Nicholas Knutsen : Synchronicity

El Lissitzky Proun 99 1924

The thing with synchronicity as opposed to other "paranormal" phenomena,is that synchronicity in theory is not paranormal. It is a scientifically possible factor, although it's well on the outside of traditional science, and of course it's never been proved to be real. In fact, it would probably be impossible to prove that synchronicity really is an existing phenomenon, at least by using the normal methods of scientific deduction. This is because synchronicity operates completely outside the current laws of physics as defined by scientists.

A funny and informative book which also deals a little with synchronicity, is "The Fourth Dimension (and how to get there)" by Rudy Rucker (Penguin Books 1986). The only book which is all about synchronicity that I know of, is of course the original by C.G. Jung, "Synchronicity - An Acausal Connecting Principle". Jung was the one that created the word and also the theory on synchronicity.

The theory is that events (and thoughts) are connected in other ways than causally. "Causally" meaning by the law of cause and effect. In traditional physics all events have a cause, something that made exactly that event happen ("The clockwork universe"). This would mean that if we had all the existing factors, we could calculate exactly what would happen in any given system. For instance, if somebody kicks a ball up in the air, if we know the weight of the ball, the exact angle of impact by the foot, the force with which the foot hit the ball, the shape of the tip of the shoe, the wind velocity and direction (and all factors about the wind currents), and so on... then we could in theory say exactly where the ball would land.

But as quantum physics proved, this causality (and ORDER) only applies on certain levels. (Remember, all laws of physics are simply statistical.) In the microverse, i.e. on a sub-atomic level, all the laws of physics are out the window. Chaos rules. Particles can be on two places at the same time. Particles can travel back in time. Things happen for no reason, i.e. the effect has no cause. The very particles that make up the physical world as we perceive it, do not follow the laws that they create by their "behavior"! One cannot predict where a particle will go next, or even the behavior of an atom. In fact, also outside of the microverse it is now understood that a given cause does not always produce the same effect, although it might SEEM that way in most instances. (Laws of physics are statistical.)

Anyway! If causality does not govern everything, then there could theoretically exist an ACAUSAL connecting principle. Two events which are somehow connected, but neither of them caused the other one to happen. This is synchronicity. If synchronicity does not exist, then the world is just full of strange coincidences. But if it does, then the world is filled with MEANINGFUL coincidences. Telepathy, divination, astrology and such are potentially possible under the theory of synchronicity. But they don't occur for the traditionally believed reasons. Telepathy, meaning that one could "read" another person's mind, suggests some sort of thought waves, and this is not in accordance with physics. But it's possible that two people can think of something at the same time. Under the theory of synchronicity, all such events would be synchronistic. If a person is more inclined to certain synchronistic phenomena than others, she/he could be perceived as a telepath. Similarly, an event in the future or the past could be connected with an event in the presence; and the constellation of the stars and planets could be connected with elements in human's lives. (Of course, this is all very difficult to chart, and I believe that the "science" of astrology is too specific to have the possibility of being accurate.)

Synchronicity has much in common with the increasingly popular Chaos Magic(k). In "Liber Chaos" by Peter J. Carroll, the author uses quantum physics to explain the theory behind chaos magic, and although synchronicity is never mentioned, the similarities are evident .

In "The Fourth Dimension", Rucker explains the following: In quantum physics, the movement of matter in space and time are thought of as patterns in the spacetime fabric. In a Minkowski diagram, an object moves through space on the x-axis (horizontally) and time on the y-axis (vertically). We trace the object by drawing its "world line". A straight vertical line means that an object only moves in time, i.e. it's motionless (in space). If the line is in an angle e.g. to the right, it means that the object is in motion. The sharper the angle, the faster the motion. These lines are more or less vertical, and represent causal events. (A straight horizontal line would mean that the object was traveling infinitely fast, or "teleporting".) All synchronistic connections would have to be a "horizontal patterning" in spacetime, as opposed to the "vertical patterning" of causality.

In "Liber Chaos", Carroll explains chaos magic also as patterns in reality; and they work through what he calls "shadow time" as opposed to normal time. Shadow time is perpendicular (in right angle) to normal time. It is as if Rucker and Carroll are talking about the exact same thing!

To me it's obvious that the workings of synchronicity (or magic) are such that reality wouldn't be as it is without it. Reality is defined by synchronicity (among other factors). Synchronicity is at least essential to the underlying "patterns" or "laws" that define reality.

Both Carroll and Rucker conclude that synchronicity/magic is the very thing that shape our reality. It's not just meaningful coincidences or the altering of reality (by magic). Carroll says that the reason the universe is like it is, is magic; the universe IS magic. Rucker says: "When both patternings [causal and acausal] are at work, one gets the kind of complex pattern of events characteristic of life as it is lived. It seems evident that a really first-class universe must include a mixture of both sorts of spacetime patterning. What I am suggesting, in short, is that our world contains synchronicity because it is a beautiful and interesting world!"

Modern scientists have found that at the underlying level, all is chaos. Different aspects of this manifest in the fields of quantum mechanics; quantum physics; chaos theory (fractals); chaos magic, and probably others I can't think of now. However, in recent years, scientists have tried to find the answer to why the world at our level then seems to be governed by such mathematical and orderly laws. This field is called complexity. I haven't read much about this actually, but it would seem to me the answer they are looking for, is synchronicity!

What is interesting is that "Liber Chaos" is a sort of manual in how to perform chaos magic. If this is possible, it would mean that one could actually control the synchronicity around us. According to this book, the way to perform chaos magic is to first put the result you want, into your mind. Then you must not think about it when the ritual or the action is happening. That is to say, the wanted result should be in your subconscious mind, not your conscious mind. However, in order to make it work you should be in a state of great excitement or agitation when performing the ritual.

One way to do it is the use of sigils. Here's a simple example: You write down the wanted result, for instance "I WILL WIN A MILLION DOLLARS IN THE LOTTERY". Then you combine all unique letters into a self-defined graphic sigil, which is like your spell. Now you must orget what this sigil means. A common way to do this is to have many sigils stored with different meanings. When you then use one of them, you don't remember what it stands for. Now the agitation comes in. You reach this state by performing "gnosis", which can be a ritual dance with music, a sexual experience, or any form of self-suggestion; but all the time focusing on the sigil. All this is to ensure that the objective lies in your subconscious mind. Many practitioners of chaos magic (or chaoists) also create their own pantheons with gods, demons etc, or use existing deities. For instance, there's the IOT pact, The Illuminates of Thanateros, who worship Thanatos and Eros. But all chaoists are atheists, so the worshipping and rituals are all a means of self-suggestion. The trick is to believe even though you don't believe, because of course the magic is much more likely to be successful if you believe it can be.

There's no apparent logic behind these methods of performing magic; they are not based on science, but probably empiric research. But I have found, even before I heard anything about chaos magic, that synchronicity works in much the same way. For instance, I think everybody knows that something most often does not happen when we think consciously about it. If we're waiting for a phone call, the phone will not ring when we're thinking about and waiting consciously for it to ring. When it rings, it's when we let our guard down for a minute, and the mind wanders to some other thoughts. Similar things have happened to me countless times. I've rolled some dice in order to get two 6s and thereby winning a free hot dog and soda at a hot dog stand. I did this many times, once every time I went by, and never getting boxcars. Then one day when I didn't have ANY hope of shooting double 6, and I just rolled the dice to get it over with, I got double 6. This can also work against me. I watched a TV series once, primarily waiting to record one special episode of the show, but not knowing when that episode would be aired. There were more episodes than I originally thought. I started recording every time in case it was the episode I wanted. Remarkably, I never forgot one episode, which is pretty uncommon when it comes to me. Then one day I did forget. Half way through the show, I remembered it was airing, and I switched on the channel, thinking for a split second that it probably is the one I've been waiting for. It was. The first and only one I forgot. Even more amazingly, it was the very last episode they aired, out of at least more than eighty.

These are examples of the subconscious/conscious mind factor. The other factor, concerning gnosis, may also have some basis in reality. The more you think about a thing or are excited about a thing, the more likely it is to happen (provided you don't have it in your conscious mind when it's supposed to happen, of course). (Another factor presented in "Liber Chaos" is that the more unlikely it is for something to occur WITHOUT any "magic ritual", the more difficult it is to make it happen; and the more gnosis is required, and the more you must exercise it from your conscious mind.)

Actually, this is similar to something Jung found in his synchronicity experiments. He performed ESP experiments with the five cards with shapes on them (I can't remember what they're called), circle, square, waves etc. The results he got was better (higher frequency of correct guesses from the subjects) early in an experiment, when the subject was excited and thought the experiment was fun. When he/she became more tired and bored, his/her score dropped. Jung didn't put this result into a greater context.

Well, these methods of actually influencing synchronicity (i.e. performing chaos magic) are pretty theoretical; and I have found that synchronicity is very difficult to influence. Of course, I haven't performed any real chaoist rituals either, only tried out the theories in more mundane settings. But I think that synchronicity is a much more complex phenomenon than it seems, and how it works is very much beyond anything we can hope to understand as of yet. I don't think there's being done any kind of research or scientific theorizing on the subject either, at least not under the name synchronicity and in the tradition of Jung.

I realized now that this text is filled with a lot of theoretical explanation, and not much anecdotal information, which was maybe what you asked for... I've had many amazing synchronistic experiences the past years, but it's difficult to think of the details of any one in particular.

OK. One experience that comes to mind also involves videotaping, for some reason. I was taping the series "Women and Men", an HBO series where well-known actors played in adaptations of classic short stories. I went to school at the time, and the episodes were aired during school, so I had to program my VCR. One day I had for some reason missed last English class and I didn't know what the homework was for the English class I had that day. ON THE WAY to the English class, I found out that we were supposed to read the short story "Hills Like White Elephants" by Hemmingway. I looked at my watch, and realized I was taping the HBO adaptation of that very short story at that very time (with James Wood and Melanie Griffith). I told the teacher this, who happened to walk beside me, and he thought I was taping it because it had been our homework to read it.

Another thing that seems to happen, is that when you're very preoccupied with synchronicity, it tends to increase, at least for a time. When you think a lot about synchronicity, your synchronistic experiences become more frequent. This can be explained synchronistically, of course: When you think a lot about something, it's more likely that that thing, or something related to that thing, is going to happen. If you then get so used to synchronistic events that you don't really think about synchronicity when it's not actually happening, the events tend to get less frequent again. This COULD be an explanation.

The critics will of course always say that there are no meaningful coincidences; it's all due to self-suggestion. Rudy Rucker gives this example: If you have you're arm in a cast, it's more likely you will notice other people with casts too. But this may not mean that there weren't just as many people with casts around before; you're just noticing them now, because of your own cast. BUT according to quantum mechanics, reality as we now it is the product of an interaction between the objective world and the subjective observers. The individual's frame of mind influences what happens to him/her. Jung says: "Synchronicity takes the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance, namely, a peculiar interdependence of objective events among themselves as well as with the subjective (psychic) states of the observer or observers." If, as I've said before, synchronicity is an integral part of our experienced reality, there is no contradiction between the notion of meaningful coincidence and the explanation of self-suggestion. I can just look at a natural thing like a tree, or a man-made thing like a pair of scissors, and I see that the world is synchronistic, under that or any other name.

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I hope that didn't sound too preachy. I do have an open mind as to what this world really is, but the synchronicity theory is one that seems very right to me. But it IS just a theory. I'm really, technically, an agnostic; I don't think we'll ever know what it all means. (Synchronicity is actually unexplainable too.) But functionally I guess I'm an atheist and a synchronist.

"The Time of the Naguals"