If you listened to our podcast episode "Aphantasia: Blindness of the Mind's Eye," then you're familiar with this fascinating condition that renders 2.1 to 2.7 percent of the population incapable (to varying degrees) of forming mental images. Of course, that means 2.1 to 2.7 percent of our listening audience experiences the condition as well -- a fact made evident by the colossal amount of listener mail we received relating first-hand accounts of aphantastic perception. Joe and I devoted an entire (upcoming) podcast episode to sharing these accounts and it brought us to a startling revelation:
If all four original Ghostbusters had been aphantasiacs, Gozer would never have been able to assume the form of the destructor and inflict millions of dollars worth of marshmallow damage on New York City.
Yes, we're talking about Gozer the Gozerian here -- an ancient Sumerian destruction god summoned to the Big Apple in 1984 by the reunion of demigods Zuul and Vinz Clortho. When paranormal investigators Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore confronted the entity atop Shandor tower, Gozer demanded they "choose the form of the destructor."
You probably remember how things turned out. The Ghostbusters tried to clear their minds in order to prevent Gozer's manifestation, but Ray couldn't help it. He had to visualize something in the mind's eye:
This seems like a game Gozer had played before. Whether we envision a feared demon, a beloved deity or an embodiment of innocence, the form is likely to give Gozer a potent psychological advantage. Perhaps the psychic entity feeds on the mental anguish.
But what if all four Ghostbusters had been aphantasiacs? Would the lack of mental imagery in their minds have prevented Gozer from selecting a form? Would Gozer have been forced to remain unincarnated? Might Venkman and company have more easily dispelled the entity, and without all the ensuing damage and marshmallowing? On the other hand, I suppose an aphantasia-empowered Ghostbuster team might have forced Gozer to assume one of the "pre-chosen forms" from a previous incarnation, such as a "large and moving Torg" or a "giant Slor."
Still, perhaps an aphantasiac's thoughts would have been enough for Gozer -- informational data as opposed to visual data, but data none the less. After all, one can read the descriptive attributes of marshmallow mascot and get a general idea of what it looks like without any visual aids. This of course assumes Gozer itself possesses a mind's eye. Perhaps The Traveler's need to force a human choosing betrays its inability to form mental images itself.
At any rate, it wouldn't hurt to staff any ghostbusting team with at least one of humanity's mighty aphantasiacs.