Déjà Vu. That strange feeling we sometimes get that we’ve lived through something before — that what is happening now has already happened.
Way back in the 1960’s, I learned that Déjà Vu is a glitch in our cognition — an experience going into the memory section of the brain too quickly. Since then, whenever I feel that strange feeling of Déjà Vu, I just go along for the ride.
Here are some quotes about Déjà Vu:
It’s déjà vu all over again.
For a few precarious seconds, the chaplain tingled with a weird, occult sensation of having experienced the identical situation before in some prior time or existence. He endeavored to trap and nourish the impression in order to predict, and perhaps even control, what incident would occur next, but the afflatus melted away unproductively, as he had known beforehand it would. Déjà vu. The subtle recurring confusion between illusion and reality that was characteristic of paramnesia fascinated the chaplain, and he knew a number of things about it. He knew, for example, that it was called paramnesia and he was interested as well in such corollary optical phenomena as jamais vu, never seen, and presque vu, almost seen. There were terrifying, sudden moments when objects, concepts and even people that the chaplain had lived with almost all his life inexplicably took on an unfamiliar and irregular aspect that he had never seen before and which made them seem totally strange: jamais vu. And there were other moments when he almost saw absolute truth in brilliant flashes of clarity that almost came to him: presque vu. The episode of the naked man in the tree at Snowden’s funeral mystified him thoroughly. It was not déjà vu, for at the time he had experienced no sensation of ever having seen a naked man in a tree at Snowden’s funeral before. It was not jamais vu, since the apparition was not of someone, or something, familiar appearing to him in an unfamiliar guise. And it was certainly not presque vu, for the chaplain did see him…
Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961), pp. 52-53.
We have all some experience of a feeling, that comes over us occasionally, of what we are saying and doing having been said and done before, in a remote time — of our having been surrounded, dim ages ago, by the same faces, objects, and circumstances — of our knowing perfectly what will be said next, as if we suddenly remembered it!
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850), Ch. 39.
There are some places which, seen for the first time, yet seem to strike a chord of recollection. “I have been here before,” we think to ourselves, “and this is one of my true homes.” It is no mystery for those philosophers who hold that all which we shall see, with all which we have seen and are seeing, exists already in an eternal now; that all those places are home to us which in the pattern of our life are twisting, in past, present and future, tendrils of remembrance round our heart-strings.
E. C. Bentley and H. Warner Allen, Trent’s Own Case (1936), Chapter XV.
In the condition of “deja vu” it is probable that what takes place is that one or several elements in the present situation are like those which had been experienced in the past, but that the dissimilarities in the situations are not observed. The individual has a memory defect in that he parallels or identifies a complex present experience with a similar complex past experience, although in the present experience the number of elements which are the same as those in the past may not be very great. In other words, the present experience is deemed to be the same as that of the past because of the fact that the past is not accurately remembered and properly localized in time.
Shepherd Ivory Franz, “Delusions”, Popular Science, January 1915, Vol. 86, p. 90.
To the category of the wonderful and uncanny we may also add that strange feeling we perceive in certain moments and situations when it seems as if we had already had exactly the same experience, or had previously found ourselves in the same situation. … I believe that it is wrong to designate the feeling of having experienced something before as an illusion. On the contrary, in such moments something is really touched that we have already experienced, only we cannot consciously recall the latter because it never was conscious. In short, the feeling of Déjà vu corresponds to the memory of an unconscious fantasy.
Sigmund Freud, The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901), tr. A. A. Brill (1915), pp. 320–321.
When some French were assembling an encyclopedia of paranormal experiences, they decided to leave déjà vu out, because it was so common it could not be considered paranormal.
Kim Stanley Robinson, Galileo’s Dream (2009), Ch. 13, p. 284
Do you get Déja Vu about this music?
Any Déjà Vu about these photos I took yesterday?
Any Déjà Vu, now, if I thank everyone who helped me create this post today AND you, for experiencing it?