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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The power of Flow - My Review

Despite its sub-title, I did not buy this book as a "how-to" guide. Rather, I bought it to read more about what Carl Jung described back in the 1920's. Nine decades have passed and, judging from what "Flow" has to say about the topic, it seems little to no progress on the subject has been made regarding the study of intuition and, or synchronicity.

The premise of this book is that we can radically alter our lives by relying more consistently on intuition and remaining receptive to possibilities. The authors argue that nearly all events in our lives 'broadcast' themselves to us in advance of their actual occurrence and we can thus be prepared to either meet or capitalize on the challenges and presumably minimize or even avoid catastrophic events all together. Owing to its desultory layout, the name, "Flow" is  a misnomer.  It is loosely organized into three sections.

While the notion is appealing and there is something to be said regarding the value of intuition, the authors really offer no scientific methods by which to quantify their hypotheses. Instead, they dedicate the first third of the book relating what I can only describe as 'post-data,' consisting of anecdotal recitations by people who ascertained events that indeed happened to them presented signs which, in retrospect seemed to foreshadow or even forewarn of an upcoming event.

As a ground breaker, the authors offered a 'quiz' of sorts with the intent of piquing the reader's interest by laying out questions which determine the reader's potential to 'read' the signs as it were. Anyone with the highest score is said to be a 'flowmaster' - someone who has highly developed intuitive skills.

The next section of the book was dedicated to focusing the reader on how to become more intuitive by attenuating receptive qualities common to 'flowmasters.' The last portion of the book moved much in the same direction, and focusing on developing/maintaining mindfulness ostensibly to further enhance intuitive abilities.

I remain convinced that synchronicity is a very real phenomenon - and I do rely on intuition quite a bit. However, I came away from this book thoroughly unconvinced that the authors had any more of an inkling than any other garden-variety person, of how to tap into it. Their philosophy was nebulous at best. For example, at one point, in the beginning of the book, they were dismissive of religion. It was a bold stance which I somehow expected them to reinforce with research... or something. But that never happened. Instead, they went on to describe events that people clearly identified as intuition-related - explainable on? - the basis of their religious beliefs. I found my skepticism building with each subsequent story cited by the authors because their recurrent approach seemed to take on an air of begging the question - almost as though they would present some weird phenomenon and then ask, 'has this ever happened to you? - much like the flowmaster 'quiz' early on in the book.

As it progressed, it took on the tone reminiscent of Jeff Foxworthy's invocation, 'you may be a redneck if...' If it weren't for the fifteen bucks plus tax I dropped on this book, I probably would have laughed. but with every story, it seemed like the underlying theme was evolving on this 'scholarly' how-to book on refining intuition was simply a matter of substituting, 'redneck' with 'flowmaster.'

Some of the stories were believable but they became less so, and hokier until they just lost traction altogether. The one which lost me was a story of a woman who had a 'premonition' of sorts as she was waiting to undergo an abortion when all of a sudden, the thought of her young niece popped into her mind. Fast forward 13 years and that very niece was having an abortion and the preceding abortion experience prepared, or qualified the aunt (presumably a best-fit practice?) to help her niece go through the trying experience of having an abortion.

The authors cite numerous other stories which can also be explained as people searching for underlying meaning of events which may or may not be related. It seems like the need to explain something provides the perfect ground for retrofitting the past by causal analysis in a way that involves making the precursor events fit the 'resultant' incident.

In chemistry, there is a practice called stoichiometry where the end product is reverse synthesized and the parts can be determined by tracing a reverse chemical process. It is difficult to master but it can be done. This is what I thought the authors were setting out to do. They did nothing of the sort. Because their approach completely lacked any scientific methodology and because they rely so heavily on anecdotal references, the entire book comes off as a pastiche of the scientific method which they seem to be alluding to in their methodology.

Don't waste your time with this book. It is just modern-day snake-oil in print. It doesn't even deserve one star. The funny thing is, my intuition warned me about this book. Now, isn't that ironic?


At Wed May 18, 12:34:00 AM MDT, Blogger Cara said...

Do you suppose someone might become a reverse flowmaster? Instead of getting a "preview" gets flashes of post views? Sounds crazy doesn't it? I wish for an expert in a field that doesn't exist. Someone who can interpret dreams and flashes of memories. Someone who really could interpret intuition.
Forgive the ramblings, its 1:30 in the morning way up here in Missouri and I'm enjoying the full moon shining in the window where my computer desk sits. The scene is too ripe for deep thoughts.

At Wed May 18, 10:20:00 PM MDT, Blogger The Voice said...

Anything is possible but, I am not really clear on what you mean. Perhaps you could expand a little more so I can understand what you are referring to.

Also, that is some moon huh? Thanks for the comment. Its been a long time. I hope all is well with you.

At Thu May 19, 09:20:00 AM MDT, Blogger Cara said...

I consistantly get these "flashes" (for lack of a better word) of "familiarity". I can catch a momentary glimps of sunligh through a window, or a smell, of even a certain tempature and I get a mental flash of a time before when I experienced the exact same sight, sound, smell, feeling.

I'm not talking about reincanation or deja vu - nope, nothing that exotic. Just plain old memeories but they are rapid fire and non-stop consistant. Isn't that weird?

The memories are so quick and instant that I can't grab ahold of them exactly - can't attach them to a thought or a reason. And yet they fill me with melancholy and leave me discontent. This is why they bother me so much,

My dreams are the same way - I wake up unable to remember them but knowing that they were important - they have left an impression but I can't figure out what or why. Then all day long I'll get a flash of something in the dream but again - not enough information to make a difference.

I geel so fragmented and disconnected. I have an intuition that this might be sparked by my conflict over having to work in the real world (and high stress job) to support myself knowing in my heart that I was meant to be a writer and a painter. I have such overwhelming sadness that my life will end before I get the chance to find out if I'm right.

Well - I've certainly gone on and on as though you have a leather couch instead of a comment box - I don't know why - you are a total stranger who feels like someone I've always know in some ways -

At Thu May 19, 12:17:00 PM MDT, Blogger The Voice said...

Heh heh,

I don't think this communication jazz we get into here has anything to do with couches or anything like that. It is this simple; you have the mind of an artist. You are obsessed with detail and nuance. It is your blessing and it is your curse.

Rest assured Cara, I feel the same way as you - quite often. Perhaps that is why I keep reaching out across the ether. I am thankful for the internet. It seems at times that I just toss things, thoughts, ideas out here in the blogosphere - kinda like a beacon - and most of the time I don't think the world, 'gets' me. But, there are times when I get a little flash back and, I have got to tell you, I like it.

Regarding your experiences; I think they are real and they are relevant but each us has our own particular way of dealing with them. I am convinced some people choose to ignore intuition and 'flash back' - precisely because those two phenomena act as painful reminders of what they are not and that - dear friend - is where the real tragedy lies. I see intuition and 'flash back' as internal challenges; to show me what can be rather than what is not.

Let me use the metaphor of a poor kid watching someone else eat an ice cream cone. The way I see it, s/he has two choices, feel bad about not having it or s/he can figure out a way to get one.

Now, if I had one of those magical pointy hats that could divine the meaning-of-life-as-related-to-your dreams-and-flashbacks, I believe it would empower me to make the following observation: "you need a successful ice-cream-cone-getting experience." That'll be fifty bucks please.

Problem-solving is entirely within the reach of a thinker. You are a thinker. Now, as we are thinking about thinking, ponder this; any kid can look at the world look from a deficit model.

Remember weed-hopper, the greatest 'kids' throughout Humanity's history are those who have taken deficits - such as despair for instance - and made them into an asset. (okay, I admit that one is too long for a fortune cookie message but dang! It is 'ahh, soo good!')

We all have deficits (fill in the blank here: ) - no doubt they can cause pain - however, it is how we choose to deal with deficits that define us in the end. (more of my invented fortune cookie wisdom)

I tell my kids to never quit. Never give up. Despair always has the chance to exist - no doubt about that. I figure it's like this; my problems will still be here tomorrow... my life may not.

I don't know what awaits me on the 'other side' but it seems that regardless of what that may be, I only have one shot at this life. No second chances of re-living it - ever - and no chance of changing its course - especially once it is over.

My approach to life is focused on the notion that I am going to spend as little of it in distress as possible - okay, easier said than done - but that is what I resolve to do anyway. I will be the first to admit, it is an especially preposterous resolution to hang on to and think about when I am getting my ass kicked - but I am sticking to it - period.

Come to think of it, distress in comparison to non-existence (and that is a distinct possibility as an 'other-side' experience - non-experience? ugh). Now there's a sobering thought.

To my way of thinking, doing something and getting busy is a viable approach to dealing with the inertia of life. Moreover, as John Lennon said, "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans." Yeah, I like taking advice from dead Beatles... go figure.

Keep painting and keep shaking your fists at the universe and you can even do like me, flip it off once in a while.

That way, you live on your terms - doing what you have to in order to survive, make a buck or whatever - but never losing yourself or sight of what makes you happy. Paint, write and know in your heart that you are indeed a writer, you indeed are a painter... one of the best I have ever seen. ;O)

Be safe,

At Thu May 19, 02:15:00 PM MDT, Blogger Cara said...

I love your reply - the comment about taking advice from dead Beatles made laugh out loud and I intend to print it out and tape it on my door -

You're points are well taken. I know I need to give myself a kick in the pants and just get on with it - but what I know and what I do is always two different things. I'm not a big fan of astrology but I am a Gemini and my twins war with each other constantly.

About the horrible possibility of there being non-experience on the other side (too terrible to think about) I must say that the 40+ minutes of CPR during my heart attack I was dissapointed to report that I saw nothing at all. It was like being awake - then alseep and then waking up again. Now keep in mind that they give you drugs to forget things like that when they have you on a ventalator but still - I would have really enjoyed having a great story to tell. But I think of that blank space as a time when God did a little fine tuning on the cosmic circuit board. Tightening the nuts and bolts possibly - ha ha. Thanks for your insights. Cara

At Fri May 20, 05:13:00 PM MDT, Blogger The Voice said...

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