The Super Natural: Why The Unexplained Is Real by Whitley StrieberThe Super Natural: Why The Unexplained Is Real by Whitley Strieber

The Super Natural: Why The Unexplained Is Real

byWhitley Strieber, Jeffrey J. Kripal

Paperback | September 26, 2017

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Two of today's maverick authors on anomalous experience present a perception-altering and intellectually thrilling analysis of why the paranormal is real, but radically different from what is conventionally

Whitley Strieber (Communion) and Jeffrey J. Kripal (J. Newton Rayzor professor of religion at Rice University) team up on this unprecedented and intellectually vibrant new framing of inexplicable events and experiences.

Rather than merely document the anomalous, these authors--one the man who popularized alien abduction and the other a renowned scholar and "renegade advocate for including the paranormal in religious studies" (The New York Times)--deliver a fast-paced and exhilarating study of why the supernatural is neither fantasy nor fiction but a vital and authentic aspect of life.

Their suggestion? That all kinds of "impossible" things, from extra-dimensional beings to bilocation to bumps in the night, are not impossible at all: rather,  they are a part of our natural world. But this natural world is immeasurably more weird, more wonderful, and probably more populated than we have so far imagined with our current categories and cultures, which are what really make these things seem "impossible."

The Super Natural considers that the natural world is actually a "super natural world"--and all we have to do to see this is to change the lenses through which we are looking at it and the languages through which we are presently limiting it. In short: The extraordinary exists if we know how to look at and think about it.

From the Hardcover edition.
WHITLEY STRIEBER is one of today's most influential and bestselling authors of both science fiction and extraordinary fact. He is best known for his groundbreaking memoir Communion, which popularized the alien-abduction thesis, as well as his many bestselling novels, such as The Wolfen and The Hunger. These and other of Strieber's book...
Title:The Super Natural: Why The Unexplained Is RealFormat:PaperbackDimensions:384 pages, 9.01 × 5.99 × 0.98 inPublished:September 26, 2017Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143109502

ISBN - 13:9780143109501


Read from the Book

 The Already World  They took a little hair off my head and cut my nails. I asked questions in my mind, but before I could verbalize them, they answered back very softly but directly, "We are making a new you." I asked him, "Are you like angels?" and he replied, “Not as you have been taught.” An Anonymous Letter Writer in The Communion Letters   I am afraid of this book. There is something about it, something explosive and new. It is not a neutral book. It is an apocalypse of thought waiting for you, the reader, to actualize.   The world will not really end as you turn these pages, of course. Not the real one anyway. Much might well be lost—we hope. You should know that. But more, much more—really everything—might well be gained. In a few words, this is a book about a new world, the next world that has already arrived, that has always been here, whether we have recognized its presence or not.   In the pages that follow, Whitley and I explore the proposal that we are all embedded in a much larger, fiercely alive and richly conscious reality that is only, at best, indirectly addressed by everything that the human species has ever thought or believed. The religions, for example, have been attempts to look at and engage this conscious reality as if it were primarily concerned with us, but we don’t really know that, and in fact we cannot know that. Not at least yet.   Our proposal? To venture outside the present houses of faith without forgetting those family homes or leaving the spirit behind. To embrace science in a new way, by promoting a more generous vision of the full human experience of reality that can embrace and ponder “more stuff,” especially the wild, fantastic stuff that shouts, glows, and zaps in these pages. And, above all, to understand, to really understand that we are already and always have been living in a super natural world, that we ourselves are highly evolved prisms or mediums of this super nature coming into consciousness, and that many of the things that we are constantly told are impossible are in fact not only possible but also the whispered secrets of what we are, where we are, and why we are here. This is a book about that Already World.   To my knowledge, nothing like it has ever been attempted. Here, one of the most widely read figures in UFO and abduction literature and a seasoned (take that either way) professor of comparative religion sit down to encounter each other’s thought—seriously and respectfully. As the author of the twentieth century’s most influential and intimate description of an abduction event, Communion (1987), Whitley sets on our shared table his visions of alien spectral figures that seemed at once physical and not physical, at once a thing and a thought, at once sexual and spiritual, at once traumatic and ecstatic. I bring the practices of the professional study of religion to the table in order to explain what historians of religion have written about these paradoxical things (it turns out, a lot) and how we might make sense of them without surrendering our critical faculties and understandable skepticism. We work in tandem. We read each other. We rewrite our chapters in the light of what the other has written. In the process, we rewrite ourselves. 01 The text is at once intimate and professional, both in content and form. Whitley, far from being what he has been portrayed in the media—that is, an advocate for belief in alien abduction—reveals himself in his chapters as a questioning and self-critical nonreligious but spiritual man, telling his story as he has lived it, as a journey through unexplained but extremely powerful perceptions. I take the role of the trained comparativist, framing my responses to Whitley’s narrative through the tools of my trade. I introduce technical terms. I use footnotes. I talk history. I play the professor. I demonstrate how the modern experience of the alien coming down from the sky can be compared to the ancient experience of the god descending from the heavens, but not in the ways that are commonly accepted today: “Not as you have been taught,” as the letter writer (and now you, as the reader of that letter) is telepathically told in our opening epigraph.   Most of all, I engage Whitley’s thought as an intuitive set of comparative and interpretive practices. I demonstrate how Whitley has, all along, been offering us a most radical theory of religion and the human spirit. I make explicit the principles that are implicit in his writing and give these the names and nuances that have been developed in the study of religion over the last two hundred years. Whitley in turn challenges me and, by extension, my field with experienced realities that few intellectuals are prepared to admit exist, much less are willing to study and try to understand: things like the imagination’s ability to materialize its content in the physical environment, a home invasion and an implant, the human soul as a real form of energy that is not dependent on the body-​brain for its existence, and an emergent mythology that is not entirely imaginary.   As my initial invocation of an apocalypse of thought makes clear, neither of us takes this conversation lightly. Both of us have known professional rejection, religious hate campaigns, censorship, and outright character slander for what we have sincerely thought out loud in the public square. We know perfectly well that what we think cannot be slotted into the present order of scientific knowledge and religious belief. We will not pretend otherwise.   Nevertheless, we want to speak clearly and respectfully to both the open-minded skeptic and the open-minded believer, as we think both have something important to bring to the table. And are we not all believers and skeptics at different moments? The final hope and intended result of this book is not yet another set of pat answers or clear conclusions about strange things. We have no such easy or settled answers. Our intentions for this book are more humble. We want to model a different sort of conversation about the importance of experienced anomalies, one that is more evenhanded, more careful, more intellectually generous, and so more useful.   We want to shift the conversation.

Editorial Reviews

 “A cohesive reframing of the ‘pantheon of the unknown’ … A thought-provoking, intelligent reconceptualization of supernatural events.” –Kirkus Reviews   "This book is a dream come true. It has taken thirty years for the most articulate of abductees to be taken seriously by a senior academic. This dialogue between the famous abductee and the historian of religions is the first major step in ufology since Jacques Vallee’s writings of the 1990s. Whitley Strieber’s intelligence and honesty compel one to take his experiences seriously, though they may sweep the philosophical ground from under our feet. In taking up the challenge, Jeffrey Kripal avoids the simplistic reactions of both skeptic and true believer. Instead of pretending to have the answers, he asks mind-bending questions, whose very asking is an act of self-transformation. Their conversation sets off sparks that should rekindle the search after “rejected knowledge,” and integrate it with the great paradigm change of our time: the end of materialism." --Joscelyn Godwin, Colgate University“Requires the reader to avoid the first great pitfall of thinking that ‘skepticism’ and belief are the only two options … very well written, surprisingly light, and fast-paced … They don’t pretend to have answers, but we get the feeling the right questions lie in this direction. Every serious fortean needs to read it.”—Bob Rickard, Fortean Times  “If reading The Super Natural doesn't make your hair stand straight up, you need to read it again. This book is at once disturbing and disorienting, fascinating and lucid. Its ‘new vision of the unexplained’ dives headfirst into all sorts of strange but true encounters, from ravishing alien goddesses to loathsome blue gremlins. While this domain of human experience remains strictly taboo, it doesn’t stop hundreds of thousands of ordinary people from continuing to report bizarre encounters with we know not what. This remarkable book does not attempt to explain what is going on. But it does crack open your head long enough to provide a new perspective.” –Dean Radin, Chief Scientist, Institute of Noetic Sciences and author of Supernormal; Entangled Minds; and The Conscious Universe"Something is happening here, and we're not sure what it is, but Kripal and Strieber have a clue: if there are aliens among us, they are ourselves, and we seem eager to make contact. This is a brilliant, provocative, and gripping new inquiry into the mysteries of time, space, and the human -- and not so human -- mind. Absolutely captivating; one could even say I was abducted..." –Gary Lachman, author of The Secret Teachers of the Western World   “A modern day descent into the rabbit hole, The Super Natural will blow your mind wide open, overturn beliefs about reality and the imagination, and challenge preconceived notions about life, death, and what falls in-between. Erudite, illuminating, and thoroughly exciting (not to mention quite funny at times), Strieber and Kripal’s collaboration takes a serious look at what many would consider an unserious subject and have written the most thought-provoking and important book on the essence and nature of unexplained phenomena in more than forty years.” –Gary Jansen, author of Holy Ghosts“Fascination with the UFO phenomenon and with its extreme forms found in ‘abduction’ reports has triggered passionate debates about the nature of the manifestations, the reliability of human testimony, and the unavoidable parallels with initiatory states and certain mystical visions. Yet the ambiguity of the relationship with the creatures involved has remained unresolved. The controversy has reactivated fundamental debates about the role of archetypes, the power of the unconscious, and the transcendental meaning of sex. A novel way to approach the problem emerges in this exceptional book -- the product of a dialogue between an articulate experiencer and an erudite historian of religions. In the process we discover that the experiencer is also something of a historian, and the historian confesses he has not been untouched by the experience...What is at stake is nothing less than the nature of our reality, and our ability as humans to grasp levels of perception that are at once so dangerous and so sublime.” –Jacques Vallee, author of Passport to Magonia, Forbidden Science, and Wonders in the Sky "Practically anything goes at the American Academy of Religion's annual conference...What was almost impossible to find, at this orgy of intellectual curiosities, was discussion of the paranormal: ESP, premonitions, psychic powers, alien abduction and the like. This is a conference concerned with all sorts of supernatural and metaphysical claims....So why nothing about, say, mental telepathy? That is the question posed by Jeffrey J. Kripal, a professor of religion at Rice University in Houston and a renegade advocate for including the paranormal in religious studies." –The New York Times"No matter your beliefs, Strieber's writing has impact." –Library Journal