What I Mean by “Telepathy”

Reading Minds

First, an apology. When I use the word telepathy, I do not mean reading minds in the magical, fantastical, ESP, science fiction, paranormal sense. I do mean “reading minds,” but whether telepathy is real, whether thoughts can be directly exchanged, mind to mind, or plucked by one mind from another, is irrelevent to my goals. So I’m sorry if you’ve come seeking something more romantic, but in my mind, this is where the real romance is.

The telepathy I mean is the only telepathy most people have ever experienced: getting thoughts between minds by using a medium of communication. T

ext on paper or the computer screen, words spoken over the phone. To be clear, I call this
Technologically-Mediated Telepathy, or TMT for short, and every time I refer to telepathy, this is the kind I mean. Even language itself is a technology – it is after all the brain’s most fundamental artifice but an artifice nonetheless. So even speaking to each other, whispering intimacies in each other’s ears or shouting from a mountaintop is a form of TMT.

Writing is another TMT. I’m arranging a finite set of symbols – 26 in English plus some other marks – in infinite recombinations to wrestle what’s on my mind into what you’re reading.  You’re reading. You’re reading my mind through the technology of the alphabet, a machinery so ubiquitous, powerful and transparent, we forget to see it as a technology at all.

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