The View From Here

In the Cold War, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. saw "remote viewing" as a weapon. What about now?

The warning doesn't stop people from trying to "view."

There are 12 students, including myself (under the code name "Midget"); "Elias," a writer for UFO Magazine, who has seen Calabrese demonstrate her talents at a convention; "Bindu," a video game developer who already took a weekend course in remote viewing with another instructor; "Foxy," a housewife and grandmother who read Courtney Brown's book; "Silent Wind," who is a graphic designer with a wide range of New Age experiences; "Zamora," a spiritual therapist and business consultant; "Longbeach," a hypnotherapist who went through remote viewing courses led by former military viewers David Morehouse and Lyn Buchanan; "Shado," a government secretary for the city of Oakland and organizer of East Bay Contact & Support Networkfor individuals interested in UFO-related phenomenon; "Discus," a consultant for the Department of Defense; "Roo," a graphic designer and Discus' fiancee; "Ratgirl," a hypnotherapist and mental health counselor working on her doctorate in clinical psychology; and "Ocean," a hypnotherapist and acupuncturist.

After brief introductions and a little background from Calabrese, we get down to business.

"You will be using portions of your brain when remote viewing that you don't normally use," says Calabrese. "You will experience physical side effects: exhaustion, headaches, shakiness, dizziness. You may experience weight loss, get colds."

We are told to take ginkgo biloba, ginseng, vitamins, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, and essential fatty acids. We are given IQ tests and personality tests, and taught the difference between blind sessions (where the viewer does not know the target), double blind sessions (where neither the viewer nor the monitor knows the target), and informed sessions. We are taught the difference between real data and analytic overlay, which causes the viewer to jump to erroneous conclusions regarding his or her impressions. We are taught image streaming techniques and told to memorize ideograms for motion, structure (man-made), subject (living or otherwise), mountain, water, and flat surfaces. We are taught to observe our physical, emotional, and mental states before beginning a session. We are each given a blind target in a sealed envelope. Calabrese calls out four random numbers, and we draw transit lines and explore the physical density and topography of our ideograms as they come to us.

The subject is revealed as a photograph of several snowy mountains. The similarities in the collective data seem more striking than the differences: white, cold, wet, spongy, windy, damp, gritty, dirty. The words are repeated on most of the sessions. Cynically, I wonder if it isn't like a class in which each person is given the same horoscope believing the information applies specifically to him. But, I can't deny that Shado drew three mountain ideograms in her final pictogram. The next blind subject is a photograph of a welder; the most common words in our sessions are hot, red, motion, work. I don't know what to think. We are given homework, three pages of ideograms and vocabulary assignments to enhance our powers of description. The point of remote viewing is not to name, we are reminded, but to describe. It's not easy. The mind naturally jumps to conclusions. That's analytic overlay. Thousands of years of evolution, useless in remote viewing.

We are spent.

The next day, we pair up with other students (one is a viewer, and one a monitor), and spread out in two large rooms to ponder sealed envelopes. We sit with stacks of blank paper under our pens, hoping for impressions. It seems simple, a rudimentary stream-of-consciousness task. But the mind is thorny and complex. It can go suddenly, painfully blank for long, agonizing minutes, then become overrun with blaring static, images of television shows, hamburgers, and machine guns, then nothing again. A lot of the sessions "look very good" according to Calabrese, but by the end of the day, some of us are beginning to show real signs of wear. Calabrese decides to give us a "woo-woo" target, just for fun. The words that come to my mind are organic subject, filmy, pale blue, billowy; then energy, jagged, red, white, orange. I keep seeing an eye. A big eye. The target is: "The most significant moment in the viewer's most recent past life." We laugh, but some students are complaining about headaches and irritability.

During day three, we are taught more tools for exploring the target. Already, the sessions take more than a half-hour each, a half-hour of pure, focused concentration, using a quiet part of the mind not usually accessible during waking hours. It's hard work, but it's just the beginning. Calabrese tells us that thorough sessions can take hours, even days. The transit line, the ideogram, the topography, the physical density, the descriptive words, the declaration, the pictogram -- these are just the beginning. Now we are to explore the pictogram for sensory data (smell, touch), magnitudes (quantity, dimension), topology (shape, contour), energetics (energy, movement), subjectives (emotion, psychology), physicals (things in 3-D space), paraphysicals (things not in 3-D space), conceptuals (abstract thoughts, idea words), symbolics (proper names, metaphors, symbols), personal response, and deductions. This graph, called the matrix, can take as many as 20 pages. Calabrese divides the class and gives sealed targets. One of the targets is the bombing of Dresden. Most of the viewers are visibly shaken even before the target is revealed. There are common impressions: death, heaven, fire, tornadoes, explosions, dead people, marching, crying, uniforms. The woo-woo blind target is the creation of the world. There are lots of tunnels, bright light, womblike scenarios, and one perfect drawing of a godlike central character radiating light to masses of little people.

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