Thursday, January 12, 2006

Acausal Connecting Principle...

I've been in a massive coincidence vortex since Christmas. No need to list them all. After a while, what can you say. It's like living in a haunted house. Oh look, the table is floating across the room. Let's just start with five minutes ago when I was downloading Kraftwerk's track "Radioactivity" (not as good as the terrifying song that comes after it, "Radioland", but still worth having in any library). As the download is finishing up, guess what starts playing in the background of "The World" on NPR? Yes. Unbelievable. Of all the music in all the towns in all the world, why would an obscure German song recorded in 1975 walk onto my radio?

In cryptography, coincidence counting is the technique of putting two texts side-by-side and counting the number of times that a letter appears in the same position in both texts. This count, as a ratio of the total, is known as the index of coincidence. It can be reduced to the mathematical formula seen above.

I'm not sure about what ot make of coincidences or, more correctly, the phenomenon of synchronicity. (A coincidence is simply two simultaneous events, synchronicity is the human experience of two unrelated events that happen in close proximity and that seem to convey some meaning). Carl Jung (who coined the term synchronicity) frequently related this incredible example:

"In 1805, French writer Ãmile Deschamps is treated to some plum pudding by the stranger Monsieur de Fontgibu. Ten years later, he encounters plum pudding on the menu of a Paris restaurant, and wants to order some, but the waiter tells him the last dish has already been served to another customer, who turns out to be M. de Fontgibu. Many years later in 1832, Ãmile Deschamps is at a diner, and is once again offered plum pudding. He recalls the earlier incident and tells his friends that only M. de Fontgibu is missing to make the setting complete, and in the same instant the now senile M. de Fontgibu enters the room by mistake."

(Cue Theremin)

Are these instances mathematical inevitabilitieses? Are they (mis)perceptions born of magical thinking? Or are these symbolic messages from beyond? Only the shadow knows...


Blogger pigatschmo said...

Obviously Monsieur Fontgibu was somehow strongly connected to plum pudding... Maybe he sold it for a living?

11:33 PM  

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