In Authors of the Impossible, a documentary film examining the paranormal and popular culture, historian of comparative religion Jeffrey J. Kripal teams up with Scott H. Jones and Jones Cinema Arts to trace the history of psychical phenomena through the last two centuries of Western thought, illustrating in the process how psychical and paranormal events once considered mystical, spiritual, or occult are manifesting in our own modern, scientific culture. The film makes the bold assertions that many of the anomalous events denied and discarded by today's rationalistic mindset are, in fact, real, and that our present dismissals of these universally experienced realities reveal a broad cultural naiveté regarding our own consciousness and being.
More specifically, Authors of the Impossible shows us how to think about the paranormal as an event that involves both a subjective or mental state and an objective or physical state. The paranormal, it turns out, is as much about meaning as matter. And we—not as surface egos, but as some still mysterious force of consciousness—are its final authors. If the paranormal, though, is as much about meaning as matter, as much about the subject as the object, then science can never truly grasp it, for science must turn everything into an object and cannot treat questions of meaning. We thus need a new way of knowing, a way that can embrace both the sciences and a new art of reading ourselves writing ourselves. If we think of the world as a text to be read, we need a new way to read ourselves into being. Likewise, if we think of the world as a film to be viewed—a projection of Consciousness—we need a new way of envisioning ourselves.
The film profiles four extraordinary thinkers: the British psychical researcher F. W. H. Myers, the American anomalist writer and humorist Charles Fort, the astronomer, computer scientist, and ufologist Jacques Vallee, and the French philosopher Bertrand Méheust. Gradually, eerily, what Kripal dubs “the fantastic narrative of Western occulture” emerges before the reader from within that strange middle realm where fact mimics fiction, where fraud mimics fact, where everything is related and nothing is as it seems. The cultural histories of telepathy, teleportation, and UFO’s, a ghostly love story, the occult dimensions of science fiction, cold war psychic espionage, galactic colonialism, poltergeist girls, consciousness as the creator of culture, and culture as the crystallization of consciousness—it is all impossible, and it all happens here.
Ultimately, Authors of the Impossible is about us—you and me—waking up inside a dream, a novel, or a movie (call it culture, society, or religion) and realizing, with a start, that we are its authors. Even more stunning, we realize that none of it is real (to the extent that it pretends to be literal, stable, and absolute), and that all of it is real (to the extent that it reflects and expresses the Consciousness that projected it). Realization is the insight that we are being written, that we are caught in a story we did not write. Authorization is the decision to do something about it. If Realization involves the act of reading the paranormal writing us, Authorization involves the act of writing the paranormal writing us. What the film is finally about, then, is us becoming our own Authors of the Impossible.