A spring thunderstorm has so irradiated my head that I have been granted visions of the future as follows:
A fire will break out in the Capitol in the first two weeks of June.
The Washington Monument, which seems so sturdy, will in fact present a serious safety problem sometime during the month of July.
An important political figure will become pregnant this summer. This person is -- wait; ah, yes -- female. The address is somewhere on Pennsylvania Avenue. It is not Miss Lillian.
The late Alice Longworth will account for an astonishing bit of news this summer. Perhaps this will be found in her papers. Perhaps by other means.
Two names will become of overriding importance within the next 12 weeks: Brzezinski and Iraq. Both names of course figure in the news frequently, but the news I see them figuring in will be positively startling.
Now in addition to these previsions, I was granted several insights into physics, or natural laws, that will surprise many:
If rocks painted red (some of them) and green (others of them) are dropped from a height, the red ones will fall slower.
Ants manage their complex societies not through chemistry and smell (pheromones) as commonly believed, but through physics and sound (a sort of radar).
The two nostrils of humans commonly differ in their receptivity of scents. Persons who smell acutely with the right nostril tend to have substantially greater intelligence than persons at large.
Unfortunately, readers of this space (if their comments are a good gauge) are dishearteningly intelligent, and will suppose their good, sturdy reporter has gone bonkers, while others will inquire (especially as these predictions become true, one after one) how the dickens I came up with them.
Well, the thunderstorm had little to do with it. I did it the same way all THE OTHER IDIOTS DO IT, i let my brain go into neutral and jotted down whatever popped into my head. Then I dished it up as likely to happen. It is sheer bunk, of course, like all the other claptrap dished out by seers, and which I, at least, have the grace to blush at a little.
But I shall now answer several persons who have asked me (A) if seers are not sincere and (B) if any real harm is done by the clouds of fantasy, imbecility and fraud that rain down upon us.
First, sincerity. Consider this personal example:
When I play bridge and draw for partner, I often announce the card I have touched before looking at it. I say, for example, "the six of hearts," and behold, it is indeed the six of hearts, or else the eight of clubs or the jack of diamonds or something. When I hit it right, I am much pleased.
Once, as I touched a card, I said "the queen of spades" and it was different. I knew -- not merely guessed, but knew with certainty -- it was that queen of spades indeed. And it was.
I am sincere, God knows, in reporting this. There is no doubt whatever that I felt a certainty, far different from those other occasions when I guessed right, that this card was the spade queen.
Does this prove I am psychic? Well, I know no way to disprove it. Lousy things can happen to any of us. But there are simpler explantions:
I often have feelings of certainty when I am utterly wrong.
The queen of spades is a card with an enormous amount of legend hanging on it. Spades (the suit of cards) derive from the Spanish word for sword. It is black. It suggests royal, or unarguable, authority. It is a female authority figure. It is often supposed to represent death -- as the queen of diamonds, say, does not.
Now if you take a white male gardening guy who has had a couple of aches (surely death is imminent?) and who works for a woman and whose mother and wife, moreover, and daughter, too, are all women --
I think it is not surprising that "queen of spades" may register with such a fellow in a way that the nine of hearts does not. This, surely, is enough to account for the emotional aura of the card, and my common feeling of certainty is enough to account for the feeling of certainty.
And the fact that the chances of guessing correctly when drawing any card at random are by no means astronmical is sufficient explantion for drawing the queen of spades as advertised.
After all, if you take any deck of cards and proceed to draw at random, you will guess right from time to time, as any fool (but not all seers) can demonstrate.
So the mere fact that I report truthfully my certain feeling when drawing this card does not mean any more than that I did indeed feel that way. I am sincere in saying so, but I hope I have also shown my such feelings about such a card were hardly miraculous.
People with rich fantasy lives, and people with wordy tendencies, are likely to react more strongly than nonfantastic folk to almost anything. The word "corn" has roughly a million associations to some people, while to others it means only something to eat or put a plaster on. Same with cards.
But the question is (to complete the answer for those who insist on an answer) not whether I am sincere in reporting my feelings, The time I drew the queen of spades, but whether those feelings have any relevance to my drawing the card.
In this particular case, I see plenty of evidence of a natural and ordinary sort to explain the feelings associated with the card, without fetching in any unfathomable mysteries.
But go one step farther. My sincerity is one thing, if I tell you what I felt. My sincerity, or lack of it, is something else if I deliberately withhold from you the rational explanation I clearly see, and present it to you as some occult power of mine.
This, in my view, is what seers do. Some of them may be merely stupid. But others are charlatans.
Does it do any harm?
No more than advice based on balderdash ever does harm. That is, often no harm at all, but sometimes maybe a lot of harm.
In a sense of harm is done if I proclaim red rocks fall slower than green rocks. It is false, but probably nobody will be greatly harmed by it. And yet one has the uneasy feeling that, harm or no harm, lies are not good things and that advice to others, based on nothing whatever, is not a nice thing either.
It is often said, especially by bright people, that if anybody is witless enough to listen to a seer, he deserves what he gets. Maybe so.
It is all right to give a kid misinformation in working algebra, on the theory he will eventually learn the right way? And should have known better than to ask you in the first place?
Something must have inspired several people to ask me my opinion of sincerity and harm in this field.
Why? Sunspots, probably.
There are days one really has it up to here with prognosticators waddling about with their visions and blub-blub formulas and I take this opportunity to say to hell with the entire batch of them. And don't forget to try the red rocks and the green ones. And don't go up in the Monument till September.