We are in various ways living through deeply weird times. Much of the weirdness is horrific like people being shot to death if they mistakenly knock on the wrong neighbor’s door. We hear enough of that morally sickening weirdness. Here I want to call attention to a kind of weirdness that touches the soul and stimulates the intellect. For this we have a new publcation—Deep Weird: The Varieties of High Strangeness Experience, edited and introduced by Jack Hunter. I will focus on the latter’s introduction with a few remarks, and leave the rest of the book, so rich and various, to be enjoyed by readers.
The premise of this book is that the world is replete with facts, phenomena, experiences that mainstream science cannot explain, and even actively shuns and misrepresents. It invites the open-minded reader and scholars of the humanities to confront and consider a complex body of highly strange experiences.
Hunter calls attention to a crucial fact about deeply weird phenomena. They are wildly diverse and yet subtly interconnected. There is no normative way to have a mystical or near-death experience, no antecedent constraints on how psychokinesis, prayer, or inspiration must occur. As William James studied the variety of religious experiences, so does Jack Hunter emphasize the variety of highly weird and strange experiences.
The example that came to mind was the predicted “miracle” of the 1917 Fatima child visionaries having features consistent with UAP phenomenology. We find a pattern of close UFO encounters where levitation and telepathic communication are regularly reported. There is the conjunction of two phenomenologies, ufological and religious miraculous. The experiential overlap of these two realms of paranormality is highly strange. I’ve read accounts of recognized ghosts of deceased people stepping out of a flying saucer, and that was highly strange. The chapters in this book may cause a little weirdness vertigo, so brace yourself. How to understand the connections between disparate phenomena drives us to speculate on the possible source of unity of the weird manifestations. The weird in sense of fateful dialectic forces us to dig deeper into the source of the strangeness. A promise is lurking there, an intuition that a more evolved form of the humanities—of humanity—may be an emergent possibility.
The function of deep weirdness, as Hunter uses the term, is to remind us of the unrecognized inner potentials of our mental and physical existence. Deep weirdness is more than metaphysical entertainment. It would count as a step toward mobilizing the necessary critical response to the climate and human crisis currently wreaking havoc on the planet. A new science of extraordinary human experience is a crucial step toward a new science of human transformation. As we learn more about the conditions conducive to activating the strange and wondrous modes of being latent within us, it should be possible to aim experimentally toward specific developments,
Hunter’s general account of this new science is mind-opening, the result of probing the implications of high strangeness. First off, we are embedded in a vast psychomental ecosystem of interacting and overflowing realities. “Ontological flooding,” to quote the author’s phrase, “is essentially a position that emphasizes complexity and the interaction of multiple contributing factors in any given situation or phenomenon. From this perspective, no single explanatory framework or ontological scheme is able to give a fully satisfying account of what is taking place.” A blow against all forms of fundamentalism and fanaticism
Above all, to explore the wonders
of high strangeness, we need to think beyond the reductive assumptions of
mainstream Western science.
Everything about this challenge aspires to a true democracy of higher
consciousness. The remaining seventeen essays explore deep weird phenomena,
research, and modeling. If you’re in the mood to inform, challenge, and animate
your imagination, read this book and these chapters. It provides a unique kind of intellectual “fun,” but also a
powerful reminder of Frederic Nietzsche’s dictum that ‘man’ is something to be