Sunday, November 02, 2014

Cyberflanerie: Day of the Dead Edition (DeMarco's Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway)

Day of the Dead Altar
at the BUENA VIBRA in
Tepoztlán, Mexico

Posting from Tepoztlán: In Mexico it's actually two days, November 1st and 2nd, and there's lots to say about it (e.g., ye olde Baja Insider excerpt from Miraculous Air). In last minute celebration, herewith a note on Frank DeMarco's Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway.


Remote viewing, psychic readings, animal communication, aura readings, Uri Gelleresque spoon bending, and good old-fashioned Spiritualist and Spiritist and whatever-kind-of mediumship: How do you know it's for real? 

Well, you might ask for a demonstration-- what remote viewer Lyn Buchanan calls the "dog and pony show." Dog and pony shows can be pretty interesting. (Once, at a dinner party, my dad saw Uri Geller, both hands in the air, bend a bunch of keys that were sitting untouched on the table. Oh, do I have Uri Geller stories.) 

doing the 
dog & pony thing
with a spoon
But the problem with these kinds of talents is that they're mediated by a person's mind so, to fully accept such phenomena, and leave behind the insistent niggling doubts, the parade of prancing dogs and dancing ponies (are they not zebras?) may never be enough-- and even when they've performed, and performed again, and again after that in world-renowned laboratoriesFor many people, the truly convincing evidence of a phenomenon comes, if it comes, when they experience it in their own mind.


Here's what I mean: If you've bent a spoon with your mind, well then, you may or may not be convinced that Uri Geller wasn't up to some tricks on the Johny Carson Show, but you know that you can bend a spoon with your mind. 

Similarly, if you've received messages from your dead Uncle Bob, then you may or may not accept what some other medium says that Uncle Bob said, but you know that you can receive information, or least that particular bit from Uncle Bob, from the Other Side. Ditto remote viewing, ditto aura readings, and animal communication. 

But then, should you want to go around making claims about your abilities, and, say, set up a website and accept PayPal for your services, you'll have the problem of doubters demanding your dog and pony show (and all the attendant metaphorical vet bills and poop to scoop).


Apropos of all this, a fancy term I like to throw around (because I can!) is telepistemology, or the study of knowledge at a distance. I first encountered it in Ken Goldberg's recent collection of essays, The Robot in the Garden: Telerobotics and Telepistemology in the Age of the Internet (MIT Press). From the catalog copy:

Why do so many Mexicans believe that
the USA moon landing was a hoax?    
"Telepistemology" to the vocabulary rescue! 
The Robot in the Garden initiates a critical theory of telerobotics and introduces telepistemology, the study of knowledge acquired at a distance. Many of our most influential technologies, the telescope, telephone, and television, were developed to provide knowledge at a distance. Telerobots, remotely controlled robots, facilitate action at a distance. Specialists use telerobots to explore actively environments such as Mars, the Titanic, and Chernobyl. Military personnel increasingly employ reconnaissance drones and telerobotic missiles. At home, we have remote controls for the garage door, car alarm, and television (the latter a remote for the remote). The Internet dramatically extends our scope and reach. Thousands of cameras and robots are now accessible online. Although the role of technical mediation has been of interest to philosophers since the seventeenth century, the Internet forces a reconsideration. As the public gains access to telerobotic instruments previously restricted to scientists and soldiers, questions of mediation, knowledge, and trust take on new significance for everyday life.
How do I know it's real? Just as one could ask that about a webcam purporting to show a robot planting seeds in a garden, one could ask it about a communication from the spirit of, say, Hemingway, through a medium. 

Well, I won't crunch on; let's cut to DeMarco and Hemingway.


Leader of the 1910 Revolution, 
President of Mexico (1911-13), 
and Spiritist medium

In the past few days I've had the privilege of an email exchange with metaphysical publisher, editor, writer, and medium Frank DeMarco, prompted by my sending him an inscribed copy of my latest book, Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution: Francisco I. Madero and His Secret Book, Spiritist Manual. *

[*A note for those of you new to this blog: Madero was the leader of Mexico's 1910 Revolution, President of Mexico from 1911-1913, and a Spiritist medium. In other words, Madero not only believed he could communicate with spirits, he left a Spiritist how-to book, with all the detail one could want down to astral travel and (yes) interplanetary reincarnation. Was Madero, Mexico's "Apostle of Democracy," a nutter? As exotic as all these ideas may sound to some, no, I argue, Madero was perfectly sane; the problem is, most educated people-- and that would include most historians of Mexico-- are entirely unfamiliar with the rich and international esoteric matrix from which Madero learned, developed, and shared his ideas. In particular, I point interested readers to chapter 2 of my book, which focusses on Madero's personal library, which contains works by such luminaries of the esoteric scene as Annie Besant, Madame Blavatsky, Maestro Huiracocha, Allan Kardec, Léon Denis, Papus, Dr. Peebles, Edouard Schuré, Ely Star, and Swami Vivekananda.]

The reason I sent Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution to Frank DeMarco is that I had found his books, The Cosmic Internet: Explanations from the Other Side and (co-authored with Rita Q. Warren) The Sphere and the Hologram: Explanations from the Other Side, valuable in getting my own mind around the idea that it might be possible to communicate with disembodied consciousnesses, how that phenomena might be explained, and the way it which it could be experienced, and so had included them in my bibliography-- and I figured he'd want to know. 

Also, as does anyone who reads more than a few contemporary metaphysical works in English, I soon noticed that a good number of them were published by Hampton Roads-- and it turns out that DeMarco co-founded that press. (He now runs a different press, Hologram Books.) I wasn't looking for a publisher (my book is already published), but I figured, who else besides DeMarco would know more about mediumship, the broad sweep of metaphysical literature, and might-- perhaps-- therefore appreciate the historical and metaphysical importance of Madero's 1911 Manual espírita?

No, I have not seen Big Foot, but 
dear Santa, please bring me
 a pair of Yeti oven mitts
(get yours at
Most people, unschooled in metaphysics, encounter Madero's Spiritism cold, and it can be shocking. (Like this blog post, perhaps?) Most react as they might if, in the midst of an elegant party, back by the bar, Big Foot shuffled in, grabbed a can of Coke, and then melted through the wall. (Err, didn't see that.) Or else, no questions asked, they dismiss Madero as  a "loco." But in between those two reactions, those two thin slices, there is, if I do say so myself, the meatiness of my book. 


(in this dimension)
Publisher, editor, writer,
and writing medium
Frank DeMarco is also the author of Muddy Tracks: Exploring an Unsuspected Reality and Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway and -- I'm slapping my forehead here-- these should have been in my bibliography as well. 

Like Francisco I. Madero before he ascended to the presidency (at which point he relied on "inspiration," or telepathy), DeMarco is a writing medium, that is, he receives messages from the Other Side via his own handwriting.

Francisco I. Madero wrote about his beginnings as a medium, which I summarized in Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution:

In Paris, encouraged by members of his Spiritist circle there, and following the instructions in Kardec’s Le Livre des Médiums, Madero had attempted “automatic writing,” what he terms escritura mecánica, allowing a spirit to control his handwriting, but he had no luck. Now, with greater seriousness, he tried again.
One day, while practicing during a vigil at the bedside of an uncle, his hand jerked and then seemed to take on a life of its own.
In another session, his hand wrote: 
Love God above all things and your neighbor as yourself.

After that, things got pretty spicy-- to the point where, as his mediumnistic note books show, Madero was channeling instructions from various spirits, including "José" and "B.J." in writing his book-- the book which launched the movement to overthrow Porfirio Diaz-- La sucessión presidencial en 1910. (Once finished with that, the spirits advised him that he would write the Manual espírita.) 

Does Yours Truly engage in any automatic writing? No. But I do believe that the mind, whether of a medium, an artist, or, say, a potato farmer, is nonlocal and replete with mystery. 

Well, so, you might be wondering, according to DeMarco, what in thundernation does Hemingway have to say from the Afterlife? 


If you're still with me, but creeped out, or even bristling-- bristling!!-- with disdain, you're experiencing cognitive dissonance. I've struggled with it for years myself as I researched and wrote Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution

Whew, deep breath.


The 1855 Autobiography of Joan of Arc,
"dictated from beyond the tomb"
to 14 yr old Ermance Dufaux
In researching Metaphysical Odyssey into the Mexican Revolution, I encountered a large body of literature purportedly channeled from spirits, including the teenaged French medium Ermance Dufaux's 1855 channeled "autobiography" of Joan of Arc-- the 15th century saint and hero of France, a figure of great reverence for Spiritists. 

Madero, like his well-read Spiritist counterparts of the late 19th century, may have read or at least been aware of this book, for Ermance Dufaux was one of the mediums who assisted Allan Kardec in interviewing the various spirits whose words appear in his classic works on Spiritism.

Madero also had in his personal library some works in English, including one by Dr. Peebles (1822-1922), the peripatetic celebrity Spiritualist lecturer, and I note, as I discovered on a Google search, that trance medium Summer Bacon has not only channeled a book of the long-departed doctor's wisdom, This School Called Planet Earth, but she maintains his blog. Here, for example, is a Dr. Peebles blog post dated 2/23/2013:


(A Lesson In Patience)
"Wash your dishes by hand, it’s lovely. Put your hands in nice hot water. You want to make it go faster? Fill a basin with hot water and ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar, and let it sit there all day long. Into this you put your dishes, and at the end of the day you rinse them off. You don’t even have to scrub them you see? Patience, my dear friend, and it is much better for your beautiful Mother Earth, yah?" 
channeling "Seth"

In exploring this genre, I also came across Edith Ellis's channeled An Autobiography of George WashingtonSusy Smith's The Book of James (William James, That Is), and Jane Roberts' Seth Speaks, Seth being a disembodied spiritual teacher-- just to mention a few. The shelves are groaning. (And maybe in more than one sense.)

How do you know if it's real? Well, folks, I guess you just don't know! But you might, maybe, if you feel so moved, take a look at such books anyway. As they say in New Age circles, see if it "resonates." (As for me, I will take Dr. Peebles' eco-friendly dishwashing advice-- but with the windows wide open because last time I used vinegar on a  saucepan, it got a bit fragrant in there.)


To most readers, I know, DeMarco's Afterlife Conversations with Hemingway sounds preposterous. Yes, it's a record of his conversations beginning in 2004 with the spirit of Hemingway, as in Ernest, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist who committed suicide in 1961. But shovel out whatever gobs of cognitive dissonance might be plaguing you and-- deep breath now-- take a look, and you might find it a very interesting and thought-provoking read.

DeMarco asks all the questions any fan of Hemingway's fiction would ask, as well as the ones anyone familiar with Hemingway's glamorous, globe-trotting and gun-toting image might find curious and/or consternating. On that level, it's a beach-read-- what Hemingway thinks of his marriages now, from the Afterlife, about the African safaris and Cuba, why he disses F. Scott Fitzgerald. Hemingway also tries, and mightily, to set the record straight about his service as a spy in WWII. But there are far deeper and stranger levels in DeMarco's conversations with Hemingway. They discuss Star Trek. On occasion, Carl Jung  pops in to offer his commentary, as does Abraham Lincoln, and TGU (The Guys Upstairs, DeMarco's term for his spirit guides). They cover the nature of time, the soul, and Focus 27. As channeled into DeMarco's pen, Hemingway says:

"Now, this is not a seminar on writing, nor on Hemingway. It is about life and the nature of life. All of this, when you put it together, will serve to provide people another way to see what it is they're about... "
Is it for real? Dear reader, I myself cannot claim to have heard from Hemingway except in the printed pages of his stories and novels. (Have you?)

I do have some recommendations, however, and they hold not just for the uncanny, but for all observations in life, and for that matter, literary travel writing: Avoid the "Big Foot-err-didn't-see-it," and the hostile, flash-dismiss. Question the childish arrogance of the brain, marvelous and powerful as that organ may be, that it can fully comprehend reality and other people. Know that slamming your mind shut is not the same as wisely exercising your discernment. Put your ego, when it starts barking too much, in its crate. For the richest rewards in understanding, keep your mind open for at least a little longer than might feel comfortable; stay curious, for there is power, courage, and untold possibility in admitting, truthfully, "I don't know"-- as does DeMarco himself, many a time.

P.S. See Ken Korczak's review of DeMarco's book, and Seth Godin's post for today, "But Not People Like You."

Hope you had a sweet Halloween.