powers at the summit of the vault. The Buddha image inside the cave, half enclosed by the stone into which it is cut, is surrounded by a great, flaming halo, a sunburst of light..."
Staring at this recessed image in the light of an oil lamp against the deep black of the darkness of the cave would make the image against your eyelids very strong once you closed your eyes, and it would stay for some time. Practicing like this, one would then hope to be able to call the image up in its completeness at any time, day or night, in any place and in any situation. The image would then become central to the meditator, almost the effect of carrying a saint within oneself.
In Lucid Waking: Mindfulness and the Spiritual Potential of Humanity, Georg Feuerstein also talks about Buddhist masters of this technique:
"We can witness the same kind of astonishing visualization in some meditation masters of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, who are able to construct complex and extraordinarily vivid inner images of various deities and their divine environments...Also, they are able to maintain these visualizations for hours at a time, during which they move deeper and deeper into the mysterious multilevel world of consciousness."
He shows how this type of imaging will then carry over into physical reality:
"Other Tibetan yogis are able to create so much body heat through visualization that they can sit naked at the top of Himalayan mountain peaks and dry wet cloths on their bare skin, melting the snow around them to boot. Since this extraordinary accomplishment has been captured on film, we know that this is not mere legend or wishful thinking."
But it's not just Buddhists; Feuerstein also talks about Nikola Tesla, who (more than Thomas Edison!) created ways to transmit power over long distances without the use of wires.
Feuerstein says: "Tesla was apparently capable of such vivid visualization, or internal imaging, that he could test his electrical machines without having to build or even draw them. He allowed them to run in his imagination, checked in with them regularly, and determined the wear and tear after so many hours of purely imaginary running. He improved his hypothetical machines by making the appropriate adjustments in his mental imagery. When he was satisfied that an invention was running at optimal performance, he would finally set about building it. His mental simulations invariably proved accurate."
Is it even possible that he made them real before they existed? That they worked because first he imagined them working? And what did he create but light and heat and sound via electricity, this magical power (recall Galvini's experiments attempting to re-inject life in corpses via electrical stimulus, and the later stories of Frankenstein) from the universe brought into our homes? He changed the world, through his imaging.
(Left: Publicity photo of Tesla in his Colorado Springs Lab in 1899 by Dickenson V. Alley)
According to Wikipedia:
"At the 1893 World's Fair, the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, an international exposition was held which, for the first time, devoted a building to electrical exhibits. It was a historic event as Tesla and George Westinghouse introduced visitors to AC power by using it to illuminate the Exposition. On display were fluorescent lamps developed by Westinghouse and single node bulbs. An observer noted:
‘Within the room was suspended two hard-rubber plates covered with tin foil. These were about fifteen feet apart, and served as terminals of the wires leading from the transformers. When the current was turned on, the lamps or tubes, which had no wires connected to them, but lay on a table between the suspended plates, or which might be held in the hand in almost any part of the room, were made luminous. These were the same experiments and the same apparatus shown by Tesla in London about two years previous, "where they produced so much wonder and astonishment".”
At the same fair, Tesla demonstrated the first neon light tubes, and he powered the Exposition itself with AC electricity, which was then proven to be a huge improvement over Thomas Edison’s DC Power. Out of anger, Edison used AC currents to create the first electric chair for New York, in order to show that the type of current Tesla was using was deadly.
AC is the type of current we still use, however, and it is hugely more efficient than DC power; Edison eventually had to concede to that fact, and his company switched over to AC power. Tesla also created the first remote-control devices, and demonstrated the first such radio-controlled boat.
The thing about Tesla is this: he was making , basically, spooky action at a distance. Until he figured it out, you couldn't make a rowboat you weren't touching in any way (ie via wires or your hands) move. It was magic. Recall the Arthur C. Clarke quote about any technology, insufficiently understood, being the same as magic. The point here is Tesla was able to imagine doing it, focus on that imagined action, and then pull it out into reality. He changed the world.
At the Velvet Rocket , Justin Ames describes Tesla’s work:
“In 1899, Tesla moved his research to Colorado Springs where he devoted himself to experiments with high voltage and electrical transmission over distances. Here he constructed electrical devices of Dr. Frankenstein proportions, most notably his Magnifying Transmitter, a 52-foot diameter electrical coil that was capable of generating millions of volts and sending lightning arcs 130-feet long. Witnesses claimed that they saw a blue glow like St. Elmo’s Fire emanating from the environs of the laboratory, with sparks emitting from the ground as they walked. On one occasion, a backfeeding power surge blacked out the whole of Colorado Springs.”
As I mentioned above with the cryptid-seekers, you can’t worry too much about ridicule or the reactions of others...
In his autobiography, My Inventions, Tesla said
"In my boyhood...When a word was spoken to me, the image of the object it designated would present itself vividly to my vision, and sometimes I was quite unable to distinguish whether what I saw was tangible or not.
The theory I have formulated is that the images were the result of a reflex action from the brain on the retina under great excitation. They certainly were not hallucinations such as are produced in diseased and anguished minds, for in other respects I was normal and composed.
To give an idea of my distress, suppose that I had witnessed a funeral or some such nerve-racking spectacle. Then, inevitably, in the stillness of night, a vivid picture of the scene would thrust itself before my eyes and persist, despite all my efforts to banish it. Sometimes it would even remain fixed in space though I pushed my hand through it.
If my explanation is correct, it should be possible to project on a screen the image of any object one conceives, and so make it visible (10)."
Now, consider this a ratcheting up of the intensity of the world as you experience it. You see perhaps not a particular funeral but the nightly news, in which things are constantly exploding, dying, being endangered or molested, etc. See how he experiences it with so much intensity, and so he is forced to do something about it. And what does he do?
"To free myself of these tormenting appearances, I tried to concentrate my mind on something else I had seen, and in this way I would often obtain temporary relief; but in order to achieve it, I had to conjure continuously new images. If was not long before I found that I had exhausted all of those at my command; my 'reel' had run out, as it were, because I had seen so little of the world--only objects in my home and the immediate surroundings....Then I instinctively commenced to make excursions beyond the limits of the small world of which I had knowledge, and I saw new scenes. These were at first very blurred and indistinct, and would flit away when I tried to concentrate my attention upon them, but by and by I succeeded in fixing them; they gained in strength and distinctness, and finally assumed the concreteness of real things. I soon discovered that my best comfort was attained if I simply went on in my vision farther and farther, getting new impressions all the time, and so I began to travel--of course in my mind. Every night (and sometimes during the day), when alone, I would start on my journeys--see new places, cities and countries--live there, meet people and form friendships, and meet acquaintances and -- however unbelievable-- it is a fact that they were just as dear to me as those in real life, and not a bit less intense in their manifestations.
This I did constantly until I was about seventeen, when my thoughts turned seriously to invention. Then I observed to my delight that I could visualize with the greatest facility. I needed no models, drawings or experiments. I could picture them all as real in my mind. Thus I had been led unconsciously to evolve what I consider to be a new method of materializing inventive concepts and ideas, which is radically opposite to the purely experimental, and is in my opinion ever so much more expeditious and efficient."
This is important, because this is where he explains what you're doing when you work on the latent image in your mind of the world you want to be able to see, as opposed to just tinkering with the physical world around you, which is no more than animating the latent image you already carry:
"The moment one constructs a device to carry into practice a crude idea, he finds himself unavoidably engrossed with the details and defects of the apparatus. As he goes on improving and reconstructing, his force of concentration diminishes, and he loses sight of the great underlying principle. Results may be obtained, but always at the sacrifice of quality."
The studies in the field of psychiatry that have been done on this subject suggest that children around 7-14 are highly likely to have this kind of memory or imagery, and that adults are highly unlikely to. As you grow, it becomes less spontaneous; you have to try, and the energy/interest doesn’t seem to be there. It would seem that this degeneration of the eidetic ability is a result of our coming to more completely accept what is in front of us (the consensual reality, based upon our ‘latent image’) as the only possibility, thus forgetting the agency we could have. Eidetic imaging is a sign of our agency--for being able to see, fully and in all detail, what the person next to you cannot, and being able to accept that vision enough to take the time to inspect it and acknowledge and believe what you have seen is to recognize that you need not be constricted by consensual reality. If you can see it and inspect it, isn’t the next step simply an additional thickening--just a little bit more than what you already have in front of you, and the objects are physical? And if you can convince the person next to you of your vision, then the fingers will feel it when either of you reaches out to test it: the tactile sense, remember, happens in the mind, which is why an amputee can feel a limb, and why, if that amputated limb then brings him considerable pain, he can relieve it by enacting stretches and exercises of the opposite limb by a mirror, convincing his mind that both sides are doing the relieving exercises.
So enter the image, whatever image you have decided on. Feel all of it, use all your senses. Then start tweaking. In the den of your mind, add a chair. A chair of a color that doesn't match the others. Add a pattern. Change the lighting. Move the table. Did you discover a secret hatch underneath it? Maybe you don't see it yet, but go out into the world now, 'awake', aware, and you will stumble onto a secret hatchway of sorts. When it happens, pay attention. Notice that you have just worked magic, because noticing this boosts your belief in your ability, and that belief boosts your ability.
Then come back and tell me about it.