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Monday, November 4, 2013

Coincidance, Week Eight

"The Physics of Synchronicity"

"Semper as  Oxhousehumper"

Although I had to work had to follow all of Wilson's arguments in the synchronicity essay and the Joyce piece, I was very interested because I keep noticing synchronicities in my own life.

None of them are earth-shattering, but they seem interesting to me. For example, on Twitter, I follow a guy named Ted Hand, who also follows me. What we mainly seem to have in common is an interest in Robert Anton Wilson, although Hand is particularly a Philip K. Dick expert.

Late on the night of Oct. 17, I  Tweeted (in a Tweet addressed to Roman Tsivkin, "Iain Banks is the best Anglo-American SF writer I can think of who never won a major award." Hand retweeted my Tweet. I had no idea he was interested in Banks, and he could not even have seen my Tweet unless he followed both Roman and myself.

Meanwhile, Hand sent out a Tweet linking to a posting on the Io9 website about astronomers discovering a big asteroid that might hit the Earth -- and at almost the same time he was retweeting my Banks Tweet, I retweeted his asteroid Tweet.

Speaking of Mr. Tsivkin, he recently put a literary coincidence into my reading life. A few weeks ago, I mentioned in a blog posting here that maybe I ought to recommend that he read George Alec Effinger, a cult science fiction writer I'm fond of, and he went out and read some Effinger books. So I thought maybe I ought to let Roman recommend a book to me, and he suggested I read Too Loud a Solitude by the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. I'm reading it now.

I've been an avid reader for decades, but I never heard of this apparently world-famous Czech writer. Which seems strange. For years, I corresponded with a very literary Czech man named Vaclav Kriz, who lived in Brno. When I looked up Hrabal's biography, I saw he was born in Brno.

But just a few days after Roman told me about Hrabal, I opened up the Wall Street Journal's Saturday books page, and read a recommendation of Hrabal's novel Closely Watched Trains.

I looked up Hrabal on Wikipedia, and his life is the tiresomely familiar sad story of an Eastern European artist abused by the regime; several of his books were allowed to be published after he gave a self-critical interview in which he supposedly said things like "as a Czech writer I feel connected to the Czech people, with its Socialist past and future." Laughably insincere, but fortunately, Communist bureaucrats don't have any more of a sense of humor than capitalist ones. But see how Hrabal died:

"He died when he fell from a window on the fifth floor of the Bulovka hospital in Prague where he was apparently trying to feed pigeons. It was noted that Hrabal lived on the fifth floor of his apartment building and that suicides by leaping from a fifth-floor window were mentioned in several of his books."

Wilson refers to Arthur Koestler's book The Roots of Coincidence more than once, so I looked it up. Wikipedia says this about it: "The Roots of Coincidence, written by Arthur Koestler, is an accessible introduction to theories of parapsychology, including extra-sensory perception and psychokinesis. It postulates links between elements of quantum mechanics, such as the behaviour of neutrinos and their interaction with time, and these paranormal phenomena. It is influenced by Carl Jung's concept of synchronicity." It would appear the book influenced Wilson's thoughts.

I liked the way Wilson tied the I Ching with the 1's and 0's of computers. This is something he does with Illuminatus!, of course, with the computer programmed to use the I Ching. The dots and dashes of Morse code transmitted on telegraph wires arguably kicked off the telecommunications revolution.

As an American blogger, I feel connected to the American people, with its Socialist past and future.  No, wait, that's not current. I think James Clapper is a great American, and I wish the liberal media would leave him alone.


Unknown said...

Yet another Defenestration of Prague.

Illiaminated said...

Just over two weeks ago I had a couple of synchronicities, neither were huge but one actually involved your blog.

Firstly, with an upcoming landmark birthday that I was reluctant to celebrate, I'd invested a fair bit of emotional energy into whether or not to organise a little party. Biting the bullet, I sent a message, via the Iphone app Line, to my best friend and as I typed the words "it's my birtthday" those words were spoken simultaneously by a character on The Simpson's which was playing on the TV at the time. As far as the narrative of the episode, it was a random comment with no antecedent in the plot.

Later that week while reading a current issue of Fortean Times, I came across a letter in their It Happened To Me column where a writer remarked on experiencing many synchronicities of the same kind due to the habit of writing with the TV or radio on.

Then, that same night, I was going through your older posts and I came across a post about the Cleveland library system and was struck by the name of Cuyahoga County, a strange sounding name (to me) which I'd never previously heard. Around half an hour later, I picked up the X-Files Book of the Unexplained, a book that discusses the themes behind the TV show. Each section starts off with Dana Scully's case notes and in the section I was reading Scully references Cuyahoga County Morgue.

Roman said...

Here's another humdinger: PKD's "date of illumination," 2-3-74, is another case of 1132 (going backwards, 7+4, 3, 2), a number that appears numerous times in Finnegans Wake. It's one of the book's defining dates (though not only a date in time but also sometimes an address in space -- and sometimes both). The book PKD was writing, or thinking of writing, right before his death -- presumably as he continued to pound away at his backwards 1132 Exegesis -- was The Owl in Daylight, which "Dick viewed as his Finnegans Wake," according to Wiki. Furthermore, the proposed novel's main theme, hearing/sight, is also one of the Wake's main themes. To bring all of this back(ward) to your post, Tom, Bohumil Hrabal died *exactly* 23 years after PKD's 2-3-74 event, on 2-3-97. ("Of course, of course," RAW would have added.)

Eric Wagner said...

Leary discussed taking acid with Koestler in Flashbacks. In Game of Life he highly recommends Koestler's Janus.

The discussion of Hart Crane and his address reminded me of the addresses in Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness.

"Semper as Ox House Humper" makes me think to always refer to the Kabbalah.

gacord said...

I've had my own literary synchronicity with Roman recently. A few weeks back (could be longer, time is moving in weird fits and spurts for me lately, more on that in a mo) he tweeted or facebooked (or both) some stuff about Seamus Haney and Flann O'Brien the same day (or day after) I had just picked up a few books by both authors for dirt cheap at my local discount bookstore.

Now Time (giggle):
As I was reading the "Semper as Oxhousehumper", one small bit stuck in my brain and wouldn't not dislodge itself. "I AM... A HAM". I think that's somewhat true for RAW as well as Joyce (probably each of us to some extant if we're honest.) I'm in a bit of a gaelic reality-tunnel lately (as if many of you hadn't noticed.) In Gaelic when you speak to someone directly you use what's called the "vocative" form. For example, to say "Hi, Bob" you would say "Dia duit, a Bhob" (pronounced Wob like this.) We don't have initial mutations like this in english but this is called lenition. If the name starts with a vowel sound then you just add an "h" to the front, "Hi, Owen" becomes "Dia duit, a hEoin". Dig? So where am I going with this? In Gaelic, which we know Joyce spoke amongst the 7-10 languages we was competent in, the word "AM" means "TIME" in english. So, in a way, Joyce is speaking directly to time (which is stationary, moving, twisting, rotating, expanding, contracting all through the wake.) And also, in a way saying "I am you, Time, and you are me." We can scramble latin and gaelic together to see where this was going further. Semper "forever" (latin), as "out of or from like I'm from Texas" (gaelic), ach "but"(gaelic), thosai (Gaelic ...lenition again gives an "h" sound to the "th") "start" or "forward", humper "forever" Latin/gaelic scramble with lenition ("sh" in gaelic sounds like "h" as well.) So From forever, but move forward... forever.

Semper as oxhousehumper!

Eric Wagner said...

The discussion of Freud and Jung reminded me of the film A Dangerous Method.

Oz Fritz said...

I was born in Cuyahoga County. Actually, I was born in a hospital in Cuyahoga County because I wanted to be close to my mother (drum shot please).

Wilson books should carry a warning sticker saying something like: "synchronicities may greatly increase with ingestion of this material."

I still have to read the essay.

Eric Wagner said...

I met William Burroughs on October 23, 1983.

On July 23, 1985, I traveled to Ingolstadt, Bavaria. The train from Munich left at 7:32 AM on track 23, train #3223.

The discussion of coincidence, space, and time on pg. 152-153 makes me think of how Joyce plays with Wyndam Lewis's ideas about space and time in Finnegans Wake.

Unknown said...

There's at least one mistake in the table of correspondences. The last four entries under Binary Numbers should be under Genetics.

Cleveland Okie (Tom Jackson) said...

@Arthur, I'm glad you said that, because it looked funny to me, too.

Eric Wagner said...

On page 164 I think the diagram contains an error. Under the E on its back it has downward arrows pointing to a triangle and to rectangular C. I think the triangle should not have a bottom. I think the E on its back should divide into A (Abel) and C C(Cain) (Shem & Shaun, etc.).

Oz Fritz said...

Some of the weird incidents that begin The Physics of Synchronicity could be explained by some form of telepathy.

In the early days of my sound career I once roomed with an older engineer who was a mainstay on the scene. As we were turning in I clearly heard in my mind, "Telepathy is the next step" which I took to be coming from him although he hadn't spoken. I was still wide awake. I looked at him and got an enigmatic look back but couldn't tell if he acknowledged the communication or if I imagined it. There had been no prior conversation about paranormal subjects.

RAW cautiously mentions his burgeoning telepathic sense regarding phone calls in Cosmic Trigger I,

Read today that Oscar Eckenstein, the mountain climbing dude who taught Crowley how to train his attention, had a strong interest in telepathy despite considering magic to be a waste of time.

Really like this line toward the end of the piece:

"According to Honegger, we should analyze such ACOPs (coincidences) the way Freud and Jung analyzed dreams to see what unconscious messages they contain."

Oz Fritz said...

I'll often get synchs with music.

This morning before going into the gym I sat in the car drinking green tea and listening to two AC/DC songs to get the blood flowing. They were You Shook Me All Night Long and Have A Drink On Me from the Back in Black album. If I would have continued listening, the next song would have been Rock n Roll Ain't Noise Pollution. When I went into the gym, that was the first song I heard on their random rotation.

My favorite music synch occurred years ago. I put in a cassette tape of Bowie's Ziggy Stardust to do yoga to and rewound it. When it stopped I hit play and turned up the volume to hear the first song, Starman, and started with the yoga. The song after Starman was not only the wrong song but it wasn't even Bowie. Very strange. I looked at the portable cassette/radio player and discovered it in radio mode. The radio station had played Starman at the exact same time I turned up the volume on the deck thinking I was playing a cassette.