82_28 wrote:Has anyone heard of John William Dunne?
I found out about him by way of for some reason naming a website/blog I once ran "www.dunneIV.org". It came to me in a dream and I woke up repeating the phrase "done for", "done for" etc. So I decided to google the significance of the spelling of the name "Dunne" and why I kept saying "done for". Well, I came across this cat:John William Dunne FRAeS (1875–1949) was an Anglo-Irish aeronautical engineer and author. In the field of parapsychology, he achieved a preeminence through his theories on dreams and authoring books preoccupied with the question of the nature of time. As a pioneering aeronautical engineer in the early years of the 20th century, Dunne worked on many early military aircraft, concentrating on tailless designs, producing inherently stable aircraft.
He happened to have written a book in the 1920s called "An Experiment With Time", summarized here:Basic concepts
Dunne's theory is, simply put, that all moments in time are taking place at once, at the same time. For example, if a cat were to spend its whole entire life living in a box, anyone looking into the box could see the cat's birth, life and death in the same instant - were it not for the human consciousness, which means that we perceive at a fixed rate.
According to Dunne, whilst human consciousness prevents us from seeing outside of the part of time we are "meant" to look at, whilst we are dreaming we have the ability to traverse all of time without the restriction of consciousness, leading to pre-cognitive dreams, resulting in the phenomena known as Deja vu. Henceforth, Dunne believes that we are existing in two parallel states, which requires a complete rethink of the way that we understand time.
 Dunne's experiment
In An Experiment with Time, Dunne discusses how a theoretical ability to perceive events outside the normal observer's stream of consciousness might be proved to exist. He also discusses some of the possible other explanations of this effect, such as déjà vu.
He proposes that observers should place themselves in environments where consciousness might best be freed and then, immediately upon their waking, note down the memories of what had been dreamed, together with the date. Later, these notes should be scanned, with possible connections drawn between them and real life events that occurred after the notes had been written.
While the first half of the book is an explanation of the theory, the latter part comprises examples of notes and later interpretations of them as possible predictions. Statistical analysis was at that time in its infancy, and no calculation of the significance of the events reported was able to be made.
 Parallels with other scientific and metaphysical systems
Dunne's theory of time has parallels in many other scientific and metaphysical theories. The Aboriginal people of Australia, for example, believe that the Dreamtime exists simultaneously in the present, past and future, and that this is the objective truth of time, linear time being a creation of human consciousness and therefore subjective. Kabbalah, Taoism and indeed most mystical traditions have always posited that waking consciousness allows awareness of reality and time in only a limited way and that it is in the sleeping state that the mind can go free into the multi-dimensional reality of time and space (examples: "Dreams are the wandering of the spirit through all nine heavens and nine earths," The Secret of the Golden Flower, trans. Richard Wilhelm). Similarly, all mystery traditions speak of the immortal and temporal selves which exist simultaneously both within time and space and without.
There are also parallels with classical relativity theory, in which time and space are merged into "spacetime", and time is not absolute and independent but is dependent upon the motion of the observer.
In literature, interest in Dunne's theory may be reflected in T. S. Eliot's Burnt Norton, from Four Quartets, which opens with the lines:
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
J. B. Priestley used Dunne's theory directly in his play Time and the Conways, professing in his introduction that he believed the theory to be true. Other writers contemporaneous to Dunne who expressed enthusiasm for his ideas included Aldous Huxley, who was also interested in the expansion of human consciousness to experience time, and Adolfo Bioy Casares, who mentioned this book in the introduction to his novel The Dream of Heroes (1954).
Charles Chilton used Dunne's analogy of time as a book to explain time travel in his radio play Journey Into Space. Philippa Pearce's childhood fantasy Tom's Midnight Garden also makes use of Dunne's ideas.
The idea that time might be experienced differently in enfolded space is one posited by quantum physicist David Bohm, who also believed that consciousness defined how we perceived the world. Bohm, who called for a revolution in human consciousness to free us from the old, Newtonian, mechanistic understanding of the universe, even posited that through a transformation of consciousness Time could possibly cease to exist in the way we perceive it now (cf., "The Ending Of Time" by Jiddu Krishnamurti and Dr David Bohm).
The 1964 novel Froomb! by British writer John Lymington refers to and is inspired by some of Dunne's concepts. The protagonist, intended to be scientifically "killed" and revived to bring back an account of Heaven, is instead physically transported into the future, a parallel "time-band." He attempts to communicate with the controller of the experiment through dreams.
In the 1970 children's TV series, Timeslip, a time bubble allows two children to travel between past, present and future. Much of the show's time travel concepts were based on An Experiment with Time.
An Experiment with Time is referenced in the book Sidetripping by William S. Burroughs and Charles Gatewood.
It is also mentioned in the book "Last Men In London" by Olaf Stapledon (1932).
It is also mentioned in the story "Murder in the Gunroom" by H. Beam Piper, and in "Elsewhen" by Robert A. Heinlein.
The ideas of Dunne also form the basis for "The Dark Tower" a short story by C. S. Lewis, and the unpublished novel, "The Notion Club Papers" by J. R. R. Tolkien. Both Tolkien and Lewis were members of the Inklings.
In the 2002 French movie Irréversible, one of the characters is seen reading the book by Dunne. The movie also investigates the aspects of the book through the style of filming, in that the story is told backwards, with each beginning sequence beginning either minutes or hours prior to the one which preceded it in the narrative. Also, the tagline is Le temps détruit tout meaning "Time destroys everything" – it is the first phrase spoken and the last phrase written.
In his book Is There Life After Death? (2006), British writer Anthony Peake wrote that some of Dunne's ideas are valid and attempts to update the ideas of Dunne in the light of the latest theories of quantum physics, neurology and consciousness studies.
Well, this morning I was having lucid dreams that (hopefully not my ex) girlfriend was texting me left and right and was emailing me. But the texts were lucid enough that each time I would wake up and would have to remind myself that there was no need to check my email or phone from any message from her. Then I logged into RI and saw this thread at the top of the queue and thought, maybe just maybe I can find something about this relatively obscure book I could add to the mix in this fascinating thread.
There used to be a site that had most chapters of An Experiment with Time a number of years ago -- hence how I even found the guy and his works. It's since gone defunct and haven't been able to find it in years. Yet it also, at the time of my website, was long out of print. Well, it's since gone back into print and can be found the usual ways.
Sweet, says I!
I just found it here and I do really recommend reading it. . .
You can download as pdf, kindle etc.
A guy I used to tree plant with got me into Dunne nnearly 20 years ago. I would love to read that book again. It was freaky and so were some of the experiments...