Arcturus Publishing, London, 2012
5 stars/Highly recommended
by Susan Marie Kovalinsky
I awaited the release of Peake's fifth book eagerly, having read three of his other books on binary consciousness, modeled on his own "Cheating the Ferryman" thesis, about a secret, second self which accompanies individual consciousness throughout life, and aids mightily at the point of death (Is There Life After Death?: The Extraordinary Science of What Happens When We Die (Chartwell Books, 2006), The Daemon: A Guide to Your Extraordinary Secret Self (Arcturus Publishing, 2008), and The Out of Body Experience: The History and Science of Astral Travel (Watkins Books, 2011) ).
I would say this book has inherited and surpassed his others. I received it on Thursday, spent the night and the next day reading it, and had finished it within 24 hours.
As a philosopher, I was pleased to see that Chapter 1 begins with a discussion on the Philosophy of Time, citing Plato, Aristotle, Zeno, Augustine, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Kant, Heidegger, and Deleuze. As in his prior books, Peake uses an eclectic method, drawing on classical philosophy, literature, postmodernism, neuroscience, psychology, and quantum physics to bolster his thesis. It was Heidegger and Deleuze who grasped that Nietzsche's eternal return of all things did not preclude extensions of form and identity of those same. Thus, this spiraling evolution of subtle changes forms the center of Peake's own recurrence theory. Things can change, and evolve. Our higher and daily selves (respectively termed the eidolon and Daemon by Peake) can learn. Needless to say, his message of hope is invigorating to those living the examined life.
Further Chapters delve into an in-depth probing of eternal return, as well as Ouspensky's concept of Self-Remembering, and many worlds theory. This last is a favorite of mine because it supports the replica-resurrection theory of John Hick, in which we have a plurality of lives in a plurality of worlds through which to perfect ourselves.
One of the most compelling parts of the text, Chapter 6, entitled, The Subjective Nature of Time, begins with an intriguing story of how Peake saved his wife from a possibly fatal fall down the stairs. The fascinating thing is that he seems to have done it by "warping time":
We were both in a state of shock and Penny was clearly traumatized by it all.
After we calmed down . . .we looked at eachother and realized what had just happened was impossible.
When Peake and his wife had broken down the chain of events which led to his catching her and breaking her fall, it seemed that an altered state of consciousness, complete with time-dilation, had enabled Peake to act as he did and spared them both a tragedy. And yet how, Peake asks, could this have been merely subjective on his part, when it had real consequence for his wife as she fell? It is a good question, and silence does not serve as an answer for Peake. Siting an American academic based in Texas, a Dr. David M Eagleman from Baylor College of Medicine, whose fall off a roof and ensuing time-dilation experience inspired him to research this phenomenum, Peake is left all the more dissatisfied with the idea of time-dilation as being purely subjective:
My situation was not that of perceiving time dilating, but of an actual event occurring in three-dimensional, consensual space.
This serves as a segue into The Neurology of Time, the subject of the seventh chapter, and of discussions of deja vu (the sensation that we have lived this moment in time before) and hypnagogia (a dream state which maintains partial consciousness), along with many other puzzling mysteries of time and cognition which continue in the ensuing chapters. Chapter 11 is a study in pop culture themes which explore time, precognition, and eternal recurrence.
I will leave it to readers to enjoy exploring the book's chapters on their own, but two items which were personally very striking to me are worth a mention here: One, regarding a friend of Peake's with a son who is autistic and schizophrenic: The boy had picked up telepathically on a conversation his parents had at a distance of some miles. This gave me stern pause as they have been cases wherein my own son, diagnosed similarly, has done the same. The second, was the idea that we can, as Peake words it, "contrary to the generally accepted model of reality, ...monitor the contents of our immediate future.". Anyone who has consulted the I Ching or Tarot on a regular basis, will attest to the fact that a puzzling oracle will often be cleared up amazingly by an incident taking place some hours after consulting it.
The method of this book, as with his prior books, is a subtle Socratic persuasion, rather than a hard sell of his theories: Indeed, the text ends with a question which the philosopher Augustine himself left unanswered. Peake once again invites the reader to look into his own experiences of consciousness and time, and to grapple with the various explanations provided by the disciplines which attempt to explain them.
I find myself poring through the endnotes and index section of the book, wanting to revisit passages and chapters which were particularly compelling; indeed, the margins of the book are already filled with my notes. And that is always a sign that I have thoroughly enjoyed, and been profoundly inspired by, an author's book.
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