Thursday, March 5, 2009

Mental texting

Mark Twain called it "mental telegraphy" - mind reaching to mind and transmitting a message without need of other technology or ordinary speech. I'm going to update the phrase and call it "mental texting". We all know this phenomenon. Wethink of someone and the next moment that person (from whom we may not have heard in a long time) calls on the phone, or sends a text message, or turns up on the doorstep. Two personal examples from my current life on the road in Portland, Oregon:

Wednesday, March 4. Portland OR
A father's death

At a cheerfully anarchic community radio station where the news director is (literally) a bearded lady of the kind we saw in old-time circus sideshows, I flub a story I have told a hundred times. It involves a big dream before my mother's death. Actually, I tell the story correctly the first time, then go back and say, "I meant to refer to my father's death."

After the show, I ask myself why on earth I changed the details of a story that is absolutely central to my life to set it in the context of my father's death. Within a few hours, I am given three reasons. First, the talk show host speaks with deep emotion of the circumstances of his own father's death. Next, I receive an email right after the show from a close friend I have not seen in many years telling me she is flying to her family home because of her father's death the same day. She describes a vivid dream from a few days before in which his death appeared to be a wedding, and comments on how she felt the dream had prepared both of them for his crossing. Third, in the hotel lounge that evening I strike up a conversation with a woman who tells me she is in town to support her 86-year-old father, who is in a comatose state at a nearby nursing home; she is not sure whether he is coming back or getting ready to leave. We discuss how she may be able to "look in on him" and help to clarify his wishes and the right paths to follow.

Thursday, March 5 Portland OR

I rise at 4 am today to record a very exciting dream with some "Indiana Jones" elements, in which an anthropoligist who proved to be a sorcerer tried to blind me and succeeded, in part, for a time. As I write my report, I reflect on how blindness is a rare element in my dreams, and being blinded is quite novel. When I check my BlackBerry, I find that a friend on the East Coast sent me a dream report while I was asleep that features a highly-charged episode in which she is blinded as part of an evil plot. This may be an example of mental texting, producing dream overlap.


Anna said...

I love this kind of thing Robert, it makes me realize how powerful the mind can be when we don't realize it. I posted two such stories on the forum in this same post, and even today it amazes me even though I find myself doing this sort of thing all the time. What I did't tell on the forum was the kind of connection I have with one of our friends here. He goes away working for long periods at a time and never tells us when he is coming back. But for some reason I will alway know when he is back. I will think of him out of the blue and know he will show up within the next few days and rarely am I wrong. One day I was napping on the lounge, didn't hear from him for about 3 months. I woke suddenly thinking 'gee, he'll be here in a minute, sure enough he is at the door looking for a coffee. Yet this happens all the time with this particular guy. don't know why him and no one else though, he is the only friend I will argue with!!!
Facinating subject this.

Anna said...

OK, Now I knew this would happen, no sooner did I post the above comment when this guy rings me, no kidding. Happens all the time. He is going to be home tomorrow. I only just posted this story. Howzzat!!!!!
Just thought I would share that with you.

Robert Moss said...

Hi Anna - Well that's a very good example of what we are discussing. We have the telephone, and the telepath. Mark Twain would have enjoyed this.

Dorothy said...

This is how the natural world communicates. It's very interesting to 'hear' how the non-humans think of things. I knew that as a child. I think every child knows that, but suppresses it to survive in the human world.