AIRBORNE INTO THE IMPOSSIBLE
When on 4 June 1972 I departed New York to visit Dr. H. E. Puthoff at Stanford Research Institute, I was quite sure I had finally taken leave of my senses. During the long taxi ride to the NY airport I was encased in dark, foreboding feelings of gloom and doom.
Frankly put, I felt stupid - which is one of the worst feelings one can have - and why, I suppose, so many pretend they are not stupid.
But there were two reasons I dared to make the trip.
Dr. Karlis Osis had quipped that I had no place
else to go other than the American Society for Psychical Research. It was
of course quite infantile of me to make the trip to SRI just to show him
and everyone that I WAS invited to another place.
But second, I was sure that the respected Dr. Puthoff would want to see some convincing experiment conducted under his supervision and control. Without such an experiment, at the nation's second largest "think tank" to boot, all of the Schmeidler and Osis work would soon disappear under the cloying onslaught of doubt which would come in from all possible directions, including from within parapsychology itself.
I absolutely adored Gertrude Schmeidler, and aside
from Osis's relative innocence regarding scumbaggy human machinations, I
admired and respected his experimental designs. If, then, I did not at least
dare to try elsewhere to take part in some kind of experiments, I felt I
would be abandoning them because of simple cowardice.
THEN! OH MY GOD, and even worse! There were also
my three networks to consider, composed of the Buell Mullen, Ruth Hagy Brod,
and Zelda Suplee Centrals. THEY would NOT appreciate cowardliness. If I
didn't go to Puthoff, surely the word would circulate that I had been invited
by him, but had declined because I really couldn't produce. Would not this
be a visible signal to opportunistic skeptics everywhere?
I believe I could have lived with the loss of face
if it involved only myself. But for the first time in my life, and much
to my surprise, the current situation involved many of others, all of whom
I respected and whose friendships were entirely meaningful to me.
I, poor little Moi, was caught between those painful circumstances typically described as the damned if you don't try and damned if you do try - and fail.
But there is no shame in failure IF one gives one's best shot at trying. Right? After all, that's what sports competitions are all about.
And here was my first real intimation of the "circumstances"
thing I presented in Chapter 1 of this book. I had never before really felt
I was sucked into circumstances - other than those which seemed to be of
my own making.
The circumstances now surrounding my trip to California were not made by me, but had come about because of situations which involved others - situations which I had been sucked into simply because I had volunteered to try lab experiments. And I was caught into them as a portended victim is caught between two pincer prongs - thereafter to be jerked around as the circumstances desired.
To be more clear, I had always felt that my life
was more or less under my own determination, for better or worse. In large
part, I could take part in what I wanted, and I always could walk away from
whatever. No one cared one way or another.
In any event, the experiments with Puthoff would
at least be under excellent auspices - auspices far beyond anything parapsychology
had to offer anywhere. Stanford Research Institute WAS an eminent SCIENCE
center. The whole of parapsychology was, if anything at all, only a fringe
science affair, with the mainstream and academic emphasis on "fringe."
Back in 1972, "fringe" still meant "looney tunes"... "wacko"... "deranged." Today in the 1990s, use of that term has virtually disappearedreplaced by "cutting edge."
The SRI adventure could have only two possible
(1) I would fail, but only by having demonstrated the courage to try at which time I could finally put and end to this whole affair;
(2) Perhaps some small positive result would result by having tried, at which time I could rest on those small laurels and finally put an end to this whole affair.
Either way, I could finally STOP this whole mishmash
and get back to painting, writing or whatnot. God, how I wanted all of this
to END, and to fulfill Janet Mitchell's wonderful analogy when she said
I had burst over parapsychology like a Roman candle to which I had
replied that their beautiful lights don't last long.
Finally, I really DID have to stop all this parapsychology stuff and bullshit. You see, for one thing there was NO money in it for a "psychic" research subject. The only problem was how to get out of it the best way possibleand it was Dr. H. E. Puthoff who would provide me either of the two face-saving avenues to do so.
It was with all this in mind (and I do remember
it very well) that I stepped into the plane completely certain that all
of this incredible silliness would be over with one way or another within
a week's time and everyone's face would be saved at least in some
In other words, Dr. Puthoff was to be my vehicle of ESCAPE, my route back into my mundane FREEDOM, after which I could get my nerves together and resume writing erotic novels and painting metaphysical paintings.
Alas! The best laid plans of mice and men oft go
astray, as the old cliché goes.
As it turned out, I didn't escape anything.
You see, whereas I had all of the other factors appraised quite well and accurately, I completely failed in even noticing one which needed to be appraised more than all the rest of them together.
That one factor was Dr. H. E. Puthoff himself.