Friday, August 31, 2018

A “fluid plane”

J.W. Dunne, An Experiment with Time, 3rd. ed. (London: Faber and Faber, 1958).

J.W. Dunne’s An Experiment with Time, first published in 1927 and widely read in its day, advances a theory of dreaming as a form of precognition. In a post about Insomniac Dreams, the recently published book that collects Vladimir Nabokov’s experiments with Dunne’s theory, I mentioned in passing that Dunne seems to be a figure straight from the Museum of Jurassic Technology.

I have now turned the pages of An Experiment with Time (thank you, interlibrary loan) and am excited to see a number of baffling diagrams. This one is my favorite. And now I strongly suspect that Dunne’s work helped to inspire the MJT’s Geoffrey Sonnabend and his theory of obliscence. Consider this diagram, which appears on an MJT T-shirt, or this one, which appears on the cover of a pamphlet summarizing Sonnabend’s work.

I’m a longtime fan of the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and yes, I have both the T-shirt and the pamphlet. Lawrence Weschler’s Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder (1995) is an excellent introduction to the museum and its work. I visited in 2012 and was lucky to meet David Wilson, who happened to walk by as we stood in the rooftop garden. Right place, right time.

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