HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: The dinner party was going fine. (it wasn't as fancy as this one at Downton Abbey...) But we had extravagant yellow roses as the centerpiece. Lavish coconut shrimp for everyone, the lovely ginger sauce worked, the beef came out perfectly, the veggies were bright and gorgeous, the conversation was sparkling as the champagne. And no one spilled on the tablecloth. But then--someone (out of the clear blue :-) ) posed a question to the table.
Do you, she asked, believe in ESP?
Let me tell you, there were no "maybes." The yesses were as vociferous as the nos. I'm a big yes---I mean, it doesn't happen ALL the time, and you can't TRY to make it happen, and you can't plan for it, but I've got to tell you, there are things that have happened to me that have no other explanation.
Others scoffed. Impossible! They said. That's not how our brains work.
So then--someone asked: How about intelligent life on other planets? Do you believe in THAT?
Again, there were no "maybes.' Everyone believed what they believed, and had all sorts of reasons why.
And THEN--someone else, it wasn't me--said: If you could absolutely know there was intelligent life on other planets, like--if they actually landed on earth-but in knowing it, you would die...would that knowledge be worth it?
The arguing got so loud I had to stop them with dessert.
But Reds, if you had been at the dinner party--how would you have answered?
LUCY BURDETTE: Well that's one heck of a dinner party Hank!
I might have to break the mold and say maybe to both...ESP? couldn't that be someone being particularly well tuned in to the people and things around them, so what they notice appears out of the ordinary? I'm not saying it doesn't exist, just that there is an explanation that's not sheer woo-woo:)
Now as for ET--I would love to meet HIM. Wasn't he adorable? But would I die to know? Absolutely not. Having too much fun right here right now.
But geez, those answers sound a little dull. Let me know Hank if I need to jazz things up to get invited to the next party, ok?
HANK: Oh, Lucy, of course you're invited. ( In fact..could you cook?) How about you, Rhys?
RHYS BOWEN: I completely believe in ESP. Being half Celt I can cite many examples of connecting with someone halfway around the world (and not via Skype). But intelligent life on other planets? I'd really prefer not to know, because it would rock the security of my spiritual beliefs. If they had three green heads would they have a different God from ours? Or would that definitely prove that we were naive to believe in a higher being?
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Good grief...I'm trying to remember the conversations at my last get-together. Not nearly as lofty. No one mentioned celebrity weight gains or divorces but I don't recall anyone pondering the universe in quite this way.
If Lucy thinks her answers are dull, Lord knows what she'll think of these! I don't care about ESP. I know I don't have it. (I also can't play the piano.) If I knew anyone who had it I'd probably be interested in the first few predictions and then ask them to keep the rest of their extra sensory perceptions to themselves. Nobody likes a know it all.
As far as intelligent life on other planets, I'm still busy looking for intelligent life on this planet. Seriously? Sure. Why not? But die to know...nah.
JAN BROGAN - I know, I know, I'm supposed to be beginning my hiatus, and I will after this, but this dinner party was so intriguing, I had to invite myself in.
HANK: Yay, Jan! You are always welcome, and I had a feeling you’d come back for this.. J Anyway. You were saying?
JAN: J ESP is not prescience, is it? We aren't talking about making predictions about the future or the stock market, right? Just the being able to communicate beyond the normal bounds with other people and maybe "the other side?" Right?
HANK: Exactly. Just an—extra-sensory…perception.
JAN: Definitely believe in it, and actually in some of my studies of the brain, I think neuroscience will support some of it - at least the ESP with living people. I think Lucy's right - there's all sorts of different brain structure and function that can account for at least some of it. That said, I think people have also engineered quite a bit of fraud pretending to have psychic powers to communicate with the dead.
Why does discovery of life on another planet affect your belief system here, Rhys? Maybe they have their own Green God, or maybe God likes a little variety. I'd love to know about life on another planet, which I think must be going on some where. Would I die to know? Actually die? What would be the point of that?
HALLIE EPHRON: ESP? Pfffff. We just remember the times we're right as opposed to when we're wrong because we're such egotistical creatures. Which is ALSO why we think there isn't intelligent life on other planets. How could there not be, with the universe as massive as it is and most of it unexplored by us?
I'd add the question: Is ANY knowledge worth dying in order to have?
DEBORAH CROMBIE: I want to come to Hank's dinner parties, too! I'm sure mine are never as interesting... (Does anyone remember Steve Allen's Meeting of Minds? Now those were get-togethers to die for! (Hank says: Here's Steve chatting with Shakespeare..now THERE'S a party) But I'm being strictly metaphorical. I would not die to find out if there was life on other planets. There's far to much to enjoy on this planet, and far too much we don't know.
Which brings me to ESP. I don't think I believe in prescience, and I think it would be a curse rather than a gift. I would HATE to know what was going to happen, good or bad. (It would certainly take the fun out of detective fiction.) But I do believe that we sense things and communicate in ways that we have not yet managed to explain scientifically--but that makes them no less real. "There are more things in heaven and earth..." to quote Will.
Nor does the idea of life on other worlds--or other universes--interfere with my spiritual beliefs. I've always thought it was the height of human egotism to make God in our image, and to think we humans were the only thing worth his concern. (I'm only using HIS because of our awkward language restrictions. I think giving God a gender is another egotistical human construct, and obviously, a male one. Sorry, guys.)
HANK: I know, Hallie, some of what is considered “ESP” is often a micro-expression on someone’s face, or empathy, or coincidence. But like Rhys, I’ve had situations for which …well, that there was something more going on.
But I agree, about other life. Gotta be. And that’s so exciting! Wonder if the 3013 Reds will be saying..can you believe those twenty-first century sisters were so clueless?
What do you all think? (And hey—Shirley MacLaine—who know we know is Lady Cora’s mother! (whoa) would certainly want to weigh in on this.)
(And who will we see at Malice? ESP us your answers...)