In the sci-fi sense of direct brain to brain communcation of thoughts, ideas and words, I suspect not. It’s impossible to know, though. The future is currently as unknowable as the minds of others.
I also think that telepathy is one of those ideas that is unlikely to come in the form we imagine. When we picture it for cinema or other fictions, telepathy tends to take the form of a voice in the head. I can hear your conscious stream of thoughts, directed communication, it’s essentially silent speech.
Consciousness doesn’t really appear to work like that. I find it next to impossible to explain the flow of thoughts and mental space in my mind. My stream of consciousness, like anyone’s (I assume) is more complex than the densest works of Joyce or Woolf, largely because it is just as convoluted, but not constrained by textual means. A memory can flash into a sentence, an image, a swirl, a concept that can only be described by an action of colours. Fear and worry and love, all abstracted out to other body parts to trick me into fuller feeling. The mind is dense and warped and pliable and weird.
I cannot explain my thoughts to you.
Yet here I am, trying. All the time.
The thing about telepathy, is that pretty much everything we do is an attempt to achieve it. That goal, of transmiting a thought, idea, notion or feeling, is the aim of not just every book, painting, sculpture ever created. It is the goal of every spoken word, it is the goal of every interaction between every person. Acts of communication swirl and rage around us. This typing, as I try and push my brain out there and let you all take a look.
Desperately trying to make you understand, or at least to feel like I’ve adequately explained. Put the ideas out there, left them as clear as possible for the taking.
Everything is telepathy.
Music is telepathy. Poetry is telepathy. Waving is telepathy, an attempt to prove we aren’t drowning.
So why? Why are we so desperate to press our interiors out into the world?
Is it arrogant showmanship? Being so excited by ourselves and desperately searching for validation?
I think to some extent, yes, but really, there’s something deeper.
We just want to know that we exist, in someway, and that so do other people. We need to know that other people are like us. Not just understand us, but are made of the same ideas as us.
A passionate connection with someone is all about feeling like you can understand them. Words are exchanged, and you feel joined together.
It’s already a mind meld. A feeling like the impossible is achieved.
At least, that’s what we reach for.
If we achieved absolute telepathy, perfect empathy, an actual understanding of another consciousness, I suspect the only conclusion would be infinite compassion.
Which would be nice.
Do you get what I’m trying to say?
Illustration by Henry