The Other Side of Truth: The Paranormal, the Art of the Imagination, and the Human Condition
Paul Kimball (Halifax, NS: Redstar Books, 2012).
This is an underwhelming book. Kimball advances the view that the paranormal is a form of art, constructed by an advanced, non-human intelligence with the aim of awakening us to life and what we are. But I found it impossible to tell whether this is his premise or his conclusion. Unfortunately, it’s both. At the beginning, I couldn’t say where this premise had come from; and at the end, I couldn’t see what had been done to justify it as a conclusion.
It’s not an unpleasant read. Kimball has a conversational style that carries the reader capably along with him, but just not anywhere all that interesting. He presents occurrences from his own experiences, which evidently blew his mind, but I wonder if I’m alone in thinking that – taken overall – most of it isn’t really all that weird? More consideration of what makes weird stuff weird would have been welcome.
I agree with him, however, that the paranormal can serve an awakening function, including making life more meaningful. Yet Kimball’s evident facility to discourse at length on everything and nothing in particular is perhaps a factor more important in producing his experiences than any ‘advanced, non-human intelligence’. I couldn’t help wondering whether this force working to inject meaning into human existence, is not aliens, time travellers, or a supreme intelligence, etc., etc., – as Kimble tentatively suggests – but language itself.
‘A disease of language’ was Aleister Crowley’s (less famous) definition of magick. In an important sense, Kimball’s book is a magickal act: it has evoked ‘an advanced, non-human intelligence,’ completely out of nowhere. What the book seemed to me to be crying out for, however, was a more developed and sophisticated awareness of the author’s own implication in the paranormal experiences he was creating.
Two stars, though, because I enjoyed the conversational style, and there were some interesting digressions from the main theme.