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Poetic confluence

The social organization of a telepathic experience




Poetic confluence, Social interaction, Turn design, Face-work, spontaneous cases, psi, anomalous cognition


This paper is an exploratory sociological analysis of poetic confluence, a spontaneous telepathic phenomenon that occurs in everyday social interaction. In poetic confluence, one person’s talk exhibits an enigmatic relationship to another’s unstated thoughts or imagery at that moment. The analyses draw from an empirical approach called Conversation Analysis, a formal qualitative method for the analysis of naturally occurring interaction in everyday life. In Conversation Analysis, talk-in-interaction is analyzed as coordinated and sequentially organized action. The focus on the action orientation of talk informs this analysis, treating poetic confluence as a form of social action. The data are (unavoidably) anecdotal accounts of experiences. Although the techniques of Conversation Analysis cannot be applied to anecdotal reports, its methodological principles and substantive focus can inform a systematic analysis of anecdotal data. A case is made for the robustness of poetic confluence via analysis of recurrent properties found in examples from three corpora of candidate cases. The analysis identifies three interpersonal functions of poetic confluence: its role in restoring mutual attention; its affiliative, affective function; and its role as a mechanism for managing threats to social propriety, or keeping “face.” In the discussion, alternative skeptical explanations are assessed; the empirical approach is framed in terms of Cardeña’s (2019) observations on the metaphoric quality of some psi phenomena and Carpenter’s (2012) first sight theory, and some suggestions are offered for further research on social interaction and psi phenomena.





How to Cite

Wooffitt, R. (2022). Poetic confluence: The social organization of a telepathic experience. Journal of Anomalous Experience and Cognition, 2(1), 80–110.



Research articles