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Interesting, but seriously flawed
on 26 July 2012
Peake's premise is that we are all, in effect, two selves: the eidolon, the 'ordinary' self which we perceive as us, and the daemon, which has a far broader spectrum of awareness than the eidolon but is largely incapable of communicating this, so we are mostly unaware of its existence.
This theory of dual consciousness is nothing new yet there remains much of interest in this book. Personally, however, I found Caitlin Matthews' "In Search of Woman's Passionate Soul: Revealing the Daimon Lover Within" (despite the title!) to be more insightful and practical. Matthews' research, although not 'scientific' also reveals that awareness of, and communication (in both directions!) with the daemon is nothing unusual and is certainly not confined (as Peake suggests) to sufferers of migraine, TLE or schizophrenia, nor to those amongst the 'ordinary' populace confronted by imminent death.
Peake frequently refers to his previous book and his Cheating the Ferryman theory. Essentially, this states that when we are dying, our consciousness splits in two. For our ordinary self, time exponentially slows as our daemon shows us the 'movie' of our life, minute by minute. However, our ordinary self experiences this as reality, not realising it is a re-run. This may happen an infinite number of times. Peake argues that one of the daemon's functions is to alert us to potential disaster so that we may re-write the script. If successful, the daemon no longer knows how our lives will turn out as it has not lived this version before. What Peake fails to explain is why, if it exists in a kind of hyper-reality, the daemon is confined by time at all, especially by such an eidolonic perception of it. I suspect that from a daemonic perspective everything would be here and now. And considering that most of us live fairly humdrum lives, and that the daemon may have to re-live these countless times, it is a wonder that daemons do not make more efforts to spice things up a bit out of sheer boredom. I remain far from convinced that Cheating the Ferryman is at all necessary to account for such phenomena as precognition and déjà vu, as Peake believes.
The book also displays several inconsistencies and errors of fact. For instance, at one point Peake asserts that we have no control over our night-dreams: has he not heard of lucid dreaming? At least two paragraphs were repeated verbatim: as one of these followed a discussion of déjà vu, I took good care to check I really had read it before! I put this down to authorial/editorial sloppiness (or what is Peake playing at?).
What troubles me most is that Peake explicitly assumes that we all experience ourselves as being 'in our heads', thus propagating the dominant religious and scientific view of 'us' as somehow separate from not only the body as a whole (even as he locates consciousness in the brain) but also from the physical world itself, therefore making communication with it all but impossible and ultimately allowing us to behave deplorably towards it.