Predictability

So, the company that owns The Psychic Friends Network has declared bankruptcy. What, didn’t they see this coming?
I don’t believe in psychics. Usually when they’re displaying their incredible gifts on TV—all them ladies sitting on this long couch while some dumb chick at the end in her own Barcalounger goggles wide-eyed at their telephonic soothsaying abilities—they’re like “so, did something happen to you when you were five?” Uh, gee, let’s see. Did something memorable happen during my formative childhood years. Hmm. Gosh. “Did it involve a parent?” Wow! Yeah! Something did happen to me when I was little and it did involve my mom! Jesus! “I see the letter ‘A’.” I had a dog named Alfie! Jesus!
I could be a psychic. Maybe I am. Here, I’ll do a reading for you (don’t peek!) Place your hand on the screen and think of a question you want answered. Think very hard! Concentrate! I believe I’m getting something… Yes, yes… Something is coming clearer… I see…


I see you! Your question involves you, and, there’s someone else. You’re worried.. no, not worried… you’re concerned about this matter, yes? Very concerned. You’re wondering if I will be able to tell you… about this thing. You must believe or I can’t help you. There’s something… I see the letter W. Or N. Maybe an N. Something about a W or N, is this correct? Am I following the correct psychic thread? Okay, this thing that concerns you, it has been hanging over your head for some time. Yes, and you’ve been wondering… You’ve been wondering how to resolve it.
I can tell you that it will all work out for the best, in the end. You’re worried—you’re concerned about this, that it will not happen the way you wish it to. There are others—other forces, other people—standing in your way. You feel held back by these forces, but they will not prevail. No, I can see ultimate success in this endeavor, but not perhaps in the manner you expect. But you will be happy, yes, I definitely see happiness as the ultimate outcome.
If you pay me $25 I’ll light a candle for your continued success. Thank you! Come again!

Hotline To The Stars

I think people want to believe in precognitive power for the same reason they want to believe in God. They need stability, they need some sense that life is not all chaos and happenstance, that there are forces in play they aren’t privy to that keep the checks and balances working. For me, the one major wrongness in that presumption is that it implies that everything has already happened. I mean, you can’t undo the thread of circumstance and say that some things can be predicted and some things can’t. Since everything affects everything else, and the actions you take may depend upon the actions of others, if one were able to predict one piece of the puzzle of the future, would it not also follow that any connected pieces would also be predictable?
When I was young, I had a weird psychic thing happen to me. I was sitting in class, not concentrating, just daydreaming, and very suddenly I felt this clarity of thought and everything came into sharp focus and… a pencil jumped off my desk. Now, I tried to tell myself I had inadvertently pushed it off, or that my hand jerked spasmodically and thrust it off. But I distinctly remember looking at the pencil and it flew off the desk. And even though I remember this thing, I still tell myself it couldn’t have happened. It just couldn’t.
This was way before ‘Carrie’ came out and before I’d heard of telekinesis, although I’d seen enough of Bewitched to know that Uncle Arthur and Esmerelda could levitate things all over the place. Anyway, the point is that at that same moment when I had this clarity of thought, as if some monumental mystery had become suddenly obvious, that pencil grabbed my attention and whatever it was that had happened was gone again. Pondering the pencil behavior, I lost whatever came.
As I said, I remember that very clearly, but all I remember is the pencil. I remember the classroom, I remember a haze of thought, the suddenly focus, looking down at the pencil, wham, pencil flies off the desk.
I probably just shoved it.

Belief

Now, having told my story—which really is true—I wonder what you think, because I believe that if you think the pencil moved by itself then you’ll believe that the future can be predicted. If you believe that I inadvertently shoved the pencil off the desk but simply don’t remember it, you believe in coincidence and probability. That people can predict the future in some cases because there are a limited number of future variables and logic dictates that in any given set of circumstances there is a probability that a “guess” (AKA prediction) will be correct. And there are people who believe in miracles, but not predictions. And people who believe that Nostradamus saw the future, and maybe Edgar Cayce, but no one else.
As I said, I don’t believe in psychics. Now, psychics as a whole have gotten a bad name since all these telepsychic services started up. How in the world can there be all these people walking among us who can predict our futures and we never knew it? Why even worry about anything if there’s these people who already know what will be successful and what will fail? And if they truly are psychic, why the hell are they working for $9.00 an hour answering $2.95 a minute calls from, apparently, lovelorn loser chicks worried that their men don’t really love them even if they say they do? Why aren’t they at the track, or heading major Hollywood studios, or running for Congress or something? Why, if these people can see failure and success, does the world spin like it do? And how the hell did Steven Siegal..? But he’s now, thankfully, a dim dream so the less said about him the better.
And, still, yes, I have my palm read. I have my Tarot done. Leslie promised to write me up a horoscope (but it’s been so long now I’m wondering if it’s just horribly, horribly bad so she had to burn it and make up a fresh one). Because I’m entertained by these things, “for entertainment purposes.” I realize that they have little bearing on my life, if they tell me anything remarkable about myself then I must have already known that anyway. Have you ever gotten one of those really long horoscopes that tell you all about yourself? From a character standpoint, they’re kinda freaky. Like, I’m a Capricorn, and Capricorns are stubborn like goats. That’s about all I remember of that, but, you know, I am stubborn! Remarkable.
On the other hand, my brother’s a Sagittarius, and he’s stubborn too. My mom’s Aries. She’s stubborn. And so on. We all have tendencies to be certain things at certain times. So, should I put more faith in our stars than in ourselves?

Same Ol’ Same Ol’

I feel bad for Dionne, though. I mean, what’ll she do now? She can’t continue soaking all those poor schmoes who just want to hear a friendly voice at the other end of the phone who’ll tell them their future while draining their Visa creditline. Maybe there’s a new business to be had in Psychic Friends Addict Support! Maybe she can start a new business to help those who’ve become addicted to her old one, repurposing the “Psychics” as “Psychochics”, people attuned to the needs of people who need to hear from other people that their lives will work out all right but have lost that connection because it was all a sham. Now they call the Pychochics Friends Network, get put on hold, hear “That’s What Friends Are For” played incessantly to them until they decide they’re better off not talking to the losers who can’t get real jobs and have to talk on the phone all day while playing cards.
Wow. I really lost my train of thought there somewhere. I’m feeling all woozy and drained. Maybe my head… Hey! Did you see what that pencil just…
Erm. Uh. Oh! I got a new PC! Sending the old one to mom. Lessee, my first one lasted two years and cost $3,000 new. My second one lasted 18 months and cost $3,000 new. This one cost… $3,000 and should make it to the end of the year, I guess. How comforting. I have to admit, though, that it is faster than a speeding bullet. This is truly a scream machine—so fast in fact that the damned mouse seems to be able to predict my next click before I click it! A Psychic Friends Mouse! It was really, really annoying at first. The speed, I mean. It kept finishing things before I was ready.
You know how you become used to things, you base your expectations around the norm, you settle for what’s possible? So my old machine—which is still a very decent machine—took a few seconds to open Netscape. Okay, a minute. It took about a minute to load the plugins and the program and get a screen and be ready for me. A whole minute. The new Dell is sick. I click the icon for a program and, literally, seconds later it’s open! I don’t have time to do any chair dances or anything! No head bobbing, no finger twiddling, none of the exercises I used to do in wait mode. Wait mode is gone. I mean, if the Mac G3’s are “up to twice as fast” as this, those Apple owners must go mad. Click, pop! Click, pop! Click, pop!
Oh, I also got a good scanner. So maybe I’ll stop whining, now.
(PREDICTION: Not Bloody Likely.)

February 26, 1998

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