The Case for a Real Superman
Popular culture is a mirror of the collective unconscious. My interest lies in super-heroes—in Superman and Superwoman. My imagination longs for transcendence, sensing the intoxicating lure of the beyond. In traditional societies, we find tales of the heroic and supernatural, the cult of heroes, the veneration of saints, the honoring of gurus and prophets—all people alleged, in some way, to transcend—to escape the limits of ordinary physical and mental reality.
So how did we get from living tradition to Hollywood and comic book ideas of superhumanity? It’s a long story, but science and its materialist assumptions have come to possess the mind of our economically advanced societies. Besides turning us into consumers, the official truth dispensers frown upon anything that smells of the supernatural, the supernormal, or the superphysical. Sympathy or credence regarding such claims is forbidden. Dissed by reductive science, the repressed ideas of super-humanity return through the outlets of popular culture.
Popular culture points to the idea of transcendence. But as for me, I want the real thing. I need more than to tickle my imagination with a movie or a comic book. So I began to search on my own, and found there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by our friends, the reductive materialists. In fact, tbere are mountains of data you can mine that point to the “more things.” But this will mean nothing to a dedicated disbeliever whose mind is sealed shut.
Among the extraordinary phenomena I discovered was the case of Joseph Desa whose life was a schocking display—in broad daylight and before thousands of witnesses—of a whole spectrum of extraordinary phenomena. The man’s life is a case study enabling us to imagine a real superman. The collective fantasies of popular culture are, in this case, vindicated. There truly are super-normal people.
In Joseph’s case, we observe transcendent mind and transcendent body. It was called penetrating secrets of the heart, or as we say, telepathy. You were an open book in the presence of this man, and it made people uncomfortable. Distance was no barrier to his perception. In a period before modern communication systems, he always knew when one was approaching him. He knew the exact hour of your illness or death even if you were hundreds of miles away; he often knew such things before they occurred, in short, prophecy or precognition were common with him. Although he had no schooling and could barely read, many learned people swore under oath that he possessed profound knowledge of theological matters and expressed it with clarity. The greatest super-mental capacity Joseph had was his capacity for ecstasy, another word for creative dissociation or out-of-body experience. In these ways he revealed mind in some of its transcendent aspects.
Even more shocking were the displays of transcendent body. To begin with, something about this friar rebelled against gravity, the glue of the universe. For the thirty-five years of his public life, the friar was seen to levitate, to fly to the top of trees, sometimes carrying people or animals in the air with him. Thousands witnessed these mystic flights. Over a hundred and fifty sworn depositions are on record, men and women from all walks of life: craftspeople, artists, musicians, surgeons, popes, kings, princes, cardinals, nuns, infantas, and even official inquistors who were suspicious of him because he possessed these powers.
There were other signs of bodily transcendence. Besides levitation, there are reports of his rare talent for bilocation, being in two places at the same time. He was, for example, seen attending to his mother on her deathbed in Copertino while he was undoubtedly in Assisi. Another point of vital interest: There’s extensive documentation that Joseph produced supernormal healing effects.
And then there’s this. Unlike normal human bodies, the ecstatic friar’s body had a repeatedly reported, highly strange effect. People who touched him or any garment or object that he touched experienced heavenly fragrances. Witnesses report that for months or years, despite being carefully washed, anything that had been in contact with his body would emanate transcendent odors.
In the mythology of the super-hero, one is on the side of the angels and at war with the demons. Joseph qualifies on this, and also this: all the super-powers he had were used in service to humanity, not to feed his or anybody’s ego or pockets. The genesis of Joseph as super-man is a fascinating story. The interested reader may purchase the book that tells the story, Wings of Ecstasy, for a pittance from Amazon.