Monday, October 29, 2012

A Venture Into the Paranormal

When James Cameroon's Avatar hit the movie theaters, I thought it was a bold venture into an otherworldly subject for a movie. It was one of my favorite movies of all time. I loved it not only for the hi-tech elements that went into the movie productions, but for the subject that stretches human imagination beyond earthly existence. I like movies that explore ideas beyond what is normal or ordinary and challenge accepted notion of reality. It reminds us that there might be more to what our normal senses can perceive. And those paranormal things may be lurking very close to us and yet we are unable to experience them. Or if we do, we are simply unmindful or unaware of them, except under certain conditions.

This year, two other movies caught my attention after Avatar, which in my book belonged to the same genre. Inception hit home. Directed by Christopher Nolan, I loved the depth of the movie and so did my children. Most of the materials for the movie were based on studies on Lucid Dreams. Believe it or not, there is a science to it and there are many scientists involve in dream research. Lucid dream is a state where the person dreaming is aware or conscious of the dream process, although the person is physically asleep. It sounds like an oxymoron, but not really. For some individuals who are predisposed to experience lucid dreams, they seem to have the uncanny ability to "wake-up" in their dream while their body remains "asleep." I believe there is a genetic marker for this "ability," although one might be able to acquire the ability through intensive training by a lucid dream expert. It seems that in my family, my father carried the genes for it. He succumbed to bangongot (Sudden Death Syndrome that occurs in sleep accompanied by nightmare and sleep paralysis) after a night of alcohol binging. This condition afflicts mostly Southeast Asian men. My father might have had an apnea (intermittent cessation of breathing during sleep) condition which often precipitates the lucid dream experience. I acquired the condition myself and have been diagnosed with obstructive apnea disorder. Most of my lucid dreams are not nightmares, instead I often find myself becoming conscious in my dream while my body is asleep or unable to move. My three children report recurrent lucid dream experiences like myself. It is no wonder that all of them could relate to the movie on a deep and personal way. They have no trouble following and appreciating the complex, layered plot of the movie that mimic vivid and lucid dream experiences.

The more recent movie, Hereafter, which is directed by Clint Eastwood, is another window to the beyond. The movie draws from a body of work on Near Death Experience. Mostly, these are accounts of people who were pronounced or proven to have "died" and were resuscitated or simply lived again. Mr. Eastwood, besides making a movie that could be interpreted as a personal struggle to grapple with his own mortality, artfully produced an entertaining and intriguing movie out of a somewhat morbid subject. Having lost my mother a couple of months ago, the movie struck a cord close to home. I wonder whether the dreams I have had of her when she passed on were symbolic of her transition from earthly life to the beyond.

A book on love and a coming of age in a land devastated by its long history under colonial rule. The book provides a tapestry of cultural life in the Phillipines in the eyes of a youth trying to find himself and breakaway under the yoke of crunching poverty.

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