No Such Thing as a Coincidence.“In the magical universe there are no coincidences and there are no accidents" W.S.Burroughs

sayarsan's picture

While visiting a friend in the palliative care ward of the local hospital with dear friends and family around as the life was ebbing to and fro but clearly the tide was nearly out puts us in a frame of mind unique to each individual. Very few have had much if any experience of such a thing and my friend's Father has had more than his share. I knew my friend since the age of ten along with his family who lived next door but the circumstances which developed our friendship were far from straightforward shall I say. Good playmates as youngsters but at 14 he took off and apart from a passing hello a year or two later we didn't catch up again really until I was living with a young woman, we were just on 21 and for our own reasons were after junk. I reckon they were good reasons and according to Plato, Alexander the Great or both so would they.

At that time there were very few users in Brisbane and we had just returned from Sydney where we had to go to score. My girlfriend suggested going to see someone and when we met and she went to introduce us, she had referred to him as John, it became something of a coincidence. John was the brother of Christine's former boyfriend Robbie and turned out to be a pseudonym for my former playmate who I hadn't seen for about six years by then. So the acquaintance was renewed and we spent a bit more time together for a year or two until the untimely departure of my lovely friend. This had the predictable effect of turning my earlier reasons for using into something more akin to an act of vengeance against what have you; the Health Department, Psychiatrists, Police, Politicians, Drug Companies, myself and pretty much life in general. The woman was by no means the run of the mill young love but I could say that about any woman I ever loved. She was a universal genius anyway and truly lovely. I wasn't the first to remark on that.

Not long after this tragic loss my friend gave me a photographic portrait of my girlfriend taken by Tom his father who was a professional photographer and the portrait captured her well, much more than photographs usually do. As it turns out his daughter Rozy has a passion for drawing and although Kier didn't follow photography as a hobby I saw enough of his work to recognise the uncanny ability to capture a shot, lines, perspective, light and subject. I left the portrait Tom had taken of Chris in a large scrapbook handed to me by my Maternal Grandfather, and along with the magnificent cable jumper she had knitted for me were kept safe from my dissipative lifestyle by my Mother until I felt in stable enough circumstances to take charge. A fairly normal family obligation.

So there we sat in his hospital room almost unable to communicate at all with the patient and each doing what we do to maintain composure and behave with decency to each other which was made all the easier by the types of people he had close to him at this point. Certainly everybody in the room had a place there. Kier had seen us and greeted us all when we arrived while he was quite awake and in the process of working the fluid up form his chest. A task which had probably taken some time and effort so he was awake and cognizant and I knew from earlier times talking about things what his opinions are in this respect.

He didn't enjoy reading unless there was a good reason for it and I spent plenty of time enjoying his library and also talking about various books and authors with him. Given our proclivities he found plenty of interest and amusement particularly in the spoken word material of William Burroughs. Phillip Coppens in an article which refers to Burroughs writes; "When he was in Tangiers in the 1960s, Burroughs met one Captain Clark, a ferry captain who boasted of not having had an accident for 23 years. That night the boat sank, killing Clark and everyone aboard. Later that evening, Burroughs heard a radio broadcast about a plane crash. The pilot’s name was Captain Clark. The flight number was 23. After that day, Burroughs kept a record of similar coincidences involving the number 23."

I had never remembered Kier's birthdate, I am terrible for missing the birthdays of even my closest friends but as I sat with my hand on his I noticed the hospital ID tag. His birthdate is 23/1/1956. For all you numerologists out there that adds up to 9 just like the numbers in my birthdate. I only noticed this now as I was typing the numbers down, apart from reading a book about Numerology in my early 20's and being fairly quick at arithmetic I don't pay much attention to it at all. The coincidence I am thinking of is to do with something that touches far more deeply than arithmetic and arcane knowledge.


sayarsan's picture

It strikes me that they might be a construct that our mind makes out of a virtual infinity of random information and put together a story, a con if you like, to distract itself from an unavoidable focus on something too distressing. This kind of mental game seems similar to the kind of rituals, traditions and institutions that go into the commercial scale cons we see around us every day for so many years. A reflection of the need people have for some kind of solace at least and comfort instead of confronting the truly distressing and even the unpleasant episodes or aspects of life. Whether it's what you take or do to avoid or escape the unpleasantness or the source of succour in the face of it. Of course the ones that do it properly always do it for free and have been in plain sight forever tho sometimes subject to censorship and control. To do it well takes a degree of privation, commitment that make them an unlikely choice for most.
When visiting my friend one of us remarked on an old woman in a bed alone. It is a common enough fate in our civilization just as we tend to live alone, or at least compartmentalised lives. It isn't too bad that I am often thinking about the date especially when it's the 21st.

felix's picture

Just another coincidence, perhaps, but about five years ago a movie was release entitled 'Numebr 23'. It dealt with a man (Jim Carrey) who becomes obsessed with the number 23, he starts to see it everywhere. Given your association with the same number, you should watch it.
But the best book I ever read on numerology and conspiracy theories, has to be Umberto Eco's 'Foucault's Pendulum'. It totally absorbed my attention at one stage, for days on end. A masterful exhibition of the patterns humans start to see when they convince themselves there are hidden ways to the world, that if understood, will reveal great truths and riches.

sayarsan's picture

It could serve as a reflection of the extremes to which the mind will go to isolate itself from an unpalatable reality. In the case of Bill keeping track on the associations with "23" it can be a research exercise if you like to see how far the 'attractor' can continue to remain concurrent with new events. Some people, always on the hunt for something to hang some flim flam on to suck in the gullible might be able to strike up quite a little teaser out of a few bits of meaningful information and a load of pap they pull from the sky to give it more credibility. The hapless perhaps foolish individuals who put faith in such a scheme may be fleeced of quite a bit depending on their circumstances.

From a different angle an individual can use such an exercise as a distraction from the unpleasantness they feel surrounded by and the nature of the coincidence might say something here. Perhaps on a death bed the birthdate of a dying man who by no coincidence is a dear friend is a prime object for a mind to start comparing at least with their own birthdate. They are both close to the individuals concerned so why shouldn't a dutiful mind render up such information for perusal, better still a diversion. And what about that which doesn't necessarily rate mention as an outstanding 'coincidence' but can render up a diversion of loveliness and a source of something rarely glimpsed anymore.

Perhaps in Bill's 'Magical Universe' a person's refusal to allow simple coincidence to rob them of these precious opportunities allows one to produce from their own mind the sources of comfort, acceptance, perspective and even hope that are, in a 'mundane universe' the perogative of accepted wisdom, rational belief, that which is holy, or maybe a fuel additive that for those prepared to pay the bill will see them comfortably to the next port if they ever find it.

Another allusion to the locus of control. Does control exist inside the mind of the person on the spot including who and what they consider to be valuable and trustworthy may be at hand to make the construct more useful or does it reside somewhere external to the individual. Just as likely among shysters and worse.