Coincidences: The Devil's in the Details

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About a year ago I wrote a blog about the  coincidences in my life. Psychologist Carl Jung christened them "synchronicities". According to Jung synchronicities are "temporally coincident occurences of acausal events". Meaning they happen close in time without any apparent reason. A professor by the name of J.E. Littlewood called them "miraculous occurences".

I'm sure I'm not alone in noticing these strange phenomena. So I thought I would relate a few very fresh ones. A matter of fact, they happened last night.

I was doing a little reading before hitting the sack, and got the idea to pick up a play by Shakespeare from my personal library. The Merry Wives of Windsor. I have this bucket-list backlog of books to read which includes the Shakepearean canon;  I have always meant to finish it but somehow never have. I have no idea why last night seemed opportune  for  the antics of Sir John Falstaff and friends .   It  just did.

I figured I'd read a scene or two and come back to it another time. In case you don't remember, The Merry Wives is one of Shakespeare's comedies. It has its share of clownish characters with names like Shallow, Slender, and Simple. And of course, the immortal and universally celebrated John  Falstaff, the rotund 'impoverished knight' who was the  carousing crapulous sidekick of  Henry V--- before he succeeded to the throne.

As I waded my way through the opening dialogue, I came upon these lines spoken by Simple, the servant of Slender. "Book of Riddles? Why, did you not lend it to Alice Shortcake upon Allhallowmas last, a fortnight afore Michaelmas?"

With the help of the copious notes of the Folger Shakespeare Library paperback edition, I realized that Michaelmas ---the feast of St. Michael---was September 29, the next morning.  A nano- coincidence, but still a coincidence.

After Act I, Scene 1, I decided to shift reading gears and start a book about the genetic code: "The Violinist's Thumb" by Sam Kean. The title had appealed to me when I saw it at the Worth Public Library. In chapter 1 "Genes, Freaks, DNA", the author writes how in the past,  people had bizarre explanations for inherited traits. For example, according to their  folk theory, a woman "who never satisfied an intense prenatal craving for strawberries gave birth to a baby covered with red, strawberry-shaped splotches".  Doctors in the 1600s also  "reported that a woman in Naples, after being startled by sea monsters, bore a son covered in scales, who ate fish exclusively and gave off fishy odors."   Or in those days, a perfect Frday companion at dinner.

And then there was a woman who enjoyed a  backstage   sexual  performance with  her actor  husband. Which must have been a challenge since he still was in full costume.  He was playing Mephistopheles (one of Satan's aliases) .  A full nine months later, she bore a child with hooves and horns.  There is no mention of whether her name was Rosemary.

This Mephistopheles allusion rang a bell. I reopened The Merry Wives  and, voila,   Pistol---one of Falstaff's entourage---has this line: "How now, Mephostophilus"?   Pistol  obviously did not graduate head of  his class  in grammar school.

Littlewood theorized that these "miraculous occurences"  pop up  every 35 days.  But two in one night?

Gentle readers, I'd be interested to hear if you've had similar experiences.   They're very common, I'm told.  Maybe as  Falstaff says,  they're "as good luck would have it".  Or maybe  they're in our  genes.

 

 

Filed under: humor, literature, science

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  • I love this post. It's my personal theory that the more you take notice of these types of events, the more they occur and the better your path.

    Sort of related, I have foretelling dreams all the time. It's never good stuff like "the lottery numbers are . . ." but weird images that I end up seeing soon thereafter. Two nights ago I dreamt I was under water in a place so deep people had created a new world, complete with air, where unless you knew you were under water you would think you were out in the open. There were these certain type of tinted clouds chopped up across the sky. The next afternoon I happened to look out a car sunroof and lo, those same weird clouds were there and they were tinted through the sunroof glass. And indeed, we do live in an artificial world.

    Sorry to ramble, but I think what's going on with you is you're on a great path. Keep up the good work!

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