I’ve always seen myself as a person much grounded in daily and mundane realities, despite a strong tendency to zoom out from the messy, loathesome details. At the same time, I have this imagination, running in parallel, that could zoom into the wildest scenarios in my mind. What totally grips me, every so often, is when a recurring, connect-the-dots pattern jumps out of the clutter and shows some definite link between reality and my wild imaginings.
I remember from childhood one notable incident when I was, oh maybe 8 or 9. As I indicated in other blog pieces, ours was a big household. I was often in the kitchen and laundry area, where we also had a farm-type hearth, checking out stuff while our Manang Aning and other household help puttered around.
I was particularly fond of playing with soapy suds and bubbles while Manang A. et al. did the laundry. This was especially enjoyable if you knew the gumamela-leaf trick. (Doesn’t every boy and girl know this trick nowadays?) I often peered closely at every soapy bubble’s surface as it floated across the backyard. It would wobble up and down, displaying all colors of the rainbow against the sunlight. Minute eddys would swirl on its surface as if they were tiny cloud banks and ocean currents and fast-drifting continents on a tiny Earth’s surface—until the film of bubble gradually thinned, becoming nearly invisible. Then the poor bubble would pop into a tiny droplet that fell to the ground, still and spent.
At one such moment, a thought struck me: “What if the Earth and other planets are really like that soapy bubble, but playing at large scales and in very slow motion?” From then on, making soap bubbles and watching them float away was no longer a child’s game, but an odd fascination. I would shiver at the recurring thought of tiny worlds and their ephemeral lives, in an indescribable combination of curiosity and cosmic terror.
Thus, imagine my surprise when, 3-4 years later as a PSHS freshman, I would read a standard college textbook on geology that explained in detail the science of planet formation and plate tectonics. My childish idea of cosmic soap bubbles were true after all—but this time expressed in the words of exact science, writ ultra-large and mega-slow on the cosmic wall!
Kabsat Kandu, the master of snide remarks, reminds me: “It’s not science, not even prescience. It’s mere childish speculation, or coincidence.” Maybe. But I recall at least a dozen such eureka moments as a fantasy-obsessed child and later teenager. Practical nano-tech, drones the size of bees? Those were among my teenage fantasies, now coming true. Semi-aquatic hominids? Space Jesus? We’re not there yet, hard evidence-wise, so I’m not putting all my money into a single pot.
Just to make things clear: My hard-nosed scientific mindset insists on lab discipline, which continues to grow until now. But there has always been room for whimsy, fantasy, curiosity, informed speculation that falls short of testable hypothesis. This room allows dabblers like me to do playful research about the Unseen, the Misunderstood, the Unspoken, the stubborn Conspiracy Theory, the Unworldly, the Deepest Unknown, the Outright Bizarre Tinfoil Woo-woo. This is my favorite room in idle, quiet moments. Call it my mental playground.
And mind you, these two realms in my young mind—the schoolroom and the playground—did not remain insulated from each other. Rather, there was continuous osmosis between the two. Sometimes, the connecting sparks strike in dramatic ways, like a lightning flash or a sudden onset of chilly hair-raising wind. This happens especially when I realize that other people and I are thinking along the same lines, scanning along the same frequencies, sharing the same moments of prescience.
Eventually, my three siblings turned into my closest buddies in such twilight-zone explorations. (You will never imagine the kind of conversations we have when we meet in family council!) As I recall, however, my first sustained encounter with a person who thought along the same lines was with someone nicknamed, quite plainly, Boy—the eldest child of our then-closest neighbor, the Figueroa family.
In a curious coincidence, Boy F.’s nickname and real name (Roberto) were the same as my older brother’s, whose prolific ideas also absorbed me. They were about the same age too. One summer evening when I was probably 14-15, after a Bernardo Park basketball tournament that he helped organize, with me tagging along, Boy F. and I were shooting the breeze when we found out that we were both into psychic phenomena, aliens, winged forest creatures that slithered into the house at night, and other fantastic inexplicables.
That same summer, Boy F. gifted me a whole bunch of his pocketbooks (not loaned, and not sold, man, but freely given). These added to my own growing collection, which was then leaning more on yoga, alien abductions, and other Amazing Stories stuff. His books opened my mind to more esoteric stuff, verging on what would later be snubbed as tinfoil-hat theories. You name it—spontaneous combustion, devil possession, the occult, the Illuminati, vampires lurking in urban shadows, Velikovsky’s billiard worlds in collision—those books had it.
I read some of Boy F.’s books (at least one or two on ESP, from cover to cover), while many others remained in some forgotten corner of my personal library. I wish he and I had more opportunity to keep in touch and dabble in more babble. But he and his family had since moved to another city.
Meanwhile, the politically hectic years of the 1970’s and 1980’s surged into our lives. My personal library rapidly grew and morphed into other directions, reflecting shifts in my mindset and intellectual tool set. They became more scientific, more Marxist-revolutionary, and more politically focused. But I felt vaguely reassured of the eclectically varied materials that it contained. (I could give you a listing of my library categories—not that it’s a threat to the Dewey Decimal and LOC systems.)
Those esoteric-phenomena books of my early adolescent years still remain in a corner shelf, minus a few, lost via forgotten borrowings and unsupervised transfers. I didn’t purposefully junk any. Even now, once in a Holloween blue moon, I browse through a few volumes just to recapture that juvenile spirit of wild wondering.
I continue to ask what’s out there in the dark star-studded sky beyond what science already knew. I still love discovering hidden cosmic or historic patterns. Perhaps something buried in my cerebrum insists on some primal human instinct. After all, our ancient ancestors basically did the same connect-the-dots efforts when they tracked the stars and other celestial bodies, gave them animal or human shapes and names, linked their movements to mundane events, and thereby produced the lynchpins of mythology and astrology.
Seen from another angle, the same politically hectic decades of the 1970’s and 1980’s gave me and my generation the reawakened and now-mainstream sense of science fiction (including its sub-genre of science fantasy). For this, credit is given to the success of Star Trek, Space Odyssey, and the Star Wars OT—which further underline the point I’m trying to make.
Nowadays, everything I need or want to know about this other-worldly realm, this mental playground of inquisitive apes, can be found on the Internet. I’m pretty sure of that. Hence, I no longer hanker for additions to my physical library of esoteric books. Meanwhile, my web browser bookmarks, especially my playlist of YouTube documentaries, have grown to prodigious proportions. They reflect the rapid branching-out of the lines connecting the dots in the hive mind of millions. Science and the supernatural are yin and yang, always have been. And their social implications are stupendous, to say the least.
You think I’m exaggerating? For starters, go to YouTube and type on the search box: quantum consciousness penrose hameroff. Too busy to do that? Here, click on these two, for starters: Dr. Stuart Hameroff’s core lecture, and Sir Roger Penrose’s lecture at ETH Munich. It’s the next paradigm shift waiting to happen.
I end this rambling and seemingly pointless reminisces with two quotes from Marx, to remind myself that even that grey-bearded scientific-socialist visionary, that absolutely grounded dialectical-materialist, could sometimes also dabble in supernatural talk:
- Capital is money, capital is commodities. … By virtue of it being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or, at the least, lays golden eggs.
- Capital is dead labor, that vampire-like, only lives by sucking living labor, and lives the more, the more labor it sucks.
Of course I will not claim that Marx was a dabbler in the supernatural. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he, too, sitting in his favorite corner and reading room of the British Library, and wanting to clear up his mind a bit, stood up to wonder and browse among the books that must have included Catherine Crowe and her Nachtseite and William Buckley’s experiments in mesmerism.
Oh well. At least I’m wallowing in a topic that’s more refreshingly intellectual (and more scientifically productive!) to waste time on, than the usual chat about what costume to wear for Holloween—which alternative spelling I fully intend. #