When it comes to the supernatural, I’m with James Randi: it’s all woo-woos and cold reading, a shyster’s sale to the unending human desire to believe that there must be SOMETHING more, SOME order or purpose, behind the death, the doldrums, and the drudgery of our world.
But not all of the time.
The mattock that picked a crack in my shield was an anecdote by Lewis Black, the bitter, jaded, and slightly angry comedian whose “Back in Black” segments on The Daily Show always left me in stitches.
In his book, Me of Little Faith, he tells about his meetings with Michael Bodine, brother of the more famous Echo, who knows things about Black’s family, career, and future that he shouldn’t. Black explains that Michael gains this knowledge from people that only he can see. Spirit guides, I guess. Black doesn’t go into detail about these psychic encounters, but he makes it sound as though Michael brings these answers to him without any prompting, questioning, or reading of any kind. Michael even leaves a voicemail at Black’s home one night, in which he adds to a conversation Black was having with others, miles away, at that very minute. Black says, “It was as if Michael was there with us.”
Michael is a professional psychic and ghostbuster. He drives lingering spirits from people’s homes. In his book, Black tells about how Michael had to rid a young man’s home of a succubus, a female ghost who had fallen in love with the young man. It was a pretty good story, and it got me wondering about whether there were there possible dates in the ether checking me out too.
But what’s really going on here? Any fan of Mr. Black will tell you that the man is one of the most angry, world-weary, serious, and cynical sons of bitches out there. Is that all a persona, like Stephen Colbert’s famous ultra-conservative parody? If so, he sells it far better than Colbert does. Everything about Black, from his mussed hair and sagging lip, to his beaten-down, Howard Beale posture, tells me he’s the real deal. His material comes from a true place, though of course, he exaggerates at times for comic effect.
Could the man be a woo-woo, a shyster who just wants to sell his book, or to help Michael sell his books?
Well, he’s in the entertainment business, right? It’s a market of illusions.
But maybe he really experienced something. Maybe he felt something that he never expected, and was compelled to tell about it because it exposed the cracks in his thinking.
Are there people who know about our futures that only Michael can see? If so, what do they know about me, or my family, or the universe’s plans for the earth?
James Randi says that even jaded people will open their ears to the call of the psychic when their lives turn, spin, or topple over. When a person’s life skids out of control, and flies off the highway that was once the only route they knew, of course that person is going to want to know what the hell to do next. Problem is, there are no maps to the network of human life. The lanes and nodes and currents are in constant flux, like electrons. If there’s a man, like Michael, a conduit to the outside, who can speak with beings that know where the river bends, wouldn’t we all want to confer with him…for three-hundred dollars an hour?
Black ends his story about Michael with a disclaimer: he says he has never paid Michael a cent for his services. Still, I’m sure that an endorsement from such an unexpected source must be pretty valuable to Michael.
It’s almost working on me.