Clairvoyance — (from French: clair ‘clear’ + voir ‘to see’); the supposed faculty of perceiving things or events in the future [or past] or beyond normal sensory contact [using extrasensory perception]. ~New Oxford American Dictionary [+]
Imagine opening a door and walking into a room in an old house you’ve never visited before. It’s quiet, but a pall hangs in the air, and there’s a picture of a woman on the floor which seems to belong on a small table nearby. Your mind starts constructing what might have happened in the room — a recent argument between a man and a woman; someone bumped into the table, knocking the picture to the floor, and stormed out of the room.
In the short term, an argument might leave a residual effect upon the room where it occurred. There’s obvious information that paints a picture; maybe there’s even an ‘emotional signature’ left in the room, the biochemical residue of a heated exchange. We all have the ability to walk into a location and surmise what may have come before we arrived. We use our senses to construct a story based on our perceptions. Given that, we can imagine that someone might have ‘extra’ sensory perception. Is this what makes us want to believe in clairvoyance?
Is it possible to walk into a room and ‘feel’ what happened there 100 years ago…or 100 years in the future? The past, of course, is easier to imagine. A generalized story of a man and a woman has a good chance of hitting on some things that actually happened. A search in historical records might seem to prove the clairvoyant ‘seer’ was onto something. As far as predicting the future, it’s sort of the same thing, a stab at probabilities…painting a picture in the mind of another and asking them to believe.
On closer look though, most of the stories a clairvoyant seer spins fall apart. Stories of the past are adjusted to match information that is found, and stories of the future are vague enough to tweak to actual events as they unfold. There are exceptions to this where a story is hauntingly accurate in a way that seems to defy rational explanation. Is this true clairvoyance? Or did the person just get lucky?
This isn’t to say that clairvoyance storytelling — whether extrasensory or pure conjecture — is completely without value. Telling a story, whether it is true or not, helps to open the mind to possibilities. Each new piece of information helps to shape the story and get at the truth of what may have happened or what might happen in the future based on events known now. Every fictional story holds some truth and every true story has fictional elements. In the end, everything is just a story…with someone pining ‘You’ve got to believe me!’