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Walk Towards the Light

Ready Aura Not

PLUMBING THE DEPTHS of one's soul is a procedure that, like flossing, is probably best undertaken at home in a locked bathroom. Does anyone who isn't paid by the hour (save your mother or your slavishly devoted prom date) really need or want to wade through the grimy details of your elementary-school playground traumas and the stuff of 3am insomnia?

The answer is no. And no one really wants to reveal this stuff to their co-workers, for God's sake. But journalism is often a field where the personal becomes, if not political, at the very least fodder for feature writing, so Biter assumed that inviting local aura photographers Pro Gen Aura Imaging to the office to read the auras of Metro's staffers would be fun, in a trivial sort of way. We never imagined what strange and disturbing things would be revealed about ourselves and our co-workers.

Aura photography, for the uninitiated, originated with Kirlian photography, named after its inventor Semyon Kirlian. Kirlian, according to The Skeptic's Dictionary, discovered that "if an object on a photographic plate is subjected to a high-voltage electric field, an image is created on the plate. The image looks like a colored halo or coronal discharge." Some have taken this image to represent the object's spiritual aura, or "life force." Thelma Moss, for example, '70s-era author of The Body Electric, suggested Kirlian photography might make a useful diagnostic medical tool.

Local entrepreneur and electrical engineer Guy Coggins, founder of Pro Gen, tries to take Kirlian photography to another technological level by combining an optical and electrical system that produces a color Polaroid of a subject surrounded by his or her electromagnetic aura.

Guy, accompanied by aura reader Mary, set up a black cloth backdrop in the office, while Metro's reporters and editors tapped away at their computers. Then, one by one, we sat in front of the black cloth and put our left hands on top of a box with silver finger pads. It looked like something Spock might have used to get better TV reception. Guy told us to smile, snapped the camera and, a minute later, handed us each a Polaroid. These resembled pictures in which someone had accidentally stuck their thumb in front of the lens: a large, blurry shape hovered over every subject's head.

According to Mary, the colors of these blurs represent traits of the photo subject. Yellow, for example, indicates a sunny and enthusiastic person, "cheerful, bright, great sense of humor and fun, optimism, intellectuality, openness to new ideas, happiness, talent for organization." Violet or purple represents a person who is "magical, original, tends to be unconventional, often has psychic abilities."

Biter's Polaroid, needless to say, showed no violet. Biter was mostly green, which stands for "tenacity, sense of responsibility and service, self-assertiveness, high ideals and aspirations." Not to mention "an ambitious desire for respectability and personal attainment, deeply focused and adaptable."

Personal ambitions laid bare, Biter looked curiously to our co-workers' aura photos. Every single one of them was predominately red. Even Mary was shocked. "I've never seen so many reds," she confessed. Red expresses desire, vitality, the urge to win, intensity of experience, love of sports, eroticism, earthiness and ... stress. Biter felt the room awash in a crimson tide of stress. It was, after all, deadline day. Of course, that didn't explain the sudden widespread love of sports.

As Guy continued to snap photos, people began to wander in from other departments. Everybody wanted his or her photo taken. It was then that Biter realized the appeal of the aura photograph is the same as the appeal of the waiting-room romance: It's a good excuse to talk about yourself, while at the same time insisting, "See, I'm not sick. I'm just feeling a little green around the ears today."

You can have your own aura photograph taken by Pro Gen at the San Jose Psychic and Healing Arts Fair, Nov. 9-10 at the San Jose Civic Auditorium.

Send a letter to the editor about this story to letters@metronews.com.

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From the November 7-13, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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