Monday, February 22, 2010

ESP and Amelia Earhart

I've just read a biography discussing Amelia's fascination with ESP. Dan Ackroyd and Bill Murray anyone? I find it so odd to think of someone who was innately practical believing that they could communicate with the spirit world. On the other hand, I'm not above making use of it in my novel. What could be more apt, a ghost who believes that she can communicate with ghosts has to discover she, herself, is a ghost. It is, at the very least, ironic.

It seems that it's hard to let the dead go. I find myself thinking of my father at the oddest times. And that was a fraught relationship. I had one particularly vivid dream where he was dying in it, shrinking away and I woke sobbing. I thought, that's it, I've let him go. But then, he returns. I can't quite let him go, I can't forget him, he's part of me, he's why I am the way I am. I wonder if that was part of what Amelia wanted? She'd lost her own father and good friends who were aviators. Did she think it was a way of continuing that connection or was she fascinated by it, imagining there was science involved?

According to the biographer, Mae West was at one of these seances complete with knocking table. When I was growing up the idea was still being investigated, but we settled for Ouija boards. We'd make sure the letters moved to spell out something truly embarrassing.

What was Amelia searching for in this? Was it a way to come back herself? She chose to do dangerous things, knew that she stood a good chance of dying, was this her way of reassuring herself there was something more than the here and now?


  1. Her husband GP's take on it was that her interest was just another instance of her openness to exploring interesting possibilities in life. Mainstream scientific opinion in the 1930's was not as solidly skeptical of paranormal phenomena as it is today; I remember reading of academic researchers doing experiments with ESP in the mid-30's. Plus of course her good friend Jackie Cochran was convinced of her own abilities in that regard.

  2. Yes, I know about Jackie Cochran, and I figured that there was much more openness then. Ironically when I began writing this novel I found myself thinking about someone I hadn't been in contact with for over thirty years. Our friendship was the inspiration for a great deal of what I wrote in the novel, I spent a part of every day thinking of her and then out of nowhere she emailed me. Not that I believe in ESP or anything, but . . .

  3. Synchronicity, according to Jung, is an acausal connecting principle. That definition doesn't really explain anything, but the fact that odd coincidences happen, like your email from an old friend, are part of the spice of life. That's quite an image of Mae West and Amelia Earhart conducting a seance complete with knocking board! I don't believe in ghosts, but to me the world is at once stark and mysterious. I also remember having fun with Ouija boards when I was a kid. As for the death of your father I respect you for coping with it as best you can. I am terrified at the prospect of someday losing my father.

  4. Hopefully not soon Colleen. Loss is something you think you can prepare for, or at least I thought I could, I coped so well and then I couldn't cope.
    But in the end, it has informed my writing and hopefully I will be able to do the feelings I've had because of it justice in the novel.