Monday, November 9, 2009

Deja Vu; Deja Vu; Deja Vu; Deja Vu

Like always, I prefer Wikipedia’s description. Déjà vu “is the experience of feeling sure that one has witnessed or experienced a new situation previously (an individual feels as though an event has already happened or has happened in the recent past), although the exact circumstances of the previous encounter are uncertain.

We all experience it at one time or another, some of us more frequently than others. So, what causes that sensation? Scientists have several explanations. The most common one is that it’s not precognition or prophecy or past lives or any other supernatural reason. Some explain it as a problem with a glitch in memory that can create the sensation of recognition when it is not accurate. I dismiss this explanation for the simple fact that when I have déjà vu, it involves all senses with great detail which would not be a memory glitch.

Other scientists, specifically quantum physicists, explain déjà vu as a potential example of time occurring simultaneously or perhaps glimpses into other dimensions in which the same life courses through at a different time from ours allows us to catch a momentary viewing. This is a really exciting thought, but the fact there is no accompanying aura to discern that there’s been a split in time or space, makes me doubt that one.

Vision has been another explanation, that one eye may fractionally record something quicker than the other one causing confusion in the brain. I find this explanation fairly intriguing because I have a fear of heights and I know that fear of heights is partially an issue with my astigmatism. One of my eyes overcompensates for the weakness in the other and creates 20/20 vision, but you stand me on a ledge looking at the Grand Canyon and I lose all concept of depth perception, the same thing on an escalator or ladder or anything where I can’t judge distance accurately. I lose my entire equilibrium. That problem with the eyes and the fact I get déjà vu fairly often makes me think of the scientific explanations, that’s a good fit. The only problem is that fraction of a second isn’t enough to feel as if something is familiar. The mind has barely registered it.

The last explanation that I feel is a great fit is the concept that our minds hold memories from an entire lifetime and we discard many of them as insignificant. Have you ever talked to someone you grew up with and he remembers an event you don’t recall at all? The mind will search through its archived or “zip files” in new situations to find a fit. This helps us to recognize places, events, people, and situations. When it draws one up from the past and presents it to you in the present, it’s quietly saying “doesn’t today’s situation seem like this one???” The mind is actually having a recognition of its own from the past to the present.

Whenever I get déjà vu, I always stop and study it. It’s extremely similar to psychic impressions. Unbelievably so! I have always tended to recall what happens next and try to live it out. One day, I was foraging through the cabinets to come up with an incredible supper out of need-to-grocery-shop canned goods. A song was playing on the radio that rarely ever plays ("Ventura Highway"). I captured a scent in the air like cardamom, a homey spice that reminds me of apple tarts. At the same time, the light coming in the window and the way the cans were lined up was very familiar. I had a rush of recognition of having this same emotion of frustration, the same light in the surroundings, the same scent…I wanted to hold onto the feeling long and observe it but I feared it would go away if I didn’t complete whatever it was had been the previous experience’s outcome, I would lose the feeling. I tried to claw in my mind for the past encounter with these elements when it was suddenly gone, interrupted by a timer that went off to remind me to start making supper. I was completely deflated by the loss of that pleasant experience. Some people don’t like déjà vu, but I find it to be as intoxicating as those moments when you’re falling asleep and you feel blissfully relaxed and warm and comfy and pleasant. It’s almost embryonic…

Have you ever smelled chlorine from a swimming pool and were transported to you teen years spent at the public pool and the associated symptoms of hope and discovery of the opposite sex? Did you ever sit outdoors when the sun is setting and everything is awash in orange light and feel a sudden memory of childhood and the time of night when lightning bugs would start to show? I get this one a lot--does anyone else: You're driving in your car, a song comes on the radio, and you swear you heard that same song and that same intersection before? deja vu, deju vu, deja vu! All of this leads me to believe it truly is a memory recall trigger.

Related to the sensation of déjà vu is “tip of the tongue.” Jeez, as I get older this one becomes worse and worse, especially with names! I can’t stand being able to picture a person in my mind, hear their voice, and yet draw a blank for the name. If you’ve had this, the way you flip through the Rolodex in your mind probably feels very similar to déjà vu. You’re desperately grasping for a bit of floating debris to grasp as you’re washed downstream in your mind’s thought process.

I’d love to hear your déjà vu experiences. For people who don’t see themselves as psychic, I’d like to hear if they feel this is as close to feeling psychic as they’ve ever felt because I can tell you, it’s exactly the same way I feel when I file through images when doing a reading and grasp onto that little bit of jetsam and ride it to its conclusion.


  1. O Wow!!! what an infinitely cool article Autumnforest!! I love this topic -you have thought of so many topics to blog about that fascinate me and for some reason I just never thought of blogging about them so i sure appreciate you doing all of these topics that come up!!
    Chlorine is a huge memory bringer to me (sorry not for the opposite sex;-) there are several memories that I associate so strongly with it that it is almost emotional. when my brother and i used to visit my grandmother who lived in this tiny town in Texas we went swimming in the pool that was basically across the street-i am talking younger than 10 years old and these are such good memories!!
    Interestingly it is my brother -by far more than anything else that i have these strong senses of deja vu when I am with him. we can be talking about something and I have thought -seriously-"Did we just have this conversation or did we also have it a million years ago or in another lifetime?"
    Music brings on huge memories for me although not really deja vu so much -there is a beautiful song called "Deja Vu" by Dionne Warwick (haha of psychic friends network fame now i believe)it is an oldie but I love it as I do a lot of the oldies-the one you mentioned "Ventura Highway" is another great one!!
    The smell in the air in Colorado in autumn always provoked big emotions in me -and memories. That could be why autumn is by far my favorite time of the year too (altho it we don't get much of it in AZ as you well know:-)
    BTW -my bro says he doesn't have the deja vu feelings when i am. The biggest Deja Vu ever in my life was sort of connected to two events. On the night of sept 10 2001 (i was living at my brothers house in Chandler then) i picked up a dog we had picked out from the pound) I am a worry wart to kingdom come-i actually have to try to suppress it so it doesnt get on people's nerves -especially those i am close to. so of course as we both had to work on 11 sept i went into work that morning (stocker for kalil bottling-the job started at like 4 am) i was worried the dog would not be all right being left alone so soon. well of course as the day progressed i started to worry about other things-i think i was actually in shock at one point) because a lady at a store was trying to tell me the towers werent there anymore and i didn't believe her.well to make a long story finally short-sorry for going on so. I got home in the afternoon and came in the front door which led directly to the living room. My brother was standing by the TV and said "did you see this yet?" it was the clip of the plane hitting the south tower-which i hadn't -i had just been hearing radio reports on and off and doing my job at the stores.and just as he finished that very sentence I felt like i was in one of those old twilight zone short clips where it shows someone floating against a spiral background! because when he got done i felt that all of it 9/11, my life, my alcohol abuse and recovery, my lovers, my friends, family-the politics too-the US presidents, foreign leaders, all of it -had been played out before-the only way i can describe the feeling is like if you were standing on a wooden floor like in a cartoon and someone saws a circle underneath you and you fall through!!sorry i should be able to desribe better for someone who wanted or wants to be a writer!! The way I convinced myself within probably two hours that it wasnt deja vu or the paranormal was that i thought the trauma of that day had provoked it-but anymore i dont accept that explanation. whatever it was it was one helluva deja vu experience!!sorry to go on and on so-i am embarrassed now! BTW the dog "Payro" is doing great;-)all the best to you my friend!!
    ps-Vicks Vapo Rub -another memory kicker offer:-)

  2. Hey Dev;
    It's crazy, but every now and then I just roll through my mind the "weird" things in the world. Since I was little, everything fascinated me that was unexplained--didn't really like the explained stuff, so today I was having deja vu and it reminded me what a weird thing that is that we don't really think about it--like the post I did on emergency broadcast system--everyone remembers it, but no one thinks how weird that was to have to invent it and have it in our lives all our lifetimes.

    I totally get you on deju vu on 9-11. I was asleep and I had a dream that there was a middle eastern man screaming in triumph and crashing into my garage door. It made a huge sound. I sat up, heart pounding and my husband came rushing in to tell me a plane hit the tower. I thought it was a small plane, maybe someone got misdirected. I got myself dressed and awake and came in to see the second plane and thought "is someone at the airport f'ing up? as controller?" I didn't realize it was a full-sized plane and didn't realize until later they were Middle Easterners doing it intentionally. Talk about deja vu. Next time you feel that coming on, take note what sense set it off--the conversation? the smells? the place you're seated? the content of the conversation? It's interesting to see what sets it off for you.

  3. I totally get where you are coming from and also find your 9/11 memories and dreams fascinating!! I will take notes the next time -i am starting to do it again with dreams -but my dreams that i remember are really infrequent now -I would like to practice lucid dreaming again -i really think it would help before my hearing and the anxiety produced by knowing it is coming and not having a clue how it will go-plus it is kind of cool when you can get to that deeper state and know you are dreaming -yet the dream doesn't shut off!
    that is me to a "t" with the weird things in life -the day to day world that society "makes" us see -I will go into this thought later-i am sure you know what i am getting at is so boring!
    sometimes just reading a cool ghost, ufo, elf, any stories like these can put me in a better mood!
    another memory popped up when you mentioned the emergency address system! dont know why i didn't think of this when i first read your post - one of the first short stories i ever tried to write as a 12 year old -maybe younger was going to be called "This is not a test" haha about a nuclear war -I wish i had more of these "synchronicity" type nights where you have this rush of ideas and memories from just typing on someone's comments section and things like that!
    all the best to you and your family Autumnforest !! I love your blog and your writing as I know many others do so thanks also for your hard work!! ps please tell your son i hope he gets to take a breather soon over the holidays!!

  4. Hey Dev;
    Do you have deja vu coming back here? Hee hee. I appreciate your nice compliments. You're always gracious and kind and highly intelligent. Those qualities are precious. I'm glad I get you sparked with new ideas. My problem is, I go online looking for one thing and my eyes catch sight of a word and that sparks a new idea for a post. Tonight, I was looking for harbingers of doom and came across the flying dutchman, so I guess you know what tomorrow's post is. I feel good about the hearing--you certainly are only asking for what you're due. Know that when you attend the hearing, you never go alone, all of us are behind you, beside you, flanking your sides. Just picture it. I'll have my hand on your right shoulder. How's that? Oh, and Alex is on to more exciting things. He's been asked to co-curate an art show downtown and it's a really cool theme. Lots of work, but very awesome and when he's done, he gets a budget to buy art for the building. How fun is that? He's about to go and interview abductees for a documentary short he's making for art classes too. His ambitious has gotten my ambition sparked too. I'm tired of sitting on my writing and ready to do something with it. Right now, I'm sending out short stories I used this past month and see if I can get them published--fingers crossed.

  5. Great post. I have had deja vu a few times but have never really stopped to consider where the memory came from. This gives me more to think about.

  6. I always felt that my Deja Vu's were reboots. In other words, what ever our Deja Vu thought was, was again the first and last thing during that reboot.

    Hard to define but let me try again.

    We're in the present and are walking toward the door and we see the door.

    Then there is a high speed program suddenly running in our brains that cleans up, removes and/or organizes our memories. This procedure started as we looked at the door so what we experience when it's over is the same experience we had when it started, which was less than a second ago since that reboot is so fast. In other words, it appears that we've done this before by walking toward this same door.

    We recall walking toward the door and it had meaning but was actually the original thought placed at the end of the reboot since it was truly the last thought or action.

    Does that make sense? Like I said, it's hard to define. Visualize a circle and the reboot takes place in a circle. Maybe that's an easier way to explain it.

    Then again, my Deja Vu's are always about the very activity I was presently doing that gave me that "I've been here before or I've done that before feeling.

  7. I like your explanation. I've usually been able to tie bits and pieces of my deja vu with sensory input that's famililar, i.e. scents, sounds, feels... If I observe it after the event, I can often times find that it's either an activity I've done so many times, at one point I probably had a similar "feel" to it before or the song playing can take me to a familiar time I was listening to it and doing something similar. Definitely seated in the brain; however, it would be cool if it were related to DNA memories and you were actually experiencing something and ancestor experienced and your DNA recognizes it. How fun would that be?

  8. I'll never forget my first deja vu. I was 7 and a teacher from my elementary school was taking me home with her because my mom had to work late. As we turned onto her block, I started jumping up and down in my seat screaming, "I've been here before! I've been here before! You live there, and have pink curtains."

    I'd never seen her house before. I had no idea what her house looked like. But instead of freaking her out, she simply said, "I think you're having deja vu." She was so cool about it. I was so excited when she tried to explain it to me. I was so sad when I tried to tell my mom and she just said I was kookie.

    I have it all the time now...but it's a little different these days. I dream my deja vus, then have them. It's weird.