On the Uses of Clairvoyance

Image by Austin Chan.

Clairvoyance, or “sixth sense,” is a magical kind of intuition. It is the ability to tell the future, read someone’s mind or, as some people claim, communicate with dead people. I often wonder if clairvoyance could provide us with guidance in these troubling times.

I had an experience of clairvoyance traveling in train from Washington, D.C. to New York. I was sitting next to an attractive, middle-aged woman who told me that she worked in show business. I asked her what kind of business and she said she was a clairvoyant. I asked her, “Many people ask me when I’m going to write a book. Do you see a book in my future?” She said, “No, I don’t see a book in your future, but you are going to go to your country sooner than you expect.”

I found her response puzzling since I didn’t have any plans to go to Argentina, my native country. When I returned home, I was telling my wife about the encounter with this unusual woman when the phone rang. It was a call from Argentina offering me a short-term consultancy with the government. And I haven’t written a book.

Another unusual incident happened to a scientist friend of mine from New York. Because of a mix-up, when he was born the wrong date was written on his birth certificate, making him older than he was. When he applied for his passport, the document had the wrong date. During a trip to India for a medical convention, my friend was walking to a meeting when a homeless man approached him and asked for money. My friend obliged and as he was leaving, the man said, “I am sorry Sir, please don’t get angry at me but your passport has your wrong birth date.” Only my friend and his most immediate family knew this…

There is a relationship between clairvoyance and premonition. Although both are related to the ability to perceive events beyond our normal senses, while clairvoyance is the ability to see things that are not visible to the naked eye, premonition is the capacity to sense future events before they happen.

One example of premonition was that of Barret Naylor, a Wall Street executive who worked at the World Trade Center. On the two occasions that the World Trade Center was bombed (in 1993 and in 2001,) as he was going to work there in the morning, he had the feeling that something terrible was going to happen. On both occasions he decided to return home; his sense of foreboding, or premonition, saved his life.

Now, the jury hearing the case regarding E. Jean Carroll has ordered Mr. Donald Trump to pay her $83.3 million for defamation charges. This is an unusually large amount and one which tarnishes his legacy as president. These circumstances lead me to ponder this. Is it clairvoyance o premonition that led Walt Whitman, our greatest bard, to write the following lines in his poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry,” in which he draws an almost perfect picture of our former president?

I am he who knew what it was to be evil,

I too knotted the old knot of contrariety,

Blabb’d, Blush’d, resented, lied, stole, grudg’d,

Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,

Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant,

The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,

The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not


Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these


Dr. Cesar Chelala is a co-winner of the 1979 Overseas Press Club of America award for the article “Missing or Disappeared in Argentina: The Desperate Search for Thousands of Abducted Victims.”