Can’t get away from that synchronicity (or, God has a mischievous sense of humor)

Late this afternoon I was reading W.B. Yeats’s poem, “The Statues,” written in April 1938, less than a year before his death. Below are the first and last stanzas. (To help with the last stanza, Patrick Pearse was a leader of the Easter Rising of 1916, in which the Central Post Office in Dublin was seized and held for some days; Cuchulain is a legendary Irish hero with whom the doomed 1916 revolutionaries identified themselves):

Pythagoras planned it. Why did the people stare? His numbers, though they moved or seemed to move In marble or in bronze, lacked character. But boys and girls, pale from the imagined love Of solitary beds, knew what they were, That passion could bring character enough, And pressed at midnight in some public place Live lips upon a plummet-measured face …. When Pearse summoned Cuchulain to his side. What stalked through the Post Office? What intellect, What calculation, number, measurement, replied? We Irish, born into that ancient sect But thrown upon this filthy modern tide And by its formless spawning fury wrecked, Climb to our proper dark, that we may trace The lineaments of a plummet-measured face.
The idea is the completing of the ideal but abstract human form, based on Pythagoras’ ideal measurements, with fleshly human character and passion; and simultaneously of the perfecting of the human by conforming it to the ideal. Even as the boys and girls seek perfection by kissing the face of a statue, the statue is humanized and softened by that kiss. After reading and thinking about the poem, I put down my copy of Yeats’s Collected Poems, walked to my computer, went to Laura Wood’s site, and this was the first thing I saw:
THIS PAST Saturday was the first International Yarn Bombing Day. Knitters from around the world covered cars, lamp posts, stairway rails and public statues with colorful knitted cozies.

Yeat’s poem was about youths kissing statues in a public place. The story Laura linked was about knitters covering public statues with colorful cozies.

Just one of those meaningful though not earth-shaking coincidences, often of a literary nature, that happen to me all the time.

Also, today is Yeats’s birthday. He was born in Dublin on June 13, 1865.

I told Laura Wood about this, and she replied:

And I was just talking to a reader about Pythagoras about 30 minutes or so ago. And … I just un-split an infinitive (and thought of you when I did it). The phrase I fixed was “to publicly state.”

I replied:

So, (1) I was reading the poem about statues in “some public place,” which had been made according to Pythagoras’ numbers; (2) then I immediately went to your site where you had written about “public statues”; and (3) at the same time you were fixing a split infinitive, “to publicly state,” and thinking about me as a critic of split infinitives, and also had just been talking about Pythagoras.

Also, get this: At the very moment that I sent you my first e-mail about this, my desktop computer monitor went black and stopped functioning. It looks finished and I have to replace it. I’m writing this on my laptop.

Laura replied:

Isn’t that weird?

Sorry about your monitor. Perhaps it could only handle so much cosmic energy.

- end of initial entry -

Hannon writes:

It’s funny you should mention synchronicity today. A friend emailed me a video link this morning that portrayed a woman alone, drinking spirits irresponsibly, and within the hour I received from another friend a book of British quotes. I like to open a new book to a random page near the middle to get a sense of it, and when I opened this one I immediately came upon this quote:

“An alcoholic is anyone you don’t like who drinks as much as you do.”
— Dylan Thomas

Even if it is silly to calculate the chances of such an occurrence, the odds must be very small.

I once mentioned this tendency to experience coincidences to someone and they said it was likely that at least part of the explanation is that some people notice these things more than others. In other words, they are a common, even universal feature of life, but some of us are more inclined to notice them than others. This may be true, but if so it does not preclude the idea that they are indicators of a higher order, or perhaps layers of order, coursing through our experience of the universe.

Kristor writes:

You write:

“The constant occurrence in life of such coincidences indicates to us, in a beguiling not a dogmatic fashion, the existence of a reality that cannot be explained by material causation.”

No one should fret about the fact that material causation cannot explain much of what happens in our lives. In fact, it is a grotesque error to expect such a thing from material causation. After all, material causation cannot explain material causation. Indeed, there is no possible material cause of material causation. I can’t think of a more succinct way to express the Aristotelian argument for a First, and Unmoved, Mover (or, ipso facto, to indicate the epistemological limits on the domain of merely scientific inquiry).

If there is no utterly transcendent First Mover, then there is just no motion, at all—no change of any kind, nor any being. Likewise, if there be no utterly transcendent Order, then there is just no order at whatsoever. If on the other hand there is such a Mover, and such an Order, then nothing that happens—nothing whatsoever, no matter how trivial—can fail to be connected in every respect to that Mover, and thereby wholly ordered to that Order. Nor, being wholly ordered to the source of all Order, may anything that exists fail to be part of a comprehensive and coherent ordering toward all other things. As Whitehead said, “each atom is a system of all things.” Furthermore, those multifarious connections between things, being all orderly, must at least in principle all be intelligible to any rational observer. So that, in principle, investigating anything carefully enough may provide us an opportunity to discover everything that can be discovered. This is one of the reasons poetry is useful—poems help us attend to significations we usually neglect to notice. That’s how poetry can engender apprehensions of sublimity. And, love is like poetry. Love a thing or a person well enough and properly, and in the object of your charity you may discover all that there is to be known.

Thus synchronicity is pervasive in what exists—this is just another way of saying, “things happen together, and we live in a coherent world”—and Hannon is quite right that whether we notice it depends upon how well we are paying attention to the connections and mutual significations among the disparate elements of our experience, by which that coherence is obtained, in every moment, and from each moment to its successors.

June 19

LA writes:

Follow-up entries on experiences of synchronicity are here and here.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at June 13, 2011 06:13 PM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):